Unplugged

Social media is not addictive for me, thank goodness because I think social media has become the scourge of the earth.

What little redeeming value it has (a means of free enterprise) is completely overshadowed and swallowed up by all the damage people cause by using it.

I have come loath Facebook, I don’t understand Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat and for me the jury’s still out on “live” broadcasts.

For every serious and valuable “serial Youtuber,” there are 100 ridiculous ones that are filling our time with absolute nonsense. Least you say that it is all “harmless,” I see the damage it has done to students as they first come to our institution.

And the statistics are overwhelming:

Today there are 207 million active Facebook users in America[i] (that’s 60% of our entire population and that number is projected to rise to 220 million by 2022) spending more than an hour a day on Facebook[ii].

But if you factor in all online activities (Instagram – 106 million[iii], Snapchat – 77 million,[iv] all gaming, all Youtube and Netflix viewing and other online videos, etc) the percentage sky rockets to almost 25% of our awake time.

This does not include texting, and playing games on our smart phones. For the average American over the age of 16, that can be as much as five hours a day, every day–for some people that is essentially as much as 35 hours of entertainment every single week.

Are we really spending 5 hours of a 16-hour conscious period every 24 hours being entertained? This is all time wherein we are distracted from our loved ones, our community, and our social and civic responsibilities.

Time that could be spend improving ourselves or improving our financial situation by starting a business or increasing our skill sets to qualify for more responsibility and a higher income.

How do we not see that this is a monumental waste of our national resource of labor, not to mention a decline of our national character?

We are so far removed from reality that we even believe that we can get a sense of the plight of the third world farmer through playing a video game!

No–I don’t suffer from the very common addiction of social media, I am controlled by the cell phone as a mere communication device.

I have been carrying that damned little box around 24/7 for 15 years and I am sick of it controlling my life.

I don’t play video games or use apps for anything, but I am constantly expecting or hoping for a text, call, email, or messenger message and I am declaring here and now that my life of communication slavery is over.

I spent the first 40 years of my life surviving just fine without a communication device strapped to my belt, affixed to my ear, or ear buds dangling from my head.

Aside from all of the new research surfacing about cell phone radiation, I just want to feel in charge of my life again. I think my wife is a little troubled that she won’t be able to reach me.

But she couldn’t reached by cell phone during the 18 months we were dating–true 1/2 of that time I was submerged in the Atlantic Ocean in a submarine– but that just makes my point, our relationship survived.

We did not have cell phones for the first 20 years of our marriage and some how we have stayed together. Growing up, telephonic communication was a privilege, especially long distance, and as it happened so infrequently, we weren’t even sure what to say when we had the chance.

In the old days you more than half expected to leave a message and then get the response by a left message in return. Now if you don’t answer a call or a text immediately, you are the epitome of rudeness . . . or have been in an accident, or some terrible calamity has overtaken you . . . all because you have not respond in the 5 seconds since the message or call was sent.

I am beginning to wonder if all this instant communication isn’t causing our cerebral decision making centers to atrophy. Before cell phones, we had to rely a lot more on our own powers of discernment to get things done, now we call or even facetime someone non-stop because we are not confident enough to make a decision.

At one time I had some 20 or 30 phone numbers in my head, now I don’t even know my own wife’s number. And don’t get me started about using maps; I pull out a paper road map and everyone under 40 reacts like it is written in Hebrew.

So I have decided to leave the phone at home. If I do take it as a security measure, I turn it off. I have been unplugged from the phone for about 2 weeks and for the first week, I really felt naked.

Now I am beginning to feel free and at peace. I still check for calls, texts, and emails twice a day (down from 100 times a day) so if you call, message or send an email, I will get it, but it might be 12 to 24 hours before I get back to you.

I am not being rude, I am just living.

 

[i] https://www.statista.com/statistics/408971/number-of-us-facebook-users/

[ii] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/06/business/facebook-bends-the-rules-of-audience-engagement-to-its-advantage.html

[iii] https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Instagram-Will-Top-100-Million-US-Users-by-2018/1012148

[iv] https://www.statista.com/statistics/558227/number-of-snapchat-users-usa/

 

 

Surprising Results From Obama Mandated Gun Violence Study By CDC

 

I believe that this may be the most current and comprehensive report on gun-related violence available to date.

In 2013 Slate Magazine a “left of center” online publication, provided this summary of the 120-page report fully entitled “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence.”

It took me a while to find the full report, the link in the article was deactivated and the first 5 google sites that had links to the report turned up dead as well,…umm I wonder why these links would be deactivated?

Here is a link to the report that you can trust, it is sitting on our website. CDC Report On Gun Control June 2013 – “Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence.”

Summary of the Slate article:

In 2013 President Obama ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the existing research on gun violence and recommend future studies.

That report, prepared by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council was completed in June 2013.

Its findings won’t entirely please the Obama administration or the NRA, but all of us should consider them. Here’s a list of the 10 most salient or surprising takeaways:

The United States has an indisputable gun violence problem. 

According to the report, “the U.S. rate of firearm-related homicide is higher than that of any other industrialized country: 19.5 times higher than the rates in other high-income countries.”

Most indices of crime and gun violence are getting better, not worse.

Overall crime rates have declined in the past decade, and violent crimes, including homicides specifically, have declined in the past 5 years,” the report notes.

“Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of firearm-related violent victimizations remained generally stable.” Meanwhile, “firearm-related death rates for youth ages 15 to 19 declined from 1994 to 2009.”

Accidents are down, too: “Unintentional firearm-related deaths have steadily declined during the past century. The number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents accounted for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”

We have 300 million firearms, but only 100 million are handguns.

According to the report, “In 2007, one estimate placed the total number of firearms in the country at 294 million: ‘106 million handguns, 105 million rifles, and 83 million shotguns.’ ”

This translates to nearly nine guns for every 10 people, a per capita ownership rate nearly 50 percent higher than the next most armed country. But American gun ownership is concentrated, not universal: In a December 2012 Gallup poll, “43 percent of those surveyed reported having a gun in the home.”

Handguns are the problem.

Despite being outnumbered by long guns, “Handguns are used in more than 87 percent of violent crimes,” the report notes.

In 2011, “handguns comprised 72.5 percent of the firearms used in murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents.” Why do criminals prefer handguns? One reason, according to surveys of felons, is that they’re “easily concealable.”

Mass shootings aren’t the problem.

“The number of public mass shootings of the type that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School accounted for a very small fraction of all firearm-related deaths,” says the report.

“Since 1983 there have been 78 events in which 4 or more individuals were killed by a single perpetrator in 1 day in the United States, resulting in 547 victims and 476 injured persons.”

Compare that with the 335,000 gun deaths between 2000 and 2010 alone.

Gun suicide is a bigger killer than gun homicide.

From 2000 to 2010, “firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearm-related violence in the United States,” says the report.

Firearm sales are often a warning: Two studies found that “a small but significant fraction of gun suicides are committed within days to weeks after the purchase of a handgun, and both also indicate that gun purchasers have an elevated risk of suicide for many years after the purchase of the gun.”

Guns are used for self-defense often and effectively.

“Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008,” says the report.

The three million figure is probably high, “based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys.” But a much lower estimate of 108,000 also seems fishy, “because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.”

Furthermore, “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

Carrying guns for self-defense is an arms race. 

The prevalence of firearm violence near “drug markets … could be a consequence of drug dealers carrying guns for self-defense against thieves or other adversaries who are likely to be armed,” says the report.

In these communities, “individuals not involved in the drug markets have similar incentives for possessing guns.”

According to a Pew Foundation report, “the vast majority of gun owners say that having a gun makes them feel safer. And far more today than in 1999 cite protection—rather than hunting or other activities—as the major reason for why they own guns.”

Denying guns to people under restraining orders saves lives.

“Two-thirds of homicides of ex- and current spouses were committed [with] firearms,” the report observes. “In locations where individuals under restraining orders to stay away from current or ex-partners are prohibited from access to firearms, female partner homicide is reduced by 7 percent.”

It isn’t true that most gun acquisitions by criminals can be blamed on a few bad dealers. 

The report concedes that in 1998, “1,020 of 83,272 federally licensed retailers (1.2 percent) accounted for 57.4 percent of all guns traced by the ATF.”

However, “Gun sales are also relatively concentrated; approximately 15 percent of retailers request 80 percent of background checks on gun buyers conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”

Researchers have found that “the share of crime gun traces attributed to these few dealers only slightly exceeded their share of handgun sales, which are almost equally concentrated among a few dealers.” Volume, not laxity, drives the number of ill-fated sales.

These conclusions don’t line up perfectly with either side’s agenda. That’s a good reason to take them seriously.

With stats being thrown around by both sides of this debate, please take the time to read this report so that we can have a more intelligent discussion.

New Faculty at Monticello College

I am super stoked to introduce you to our newest faculty members Amy Choate and Josh Choate.

A perusal of Amy’s kitchen indicates a deep love and respect for the world of plants, medicinal herbs, and spices.

Her passion for natural foods and lifestyle was born out of a debilitating illness in her early adult years.

Finding little help from traditional sources she was eventually led to natural principles and practices, which enabled her recovery.

She was the head chef and recipe developer for the Natural Philosophy Organic Market and Yoga Studio’s café, which featured organic, plant-based foods with an emphasis on raw foods.

She co-authored the cookbook Naked Nutrition: Whole Foods Revealed (Cedar Fort Publishing, 2015). A cookbook explaining her plant based approach to cooking nutritional foods and a primer on utilizing medicinal herbs in the diet.

Amy earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies at Brigham Young University, where she studied piano with Stephan Lindeman and jazz pedagogy and performance with Ray Smith.

CLICK HERE TO READ AMY’S FULL BIO

 

Our new Director of Living Campus Operations, Joshua Choate is a Certified Permaculture Design Consultant through the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute.

He mentored under Peter Bane (The Permaculture Handbook, 2012) and Jerome Osentowski (The Forest Garden Greenhouse, 2015). He currently directs permaculture design and implementation on Monticello College’s Living Campus.

Joshua was the founder and CEO of the SD7 Technology Group, an IT firm, which offered Information Technology consulting, design and implementation.

He analyzed and designed systems, networks, websites, applications and security for many companies including multi-billion dollar firms such as Layne Christensen and Baird Capital Partners.

Joshua currently resides on the Monticello College Living Campus with his wife and four children.

CLICK HERE TO READ HIS FULL BIO

 

Choate Family 2018 – Joshua, Amy, Adam, David, Asher, and Naomi.

The Only Legitimate Reason To Own And Carry Firearms

I seldom share my personal opinions on the issue of gun control due to its emotional nature and the typical over reaction I have experienced from a public with little exposure to firearms.

But with the Parkland shooting, the Vegas shooting, and others of the last year, I feel compelled to add to this volatile narrative by expressing a position that I almost never hear, nevertheless one that I believe to be the foundation for all accurate responses to the anti-gun lobby and the only compelling reason that I would feel comfortable giving to grieving families.

So here it is, the sentence that has fueled this very American debate for more than 200 years:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I don’t want to spend any time on the concept of militia and what it meant then versus now,  I want to focus on “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

When people try to defend the 2nd Amendment with rhetoric about the right to hunt or engage in shooting for sport or even home defense, they are actually doing the pro-gun adherents a disservice. While these are positive secondary benefits, it’s not about hunting or hobbies or home defense. It is very much about all Americans being armed and trained.

I think I can sum up the varied concerns on this issue in one statement; namely, anti-gun advocates desire to diminish the ability of private individuals to commit mass violence on the general public. Whether this is initiated by mentally unstable individuals, those of criminal intent, or even the commission of terrorism against the state—it is suggested that the restriction of privately owned firearms will solve this concern.

columbinecafeteriashooting

I have to be honest, the way anti-gun advocates verbalize this concern seems manipulative to me.

Seriously, who doesn’t want to eradicate murder?

Who’s ok with mentally ill people shooting others or violent crime at any level?

The problem is that the gun control side of the narrative has tried to posture themselves as the only people who are concerned about decreasing crime and the well being of citizens. Can we just state for the record that people who own and carry firearms are as equally concerned about law and order as those who want to prevent private ownership of guns?

A corollary to this concern is the question by sincere anti-gun advocates—why does a private American citizen need an AR-15 rifle (an AR-15 is the 1959 civilian version of the M-16 military service rifle which is no longer in service, it was replaced by the M4 carbine)?

To answer these not-so-modern questions (the 2nd Amendment was first challenged for these very same reasons in Bliss v. Commonwealth 1822), let’s look at the broader picture. Why was the right to keep and bear arms written into the U.S. Constitution in the first place? What was the original intent of the framers and US citizens at the time the Constitution was written?

billofrightsWhen the Bill of Rights was legislated, 189 proposed amendments were submitted. James Madison, removing duplications, boiled them down to 17, and 12 were approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

Ten of the original 17 were ratified, and the right to bear arms was established as the second amendment.

By overwhelming demand, the right to bear arms was seen as a vital component of the plan of freedom vouchsafed in the Constitution. Not only did all fourteen state legislatures see this as an indisputable right in 1791, the vast majority of the citizens themselves approved this measure.

But the question remains—why? Why did early Americans vote to allow ordinary people to own and carry firearms in the open—in public? Were they unaware of the risks? Were they insensible to the violence and damage that firearms can inflict?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since firearms were part of the daily life of colonial America, even the most ardent gun control advocate today would have to agree that these people clearly understood the dangers and risks of weapons in public even if the technology of the time was limited.

In fact, most early Americans not only owned and carried firearms, but their weapons were often of the same caliber and size as those used by the military. So their stanch support for the second amendment couldn’t have been a result of  ignorance or a lack of experience. So why would they knowingly allow, encourage, and in fact, demand that anyone who wanted to—could own and carry a weapon in public?

The answer is as simple as it is compelling:

they feared a oppressive government more than mass public gun violence.

History is replete with human rights violations by kings and governments against the citizenry.

William Blackstone, arguable the greatest influence on early American jurisprudence, stated in his Commentaries on the Laws of England that, “the last auxiliary right of the [king’s] subject . . .is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. [But this] is also declared…a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.” [Commentaries 1:139 – Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England: A Facsimile of the First Edition of 1765–1769. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.]

What he is saying here is that while a case can be made for reasonable restrictions on ownership of weapons, the whole point of private individuals “keeping and bearing arms” is to provide the means whereby free men can exercise the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression. Oppression is the unjust or cruel exercise of power or authority. Since Blackstone is specifically numerating the rights of a subject, the threat of oppression he discusses here can only be that of the ruler or government.

BISHOP'S WARS - 1639-41 ENGLISH CIVIL WAR - 1642-51

BISHOP’S WARS – 1639-41
ENGLISH CIVIL WAR – 1642-51

The colonial and early American mentality regarding private ownership of firearms was to ensure the most fundamental of all human rights—the right to resist, the right to self-preservation.

For 150 years prior to the American Revolution, the early Americans watched this very conflict of self-preservation against tyranny in their own homeland of England. And the colonists themselves experienced oppressive government beginning with the Stamp Act of 1765. For the next 11 years, they watched with great anxiety the encroachment of government into every aspect of their lives including the forced quartering of British soldiers and the confiscation of weapons and ammunition. They knew firsthand how a government could justify infringement on the rights its citizens.

Okay, so in 1765 according to Blackstone and the experience of Colonial America, it seems you could make a case that gun ownership was understood to be a deterrent to political/military tyranny. But certainly mankind has evolved and matured so much since that time that those kinds of concerns are no long an issue…or are they?

slide_10It is easy to sit here in the year 2018 and not remember the horrors of the last century.

All over the globe egomaniacs murdered millions and ruined the lives of millions more, in large part, because the people themselves had no means to stop the aggressor.

Think of Tito from Yugoslavia, Pol Pot of Cambodia, the military cabal of Burma, and the unbelievable atrocities of Moa’s China. Then there were countries like Spain and Germany, Italy, Russia, and Japan, where the central powers deliberately moved to confiscate all civilian weapons prior to revealing the more sinister part of their plans.

Entertaining the naïveté of not fearing the possibility that democracies can and often do evolve into usurpatious tyrannies is inconsistent with the actual facts of six thousand years of human experience, and this same naïveté and or ignorance of history, led to the near collapse of Europe just 70 years ago.

Because history has demonstrated that over time governments tend to concentrate power and ultimately if unchecked will violate rights, the American framers believed that unrestricted private ownership of firearms was required to keep that ever expanding and egocentric nature of government in check.

There is no counter to the evolving usurpatious-democracy argument. You can call someone out for conspiracy theories, but in the final analysis, the evolution from democracies, republics and democratic republics to tyrannical socialist and fascist states is not fantasy.

It has happened many times in the past and considering the cyclical nature of history, it will likely happen again in the future. How many people in ancient Greece or Rome felt their rights were protected when suddenly government changed its mind?

We could literally list hundreds of governments that have violated their citizenry. What makes our situation any different?

MilitarizedPolice1Many have said that perhaps private ownership was needed centuries ago, but now nearly all areas of the United States have police forces for such things and the US military is the strongest in the world…exactly.

The whole point is regardless how much protection-infrastructure a city or a county or even a state has to protect the people, unless the people retain the ability to “resist and self-preserve,” there is always the looming likelihood that as power centralizes, individual rights will diminish in value and those same government forces will be used against the very people they were designed to protect.

This is exactly why the Framers built the second amendment into the Constitution. They were readers of history and understood human frailties in the passage of time.

riot_police-620x4121

So am I suggesting that the US government will become oppressive and tyrannical and will require armed citizens to fight for a restoration of their freedom?

No. I am not predicting that.

But it is precisely the fact that I can’t predict which way it will go that causes me to see the wisdom in the private “keeping and bearing of arms.” I am simply pointing out that anyone who has studied the Roman Republic/Empire or further back the Greek City States or to near present times with Nazism under Hitler, will come to the conclusion that humanity runs in cycles and that knowing the problems and solutions of the past can be very instructive today.


featured_post_03Normalcy Bias
( a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects) dictates that no one in America wants to even consider the possibility that their government could evolve into some kind of tyrannical authority violating the rights of its citizens, but with the documented evidence of historic governmental maleficence, it would be cowardly and irresponsible to not consider the possibilities and make provisions to counter them. I want to close with the words of Tucker, Madison, Webster.

St. George Tucker was an officer in the American Revolutionary Army, a Professor of Law and a Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. His studies in law included private mentoring from the most respected lawyer and professor in Virginia, George Wythe. Tucker states, “This may be considered as the true palladium (palee-dium) of liberty…. The right of self-defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible.

Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.” (Tucker, St. George. Blackstone’s Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 5 vols. Philadelphia, 1803. Reprint. South Hackensack, N.J.: Rothman Reprints, 1969.)

Though James Madison did not serve in the military on account of his poor health, he was nevertheless a champion of liberty, the youngest delegate in the Continental Congress, and was instrumental in writing and ratifying the US Constitution, he noted that, “It may be a reflection on human nature, that devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”  – Federalist Papers #51 – James Madison

Noah Webster served briefly in the Connecticut Militia during the American Revolution, but found his true calling in supporting the war effort writing articles in support of the break with Great Britain. He supported the intellectual development of the fledgling country by writing pamphlets, primers and dictionaries to unify language and national identity. In support of the new national charter he said, “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”
– Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787

 

Youth For America 2018

 

 

WHAT IS YFA?

Youth For America is  summer retreat for young people who want to learn, have fun, and experience Monticello College for a week.  Below is a list of happenings at Youth for America.

 


INTENSE DISCUSSIONS:

1. Animal Farm, Orwell

2. The Declaration of Independence

3. Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens, DeMille and Brooks

4. Three Words of Caution, Brooks


ACTIVITIES:

  • Hikes
  • Sunrise Solitude
  • Work Parties
  • Daily Chores
  • More Hiking
  • Campus Farm Fresh Food
  • Lots of Open Sky and Fresh Air
  • Animals and Greenhouses
  • New Lifetime Friends
  • Wilderness Skills
  • Lots of Wildlife
  • Bonfires and Drums
  • Lake Trip


WHEN IS YFA?

July 9-15, 2018

 

WHERE IS YFA?

At the Monticello College Campus Monticello, Utah

 

WHO CAN COME?

Anyone 15 to 20 (call us if you have a very mature 14 year old)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER OR CALL (435) 868-8142  FOR MORE INFO