Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bible II: The Wrath of John

I recently read Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into the New Testament by Bart D. Ehrman. A blurb on the back promised I'd be unsettled, but the only way this book would be unsettling would be if you thought the Bible was an infallible collection of all of God's words (something I don't think, but my missionary experience taught me many people actually do think).

As for gospels, I found they were either derivative of the four canonical gospels or else they were gnostic (more on gnosticism later). The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is full of stories of enfant terrible Jesus terrorizing his neighborhood. Did this really help win converts, teaching them that the Savior behaved like the jerk kid with crazy powers in a horror movie? Two gospels I found informative were the Gospel of Peter and the Proto-Gospel of James. I'd read those again.

The most instructive of the acts was probably that of Peter. The Acts of Paul preach a militant celibacy that I don't believe is valid (especially considering how often Paul gives instructions to husbands and wives vis-a-vis each other, and his prophecy that in the last days false prophets will command their acolytes to not marry). Many of the acts just seemed to be pointless miracles to show the apostles were awesome. It is interesting to wonder: in the first generation after the apostles, would church leaders play up the apostles' power as a way of justifying the leaders' bona fides ("They ordained me and they were from God"), or would church leaders play down the apostles' power as a way of justifying the leaders' right to rule ("I can't do miracles but the previous leaders couldn't, either")? I've got a soft-spot for 2nd-century Christians, so the various acts books might have been my favorite part of the reading.

One thing I really gained from this reading was a clearer understanding of just of wrong gnosticism was. Fans of Hugh Nibley might carry a flame for gnostics, who claimed there was a secret knowledge passed down to the apostles that was not for general church consumption. However, what that knowledge was said to be, at least in the three examples of gnostic creationism included by Ehrman, was way off base. It seemed to discredit God and to attribute creation to a Satan-like figure who had been rejected by God. It was more pro-Satan than Milton's Paradise Lost, which itself often seems like an heroic effort in image rehabilitation (if Milton were still around, Ryan Leaf should hire him to ghost-write his autobiography). It certainly felt like "calling good evil and evil good." Gnosticism is not for me.

Friday, April 27, 2012

So, Um, Remember When I Said Your Wife Looked Familiar?

How did that Missouri woman find out she was featured in a "Girls Gone Wild" video? Well, "Favazza, now a 26-year-old wife and mother, claimed that she only became aware of her appearance in the video when a friend of her husband pointed it out."

How does that conversation go down? You introduce me to your wife and I say, "Tamara, you look just like a girl in one of my pseudo-porn videos"? Or I say, "Dude, your wife has an awesome rack; I have a video of it at home"? Or, as my wife suggested, you and I watch the video together and you tell me, "You have to tell my wife about this because I'm not telling her I saw it"?

I can't imagine how it would ever be mentioned that I saw your wife on "Girls Gone Wild." I could understand telling my friend if his adult-oriented home-movie was stolen and posted on the Internet (so don't worry that I'm not a good friend; I'd totally tell you if that happened to you). But this isn't like that at all.

My wife says some people have no tact (and she's cited some stirring examples in our current ward as proof). Is there really anyone so oblivious that he would talk about this? I guess so, since Tamara Favazza found out she's on "Girls Gone Wild." But her husband needs to get new friends.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gym Membership Questions

I was thinking about something today, and I realized I need more information before I unveil the concept. So if you have some answers for me, I'd appreciate you leaving a comment.

Can gyms revoke your membership if you aggressively hit on someone? Are your fees non-refundable?

If I get some answers, I'll reveal a theory of how and when men decide to hit on women.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Past Six Months

So six months ago I wanted to punch God in the face. And I felt that way for five months, three weeks, and five days. Things have cooled off between us a bit since Monday, though. How close are we now? If I were having a birthday party He'd still not be invited, but at least I wouldn't regale the guests with embarrassing stories about Him.

Alanna asked if the problem was my wife's current pregnancy. No, that didn't happen until about three weeks later and wasn't a surprise. No, this problem was entirely related to dramatically-dampened prospects of affording food. The last time I was this angry was when we moved 2,000 miles for a job that decided to not hire me (and notified me of the decision by leaving a message with my wife).

Seven years and two months ago I quit a really good job for reasons I dimly understood. I guess maybe we were supposed to have tons of debt and no savings. If so, mission accomplished.

The real reason for my anxiety in all this is that maybe what I'll end up getting isn't what I want to end up getting. But then I'm prideful and arrogant to think I know better than God. Still, though, I hope we're not supposed to end up poor and starving. If we could avoid that, that would be pretty sweet.

Prayer From 25 October 2011

"You have no idea how much I want to punch You in the face right now."

Library Liabilities

Last month we had nearly 300 library books in our house. This is quite a feat considering we have four cards and each card has a 50-book limit. (The secret: multiple trips. It turns out you can check out 49 books at a time repeatedly.)

We began a crack-down. Our kids had so many library books they weren't remembering to read some before they were due again, and the library has done a poor job recording returns, so we needed to be more vigilant about tracking the books ourselves.

Now we are down to 80 library books. That might sound like a lot, but all of us are feeling the loss. With only a handful of library books each, we all feel deprived. But for right now, returning three full grocery bags of library books on one trip might be a thing of the past.

PS: Our library is sort of hostile to homeschoolers. They have told my wife they feel homeschoolers are "taking advantage" of the library, as if libraries exist to make sure no one takes advantage of them. If they were to find out our curriculum is so heavily library-based, they'd probably be angry instead of happy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The TV Cure

When I was in high school, my mother's boss took all his employee's families to ski for a week in Beaver Creek, CO. We were sharing a condo with my mother's coworker and that lady's husband. After skiing all day, I didn't have anything to do at night. My mother said, "Why don't you watch some TV?" I said, "I don't know what's on." The coworker and her husband said, "Let's see, it's Tuesday. Here's what's on." And then they listed from memory the Tuesday night lineup of all four major networks (at the time, NBC was a major network, much like DuMont before it).

Those people watched a lot of TV. I didn't. And starting in 2005, for several years my wife and I watched virtually none. She would get Ugly Betty or CSI on DVD from the library every once in a while, but that was it.

For the past few years, though, we've watched three shows on Hulu: 30 Rock, Bones, and The Simpsons. But this past year has been so terrible that we started watching a lot more TV. Recently I discovered we were watching 12 shows:

  1. 30 Rock
  2. Bones
  3. The Simpsons
  4. Napoleon Dynamite
  5. The Office
  6. Revenge
  7. Up All Night
  8. Spy
  9. The Finder
  10. Bent
  11. Awake
  12. Whitney
That seems like a ton. I mean, it's eight hours each week. It defies logic that Nielsen says the average American watches 35 HOURS of TV in a week. My eight hours (actually 6.67 hours, since we watch all our TV on Hulu) left me feeling like a terrible person.

And then something wonderful happened: nearly all our TV shows took off most of March and April, and I realized I didn't really care about what happened next. I declared I was done with them all.

If the programmers hadn't scheduled two dead months in the middle of the season, maybe I never would have quit. If the writers hadn't written shows it was so easy to not care about, maybe I would have waited through the break. But as it is, I have a lot more free time in a week (6.67 hours, actually).

PS: I'm not counting sports time, which I'm sure is in Nielsen's calculations. I'd say I watch about four hours of sports on espn3 in a week. With European soccer season nearly over, though, that number will drop a lot, since espn3 hardly shows any MLS games or any baseball.

Tax Freedom Day v. Full-Time Slaves

Every year we hear about something called Tax Freedom Day; this is the day where the average worker has earned his tax bill for the year. So you worked this year from January 1 to April 17 for the Feds, and now you work from April 18 to December 31 for you.

Computing this date and publicizing it are designed to highlight the amount of money taken by the government. I'm afraid it doesn't work, though. Most people probably think, "There's still a lot of 2012 left, so taxes must not be so bad."

Bryan Caplan quoted a Calvin Coolidge speech that presented taxes differently.

Such a sum is difficult to comprehend. It represents all the pay of five million wage earners receiving five dollars a day, working 300 days in the year.
How many full-time slaves does government require? That's an interesting view I've never considered before.

According to USGovernmentSpending.com, the Feds spent $3.6 trillion in Fiscal Year 2011. (We can't look at the current year because, for the third year in a row, the federal government has no budget.) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earner receives $769 per week. So it takes 4.6 billion weeks of work to fund the federal government for one year (4,681,404,421 weeks, actually). If each worker works 52 weeks a year (who ever heard of slaves receiving vacation?), it takes 90 million full-time slaves to run the federal government.

The BLS says there are only 154 million people in the labor force. A labor force participation rate of 64% means there are about 241 million working-age people in America. Over a third of them (37%) would be full-time slaves to support the current federal government.

If we include all government spending ($6.1 trillion), we need 152 million slaves, which is nearly the entire labor force.

Is it inflammatory rhetoric to talk about government slaves? Well, who decides how much of a worker's pay the government gets? Is it volunteered by the worker? No. Is it negotiated with the worker? No. It's dictated by the government, which raises or lowers tax rates, and in most cases then compels the worker's employer to never give that money to the worker. What theoretical check is there on the amount of pay the government can keep this way? There isn't one. There's no binding constraint keeping the percentage below 100%. If the government has claim to 100% of a worker's income (the highest marginal rate in American history was 94%), the government can enslave whatever workers it wants.

How many of us would continue to cheer for the line "land of the free" if the entire labor force were enslaved? What about now that government only enslaves 98.7% of all workers?

Come On, You Know Me

"I did not bring up Zidane's mother; for me a mother is sacred." - Marco Materazzi.

"I prefer the whore that is your sister." - Marco Materazzi.

Zidane headbutted Materazzi for insulting his mother or his sister. Materazzi played the "I'd never do that" card, then later admitted he'd done that. I hate this type of defense, because it cynically turns trust into foolishness. A guy behaves a certain way and you come to trust him, then you find out his behavior was just cover for the misdeeds he wanted to perform.

Kobe Bryant's 2003 affair was the same way. His first defense was, "You guys know me," which ended up being, "Yeah, I did it."

I hate it when people do this. And that's why I hate Kobe Bryant.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Saturday Morning Soccer

Articulate Joe and I have a new routine: wake up at 7:30 Saturday morning to watch Premier League soccer on espn3.com. And we're planning our day next Monday to make sure we're available for the Manchester derby.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jerome Jerome, Bomaye

Tonight we played a video game together as a family. Our four-year-old, Jerome Jerome the Metronome, started off watching his older siblings play. Every time a new character entered the scene, Jerome yelled, "Kill him!" Then it was his turn to play, and Jerome told us, "I'm going to shoot them in the face!"

It wasn't a Grand Theft Auto game; it was a Star Wars Lego game rated E. But Jerome loves violence almost as much as he loves bad guys. For several months last year, his career plan was to be Darth Vader when he grew up. He routinely tells me, "I love the Gadianton robbers," a group of murderers from the scriptures. When he senses our disapproval, he amends that to, "I love all the armies from the scriptures."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mail Bag, Boring Mormons Edition

Long-suffering reader Erin expressed amazement that Spencer W. Kimball said he'd never been in a boring sacrament meeting. I'm reminded of this:

Years ago I was sitting in a sacrament meeting with my father. He seemed to be enjoying what I thought was a dull talk, given by a member of the stake high council. I watched my father, and to my amazement his face was beaming as the speaker droned on.[...]

I was trying to summon up enough courage to ask him how I could have such a different opinion of that meeting and that speaker.

Like all good fathers, he must have read my mind, because he started to laugh. He said: "Hal, let me tell you something. Since I was a very young man, I have taught myself to do something in a church meeting. When the speaker begins, I listen carefully and ask myself what it is he is trying to say. Then, once I think I know what he is trying to accomplish, I give myself a sermon on that subject." He let that sink in for a moment as we walked along. Then, with that special self-deprecating chuckle of his, he said, "Hal, since then I have never been to a bad meeting."

Henry B. Erying, To Draw Closer to God, pp. 22-3.

It's especially intriguing to remember that Henry B. Eyring's dad was Spencer W. Kimball's brother-in-law, so there's a good chance they attended at least a few of the same sacrament meetings.

I've been bringing a book to church since I was a kid. My mother-in-law was the Primary president when I was a kid, and she let me read H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds in Sharing Time. My wife would complain at home, but it seems my mother-in-law would claim it was better to have me reading than creating disturbances.

I still bring books (church books, now); partly because I can't understand what is said (our chapel has terrible acoustics, and our ward has terrible children), partly because it's easier to think nice thoughts about some speakers if I don't actually listen to their words (like the high council speaker whose premise was "materialism is a problem; listen to this list of my material possessions which could distract me from the gospel if I let them," or the (different) high council speaker whose premise was "my children know the gospel is true because we took them on an expensive vacation to church historical sites"). Like Henry Eyring, since I've been bringing a book to church, I've never been to a bad meeting.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Church v. Gospel: A Reappraisal

I've written before (here, here, and here, at least) that I love the gospel but not the church. In light of Elder Donald L. Hallstrom's talk at the most recent General Conference, I need to reassess, clarify, and retract.

I love the church leaders and the church as specified in the leadership handbooks. What I dislike is the attitude of many members who want the church to be a social club, a make-work organization, or a doctrinal substitute. When enough local members have this attitude, it can distort the local unit and make "the church" appear to have the problems. I have written about what I felt were problems with the church when I should have realized and specified more clearly that they were problems with the attitudes of the members.

Thy Will Be Done, But Let's Not Go Nuts

"My brothers, a time of testing has come for us all. We must believe everything or deny everything. And who among you, I ask, would dare to deny everything?"

This is how Father Paneloux begins his sermon on human acceptance of God's will in Albert Camus's Plague. I read the book about 15 years ago, but it is this sermon that I still remember best.

The preacher paused, and Rieux heard more clearly the whistling of the wind outside; judging by the sounds that came in below the closed doors, it had risen to storm pitch. Then he heard Father Paneloux's voice again. He was saying that the total acceptance of which he had been speaking was not to be taken in the limited sense usually given to the words; he was not thinking of mere resignation or even of that harder virtue, humility. It involved humiliation, but a humiliation to which the person humiliated gave full assent. True, the agony of a child was humiliating to the heart and to the mind. But that was why we had to come to terms with it. And that, too, was why--and here Paneloux assured those present that it was not easy to say what he was about to say--since it was God's will, we, too, should will it. Thus and thus only the Christian could face the problem squarely and, scorning subterfuge, pierce to the heart of the supreme issue, the essential choice. And his choice would be to believe everything, so as not to be forced into denying everything (p.225).

Bankruptcy, homelessness, starvation: to varying degrees, these are possibilities for me. On what basis can I have faith they won't happen? If I had reason to believe it was God's will for them to not happen. But I have no reason to believe that. They happen all the time; why would they not happen to me? It's quite possible that God wants me ruined. I, somewhat understandably, don't want that. Hence the frustration in my life.

It's a basic tenet of Buddhism: desire causes suffering. Why are you sad about an event? Because you wanted a different outcome. Stop wanting outcomes and stop being sad.

It's too fatalistic for my tastes. It's being a thing to be acted upon instead of a thing to act. David A. Bednar said, "As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon" (Ensign, Nov. 2006: 90). Ending suffering by ending desire is taking no responsibility for our lives, just allowing things to happen to us, and then afterwards inferring the will of God in the events.

So I'm supposed to take action, but to what end? Once I accept that God knows more than I do, it's possible the things He wants are better for me than the things I want. Fighting for the things I want is prideful. Ezra Taft Benson said, "Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of 'my will and not thine be done.' As Paul said, they 'seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s'" (Ensign, May 1989: 4).

So what, exactly, am I supposed to want? The will of God, which I don't know. I agree with Laman and Lemuel: "The Lord maketh no such thing known unto us." Maybe I should want my own destruction like Paneloux says. Nothing else has worked out so far; might as well give that a try. Maybe reverse psychology will do the trick: since God is conditioned to automatically deny all my petitions, I should ask to not have the things I need. The plan might have little chance of succeeding, but "little chance" is better than "no chance at all," which is what every other plan has.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Self Portrait, McCarran Airport Ceiling Tile

Notes on Two Books

Two of the books in the purge pile are Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols and The Advanced Genius Theory by Jason Hartley. Before getting rid of them, though, I wanted to note the passages I found remarkable (in the true meaning of the word). Think of this post as merely a Post-It note for my future reference. Ignore it if you want.

Nietzsche:

  • The book's subtitle is, "Or How to Philosophize With a Hammer." What an awesome turn of thought.
  • "To stay cheerful when involved in a gloomy and exceedingly responsible business is no inconsiderable art: yet what could be more necessary than cheerfulness? Nothing succeeds in which high spirits play no part. Only excess of strength is proof of strength" (p.21, Forward).
  • "Help thyself: then everyone will help thee too. Principle of Christian charity" (p. 23, Maxims and Arrows).
  • "If we possess our why of life we can put up with almost any how" (p.23, Maxims and Arrows). Artfully expanded upon in Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.
  • "In every age the wisest have passed the identical judgement on life: it is worthless" (p. 29, The Problem of Socrates, 1).
  • "We adopt the same attitude towards the 'enemy within': there too we have spiritualized enmity.[...] In many cases, to be sure, 'peace of soul' is merely a misunderstanding--something else that simply does not know how to give itself a more honest name. Here, briefly and without prejudice, are a few of them. 'Peace of soul' can, for example, be [...] laziness persuaded by vanity to deck itself out as morality" (p. 44, Morality as Anti-Nature, 3).
  • "And there reigns everywhere an indecent haste, as if something has been neglected if the young man of twenty-three is not yet 'finished and ready', does not yet know the answer to the 'chief question': which calling?--A higher kind of human being, excuse me for saying, doesn't think much of 'callings', the reason being he knows himself called.... He takes his time, he has plenty of time, he gives no thought whatsoever to being 'finished and ready'--at the age of thirty one is, as regards high culture, a beginner, a child" (p. 64, What the Germans Lack, 5).
  • "All unspirituality, all vulgarity, is due to the incapacity to resist a stimulus--one has to react, one obeys every impulse" (p. 65, What the Germans Lack, 6).
  • "Catiline--the antecedent form of every Caesar" (p. 100, Expeditions of an Untimely Man, 45).

Hartley:

  • "If you say that Lou Reed's Mistrial is a bad album because so many people believe that, you must agree that Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On' is a great song because so many people love it" (p. 11).
  • "Maybe it's possible that the hundreds of millions of people who believe in some form of God know something that the editorial staff of The Atlantic doesn't" (p. 47).
  • "Meanwhile, you've still sold out because you're getting paid. You're just dumb for not getting paid more" (p. 53).

Cleaning House

So it's come to this: we're getting rid of about 25% of our books*. Last night and this morning we've gone through and identified which are on the way out. Now we just have to decide the best way to dispose of them (local used book store, its new competitor in the neighboring town, or online).

It's been hard. Both my wife and I have dreams of owning a library. But it won't be terrible. Our living room, pictured here pre-purge, will still have the same general feel. But we definitely feel a stronger attachment to books than to other material items.

Right now, the bottom shelf of each bookcase is empty. We will rearrange the remaining books for aesthetic value. Still, getting rid of nearly 200 books is a big change for us.

*: That is, of our adult books. We aren't getting rid of any of our even-larger collection of children's books; my wife and I might have a book hoarding tendency, but our daughter has an out-right book hoarding problem. I don't need to have that fight right now.

I'm Huge in Russia

With Blogger's new format, I'm seeing stats I used to ignore, like the fact that one quarter of my recent page views is from Russia. And 10 percent is from Thailand. Seriously? I can't think of anything I've written that would excite the passions of Russians or Thais.

Здравствуйте!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dubious Financial Advice?

From here, advice on what to do with a $200,000 book advance. One particular bit struck me as troublesome:

Don’t pay for your own health insurance!
There's the "don't pay for something if you can get someone else to do it" reason, which isn't that ominous. But I think there is something else here, something worse for the country.

Health care costs are rising because of a separation between payer and receiver. When you don't bear the entire cost, you overuse services. That's just a fact of life. Employers providing health insurance as a job benefit began with wartime wage freezes as a work-around. Yes, your salary's the same, but we give you more things in kind, so your real compensation has increased. Then in the Great Society era we separated old people from their healthcare bill. Costs continued to rise. So we created HMOs and divorced just about everybody from the cost of their healthcare.

There are two solutions available: return to a service-recipient-is-service-payer model, or make all healthcare "free." The problem is that the incentive is to opt out, not in, to a pay-for-yourself system. Hence this financial advice. It's terrible for the country, but sensible for the individual.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April Is Our October

The Pirates lost their opener, 1-0, and I gave up hope of ever being at .500 this season. Then they won 2-1 in the tenth and 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth (in true Pirate fashion, both walk-off hits were singles, and one was an infield single).

So Pittsburgh's record is 2-1 right now. I've taken to asking my family, "Which team would you say is the greatest in history?" The correct answer they must give is, "The 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates." Then I ask, "What do you think their record will be?" They must answer, "161-1."

The truth is Pirate pitching is not strong enough to constantly bail out their weak bats. But two great wins on opening weekend were unexpected good news.

Jeffrey Tambor Is Bothering Me

Not personally, like he's hanging around outside my house, making me feel uncomfortable. But my wife and I have recently watched a few episodes of Bent on Hulu, and he's one of the actors. His character is an aspiring actor. If this sounds familiar, it's because another Jeffrey Tambor character, George Bluth, Sr., spent some time trying to break into entertainment, sometimes overshadowing the similar pursuits of his son-in-law, Dr. Tobias Fünke.

Here's what bothers me: didn't Jeffrey Tambor ever spend time as an aspiring actor? According to his Wikipedia page, his first lead role was on the show The Ropers. That sounds pretty "aspiring" to me. So here's a guy who struggles and believes in himself, and when he finally makes it, he belittles those behind him who are struggling and believing in themselves. It seems petty and bush-league. It's like Albert Pujols heckling a little-league first baseman. I'd hope Jeffrey Tambor could be a little more magnanimous in his success.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Call to Idolatry

Many social commentators bemoan the omnipresence of sex in modern society. How many times have we heard someone question how to raise a morally-strong child in a world so full of immorality? How many times have we ourselves been the questioner?

I've recently come to see public immorality as a fragment of a larger problem, and that is public materialism. After all, why is sex everywhere? A large portion of the blame falls to advertising. Whether it be directly sexualized ads or hedonism nurtured by ads which advocate self-gratification through non-sexual avenues, the modern world of advertising tells us to do only those things that feel great for us, and to do them all right now.



How am I supposed to raise children who have the proper attitude towards material things? Advertising tells my kids the purpose of this life is to get things.

This morning I woke up thinking about a few things I've read.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24).
--
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions (Matt. 19:21-2).
--
Few men have ever knowingly and deliberately chosen to reject God and his blessings. Rather, we learn from the scriptures that because the exercise of faith has always appeared to be more difficult than relying on things more immediately at hand, carnal man has tended to transfer his trust from God to material things. ... Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most is his god... (Spencer W. Kimball, The False Gods We Worship).

I wouldn't take my kids to browse an adult bookstore or a Missouri roadside sex shop, but I take them to walk around the mall or allow them to watch television commercials. Giving my son a subscription to Playboy would teach him sexual hedonism, but it is hedonism itself and not the specific form that is to be avoided. If I strictly police my children's media intake for sexual images and don't worry about the hours of materialistic non-sexual advertising they see, I'd be straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

The world seems like a much worse place when you see advertising as a constant call to idolatry. I have a reasonable hope of raising children with a proper attitude towards sex, but trying to teach them a proper attitude towards money and things seems completely hopeless. After all, how am I supposed to teach something I don't know myself?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Opening Day

Even if you only surrender one run, you usually can't win ballgames with an offense that musters only two singles and no walks.

The Pirates aren't usually in mid-season form so early!

Finally Getting Around to It

The president has ignored the highest persistent unemployment in the past 80 years for his entire term. Friday the Supreme Court had a closed-door vote on the fate of his health-care bill. Monday he scolded the court for daring to honor the Constitution, and now today he signed a jobs bill. Now that he's completely wasted three years, he's finally ready to do something about that unemployment he's been hearing about.

I Want to Go There

I hate noise, which is why I hate our ward's sacrament meetings and the part of Primary that involves screaming women. Our kids take after me; once after leaving the mall's food court, Articulate Joe said, "Ah, finally quiet."

This is why I want to live in an anechoic chamber. I know the article is written from a "this place will make you insane" point of view, but I think it sounds wonderful. To paraphrase a saying, in space I can't hear your crap.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Marginal Product and the Law

What do you do if your value of marginal product is below minimum wage? Well, the law requires that you do nothing, but my sister sent me an article about fiverr.com, a clearinghouse for matching low-value services with low-benefit buyers.

Once I wanted to make some money from my lack of connection to my body hair by offering to shave everything south of my head. When I made the offer, I was hoping a few people would be willing to chip in five dollars each. I got one offer of two dollars. By this time I'd made my peace with the idea, so I took the two dollars and did the deed.

This seems like the type of event that is regularly listed on fiverr.com.

Sources for the Sourceless

Today I came across a "quote" from Boyd K. Packer where he "says" some public schools are spiritually unsafe. That's great, except this wouldn't be the first time President Packer has been given a quote he hasn't actually said. So I wanted to find its source.

No problem. Lots of people citing the "quote" also cite the source: BYU Symposium at the McKay School of Education on October 9, 1996. But what happens when you want to read that talk? I can't find it on speeches.byu.edu. In 2006 President Packer gave a talk at the McKay School where he references a talk he gave 10 years earlier, but that doesn't confirm what was or was not in that talk.

The first level of incredulity is asking, "Who said that?" The second level, the one that seems to be beyond many Mormons, is to ask, "Really?"

My son is good at the second level. Any time we tell him something true that admittedly seems crazy, like where babies come from or why pay phones existed, he says, "Really?" Why is that question too difficult for all these Mormon homeschoolers?

If any of you have access to a transcript of President Packer's October 9, 1996 talk, I'd appreciate you passing it along. Alternately, any of you with access to President Packer can get him to claim the quote. (Maybe he's a blog lurker himself!) Otherwise, I'll continue to use quotes around the word "quote" and asking the question, "Really?"

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Terrible Facial Hair: The Foundation of a Lasting Marriage

I have a moustache right now. My wife hates it. This morning we had this conversation.

MY WIFE: Do you want me to grow a mullet?

A RANDOM STRANGER: I don't understand why you don't like things that make me less attractive to other people. What if I'm being led by the Spirit to grow this moustache because later today some girl was going to hit on me? It's just like that "Footsteps" poem.

MY WIFE: [mirthless laugh]

A RANDOM STRANGER: Those times your husband had a moustache? Those were the times I was saving your marriage.