Thursday, August 17, 2017

Everybody Sounds Old

Yesterday I watched a clip from a recent episode of The Simpsons. I haven't seen a new episode in three years because we haven't had television in a while. This clip was creepy because everyone, from the adults to the children, sounded old.

That's because all the voice actors are old.

Marge sounded like when they used to have episodes set in the future and Marge needed to sound like an old lady. Same thing with Homer. Miss Hoover sounded old. Even Lisa sounded old. I don't care how preternaturally young your voice sounds, when you get old you sound old.

Why not pull a Doctor Who and just reboot the voices? I just saw a preview for a Diary of a Whimpy Kid movie that doesn't shy away from acknowledging that they've recast all the parts. "New faces," it promised. Well, if The Simpsons wants to believably remain a show about late-thirties parents of three under-13 children, they need to do the same.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Parallel Stories

It's wrong in Les Miserables when Fantine loses her job at the factory because of decisions in her personal life. It has nothing to do with the factory if she had a child out of wedlock [Fantine was not married to Felix in the book; Hugo expected more humanity from his audience than did the musical's writers]. The manager is using public morality in an immoral way, seeking to damage her personally because she dared take an action that didn't comply with prevailing convention.

"No problems here."

It's wrong in America this week when Cole White lost his job at the hot dog stand because of decisions in his personal life. It has nothing to do with the hot dog stand if he marched in a white supremacy rally. The manager is using public morality in an immoral way, seeking to damage him personally because he dared take an action that didn't comply with prevailing convention.

"Whoa, slow down, racist!"

It was wrong when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001. These works of art were the largest statues of the standing Buddha in the world, and it was wrong to view them solely as representing the ideology of the Buddha. The fact that Buddhism is part of Afghanistan's cultural heritage might not have been comfortable for the Taliban, but it is an historical fact and should have been preserved.

"Preach on, brother!"

It will be wrong when woke Americans succeed in destroying Stone Mountain in the future. This work of art is the largest bas-relief carving in the world, and it is wrong to view it solely as representing the ideology of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, or Stonewall Jackson. The fact that slavery is part of America's cultural heritage might not be comfortable for Americans, but it is an historical fact and should be preserved.

"Wait, wut?"

It was wrong last month when Liu Xiaobo's brother felt the need to issue a statement distancing himself from his own relative and publicly supporting the group persecuting him. It is reflective of the intolerance of the ruling regime that the brother felt such a statement was needed to shield himself from the persecution directed at Liu. Ultimately, the need of the regime to have such a statement shows their inhumanity and single-minded tyranny of all who disagree with them.

"Exactly right."

It was wrong this week when Peter Tefft's father felt the need to issue a statement distancing himself from his own relative and publicly supporting the group persecuting him. It is reflective of the intolerance of the ruling social order that the father felt such a statement was needed to shield himself from the persecution directed at Tefft. Ultimately, the need of the social order to have such a statement shows their inhumanity and single-minded tyranny of all who disagree with them.

"Oh, but this was different because...."

What I shouldn't have to say is this: I do not support racism in general or white supremacy in particular. But these parallels are striking to me. The tyranny we rightly condemn elsewhere is still tyranny when used against racists here.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Least-Completed States

Several months ago, I blogged about which states I would say I'm "most" finished with. I had eight criteria I used:

  1. Have I visited the state?
  2. Have I visited every county in the state?
  3. Have I visited every neighboring state?
  4. Have I visited every neighboring county?
  5. Have I visited every county in every neighboring state?
  6. Have I visited the state capitol?
  7. Have I summitted the state high point?
  8. Have I visited every Mormon temple in the state?
The only political entity of the United States for which I've completed all eight criteria (if applicable) is the District of Columbia. Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia are all next closest (I have 13 more counties in Pennsylvania to visit). Also, I'll be completely done with Indiana once I visit my last 38 counties of Michigan. Ohio is held up by bordering both Pennsylvania and Michigan.

What about states I'm nowhere NEAR finished with? Well, Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Vermont are the only states that not only get answers of "no" for all eight criteria, but also are more than 10 counties away from completion or have more than one neighboring state I've not visited. (New Hampshire should be in this group, too, but since the state only has 10 counties total, it sneaks out. Also, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington would be in this group, but they each only have one neighboring state I haven't visited.)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Nexus of Wussification and Anthrotheism

As people become less able to deal with the natural state of the world and more demanding of social attention to replace the attention they would have received from the God in Whom they've stopped believing, I predict the threshold for retiring tropical storm names will continually drop. "Sure, that storm didn't leave much death or devastation, but it devastated ME, so it needs to be treated as a major event."

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Faith in a Faithless Time

I believe I've written before about the difficulty of having an original thought. (Diligent research confirms this.) The vast majority of our thoughts are the product of the prevailing thoughts of our culture. If our language lacks a word for something, it is nearly impossible for us to think about that thing. I had a philosophy professor at BYU who argued that thought could not occur without language. (This is my memory of what he said 20 years ago in a class I failed, so I could be wrong here.) Class members contended infants thought outside language, but the professor said once we learn a language, our thought happens within language.

I believe I've also written before about how a weeding-out process could raise the faith of the average group member by removing those of below-average faith. (Yep, some here and more extensively here.) But it's not just a matter of raising the average of 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 by removing the 3; removing the 3 can allow the 4 to become a higher number.

It's really hard for me to have faith sufficient to be healed of my health problems when everyone around me is talking about how modern medicine that minimizes symptoms is how God heals people in modern times. The scriptures tell us of healings, not management of chronic conditions, and the scriptures are given to us to help us focus our faith. But they can't work when everyone around you is saying, "That's a metaphor."

Notice how Laman and Lemuel are always asking Nephi if scriptures are to be literally understood (like here and here). It's the ploy of the faithless to explain away religious truths as metaphors.

I find a sliver of hope in the life of Abraham. When all his kinsmen in the land of the Chaldeans had turned to the worship of false gods, Abraham remained faithful. So it can be done, but it's awfully difficult to do.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Time Constraints

A few weeks ago, my boss said to me, "Do you think you can teach this class you've never taught before that's pretty much outside your discipline?" When you're on renewable 10-month contracts like I am, there's really only one answer to that question: "Of course I can."

Last week, I got a much more demanding calling at church. (I'm not going to tell you which calling because you'd be all, like, "Really? THAT guy?" What can I say--our ward is pretty small.) I still have my old calling, which was fairly demanding in its own right. And there are some upcoming pressing needs in other areas of the ward, so I'm going to be double-duty-ing it for a while.

I still have my full-time job, and my summer "vacation" (read: unpaid leave) ends tomorrow.

I still have four kids.

I still am trying to learn Mandarin. I was supposed to take the second-level exam this summer, but we pushed it to October so we would have the money to go take it (it's 300 miles away).

I still have a dissertation I'm supposed to be writing.

So blogging has fallen down my list of priorities. Ideally, by the end of the year I have completed my dissertation, I know what I'm doing in this new class I'm teaching (or else I'm done with it and never have to teach it again), and I don't have the older of my church callings anymore. But until then, things might be slow.