Thursday, October 08, 2020


I promised to not mention this terrible project I have to complete, but that was when I thought I was weeks away from its conclusion. Then the deadline got extended. Now I'm right back where I was: unable to do anything, unable to think about anything else. Stuck.

Additionally, I have spent most of 2020 in my house. That doesn't really lend itself to frequent, interesting blogging. Maybe if I was still way into politics, but I have tried to pursue a strategy of intentional ignorance. As we approach the inevitable destruction that we all sense ahead, politics appears a source of salvation; if the "good" guys can win the election, destruction can be averted! But it's not true. Politics is a false god. The only salvation is in imposing changes on yourself, not on society. The question is, "What lack I yet?" not, "What lacks Dave down the street, or Frank from work, or the idiots who get their news from a different news source than I use?" And I have found that, when I started asking "What lack I yet?" the answer has always come back, "Plenty." I've got too much to fix with me to spend any time worried about the political system. Trump or Biden--liberal democracy is on its last legs no matter who wins in November.

So I don't write blog posts about how you should support my candidate, and I don't write blog posts about interesting things that happened when I left the house, and I don't write blog posts about The Project That Must Not Be Named. What's left?

See? Stuck.

I've read a lot lately. I guess I could write about that. In September I read 12 books, three articles, and a magazine.
  1. Be the Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat, by Naomi Shaefer Riley
  2. Fingerprints of the Gods: A Quest for the Beginning and the End, by Graham Hancock
  3. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, by Elena Ferrante
  4. The Liar in Your Life: The Way to Truthful Relationships, by Robert Feldman
  5. Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency, by Richard A. Posner
  6. Bubble in the Bathtub, by Jo Nesbø
  7. We Have Met the Enemy: Self Control in an Age of Excess, by Daniel Akst
  8. Tales of Wrykyn and Elsewhere, by P.G. Wodehouse
  9. Diamonds Are Forever, by Ian Fleming
  10. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, by Joseph Smith, Jr., translator
  11. How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person's Guide to Suicide Prevention, by Susan Rose Blauner
  12. Good Old Archibald, by Ethelyn M. Parkinson
  1. Densley, Jr., Steven T. and Giles, Geret. "Barriers to Belief: Mental Distress and Disaffection from the Church." Interpreter, Vol. 31 (2019): 71-94.
  2. Stephens, Trent D. "Who Is Adam?" In Science and Mormonism 1: Cosmos, Earth, and Man by David H. Bailey, et Al. (eds.): 411-420.
  3. Brooks, David. "The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake." The Atlantic, Vol. 325 (Mar. 2020): 54-69.
  1. The Ensign, November 2018.

Here are some short reviews.

Shaefer Riley: I read this earlier in the year, then re-read it aloud to my family. I was hoping they'd light all their devices on fire and never look at a screen again. Instead, I think most of them just think that Shaefer Riley is a bit nuts.

Hancock: Possibly completely insane, but thought-provoking. I came away from this wondering more about what Abraham's life was like (even though this book is not about Abraham at all), and how I could ever have anything even remotely similar.

Ferrante: I've learned more about women from Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels than from anyplace else in my life. But mostly what I've learned is that I can never understand what it means to be a woman. But what of the theories that the pseudonymous Ferrante is really a man?! Elena's hopeless love for Nino is maddening.

Feldman: Meh. I heard it was great. It was okay. Sort of interesting.

Posner: Posner is such a good writer. But I still think we should have statues of Edward Snowden.

Nesbø: Evidently I read this entire book to my kids about 10 years ago, but I only remembered the first three chapters. My youngest kids were hearing it for the first time, and they liked it.

Akst: I also heard great things about this. It was just okay. I suspect I heard the "great things" from one of the jacket blurb writers, who is kindly referenced a few times throughout the book. It's just Payola all the way down.

Wodehouse: Most of these stories are just okay, but two or three are great. Strangely arranged, supposedly by school setting, but then not.

Fleming: Of all the James Bond books I've read, I have only seen the newest version of Casino Royale, so I can't really compare them. As books, they're good.

The Book of Mormon: I came to a better understanding of the books of Mormon and Ether in this reading.

Blauner: Surprisingly good. She has no credentials to write this book other than once being suicidal, but she researched it well and had good things to say.

Parkinson: My wife heard good things about this. I bought it for her last Christmas. Somehow that turned into me reading it to our two youngest kids. They enjoyed it. Trent's friends sing "The Marine's Hymn" at the drop of a hat. Weird.

Densley and Giles: Take it easy on apostates because they have mental health issues. Probably true.

Stephens: Archeological evidence of soulful behavior by pre-human hominids is explored.

Brooks: Sensationalized title for a conventional thesis: extended families are better than nuclear families.

Ensign: the talks from the October 2018 General Conference.

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