Category Archives: Various and Sundry

Happy Halloween

Treat yourself to a healthful dose of horror flicks; apparently they’re good for burning off a chocolate bar or two.

 

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Filed under Random Thoughts, Science, Various and Sundry

Lincoln

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Filed under Various and Sundry

WOLVERIIIIIIIINES!

I have very mixed emotions about a remake of a movie that was so much more than an action thriller when it came out.

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Saintly Welfare

It is the duty of the rich Saints every where, to assist the poor, according to their ability, to gather; and if they choose, with a covenant and promise that the poor thus helped, shall repay as soon as they are able.

It is also the duty of the rich, those who have the intelligence and the means, to come home forthwith, and establish factories, and all kinds of machinery, that will tend to give employment to the poor, and produce those articles which are necessary for the comfort, convenience, health and happiness of the people; and no one need to be at a loss concerning his duty in these matters, if he will walk so humbly before God as to keep the small still whisperings of the Holy Ghost within him continually.

– Brigham Young, General Epistle, 1847

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Filed under Politics, Quotes, Various and Sundry

Acts Against Entropy

Creation is about inflicting order on chaos.  It can involve assembling raw materials, formulating coherent thoughts, inventing characters, weaving novel melodies, or capturing emotions with paint, stone or film.  In small but meaningful ways creation combats the ever-present march towards oblivion.  In whatever from it takes, creation is an act of True Faith.

Of course, not all creations are created equal.  There’s enough chaos and destruction built into the cosmos to have it consume creative resources.  Good creation improves, inspires and enlightens.  It requires overcoming insurmountable obstacles…at least if you’re creating anything worthwhile.  In fact, the worth of creation is probably proportional to the effort required to produce it. By that standard, Twitter feeds have to be on the lowest end of the creative worth scale.  And on the opposite end, a notch above creating an empire…establishing a righteous family.

What greater act of creation could there be than to bring new beings into the world and raise them to be righteous, educated, well-adjusted contributors to civilization?  And what could be more difficult?  To sculpt such a family requires skills, patience, longsuffering, and love that far transcend the steady hands and imagination of marble workers.  Stone doesn’t talk back, have its own opinions, and is not endowed with a sovereign free will.

No work of art or business or political accomplishment can compare to a posterity that continues a legacy of virtue.  In a few short generations the influence of a mother and father trying their best, with the help of Heaven, will have legions of little ones making the world a better place.  You will not only have done something great for its own sake, but you will multiply your influence over the world in a way that Alexander the Great would envy.

Those of you with young children will also attest that there is no better practice at inflicting order on chaos than trying to keep a house clean while kids enjoy summer vacation.

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Filed under Random Thoughts, Uncategorized, Various and Sundry

Create!

When work gets slow, I get anxious.  While ebbs and flows are natural in my line of work and overall I’m a net asset to the company, I can’t help feeling guilty when not actively engaged in meaningful work.  I suppose it’s natural.  But for me the guilt often morphs into self-pity, boredom, and an unhealthy dose of wanderlust.  And it’s been a slow couple of weeks.  This time I resolved not to give in.  I made a choice.

To help snap out of the funk I went through a personal mini ritual.  Clear the desk of all clutter, pull out a pen and an empty piece of paper, then try to make my mind match the paper.  After several minutes entertain a single thought, the first thing that comes to mind.  On this occasion it was a question:  What’s missing?

When you start with a blank piece of paper the answer is everything, but this is only a trigger.  There are days when work is invigorating; what’s missing today?  When you think about a great day at work, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  I could effortlessly imagine a half-dozen examples.

For a recent project I sat down in front of a blank computer screen and hammered out an elegant algorithm (in R) that cranked through a mountain of data and spit out meaningful information complete with fancy graphs.  What was it about this particular project that made it exhilarating?  It was an act of creation, bringing something into existence that did not exist before, something useful even.

Learning new things is great.  Supporting the business is fine, but acts of creation lead to incomparable satisfaction.  It is why I envy artists, musicians, directors, writers, even mediocre ones.  They create!

I then wrote two more questions on the sheet of paper:  1) What can I create today? and 2) What can I create to improve other people’s lives?  The questions more than the answers have already improved my days.

While the statistician in me understands that most days are average, there’s nothing written in the universe that says the average can’t rise.  If I go to bed tonight having brought something useful or beautiful into the world that didn’t exist when I woke up, then today really was better than average.

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Filed under Free Will, Random Thoughts, Various and Sundry

Some Cult!

From Inside Higher Ed:

So what, exactly, is so awful about being Mormon?

Utah is about 72 percent Mormon, so it’s a pretty good representation of Mormonism. Among the 50 states, Utah has the lowest child poverty rate, the lowest teen pregnancy rate, the third-lowest abortion rate, the third-highest high school graduate rate at 94 percent, the highest scores on Advanced Placement exams, fewest births to unwed mothers (also the highest overall birthrate), lowest cancer rate, lowest smoking rate, lowest per capita rate of alcohol use, and, arguably, the most comprehensive and universal state health insurance system in the U.S.

Furthermore, Mormons as a group have the lowest rates of violence and depression among religious groups, are seven times less likely to commit suicide (if active church members), and have the lowest divorce rates of any social-religious group. Sixty-five percent of Utah residents have personal computers, the highest penetration rate in the country. Crime has decreased in the state of Utah by anywhere from 15-18 percent over the past 10 years.

Mormon women are more likely to be employed in professional occupations than Catholic or Protestant women (similar to Jewish women) and more likely to graduate from college than Catholic or Protestant women (but less than Jewish women).

When I first moved to Pocatello, I lived in a cul de sac and seven of my nine neighbors belonged to the LDS Church. Nobody tried to convert me. They invited me to church picnics – no pressure. My next-door neighbor spent nearly two hours one weekday morning (he was late to work) helping me restore my snow blower to life after five years in the humid South. Another helped flush and fix my sprinkler system. A third returned my dogs after they’d escaped. Several just showed up with family members to help me move in. A fourth one tossed me the keys to his Cadillac after the transmission in my Suburban disassembled on my driveway. “Bring it back when you don’t need it anymore,” he said.

These are not the faces of intolerance and prejudice.

No. Those faces are in the academic mirror.

Read the whole thing.

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Filed under LDS Church, Various and Sundry