"Some of them may even display selective mutism, speaking not at all to most people and excessively to specific people. Some may choose only to talk to people they like." - from Wikipedia's article on Asperger syndrome. As I look at it in isolation just now I realize that "excessively" is a very biased and subjective term that probably shouldn't be in a Wikipedia article. But the reason I copy-pasted it in the first place is that I find it amusing. Do normal, sorry, "neurotypical" people regularly choose to talk to people they don't like? How dumb.
What a strange feeling it is when an old Facebook status about your crush is liked by a total stranger who upon investigation turns out to be your crush's mother, though at first you think it's her sister because she looks twenty years younger than she must be. Yes, what a strange feeling, especially when you weren't aware that your crush's mother even knew that you existed because you didn't know that your crush had ever mentioned you to her family because you thought you were out of sight, out of mind. But what a good feeling it is when you realize that you had nothing to hide, except for that one status that she liked, but nothing "bad". Yes, perhaps you would want to hide some of these things if you had any shame, but you don't, which is why your profile is on its most public setting.
By "you" I mean "me" and the rest is pretty much literal. This actually happened a month or so ago, but I didn't know whether it was prudent to mention or not, but now I think it's okay. I told a couple people, and I asked Marie, and I asked if I should message her, and Marie was like "No, that would be weird", so I didn't, but then I decided to do it anyway because I have decided that as long as my behavior is respectful I shouldn't have to be dictated by society's arbitrary whims of whether or not it's "weird".
So that was a good feeling. A slightly more disturbing one is when strangers are arguing with me and feel the need to look at my profile and then bring it up. (Ex. Mike Poole from last week, "It's ok, I'm sure the leadership will give you bonus missionary points for having a Jesus cover photo.") Why are they so obsessed with me? I couldn't care less what's on their profiles.
Grammatical note: "I couldn't care less" is the proper term. "I could care less" makes no sense at all in the contexts where it's used, which people would realize if they thought about what they were saying for two seconds instead of just running on autopilot.
Facebook's reporting system is really a piece of work, isn't it? I wonder about the logic behind it. (All of the following are based on real instances.)
Mook 1: Oh dear, someone has reported a meme of a woman with tape over her mouth that says "Don't wrap it and tap it, tape her and rape her". How should we handle this?
Mook 2: Mmm, well, I myself do not for a moment share the viewpoint expressed in this image, but we can't just go around censoring everything we disagree with. After all, America was founded on the free exchange of ideas.
Mook 1: Right then. It stays up.
Mook 2: Here's another one. It's a meme of a nuclear explosion that says "Some cancers need radiation treatment. Islam is one of them."
Mook 1: Ooh, tough call. Some of my best friends are Muslims. But, you know, maybe they just meant that sometimes Muslims get cancer and they need radiation treatment, and then they did a Google search for "radiation" and grabbed the first picture they found even though it doesn't really match.
Mook 2: Yeah, that makes sense. Not our place to judge others' mistakes. It stays up.
Mook 1: Let's see here, what else do we - SWEET JUDAS PRIEST, IT'S A PICTURE OF A MOTHER BREASTFEEDING AN INFANT. AAAAAAH!
Mook 2: AAAAAAAH! TAKE IT DOWN TAKE IT DOWN TAKE IT DOWN! I'D DO IT MYSELF BUT I'M BUSY BLEACHING MY EYES!
You're supposed to be able to appeal the decision or whatever, and sometimes that accomplishes nothing but sometimes it does. One time I reported a blatantly pornographic page, they said it didn't violate their community standards, I politely asked if they were retarded, and then they took it down. I suspect that no one actually, you know, looked at it the first time. Or read what it was called.
I thought this was amusing, especially the bit about Planned Parenthood.
Christmas was good. The highlight was receiving another crocheted R2-D2 hat from my sister to replace the one she gave me last year that got stolen (at church no less). This one fits better anyway.
Another highlight was what I discovering on my grandparents' bookshelf in the basement, which I have looked over many times but obviously not paid close enough attention to. My grandfather pointed out a picture of him with his parents and sister when he was four or so, and though I had seen it many times, this time I noticed partially obscured behind it not one, not two, not three, but four books by Mary Frances Sturlaugson Eyer, the first black sister missionary, who was once a celebrity among Mormons but has since faded into obscurity for whatever reason. Since I am enthralled with this kind of topic this was a veritable treasure trove. These were evidently owned by my great-grandmother, Geraldine Jensen, and three of them were autographed.
On a related note, I recently recently added in its entirety this story that has also faded into obscurity for some reason even though it deserves to be famous.
Because we live in a cruel and horrible world, wonderful luck sometimes happens to the wicked and undeserving, and so it was that on Monday I won two tickets to see "The Force Awakens" from Kool 103.9's contest. I was so happy that for a while all I could do was walk around the house clapping my hands like one of those toy monkeys with cymbals. The tickets were for the next day. So you see, I do not regret my decision to wait for a while because free tickets that aren't for opening night are better than opening night tickets that aren't free. To enter the contest all one had to do was comment on their Facebook page that one wanted tickets, and I made a point of asking very politely and deferentially, so I don't know if I was chosen randomly or if that had something to do with it.
The movie was hilarious
The pacing, action etc. was exciting and superior to that of the prequels
The special effects were very good and superior to those of the prequels
Kylo Ren was a unique villain and not merely a Darth Vader clone
It felt more like "Guardians of the Galaxy" than a Star Wars movie (largely because it was so hilarious)
Except for Chewbacca, there were no familiar aliens until near the end (would it have killed them to add a few Rodians and Twi'leks?)
Much of the plot was clearly a reboot of the first film
I felt like too much of what happened between "Return of the Jedi" and this one was left unexplained (why, for example, are the New Republic and the Resistance two separate entities and what is the relationship between then?)
I wonder how long I have to wait before I can comment on the major earth-shattering spoilers without being a waste of skin who doesn't deserve to live.
On the whole, I considered it worth watching, though it wasn't quite what I expected from Disney. I thought it would be something more like this.
the great Luke Ski - When You Wish Upon a Death Star
Now that Christmas is over and everyone else will have forgotten about it, I am taking the opportunity to post this video which remains as applicable as ever. I happen to particularly like this one. Sometimes I find them hokey because I'm cynical and I can't help it, but I like the artistry and the discount Morgan Freeman narrator voice.
I suppose this is probably my last post of 2015. Pity it's nothing spectacular, but then I suppose most of them aren't anyway. Not fishing for compliments, but I'll take them if you have any to give...
With Apologies for the Length, Although a Lot of it is Pictures, Although Most of them Also Have Words in them
With no disrespect intended toward my many friends who went and saw it on opening night. Opening night is as good a time as any to go see it. I just don't understand why some people feel a need to.
Look, I'm not the only one who's gotten 12 am and 12 pm mixed up, but at least I didn't act like this. Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon.
My laptop is busted, but one of my old roommates left behind a desktop computer that he was using to run a Minecraft server. It's an older model with Windows XP, only 20 GB or so of memory, and no sound, but I still consider it a blessing. It has Pinball. I decided that playing Pinball as part of my exercise routine in the morning was a good idea because it makes my brain focus, and I discovered that I tend to do much better while lying on my stomach (the computer is on the floor). I don't know what kind of scores are typical for this game, but this morning I beat my previous best and broke three million points, so that put me in a good mood and if I were superstitious I would consider it a reason to be optimistic about the whole day.
One of the stupidest things I've read this week: "Virginity is a social construct rooted in misogyny that shames women with expectations of purity and men with expectations of masculinity." I was going to start drinking shots every time someone uses the word "misogyny" in a context where it doesn't belong, but then I realized that would be suicide. Anyway, this was in response to a guy from high school posting about how he's waiting for marriage, and he's not even LDS, which you could have guessed based on the fact that he went to my high school, so I was very impressed with his courage. Because according to society's logic, the proper solution to "slut-shaming" is virgin-shaming. Just like the proper solution to fat-shaming is skinny-shaming. And the proper solution to black-shaming is white-shaming. Let's face it, society is really stupid.
Well, here's something that I wish I didn't have to share but I do. I'm not bothering to make him anonymous because he's already shared it in a group of 31,000+ people and I don't think I have quite that many people reading my blog, so this is really just me spitting in the ocean and saying I helped. Anyway...
I have seen this man demonstrate his strong and firm testimony many times. I know there is a huge double standard in our society between how men and women are "supposed" to show compliments and affection. In my home branch, it was quite normal and common for guys to hug each other. We also touched each other in other (mostly non-sexual) ways and frequently joked about each other's sexuality or gender identity, which in hindsight was probably ignorant and insensitive, but at least we were comfortable with each other. Now I'm not even comfortable lightly touching a girl on the shoulder to show friendship, even if she does it to me first and thereby gives me implicit permission to do so. You can't tell by looking at people which ones are the reasonable human beings and which ones are constantly on the lookout for reasons to be offended or charge someone with harassment. This post served to remind me that my paranoia about touching is a perfectly reasonable one. Alas, as I've mentioned before, touching is one of my three-way tie of love languages, so that really sucks.
So I don't have 31,000+ readers, but how many people do visit my site? Here are the most recent stats. If these are accurate, my little map at the bottom of the site is tracking only a small fraction of visitors, which is really annoying, but what can you do?
("the dinosaur renaissance article" could only be this one, which for me shows up on the second page of results for that term. I'm surprised but not displeased.)
When I recently got into an argument on the internet with a stranger I realized that it had been a long time since I got into a heated argument on the internet with a stranger, and I was disappointed with myself for relapsing. What happened was that I commented on a Salt Lake Tribune article (and we all know the comments sections of most Salt Lake Tribune articles are cesspools), and some jackass who had commented quite some time earlier but obviously had nothing better to do than continue lurking there jumped on it, and I, instead of ignoring him as I should have, stuck around for a bit to express my contempt. I think I have made amply clear on this blog (just last week for example) how little I am bothered by the opinions of morons about me or my religion. Mike is one of those sad little people who has nothing better to do with his life than try to make Mormons angry, and so when I declined to take him seriously he attempted, somewhat pathetically and unconvincingly in my opinion, to project his own anger onto me and pretend he had succeeded.
He stopped replying after this. Several other people commented but (knowing they would likely be of a similar caliber) I didn't bother to read those even when I went back to take these pictures, which I did so that you wouldn't have to place blind trust in my description of the event, so never say I don't make sacrifices for you. I will plead guilty to the charge of being a coward. I hope someday I can be brave like Mike Poole, who despite being a jackass is clearly not a coward at all, because it takes so much courage to pick fights with strangers from behind the safety of an electronic screen. And speaking of "cult behavior"...
Anyway, I'm a jerk sometimes, in case you haven't figured that out yet, but the entire reason I'm bringing it up is because that makes me humble and that makes it okay. I struggle because, while I should follow the admonition and example of Jesus to love everybody regardless of what they do, I see no reason why I should feel respect toward people who don't deserve it. I try not to insult people to their faces (and at least in theory, not behind their backs either) but I see no reason why I should abstain from sarcasm when they are saying rude and asinine things. Pretending to respect them would be dishonest, after all, and I highly doubt that Jesus respects everybody either. But He probably doesn't hold contemptuous thoughts toward them or use the phrase "leg-humping obsession" (which I can't help but love because it perfectly encapsulates the mindlessness and contemptability of some people's behavior). I struggle to find a balance and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I've decided to cut hypocritical Mormons a little more slack, though, since I am one.
P.S. Sometimes I wink at married women online, too.
But on the plus side, I noticed that I no longer feel compelled to argue about evolution when it comes up. I used to get very heated on the topic, mainly because I still resented having been brainwashed with creationist baloney for a few years, but now I just kind of feel like whatever, if they want to delude themselves about the nature of reality that's their right. As long as they don't try to get it taught in schools. I don't know why I've mellowed out in this area. I find that when I undertake any effort to eliminate one of my major flaws, I crash and burn and become discouraged within a couple weeks at most, yet I occasionally discover that one of the smaller ones has vanished on its own without me doing anything. Nice. So anyway, here you see me only bothering to comment once, and not even using actual words. It helped that someone even smarter than me was there to do the talking, and now I am sharing it here so you can get a free science lesson whether you need/want it or not. (This was in our group, Latter-day Saints Who Love Latter-day Science, which you should totally join.)
Trending this week for whatever reason has been a thirteen year old story about a forensic reconstruction of what Jesus may have looked like. Apparently it's gone viral because people had totally forgotten about it and then someone rediscovered it and all heaven broke loose on social media. I guess I missed my chance. I read this article a year or two ago and I guess if I had shared it I could have been the one to start this firestorm. It's been a little disturbing to see some Mormons getting their tights in a wad over this. "No! The Savior does not look like that!" Evidently some of them are too attached to the undoubtedly inaccurate Western European Jesus we're used to seeing in paintings. We should worship the living Christ, not artistic depictions of Him. The forensic reconstruction may be way off too, but my point is that it doesn't matter either way.
Perhaps some of them resent that this depiction is a teensy bit goofy-looking and not nearly so majestic. If they resent that the Savior could be goofy-looking, then they literally believe that physically attractive people are in some way superior to not physically attractive people. Yet the Bible says that "he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53:2) This strongly suggests to me that Jesus is, if not "ugly", then at least rather plain and certainly not as handsome as he is usually portrayed. And so what? We claim to believe that looks don't matter, and that's true even though most of us have a hard time fully believing it, and it doesn't matter if the only perfect man who ever lived was also the ugliest person in the history of the planet. Except that if He was, He wouldn't have gotten any followers because humans are shallow, but you know what I mean.
There's an urban legend in Mormondom that this painting by Del Parson was said by a prophet to be the most accurate depiction. The only truth in this legend is that Del Parson was asked by the Curriculum Committee to go through a few revisions for whatever reason, but the extrapolation is kind of laughable. Why would church leaders be so concerned about the accuracy of this one painting or this one artist and none of the others, or of their own videos for that matter, which over the years haven't even consistently portrayed Jesus with the same hair color? The Jesus of the recent Bible Videos looks nothing like this painting. And why would they never bother to actually tell the membership, “Hey, by the way, this is what Jesus really looks like”? Anyway, I got into another argument about that. Sigh.
And so on along those lines. I could get used to that kind of logic.
Me: The prophet has said that you should date me.
Lindsey Stirling: Oh really. What were his exact words?
Me: If you need a quote then you might want to strengthen your faith in a prophet and him being a revelator of truth and visions of what he sees.
Now time to answer a reader's question! Bracelets, age 22, of Farmington, Utah, asks, “Do you consider yourself more of an optimist or pessimist?” She actually asked via text message, but I'm answering in this public forum because I know everyone else has been wondering this too and just been afraid to ask. Also, I wanted to write more than could reasonably be put in a text message, and also add some comics.
Well, Bracelets, notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary, I have to say that on the whole I'm an optimist. The reason for this is my faith in God and in Jesus Christ. Because of them I know that everything will turn out all right in the end and I'll be more than compensated for everything I've had to go through. Because of them I can keep trying and become better despite my myriad flaws and wrongdoings. If you exclude them and focus only on a secular angle, then as you can probably guess, I'm a pessimist. The reason for this is the state of the world and my own experiences. And in fact, this, too, is doctrinally sound; I will be impressed if you can show me even one scripture verse that has anything flattering to say about human nature or the natural trajectory of civilizations. I will go so far as to say that I think faith in humanity is a mental disorder (and I can say that because I know a thing or two about having mental disorders). To be sure, there are plenty of good people doing good things, and plenty of examples in the scriptures as well, but they get our attention precisely because they're going against the grain. Have faith that such people exist, not in humanity as a whole, which doesn't deserve it.
I'm an optimist about my prospects for making a successful career out of writing, because I'm a great writer, and that's just a fact. But still in the back of my mind I recognize that at any time I could suffer a terrible accident and lose the use of my hands. Then I'd have to dictate or learn to type with my feet or something, and then I could become a motivational speaker about overcoming adversity and yadda yadda yadda. Don't get any ideas, God, this is just a hypothetical. But anyway, Bracelets, in general I try not to be an optimist if it means expecting certain events or outcomes that may or may not happen. As you know, misplaced optimism has brought me a lot of grief, notwithstanding how well-founded it seemed at the time. I think one should always at least half-expect the worst plausible outcome (or in the case of dating, something worse and so contrived that it would ruin a work of fiction) because one can avoid a lot of soul-crushing disappointment that way.
That doesn't mean one has to feel negative and depressed all the time. It just means one should avoid getting one's hopes up whenever possible. And maybe this doesn't work for everybody. Maybe there are those who need to always expect success in order to make it happen. But that works for me in Pinball and nowhere else. As you know, I don't even like to trust people if I don't have to because too many have proven to be untrustworthy. I trust you, though, because the Holy Ghost said I could, and who am I to argue with that kind of endorsement? And again, that's because you go against the grain. You're an exception because you're exceptional. In summary, I'm wary of attaching labels to my views because they can lead people to make all kinds of assumptions that may or may not be accurate (the same reason I try to stay away from terms like "conservative", "liberal", or even "moderate"), but my faith in God and Jesus Christ overshadows all the rest so you may consider me an optimist on the whole. And that's what Christmas is all about.
As long as I'm addressing you here, Bracelets, I would like to express my appreciation to you for reading all of my blog posts. More than one week during this past semester, I really didn't feel like writing anything at all, but I did because I knew you would be disappointed if I didn't. So thank you for bringing that additional stress into my life.
Now, here is another song for Star Wars and another song for Christmas. In case you (meaning everyone now and not just Bracelets) couldn't guess, I've had so much Star Wars and Christmas music that I've wanted to share during this brief seasonal window of opportunity, but I've sadly been limited by the weekly posting format. If you don't typically even bother to listen to the music I post, please at least push play on this one and mute the sound, because it's on my own channel. And then go subscribe to my channel.
King - She's into Star Wars
You may recognize this tune from a parody done by The Police that surpassed the original in popularity.
Robert Lund - Every Toy You Break
Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays if you prefer, whatever, I really don't care!
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,
"You owe me."
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.
- Hafiz (Muslim poet)
I published this before I meant to, so I hope nobody has read it yet.
I had to participate in a poetry contest for one of my classes recently, and chose to finish and submit this one. I didn't particularly care about winning but I figured as long as I had to participate I should put forth an effort, and I knew I had a better chance if I tried to be unique rather than just go off of talent alone. Indeed, most of the poems were equally talented in my opinion, and I just voted for the ones that resonated the most with me personally. After the first place winner was announced, he read his poem aloud, and I realized right then that I definitely didn't want to win after all. But guess who was announced right after that for second place? My exact reaction was "Oh God, no."
I was allowed to let someone else read it for me, but that was still awful. I found myself biting my finger to drown out the pain, and when that didn't work I resorted to plugging and massaging my ear flaps and thinking, Shoot me. Shoot me. Shoot me. Shoot me. When it was over, people discussed what they liked about it. No one mentioned that it reminded them of Dr. Seuss, so I guess that part was a failure, but as long as they liked it that's what matters. Certainly I don't mean to complain about that. It's the having-it-read-out-loud-and-being-the-center-of-attention part that I hated. I had to wonder if I would have gotten first place if I had voted for myself. Most of the ones I voted for didn't win, but one of them did, and I assume everyone liked it for the same reason I did, aka it made fun of millennials.
I also had to participate in a poetry reading for one of my classes (guess which one) yesterday, and it was slightly less fun than facing a firing squad. I managed to keep the trembling out of my voice but it just went into my legs instead and created a miniature earthquake. I chose this poem because it isn't heartfelt or sincere enough to be embarrassing to read, but not as goofy and random as the one I had submitted for the contest. My friend Bracelets went last, and she has a phenomenal reading voice, soothing yet firm. I told her she should record audiobooks.
I've been revising my novel again through a fortuitous series of events. A few weeks ago my computer conked out again, and this time the warranty is expired, because apparently I just have horrible karma. Windows 10 attempted to download some updates but said that it had failed and would try again later. Then I was awakened in the middle of the night by my computer turning itself back on and restarting, but I didn't do anything or even think much about it because I was so tired and non-functional that it may as well have been a dream, and indeed I didn't remember it until later the next day, after I turned my computer on and found that it couldn't go three minutes without crashing and restarting. I tried to go into Safe Mode, I tried to do a System Restore, and nothing worked because it would freeze up as soon as I clicked on something. At one point I was finally getting it to do a System Restore or something along those lines, but after a few minutes it said "Undoing Changes" or something and stopped. I almost threw that piece of crap out the window.
So the IT guys on campus said the operating system needs to be reloaded and they have to do it manually since it froze if they tried to do anything the straightforward way. Since I cannot afford that for the foreseeable future, it hasn't happened. And after that, as if annoyed at me for taking it to the doctor, it refuses to even start up. The light comes on, the fan whirrs, the light goes off, then back on again, and does that a few times before giving up. All because Windows 10 tried to install some updates. Thanks, Microsoft.
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Less than forty-eight hours before this happened I had emailed the file of my novel to someone to read over, thus allowing me to access it while all my other files are off-limits. So that was a blessing. And then, since Thanksgiving break was coming up and I was going to be bored out of my skull without my computer, I checked out some library books about science fiction writing, and they gave me a ton of ideas and that was awesome. During my previous largest revision a couple years ago, I had trimmed it from 495 pages to about 430 by cutting redundant or unnecessary material, and it was still too long for a first time author to get published, but now it's actually growing again, which I like because, although quality is more important than quantity, both is better than either one. Right?
I have had it up to my eyeballs with the hate and ignorance being directed toward Muslims by at least thousands of people (as indicated by Facebook comments and likes). People who have never read the Koran are suddenly experts on it because they know how to copy-paste a few verses that are no more shocking than half the stuff in the Old Testament, and they also have mind-reading powers to know what all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world want. If all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world wanted to destroy America, they wouldn't be sending in a few thousand to sneak in undercover as refugees. They could overrun it with their bare hands. If you believe in barring all Syrian refugees and/or Muslims from the United States, then I hope someday you're forced from your home and have nowhere to go because everyone associates you with the people who forced you from your home. To be frank, you deserve it.
Look, someone shared my Facebook post! I have a fan!
Apparently I answered my own query, and the "plain English" is exactly the problem.
Devil's advocate: While it may be true that terrorists do not represent Islam any more than the KKK represents Christianity, this seems like an apples to oranges comparison because terrorists are actually a huge problem whereas the KKK is so irrelevant that most people forget it still exists.
Response to devil's advocate: I believe this is owing to the culture of Western, "Christian" nations as compared to the culture of the Middle East, which is at least a couple centuries behind. The Middle East has virtually no democracy and no separation of church and state. The fact that Islam is the favored religion in that region is, for these intents and purposes, a coincidence, and if it happened to be Hinduism then the situation would be exactly the same except that we would be talking about fundamentalist Hindu terrorists justifying their atrocities from the Bhagavad Gita. The Middle East is mostly Muslim, but most Muslims don't live in the Middle East.
On a related note, I spit on Donald Trump and his ilk.
I went to the institute Christmas concert last night and actually had someone to go with me. Shortly beforehand, after I had put her number in my phone, I stared at it for a little while as it gradually dawned on me that something wasn't quite right. Then I realized I had put in my own name instead of hers. That's how tired I was yesterday. Two of the digits were transposed anyway, so it was a good thing her apartment was easy to find. I walked in a straight line there and it was the second door I saw in the first building I went to, and then she was like "Wow, no one ever finds it without calling me." Obviously that's just further proof that I'm a genius. So anyway, we went to the concert and I thought it started at 7 but it actually started at 7:30, but when we arrived five minutes before 7 there was already a long line, so that was a lucky mistake/divine providence/whatever.
So I had to make conversation, and I'm terrible at that. I don't know why it is that I can write a decent 2,500 word essay in an hour and a half, which I know because I did it yesterday, but I can't articulate spoken words nearly so easily. I wasn't even nervous. I was quite comfortable. But I was very conscious that my sentences were full of "um"s and repeated words to give my brain time to catch up with my mouth. Oh well. The concert was very good, as I knew it would be, because the institute choirs are stellar. I suppose there's not much point in saying much more about it because nothing I say would remotely compare to actually watching it. Sorry. And then afterward we ran into a couple from my ward and I didn't introduce them because I don't remember the guy's name. At least I remembered his face, which is more than I can say for some people that I'm apparently supposed to recognize from somewhere. I'm so sorry. Sometimes I swear I have dementia with names and faces.
Speaking of musical performances, I saw a girl on Facebook complaining about her "minstrel cramps". I resisted the urge to comment, "I hate it when my minstrels get cramps. It makes their singing sound terrible."
A great blog post by Daniel C. Peterson re: the hypocrisy and insatiability of LDS detractors re: the temple in Kinshasa for which plans have just been released in conjunction with the announcement of the groundbreaking on February 12 of next year.
But even the detractors are forced to admit that we have the sexiest cult.
What makes our cult sexier than the others, you may ask? Two words: President Uchtdorf.
Oh, I caved to the evils of capitalism and added some AdSense ads to my site, which are allegedly supposed to actually show up any day now. I recognize that I will probably get pennies, if anything, but it's worth a shot. I didn't put them on the memorial page for my deceased schoolmate or on most of the religious themed pages, though I did put a couple on religious themed pages because I'm curious what will show up and if they turn out to be for Mormon.org and Deseret Book and stuff then I'll add more.
One of the guys in the Star Wars watching group asked me if I had a crush on my ex-crush. Then he accurately guessed all the girls in the ward that I've had crushes on since he moved in. I don't know what was the most unnerving - that he could tell, that he was paying such close attention, or that he bothered to remember.
Some of my friends who had until recently never heard of the Star Wars Holiday Special are still failing to grasp how awful it is. Some things are so bad they're good, and then some things - like the Star Wars Holiday Special - are so bad they go past good and straight to bad again, and you are sincerely perplexed at why they exist and what state of mind so many people must have been in to create them. I have a theory that the LDS priesthood ban ended in 1978 because, in order to preserve the harmony of the cosmos, God needed something really wonderful to balance out the awfulness of the Star Wars Holiday Special later that year. But nowadays, some privileged first world millennials are unfamiliar with the horror that it perpetrated on their ancestors. I tell them it's mostly about Chewbacca's family. They're like, "Sounds awesome." Well, sure, if Wookiees grunting at each other for ten minutes with no subtitles is your idea of "awesome".
Here's a cute, heartwarming song for Christmas :) Well, sort of. That's a subjective thing which some viewers may disagree with. The look on Johnny Carson's face just completes it for me.
Mona Abboud - The Pretty Little Dolly
Okay, here's a more serious one. It has singing African-American camels in it.
Claymation Christmas - We Three Kings
I feel like I'm forgetting something important that I was going to write, but since I need to be studying for finals, I suppose it will just have to wait. Have a good week.
Yes. Berkeley Breathed gets it. "Female intuition" my eye.
The same day, if I recall correctly, I also got a pleasant little surprise from Irregular Webcomic! (again, the exclamation point is part of the title and not just a display of my enthusiasm).
The pleasant little surprise was that the "this" he found and linked to was my website. Not this one, but an old one that I was doing as a hobby but have since largely abandoned. To save you the trouble of clicking, it's just a wiki page that says "Fagalia is a planet inhabited by tree-beings" because that's all he ever revealed about it. I'm glad he wasn't upset that I didn't cite the source because I never cited sources on that wiki because I was trying to treat it as if all the stuff was "real" and not taken from a bunch of works of fiction. So David Morgan-Mar thought it was "pretty cool" that something of his was referenced on my site... oh, the beautiful irony!
Incidentally, Comic #3444 was released the day after this (new ones are published twice a week and reruns on all other days), so "little comic" was a bit of unwarranted modesty.
So... women in all the military combat positions... I'm just going to say straight up that I'm not comfortable with it because I'm extremely sexist and I don't like the thought of women being shot and blown up and getting PTSD and stuff. Of course, in an ideal world, no one would be shot or blown up or get PTSD and stuff, but according to my understanding, setting aside politics or religion or culture or anything, males are naturally meant to be the fighters because we're far more expendable from a reproductive standpoint (1 man + 10 women = 10 babies; 1 woman + 10 men = 1 baby). Of course, this particular fact is largely moot in today's world because most people aren't polygamists, but our evolutionary background always remains influential long after circumstances have changed. With the way we've evolved I don't think it's natural (I was going to add "or healthy" but fighting isn't really healthy for anyone) for women to fight. There's my two cents even though I'm not an expert and nobody asked me anyway. If it's offensive, sorry not sorry.
"But Christopher," you may in fairness ask, "just a couple weeks ago you said the gender dynamics of dating need to equalize, yet those are rooted in evolution as well. What gives?" The difference in that case is that the changes will benefit women instead of enabling them to be shot and blown up and get PTSD and stuff. I evaluate these things on a case-by-case basis. Evolution doesn't rule everything. Even in this case, I'm trying to focus on the bright side. ISIS won't flinch, of course - they'll probably relish the opportunity to punish American women for not keeping their faces covered - but maybe some of our other enemies will be dissuaded by this new development. Their soldiers are people too. Maybe they'll be like, "I didn't sign up to shoot women. I quit." And then some feminist will be like, "Hey! I'm just as good as you! Come back here and shoot me, you misogynistic, patronizing @#$%!"
Salt Lake City has decided to give Planned Parenthood a Human Rights award. Yes, the same Planned Parenthood that kills hundreds of thousands of humans every year and gets 86% of its revenue from doing so. I'm sure that makes sense in some alternate universe somewhere.
Everyone who knows who John Dehlin is, except for his circle of worshipers, knows that he is a coward and a hypocrite. Now I have firsthand experience with that. Recently on Facebook he posted a reddit AMA thread with someone who claimed to have been an employee at lds.org. Now, there was actually nothing in it that I would find earth-shattering if true, but I see no reason to accept it as true in the first place when the guy doesn't have the spine to attach his name to his claims. What's he afraid of, that the Danites will come after him? I attach my name to everything I write, even though it can (and does) cost me "friends". My website is my name, for crying out loud. So anyway, I broke my tradition of just being a silent observer of Dehlin's posts and couldn't help asking, "Why should we accept this totally anonymous person as legit just because another totally anonymous person claims 'This poster has been verified'?" In response, Dehlin offered a thoughtful and compelling rationale that I had to admit was - no, wait, just kidding, he blocked me. That's the cowardly part. The hypocritical part is that this is the same clown who thinks he should have been allowed to remain a member of the LDS Church while publicly belittling its core doctrines.
Since I feel like I'm criticizing people and organizations all the time, I decided I should be humble and acknowledge that I do/say stupid things too. Behold:
Here's another example, and if you already read it on Facebook then you'll just have to suffer through it again. This girl always wears a BYU hoodie to ward prayer, so I was like, "Why must you always wear that enemy uniform?" And she, in summary, was like "I'm just a fan. I was born a fan and I'll die a fan." And I, trying to be funny, was like "If you keep wearing that around here you might die sooner than you expect." All I *meant* was that people around here hate BYU. Except I immediately thought it sounded a lot more hostile out loud than it did in my head. She was like, "What?" And I, instead of saying "Nothing" or quickly thinking of something better to say, was like "I'm so sorry that sounded like a threat. I didn't mean for it to sound like a threat." And then I made my departure. Sometimes I hate being me.
Now I'm going to copy-paste this entire thing from my genius friend Tristan McKnight, because it's so good.
I want to borrow an idea from my wise friend Brady, who says "Before you can decide if you need changes, you have to decide if the outcome is acceptable." As we dance around the topic of gun and terrorist violence yet again, he suggests we look at the outcomes, and then decide if we are OK with those outcomes. Only then can people have rational discussions about change. Perhaps I'm delusional, but I fancy myself as being fairly reasonable, educated, and having a mix of liberal and conservative beliefs and behaviors. If we can't solve this problem, then who can? So I want to share some of my thoughts, and then invite reasoned responses. Don't even think about just sharing that Onion article.
So. I am not happy with our current outcome. I know the world will never be perfect, but too many people are dying and too many lives are being ruined. This is not how I'd like to describe my ultimate dream home. I am ok with some ongoing terrorism as a cost of our freedom-- I will accept that whackos will murder a few thousand poor souls a decade rather than subscribe to a police state that would exclude that possibility. Remember Stanley Baldwin's axiom: "the bomber will always get through".
As Nick Kristof said: "Not every shooting is preventable. But we’re not even trying. When we tackled drunken driving, we took steps like raising the drinking age to 21 and cracking down on offenders. That didn’t eliminate drunken driving, but it saved thousands of lives." Instead of asking what specific law would have prevented yesterday's attack, the correct question is, "what specific laws would *reduce the prevalence of* events like yesterday?" (Thanks Doug for hosting the conversation that brought up these ideas.) Perhaps yesterday's attackers did everything legally and never showed signs of mental health problems and are the perfect incarnation of pure evil. That happens sometimes. But one such person is not what's causing 9000 deaths a year. That number comes from lots of individuals, some of whom might be preventable. That's why I say I'm fine with allowing *some* terrorism instead of chasing total exclusion.
We've all heard the old trope that 'guns don't kill people, people kill people'. It's frequently used in fallacious arguments (such as in analogy to drunk drivers and cars), but there is an element of truth there: the root of the matter does lie with the people behind the trigger. I think part of our problem is simply demography: the human ape evolved to live in small bands; cramming thousands and millions of people (and their ideas) together lowers the boiling point of social disease so tempers flare more easily and incidents are more prone to happen. Learning to overcome this behavioral wiring is a hard task, something society has been working on for thousands of years, since Hammurabi's Code and beyond. Suddenly putting weapons of mass destruction in everybody's hands (I'm not talking about nukes-- an AR-15 would fall under that classification to even the most battle-hardened Assyrian warrior) has brought this social failing to the fore.
That's why I don't accept the NRA's simplistic solution-- i.e., everyone get a gun so you can defend yourself! Why would I want to turn back the clock to the Wild West or the Dark Ages (same, but with swords)? Haven't we evolved past that? Let me keep some hopes and dreams for my species.
So what does the left have to offer? I don't buy the simplistic rhetoric that involves name-dropping some model developed nation and then saying "they've solved it, why can't we". Everybody's unique, and those countries are so different I don't know how useful they are. America is a gigantic, heterogeneous young nation with a huge and burgeoning population and aspirations to be free and democratic. Australia is a common example-- but they have such an incredibly low population (and pop density) that they're really an irrelevant outlier. Our European brothers and sisters live at high population densities, but I think their tiny countries and very bloody histories have made their populations easier to bend today. Russia and China are big, and statistically have better rates than us, but they don't know how to curb violence without being totalitarian (and rampant corruption means there is no real rule of law anyway so many crimes go unreported). India and Brazil are also big and have fairly low gun problem rates, but have enough compensatory violences (especially rape) that I'm leery to prop them up as an example of peaceful resolution. So there's no easy solution to be found by copy-and-pasting another country's legal code. That doesn't mean we can't adapt some of their principles, though!
Regulations like background checks, mental health requirements, ammo registries and whatnot would help somewhat. I understand some wariness because they could easily become tools to force compliance in an Orwellian state. Let's get this out of the way: gun owners talking about hunting and sport are red herrings-- those are great, but the second amendment is written so the citizenry can fight off evil tyranny. Whether that's an individual right or an organized militia right is a valid concern, but for the time being the Supreme Court has ruled that it's individual. (Of course, Bambi-blasting Winchesters vs F-22s isn't a very fair fight, and we've squelched all attempts to secede 'legally' in our history, but it is still possible...) Don't slip into the lazy ideology that "Oh, NRA supporters are just insane." No-- the difference between conservatives and liberals isn't that one group is 'smart' and the other is 'nuts', it's how much weight you give to competing real concerns (such as security vs freedom). But in theory, a democracy should be able to decide which crimes and aberrant behaviors justify curtailing civil rights without slipping into dystopia. So background checks and the like could clean up some low-lying fruit. Let's do that. Lawmakers: how about instead of going home for the holidays, you sit down, ignore the election (that's still 11 months away!), make sausage, and pass a bill? That'd be a better Christmas present than anything you're planning on doing.
What about the higher apples? The ones the gun lobby use to try and shut down any discussion: "Outlawing guns would just mean that criminals are the only ones with guns, durr... And knife violence would go up!" Well, sadly, they're probably right.
Frankly, from a purely practical standpoint, I don't see how we even can clear our slate to start anew. There are 300 million guns in this nation. 300 million! That's a hundred times as many as Australia had! They reduced their gun level by 20%-- which means if we did the same cut we'd still have 240 million (!) guns in America. Liberals don't dare use the "i" word, but I see zero way to get control of that many guns without 1984esque impounding or sparking a civil war. For a recent example, look at how well New York's 2013 SAFE law panned out. [Interpolation: A large majority of gun owners have simply ignored this law and there's nothing Prince Andrew can do about it.] This is another reason why suggesting background checks as a fix-all salvation doesn't add up-- with that many guns in circulation, you *can* always get one if you want it, and the life expectancy of steel means even if we banned all sales tomorrow, we'll still have millions upon millions of guns... for decades. It also means we can't do a real buy-back program without seriously reworking our budget. (Don't get me wrong: reworking our budget would be awesome! But it won't happen easily. We're a nation that still somehow thinks it should increase military spending!)
So I'm left with the people again. *Ending* gun violence won't happen unless you can change the way people think-- either by rendering guns obsolete technology (someone discover the Holtzman effect so we can invent shields!) or by helping humans learn to get along without wanting to terminate each other (e.g., Anti-Nephi-Lehites, or Zion, or if you're non-Christian how about post Zefram Cochrane era Earth?). But as the Cold War should have taught us, it's not like we can only choose between black or white. Russians and Americans didn't need to dance the maypole dance together with flowers in their hairs-- they just needed to step away from the cliff of MAD. If we could reduce gun deaths by a measly 10 percent, that would still be three to nine lives saved every day. Isn't that worth something? It's not an ending, but it may be a beginning.
That's all I've got for now.
While watching Episode V with the group this last week, it occurred to me, not for the first time of course, that Han Solo's flirting with Princess Leia would rightly be considered harassment if he weren't so dang good-looking and charismatic. The worst part, of course, is that she says "Let go" and he doesn't and she says "Stop that" and he doesn't, but even his words could be insanely creepy and uncalled for coming from someone else. To prove this point, one need only imagine Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker saying them to Padmé Amidala.
I joked that I thought we were going to watch The Star Wars Holiday Special. They had never heard of the Star Wars Holiday Special, so I explained it to them, and I explained how bad it was but they still thought it sounded awesome and they wanted to watch it. They'll be sorry. Not to be confused with the horrible Holiday Special is a decent (imho) album that was released a couple years later called "Christmas in the Stars", with one song featuring Bon Jovi before he got his big break. Here are a couple of the catchier songs from that album.
Christmas in the Stars - "Sleigh Ride" and "What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?
And in closing, here are a couple more songs to continue the sci-fi Christmas theme; my favorite tracks from Philippe Renaux's "Noëls Cosmiques". You haven't really heard "Angels We Have Heard on High" until you've heard it with suction cups.
Philippe Renaux - "Ave Maria de Schubert" and "Anges Dans Nos Campagnes"
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
C. Randall Nicholson
This is where I occasionally rant about life, the universe, and/or everything. I'm a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate me without guilt, but I'm also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual.