The highlight of this week was that the authorities were able to stop someone I care about from killing himself. This was made possible by him posting his suicide note on Facebook. He explained that he felt like a monster who just made people miserable and didn't belong on this planet, so he wanted to go be with God and the angels and love people from a distance where he couldn't hurt them. At times like this, calling the police is generally the best option because dissuading people in this condition may be impossible. Reporting it to Facebook is also good but not sufficient. He is now in the hospital and out of immediate danger, but of course the problems which drove him into that state of mind in the first place have not magically disappeared, nor will they. I hope he can work through them, but in the meantime it would be really, really helpful if people (aka Mormons who should know better) would stop treating him like trash.
(Reading this to myself, it kind of looks like I'm talking about myself in a thinly veiled and roundabout way. I don't know if it looks that way to anyone else, but in case it does, let me clarify firmly that I am not.)
You know what's a really, really stupid word? "Mansplain". I know what it means, but what it looks like is someone just picked a random one-syllable word and shoved it into the word "explain" with no rhyme or reason. It's about as catchy and clever as "forksplain" or "chairsplain" or "sheepsplain" - that is to say, not at all. Here are three alternatives, any one of which is easily a hundred times better because some actual intelligent thought went into it: "manalyze", "mannotate", and "demanstrate". You're welcome.
Now, in an effort to win back everyone I just alienated, I will attack a cheap and easy target that no one will defend. You know what else is a really, really stupid word? "Bae". Now, people are fond of pointing out that it's the Danish word for "poop", but I'm going to be controversial and say I don't actually think that's relevant to those of us who are speaking English and not Danish. I'm sure there are many homonyms across languages that happen to be the "same" word despite lacking a common origin or meaning. I wanted to say precisely how many, or at least a rough estimate, but apparently no one has studied that. But really, this attack is needless overkill anyway because "bae" is just a stupid word to begin with. It just makes people sound too mentally deficient to pronounce "babe". That's why I hate it.
I forgot to share the charming stories of how I got a math textbook and in iClicker. I had arranged to meet someone on campus and buy the math textbook from her for twenty dollars, which was really nice since it would have cost fifty-four dollars just to rent a used one. I told her I would wear my R2-D2 hat to make sure she would recognize me. She pulled up in her car, ran to me, staring at the ground, and we exchanged the money for the book in one fluid motion as she said "Here's this for you thank you very much have a nice day!" She didn't even glance at the money as it went into her hand. If I were an unscrupulous person with a time machine, I could go back and give her one dollar instead of twenty. Then she left as quickly as she had come. When I looked at the bottom of the book's cover I saw the possible reason why: "This edition is for sale on the Indian subcontinent only. Not for export elsewhere."
Then I arranged to get an iClicker from someone else for fifteen dollars. It was an iClicker 1, which was all I needed for Stats because we aren't going to use any of the special buttons that the iClicker 2 introduced. This took a bit more doing to arrange but we did it, again I wore my R2-D2 hat, and again the person seemed frantic to get it over with. I don't get it. I get that they had no reason to stick around, but why act as if they almost on the verge of panic? Maybe they were both die-hard Trekkies and didn't want to be seen in public near my hat. Anyway, she gave me that and I turned it on to see if it had batteries and was working. It did and it was. Within five minutes, I had dropped it and I joked to myself that it had probably stopped working. It had. I was rather annoyed. That evening I dropped in on my neighbor to use his screwdriver and try to fix it myself, reasoning that something had probably been jarred loose and maybe I could identify it and glue it or something. We couldn't get it open, though, because there were only two screws and one other attachment point where a screw should have been but wasn't.
Then my neighbor's roommate, who is technically also my neighbor, saw what I was doing and asked if I just wanted to take his iClicker that he never used anymore. His was an iClicker 2, which, as previously mentioned, I didn't need, but now I can fit in with all the cool kids. Then my neighbor invited me to stay and watch the first episode of that show everyone has been talking about, "Making a Murderer". It made me very, very angry. The show I mean, not the invitation. To recap, the series as a whole is about Steve Avery allegedly being wrongfully convicted of murder based on dubious evidence because people had it in for him, and there's some controversy as to whether the documentary fairly presented both sides of the story so I'm not qualified to comment on that. But what's beyond dispute, and what the first episode focuses on, is that before that he was wrongfully convicted of rape, despite a great deal of evidence exonerating him and decent evidence pointing to the actual rapist (who remained free for another decade and raped at least two more women), because people had it in for him.
It makes my blood boil that innocent people's lives are ruined by false accusations of heinous crimes, and all the more so when the accusers know they're false. People who knowingly falsely accuse other people of rape or murder should get exactly the same sentence as the accused would get. Ideally, rapists and murderers and false accusers would all get the death penalty, but precisely because so many innocent people are convicted this is awkward to enforce in practice. So we won't kill you, innocent person, we'll just ruin your reputation and take away a decade or three of your life and then "compensate" you with less than minimum wage, if anything. Grrr.
Looking around in church one afternoon, thinking to myself: Haley, you look uncharacteristically short today. Are you slunched over? [pause] I don't think "slunched" is a real word. Well, it should be. I like it.
Sitting in Sunday School, as the teacher drew an asymmetrical curvy thing on the blackboard and explained: "That's supposed to be an arch." The guys behind me whispered.
"There wouldn't happen to be a keystone in this arch, would there?"
"What's a keystone?"
"Don't worry, she'll explain it."
(I'm sorry that my one if any non-Mormon readers probably have no idea why I found this amusing. It wasn't actually funny enough to justify explaining, but it was in reference to a popular metaphor about the Book of Mormon, which you should totally read.)
Elder Dallin H. Oaks once said that sometimes "a volunteer will step forward to present what he or she considers to be the Church’s position. Sometimes these volunteers are well-informed and capable, and they contribute to a balanced presentation. Sometimes they are not, and their contribution makes matters worse. When attacked by error, truth is better served by silence than by a bad argument." And sometimes, thanks to the magic of social media, that bad argument is mindlessly accepted, liked, and shared by thousands of Mormons because they want it to be true. I am referring specifically in this instance to Rodney Meldrum's scientifically bogus claims about alleged DNA evidence supporting the Book of Mormon which, though hardly new, have recently been given new life by several Mormon Facebook pages that should know better.
What the Church says about such things: "Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples, and even if their genetic profile were known, there are sound scientific reasons that it might remain undetected. For these same reasons, arguments that some defenders of the Book of Mormon make based on DNA studies are also speculative. In short, DNA studies cannot be used decisively to either affirm or reject the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon." What one of the pages, LDS SMILE, said to me when I complained: "It was never meant to "prove" anything but simply a perspective that one person had. I understand full well that it's not definitive as I spent 10 years as a cardiovascular genetic researcher. I get it but it was a post that resonated with our readers that we wanted to share." Translation: "I know this is a load of crap, but people like it, so I don't care."
Here's the funny thing about science - some guy with no credentials or expertise can't just make up whatever "perspective" he wants, misrepresent and strategically omit evidence to make it look credible to the uninformed, and expect it to magically be valid. This is not "simply a perspective that one person had", and not merely "not definitive" - it's wrong, period. And I find it extremely disturbing that these things go so viral while the sane comments and rebuttals get only a fraction of a percent of the same attention, because they aren't what people want to hear. It has been said that a lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still putting its boots on (which has been fittingly attributed to Mark Twain even though he probably never said it and certainly didn't originate it), and that was long before social media came along so that now it can travel completely around the world while truth is still asleep. People who base their faith on what they want to be true rather than what actually is true are building on a very sandy foundation for themselves and embarrassing the Church for everyone.
Guy on the internet: "...I don't give a rip about 'credentials'..."
Me: "...So you don't care if some random wacko from off the street performs your surgery?..."
President Harold B. Lee once said that "it never ceases to amaze me how gullible some of our Church members are", and while he was referring specifically to the mindless spreading of false urban legends, the principles he discussed apply here as well. I myself am not merely amazed at it, but also dismayed, disturbed, and downright disgusted. People, I implore you with all the fervor of which I am capable, use some common sense.
Remember how I said that I would probably fail Latin now that my ex-crush isn't here to help me? Remember how maybe you thought that was intended to be a joke? Well, it wasn't.
Instead of whatshisname, today I have chosen to present the charming Carla Ulbrich, in a lovely little song taken from her fabulous debut, "Her Fabulous Debut".