Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Non-Sequitor

We live in a world were politicians castigate each other over how long they spent shaking hands at photo ops yet refuse to discuss how they would respond to some of the most important science-based issues to face our world in centuries. Although I'd like to see it, I must agree with Lucy. I don't see much hope for an "Age of Reason". The powers of illogic and irrelevance seem to be out pacing those who base their opinions on logic, facts and evidence.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Growing up when I did, a teenager in the early '80s, I was exposed to a lot of video games. I even have a job testing video games for a few years before I went on my mission. I kind of kicked the habit while on my mission and ever since I've found most video games interesting from an outside observe stand point rather than from a participant. I just don't find them as interesting as I used to. There is a common theme among most games that I find a little depressing. The goal of most games seems to be simply avoiding death. In fact nearly every game ends by showing your character explode, melt or other symbol of death. Even the best player of the coolest game out there just manages to evade death longer than an average player. On top of that the theme that prolonging your own life requires you to kill most everything else that moves on the screen and I just haven't found most video games too enjoyable.
I was listening to a podcast today on my lunch walk. Krista Tippets was interviewing a chaplain and game warden for the state of Maine. Her job called for her minister to people who had just had a family member get lost or was missing in the Maine wilderness. She was dealing with people who were at the "end of the game". I encourage you to listen to the podcast. I found her perspective very insightful.
One of the most profound insights she had had to do with postponing death. She said that our lives have to mean more than simply postponing death. If our goal is just postponing death then any victory is only temporary. Eventually death will win. Back to my video game analog: if the only goal of the game is to stay alive longer the only victory you could claim is a little more mileage on your quarter. Surely our lives are worth more than that.
For her the victory comes in learning to love each other. In her situation it is frequently all about the hundreds of people who get together to help look for the missing child in the woods. That outpouring of love is the goal. If you have that as the goal then no matter what the outcome of the search there is a victory and in her eyes, that is where the miracle is. Everyone will have tragic event in their lives. What makes us divine is that we refuse to let each other go through them alone.
She ends her interview by describing an event around ten years ago. An elderly woman with Alzheimer’s had wandered into the woods. Thousands of people from the local community gathered together to help in the search. The lady's son was deeply moved by the outpouring of love for his mother and expressed that "surely this was the real miracle." She stopped her story there and did not even say if the woman was found or not. When pressed she said, "well this was ten years ago and she was already old and sick." The insinuation here was that she is dead now, but did not elaborate on the outcome of the search. Did she die then or not? Her point was to identify the miracle and not take away the focus onto looking at what happened after the miracle. We all die. It's what we do in the mean time that matters. Did we learn to love each other like we're supposed to, or not?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hippy Chick

I share a house with a self professed "Hippy Chic". She likes peasant dresses and jeans with flowers embroidered on them. She is very aware of the need to recycle and do our part to help protect our planet. She would rather read a book than watch TV and she is very sensitive to the needs of other living creatures, even sea monkeys. Yes, she has sea monkeys. She draws little peace signs on the back of her notebooks and every scrap of paper she can find.
Well I think I stepped up a few points yesterday in the "Cool Dad" department. First of all she was very impressed, almost to the point of tears, when she found out that I've started car-pooling to work with a friend who lives nearby. "I'm so proud of you, Daddy." And secondly I picked up a pint of Ben and Jerry's for each of the kids last night. I saw the flavor "imagine whirled peace" with its peace sign shaped chocolate peaces and thought she'd get a kick out of it. She did.
If only my other kids were as easily impressed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Cure for Autism

Halleluiah!! The cure for Autism is here! Apparently all we need to do is yell at them more and tell them to stop acting like an “idiot”, a “moron” and a “putz”. At least that's the instructions being handed out by talk show host Michael Savage.
As if I needed another reason to continue my boycott of talk radio…

Monday, July 21, 2008


Several years ago I had a realization. As much as I enjoyed rock climbing I was never going to be a world class climber. I also found that even though I really enjoyed the sport what I loved more was exposing others to it for the first time. So with that goal in mind I really had a good time this weekend.
Friday after work five of our best scouts got together with me and another leader and we headed up to Mount Yonah. Our goal was to hike up to the base of the main face and camp for the night. Then on Saturday we'd climb as much as we could until the heat took over.
We got up to the boulder and camped there. The weather was clear so we just pulled out our sleeping bags and slept under the stars.
Saturday morning after a light breakfast we finished our trip up to the main face. I went up and set top ropes on a few of the easier routes. They were probably 5.6 or 5.7 but no harder than that. We got lucky and all of the guys were able to fit into some of my hand me down shoes. That made a big difference. All five of our guys were able to make it to the top of each of the routes that we set up on.
Once the sun started coming around onto the face we decided to go work on something else in the shade. In retrospect we should have just stayed there and toughed out the heat.
As we started walking back to the boulder and the lowers area we passed a huge group of kids who were part of an "at risk" youth group. They were pretty much infesting the lower half of the rock. They had as much right to be there as we did. I just wish they'd have split the group into smaller more manageable numbers, so they could have shared the rock with others.
So we bailed out a little earlier than I'd planned but the guys all got a great chance to look at the world from a new perspective.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


John Ashcroft is now defending the use of water-boarding. Does he realize that by defending the use of water-boarding by Americans he looses the moral authority to criticize water-boarding of Americans? I thought this was supposed to be a war against terror. Oh the hypocrisy...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Effective Commercial

A coworker asked me what the most effective commercial I had ever seen was. I don't think anything even comes in a close second to this one.

I have never, and will never smoke a cigarette. Thank you Yule.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kewl Quote

How wondeful that we have met with paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress."
-Niels Bohr-

Note to self: I need to figure out how to make a favorite quotes page.

Intellectual Honesty

It has been pointed out to me by others that sometimes I just think about things too deeply. I would counter by asking something like "How deep is too deep?" And completely make their point for them. Anyway I've been giving a lot of thought to what it means to be honest.
A few weeks ago I was put into a position that would have been really easy to tell a little white lie and as long as nobody called me on it everyone would have walked away with no hard feelings. Instead I opted to do the intellectually honest thing and tell the truth. The result was some hard feelings and I left feeling like I could have avoided the bad feelings if I'd have made up something rather than tell the truth. I don't regret my decision, but in spite of what well meaning people tell you in Sunday School, sometimes it's a lot harder to be honest.
A month or so ago I started a page. I don't remember why I did it. I think I needed one to respond to somebody else's website or something like that. Anyway, one of the options that they give you when you're filling out your profile is political views. Although libertarian fits many of my views it doesn't quite get them all. And in Atlanta if you say you're libertarian many will assume that you agree with everything that Neal Boortz spouts out. I don't. In fact, I tend to vote issue by issue and not along any party lines. So I typed in free-thinker. It just felt like a more honest way to define my political views than any of the labels in the drop down menu.
Another slot asks about religious views. Many of my LDS friends answer this slot with "Christian- Latter Day Saint". Initially I wanted to select that too. However, I have a real issue with any kind of label that paints too broadly. The majority of my religious views do fall in line with LDS theology. However, I have made peace with some of the conflicting LDS doctrines in ways that many LDS friends and family find far too uncomfortable to even talk about. So I again avoided the drop down menu and did what felt intellectually more honest and typed "Seeker of wisdom". The easier and more comfortable path would have been to simply accept the label given to me and move on. It just didn't feel right.
As a result I had one friend ask sincerely if I was ashamed of the church. That was not my intent. I fear that once again my attempt a honesty may have made others uncomfortable. Everybody I know is aware that I am LDS. I've had very deep doctrinal discussions with most of them. In fact I believe that because I am not the cookie-cutter Mormon that they are able to feel more relaxed in discussing their own questions about religion with me.
In the past few months I have had detailed discussions with Liberal Baptists about their interpretation of James; Methodists about how they can improve attendance at their meetings; a Catholic friend about the impact of the new pope; an online discussion with a bunch of skeptics about how I justify my skepticism and my LDS beliefs; and countless conversations with people explaining the difference between official LDS doctrine and that pedophilia taught by Warren Jeffs. I don't believe that any of these conversations would have happened in the same way that they did if I had portrayed myself as the stereotypical Mormon. It's not who I really am and I believe that by honestly calling myself a "seeker of wisdom" I am a better positioned for encouraging others to keep looking for truth where ever they find it.
Incidentally, I don't see "Christian- Latter Day Saint" and "Seeker of Wisdom" as mutually exclusive. Isn't seeking wisdom exactly what Joseph Smith was doing? And isn't that wisdom exactly what James encouraged us to seek?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Guitar Hero

I've been trying to teach myself to play a real guitar for several months now. This comic is almost a verbatim replay of conversations I've had with friends who have no desire to learn a "real" guitar.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

More logical fallacies

Appeal to Fear

Last week I received an email from a coworker. The email was titled "just before the pain begins". What followed was about 15 images of people about to get themselves seriously hurt. The first was a cyclist who had just wrecked and his right arm and shoulder were a few inches away from getting run over by a car. Another was a BMX biker about 30 feet in the air and so far away from his bike that there was no way he could use it to land. There are a few pictures of folks running with the bulls and one of a broken bat just making contact with a spectator's jaw. All of the images made me wince with pain. Now, those were the set up shots. The last image was of one of the current presidential candidates standing in front of the US Capitol. That's it. The stated premise of all these pictures is that each one was taken "just before the pain begins". The viewer is left to draw a correlation between the previous painful images and this rather mundane image and come out believing that this too will result in pain.
You know I recognize that it was meant as a joke. And if it were not the status quo for political dialog I would have probably thought it was funny too. Unfortunately so few people have any desire to participate in fact-based logical discussions on issues that really matter.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Unnecessary Censorship

Last year I went to a board meeting for our county library. I spoke out against the use of internet filtering software. My complete position on this subject can be read here. Basically I felt it put undue burden on the librarians and surrendered logic to a computer program. Such control should be the role of the parents. One of the consequences that I hadn't though of with such software is comically related in this story. I only wish this had happened before my meeting with the board. Too funny, but what do you expect when you surrender your judgment and decision making ability to a computer program.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I've always loved watching people who really love what they do and do it well. Whether its a musician, an artist, an engineer or a ballgirl. There is just something inspiring about people who make a concerted effort to do their best no matter what the task at hand.

On the flip side of this coin, I'm currently trying to figure out how to motivate some people who don't have this same drive inside them. I find the whole endeavor more than a little oxymoronic. How am I supposed to motivate someone to be self motivated? The very existence of my efforts negates my goal.

(comments added 7-2-08)
It appears that the credit for doing a great job and really loving your work was incorrectly given to this ballgirl. The real credit should go to the Gatorade advertising people who faked this sports clip for a commercial.