Thursday, August 5, 2010

LDS Church statement on Proposition 8

  The Church issued the following statement today in response to the ruling by Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Perry et al v. Schwarzenegger et al:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regrets today’s decision.  California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage in their state and both times have determined that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We agree.  Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of society.  
“We recognize that this decision represents only the opening of a vigorous debate in the courts over the rights of the people to define and protect this most fundamental institution—marriage.
“There is no doubt that today’s ruling will add to the marriage debate in this country, and we urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

fish that don't notice the water

This morning, an interesting study came upon the BYU home page that links relationships to survival rates. There's a short summary of it here

Here's a quote from that same story:
"'We take relationships for granted as humans – we’re like fish that don’t notice the water,' Smith said. 'That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health.'"

I feel like this study validates a lot of the things I've been thinking about lately. I keep noticing things that suggest pretty strongly to me that in many ways we really live for each other, whether or not we are aware of it.

Here is a quote from a commencement speech by David Foster Wallace:

"There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, 'Morning, boys, how's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?'"

The interesting thing about this seemingly coincidental link is that the speech Wallace gave is on a topic very similar to that of the study. The theme might be stated as something like: how people choose to relate to other people. The topic is a big part of the reason why Wallace's writing interested me so much in the first place ( As I take it, his work is in some ways a reaction to the "postmodern" literary problem of becoming totally self-centered, perhaps to the point of solipsism (Oxford English Dictionary "solipsism: The view or theory that self is the only object of real knowledge or the only thing really existent.")

Wallace described solipsism as an extremely sad philosophy.

The nice thing about blogs is that I don't have to link all of these thoughts together in a completely coherent way. I can make all sorts of wild, unsupported statements and just let my intuition do the publishing. Maybe someone else will do the research. Maybe I'll even hear about it.

So, here's some more to think about. My dad is getting older. He turned 50 pretty recently, and I've noticed how he has become more concerned with preserving his health.We've had a few conversations on this subject, and he believes pretty strongly that dementia and a whole load of other mental issues that are becoming more common in old age are linked to the lack of psychological demands made on people who are disconnected from the people around them. Divorce continues to be extremely common, and many people don't have good relationships with their children. These two issues alone often cut people off from what were traditionally the most important things in life, and I don't think Facebook will make up for them.

Could it be that as a society our intense focus on what is for me and what is mine will actually be a major contributor to losing our grasp on the real world when old age hits? It wouldn't surprise me, and a lot remains to be said about what results from the breakdown of relationships in economic, political, and other important areas of study.

Friday, July 23, 2010

So much fun, it was banned by the City Council - Ford Erickson pt.2

Small towns are so fun.

Francesco Clemente

"I think the most interesting time is always now."
-Francesco Clemente

I'm not a fan of his stuff and I don't know if he's right. Still, it got me thinking.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ford Erickson

I lived with Ford for a semester. It was great. Here is a message he recently posted on facebook about an upcoming waterfight. Ford probably has more fun than anyone you know.

"Subject: Battle of SMITH PARK this Saturday...THE RULES OF WAR are complete. I like grapes.
Battle of SMITH PARK
This Saturday.

Hello my people. Times have been hard. The westside has been blockading us here on the eastside so our provisions are limited to bread and grapes. But it does not matter THIS IS THE LAST BATTLE UNTIL NEXT YEAR...I must fight. We need every last man, woman and child.

I returned from the council of the nobles HERE ARE THE RULES OF WAR:

-Water balloon launchers are ok, but CANNOT be used inside the walking track at Smith Park.

-Water noodles are ok. This was a hard one. It just stressed me out too much. Just dont be annoying about it.

-BUT none of those really hard nerf swords.


It wouldnt hurt for everyone to have a shield and/or some kind of armor.

-I love you."
I don't what the deal is with the Confederate flag, but look at how well Ford takes on his role as commander.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How Professors Help

"This presents a good objection to the UM[underground man]'s obsession with volition ... Be careful with the writing. You tend to favor wordy, preposition-heavy constructions. Write simply. A-" 

My sincere thanks to the above-quoted Dr. Mower.

Read the book here. Or shop for it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What will the flag look like if Puerto Rico becomes a state?

"Three weeks ago, a Senate committee heard testimony on a bill that could bring Puerto Rico a step closer to becoming the 51st state. The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010, which passed the House in late April, would grant the territory's residents a vote on the island's political status, with options including statehood or independence. If Puerto Rico were to become the 51st state—and granted, that's at least four ifs away—federal lawrequires that a new star be added to the American flag. One can't help but wonder: Where would we put it?"

Read the whole article at

When you've got a moment, you can take a stab at guessing which academic paper titles are real:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Racy Advertising is Also Bad Business

Awhile ago, I posted about being tired of American Apparel's pornographic ads that keep showing up online. According to the economics blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree (which is definitely worth looking over), racy advertising also signals to consumers that a product is "'indistinguishable from its competition,' and that it is generic."
I guess being modest isn't necessarily bad business.

On an unrelated note, these are cool:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

You have got to be kidding me...

If this article is accurately portraying the situation, Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, thinks vacations are a human right.

"An overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a year’s hard work. Now Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer."

Read the article here (it's short).

Also interesting, see how opinions about needs and wants have evolved over the years:

Personally, I wouldn't say any of the things in that first graph (clothes dryer, dishwasher, home computer, cable or satellite tv, home air conditioning, car air conditioning, microwave) are necessities, but then again I spent two years in a 3rd(ish) world country.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Star Wars/Adidas/Snoop Dogg

You may think those three names have nothing to do with each other. Think again:

Star Wars x adidas Originals New York March from on Vimeo.
"The Star Wars and adidas Originals campaign has been a prominent fixture over the last few weeks representing two strong brands in the respective world of cinematography and sports. To help cap off a successful footwear-centric capsule, we’ve seen a number of city tours that have involved the iconic Star Wars antagonist, Darth Vader and an army of Storm Troopers. Just yesterday, the Dark Lord of the Sith took over the streets of New York alongside none other than Snoop Dogg. In this episode, we take a look into the the sights and sounds as well as hearing Snoop’s insights and upcoming projects."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

a - w - e - s - o - m - e - n - e - s - s

If you use this word to describe something you really like, I'm probably going to assume it's not really my thing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Walt Whitman - There Was a Child Went Forth

There Was a Child Went Forth
        by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and white and red morning-glories, and white and red
clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs and the sow's pink-faint litter, and the
mare's foal and the cow's calf,
And the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there, and the
beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads, all became part of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him,
Winter-grain sprouts and those of the light-yellow corn, and the
esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover'd with blossoms and the fruit afterward,
and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road,
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the
tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the schoolmistress that pass'd on her way to the school,
And the friendly boys that pass'd, and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek'd girls, and the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.

His own parents, he that had father'd him and she that had conceiv'd
him in her womb and birth'd him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day, they became part of him.

The mother at home quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table,
The mother with mild words, clean her cap and gown, a wholesome
odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by,
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger'd, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture, the
yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay'd, the sense of what is real, the
thought if after all it should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time, the curious
whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets, if they are not flashes
and specks what are they?
The streets themselves and the facades of houses, and goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank'd wharves, the huge crossing at
the ferries,
The village on the highland seen from afar at sunset, the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of
white or brown two miles off,
The schooner near by sleepily dropping down the tide, the little
boat slack-tow'd astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,
The strata of color'd clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint away
solitary by itself, the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh
and shore mud,
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who
now goes, and will always go forth every day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BYU Law Graduate Finds Draft of U.S. Constitution

I wrote this for BYU Law School the other day. Turns out there was a draft of the Constitution just waiting for the right researcher to come along.

In my opinion, it's a pretty interesting story. Plus, when I interviewed Mrs. Toler, she was very helpful and had a real passion for what she's studying, so I think she deserves the publicity.

because Christina quoted it on her blog and I thought it was a good idea.

"but like for instance where do you look with your eyes when you tell somebody you like them and mean what you say? You can't look right at them, because then what if their eyes look at you as your eyes look at them and you lock eyes as you're saying it, and then there'd be some awful like voltage or energy there, hanging between you. But you can't look away like you're nervous, like some nervous kid asking for a date or something. You can't go around giving that kind of thing of yourself away."
-David Foster Wallace

just for kicks

Friday, January 29, 2010

100 abandoned houses

these are great

P.S. I got Garner's Dictionary of Modern American Usage for Christmas.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

from my class on William James

Journal #2

Hume makes an astute observation by noticing that through introspection, we seem to come up with a notion of self so varied and seemingly changeable that it is just a flux of sensations and ideas. We might posit that the evidence of our essential self having some static quality is memory. It presents a problem though, because as a general rule, we don’t have any recollection of birth, and memory records nothing for a significant amount of time following birth, so the beginning of a chain of memory known as self is a sort of hazy fading in of recollections of sensory and other information. Even then we run into problems because our memories feel linked together in our minds, but when we try to explain them we run into some serious problems: we tell stories out of chronological order, we can’t remember who was where, names get forgotten, we forget words we purportedly said, etc. In short, if it is only memory that gives us evidence of a self, there are some big gaps that are hard to explain empirically. Nonetheless, we are able to recall key events consistently, and I think we do rely on these recollections for some sort of consistency in our mental construction of self.
Do we give credence to the notion that our memories link together and that is a sufficient construction to be called a self? I’m not really sure it is enough to refute Hume’s argument or to accommodate our everyday experience. On the other hand, I’m not so sure we should have any problem when issues come up in that sort of a construction; everything else in our world is in just as much flux. We like to say that large objects, like mountains, are constant in some way, are static, but if we start to look at them with just a slight empirical twist, we discover that billions and billions of atoms are moving around in those same mountains; some particles being scraped off, others being deposited by wind and weather, and the geologists tell us the whole mass of particles known as mountain is moving (!) anyway . In time, zoom out a little to where you are looking at a range of even a few hundred thousand years, and the amount of time it takes for a mountain to get leveled compared to the amount of time it takes for you to forget someone’s name might not really be that different. If time is infinite (again, !), a million years to form a landscape and a few weeks for you to forget where you hid your spare key aren’t really that different at all, so the link between memories is just as consistent as anything else. The fact that perhaps there is no mountain now is not a barrier to saying that there once was. Likewise, just because a person has died and we have no empirical evidence of a self available to us, maybe it shouldn’t raise any objections to our saying that at least there once was, and in the case of my self and the mountain still standing, there is right now.

(This doesn't address my belief that there is a soul in man, and though perhaps impossible to prove by human means (but not necessarily impossible to know), I think there is something deep and real about being human that gives people reason to believe they have a self/soul, and I think they are right. Even though I have a hard time justifying the belief by anything strictly rational, I am thoroughly convinced that there is something in me and every other person that is unbreakable, infinite, and undying. That is a soul.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

environmentalism and the stewardship of Latter-day Saints

One of my dad's oft-repeated sayings is "Life is a process of discovery and rediscovery." It's true. Of course, we hope that when we figure something out the second (or third, or sixteenth) time, it's in a deeper or somehow more significant way than it was before.

On that note, I try to be environmentally conscious, and I have always felt that my religious beliefs support that stance. I'm not great at it, but I try to do little things: I don't litter, I pick up other people's litter, I try to conserve paper, I walk to school and work, I turn lights off when I leave a room, I buy some things secondhand, I avoid plastic bottles, aluminum cans, batteries and disposable plates, etc.

It was interesting to see what an environmental lawyer had to say about our beliefs in relation to environmental  protection. I feel like I rediscovered my commitment as a Latter-day Saint to take good care of natural resources. I think most of what he said was right on. I also think it's good for people and families to patrol their own environmental habits and I am a bit skeptical about government regulation. That said, here's a short article I wrote about the lecture by Craig Galli, who has been in environmental law for over 20 years:

President Brigham Young said, "Nature helps us to see and understand God. To all His creations we owe an allegiance of service and profound admiration."

This is a great source for LDS perspectives on law:

And this link is to a study guide on LDS environmental stewardship with lots of quotes from prophets and other leaders about the earth and our relation to it:

Here's a thought: We believe that if we live worthily, we will some day be exalted and live in the presence of God with our families and others who were valiant in the testimony of Jesus, and so we try to harmonize our relationships with all mankind. We also believe the earth will be glorified and exalted and will be the residence of exalted beings who lived on this earth, and we ought to harmonize our relationship with the earth so she doesn't reject us in the hereafter.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

sometimes philosophy feels like...

blatantly copied from McSweeney's (


"I realize you are busy. I appreciate that the day's labors have left you weary, baggy-eyed, on edge. As I enter the 10th minute of spirited disagreement with the checkout girl, your exhaustion and hunger must be growing in a black double helix of frustration. But I think that your anger toward me will abate when you realize something about my present altercation—it's not about the money; it's about the principle of the thing.

My motives are pure.

Now, I will be the first to admit that a triumph in this dispute, over the price of jarred vegetables, would result in monetary gain—75 cents, to be exact. For me, though, these material benefits are irrelevant.

It is truth—not avarice—that moves my tongue. In fact, I will speed to donate some portion of my spoils to charity, provided I can find an organization devoted to truth and justice in supermarkets.

I believe I just heard one of you, Fellow Grocery Shoppers of Checkout Line No. 6, ask, "Who cares about the principle of the thing? Grey's Anatomy starts in 20 minutes!" A fair question, to be sure.

Let me ask a question in return: Hunger has blinded you to ethics, but what about logic? For, you see, I am fighting not just for what is fair but for what is correct. A "pickle," as I have now patiently explained a dozen times, can be any pickled vegetable matter, not just a cucumber. Perhaps if cashier Brianna would suspend her Chiclet-snapping and wrest her attention from that Us Weekly—which, by the way, did she pay for?—she would realize these truths of the universe.

I am right. Trader Joe is wrong.

The increased volume of your grumbling can only mean that I've won your support. Thank you, brothers and sisters, for joining me in this important fight. We'll stay here all night if we have to.

Monday, January 18, 2010

missing the boat...

Discovery News had never crossed my radar until the above story showed up in the ads on my gmail. I think they've got their priorities crooked.