Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lawyers and Science

Last week was the "Creation Lesson" in Sunday School. The teacher did a fantastic job of keeping the lesson doctrinal, despite attempts by some class members to veer off into tangents.
On one of those tangents, someone makes some remark about scientists, and someone else, a long-term member of the ward and an attorney, says "scientists think they know everything; they're so prideful."
And the retort: "And lawyers are so humble." I wish I could have been the one to say that, but that award goes to the local statistician.
Seriously, with a past in science and a future in law, I think I have a unique perspective on the subject. Any group is going to have pompous jerks (even Sunday School classes may have them). Sure, some scientists are prideful. But if you want to find large amounts of pride in well-educated groups, you'll have much more luck finding it among politicians, economics and business people, and lawyers.
Scientists are well-aware that they don't have all the answers. If they did, they'd be out of a job. And the majority of the many scientists I have met have been wonderful, humble people.
And I've met a lot of nice lawyers too, in the past 18 months. Dozens. Some wonderful people. And some incredibly pompous, arrogant, soulless jerks. Who's more prideful, on average? No contest.
Oh, the irony of a lawyer calling scientists prideful...

LDS Athlete

The Winter Olympics are still several months away, but it appears that one Australian athlete, Torah Bright, will be one of the more popular athletes in the competition. She's a snowboarder, she's already won a few world championships, and she has the kind of looks and personality that attracts positive media attention.
And she's active LDS.
If all goes well, we should be hearing a lot more about her as the Olympics approach.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rock Band? Wii?

I've started doing our taxes, and it's apparent that having a kid while making very little money results in huge tax returns.
We've been a bit short on cash the past couple of months, and our spending has gone down--our credit card bill this month is the smallest it's been in a long time. We want to keep it that way--but we also want to do something fun when we get our tax return.
What I want: Rock Band (and possibly Dragon Age).
What April wants: Wii.
We do not have a game system (outside of our PC, which should be able to handle Dragon Age).
I looked up info on Rock Band on Wii, and it appears as if Wii users can't purchase additional tracks or CDs past the basic ones. That option is a necessity for me. (For example, I'd absolutely need to have Boston's full first album).
So, my questions:
1. What are the best Wii games? (Primarily for April).
2. What game system is best with Rock Band? I'm looking at both the ability to download additional songs as well as price.
3. How do you hook a game system up so that you can download new songs? Does it require a certain kind of internet access? I've never actually owned a game system, so...
4. How do game systems hook up to a monitor? (We have an extra flat-screen computer monitor--can you connect a game system to those? Or do you need a TV with the proper connective abilities?)

Monday, January 18, 2010


Trans-Siberian Orchestra is finally doing a non-Christmas tour, featuring Beethoven's Last Night in its entirety (plus other stuff during the second half). Their first stop will be in Cincinnati--on March 25, my 30th birthday.
As far as I know, that show is TSO's very first non-Christmas show. And I'm going to make sure I'm there.
Talk about a cool birthday gift.
Savatage is gone, and I'll never be able to see them in concert, but a non-Christmas TSO concert--it'll be the next best thing. Most of Savatage will be there (unfortunately, I'm not sure about Jon Oliva or Zak Stevens). And having to travel just five miles to see them (a whole 3 blocks if I'm walking there from work)--let's just say that I've never been more excited about a concert. Never.
If you're a fan, March 25 would be a perfect time to come visit...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Misunderstandings and Missionary Work in Europe

One of my biggest pet peeves is something that is highly damaging to missionary work in Europe. It can manifest it in many different ways: here are two examples I've heard given at church.
1. A statement made in a Sunday School class for teenagers close to missionary age. "All of the good blood in Europe has already been converted, and they immigrated over here, and that's why missionaries in Europe don't get any baptisms."
2. A statement made by a church leader over the pulpit. "We're in Europe not for the Europeans, but for people from Turkey and other countries who immigrate to Europe."

BS. (I thought about spelling BS out, since it's certainly deserved here, but I'll restrain myself).
In the strongest sense possible, BS.

In response to the first statement: missionaries in Europe do get baptisms. They baptize actual Europeans. There are plenty of good Europeans in Europe, and some of them are willing to accept the gospel. Telling future missionaries they won't have success can be (and often is) a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's something Satan himself would say.

In response to the second statement: again, Europeans do get baptized. And once they get baptized, many of them remain active. Contrast that with non-Europeans who (in my experience) all go inactive. I served in two wards and two branches, and never once met an active member who was not either European or American (including South American). We tried working with a couple of these inactive members (Middle Eastern and African, mainly), but the language and/or cultural barriers were just too great--they didn't feel comfortable in the congregation. I know some missionaries in Europe in the past specifically sought out foreigners for easy baptisms, but such work is less effective. It doesn't work. It's not why the Lord sends missionaries to Europe. Missionaries are in Europe to serve Europeans.

If you know someone who's serving or who will serve in Europe, tell them this: Europeans are good people. They are intelligent, and they have good hearts. And missionary success among Europeans is very possible, as long as the missionary believes it's possible. Satan has his lies, and too often church members pass them on. Don't believe them. Believe in the people you're sent to serve, and believe in yourself.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Psycho Mormon Politician

So I was up in Idaho Falls a couple of weeks ago, visiting the in-laws, when I heard about a local guy who's running for governor of Idaho. Now the current governor isn't exactly the type of guy I'd vote for. And Butch Otter sames like a strange fictional name. Kind of like Rex Rammell, one of the guys who's trying to replace him. Only problem is, Butch Otter, as extreme as he is, looks like a sane moderate compared to Rex Rammell.
Rammell is LDS, lives in Eastern Idaho, and has recently arranged a meeting for LDS Elders to discuss the White Horse Prophecy, the Constitution hanging by a thread, and all sorts of other....we'll be polite and call them space doctrines. They're of questionable origin, and the church has distanced itself from them.
Here's a link to a copy of his invitation. Here's a link to the church's response.
Best of all, though, was an area authority who, within my hearing, said that Rex Rammell had "said some very idiotic things." Ouch.
People have certainly been excommunicated for less--I imagine there's a chance that will happen here, if Rammell doesn't back down. Fortunately, he doesn't have many followers--most people think he's wacko, even in Eastern Idaho.