Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Dallin Hoaks

What a coincidence! It turns out that the Historically Mormon Apostle who took it upon himself to announce that Black Lives Matter (you can now buy black hoodies with the quote on them!) also happens to be the only HMA to have publicly endorsed the climate hoax. Oh, and his name just happens to be Dallin H. Oaks -- Hoaks.

Here is Dallin Hoaks's BYU-Hawaii commencement address, delivered February 25, 2017. He chose the hilariously ironic title "Push Back Against the World."

These are challenging times, filled with big worries: wars and rumors of wars, possible epidemics of infectious diseases, droughts, floods, and global warming. Seacoast cities are concerned with the rising level of the ocean, which will bring ocean tides to their doorsteps or over their thresholds. Global warming is also affecting agriculture and wildlife. Nations whose prosperity depends on world peace and free trade worry about disturbing developments that threaten either or both of these. We are even challenged by the politics of conflict and the uncertainties sponsored by the aggressive new presidential administration in the world’s most powerful nation.

Global warming alarmism, a gratuitous swipe at President Trump, and a bit of dramatic foreshadowing for the birdemic -- all in one paragraph!

And here is Mr. Hoaks speaking at the October 2020 general conference on the topic "Love Your Enemies." (Note: When Jesus said that, I don't think Satan was the enemy he had in mind!)

In public actions and in our personal attitudes, we have had racism and related grievances. In a persuasive personal essay, the Reverend Theresa A. Dear of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has reminded us that “racism thrives on hatred, oppression, collusion, passivity, indifference and silence.” As citizens and as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we must do better to help root out racism. . . .

One reason the recent protests in the United States were shocking to so many was that the hostilities and illegalities felt among different ethnicities in other nations should not be felt in the United States. This country should be better in eliminating racism not only against Black Americans, who were most visible in the recent protests, but also against Latinos, Asians, and other groups. This nation’s history of racism is not a happy one, and we must do better.

Apparently it is appropriate for prophets of God to quote the NAACP -- to remind us that indifference and silence lie on a continuum with hatred and oppression. Mr. Hoaks also twice uses the popular catchphrase "We must do better." This is what is colloquially known as quacking like a duck.

And finally, the quote that got printed on hoodies. Here is Dallin Hoaks speaking at BYU on October 27, 2020. The title of his talk is "Racism and Other Challenges."

The shocking police-produced death of George Floyd in Minnesota last May was surely the trigger for these nationwide protests whose momentum was carried forward under the message of “Black Lives Matter.” Of course Black lives matter! That is an eternal truth all reasonable people should support.

I wonder if he would also characterize "It's okay to be white" as an eternal truth all reasonable people should support. No, actually I don't wonder.

Here's a sobering thought. Russell M. Nelson is 96 years old, and Dallin Hoaks is next in line to become President of the Church. If you thought Nelson was a game changer, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Something about that smile!

Synchronicity: Woman feeds snake

Way leading on to way as it does, I somehow ended up watching this video of President Trump reading the lyrics to the 1969 Al Wilson song "The Snake."

A woman finds a "poor, half-frozen snake," takes it in, and feeds it honey and milk until it revives. The snake of course repays her kindness by biting her, and when she protests,

"Oh, shut up, silly woman," said the reptile with a grin.
"You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in!"

Just after watching this, I sat down to prepare for the day's English classes, the first of which is a basic phonics course for very young children. Their book provides this passage to exemplify the "long a" sound.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Under a blue sun


Not easily with both hands could a man, such as mortals now are, hold it, were he never so young and strong, but Aias lifted it on high and hurled it, and he shattered the four-horned helmet, and crushed together all the bones of the head of Epicles; and he fell like a diver from the high wall, and his spirit left his bones.
-- Iliad, Book 12

And the sun was blue
-- The Grateful Dead, "Scarlet Begonias"

Now there's a word for this. It starts with an i. That word is insanity.
-- Andre Marrou

I've been thinking lately about green suns and red suns and such, and I got to thinking about Athas, the world of the Dark Sun campaign setting in Dungeons & Dragons, about which I read a great deal in my teens. In the distant past, Athas had enjoyed a Blue Age, when the sun was blue and water was plentiful. Later, some terrible magic turned the sun yellow, ushering in the Green Age -- to be followed by the Red Age, when some magic even more terrible had turned it a deep crimson.

Something about that Blue Age, with its blue sun, captured my imagination, and I had a sudden vivid fantasy in which I saw Telamonian Ajax lifting his great boulder on high and smashing in the head of Epicles -- and the sun was blue.

Have you ever noticed that nothing -- absolutely nothing -- in Homer is ever described as green or blue? You can check. Those colors didn't exist in the Homeric world. Homer's "wine-dark sea" seems bizarre to us moderns, for whom wine is red and the sea is blue. Under a blue sun, though, the sea would not look any bluer than anything else, and "red" -- reflecting less blue light than any other visible color -- would be a close cousin to "dark."

As for the preternatural strength of Ajax and the others, it is simply the Superman Effect. Kal-El, born under the red sun of Krypton, becomes super under the yellow sun of earth; so it stands to reason that we, a yellow-sun species, would be super under a blue sun. This also explains why so many of the Hindu gods have blue skin -- in the light of the blue sun, men were virtually gods.

Am I seriously suggesting that the Sun used to be blue, or that blue light would somehow give people supernatural strength? Of course not, but when such things come to me, I record them nonetheless.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Not Beetlejuice -- Beteljuice!

Last night I was out on a night hike with my wife, who is Taiwanese. It was a clear night, and she was asking about some of the stars.

"And that one's called Betelgeuse," I said, pointing to the big red star in Orion.

She looked slightly disgusted. "Seriously?" she said. "Because it's red?"

It took me a second to make the connection, but here in Taiwan, bright red betel juice, spat by those who have the habit of chewing areca nuts wrapped in betel leaves, is a familiar sight!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Why Fahrenheit is the one true system of degrees

It recognizes that freezing and boiling are diametric opposites.

The riddle of Russell M. Nelson

And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, "I will persuade him."

And the Lord said unto him, "Wherewith?"

And he said, "I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets."

And he said, "Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so."

-- 1 Kings 22:21-22

They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

-- Jeremiah 6:14

So Russell M. Nelson -- leader of That Historically Mormon Organization With the Really Long Name -- has given a "shared message of hope and healing" that is being heavily promoted. And I -- no, of course I didn't watch it! Talking video is talking video even when it comes from God's Mouthpiece on Earth. But, having been alerted to its existence by strange goings-on at the Junior Ganymede, I did read the transcript (pdf).

I'm really struggling to know what to make of this man. Here are a few excerpts from his address, interspersed with snide remarks.

As a man of science and as a man of faith, the current worldwide pandemic has been of great concern to me.

And your dangling modifier is of great concern to me as a man of English -- but that aside, I agree. The death of science and its replacement by "The Science"; the voluntary institutional seppuku of all organized religions; the way Satan, with a great chain in his hand, veils the whole face of the earth in darkness and looks up and laughs, and his angels rejoice -- all this should be of utmost concern to all men of science and of faith.

As a man of science, I appreciate the critical need to prevent the spread of infection. . . .

Oh, right. There's that, too. Good to cover all the bases.

As a man of faith, however, I view the current pandemic as only one of many ills that plague our world,

Preach! The birdemic is not the sole ill. This is where he's gonna break out the Imprecatory Psalms and give it with both barrels to Satan and the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.

including hate,

Tell me he didn't just say that.

civil unrest,

Worldwide totalitarian coup takes place. Populace shrugs, or begs for more. World's biggest problem: civil unrest. 

racism, violence,

Checks out. Oh, wait, did you mean something else?


Yes! How the hell did this not get top billing? I mean, I know it's not as critical as "preventing the spread of infection" or anything, but still . . .

and lack of civility.

Between the states. Say between the states. I just can't abide the word "civil." And -- wait, is this the end of the list? What about global warming? You forgot global warming!

Skilled scientists and researchers are laboring diligently to develop and distribute a vaccine against the [birdemic].

And as a Man of Science™, you know this is totally necessary.

But there is no medication or operation that can fix the many spiritual woes and maladies that we face.

Tell us about it, doctor. The sickness unto death -- Sygdommen til Døden, as the Danes call it.

There is, however, a remedy -- one that may seem surprising -- because it flies in the face of our natural intuitions.

Whatever you do, don't trust those natural intuitions. 

Nevertheless, its effects have been validated by scientists as well as men and women of faith.

Tell me, how can scientists validate something as a remedy to spiritual woes and maladies? I'll tell you: Because you're actually talking about therapy and using "spiritual" to mean psychological.

I am referring to the healing power of gratitude. . . .

Maybe we could clap, too.

Over my nine and a half decades of life, I have concluded that counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems.

Yes, I know recounting means "giving an account of." Still a dubious choice of words in November 2020.

No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription. Does gratitude spare us from sorrow, sadness, grief, and pain? No, but it does soothe our feelings. . . .

Seriously? It soothes our feelings? Lulls us into carnal security, you might say? You're supposed to be a prophet, man, not a psychotherapist.

As a doctor, I know the value of good therapy. So, dear friends, may I prescribe two activities to help us experience the healing power of gratitude.

We don't want therapy. We want spiritual leadership. And I hate to break it to you, but "as a doctor" doesn't have the cachet it used to.

First, I invite you -- just for the next seven days -- to turn social media into your own personal gratitude journal. Post every day about what you are grateful for, whom you are grateful for, and why you are grateful. At the end of seven days, see if you feel happier and more at peace. Use the hashtag #GiveThanks.

And the Lord spake unto Moses and said, "Let's get this hashtag trending." Any prophet worth his salt would have said get the hell off social media ages ago.

Working together, we can flood social media with a wave of gratitude that reaches the four corners of the earth. Perhaps this will fulfill, in part, the promise God gave to Father Abraham, that through his descendants “all families of the earth [shall] be blessed.”

And this, in the immortal words of Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, "marks the absolute zero in human goofiness." I'm going to bow out at this point. Any further repartee on my part would be overkill.

Would you believe me if I said that this evil speaking of the Lord's anointed is a sad duty which gives me no pleasure? Of course you wouldn't -- but the pleasure is genuinely bittersweet. No matter how much evidence stares me in the face, it's still hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that the leaders of (what used to be) the Mormon Church are now on the wrong side in the spiritual war. But they are.

I met Russell M. Nelson once, some 20 years ago in Utah. I remember his extreme tidiness, the almost mantis-like precision of his movements. I remember the way he always kept his arms very, very close to his body, as if he were trying to take up as little space as possible. I remember how he delivered his address with his face tilted slightly downwards, as if he had stopped wearing glasses years ago but never lost the habit of peering over them. I remember how, despite all these less-than-macho mannerisms, he exuded self-confidence and right to rule.

(Wait, I've just described a Gray alien, haven't I? I swear I didn't do that on purpose! Only after writing down my impressions as I remembered them did I realize who they reminded me of.)

I do not remember being bowled over by any aura of spirituality, any sense that this was a prophet of God. But neither do I remember the opposite. He seemed a decent person. But this is war, and being decent is neither here nor there. All that matters is which side you're one.

How did so many decent people end up on the wrong side? And how did a sin-ridden old fleabag of a spirit like myself somehow manage to find the right one? Where, I ask, is the justice in that?

Saturday, November 21, 2020

It turns out I invented a new way of estimating average distances between planets.

From a Physics Today article by Tom Stockman, Gabriel Monroe, and Samuel Cordner, published on March 12, 2019:

As best we can tell, no one has come up with a concept like PCM [point-circle method] to compare orbits. With the right assumptions, PCM could possibly be used to get a quick estimate of the average distance between any set of orbiting bodies. Perhaps it can be useful for quickly estimating satellite communication relays, for which signal strength falls off with the square of distance. In any case, at least we know now that Venus is not our closest neighbor—and that Mercury is everybody’s.

It's hard to believe that three professional researchers somehow missed out From the Narrow Desert in their literature review, but I'm claiming priority on this. I independently used the same method in my post "The geocentric order of the planets," published November 9, 2018. At the time I had no idea that I was doing anything other than slapping together a kludge to avoid having to do any math above my pay grade, but apparently I was making an Original Contribution to Physics.

Thanks to reader Kevin McCall for bringing the Physics Today article to my attention.

Dallin Hoaks

What a coincidence! It turns out that the Historically Mormon Apostle who took it upon himself to announce that Black Lives Matter (you can ...