A French Writer On Politics & Society Today

From Michel Houellebecq’s 2015 novel, Submission:

“The Muslim Brotherhood is an unusual party, you know. Many of the usual political issues simply don’t matter to them. To start with, the economy is not their main concern. What they care about is birthrate and education. To them it’s simple–whichever segment of the population has the highest birthrate, and does the best job of transmitting its values, wins. If you control the children, you control the future.” pg. 64

“My only goal in life was to do a little reading and get in bed at four in the afternoon with a carton of cigarettes and a bottle; and yet, at the same time, I had to admit, I was going to die if I kept that up–I was going to die fast, unhappy and alone. And did I really want to die fast, unhappy and alone? In the end, only kind of.” pg. 203

“The fact is, most people live their lives without worrying too much about these supposedly philosophical questions. They think about them only when they’re facing some kind of tragedy–a serious illness, the death of a loved one. At least, that’s how it is in the West; in the rest of the world people die and kill in the name of these very questions, they wage bloody wars over them, and they have since the dawn of time. These metaphysical questions are exactly what men fight over, not market shares or who gets to hunt where. Even in the West, atheism has no solid basis.” pg. 204

On The Use & Abuse Of Media

After all that’s been written for and against gay marriage, there’s one major aspect of the issue that has received almost no attention at all. And it may be the most important part.

In the early 2000’s, 31 U.S. states passed constitutional amendments that specifically reiterated the definition of marriage as being one-man-one-woman. By 2015, when the Supreme Court struck those down, a majority of Americans in surveys said they no longer disapproved of gay marriage.

Aside from any feeling about the issue itself, that change should be fascinating. Has there ever been a faster shift of so large a portion of the population on so major an issue? In only about a decade, millions of people just changed their mind.

And nobody seems to be asking why or how.

I think the answer is obvious, if we do bother to ask. Those millions of people didn’t all just spontaneously have random changes of heart, in history’s biggest coincidence.

No. The media worked on us. What else could it have been?

There’s no need here to rehash the many, many positive portrayals of gay people and their relationships on TV over the last few decades (a short summary, though, is here); I don’t think anyone would deny that such portrayals were very common, that they became more common over time, and that the amount of characters involved was disproportionate to the general population in real life.  Again, no value judgment about gay marriage either way is needed in order to simply see that TV’s tendency to preach the virtue of gays was widespread. One might say that this trend was meant to combat ignorance–fair enough. My point here is that the trend exists.

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Remembering The Huntridge

We took the kids to the Nevada State Museum this summer, and one area was dedicated to remembering the Huntridge theater. It really had a fascinating history. I saw plenty of concerts there in the 90’s, including Nine Inch Nails just as The Downward Spiral came out. I had to take some pictures of these displays, as they brought back some great memories. Strange that I never think of this stuff–I work only a block from there and drive by it all the time.


Look at all these forgotten 90’s bands! Hemlock, Dinosaur Jr., Suicidal Tendencies, The Ataris, Dance Hall Crashers, KMFDM, Save Ferris, Voodoo Glow Skulls! I used to save these little fliers and put them on the wall of my bedroom. I wish I still had them–there were dozens just plastering the whole thing.



I used to have that exact KUNV shirt in high school! I just checked eBay, and nothing, sadly. The “Rock Avenue” slogan on the right refers to the legendary overnight show that radio station used to play–the DJs there knew everything and played the most amazing range of stuff.

Stolen From The Library

I was just looking at my library district’s web page to see which branches have copies of some movies I’m looking to check out over the long weekend. One of them is The Expendables 3. Below is a screen shot of part of the results page for that one.

This is hilarious. Look how many copies were checked out and never returned! (Those are the ones marked “billed.”) Between this and the other branches shown on the rest of that page, there are dozens of copies borrowed and kept forever.

I’ve seen this note on other movies before, but never in quantities like this.

So, what is it about The Expendables 3 that makes so many people check it out and keep it?


A Picture For A Great Book of Mormon Verse

14117824_10209866266511572_2409278205517880784_nI made this last week because it’s one of my favorite verses in the whole Book of Mormon, and there weren’t any really good pictures out there featuring it (though I had to condense it to make it readable in the space available).

I love the rhetorical power in 3 Nephi 27:14. I read it as an ironic contrast: the innocent Christ is “lifted up” by guilty mankind to torture, which enables that same guilty mankind to be “lifted up” by Christ’s loving Father to salvation.

A friend pointed out that it can also be read as a parallel as well as a contrast: “as” Christ was lifted up on the cross, “even so should men be” also, in that each of us must “deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23), or that “our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:6).

Clearly, there’s some deep and beautiful wisdom in this one verse. It should be read and lived and appreciated more. I hope you like the picture.

What Is Section 132 Really About?

Not marriage. Not really. A question about marriage is the impetus for the revelation, and information about it is given at a few points, but that information is always incidental, and given to illustrate points about the revelation’s larger theme.

Consider that section 132 is the last revelation Joseph Smith received that’s included in the Doctrine and Covenants. What might be the most important message of that book overall for the Saints in this dispensation? It’s one that is indeed extremely important and relevant for us this very day.



In 66 verses, the word “marriage” is only used two times. Other marriage-related terms occur not much more often: “marry” and “sealed” occur six times each, “concubines” and “wives,” four times each. The most commonly used marriage-related terms are “wife” and “adultery,” which occur ten times each; and “adultery” is always mentioned in material that’s meant to ensure that that sin is not committed.

Contrast that with the frequency of these other significant terms:

  • Commanded, commandment, priesthood – 7 times each
  • According, appointed, received—9 times each
  • Exaltation, receive—11 times each
  • Abide—12 times
  • Power, word—13 times each
  • Covenant—15 times
  • Servant—16 times

And perhaps the most important term of all, as suggested by frequency of use:

  • Law—32 times



A word cloud of terms in Doctrine and Covenants section 132

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Weekly Family History Hacks

I just started a Facebook group called Weekly Family History Hacks. I’ll share resources and tips for people at all levels of research there. It’s open to the public and participation is encouraged, so please join and share!

The first post covers signing up for Family Search, using the Social Security Death Index, and getting the new Family Search Memories smartphone app.

Huston. Front- Asa Huston, John Henry Huston, Ellen Huston. Back- George A. Huston, Mildred M. Huston, Fred C. Huston, Cassia Huston Reams, John W. Huston.

My grandfather is the middle-aged man on the left. My great-grandfather is the old man in the front. 


Which Episodes of Star Trek Should Be In The Reboot Universe?


With Star Trek Beyond set in the middle of the “5-year mission,” we’ve officially reached crossover time with the original series.* Despite the alternate universe of the reboot, V’ger is still out there, the whale probe is still on its way, and the Klingon moon is still likely to explode.

Besides those later movie references, the TV series itself offers some rich grist for the mill. Consider the great 2nd season episode, “The Doomsday Machine.” This one featured a giant automated device with an impenetrable hull from beyond our galaxy that would slice up entire solar systems. It drifted in from off our charts and wreaked havoc. Nothing in the altered timeline would change that. It’s still out there, and at about the right time to merge with the reboot universe.

The original episode does a decent job of conveying the machine’s size and strength, but obviously the budget and effects of the time left it largely to imagination. Today, a story on such a scale could be realized much more effectively. If the Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens was a big step up from the old Death Star, a new Doomsday Machine could make Starkiller Base look like child’s play.

Future reboot movies could do a lot worse than including a new Doomsday Machine.


* I used to worry that the reboot series was moving too far too fast, but then it struck me that Kirk probably joined Starfleet several years later in this universe than he would have in the original series. Having them in the “5-year mission” era already seems defensible. Besides, its the 3rd film in the series; no need to hold off forever on the timeline.


A Song and Three Videos

I heard this contemporary cover of “Nearer My God To Thee” on Mormon Channel radio last week and loved it.

Also, I found these three videos to be very helpful in picturing the detailed directions for making the tabernacle, priestly clothing, etc. in Exodus 25-30. The narration isn’t from the King James Version, but it’s easy to tell what’s what. In fact, the updated terminology also helps clarify the KJV text.

The first video covers Exodus 25 (0:00-5:27), Exodus 26:15-30 (5:27-7:07), and Exodus 27:1-8 (7:07-8:09)

The second video covers Exodus 27:9-21 (0:00-2:30), and Exodus 28:1-43 (2:30-9:08)

The third video covers Exodus 30:1-10 (0:00-1:56), and 30:17-33 (1:57-4:30)

Why Don’t Students Like School?

UntitledAs I prepare to start another school year, it might be helpful to review my notes on one of the best education books I’ve ever read, Why Don’t Students Like School?


1.  People are naturally curious, but they are not naturally good thinkers.

a.  Be sure there are problems to be solved

b.  Respect students’ cognitive limits

c.  Hook students on questions that will lead to the factual answers a lesson provides.  Don’t rely on trivial connections to their interests.

d.  Puzzle/dazzle students to get interest AND later to help review material, even during ongoing learning.

e.  Alter student work to match individuals’ ability; don’t give everyone the same thing.

f.  Change things up to redirect lost attention.

g.  Keep track of what works and what doesn’t


2.  Factual knowledge precedes skill.

a.  Teach the touchstones of Western Civilization’s culture.

b.  Teach the core concepts of each discipline deeply over time.

c.  Be sure that the knowledge base is mostly in place when you require critical thinking.

d.  Shallow knowledge is better than no knowledge at all.

e.  Students must read A LOT.

f.  Make opportunities for incidental, ancillary knowledge acquisition.

g.  “Start early” (level the playing field for students with poor home environments–somehow!)

h.  Avoid lots of lists–knowledge must be meaningful.

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Political Communication


Liberals are excellent communicators, but they focus more on ethos and pathos than logos. Thus, their messages come across as manipulative propaganda.

Conservatives focus on logos more than ethos or pathos, but they’re terrible at articulating their worldview. Thus, their messages come across as narrow and cold babbling.

Feel free to discuss.

Notes and Quotes, July 2016

As always, these are things that have caught my eye and stuck with me over the last few months.


What are the most rock and roll sounding classical pieces?

Shakespeare in Art

The 40 Most Intriguing Musicians of 2016




Advice For the Untenured Conservative Humanist: Some good advice and examples here

6 Famous Documentaries That Were Shockingly Full of Crap



The Onion: College Encourages Lively Exchange Of Idea: Students, Faculty Invited To Freely Express Single Viewpoint

Are You Planning A Cake Hoax? These 5 Tips Will Make Sure It’s A Success



Aeneid book VI translated by Seamus Heaney

The history of English can be explained in five words

The Burning Ladder: a poem by Dana Gioia

The Secret History of One Hundred Years of Solitude



Photographs of 1870s London

10 Incredible Hikes Under 5 Miles Everyone In Nevada Should Take

30 Most Colorful Cities Around the World

North Las Vegas jogging routes

46 photos of life at a Japanese internment camp, taken by Ansel Adams

The 25 Golden Rules of Running

Interview with The Iron Cowboy

Abe Blair Photography

I really want to stay at the Wild Rose Inn in Genoa, Nevada

A Patriotic Wish,” by Edgar A. Guest

32 Legitimate Ways to Make Money at Home

Donna Torres photography of Yellowstone

Alessio Andreani photography

The Top 10 Best “Top 10 Best Lists of 2015” of 2015



I reflected at the lack of big families now and the derision that many people have for tight-knit families in general. Our society is now a culture of drifters who move place to place who seek solace in their hipster lifestyle and sense of social justice. Their sense of outrage is often a substitute for family or religion or both. There is less sense of community and human compassion for individuals now.

–Dr. Helen, “Love” — read the whole thing!

Jeannie Suk on transgender bathrooms

The Road to Serfdom in cartoons

Move over LGBTQ, the new acronym is LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM (No, this is not a joke)

The Culture War In One Graph: good discussion of values

And then there’s leftist religions.

Like a zealot or religious fanatic, leftist fanatics worship and use their made-up religions to fill the hole of nothingness that is otherwise known as their life.  This is why you NEVER see the captain of the football team with a 3.8GPA join the “anarchist/marxist/minarchist” trench-coat wearing, movie-theater-shooting, nerd crowd.  Or the studious Asian engineering major block the interstate near campus.  They have lives.  They have meaning.  They have purpose.  They have agency.  They have value to the rest of society.

But again, those things require work, effort, rigor, math, and intellectual honesty.

Ergo, why do all that hard stuff when you can just claim a religion?

You’re a feminist!
You’re going green!
You eat only organic/non-GMO/gluten-free/whateverthefrickthey’llcomeupwithnextweek!
You’re fighting racism!
You’re helping the poor!
You’re a pacifist!
You have a ADDHDHHDH Autism or Aspergers are bi-polar or whatever you want to tell yourself. 

You can claim allegiance to any one of an increasing number of bogus leftist religions and simply wear that trait on your sleeve like a badge of honor.  And the best thing about it, so AWESOME in fact that leftists masturbate to it, is…

you didn’t have to expend one calorie of energy on work to get it.  You simply “declared” you had this trait or believed this religion.  And now, not only does your worthless life have faux-worth.  You are a more intelligent, superior person to those troglodytes who don’t understand “intersectionality.”

–Captain Capitalism, “Traits Are No Substitute For Accomplishments” — read the whole thing! (And read Ed Driscoll’s expansion of the same)


Let’s play the ‘blame Israel game’ with The New York Times

It’s dangerous and wrong to tell all children they’re ‘gender fluid

I was a transgender woman

When I recently asked a class of undergraduates at Oglethorpe University if any of them thought there were “no meaningful differences between men and women,” two female students raised their hands. When I pointed to the obvious reproductive differences between males and females, which give young women the unique ability to conceive and bear children, they looked at me as if I had committed an act of hurtful bigotry.

–“The Problem with Gender Studies



L. Tom Perry, “A Meaningful Celebration

Christianity is a religion of losers. To the weak and humble, it offers a stripped and humiliated Lord. To those without reason for optimism, it holds up the cross as a sign of hope. To anyone who does not win at life, it promises that whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake shall find it. At its center stands a truth that we are prone to forget. There are people who cannot be made into winners, no matter how positive their thinking. They need something more paradoxical and cruciform.

First Things

Reprioritizing Our Life toward Choosing the One Thing Necessary and the Better Part

To The Mom Who Is Exhausted, Depressed, and Completely Overwhelmed…5 Lessons from the Prophet Elijah

We Need to Gather to Zion Culturally

Defending the Faith: ‘From Darkness unto Light’ takes a fresh look at recovery, publication of the Book of Mormon

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft May Not Want To Read This

This week I was thinking of something I read somewhere, that much of what we think of as “Lovecraftian” doesn’t really come from the works of Lovecraft. It’s true. Most of his work is not horror fiction as we think of it; his style has that ring to it, but the plots tend to be be of different genres.

Most of his major work is really more science fiction. The rest is a mix of weird Gothic, some is dark fantasy, and, sure, some is just horror. But he jumps around, blends genres, and covers his main body of work under the very broad umbrella of speculative fiction.

Basically, he’s Dean Koontz.

There, I said it. Let the rioting begin.