Monday, December 17, 2018

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Monday, December 17: Leo McGarry

Who? That's what I thought, as I read more stories about the so-called president's so-called search for a new chief of staff, after he has cycled through and ruined the careers of his previous chiefs of staff (not "chief of staffs," you oval office tweeter).

One article mentioned the name Leo McGarry as a model chief of staff. Hmmm, that sounded familiar, although I didn't remember an actual chief of staff by that name, so I Googled "Leo McGarry":

This is a FICTITIOUS CHARACTER on a TV SERIES. So that's why the name sounded so familiar. But this FICTITIOUS CHARACTER has his own Wikipedia page! Check it out.

I feel like I'm living in some Twilight Zone, where a FICTITIOUS CHARACTER has a whole biography and info about his career, with comments from real-life chiefs of staff, such as this, from Leon Panetta: "Any administration that would have Leo McGarry as chief of staff would be very, very fortunate." I totally agree. Because, Hello, Leon Panetta and Wikipedia, he is a FICTITIOUS CHARACTER.

Here is the character, played by John Spencer, in "The West Wing."

Leo McGarry.jpg

Sunday, December 16, 2018

"New Religions" Essay Is "Twaddle"

I just loved reading this article, and I hope you will, too. 

As I read the article "America's New Religions" when it first appeared online, I kept thinking, What is wrong with this guy? Does he even know what the word "religion" means? Does he know anything about religion or philosophy? Did he just have a bad dream? Something he ate the night before? What? 

I didn't think more about it, though, partly b/c I'm not a philosopher and I'm intimidated by people who write stuff like that. 

But someone else has done it, and they have thoroughly roasted the author. And so elegantly! "Twaddle," indeed!

Just one quote from the piece by Mike Pesca: "The essay combines sophistry with circular reading to achieve as pure an expression of pseudo-intellectualism as you will ever read."

Go ahead, read the whole thing, and enjoy! You're welcome!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Chief of Staff

Made my day---I laughed out loud---because of all the amazed and appalled reactions to the idea that Jared Kushner wants to be his father-in-law's (the non-elected president) chief of staff, this is the best:

Jared blew into a paper bag, his skin was slick with sweat, his eyes rolled back into his head.
Robert Mueller put an arm around his neck.
"You can do this, son. You've been wearing a wire for 6 months, its just a few months more."
"But chief of staff? Chief of staff?"

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Eye Surgery Was a Huge Success

I wrote Tuesday night about the eye surgery---a vitrectomy---Jason was to have on Wednesday morning. Good news: The surgery was completely successful, with an amazingly fast recovery, and Jason has even posted on Facebook a photo of his eye. So check that out if you want to; I won't be posting anything like that here!

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Thursday and Friday: Deadlines

This is what I've been working on this week, and will be working on through the rest of this week, some work I need to submit before some deadlines.

But I don't hate deadlines---in fact, I'm guessing I would get very little done without them.

And, looking for a non-copyrighted image to illustrate this post, I realized I need to make my own image. And Someday*** I will come up with an image for "deadline." However, since I am on deadline for these other projects, I won't do it right now. But I *AM* going to post here a link to this blog post,  "How to excel despite deadline stress," which has a great illustration.

Panic Meter

*** I capitalized "Someday" because it's like it's a regular day of the week for me, like Sunday, Monday, and so on. Maybe I could also call it "Everyday." Or "Deadlineday."

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Wednesday, December 12, 2018:

Eye surgery for Jason first thing in the morning. I'm posting this Tuesday night because I don't think I'll have time to do it tomorrow. We are praying for the surgery to go well, to be completely successful, and for Jason to have a quick recovery.

(I was going to post a photo here of what this surgery looks like, but it's too grim and gory and hard to look at. But you can Google it, if you like, when you aren't worried about your stomach getting upset.)

(Later on Wednesday: The surgery went well, no surprises like last time, and a quick recovery in the works. Thanks for your concern!)

(Sorry, I guess I didn't say here what it the surgery was, after all. It was a vitrectomy. Go ahead and find a Google image if you have a very, very, very strong stomach.)


My Daily Quarrel with Life: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Have you ever had a moment when you realized that all your preconceived notions about a person were completely wrong? That someone you thought didn't care about you really did? That someone you assumed was unfriendly and standoffish turned out to be shy? That someone you never saw smiling was suffering through terrible sadness and blossomed into smiles when you smiled at them?

Yeah, that happened to me today. It was a good reminder of this scripture, one of the ones I keep coming back to:
And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. (Alma 7:23)
I need to remember this and do this, so I don't become like Yancy, the disobedient horse. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Monday, 10 Dec 2018

So, another website I think I shouldn't be reading, but that doesn't stop me: New York Magazine.

And here's just one great example of the joy I get from NYMag: the story of Ariana Grande's music video about her breakup with What's-His-Face from SNL, among other things.




Yep, I know oh so well what a low-class person that makes me.

(And, hello, the fact that I even know who Ariana Grande is! And What's-His-Face from SNL!)


Sunday, December 9, 2018

What I was doing over the past week

(....between last Saturday, Dec. 1, when I spent most of the day in final rehearsal for and then the performance of a scene from "The Glass Menagerie," and when we got back home Thursday evening)---just photos, for now:






My Weekend Joy of Life, Sunday, December 9, 2018

What do you do when you're feeling down? When you know you have no "reason" to be feeling bad, but you feel bad anyway? When you just want to crawl into bed (or, as Amanda says in "The Glass Menagerie," "just want to find a hole somewhere and crawl into it and stay there for the rest of my entire life")?

I felt that way yesterday, and then the latest issues of the church magazines arrived, and I sat down to glance through The Ensign. I was filled with peace and joy as I read the articles there. I don't even know where to start with examples, so I'll just include here the link to the whole issue and hope that you Dear Readers will follow this link, to find that joy and peace for yourselves.

Oh, here's one, because Jeff and I are writing a book about science and religion. In the course of contemplating our own work and the writings of many scientists, from Darwin back to Aristotle and forward to the present, we've tried to explain (to ourselves, as well as to readers) what kinds of questions can be answered by science and what kinds of questions can be answered by religion. So, here's a great article in this Ensign about how an Egyptologist figures out what questions can be answered by historical research and what questions can be answered through revelation.

I love the illustrations that come with this article, with the priests getting ready to kill Abraham, and the surgeon evaluating the author's painful knee. So, if you don't follow the link, please do at least enjoy these pictures, and this quote from the article:

In my years of research, I have found academically satisfactory answers to most questions that have arisen surrounding the book of Abraham. Carefully examining assumptions and pursuing knowledge—while placing a premium on revelation as the most trusted source of truth—have helped me find answers to those things I have carefully and painstakingly investigated. I still have a few questions about the book of Abraham for which I have not yet found an academically satisfying answer, based on the current state of Egyptology. But I am not concerned about this. I remember what God told Oliver Cowdery: “Behold, I have manifested unto you, by my Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written [or, in my case, read] are true; wherefore you know that they are true” (D&C 18:2; emphasis added).      I know, through the same kind of revelation Oliver Cowdery experienced, that the book of Abraham is inspired. I trust that sooner or later the academic process will catch up, and I will find satisfactory answers to all my questions. I have seen this happen numerous times throughout my life and have full confidence that it will happen again in the future. I can expect this not only because of my past experience but also because I trust so fully the revelatory method of learning. I recommend this as a model in everything we do.

Abraham about to be sacrificed on altar


man on hospital bed talking to doctor

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Some Random Thoughts

First, I'm sorry about some of the posts from the last few days that have missing and broken links and weird problems with the background color and the color of the font. I'll try to fix those.

Second, while we were at the coast, I had a lot of time to read, and so, read I did. Then, when we got back, I found a book waiting for me at the library, a book I had placed a hold on.

About this book: The Captain's Daughter, by Jennifer Delamere: when I saw it, I wondered why on earth I would have placed a hold on this book b/c it looks like some crappy romance novel set in the 19th century, and I don't generally read these books. But I decided I must have had some reason ---I usually do! --- so I have wasted a few hours skimming through this book, and, much as I hate to be critical of the work of writers who really do work hard and hate to put myself in the position of being a critic, because as we know critics do work that is much easier than that of writers --- wow, this sentence is waaaayy too long --- I'll just get to the point: I still don't know why I placed a hold on this book and then wasted so much time trying to figure out why I got it. It is a waste of time.

Third, I was going to write more, but I won't do it now, because I've been thinking about my habit of borrowing and buying books when I don't even know if they're going to be worth reading. At least I borrowed this from the library, instead of paying money for it! I just don't get it.

So, as I noted, more, later....

Oh, one more thing: While I've been waiting for files to be uploaded and so on, I've been skimming through the transcript of James Comey's testimony before two House committees, yesterday, and here's what I'm wondering about that:

What is wrong with Trey Gowdy and the other Republican members of those committees? What is wrong with them? And what do they think they are accomplishing by their idiotic questions? Can anyone tell me the answers to these questions? Because I'd really like to know.

What I was doing a week ago....

....and for the two months before (memorizing, rehearsing, blocking, memorizing, rehearsing, blocking, and so on, you get the idea), to prepare for doing this:



Thanks to Jason for supporting me through all that, and then attending the presentation, and even taking those videos and some stills!

Friday, December 7, 2018

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Friday, 07 Dec 2018

What long-ago good deed did Michael Cohen perform for Donald Trump, which caused DT to hire him (and to stand by him until the poor man finally realized he'd been duped??

For your reading pleasure, here's the answer. Or, better said, a bunch of really good guesses.

One of the best:
Roy Cohn, Donald Trump’s former mentor and friend, called Donald Trump to ask him to his bedside when he was dying. Michael Cohen screened the call so Donald Trump would not have to answer.
Please read all the down down to the comments, which are almost as funny as the original.

Image result for michael cohen
(CNN photo)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Thursday, 06 Dec 2018

Shia LaBeof: Elastic Heart


(Sorry, Laura, on your birthday, yet. But I'll make it up to you....)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Wednesday, 05 Dec 2018

Why oh why do I like such websites as this one? Jezebel.com --- Wait, conservative friends and family members, don't follow that link!

There's nothing wrong with it. It's just not, let me think of the expression, very high brow.

So I shouldn't be reading articles with titles like:

Megan Fox Confirms She Hooked Up With Shia LaBeouf: 'I Love Him'

(Because I don't even know who Megan Fox is, though I've heard of Shia LaBeouf. And, eeeeww, why would anyone want to know about her hook-up with him?) (See tomorrow's post for more about Shia LaBeouf.)

And here's one:

The Cardi B and Nicki Minaj Beef Is Back and Beefier Than Ever

(Because I barely know who these people are, from the magazines whose covers I read voraciously in every grocery-checkout-line I'm ever in, I don't care about their beef. Do you hear that, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj? I don't care about your beef!

And I don't even care about why some Jezebel writer thinks men should be banned from writing about sex---for pete's sake, I agree with her, but why would I care about why she agrees with me?

Ban Men... From Writing About Sex


And so on, and so forth.

I'll tell you why I like this website, because it's entertaining, sometimes even funny, and it frees me from the non-news I often see on other, "newsier," websites.

Plus, every once in a while, it has a great story, like this one:

Payless Opens Fake Luxury Store, Tricks Influencers Into Paying Designer Prices for Its Shoes

("Palessi," indeed!)


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Tuesday, 04 Dec 2018

Maybe by the time this post appears, it will be a moot point, but I'm going to write it anyway:

What's wrong with Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona)? You would think that he would have grown a spine by now, having quit because he knew he couldn't win re-election, but he's still a waffler.

Check out this article from Politico: Senate Republicans Unload on Flake.

The main point I want you to see is this bit, from the caption to the photo at the top, and also from about halfway through the article:

If he stands firm, Sen. Jeff Flake could unravel months of work from Senate Republicans and the Trump White House. 

"If he stands firm"?????? Oh, please, Jeff Flake, stand firm, just this once! Please! Please? Please! You don't care any more about the bullies on the Republican Right and Trump TV calling you mean names, do you? Just stand firm!

So, here's the deal: If Flake does stand firm to his promise not to let a vote proceed on various crappy right-wing judges the Republican so-called leadership wants to confirm during this lame-duck session, then those so-called leaders, maybe, no, not likely, but maybe, will let a vote go to the Senate floor offering protection for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's work probing the Trump team's series of lies and crimes and cover-ups....

So, STAND FIRM, SENATOR FLAKE! STAND FIRM!

Image result for jeff flake
Flake's Wikipedia photo

Monday, December 3, 2018

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Monday, 03 Dec 2018



Robo-calls---what the heck is wrong with these people who make unwanted calls, and think that people like you and me will want to talk to them about whatever they're trying to sell us (or whatever retirement benefits they're trying to rip off of us, or what kind of scam they're willing to perform on some government benefits)?

So, I got one of these calls just the other day, and this company (a local company which I would not trust as far as I could through their lightest-weight employee) called me. The doofus forgot to turn off the Caller ID, so I was able to call back, and, mirabile dictu, I was able to call his number right back, and, boy, did I start WWIII on him.

In the original call---where he dialed my number and put on a sweet young woman's voice saying she would love to help me and/or my family member who, as they had just discovered is suffering from some kind of chronic pain issues---did not let me talk, other than to tell them my age (not gonna do it!) and if I or any family member is on Medicare (why would any sane person tell some robo-call voice this information?).

When I said "No" to both questions---only a "Yes" or "No" answer was acceptable---the robo-voice said thanks and hung up.

So I called back and yelled at the guy for several minutes. Did he know he was violating the federal HIPAA law and violating my personal privacy?

He said, "Sorry, I'm in the middle of a conference call, so I can't talk to you right now."

I said, "Wait a minute! You're in the middle of a conference call, and YOU don't want to talk to ME, because you think I'm never too busy to take your robo-calls? Oh, no, buddy, you're going to listen to this. And maybe put it on speaker phone, so the rest of your crew can hear it, too."

So he listened. (Didn't put it on speaker phone. But listened.)

At the end of my very long rant, I insisted that he write down the phone number he had called, adding that he should be happy that I was stopping for a moment to give him a chance to say that he would do that, unlike the way his original robo-call had not given me a chance to talk, and he listened, and, I hope, wrote down the phone number.

Here's the deal: This company has precisely no care whatsoever for the health concerns of me or any member of my family. They just want us to invest with them, so that they can screw over the federal government by controlling whatever Medicare benefits they think I have.

And here's the other deal: The health records and personal information of some member(s) of my family have been compromised, either by some malfeasance of some medical clinic that some member(s) of my family has/have visited, or by illegal electronic surveillance of phone calls and email messages of some member(s) of my family.

(Note: I did paste here a photo of this company's local office building, but removed it, realizing that while they are willing to call people like me, using illegally obtained data to try to scam us out of our money, they would not be willing for anyone to realize who they are. However, if any of my Dear Readers would like to know what company I'm talking about, just ask me, privately. Or be aware of what is happening in the little town where I currently live.) (Timbuktu?)

And you'll be able to figure it out.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

My Weekend Joy of Life: Sunday, December 2, 2018

Scrub jays, among other birds, like to rub themselves with ants.
Scrub jays, among other birds, like to rub themselves with ants. 442683/PUBLIC DOMAIN

Birds Rub Ants---Huh?

Another great science story, or, as I've written previously, more science stuff:

It turns out that some birds love to rub themselves with ant bodies; and some birds even roll around on top of ants' nests.

From Atlas Obscura, a web site I think everyone should be checking out every day, this article says that although people have been aware of this behavior for some time, and some researchers have studied it, no one really knows why (and maybe there are a few reasons, and/or different reasons for different birds, and so on).




Saturday, December 1, 2018

My Weekend Joy of Life: Saturday, December 1, 2018

Check it out: Don't you love reading about science stuff?

Here's one I keep returning to, just to remember certain small details and to look at the photos and short videos:

Quartz Obsession: Sand Dollars. Check it out, for a chance to read something not-political and not-ugly but in fact, beautiful and life affirming.

Check out this bit, in particular:
Being lean goes only so far in preventing sand dollars from getting caught up in a current. They also have to be heavy. While older dollars naturally weigh more, freshly minted urchins need supplements to bulk up. Really. As they sift through the sand, they search for minerals comprised of metals like magnetite, which they ingest and store in their gut. The more metal they take in, the heavier they become. And the less likely they are to drift away.
Wait, so does that mean you could use one of those metal detectors to find sand dollars on the beach? Or, maybe a magnet? I'll check this out in the coming week, as I'll be having some serious beach time. 

Image result for sand dollar 

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Nine Essential Cookies



Do you agree that there are nine "essential cookies" that "every home baker should know how to make"?

I don't, because these people claim that you have to have an alcohol-based cookie in your repertoire. Not true.

But do you think there are eight essential cookies? I'm not sure, but the eight non-alcoholic cookies mentioned in this article are definitely musts in my kitchen.

Maybe you'll like the recipes the article links to, also. Most of them are the same recipes I always use, or pretty close. I'm going to try their chocolate chip cookie recipe, though, because it's completely different, and it looks completely delicious.

Here's that recipe. And another picture of the cookies.

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Friday, 30 Nov 2018



(According to Dermatologists)

Hey, I'd check that out---and maybe you would, too, because, hey, don't we all have "dry winter skin" which needs moisturizing? But, thanks to me, you won't have to. Because I've read the article, and have decided that I'm going to be doing just fine, thank you very much, without paying $39.00 for "One Love Organics Daily Body Serum"---the least expensive item in this list of must-haves.

And here's another hilarious note: One Note (get it, a note about One Note? Oh, never mind) also sells a "cult-y cleansing oil," for only $42.00.

I could also mention here all the other headlines on every website I've visited in the past couple of weeks, with Christmas coming, you know, and if the goose isn't getting fat, it's our fault, and therefore our job, Dear Readers (AKA Dear Consumers) to fatten it up by buying all these stupid things---websites where I used to read news articles, but am now drawn by these kinds of headlines, which are bigger and flashier and more, I don't know, more DEMANDING....

Vaseline Intensive Care Body Serum Lotion, Deep Repair, 6.8 ozBut I won't. You've seen these, too. If you'd like to send me some of your favorites, I'd love to read them. Just comment (below) or email me at [louwynn] at g mail dot com, because I actually, secretly, love reading these ads, even if (I promise you!) I never buy any of those things.

(Hey, I just read through that "Best Body Serums" ad again, and it seems I lied earlier when I said that the cheapest item they mentioned was $39.00. There's at least one cheaper:  Vaseline Healing Serum Deep Repair, for only $9.00, at Amazon. And, if you buy it by clicking on the link in the ad, the website will get some kind of kickback from Amazon. Oh, all right, they don't call it a kickback, but that's what it is.)

(I just checked it out at Walmart.com, and it's about 50 cents less there, in case you're interested, and in case you don't have even less positive feelings about that store and that website than some others.)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

My Daily Quarrel with Life: Thurs, 29 Nov 2018

Here's part of that scene from "The Glass Menagerie," the painful and depressing play we all had to watch, and maybe had to act in, during our high school years. Amirite?

Amanda Yes. Oh—oh—oh.  I went straight to your typing instructor and introduced myself as your mother.  She didn’t even know who you were.  Wingfield, she said?  We don’t have any such scholar enrolled in this school. 
I assured her she did.  I said my daughter Laura’s been coming to classes since early January.  “Well I don’t know” she said, “unless you mean that terribly shy little girl who dropped out of school after a few days’ attendance?”  No, I said, “I don’t mean that one.  I mean my daughter, Laura, who’s been coming here every single day for the past six weeks! 
“Excuse me,” she said.   And she took down the attendance book and there was your name, unmistakable, printed, and all the dates you’d been absent.  I still told her she was wrong.  I still said, “No, there must have been some mistake!  There must have been some mix-up in the records!” 
“No,” she said, “I remember her perfectly now.  She was so shy and her hands trembled so that her fingers couldn’t touch the right keys!  When we gave a speed test—she just broke down completely—was sick at the stomach and had to be carried to the washroom!  After that she never came back.  We telephoned the house every single day and never got any answer.”  (​Rises from day bed, crosses right center ) 
That was while I was working all day long down at that department store, I suppose, demonstrating those—(With hand indicates brassiere)  Oh!  I felt so weak I couldn’t stand up!  (​Sits in armchair)  I had to sit down while they got me a glass of water!  ​(Laura crosses up to phonograph) 
Fifty dollars’ tuition.  I don’t care about the money so much, but all my hopes for any kind of future for you—gone up the spout, just gone up the spout like that.  ​(Laura winds phonograph up) ​ 
Oh, don’t do that, Laura!—Don’t play that Victrola! 
One thing that's weird about this scene is how easy it is to be the meanie. Another thing is how hard it is to fit in any other emotion for this horrible character, Amanda. Another thing is that this speech is one of three fairly long ones I'm trying to memorize. 

Also, this whole play is supposedly based on Tennessee Williams's own life, his own mother being Amanda, his own sister Laura.

So I'm trying to feel sorry for this Amanda character now, but still get across her anger and her meanness toward her own daughter, toward her own pitiful and powerless self that she sees in her daughter.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Second gripe for the day---"Giving Tuesday"

Just give me a break, okay?

I should have written this yesterday, "Giving Tuesday"---I know that. But I didn't realize it was such a big deal until today, which is, what, "Already Gifted and Tired of it All and with Still 5 Weeks to go Until Christmas Wednesday"?

So, I didn't check my g-mail account yesterday, so that's why I didn't see all these obnoxious messages from every group I've ever done business with, begging for MY MONEY to HELP THEM! Not even to help someone who actually needs help! But to help THEM---big companies that obviously don't need any more help from me---I've already helped them by buying their products or contributing to some cause they claim to represent.

That's it, folks. I'm pushing the "Unsubscribe" button on all of you....on this "Gimme A Break Wednesday"!



Pecan Pie



I still don't get it: a pie made of sugar pudding, with a bunch of nuts on top. Why does it taste so good? Well, duh, because of the sugar. And the pecans.

We finally had a homemade pecan pie for Thanksgiving this year, thanks to Lisa. I don't know where she found the recipe, some online cooking site, but I've found this explanation of why the pecan pie really outshines the other traditional Thanksgiving pies: The Best Pie Is Pecan.

I especially like this line: "Pecan pie is all about the pecan life."

And the explanation that follows:  "It does not require a scoop of ice cream, or a dollop of whipped cream, or, God forbid, something like a slice of cheddar (another knock against apple pie). Pecan pie is a pie that stands on its own. It has the gooeyness of a candy bar, the crunchy texture and warm flavor of toasted nuts, and that flaky, buttery crust."

So, there you have it. I'll find a pecan pie recipe to add here, sometime soon, very soon.


My Daily Quarrel with Life: Wed, 28 Nov 2018


"I've got it! By golly, I've got it!" I shouted to myself this morning---and not even to a reflection of myself, but to my own self, sitting here at this desk in front of this monitor and with my hands on the keyboard. 

Which makes me doubly insane, right? Because if you could see me practicing my lines [Amanda, in that  terrible scene (Amanda berating Laura for everything she does wrong, including existing) in that worthless play ("The Glass Menagerie") by a mediocre, life-stealing, and barely talented playwright (Tennessee Williams), that would be crazy enough.

But, shouting to myself at my desk, that takes the insanity way far out into the stratosphere or ionosphere or whatever sphere or level of atmosphere is reserved, in this life, for craziness. (I'll think of the word, or make up a word, for that, in a moment.) (Ironicsphere? Yes, that's it! The ironicsphere!) (And someday soon I'll expound on the spheres reserved, in the next life, for insanity, debauchery, meanness, cruelty to children and animals, willful stupidity, AKA Tumpiness, and general evil.)

Republican_in_the_dictionary.pngThe insane revelation: If I write on this blog the things that upset me (is that too strong a word? I don't think so) every day, I'll get this angst (again, too strong? I don't think so) out of my system, so the rest of my day will go more smoothly. A great theory, which we'll be testing in the next couple of days (because daylight, or any kind of light, cast on a theory, tends to smooth out the wrinkles and clarify the facts that support the theory, or don't support the theory, thus subjecting it to the ultimate proof).

Today's rant---because, let's face it, it's not just a "quarrel," since I'm not crazy enough, yet, to think that an interior monologue counts as any kind of discourse, not even a quarrel---has to do with, you guessed it, the misuse and misspelling of words that, IMHO, deserve better.

First, don't we all know that the FOREWORD in a book is a FOREWORD---a WORD BEFORE, not a "forward"? No, clearly we did not know that. But now we do. Similarly, a WORD AFTER is called an AFTERWORD. Does that help?

Secondly, didn't the rest of you-all have a fourth-grade teacher, possibly named Mrs. Lincoln, who drummed into you the difference between "principle" and "principal"? No, you didn't? Then let me be her substitute teacher for the day. And, since Mrs. Lincoln herself would be using the internet if she were alive today, I'll do another of her tricks: I'll let YOU, Dear Reader, look up the difference. Here's a great resource, the Oxford Dictionaries blog.

Thirdly, and finally for today, I read that Dictionary.com's word of the year for 2018 is --- wait for it --- "Misinformation".  Good choice. Here's The Daily Kos's explanation of the difference between "misinformation" and "disinformation":
When people spread misinformation, they often believe the information they are sharing. In contrast, disinformation is crafted and disseminated with the intent to mislead others. Further confusing the issue is the fact that a piece of disinformation can ultimately become misinformation. It all depends on who’s sharing it and why. For example, if a politician strategically spreads information that they know to be false in the form of articles, photos, memes, etc., that’s disinformation. When an individual sees this disinformation, believes it, and then shares it, that’s misinformation.

Maybe I'll be back tomorrow. As my beloved Aunt Effie used to say, "Expect me when you see me."

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Great "New" Web Site and 600 Free University Classes

...New to me, anyway: Quartz! (Qz.com)

(I found it in my usual way, surfing the Net for news, to keep from getting around to doing what I had sat down in front of the computer to do.)

Image result for university campus image freeAnd here's one article I've already found on Quartz.com:

"190 universities just launched 600 free online courses. Here's the full list."

Just to pique your interest, here are some of the categories, and some of the courses, being offered:

Programming:

Getting Started With [Insert here every single new and some old programming languages for every single game, app, and device in the world]. Really. No kidding.

Engineering:

"Engineering the Space Shuttle" --- Amazing! Who wouldn't want to know how to do that?

Various other classes on semiconductors, robotics, electric cars, policy, motors and motor control circuitry, and on and on and on.

Computer Science: 

Machine learning, AI, computer cloud security, blockchain....and on and on and on.

Social Sciences:

Political science, American government and Constitutional foundation (There's one we should all take!), Research Skills for Conducting Interviews, gender identity, child welfare systems, urban planning, business management, global politics, contemporary issues in global politics... and on and on and on.

Science:

Climate change, quantum states, nitrogen and nitrogen cycles, equine research, sharing data, building a quantum computer (Really???? Amazing!!!!), nuclear reactor physics basics, zoology, astronomy, Black Holes, Climate Adaptation in South Africa, citizen research....and on and on and on.

Art & Design:

"18th-Century Opera: Handel & Mozart" (That's one I'm definitely going to look into), "Guitar Scales and Chord Progressions" (This one, too), Sustainability in Architecture, Realistic 3D Architectural Modeling, Creative Thinking, "Music Psychology (Why Does Bohemian Rhapsody Feel So Good?)" (This one, too)....and on and on and on.

And on and on and on. I'm not going to go through each category as I've done above, because, you know, my personal mantra, "Life is short!", so here are the last few categories. Enjoy!

Mathematics ("Vector and Matrix Algebra"---not for me); Humanities ("Othello's Story"---another one I want to take!); Business; Health & Medicine; Data Science; Education & Teaching; and Personal Development.


Friday, October 26, 2018

Fiction Friday, Oct. 26, 2018: Bad Books

I know you're not supposed to write reviews where you just carp on how bad a book is, and 
I know most authors try really hard to write a good book, and 
I know I haven't been able to write a better one than even the worst ones I've read, so far....so

That's why I'm not writing the title or the author's name here, and
That's why I'm just going to write here a list of my pet peeves about all bad books, and
That's why I'm offering to send this book to any of my readers who think they might like it.

Pet peeves and other comments:

1. Show, don't tell. I mean, really. 

2. No, you're not the first one to write a so-called steamy love scene. Nor the first one to think it would be great as the opening scene of your novel. And....wait for it....not the first one to make a reader so angry and frustrated at your clumsiness that she threw the book down on the floor.

3. Get an editor. I mean, really, get an editor. I will be happy to be your editor. No, not YOUR editor, bad writer of bad book, but if anyone you know ever happens to write a book that has some promise of being readable and not-throwable-downable, I'll edit it for that person.

4. Read this essay. "Politics and the English Language," by George Orwell. See, I've found it online for you, so all you have to do is follow the link, and you can read it. You won't have to go through your old college textbooks to find it, and I write this knowing, absolutely knowing, that you did read this essay in college (or at least you should have), and I forgive you for having forgotten it, but, still, please, do read it again. 

5. There's more, but these are the ones I'm willing to take time to enumerate at this early hour, before I get back to doing my own, my real, my pressing and important work. Because life is too short to waste any more time than I already have on this book....

6.....which, by the way, I will send to anyone, as I mentioned earlier. Just write a comment here or send me an email message with your name and address, and I'll get this book to you asap. But you must promise to write back to tell me the rest of the plot (after that stupid steamy pile of opening scene which made me throw the book on the floor) and offer your own review, which I will include in a future blog post here, or not, if you'd prefer. Just so you tell me about it.

7. Orwell notes in his essay that while it is not about "literary" but political writing, the rules still apply to all writing. I'm not going to enumerate them here because he has already done it better than I ever could.  Here are Orwell's rules:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

And now, Dear Reader, one final comment. One good thing about finding that Bad Book is that it has given me a chance to think again about good writing. And that brings me to another great essay by George Orwell,  "Shooting an Elephant." I'm linking to it here so you can read (re-read) it. And I will re-read it too.

Thanks for your patience. And, now, on with the day! 

Rho Ophiuchi

Check this out:

Let's see if I can import the photo here, in case you don't want to, or can't, follow that link.



You should really follow the link to find 15 amazing photos from space. But here's the info about the photo above, from Space.com:

The Rho Ophiuchi Nebular ComplexCredit: Warren Keller/Jim Misti/Steve MazlinThe Rho Ophiuchi nebular complex is a beautiful, gigantic cloud of colorful cosmic dust and gas located 460 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus. It's one of the closest stellar nurseries to the solar system and one of the most-photographed objects in the night sky. Astrophotographers Warren Keller, Jim Misti and Steve Mazlin teamed up to create this stunning 4-panel mosaic of the nebula, "I think its dusky and mysterious aura as compared to the generally brighter, super-saturated ones, is what's alluring," Keller told Space.com.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Weird Word of the Week: Pleached

I read this word in "Lud-in-the-Mist," by Hope Mirrlees. I'm just barely on page 8 of the book, and I'm finding more new words.

According to Google, to pleach means "to entwine or interlace tree branches to form a hedge or provide cover for an outdoor walkway."

And here's a great photo of some pleached crab apple trees:

Image result for pleached

(The book "Lud-in-the-Mist" seems to be a very unusual fairy tale....I'll let you know more about it in an upcoming Fiction Friday post.)

The most beautiful song in the world

Go ahead and argue with me, but I've just discovered it, and I'm sticking to it, for now. 

I used to think it was the aria "Un bel di vendremo" in Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." Here's a short video where you get a bit of the song in the glorious Metropolitan Opera's production---starting at the 1-minute mark. I saw this production on PBS once and cried most of the way through,  And check out the interview with the amazing singer toward the end.



But now I realize it's "Una Furtiva Lagrima," from Act II, Scene 3, of "L'elisir d'amore," by Gaetano Donizetti. According to Wikipedia, "It is sung by Nemorino (tenor) when he finds that the love potion he bought to win the heart of his dream lady, Adina, works. Nemorino is in love with Adina, but she is not interested in a relationship with an innocent, rustic man. To win her heart, Nemorino buys a love potion with all the money he has in his pocket. That love potion is actually a cheap red wine sold by a traveling quack doctor, but when he sees Adina weeping, he knows that she has fallen in love iwth him, and he is sure that the 'elixir' has worked."

Here is this aria or romanza as sung by Luciano Pavarotti. Check it out. And go back to the Wikipedia page to find the words in Italian, a literal translation, and a "poetic translation." 



Wait, here's a better version, I think, sung by Matthew Polenzani. And this version has the English words on the screen, a different translation than in the Pavarotti version. And, what's even better, Mr. Polenzani is actually acting the part of Nemorino, instead of acting the part of a famous opera star. Also, I loved scrolling down and reading the comments by the opera aficionados.



Wait, I'm changing my mind again, listening to "Un bel di" over and over again. Now I think this is the best song ever. Here's Maria Callas singing it.




Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Advice from a bishop....



....for Mormons who don't "know" the Church is true: 

For one thing, Bishop Richard Ostler writes, "I avoid telling people just to be more faithful." And, he writes, "I accept that not everyone will fit into the 'I know' crowd." He continues: 
I have so much respect for those who share their testimony and use less absolute phrases than “I know.” Maybe that is the best some are able to do now. I’ve met many of these wonderful members and see firsthand all they do to help and faithfully serve others. Often they have unique Christlike attributes and gifts. They are the best of the best. Maybe for some “I don’t know” is their destination for this lifetime … not just a temporary stop.Richard Ostler

His other points: 
I resist the temptation to bear testimony “at” this group. 
I work on truly listening. 
I trust that they are receiving personal revelation. 
I know my own testimony is a work in progress.
I focus on strengths.  
I strive to make a bigger tent. 

Great advice! (And do read the whole blog post)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

William Tell Overture

So beautiful! As one commenter wrote, "I didn't need to see a pastoral scene, a violent storm, a rising sun, or The Lone Ranger on Silver, it was in the music!."


Friday, September 7, 2018

A Little More, After All....

....because Jason and I were talking about this last night, and there is a lot more to say, but I can only say part of it here.

Here's the thing about the Niels Bohr story: It's probably apocryphal, or maybe he really said that but he was joking around. But who cares? As that article goes on to point out, we are all looking for explanations of the unexplainable. (Inexplicable? Sure. If you like. But here I'm not talking about the inexplicable. I'm talking about the unexplainable.)

When you didn't have much information, you might think that it's some interference by the inexplicable force of FATE that makes bad things happen to good people, and, more inexplicably, good things happen to bad people. 

Let's say you're an ancient Greek or Roman. You invent some really scarily sociopathic gods to explain everything. Let's say you're an ancient Greek "scientist," and you claim that hummingbirds don't have feet. And everyone else believes you, except the people who live in the countryside and see hummingbirds all the time and see their feet. (I still don't get what's up with that ancient so-called "observation.") 

And in the 20th Century, even if you're an eminent physicist, if you hang a horseshoe on your wall, the right way, it might just bring you luck, even if you don't believe in it. Because, why not?

But this is different from true religion. Here's a quote from LDS Pres. Harold B. Lee, back in 1971, quoting from another religious leader: 
I quote from this article by Rabbi Arthur Herlzterg:“What people come to religion for, is an ultimate metaphysical hunger, and when that hunger is not satisfied, religion declines … the moment that clerics become more worldly, the world goes to hades the faster.“… Religion represents the accumulation of man’s insight over thousands of years into such questions as the nature of man, the meaning of life, the individual’s place in the universe. That is, precisely, the question at the root of man’s restlessness.“Man seeks something to end his state of confusion and emptiness … in the latest parlance, an antidote for aimlessness. We do not know if the truths of religious tradition can be interpreted to satisfy this need, but we are sure that here, not in political activism, is religion’s path to relevance.”In other words, in my own less learned words, religion does for us what science, and politics (as the Rabbi said), can't do. It feeds our "metaphysical hunger," our hunger for answers to those questions we can't answer in any other way. 
And true religion, as opposed to old myths involving the bizarre behavior of gods who are out of control, or half-baked observations and misguided "explanations," answers our need for "something to end [our] state of confusion and emptiness."

One final point, which is essentially what Laura mentioned in her comment to my post of yesterday: The argument between science and religion is a false one. It was made up by men (yes, men, not women, and not all humans) to promote conflict and promote their own agendas, to their own benefit, and to the detriment of the rest of us...

...which is why we're not arguing that there's some kind of conflict there. We keep pointing out, and will continue to point out, that true religion and real science are merely different roads toward the same goal, of understanding this world, this universe, and our humanity.



Thursday, September 6, 2018

Myths, Superstition, and Religion

Dear Reader,

I've been trying for months to come up with a perfect conclusion for my thoughts on how myths and superstition are different from religion; and how there's not really any argument to be had about these differences, anyway. 

I've been reading online articles and checking out books from the library; I've been writing notes for myself on napkins and wherever; I've even bought a couple of books about the history of various mythologies and ancient religious beliefs.

I've mentioned Hugh Nibley in previous posts on this subject, because he studied those ancient religions and their so-called myths, recognizing that one doesn't have to call everything that's old or connected with some ancient beliefs "myths"; any more than one has to call every factoid or idea or temporary equation from modern scientific beliefs or paradigms "science."

I like how Hugh Nibley shows ancient myths that dovetail with our LDS teachings (as in the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants, as well as, of course, the Bible). I loved reading this morning about the founding of the Baha'i faith and the explanation of Baha'i beliefs given by Baha'i leader Shoghi Effendi (*I'll paste it below in case you don't want to follow the link).  (Notice that the first thing he says the Baha'i faith does is "search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition.")

I like seeing how my non-LDS and non-Christian friends follow the same principles of behavior that we teach in our church.

I guess I've concluded: Scientists are no more rational and logical and no less likely to believe in superstitions and to have private religious beliefs than any other people. Scientists rarely decide to study science to "prove" that religions are "false," though of course some self-proclaimed scientists do become atheists and take it upon themselves to proselytize at every opportunity against religion.

I've gone through the five stages of grief, so to speak, about scientists who deny the existence of God (or of anything else above and/or beyond what they themselves, the self-proclaimed petty little gods of their own little worlds, their own little labs, their own pathetic students: 

Denial (I can't believe this man [because usually they're men] can be so closed-minded); anger (what's his problem, anyway, other than being an idiot!); depression (I guess there's no hope in the world of finding a bridge between science and religion); bargaining (if only I could explain that science and religion are both seeking after the same over-arching knowledge of the universe and our place in it!---then they'd stop being so mean!); and acceptance (oh, well, I'll just continue in my own way to understand, and apply my scientific method to science and my religious understanding to all those things that the scientific method can't explain).

Here's something funny, in an article called "The Science of Superstition," in the Feb. 16, 2015, issue of The Atlantic magazine:

A visitor once asked the Nobel Prize–winning physicist Niels Bohr whether he really believed that the horseshoe he’d hung at his country home was lucky. “Of course not,” Bohr said. “But I understand it’s lucky whether you believe in it or not.” (emphasis added by me)

If Bohr couldn’t resist magical thinking, can anyone? One recent study found that even physicists, chemists, and geologists at MIT and other elite schools were instinctively inclined to attach a purpose to natural events. When the researchers subjected the scientists to time pressure (reasoning that this could expose a person’s uncensored biases), they were twice as likely to approve of statements such as “Trees produce oxygen so that animals can breathe” than they were when they had time to respond more deliberately [1]. Such bias may well be deep-seated: another recent study found that, regardless of their parents’ religiosity, 5-to-7-year-old children preferred explanations of events that involved lessons—like “Maggie’s house burned down to teach her not to play with fire anymore” [2].

But so what? Why do we care if scientists can sometimes be superstitious, too? Because they claim that all they're interested in is pure logic and science! I've even met someone who called himself a scientist, even though he was "just" an engineer (see? see how that creeps into an otherwise polite statement?), who said he wasn't interested in fiction and poetry because they weren't a valid way of learning about the world.

I could go on and on about this, but I'm not going to, not right now, anyway. 



*From the Patheos blog "Sic et Non," Shoghi Effendi explaining Baha'i teachings:

The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition (emphasis added by me); the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind—these stand out as the essential elements.