Thursday, June 28, 2018

More on Parasites (With Less Metaphor)

Related image
It's true, then: Parasites can mind-control animals without infecting them. I read this article on The Atlantic's website. The Atlantic's Ed Yong writes that a tapeworm, "essentially a very long, parasitic towel with a grappling hook for a head," can "manipulate" the minds of more complex animals.

Here's how it works in the case of Schistocephalus solidus: It reproduces in the gut of waterbirds, which excrete the eggs in their droppings; when the eggs hatch, the larvae infect copepods, which are eaten by sticklefish, which are eaten by waterbirds, and the cycle begins again.

So what? So this: the sticklefish behavior changes, so it swims to warm waters, where the tapeworm can grow bigger and faster, eventually making up half the weight of the fish. (Yecch!) And the sticklefish also goes boldly outside of its usual shadowy hiding places, where it's more visible to water birds, and they don't swim away from predators, which makes them easy prey for the water birds, like this kingfisher (from the illustration accompanying the article).

Anything else? Yes, unfortunately for the sticklefish and the water birds that eat them: Because these fish tend to swim together in shoals, it only takes a few infected individuals to start swimming into danger before the rest of them follow, also becoming easy prey.

All this has been confirmed by a series of experiments conducted by Nicolle Demandt and Benedikt Saus, at the University of Munster, using, among other experimental tools, Lego pieces. (You can read their entire paper here.)
Image result for maga hat
And one more thing, even worse, when you think about it, and getting back into the realm of metaphor (sorry!): The same behavior has been observed in humans. In the 1950s, Solomon Asch and his students demonstrated that people would give incorrect answers to questions if someone else in the group gave the incorrect answer.

If you follow this link to Ed Yong's article, you'll find more fascinating information about the ways parasites can infect hosts.

I recommend the entire article, followed by a thorough cleansing of the palate and then a month or two on a news-free diet.

Parasitism or Free Will?

Everything is a metaphor
any more.

if parasites can mind-control
animals without infecting them
(and it was bad enough, before,
when we knew they could mind-control
animals WITH infecting them,
wasn't it?)

then I guess
this is a way of understanding
our current political state in
what used to be a free country
and a democracy that called out to
the oppressed of the world,

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
(Poem, "New Colossus," Statue of Liberty, by Emma Lazarus)

But I digress. I will write more about parasites, I promise. Probably tomorrow. First I will have to wash the bad taste out of my mouth from yesterday's news (Anthony Kennedy retiring from the Supreme Court).

Image result for statue of liberty photos

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Is This Religion or Superstition?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been fascinated by the distinctions drawn in the Old and New Testaments between true religion and superstitions, between religious believers and followers of the dark arts based in superstition and trickery.

There are, from the Old Testament, the stories of Moses confounding the Pharaoh's sorcerers. Remember when Moses threw his staff on the ground, and it turned into a serpent (Exodus 7:10)? So then the sorcerers threw their staffs on the ground, and they also became serpents? And then Moses's serpent ate all of theirs (Exodus 7:12)? Remember how much that impressed the Pharaoh and his sorcerers? (Not at all: See Exodus 7:13.) And so on.

Here's the story of the Prophet Elijah confounding the priests of Baal. (Here's a great re-telling of that story for children: "The Great Contest." And here's the LDS lesson for six-year-olds.) You can re-read the story for yourself in 1 Kings 18. The conclusion is great: "How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!" (1 Kings 18:21).

Whichever version of these stories you read, you come to the same conclusion: The true God of this Earth and all creation as we understand it, and more, demands our worship. Why? Because he needs our love and respect? No! Because WE need HIS love and help.

(I'm sure there are more. Dear Reader, if you can remind me of other Old Testament accounts like these, please send me an email message or write a comment on this post.)

But so it continues. In the New Testament, we read about Simon Magus, who was so impressed with the gospel of Jesus Christ as preached by Philip that he was baptized. But he obviously misunderstood how the gospel and the priesthood are organized and practiced: He offered Peter and the other apostles money for the power he observed in them to give the gift of the Holy Ghost. Peter's response says it all:

"Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." (Acts 8:20-23)

More examples in the New Testament? Help me, Dear Reader!

One of the arguments made by atheists against theists is that there is no difference between their beliefs and superstitions. (I've written about this topic earlier this year, here, for example; and here.)

So I was interested in this post on Slate, by Emily Cataneo, an open letter to the Catholic parish in which she was baptized as an infant, asking how she can leave the Catholic church. She recounts how her family members conflated religion faith with guilt and superstition as she was growing up, and her (logical) conclusion that religion is nothing more than a bunch of superstitions, inculcated in children from the youngest age possible so that they will be filled with guilt any time they disobey any of the religious rules they've been taught.

No wonder she's confused! From religious icons to her grandmother's faith that what a doctor said was a "cyst" in her ovary turned out to be the beginning of a miraculous pregnancy, from anxious parents to promises of religious rituals, to relatives whose "religion was interwoven with superstition and magical thinking," she doesn't know what to believe. 

And this is the place where many of us stand, wavering, today. As long as well- (and badly-) intentioned persons conflate religion and superstition, we can remain confused, unless we confirm for ourselves the differences between the two.

Is there some kind of "scientific" way, as this writer claims, in his denunciation of Buddhism, of knowing if a religious belief is "true" or even helpful, a way of seeing through superstition and falsity?

Yes, there is. And I'll be writing about that, next.

Still More from Nibley: Adam and Eve, and Animal Fables

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I couldn't find anything written in English by Micha Joseph Berdichevky. However, since then, I've found a book by him that has been translated into English. When I receive this book (ordered from Amazon today), I will read it and report on it.

Meanwhile, re- and re-reading Nibley's "Man's Dominion," I'm finding several references to this Hasidic scholar, who wrote about ancient Jewish beliefs and fables.

Nibley writes that Adam wasn't really supposed to "subdue" the Earth and its non-human inhabitants, as many contemporary "Christians" claim. In fact, quoting from Genesis 1:28, and the original Hebrew words used in this passage, from the Septuagint, Nibley points out that God commanded Adam and Eve to "bring pressure to bear" on His creations and to "tread the earth and walk about on it." He adds, "Very ancient parallels suggest that the original idea was that of the new master of the earth going about on his royal rounds of inspection and discovery, as we read in the Egyptian Coffin Texts, Spells 80, 132, 136.

Nibley elaborates: Adam was supposed to:
...keep replenished (“filled” is the word), and the creatures that move about on and over the earth, over which he is to have dominion. As Brigham Young explains it, while “subduing the earth” we must be about “multiplying those organisms of plants and animals God has designed shall dwell upon it,”3 namely “all forms of life,” each to multiply in its sphere and element and have joy therein.

He adds: 
The ancients taught that Adam’s dominion was nothing less than the priesthood, the power to act for God and in his place. The idea is that God, while retaining his unshakable throne in the heavens, “extended his glory to a new world below in the work of the Creation; then as the culmination of that work he created man to be in charge [li-mshol] of all the beings he had created,”4 with the understanding that “from this time forth man must work to improve the earth and preserve and take care of all that is in it, exactly as God had done before.”5
More on our God-given responsibility to care for all of God's creatures: 

God’s rule is before all a rule of love: “I love my creatures far more than you ever could!” the Lord tells Esdras in a vision.13 There is a tradition that Melchizedek, instructing Abraham in the things of the priesthood, explained to him that Noah earned his blessings by his charity to the animals, recalling how in the Ark, “We did not sleep because all night long we were setting food before this one and before that one.” Taking this lesson to heart, Abraham himself made a sort of Garden of Eden near Hebron, and there practiced charity toward all creatures that thus he might “become a possessor of heaven and earth.”14 Adam, according to many accounts, was the great friend and companion of all the animals when they lived together in perfect peace and happiness, and they continued true to him even after the Fall.15 Indeed, “Adam before he came to this earth was intimately acquainted with all the great spirits in heaven, and also with all the holy beasts,” so that he was peculiarly fitted in his priestly office to serve as mediator between the worlds as well as between higher and lower forms of life.

As usurpers and evil-doers came to power, they violated the trust of the animals, which caused the animals to fear and hate humans. We see this pattern throughout history. Nibley records it in excruciating detail, with citations to back up every statement he makes. In addition to everything else I find striking about this article (and all of Nibley's work), I am amazed to see how uncannily it applies to our current political situation.

And now, instead of inserting more quotes from Nibley's "Man's Dominion" in this post, I would exhort you, yes, exhort you, Dear Friend, to read his entire article yourself. 

Except, I just can't help myself. I have to add this quote from the article:

A familiar early Jewish and Christianteaching was that the animals will appear at the bar of God’s judgment to accuse those humans who have wronged them.26 “Happy is he who glorifies all the works of the Lord, but cursed is he who offends the creation of the Lord; for nothing will go unnoticed and unrecorded.”27Jesus referred to God’s intimate concern for all when he said of the sparrows, “not one of them is forgotten before God” (Luke 12:6Matt. 10:29), and has declared in these last days: “I the Lord … make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures” (D&C 104:13).

More from Hugh Nibley

In yesterday's post, I mentioned an article published in 1981 by Hugh Nibley (Man's Dominion). I found this article by doing a search on for "Simon Magus." I searched for this in order to find references in the Bible to superstitions, to show that there has always been, among the peoples of the Bible, a distinction made between superstition and true religion.

I'll get back to that in the next post or two (or three), but meanwhile, here's a fascinating quote from Nibley that may ring several bells for LDS readers. As Nibley discusses man's dominion, starting with Adam, he cites several ancient texts that tell the same story, commenting that these texts "often take dramatic form indicative of ritual origin." Here's the story:

As Adam was praying one day, runs the story, a distinguished gentleman appeared on the scene and engaged him in conversation. There was nothing of the hippy or tramp about the stranger; he was well-dressed, and came to Adam with “cunning and smooth talk, as a true friend genuinely concerned for his welfare.”41 He began with some harmless generalities—the weather and the scenery: it was, he observed, a most glorious and beautiful world. This, however, by way of leading up to his next point, which was that he happened to be the owner and proprietor of it all. Yes sir, as far as the eye could see it was all his, and he tolerated no nonsense in it: nobody dared make trouble where he was in charge. This was all hokum, of course; “Satan never owned the earth; he never made a particle of it;” said Brigham Young, “his labor is not to create, but to destroy.”42 But to demonstrate his authority, when three strangers (usually described as angels)43 appeared on the scene at this moment, he at once challenged them as trespassers, asking them if they had any money. He explained to Adam that everything in his world could be had for money,44 and then got down to business. For the fellow was all business, a person of integrity, ready to keep his part of an agreement (the agreement always turns out to be a trap for the other party), pious and God-fearing,45 dedicated to hard work—he works, in fact, “like a demon.” He was there to offer Adam the chance of a lifetime to buy in on a scheme that would give him anything he wanted in this world. It was an ingenious and simple self-financing operation in which one would buy power with wealth and then more wealth with the power, until one might end up owning and controlling everything. The initial capital? It was right under their feet! You begin by taking the treasures of the earth, and by exchanging them for the services of important people in key positions; you end up running everything your way. What if your rule is one of blood and terror? Better to rule in hell, as Milton’s Satan puts it, then to be ruled in heaven!
Nibley goes on to give other examples from ancient and classic works of Satanic figures and their "tempting proposition[s]" to humans. And, in a footnote, he writes:
The writer is preparing an extensive study on the subject. Some of the old sources describing the confrontation of Adam and Satan are the Testament of Adam, various “Adam Books,” the Lives of Adam and Eve, the Cave of Treasures, Flavius, Encomium of Demetrius, the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, sources in bin Gorion I, 92ff, 254ff, Manichaean Hymns, Tha’labi, Testament of Abraham, Apocalypse of Moses, Slavic Adam and Eve, Secrets of Enoch, Bp. Theodosius on the Abbaton, the Precious Jewel, Midrash, etc.
This is one reason I love reading Hugh Nibley: He has so many sources at hand that after citing 17 of them he still has to write, "etc." There are more! I've been looking for some of them, thanks to his careful citations, and have realized that it would take a lifetime of study to find, understand, and appreciate the treasures they contain. So I'm relying on Nibley to educate me to at least a higher level than where I stood before.

(I met Hugh Nibley once, many years ago, and listened with my mouth open as he seemed to ramble through mountains and hills and valleys of arcane wisdom and references, but after all of it rambled on to a coherent and cogent conclusion. At the end of his talk, in the Q/A period, I asked him about something I'd read in Mircea Eliade about the uses of mythology, and he expounded upon that issue as if he'd read Eliade's entire oeuvre just that morning.)

So, in future, when I cite Nibley, I hope you, Dear Reader, will trust him as much as I do. And I hope to be citing him frequently, as he knew more than most of us will be able to learn in this lifetime about ancient scriptures and other ancient writings (note the distinction here!), and I am certain of his accuracy and veracity.

And, as I mentioned earlier, I will be getting back to that issue of religion and superstition, because from the beginning of time, from Adam on down, humans have interacted with God, and have sometimes found false gods and invented ridiculous superstitions when blinded to God's ways.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Micha Joseph Berdichevsky

I discovered this author while reading an essay by Hugh Nibley. Nibley. Nibley is writing about "Man's Dominion," in the January 1981 issue of "The New Era," about the real meaning of that phrase. He references a "Bin Gurion" several times, one of those times in the context of animal fables:
Some of the profoundest human commentary is contained in the vast and ancient corpus literature of the animal fables, a protest literature in which the beasts bring accusation against the human race for their shabby performance in the days of their probation 
So, even though I had found that essay by searching on for Simon Magus (whom I will be discussing in a future post), I had to find out who this "Bin Gurion" was. I figured he wasn't David Ben Gurion, and I was right. Turns out he was "...born Micha Yosef Berdichevsky, August 1865, in the Ukraine and into a family of Chasidic rabbis." (This information is from the "Streets of Israel" blog of Marilyn Oser.) 

Now, I'm trying to find anything written by Micha Joseph Berdichevsky, aka Bin Gurion, translated into English. I can't, as Hugh Nibley could, read Hebrew or German; and I can't even read Italian, the only non-Hebrew version of Bin Gurion's work I could find on Amazon. If anyone knows a source for Bin Gurion's animal fables, please contact me.

Meanwhile, I found this quote from Bin Gurion, again on Marilyn Oser's blog:

 Berdichevsky“It is upon us to choose in ourselves that which is good and beautiful, that which is righteous and lasting. Free men are turned into slaves if they close the path before themselves, if we open our windows – freedom arrives from the distance.”

Monday, June 25, 2018

If this isn't religion, then what is? ("Why Buddhism Is True")

Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and EnlightenmentI haven't read this book yet, though I've read an amusingly snarky review of it.

I'll write about the book when I've received and read it (ordered from Powell's). Until then, here is my review of the comments made by Amazon reviewer "Busy Reader: Get To The Point."

"Busy Reader" (B.R.) writes that if an author wants to prove that something is true, he/she has to follow a kind of scientific procedure. And I agree with B.R. on that point. 

So, in the case of Buddhism, or, presumably, any religion (or system of spirituality, or whatever you want to call Buddhism), the author should (quoting here from the online review):
1. Establish what Buddhism claims, and the claim(s) must be clear, testable and falsifiable. 
2. Identify what evidence would prove the claim(s) false. 
3. Identify what we would accept as validation of the truth of Buddhism's claim(s) 
4. Pursue that evidence, especially the evidence in opposition to Buddhist claims. Take measurements that can be replicated. 
5. Present results, conclusion, invite further investigation and experimentation from others.

The problem is, according to B.R., that Wright doesn't do that. Instead, he presents what B.R. calls a "murky swamp" of "personal observations, unsupported assertions and a ragged, fly-by-night flirtation with evolutionary psychology."

Well said, O Wise B.R. 

I'm not even going to wade through the rest of B.R.'s own "murky swamp" of personal observations and his/her objections to the very idea that Buddhism's truthfulness might be "proved" by any other method than B.R.'s own set of "scientific" proofs....

...Because, here's why I'm even wasting this much time going through a snarky review of a serious and sincere book that I haven't even read yet:

Again, I'll review the book itself when I've received and read it, probably in a week or two. 

Meanwhile, B.R.'s review has helped me think through, again, some of the reasons why Jeff and I aren't approaching issues of what science and religion can and cannot prove:

--This kind of argument is not useful or fruitful
--The personal observations and reasons of one person often don't resonate with other people
--Religion and spirituality are completely separate from science in their objectives, means, and uses
--We're not trying to start, or finish, arguments with anyone about their beliefs, anyway

Later, I'll get to some of the reasons we ARE doing what we ARE doing in our book on science and religion. 

But I want to write one more thing about this reviewer's take on Robert Wright's views on Buddhism because B.R. seems to think that throwing in a quote from Sigmund Freud proves Buddhism isn't "true" or helpful. (The same can be said, and I should have said it earlier, about how he uses his version of the scientific method to judge the truth or untruth of an entire religious philosophy.) 

Here's the thing: Claiming that meditation "can be nothing other than observing your own mental activity" and then quoting Sigmund Freud* to bolster your argument about the uselessness of group meditation is like saying the fact that dogs can be trained means you shouldn't get help from an experienced dog trainer to train your dog. 

*Here's the Freud quote: "There are cases in which parts of a person’s own body, even portions of his own mental life — his perceptions, thoughts and feelings — appear alien to him and as not belonging to his ego; there are other cases in which he ascribes to the external world things that clearly originate in his own ego and that ought to be acknowledged by it. Thus even the feeling of our own ego is subject to disturbances and the boundaries of the ego are not constant." —Sigmund Freud, "Civilization and its Discontents"

See what I mean? Freud may be right about how the boundaries of the ego are not constant. But who cares? What does that have to with the truthfulness of Buddhism? 

 (Here's the image "Busy Reader" supplies with his Amazon review page profile. And this gives me a chance to be a little snarky, too: Robert Wright uses his own name and supports his work with his own reputation. "Busy Reader" does neither.)

Where am I going with this? I'm reading a lot of books lately about science and religion, all kinds of belief systems and their nay-sayers, and thinking about what makes a religion "true" or not, what makes science "true" or not, what makes anything "true" or useful to anyone, and why we care. 

One point that keeps coming back to me is the disingenuous nature of so many anti-religion arguments. And I want to say, as I am saying in this review of a review, "Come on, B.R! Tell us what's REALLY on your mind!" Except B.R. et al unwittingly give us a full frontal view of what their true objectives are, don't they!

"Grandeur to this view of life"

The closing sentence of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" (published Nov. 24, 1859) was:

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."  

(This sentence is 57 words long---a very long sentence---if I were his college freshman composition teacher, I would have asked him to cut it down, make it into two or more sentences, or create a bulleted list of the points he was making here. But, also, if I were my own college freshman composition teacher, I would have insisted that I re-write the sentence just above this one. And, the one just above that one; and this one; also, I would have given myself a lecture about the proper use of the semi-colon. And reminded myself that beginning a sentence with a conjunction shows a lack of thought and a miscalculation as to the leniency with which any educated person might read said sentence.)

According to the "Age of the Sage" website, Darwin re-wrote that sentence for the next edition of "On the Origin of Species," adding "by the Creator" after "having been originally breathed," so it read:

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

So now the sentence is 60 words long. But that isn't what Darwin regretted about adding those three words. He wrote to his friend Joseph Hooker in March of 1863:
"I have long regretted that I truckled to public opinion & used Pentateuchal term of creation, by which I really meant “appeared” by some wholly unknown process. It is mere rubbish thinking, at present, of origin of life; one might as well think of origin of matter."
Wait! Are we saying that Darwin had rejected the biblical teachings he had been raised with about the creation of Earth and all its inhabitants? Here's a paragraph from a reasoned consideration of that question: 
"Was he an atheist? Not really. His unearthing of the theory of evolution caused him to rethink his views of creation, and the death of his 10-year-old daughter in 1851 certainly further prompted him to think hard about the idea of an interventionalist God (on that subject, I thoroughly recommend Annie's Box, by Randal Keynes, Darwin's great-great grandson). But his views on God don't really matter. What matters are his discoveries about life on earth...He's no patron saint of atheism ... and, given his measured prose, which bellows calm reason and courteous but forceful argument, he wouldn't have enjoyed the mudslinging that characterises the current climate of religious and atheistic rhetoric.
Why, then, was he so upset with himself over the addition of "by the Creator" to that sentence?  

After his trip to the Galapagos, Darwin kept researching the question of how different species appear in Earth's history from time to time. He wrote to Joseph Hooker in a letter dated Jan. 11, 1844: 
"I have been now ever since my return engaged in a very presumptuous work & which I know no one individual who wd not say a very foolish one.— I was so struck with distribution of Galapagos organisms &c &c & with the character of the American fossil mammifers, &c &c that I determined to collect blindly every sort of fact, which cd bear any way on what are species.— I have read heaps of agricultural & horticultural books, & have never ceased collecting facts— At last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable. Heaven forfend me from Lamarck nonsense of a “tendency to progression” “adaptations from the slow willing of animals” &c,—but the conclusions I am led to are not widely different from his—though the means of change are wholly so— I think I have found out (here's presumption!) the simple way by which species become exquisitely adapted to various ends.— You will now groan, & think to yourself ‘on what a man have I been wasting my time in writing to.’— I shd, five years ago, have thought so.— 
Since then, hundreds, or thousands, or hundreds of thousands, I don't know, probably zillions, of books have been written about how right or wrong Darwin was. And I haven't found one of those yet that wasn't pushing an anti-religion or anti-Darwin viewpoint. I have some of those books here at home, and I've tried to read some of them. Mostly I check them out of the library and return them almost immediately, thoroughly disgusted. (For example, this one.) Then there are the people who are attempting to "unify" science and religion through their extensive background in meditation. (Go ahead, make a joke, I dare you!)

The way I see it, no one can see inside of another person's mind, and certainly no one who is writing these books has figured out what kind of "physics" God used in creating the universe.

Darwin had deep humility and scientific integrity, so he recorded what he observed and what could be reasoned and concluded from his observations. Then he worried, and his wife worried, if he was attacking "The Church" and would end up in "Hell," instead of "Heaven," where they were both sure she would end up.

But what he saw was merely "grandeur to this view of life," in seeing a way that organisms change over the years and the centuries so that they can continue to exist. 

What's wrong with that? Nothing. In fact, here's what a contemporary apostle (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf)  has advised about continuing increase our knowledge:
Strive to increase your knowledge of all that is ‘virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.’ Seek knowledge ‘by study and also by faith.’ [See Articles of Faith 1:13D&C 88:118109:7109:14).In our learning, let us not neglect the fountain of revelation. The scriptures and the words of modern-day apostles and prophets are the sources of wisdom, divine knowledge, and personal revelation to help us find answers to all the challenges in life. Let us learn of Christ; let us seek out that knowledge which leads to peace and truth. ("Education is a Commandment")

Monday, June 11, 2018

Some Advice from an Ancient Wise Man

Seneca, the Stoic, on how and why to avoid anger:

1) Recognize that anger is awful

2) Make the attainment of a tranquil mind your highest goal

3) Choose your friends wisely

4) If you have a hot temper, use art and music to calm the mind

5) Learn your anger triggers and stop it early

6) Resist the impulse to be curious

7) Don’t seek reasons to be angry

8) See yourself in the offender

9) Just wait

10) Do battle with yourself

11) Build a collection of anger case-studies

12) Develop tolerance

So, here's the thing: All of these principles are what Jesus taught, too. 

Funny, isn't it, how the great, and by this I mean the REALLY great, teachers have the same basic philosophy. 

Do check out this link if you want to understand what's behind each of these twelve rules. (Because, if you're like me, you're wondering about Rule No. 6, "Resist the impulse to be curious.")

Or, better yet, read the Book of Mormon! The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (Official Edition)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Some Good News

From The Daily Kos:

And ultimately, of course, the question of limits on presidential power will likely be decided by the courts. By “the courts,” I mean two: The D.C. Court of Appeals, the most important federal circuit court in the country, and of course the Supreme Court.
Let’s start with the DC Circuit Court. And this is delicious.
Who is the current chief judge of the DC Circuit?
Watch out, Republicans. You may wish you’d have let him get to the Supreme Court after all.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Fiction Friday: If you Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now

This is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time, and at the same time sad and anxious throughout most of it. At least it has a happy ending.

(I don't feel bad about that spoiler, because I wish someone had told me ahead of time it was all going to be okay in the end. Well, it's actually not okay in the end, but the two main characters are okay in the end, in spite of the troubles they're going through. Okay, that did it! Total spoiler!)

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By NowAlso, you don't have to live in the L.A. area to appreciate this book. Though if you've ever visited there or know someone who lives or has lived there, particularly in Tujunga or any other such town in the area around LA, you'll do mental double-takes about every page or two.

And here's another thing: Why was this published in 1997 but I'm just now reading it, 21 years later, and enjoying it this much? It's totally (TOTALLY) up to date, with the attitudes and conversations and everything that happens, and even some of the names are still recognizable.

The author, Sandra Tsing Loh, is absolutely brilliant.

I'm sending my copy to a friend who lives in LA and works (and used to work) in Tujunga. Don't worry, Friend, you don't even have to read the whole book. Or any of it. Just glance at the first page, and you'll see what I mean. I skimmed through it super fast so I could get it in the mail today, and still got the gist of it.