Happy Holidays From the Js

December 19, 2008    By: Kristen J @ 10:29 pm   Category: Life

Dear Family & Friends,

This morning I was going over my long holiday to-do list and saying to myself, “This is out of control! I’ve got to get rid of some of this stuff.” I ran my finger down the paper and stopped at “Send out Christmas letters and cards”. Yes, that would be the first to go. No Christmas cards from the Js this year.

Then a picture came to my mind of everyone chasing down their mailmen and shouting, “Where is the J’s Christmas letter? I haven’t gotten it yet and the holidays won’t feel right until we get that letter!”

The harried postman would reply, “Look lady(or dude), I just deliver the mail. Call the Js and ask them yourself where their stinking letter is.” So, for the postman’s sake I decided to write the letter.
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A thought experiment about immortals

December 18, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 12:44 am   Category: Theology

Let’s imagine that there were a race of immortals. I mean real immortals that literally cannot die — not pseudo immortals we read about in fiction that are hard to kill but can die if you know the trick (decapitate, stake through the heart, burn, whatever). And by cannot die I mean they outlive every planet and every star. They are truly immortal with no beginning and no end. Now let’s further imagine that these immortals are vastly intelligent and they all have matching mental and physical potential and capacities, which capacities are far beyond our mortal human capacities. Further let’s imagine they live within the also-beginningless universe and that there are Universal laws by which they are bound.

Do you think it is safe to assume that this race of immortals would figure out how to be maximally happy over the infinite time they exist? I mean if they are that intelligent then it would be the reasonable thing for them to do after all. (more…)

“Can’t find a better man” — An EP take on polygamy

December 16, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 7:41 pm   Category: Evolutionary psychology

As the next in my series on evolutionary psychology I wanted to highlight the unusual take that Satoshi Kanazawa gave on the subject of polygamy over at his blog. Here are some excerpts:

Contrary to popular belief, most women benefit from polygynous society, and most men benefit from monogamous society. This is because polygynous society allows some women to share a resourceful man of high status. George Bernard Shaw (who was one of the founders of the London School of Economics and Political Science where I teach) put it best, when he observed, “The maternal instinct leads a woman to prefer a tenth share in a first rate man to the exclusive possession of a third rate one.”

In contrast, most men benefit from monogamous society. Given a 50-50 sex ratio, monogamous society virtually guarantees a wife for every man, even a third-rate one. Under polygyny, some third-rate men may not find a wife at all, or, even if they are lucky enough to find one, their wife will not be as desirable as the one they can secure for themselves under monogamy, because under polygyny more desirable women would have become the second, third, or tenth wife of more desirable men.

The exceptions to this rule are highly desirable women, who benefit from monogamous society, and highly desirable men, who benefit from polygynous society. A highly desirable woman can marry a highly desirable man under any circumstances, but under polygyny she’d have to share her desirable husband with other women, whereas under monogamy she can monopolize him. A highly desirable man can acquire multiple wives under polygyny, but must confine himself to only one wife (albeit a highly desirable one) under monogamy.

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How do you teach people to not Suck and not be Boring?

   By: Matt W. @ 8:36 am   Category: Life

I am currently Young Men President in my Ward, and in order to give the Young Men ample opportunity to learn to teach by basically rotating the responsibility of who teaches each week from person to person. (We do combined Priests and Teachers, so there are 8 guys between 14 and 18) I’ve been doing this for about 6 months now, and teaching hasn’t really improved much.

We currently have 3 rules:

  1. Don’t Suck
  2. Don’t be Boring
  3. When paraphrasing a scriptural story, don’t attribute the curse words to members of the Godhead (more…)

More Muddled Evolution Theory

   By: Jacob J @ 12:00 am   Category: Uncategorized

I am a pro-science guy and I believe in evolution. That said, it seems to me from watching the Discovery channel and reading popular science articles that it is easy to get carried away explaining things based on evolution to the point that we forget what evolution is in the first place.†  Evolution is natural selection working on random mutation. Here’s an example from the NYT (hat tip: ZD sidebar) demonstrating how easy it is to slip from sound scientific reasoning into poppycock: (more…)

Evolutionary Psychology (EP) Overview — A universal human culture?

December 15, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 11:06 pm   Category: Evolutionary psychology,Mormon Culture/Practices

I have been fascinated by the theories and posts at this guy’s blog. I didn’t know much at all about evolutionary psychology before this week, though I was not surprised that such a field existed. Here is the definition of evolutionary psychology we get from the wiki:

Evolutionary psychology (EP) is a pseudoscience that attempts to explain mental and psychological traits—such as memory, perception, or language—as adaptations, that is, as the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection. Adaptationist thinking about physiological mechanisms, such as the heart, lungs, and immune system, is common in evolutionary biology. Evolutionary psychology applies the same thinking to psychology.

Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is generated by psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments. They hypothesize, for example, that humans have inherited special mental capacities for acquiring language, making it nearly automatic, while inheriting no capacity specifically for reading and writing. Other adaptations, according to EP, might include the abilities to infer others’ emotions, to discern kin from non-kin, to identify and prefer healthier mates, to cooperate with others, and so on. Consistent with the theory of natural selection, evolutionary psychology sees organisms as often in conflict with others of their species, including mates and relatives. For example, mother mammals and their young offspring sometimes struggle over weaning, which benefits the mother more than the child. Humans, however, have a marked capacity for cooperation as well. (more…)

Strange Bedfellows: The Family Proclamation and Evolutionary Psychology

December 13, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 10:24 am   Category: Evolutionary psychology,Mormon Culture/Practices

Satoshi Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist and he blogs over at Psychology Today. Earlier this week he published a post called “How to be happy” (Hat tip to the BCC sideblog). Here are some relevant excerpts:

What can evolutionary psychology say about how to be happy? …

I would say that the best thing for people to do to become happier is to get in touch with their animal nature … Recognize and accept that we are animals. We are all designed by evolution to be certain way, and no amount of denial or fighting will change our evolutionary legacy and its implications.

One of the things that evolution has done is to make men and women very different. … One of the ways that men and women are different is in what makes them happy.

Forget what feminists, hippies, and liberals have told you in the last half century. They are all lies based on political ideology and conviction, not on science. Contrary to what they may have told you, it is very unlikely that money, promotions, the corner office, social status, and political power will make women happy. Similarly, it is very unlikely that quitting their jobs, dropping out of the rat race, and becoming stay-at-home dads to spend all their times with their children will make men happy.
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Why I bought Joseph Smith Papers #1

December 11, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 1:13 pm   Category: Life

I bought it, and it’s a beautiful and very attractive book. I could go on about the soft veneer of the pages, the attractive binding, or the how beautiful the book is underneath the cover.

But, I probably won’t ever read it cover to cover.
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The Awesomeness that is Yo Gabba Gabba

December 8, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 10:01 pm   Category: Life

nullSo have you seen Yo Gabba Gabba yet? If not this is some must see TV for toddlers and hipsters alike. Here are some excerpts from the Yo Gabba Gabba wiki:

Yo Gabba Gabba! is a children’s television series currently airing on the Nick Jr. and Noggin cable networks in the United States and the Nick Jr. networks in the United Kingdom and Australia. [It was] created by Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz

And here is a quote from the Christian Jacobs wiki (so you can see why I am posting on this here instead of somewhere else like, say, Kulturblog):

Christian Richards Jacobs (born January 11, 1972 in Rexburg, Idaho) is an American musician, voice actor, and former child actor. Jacobs has been the lead singer of The Aquabats since the band formed in 1994 and is known by the stage name The MC Bat Commander, often abbreviated as MCBC. He is also the co-creator of the Nick Jr. children’s television series Yo Gabba Gabba!.

For his role in The Aquabats he uses a marker to draw a mustache on his upper lip and black out one of his front teeth. He also performs various stunts on stage, including backflips, and spitting fire…

Jacobs is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a two-year mission in Japan. Part of the time, his assignment was that of assistant to the Mission President. He is the great-grandson of prominent Mormon leader LeGrand Richards.

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Overheard in the Valiant 11-12 class today

December 7, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 2:37 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

Teacher: “So the Brother of Jared saw the finger of the Lord”

Boy #1: “Did he pull it?”

Boy #2 (pensively): “That would have, like, destroyed a mountain”

(Seriously — I was there)

BYU Men’s Basketball ’08-’09

   By: Geoff J @ 1:08 am   Category: Sports

The BYU Men’s Hoop team improved to 8-0 tonight taking down a solid Utah State squad on a neutral floor (the ES Arena in SLC) by the score of 68-63. Since there are so many games in the basketball season I figured this discussion thread could be the place to talk about the team and the various games until I feel like posting again.

Here is my take on the hoops team this year: (more…)

Mary’s Choice, A post of Christmas

December 6, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 9:33 pm   Category: Scriptures

Tonight for Scriptures we read:

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her,
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Poll: One Universe or Many?

December 3, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 12:09 pm   Category: Theology


[Haven't done a poll in a bit. John C. didn't do one this week, so thought, ah, why not?]

WordPress Hack Alert: sattan.org spam redirect in wp-blog-header.php files

December 1, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 12:52 am   Category: Life

Hey fellow bloggers — if you are using WordPress for your blog beware of hackers getting you like they got several of my blogs last week.

The scheme is pretty clever. Apparently what they do is hack into your WordPress site via FTP somehow or other (likely via a vulnerability in older versions of WP), then they modify your wp-blog-header.php file. The purpose of the hack is to siphon off all of your search engine traffic to their spam sites. The way it works is the new code placed in your header file reads the source of the incoming traffic and if the visitor is coming from a search engine the script directs that visitor to their spam sites before the visitor ever sees your site at all. (more…)