Saturday, June 27, 2009

Do I owe Ron Paul money?
Chapter 4: The Hinge of Fate

Faithful imaginary readers will recall that last summer I made a bet with a Ron Paul nut. He predicted that the Dow Jones and the price of gold would converge in the next year or two. I told him that if the gap between these numbers closed half the distance (from 10,000 to 5,000) before September 2009, I would make a donation to Ron Paul's campaign.

For the first two months, the gap remained unchanged. Then in October of last year, it narrowed rapidly as the stock market collapsed. For the next six months or so, the gap flirted with 6,000-- a mere thousand from the magic number.

Happily, though, the stock market began to recover in the Spring, and the price of gold has remained pretty stable. So here's the data for the last three months:

April 21, 2009
* Dow Jones = 7,969.56 points
* Price of Gold = $888.75
* Difference = 7,080.81

May 21, 2009
* Dow Jones = 8,292.13 points
* Price of Gold = $937.50
* Difference = 7,354.63

June 22, 2009 (no data for 6/21)
* Dow Jones = 8,339.01 points
* Price of Gold = $919.25
* Difference = 7,419.76

For the last few months, the gap has been averaging just under 7,500, which is about halfway between the starting line and the victory line for my Ron Paul-loving friend. It's not as good as I would like, but it's way better than 6,000. And the bet is over in September, so there's not much time left for Ron Paul's doom to destroy us all. Hooray!

We seem to have turned an important corner. On April 2nd, the numbers were over the line predicted by the Ron-Paul-nut-theory for the first time since October. It was as if the hinge of fate had swung. And they've stayed over the line every day but one (April 7th). Awesome!

Thank you, American economy. Thank you for justifying my faith in you. Now please don't let me down, okay?


(Update 6/29 : Will someone please tell the reverend Dr. Paul that refusing to condemn vicious anti-democratic thuggery is objectively pro-fascist? Thanks!)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Romney Award


Today, we give the first annual Mitt Romney Honorary Suspected Arsonist Award. This prestigious award goes to blogs that are so hot, so wicked awesome, that you might wonder if they set your church on fire.

The 2009 award goes to a group blog, IMAO. We recognize IMAO today for their lifetime of achievements, including the work they have done to expose America's enemies: wimps, puppy eaters, and crazy old men. But IMAO's most important work has simply been to help us better understand the world in which we live.

Congratulations, Frank J. and company. And thank you.


PS - Yes, my church burned last month. :(

PPS - No, no arson. Just old wiring in the attic.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Future self and me

So I got to teach the lesson at FHE this Monday, and I am going to post it for you, my imaginary readers. Why? Because I like you.

But more importantly, there are a LOT of things in this lesson that I still need to learn. Curse my stupidity!

So, anyway, here it is. Enjoy!


1. The shadow of the future
• I recently saw a couple of movies about people who got to see the future. (Inmate-turned-cyborg Marcus Wright in Terminator Salvation and curmudgeonly Carl Fredricksen from Up.)
• DISCUSS : What do you think the future is going to be like?

• It’s always fun to hear people’s predictions about the future. I like to read science fiction from the cold war and even earlier, because it’s funny to see how much people got wrong. Things never turn out how you expect, which is something that the characters in these movies learned.
• DISCUSS : Has your future turned out like you expected, or have their been surprises?
• DISCUSS : If you could go back in time and tell yourself how to prepare for the future, what would you tell yourself?

2. The power of acting early
• Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying that “Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” He’s probably not the source of the quote, but I still think the idea is interesting.

• DISCUSS : What does it mean to say that “Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe?”
• Well, let’s say I want to have a million dollars in my retirement account by age 65.
• If I start right now, and put away the same amount every year, I would only have to put in a little over $270,000. Compound interest makes up the rest of the million.
• If I wait ten years to start, I would have to put in almost an extra two hundred thousand dollars.
• So the earlier you start, the less you have to put in to get the same result.

• God told Joseph Smith: “Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.” (D/C 29:34) Is there some spiritual principle underlying this observation about compound interest?
• Making a good choice now will give you better results than waiting to make the same good choice later.

• This is not true for every part of your life, or for every kind of reward.
• Consider the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), in which master of the vineyard hires each laborer for the same amount, even though he finds some of them in the morning and they work all day, and some of them he finds at the end of the day and they work just a single hour.
• It doesn’t matter how old you are when you make the baptismal covenant. Everyone who is baptized gets the same deal.

• But, there clearly are areas of life where this principle does work, where the earlier you make a good choice, the better result you get in the end.
• DISCUSS : Where can you make this principle work for you?
• finance, as we have discussed
• fitness, weight loss
• any learned skill: athletics, arts, etc.
• the language of the spirit
• knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge
• “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (D/C 130:18-19)
• All kinds of human relationships grow stronger, deeper, as you share time together. Better to start early than late.

3. Fight the future!
• We are all time travelers. We are all moving forward into the future. And all of us need to prepare now for the challenges that we will face later.
• Amulek told the Zoramites: “Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.” (Alma 34:31)
• God has promised that he will reward you immediately for making good choices. So why wait? The earlier you make a good choice, the happier you will be.

• Remember, you’re not just a tourist, traveling to a future that already exists. You are building the future, with every choice you make every minute of the day. So think about what your future self would tell you. Don’t put off your good choices. Act now, and change your future.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This week's weird sex story, brought to you by Japan

It's actually safe to read. It's about men who call themselves herbivores, because they're more interested in gardening and other solitary, passive pursuits than the competitive worlds of business and dating. According to some estimates in this story, up to three-quarters of Japanese men in their twenties and thirties consider themselves to be 'herbivores.'

I go to a ward (Mormon congregation) out here that is mostly composed of single people in their twenties and thirties. I wonder how many of my brethren would identify with the herbivore lifestyle in some way? And I wonder what the girls would say about how many of us boys are herbivores? Then again, maybe now is not a fair time to ask this question, since we had a big discussion in church this last Sunday about how boys need to be more aggressive and active in dating. So we've kind of primed the pump, as it were. Ahem.

Anyway, just for the sake of clarity, although I applaud many of the herbivores' ideals (quiet reflection, opposition to a consumerist culture, love of nature, etc.), I could never fully identify with a movement whose name suggests abstinence from eating meat. But if there was a group that abandoned competitive pursuits in favor of barbecue, I would be sorely tempted. Maybe we could be the Meat-loving Monks?

Or maybe not.


(UPDATE 6/20 : Looks like the whole movement is a little fruity. So, yeah, I'm definitely out.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

One cannot trust anybody these days

See, this is why I always make my students hand in a paper copy in addition to an electronic copy. Lousy sneaks...


Thursday, June 11, 2009

More fanboy evangelism

Warbreaker is out. And my autographed copy should be arriving in the mail today or tomorrow.

If you haven't read a Brandon Sanderson novel, give this one a try. In addition to the hardcover which just got published this week, he also has a free version available on his website. So, what do you have to lose?

And remember, I'm not only the president of the Brandon Sanderson fanboy club-- I'm also a client.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mad science news of the week

Scientists have discovered a set of genes associated with "tameness" in animals. They hope that their research will allow breeders to "pass specific genes from one generation to the next as a way to produce tame animals."

Sounds like a great idea! Reminds me of this drug-- the Pax. "It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression." And it worked for 99.9% of the test population. I can only hope this new experiment works as well for critters.

Or maybe we could try it the other way, and remove the tame gene from currently domesticated animals. Then the cows can see sky, and remember what they are.