Thursday, October 29, 2009

Isn't technology great? [Ryan]

Before my mission, I had never sent a text message, never poked anyone* via Facebook, and never looked up the Marvel character Deadpool on Wikipedia because I just wanted to know. In fact, I had only a vague idea what Wikipedia was. I didn’t yet own an iPod, and I was still borrowing my mom’s clunky Nokia cell phone with a pull-out antenna. I was also still a fervent acolyte of the PC cult, regarding anything Mac with distrust usually reserved for infomercial salesmen and Ku Klux Klansmen.

After a two-year break from reality, I returned to the technology dimension and found it a different and scary place.

Now I really have no idea where I would be without it all.

Facebook. At its core, it’s a way whereby you can keep in touch with friends old and new. But after spending a few minutes there, it’s clear that it’s much more: Facebook is a way to let everyone, both those who don’t care and those who really don’t care, know which farming implement you most resemble or which Transformers character you and 40 million other people are most like.**

Wikipedia. An online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Sounds like a great idea, right? Despite the obvious possibility of anything of Wikipedia being written by someone’s cat who someone gained control of a keyboard, it is truly a useful tool. Many academics malign Wikipedia for its inherent lack of trustworthiness, but let’s be honest here — if you’re sitting in class, possessed by a sudden desire to learn about anything from African trade routes to the lightsaber, this is the place to go.

(Did you know you can click on “Random article”? Let’s see: “Turkey at the 2006 Winter Olympics” … “1993 Australian Baseball League season” … “2 gauge” … “Dave Ford” … “Hypoiodous acid” … “Stargate” …)

iPod touch. I can sit in the back of Sunday School, ostensibly flicking through my vast collection of Church manuals and scriptures that came with my scriptures app. Actually, I’m playing Hero of Sparta and defeating various denizens of the underworld. Not that I’m really fooling anybody.

Laptop. My Macbook truly is a wonderful thing, despite having been made obsolete several times. I mean, right after I bought mine, Apple came out with the new aluminum Macbook, which carried facial recognition software; the new aluminum Macbook Pro, which was durable enough to withstand a minor nuclear blast; the new larger Macbook Pro, which had battery powerful enough to run Iron Man’s suit for thirty minutes; and the newest Macbook, which is, apparently, so earth-friendly you could actually plant it and expect a tree to grow. ***

Cell phone. I’ve never been an excessive texter, but it’s easy to see how addictive it can be to have a conversation with someone without having to actually open your mouth, put on clothes, or even devote more than fifteen seconds of every minute to the effort.

Isn’t technology grand? I don’t know how I ever survived without it.

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* One of my friends and I are engaged in a poking competition, wherein we poke each other on Facebook. The complex ritual goes like this: one of us will poke the other. When the poked party discovers he or she has been poked, he or she will poke back, after which the original poker retaliates with a new poke. The possibilities are truly endless.

** Most people get Optimus Prime when they take this quiz. As flattering as this may be for you, you’ve got to realize that not everyone really has it takes to be a self-sacrificing giant robot who turns into a semi truck. Somebody’s got to be Ratchet or Ironhide.

*** I want to know what would grow on this tree. Smaller Macbooks? iPods?

Monday, October 19, 2009

My very first hate mail- I feel so proud. [Connor]

One of my friends' Facebook' account recently got hacked. The hackee (I assume) wrote an angry status report in which they shouted at the hacker and called them (I'm not making this up) "a tire-kissing bum." Needless to say, I had to comment on their choice of words. I mean, really. Is that the best they could come up with? It was meant in harmless fun, of course. This is the response I got. The hackee is a pretty nice person, so I assume it's from the hacker:

Oh really? My bad. Ya your right- I guess I could have used better vocabulary for you- how about a stuck pig? Ya! Perfect! Your the kind of person who is fed up with yourself and who can't help but make yourself look like a douche bag whatever it is that your trying to do to graduate from girlhood to boyhood, and even more harder for you, manhood. It is also apparent that your too afraid to fight because of the fear of dying with a little blood leak from your body. I'll bet you've never fought for anything in your life, by the way. Plus, with the disease that you have that makes you keep bleeding without your blood clotting, even if something like a chicken does scratch you, you can't do anything about it and a stuck pig is a perfect name for you! (I'd get rid of that chicken if I were you so you don't have to worry about dieing from chicken scratch (ha ha, good one huh?) Might as well because one of those chickens obviously is out to get you if it got into your house in your front door) Are you a fan of make believe gophers that carry a machine gun? What does the word HOPE supposed to mean int that picture? I'm guessing your hoping that gophers take over the world with little machine guns or something to protect you? I mean, really? (It's ok Connor- if your only hope for friends is little gophers that carry little machine guns then good luck,) but really? GET A LIFE

Whew. I need to take a nap after reading that! Let's look back at it for a moment. Ignoring the aspersions cast on my manhood, I'm kind of confused about this blood stuff. What the heck is this about my "fear of dying with a little blood leaking from your body?" Huh? "The disease you have that makes you keep bleeding without your blood clotting?" I honestly had no idea that i suffer from hemophilia. The things you learn from hate mail.

Am I a fan of "make believe gophers that carry a machine gun?" Of course. It's an axiom of teenage guyhood that small woodland creatures carrying assault weapons are cool. On the Coolness Scale, "make believe gophers that carry a machine gun" are only a single level below "microwaving a Cup Of Noodles full of gasoline and watching what happens."

"I'd get rid of that chicken if I were you so you don't have to worry about dieing from chicken scratch (ha ha, good one huh?)" . What? If anybody can shed some light on the humor behind "chicken scratch", I'd appreciate it.

What a lovely response. It truly made my day, what with attempting to insult my manhood and lifetime achievements while simultaneously inferring that I have hemophilia and hope armed gophers take over the world. Also, after reading this upwards of eight times, I THINK that the writer is implying he hopes I get killed by a chicken.

I'm going to print and frame this.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What I know [Ryan]

I’m not sure about the purpose of this particular blog entry. I think it’s coming from a number of needs — to prove my own faith to myself, to respond in kind to Elder Holland’s last talk in general conference, or to answer the challenge from various General Authorities to share the gospel over this newfangled thing called the Internet.

I don’t know where this blog is coming from, but I do feel the need to write it.

I encounter a lot of anti-Mormon stuff when I’m at work. It seems someone is always trying to bring the Church down. Sometimes they have understandable concerns, like people who despise the Church because its stance on same-sex marriage, and sometimes they’re just nutjobs, like the guy who wrote in last week saying the Ensign was part of carefully calculated plot by the LDS Church to manipulate the world’s thinking and take over various secular governments.

Sometimes, honestly, it makes me think. Is the Church off-base on gay marriage? What exactly is the deal with blacks and the priesthood? Does unfavorable DNA evidence disprove the Book of Mormon?

I’m slowly coming to an understanding of those and other troubling issues, but my purpose today is not to tackle the things I don’t completely understand. If you want to hear the arguments batted back and forth ad nauseum, go Google them.

But running down every argument will only get so far. There’s always compelling evidence for both sides. An argument based solely on logic can go on forever; logic is based on facts, which are subject to change as new facts are discovered and tested.

Truth, however, comes from somewhere else, and it never changes.

And it’s truth that is important here: It’s not what I don’t know, but what I do know that makes the difference.

Here’s what I know:

Jesus Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for us to fulfil our eternal potential.

In 1820, Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon using divine power granted as a part of his calling as a prophet.

Joseph Smith’s successor continues to exercise that role as prophet.

There are some who would call my reasoning flawed — how could I know these things? How can I so callously dismiss logic and hold everything to the standard of knowledge that can’t possibly be proven?

Call it a leap of faith.

How do we truly know anything? Even the most godless, stoic atheist must accept that what he takes as absolute fact must still be taken with a degree of faith — what is reality? How do we know our conscious interpretations of the world are right? An ancient philosopher once asked, “I had a dream I was butterfly — or was I a butterfly awakening from a dream that I was a man?”

We all have to take the world on faith sometime. Every man has to be backed against that wall and make his stand. Sooner or later, we will have to accept that we cannot truly know anything without the assumption of faith.

This my faith. This is what I know because of it. What I don’t know shrinks in the face of what I do know with the promise that all will be made clear someday.

I’m nothing special, but somehow I got lucky and have been able to develop this knowledge. My words lack thundering rhetoric delivered over a pulpit, but you can be assured that they are not less heartfelt that the speaker of such words.

That's what I know.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Prepare To Puke On the JUMP TO LIGHTSPEED! Coming soon. [Connor]

There’s nothing like a weekend trip to Lagoon to inspire ideas that are impossible to think of anywhere else without the aid of powerful hallucinogens. After spending a day being strapped into giant scary-looking contraptions designed by disturbed mental patients, propelled through the air at ridiculous speeds, dangled upside down while being flung around in circles, and otherwise jerked and thrown around until the vomit you release is intermixed with loose gray matter from your brain, all kinds of crazy ideas start to make sense.

Such is the case with my brilliant idea for a Star Wars-themed amusement park.*

Actually, it kind of makes sense, sort of. I mean, we already have a Disney-themed amusement park, with people roaming around dressed as Disney characters such as Goofy and Mickey Mouse (at least, I assume they’re people dressed as them. Maybe the Disneyland people convinced the actual Mickey Mouse and Goofy to help them out). Would it really be that different if, instead of Goofy wandering around acting, well, goofy, we had a fully armored Boba Fett stalking around, carrying his blaster and staring at small children until they cried?

No more need for creepy carnival ride employees. The ride attendants would all be smartly dressed as stormtroopers and line up in ranks to meet you with a full military salute as you entered the park. Overhead, the speakers would broadcast the voice of Darth Vader reminding you to keep your head, hands, and feet inside the ride at all times. There could be a roller coaster resembling an X-wing and celebrating the destruction of the Death Star by weaving through a giant trench like the one in A New Hope. People watching the ride would be free to pay a quarter to soak you with water out of squirt guns that looked like laser turrets.

Forget Boba Fett, though. Goofy’s place would immediately be taken by the obvious replacement: Jar Jar Binks. Tell me with a straight face that you’ve never noticed an uncanny resemblance between them. Picture a little kid with a balloon clutched in his hand, walking around and peering up at the rides and crowds of people, and suddenly being swept up into a big bear hug by an alien shrieking, “Mesa so happy to see you!”

All of the employees selling admission tickets would be chosen on a basis of being extremely short and would all be dressed as Yoda. They would, of course, be required to mess up their syntax and, for good customer relations, say cheerfully to each customer, “May the Force be with you!”

Park managers would be required to wear cloaks and carry lightsabers on their belt.

The park’s fastest roller coaster would be called “Jump To Lightspeed.” If it encountered a mechanical problem, such as the car being derailed and skidding flaming into the parking lot, it would be referred to as a “hyperdrive malfunction.”

Nightly entertainment would feature bands such as the cantina band from A New Hope** as well as an all-Wookiee a capella group. A guy dressed as Admiral Ackbar would do standup comedy shows.

So you see, it really isn’t that different from a Disney-themed amusement park. What’s weirder, short green aliens with pointed ears or short black cartoon characters with big round ears? Okay, I don’t know either. But I bet Yoda would kick Mickey Mouse’s cartoon-animated rear in a lightsaber duel.

Oh, and let me know if you know of an all-Wookiee a capella group looking for some work.

Remember to become a follower of my blog, and may the Force be with you.

*Correction: It was my mother's idea. Really.
**”Figrin Da’n and the Modal Nodes.” Don’t ask me why I know that.