Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When “Mormonism” finds favor with the wicked in this land, it will have gone into the shade; but until the power of the Priesthood is gone, “Mormonism” will never become popular with the wicked. (JD 4:38)

They would come now by thousands and thousands, if the Latter day Saints were only popular. “What, these honorable men?” Yes, they would say, “I want to be baptized. I admire your industry, and your skill in governing. You have a system of governing that is not to be found anywhere else. You know how to govern cities, territories, or the world, and I would like to join you.” But take care if you join this people without the love of God in your soul it will do you no good. If they were to do this, they would bring in their sophistry, and introduce that which would poison the innocent and honest and lead them astray. I look at this, and I am satisfied that it will not do for the Lord to make this people popular. Why? Because all hell would want to be in the Church. The people must be kept where the finger of scorn can be pointed at them. Although it is admitted that we are honest, industrious, truthful, virtuous, self denying, and, as a community, possess every moral excellence, yet we must be looked upon as ignorant and unworthy, and as the offscouring of society, and be hated by the world. What is the reason of this? Christ and Baal can not become friends. When I see this people grow and spread and prosper, I feel that there is more danger than when they are in poverty. Being driven from city to city or into the mountains is nothing compared to the danger of our becoming rich and being hailed by outsiders as a first class community. I am afraid of only one thing. What is that? That we will not live our religion, and that we will partially slide a little from the path of rectitude, and go part of the way to meet our friends. (JD 12:272.)
--B. Young
Students in our colleges and universities live constantly in a tension between two authority systems: one more or less vaguely associated with science and the other with religion. Both systems are “blind” in the sense that the edicts they impose on thought and behavior are never, for the vast majority of people, reduced to anything close to understanding, verification, or proof. An illustration comes from a recent experience reported by one of my students.

This student was walking across campus with a professor whose field is religious studies. In their conversation, the student happened to mention the resurrection of Christ. The professor's response: The resurrection is inconsistent with the laws of physics. Now, in fact, the laws of physics lie at a considerable conceptual distance from phenomena such as human death and decay and their possible reversal. This particular professor in any case, would have little if any idea where to begin showing that resurrection conflicts with physics—or why it matters, if it does conflict. Indeed, who would? Very few, I would imagine. "Science" was vaguely invoked to end the discussion, just as in other contexts, "religion" is used for the same purpose.

But then the professor probably will never be confronted with the task of actually demonstrating how the resurrection is inconsistent with the laws of physics. The student in question, an extremely bright as well as devout young man, was too gracious (and perhaps stunned) to force the issue; and certainly he would have found it difficult to show that the resurrection and physics are not inconsistent or why it doesn't matter if they are.

It is painful to observe that our culture provides no friendly meeting place for the authorities of science and religion to engage in good‑faith efforts to understand the truth about our life and our world. How many people seek or find the preparation required to deal profitably with issues such as resurrection and the laws of physics? To be genuinely open to truth and able to seek it effectively is surely one of the greatest human attainments. I am convinced that it can come only as a gift of grace. It implies faith in a cosmic context where one no longer feels the need to hide, to invoke explanations that really explain nothing at all but simply enable one to hold a position with an appearance of reasonableness.

The professor who invoked physics is surrounded constantly with things and events for which no physical explanation yet exists, nor even the beginnings of one. Just look at the physics texts and see. A most obvious case is the existence of the physical universe itself, as well as of life and human consciousness. When confronted with the de facto inability of physics in this respect, the academically sanctified dodge is to invoke chance, along with huge spans of time, for everything to "work," and further, to invoke the promise of what science (really, physics) supposedly will be able to explain in the future as it continues to make progress. But chance is not something that can produce or explain anything. Rather, it is invoked precisely at the point where there is no known explanation or cause. And if something is, indeed, impossible, it will not help to have more time to get it done. We need a demonstration of the possibility, for example, of life's emerging from the inorganic, and then we can talk about time. But the assumptions of this "scientific" evasion are so complicated and culturally protected that most people confronting it do not realize they have been handed intellectual sawdust instead of bread.

Unfortunately, religion frequently invokes its own non‑explanations as a means of holding its ground. Usually these involve the idea that God's power is so great that we can say with reference to anything simply that He did it and thus have an explanation that protects us. There's no need to look further or think further.

Now God's act as an explanatory principle has an advantage over chance in that we all know something of what it is like for an act or choice to bring something about. Nothing comparable can be said of chance. Personality is a source of energy and causation with an intelligible structure. It simply is not a physical structure. But there is no good reason it should be, and once you think about it, every reason it should not. For if it were, the fundamental feature of human life and consciousness would be destroyed or reduced to illusion. As long as we recognize that knowledge does not reduce to physics, and as long as we understand that science is just knowledge, we have every right to speak of the possibility of a science that encompasses consciousness in divine and human forms along with the physical and whatever else there may be.
--Dallas Willard

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In recent years I have felt, and I think I am not alone, that we are losing the ability to correct the course of the church. You cannot appreciate how deeply I feel about the importance of this present opportunity unless you know the regard, the reverence, I have for the Book of Mormon and how seriously I have taken the warnings of the prophets, particularly Alma and Helaman.

Both Alma and Helaman told the church in their day. They warned about fast growth, the desire to be accepted by the world, to be popular, and particularly they warned about prosperity. Each time those conditions existed in combination, the church has drifted off course. All of those conditions are present in the church today.

Helaman repeatedly warned, I think four times he used these words, that the fatal drift of the church could occur in the space of not many years. In one instance it took only six years. (Helaman 6:32; 7:6; 11:26) (Boyd K. Packer, “Let Them Govern Themselves,” Reg. Rep. Seminar, March 30, 1990)

Friday, April 8, 2011

peanute butter--better than the segue

Plumpy'nut is a peanut-based food for use in famine relief which was formulated in 1997 by André Briend, a French paediatric nutritionist. It is a registered trademark of Nutriset, the manufacturer. UNICEF purchases 90% of its supply of Plumpy'nut from Nutriset factories in France for humanitarian aid.

OverviewInspired by the popular Nutella spread, Plumpy'nut is a high-protein, high-energy, peanut-based paste in a foil wrapper. Plumpy’nut requires no water, preparation, or refrigeration and has a 2 year shelf life, making it easy to deploy in difficult conditions to treat severe acute malnutrition. It is distributed under medical supervision, predominantly to parents of malnourished children where the nutritional status of the children is compromised. It is manufactured by Nutriset, a French company based in Rouen for use by humanitarian organizations for food aid distribution.

The ingredients are peanut paste, vegetable oil, powdered milk, powdered sugar, vitamins, and minerals, combined in a foil pouch. It tastes slightly sweeter than peanut butter. Plumpy'nut contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E, and K, and minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, iodine, sodium, and selenium.

The paste is administered in 500 kilocalories packets, twice daily, for two to four weeks, in combination with Unimix, a vitamin-enriched flour for making porridge, and will reverse malnutrition in severely malnourished children.

How it worksPlumpy’nut is frequently used as a treatment for emergency malnutrition cases. It helps with rapid weight gain, which can make the difference between life and death for a young child. The product is also easy for children to eat since they can feed themselves the soft paste. The fortified peanut butter-like paste contains a balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins (macronutrients), and vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). Peanuts contain mono-unsaturated fats, which are easy to digest. They are also very high in calories, which means that a child will get a lot of energy from just small amounts, important because malnutrition shrinks the stomach. They are rich in zinc and protein — both good for the immune system and to aid long bone growth in reversing stunted height, while protein is also needed for muscle development. Peanuts are also a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to convert food into energy.

the little things you do

A really good toss-out screener never gets caught. We
can only judge among those toss-out screeners who get
caught. There is no question who the greatest one was:
Stanislov Petrov. No one else comes close . . .

You say you've never heard of him. This indicates the
power of government. There are some stories that
governments do not want to get out.

Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov (born c. 1939) is a
retired lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air
Defence Forces who deviated from standard Soviet
protocol by correctly identifying a missile
attack warning as a false alarm on September 26,
1983. This decision may have prevented an
erroneous retaliatory nuclear attack on the
United States and its Western allies.
Investigation of the satellite warning system
later confirmed that the system had

There are varying reports whether Petrov actually
reported the alert to his superiors and questions
over the part his decision played in preventing
nuclear war, because, according to the Permanent
Mission of the Russian Federation, nuclear
retaliation is based on multiple sources that
confirm an actual attack. The incident, however,
exposed a flaw in the Soviet early warning
system. Petrov asserts that he was neither
rewarded nor punished for his actions.

The Wickipedia article describes what happened. The USSR relied
on satellite systems to warn the military of a missile
attack by the United States. The computer system sounded an
alert. The attack had begun.

Think of this as the most important piece of junk mail
in history.

Shortly after midnight, the bunker's computers
reported that an intercontinental ballistic
missile was heading toward the Soviet Union from
the U.S. Petrov considered the detection a
computer error, since a United States first-
strike nuclear attack would be likely to involve
hundreds of simultaneous missile launches in
order to disable any Soviet means for a
counterattack. Furthermore, the satellite
system's reliability had been questioned in the

It is the task of screeners to assess the accuracy of
junk mail, and then decide: send it up or toss it out.

Petrov dismissed the warning as a false alarm,
though accounts of the event differ as to whether
he notified his superiors or not after he
concluded that the computer detections were false
and that no missile had been launched. Later, the
computers identified four additional missiles in
the air, all directed towards the Soviet Union.
Petrov again suspected that the computer system
was malfunctioning, despite having no other
source of information to confirm his suspicions.
The Soviet Union's land radar was incapable of
detecting missiles beyond the horizon, and
waiting for it to positively identify the threat
would limit the Soviet Union's response time to

He decided to toss it all out. You and I are alive
because he made the correct decision.

While he was investigated for not acting as ordered,
no charges were brought against him. It would have been bad
publicity. "Soviet Air Force officer sacked for not
starting World War III."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

They Know More Than We Do

(click to expand)

On NBC's Meet The Press, US Secretary of Defense explains the sophistication of our enemy in Afghanistan:

Tim Russert: The Times of London did a graphic, which I want to put on the screen for you and our viewers. This is it. This is a fortress.... It's a very sophisticated operation.

Donald Rumsfeld: Oh, you bet. This is serious business. And there's not one of those. There are many of those. And they have been used very effectively. And I might add, Afghanistan is not the only country that has gone underground. Any number of countries have gone underground.