January 29, 2009

Some things that should not have been forgotten

Like the orange that sings Carmen, from Sesame Street.

January 28, 2009

The same blood flows in my veins.

I just read this post on By Common Consent: There is an End to Race. As a teenager, I was fascinated by the doctrines concerning lineage. In seminary we'd learn things about being the lineage of Ephraim and how someone adopted into that lineage literally had their blood changed. Now, we learned a lot of things in seminary that ended up not being true, but that literal blood change thing is based on a quote by Joseph Smith: “the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham.” I remember hearing from a friend that their friend's brother's roommate's cousin's step son (or something like that) found out that in their patriarchal blessing that they were from the tribe of Dan. We had a Young Women's lesson with the stake patriarch where someone asked if siblings could be from different tribes. He said that it was possible, and compared it to hair color or eye color. I remember thinking that was so cool, and being a little jealous that I, like everyone else, was the tribe of Ephraim. From the article I just read:

... one of the most significant findings of the Human Genome Project: that human beings have only (approximately) 20,000 genes.

Let’s do some math. You share exactly 1/2 of your genetic material with either of your parents. Move to an individual a generation back, and that person shares only 1/4 of your genetic material with you. You see what’s coming? How many generations back do you think you have to go before you pass the 1/20,000 threshold? The answer is that you share virtually no genetic material with your ancestors who were contemporaries of Christopher Columbus. Let me repeat that in more general terms: you are no more genetically related to your distant ancestors than you are to any randomly selected individual from anywhere on the planet. On the other hand, you do share an astonishingly high (compared to other species) percentage of your genetic material with virtually every person now living or who has ever lived.

So what does this mean in terms of tribal lineage? The blog writer draws this conclusion:

This means that being the literal, biological descendants of Abraham, or Noah, or Ham, or Seth, or Cain, or Adam is meaningless. Meaningless in the sense that, well so what — everyone else is too; and meaningless in the sense that you are not any more genetically related to any of them any more than you are to anyone else.

So really, we're all the tribe of Dan and the tribe of Ephraim, genetically speaking. Now if you read the entire article (which I highly recommend), you see that these conclusions don't automatically mean OH NOES! THE CHURCH ISN'T TRUE!! You really have to draw your own conclusions, but I like where the blog author goes with this. It makes the sudden blood transformation I pictured when I first heard this doctrine a little less dramatic. But it allows for a lot of 'what if' speculation that people like me love to think about, and most gospel doctrine teachers dread.

So what if that stake patriarch from my Young Women's class was right, and lineage really is like hair color or eye color? If we really are genetic descendants from every tribe (that has descendants), what determines dominant and recessive "tribe" genetics? Does that give new or different meaning to the literal gathering of Israel? I will quickly expose the limit of my knowledge on lineage doctrine and genetics pretty quickly if I keep going with the what ifs, so I'll stop. I guess this whole lineage thing still fascinates me, and this article just renewed my interest in it.

January 22, 2009

It's a dangerous business, going out your door.

I was reading a book about html coding (fascinating, I know) and it had a little chapter about learning theory. It explained why most people's brains shut down when reading about things like html coding. It's a survival mechanism. A person only has so much brain power, and if you aren't looking at something that might kill you, you're going to have a hard time getting your brain to care. You don't want to be so absorbed in how to hyperlink that you don't notice a tiger approaching. Not understanding css style sheets is only going to make your website ugly. Not running away from a tiger is going to make you dead. The brain usually knows what it's doing.

I was thinking about this as I experienced yet another awkward embarrassing life moment. I'm not going to give the details, because I'm too easily embarrassed by boring normal things. When I was 5, I ran home crying from the bus stop because someone on the bus looked at me and said "hey, kid." I've improved in the last 21 years, but my awkwardness threshold is still much lower than most people's. When I'm embarrassed, or feel socially awkward, my brain reacts as if it's in mortal danger. Now, I've never been in actual mortal danger so I don't really know how I'd react to it. (I can only hope it would involve the discovery of latent super powers.) But after the most recent awkward embarrassing life moment, I realized that for some reason, my brain puts mild social awkwardness pretty high up on the mortal danger scale. What happened to my brain to make it feel so threatened at the first sign of blushing?

I'm sure part of it comes from my parents. One of my dad's most embarrassing moments was being in a restaurant when I spit up all over myself. I was a baby. I'm sure everyone in that restaurant was just horrified that a baby spit up. One of my mom's most embarrassing moments was when Carly yelled "shit!" in a department store. Carly was four. Good thing mom doesn't go shopping with the 23-year-old Carly. (Non-stop cursing. I think she has a problem.) But I'm sure most of it is just me. Some people are just born shy. I guess I should feel lucky that I live in a time and place where my brain doesn't have to worry about tigers so much. It can focus it's energy on freaking out when Jill and I get that cute waiter assigned to our table again. I just wish I had better luck training it to focus on html coding.

January 8, 2009

It's quite cool.

This is my new favorite snow picture. This was taken by my grandma in South Jordan on Christmas day.

This picture makes me laugh every time I see it. Jill's pose in the back (orange coat, blue mittens) reminds me of Munch's The Scream. Plus I love her rolled up pants. What better way to make sure snow gets on the inside of your pants?

January 6, 2009

Questions. Questions that need answering!

My supervisor (The Ghost Lady) told me she heard of a movie theater in Utah that was allowing people to bring their pets to a special showing of Marley and Me. I googled long and hard, and this is the closest confirmation I could find.

If true, this comes close to the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I don't have a dog, so maybe I'm wrong, but I can't think of anything more terrifying for a dog than sitting in a dark room watching other dogs and people on a screen at least ten times larger than normal.

Other reasons why this idea is stupid:
  • The movie is about a dog. A really rambunctious dog, that would, I assume, be barking a lot. Barking dogs generally cause other dogs to bark. No one would be able to hear the movie.
  • If people treat dogs anything like children at movies, dogs will be running loose all over the place.
  • Poop.
  • If the above link is correct and it's only seeing eye dogs that are allowed, I have to wonder why anyone who needs a seeing eye dog is going to a movie.
All signs point to the story not being true, but the idea is so incredibly absurd that I can't help but be fascinated by it.

I bet I could go several months using only LOTR quotes as my post titles. That is my first new year's resolution. Starting now.

January 1, 2009

I have passed the test.

For me the first movie of 2009 was Slumdog Millionaire. The bar is now set pretty high for any subsequent movies (Half-Blood Prince, you had BETTER be awesome), because Slumdog Millionaire was fantastic. It's both wonderfully idealistic and heart-breakingly realistic. More than one movie critic compared the movie to a Dicken's novel. I didn't realize until after I saw it that it's from the same director that made 28 Days Later, which I also loved. Slumdog Millionaire is better than 28 Days Later, and it's a little less violent. And it has more Bollywood dancing, which is always a plus.