Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pictures, Part Eight


this looks neat, kind of

sun and land and sky and frame


Pictures, Part Seven

my social security card
Voter ID

NAU ID card

debit card

business card

Pictures, Part Six

scary monsters


print card

Portrait of the Son of the Honorable Duke Willingshireworthington


Pictures, Part Five


Maxwell's Arrival

Love your planet


Jimmy on the keyboard

Pictures, Part Four

it's raining at the ranch

indoor plant



Pictures, Part Three

go horseshoe! fruit

from a dream


five volcanoes

Pictures, Part Two

Edwin on the Rooftops




Pictures, Part One

Dear Readers,

Look! Telemoonfa Time has pictures now! I drew and colored all these pictures myself using crayons on 12-inch by 18-inch paper over the past few years. I took pictures of them and titled them today. Enjoy.

look at the one in the middle with the purple hat

jacob in the backyard

"hey kid, we should play. Come over here right now."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday, Milton Friedman

Dear Readers,

This morning, for the first time in my life, I participated in Black Friday. My wife and I wanted to get most of our Christmas shopping done, and of course we wanted to get all those crazy bargains. So we set our alarm clock for 3:35 am, and got to Kohl’s at 4 am, when it opened. After Kohl’s we went to Wal-Mart, and then Target, and then Hastings. It was a pretty crazy experience. The stores were all really busy, but Wal-Mart was particularly packed.

After I got home, I went online and checked the Drudge Report, one of my favorite sources of news, to see what was happening in the world. The big headline that caught my attention was “Death at Wal-Mart After Stampede.” I clicked on the link and read the story about the guy who got trampled to death by shoppers this morning in a New York Wal-Mart. What a horrible story that was. It’s sad to think how impatient and insensitive people can be.

Did you hear about this story? It really happened!

After I read the article, I read some of the comments following the article, and there were a lot of interesting discussions going on. Some of the questions raised by this incident are: “Who is responsible? Wal-Mart? The shoppers? The victim?” And some of the comments that followed the article were kind of disparaging towards capitalism/modern-American-consumerism in general. I sensed that some of the people commenting were uh… kind of anti-capitalism, I guess. Some people said things like today’s early morning shoppers were morons for participating in Black Friday madness, and some people said that advertising had brainwashed people into behaving like pigs when they shop or something like that.

So… my experience shopping this morning and the news about the death in the New York Wal-Mart got me thinking about my stance on capitalism/modern-American-consumerism, and my stance on that stuff is: I’m fiscally conservative. I like Ronald Reagan. I like smaller government. I like the free market.

But, after seeing the madness at Wal-Mart this morning (which madness wasn’t really that mad, I suppose; people were pretty nice in Flagstaff.) and after reading the news story about the guy who got trampled to death, I had to ask myself, “How do my attitudes and actions about the economy affect society?” Because remember, according to my thinking, no one is innocent of influencing the world. There’s no such thing as an “innocent politician” or an “innocent teacher” or even an “innocent citizen”. Everybody affects everybody else, to a certain extent. Nobody lives in a vacuum. No man is an island. No matter how far you retreat deep into the woods, no matter how far you run, your thoughts and actions, in a spiritual way at least, affect the rest of the planet. That’s really what I think.

For some reason I feel the need, now and then, to reevaluate my values, and justify, to myself at least, my attitudes, opinions, dispositions, and etc. And as I reevaluate my values, as I simultaneously try to look at an issue afresh and use my 25 years of experience and wisdom, my opinions shift.

Hopefully this type of introspection is propelling me forward, not blurring my mind with darkness. Hopefully I’m getting nearer and nearer to the Truth.

Let me state here that I am opposed to what some have described as “hyper-consumerism.” I hate the idea of people filling emotional or spiritual voids in their lives with things that waste away, things that moths do corrupt, and thieves do break through and steal. Remember the guy in the New Testament who built bigger barns to hold all his great possessions and then right after he finished his gigantic barns, he died, and he couldn’t take all his great possessions with him to the Spirit World? Well, that guy was messed up.

I’m sickened by TV shows like MTV’s “Sweet Sixteen,” where material wealth and godlessness and vanity are enthroned.

I love shopping at thrift stores, and I like to avoid trivial fads driven by pop culture and brand names and the changeable suits of apparel and round tires like the moon, and crisping pins, and things that make my feet tinkle when I walk (The Mother Hips have some good lyrics about consumerism and the modern day American milieu: These commercials got me thinking, that what I drive and what I’m drinking are in essence just the things that make me free.)

But, generally speaking, I’m not opposed to capitalism or the free market system, and I hold my stance. I’m still fiscally conservative. I still like Ronald Reagan. I still like smaller government. I still like the free market.

And I still like the quote: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I still love Doctrine and Covenants 121: 39: We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

So… while I was thinking about things and trying to figure out this wacky thing we call the Economy, I discovered somebody radiant today. (Actually I discovered him about a week or so ago, but I found out a lot more about him today.)

His name is Milton Friedman.

I read a brilliant article he wrote called, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. In that article, Friedman explains that when businesses give money to charity organizations, what they’re really doing is taxing one of three people: the owners/stockholders of the company, the employees of the company, or the customer of the company’s goods or services. Interesting idea, huh?

I watched some You-Tube videos featuring Milton Friedman, and he’s changing my attitude about public education. I never really had an opinion before about school vouchers. You know, where the government gives parents money to let their kid go to a private or a parochial school. And I used to think, and I sort of think, that school’s shouldn’t be ran like businesses. That education isn’t a product that you can package and sell… but maybe it sort of is… I don’t know. I used to be mad at the University of Phoenix for running their college like a business, and radically changing the notion of a higher education. But now I think maybe the University of Phoenix is on to something good.

And I used to get angry at how NAU is naming a lot of the buildings around campus after people who give big donations to the college. I used to think that NAU was selling out, you know. I thought that maybe colleges should be free from all the nasty business world stuff, and they should be independent, free-thinking institutions, unattached to any big business or blah blah blah… but now I’m not so sure. Maybe the nasty business world isn’t so nasty.

Of course sometimes the business world is genuinely nasty and cutthroat. One of the worst products/ exploitations of the free-market capitalist system I’ve experienced was Northstar Alarm Services. I have a really long blog post in Telemoonfa Time somewhere about my horrible experience selling alarm systems door-to-door in Nashville Tennessee. Remember that?

But what are the alternatives to the “nasty business world?” How have those alternatives worked out in the past?

Anyway, Milton Friedman is my new favorite hero. He’s a Nobel Prize winner, and he was a professor of economics for a long time at the University of Chicago, and he wrote a book called “Capitalism and Freedom.”

Here’s a good short video of him:

Anyway uh… it's late and I've been a little rambley ("rambley" is not really a word but you know what it means.) and I don’t know how to end this blog post well, so… I’ll just say “See you later.”

See you later.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Salt and Pepper

Dear Readers,

Every once in a while I have these brilliant ideas out of nowhere that I must proclaim to the Universe. Yeah! Really! Brilliant ideas just come to my special brain, while I'm sharpening pencils with a pocketknife alone in my room, or when I'm staring at the sky, or when I’m bathing and leisurely admiring the beauty of my body. I just think of great things! Brilliant things!

And then sometimes I wonder if I really thought of the brilliant idea first- or if some other mortal thought of it before I did. Sometimes I think Jablork thought of it first, and he whispered it to my brain. (Remember Jablork, faithful Telemoonfa Time Readers? Jablork's the troll that lives inside my jaw and uses his cute little explosives to blast through several feet of rock. He was originally featured in one of my poems, This Thing with my Jaw.) Anyway, it could have been Jablork, or it could have been an angel, or a ghost, that told me the profound profundity that I am about to impart to you.

Anyway, here's my brilliant idea:

Imagine yourself sitting down to enjoy an average meal in which you use salt and pepper to season your food. How about mashed potatoes? Yes. OK. Mashed potatoes. Follow me so far?
So you're eating mashed potatoes and they taste a little bland, and naturally you reach across the table towards the salt and pepper. Now comes the crucial question: "Which do you use first, the salt, or the pepper?"

Maybe this scenario is not something you think about. Maybe it's like asking you if you put on your left shoe first or your right shoe first in the morning. Well... pay attention next time you use salt and pepper... but I bet I know what the answer is.

You use the salt first.

Yes! You use the salt first!


But why? Why do you use the salt first? I can hear you asking it! (or maybe that’s Jablork. Shut up Jablork, I’m talking with my other friends!)

Because... and here is the grand secret... because you say “salt” first when you say “salt and pepper!"

Seriously! When was the last time you heard somebody say, "pass the pepper and salt, please." That sounds ridiculous! Ridiculous and un-American! The salt comes first, and the pepper comes second. That’s just the way it is! Whether you like it or not! It doesn’t matter how much you think pepper has been oppressed- it doesn’t matter how many friends you get to start saying “pepper and salt.” The proper way, the natural way, is to say “salt and pepper” and everybody knows it! “Salt and pepper” is more than just a socialized ordering, too. Saying “salt and pepper” is instinctual. (Shut up, Jablork! I know I’m exaggerating! So what?! Go search for gems! I’m talking with my other friends!)

Sorry about that outburst. Moving on, in fact, there are lots of phrases that have set orders, like, "bread and butter" and "pork and beans" and "Telemoonfa and Jablork."

Bottom line: you use salt first on your mashed potatoes because you say “salt” first. It’s kind of a postmodern idea: language shapes reality. But remember that the idea “language shapes reality” isn’t just a pretentious idea coming from godless, pipe-smoking, pretentious college professors- remember that God himself spoke the worlds into existence. He commanded with his voice, and the elements obeyed.

I don’t have all the puzzle pieces put together yet, you understand. I am only a lone voice crying in the wilderness… no, I shouldn't compare myself with John the Baptist like that... I guess I'm more like a lone voice crying in the sandbox at the neighborhood park. I’m an independent detective, hired by no one, tracking down the as-yet-inexplicable modus operandi of ALL EVERYTHING FOREVER.

But right now I have a hunch that somehow “salt and pepper,” black helicopters, the federal reserve, and the golden ratio are all part of it. And by “it” I mean ALL EVERYTHING FOREVER.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Journal Snippets

Dear Readers,

Here are some snippets from my recent journal entries, slightly modified:

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

I’m not sure there’s anything better in the world than spam, cheese, and a fried egg, all between two slices of homemade whole wheat bread. That’s what I just had, and it was amazing. So tasty. I put the two slices of bread in the microwave, and melted the cheese on it, and I fried the egg and sizzled little slices of spam – it was heavenly. I had a glass of room-temperature Tang, too, and the whole combination of taste was such to make me happy.

I’m very sleepy now, so I think I’ll take a nap.

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

You know where I’d like to go? I think I’d like to go back to the Gila Valley and hang out there. I’m not sure what I’d do, really. Walk around the Eastern Arizona College campus, I suppose, and go sit in the Institute building and play chess with farm boys and premees and RMs. ( a “premee” is Mormon slang for Mormons, typically males under the age of twenty or so, who have not yet served a mission for the LDS church. “RM” is another Mormon slang term, meaning “returned missionary.”) I suppose I’d go watch some of the plays - go watch some of the rehearsals - go say hi to some of the professors, if they’re still around - walk around town, past the cotton fields - walk to Bashas and buy some groceries - walk around downtown Safford - go see Stockmen’s, my old cowboy bank - look for where they’re going to build the temple - reminiscence - get nostalgic - it’s a beautiful area.


On the Enormity of Libraries

Dear Readers,

Sometimes I go into the library at NAU and marvel at how massive it is, at how many people there are, silently talking, talking, talking, through the pages of all those books on all those shelves.

I feel a reverence for those books, at times, knowing that I can never possibly read them all. I fall silent in front of the sublime bookshelves bookshelves bookshelves before me. I go towards the bookshelves and touch the wrinkled bindings of old books I’ve never seen before, taking in the smell, wishing that the soft touch of my finger would bring to my mind the book’s secrets.

At other times I want to escape from the world of books. Escape, yes, but I want to do more than escape. There are times when I want to demolish the shelves and burn the books and make everything clean again – to the violently overthrow the librarians - to make everything clean again. I want to go to the wilderness alone, where I will see the hand of the Creator.


Sanders, Arizona

Dear Readers,

The following is from my journal, from Friday, November 14th, 2008. It has been slightly modified from the way it appears in my journal. I’ve never been to the small Arizona town of Sanders, but I think I must have driven through it at least once in my life. Enjoy.

I saw a teaching job advertised for a really remote part of the state, in Sanders, Arizona. The closest grocery store, I think it said, was in Gallup, New Mexico, and since there's no apartment buildings around Sanders, the school has on-campus housing available- I guess there are a few trailers next to the school for teachers to live in. I'd be willing to try an adventure like that - live out in the middle of nowhere - save a lot of money - read a lot of books - spend a lot of time outside - experience the Wild West.

I’d have crazy small town folk for neighbors and crazy small town folk for friends. Or maybe I wouldn't have friends.

I’d get out in the boondocks, in the sticks, away from civilization - to get a clear head - to escape from the government problems, from the madness that so easily overcomes people in the city.

It'd be good to be out there – out there where people are ugly and they like it that way - out there where people rely on home remedies and folk wisdom for curing medical problems, where people go out to a dumpster in the heat of the day with BB guns and shoot little critters they find scuttling through the trash, or they just shoot the trash - out where people don’t use sunscreen - out where people hold conspiracy theories in their minds, conspiracy theories that make a big difference in they way they talk to outsiders - out where the world is very small, and contained, where only dark mists and monsters and despair live beyond a certain mile marker on the Interstate 40 - out where people are genuinely racist - out where wanted men go to hide - out where there ain’t much law - out where the men of the town administer what city people would call back-alley justice, only in Sanders they operate in wide open desert places, not in alleyways. And the men carry guns, and ropes, and crowbars, and bricks.

Out where Indians can be Indians, where they hold their ancient Indian ceremonies the way the medicine men teach - out where only one female in town uses a curling iron, and she’s got a club foot - out where one kid with bad breath and bad dandruff and bad acne and bad fat knows with all his soul that he is a wizard, and one day he’ll show all the men of Sanders what his wizardry can do, and you avoid the impossibly lucid stare of his eyes, his pure black eyes, when he walks on the roads of Sanders, dust billowing behind his heels, walking in the heat of the day, walking in his power.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fun with 5 paragraph essays, part two

Dear Readers,

The 5 paragraph essay tradition is alive and well in the American Educational establishment. I see the cookie-cutter formulaic writing all the time.

I might be breaking some laws here, (so what! I live dangerously!) but I'm going to post this brilliant 5 paragraph essay satire written by Ed White, without giving him any royalties:

Edward M. White
English Department
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721

My Five-Paragraph-Theme Theme

Since the beginning of time, some college teachers have mocked the five-paragraph theme. But I intend to show that they have been mistaken. There are three reasons why I always write five-paragraph themes. First, it gives me an organizational scheme: an introduction (like this one) setting out three subtopics, three paragraphs for my three subtopics, and a concluding paragraph reminding you what I have said, in case you weren’t paying attention. Second, it focuses my topic, so I don’t just go on and on when I don’t have anything much to say. Three and only three subtopics force me to think in a limited way. And third, it lets me write pretty much the same essay on anything at all. So I do pretty well on essay tests. A lot of teachers actually like the five-paragraph theme as much as I do.

The first reason I always write five-paragraph themes is that it gives me an organizational scheme. It doesn’t matter what the subject is, since there are three parts to everything you can think of. If you can’t think of more than two, you just have to think harder or come up with something that might fit. An example will often work, like the three causes of the Civil War or abortion or reasons why the ridiculous 21 year limit for drinking alcohol should be abolished. A worse problem is when you wind up with more than three subtopics, since sometimes you want to talk about all of them. But you can’t. You have to pick the best three. That keeps you from thinking too much, which is a great time saver, especially on an essay test.

The second reason for the five-paragraph theme is that it makes you focus on a single topic. Some people start writing on the usual topic, like TV commercials, and they wind up all over the place, talking about where TV came from or capitalism or health foods or whatever. But with only five paragraphs and one topic you’re not tempted to get beyond your original idea, like commercials are a good source of information about products. You give your three examples and zap! you’re done. This is another way the five-paragraph theme keeps you from thinking too much.

The last reason to write this way is the most important. Once you have it down, you can use it for practically anything. Does God exist? Well, you can say yes and give three reasons or no and give three different reasons. It doesn’t really matter. You’re sure to get a good grade whatever you pick to put into the formula. And that’s the real reason for education, to get those good grades without thinking too much and using up too much time.

So I’ve given you three reasons why I always write a five-paragraph theme and why I’ll keep doing so in college. It gives me an organizational scheme that looks like an essay, it limits my focus to one topic and three subtopics so I don’t wander about thinking irrelevant thoughts, and it will be useful for whatever writing I do in any subject. I don’t know why some teachers seem to dislike it so much. They must have a different idea about education than I do.


Isn't that great?

I decided to write my own 5 paragraph essay based off of "Nothing but Nets" by Rick Reilly, an article first published in Sports Illustrated magazine.

Why You Should Buy Nets for Africa: A 5 –paragraph essay by Telemoonfa

A lot of people have given money over the years to charity organizations. Rich people who don’t know what to do with their money get their heart strings pulled and they give money to people who need it or to good causes. One such good cause I would like to talk about is mosquito nets for people in Africa. We should give money for mosquito nets for people in Africa for these three reasons: it helps people in Africa live, it doesn’t cost that much money, and it makes you feel good.

First, we should give money for mosquito nets for people in Africa because it helps people in Africa live. It’s a shame that so many people over there die every day just because there are a bunch of mosquitos with malaria that bite them. Within just a little bit of time being bitten, people die. And just think: only a little bit of money could save them.

Second, we should give money for mosquito nets for people in Africa because it doesn’t cost that much money. I could understand if the nets were a thousand dollars, you wouldn’t want to give all that money to people in Africa. But really, it only costs ten dollars for one of those nets! Ten dollars! That’s about how much you spend on a new CD or on a meal out.

Third, we should give money for mosquito nets for people in Africa because it makes you feel good. When you send ten dollars to Africa to help save a person’s life, it gives you a feeling like you made a difference in the world. Think about someone you love. A friend, or a child. Now imagine them dead! Isnt that messed up? Giving somebody life just makes you feel so good inside. There’s nothing else like it.

In conclusion, we should give money to Africa for mosquito nets because it helps people in Africa live, it doesn’t cost that much money, and it makes you feel good. I hope this essay has convinced you why we should give money to Africa for mosquito nets.



Two Linguistics Response Papers

Dear Readers,

Here are two response papers I did for my linguistics class recently that you might find interesting. The textbook I'm responding to is Language: Its Structure and Use, 5th edition, by Edward Finegan.

Metaphors and Finegan and Me

For my first response paper I would like to respond to Finegan’s treatment of metaphors, as discussed on pages 188-190, in Chapter 6, the semantics chapter.

Finegan starts the section on metaphors this way: “Difficulties in drawing a distinction between polysemy and homonymy arise partly from the fact that language often uses words metaphorically.” (188) This is a confusing sentence. It will help me to understand it if I define polysemy and homonymy. “Polysemy,” according to Finegan’s glossary, is “the term used to refer to multiple related meanings for a given word or sentence; a word with more than one meaning is said to be polysemic.” “Homonymy” is, again, according to the glossary, “the state of having identical expression but different meanings. (book a flight and buy a book.): homophonous is sometimes used with the related sense of ‘sounding alike’ but not necessarily having the same written form (see and sea) or meaning.” Simply put, “polysemy” refers to one word with two or more meanings and “homonymy” refers to two different words altogether, but the two different words just happen to sound the same.

Now that we have a clear grip on the definitions of “polysemy” and “homonymy,” let’s go back to Finegan’s first statement. Why would metaphors have anything to do with making it hard to differentiate between polysemy and homonymy? Well, the tricky thing about metaphors is that when people come up with a new metaphor, they give a new meaning to an old word. That is, when people use a new metaphor, they are extending a word’s polysemy; they are increasing the number of meanings a single word has.

But what happens when the metaphor becomes popular and widely used? What happens when the metaphorical sense of a word is used so much that people stop realizing that it’s a metaphor at all? For example, to “book” a flight originally meant to have a secretary write down your ticket information in a book. The verb “book” was originally a metaphor, arising from the noun “book.” As the metaphorical meaning of the word “book” became more widely used, though, people began to forget the origin of the metaphorical sense of the word. So, the new word, the verb “book” wasn’t a metaphor at all anymore. It was just another word in the dictionary.

Thus, the metaphorical meaning of “book” went from being another meaning of one word to being a whole new word altogether. But when exactly did “book” make the transformation? When did “book” emerge from the cocoon of polysemy and spread its butterfly wings of homonymy? Well, no one knows- you can’t pinpoint the moment of transformation, that’s why metaphors muck up the polysemy/homonymy distinction.

I’ve never been in a position where I’ve needed to separate polysemy from homonymy, but I suppose that dictionary makers need to decide whether a word is two words or if a word is one word with multiple meanings. Because when I browse through a dictionary, I notice that for one word with multiple meanings, the dictionary has the word listed once, followed by a couple different enumerated definitions. I also notice that for two words that just happen to sound alike, each word gets its own entry. No doubt some of the distinctions between polysemy and homonymy dictionary-editors make are arbitrary.

One of the important things I’ve learned in this class and from the textbook is that metaphors aren’t just a device that creative writers use. I used to think of metaphors as things like, “O my love is like a red, red rose,” and “his fist was a sledgehammer.” But ENG 504 helped me to see that metaphors were a much bigger concept than those poetic devices. I didn’t realize before this semester that we use metaphors all the time.

I think humans use metaphors on a daily basis, in everyday conversation, for many reasons, but one of the reasons is that metaphors help us express ourselves in interesting and creative and descriptive ways. For example, which of the following sentences sound better?

1. “Tennis star Serena Williams breezed through the early matches.”

2. “Tennis star Serena Williams efficiently won the early matches.”

To me, sentence one sounds much better. It’s more aesthetically pleasing.
Sentence one paints a better picture, I think, because it contains a metaphor.

I just noticed another metaphor (sort of) in that sentence. The word “star” is like
the celestial thingamajig doing hydrogen fusion because they share these similarities: A movie star is far away and unobtainable, and a heavenly star is far away and unobtainable. A movie star is (typically) beautiful, and a heavenly star is beautiful. A movie star often sparkles (with makeup, and with the help of special lighting), and a heavenly star sparkles. So I just wonder if people came up with the word “star” as in “movie star” originally as a metaphor, and then eventually it became so widely used that it became its own word.


Language Change and Learning another Language

After browsing the table of contents, I’ve decided to do this response paper on chapter 13: Language Change over Time: Historical Linguistics.

One principle that has stuck with me from all my English classes at Northern Arizona University is “language changes and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Even if powerful men in power suits make and enforce uniform, universal ways of spelling and pronunciation, even if we create a whole bunch of prescriptive rules and write a bunch of books about how to speak and write English properly, it won’t work. English won’t be preserved indefinitely. English will die. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but wait a millennia or two or three or four, and English as we know it will be dead.

That’s kind of a sobering thought. It makes me feel a little existential. But I guess it’s not a huge deal. I’m only being sentimental when I mourn the eventual death of the English language. I personally believe that language is only a medium through which humans understand and talk about reality; language is not reality itself.

So, even though in a few thousand years, nobody will be able to read my blog posts or my love letters or my journals or my poems, (except for maybe scholars who take the time to learn modern English) people will still be able to experience reality just fine. Like, every language does its job of communicating, so it doesn’t really matter what language people speak, as long as people in a certain community understand the language. I’m just “rooting for the home team” when I root for English to stick around for a long long time. It’s like I’m at a high school pep assembly and I’m cheering for my high school football team. Why do I care if my team wins? Uh… just because it’s my school; and everybody else around me is cheering for it, and I’m familiar with the players on my team, and my high school football team is close to home. I cheer for my high school football team for purely sentimental, biased reasons.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter if my high school’s football team wins or not. The school they’re going to play is probably a good school, too. So if in a few thousand years, people in the U.S. (if the U.S. is still around- maybe I should say, “people dwelling on what we now call the North American continent”) are speaking Chinese or Tongan or some as-yet-undeveloped language, I won’t mind. That’s fine.

And I don’t really believe in the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (well, I do a little bit) that says, roughly, that the language we speak influences our view of reality. (Let me clarify/digress. The metaphors we use and the word choices we make influence our view of reality, but the actual language-English, Spanish, French, etc., doesn’t fundamentally influence our view of reality. It’s not like English speakers have some kind of cognitive advantage over Tok Pisin speakers. It’s not like speakers of one particular language are trapped in one particular mindset for their whole lives. Although, I’m reading Metaphors We Live By and it makes a compelling argument for language influencing our view of reality more than we think it does. According to Lakoff and Johnson, the metaphors we use conversationally are used unconsciously and learned unconsciously- I’m talking about the underlying metaphors like ARGUMENT IS WAR) But ultimately, I think, humans, no matter what language they speak, still understand big concepts like war and time and love and age and wisdom and nature.

If you prick a French speaker, they bleed just as a German speaker would bleed. I don’t believe there’s something so special about English that everybody ought to speak it forever. I mean, for some social and political reasons, it’s advantageous for people in the U.S. to learn English now, but that’s a different issue.

Moving on, another part of the chapter I found interesting was on languages in contact. The book talked about how now more than ever, languages are coming in contact with each other, and as a result, many people grow up learning two or more different languages. Lots of people are learning another language in school, too.

The other day in one of my classes there was a guest speaker who did comparative literature, and she was fluent in three different languages. The guest speaker said that she thought that American students really should be required to learn a second language, the way many students in Europe and Asia are. And maybe I agree with her. I’d like to know another language, but, I was raised in a place where it was just fine to speak and read and write in English all the time, so that’s what I did, and that’s what my peers did. When I got to college I was required to take three semesters of a foreign language for my major. So I took three semesters of Spanish, and I learned a little bit, but really not very much, and what I did learn is slipping away, because I never use it. To me, learning a new language is like learning how to play an instrument. Sure, I’d love to be able to play the guitar like a rock star, and sure, I’d love to speak Italian, or Spanish, or Klingon, but it would be sooooooo hard! It takes forever to learn all those words and all that grammar! And to really get fluent in another language, I think I’d have to go live in an area of the world where they speak it for a few years, and not just listen to CDs at home and practice Tahitian with my stuffed animals. I guess I just don’t see the benefit of learning another language.

I’d rather learn how to paint. Or surf.

I’m surprised to read that, “In central Africa, India, and Papua New Guinea, it is commonplace for small children to grow up speaking four or five languages.” Wow. That’s cool.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This gun is my gun

This gun is my gun-
This gun I hold right here
with bullets in it,
In my hand, my gun,
In my hand, and you, you,
my friend, you cannot possibly
gauge the significance,
the overarching absoluteness,
the severity of sensation-
my friend, this gun, in my hand,
this metal, this wood, this oil,
cylinder, trigger, hammer
you do not feel this gun,
you, in my sight, you,
feeling the fabric of your empty pockets
with the sweaty tips of your fingers.
You cannot know the meaning of
my gun in my hand, now,

alive with blood.

The Northern Arizona University English Department Directory

The Northern Arizona University English Department Directory

is a list of names, numbers
bolded items, italicized items, items
of various formulation, emphasis, order.

The Northern Arizona University English Department Directory
is printed on blue paper,
blue and not white.
Take note of that color switch.
That is fun.

I crinkle, wad, and trash it,
The Northern Arizona University English Department Directory,
to rid myself of all impurities,
all pigs that withhold their bacon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ronald Reagan Speech

Dear Readers,

Here's a wonderful conservative speech given by Ronald Reagan at the 1964 Republican National Convention, when Barry Goldwater was running for President. I hope you watch it.


I don't Believe in Global Warming

Dear Readers,

I really don't believe in human-caused global warming. I was kind of wishy-washy about it before, but now I've read more about it and I really don't believe in it at all anymore. There's a whole bunch of stuff on the Internet about global warming being fake. I know a lot of it comes from people that aren't super qualified to talk about the subject, but a lot of it comes from people who are super qualified to talk about the subject.

One of the things that irritates me the most about the whole global warming thing is that some people say, "The argument is over. There is virtually universal consensus among experts across the world that man-made global warming is real and the way to combat it is to reduce our CO2 emitions." As far as I'm concerned, and as far as a bunch of non-government-sponsered scientists are concerned, the debate is not over!

Here's a bunch of links to stuff that might change your way of thinking about global warming.,9171,944914,00.html

Google Zbigniew Jaworowski and John Coleman. The wikipedia page for Jaworowski has a lot of links to articles he's written in the links section. The one that I've skimmed and like is "CO2: The greatest scientific scandal of our time"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm a Cowboy

Dear Readers,

In my last post, I wrote briefly about the news and how I think the news media is liberally biased. I hinted that I'm skeptical of global warming. Let me be more bold here. Let me show you my true colors.

Here's a list of some things I believe and some things I don't believe that might make me sound crazy.

1. I'm not convinced that global warming is real. I'm afraid that global warming is just a way for lots of governments to come together, make global laws about a so-called "global" problem, and form a creepy one-world-order. And anyway, even if global warming is real, there's nothing I can really do about it. Plus, if global warming is real and if it's human-caused, it doesn't really matter becuase by the time the earth gets anywhere near uncomfortably roasty-toasty, Jesus will be back on earth- with a vengence!

2. I think Noah was a real man and he really built a big boat and put a bunch of animals on it and God really flooded the whole world. Really.

3. I think all the languages in the world derive from the language of Adam and Eve, and that the Adamic language was split into a bunch of different languages when God messed up the languages when people built the Tower of Babel. That's what the Bible says! That's not what my linguistics textbook says, but that's what the Word of God says! (Yee-haw! I'm a cowboy!)

4. I think the Earth is 6000 years old. That is, I think that Adam and Eve fell around 4000 BC and now we're at 2000 AD, so that makes 6000 years.

5. I don't believe that humans evolved from monkeys. I don't really believe in evolution, the way they teach it in schools nowadays. I believe God made the world and God made humans.

6. I believe that America is in too much debt and we might go into another depression if we keep trying to provide social security and medicare benefits.

7. I believe that gun rights are awesome. And I want more guns. Big ones. In fact, I'm a-gonna shoot my guns right now, just to celebrate America!

8. I personally believe that Yip-yip! Yee-haw! I'm a rootin-tootin' cowboy!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why didn't that make the front page?

Dear Readers,

In this post, I do my small part to combat the mainstream liberal media.

Sometimes I hear a news story and think, "Why didn't that make the front page of the paper?" My answer: the liberal media is supressing/ ignoring information. Why? I'm not sure. I really don't know.

Anyway, here are some things that I thought should have recieved more attention in the media:

Some scientists genetically altered some bugs so that they excrete crude oil. Could this mean that oil is in fact a renewable resource?

The average global temperature has not risen since 1998.

Um, I can't think of any other stories right now, but just keep in mind that the media is trying to get inside your mind and mess it all up.

But there are alternative news sources. The Drudge Report is a good site for interesting news stories. I think the Internet has enabled people to bypass the mainstream media in a lot of ways, which is great, but I don't know if blogs and web sites will ever be as influential as television. I don't think blogs and web sites will ever conquer TV and become the dominant dispenser of news because TV is more entertaining than reading, and plus they're putting TVs everywhere, have you noticed that? While you wait in line at a bank, while you wander the aisles of Wal-Mart, while you enjoy a meal out, you are always being bombarded with TV TV TV and I'm just worried that all that TV TV TV is not good for your soul.


Tarantula Sex

A friend of mine who took an entomology class said that one day in class the professor brought in a male tarantula and a female tarantula, dimmed the lights, put on some smooth Barry White, and had the class watch the tarantulas make love.

Whoa baby.

The crazy thing about it, my friend said, was that right after the tarantulas did it, the female tried to chomp the male’s head off! Seriously! That lady spider was just like, “Thanks for the sperm- now I’ll kill you! Chomp!” There wasn’t even any pillow talk or anything.

But the story gets even crazier. This wasn’t a one-time occurrence, this wasn’t a fluke case where the lady tarantula was disgruntled or the lover-spiders had some kind of messed-up past, no, this is a very common occurrence! After sex, female tarantulas try to bite off the male tarantula’s head!

You would think that eventually the male tarantulas would figure out not to have sex at all. You would think they would turn celibate. Or maybe gay.

You would think that the male tarantulas would sit around the web and say, “Hey, uh… I used to have this buddy named Bill, but, uh, he’s dead now because his head got chomped off. Yeah, right after he had sex with this other tarantula lady, the lady just bit his head off. Maybe we should stop having sex, because, if we have sex, we’ll get our heads chopped off. Just a thought.”

But, no, the male tarantulas don’t seem to communicate with each other about these things, they just keep going back for more. It’s like there’s this instinctual drive in them, a biological urge to have sex and reproduce, and maybe they even know what’s coming after the honeymoon recreational activities are over, maybe the male tarantulas know that right after they copulate, the lady they once found so attractive turns into a wicked beast, reveals her fangs, and chomps off their heads, but the male tarantulas, you know, bless their hearts, they just can’t help it.

The males know they’ll only end up getting hurt, but they keep going back for more. Tarantulas are kind of like humans sometimes.

But of course it’s silly to project human emotions onto tarantulas. They’re animals, and we’re humans. They don’t have brains like we have brains. In the words of Kurt Cobain, “It’s OK to eat fish, cuz they don’t have any feelings.”

Linguistics Response Paper

Dear Readers,

Here's a response paper I did for my linguistics class. Lately I've been wondering about the usefulness of a lot of the stuff I'm learning in graduate school. I question the value of studying literature and linguistics in graduate school at all. I feel like maybe it's time for me to move on, to read on my own and write on my own and become an independent scholar or become a high school English teacher. But... uh... when I wrote my response paper for my linguistics class, I wanted to write something that was meaningful to me, something that applied to my life and something that I could take with me after the semester is over. I wanted to get at the root of why I'm learning what I'm learning, how learning the phoenetic alphabet will be helpful to me. Anyway, here's the paper.

Language Universals

One of the more interesting parts to me in the textbook was found on pages 215 to 216, under the heading, “Why Uncover Universals?”

I have often thought that studying language is interesting because language is a uniquely human behavior. Both animals and humans eat, drink, have brains (or some kind of central nervous system), reproduce, gather into groups, etc., but only humans use language. What else separates us from the animals? Well, my mother in law would say, while looking in a body-length mirror and trying on several pairs of pastel-colored bracelets, “Humans know how to accessorize.” But all joking aside, there’s not much else besides language that separates humans from animals.
So… if language the most prominent uniquely human behavior, then the study of language is basically the study of humanity, right? We can discover what it is to be human by studying linguistics… hmmm…. sort of.

Finegan explains the value of uncovering language universals this way, “The study of language universals offers a glimpse of the cognitive and social foundations of human language, about which so little is known.” My response is, “Maybe the study of language universals’ does offer us a glimpse of the ‘coginitive and social foundations of human lanugae,’ but only a glimpse, not a long stare.” And just what does Finegan mean, exactly, by “the cognitive and social foundations of human language”? Does Finegan mean the origin of humanity? Is he talking about cavemen clubbing women and hunting wooly mammoths? Maybe. But maybe Finegan is talking about human brains and human society in general.

By the way, my gut tells me that there are better ways than studying language universals to learn about human brains and human society. For example, I think we could learn more about human brains and human society through the study of theatre, religion, or literature. I find it very curious to attempt to understand the mysterious inner-workings of human brains and human societies through the study of language universals. A catechism I have just invented will show what I mean:

A Catechism on the Usefulness of Uncovering Language Universals

Q: What does the language universal, “All languages have vowels and consonants,” say about humanity?

A: Nothing really.

Q: What does the language universal, “All languages have at least three vowels,” say about humanity?

A: Nothing really.

Q: What does the language universal “All languages have predicate-like things and subject-like things,” say about humanity?

A: Nothing really.

I suppose you could say that the language universal, “All languages have predicate-like things and subject-like things,” says that all humans are able to separate things from other things in their mind, and that humans are able to identify things that act and things that are acted upon. But that inference is a logical argument, and not an inference from scientific evidence. Just like Finegan says, “More often than not, explanations for language universals as symptoms of cognitive or social factors rely on logical arguments rather than solid scientific proof.”

To drive the point home, Finegan also wisely writes, “Caution must also be exercised in drawing inferences from language universals. These universal principles help explain why language is species-specific, but there is a big step between uncovering a universal and explaining it in terms of human cognitive and social abilities.”

In the chapter on language universals and typology, Finegan doesn’t try to make inferences based on language universals, he just lists a bunch of things that all languages have in common. Still though, an irresistible question nags linguists, a question that we can’t seem to put away: “What do these language universals mean?” Finegan recounts some of the theoretical answers to this question towards the back of chapter 7, in an interesting section headed, “Explanations for Language Universals,” in which a few theoretical inferences are made about language universals. But none of the explanations are factual, they’re based on logical arguments, basically.

The moral of this response is: What do language universals say about humanity? Nothing really, but they sure are neat!


John Keats

Dear Readers,

Here's an essay I did for school. I got an A on it, but I sort of don't think I should have, uh... I'm not doing really well in the class, in my opinion, just because for the class we read a lot of dense, boring, pointless literary criticism. I do like John Keats poetry, though.

In the assignment, I had to use a secondary source, so my reference to Ronald Sharp is quiff; it does not really fit in to the essay, but whatever.

The Stubborn Mind in “When I have fears” and “Why did I laugh tonight?”

The poetry of John Keats is often filled with fancy and romance. Poems such as “Eve of St. Agnes,” which tells the story of two young lovers, and “On sitting down to read King Lear once again” which celebrates the artistry and beauty of Shakespeare’s play, showcase Keats’ romantic imagination and his love of beauty. Keats isn’t solely a hopeless romantic with his head in the clouds, though. Keats has written other poems that delve into stark sadness. One poem that struck me as expressing manic-depressive themes was “Ode to Melancholy,” in which “the melancholy fit shall fall/ Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,” and “in the very temple of Delight/ Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine” (Keats, 348).

Putting Keats happy/escapist/pastoral poems and his sad poems aside, Keats has also written poems that are less emotional and less fantastic, poems that are neither overtly celebratory of beauty nor despondent, poems that put emotions on the back burner, so to speak. Indeed, some of Keats poems have a stubborn logic about them. A close look at two sonnets, “When I have fears” and “Why did I laugh tonight?” will show you what I mean.

In the often anthologized sonnet, “When I have fears,” Keats says that when he’s afraid that he will die before all the wonderful ideas in his head are properly recorded, “Then on the shore of the wide world I stand alone, and think/ till love and fame to nothingness do sink” (Keats 221). Notice that Keats is using “think” here as an intransitive verb, which is an unusual way to use the word “think”. “Think” is usually a transitive verb; one usually thinks about something, or thinks of something. But here Keats leaves the verb alone, at the end of the line, without an object. The unusual grammatical use of “think” and its placement at the end of the line shows us that Keats is stuck with his own persistent, nagging mind, forever.

Keats emphasizes logic again in the second line of “When I have fears” when he writes, “Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain” (Keats 221) as if his brain was a repository for knowledge, as if his brain were something to be harvested, as if his brain were easily measured, weighed and categorized. In reality, brains are deep and mysterious, very unlike a field of crops, and current science has yet to explain all its inner workings. Keats’s objectification and simplification of his own brain suggests to the reader the preeminent place of logic in the sonnet.

“Why did I laugh tonight?” is the not-so-canonical logical thematic sequel to “When I have fears.” In “Why did I laugh tonight?” Keats logically questions the motivation for his own laughter. In the sonnet, Keats keeps asking, “why did I laugh?” over and over. In fact, “why did I laugh?” or some slight variant of the question, is repeated in the poem four times, including the title.

It is a strange question. Some questions are more easily answered than others. If one was to ask, “Why did the U.S. stock market crash in 1929?” or, “Why do penguins migrate?” one could give a logical explanation. But logically explaining why one laughs is more difficult. There is no clear-cut answer to Keats’s question, “Why did I laugh tonight?” But still, he keeps asking the question. It’s as if Keats is trying to squeeze logic out of something that is inherently illogical, laughter. Keats does recognize that to question the motivation for his laughter is a fruitless exercise. Neither Heaven, Hell, nor his own heart will make any reply to his question, because there is no satisfactory reply to give.

He ends the sonnet by talking about death, a stark contrast to laughter. Keats is trying to show that the only real, logical, ending to laughter is death. I don’t think he brings up death in a melancholy way, though, the poem’s treatment of death is matter-of-fact.
In this paper so far I have referred to the speaker of the poem as Keats himself, as if every poem Keats wrote with personal pronouns in them are literally autobiographical. But this is a faulty assumption. Often the speaker of a poem is not the author himself or herself. To a large extent, the attempt to deeply know an author through his works is futile. One might think, after reading my essay so far, that Keats is either fanciful, depressed, or logically-minded, or a combination of these three attributes. But an interesting article, “Keats and Friendship” an article by Ronald A. Sharp, gives a further in-depth look at Keats’s personal qualities. More specifically, Sharp describes how Keats regards the concept of friendship in his poems and in his life.

I add this reference to Sharp’s article to my essay to say that we can’t simplify Keats too much. We shouldn’t say that Keats’s life was dominated by escapism. We shouldn’t say that Keats’s life was dominated by emotions. And we shouldn’t say that Keats operated solely on logic. But we can say that Keats’s personality was multi-faceted, and that he explored many different selves in his poetry. Or, we can say that Keats explored so many different “selves” that eventually he had no self. As he says in one of his letters to Richard Woodhouse, a poet “has no identity – he is continually in for- and filling some other Body” (Keats, 547).

Works Cited

Keats, John. The Complete Poems. Ed. John Barnard. England: Penguin Books, 1988.
Sharp, Ronald A. "Keats and Friendship." The Kenyon Review 21.1 (1999): 124-37.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cool video

Dear Readers,

Watch this video! It's really really really awesome.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Advertising on my blog, Telemoonfa Time, & what I had for breakfast

Dear Readers,

Just to let you all know, I’m an Independent Blogger, Independent with a capitol “I” Telemoonfa is not controlled by the mainstream news media! Telemoonfa is not controlled by any special interests group! Telemoonfa is free to write what Telemoonfa wants, when Telemoonfa wants, about anything that Telemoonfa wants forever!

Just cuz I wanna! Ha ha ha!

This blog post on Telemoonfa Time, my blog, the blog that you’re reading right now, the blog that I’m writing, is all about how I’m never selling out to the Man. Just so you know, Telemoonfa Time readers, I’ve had a ga-zillion offers by big name companies, gigantic man-eating corporations, trying to get me to put advertisements on Telemoonfa Time, trying to get me to transform Telemoonfa Time from the free-form online sensation it is into a putrid, soulless, marketable commodity.

But Telemoonfa Time is not selling out! I pledge to you that you won’t see any advertisements on Telemoonfa Time! Ever!



I think my blog is becoming more and more self-referential. I’m turning constantly inward and inward on my blog- I’m writing to myself about myself on my blog, and then I’m making comments responding to things that I said on my blog. I think the more times I write the words “my blog” on my blog, I think the worse my blog gets.

But that’s like a lot of blogs out there, you know, blogs about nothing, written to nobody. Sometimes I look through random personal blogs and there’s just so much stuff, so much stuff, so much stuff. I really don’t want to get highfalutin, but, uh… I will anyway. T.S. Elliot sort of said in and essay called “Tradition and the Individual Talent” that artists and thinkers shouldn’t be praised for their originality as much as they should be praised for their communication with the great artists and thinkers of the past. Interesting, huh?

So I suppose that to make this blog meaningful, I should write about what other people are talking about, not just obscure self-referential stuff like what I had for breakfast.

Hmmm… what should I write about now?

Oh I know! Today I had some leftover cold cherry cobbler for breakfast.


Election Results, Other Stuff

Everybody seems to be talking about the election, and even if people aren’t talking about the election, I think they’re thinking about it. Or at least I’m thinking about it obsessively, and it's been such a big deal, it seems like. But I think sometimes it’s not really a big deal. I feel like the media has just bombarded me with it for so long and made the election seem like a really big deal. The election has shown how unified Americans are sometimes, but I guess that it's also shown how we’re divided, too. I guess it's a good thing that McCain said lots of nice stuff about Obama in McCain's speech on Tuesday night. And Obama said nice things about McCain in Obama's victory speech.

Indeed, it sounds like they’re friends and everything is hunky-dory. I bet right now McCain and Obama are skipping through a park together, or maybe they’re playing with action figures, or trading baseball cards.

Of course on Telemoonfa Time I’ve mostly talked about prop 102, and in my posts and comments on my blog I didn’t mean to offend anybody, but if offense occurs, so be it.

I’m happy that prop 102 passed. I think it’s good for society. Same-sex couples still have a lot of rights, they just don’t get to have their relationship called a marriage by the state.

It’s just crazy how this election has brought out inward feelings about homosexuality.

Oh, and about my personal involvement in prop 102, all I did was spend a few hours on the phone, calling people on my ward list and telling them about prop 102. My wife and I also posted a “Yes on 102” sign in our window, too. I never sat behind a booth in the mall; I never went door-to-door talking about prop 102 or donated money or anything like that. I didn’t bully anybody; I really didn’t really even talk about prop 102 with too many people. I never even got into an argument about it, unless you count the quasi-argument that went on in the comment section of my post “The Emotional Byproducts of a Yes Vote on 102.”

I don’t encourage intolerance or discrimination or violence or anything like that.

So… I just want to say that I’m happy that prop 102 passed. And I’m happy about the similar results in California and Florida. I’m happy that the people voted on this issue, and it wasn’t decided by judges. I like it when the people can decide on issues rather than a few politicians deciding on big issues.

(One big thing that I wish the people of the USA could have voted on was the bailout plan that went through recently. Maybe you’ve heard about it. I bet if the people got to vote on the bailout plan, then the bailout plan would not have passed. Watch this You Tube video to seen what I mean:

But maybe the whole election is rigged anyway. I like to hear about conspiracy theories, like there's a secret group controlling the government and we're being watched by Big Brother all the time and space aliens are real and Sarah Palin shot Big Foot on an Alaskan hunting trip.

Here's a conspiracy theory I heard from this one guy who said he saw it in Adbusters magazine a while back: the people who own the drug Ritalin are secretly the same people who own Gerber baby food. The Ritalin/Gerber people want to sell lots of Ritalin and make lots of money, so they put this secret ingredient into Gerber baby food that makes babies develop ADD when they're in puberty or something.

Isn’t that messed up? Yes, that is messed up!

Yeah, the Internet is good for spreading conspiracy theories.

Another thing the Internet is good for is spreading urban legends.

Here's an urban legend I really like. Be warned, though, it's really sick. If you get grossed out easily, maybe it’d be best if you stopped reading now.

Imagine that you and I and a couple of our mutual friends are having a sleepover, and my parents are gone for the weekend, and it’s dark, and I’m telling you this story…

OK, so this old lady's tongue started swelling. This is absolutely true, I promise. There was like a lump in it, and her tongue started hurting really bad. So the old lady went to a doctor and the doctor ran some tests, and decided that he was going to have to slice open her tongue a little bit. When the doctor made the incision into the lady's tongue, a cockroach crawled out! Ewww!!!

See, what happened is that a few weeks before the old lady’s tongue started swelling, the old lady was licking a bunch of old envelopes and I guess there had been a tiny cockroach egg embedded in the yellow gluey - part of the envelope that you lick. I guess the lady cut her tongue a little bit when she licked the envelope, and the egg got inside her tongue somehow, and the baby larva-fetus-cockroach thing hatched and started feeding off the woman's tongue. Ewww!!!


Here's some Meat Puppets lyrics from the Meat Puppets II album that come into my head now and then.

Time, time, it's so sublime. Well they say it's nonexistent but it's playing with my mind and phone calls don't cost a dime in the caverns of your feelings where the sun it never shines.

I remember when I was in elementary school, one day in class the teacher was teaching us about time, about seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades, scores, centuries, millennia, you know. When the teacher was teaching us about what a minute was, she took the clock off the wall, she had us stand up, told us to be quiet, and then told us to sit down whenever we felt like a minute had passed. We had to use our internal mind-timekeeper. Everybody sat down way too early.

It was just a neat experience, you know, in some ways. But I did that activity the other day, for fun; I tried to use my inner mind-sense to feel when one minute went by, and I did better than I did in elementary school.

They say that time goes faster the older you get, and I think that's true, but I’m not sure.
And I've heard that time is the fourth dimension but I don't know what that means. I just remember hearing that on some science-fictiony show on TV one time a long time ago. “Time is the fourth dimension.” The TV show, maybe it was Nova or some kind of educational show, I don’t know, but the TV show had some computer graphics on the screen of cubes that moved around in funny ways, like one of those old-time screen-savers, you know what I’m talking about? They had some mathematicians talking about it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Prop 102 Passed!




Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oh No! It's An Alien!

Dear Readers,

Here's another article review I did for an astronomy class a while back. I'm not sure why I'm putting all this stuff on my blog. It might be boring. Whatever.

Oh No! It's An Alien!

Recently I read "Quest for a living universe," an article in the April 2005 issue of Astronomy magazine. The article is about the search for extra terrestial life in our universe. It interested me because everything I've seen before about extra-terrestial life has been in science fiction movies, episodes of the X-files, and I even remember visiting the UFO museum in Roswell, New Mexico. However, this article was written scientifically by a scientist. It's actually a scientific approach to the possiblilty of life beyond our earth.

First of all, the article asks if we will even recognize alien life if we find it. Perhaps it is so radically different than life here on earth or than our Hollywood notions that we wont recognize it. So, this article is not just talking about bug-eyed humanoids with ray guns, in fact, this article mostly talks about microscopic life.

Astrobiologists (scientists who combine the disciplines of astronomy and biology) say that there are 3 properties of life that must be universal.

1) life is a complex chemical system that adapts to survive in its surroundings

2) life is carbon based.

3) Life needs liquid because liquid causes molecules to collide in the right time and way, thus starting life.

Where would this life live? This article says that over 120 extra solar planets have been found arbiting 105 stars. So we look to those planets for life. A we understand life now, a star or empty space is not hospitable.

Scientists study our earth to figure out the secret of life, (ie how it gets started, and what conditions must exsist for life to survive) and then apply the secret of life to other planets to see if it matches.

In our own solar sytem, two possible homes for extraterrestial life have been identified as Europa, a moon of Jupiter, and Mars. Both these places, "have- or once had- liquid water as a biological solvent." The article says further that water once flowed on Mars. In fact it would be a great idea to dig deep into the surface of Mars to see if there was water deep down there or fossils or other hints that there was once life there. But we have neither the technology nor the finances to perform such a mission currently. One interesting idea mentioned in the article is that some people believe that life in this solar system began on Mars, not Earth. Somehow, with a big collision or something, that life travled from Mars to Earth and set up camp. Maybe wer'e really Martians!!

In Europa, astrononmers are pretty sure that water was once there and that life could have been there.

But how do we identify life outside the solar system- the places we cannot physically reach with a space ship?

The answer: look for signs in the light they give off. The article says, " Living organisims mess up the chemistry of their enviornment." So somehow, in a complicated way, scientists could get a glimpse of life through the chemicals being put off by a planet. But unusual chemistry from a planet does not necsescarilly mean life has been discovered; there are other situations that can account for unusual chemistry.

Most agree that temperature is the most important element for deciding whether or not a planet is capable of providing a habitat for life. If it is extremely too hot or too cold, chances are that it is an inhospitable planet. Also, if a planet undergoes a rapid change in temperature, organisms probaly couldn’t adapt quickly enough to survive.

In conclusion, this article was'nt about UFO sightings, and it didn't really give any scientific evidence that there is life out there, probably because there isn't any scientific evidence for that yet. The article simply asked and answered the question: "what conditions are needed for life to be on other planets?" Right now the data is inconclusive, so there's no need to yell "Oh No! It's An Alien!"

1) This sort of relates to what we are studying because it's a scientific approach to answering a question that I'm sure many of us as human beings have asked, and it invloves astronomy. The question is: Are we alone in the universe? Just like we can tell what a star is made up of by observing the light that comes off of it, we can guess as to whether a planet is hospitable by the light that comes off it.

2) I learned that Europa and Mars might have had life on them.

3) An unanswered question is: So are there aliens or not?

4) Yes, I would recommend this article to my classmates because I thought it was very interseting and well-written.

Is There a Conflict Between Science and Religion?

Dear Readers,

The following is a paper I did for an astronomy course a while back. It reminds me a lot of my “Art Cannot Scientifically Be Known” Essay, and it kind of reminds me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the way that book rejects discovering the world through strictly logical thinking. Enjoy.

Is There a Conflict Between Science and Religion?

I recently read an article titled, "Coyne of the realm" by Francis Reddy. The article appealed to me because I am a very religious person and I like to think about the contradictions that sometimes come up between religious teachings and scientific teachings. For instance, some Catholics believe in, and I'm pretty sure that the Catholic Church taught, transubstantiation. This doctrine teachings that the communion wine and wafers actually change from ordinary wine and wafers to the literal blood and body of Jesus Christ. While faithful mass-goers believe in this miracle, strict scientists, while operating in the position of a scientist, in other words, when they put their beliefs aside and are called upon for their official scientific knowledge and opinion, cannot support this claim. Wine turning into the blood of a Deity every Sunday during worship services is not scientific. Like I said, the line between religion and scientists interests me, and so this article appealed to me.

The article is an interview of Father George Coyne, the Vatican's chief astronomer. Before the transcript of the interview begins, there is a short biography of Father George Coyne. He was born in Baltimore in 1933. He earned a doctorate from Georgetown University in 1962, and then continued astronomy research at Harvard University and the University of Arizona. I presume he grew up Catholic- this article doesn’t make that clear, but Catholicism was always a big part of his life. It's as if his whole life he has been walking the line between science and religion.

The first 2 pages of the interview were questions about the discrepancies between his scientific and his religious beliefs. The rest of the article was about how he came to be the head of the Vatican observatory and other questions about his career. But to me, the first two pages were the most interesting and so that's where I will focus the rest of my essay/summary.

Coyne said, "they [science and spirituality] are two compartments of my life. I try to do publishable research in international journals, but then I'm a religious priest. There is some crossover in my personal life." Here I want to interrupt Coyne and say that I think I can identify with Coyne here. In the few science classes I've taken in school, sometimes I've felt that I must put my religious beliefs aside when I learned about the age of the earth, evolution, birth control, and other topics. But I'm not opposed to putting my religious bias aside for the science classroom. In fact I think I've learned that science is a discipline that requires us to put aside all our pre-dispositions to explain the universe. Science intends to strip the mind down to the core 5 senses and requires us to be careful about interpreting our sense data too quickly. As it stands today, science is not to be asked what the meaning of life is. Although science has helped societies advance technologically, science, in my estimation, should not be consulted to answer questions about all facets of our lives. Coyne continues: "I believe that God is Creator, and I've never come to that belief through any rational process. It's not irrational- I don't think it contradicts reason- but it transcends reason. I mean, why did you marry the woman you married? Because she was so tall and had white teeth and you put all that together? You can never explain to anyone certain decisions from the mental positions you make. You use the reasoning process, but it's not sufficient." I think this is brilliant. Just as we can't explain romantic relationships in scientific terms, we can't explain God in scientific terms. I think there are many sides to a person just as there are many classes to take in college. If we rely too heavily on any one area, we run the risk of becoming mentally lopsided, not seeing life the way it was meant to be seen.

The article discusses a little more about the gap between science and religion. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article and thinking about the ideas that were presented in it. Now, in an attempt to voice my view on the subject, I would like to quote page 681 of Bruce R. McConkie's book, Mormon Doctrine to see what he has to say about the subject.

Is there a conflict between science and religion? The answer to this basic query depends entirely upon what is meant by and accepted as science and as religion. It is common to say there is no such conflict, meaning between true science and true religion- for one truth never conflicts with another, no matter what fields or categories the truths are put in for purposes of study. But there most certainly is a conflict between science and religion, if by science is meant (for instance) the theoretical guesses and postulates of some organic evolutionists, or if by religion is meant the false creeds and dogmas of the sectarian and pagan worlds. 'Oppositions of science falsely so called' were causing people to err 'concerning the faith' even in the days of Paul. (1 Tim. 6:20-21) There is, of course, no conflict between revealed religion as it has been restored in our day and those scientific realities which have been established as ultimate truth. The mental quagmires in which many students struggle result from the acceptance of unproven scientific theories as ultimate facts, which brings the student to the necessity of rejecting conflicting truths of revealed religion. If, for example, a student accepts the untrue theory that death has been present on the earth for scores of thousands or millions of years, he must reject the revealed truth that there was no death either for man or animals or plants or any form of life until 6000 years ago when Adam fell. As a matter of fact, from the eternal perspective, true science is a part of the gospel itself; in its broadest signification the gospel embraces all truth. When the full blessings of the millennium are poured out upon the earth and its inhabitants, pseudo-science and pseudo-religion will be swept aside, and all supposed conflicts between science and religion will vanish away.

After Conducting Research, I’m Completely Sure That the Federalists Were Way Better Than the Anti-Federalists

Dear Readers,

Here's a paper I did for a history class a while back. I think it's funny.

After Conducting Research, I’m Completely Sure That the Federalists Were Way Better
Than the Anti-Federalists

I was reading about the views of the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists the other day in my history class textbook and I thought it would be cool to read more about their views. Then I thought it would also be cool to write a paper about it. The textbook has a section in it on page 182 titled, “The clash of Federalists and Anti-Federalists." In this section, the book discusses the different views of these schools of thought. It names some of the prominent people who were Federalists and some of the prominent people who were Anti-Federalists. It discusses how their views influenced the debates at the Constitutional Convention. Although it’s brief, it says a good amount about the subject, considering that the textbook covers about 500 years of history in 1034 pages, not including the appendixes and supplementary material. I think the book gives us a good idea of who these people were and what they stood for. So let’s all give David M. Kennedy, Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas A. Baily a pat on the back for a job well done.

Alright, now I analyzed what the textbook said about the issue, so, here’s what I’ll do with the rest of my paper: I’ll make un-academic and unprofessional comments about the Federalists’ lives and their political beliefs. Maybe I’ll quote the Federalists, too. After that, I’ll make un-academic and unprofessional comments about the Anti-Federalists’ lives and their political beliefs. Maybe I’ll quote some of the Anti-Federalists, too. To end the paper, I’ll write a few sentences that draw conclusions about my topic. So, Dr. Lukens, get in your comfy paper-grading chair, have a tall glass of lemonade, and prepare to mark my paper up with your blood red pen.

Now, as planned, I’ll write about the Federalists. The general view of the federalists can be represented with this quote, made on January 25th, 1788, by Jonathan Smith: “Suppose two or three of you had been at the pains to break up a piece of rough land, and sow it with wheat- would you let it lay waste, because you could not agree what sort of a fence to make? Would it not be better to put up a fence that did not please every one’s fancy rather not fence it at all, or keep disputing about it, until the wild beast came in and devoured it.” Johnathan Smith was not really talking about a wheat field and a fence; he was talking about America and a strong government. See, the Federalists saw that it was necessary to establish a strong national government to keep other nations from destroying their new country. Now, more specifically, I’ll discuss three Federalists. Those three are George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton.

First, I’ll write about George Washington, who was a Federalist. George Washington was a much respected man at the Constitutional Convention because he was a general in the Revolutionary War and won some key battles for America. He also had wonderful people skills and was a great political leader. In fact, he was the first president of the United States of America. How can any decent American look down on George Washington? I mean, his face is on our one-dollar bill! In short, if it’s good enough for George Washington, it’s good enough for me. So I suggest that we adopt many of his opinions as our own and join the side of the Federalists.

Second, I’ll write about Benjamin Franklin, who was a Federalist. Benjamin Franklin was a genius all around. He wrote a book called Poor Richard’s Almanac and he invented some great things. Allegedly, he executed a famous scientific experiment where he discovered electricity. I’m pretty sure the experiment involved a key, a kite, and a lightning storm. Benjamin Franklin was very involved in the Constitutional Convention. During the process, he was very concerned for the welfare of the new nation. But, in the end, he was satisfied with and optimistic about the Constitution. James Madison wrote of this experience: “Whilst the last members were signing it, Doctor Franklin, looking towards the President’s chair [Washington was the presiding officer], at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising sun from a setting sun. I have, said he, often and often in the course of the session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting; but now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising sun and not a setting sun.” Dr. Lukens, do you see a rising sun or a setting sun? Is your glass half full or half empty? When your son says Daddy, Daddy, I wanna be an astronaut, do you sneer, snicker, and then sarcastically retort: “Good luck with that, you hard-working goal-oriented genius.” Or, do you lovingly embrace the aspirations of this fledgling star-explorer, hold his hand, look in his eyes and avow: “Good luck with that, you hard-working goal-oriented genius.” Quoth the wisdom of Albert Einstein: “I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than be a pessimist and be right.” You see, Benjamin Franklin’s words are the words of an optimistic man, a man with positive hopes and dreams for the future, a man who understands the value of a strong national government with its accompanying Constitution. Yes, these are the words of a Federalist.

Third, I’ll write about Alexander Hamilton, who was a Federalist. Alexander had an extreme view of what the country should be like. He almost wanted the Colonies to turn into a monarchy because he felt that the common folk were not educated enough to run their own government. Rather, he felt that the high class and the educated were actually the ones qualified to establish and keep a solid, peaceful government. Even though this sounds harsh, Alexander’s ideas were still way better than the Anti-Federalists.

Now, as planned, I’ll write about the Anti-Federalists. The general view of the Anti-Federalists can be summarized with this quote, made on January 25th, 1788 by Amos Singletary: “These lawyers, and men of learning, and monied men, that talk so finely and gloss over matters so smoothly, to make us poor illiterate people swallow down the pill, expect to get into Congress themselves; they expect to be the managers of this Constitution and get all the power and all the money into their own hands, and then they will swallow up all us little folks, like the great Leviathan, Mr. President, yes, just as the whale swallowed up Jonah.” How ridiculous this Singletary fellow was! How dare he accuse the Federalists of cannibalism! I bet Singletary hid in his house all day, periodically peeped through the window blinds, and muttered to himself, “The feds are after me… the feds are after me…” Like I said in my title, the Federalists were way better than the Anti-Federalists. More specifically, I’ll discuss two of the Anti-Federalists. Those two are Patrick Henry, and Richard Henry Lee.

Second, I’ll write about Patrick Henry, who was an Anti-Federalist. Henry’s nay-saying opinion regarding the Constitution was expressed like this: “the Constitution reflects in the most degrading and mortifying manner on the virtue, integrity, and wisdom of the state legislatures; it presupposes that the chosen few who go to Congress will have more upright hearts and more enlightened minds than those who are members of the individual legislatures.” How would you feel if somebody told you that you weren’t smart enough to make decisions about how you wanted to run your life? How would you feel if somebody told you that they would make choices for you because you couldn’t handle much power? You would probably feel belittled. You would want to be filled in on all the correct information and then be able to make your own rational decisions. Furthermore, you would want to possess the means whereby the enforcement of your decisions could be made manifest. By feeding on these natural human emotions, Patrick Henry convinced common farmers and the like to be Anti-Federalists.

Third, I’ll write about Richard Henry Lee, who was an Anti-Federalist. He opposed the idea of a strong national government. He was suspicious of the new leaders in America and of the Constitution. He predicted that doom would befall the new nation because the national president would eventually make himself a king and America would be just like Great Britain was. He said, “It will be considered, I believe, as a most extraordinary epoch in the history of mankind, that in a few years there should be so essential a change in the minds of men. Tis really astonishing that the same people who have just emerged from a long and cruel war in defense of liberty, should now agree to fix an elective despotism upon themselves and their posterity” Boy was he wrong. Now, don’t get me wrong, he had some good points, but look at America now! It’s the best country in the world! He also said, “Every man of reflection must see that the change now proposed is a transfer of power from the many to the few.”

All things considered, after conducting research, I think that the Federalists were way better than the Anti-Federalists. In fact, after conducting research and writing this paper, I feel sufficiently confident to make a proclamation, as with the voice of many lions that I, Telemoonfa, do hereby proclaim that the Federalists were way better than the Anti-Federalists.

David M. Kennedy, The American Pageant, 12th Ed. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002), 182.
Bernard Bailyn, The Debate on the Constitution. (New York: The Library of America, 1993), 909.
Isaac Kramnick. The Federalist Papers. (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), 36.
Bailyn, The Debate on the Constitution, 906.
Kramnick. The Federalist Papers. 28.
Kramnick, The Federalist Papers, 17.