MarginOfError

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Everything posted by MarginOfError

  1. MarginOfError

    Price of Oil Drops Below Zero Per Barrel

    My understanding is that the price went negative because storage facilities are near capacity. It goes something like Company A placed an order for a barrel of crude oil March to be delivered in April. Shelter in place orders take effect, demand for crude oil plummets Company A reduces refining. Storage capacity for crude oil is above expectation. That barrel of crude oil ordered in March finally arrives in April. Company A is at 100% storage capacity. Company A must either store the crude oil, or pay someone to store it for them So the negative price reflects the going rate to pay someone else to store that barrel of crude oil for you.
  2. MarginOfError

    Is religious liberty threatened in USA?

    huh. I was trying to be melodramatic and so over exaggerated that it would be obvious that I wasn't trying to name any specific entity. And then you had to go and pull up an an entity that might actually fit the description
  3. MarginOfError

    Is religious liberty threatened in USA?

    We tend to be of the same political mindset, but this is something with which I have to disagree with you. A church performing civil services under greater restrictions than the State should have no impact on the tax exempt status of the Church. Instead, the State should just not recognize the service. So if Church of the Psychotic Right Wing Fringe has a policy that it will not perform interracial marriages, then ministers of the CPRWF may perform as many marriages as it likes, but the people who are married by CPRWF will not get to automatically claim their religious spouse as default beneficiary to life insurance, retirement savings, etc. And come tax season, they will each file their taxes as "Single." (unless, of course, they also pursue a civil marriage on the side)
  4. MarginOfError

    Three Official Proclamations

    To clarify, technically The Living Christ is not a Proclamation. At least not one of the five earlier Proclamations to which President Nelson had referred. @JohnsonJones shared a link that gives the listing of the official proclamations. If you want to be able to read them all, this link can link you to copies of the documents. https://www.ldsliving.com/What-Are-the-6-Proclamations-that-Have-Been-Issued-in-Church-History/s/92664
  5. MarginOfError

    BYU to allow same-sex dancing at annual competition

    And why can't he be pretty?
  6. MarginOfError

    The COVID thread

    There's a lot of give and take here, too. There's an unavoidable tension that comes between individual freedom and living in a society (tensions that are probably most easily observed in a home owners association). Where is the line between where a person's individual freedom can ethically be superseded by society's interests? The reality with a viral disease is that one person's idiotic use of individual freedom can put a great many people at risk of serious illness and death. Why should your freedom to keep a restaurant open put my aging father at risk of death? Under normal circumstances, those two things don't relate to each other. This is one of those rare situations where they actually do. That isn't to say all of the decisions made have struck the right balance. But there valid reasons to put societal benefit over individual liberties. As for "who are they to decide [what is an essential business]?" um, well, those would be your elected representatives. That doesn't seem all that unAmerican to me. I would think that tons of evictions, defaults, foreclosures, etc would do a lot more harm to the lenders than a two month hiatus of revenue. That isn't to say it wouldn't be painful, but it seems a little silly to worry about "the lenders" when "the lendees" are effectively unemployed and trying to scrape together money for food. This here is the flip side of living in society--sometimes we have to share some of the pain. As for property owners, well I guess they'd be on the same footing as their tenants who don't have lost their livelihoods (and thus can't afford to pay their rent). The good that such an action does is that it puts off for a couple of months what is for most people the largest expenditure they make each month. And take note, it isn't mortgage and rent forgiveness*. It's just a pause, effectively imagining that two months didn't happen. A 30 year mortgage becomes a 30 year and two month mortgage, with two months not paid in the middle with neither penalty nor interest for those two months. And it's may be the most effective way to prevent a mass loss of housing in the middle of this ordeal. Let's put this in perspective for you. Days between first reports and being declared a global pandemic: H1N1: ~ 60 (exact dates weren't given in my reference and I'm too lazy to go look them up. It was from April to June of 2009) SARS-nCOV2: 71 days (31 Dec 2019 - 11 Mar 2020) Length of pandemic: H1N1: 20 months (Jan 2009 - Aug 2010) SARS-nCOV2: 3 months (93 days from first report) Total Cases: H1N1: 700 million - 1.2 billion SARS-nCOV2: 966,939 Total Deaths: H1N1: 150,000 - 575,000 SARS-nCOV2: 49,295 Yeah, sure, those numbers for H1N1 might seem really high, but SARS-nCOV2 has only been around a seventh of the time--and there's no indication that this disease spreads on a linear scale. It's pretty clearly exponential. If this thing were to double every three months for the next 15 months, you'd be looking about more than 3 billion cases and 1.6 million deaths. Those totals would be three times higher than H1N1. Consider also that the latest estimates put the US death toll at 1.5 million (on the low end) if no attempt is made to control the spread. Recall, there wasn't a wide spread use of mitigation tactics with H1N1, and globally, it only killed maybe as many as 575,000 people. Without mitigation tactics, it's projected that SARS-nCOV2 would kill at least 2.6 times as many people as H1N1 in the US alone. Even with mitigation done well, the US is projected to lose between a fifth and a half as many lives as H1N1 killed globally. Sources https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_swine_flu_pandemic https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/white-house-issues-stark-coronavirus-death-toll-estimate-n1173716
  7. MarginOfError

    LDS Missionary arrested

    I'll not also that there's a damned if you do, damned if you don't element to this. Consider another case where a man confessed to his bishop that he'd had sexual contact with a minor, and the bishop reported this to authorities. The man's wife is now suing the bishop for violating clergy-penitent privilege. I don't think the suit will be successful, but it illustrates the high stakes of making these decisions.
  8. MarginOfError

    LDS Missionary arrested

    I can understand where @mrmarket is coming from. While the church leaders are on pretty solid ground in this case (because of clergy-penitent privilege), there's a larger question about whether legal is strictly equivalent to ethical. Unfortunately, in this case, the ethics are murky. There's a strong ethical case to be made for protecting victims and making the report. There's also a strong ethical case in the religious community (not just in LDS, and not even just in Christianity) for not breaching the clergy-penitent privilege. I suspect even ethicists in the religious community would be divided on this one. I can't say one way or another whether this decision not to report was The Right Decision (TM) or not. And I could make arguments either way. I'll just have to trust the guys in the room. These are agonizing decisions for church leaders. Those who claim these decisions are simple and clean cut do not have a full appreciation for the complexity of being responsible for the spiritual and temporal welfare of a ward.
  9. MarginOfError

    The COVID thread

    You're right, it is unfair to characterize this as an either/or proposition. It isn't. And I'm sorry I left the impression that I did. (What I wrote doesn't reflect the nuance of the situation) Realistically, they are ends of a scale. The more lives we try to save, the more economic pain we will suffer. The more we minimize the economic damage, the more lives we will lose. These are correlated (but not causal) features. Perhaps its better phrased to say that as a society, we need to think about where the balance should be between saving lives and preventing economic losses. But I'll still assert my main point--there was going to be a massive economic disruption regardless of the scale of interventions applied to contain the spread. I'm optimistic that most things will be by and large back to normal by the end of the year so long as we can figure out a way to keep people housed and fed until the summer (I kind of like Italy's move to put a hold on all rent and mortgage payments for two months).
  10. MarginOfError

    The COVID thread

    I'm not disputing that this is going to be painful. It most definitely will be. What I'm disputing is the idea that if we just let the disease run its course, then everything would be just fine. I'm skeptical that we wouldn't face most of the same long term problems anyway.
  11. MarginOfError

    The COVID thread

    It worth considering that even if we didn't shut everything down the way we have, there'd probably be serious economic impacts. People would eventually self quarantine anyway once news started spreading of a quarter million people dead, and of hospitals overwhelmed with sick. When it gets so bad that needing hospital level care is almost the same as a death sentence (because there aren't enough medical resources for everyone that needs them), people would shut themselves in. And many would do it in a true panic. There'd probably be a lot more looting and rioting than we are seeing now. Would the total economic havoc be the same as what we are seeing now? Perhaps not. But I expect it would only be marginally better. And so we'd have a marginally better economic situation at the cost of ten times as many lives with a side of social unrest. Situations like this don't have "right answers." They have trade offs. As a society, we essentially have to ask ourselves which we value more--human life, or economic prosperity. And then act accordingly.
  12. MarginOfError

    Financial Whistleblower

    I'm sorry @mrmarket, I'm as big a critic of the Church with respect to their financial management as just about anyone. But even I have a really hard time getting up in arms about this fund. My understanding (and someone correct me if I'm wrong) was that this particular fund represented about a third of the Church's real estate assets. Consequently, the Church is able to self-insure all of its real assets and provide secondary activity insurance for people who participate in church activities*. Yeah, sure, I'd love to see more money spent on welfare and charity. But I also have to admit that being completely self insured and self sufficient is just good financial sense. Compare that to the airline industry of late. By all reports, the airlines have had their most profitable decade ever. And as a result, are in need of a $50 billion dollar bailout? How can that be? Quite simply, our economy is so focused on short term profits, that businesses can't keep cash on hand. If they have any cash on hand, they immediately pay it out to shareholders as dividends. How much better off would we be right now if the airlines had accumulated enough cash on hand to be able to sustain themselves through six months to a year of a serious economic downturn? Which organization is more prudent? Yep, the Church has a massive fund of cash. And despite a massive worldwide economic downturn, it will continue to keep the lights on at church buildings, fund activities, encourage spiritual, social, and temporal development, and do all of those things at the same funding level it has been doing it for the past decade even though hundreds of thousands of its tithe paying members are about to lose their jobs. I expect we will see enormous increases in money spent out of fast offering in the next year, and the Church won't even blink. I can list of plenty of criticisms regarding the Church and its finances, but in this particular regard, they really are a model of how more organizations and individuals ought to manage their money. * for instance, our stake and a neighboring stake had a cabin full of girls that went to girls camp and spent a week in a cabin that had a bat living in it. Almost 50 girls ended up having to receive rabies vaccinations at $3000 per person. The Church paid for every single one of those girls to receive treatment.
  13. For a statistical perspective on the impact of social distancing, here's a good overview of what impact it can have on an epidemic (I'll note that the link discusses theoretical concepts and doesn't fully attempt to apply it to the current pandemic). https://staff.math.su.se/hoehle/blog/2020/03/16/flatteningthecurve.html I've included one of the images used in the blog post below that illustrates the impact social distancing can have on an epidemic. The first dotted line represents when social distancing measures are first put in place, and the second dotted line is when they are lifted. I prefer this illustration over some of the more common illustrations because it has the increased peak to the right of the end of social distancing, which is important. We need to expect a spike in infections when social distancing ends. (you may also notice that, in this graphic, the total areas of the purple and green curves are about equal--the bulk of the blog post shows why this is a flawed assumption and that social distancing can actually reduce the total size of the epidemic). To address @Vort's question more directly, can I envision Jesus socially distancing himself from an infected population? Yes, I think I can. What I don't envision is Jesus socially isolating himself from certain populations (unless he were the infected person). I think it's important to recognize the difference between distance and isolation, as well as the difference between population controls and individual controls. Social distancing does not require that we stop all social activity. It means limiting contact in certain ways. For instance, maintaining a distance of two meters from other people is an act of social distancing. That may require adjustments to how we operate our meetings (business and church, etc), but you can be two meters away from a person and still be very socially engaged. Consider also that, under the current recommendations for social distancing, there are guidelines for caregiving. Caregivers are advised to wear masks, wash hands often, etc. Social distancing does not preclude caregiving. It does not preclude ministering to the needs of others. It means limiting our ministering to the most essential needs, and taking precautions to slow down the spread of disease. So can I envision Jesus socially distancing himself from the sick? Yes. I most certainly can. What I can't envision him doing is entirely isolating himself from the sick. I think leprosy isn't a great comparison to our contemporary disease, so to make it a little more comparable, consider this: I can imagine Jesus directly caring for a person with tuberculosis, but donning a mask to do so, and carefully washing his hands and clothing afterward before moving on to minister to others. I can imagine Jesus limiting the contact others have with that individual infected with tuberculosis. I can even imagine Jesus quarantining (isolating) himself for a period of time if he had a concern that he had contracted some viral disease and did not want to spread that to others in his community. So I see @Vort's point, and agree that we must not give up the best parts of what makes us human. We must not shut ourselves in and focus only on our individual needs. Quite the contrary, we need to be more focused than ever on the health, welfare, and needs of our families, neighbors, and communities. There will be times that we will be required to minister to a person's needs by taking the role of a caregiver, and engaging directly with them. There will also be times, however, that the best thing we can do is keep our (physical) distance. What I would give as advice is to try our best to minister to others in the ways they need and want to be ministered to, not necessarily in the ways the we are comfortable ministering.
  14. MarginOfError

    The COVID thread

    I'm aware of the arguments. I have to agree with Vort, though. A mask-preferably a surgeon's mask-will effectively filter out vapors that could transmit viruses. This is, in fact, a large part of why surgeons wear them, after all. I implicitly acknowledged that masks my not have a big impact in my post. But it is highly likely that the mask will modify behaviors of the wearer and those around the wearer that greatly reduce the risk. In other words, wearing a mask can socially engineer those around you into better hand hygiene habits. Not bad for $1.50 (20 masks on Amazon can be purchased for $30) I will also emphasize that my recommendation was for high risk individuals. When the you're facing a mortality rate of 15%, it makes sense to take measures that are inexpensive, even if they only reduce your risk of exposure by 3%
  15. MarginOfError

    The COVID thread

    I'm not going to bother to find all the relevant people to quote. Here's what I've come across that I found interesting as a statistician: While the total mortality rate is estimated at 2 per 100, the mortality rate among healthy adults is 2 per 1000. In elderly and immunocompromised populations, it is about 14 in 100. Thus, the value of containment has little to do with the general population and more to do with vulnerable populations. The majority of the concern is not about the severity of the illness. The larger concern is the long incubation period. A person can carry the virus asymptomatically for up to two weeks. Most flu viruses incubate over a matter of a couple of days. It's hard to isolate and contain a virus with such a long incubation period. If this latest case in California truly shows not immediate connection to an exposed person, that is potentially very good news. It means that the virus may incubate, spread, and never become symptomatic. If this is true (and its still to early to tell), then the mortality rates are surely even lower than estimated (as Vort noted, mortality rates only report on those diagnosed. If we are missing a lot of diagnoses, then the estimates are too high) It is estimated that it will take about 18 months to develop, manufacture, and distribute a vaccine. WHO/CDC/Health organizations are not concerned about this becoming an apocalyptic event. They fully expect this to be contained and a non-issue in about two years. Containment is about protecting the health of our most vulnerable citizens. My best advice, based on what I've read, is to take some fairly simple actions to prevent spread Wash your hands often. This protects you more than it protects others, but this is a case where protecting yourself is protecting others. Cough and sneeze into your elbow Carry hand sanitizer. It isn't as effective as washing your hands, but is appropriate when soap and water aren't readily available. If you use reusable water bottles, wash them often. At least daily. Stop shaking people's hands. This action likely won't have a major impact, but it will have some. Remember, two week incubation. That means isolating an individual for a couple of days isn't effective, so we may temporarily change some habits that promote infection. Fist bumps, wrist bumps, and elbow bumps are common replacements for greetings. If you are a part of a vulnerable population, I would consider wearing a mask in public now. It isn't recommended by health officials yet, but the two week incubation period means by the time an outbreak is identified in your area, it's already been there a long time and you've probably been exposed. If nothing else, wearing a mask will help remind you not to touch your mouth, nose, and eyes before watching your hands.
  16. MarginOfError

    New Handbook

    No. stop it. Stop agreeing with me. Every time you agree with me I get my hopes up that you're becoming a reasonable person. And then you always disappoint me.
  17. MarginOfError

    New Handbook

    Frankly, @mrmarket, I think you're chasing after the wrong problem. I don't think there's any reasonable adult that considers masturbation to be anything akin to murder. I doubt there are many reasonable adults that would consider adultery to be all that close to murder. Reasonable adults would consider it serious, and I certainly don't mean to pass it off as a triviality. But let's keep perspective: If you're going to rank the severity of sins, you can put denying the Holy Ghost and murder in first and second place, and then you can put "sexual sin" in third place, but I imagine it is a very distant third place. And if you're concerned that our culture may have gone overboard on advertising the severity of sexual transgressions (and I don't disagree that there may be some validity to that argument), I think there are better ways to temper the culture. For instance, reading the whole context of Alma's message to Corianton. While Alma starts off seemingly harsh, we get (and I paraphrase) That's right...in the very same discussion with Corianton, Alma pretty clearly made the point that "sexual transgression is serious and easily contained within the limits of what the Atonement can heal." Usually, the solutions to our problems involve more information, not less. This is a beautiful case where reading the whole context of the message to Corianton brings about a spectacular and relieving beauty that we would all do well to remember.
  18. MarginOfError

    Executive Secretary

    I understand that this is an enormous shift from how we've done things in the past. I stand by it nonetheless. About 18 months ago, a member of our stake presidency visited our ward with a message that needed to be conveyed during Sacrament Meeting. He stood up and addressed the congregation as follows: "If you are a member of the youth program or a member of the bishop's family, please stand up. [pause while those people stood]. All of you who are standing may call the bishop any time you like. The rest of you, if you need something, call [Elders Quorum President] or [Relief Society President]." He spoke for about another two minutes about how this was going to be a difficult change, but reassured us that the Elders Quorum and Relief Society presidents were fully authorized to counsel us on any matters out side of worthiness and finances. (and even with respect to finances, we're being encouraged to have the EQ and RS presidents do initial evaluations and submit recommendations to the bishop for approval) This wasn't instruction unique to our stake. It had been passed down from the Area Presidency. As a matter of my own personal experience, we've been pushing this really heavily for almost a year. The person we had the hardest time training into this mindset was the bishop himself. But he's gotten a lot better about refusing on-demand meetings (of the variety "hey bishop, I want to talk to you"). When he gets that kind of request directly, he usually asks if the person has spoken to one of the presidents yet. If they haven't he says, "I think [name] can probably help you with that better than I can." Honestly, the ward has run better and the membership has grown stronger in the time we've done this. Will there be exceptions? Almost certainly. I can think of one or two exceptions we've had in the past year. But the exceptions were pretty obvious.
  19. MarginOfError

    Executive Secretary

    I've always envisioned the Executive Secretary to be like a chief of staff. While the most common responsibilities are agendas and scheduling, I would also advise that you act as a screen and protect the bishop's time. For a couple of years now, the Church has been pressing the idea that adults who have problems should approach either the Relief Society president or Elders Quorum president first. Now that the bishop is also assuming the role of young men president, this is even more crucial. I would recommend you do everything you can to direct as many interviews with adults away from the bishop as possible (there are very few interviews and settings apart that can't be done by the counselors). Any adults that ask for his time should be redirected to Relief Society and Elders Quorum. Try not to schedule interviews between the bishop and adults unless one of those presidents refers the adult to the bishop (ideally, the referral goes to you to schedule the interview). If someone really wants to meet with the bishop, ask them if the matter would affect their temple recommend. If that answer is no, then redirect them to RS and EQ. In our ward right now, the only interviews we schedule for the bishop are with youth, and with a select few that are on welfare assistance, are working on worthiness issues, or require by the handbook that they be called or set apart by the bishop. Everything else is handled by the counselors. (the one exception being when we are falling behind, we'll schedule a few adult interviews with the bishop for a couple of weeks just to get caught up). One last thing...keep the bishop informed of each person you deflect away from him. You're the best protection of the bishop's time, but you want to make sure that he is aware of and has an opportunity to reverse any decisions you make.
  20. MarginOfError

    New Handbook

    Observations in bold below Also of note, "Apostasy" is no longer listed under conditions that require a disciplinary council. Instead, it is listed under "When the Stake President Counsels with the Area Presidency about Whether a Membership Council or Other Action Is Necessary." That's probably a good change, overall, as actions against apostasy will be more consistent and protected against "leadership roulette."
  21. MarginOfError

    New Handbook

    What! How could you say such a thing. Dave Matthews Band is my all time favorite........oh......that explains a lot about me.
  22. MarginOfError

    New Handbook

    And they allow you to put your preferred name on your membership record, and permit the use of preferred pronouns, and do not make any explicit restriction against attending the classes associated with gender identity. Seriously, the policies released today are about as liberal as you can get and still be internally consistent.
  23. MarginOfError

    New Handbook

    That statement needs a huge revision. Something along the lines of "how can you sustain and follow a modern prophet and yet disagree with what he says on a handful of specific topics" And the answer is pretty simple. I'm not required to agree with everything in order to sustain.
  24. MarginOfError

    New Handbook

    Well, sorta kinda. I never met anyone worth taking seriously that didn't think the intent behind gender was anything other than sex. Quite frankly, the policies regarding tramsgenderism laid out in this version of the handbook are everything a liberal member of the Church could ask for so long as the restriction of male priesthood remains in place. These policies leave open a lot of questions about the nature and eternal ramifications of transgenderism simply by recognizing euphoria and refusing to take a stance on its origin.
  25. MarginOfError

    New Handbook

    Likewise, I'm trying to make the point to other readers that there are active, faithful members of the Church who disagree with policy issues in the Church. And that they retain good standing in the Church and even hold positions of prominence.