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Vort last won the day on March 2

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About Vort

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    On a four-minute death timer. Every breath I take resets it.

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    Seattle area
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    Latter-day Saint

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  1. Vort

    Asking for trials?

    I guess I don't see the two as divergent. Being willing to submit to the will of God isn't always the same as being eager to submit to the will of God. Even Jesus himself begged that he not drink of the bitter cup of the wrath of God that his Father provided him—though of course he did so.
  2. Vort

    Asking for trials?

    A man wants to stop smoking. (Or drinking, or fornicating, or viewing porn, or getting up late, or swearing, or spending all day watching YouTube videos, or talking sharply to his wife, or beating his dog, or whatever.) He pleads, "Oh, Lord, this is bigger than I am. I know that Thou canst do all things. Remake me, Lord. Make me so that I don't smoke (drink, fornicate, swear, watch YouTube videos all day, etc.) any more. I'll try to do my part, but I won't do it very well. But I'll still try." After how many years of failing to overcome his trials is the man justified in saying, "I give up"? When I think of praying for trials, I think of the situation above. There may well be some people who are so spiritually advanced that they ought to pray to God for trials. I do not deny that such people may well exist, though that's so far above my current level that I find it hard to believe there are. But I don't deny there may well be. I know only that I am not one of them. I'm so busy trying to overcome my own weaknesses and failings that the very idea of asking God for more trials seems simultaneously horrific and laughable.
  3. Vort

    Asking for trials?

    Nine years ago, President Eyring offered this thought: I heard President Spencer W. Kimball, in a session of conference, ask that God would give him mountains to climb. He said: “There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, ‘Give me this mountain,’ give me these challenges.”1 My heart was stirred, knowing, as I did, some of the challenges and adversity he had already faced. I felt a desire to be more like him, a valiant servant of God. So one night I prayed for a test to prove my courage. I can remember it vividly. In the evening I knelt in my bedroom with a faith that seemed almost to fill my heart to bursting. Within a day or two my prayer was answered. The hardest trial of my life [up to that time] surprised and humbled me. It provided me a twofold lesson. First, I had clear proof that God heard and answered my prayer of faith. But second, I began a tutorial that still goes on to learn about why I felt with such confidence that night that a great blessing could come from adversity to more than compensate for any cost. In our most recent General Conference, President Eyring offered this: Now, even with such blessings promised through tribulation, we do not seek tribulation. In the mortal experience, we will have ample opportunity to prove ourselves, to pass tests hard enough to become ever more like the Savior and our Heavenly Father. President Eyring often speaks of enduring trials well. In the above examples, perhaps his opinion changed in the span of time between his younger self and his present state. In any case, I agree with the elder Elder Eyring. Tribulations will come. We do not need to seek them out. For myself, I try to avoid tribulation, even praying at times to avoid such, knowing full well that a loving Father will bless me with trials as he sees fit. I don't need to pray for trials. As Manzoni put into the mouth of Lucia in The Betrothed, "I did not go looking for trouble; it's trouble that came for me." Actually, the whole passage is worth reading. (The whole book, if you have taste for early 19th century classic Italian literature.) "I have learned," [Renzo] said, "not to get involved in riots; I have learned not to preach in the square; I have learned to watch whom I speak with; I've learned not to drink too much; I've learned not to lift the doorknocker when there are people inside with hot heads; I've learned not to kick a doorbell before thinking what could happen; and a hundred other things." But Lucia, although she did not find this doctrine wrong in itself, was not satisfied; it seemed to her, although confusedly, as if something were missing. After hearing the same song repeated, and wondering every time-- "And I?" -- she said one day to her moralist, "What do you think we have learned? I did not go looking for trouble; it's trouble that came for me. Unless I mean," she added, smiling softly, "that my mistake was to love you, and promise myself to you." After a long debate and thinking it over together, they concluded that troubles come rather often, because there are causes for them; but that the most careful and innocent behavior was not enough to keep them far away; and that when they come, with or without fault, the faith in God makes them easier to bear, and makes them useful for a better life. This conclusion, although found by poor people, seems so fair that we have decided to put it here, as the juice of the the entire story.
  4. Well, there was the fact that Brigham Young led the Saints completely out of the United States of America and into Mexican territory. That should factor in there somewhere.
  5. Vort

    Doctrine and Covenants 7: 5 - 6

    Weird. It's almost as if no one is actually listening, just arguing. Not sure what to make of that.* *I'm actually 100% sure what to make of it.
  6. Vort

    Preserving the Nephite language

    Why respond to Alfred E. Neuman when he won't even bother to read what's already there before his eyes? The question is one that would be asked only by someone who has never actually read the Book of Mormon but wants to pretend he has. In my estimation, anything he asks is best answered the way Christ answered Herod.
  7. Nothing more than word games. In this context, saying that the earth and mankind are "nothing special" is a shorthand way of saying that the same physical laws that affect everything else affect them, and in the same way. It is a foundational assumption based on observation, not a judgment of worth. Yeah, that's just nonsense. As you say, Foucault's pendulum and the Coriolis effect. I, too, have never heard of this and know nothing about it. But it just means that the normal to the Earth's ecliptic is close to parallel with the Axis he mentions. A remarkable coincidence, to be sure, but hardly one-in-a-million. IMO, he would do much better talking about the astounding coincidence that the moon subtends exactly the same angle from the Earth's surface as does the sun, allowing solar eclipses to happen. Now THAT'S remarkable. I remember reading Douglas Hofstadter's masterwork Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid 20 or 25 years ago, and noticing how the final chapter(s) in the book were weirdly out of place, almost vacuous, filled with rambling thoughts and not at all as tight and utterly brilliant as the rest of the book. It took me years until I could look back and realize that, toward the end of the book, Hofstadter had lamented about how you can always tell when a book is going to end and all the plot points get wrapped up, because the physicality of the book means you know how many pages are left. He suggested that one way to avoid this was to pack the end of the book with random nonsense so that you could never be really sure where things were going to end. Years after reading the book, I realized that's what he was doing. Hey, maybe something similar is going on here. Interestingly, the two are not mutually exclusive. When I was finishing up my undergrad physics degree at BYU, I met and briefly spoke with a faculty member named Steven Jones. Electrochemists (Pons and Fleischmann—as you probably know, Fleischmann was from the University of Southampton) at the University of Utah had just announced "tabletop cold fusion", and Jones was preparing to publish his own (unrelated, except in subject matter) vulcanology study that hinted at unknown subterranean "cold" fusion processes that produced 3He instead of normal 4He. Jones was involved in the tabletop cold fusion debunking effort. A bit more than a decade later, this same brilliant physicist lent his voice to the World Trade Center conspiracy exposition effort, claiming that it was impossible that the towers could be brought down merely by jetliners hitting them.
  8. Vort

    Rush Limbaugh

    Fast Sunday is coming...
  9. Vort

    Conclusions from D&C 132: 16 - 17?

    It's a matter of honesty. I much prefer straightforward evangelizing to a fake pretense of seeking to understand. Of course, the straightforward evangelizer might be told that his efforts are inappropriate for this forum, while the person merely pretending to seek understanding can fly under the radar for some period of time.
  10. Vort

    Views on Stimulus

    It is when the improving standard of living comes at the cost of undermining our economic system and eating our seed corn.
  11. Vort

    Charity: Feeling jaded on charity

    Not nearly as interesting as you are hoping. Just a lame attempt at an even lamer joke. @NeuroTypical mentioned how he had really earned his username, and I thought I was being funny by saying that that was true for his previous username (LoudmouthMormon), too. But somehow, it didn't look nearly as funny when spelled out as it had sounded in my head. My intent was that he had had to work hard to earn the title of LoudmouthMormon—har de har har!—but it looked like I was just calling him a loudmouth. So I manfully tucked tail and courageously deleted my post.
  12. Vort

    Charity: Feeling jaded on charity

    This comment was intended to be snarky fun, but it sounds like an insult instead, so I'm deleting it.
  13. Vort

    Executive Order 13817 and logistics

    If only lithium were freely available everywhere in the earth's crust.
  14. Vort

    Charity: Feeling jaded on charity

    Reading your post, I tend to want to commiserate rather than offer actual solution alternatives. So I'm of no help. I have never seen such an attitude of entitlement as I see today. A year or so ago, my wife fixed a wonderful Indian dinner and, for various reasons, ended up with a lot left over. She advertised on a FB group that this was available for any who wanted it. Someone responded almost immediately, and my wife gave her the address. She told my wife that she didn't have a car, so couldn't pick it up, So my wife worked out a time FOR US TO DRIVE DOWN TO HER HOUSE AND DELIVER HER OUR FOOD WE WERE GIVING AWAY. But wait. It gets better. So at the appointed hour, I (duly authorized by my wife) drive on down to the apartment housing where they live. The instructions on how to get to their apartment are absolutely horrible. I'm walking around this apartment complex, and no one is coming out to meet me or anything. I literally can't find the apartment (because, as it turns out, the instructions were completely wrong, as if given by a lost child), and after ten or fifteen minutes (!!) of looking, I have decided that I've had it, I'm going home. Just then, a car drives up (let me repeat: A CAR DRIVES UP) and parks. Out gets a very young woman and her boyfriend. They see me and ask me if I have the Indian food. They then show me to their apartment (because they can't be bothered to, you know, take the food from me) and instruct me to put it on the table. No thanks, no gratitude, no "tell your wife how much we love it". Nothing. I was a people person until I met some people.
  15. Vort

    Quantum stuff is scary

    This sounds so obvious that it's shocking to see how many times it fails. Those who attempt to use religion to further or bolster their science seem often to fall into something like the "young earth" trap, because the Bible says blah blah blah. Religionists tend to have a very strong mental model of how things work, and are often unwilling to adapt their views to scientific observations. They are used to arguing their way out of conundrums by citing (or twisting) scripture or religious teachings to conform to their will. In many religions, doing this is considered a virtue, almost a high art. This is the polar opposite of a scientific attitude. In other cases, those who would embrace religion are too timid or sometimes just plain too uninformed to reconcile some scientific idea with their religious viewpoint; in such cases, it is often the religious viewpoint that is made to conform, resulting a a viewpoint that is simultaneously bad religion and bad science. Similarly, those who try to use science to inform their religion commonly fall into all sorts of errors, such as trying to falsify unfalsifiable things or refusing to acknowledge verifiable things. More often, they just bungle the attempt to apply their scientific training or insights to religious concerns in a useful manner. A stellar example of this is Donald Knuth's fascinating 1999 MIT six-lecture series on religion and religious concerns titled "Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About" ("to Others Within His Field", I assume is the unspoken part of the title). Hearing one of the smartest men alive today talking so naively about religion (and Knuth is very religious, actively so—he's a Lutheran) is eye-opening. That's not to say he has no valid insights; the opposite is true. But on the whole, his scientific and mathematical training doesn't really inform his religious insight. Not positively, anyway. Listen for yourself and see if you agree with me. (Note that Dr. Knuth has a pronounced stutter, which some may find distracting.) It seems to me that the approaches to the two areas are fundamentally different, to the point that there is not as much cross-over as one might at first think. That is not to say there is NO crossover, because there certainly is substantial common ground. But religion and science proceed from two very different viewpoints. In my experience, one area informs the other much less than I have believed in the past that they should and would.