If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid looking in a mirror, because I bet that will really throw you into a panic. -Jack Handey
Question #83577 posted on 09/26/2015 12:15 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I'm wasting my life! Help! I need motivation!

-The De-Motivationalist

A:

Dear friend,

First, I am so sorry for keeping this answer for so long. Most of the delay has come from my fixed mindset and high expectations, which I will explain later in this answer. Also, it turns out it's pretty hard to write about motivation when depression is working hard to keep you really un-motivtaed. But I'm back now and I hope my delay hasn't derailed your faith in the Board. 

Now, on to your question. 

Part 1: Background

(You happened to ask this question right before I started Ed Week, which means I sat through every class trying to see how the truth that was being presented related to your question. This is both good and bad because I have a whole bus load of truth for you, but it's taken me forever to organize it.)

I think it's a question that we all, at times, will struggle with, and it the answers root back to our divine eternal nature. I believe that we are wired to want to progress. Even in this midst of an un-motivated slump, I think we all have moments of motivation, if only in the quiet moments of solitude. President Eyring explains this beautifully in his 1989 BYU address. After telling a story of his own self-articulation, he states the following:

"...[Y]our impressions will not have been quite like mine, but you have felt a tug, maybe many tugs, to be someone better. And what sets those yearnings apart from all your daydreams is that they were not about being richer, or smarter, or more attractive, but about being better. I am sure you have had such moments, not just from my experience, but because of what President David O. McKay once said. Listen very carefully:

Man is a spiritual being, a soul, and at some period of his life everyone is possessed with an irresistible desire to know his relationship to the Infinite. . . . There is something within him which urges him to rise above himself, to control his environment, to master the body and all things physical and live in a higher and more beautiful world....

That pull upward is far beyond what you would call a desire for self-improvement. When I felt it, I knew I was being urged to live so far above myself that I could never do it on my own. President McKay had it right. You feel an urging to rise above your natural self. What you have felt is an urging from your Heavenly Father to accept this invitation:

O, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. [Moroni 10:32–33]

That urge to rise above yourself is a recognition of your need for the Atonement to work in your life, and your need to be sure that it is working. After all you can do, after all your effort, you need confidence that the Atonement is working for you and on you" (Come Unto Christ, bold added).

So the small moments of motivation that you're maybe faintly feeling are more than just fleeting hopes. They are divine in nature, an invitation to allow the Atonement to change you. But how do you actually put that into action? How can you change effectively?

Part 2: The Root

I believe that real change will not happen by medicating the systems of a problem. If you want real change, you must attack the root, what drives our attitudes and behaviors. 

I went to a class Ed Week that addressed this. The main idea is that real change cannot happen without a change of heart.

Thankfully, he had some great diagrams because my words would surely fall short. Let's take a look: 

photo 1.JPG 

Basically, we process things (philosophies, ideas, actions, words, etc.) through our Belief Box. These are our core beliefs, thoughts, expectations, and interpretations of doctrine. Based on that filter system, we form attitudes and emotions about things and act accordingly to those examples. If our beliefs are truthful and whole, our actions will be also. If our beliefs are tainted with untruths, our attitudes and behaviors will follow suit. You know the quote, "True doctrine understood changes attitudes and behaviors"? It works the same with false doctrines, or misunderstandings of true doctrines; they will guide our attitudes and behaviors. 

This was a little confusing to me at first, so let's look at an example the teacher gave. (DISCLAIMER: These examples are oversimplified to get the point across.)

INPUT: Let's say you ask someone out or are asked out on a date.
BELIEF: This input filters through a belief you hold about yourself that you are not attractive, fun, or lovable. (This might sound harsh, but I think if we paid more attention to the way we talk to ourselves we would find that these thoughts are more common and more present that we might think.)
EMOTION/ATTITUDE: This will cause you to be nervous about the date.  You'll be anxious and have a lot of self-doubt.
BEHAVIOR: Consequently, you will act shy and awkward on the date. You won't really be yourself because you're afraid that they'll find out what you believe to be true- that you're not attractive, fun, or lovable. 
INPUT: The next input you get will be your date acting awkward, uncomfortable, and not really connecting with you. This will reinforce your belief that you are not attractive, fun, or lovable. 
EMOTION: This may lead you to feel fed up with dating and yourself, or even jealous of those who seem to have success.  
BEHAVIOR: You'll make fun of those who date a lot and gradually retreat from the dating scene. 
INPUT: People don't date you. Your belief is reinforced. 

This is how a false belief can affect your life. And really, the second input could be the opposite; your date could seem to really like you and ask to see you again. But because you weren't yourself, you'll feel pressured to be something you weren't.

Now let's look at the same situation, processed through a belief of true doctrine. 

INPUT: You ask someone out or asked out on a date.
BELIEF: This input filters through a belief that you and those around you are children of God, and therefore of great worth. This leads to other beliefs, such as an understanding of the healing power of connection and the worth your soul and others'.
EMOTIONAL/ATTITUDE: This will cause you to be relatively calm and excited for the date. Obviously you'll be nervous because, you know, Dating, but it won't be a mind-racking nervousness. 
BEHAVIOR: Consequently, your fears will not dictate your actions. You will be able to be yourself. (...as much as possible. I'm not sure I believe first dates are too telling of someone, but at least it will be better than the situation above.) Your date will feel more at ease and comfortable being themselves because you are, and you will both look for opportunities for connection. 

So, yes- these are quite oversimplified, but the principles stands true. The main point is this: No matter the outcome, the false belief will captivate you and bring you down. If the date is bad, you wallow in self-deprecating thoughts and continue to belief you can't date. If the date goes well, you feel obligated to keep being someone they can like, always afraid they'll find out that you're not lovable, fun, or attractive.

On the flip side, no matter the outcome, the true belief sets you free. You don't need to positive or negative reinforcement from others because you are sure in your God. If the date goes badly, you can get a good story out of it and try to improve the next time. If it goes well, awesome! You can continue to date without needing constant positive reinforcement from those you date because your confidence comes from God.

This is the great part about true beliefs; you don't need to find ways to justify them. The Holy Ghost will ratify truth and help you be sure in your true beliefs. However, the Holy Ghost cannot ratify that which is not true. We feel this absence of validation and so we search for it ourselves, because if we can't find anything to validate our belief then we'll have to change them.

These principles reach beyond the realms of dating (though I've seen it a lot in that aspect of my life lately). Another example that rings true with me is that of general expectations. While on my internship this summer, my roommate and work companion really tried to help me become more organized. She'd kindly invite and ask me to plan with her, clock hours, and join in other productive habits. I didn't do them, and, in fact, many times I couldn't bring myself to do them. I believe it's because these inputs were being processed through a belief that I had to perform well, or even perfectly, and a knowledge that I couldn't do that. My anxious and depressed mindset couldn't see them as ways to improve, only as impossible expectations that would only stress me out and exploit my weaknesses. So really, I guess my belief was more about me needing to prove myself. My worth was tied to my performance and I had lost sight of my connection to God. 

This was an extremely harmful way to see things because I was deeply misunderstanding basic doctrine of God's plan for earthly life. Before I elaborate on that, I need to take a minute to explain growth vs. fixed mindsets. 

Part 3: Mindsets- Beliefs in Action

The background of this idea comes from research done by psychologist Carol Dweck. For a more in depth explanation of her research, you can watch her TED Talk or read a variety of summaries found online. In the interest of flow, I'm summarizing based off of this video. Here's what happened: 

  • 400 5th graders were given the same menial task. 
  • Upon completion, students were randomly assigned to be praised for their intelligence or their effort. Each group was told one of the following sentences:
     Screen shot 2015-09-22 at 2.18.26 PM.png
  • For the next test, all students were given a choice of which task to complete. The two tasks were presented this way: 
     Screen shot 2015-09-22 at 2.22.23 PM.png
    • While 67% of the group praised for intelligence chose the easier version, 92% of the group praised for effort chose the option that would allow them to grow more. To explain this, Carol Dweck said the following:
    • "The child or adult hears, 'Oh, you think I'm brilliant and talented. That's why you admire me. That's why you value me. I better not do anything that will disprove this evaluation.' As a result, they enter a fixed mindset; they place it safe in the future and they limit the growth for their talent. Whereas focusing on the strategies they use, the way they are stretching themselves, and taking on hard tasks, the intense practice they are doing... Thos are the kinds of things that say to a child...,"It's about the process of growth." As a result, they don't feel, 'Oh, if I make a mistake you won't think I'm talented.' They think, 'Oh, if I don't take on hard things and stick to them, I'm not growing.

The children who were praised for intelligence got trapped in a fixed mindset; their worth was tied to results and performance. As such, they didn't want to risk letting others see any faults. They were afraid to try because they were afraid to fail. All this points to the fact that a fixed mindset kills motivation. If you're stuck in this trap, know you can change. Our brains are moldable and able to change, and we can use our agency to change our nature. 

What does this look like in real life? Probably similar to how I was the first week of classes. I felt like ohmygoshthere'ssomanythingstodoandI'mbasicallygoingtodie. I knew I couldn't get straight A's. For some classes, I knew it'd be a tough fight to even pass. And then my anxiety flared and reminded me of all these extra expectations I have for myself, most of which are incredibly unrealistic. So I wanted to quit, because I knew I would most likely fail, and because I didn't want to push that hard; I just wanted to be "good" at school. It seemed that the harder I needed to try, the less "good" I was. 

So I've had to work with reframing the challenges ahead as a push to develop myself, both in my field and as a person, rather than a push to perform. I don't know what my grades will be, but if I focus on that I will freak out and drive myself crazy. I try to remind myself that I want to learn and enjoy this amazing opportunity I have to study what I want. 

Back in the study, the children were given a final task, something well above their grade level, something at which they were designed to fail. Students from the first group became frustrated easily and gave up relatively quickly, while students from the second group worked harder, longer, and enjoyed the work more. When asked why they thought they did poorly, students with a fixed mindset would say something like "I'm just not very smart," while students with a growth mindset were able to respond with, "I just need a better strategy." The thing is, a better strategy probably wouldn't work because IT WAS AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK. They could not have succeeded. But while the first group took that as a personal blow, the second group saw it as a way to grow. 
 

Part 4: Gospel Application

Now to tie it all together. I want you to hear an excerpt from this 1990 devotional and then I'll comment on it. I recommend listening and reading along, which you can do here (start at 9:51). (I also want to note that this talk is in incredible and at some point you should make time to read all of it.)

Sometimes the weight of the demand for perfection drives us to despair. Sometimes we fail to believe that most choice portion of the gospel that says he can change us and bring us into his kingdom. Let me share an experience that happened about ten years ago. My wife and I were living in Pennsylvania. Things were going pretty well; I’d been promoted. It was a good year for us, though a trying year for Janet. That year she had our fourth child, graduated from college, passed the CPA exam, and was made Relief Society president. We had temple recommends, we had family home evening. I was in the bishopric. I thought we were headed for “LDS yuppiehood.” Then one night the lights went out. Something happened in my wife that I can only describe as “dying spiritually.” She wouldn’t talk about it; she wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. That was the worst part. For a couple of weeks she did not wish to participate in spiritual things. She asked to be released from her callings, and she would not open up and tell me what was wrong.

Finally, after about two weeks, one night I made her mad and it came out. She said, “All right. You want to know what’s wrong? I’ll tell you what’s wrong. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t lift it. I can’t get up at 5:30 in the morning and bake bread and sew clothes and help my kids with their homework and do my own homework and do my Relief Society stuff and get my genealogy done and write the congressman and go to the PTA meetings and write the missionaries . . .” And she just started naming one brick after another that had been laid on her, explaining all the things she could not do. She said, “I don’t have the talent that Sister Morrell has. I can’t do what Sister Childs does. I try not to yell at the kids, but I lose control, and I do. I’m just not perfect, and I’m not ever going to be perfect. I’m not going to make it to the celestial kingdom, and I’ve finally admitted that to myself. You and the kids can go, but I can’t lift it. I’m not ‘Molly Mormon,’ and I’m not ever going to be perfect, so I’ve given up. Why break my back?”

Well, we started to talk, and it was a long night. I asked her, “Janet, do you have a testimony?”

She said, “Of course I do! That’s what’s so terrible. I know it’s true. I just can’t do it.”

“Have you kept the covenants you made when you were baptized?”

She said, “I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but I cannot keep all the commandments all the time.”

Then I rejoiced because I knew what was wrong, and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn’t any of those horrible things I thought it might be. Who would have thought after eight years of marriage, after all the lessons we’d given and heard, and after all we had read and done in the Church, who would have thought that Janet did not know the gospel of Jesus Christ? You see, she was trying to save herself. She knew why Jesus is a coach, a cheerleader, an advisor, a teacher. She knew why he is an example, the head of the Church, the Elder Brother, or even God. She knew all of that, but she did not understand why he is called the Savior.

Janet was trying to save herself with Jesus as an advisor. Brothers and sisters, we cannot do it. No one can. No one is perfect—not even the Brethren. Please turn to Ether 3:2. This is about one of the greatest prophets that ever lived, the brother of Jared. His faith is so great that he is about to pierce the veil and see the spiritual body of Christ. As he begins to pray, he says,

Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; [One of the greatest prophets who ever lived, and he starts his prayer with an apology as an imperfect being for approaching a perfect God.] for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.

Of course we fail at the celestial level. That’s why we need a savior, and we are commanded to approach God and to call upon him so we may receive according to our desires. In the New Testament the Savior says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). We misinterpret that frequently. We think that means blessed are the righteous. It does not. When are you hungry? When are you thirsty? When you don’t have the object of your desire. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after the righteousness that God has, after the righteousness of the celestial kingdom, because as that is the desire of their heart, they can achieve it—they will be filled. We may receive “according to our desires.”

Like the students in the study, we have been given an impossible task, a life-long test. We must make it back to God, who cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, and yet we sin all the time and we will continue to do so. It would seem that the plan was designed for us to fail. In fact, if we try to go it alone, we will fail. 

But our Father loves us too much for that to be the plan. So he gave us a Savior, and a chance to return. Because of Him, life is not so much about being perfect as it learning and growing into perfection. 

And what could be more wonderful? Life is not about giving the best performance or receiving immediate justice when we mess up. If we believe that, are hopes of progressing are shot. How wonderful it is that we have a Savior, who has taken upon him the weight of failure so that we may have the chance to grow.

I've gone through some experience lately that have allowed me to start seeing weakness less of a barrier between me and God and more of a step towards him. Even weakness that will seemingly never be healed, I now see it as part of the journey I'm on to come to know Christ and God. For me, that makes it so that I can keep going. I am independent from my short comings, I am hopeful, and I can keep going. 


Part 5: Doing It

I love these principles and truths, and I know they can help someone become more than they are, but they won't have any effect without action.

Get "a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world." Do this by writing down what you believe about God, yourself, and the world around you, in that order, without editing. Just write.  Once you've finished, figure out what belief is behind your lack of motivation. Compare your beliefs and the doctrines to which you've been subscribing to Christ's and figure out what needs to change.

Then, ask God for help to make that change happen. Immerse yourself in true doctrine all that you can so that your false beliefs can be corrected and your true beliefs can be strengthened and become part of you. 

Don't berate yourself when you fall short of your expectations. Embrace these times as chances for greater growth and greater connection to God. 

Finally, if you do all of this and still nothing seems to help, get more help. When I'm in the depths of depression, it seems my ability to be motivated is the thing that is broken, and I need help from family, friends, and therapy to get back on track. 

There will be more ways to apply this in your life, but I know you'll find what works best for you as you go. 

You can do this. I believe in you. I’m pulling for you. "And I’m not the only one. Parents are pulling for you, leaders are pulling for you, and prophets are pulling for you. And Jesus is pulling with you."

Take care,

-Auto Surf

Question #83534 posted on 08/18/2015 10:36 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Heading into Provo from the University Avenue exit, as you're on the overpass above the train tracks, you'll notice that on the left that there's a colorful building. Next to it is another building that says "Hide and Fur Building". What is the colorful building and what's the fur building used for?

-Saraband

A:

Dear Saraband,

Normally when I return to Provo from Rubikland I drive through Springville after exiting Spanish Fork canyon; the traffic's better that way. But, seeing this question in the inbox, I decided to take a detour on my drive yesterday. 

My first task was to determine whether you could actually see the words "Hide and Fur" from the overpass; when I looked the location up on Google Maps the night before, the Street View only showed the words on the West side of the building. For a while there I thought you might be a mutant (you know, like the X-Men kind), but then I noticed that the Street View hadn't been updated since 2012, so I figured things might have changed. Sure enough, as I crested the overpass I looked to the West and saw "Hide and Fur" on the East side.

I then navigated to an empty lot by the railroad tracks and parked the Rubikmobile. My next task was to ascertain which was the "colorful building" you'd mentioned; the Street View didn't have one of those, either. It didn't take me too long to guess that this building was the one you were talking about:

IMG_0737.JPG

I played real-life frogger with a couple of SUV's to get a better look. After strolling around the building a bit, I came across this sign:

IMG_0738.JPG

It looked to me like this "Startup Crossing" was going to be one of them new-fangled urban complexes, with shopping and restaurants on the bottom level and apartments up top. My phone is not equipped with a QR reader, so I took this picture with plans to look up the website (givgroup.org) later. As it turned out, the site didn't have very much information at all; it just said that Startup Crossing would be completed this fall. In researching the other part of your question, though, I came across a Facebook page for the development. That Facebook page linked to a news release about the project. It looks like Startup Crossing will definitely include apartments, but I haven't been able to confirm the commercial aspect of my suspicions. It sure looks like it, though.

Back on my detour, after taking the picture of the sign I decided to walk around the "Hide and Fur" building, just to confirm that it was the building I was thinking of. As I turned a corner, I came face to face with a man in an electric wheelchair, apparently waiting for a ride. Being the socially anxious type I am, I decided that my walking around the corner and then just walking straight back would be too suspicious, so I decided to just take a walk around the block. I didn't mind too much; I'd just had a long drive and my legs could use a little stretching out. On my walk, I saw many things. The first thing I saw was a small, closed-up art gallery. That was too bad. The next thing I saw was a large flying frog:

IMG_0739.JPG

That was certainly a surprise. Turns out, it was the logo for Provo Studio, a different art gallery. It made up for the closed one I saw earlier. 

Rounding out my walk, I saw a sign with this important reminder:

IMG_0740.JPG

Which is why Board writers never travel the tunnels alone.

My journey complete and the identity of the building ascertained, I jumped back in the Rubikmobile and hightailed it back to my apartment.

---

As far as the Hide and Fur building goes, it's been a lot of things, but currently it is the Provo studio of that Utah-renowned artist, Brian Kershisnik. It says so right on his business's Facebook page. It's possible that he shares the building with another business, but I wasn't able to find any information as far as that goes (and art studios tend to take up a lot of room on their own, so I wouldn't be too surprised to hear that he uses the whole building).

Downtown Provo is cool.

-Frère Rubik

Question #83521 posted on 09/13/2015 9:40 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I want to do my part to promote religious freedom. I'm a poor college student and cannot donate much time or money, but what can I do to help?

-Dallin

A:

Dear Dallin,

Despite how long it's taken me to answer, I'm really glad you asked this question. 

For those who read the question and thought, "Oh, that's not really an issue I need to worry about," STOP THINKING THAT WAY RIGHT NOW and keep reading. I can't promise my writing will be amazing (though here's to hoping, but this is an incredibly important issues that affects all of us,&nbspregardless of religious affiliation. I promise to make this answer thorough yet not boring if you promise to keep reading.  (To help with it not being boring, turn on these songs while you read.)

With that all said, I'm excited to answer your question, but first I'd like to give it a little more context. 

Why is Religious Freedom Important?

Before this question, I hadn't thought too much about religious freedom. I knew that my dad often worked with it, so I assumed that only well-established professionals and government workers could do anything about it. 

This is so not true. 

Alexander Dushku explained it well when he wrote, 

"It is high time that religious liberty ceased to be primarily a legal issue, one to be debated exclusively by lawyers, law professors, and judges. Religious liberty is as much about our culture and how we live together as free and equal citizens as it is about legal theories and lawsuits. And how we live together is not, ultimately, for lawyers, law professors, and judges to decide. That is something that all of us are going to have to figure out." (Same-Sex Marriage and Now What?, emphasis added)

Why is it about our culture? Put simply, "[r]eligious freedom is the architecture that gives diverse beliefs space to coexist—the essence of democracy. Without religious freedom, all rights suffer. It applies to religious and nonreligious views." So we're not singling out any specific sect or group here. True religious freedom is not exclusive; if one seeks to claim it personally, one has to afford it to others as well.  Therefore, this is an issue that affects us all. 

The writers below touch some reasons in greater detail, so I'll just end this section with these two quotes:

“Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, Chapter 22)

“We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul. (Doctrine and Covenants 134:4)  

(To see what the bretheren have to say on the matter, see any of the following: Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom Loving Others and Living with DifferencesBe Strong and of a Good CourageLet Your Faith ShowThe Cost—and Blessings—of DiscipleshipNo Other GodsStand Strong in Holy PlacesLamentations of Jeremiah: Beware of BondageLet There Be Light)

What happens without religious freedom? 

"Okay, but is it really that big a deal?" Yeah, it really is. Here are some questions to consider if religious freedom erodes:

For Individuals

FREE EXPRESSION: Will religious viewpoints be suppressed in the public square and other places where people live out their lives?

PARENTS TEACHING CHILDREN: Will parents of school children be able to ensure that their religious values aren’t undermined through classroom instruction or intimidation?

THE WORKPLACE: Will employees be able to maintain their religious identity in the workplace and be reasonably accommodated when work and religious duties conflict?

PROFESSIONAL CREDENTIALS: Will professionals lose or be denied licensing for expressing religious views or declining to provide services that are available elsewhere but that are at odds with their beliefs?

SMALL BUSINESSES: Will family and religiously oriented businesses be able to maintain their values in the face of anti-discrimination laws?

COLLEGE CAMPUSES: Will campus student groups be able to select their own leaders or express a religious message?

FREEDOM FROM RETALIATION: Will those who voice beliefs be retaliated against?

For Churches

RELIGIOUS EMPLOYMENT: Will churches continue to have the right to employ people that affirm and live the church’s beliefs? Will they be forced to provide employment benefits that contradict their beliefs?

PRIVATE PROPERTY: Will churches be able to build and maintain houses of worship and other facilities? Will they be able to preserve their religiously important properties for activities that are consistent with their religious beliefs?

TAX EXEMPT STATUS: Will churches and schools that affirm the traditional definition of marriage lose their tax-exempt status? Will
donors’ contributions be tax deductible?

ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT RESOURCES: Will religious organizations be able to participate on equal terms with other non-profit organizations in government programs and the use of government facilities and properties?

RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS: Will religious schools be able to maintain their religious values and standards while also retaining their accreditation and the ability to participate in federal educational and research programs?

(I won't answer these now because I want to get on to your question, but I think they're important questions to ponder in order to understand the importance of religious liberty as it stands today.)

Taking Action 

Defense through Legal Actions

Here's an incredible example of religious freedom being defended by an average citizen, then supported by our legal system. 
 
To briefly summarize, an inexperienced lawyer of small practice helped his church when a former pastor/teacher sued the church after she had been let go. After the church won the initial case, the EEOC  (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) picked up the case and appealed it to a higher court, where the church lost. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty appealed the case to the Supreme Court, and the decision sided with the church 9-0. The opinion said the government has no place intruding in something like that. 
 
A main point of the case has to do with The Ministerial Exception, which recognizes the right of a church to exempt employees from certain Title XII requirements (i.e. a church can fire a minister if their teaching isn't supported). The decision set an important precedent to maintain that right for religious organizations. The lawyer was in over his head, defending the church purely as a volunteer, but kept faith that it would work out. The Becket Fund wanted to protect the special relationship churches hold with their ministers, including their right to hire and fire them. 
 
The video gives more council at the end to those wishing to support religious liberty, including making yourself aware of the issues and available to help. I felt it was important to include in this answer to show that we're not completely under attack. The government can and will support religious freedom, as shown in this case. As the protagonist of the story proclaims, "These are issues courts are willing to take seriously and to defend. If this is an issues that you hold dear, fight for it!" 
 
In Discussing Differences

Zed talks more about this below, but I wanted to include an excerpt from an essay by Alexander Dushku, which addreses how we deal with differences in beliefs. He first analyzes the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, noting that it is socially and culturally acceptable to have different beliefs on the matter of abortion (as opposed to cases involving racism and discrimination, which create a moral and social taboo for those opposed). He states:

"...[F]or me, a critical question at this juncture is this: How is it that opposition to abortion was able to secure a place of respectability in our culture and law?  The answer is no doubt complex.  But assuredly one reason is that religious and other pro-life voices decided that they would not, indeed could not, remain silent.  They spoke up.  They refused to be intimidated.  They organized.  They insisted on their rights of free speech.  And they learned to make their case with reason, civility, and even love.  To be sure, there were extremists within their ranks—those willing to disregard the law and even commit crimes against those with whom they disagreed.  They had to be denounced and removed from the movement.  There were missteps and mistakes, course corrections and recalibrations.  But, eventually, the pro-life movement found its voice and succeeded in convincing about half the American people of the rightness of its beliefs.  Of course, not much has changed legally.  The Supreme Court still insists that abortion on demand is a fundamental constitutional right.  But regardless of your views on Roe v. Wade, the fact remains that those opposed to abortion can still be full and equal citizens, participating in all walks of life—from school teacher, to businessperson, to lawyer, to President of the United States."  

Dushku then shifts focus to a more current event: the recent decision on gay marriage. 
 
"...In my view, the effect of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision on religious liberty will depend, to a great extent, on people like you and me.  If supporters of traditional marriage retreat—if they are intimidated into silence—if they give up trying to find the right words and arguments to defend their beliefs—if they do not stand as witnesses and living examples of the goodness of their beliefs—and if people of goodwill do not, at least, stand up for the rights of others to dissent in good faith and yet still be numbered among us as our fellow citizens, neighbors, colleagues, and friends—then the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision will indeed be a disaster for religious liberty.
But if those who support traditional marriage are examples of what is highest and best about their beliefs—if they, like the pro-lifers, refuse to be silenced—if they find ways to explain and persuade with reason as well as kindness, meekness, and love—and if they cheerfully but resolutely endure the indignities that will be visited on them, and without bitterness ask only for toleration, understanding, and respect for their basic rights as Americans—then I believe that, ultimately, the great goodness and decency of the American people will rise up and our culture and law will carve out and protect enough space so that people of faith who maintain traditional beliefs about marriage, family and sexuality can participate fully in all aspects of American life.
 
"That will not happen all at once.  Those who hold such beliefs are assuredly in for some difficult and uncertain times.  Sacrifices will have to be made.  Carefully chosen lawsuits will have to be filed.  We may even lose some friends on Facebook, and perhaps even some real friends.  But I am hopeful that, in the end, if we stand firm, both our culture and the law will accord those who believe in traditional marriage the respect and freedom they deserve.
 
"... Indeed, if support for traditional marriage is equated by our society and culture to racism, then every negative outcome that [the previous speaker] just warned about—and worse—will become a very real risk... If, in the aftermath of the same-sex marriage decision, our nation follows the example set in the wake of Roe v. Wade, then religious liberty will survive.  There will be hard times, to be sure, but eventually there will be accommodations for those who dissent from the new gay marriage orthodoxy."
 
Again, Zedability gives a great perspective on this in her answer so I won't expound too much. In short, I think we are all called to defend our rights, but there's a delicate balance between disagreeing and being disagreeable. As always, we can look to Christ and our church leaders as examples. 

Individual Action

So, with all that background, we come to your actual question: What can you personally do? 

In his April 2015 conference address, Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom, Elder Hales said, “Don’t walk! Run! Run to receive the blessings of agency by following the Holy Ghost and exercising the freedoms God has given us to do His will.” The whole talk is packed with truth and I highly recommend reading it. In the interest of conciseness, I'll point out that he urges us to 

  • become informed,
  • join with others,
  • work side by side to protect religious freedom,
  • and be examples.  

Similarly, a presentation at a recent seminar for religious freedom counseled citizens interested in protecting religious freedom to do the following: 

  • Be an example of the believers
  • Engage in your community
  • Educate yourself
  • Watch for developments
  • Stand up for religious freedom in your individual capacity
  • Support organizations that promote religious freedom
Change Your Paradigm

Finally, don't believe the lie that just because you don't have excessive funds doesn't mean that you can't do important things with your money. This goes for any cause, not just religious freedom. I highly recommend reading The Soul of Money by Lynn Twist to better understand this, but I'll include a pertinent quote now:
 
"Taking a stand is a way of living and being that draws on a place within yourself that is at the very heart of who you are. When you take a stand, it gives you authenticity, power, and clarity. You find your place in the universe, and you have the capacity to move the world.
 
"One of the great dynamics of money is that it grounds us, and when we put money behind our commitments it grounds them, too, making them real in the world. We can wish for better schools, a clean environment, and world peace; we can even volunteer, but when we also put our money behind those intentions, we become really serious about them. Money is a great translator of intention to reality, vision to fulfillment. 
 
"...All people at all times in all sectors of society in all chapters of history [can take a stand for their commitments]. People with little or no money are just as capable of directing the flow of money and resources in meaningful ways as those with much more money. Purely in the act of taking a stand, they create the clearing and the context for conversation that invites others to step forward and be heard."
 
So, you are are a college student with limited time and limited funds. Put them to use! Consciously choose to use your money and resources to support your beliefs and intentions. Just as the Lord's servants were not asked to do more than they were able, we do not need to single-handedly defend religious freedom. We just need to devote our efforts to the One who can magnify and develop them. 
 
Our efforts don't need to be extravagant. I think the way we support our beliefs should be similar to how we live the gospel; our commitment is shown through daily, small acts instead of occasional grandiose endeavors. Both are good, but I think true growth and true commitment will come easier as we choose to live in a way that ground us in our beliefs. 
 
Take care, and thanks for your desire to do more.
 
-Auto Surf
posted on 09/15/2015 12:08 p.m.
For a fantastic perspective on this, please see Elder Rasband's recent BYU Devotional, which will soon be available on speeches.byu.edu.

-Auto Surf
Question #83486 posted on 08/18/2015 10:14 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,
I have just been informed that yellow watermelon exists. I don't know why but I am way beyond curious and need to try one! The only problem is, in all my years living in Utah I've never seen one. Where is the closest place to Provo that I can find yellow watermelon? Also, if you're so inclined to try it, let me know what you think of the taste. Thanks for your help and have a great rest of your summer!
-Mr. Melon

A:

Dear Melon, 

I went to Maceys, Walmart, and Winco before I almost gave up on trying to track down this weird fruit. I have had one before and it was nowhere near as delicious as a normal watermelon so I wasn't too motivated to drive all over to find one. However, I heard that they sold them at Trader Joe's so I made the trek up to Salt Lake City.

And behold! A great* yellow watermelon!

1_1.jpg

*Using the granola bar box as a reference, you can tell that yellow watermelons are significantly smaller than normal watermelons. It does weigh about the same as mini-watermelon though.

2.jpg

The weirdest part about this was not that it was yellow, but that it was seedless. I was surprised that there were no seeds when it was marked and sold as a seeded yellow watermelon. 

3.jpg

I was able to get 6 decently sized slices from half of the yellow watermelon. It was just as juicy as a normal watermelon so I was expecting it to be just as delicious. Sadly, I was mistaken. Too me, it wasn't nearly as sweet as a normal watermelon. However, plenty of websites describe yellow watermelons as being sweeter than normal watermelons and having a slight honey flavor. I don't like the taste of honey so that may be one of the main reasons why I wasn't impressed with it. 

4.jpg

One of my least favorite things about mini-sized watermelons is how much you get from them. Half of the watermelon gave me roughly 3 cups of watermelon chunks. It takes longer to peel and slice the watermelon than it does to eat it! It's barely even worth it!

So, for me, I would give yellow watermelons 3/10 stars. They're not good but if they were the literal last fruit on Earth, I could eat it. 

-Ms.O'Malley

Question #83282 posted on 07/29/2015 7:22 p.m.
Q:

Dear Frère Rubik,

What would be the plot of a movie called Provokyo Drift? What songs would be included in the soundtrack in addition to this? Would there be sharks? Gymnastics?

-Stick It

A:

Dear To-The-Man-Eosis,

You walk into the dark theater, popcorn and drink in hand, looking for a good spot where you and your significant werf can enjoy the movie/disrupt others with your unruly NCMO's. 

Or perhaps you drive into a drive-in theater in your family's suburban with a bunch of your friends, caring less about the movie than you do about getting some extremely delicious hamburgers.

As you settle down into your seat and apply some chapstick/stand in line at the grill and avoid eye contact with old family acquaintances, you see it:

THE TRAILER.

---

Preview image.jpg

(Source)

Over a black screen, the following words appear:

He was the fastest driver in school.

Cut to clips of cars zooming around turns by the coast of California, cheering teenagers, and a shot of someone wearing sunglasses, as seen from their rear-view mirror. 

But after spending two years on his feet,

Cut to a shot of the main character, Shawn, hacking through vines in the Amazon rain forest as a missionary.

Happy valley is going to this hotshot a new kind of drift

A Mazda 3 is shown zooming down the rock canyon road on a snowy winter day.

That will leave him...

Cut to the interior of the Mazda. Shawn is driving, accompanied by his Japanese friend, Lee.

Lee: Slow down, man, you're taking this turn way too fast!

Shawn: I know what I'm doing! I've still got it!

...Ice Cold.

The Mazda skids across the road and plows into a snowbank on the opposite side. As steam rises from the hood, Lee shouts "I TOLD YOU!"

Next Election Day,

Squeeze's "Cool For Cats" begins to play as we see Shawn and Lee sitting at a table at The Wall.

Shawn: So what's this thing called again?

Lee: The Provo Underground Racing Circuit. It's a year-round racing competition around all of Utah county. And, someone from the Village Guys is always in the lead.

Shawn: You mean that weird disco band that came up with the Y.M.C.A.?

Lee: No, genius, that's The Village People. The Village Guys are a super-exclusive racing group that meet every Saturday under the Village.

As Lee says that, we see shots of bros wearing flat-billed hats and polo shirts, flexing their muscles, racing cars, and doing summer sales for security companies.

Lee: And again, they always win.

Shawn: Except for this year.

Lee: That's a nice sentiment, dreamboy. There's just three things:

He holds up a finger.

Lee: One, you can't drive worth a darn in the snow,

Cut to Shawn, blocking the exit to an apartment complex's parking lot, desperately trying to free his Mazda from the snow as a group of irate students look on.

Lee: Two, you've got no idea how to drive a stickshift,

Cut to Shawn, parked in a Station Wagon on a slight incline. He turns the key in the ignition, and the car's engine starts.

Shawn: Yes, yes, yes!

A second later, the engine cuts out, and the car starts rolling down the hill.

Shawn: No, no, no!

Back to Lee at The Wall.

Lee: And three, that Mazda of yours is going to get smoked off of the line. Every.

Cut to Shawn at the starting line of a race against two bros in Mustangs. The flag waves, and they zoom off, leaving him and his Mazda stuck at the line.

Lee: Single.

At the finish line of a different race, two chargers cross neck and neck, with Shawn's Mazda coming in a couple of car lengths behind.

Lee: Time.

The interior of Shawn's car. He pounds the steering wheel and hangs his head in frustration.

Cut back to Shawn, chewing pensively on some fries.

Shawn: Well, alright, sensei, if you're so wise, what do you suggest we do?

Lee sits back in his chair, slurping his Italian soda through a straw.

Lee: Well...I might know someone who can help.

Cut to Shawn and Lee walking into a garage, approaching someone who is working under a red Mini Cooper raised up on cinderblocks.

Lee: Hey, Mad Dog! How's it hanging? Listen, I know how things went the last time we met up...

Shawn: Yo, Mad Dog! My name's Shawn! How's it hanging bro..."

At this, the person rolls out from under the Mini on a skateboard, revealing a girl with blonde hair tied back in a ponytail, her face smudged with grease.

Shawn:...ooooo nope. Nope. You are not a bro.

The girl, Maddie, gives a disgusted sigh and then rolls back under the car.

Lee: Ooh, nice one. You just let that chauvinist side shine right on through.

The music changes to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off," and we see Shawn, Lee, and Maddie at a table in the Snack Zone of the Library.

Shawn: So what exactly qualifies you to give me driving advice?

Maddie: I'm from Canada and I grew up helping my dad in his auto shop. If there's anything to know about snow or cars, I know it.

Shawn: Well, that's all well and good, but that still doesn't change the fact that you're a g---

Maddie winds back her arm, ready to slap Shawn.

Lee: Oh, you've done it now.

Shawn: Guuuuuuuuuuuuuu...

Maddie slaps Shawn across the cheek.

Maddie: That's for not having the guts to say it.

Shawn:...girl?

Maddie slaps his other cheek.

Maddie: And that's for saying it.

Lee laughs, Shawn rubs his cheeks sheepishly.

The shot cuts back to Maddie's garage, where her red Mini now sits finished on the floor.

Shawn: Alright, alright, you know your stuff. I'll give you that. But you honestly expect us to win in a Mini?

Maddie: You haven't seen this Mini in action yet.

Cut to an open road in the middle of the field, the Mini flying down it. Shawn yells in exhilaration; Maddie laughs.

Werf Werfenheimer

Various shots of Shawn: Racing his Mazda back in California, leaning out the Mini and pumping his fist after winning a race, smiling and turning to Maddie.

Werfette Werfenson

Shots of Maddie wiping sweat off of her face in her mechanic uniform, acrobatically jumping over two bros' shoulders, leaning in to kiss Shawn.

and Werf-Werf Werfon

Scenes of Lee eating a slice of pizza, helping Maddie fix up the Mini, and cheering at the front of a crowd as Shawn races by in the Mini.

with Werfin Werfington

Shots of the main Bro drinking a protein shake, slamming Shawn against a shark tank in an aquarium, and angrily trying to ram Shawn and Maddie in the Mini off the road while driving a Dodge Challenger.

In:

A head-on shot of the Mini and a Mustang charging toward the finish line.

The Blessed and the Furious: Provokyo Drift

Cut to Shawn sitting at a computer, then excitedly turning around.

Shawn: Hey guys, have you seen this? Sometimes the dress looks black and blue, other times it's white and gold!

Lee facepalms, Maddie rolls her eyes and walks away.

November 2016

With Music By:

Squeeze

Taylor Swift

Crash Test Dummies

R.E.M.

Talking Heads

Boston

Damien Rice

and more...

---

Awestruck, you are completely oblivious to your significant werf's attempts to hold your hand/the burger which you dropped into your lap and is now dripping sauce all over your good pants. 

Then, the next trailer plays, for The Divergent Games: Breaking Dawn and the Half-Blood Maze Runner, and you quickly snap back into your awkward, sticky, non-Provokian reality.

-Frère Rubik

Question #83180 posted on 07/20/2015 6:45 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

When did the Church become all about families? Sure, sure, it's "always been about families." But not <i>really</i>, you know? Like, if the 13 Articles of Faith were written today by the modern prophet, it would be unthinkable that what we believe about eternal families wouldn't be one. Or why there's no mention of the idea of eternal families in the Book of Mormon. In more modern times, I know that the song "Families Can be Together Forever," predates the 1995 Proclamation to the World on the Family. And I also know that the idea of sealing all of the family of Adam together goes back to the first introduction of temple ordinances by Joseph Smith. But it seems clear that family is a focus in a way that seems different from any time in the past.

We Mormons are really good about finding the scriptures or the quotes that say what we are hoping to show (like how the teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual are snipped together quotes from a life time of talks and sermons). That's a nice way to show that, like I said above, the doctrine has always <i>included</i> teachings related to the family. But my question is, when precisely did the entire cultural and doctrinal push of the Church become families? Or are we in a "family" phase/decade of the Church teachings, like how we've had "missionary" phase (SWK's "every member a missionary/lengthen your stride") or Book of Mormon phase (ETB's "flood the earth").

To be extra clear, I'm not trying to imply that "family" isn't an important focus just because it hasn't always been one. And I absolutely accept that our theology, from the very beginning, has included teachings and doctrine about the eternal nature of the family. I really just want to learn when the current cultural/doctrinal focus on the family came about? Pre-Proclamation? Post-Proclamation? Would charting topics addressed by the General Authorities in conference talks show this?

Thanks

-My Father Has a Family, It's MEEEE!!!

A:

Dear MEEEE!!!,

I wasn't sure what to make of your question at first, since then it seemed to me that you were asking when the Church leadership got together and said "alright, let's start talking about families a bunch." That seemed rather unlikely to have happened. But, in thinking about the later portion of your answer (where you mention the "missionary phase" and the "Book of Mormon" phase), I think I have a better understanding of what you meant. While there might not necessarily be meetings to decide what the Church is going to emphasize, God will inspire the prophets to speak out on certain things and emphasize certain things in their teachings, and the collective result of all of that will be an emphasis on the subject in the Church.

At least, that's what I hope you were getting at, because that's kind of what I based the rest of my answer on.

With that in mind, the best way to determine the starting point of this emphasis seemed to be what you suggested: charting topics General Authorities addressed in General Conference. The only problem was, I picked this question up kind of late, and didn't necessarily have time to pore over decades of Conference addresses.

The solution (or, at least, my solution) came while I was at a fireside about the Church's apps and other technological resources. The presenter mentioned the Citation Index, and that seemed like the best way to do my analysis.

Here's what I did: I first scanned The Family: A Proclamation to the World for any scriptures it cited about families. There was only one listed, so I next went to the "Family" entry in The Guide to the Scriptures. I didn't have time to include all of the scriptures listed in my analysis, so I tried to pick ten that I felt would be best represented over the years (those ended up being Gen. 1:27-28, Deut. 6:7, Prov. 22:6, Psalm 127:3, 2 Nephi 25:26, Mosiah 4:14-15, 3 Nephi 18:21, D&C 68:25, D&C 93:40, D&C 132:19, and Moses 2:27-28).

Then, using the Citation Index, I counted up how many times each of the scriptures was cited in a particular decade. I figured that, at the end, if there was a heavier emphasis on families, it would show up in an increased amount of citations for a particular decade.

After compiling all of the results in a spreadsheet, this is the graph I made of the results:

Scripture Graph.PNG

(I thought I'd just comment here that the "Pioneers-1940's" section is just what I called everything that came from the Journal of Discourses, which is probably why it is so huge.)

Looking at this data, it's not as drastic of a difference as I was expecting. In general, I'd say that the emphasis on family has been growing fairly steadily over time, with a slight bump in the 60's and a noticeable increase starting at the 90's. The 60's bump might have come about because of President McKay's call to reemphasize Family Home Evening in 1965, or also possibly because of the turbulent social revolutions going on at the time. I'd probably peg the growth since the 90's on the Family Proclamation, but there were a fair number of citations from before 1995 as well.

So, that's the info I have for you. I know it's not super clear; I by no means claim to be an expert in this sort of thing. Heck, I don't even know if my conclusions are even valid. But, it was the best I believe I could do.

For a look at all of the data I compiled (and some other graphs I made out of the data), check out this link. If you'd like to keep talking to me about the topic or want to flush out the data with more scriptures, feel free to shoot me an email and we'll see what we can come up with.

-Frère Rubik

posted on 07/21/2015 9:10 a.m.
Chèrs Frère Rubik and Meeee,

BYU linguistics professor Mark Davies has created a corpus of LDS General Conference talks ( http://www.lds-general-conference.org ), which is very useful for this sort of analysis.

For this question, I did a search on the word "family" and set the results to return the number of hits by frequency, then compiled this histogram:

X - 100 hits per million words

1850s - XXXX
1860s - XXXX
1870s - XXXXX
1880s - XXXX
1890s - XXXX
1900s - XXX
1910s - XXX
1920s - XXX
1930s - XXX
1940s - XXXXX
1950s - XXXXXX
1960s - XXXXXXX
1970s - XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
1980s - XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
1990s - XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
2000s - XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
2010s - XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

You'll notice that there's been a general increase from the 1930s to the present, but the biggest jump occurs in the 1970s, when the frequency doubles in comparison to the previous decade (probably due to the Church's response to the Equal Rights Amendment and related cultural issues).

So, in response to the original question, one interpretation of the data is that the Church became "all about families" in the 1970s. As for defining the "missionary" or "Book of Mormon" eras, I'll leave that as an exercise for the student.

- Katya
Question #83081 posted on 07/12/2015 4:44 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

So, 10,000 VND (Vietnamese Dong) back in the mid-1940s. How much money would that be worth today (in USD)?

I can't figure out how to look up exchange rates that far back and adjust for inflation, etc.

- An Amateur Historian

A:

Dear you, 

There's a reason this information is so difficult to find: the simple fact is that currencies often have complicated histories that make comparison really hard. The North Vietnamese đồng, for example, was only introduced for the first time in 1946, when it replaced the French Indochinese piastre at a ratio of 1-to-1. But it was circulated by the Viet Mihn communists during a war in which they were trying to kick the French out of the country, so it spent several years competing against the piastre as the dominant form of money. It was revalued multiple times over the next couple of decades, pegged to several different currencies at different times, and ultimately replaced by the đồng of a reunified Vietnam in 1978. 

So when you ask about 10,000 đồng back in the mid-1940s, you must want to know about its value when it was first introduced in 1946. This is going to take a few leaps, though, so buckle your seat belt.

Exchange information 1 (1946) đồng =
When it came out in 1946, the đồng was pegged to the piastre. 1 (1946) piastre
In December of the previous year, the piastre had been pegged to the French franc at a rate of 17-to-1. 0.0588 (1946) franc
The value of the French franc had seen a swift decline in the post-war years. In 1946, one franc was worth about 0.075 (2007) euros. 0.00441 (2007) euros
The average exchange rate in 2007 was about 0.73 euros to the dollar. 0.00604 (2007) dollars
The average dollar inflation rate since 2007 has been about 1.91%, meaning that $6.04 in 2007 had the same buying power as $7.03 in 2015. 0.00703 (2015) dollars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ergo, 10,000 đồng in 1946 would have been about $70.30 today.

You're welcome, &c.

Heidi Book

P.S. Feel free to double check my math and submit a correction if it's off. Also, some sources certainly seemed more reputable than others, so you might want to mosey on over to those sites and see if you can determine whether they're telling the truth.

Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Do you think North and South Korea should unify or just encourage North Korea to develop as a separate country? It's taken Germany almost a generation to even out, and all the gaps in education, technology, and health in the two Germanies didn't seem as stark as it is between the Koreas.

Ex-expat

A:

Dear pat,

Yikes! Sorry for holding this over so long. Personally, I think your intuition is right. German reunification was a miracle in a lot of ways (like, can we take a minute to be totally blown away that it happened peacefully?), but it still came with a huge price tag: some estimates place the cost at $2.5 trillion in the twenty-five years since the collapse of the wall. What's more, vast differences continue to exist between West and East. The eastern economy has struggled to get on its feet, and the net cash flow still moves from the wealthier, western areas to the poorer, ex-Soviet ones. Frankly, German reunification is still ongoing.

And yes, the Korean situation is worse than the German one. The ratio of North Koreans to South Koreans is higher than the ratio of East Germans to West Germans was in 1990, meaning that the economic burden on South Korea would be disproportionately large, and the difference in infrastructure (education, health, communication, transportation, resources, etc.) is much greater between the two Koreas than it ever was between the two Germanys. (Germanies? Ha.) Overall, Korean reunification would be a bigger task than German reunification.

Many of the specifics depend on how reunification takes place. I'm going to outline a handful of semi-plausible scenarios and explain what the consequences might be of each. Keep in mind that I didn't know anything about Asian politics until I sat down to write this answer, so my opinion is admittedly inexpert.

1. North Korea and South Korea reach an agreement and enter a federation or confederation. Frankly, this route seems the least likely. South Korean president Park Geun-hye has declared reunification a goal of 2015, and by some accounts, North Korean officials have, too. The trouble is, neither side plans on reunifying on the other's terms. The border between the two countries is one of the most heavily militarized in the world, and shots were fired between the two armies as recently as October; the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that Seoul and Pyongyang don't exactly get along. South Korea is a young democracy and North Korea is an oppressive dictatorship. I can't begin to fathom how they would work out a viable government. But if they managed to do so, it probably wouldn't be a good thing. Democracy in South Korea is present but frail (especially given recent scandals involving corruption and abuse of authority), and it's only been around for a couple of generations. It's possible that its people have yet to develop a true democratic consciousness. Entering willingly into a federal government with North Korea would mean making concessions to a dictatorship that would certainly threaten the quality of its democracy. It would potentially extend the human rights abuses of the Kim regime to South Korean citizens. On the other hand, it would mean that South Korea would have the ability to help North Korea financially but still retain control and discretion over its own economy. This could help it to avoid the avalanche of financial burdens that would undoubtedly descend in the fourth scenario.

2. North Korea takes over South Korea. This scenario is almost (but not quite) as unlikely as the first. For starters, the international community would almost certainly take up arms in defense of the South, and there's no way the North has the military power to overcome the South and its allies. (It could be a truly terrible war, of course, especially if North Korea resorted to its nuclear arsenal, but I don't think it'd win.) If, however, western anti-war sentiment were strong enough to prevent an intervention from world powers in the US and Europe, or if China decided to throw its considerable military might behind North Korea, or [insert other possibilities here, including the desolation of the Americas by a Chicago-sized comet or an unexpected alien invasion], I suppose it's conceivable that the North might be able to take over the South. This mode of reunification would almost certainly be a REALLY TERRIBLE THING. Democracy in South Korea would collapse, insurgencies would break out, and hostility from the international community would be at an all-time high. The cost of unifying would be the expansion of human rights abuses and the breakdown of popular rule on the Korean peninsula. I don't know enough to predict what the economic consequences of such a move would be, but they might have something to do with Kim Jong-un seizing South Korea's increasing wealth for himself to build extravagant palaces or snuggle with at night à la Prince John in Robin Hood. There's a lot of evidence that South Korea's prosperity has stemmed from its democratic reforms and its increasing openness to international markets; if it were to suddenly revert to the extreme isolationism and protectionism of North Korea, the floodgates would close and its economy would stagnate.

3. South Korea takes over North Korea. This scenario is almost (but not quite) as unlikely as the second. We tried it in the 1950s, after all. But citizens of advanced democracies have grown increasingly wary of sending troops into battle, and we've learned our lesson about getting involved in land wars in Asia. South Korea is unlikely to attempt an invasion without international support. If, however, this terribly unlikely event were to take place, the consequences would involve all of those listed in the next scenario, plus any additional problems that may come from the resulting hostility to South Korean rule. This could include insurgencies, attempted coups, and full-scale engagements with the North Korean military. The whole operation suddenly gets a lot more expensive as soon as you have to send thousands of troops in to keep the peace. 

4. The Kim regime collapses of its own accord, and South Korea assumes control. This, more or less, is what happened in Germany, and it is certainly the most probable of the four. This fascinating article discusses at length why even a best-case-scenario reunification would be costly. As yayfulness mentioned to me, "One of the greatest fears in South Korea is the collapse of the regime in the North (almost as scary as its continued existence) because of the utter humanitarian crisis that it would create. Rather, the humanitarian crisis already exists, but the collapse would suddenly give South Korea both the ability and the duty to do something about it." We know that North Korea lacks the infrastructure to provide its citizens with basic healthcare, sanitation, and nutrition; were its citizens suddenly to fall under South Korean jurisdiction, the government would be overwhelmed with the immense task of bringing the northern areas up to par. It would create a huge source of stress on the economy.

tl;dr: Scenarios 1-3 are terrible, and scenario 4 is long and painful at best. Would it be worth it? If it meant that Korea turned into an Asian version of Germany, a bastion of democracy and economic strength in a fairly volatile region of the world, I'd say yes. But I'm not one of those who will have to foot the bill. 

Yours, &c.

Heidi Book

Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What's the difference between BYU Police Officers and Provo or any other Police Officers? I heard that if there was an emergency on campus you were supposed to call the BYU Police (801-422-2222) instead of 911, is that correct? If so, why? Do they still have the same rights and duties as other police officers? Can they pull you over? Arrest you? What about Security guards?

-Jimmy Felon

A:

Dear Felonius,

I called the police station dispatch and had a very pleasant conversation as I asked one of the women on duty your questions. 

She first observed that both Provo and BYU police departments are staffed with sworn officers. Utah state law states:

A law enforcement officer has statewide full-spectrum peace officer authority, but the authority extends to other counties, cities, or towns only when the officer is acting under Title 77, Chapter 9, Uniform Act on Fresh Pursuit, unless the law enforcement officer is employed by the state.

In essence, this means a Provo or BYU officer could legally make an arrest anywhere in the state of Utah if they were to witness a crime, as they are both state-employed officers. A police officer from another state—say, North Dakota—also has the right to pursue, arrest and detain someone in Utah if werf "enters this state in fresh pursuit and continues in fresh pursuit of a person in order to arrest him on the ground that he is reasonably believed to have committed a felony in another state."

That's all good and fun, but you asked me about BYU and Provo officers, not people from made-up places. While Provo and BYU are both are on equal legal footing, they have different jurisdictions. Police calls that take place on campus are in the jurisdiction of the BYU PD. If a call takes place off of campus, it occurs in the jurisdiction of the Provo police. The departments work closely together and officers from one department will assist the others as needed, perhaps to direct traffic at the site of an automobile accident or respond to a call that comes in at a busy time.

We'll use feral teenagers and honey badgers to help us understand the intricacies of this system:

Say I'm taking a leisurely stroll from the Board lair beneath the [redacted] on campus late one evening and go dumpster diving for some food. I find a box of inexplicably pristine turkey drumsticks—you know, the kind that make you feel like you're a super-cool caveman when you bite into one—and am chowing down happily. I make the mistake of walking too close to Helaman Halls and am instantly ambushed by a pack of feral EFY childrens rumored to have been running wild on the premises for several weeks. They sock me in the stomach, bludgeon me with blackjacks fashioned from bicycle handlebars and unceremoniously sink their snaggled teeth into every leg they find, bird and human alike.

Fortunately for me, a nearby couple breaks off their NCMO for a few moments. Noticing something out of the ordinary is threatening their remaining shreds of dignity—though they know not what— they call 911 and reach the Provo PD.  As the crime is playing out on BYU campus, it is in the jurisdiction of BYU's police department. The call to Provo is quickly redirected to BYU PD dispatch, who assigns an officer to respond to the call. After determining my location, the officer responds quickly and with a few judicious bursts of pepper spray is able to both disperse the freshmen and pleasantly season my turkey drumsticks. After brushing the dirt off the poultry pieces, I thank her kindly and continue off campus. I'm just a few blocks away from my off-campus apartment and walking along a stream when something rustles in the bushes.

I screech with fear, but I relax when I see it's just a small, furry animal. And just one, all alone and probably lost. "Aren't you cute," I tell it, offering it a smoked leg of poultry "Want a nibble?"
"You disgust me completely," says the honey badger in perfect King's English. "A half-eaten drumstick? What do you take me for, a college student?" the badger rasps in a voice not unlike Jack Nicholson. "No, I don't want your stupid food. But if you'll take out your wallet and smartphone and toss them this way, I'd be much obliged."
Mouthing soundlessly like a beached carp, I shake my head in disbelief.
"Whatsamatter, badger got your tongue?" The ratel chuckles at its own joke, the sound curiously like wet gravel crunching underfoot.
"No, I'm just..." I trail off at a loss for words. 
"Well, get on with it," snaps the honeyed thief impatiently. Then, with a touch more sweetness, "I've got to be at Devonshire at half past midnight, see."
Dumbly, I pull out my valuables and toss them in front of the furry felon. There's no helping it.
"Thanks, guv'nor."

At that moment, a sound like a dozen howler monkeys jacked up on Red Bull explodes out of the underbrush. "THE PARTY BUS IS COMING!" Dirty simian shapes dash from the undergrowth, grabbing me roughly and pulling me haplessly to the ground. The feral EFY tribe has tracked the all-natural hickory-smoked aroma of my unsheathed turkey drumstick, and this time there is murder in their eyes. They don't notice the honey badger, but one particularly dim-witted and gangly child crows in triumph as he hold my wallet and phone aloft. Another bandito slams my head down roughly against the asphalt, and as the stars clear from my vision I see the badger's eyes narrow ever so slightly, and a vein pulses angrily on its forehead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

The next few minutes are a blur of screams, scratches, and shredded t-shirts, for no amount of teeny-boppers yelling "CHUBBY BUNNY" could ever be enough to counter the honey badger's furious attack. I manage to crawl to the safety of the bushes. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to block out the sounds of destruction. I keep them shut for a long time. When I finally open them again, the Provo police are trying to coax a traumatized tween for information. All they get is a frightened fragment of a sentence: "...it takes what it wants!" squeals the lad, fear woven in his voice. It's fortunate the police showed up when they did, responding to an anonymous call complaining about "those darn kids making a ruckus outside." As the call took place outside BYU Campus, the Provo PD received it and responded accordingly. The battered feral children are captured and released safely into the wilds of Nevada where they are still rumored to roam.

As for the honey badger, it and a significant number of smartphones and wallets cannot be located. A warrant is posted for its arrest, but even the police know it is an exercise in futility. After all, honey badger don't care.

It takes what it wants.

Suerte,

--Ardilla Feroz 

Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What are the arguments for and against allowing the children on illegal immigrants to be citizens if they are born on US soil? I believe that the "if they're born here they're a citizen" policy is in the constitution (or am I mixing that up?) but beyond that I could use some pointers.

Thanks,

has an opinion but doesn't understand the other side

A:

Dear Reader,

I think your desire to understand the other side of an issue is fantastic. Let's start with some background:

First of all, you're right about the constitution: the first section of the fourteenth amendment does provide citizenship to all people born within U.S. jurisdiction:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

In 1898, the Supreme Court overturned a portion of a law called the "Chinese Exclusion Act" that would have denied citizenship to Chinese immigrants who would otherwise qualify. That decision set the precedent for the interpretation of section 1 (often referred to as the "Citizenship Clause") that provided citizenship to nearly every person born within the United States. The historical purpose of section one was to prevent states from revoking or denying citizenship to people of color. However, Justice Horace Gray, writing for the majority, pointed out that the amendment's broad language did not provide any restrictions in bestowing citizenship to others as well:

It is declaratory in form, and enabling and extending in effect. Its main purpose doubtless was, as has been often recognized by this court, to establish the citizenship of free negroes, which had been denied in the opinion delivered by Chief Justice Taney in Dred Scott v. Sandford, and to put it beyond doubt that all blacks, as well as whites, born or naturalized within the jurisdiction of the United States are citizens of the United States... But the opening words, "All persons born," are general, not to say universal, restricted only by place and jurisdiction, and not by color or race...

I'm not sure what side of this issue you're on, so I'll provide a brief section both supporting and opposing the citizenship clause.

The Citizenship Clause is important and should be upheld.

Before we go any further, it might be helpful to remember that Church doctrine on this subject is that, although countries have every right to enforce their borders, the family unit (and individuals) must be treated with respect.

Even under our current immigration system our country clearly fails to live up to those goals. Illegal immigrants continue to arrive, often fleeing terrible circumstances in other countries. The difficulty of the journey here should be a testament to the desperation of these people. Literally hundreds die each year trying to get here. It's also worth keeping in mind - before you argue that people should simply immigrate legally - that unless you have money to get an education and then find an employer willing to spend thousands of dollars in attorneys fees to try and keep you here, or have a family member that lives here, there is essentially no legal immigration path for people coming from countries like Mexico. It's not a matter of "waiting in line" - there essentially is no line for these people to wait in

Once they get here, those that arrive do not enjoy the same protections that the rest of us do. This creates a second-class citizenry in our country. Even relatively simply tasks such as registering for public school, picking up prescriptions that require ID, or driving to work become difficult or impossible. Many of these people were brought here when they were young - often only two or three - and are culturally American. Imagine growing up in North Carolina but not being a legal citizen. The Church has to go through tremendous hoops to allow these people to serve missions. Despite what you may have heard, these people are not lazy. On the contrary, they are extremely hardworking people that often do jobs most Americans would never dream of doing in order to provide for their family. Nearly all of them would happily pay taxes, back taxes, and even a financial penalty if it meant legal status here.

At this point, you may, correctly, wonder what all this has to do with the citizenship clause. Even if I've successfully convinced you that the plight of these people needs attention, you might still be wondering why we can't simply grant legal status - but not citizenship - to those who are born here. My response to that is more moral than legal or political.

The citizenship clause gives hope to families here who cry at night afraid that they will be deported. It is a comfort to those that would otherwise believe where they were born will be a stain not only on their lives, but also their children's, grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's. It gives hope to the man who risked his very life to get here so his children would not be stuck in the world that he was. Most importantly, it prevents the sub-citizenry our country's immigration policy from becoming permanent and generational. Did these people break the law? Yes. Most did it to save the lives of their families. Will our own animus or prejudice as Americans force entire families into a cycle of poverty forever? Will we refuse to forgive them?

Haven't we all, at one time or another, approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven't we wished, with all the energy of our souls for mercy, to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed? ...There is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment. ("The Merciful Obtain Mercy," Diter F. Uchtdorf)

Below, you will see "counter-argument" me argue that we can't fix the world. I agree. I recognize that illegal immigration is only a symptom of broader issues in the world, some of which our country simply doesn't have the power to solve. However, consistent with gospel principles, I do not believe this is an excuse. We are, both individually and as a country, morally obligated to do what we can to help our neighbor.

The Citizenship Clause is bad and should be repealed.

Although the above argument is a nice sentiment, it ignores the operational reality of a difficult and complex issue.

With every immigrant that comes to the United States, Mexico loses a person with skills, diversity, and abilities that could otherwise assist the country. Many citizens of this country, in supporting more liberal immigration legislation, often talk about their experiences meeting a young "bring, energetic, enthusiastic" individual who they wanted to be able succeed in life. This is indicative of the very problem illegal immigration causes. When we perpetuate policies that allow those with an economically bright future to come to the United States, we deprive Mexico of another individual who might otherwise have skills to assist the country. This is not the Gospel way - rather, we are encouraged to lift where we stand

There is no permanent solution to illegal immigration that does not involve improving the economic situation of our neighboring countries. Enforcement and stronger border patrol, in addition to being hugely expensive, have been only marginally successful at reducing the amount of immigrants coming illegally to the United States. So yes, any policy (including the citizenship clause) that encourages people to come here instead of remaining in their home country puts U.S. immigration policy on an unsustainable path.

This isn't an anti-immigration position. A big part of a sustainable immigration policy could, for example, include allowing younger people from impoverished countries to come here, get a high quality higher education, and then return to their home countries to use their education to improve their situation.

Finally, I want to push back against my other self's implication that we are morally obligated to allow people from struggling countries to come to the United States. My other self took a piece of Church doctrine designed for application to the individual and applied it to a government's situation. Doctrine that is intended for the individual, though it can teach us about how we should think about government and it's goals, can't always be directly applied to the actions elected officials take without some modification. Think, for example, about our Church's doctrine regarding war compared to how we think about an individual who choses to kill another.

Conclusion 

For the record, I personally believe that the citizenship clause should be upheld. Although I think there are plenty of operational difficulties with illegal immigration, I have much more sympathy for the first argument.

- Haleakalā

Question #82662 posted on 06/05/2015 12:03 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

In reference to Board Question #82614, WHO in the world thought, "Oh, hey, her milk's not coming out. Why don't we put cabbage on her chest and see if that works?!"

Also, how is cabbage different from lettuce or anything else green? Why not put lettuce on a woman's chest? Or...for that matter, a pile of grass?

-Confused

A:

Dear Confused,

In ancient times and days of past
The Grecian people did often ask,
"Dear sir, what do I? How do I get by?
I feel great pain, you see
Knowing a mushroom has poisoned me."

Others came to and fro
Wanting to let their bruises go 
From blue to green, green to yellow
Or maybe to make their drunken rage mellow. 

And so the doctors searched diligently
For a cure that would not feel so criminally
Difficult to produce or digest
And easy to maintain by even the un-deft.
And in that time and age,
Full of plague, poor, and phage,
They needed to find something
simple,
common,
and maintain-able
Instead of needing an operating table

They pondered and plundered until one day, 
The experiments and trials finally gave way
To a reliable source, a powerful, cure-all thing
With an exterior colored light, frothy green.

Seemingly magical, the thing possessed 
Healing properties; it put sickness to rest. 
Sore throats, pneumonia, and rheumatism
Could be cured by a simple human-ism
Using the juices, veins, and nutrients.  
Just by harnessing the power of nature
Colic and hangovers were stripped of their danger.
When feeling melancholy, with boils or wards,
All one needed was to look forwards
And frolic through the cabbage fields.  

When cooled and mashed, 
And even juiced the thing surpassed
All the medicines used before. 
And so cabbage grew forever more.

It did withstand the tests of time, 
Passing down through family lines
Because of its glucosinolate patterns
(And newly found reaction with cancers.)

And even now it serves to be
A common household remedy,
So much so that the Board of hours
Gets asked about its healing powers.

And so go now, my dear Confused
Experiment yourself, see how it's used.  
Let us know what you think;
We're always here, right at the brink
Of another 100 hours.  

-Auto Surf, who is just as confused as you are about why that needed to be a poem, but hopes you enjoyed just the same.

p.s.- tl;dr The Greeks started using it medicinally and it's been used since in a variety of ways. The chemical make up is unique from lettuce and grass, so it's helpful in curing a lot of ailments. 

All information found on Wikipedia and WHFoods.

Question #82380 posted on 05/05/2015 11:38 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Where can I hear a recording of the recent gay marriage supreme court case argument? Also, I heard on the radio that this case will be as historical as Brown v Board or something like that. What do you think?


-Knows nothing about politics

A:

Dear Reader,

You have no idea how glad I am you asked.

The court divided oral arguments for Obergefell v. Hodges, the gay marriage case, into two parts. The first part was about whether the fourteenth amendment (which guarantees "equal protection") requires states to issues marriage licenses to same sex couples. (Basically, the question is "are bans on gay marriage constitutional?") The Court calls this part of the oral arguments "question one." Question one is The Question we've all be waiting for the court to consider. You can find the Court's official audio for question one here, and the transcript here. If you've never listened to Supreme Court oral arguments before, you might find the Oyez Project audio helpful. As it plays it will identify who is speaking for you.

The second question, although somewhat less interesting, provides important clues about potential compromises and other aspects of the Justices' thinking. You can find the official court audio here and the transcript here. Question two asks whether states are required to recognize the marriages performed in other states. In other words, if a same sex couple gets married in state A and then moves to state B, is state B required to recognize their marriage if they don't perform same sex marriages? Question two is only relevant if the court decides there is no constitutional right to marry in question one.

Listening to Supreme Court oral arguments can be a little disorienting, so allow me to give you some background information that might help your listening.

The Supreme Court has been very hesitant to rule on gay marriage in the past. The first (relatively recent) time the Court considered a case that included "the marriage question" (as question one is sometimes called) was in 2013. That case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, was actually argued before the Court, but the court ultimately ruled that one of the parties in that lawsuit did not have standing, which basically means they dismissed the case on procedural grounds and declined to actually answer the "marriage question."

The Court also declined to grant a writ of certiorari in another gay marriage case several months ago from the state of Utah. (A writ of certiorari means the court has agreed to hear a case.) That was surprising to many legal scholars, who had thought the Court would be anxious to accept another gay marriage case to resolve such a fundamental constitutional question. Four justices must vote to accept a case, but those votes are secret so it's difficult to know what changed between Hollingsworth v. Perry and the Utah case, or what changed between the Utah case and the case the court is now considering.

Unlike Hollingsworth v. Perry, no one really believes that the parties in Obergefell v. Hodges lack standing, so this case is unlikely to be rejected on procedural grounds. Once the Supreme Court issues a writ of certiorari, it's unusual for it not to issue a ruling. It seems like this time we really are going to get a ruling on the constitutionality of banning same sex marriage

It's pretty clear where 8 of the justices stand on this issue, but there are 1, and possibly two, swing votes. Here's where most legal scholars think the justices lean:

Support a Constitutional Right

to Same-Sex Marriage

Swing Vote

Do Not Support a Constitutional Right

to Same-Sex Marriage

SBreyer.jpg

Justice Stephen Breyer

Nominated by Bill Clinton

EKagan.jpg

Justice Elena Kagan

Nominated by Barack Obama

AKennedy.jpg

Justice Anthony Kennedy

Nominated by Ronald Reagan

SAlito.jpg

Justice Samuel Alito 

Nominated by George W. Bush

AScalia2.jpg

Justice Antonin Scalia

Nominated by Ronald Reagan 

RGinsburg2.jpg 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Nominated by Bill Clinton

SSotomayor.jpg

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Nominated by Barack Obama

 

CThomas.jpg

Justice Clarence Thomas

Nominated by George H. W. Bush

JRoberts.jpg

Chief Justice John Roberts

Nominated by George W. Bush


We're more certain about some of these justices than we are about others. For example, although it's not super likely, some people have speculated that a question asked by the Chief Justice during the oral arguments for question one (the marriage question) might have been an effort to set up a compromise that would allow same sex marriage by applying existing sex discrimination law rather than accepting a broader view of the fourteenth amendment. That would mean he would actually vote in favor of same sex marriage. (He's the "kind of" swing vote I was counting earlier.) On the other hand, we're pretty sure about Justice Ginsburg. She has been fairly vocal about her support for gay rights and several months ago she became the first Supreme Court Justice to perform a same-sex marriage. Nothing's certain, but this is the way we think they're leaning.

As you've probably noticed, Justice Kennedy is going to play a very important role in the outcome of this case. He spoke very little during the oral arguments (which is not unusual for him), but he had good questions for both sides. If you want to get a sense of where this case may go, play close attention to what Justice Kennedy has to say.

You're going to hear three lawyers argue during the oral arguments for question one. They each had thirty minutes. The first lawyer to argue was Mary Bonauto, the lawyer for the gay couples. The second lawyer you're going to here is Donald Verrilli. He's the current Solicitor General and is there representing the United States, or more practically, the current administration. He argues for the gay couples. The final lawyer you'll hear is John Bursch. He directly represents the state of Ohio (which James Obergefell, the gay man trying to marry his partner, is suing in this case) as well as the states of Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky, for reasons that aren't important to get into right now. He's arguing in favor of the gay marriage ban.

There are a few nuances that might help you understand what you're hearing. First of all, interruptions from the justices are not uncommon. In fact, it's the basic format of the typical Supreme Court oral argument. The arguing lawyer normally doesn't get very far into their initial statements - they can go anywhere from a few minutes to only a few short sentences - before one of the justices interrupts with a question. This isn't unique to this high-profile case. It's also not uncommon for most questions to come from justices who are expected to oppose your position. For example, when Mr. Bursch argued in favor of the gay marriage ban, the majority of the comments came from Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan, all of whom believe that bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional (we think).

Second, the justices never directly address each other. This is important because sometimes the Justices are having "arguments" with each other by asking the arguing lawyer very leading questions. For example, if Justice Sotomayor makes a point about something that opposes the current arguing lawyer's case, Justice Alito, perhaps sympathetic to the lawyer's cause, could say to the lawyer: "...but wait a minute Mr. So-and-so. I thought that the Such-and-such Act of 2011 said x-y-z thing. Wouldn't that make Justice Sotomayor's point irrelevant?" At times the arguing counsel can struggle to get a word in inbetween the justices' comments.

Third, you need to understand that Mr. Bursch, the lawyer arguing in favor of the gay marriage ban, isn't actually arguing that marriage is between a man and a women. Rather, he's arguing that voters have a rational basis for choosing to pass an amendment (or law) defining it as such without necessarily being motivated by animus. Animus is ill will or hostility towards a person or group of people. Under his view of the world (one in which laws curbing the activities of LGBT people are only subject to rational basis scrutiny, as opposed to heightened or strict scrutiny) that's all he needs to do to win. It has do with the different levels of judicial scrutiny, an explanation of which is beyond our scope here. Suffice it to say that there's some ambiguity about which level of judicial scrutiny applies to LGBT people, and because of this ambiguity Mr. Bursch believes he can win merely by proving that the voters of Ohio (as well as Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky) were not motivated by animus when they defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. 

When you listen to the oral arguments for question two you'll hear two lawyers. For reasons that aren't important, different lawyers represented the same parties for question two. The first lawyer you'll hear is Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, who argues on behalf of the couples. He argues that states that don't perform same sex marriages should still be required to recognize same sex marriages that occur in other states. The next lawyer you'll hear is Joseph Whalen, arguing on behalf of the states. He'll argue the opposite. All the advice I gave about listening to question one also applies to question two.

Okay, now I've covered everything you need to know to listen to the oral arguments. Go listen and then come back and read the rest of this answer!

So what happens now? The justices held their conference on Friday, where they took an initial vote and gave out assignments for who will write the opinions. Typically, the most senior member of the "winning" side gets the first claim on writing an opinion. They can either do it themselves or they can hand it off to a more junior justice. The Supreme Court has been tremendously successful at maintaining confidentiality about opinions before they're released, so we're unlikely to hearing anything before they want us to. Technically, they could release their decision any day they're scheduled to be in session, but as a practical matter the Court typically releases decisions for high-profile cases the last day of the term. That's currently scheduled for June 29th, but that may change. In some prior terms when the Court didn't complete all its opinions in time, it simply added more non-argument days to the term. No one really knows what the decision is going to be. Prior to the oral argument, most people believed the Court was likely to strike down bans on same sex marriage. Although most people still believe that's likely, the general census seems to be that the oral arguments were not the "slam dunk" for the couples that everyone was expecting.

Up until now I've tried to be impartial, but now I want to answer the second part of your question and tell you what I think. I'll also answer some potential criticisms of my opinion. 

Honestly, my biggest issue with the gay rights movement has never been the changing definition of marriage. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but I don't think so. What's always bothered me about the current gay rights movement is their lack of respect for religious conviction. Unlike racial discrimination, the traditional definition of marriage is firmly rooted directly in the doctrine of many major religions, certainly not just Christianity. As a result, religious values and people of a religious conscience have been a more direct target of this civil rights movement. That's a problem for me, and I've written about it before. Some people would respond by pointing out that Mormons don't follow all Old Testament teachings, or even all teachings by early modern prophets. For reasons that I think are already obvious to most of our readers, that fundamentally misunderstands how religion generally (and our Church specifically) operates. 

Despite my concerns about the implications for religious freedom, my biggest issue with this case is about the potential loss of certain democratic aspects of our republic. Issues about homosexuality are extremely complex. How do we decide difficult issues? Democracy! Democracy is a beautiful thing. It requires neighbors, friends, and others to come together and speak with each other. You have to persuade other people you are right. This was well described by Paul Clement, a well known Supreme Court lawyer, in United States v. Windsor, another important gay rights case:

The last point I would simply make is in thinking about animus, [remember, animus means 'ill will' or 'hostility'] think about the fact that Congress asked the Justice Department three times about the constitutionality of the statute. [part of the Defense of Marriage Act] ... Now the Solicitor General wants to say, well, it was want of careful reflection. Well, where do we get careful reflection in our system? Generally, careful reflection comes in the democratic process. The democratic process requires people to persuade people. That's what the democratic process requires. You have to persuade somebody you're right. You don't label them a bigot. You don't label them as motivated by animus. You persuade them you are right. That's going on across the country. 

I want to draw your attention to a potential criticism of my concern about loss of democracy. It was well articulated by a comment Justice Kagan made during the arguments for question one:

Mr. Bursch (remember, he's the guy representing the states): When you enact social change of this magnitude through the Federal courts, [you] cut off ... dialogue and say one group gets their definition [of marriage] and the other is maligned as being irrational or filled with animus. And that's not the way that our democratic process is supposed to work.

Justice Kagan: Of course Mr. Bursch, we don't live in a pure democracy; we live in a constitutional democracy. And the Constitution imposes limits on what people can do and this is one of those cases. ­­We [the Court] see them every day; we have to decide what those limits are or whether the Constitution speaks to something and prevents the democratic processes from operating purely independently; isn't that right? 

(page 74 of the transcripts, edited slightly for readability)

I agree with Justice Kagan in principle. We are a constitutional democracy, and the Constitution - of necessity - preempts the democratic process (unless we chose to amend it) in order to maintain the rule of law. But there's a problem with her logic, which was described by Justice Scalia during the oral arguments for Hollingsworth v. Perry:

I'm curious, when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted?

To accept that the fourteenth amendment bars bans on same sex marriage, you logically must accept one of three facts. First, you could say that the citizens of the United States intended to legalize gay marriage when they ratified the fourteenth amendment in 1868. In this case, it became unconstitutional to bar gay marriage as soon as the amendment was ratified. However, this is a demonstrably false premise. Legislators were not trying to legalize gay marriage when they ratified the fourteenth amendment. The second possibility is that the legislators simply hadn't thought through the fourteenth amendment when they passed it. Had they, they might have realized that one of the implications of "equal protection" was that gay couples would be able to marry. I assume the problems with this view are self-evident.

The third view - and the one most cited by those who would have the Court take an active roles in social issues - is that the meaning of the fourteenth amendment changed as society's understanding of "equal protection" changed.

This is problematic. First of all, we already have a way for our country's laws to change as our understanding of right and wrong changes - its called the democratic process. We elect legislators. We as citizens apply our moral and religious conscience. We talk to each other. We work together. We do our best to do the right thing. That's how our country makes changes. We work together.

The most common response by gay marriage proponents would be "This is a matter of civil rights. It shouldn't be subject to the democratic process." It's a dangerous thing to say your position shouldn't be subject to the democratic process. How do you distinguish what is and is not a legitimate civil rights claim? For example, many people (including me) believe that they have a civil right to bring their religious views into the marketplace - even if it means that we don't serve gay and lesbian weddings. Laws protecting these rights have been unpopular in some areas, but fortunately for me, this is a civil right. It isn't subject to the democratic process. Right?

Come to think of it, these people believe that animals have civil rights that are in some ways comparable to humans. This person believes that pedophiles are being denied certain civil rights under current law. This person feels that the country's current anger towards the "one percent" is discrimination worth comparing to Nazi Germany. Merely using the words "discrimination" or "civil rights" can't constitute the only reason something circumvents the democratic process, otherwise all these people's positions should be enacted immediately. Merely being a minority as a demographic matter can't be the exception either. (Otherwise members of the Church, pedophiles, and the richest one percent in the country would all qualify.) 

So I'm concerned, I guess, by the changing definition of marriage. But I'm much more concerned about the implications of the process.

Phew! That was probably way more information than you ever wanted. Believe it or not, we've only just scratched the surface of information relevant to this case. We skipped a lot of stuff. If you want to know more about these kinds of issues, you should start reading better coverage of the Court. Most major newspapers (The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or Washington Post, for example) have pretty good coverage. SCOTUSblog also does a great job. And, of course, you can ask the Board questions. I love this stuff, and I'd be happy to further elaborate on any of the things I skipped over in this answer, even if it means I have to look stuff up.

Also, if this whole thing was "tl;dr," here's a summary: Basically lots of smart people (and some less smart people, like me) have really strong opinions and despite the fact that we've all yelled at each other and written every conceivable argument, no one really knows what's going to happen. No one knows how this case will be viewed in the future. Sorry. Oh, and you can find the audio here.

- Haleakalā

Photographs of the justices courtesy of SupremeCourt.gov.

Question #82278 posted on 04/29/2015 4:14 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Do I have to have watched other Marvel movies to "get" their new ones? It seems like there are like 10 movies now and there is no way I can catch up on them all. At this point should I just never watch the new ones?

-I haven't only see the first Thor movie

A:

Dear Wade,

Short answer: no. The movies are usually pretty self-contained. If you're somewhat familiar with the major players you should be able to "get" the movies. There will be references and Easter eggs you might not get, but then again if you're not familiar with the comics you won't get all of those anyways.

If you want a [SPOILER HEAVY] synopsis of the MCU, I've written one from memory below. This covers a lot more than what you need to know for watching Age of Ultron (and you probably need like, none of it to watch Ant-Man) but it's all leading up to the two-part Infinity Wars movie.

So we start with the creation of the universe. There existed four Cosmic Entities: Entropy, Infinity, Death, and Eternity. The Cosmic Entities created six singularities. This is depicted on a mural in the temple on Morag in Guardians of the Galaxy. The mural is also shown again in the flashback that the Collector shows to the Star-Lord & co. This flashback shows a lot of ancient cosmic history. The singularities are what's called Infinity Stones - essentially six immensely powerful objects. An ancient and powerful race known as the Celestials wielded the power of the Infinity Stones to do things like destroy planets. A group of beings attempted to use one of the stones, the Orb, but the power consumed them. At some point the Orb was contained and hidden in a temple on the planet Morag.

The next major event in the universe we learn about in the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A long, long time ago a radical faction of an alien race known as the Kree developed a contingency plan in which they experimented on humans to try and turn them into super soldiers. They built temples which contained Terrigen Mist which would "activate" the latent DNA inside the humans that had been experimented upon. They also left objects known as Diviners which would lead humans to the temples the Terrigen Mist. The Kree at some point have a war with the Nova Corps., an army consisting mostly of Xandarians and based on the planet Xandar. The Kree really hate the Xandarians.

OK, so if that stuff sounded a little weird, buckle in. Earth (Midgard) is part of the Nine Realms, nine planets that are connected cosmically. What exactly that means is hard to explain. Thor explains it as being connected with something like a cosmic tree. Every 5,000 years the Nine Realms align and the spatial separation between them becomes bridged with portals. The last time this happened (before it happened again in Thor: The Dark World) a guy named Malekith lead a race known as the Dark Elves in an attempt to destroy the Nine Realms. They use an object known as the Aether, which is also an Infinity Store (even though it's a liquidy/gaseous thing and not a stone at all). They are defeated by Bor, Odin's father, and Bor sends the Aether away to somewhere where it will not be found.

Thousands of years later, a race known as the Frost Giants attempt to take over Earth and invade Norway. When the Frost Giants return to their homeland of Jotunheim, Odin leads a battle against them. Odin is victorious and they return to Asgard with the Casket of Ancient Winters (a Frost Giant weapon) as well as a Frost Giant baby. Odin raises the baby as his son (Loki) along side his birth son, Thor. At some point, one of the Infinity Stones (the Tesseract) that was in Odin's possession on Asgard is moved to the village in Norway that the Frost Giants invaded. When and why, to my knowledge, are never explained. Also at some point Loki makes a deal with the Mad Titan, Thanos, in which he receives a weapon of a race known as the Chitauri. This Chitauri scepter may or may not contain an Infinity Stone. At the time of this writing, I believe that the current opinion is that it is an Infinity Stone, based on a teaser clip for the Infinity Wars movies. Either way, it's important and we'll come back to it.

There are some more interactions between Asgard, the Kree, and Earth but nothing really of significance (unless you want to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in which case it will all be explained anyways). Next what happens is the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. During WWII, the Nazis have a science research group known as HYDRA. They're obsessed with superpowers and mystical objects because they are led by a guy named Johann Schmidt who believes that magic from history is all based on science. Schmidt captures a German Jewish scientist named Dr. Erskine and makes Erskine use a super soldier serum that Erskine developed on him. The serum was unfinished and burns his face and makes his head look like a red skull (so everyone starts calling him the Red Skull). Erskine flees to America and meets up with Howard Stark who was working in the Strategic Scientific Reserve, America's military science division. Together they begin working on perfecting the super soldier serum. Schmidt invades Norway and steals the Tesseract and starts using it to build WMDs.

Enter young Steve Rogers. Steve wants nothing more to fight for his country but he is too small and scrawny. He is rejected from serving while his best friend, Bucky Barnes, prepares to be sent over seas. Rogers is approached by Dr. Erskine who recruits him to be the pilot for the super soldier program. Steve agrees and the super soldier serum works. Unfortunately, right as he is finished being transformed into a super soldier, a HYDRA assassin kills Dr. Erskine. So, no more super soldiers. Unfortunately the military doesn't think one super soldier is enough to actually send into battle, so they have him become a character to promote war bonds. While doing a show in Europe, Steve learns that Bucky's regiment has been captured so Stark and Agent Peggy Carter (British agent working with the SSR) fly Steve into the war zone. Steve drops in and rescues Bucky & co. Then the military lets Steve lead a group called the Howling Commandos, which included Bucky. Also, he gets a shield made out of this super awesome material called vibranium that's virtually indestructible. The Howling Commandos blow up a bunch of HYDRA bases and they raid a train to capture Armin Zola, Schmidt's right-hand man. Unfortunately during the raid Bucky falls off a cliff to what is presumed by everyone else to be his death (spoiler: people rarely die in these movies).

With Zola captured, they are able to locate the main HYDRA base and they attack it and confront Schmidt. They find he has a ton of bombs powered by the Tesseract on a plane going to blow up major US cities. Steve confronts Schmidt on the plane and Schmidt tries to handle the Tesseract but he is vaporized (or maybe teleported somewhere, because the Tesseract can do that). The plane has already taken off and is on auto-pilot. The Tesseract falls out of the plane and into the ocean somewhere. Steve's only way of stopping the destruction of the US is to put the plane down. As he does, he's on the radio with Peggy (there's a romance there) and he tells her to save a dance for him and it's heart-breaking. He puts the plane down in the icy ocean and gets frozen.

Stark searches really hard to find Steve but is unable. He does find the Tesseract and that's put under the care of the SSR. After the war, Peggy is relegated to secretarial duties at the SSR (and she is not happy about it) - this is the events of the show Agent Carter. Some people steal a bunch of dangerous inventions from Howard Stark and try to frame him as a traitor. Peggy helps clear Stark's name and reveals that it was actually a Russian terrorist group called Leviathan and that the US military did a bunch of really shady things. They're stopped, and a guy named... I don't remember his real name, but his super villain name is Doctor Faustus. Basically he's a really powerful hypnotist in the show and he was working for Leviathan. Anyways, he is put into the same jail cell as Armin Zola, HYDRA scientist. That's foreshadowing for something but their work together hasn't been explicitly stated yet. The good news about all of this is that Peggy earns more respect from the SSR and starts getting real spy work assignments. One of those involves her uncovering the Diviner. In the process, they run across a bad guy named Daniel Whitehall. We'll come back to him.

Eventually, under the direction of Peggy, Stark, and Nick Fury (Sr.) the SSR becomes S.H.I.E.L.D. Zola is allowed to collaborate with S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists as part of Operation Paperclip. Meanwhile apparently a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. is secretly HYDRA. Also Whitehall is HYDRA. They operate in the shadows so no one figures this out. However, a few decades later Zola is dying and puts his mind into a computer in the bunker where Steve Rogers went through boot camp. Also he designs an algorithm that will identify potential enemies to HYDRA. It's not used for a while, though, so we'll come back to that.

The next few events, I'm not sure when they happen. (I've tried to do this in chronological, as opposed to movie release date, order.) But they're pretty important. Thanos adopts (at least) two daughters, Gamora and Nebula. A Kree named Ronan the Accuser kills the family of Drax the Destroyer. Nick Fury Jr. takes over S.H.I.E.L.D. in his father's place. An alien impregnates a woman named Meredith Quill. A few years later, Meredith Quill is dying and her young son, Peter, is taken aboard a spaceship by ravagers who were hired to return him to his father but instead Peter ends up becoming a Ravager with them. Once again, we'll come back to those.

Back on earth, Maya Hansen invents Extremis, a regenerative serum and Tony Stark humiliates Aldrich Killian of Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.). A scientist named Bruce Banner becomes a test subject for a gamma ray experiment designed to recreate the super soldier serum. It goes wrong, and now Bruce becomes the Hulk when he gets angry. Bruce goes into hiding and tries to learn to control the Hulk.

Next, we have the events of Iron Man. Tony Stark, son of Howard Stark, is a military contractor. He's demonstrating a missile in Afghanistan when he is abducted terrorists known as the Ten Rings who had been hired by Obadiah Stane, Stark's corporate rival, to abduct Stark.. During the abduction, shrapnel becomes lodged in Tony's chest but fortunately he is prisoner with someone who is also a super genius, Yinsen. They build an electromagnet to keep the shrapnel from killing Tony but they also have to invent a power source for it, called the arc reactor. They also secretly build a suit of armor and Tony uses it to fight their way out. Yinsen dies, but Tony is rescued. Back in America, Tony builds a new suit and a new arc reactor. He uses it to save the city where Yinsen was from. Iron Man becomes a thing. Pepper Potts, assistant/love interest of Tony's, discovers Stane's involvement with the Ten Rings and informs Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. Obadiah Stane and the Ten Rings build an Iron Man suit based of Tony's original design and they steal Tony's arc reactor to power it. Tony defeats Stane, and Stane dies in the process. Tony publicly announces that he is Iron Man. He is then approached by Fury about joining a superhero team he's trying to put together.

Then we have The Incredible Hulk which could probably be debated is not really canon. It's not even worth watching, in my opinion. The only things you need to know is that Bruce is still in hiding, Dr. Samuel Sterns has Hulk's blood (I think, something with gamma radiation at least) drip onto his brain and he becomes super genius villain guy known as the Leader (although he hasn't done anything yet), and Emil Blonsky becomes the Hulk-like villain Abomination (although we don't see him again). So really the main thing is that Bruce is in hiding, and Tony Stark approached evil-ish military general and father of Bruce's (ex-)girlfriend, Thunderbolt Ross, about starting a team.

OK, so I've already held this way over 100 hours even though I planned to be extremely brief but now I'm going to try and actually be brief. The problem with doing this from memory is I kept remembering more things and going back and adding them. Since we're going chronologically, we've technically only finished the first two movies. Maybe if someone asks another question I'll do the following more detailedly.

Iron Man 2 has nothing really significant for the plot of the larger Marvel drama in it other than the introduction of Black Widow and a post-credit scene of Mjolnir. Thor comes to Earth, battles with his brother Loki who is actually a Frost Giant, meets up with S.H.I.E.L.D. Loki brainwashes Dr. Eric Selvig to work on the Tesseract in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s possession. Captain America is uncovered in the ice and recruited for the Avengers initiative. Loki uses the Tesseract under the direction of Thanos to invade Earth. The Avengers assemble. The Avengers win! Coulson dies. The Hulk is amazing. Loki's staff is in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s possession and Thor returns with the Tesseract and Loki (as prisoner) to Asgard.

Iron Man 3 may or may not play into the new Avengers movie. I'm not sure as I haven't seen it yet (but will tomorrow!). Here's what you would need to know if you do need to know it: Tony creates a bunch of suits and has his AI, J.A.R.V.I.S., control them. And Extremis is kind of a super-soldier serum now.

Phil Coulson is not dead thanks to T.A.H.I.T.I. (yes, another acronym) but now has alien blood inside him that will drive him to find the Kree temple. He starts a new team of non-powered S.H.I.E.L.D. agents searching for "gifted" people. Also HYDRA is looking for powered people. They have conflicts but Coulson doesn't know it's HYDRA yet.

Thor: The Dark World occurs during another convergence. The Dark Elves try to take over but are stopped. The Aether is sent to the Collector. Also, Frigga dies. And Odin is dead? Probably? I don't remember if that was confirmed but people never die in these movies. And Loki is pretending to be Odin.

Then in Captain America: The Winter Soldier we find out HYDRA was inside S.H.I.E.L.D. all along! And Bucky is a brainwashed assassin for HYDRA. And Nick Fury Jr. dies (just kidding he actually doesn't). But S.H.I.E.L.D. falls apart. Coulson starts his own S.H.I.E.L.D. and goes after HYDRA. They pretty much get rid of it at this point, but not entirely. It's important to know that HYDRA now has Loki's staff and two twins, Wanda and Peter Maximoff. There's an intro given about them in one of the companion comic books but it's not really important. And another S.H.I.E.L.D. starts up, not led by Coulson. But they are investigating Coulson and his secrets.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a fantastic movie and you should watch it. If you don't, what you need to know is that Thanos hires Ronan to get the Power Orb but Peter Quill gets to it first. Peter teams up with Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, and Drax to defeat Ronan. The Power Orb is put in the protection of the Nova Corps. Ronan is probably/most likely dead but who knows? It might have been a Skrull impersonating Ronan that whole time. (That is a wild theory based on nothing except that it'd be a shame to not utilize Lee Pace again.)

And there you have it. Sorry it got really brief at the end.

TL;DR Superheroes. Bad guy named Thanos. Powerful objects.

Not all of this will be relevant to the most imminent Marvel movies but it should have everything you should know for those. I don't know how much background will be provided in the movies, but I'm assuming you're not going to have to be as familiar with the comic books as I am to get them.

-M.O.D.A.Q. 

posted on 05/20/2015 5:51 p.m.
Dear past self,

Someone recently composed an Imgur GIF gallery that not only has cool animations, but also is more accurate than mine on certain chronological issues and the relation of when events happened relative to other events. I highly recommend.

-M.O.D.A.Q.
Question #82234 posted on 04/17/2015 2:32 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

In the continental United States, what is the furthest in miles you can be from a temple and where is it?

-Emmeline

A:

Dear my synesthesia thinks Emma is a beautiful name (mostly deep green),

Did you know that I love questions like this?

I love questions like this.

Luckily for you, I had already collected most of the data that I needed in Board Question #70656. I updated the data to include the five temples announced since then, and then selected from that group all temples in the US. I also included several temples in Canada and Mexico; as you'll see in my maps, some parts of the United States are closer to temples in Mexico or Canada than temples in the US. Before actually researching the answer to your question, I created Thiessen polygons around each temple. The area inside of a Thiessen polygon is closer to the temple at the center of the polygon than it is to any other temple I've included on the map.

temple polygons.png

This map doesn't answer your question, though—it can tell you which temple is closest to each point, but not which point is furthest from a temple. For that, I turned to buffers. I started with a buffer at 200 miles, then added another buffer at 250 miles and a third at 300 miles. You can see the output below. I colored all distances under 200 miles from a temple in lime green, distances 200-250 miles from a temple in green, and distances 250-300 miles from a temple in aqua. All distances over 300 miles were left in white.

temple buffers.png

Looking closely at the map, you can see several areas over 200 miles from a temple: small areas in northern Montana, central Nevada, and western Minnesota, and larger areas in southwest Texas, central Arkansas, West Virginia, the Florida panhandle, northeast Maine, northern Michigan and Minnesota, and the central Great Plains states. A few of these areas contain segments that are more than 250 miles from a temple: southwest Texas, the Florida panhandle, northern Maine, west-central Kansas, the border of Nebraska and South Dakota, and almost all of Michigan's upper peninsula. In fact, if you look really close, you might be able to see a small speck of white in Michigan.

For your convenience, I created another map, zoomed in on the peninsula.

more UP.png

All of the area in Michigan shown in white on this map is between 300 and 325 miles from a temple. I did some investigation on Google Maps, and for the most part it looks thoroughly uninhabited, including quite a bit of land protected in state and national parks/forests/lakeshores. The only city that Google deemed worthy of showing is Munising, population 2,355. From a bit of browsing on Wikipedia, it looks like there are a few other communities in the area with populations ranging from the low hundreds to just over 1,000, but nothing much larger.

There is a ward in Marquette, just inside the 300-mile mark, but there are no wards or branches in the white area on the map.

There you have it!

-yayfulness

Question #82214 posted on 04/22/2015 11:14 a.m.
Q:

Dear El-ahrairah and 100 Hour Board friends,

In the spirit of Board Question #76245, would you please create a zodiac of Board writers? And also horoscope-y personality descriptions based on birthdays?

You are all the absolute best.

-Sheebs

A:

Dearest Sheebs,

During the beginning of time but after the creation of the world, Bryghym Yyyng created the zodyac calendar to help writers keep track of questions that took a really long time to answer. He used the names of the 12 most prolific writers of all time as the names of the months, and flung their constellations into the night sky. He also provided this handy table so we wouldn't have to figure out our own destinies:

SymbolLong.Wyrmish nameEnglish translationStart and Stop DatesConstellation Looks LikePersonality description
1
Katya The Physics Chick March 21- April 19 A nun with a cross You are, without argument, the best of the zodiac. Your thirst for knowledge and love of power lead you to far outstrip your rivals, whom you beat over the head with your holy cross.
2
30° Jyckys Lyzyrys Laser Jock April 20- May 20 Cyclops (the X-Man) You enjoy sports, but only if you can involve lasers somehow. This trait will lead you to much fulfillment in life, but also much ruined sports equipment. Avoid playing sports with friends. You are compatible with Azryelites.
3 ಠ_ಠ 60° Uffysh Uffish Thought May 21- June 20 Grumpy face Your voice is gruffish, your manner roughish, and your temper huffish. You are compatible with Wyldyrf-y-Syyrynites.
4
90° Azryel Death June 21-July 22 No stars in this section You and everyone you love will die.
5
120° Myco Mico July 23-Aug. 22 A monkey You have a rich personality and a plethora of strengths and weaknesses, but you have to search the archives to find out what they are.
6

(͡๏̯͡๏)

150° Mystyrys Hymblys Humble Master Aug. 23- Sept. 22 Master Wugui After many years of hard work and meekness, you are the humblest person you know.
7


180° Yyllyw Yellow Sept. 23- Oct. 22 A yellow You have a yellow, fun-loving personality. You are very tech-savvy and are compatible with everyone but Uffyshites and Wyldyrf-y-Syyrynites.
8 ?
210° Pyndyngys Rytyngys Rating Pending Oct. 23- Nov. 21 A question mark You are very observant. You are also continually trying to figure out where you stand in life. But don't worry, you are suitable for children.
9 【•】
240° Wyldyrf y Syyryn Waldorf and Sauron Nov. 22- Dec. 21 Two grumpy men You see all, and then grumble about it. You build fulfilling relationships with Uffyshites and other Wyldyrf-y-Syyrynites, even though you'd never call them that.
10 270° Wyrm Lydy Dragon Lady Dec. 22- Jan. 19 The Great Wyrm To most, you appear to be nothing out of the ordinary. As soon as they turn their back, however, you metaphorically devour them. Then you physically devour them.
11 300° Myrgyyryte dy Synty Jyst Marguerite St. Just Jan. 20-  Feb. 18 A pimpernel You love high-class things, like Englishmen and the theatre. You are compatible with barrels of Mycoites.
12 :-D 330° yyyfylnyss yayfulness Feb. 19- March 20 Happy face Whatever your stage in life, you know your place in the world. You also know Lesotho's place. And Iqaluit's place. And Male's place. And Novaya Zemlya's place.

Also, everybody's lucky number is always 27.

-El-ahrairah, a happy Yyllywite

Question #82197 posted on 04/12/2015 6:14 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Why did the folks over at Microsoft change Word's default settings to Calibri, 11 pt font, multiple spacing, and space between paragraphs? I hate all of those things, and beyond that, most standards require the old default settings (you know, TNR and 12 pt font). Were the users clamoring for the change or was it some top-down attempt to impose new standards on everybody?

-Goudy Stout

A:

Dear me, too,

TSG explains below why they did it, but did you know that you can change the default? With the help of my friendly neighborhood Paint program, I've put together a tutorial for you.

First, let's change the font defaults:

1.png

2.png

(Technically, you don't have to set the default font to Times New Roman. You could choose Goudy Stout or Felix Titling or, my personal favorite, Garamond. You could even use the "text effects" button at the bottom to set your roommate's Word defaults to semi-transparent, 3-D Webdings. I've always thought that would be funny.)

3.png

Now, let's change the paragraphing defaults:

4.png

5.png

6.png

See? Now there aren’t any stupid spaces between paragraphs and we’ve gotten rid of that awful Calibri font for good. Your “normal” template, which is the one that Microsoft Word pulls up automatically when you open a new document, is now defaulted to the specifications you want, not the ones Microsoft arbitrarily decided to impose. In fact, you can set defaults for anything you want within Word simply by clicking on that little arrow in the corner of each box. Cool, huh? (You’re welcome. I accept payment in the form of cash, chocolate, or votes on the Senate floor.)

I don’t know whether the process looks the same on a Mac, but I imagine it’s probably similar. Do a little clicking around in the style of the tutorial above and you’re sure to eventually stumble upon the right series of steps.

Good luck!

Yours, &c.

Heidi Book

Question #82028 posted on 04/29/2015 4:56 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Let me set the scene. A Broadway big shot is roaming the internet, when suddenly he stumbles upon the 100 hour board. He is so moved by the website; it's entertaining yet emotional, snarky yet serious, ridiculous yet beautiful. So he decides it's the perfect inspiration for the next musical he produces.

100 Board the Musical! All it needs is a plot and a cast. So, dear writers, what will this stunning show be about? The history of the board, the adventures of HFAC, saving the earth from tunnel worms, or some other compelling tale? And who would you get to play the writers on Broadway?

Tl;dr: 100 hour board musical-choose your cast and plot.

-Freshwerf

A:

Dear jaiphal,

After days and weeks of fevered dreams
Of thoughts awake, and thoughts asleep
The musical which the man had wrought
Which spoke of some strange mystery

And responses from th' house and keeps
Of writers who forgot to sleep
Who obviated their school and work
In their quest to shed the mud and murk

Of uncertainty from all queries that appeared
In 100 hours or so, this thing they held dear
"Y-yes!" he stammered as he scribbled
"This idea from the heavens hath dribbled"

"And when on Broadway I make my debut
My music the critic's voice will soothe 
Whilst for my favorite website I garner
Bazillions of pageviews without a warning

"Hugh Jackman for the lead I'll cast
As the good Sir Insomniac
And Nick Offerman will for a fact
Moonlight as the Great M.O.D.A.Q.

"Sandra Bullock shall for Certainly sing,
Robert De Niro does Haleakala's thing
Julia Roberts shall the lovely Tally M. play
As Soulful by Cate Blanchett is portrayed.

"Judi Dench is full of ability
And classy 'nough to play Zedability
I'll bet Audrey Hepburn practically begs
For the part of Owlet on the stage.

For Divya I shall knock on the door
Of that Indian actress, Kareena Kapoor
And for the part of the tech-inclined Yellow
Jeff Bridges for me is the perfect fellow.

"Meryl Streep would be Ms. O'Malley
And Grace Kelly Heidi Book shall be
Whilst the actress Penelope Cruz
Will study Squirrels' every quote and ruse

"While from Scotland El-Ahrairah's not
Young Sean Connery's got the 'brows to take a shot
Yayfulness just might steal the show
Portrayed as he'll be by Russell Crowe

Vienna's character (and awesome eyes)
I hope to be played by Aishwarya Rai
CPM's talents multifarious would be
Best portrayed by Christopher Lee

Now as for Concorde... let me consider this:
She'll require someone with more finesse
Someone who's got spunk, not afraid to be sassy
Beautiful inside and out, smart, and classy 

Hilarious yet insightful at the drop of a pin
And careful enough not to let zombies in.
With all that out there, my primary choice
Would be Jamie Lee Curtis lending her voice 

It won't be hard to find someone to be Ardilla
How 'bout some hobo eating paint chip quesadillas?
Now the actors are set, how 'bout a plot?
(Not that Broadway cares a lot)

Titles are more important, that I see
So how about the Board Identity?
Perhaps they'd sing about when they'll try
To discover where Matt Damon hides 

Beneath the tunnels of the HFAC they'd search
And rather quickly put that ruffian in the lurch 
But whilst for the knowledge they went a' questin'
Their resolve was to be sorely tested

Tunnel worms! They attacked the writers in a flash
Who with wit and verve did their best to strike back
But tunnel worms don't care—freshmen they eat
With Especially for Youth kids being a special treat

43468_m.Tunnel Worm Card.jpg (from Board Question #43468)

"But maybe," said M.O.D.A.Q., "worms will make an exception"
As they set off in the Marriott Center's general direction
And when from the last caverns they'd fled a'pressin
They delightedly discovered Women's Conference in session 

"Enough food for years!" Inverse Insomniac sang.
"I'm not so sure," said Soulful,"They'll cause stomach pains."
"Who cares!" said Squirrel, "though it's out of the question
"That these women will cause worms severe indigestion."

Indeed, thought Anne, for there certainly was a reek
Of chocolate cinnamon bears,
Mint brownies 
and other gross things.

As the worms cornered writers
(Who thought they were toast)
They heard the voice of the person
They feared respected the most

Why, it was Matt Meese!
Way up in the rafters
He released down the solution
To their pending disaster.

Billions of Otter Pops fell
Sugared ice all cascading
Until the Marriot Center was full
Th' worms hunger abated.

The writers were saved,
Tunnel worms all appeased
Womens conf all a'moved
To some place overseas.

"And so ends the musical"
said its soon-to-be writer
"And the people of Broadway
Will become that much wiser."

--Ardilla Feroz

Question #81932 posted on 04/03/2015 10:28 a.m.
Q:

Dear and esteemed 100 Hour Board,

I have a hypothetical question for you. Let's say that, suddenly, earth's gravity changed so that the shell between the deepest part of the ocean and somewhere in the atmosphere experiences just enough gravity to counteract any "centrifugal force" that would fling anything out. In other words, everything is weightless. And there's some kind of force field keeping the atmosphere in. What would be the results of this on the world's oceans? Weather? Vegetation? Other things? Feel free to explain any assumptions you make where my scenario isn't clear. Thanks a ton!

-El-ahrairah

A:

Dear El-ahrairah, (man, I'd forgotten how hard that is to spell!)

It sounds like you're basically asking about life with dramatically reduced gravity—there's enough gravity that stuff will drift downwards (the oceans won't just float up and mix with the air, creating an algae apocalypse and ending all other life), but nothing close to what we're used to. For the sake of argument, let's talk about gravity of 1-5% of normal. This would actually have some pretty sweet effects. 

Flight under human power would be easy. Currently, human-powered airplanes require around 0.5 hp, something close the max power output of someone is excellent physical condition (source). That's the amount of power needed to overcome drag, maintain airspeed, and (through speed) generate lift. Lift needed is directly proportional to gravity, so at 5% gravity you'd only need 5% of the lift. I think this stuff behaves in a linear-ish way at low speeds, so that would be in line with a power output of 0.025hp, which an average person can put out all day. Similarly, building airplanes would be much easier.

Hopping would be a preferred mode of transportation for humans and animals. Max jump height is proportional to gravity; in 1% gravity, you can jump ~100 times as high. Your jump motion would need to be jerkier, or your first tiny push off from the ground would send you drifting, but with practice the results could be impressive. A current average vertical jump height of ~22 inches would become a height of 183 feet. (Landing after falling back from that height would also feel no worse than falling from 22 inches currently does, although you might bounce back up, and both the up and down trips would take 100x as long.) Elevators and stairs don't make sense any more, and hopping/gliding/flying becomes generally preferable to walking. 

Kangaroo robots would replace cars. In microgravity, wheeled vehicles don't work well because they can't get traction, which is proportional to gravity. The wheels will skip around just off the ground instead of providing forward motion. For this reason, hopping robots are being developed for missions to low-gravity asteroids. Similarly, on a low-gravity planet you'd want hopping robots or something similar rather than cars.

Terminal velocity is proportional to the square root of gravity, so with 1% gravity terminal velocity for a human would be 12 mph (rather than 120 mph at present). That means that a skydiver would only reach the speed we currently see with a fall from 10 feet or so. People could skydive without parachutes.

Wind, currents, and weather would change dramatically. With less gravity, convection forces driving the movement of air and water (winds and currents) would be proportionally reduced. Because of this, many ocean currents would collapse. Temperatures and nutrients in oceans would experience less convective and current-driven mixing and more stratification, which would influence sea life (mostly for the worse). Without currents and winds redistributing heat, weather would correspond more closely to latitude; for example, northern Europe would be much colder without the Gulf Stream. The lack of wind would also tend to reduce the amount of water from the oceans that makes it inland, turning much of the earth's area into desert. Thunderstorms and hurricanes, as they are driven largely by convection, would likely not occur. 

Slow-motion ocean waves would be a thing, because wave speed is proportional to the square root of gravitational acceleration. So the same wave in the same place would move 10x slower in 1% gravity. There would also be some potential for waves to grow much taller, as there's less restoring force, although having less wind would also reduce wave formation. Any kind of sloshing or liquid-handling activity could show similarly odd behavior.   

The human body would get all messed up, as bone and muscle mass atrophy and fluids are redistributed throughout the body.

Trees could be much taller. Currently, gravity limits the height of the tallest trees by limiting by their ability to get water from their roots to their upper areas, but this limit would obviously move way out. Competition for sunlight could then get pretty crazy. (Although again, primarily on the coast due to the lack of rain inland.) Tumbleweeds, dandelion seeds, and the like could travel much farther, which could cut both ways as they might also be less likely to take root. Giant living floating/bouncing tumbleweed-type-things might be possible. 

Animals would face all kinds of screwy evolutionary pressures. Kangaroos might take over the world. Snakes might have a hard time getting traction. Elephants might end up with much skinnier, longer legs. As vegetation grows taller, the rewards to a giraffe-like build would increase. Average height-to-weight ratios would change to approach a number more optimal for the new gravity. (I wish they did multi-generational studies on mice in the ISS.)

Modern industry would in some ways become much more challenging. Most chemical processes, from pharmaceuticals to petrochemicals or refining, rely on gravity-driven separations between gases and liquids and/or liquids of different densities, all of which would become dramatically slower. Things that in today's world hold themselves down would need to be tied down, or they'd bounce away when jostled. 
 
Fire would act funny; compare a candle in normal gravity to a candle in zero-g, both pictured below. This would also tend to have screwy results for heavy industry (most power generation comes from fire), and even for the existence of civilization depending on how it influenced cooking. Of course, cooking would be goofy regardless: how will you reliably keep food from bouncing out of a pan? Would large-scale agriculture even develop in a world where cooking bread from grains was challenging? 
 
Space_Fire.jpg
 
Civilization would likely collapse. Much of our livestock would bound out of its enclosures, it would stop raining across most of the world, wheeled mechanical harvesting machines and the like would stop working, industry would collapse, fire would no longer work normally, and everyone would have some much fun just bouncing and flying around that they might not even notice most of the above until mass starvation set in. 
 
So, it would be fun to fly around in 1-5% gravity for a while, but if you've found the Board's old experimental global anti-gravity machine, my heartfelt advice would be to not turn it on.

~Professor Kirke

Question #81889 posted on 04/01/2015 7:14 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have some questions about repentance. When we repent we won't suffer for that sin in the eternities and we can have it wiped away so we can return to God's presence. I know repentance doesn't take away consequences like if you had sex and got pregnant just because you repent doesn't mean you're not pregnant anymore. But what about sins that impact someone emotionally? Like for example pornography. We know that it does all kinds of bad things to the brain, does repenting take those emotional consequences away? Also if you do a sin repeatedly like gossip and then repent when you repent should you repent for the current time you gossiped? Or are you really repenting for all the other times you gossiped because clearly since you are continuing the sin then you didn't truly gossip in the future? If you keep making the same sin again despite trying really hard does that mean you're just not strong enough or that deep down you're not truly sorry or you don't love Christ enough?

Also when we sin we make it so God can't bless us (because obedience brings blessings). So let's say God was going to bless you with a spouse but then you lied or stole something and then you repented. Do you get the opportunity for that blessing back? Or do you miss out on all the blessings you would have gotten in that time period when you were disobedient and didn't have the spirit to guide you?

When the scriptures say though your sins be as scarlet they will be as white as snow what does that really mean? Does God really forget that we made that sin? What about the consequences of those sins? Like if you were mean and tried to make restitution but the person now hates you? Or doesn't He remember the blessings you didn't recieve because you didn't keep the commandments?

You know how we are supposed to repent daily? What if you forget to repent one day and then you forget what sinful things you did that day? Can you repent for sins you made in the past or times you hurt someone's feelings and you don't remember? Is it possible to ever feel completely clean and worthy and at peace with God besides being baptized? When you repent during the week and take the sacrament is that when your sins are washed away for that week?

What are some other things you've wondered about repentance?

-I've made some mistakes I regret/I'm just wondering (do you know this song? It's pretty good)

A:

Dear,

Some days I sound exactly like you. Most days I know better. Today I know better, and I'm going to tell you what I know. Tomorrow, you may have to tell me the same thing back again, and I won't believe you. Maybe by the time you read this, you'll be feeling okay again. Maybe you'll still be stuck in the spiral of shame and sadness and won't be able to hear me. Have you tried therapy? I recommend it. Anyway, you're about to get a really empathetic, really long, dose of the gospel as Uffish understands it.

You're right about some points. Repentance isn't a time machine, and it can't undo the past. However, I see you as being wrong on several points, and I'll explain them as best I can.

First, the difference between repentance and the Atonement. Repentance is a process that we can go through through the power of the Atonement. It signals our willingness and dedication to be on God's side. Repentance, though, doesn't buy us freedom from the suffering that our own actions would cause us. That's the Atonement. I don't really understand the specifics of how the Atonement works, of course, but man, I'm so glad for it. Repentance is what I can do, but it's not enough on its own. It doesn't heal me. Luckily, the Atonement DOES heal me, and it's always functioning.

Next, emotional and mental wounds are, as I understand them, much like physical ones. Yes, engaging with pornography can teach you some false concepts that might be difficult to unlearn. You might need help to break the habit and to figure out what's true and what's not. You'll need to learn to stop picking off the scab and let the wound heal, and you may need some antibiotics. But having viewed pornography once or many times does not make you incapable of change or healing. Of course, you can't have never seen pornography once you've viewed it, and you know that. But it doesn't have to inform your thought process forever.

I also sometimes struggle with my most oft-repeated sins, such as your hypothetical gossiping. If I do it again after I thought I repented, then was that real repentance? Isn't repentance never doing it again? I guess I failed! And if I've been doing repentance wrong, then how should I do it right? I'm so confused! And God's Atonement is perfect, right? If it's not helping us, it's our fault, not his. So if I'm not getting better, that's my fault, and maybe I'm permanently broken. Maybe I'm not strong enough or dedicated enough to make it. Maybe I'll be sent to the island of misfit toys who just can't hack it.

Nonsense. Brad Wilcox is your friend here. Watch his devotional His Grace is Sufficient, and bookmark it. Watch it often. Check out his book The Continuous Atonement. (As an English teacher, I have to say some of his rhetorical techniques really rub me the wrong way, but that doesn't mean he isn't making good points. It just means I think he dresses them up annoyingly. Give it a chance anyway.) I'll give you the short version of both. God's grace (or, as we call it, the Atonement) isn't just about giving us a second chance. It's about giving us unlimited chances, and also about building us up so that we're strong enough to take them. If you get up one more time than you fall down, you're a winner. So when you mess up, don't give up. Don't give in to thinking that you're not strong enough or sorry enough or that you don't love God enough. Just try again. Try harder or try smarter if you can. Try again the regular way if you can't. If you're trying, you're making progress, even if you can't see it.

Also, God can bless us. Always. When we're righteous, we may have a greater capacity for blessings. So let's say your blessing-cup is atrophied right now, and can only hold a golden coin or two, and a whole crown falls past, but you can't catch it in your tiny little cup. Will you ever get the chance to catch that crown again? Maybe, maybe not. Does it matter? Your cup can grow again, and as it does, it will fill up. You may get that one crown, or another, or several, or you may get all golden coins or rubies or whatever. You will not live with a crown-shaped hole in your cup for all eternity. You may regret that now, but I can't imagine us still regretting them in the eternities, can you? "Oh, if only I hadn't lied about what grade I got on my math final, I would have had a 2-month head start on my current level of righteousness/happiness, and I would have gotten to marry Jimmy. As it is, I'm 2 months behind where I could have been, and I'm married to dumb ol' Greg." Yeah, sometimes I look at my patriarchal blessing and I wonder if by making various mistakes, I've missed out on various blessings. I may have, I may not have. If that was a snapshot of my possible future back when I got it (and I'm not sure quite how it works), then sure, that may not be a path open to me anymore. But when I am not in the throes of depression, I believe that there's a path equally bright for me, now. And if I murder a man and get addicted to drugs and become a prostitute, I believe that (with an incredible amount of work and maybe not in this life) there is an equally bright path for me, even then. Don't cry over missed opportunities. Look forward, when you can, to the next ones.

You ask if God forgets our sins. I don't know that God gets repentance-induced amnesia. I think that him remembering our sins no more is more about that not being information vital to understanding you, anymore. Let's say I had a peanut allergy as a child, but for some reason, I grow out of it as an adult. My mom probably hasn't forgotten that I had the allergy, but when she sees me, she doesn't think "peanut allergy!" anymore. And she can give me a peanut butter sandwich, if I'm hungry.

I think the scarlet to snow-white transformation isn't, again, a time machine that means the scarlet never existed. But I think it means that you can be whole and perfect again. If you've been a jerk, and someone can't forgive you, your repentance can't force them to change their mind. It is their (unwise) choice to hold the grudge. But the repentance/Atonement combo can turn you into a kind person. The sort of great person that treats others wisely and compassionately. While you can't make choices for others, you can make choices for yourself, and those choices can make you whole again. You can be free of the pull of pornography or gossip or whatever you're thinking of. You have not done any damage that cannot be fixed. No, not even that secret sin that you're thinking of. Or that recurring shortcoming. You're not broken past repair. You're not a crumpled paper that can never quite be smooth or a board with nail holes in it or a wineglass mended clumsily with glue or a white dress with a blood stain that will never wash out. You can be smooth and unblemished and as white as snow again. That is what the Atonement means. You can be as good as new. The Atonement doesn't heal us mostly. It heals us all the way.

Lastly, you ask about the specifics of repentance: how it works daily vs long term, and if you can repent of things you don't quite remember, and where, exactly the sacrament and baptism fits in. Here's my favorite metaphor. Life is a journey--a path to heaven. (When I draw this in Relief Society, heaven looks part like a crown and part like a castle, because I can't draw.) Sometimes we wander off the path, on purpose or by accident. Repentance is realizing that we're moving in the wrong direction, and turning and moving towards castle-heaven again. Maybe it will take 18 tries to get back on the path. Maybe as soon as we get on the path, we fall back down the same slope. Doesn't matter. Keep trying.

So I don't know when, exactly, the penalty for my sins is lifted off. I'm sure I don't remember everything wrong that I've done. I try to fix the things I do know I've done wrong. Sometimes I don't try as hard or as effectively as I would like to. Usually I don't. Sad, yes, but normal. But I try. And occasionally I reflect on my life and my character, and I think about how I could do better. If I'm wise, I also think about how far I've come. For me, "trying to be a better person" and "repentance" are the same thing. That's something I can do daily. I am not making fast progress, and I often backslide. That's crushing. But when I'm most emotionally balanced, and when I'm honest, I know I am going to be all right. Why? Because I want to be all right. I have that righteous desire. I don't have many claims to greatness, but I have promised myself I will not give up, and if I notice I've given up, I'll try again. Since God also wants me to be all right, and he will help me when I try to improve, and he will never give up on me, I will succeed, given time. As Blues Traveler says, "coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace." (Go listen to their song "Just Wait," and imagine the speaker is God. It fits.)

Don't give up on yourself. It's normal to try and fail and try and fail and fail and fail and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try and fail again. I recently taught the RS lesson called, "Principles of True Repentance," which I mostly recommend. There's a great bit in there about how the examples in the scriptures are dramatic, and teach us about how clean and strong we can become, but do NOT give an accurate representation (at least for 99.99% of the population) of the speed at which the process happens. It's gradual. You'll fail often. You won't see the progress you make unless you look for it, and sometimes not even then. But if you want to be better, and it looks like you do, I think you'll be all right, as long as you can keep trying. So do it. Don't give up. You will be okay. You'll be better than okay. You'll be amazing and perfect. But if all you can imagine right now is okay, than hold on to that. You will be okay. So will I.

TL;DR: Repentance is great, but the Atonement is better. Take advantage of it by both trying not to suck and by trying to be awesome, or in other words, by repenting. Maybe also by talking to a therapist. You have fallen short, yes, and you will continue to fall short. That's normal. Dust yourself off and try again. You have not broken yourself beyond repair. You cannot. If you keep trying, you will improve, although you may not notice the process. Also, listen to that Brad Wilcox talk.

-Uffish Thought

Question #81860 posted on 04/01/2015 4:45 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have a question about trials. I am having a huge struggle with anxiety (social anxiety, to be precise). I didn't know that this was a thing until about a year ago, and since then I've realized that this has been a part of my life for at least ten years. It's been really hard. I've gotten to a point where I am unable to deal with everyday life, I go through depressive episodes, and I don't even feel like myself anymore. (I am seeing a therapist, just fyi.)

Sometimes I ask myself why this is a thing, and why I have to have this struggle in my life. My first thought is that we're all here to have trials and grow, and this just happens to be my trial right now. I sometimes think that I have to overcome this because it's meant to help me become a much better person. Which I think is true, to a point; I will be a better person after overcoming this trial than I am now.

The problem I'm having with this is that I'm pretty sure that if I didn't have this struggle, the person I am now would be even better than the person I would be after overcoming it... Does that make sense? This thought makes it hard to believe that this trial really was given to me to make me stronger. I feel like it was either something that just happened, or I didn't do what I should have in order to prevent it. Essentially, I feel like there is no purpose to this trial.

If that's the case, how am I supposed to deal with it? I've gotten through my struggles before by believing that they happen for a reason. Well, that isn't working. This is probably the biggest struggle I've ever had, and feeling like it's purposeless makes it much harder to deal with. So what should I do? Or what can I try? Am I looking at everything all wrong?

-so tired

A:

Dear tired,

In the LDS Church, we have some common patterns for the way we talk about certain experiences in our life, particularly trials. The standard LDS trial narrative (the kind of thing you might hear in Fast and Testimony Meeting) roughly follows this pattern: (1) I was going along in my life, trying to be a good person, (2) I had this really difficult trial come up out of nowhere, (3) it was so hard that I even started to doubt my faith, but then (4) I decided to double down on prayer/fasting/temple attendance/etc. (5) I finally made it through my trial with the help of the Gospel, (6) now I understand why I went through it or why it was “meant” to happen, and (7) I'm in a better place than I was before because I have learned so much about myself and about the Gospel and my faith is stronger than ever because of this trial.

Now, I have no problem with stories of this type. I fully believe that that many people go through this type of trial and that they are representing their experiences honestly. The problem I see is that not all trials follow this pattern. Some trials leave you worse off than you were before. Some trials last for months or years with no end in sight. Some trials not only don’t end, they get progressively worse. Some trials end, but they seem pointless, in retrospect.

I think the first big thing to remember in your situation is that not all trials fit the Standard LDS Trial Narrative™. To be honest, the reason that we hear that genre of narrative so often is more because it’s easy to digest within our belief system and because it reaffirms our faith and less because it is actually representative of the lives of most people.

The second point I want to make is that some trials really are random (and that’s OK). I tend to divide bad things into three categories: (1) bad things caused by randomness, (2) bad things deliberately caused by someone else, and (3) bad things I naturally brought upon myself.

Category (1) includes things like natural disasters, random genetic mutations, and freak accidents. Category (2) includes things like cruelty, theft, and murder. Category (3) includes things like doing things to my body that I know will hurt it, procrastinating until something is a much bigger problem than it originally was, and generally choosing today’s wants over tomorrow’s needs. (It should be noted that most things in life do not actually fit entirely into one of these categories. E.g., there is a degree of randomness to most natural disasters, but there are still some areas that are more statistically prone to them than others. Someone may chose do something terrible to me that is partially motivated by a mental illness beyond his or her control. I may not have all of the information I need to make the choices today that are best for my future, etc.)

You’ll notice that what’s missing from my taxonomy of trials is . . . God. Some people believe that God actively causes every single thing that happens in the world (including all of the bad things). I am of the opinion that most of the bad things that happen in the world happen because we live in a fallen world and God allows them to happen, which means that sometimes other people choose to do bad things to us and sometimes terrible things happen that nobody wanted to have happen at all.

You could still say that God causes category (3) bad things in the sense that if we disobey his commandments, we will be punished for it. Even then, I think that most sins tend to carry within them their own punishment and don’t require God to stand at his computer, hovering over a “smite” button (to paraphrase an old Far Side cartoon).

Even if we accept that there are a lot of bad things in the world that stem from the choices of others or from randomness, we still have a tendency to want to push things into the (3) category. It’s an odd phenomenon, because you’d think that we wouldn’t want to blame ourselves for the bad things that happen to us that genuinely aren’t our fault. However, choosing to shoulder the blame for our trials gives us the illusion of control. (“If I brought this trial on myself by insufficient righteousness, then I can get rid of it by being a better person.”) It also gives us an excuse not to extend empathy to others who are in difficult circumstances. (“Well, if they had just kept the commandments, this wouldn’t have happened to them!”)

In your situation, especially, please don’t blame yourself for your illness. Yes, there are times when health problems result from not taking care of your body properly, but when it comes to mental health, there are so many other factors at play that blaming yourself is generally counterproductive. (In addition, mental health problems affect the very tool you use to make diagnoses—your mind—which means that it’s particularly easy for people with depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses or to blame themselves for having those conditions, in ways they would never do if they had a tumor, an infection, or a broken bone.)

The third point I’d like to make is that our meaning in life can come from how we turn to God as we live with our trials, not necessarily from God tailoring each trial specifically to us. Even if we accept the idea that some trials seem random, we still have the tendency to try to make them fit into a more meaningful narrative. Think of the ups and downs experienced by characters in a romantic comedy—they might seem random to the characters within the story, but from the perspective of a reader looking at the whole story, every conflict or setback has a purpose that thematically fits the story and eventually propels the characters towards their happy ending.

As human beings, we tell stories in order to make sense of life. Conversely, we often look at the events in our life and try to make them fit into the a tidy narrative structure, where every event has a clear purpose. Unfortunately, many people face challenges in life that would make for pretty poorly-structured fiction. (Once there was a person who really wanted to do something and spent a long time trying to do it, but in the end, he wasn’t ever successful. Once there was someone who got really sick for 5 years and pretty much didn’t get anything done in that time. Once there was someone who was trying really hard to keep everything together but in the end her life still fell apart and and things got a lot worse for her and her family.) Letting go of that narrative structure can seem scary, but it's better than beating yourself up for not being able to force your life to fit an arbitrary pattern.

Of course, finding meaning outside of the common and comforting narratives we're used to can be very challenging. I’m reading a book right now called I Can Do Hard Things with God. It’s a collection of essays by Mormon women about dealing with very difficult trials (suicide, severe mental illness, divorce, death of a child, etc.). One of the essays is by a woman named Kylie Turley who has two progressive chronic illnesses and talks a lot about how her condition doesn’t fit into our standard narratives, especially because her health is only going to get worse. She doesn’t shy away from the pain and sadness she feels, but near the end of her essay, she says:

The angel Gabriel told Mary, “With God nothing shall be impossible.” I used to imagine that Gabriel’s “impossible” things were astonishing healings, dramatic environmental wonders, and spiritual marvels. To be healed would indeed be miraculous—black-and-white, intense, direct, grandiose, and marvelous; I revel in the possibility and pray daily for the mere chance. But there is another type of miracle, slow and hazy, so unhurried and obscure that I have to squint my spiritual eyes and search my soul to know if I see it at all. The misty miracle lingers in daily-ness, a sacrament cup filled one meager drop at a time, a soul sanctified by a slow redemptive burn, a chapter in the book of life written word by exquisitely painful word. I am starting to understand the power of a God and the suffering of a Savior who are with me moment by unbearable moment, hour upon painful hour, and day upon drawn-out day, bringing a semblance of grace and peace, illuminating a deep darkness. I see Their handiwork in the “chronic” help given me by godly friends, neighbors, and family around me. . . . Through Him, nothing is impossible. “Help thou mine unbelief.”

I think one of the most difficult things about the kind of problem you’re dealing with is that it deprives you of the opportunity to serve others. It’s one thing to be in a situation where you want something selfish or worldly and you have to give that up for something you know is more righteous. It’s much harder, in my opinion, to be in a situation where you have a righteous desire to make a contribution, but your health or some other external circumstance is making that impossible. The opportunity cost of what you could be doing with your time or energy can be as painful as the disease, itself.

My last point to you is that it’s OK to throw all of your problems back on God, even the problem of not knowing what to do about your problems. (This is similar to the advice I give in Board Question #71755, which might also be helpful for you to read.) If you’re feeling like your situation is purposeless, have you told God that? Have you asked for some reassurance as to your worth in His eyes? Have you asked for daily grace to sustain you even as you can’t see your way through this challenge? I’ll warn you, the answers I get when I ask these kinds of questions are almost never the answers I want or expect, but sometimes I get answers that are better than anything I would have chosen for myself.

- Katya

tl;dr

Not all trials fit the Standard LDS Trial Narrative™. Some trials really are random (and that’s OK). Our meaning in life can come from how we turn to God as we live with our trials, not necessarily from God tailoring each trial specifically to us. It’s OK to throw all of your problems back on God, even the problem of not knowing what to do about your problems.

Question #81848 posted on 03/31/2015 8:08 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board music buffs (Cognoscente et al., looking at you),

Imagine taking a recent or contemporary music group back in time. (You pick the group and the target time period.) How would this have influenced music's subsequent development?

To get at a similar idea from a more general perspective, how much do you think music is influenced by individuals vs. impersonal societal trends, technology, etc.?

~Professor Kirke

A:

Dear Kirke,

This exercise is called a counterfactual, a beloved pastime of history buffs and time travel enthusiasts. I spent a day thinking about this, and it's hard to make any definitive claims. There are so many thresholds of innovation in music history. The invention of the printing press helped establish and promulgate a standard form of notation and spread existing compositions farther than they had ever traveled before. The invention of the phonograph changed how people viewed music completely, from a composition and performance to a recorded commodity. The invention of electronic instrument amplifiers in the 1930s changed the sound of an entire century of popular music. Going back in time and altering any of these revolutions would have unimaginable effects on the history of music.

To answer your second question first, I think music is influenced primarily by broad social and cultural trends and technology, and secondarily (and on a smaller time scale) by outstanding individual artists. Music followed culture throughout the common practice period—there was Baroque architecture and Baroque music, and Romantic art and Romantic music. The Jazz Age wasn't just about the music, it was about the culture and literature and the Harlem Renaissance. Music reflects the zeitgeist of the artists that compose and play it. That's why, despite the fun of imagining Jim Morrison play a set in an Elizabethan court, I don't think you would influence music's development very drastically unless you didn't take a particular artist more than a generation or two into the past. Any more and there would just be too much of a gap in understanding and context. Even the greatest European composers wouldn't know what to make of modern rock-and-roll—it's too deeply rooted in 12-bar blues, which came from old negro spirituals and gospel music, which has its origins in Africa. It would sound like cacophonous folk music, as foreign to their ears as Indian or Chinese tonal scales sound to American listeners.

Here's an example why: Igor Stravinsky. He's generally considered to be one of the greatest composers of the modern era. His works shocked audiences because they flew in the face of established tonality and rhythm, but they were written in reaction to the high Romanticism of dudes like Mahler. Romantic artists wrote flowery and passionate compositions in contrast to the perceived restraint of the Classical era. Classical artists were exploring the simpler clarity ignored in the Baroque era, which favored complex and intricate pieces. If a time traveler whisked away Stravinsky back into any of those previous eras, his music would have been considered the work of a madman. Heck, when The Rite of Spring debuted in Paris in 1913, in Stravinsky's own era, it was so poorly received that it literally started a riot right there in the theater. And yet, it's now considered one of the most influential works of the last century. Context is important.

If I wanted to get the biggest reaction out of a particular period, I would take a modern version of something back to the artists who first pioneered the genre. Imagine taking a modern electronic synthesizer or Pro Tools suite to the guys in Kraftwerk in 1970 and showing them the potential of electronic music. Imagine what young B-boys in the Bronx in 1979 would say if you gave them a box set of the greatest hip-hop recordings of the last 30 years.

Or, instead, enjoy the greatest musical counterfactual in movie history: "All right, this is an oldie... well, it's an oldie where I come from."

-Cognoscente

Question #81833 posted on 03/31/2015 6:50 p.m.
Q:

Dear The Board,

Optimistic. and I recently decided to make attack ads about people we know, because, well, we were bored and it sounded like fun. And it was. So will you please choose a fellow Board writer and make an attack ad about them? You know the drill: dramatic music, unflattering pictures, quotes taken out of context, blatant lies, that sort of thing. For example, I think we have the right to know about Katya's plans to raise taxes in order to fund her own private experiments on orphaned Irish puppies.

- Genuine Article

A:

Dear Ms. Article,

Sadly, we weren't able to get the video to be embedded here on the site, but I'm happy to present an ad that will make you think twice about Gimgimno. It's saved for posterity here on the Board, or you can view it on YouTube here.

Not the type to click on links because you can't be bothered? The video is 34 seconds long, and I can assure you it will be worth every one of those seconds of your time. Trust me. Just like you can't trust Gimgimno. What is he hiding?

- D.A.R.E.

Question #81788 posted on 03/30/2015 7:08 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I was reading question Board Question #71545 to my roommate and when I said, "Stained Glass, and Animal Restraint," she thought I had was talking about a class called "Stained Glass and Animal Restraint." What would be the syllabus for such a class? What department would it fall under? Would it have prerequisites?

-The Cousin of Freshwerf

A:

Dear you and your cousins:

Course Syllabus

Stained Glass and Animal Restraint, HIST 489

Instructor:     Dr. Portia of Belmont

Office:          The Universe

Email:           portiaofbelmont@gmail.com

Office Hours:  24/7

 

Materials

Textbooks: Animals in Early Medieval Art, Carola Hicks. Animal Encounters, Contacts and Concepts in Medieval Britain, Susan Crane

Prerequisite: HIST 202, equivalent, or instructor's permission

Purpose and Objective

What is the relationship between master and servant, the archetype of the Wolf as embodiment of The Wild and the Dog as Man's Best Friend? Did this relationship between Man and Beast change over the course of the Medieval era? What is the history of domestication of animals in the Western world, and how does one see this relationship reflected in Christian art?

This course will explore the meaning of restraint as found in animal imagery throughout Medieval European stained glass artwork. As Carola Hicks puts it, "animal ornament is a crucial element in Medieval art, especially in Britain where pagan imagery from the Celtic and Germanic traditions was adapted for use in Christian art." From the patron saint of Animals, St. Francis of Assisi, to Ambrose's views of birds as models of "social and sexual restraint" (Crane, 84), we will explore the Medieval view of animals, wild and restrained, through primary sources, written and visual. 

dogsstainedglas.jpg

Unit 1: Tally Ho! Medieval Hunting: Praxis and Social Norms

From the woven Bayeux tapestry to stained glass images such as the one shown above, Medieval Europeans had a near-talismanic relationship with hunting dogs. We'll discuss how the hunt penetrated all manner of literary and visual metaphors. For example, The Parlement of the Ages presents an early "stages of man" allegory using a young hunter with his crossbow ... and, of course, his trusty dog on a leash. 

 st_francis_animals_window.jpg

Unit 2: All Creatures Great and Small: St. Francis and Love of Animals, Unrestrained

What would St. Francis's views on animal restraint be? It's easy to guess that he may have had more sympathy with the stand of PETA than his contemporaries. By viewing animals as agents in their own right, St. Francis set the stage for Enlightenment-era debates regarding the status of the souls of animals, and what our responsibilities and obligations towards them may be as human actors.

As a Christian saint, we'll have ample opportunity to examine stained glass representations of Francis from throughout Medieval Europe, and debate how the current Pope Francis may or may not carry on his legacy.

___

All university policies regarding cheating, harassment, and untoward behavior apply. Be prepared for a collaborative project with the School of Arts, to be discussed in further detail the first week of the course.

---Dr. Portia of Belmont

Question #81769 posted on 03/29/2015 1:20 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

If not for the 3/5's compromise in the constitution would Lincoln still have been our president. I know there are a ton of variables, but just assuming that southern states got to count their slave population for their slice of the electoral college.

-b

A:

Dear what do you mean I'm less than b,

That's a really interesting question, actually. For those of you who aren't as familiar with the ins and outs of the U.S. Constitution as b and I are, the Three-Fifths Compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3, and it reads as follows:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free Persons, including those bound to a Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Simply put, only free people were counted when determining how many representatives each state would have in the House. Predominantly slave-holding states felt this was unfair, and wanted to have their slaves count toward that end. A compromise was reached in which three-fifths of the slave population of those states would count toward apportionment of Representatives. That was a good thing for those states, as many of them had large numbers of slaves, sometimes as much as nearly 50% of the overall population of the state. This gave those states more power in the House than they might otherwise have had, and possibly contributed to slavery persisting as long as it did.

So how would the election of 1860 have changed if those slaves had been counted as full people when apportioning out Representatives and votes in the electoral college? Well, to understand that, we'll first need to understand how the election looked in the first place. I've created a helpful map, which you can see below:

1860 actual.png

It's a commonly repeated fact that Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election despite winning less than 40% of the popular vote and not appearing on the ballot in nearly any of the Southern states, but this map shows just how sizable an electoral victory he ended up with. His 39.7% of the popular vote translated into 180 electoral votes, more than the other three major candidates combined. John Breckinridge, the Southern Democratic candidate who supported expanding slavery into the western territories, won nearly all of the Southern states, just missing out on the Border states. Stephen Douglas actually came in second in the popular vote with 29.5%, but ended up with just 12 electoral votes (Missouri's nine and three of New Jersey's seven). Lincoln's support may have been sectional, but the fact is that with so many people living in the North, that section alone was more than enough to carry the election.

But remember, we're not counting 40% of the population of those Southern states. How would the electoral college look if we added them in?

It's actually a trickier process than it seems on the surface. Representatives are apportioned based on the population of their states, which we calculate every ten years during the Census. After those results come in, Congress will generally pass a apportionment bill that establishes the number of Representatives for each state. The 1850 apportionment bill, which was still in effect during the 1860 election, not only established those numbers, but also set a cap of 233 Representatives in the House, which was the current amount at the time. That means that until stated otherwise, when the House was reapportioned, there were a total of 233 seats to go around, so adding Representatives to one state required taking them from another. So if we're going to add Representatives to the South (and we'll need to, if we have an additional 40% of the population we need to take into account), we'll need to take them away from Northern states.

The numbers Congress may have come up with may have been different, but I think mine seem reasonable. I took the total population of the United States in 1850 (2,319,876) and divided it by 233 to see how many people each Representative would represent. That gives us 99,536 people, which I rounded up to 100,000 for simplicity's sake. For every 100,000 people in a state's total population, I gave them one Representative, generally rounding up. That means that Vermont, with an 1850 population of 314,120, got three representatives, while Rhode Island, with a population of 147,545 got two. After checking to make sure that I had a total of 233 Representatives and therefore 303 electoral votes (remember, Washington D.C. couldn't cast electoral votes for the President until the 23rd Amendment in 1961), I came up with the map below. This assumes every state still goes for the same candidate, since while we're counting the state's full population, we're still counting the same votes, since blacks (free or slave) weren't allowed to vote:

1860 reapportioned.png

Some of the Northern states have fewer votes and some of the Southern states have more, but ultimately, it's not enough to really make a difference. Lincoln's electoral votes drop from 180 to 172, but he only needs 152 to win. He still has more than Breckinridge (79), John Bell (40), and Stephen Douglas (still 12) combined. So even if it weren't for the Three-Fifths Compromise, Lincoln would still have won comfortably.

But why stop there? We've already decided to count the South's slave population in apportioning Representatives. If we're going to count them as full people for the purposes of apportionment, why not count them as full people for the purposes of voting? Let's assume that all of the slaves in the South are allowed to vote for whichever candidate they choose.

To figure out how that would change the election, we're going to have to make a few assumptions. First, we're assuming that not only are the slaves allowed to vote, they're allowed to vote free of pressure or harassment. That's a brave assumption, given the wave of Jim Crow laws that prevented blacks from voting freely in the South for generations, as well as general intimidation practices. But since we're already rewriting history, let's go ahead and rewrite it so that they can vote freely. Determining who they'll vote for is trickier still. We can't just look to the North for general voting trends, since blacks weren't allowed to vote anywhere in the U.S. during the 1860 election. We could look at future elections, but that only gives us a sense of party loyalty. A person voting for Ulysses Grant in 1868 wouldn't necessarily have voted for Lincoln in 1860 any more than a person voting for Barack Obama in 2008 would necessarily have voted for Al Gore in 2000.

We're going to have to be a little reductionist here. For the purposes of this thought experiment, I've decided that slaves are going to be single-issue voters, and that their single issue is going to be slavery. The Republican party wasn't as overtly abolitionist as it was in 1856, but it was at least sympathetic to the cause. Lincoln is probably going to be the top choice of slaves in 1860. Douglas and Bell were neutral on slavery, and as mentioned earlier, Breckinridge supported spreading slavery into the Western territories, even in cases where those territories' populations didn't support the practice. (It will come as no surprise to you, I'm sure, that Breckinridge served as a general in the Confederate army after he lost this election.) I'm assuming that when slaves are allowed to choose between these four candidates, 80% of them are voting for Lincoln, 10% each are voting for Douglas and Bell, and 0% will vote for Breckinridge. An inexact method, to be sure, but since we don't have any sort of polling data on the subject, it'll have to do.

Of course, as we mentioned earlier, Lincoln didn't even appear on the ballot in many of the Southern states. (Nor did Breckinridge in many of the Northern states, for that matter.) I decided that in states without Lincoln on the ballot, slaves would split their vote 50-50 between Douglas and Bell, and in cases where Douglas wasn't on the ballot either, slaves went 100% for Bell.

The last bit is the easiest. While we're extending suffrage to the slaves, we're also assuming that not all of them are going to be able to or choose to vote. Voters still have to be over 21 and male to vote in this election. A quick look at the 1860 Census shows that about 44% of slaves were 21 or older at the time, and about half of them were male. Voter turnout was 81% in the 1860 election (one of the highest in history!), so only 17.8% of slaves are actually going to end up voting in the Southern states. We're keeping the apportioned votes the same for this, as you can see below:

1860 suffrage.png

Looks quite a bit different, doesn't it? Lincoln still carries the North handily, and in this case, he very nearly wins Virginia, too, taking 80% of the state's 87,473 voting slaves. (Consider that Bell actually won the state with 74,481 votes in 1860. That's an awful lot of disenfranchised voters.) In fact, with Breckinridge not receiving a single slave vote, he loses all of his states except for two, and he probably only wins South Carolina because at the time, its electoral voters were appointed by the state legislature rather than determined by the popular vote. It wouldn't have mattered how many slaves were voting if the legislature was unchanged. (Of course, if slaves were permitted to vote, the legislature may have had an entirely different makeup.) Bell carries most of the South due to picking up the slave vote. And it doesn't make an ounce of difference, because Lincoln still has 172 electoral votes to Bell's now 107. He's still our President.

Of course, had slaves been given a full vote, everything would been different. Maybe they have a chance to effect some real change in government. Maybe these four candidates stand for different things. Maybe different candidates for the presidency emerge. There's lots to consider. Political science is a complex field with lots of variables, like you said. But even if we don't and can't take all of them into account, it's still fun to think about how things might have turned out differently, isn't it?

- D.A.R.E.

Question #81660 posted on 03/25/2015 8:31 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I recently made a fruit fly trap by putting red wine vinegar in a glass bottle along with a couple drops of dish soap. A few weeks later I noticed that the red wine vinegar hard quadrupled in volume!!! No one had added any other liquids to the bottle. I tried this experiment again only to see that the level on the bottle continued to climb. How is this happening??

- Lindsey Brown

A:

Dear You,

I set up an experiment with red wine vinegar with a few drops of dish soap in it, marked it with a permanent marker, and set it on top of my fridge. 

Here's the following picture to show what took place after 153 hours, or a little more than six days:

red wine vinegar.jpg

it is a supr grate pickshur, amirite?

As you can see, the vinegar level has not risen. If anything, it had fallen. I could wait three more weeks to see what happens, but I feel like this trend would just continue. 
Now, I'm going to try and be open-minded here: You tell me specifically what brand of red wine vinegar and what brand of dish soap you used and I will try the experiment again with you so we can see what happens. If it does indeed rise, I'll do some serious chemistry sleuthing to see what's happening (though what Man, Certainly says sounds logical if there is a change.)
You go and prepare another sample of your vinegar-soap mixture. Announce to your roommates you are preparing one and put it somewhere where they will notice it and ostensibly be tempted to tamper with it if that's what's going on (if they read the Board, this probably won't work.) 

Now, prepare one more sample in secret and put it somewhere they won't think to check, like under your bed or something.

We would now have three samples: Two controls—one at your dwelling, one at mine—and one experimental jar in public.

This setup will help you determine once and for all what is going on with yo' flytrap: Is there some chemical process taking place, or are your meddlesome peasant roommates to blame?

Email me if you're game. ardilla[dot]feroz[at]theboard[dot]byu[dot]edu.

Suerte,

--Ardilla Feroz