Don’t believe the (happiness) hype

Will Wilkinson, commenting on Catherine Rampell’s “The Happiest States of America” article on the NYTimes’ Economix blog, suspects “a skoche of culture-driven upward inflation” is at play in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which puts Utah at the top of states reporting a general sense of happiness (HT: Greg). More specifically, he states:

I’ll vouch for the fact that Utahns are exceptionally chipper. Though perhaps it should be noted that some Mormons are almost ideological about the idea that they ought to be happy.

Just some Mormons, Will? Happiness is inherent in our ideology. [Read more…]

50 Conversations About One Thing, Part III (Updated)

This is Part III of three. Part I of this conversation, including a brief introduction, is here. Part II is here.

32. I just wanted to mention what I think is the most striking aspect of this conversation: [Read more…]

50 Conversations About One Thing, Part II

Part I of this conversation, including a brief introduction, is here.

17. There seems to be a generational shift at play. [Read more…]

50 Conversations About One Thing, Part I

A few of us had the pleasure of overhearing an internet conversation the other day. Here are 50 of the more interesting things we heard, which we have boiled down and made anonymous for presentation purposes. Note that this discussion is for mature audiences, and will appear in three parts. Certain words may appear a little funny as we attempt to keep the original wording intact but permit those with internet filters to enjoy the conversation — the post requires images and may not read well in RSS feeds. Comments are closed on these posts; we encourage you to talk about this conversation with your families and on your own websites and blogs. Please email us with any questions. [Read more…]

Irreducible Complexity Power

So in the late Middle Ages there was this twisted group of clerics (and entire underworld of them it turns out) who wanted information from God. But they felt the Deity was being a little cagey about dispensing with his almighty power and wisdom, so they put on their thinking caps and pondered, ‘How can we get God’s knowledge when he won’t tell us any of the really useful info we want to know?” Well, they came up with a creative albeit malevolent solution that didn’t even involve God. Ask demons! [Read more…]

Boggs-Doniphan Award 2008: WINNER!

Update 3.1.09 [Read more…]

Monday Mid-day Theological Poll: Pre-existent sinnin’ edition

Excepting the sons of perdition, is it possible for a spirit to have been less valiant in the pre-existence? [Read more…]

SLC Event: Ann Braude dinner and lecture 19 Nov 2008

My wife engineered this coup for the Salt Lake area. Dr. Braude is a wonderful speaker with a sharp mind, and her lecture should be great. [Read more…]

Who I’m voting for (and why)

If you’ve been waiting for someone at BCC to post an opinion of the current election, here it is. [Read more…]

Almost-seen in Provo

A scene from the check-out stand at a local Macey‘s grocery store:

I assume that behind the blue rectangles that decorate our local magazine racks there usually lie images that are thought to offend buyers because too much flesh is exposed, or too explicit a reference is made to this or that technique.

Not so this time. [Read more…]

Police Beat Roundtable #5

The fifth installment of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here , here, here and here.

This time, a special guest: Adam Greenwood.

A male was seen disposing of a cup out the window of his truck at Wymount Terrace on Jan. 16. A female witnessed the act and returned the cup to the owner. She asked him not to litter, and while driving away, the male threw the cup out of his window. A second witness called the University Police and reported the act. The male, a non-student, was cited for littering.
[Read more…]

Navigating Treacherous Waters, Part I

This is the first of a three-parter dealing with the current financial crisis. Part I deals with the causes and origins of the crisis. Part II addresses the issue of what, if anything, us lowly consumers should be doing with our money. Part III will focus on longer-term issues of investing and reforms.

Lehman Brothers is gone. Morgan Stanley may be bought by a Chinese concern. Merrill Lynch has been taken over. Bear Stearns — bought. AIG is the subject of a massive bailout. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are in conservatorship. IndyMac was shut down. Overseas, the crisis has taken its toll on Northern Rock and other banks (most recently the Halifax Bank of Scotland). Now it is clear that we are in the midst of a truly global economic crisis.

Over the last few weeks, I have been receiving increasing numbers of emails from people wondering about the financial problems in the U.S. markets. Questions I have heard range from “should I move my savings account away from X Bank?” to “which political party should I blame for this?” [Read more…]

Police Beat Roundtable #4

The fourth installment of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here , here, and here.

In late December police received a call from a man who claimed he was being stalked by a woman he worked with. Police said the woman believes she is supposed to marry him and won’t leave him alone. Officers advised the woman about the possible consequences of her actions. The case is pending to see if there is any further activity.
[Read more…]

Two Conversations and a Visitation

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had some before-school-starts conversations with my colleagues in the English department. One of them said that his best students had always been from Southern Idaho. “Nobody had ever told them there were things they couldn’t do,” he said. “So they’d just do them. Of course, that has changed. Television and the internet changed all of that.”

[Read more…]

How to Not Drink in a Bar

Mormons are, generally speaking, afraid of bars. This is because people drink alcohol in bars and we do not. It is because we want to avoid the appearance of evil. It is because we want to stand in holy places (really drunk old men are not holy), and it is because we don’t like to look like total dorks who don’t know how to navigate the society of the bar. This leads others to believe that we are self-righteous, uptight and boring. This is not true, as evidenced by our impressive skills at boardgames, relay races (where one might carry an egg in a spoon) and charades.

It is my mission to help us feel a little more comfortable (and a little less nerdy) when we are occasionally obligated to be in a bar with others who drink.

[Read more…]

Books you wish you had bought

The world of Mormon books is a bizarre landscaped marked by all sorts of characters. There are different subsets of the market to be sure – everything from consumer schlock to handcrafted scholarly masterworks. The Joseph Smith Papers Project offering of limited leather-bound volumes in addition to their regular cloth-bound editions (which were recently raised to $50 from $40 a volume) is one manifestation of that. Get one signed by Esplin and certified to have been in the possession of Dean Jessee and you might have yourself a little nest egg. While it is true that digitization has thankfully changed things, there is still a tremendous desire to have the book in our hands (perhaps a lingering nostalgia for our golden plates). [Read more…]

BCC Zeitcast 23

Season 1 Album Artwork [display_podcast]

This week: Brad, Amri, and Cynthia on the horrors of domestic violence, the value of reality TV, the fun of speculating about plural marriage, and the sheer, rapturous joy of Mormon blogging.
[Read more…]

Home teacher an incessant nuisance, says pet-allergic apostle

Submitted by Fake Elder Wirthlin. Fake Elder Wirthlin is most definitely not an apostle.

When Latter-day Saint home teachers go to visit Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve, they usually do not take The 5 Browns to perform live in a family’s living room.

But for Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve and his home teacher, Skip Daynes, visits like these are common occurrences.

Daynes has shown up at Elder Wirthlin’s Salt Lake City home with musicians The Crimson 4, Josh Wright and The Call Sisters. [Read more…]

Review: Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons

What is the proper standard for measuring a documentary about black Mormons? On how much it makes us think? The level of provocation inherent in the topic is so high that calling NOBODY KNOWS “thought-provoking” seems insultingly obvious. Evaluating the film based on more standard criteria such as production value seems similarly pointless; this is a documentary produced on a shoestring, and we should not expect it to be slick like a Ken Burns production. NOBODY KNOWS presents a contradiction. On some levels it is a weak film, a failed project; but at the same time it is a marvelous, sublime film that surpasses all expectations. [Read more…]

Requiem for a Scooter

Last month, my father-in-law and I loaded up and tied down one of my last pretensions of youth: a 2000 50cc Italjet Torpedo Scooter. He hauled it off to an outbuilding on his farm, where it now rests with my sister-in-law’s half-stripped Volkswagen bug and a wooden boat that is literally generations in the making. [Read more…]

The Intellectual Pleasures of Mormonism

Neal Kramer, a friend of BCC, returns again to post. See his earlier post here.

I believe it is fair to say that many intellectuals have found Mormonism rather stultifying. [Read more…]

Bike Blogging – Pictures! (Updated!)

It’s one thing to talk about bicycling, but as Edgar A. Guest, BCC’s poet laureate said: I’d rather see a sermon than hear one anyday. I was inspired by mfranti and dan ellsworth to take some pictures this morning of my cycling route, and I’m posting them for your enjoyment. Remember, envy is one of the seven cardinal sins.

[Read more…]

Memorial Day: The Costs of War and Those Who Bear Them

What follows are my thoughts for Memorial Day, generated in no small part from extended conversation and correspondence with a family member of mine this weekend. Jon (not his real name) is a veteran of the Iraq war. [Read more…]

Desert Ranches in the News

Two ranches are featured in today’s U.S. headlines: [Read more…]

The Core of a Mormon Man

The assertion has been made in hundreds of media articles, blog posts, and comments to both that there was no core to Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate — that he seemed phony, plastic, robotic, and of course, that he seemed to have flip-flopped on issues. [Read more…]

Church Finances

A few observations:

  • Another lawyer on another vendetta is pressing to know just how much the church is worth, as various recent articles have chronicled.
  • I have dear friends skeptical about the use of tithing for BYU or political campaigns like the gay marriage movement who have elected to pay their 10% to other charitable organizations.
  • Americans since the early 1830s have distrusted Mormonism, labeling it a scam to enrich a few at the expense of the many. These critics have also labeled Mormonism as secretive to a dangerous extent.
  • Many LDS feel that requiring reporting of church assets demonstrates a lack of faith in church leadership.
  • Americans love to talk about money and wealth. Several books have been written hoping to look inside the church’s coffers. One reporter seems to have made it his specialty.

Before thinking this through again in light of the Oregon case, I think I probably could have been persuaded either way. Since pondering the issue, I find that I have one major reservation about disclosing the financial statements of the church.
[Read more…]

A Presidential Cultist

A citizen may have many good reasons to avoid voting for Mitt Romney, but his adherence to a religion some look upon as a cult is not one of them. [Read more…]


You might be tired of the topics of childbearing and childraising, and think there is nothing more to be said, but stay with me here. I want to offer yet another perspective. [Read more…]

Not Good, but Not Bad either

In RT’s recent post, he asks us to consider the relative value of truth as obtained from Church authority vs. everyone else in the world (combined). Here, I would like us to consider the threadjack that has recently sort of developed in that thread. The threadjack regards birth control and how it has been preached in the twentieth century. [Read more…]

Meth and the Mormon Menace

There are many new things to learn when moving into the Mormon Culture Region. I have now encountered methamphetamine abuse (in the Northeast, there’s plenty of drug abuse, just no meth per se that I ever encountered), and I have now encountered a set of conspiracy theories that blame Mormonism and/or its culture for a variety of social woes. I have learned (incorrectly, though repeated on national television) that Mormon women use a disproportionate amount of anti-depressant drugs (one of the more confusing claims, given the medical consensus for ensuring that depression is adequately treated), Mormons are to blame for the extremely high rates of prescription narcotic abuse (though these data are never compared with total narcotic abuse statistics), and most recently for me, Mormons are to blame for Utah having the “third-highest rate” of meth abuse in the nation (despite actual federal statistics––indicating that in the afflicted West, Utah is lower than average). [Read more…]


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