The Purpose of Life

For the longest time, in the South visitor’s center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, hung the following mural by Robert Oliver Skemps (click the image for a larger view):


New I-Center Mural

It depicts God’s plan for our existence on earth, a probationary period during which we  have the opportunity to obtain a physical body to experience life’s blessings and challenges, and be tested to see if we will exercise our free agency to choose good or to choose evil. From left, the seminal events in our life are birth – our arrival in this world from our previous existence with God; instruction in the home; education; marriage; work; family; adversity; fulfillment; and finally death – our return home to the God who gave us life.

It’s a beautiful painting, but at some point the Church decided that it had a “dated” look – it definitely looks like something out of the 50s, and was originally commissioned for display at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. After being removed from Temple Square, the painting was sent to the Hyde Park Chapel in London where it hung for many years, until it was carefully removed by Scott M. Haskins and lovingly restored. It is now displayed at Brigham Young University Idaho.

Taking its place in the visitor’s center was a new version by Joseph Brickey. In a communication with me, he mentioned his challenge in “updating” such an iconic painting. Church authorities wanted the same painting with modern attire, and Mr. Brickey indicated that he solved the problem by advocating for “metadating” instead – that is, going backward in time to a pioneer setting that would be timeless and resonate with people of any generation.

I was able to go home to Salt Lake early this month, and took this picture (potato quality because it was shot with my ancient Galaxy S5, but good enough to give you the idea – click the image for a larger view:)


Purpose of Life Painting 2

The message – this time presented from right to left – remains the same, but the pioneer motif definitely seems more appropriate to past, present, and future.

As mentioned in this blog post, there is another version of this mural, also by Robert Oliver Skemps, depicting the purpose of life with Asian models, which hung in the visitor’s center of the Hawaiʻi temple. I once saw a thumbnail of it, but have been unable to locate it again. It was salvaged during the demolition/reconstruction of that visitor’s center, but I’m not sure if it was ever acquired by the Church. If it is ever restored, I’ll do my best to get it up here.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Nigerian Scammers Still At It in 2018

Received in my spam folder just today, but I’m astonished that the stupid and the criminal are still trying these tired old campaigns, hoping to ensnare the foolish or the desperate. Be careful out there.

Image result for nigerian scammer

The bad English [as soonest as you contacts her] is a dead giveaway. Talking about money (that doesn’t exist) is a dead giveaway. Never respond to solicitations like this. There is no “Chashier’s Cheque” waiting for you. Ever.

Av.Bernardino Caballero.
Casi Piribebuy Bo San Pablo .
Presidente Franco.
Tel: 00595-61-572263
Fax: 00595-61-574599.
PARAGUAY.

Dear Good Friend,

How are you doing today, I hope you haven’t forgotten me? I am Dr. Youssef Bakary, the former manager at the Bank of Africa (B.O.A) Bank in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso over there in West Africa, who has contacted you some time ago to assist me in order to secure the release of a deceased customer’s fund into your bank account.

Though, you weren’t able to assist me up to the conclusion stage in that transaction by then, I am very much happy to inform you about my success in getting the fund transferred under the assistance and co-operation of a new partner from Paraguay.

Presently, I am in Paraguay for investment projects with my share of the total sum.

Meanwhile, I didn’t forget your past efforts, and attempts to assist me on the transferring of the fund, and I makes sure that you aren’t left behind or out from the benefits of the transaction. Hence, I have kept aside for you the total sum of: $1,675,000.00 (One Million Six hundred, and seventy-five thousand, Usa-dollars) in the ‘CHASHIER’S CHEQUE’.

My new partner and I have agreed to compensate you with that above said amount for all your past efforts and attempt to assist me in that past successful matters. I have appreciated your kind efforts at that time very much, so feel very free to contact the bank’s secretary via her below email address, and the name of the secretary of the (B.O.A) is MRS. CAROLINA ILBOUDOU.

And make sure that you instructed her on how to send the ‘CHASHIER’S CHEQUE’ to you, and please do let me know immediately you receives the ‘CHASHIER’S CHEQUE’ so that we can share the joy together after all the stress at the past times.

At the moment, am very busy here in Paraguay because of the investment projects of which my partner and I were having at hands presently, and finally remember that I had left an instruction to the secretary of the (B.O.A) MRS. CAROLINA ILBOUDOU.

Therefore, as soonest as you contacts her for the said ‘CHASHIER’S CHEQUE’ to be sent to you, she will surely send the ‘CHASHIER’S CHEQUE’ to you. Below is the contact of the secretary of the (B.O.A) Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso over there in West Africa .

Contact this below person immediately for your cheque:-

MRS. CAROLINA ILBOUDOU.
Secretary of the (B.O.A),
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Email Address: (caro.ilboudouu@outlook.fr )

Yours good friend,
Dr. Youssef Bakary.

Edit 7/18/2017 – I thought I’d tweak these cretins a bit.

I responded in my usual manner:

Dem no born u reach, onioburu. U no fit comot face, just skip along. Mugu no chop my dollar, chop only black powder and death from Olumba Olumba Obu.

If you’re not up on Nigerian pidgin, this says, in effect, “Don’t even think about it, you gong-farmer. You’re not worthy of showing up in public, away with you. You fool, you won’t get my money – you’ll only get cursed by Olumba Olumba Obu.” (Obu was the founder of The Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (BCS), a religious organisation in Nigeria. Obu was believed to have miraculous powers.)

And hilariously, I got a response – clearly the scammers don’t even bother to read any return messages they receive.

Attention: 

Thank you for your prompt mail been received by me, and also as you have contacted me for your confirmable bank Cheque of $1.675,000.00 United States dollars only. I was in our bank’s reconciliation department with the Cheque to confirm if the Cheque has expired or getting near to the date of expiration, and Mrs. Mary Ouattara, the directress of the reconciliation department of our bank here told me that before the Cheque will get to your hand that it will expire as I don’t actually know the exact day and when you will contact me for your confirmable bank Cheque, because it has been more than two weeks which your partner left the Cheque with me.


Therefore, I quickly told Mrs. Mary Ouattara, the directress of the reconciliation department of our bank to cash the $
1.675,000.00 united states dollars, and she has converted it into a cash payment since one week now and this is to avoid losing this fund under expiration of the Cheque as your ex-partner who dropped the Cheque has travelled for business trip, and might not return back here again as he said, and according to my personal decision, I decided to send the cash payment to you through dhl courier company in a consignment packaged as an African Clothes box because I cannot keep those funds with me to avoid any suspicious from my Bank.  

What you have to do right now is to contact the dhl courier company as soon as possible to know when they will deliver your consignment to you, but make sure you did not disclose the content to dhl because I told dhl that the content is African Clothes.


You have to quickly contact the dhl courier company with your home address and telephone number for the delivery of your consignment to your door step, but do not allow DHL Company to discover those funds in your consignment because I registered your consignment as African Clothes’ content.


HERE IS THE DHL COURIER COMPANY CONTACTS

The Dhl Office Manager’s Name:  Josaine Sawadogo Zagre.
The Dhl Office Of The Manager’s Telephone Number:  +226 74 85 38 20.

The Dhl Customer’s Service Telephone Number +226 50 311947 or +226 50 335171.

The Dhl Courier Company’s Customer care Email Address: 
servicedhlbfouaga@gmail.com 
The Dhl Courier Company’s Web-Site:  
www.dhl.com/en/bf/country_profile.html

Note this is very clearly, the dhl courier company does not know the content of the box, I have registered it as a box of African Clothes, they don’t know that the content is money, and this is to avoid them delaying with the box from delivering.

Make sure that you follow up these above instructions carefully in order to get your package (your fund) delivered at your door step in your country.


Congratulations!!!. Good luck as well. Contact the dhl courier service company right now for your consignment (your fund).


I will send to you in my next email your consignment’s Certificate of Deposit which I received from DHL Burkina Faso on the day which I deposited your consignment in their custody.   


Contact them right now!!!


My best regards,

Mrs. Carolina Ilboudou.

Secretary of the Bank.

I wrote to the indicated address, saying “I am supposed to contact you regarding the consignment of a box.” I’ll report back if anyone responds.

Be very careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Working “for the exposure” – an Open Letter to Elon Musk.

Dear Mr. Musk:

Make no mistake about it – I’m a fan. You have done and continue to do amazing things with technology, which will benefit humanity in incalculable ways as things only continue to improve.

I’m putting “Unicorngate” down to a simple lack of awareness of what happens on the ground to virtually countless artists, writers, web designers, composers, photographers, playwrights, and so many others who depend on their sweat and blood and tears and creativity to make a living. Tom Edwards is one such, and intriguingly enough from all I’ve read, he remains a fan of your efforts.

Ask any creative soul – they’ve probably been asked to work for free. One of the best essays on the subject I’ve seen includes illustrations by Emmie Tsumura, who imagines the faces of people who want you to work “for exposure.” I recommend the piece.

tsumura1

Illustration by Emmie Tsumura

These people probably fall into one of two categories: Cheap bastards, and the totally unaware. Mr. Musk, I don’t know you from Adam’s off-ox, but you don’t strike me as falling into the first category. I suspect that what happened is that somewhere in your organization, someone who wasn’t even thinking about copyright violations thought Tom Edwards’ work would make a good bit of marketing fluff, and before you or anyone else at the top was aware, it had been incorporated at multiple levels.

The right thing to do would have been to compensate Mr. Edwards fairly for the privilege of continuing to use his work, or to apologize for the error, pull the illustration from your materials, compensate him fairly anyway, and move on.

Telling him that suing would be kind of lame, and intimating that the exposure was good for his business, is essentially being this guy:
tsumura2

Illustration by Emmie Tsumura

Don’t be that guy. Your company can afford to pay people fairly for their work. The optics of doubling down on an issue where you’re clearly taking the wrong position are terrible, and the world needs Tesla to look good.

That’s all.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Bally Bazaar: a memory of my favorite pinball machine

Before computer games, there were pinball machines. If I had a nickel for every time I played one of those beasts in the 60s… well, I’d have all my nickels back. And it would be a significant pile.

We’re not going to talk about my addictive personality at the moment – that’s a given, something the Goodwoman of the House never tires of reminding me. But of all the pinball machines I ever played – and there was a pile of them – this one was indisputably my favorite. It showed up at the Jigger Shop (Cheshire Academy’s hole-in-the-wall luncheonette and post office) and was an instant favorite.

The full specs of this game are here at the The Internet Pinball Database – I’ve culled one or two photos to give you a feel for what it looked like.

bally1

Full view, photo by Tim Brady

bally2

The playing field, photo by Tim Brady

bally3

The back glass, photo by Alan Tate.

bally.jpg

Bazaar flyer from Bally.

bally4

Closeup of the reward schema.

This one was the first machine to have the feature of closing the flipper gap when you hit a certain bumper (in this case, the “U”), which allowed you to keep a single ball in play much longer. If you lighted all the L-U-C-K letters, you would light up one of the crescents at the top of the back glass. In addition to replays for certain score levels, you were granted a free game for lighting crescent 5, and another for lighting crescent 9. Those replays were accompanied not by bells or whistles but by a loud mechanical “snap” which was unique to any machine I had ever played.

Nowadays, modern pinball machines are totally electronic, with amazing graphic displays and what seems like THX-quality sound, and frightfully complex playing fields. If you’re not from the generation that was addicted to these machines, the old ones operated with magnets and solenoids and mechanical relays, long before printed circuits became ubiquitous. Despite being simple by comparison to today’s machines, many of them were frightfully clever, and all of them were designed to be maddeningly captivating.

I imagine that being a pinball repairman was a full-time career back then. Lots of moving parts to break, lots of resistors to fry.

I haven’t played a pinball machine in decades, and I was no “pinball wizard,” but I keenly recall the blood-pumping hours I spent in front of these machines, and this one example in particular.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Incredible Shrinking Data Storage

In the beginning was paper.

4.5 megs data in 62500 punch cards, 1955

4.5 megabytes of data in 62500 punch cards, 1955

tlqSeko6BlUABWIUP9FF8PMPVZdOBb4udh_gebTaRW8

132 MB on floppies on the right. 128 GB flash drive on the left.

gates

“This CD-ROM can hold more information than all the paper that’s here below me”
– Bill Gates,1994

1024px-8_bytes_vs._8Gbytes

8 GB memory resting on 64 magnetic cores that hold 8 bytes.

post-4828-0-70084000-1404521894

10 years = 3 orders of magnitude.

Kingston™ is now planning to release a HyperX 1 TB thumb drive.

Where do we go from here? Science is playing with SMMs (Single Molecule Magnets) and SAMs (Single Atom Magnets.)

Are we on track to replicate “Ms Fnd in a Lbry“? Only time will tell.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

Trump’s narcissistic language

This is a comment made at reddit by /u/C250586. In it, (s)he explains how Trump’s use of language exhibits the traits of a sociopathic narcissist, and how his words have no objective meaning, but only subjectively mean what Trump decides they mean.

I wish everyone could read this. Sadly, the ones who really need to will not, and those who do will most likely dismiss it as “fake news” or the ravings of a “libtard.”

This is posted by permission, with only one small Bowdlerization.

Why do people get so hung up on what Trump says? The words he uses? Why do people constantly try to frame his pure subjectivity in an objective way? He views the world as an extension of himself… so every word he says needs to be in that context. I’m not sure people recognize how profound this revelation actually is…

When Trump is talking about anything (for example, “The Swamp”), he is not speaking about things in the same objective way that (most) of the rest of the world would – he views things from an entirely non-objective frame of reference so every sentence out of his mouth is a subjective label that is a reflection of this personal closed off frame of reference he lives in. Using the above example, he uses the term “The Swamp” to describe a non-specific group of people/entities that have blocked him from getting what he wants throughout his life (aka, FBI, DOJ, EPA).

He would never talk about a tree as a thing – an objective entity – it would be a “really great tree that he likes” or a “terrible tree”. Does “Crooked Hillary” ring any bells? Have you ever heard Trump speak about Hillary in a way that doesn’t involve him projecting his own frame of reference, his own view of her onto her? He isn’t capable of it because his brain is flat out not wired to do so. Nothing exists outside of his frame of reference where he is the center of his own personal universe.

Think about it. Listen to the man talk. EVERY SINGLE WORD out of his mouth is a label… an adjective… he only speaks in pure subjective rhetoric and hyperbole. Every word is an extension of his one dimensional perspective – intended to label everyone and everything in line with his own personal world view. Everything is an extension of himself, and how he views the world. Textbook narcissism at its absolute worst and most infuriating.

If that’s the DOJ, FBI, or any Mueller, he/they are going to label them all as “spies”, “swamp”, whatever it takes to turn public opinion against these entities. Just like he calls investigations “witch hunts”, and The Washington Post “Fake news”… it’s just an endless sociopathic stream of manipulation, on a massive and very public scale.

Of course Trump hates the DOJ, FBI, and EPA – these entities have all been trying to shut him down and stop him from getting what he wants for his entire life. It’s pretty clear he figured he would become president and finally get rid of them. All his supporters are the same kinds of people who would see the EPA/FBI/DOJ as just red tape that is stopping them from getting rich. These people (and Trump specifically) cannot view these agencies in an objective light. Aka… Yes it costs money to NOT dump your uranium waste in the river, but it also prevents the people downstream from dying of radiation poisoning.

It’s pretty well understood in psychological circles that Trump is textbook sociopathic narcissist. Kinda like a corporation with no soul in human form, who somehow convinced a bunch of people to elect him. Trump is “capitalism”, for lack of a better term, at its absolute pinnacle…. get rich by whatever means necessary, no matter who or what he has to destroy in the process. Zero empathy.

Trump’s mouth is a 24/7 gish gallop of falsehoods, slander and libel, leaving an absolute [imbroglio] of rational people scrambling to attempt to counter him in his wake.

Here’s hoping that the US has a strong enough backbone to prove that indeed no one is above the law, and there are enough checks and balances in place that corruption can’t exist at this level.

Asking for health advice is a slippery slope

Diet Dr Pepper has been my poison of choice for decades. I drink the stuff by the tanker-load. In fact, if I could do this, I probably would:

Dr Pepper Do It Right

The other day, I posted this on Facebook:

facebook

I elaborated:

I know I’d be healthier without sugar, aspartame, caffeine, or carbonation. Plain water gives me terrible heartburn. It’s a puzzlement. (Note: I’m already on an H2 blocker for the GERD, which keeps the fire mostly put out, but it tends to flare up during the day on occasion.)

There are reasons for wanting to make a change.

    1. Sugar: Sugary drinks contain about 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounces, or about 150 calories. If I were to drink four or five of those each day, that’s an additional 600 to 750 calories a day on top of my normal caloric intake – and that adds up fast. I’m already about 30 pounds heavier than I would like to be, and I’d hate to tip the scales at over 300. Not only does it pack on the pounds, but it contributes to the development of insulin resistance via blood sugar spike and crash, and most of it comes in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is well-known for its deleterious health effects.
    2. Artificial sweeteners: My wife wants me to give up diet soda and switch to regular, claiming that Aspartame is worse for me than sugar. Scientifically, the jury is still out on that. The health-food world will tell you that it accumulates in your liver and takes six months to purge, or that it turns into formaldehyde above 86 degrees, or that it stimulates your appetite and makes you want to eat more, or a host of other very scary things. The FDA says its perfectly safe. Some of those claims have been soundly debunked, others are not so clear. Thus far, I’ve noticed no adverse effects [twitch twitch] other than those stubborn 30 pounds that don’t want to come off, so there may be something to that last one; the only two times I ever successfully released weight in my life, I had sworn off soda altogether.
    3. Caffeine: as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tea, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco are proscribed. But there’s an old joke that goes,

      “What’s the difference between an active Mormon and a lapsed Mormon? The temperature of their caffeine.”

      Caffeinated sodas are not officially taboo, although there are some in the Church who will tell you that you’re going to Hell if you enjoy the occasional Coke – these are the “Nazi Mormons.” But as much as I like that energy buzz, caffeine does tend to flog the adrenal glands, which can lead to adrenal fatigue syndrome. I know that I’d be better off without it.

    4. Carbonationbelch I love fizz. I find it refreshing. I was really hoping that YO₂ would become a commercial success, but apparently the rest of the nation didn’t resonate with the idea. 😢 The health buzz tells you that carbonation will leach calcium from your bones as it acidifies your bloodstream, but that claim has been largely debunked. If anything, it probably contributes some to my heartburn and some increased flatulence pfrrt. So if I were going to be 100% committed, carbonation would be off the menu as well.

Many people responded, and before anything I need to state that I’m grateful for their taking the time to share advice and suggestions. They did so (mostly) because they care – and I appreciate those sentiments. On the other hand, the value of some of those suggestions is questionable.

Three people took the opportunity to flog their multilevel products (and, concomitantly, business opportunities). One was iGalen’s “Emulin E”, made of skin of the grape, skin of the onion and green coffee, and gallic acid – claimed to be a “carbohydrate manager,” and very expensive. Two others recommended Prüvit, a costly ketogenic diet system. Both of these, in my assessment, are pure pseudoscientific woo, as are most multilevel health products. Also, in the MLM world, any time you can get someone to buy your products, you’re opening the door to recruiting them as a new distributor. I will give my friends credit for being truly concerned for my health, and for a firm belief that their products are God’s answer to everything that ails me, but there’s always that little bell ringing in the back of an independent distributor’s head that says 鴨が葱を背負って来る (kamo ga negi wo shotte kuru), a Japanese proverb that means “Here comes a duck bearing onions,” or rather, “Here comes a sucker ready to be parted from his money.” I drank that Kool Aid for far too long, which is the subject of another essay altogether.

Two people, despite my clarification, suggested switching to plain water. Either they didn’t read my comment, or ignored it. Yes, it’s really the healthiest solution, but clearly the most boring.

One suggested taking a cod liver oil pill or two for the heartburn, based on anecdotal evidence and personal experience. I’ve done that in the past, and it didn’t seem to help much.

One suggested a less sugar-intense cherry drink, since cherry (according to him) is an essential element of the Dr Pepper flavor. But even “soda light” will probably have more sugar than I want.

One suggested the new flavors of Diet Coke appearing on the market. I tried these and found them an improvement over plain Diet Coke, which tastes like panther piss. Another suggested Coke Zero, which I have drunk in the past and which is better than Diet Coke. But these are still diet soda with artificial sweeteners and caffeine.

A friend of mine who is a longtime resident of Japan suggested mugicha, or barley tea. According to him, it’s easy enough to make yourself if you have the ingredients. Lots of flavor, no sugar, caffeine, or carbonation. My first wife lived in Japan for a year and a half, and her endorsement of mugicha was less than ringing if I remember correctly. But it sounds like a good option to add to a repertoire of more healthful drinks, and I will definitely look into this one.

A cousin said, “A glass of wine cures everything!!! Oh I forgot you don’t drink!!!” I’d get some of Uncle Carlo’s fat black home-made wine as a kid (cut with water, of course) at my Italian grandmother’s home, and I definitely developed a taste for it. Darnit. I wish I could take her advice.

One long-time friend suggested Sprite Zero or Diet Sunkist. I’m sure they are tasty, but still diet sodas.

Two people suggested San Pellegrino, Perrier, or LaCroix. Things of this nature may be my ultimate solution, or at least an intermediate step.

One friend of long standing suggested lime juice in cold water, which helped him through soda withdrawal, and another suggested water with a dash of lemon juice as a less-boring alternative to plain water. Maybe. I’ve thought along these lines, but I’ve noticed that citrus tends to increase the heartburn.

Another colleague suggested rooibos tea, either hot or cold. No caffeine, many flavored varieties available. Definitely worth a look.

Two friends suggested a healthy soda that uses stevia. Not a bad idea, but in my experience stevia is just not very good tasting. I’m looking for something that makes me want more of it.

One friend suggested Dry Soda. Looked at their web page – it looks like it has potential, but does not seem available anywhere close to where I live.

Another colleague suggested kombucha. I have reservations about this one. A physician at the poison control center wrote, “There are no scientific studies to support the many health claims made for kombucha tea. There are many reasons to be concerned about the safety of kombucha tea, despite its long history of traditional use.” Probably a pass, especially because kombucha can be mildly alcoholic and is often combined with green or black tea.

A knitting colleague suggested iced herbal teas. A good possibility, since there are so many flavors that I already enjoy, including peppermint, chamomile, and numerous blends.

The last suggestion was chai. Sadly, this one is out for me because of the Word of Wisdom.

Trying to find something that has neither lots of sugar, artificial sweetener, caffeine, or carbonation – something that tastes good – has proven to be a challenge. Right now, I’ve found some nice flavored seltzers at Hannaford that are refreshing and tasty. I’ll live with the carbonation issue for now. I might even consider getting a spritz bottle like I had in Austria in the 70s with those little CO₂ cartridges, but those aren’t cheap. Whatever I drink has got to be cold – that’s part of the deal. So at work, a thermos full of something good will hopefully help me stay away from the vending machines.

I’ll report back as time goes on if I find something really spiffy.

The Old Wolf has spoken.