November 30, 2020

Objective reality

According to quantum mechanics, a particle is in multiple states, called a “superposition,” until an observation (e.g., a measurement of its position or momentum) is made, at which point its wave function “collapses,” reducing the particle to a single state. A couple of years ago, physicists performed an experiment that showed that an observer could collapse the wave function of a photon, yet a subsequent experimenter could find the photon in a state of superposition. A writer for MIT Technology Review reported on this experiment and concluded that it means “there’s no such thing as objective reality.”

One could instead interpret the results as meaning that science is inherently unreliable, something we have known for some time already.

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November 24, 2020


As reported by CNBC: Peter Thiel backs Berlin start-up making psychedelics in $125 million round. That wasn’t what I expected when I read Joel’s prophecy that “your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”

Also, it is sad to read that the U.S. “represents around 50% of the world’s pharmaceutical market.”

November 5, 2020

La urbo kaj la montoj

Hodiaŭ estas bela, klara tago en San Diego. Tra la fenestro de mia oficejo mi vidas, unue, la urbon, kaj je longa distanco malantaŭ la urbo montojn. Ho, la montoj! Kvankam ili aspektas kiel ombroj en la distanco, ili ŝajnas pli realaj ol la urbo. Ekde ĉi tie ili ĉiuj aspektas preskaŭ same, sed mi konas ilin. Kelkaj staras nudaj, kiel grandaj teramasoj. Aliaj estas vestitaj per de ĉi tie nevideblaj pinoj. Tiuj lastaj baldaŭ kovros siajn kapojn per neĝĉapo. Jes, ili ĉiuj apektas same en la distanco, sed ĉiu el ili estas unika, samkiel ĉiu homo estas malsama ol ĉiu alia.

Male, ĉiu konstruaĵego de la urbo aspektas malsame, sed ili ĉiuj estas same artefaritaj, makuloj sur la tero. En ili ŝrumpas la homaj animoj pro la nerealeco de la hodiaŭa vivo. Tia estas la urbo, la natura hejmo de kleruloj kaj profesiuloj, kiuj jam delonge perdis la saĝon. Ili arogas al si la rajton regi kaj gvidi la vivon de la kamparanoj kaj laboristoj, kvankam tiuj pli bone konas kaj pli akre perceptas la realon.

Ho mi estu fore de ĉi tie, mi estu en la montoj, kie la steloj vere brilas dum la nokto! En la urbo, la steloj mankas, dronite en la artefarita stratlumo. Tio estas ĝusta, taŭga bildo de la blindeco de la urbanoj, blindaj gvidantoj de la homaro! Ne, ne en la urbo kuŝas vera saĝo, sed en la freneza senhejmulo, la ermito kiu loĝas en la montoj. Sed la montoj ne estas mia hejmo, kaj mi ne taŭgas por la vera vivo tie. Post momenta revo la nuboj forigas la klarecon de la tago; mi memoras mian miopecon, kaj revenas al la nerealeco, al kiu mi apartenas.

October 17, 2020


Lastatempe mi eklernis—aŭ, pli bone, provis eklerni—ŝpinadon kaj trikadon. Mi sukcesis triki malgrandan trikoton, eĉ se ne tre bone, sed mi estas terure nekompetenta pri ŝpinado. Verdire, mi neniam estis tre kompetenta pri laboro per la manoj; tial mi laboras en oficejo. Tamen mi ne estas tiel facile venkita, do mi daŭre laboros kaj ekzercos min, ne nepre ĝis perfekteco, sed ĝis mi povos fari ion pri kio mi ne hontos!

Mia celo estas lerni teksi per teksilo. Malgraŭ tio, mi volis komenci per ŝpinado, ĉar mi scivolis pri kiel oni faris fadenon. Hodiaŭ oni faras ĝin per maŝinoj laŭ la plej nova teknologio, sed mi eĉ ne uzas radŝpinilo (eble tio estas mia problemo!); mi uzas—aŭ provas uzi—simpla spindelo en la manoj, samkiel oni faris dum miloj aŭ dekmiloj (aŭ eble pli) da jaroj. Kiam mi fariĝos almenaŭ iomete kompetenta pri ŝpinado, mi aĉetos teksilon kaj komencos lerni teksadon. Fakte, estas “gildo” de teksistoj ĉi tie en San Diego, al kiu mi aliĝos por pli bone lerni la arton.

Kion vi, karaj esperantistoj, faras kiel ŝatokupon?

July 28, 2020


How you proceed must be as noble as the cause you seek.

The turn of phrase is fantastic. It lends itself to meditation, or to ponderous and solemn thoughts. It occurs in the middle of a discussion of people taking upon themselves the role of Satan, accusing others and thereby “causing jarring, contention and strife.” Moreover, the discussion suggests that this role is played even by people “who desire a good thing” and have well-intentioned hearts.

So what does the phrase mean? What is the cause being sought? Is it related to learning to live in peace with each other? What does “proceed” mean here? Is it our actions, particularly those we might think are productive in favor of “the cause [we] seek?” And what is “noble?” Is it intended to contrast with accusing and causing jarring, contention and strife? Is it related to “lov[ing] one another, not begrudgingly, but as brothers and sisters indeed?” Or to “align[ing our] words with [our] hearts?

“Noble” and its derivations appear in a few places in T&C. 138:18: “How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God than the vain imagination of the human heart?” 139:7: “[T]he pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under your hand.” 146:20: “[T]he truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent.” What does the word mean in those places? Is it related to its use in the phrase quoted at the beginning of this post?

May 26, 2020


I was looking into an idea that was put into my head by an acquaintance a couple of years ago: that trees attract rain. I wondered if this was true, and, if true, how it works. Certainly this may be a mechanism by which the desert could be made to blossom as a rose. What I have read includes an article in the journal Bioscience explaining for the educated layman a hypothesis about how forests may be acting like “pumps” that bring about rainfall, and an article from CIFOR (a forestry research organization) on the potential of forests to mitigate drought. I expressed the following thoughts on the matter on Facebook:

Trees’ complex interactions with the atmosphere can help prevent both drought and flooding. But you need a lot of them. One gentleman, who died well into his 90s in the early 2000s, recalled his parents or grandparents describing vast forests that covered most of the United States only a couple hundred years ago; they had been instrumental in cutting those forests down. (The term used was “rainforests,” but I am not sure whether we would use the word the same way today.) In hindsight, clearing large amounts of forest to make room for farms, ever so popular in the 1800s, was a poor decision. It may be that we would have been better served by clearing small amounts of trees as necessary, and developing methods of agriculture that coexist well with the forest.

It would be interesting if we could cover the country in forests once again. Doing so could alleviate part of the stress we have put on the climate, at least partially alleviate problems in water supply in parts of the country, and improve agricultural fertility in arid or semi-arid regions, which would allow for greater local self-sufficiency throughout much of the country.

The political right ought to see an opportunity for greater liberty and national strength by improving self reliance throughout the country, while the political left ought to see the environmental advantages of having to transport less food over large distances. The left should see forestation as a way to combat climate change, while climate-change skeptics among the right should still be able to enjoy the beauty and clean air provided by the ubiquitous forests. Moreover, greater local self-sufficiently would make it possible to reduce or pause travel between regions during a pandemic (such as at the present), slowing the spread of the disease while avoiding restriction of movement within communities. If an individual region is able to provide for its own needs, a temporary restriction on travel to and from the region, but allowance of travel within the region (to visit friends, local parks, etc.) may be more palatable to the general public than the restrictions against which they are chafing at present.

Indeed, fads like “permaculture” and “urban farming” attract adherents from both the left and the right, indicating that both take an interest in the environment and food security, though perhaps for different reasons. That should give reason for hope that there’s at least a small chance that we could persuade the nation (and the world) to undertake a large reforestation project. Perhaps such a project, by reconnecting us to the Earth and her natural cycles, would also improve our collective mental and social well-being.

The chance, however, is small: Good sustainable agricultural practices, the type that would coexist well with universal forests, are not nearly as profitable as the soil-depleting computerized factory farms of big agriculture. Either extensive community participation in local agriculture, or an acceptance of higher food prices, would be needed.

May 15, 2020

Liberty and life; captivity and death

The Book of Mormon uses the word “liberty” more than any other volume of scripture. “Liberty” is associated with “eternal life” while “captivity” is associated with “death” (2 Nephi 1:10). Curiously, famine and poverty resulting from a deprivation of liberty are poised to kill far more people than the deprivation of liberty was intended to save.

Although the Book of Mormon has examples of preserving liberty through a limited amount of bloodshed (see, e.g., Alma 20:12), it also includes examples of escaping captivity without bloodshed (Mosiah 11:10-11). It seems that the Lord would prefer the latter for us in our day (T&C 50:7). Either way, if we are not capable of living in liberty, forceful overthrow of the government would be futile, as it would merely lead us from one captivity to another; nor would it make sense for the Lord to give us the liberty that our lifestyle shows that we don’t want. At the very least, if we desire freedom, we should be capable of living and interacting with each other in a way that government is superfluous.

There are plenty of people laughing at those complaining about the loss of “mah freedumb.” Ironically, among those mockers of freedom appear to be many who previously complained about the current president being a dictator. Let them laugh, and seek to peacefully persuade those who can be persuaded to pray, vote, and live in a way that will bring liberty. That, it appears to me, is the best way to both stand up to and show love for those who use dishonesty and manipulation to try to keep the rest of us in captivity. To the humble, an honest voice will stand out against the ubiquitous deception.

A show of force is not necessary; brandishing weapons in front of government buildings will at best bring temporary results, and may backfire. There are other ways to boldly support liberty and life in the face of captivity and death. Abinadi, held in bondage, loved Noah enough to die for him, and as a result brought Noah’s people out of captivity and into a new life in Christ.

May 7, 2020

Social virus

The current pandemic has revealed much about ourselves and our relationship to the government and to each other. An already-existing wound has been deepened, and at this point it is unlikely that it will heal.

Conservatives’ eyes have been opened to see a government engaging in tyrannical overreach approaching the degree that conspiracy theorists have warned about: not just by liberals, but supported by conservative governors, and even an institution—the police—that they have trusted, praised, and upheld as heroes. They see liberals as foolishly supporting that tyranny, insufficiently self-aware to realize their bondage in the universal house arrest or the upcoming economic catastrophe.

Liberals’ eyes have been opened to see a conservative movement intent on activity that will kill people, and that the government must suppress the movement by force in order to save lives.

To conservatives, liberals are a threat to freedom and cannot be reconciled to reason. To liberals, conservatives are a threat to people’s lives and cannot be reconciled to reason. The logical conclusion for either side is that force must be used to bring the other side into submission.

The hatred may fester for a while, perhaps years, in mutual toleration, but without a fundamental change in people’s character, the inevitable result is going to be violence. Unless a group of people decline the invitation to hate those who don’t think like them, sooner or later violence will be unavoidable.

If you choose not to hate, sooner or later you will be hated for your choice. Choose it anyway. Love your neighbor, even when he hates you.

April 28, 2020

Laying a snare

The Book of Mormon describes in detail the ruses that the wicked use to entrap the righteous. When Alma and Amulek spoke at Ammonihah, “there were some among them who thought to question them, that by their cunning devices they might catch them in their words, that they might find witness against them, that they might deliver them to the judges, that they might be judged according to the law, and that they might be slain or cast into prison, according to the crime which they could make appear or witness against them.” Alma 8:4. The same tactic was used against Abinadi (Mosiah 7:16) and Nephi (Helaman 3:16). It is interesting that the wicked use questions in order to dispute. It leaves a sort of “plausible deniability” because they can claim that they only want clarification or are merely seeking more information, despite the true intent “that thereby they might make him cross his words or contradict the words which he should speak.” Alma 8:5.

These ruses are “the foundations of the Devil” and the result is always “the utter destruction of this people.” Alma 8:5. Both the fact that this devil-inspired tactic seems to be the normal method of argument in our day, and the promised results of it should trouble us. “Yea, and I say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction. Yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword. But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared. Now therefore, if ye will cast out the righteous from among you, then will not the Lord stay his hand, but in his fierce anger he will come out against you; then ye shall be smitten by famine, and by pestilence, and by the sword. And the time is soon at hand except ye repent.” Alma 8:5.

Christ taught that “there shall be no disputations among you.” 3 Nephi 5:8. I think it would be wise advice to simply speak the truth plainly. When you disagree with someone about a matter, and your inclination is to respond with a question rather than directly stating that you disagree, it would be wise to consider whether you are following this tactic, which the Book of Mormon identifies as “the subtlety of the Devil,“ whose purpose is “that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down to everlasting destruction according to the power of his captivity.” Alma 9:1. I certainly would not want to be part of the “utter destruction of [my] people” (Alma 8:5), particularly when “it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished, for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed.” Mormon 2:1.

It is particularly interesting that just as the Devil inspires the wicked to ask questions in some contexts, in other contexts the hard-hearted fail to ask questions when they should. “And I said unto them, Have ye inquired of the Lord? And they said unto me, We have not, for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us. Behold, I said unto them, How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish because of the hardness of your hearts? Do ye not remember the thing which the Lord hath said, If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you?” 1 Nephi 4:2. I think I will make an effort to try to avoid disputing with questions, but at the same time I will try to bring more questions to the Lord. The choices seem to be that you can either help cause the utter destruction of your people, or you can be the reason that they are spared, at least until they get rid of you. Alma 8:5. If possible, I would rather choose the latter.

April 14, 2020


Jen traduko de ĉapitro de la sanktaj skriboj de interesa branĉo de mormonismo.

Vizio, kiun rakontis Denver Snuffer Jr. en konferenco de la Doktrino de Kristo en Boise, Idaho, 11 septembro 2016.

Mi lastatempe havis vizion, kiu komenciĝis kiel sonĝo. En ĝi mi veturis supren en malgranda aŭto sur monta vojo. La vojo estis kruta, sed rekta, kaj ĝi fariĝis pli kruta suprengrimpante. Apud la maldekstra flanko de la vojo kaj paralele estis fervojaj reloj. Dum ni ŝtiris la malgrandan aŭton supren, mi rimarkis akran kurbon en la fervojaj reloj antaŭe, kiu interrompis la alie rektan kurson de la reloj. Mi vidis trajnon alproksimiĝantan desupre je kelka distanco, rapide malsuprenvenontan, kaj ĝi ŝajnis moviĝi tro rapide por sendanĝere sekvi la akran kurbon en la reloj. La malgranda aŭto en kiu ni veturis estis apenaŭ atingonta la kurbon kiam la rapidanta trajno trafis la kurbon, saltis de la reloj, kaj terure karambolis antaŭ ni. Nia malgranda aŭto apenaŭ evitis kolizion dum la trajnvrako etendiĝis. Dum la malgranda aŭto veturadis supren, la karambolo de la trajno pligrandiĝis, unue flanke de la aŭto, kaj poste dum ni akceliĝis, proksime malantaŭ ni. La malgranda aŭto antaŭiĝis la daŭran karambolon de la moviĝanta trajno, kaj mi konstatis, ke la trajno estis plena de pasaĝeroj, kiuj, pli supre ol la vrako, amuzis sin. Ili ne atentis la katastrofon, kiu jam okazas al ilia trajno. Ni komencis kriegi de la fenestroj de nia aŭto, celante admoni la okupantojn de la pereonta trajno, sed ili tute ne atentis. Ili ridis kaj festis en la trajno sen zorgo pri la venonta detruo. Mi kapablis vidi la vrakon malantaŭ mi en la spegulo dum la forto de la karambolo ĵetis rompitajn vagonojn ĉien, kelkajn sur la vojon malantaŭ ni, kiu faris, ke la vojo nun estis netransirebla. Ni ne havis povon savi tiujn, kiuj estas en la trajno, ĉar ili ne volis aŭskulti la admonojn, kiujn ni kriegis al ili.

Kiam ni atingis la supron de la monto, la lastaĵo de la trajno preterpasis kaj mi haltigis la malgrandan aŭton. Ni eliris kaj staris sur la vojo, rigardante malsupren, kaj spektis dum la lastaĵo de la trajno detruiĝis. Funebrante la multajn vivojn perditajn, mi vekiĝis el la sonĝo kaj sidiĝis sur mia lito, sed la vizio daŭris.

Tiam mi vidis je longa distanco, malantaŭ la vrako, superantan inundon, kvazaŭ ĝi estis granda fajro, konsumantan kaj detruantan la tutan kamparon, venantan de la oriento. Kvankam ni supervivis la karambolon de la trajno, saĵnis neeviteble, ke ni ĉiuj mortos en la venonta inundo. Mi serĉis ĉirkaŭe iun signon de espero, ke ni supervivos, kaj rimarkis apud la vojo grandan ŝtonegon kun malfermaĵo. Mi gvidis la malgrandan grupon al la roko kaj konstatis, ke la malfermaĵo estis por kaverno, kiu iris supren en la ŝirmo de la roko. Ni eniris la kavernon kaj grimpis supren. En la kavo de la roko nia malgranda grupo atendis dum la inundo alproksimiĝis, ne certaj ĉu ni vivos aŭ mortos. La bruo de la detruo ekstere estis surdiga kiam la inundo alproksimiĝis, kaj tiam la malfermaĵo de la kaverno nigriĝis kaj ni estis lasitaj en plena silento kaj mallumo. Ni atendis. Post kelkaj momentoj la lumo revenis, sed silento restis. Post kelkaj pluaj momentoj, nia malgranda grupo eliris el la kaverno de la roko por vidi tion, kio okazis al la mondo.

La scenejo de detruo estis miriga. La tuta pejzaĝo transformiĝis. Ĝi estis detruita. La detruita trajno, la reloj, kaj la vojo estis konsumitaj. Ĉio aspektis sterile. Tiam nova vivo subite ekaperis en la vasta dezerteco. Malfekundaj trunkoj eligis novajn branĉojn, florojn, kaj foliojn. Floroj eliris el la tero. Dum ni spektis, la tero rapide transformiĝis, kaj post malmulta tempo la nudigita dezerteco pleniĝis de vivo, beleco, fekundeco, multe pli ol antaŭ ol la inundo de fajro detruis la pejzaĝon.

Nun la vizio finiĝis, kaj oni donis al mi la interpreton: La trajno estas la falsaj religioj de la mondo. La okupantoj de la malgranda aŭto estas tiuj, kiuj pentas kaj akceptas bapton. La ŝirma roko kun la kaverno estas Kristo.