Svithe: The Uchtdorf Pen Analogy


Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes. Pride does the opposite. Pride draws its energy and strength from the deep wells of selfishness. The moment we stop obsessing with ourselves and lose ourselves in service, our pride diminishes and begins to die.

My dear brethren, there are so many people in need whom we could be thinking about instead of ourselves. And please don’t ever forget your own family, your own wife. There are so many ways we could be serving. We have no time to become absorbed in ourselves.

I once owned a pen that I loved to use during my career as an airline captain. By simply turning the shaft, I could choose one of four colors. The pen did not complain when I wanted to use red ink instead of blue. It did not say to me, “I would rather not write after 10:00 p.m., in heavy fog, or at high altitudes.” The pen did not say, “Use me only for important documents, not for the daily mundane tasks.” With greatest reliability it performed every task I needed, no matter how important or insignificant. It was always ready to serve.

In a similar way we are tools in the hands of God. When our heart is in the right place, we do not complain that our assigned task is unworthy of our abilities. We gladly serve wherever we are asked. When we do this, the Lord can use us in ways beyond our understanding to accomplish His work.

last week's svithe


How to solve the Iran nuclear problem

(because apparently I am the only person bright enough to solve this problem)

Back when nuclear energy was about to become a reality, we had to make a decision: uranium or thorium? We chose uranium because it has nasty leftovers that could be used to make bombs.

But we don't need bombs anymore so it's time to switch back to thorium and lots of (but not enough) money is being poured into making thorium a viable energy option. Once it gets going, it will be excitingly more efficient and safe and space-thrifty than uranium. Plus we have tons of it. Here's my favorite introductory article on thorium.

In our quest for thorium-based energy, we should partner with Iran (and other nations), sharing science with each other, and master thorium reactors together. If Iran is serious about only wanting energy, they'll participate. (They're not of course, but we don't have a way to stop them --- might as well take away their moral argument.) This way the US and Iran will share a significant economic link, and as we've learned from Friedman, economic links prevent wars.

The current method for dealing with Iran is stupid and bullheaded. A substantial percentage of Iranians would rather be friends with Obama than the Ayatollah and we should support that feeling as much as possible. Let's make friends, not rap knuckles.

And thorium, it seems to me, is the simplest path to nurturing these friendships.

You're welcome.


The Next Five Books of 2010


050) Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, finished November 4

Fortunately this book had ghosts because I took so long reading it that I didn't get around to my planned Halloween book.

The first question I would want to know is whether or not this book is as good as Time Traveler's Wife. Short answer: No. It's not. It's not a fluid --- it gets rather choppy with some scenes not carrying their weight and many of them weirdly abbreviated. But the ending is written so perfectly that this minor imperfections fade away in memory. Really, by most standards, this book is excellent. Even compared to TTW it holds up reasonably well.

My primary complaint (remember, this was my Halloween book) is its utter lack of terror. Except for a couple unsettling surprises that are over in an instant, this is a ghost story without any scariness whatsoever. And that's okay, because that's not what it's trying to do (in fact, had I not read this book in October I would be lauding this innovation), but it's what I wanted.

This tale centers on themes of togetherness and individuality and the roles lies play in our relationships. Two sets of twins, scattered deaths, lonely men, beauty all around.

Even with its flaws, this book still highlights the native beauty of Niffenegger's pen. Read this book. Read TTW. Read her illustrated novels. Read "The Night Bookmobile." I absolutely love the way she blends her literary sensibility with otherworldly situations. Great stuff. Count me a fan.

two or three weeks or maybe a month or more


049) Legal Action Comics Volume 1 edited by "Dirty" Danny Hellman, October 29

I spent well over a year suffering through this book with the plan to put together an intelligent response to its take on blatant vulgarity and grand obscenity only to realize I can't care that much about it. Sorry. Just: don't buy it. You can find better ways to support the First Amendment

say sixteen months


048) The Atomics: Spaced Out & Grounded in Snap City! by people who are mostly not Mike Allred, finished October 28

Other artists and writers (mostly) ran the show with Allred's characters this time, but the stories are surprisingly similar all the same, tales of the loss and redemption or relationships. All nice, nothing spectacular.



047) The Trial by Frank Kafka, Chantal Montellier, David Sane Mairowitz; finished October 21

Surprisingly, I've never read Kafka's Trial before. So I can't fairly compare this comics adaptation to the original, but I will still end up comparing it to the original's reputation.

Mairowitz translated and adapted the novel into the script that Montellier drew. Mairowits has also adapted The Trial for the stage, so he's clearly been living with this story for a long time.

The art is stark black and white and uses the same drawings over and over again. The panels are strewn with dancing skeletons and sex is a recurring theme. The book is successful, I suppose, in being frustrating, as it should be, but since it's just over 100pp, it never really gets caught in ruts. I never felt frustrated enough. And Joseph K never really seemed trapped. Why didn't he just stop thinking about it? I can't see any reason why he wouldn't just forget about his trial altogether and that strikes me as a failure.



046) NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, finished October 6

For all the praise and suchlike that's been heaped on NurturSchock (all of which, I might add, is well deserved --- go read this book, like yesterday), something I have not read but which needs to be said is this:

This book demonstrates the progress of science to the layman.

To make a litany of facts read like a story, the authors follow the scientists as they turn down deadends and commit misinterpretations and make other errors until they arrive at some fancy new facts which blow the adult mind.

With the uninformed in arms over, to pick one obvious example, vaccinations, seeing the careful, methodical way real scientists puzzle over data on their way to truth has got to be hugely helpful for people who truly just do not understand science.

Other things I can say about this book: I hope it changes the way I parent. We intend to buy our own copy. Because while some paragraphs reinforced what I already believed to be true (gifted programs are crock and I will never let my kids be tested), other things came as a rather shameful shock (I am, for instance, terrible at teaching babies to talk).

Get it! Read it! Dally not!

under three weeks

Previously in 2010 . . . . :

045) Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, finished October 4
044) Song/Cycles by Mormon Artists Group, finished Sept. 15
043) The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 by Charles M. Schulz, finished September 6
042) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, finished September 5
041) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, finished September 2
040) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, finished September 1
039) Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There by Mark Di Vincenzo, finished August 28
038) Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut, finished August 25
037) In the Void by Michael R. Collings, finished August 21
036) Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome, finished August 18
035) Utah: Sex and Travel Guide by Calvin Grondahl, finished August 10
034) E Pluribus Unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon, finished August 9
033) The Complete Peanuts, 1971 to 1972 by Charles M. Schulz, finished August 6
032) I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, finished August 6
031) Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent, finished July 26
030) Servant of a Dark God by John Brown, finished July 21
029) Drink Me, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog by James Goldberg, finished June 9
028) Out of the Mount (tentative title) edited by Davey Morrison, finished June 8
027) Madman Boogaloo! by Mike Allred, Mike Baron, Bernie Mireault, Steve Rude; finished June 2
026) The Education of Robert Nifkin by Daniel Pinkwater, finished May 22
025) True Grit by Charles Portis, finished May 21
024) Old Man's War by John Scalzi, finished May 15
023) Pandora's Nightmare: Horror Unleashed, finished May 13
022) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished May 11
021) Look! It's Jesus!: Amazing Holy Visions in Everyday Life by Harry Choron and Sandra Choron, finished May 9
020) Travels in the Scriptorium: A Novel by Paul Auster, finished May 5
019) Suburban Folklore by Steven Walters, finished May 4
018) The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall, finished April 30
017) Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns by George Burns, finished April 20
016) The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, finished April 15
015) Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction edited by Angela Hallstrom, finished March 24
014) The Best American Comics 2009 edited by Charles Burns, finished March 22
013) Icon: A Hero's Welcome by Dwayne McDuffie and MD Bright, finished March 17
012) There's Treasure Everywhere by Bill Watterson, finished March 15
011) Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool. Finished right at midnight between March 13 and 14
010) Teen Titans: Year One by Amy Wolfram et al, finished March 7
009) The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book One by Bill Watterson, finished March 6
008) Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories by Thomas Lynch, finished March 5
007) Stone Rabbit #1: BC Mambo by Erik Craddock, finished March 2
006) The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, finished February 23
005) Missile Mouse 2 by Jake Parker (MS POLICY), finished February 5
004) Heroes of the Fallen by David J. West, finished February 4
003) Still Life in Milford by Thomas Lynch, finished January 19
002) Rapunzel's Revenge by Hales Shannon Dean and Nathan, finished January 16
001) Mormoniana by Mormon Artists Group, finished January 13