Friday, September 28, 2012

Gritty Reboots of Common Conference Stories

I wondered recently in the comments section of Casey's recent post what would happen if cliched conference stories weren't repeated, but rather, rebooted?

We came up with a couple of examples then and there. Casey began:

As streaks of blood obscured his vision, he saw his arm dangling by its last few sinews. The spiritual crocodile slowly approached, and he knew it would only be moments before it finally snapped his neck.
I followed it up with this:

The boy stared at the brine. He wanted--no, needed--to repeat the daily routine, the agrarian chores that were once his bane, but now, his one connection to reality. He pushed back the flood of memories--his father's sordid ties to drug peddlers and crimeland kingpins, his mother's heroin-addled madness, the murdered cop in the trunk of the family car--and laughed. It was an eerie, animalistic laugh, one more fit for an asylum than a barn.With a swift jerk of his arm, he pulled a cucumber from the salty water and whispered, "How alike we are, humans and pickles."

So, consider this post an open call for your own gritty reboots. Write 'em up, long or short, and post them in the comments section, or let us all know which stories are your favorites--or which conference stories are begging for a reboot.

I'll kick things off with a longer story. Picture it, if you will, in the voice of Boyd K. Packer.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

You're Doing it Wrong

Well folks, the day we've all been waiting for has finally arrived.

Mitt Romney finally released his tax returns, and now everyone can ditch the mud-flinging campaign strategies we're all so tired of.

Wait, what's that Democrats? You're not happy with the release of his returns? Well why not?

Turns out, everybody is just looking for a way to nitpick at the other side. I have a piece of advice for you nitpickers. I have literally picked nits out of a girl's hair for hours. It's not fun. So why do we endlessly nitpick at people we don't even like?

I'll tell you why. Maybe, just maybe, it's because nobody likes what's happening on their own side. Maybe if the Democrats were satisfied with what's happening in office at present, they wouldn't feel the need to pick apart the other side and point out what they're doing wrong. They could talk about what's going right, and in the harsh light of day, we'd have to admit that maybe the POTUS is doing the right stuff. We'd all vote Obama and Romney would have to wait another 4 years.

Of course, we all pick at what the other side does right, too... Must... not... invalidate argument... 

I do not mean to say that the Republicans are doing a great job either. If they had a candidate who they felt would win in a landslide, they might not have to rip apart the Democrats and their strategy.

Long story short, I think everyone is doing it wrong. Anyone have ideas on how to do it right?

Friday, September 21, 2012

General Conference: What are the Odds?

LDS General Conference is just a few short weeks away, and for those of you involved in the flourishing Mormon gambling community (that's a thing, right?) I thought I'd get the jump an all the other oddsmakers by presenting my official General Conference Odds, October 2012 Edition. Whether you're taking a trip to Wendover (be sure your hotel has BYU TV!) or working through the Elders Quorum bookie, this will give you the advantage over your lesser-prepared peers.

(In case you're somehow unfamiliar with betting odds, think of it as dollars earned per dollar bet. So, 10-1 means every dollar bet earns ten if you win. Smaller ratios mean better odds, and 1-1 is Even or no odds, i.e. nobody would ever bet against it)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

POTUS: Potent Political Potables (A Roundtable)

We're approaching the home stretch of the American 2012 election season, and from Cable TV to Facebook there's a lot of buzz in the air. Unfortunately, most of that buzz is like angry wasps: annoying and calculated to make you to swing your arms in wild panic. In the interest of sparking a more reasonable discussion in our tiny corner of the internet, I asked each contributor to write briefly and non-satirically about the election: What issues are important? How do we feel about the candidates? How, if at all, might we vote? My goal is an open-ended starting point for something a little more thoughtful and respectful than that your typical Facebook political rant.

Casey's Thoughts On the 2012 Elections (Warning: Moderate Cynicism ahead)

I should start by noting thanks to the wonderfully undemocratic Electoral College, my vote is effectively cast for Mitt Romney, so congratulations, I guess. But since there's no point writing without maintining the fiction that it matters, I'll set that aside. My political approach is that of an amateur wonk: I'm less concerned with how I perceive candidates' grand visions of America than on what specific policies they are likely to implement and what effects that might have.

As for my de-facto candidate, Romney and I don't really see eye-to-eye (17% on I Side With). What bothers me is how he seems to be misleading his own supporters. Conservatives right now tend to be concerned with government spending and budget deficits, for which, correctly or not, they blame Obama. Meanwhile, Romney pledges to reduce top marginal tax rates -- in other words, cut taxes for people like him -- and offset that with (unspecified) spending cuts and by eliminating (unspecified) loopholes. In practice, the only way to make that work is to eliminate middle class tax deductions or slash medicare, both of which are politically dangerous. The more likely alternative is more borrowing, more deficits, more debt. For Romney to pretend otherwise by relying on platitudes and vague proposals seems disingenuous. Meanwhile, I can best describe his foreign policy as "like Obama but with more bluster."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Libya: Terror, Murder...and Hope

Eleven years after the most devastating case of terrorism on American soil, armed rioters in Libya attacked and killed the nation's US Ambassador.

That's the tagline, anyway. That's what the soundbites and tweets say, and believe me, I've been listening and reading. When I looked into it a little deeper, though, was when the true tragedy reared its ugly head.

Following the death of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya as a nation was left on very unsturdy legs. The people had only just finished their revolution; there was no real central government any more. Blood was on the streets. Americans had a lot to say about the African nation--would it become a democracy, would it become an enclave of militant Islam, would someone else just come and fill the power vacuum? Was the revolution good, was it bad, and what did it mean for us?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Strange, Conspiracy Theory-Laden, Vaguely Biblical Pictures (with hilarious captions!)

There are many things I wish I had time to write about: politics, economics, pop culture, religion....Actually, that kind of sums up my repertoire, so, let me amend my introductory statement to be, "There are four things I wish I had time to write about." Now, I would like to talk about these things, but I would also like to pass my university classes and graduate sometime this decade, so I'm afraid that today, I'm going to shoot for something a little lower: witty picture captions.

Specifically, I want to comment upon pictures from a Facebook group I've noticed called Last Days Bible.

So far, I haven't been able to track down which non-English-speaking country the creator of this group is from, but it's not for a lack of intriguing (if contradictory) hints: for example, the accompanying blog has a news ticker...for Saudi Arabia. The author of all blog posts on the front page (and, quite possibly, all blog posts) has his or her name Chinese characters ('Traditional Han' characters, as Google Chrome tells me, when it offers to translate it for me). The supporters of the Facebook group are from all over, including a Baptist minister in Florida.

However, it's not these somewhat mysterious details that drew me in; no, I think that can best be explained by the opening text on its accompanying blog:

You have convinced me, random mish-mash of words. I wanna rapture. I no wanna left-behind.
Oh, yes. It's one of those blogs.