Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Joseph Smith Papers -- Impressions and Reflections No. 3

The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Vol. 1, 1832 -1839 (JSP Journals Vol. 1) has an exhaustive editorial method of interrelating all of the documents and marking the writer of each portion of the documents. Joseph Smith used a number of scribes, some of whom wrote in their own words. Only a minor portion of the text originally appeared in Joseph Smith's own handwriting. In considering those portions of the text actually in Joseph Smiths' handwriting, one of the more obvious conclusions is that the style, spelling, word choice and every other aspect of the writing differs dramatically from the text of the Book of Mormon. None of the writing of Joseph Smith (hereafter "JS") in his journals, unless directly quoting scripture, even vaguely reminds the reader of the narrative of the Book of Mormon.

It is this dissimilarity that likely gave initial impetus to the accusations that the Book of Mormon was written by someone other than JS. Interestingly, it is abundantly clear that JS never claimed authorship of the Book of Mormon. The title page of the Book of Mormon declares its ancient origin as "an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi and also of the Lamanites." It is only if you make the unwarranted assumption that the Book of Mormon is not what it claims to be that there is any issue over the authorship. Tellingly, in the 179 years since its publication, no one has come up with a believable alternative to the authorship. The Book of Mormon can only be what it purports to be, that is a translation of an ancient scriptural record.

One example will suffice. JS uses the term "Oh God" as in "Oh may God" several times in his writing in the first pages of the JSP Journals Vol. 1. See page 29 for a random example. However, the injunction is not found in the Book of Mormon and in fact is only partially used once in the entire scriptures in Job 11:5. The more expanded term, "Oh may God," does not appear at all.

It is not even remotely possible that a person who used such a phrase in his common speech could avoid its usage entirely in a long a complicated book, any more than I could avoid using "however" or "for example." The publication of the JSP Journals Vol. 1 is yet another testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. It is what it claims to be.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Listen to the words

Then you will know where nothing has a place.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Joseph Smith Papers -- Impressions and Reflections No. 2

One of the unique features of The Joseph Smith Papers publications is the simultaneous publication of the documents online on the Joseph Smith Papers Project Website. The Rights and Use Information for the Website is extremely restrictive. Even as a practicing attorney, I had to think for some time about whether or not to even comment on the publications in fear of violating the restrictions. I will proceed with my commentary but will avoid using any of the material from the Website directly. Where necessary for understanding, I will refer to either the pages of the physical books or refer the reader to Website for further review. Normally, I would use short quotes from the source Website in my commentary, but in this case, given the restrictive nature of the use policy, I will refrain from quotes of any of the materials contained in the supplementary writing, not directly from the historical sources.

The entire transcription process will be contained in thirty volumes. The publication schedule proposed two volumes per year beginning in 2008. However, it is now 2009 and the second volume was just published. I may not live long enough to see the end of this project, or what is more likely, I may not have enough money at the end of the project to purchase the volumes or have the eyesight or understanding left to read them.

One of my concerns in starting such a project, a commentary on books to be published, is that the material may be so specialized as to lack general interest. However, the subject, Joseph Smith, is of such importance that all of the materials will likely have relevance no matter how obscure the documents may be. Another concern is whether I can keep going on such a project, long enough to cover the material. That remains to be seen. Hopefully, the use restrictions are not so onerous as to make me lose interest in the project altogether.

So here is goes. My commentary of impressions and reflections on The Joseph Smith Papers.

The Joseph Smith Papers -- Impressions and Reflections No. 1

One of the dominating trends of modern historical research is the refreshing trend towards reliance on primary source material, such as diaries, letters, interviews, speeches, photographs, census records, newspaper and magazine articles written at the time of an event. See "Finding Primary Source Materials for History", University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, Anderson Library. See also, "Using Primary Sources on the Web," Reference and User Services Association. Many older histories were based more on interpretation and opinion than actual source material. The history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is no exception to the old rule. It is only recently that historians have place more reliance on source material than on interpretation. One example of the existing works is the so-called Documentary History of the Church, actually cited as:

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Henry Roberts, Joseph Smith, and E. Keith Howick. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: An Introduction and Notes by B.H. Roberts. Salt Lake City, Utah: published for the Church by The Deseret Book Co, 1951.


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith, B. H. Roberts, and Brigham Young. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co, 1932.


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and B. H. Roberts. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News, 1902.

It is not my intention to offer a review or critique of the Roberts' work. I refer to it here to illustrate one example of a work that relied on 19th Century scholarship and use of primary source material. The original work began as a handwritten history in six volumes finished in 1856. The original six volumes were featured as a serial publication in the Church's Times and Seasons publication beginning in 1842. Because of the inaccessibility of this earlier work, Brigham H. Roberts, at the time, assistant Church historian, was commissioned to compile and edit the document. He produced the currently available six-volume publication.

The newly released volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers, now (2009) in the process of being published are partially being released to provide exact transcriptions of the original source documents. Many of the documents included in this to be released, lengthy series are only being made generally available for the first time to the general public. The two volumes currently available are:

Smith, Joseph, Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen. Journals. Volume 1: 1832-1839. Salt Lake City, Utah: Church Historian's Press, 2008.


Smith, Joseph, Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard L. Bushman. Revelations and Translations. [Vol. 1], Manuscript Revelation Books. Salt Lake City: Church Historian's Press, 2009.

These volumes differ from all previously published materials, in that the commentary is directed almost entirely at the documents themselves and not at an interpretation of the individuals or events of the past.

The topic of this series is Joseph Smith, the American Prophet. Publication of the original source material concerning papers will certainly not diminish the controversy surrounding his life but, at least, will correct some of the grosser errors and falsehoods commonly disseminated. This and future posts, will examine the volumes from the perspective of a lay historian and scholar. I do not have any specific credentials that would give my opinions any more weight than those of any other reader. I do have a lifetime of experience as an active trial attorney for more than 34 years and a substantial background in genealogy and family history. I am more than casually acquainted with the history of the LDS Church and have visited many, not all, of the historical sites in the Church's history. It is my hope that this commentary on the books will interest the reader in even greater investigation into the history of the Church and its first prophet, Joseph Smith.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Internet Safety Wiki

The Internet Safety Wiki is described on their Website as follows:
How Does the Wiki Work? Want to find out what Twitter is all about? Not sure exactly what "sexting" is? We recommend that you start by typing a word or phrase into the search bar. From the initial page on any given topic--cyberbullying, spyware, Facebook, you name it--you'll be taken to a concise definition of the term with a brief explanation of the associated dangers. Most importantly, you'll find tips, suggestions, and guidelines for keeping your kids safe from the risks associated with each technology term. In the wiki, you'll find articles on more technical topics like viruses , but you'll also find information on the common websites your child may visit and talk about, such as YouTube, Facebook, or Pandora. Basically, you've arrived at a one-stop shop for all of your family's Internet safety needs.

If you are at all paranoid about the Internet, this site will keep you awake at night worrying.

Sculpture on the head of a pin

Since I am so uncoordinated and my hands shake, I really appreciate people who can do very small things that require a lot of manual dexterity. Here is a modern example of the old tradition of minature sculptures. Link to sculpture gallery.

The artist is Willard Wigan. His work can be seen at the My Little Eye Gallery in London, across from the British Museum.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

If I had a favorite...

It would include:

Not that it matters to anyone but me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Collection of online resources for astronomers

Cnet News Webware had a recent article outlining several online resources aimed at the amateur astronomer (their characterization). In fact, there are a huge number of online resources, some of which can hardly be called amateur.

Interestingly, the list did not refer you to, the Website for the Astronomy magazine. This site has news, video, blogs, podcasts, forums and a store. It also has a full star chart both free and a paid-for advanced.

The Astronomy Picture of the Day, from NASA. The site indicates that you can "Link to our main NASA site: This main site is the first to update and the most likely to be up-to-date. (Here is an automatic backgrounder program for Windows that accesses the main site.)"

What about Sky and Telescope, another online Website from an old astronomy magazine.

The list could go on and on and probably will in future posts.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fully 100% of Mormons Believe in God

A survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, found that, "Fully 100% [of Mormons] say they believe in God or a supreme being, which is higher than among any other religious group. Moreover, nine-in-ten Mormons (90%) are absolutely certain in this belief. A similar proportion (91%) sees God as a person with whom one can have a relationship. These numbers are considerably higher among Mormons than among the general population."

Some of the findings of the survey may be surprising. The above chart shows that more than "eight-in-ten (83%) Mormons say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56% of the general population. On this measure, Mormons are similar to members of evangelical (79%) and historically black (85%) Protestant churches and Jehovah's Witnesses (86%)."

Another section of the survey showed that, "Almost all Mormons say they believe in life after death and that miracles still occur today as in ancient times (98% and 96%, respectively). Just as striking is the intensity with which they embrace these beliefs: 88% are absolutely certain of an afterlife, and 80% completely believe in miracles."

In typical fashion, the news media took an entirely different approach to the survey. In an article in the Deseret News, they said, "A new survey shows members of the LDS Church feel more threatened by Hollywood than do members of other faiths."

Another look at the survey also shows what we as Mormons all know, "Mormons are widely known for having large families and, indeed, about half of all Mormons (49%) have children under age 18 living at home, with one-in-five (21%) saying they have three or more children at home. Only Muslims are similarly likely to have large families: 47% of Muslims have at least one child living at home and 15% have three or more. Among the population overall, by contrast, only about a third (35%) have children who are minors living at home and just 9% have three or more."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mormon Channel now on Facebook and Twitter

The Mormon Channel is now on Facebook and Twitter. You can receive the latest updates and share your thoughts and ideas with them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Feynman Lectures on Microsoft Research

Seven famous lectures given by Richard Feynman at Cornell University in 1964 are now completely available on the Microsoft Research Website as part of Project Tuva. Richard Feynman "was an American physicist known for the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as work in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, together with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga." Wikipedia.

Project Tuva is an enhanced video player platform initially built by Microsoft Research to host The Messenger Lectures given at Cornell University by Richard Feynman in 1964 and recorded by the BBC. This was a collaborative effort between Bill Gates and Microsoft Research which is designed to demonstrate the abilities of enhanced video to teach people about the "core scientific concepts" of Feynman's lectures using interactive media. Wikipedia.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Deseret Book outlets to carry LDS Church Distribution items

In an article featured in the Deseret News for July 15, 2009, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that six Deseret Book stores will begin distributing curriculum products and temple-clothing products. The locations are in downtown Salt Lake City; Ogden; St. George; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Las Vegas; and the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego, Ore.

The article states:

Current pricing and policies will be maintained at the six stores, which will soon undergo minor changes to accommodate the additional items, with enclosed areas created for the purchase of temple clothing. Temple recommends will be required for purchase of that clothing. Two of the stores will lease more floor space, and the items are expected to be made available by November.

"Handling these products for Distribution Services is a privilege," said Mark Clegg, vice president and general manager of Deseret Book Retail. "We are happy to offer these additional services to LDS members with the hope that this change will prove to be a great convenience."


Mormon Urban Legend Website

From hitchhiking Nephites to the LDS Church owning Coca Cola, is a site dedicated to either confirming or exploding the myths of Mormonism. In reading through the offerings, except for the supposedly famous people who are supposed to be Mormons, who I have never heard of, most of the legends are pretty familiar stories, some of which I have heard since I was a teenager.

It appears that most of the documentation is believable and the concept is certainly a good idea. But doesn't the fact that the myths are reprinted at all contribute to their veracity? Even if the myth is debunked? Anyone who has watched the popular TV show, Myth Busters, knows that even when the myths are busted, the fans still write into the show to contest the results. It appears that people want to believe these myths. In fact, as recently as last Sunday I heard one repeated in a lesson.

It is amazing to me how these stories get passed around and included in talks and lessons. There are very few of the false stories that have even a shred of believability.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

MIT developes fabric that can take pictures

Cloaking devices are on the way. The development of a new fibers which each can detect two frequencies of light, produced signals that when amplified and processed by a computer reproduced an image of a smiley face near the mesh.This may not sound like much, but it is suggested that the technology, if developed further, could give a soldier a uniform that would help him see threats in all directions. Further, optical fiber webs, by distributing the chore across a large area, would be less susceptible to damage in one area. Cnet.

The actual article is called "Exploiting Collective Effects of Multiple Optoelectronic Devices Integrated in a Single Fiber" and I would not recommend it as light reading, and you need a subscription to read the article anyway. But there are hundreds, if not thousands of similar investigations and articles including patent applications. The breakthrough, if it is one, seems to be not so much with optoelectronic devices but with the integration into a fiber.

It looks like technology will continue to change the fundamental way we do things for a long time to come.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

LDS Edition of the Holy Bible in Spanish

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced the publication of the Santa Biblia [Holy Bible] in Spanish. The scriptural portion of the text is based on the 1909 edition of the Reina-Valera Bible used by the LDS missionaries and by Church members for years. The Church notes that the text "underwent a very conservative revision, focusing on modernizing some of the outdated grammar and vocabulary that had shifted in meaning and acceptability." The Scriptures.

The text will have Chapter Headings, Cross-References, Explanatory Notes, a Reference Guide and Selections from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. There will also be a section of full-color Bible maps and photographs.

If you provide your E-mail address on the Website, you will be notified when the LDS edition becomes available.

The Josesph Smith Papers

The Joseph Smith Papers is an important scholarly project to publish all of the extant documents either authored by Joseph Smith or a member of his staff under his direction. This project has been endorsed by the National Archives' National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). All of the documents that meet the standards of the Project will be published both electronically and on paper. The texts will be complete copies of the originals.

The first book of documents has been published and is available at the Joseph Smith Papers. Please take time to go to the Website to learn more about this important project.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Digitization of the oldest Greek Biblical text

Quoting from the Website of Codex Sinaiticus:
Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book. [Find out more about Codex Sinaiticus.]
In the current project they will be reuniting the entire manuscript in digital form and making it accessible to a global audience for the first time. From 6 July 2009, the Codex Sinaiticus website features all extant pages of the Codex.

For years I have heard about the existence of these manuscripts and I view this digitization as a major contribution to Biblical scholarship.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Facebook

LDS Media Talk announces that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons or LDS) is developing pages for Facebook. Preliminary pages have been created including:
The pages incorporate a new Facebook feature, usernames as part of the Facebook address. As the site indicates:
To claim your own username (sometimes called “vanity URL”), visit Usernames can only contain romanized letters, numbers, and periods–no hypens or underscores. Think carefully about the username you choose. Once it’s been selected, you won’t be able to change or transfer it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

You are the new day

Just some positive thoughts.

I will love you more than me
and more than yesterday
If you can but prove to me
you are the new day

Send the sun in time for dawn
Let the birds all hail the morning
Love of life will urge me say
you are the new day

When I lay me down at night
knowing we must pay
Thoughts occur that this night might
stay yesterday

Thoughts that we as humans small
could slow worlds and end it all
lie around me where they fall
before the new day

One more day when time is running out
for everyone
Like a breath I knew would come I reach for
the new day

Hope is my philosophy
Just needs days in which to be
Love of life means hope for me
borne on a new day

You are the new day

Teens and the media

Common folklore has the average teenager glued to the video game and online all day. Apparently, reality is that teens are just like their parents except less so. In a recent Nielsen study, the conclusion was that teens are pretty normal in their media usage. The key findings are as follows:
  • Teens are NOT abandoning TV for new media: In fact, they watch more TV than ever, up 6% over the past five years in the U.S.
  • Teens love the Internet … but spend far less time browsing than adults: Teens spend 11 hours and 32 minutes per month online. Far below the average of 29 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Teens watch less online video than most adults, but the ads are highly engaging to them: Teens spend 35% less time watching online video than adults 25-34, but recall ads better when watching TV shows online than they do on television.
  • Teens read newspapers, listen to the radio and even like advertising more than most: Teens who recall TV ads are 44% more likely to say they liked the ad.
  • Teens play video games, but their tastes aren’t all for the blood-and-guts style games: Just two of their top five most-anticipated games since 2005 have been rated “Mature.”
  • Teens’ favorite TV shows, top websites and genre preferences across media are mostly the same as their parents: For U.S. teens, American Idol was the top show in 2008, Google the top website and general dramas are a preferred TV genre for teens around the world.
Now, what does this really say? It says most people spend way too much time watching TV. It also says that TV ads actually do what they intend to do, that is sell everybody more stuff. It also says that everybody is media saturated. Rather than being good news, this article points out how really wretched the whole media scene has become and here I am contributing my share.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mormon Myths

Polygamy, black suits, avenging angels, oh my! Myths about the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are rampant. Despite a huge media relations department and tons of TV advertising, the average person still has some pretty strange ideas about the Church members. First and foremost, under most circumstances you would be hard pressed to identify good church members in a crowd except for the general absence of extreme fashions, tattoos and immodest clothes. Since the Church is international in its scope, it is possible to meet church members on every continent and in almost every country.

Here are a couple of videos that discuss the problem of Mormon Myths:

The second video was produced by the Church:

Why not take time to find out why the LDS Church is one of the fastest growing churches in the world.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What mite happen to you

Wikipedia A microscopic mite Lorryia formosa.

One thing is certain, if you walk out into the grass and/or weeds in the mid-west in early summer you will get chigger bites. OK so now I have five or six intensively uncomfortable itchy bites, so what do I do? Look them up in Wikipedia of course. What do I find out?

Well, to start with, chiggers are the larval stage of trombiculid mites.
Wikipedia Adult Trombidium holosericeum

As the Wikipedia article points out, "The term chigger is sometimes used to refer to a different animal, the Chigoe flea. Trombiculidae live in the forests and grasslands and are also found in low, damp areas where vegetation is rank such as woodlands, berry bushes, orchards, along lakes and streams, and even in drier places where vegetation is low such as lawns, golf courses, and parks. They are most numerous in early summer when grass, weeds and other vegetation are heaviest. In their larval stage they attach to various animals, including humans, and feed on skin, often causing itching. These relatives of ticks are nearly microscopic measuring 0.4 mm (1/100 of an inch) and have a chrome-orange hue. A common species of harvest mite in Northern America is Trombicula alfreddugesi; in the UK the most prevalent harvest mite is Trombicula autumnalis."

By the way, the articles suggest painting the bite with nail polish. That would be worse than the bite, I think. Meanwhile, I will continue to itch.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mormon Channel iPhone App Now Available

In an announcement on LDS Media Talk, the following was made:

I am pleased to report that the free Mormon Channel iPhone application is now available. This application allows iPhone users to tune into content being broadcast on the Mormon Channel, as well as listen to audio recordings of General Conference addresses, magazine articles, and the Church’s standard works. This application also works on the iPod Touch.

We are working on something similar for other mobile phones.

I was able to download the App and get up and listening in a couple of minutes. The bonus was an audio archive of General Conference sessions and audio editions of the Church Magazines. What a gift for traveling and for late nights awake.

Time travel and robots

Two of the dominant themes of science fiction are no closer than when they were first envisioned years and years ago. As it turns out reading old science fiction is usually mildly amusing because of the "modern" perspective. There are certain things that the science fiction writers consistently get wrong.

Think of the movie and the book, "2001," now think about the difference between the space station in the movie and the real space station up there today in 2009. Most, nearly all, science fiction writers over predict changes in the society. One good example is Robert Heinlein's The Door into Summer.

Heinlein, Robert A. The Door into Summer. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1957.

The book starts in year 1970, a comfortable 13 years in the future from when the book was written, but not long enough to have a nuclear war and to develop household robots. Those two developments are still missing. The hero of the book sleeps thirty more years into the future, to the year 2000, now almost a decade ago, but we still lack nearly all of the things Heinlein supposed we would have, like automatic doors in hospital rooms and a substitute for the doctor's stethoscope. Heinlein also assumed that the language and clothing styles would change dramatically, they haven't. But there have been other changes, like no safety pins for diapers and no slide rules. I have yet to read an old science fiction writer that foresaw personal computers like the iPhone.

Even when the writers leave out the dates and make some general predictions, usually they are way off from reality, we don't have star gates, we don't have commercial space travel (not really), we don't have personal airplanes or helicopters, no food automatically created. In fact, we still drive gas powered cars and still shop in stores (some of the time).

Some of the things we do have are more amazing than any of the stories; back to iPhones, GPS, personal computers, the Internet, and on and on. Even post it notes are pretty neat considering.

The point of all this is that predicting the future, even if you are in the business of doing so, is really hard and not very accurate.

Friday, June 19, 2009

iPod saves life of girl struck by lightning

This is not an urban legend (yet). A girl in England was standing under a tree, holding hands with her boyfriend, when she was struck by lightning. Her name is Sophie Frost of Southend-on-Sea, England. Although she remembers nothing about the incident, doctors (whoever) say that she survived because she had her iPod headphones hanging around her neck. However, it is lucky she wasn't actually wearing the headphones or the story probably wouldn't have made international news.

The girl is apparently most worried about her fried iPod and not her fried boyfriend. Apparently, the iPod was brand new.

You can see a picture of her with her scorched clothes online. I would guess that lightning scorched clothes will be all the rage shortly in England and beyond.

In the same article, just for a reality check I guess, there is a picture of a huge hole in the roof of a house caused by a lightning strike.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Apple iPhone to get new video and new operating system

Apple is upgrading both the operating system and and the hardware with the new iPhone 3G S. The phone, which is currently beginning to be available, now comes with a 3 megapixel camera and can shoot video at 30 fps at VGA (640x480). Users can also share videos e-mail, MMS, Apple's MobileMe service, and YouTube.

In keeping with Apple's graphic dominance, "people can "scrub" through a video--that is, click and drag to fast-forward and rewind--as they watch to jump to the spot they want. Likewise, they can trim videos to pare back to the desired portion. The scrubbing and trimming uses an interface that displays the video as a filmstrip sequence of still frames." Quote from cnet.

I am a long time PDA users and I must say that the iPhone, although pricey, has revolutionized my PDA usage. It is just like having a really useful tiny computer all the time, rather than just a list keeper and calendar. We use the GPS functions to look for everything from stores to banks and the fact that it now syncs with my office e-mail frees me from a desktop PC.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New LDS Church History Library

Opening of a new library is an event in our household. We have been known to take out-of-town visitors on a tour of the local public library as a treat. We are especially anxious to visit the new Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. Not to be confused with the Family History Library, the new structure opened for the first visits on June 12 and 13, 2009. As reported in the Church's Newsroom, " After 15 years of planning, four years of construction and a million artifacts moved, Elder Marlin K. Jensen from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints placed the last historical item on the shelf in the new Church History Library in front of local media."

The article goes on to explain the importance of the last book on the shelf,
Jensen, the historian and recorder of the Church, explained that this last item was one of the 100 scrapbooks kept by President David O. McKay. “It is a personal record filled with photos, letters and journal entries that documented his travels as an apostle in 1921 to the far corners of the earth.” Elder McKay’s world tour took him 55,000 miles to such countries as Australia, France, England, Italy, Switzerland, Samoa, Palestine, India and Egypt to survey the Church’s missions. One photograph captured a moment in Egypt with Elder McKay and his traveling companion, Hugh J. Cannon, both sitting on camels in front of the famous Sphinx. Elder Jensen was joined by President McKay’s grandson, Alan Ashton, when the journal was placed in one of the many vaults of the Church History Library.
You may wish to read the entire article, please go to Media Sees Rare Historical Treasures at Tour of New Church History Library

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The First Church of the Starbucks

Somethings are so strange to me that I can hardly believe they are happening. Today I saw one of those things. Our local televangelist church now has a resident Starbucks. No, I did not make this up. They have a sign up in front of the church. This church advertises something for everyone and now, they are true to their word. Of course, as a Mormon who doesn't drink coffee for religious reasons, I probably am still excluded from their definition of everyone, but this is certainly something to think about. What other tie-ins are there in the future? Are any major merchandising chains in wings ready to merge their operations with the church? What about Sears, Walmart, perhaps going to the Mall on Sunday will take on a new meaning when the either the churches own the Malls or the other way around.

In going onto the church's Website, (and no I am not going to give them a link) I find that a coffee shop is only one of the many merchandising products carried by the church. Here is a list from their store:

Product Categories
Gift Certificates
Activities, Fundraisers, Event
Books: Health & Healing
Business & Finance
Christian Living
Clothing, Jewelry & Accessories
Marriage & Family
Health & Fitness
Political Science & History
Reference Material
Self Improvement
Coffee House

It is interesting to me that along with the store and the Starbucks, they Church does have a tab to "Discover Christ." Well, it is comforting to know that religion is still on the agenda.

There are probably a lot pertinent scriptures at this point, but I will leave with one from Isaiah 2:8 "Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made..."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Serious pornography problem with Microsoft Bing


Recent news articles have touted the new Microsoft search engine, Bing. Microsoft is committing a huge amount of resources to push its new product. However, there are some serious and dangerous drawbacks to Bing.

In an article entitled "Parents beware: Bing previews video porn" cnet explains that "Microsoft's new Bing search engine has a highly touted feature that some parents may find troublesome. Bing's video search tool has a preview mode that lets you view and listen to part of a video simply by hovering over it with your mouse. Trouble is, it works with porn as well as "family friendly" videos."

Please take time to read the rest of the article.

In another more recent article, the author warns "Norton can't block Bing porn." Again to quote the article, "As a followup to my post from Tuesday about the ability for someone to view porn from within Bing, I just heard from a Symantec spokesperson that the company's Internet monitoring and filtering service, OnlineFamily.Norton (review), can't yet prevent Bing users from searching sexually explicit terms for Web sites or videos. The company plans to add Bing to its protected search engines in the next release. Other major search engines, including Google, are covered by the software's SafeSearch feature."

Even more worrisome is the feature as the article states, "Because Bing plays videos within its own site and doesn't require the user to click through, checking the browser history or using monitoring programs like OnlineFamily would only show that they visited, not what videos they watched from within the site."

Please pass this information on.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Yorker cover created on iPhone

This is an amazing video. All of the graphics for a New Yorker magazine cover created on an iPhone:

Check it out. These days, all you need to create magazine cover-worthy artwork is an iPhone and Steve Sprang's $4.99 Brushes app. Oh, and insane talent.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I am David

I Am David I Am David by Anne Holm

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of the best short novels I have ever read.

View all my reviews.

Video on Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time

Here is a message for our difficult times.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Major discovery made in LDS Church's First Presidency Vault

In a Church News article dated May 22, 2009, Robert Woodford of the LDS Church History Department Joseph Smith Papers Project spoke to a plenary session of the Mormon History Association meeting in Springfield, Ill. and announced that among historical documents in possession of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) included the original manuscript of the Book of Commandments and Revelations (BCR). He said it proved to be "the manuscript collection of revelations that Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer took to Missouri in November 1831, from which to publish the Book of Commandments," forerunner to the Doctrine and Covenants."

Quoting from the article, "Additional revelations were entered into the volume as they were received, and the BCR was also used as one of the sources for the revelations printed in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants," Brother Woodford noted. "Hence, the BCR contains the earliest surviving manuscript versions of many of Joseph Smith's revelations, and the only pre-publication manuscript copies of some of them."

The manuscript is reported to contain seven revelations given to Joseph Smith which were never published as part of the scriptural canon of the Church.

It was further noted that some of the pages of the manuscript were missing, but that a portion of the missing pages was in the possession of the Community of Christ (formerly the RLDS Church).

Grant Underwood, commented that "the manuscript "allows us to see that the bulk of all wording in the revelation texts remained unchanged from initial dictation to publication in the Doctrine and Covenants. Thus, while my presentation focuses on the revisions, perhaps the real story is that only a small part of most revelation texts were ever revised."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Waze -- the future of GPS

A significant portion of the GPS market is aimed at day-to-day driving. An Israeli start-up company, Waze, is collecting real-time traffic and driving conditions data from its users. This appears to be the most useful of all of the traffic and mapping systems yet devised.

The service is presently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Boston in the U.S. The Waze system is currently running on 80,000 smart phones in Israel. Quoting a news article on Cnet, "The service allows users to report accidents, speed traps, cops by the side of the road, and other traffic-related items. What's cool is that these items fade automatically over time, and there's also the possibility for the system to ping a driver as he or she passes a previously reported incident to see if it's still there."

CEO Noam Bardin is quoted as saying, "that in Israel, Waze doesn't even use commonly available street maps as its base layer of data. Instead, it tracks users (with their permission), and builds maps from those traces. Then it asks users to name the roads." Cnet.

I have had GPS on my iPhone for about a year now and we have used it extensively, not only to locate addresses and get directions, but to locate restaurants, stores and other businesses. It is also useful for planning freeway exits and deciding on routes. Recently while driving in northern Arizona near Kingman, we needed to stop for dinner, using an App on the iPhone we found a Subway restaurant right on the freeway at the next exit. Historically, we would have just followed signs or driven off the freeway and looked for possibilities. We have spent quite a bit of time wandering around shopping centers trying to locate a suitable restaurant or other business. The mapping functions, plus the business locating functions, plus the real-time GPS location function add up to a really helpful tool.

Adding the functions described in the news article would significantly increase the utility of an already useful GPS function.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Google's Android competition to iPhone?

As an iPhone user I am always interested to see what might end up being competition. Cnet ran an interview with Google's director of mobile platforms about the future of Google's Android. I circulate in a group of people that are always actively searching for newer and faster technology, especially if the innovations can increase productivity and make working easier. I wouldn't characterize myself as being on the cutting edge, for example, I did not wait in line to buy an iPhone, but I am interested to see if there is something better out there.

Google's Android, software for mobile devices, was introduced on November 5, 2007. At the time, the news announcements indicated that "Google hopes to do to the mobile market what it has helped do for the traditional Internet, which is bring people closer to content on the Web in a easy and organized way. At the most basic level this means making Web surfing on a cell phone look and feel a lot like it does on a PC at home."

Since I am a fan of Apple products, an announcement that Google wanted to make my mobile device into a Windows PC didn't thrill me too much. Having used PDA's and Smartphones for years, I have definite opinions about the devices and their software. I can say that the iPhone was an appreciable advancement in the usefulness of the technology. But like all hardware, the iPhone has its quirks and limitations. Some things about the iPhone almost drive me crazy, but not crazy enough to go back to a standard non-iPhone machine.

What makes the iPhone stand out, in large part, are the Apps. It would be really hard to go back to a phone without the added features and functionality. New Android products are being introduced regularly, but without the support of a huge App base, the product does not yet have a great appeal to an iPhone user.

This is a development that will bear watching, I have friends with Android products and I will be looking to them for feedback.

Legos go architectural -- Frank Lloyd Wright

Lego Architecture

(Credit: Lego)

If I were Frank Lloyd Wright, (which fortunately I am not, because I would be dead) I don't know if I would be honored or insulted by the latest development in children's toys. Lego has introduced a line of architectural construction sets and has begun with a Lego Guggenheim and Falling Water House. The release comes in conjunction with fiftieth anniversary of the realization of Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned design, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and celebrates the golden anniversary of its landmark building with the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward, co-organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. On view from May 15 through August 23, 2009.

If you are too old to know about Legos and you have no children or grandchildren, you may not be aware that Legos can be made into almost anything you can imagine. One of the problems is the Lego doesn't leave much to the imagination. They sell pre-designed set of blocks that go together to make whatever, from Star Wars figures to buildings to video games featuring Lego's figures. Legos are featured as educational toys and they certainly are. At least they give the parents and grand-parents an education in how much they can cost.

I would probably have loved Legos when I was younger. But now my ardor for the toys is tempered by visions of thousands of little blocks all over the floor in disarray.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Science Fiction -- more fiction than science

I have been rereading some of the older science fiction stories. It is always interesting to see how the authors got a little bit right and a lot wrong. Almost uniformly SF writers overestimate both the pace and extent to which technology will change in the future. Orville's 1984 is a prime example. George Orwell's so-called vision of the future was very, very far off the mark. But even such luminaries such as Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov missed the spaceship on most of their predictions of the future; think 2001 A Space Odyssey and the sequel, 2010. Well, here we are folks, and I still can't book passage to the Space Station. I think I mentioned before that no one seems to have predicted computers especially not the iPhone type.

We still have to wait a while for talking computers and robots that do more than sweep floors and set off bombs. What is even more striking is the conservative nature of real society as opposed to its portrayal in SF novels and films. People have not changed a lot in the last 100 years, at least not in terms of the way we were supposed to be living according to SF. For example, Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky paints a picture of people living next to the Grand Canyon in underground homes. Yeah, sure.

Reading a lot of old SF points out how really hard it is to second guess the future. It is remarkable how many stories continued the Cold War into the 21st Century and beyond and how many had a Third World War or even more. I have noticed that a major portion of the SF writers are truly pessimistic. Back to Tunnel in the Sky, when it turns out that the world is so heavily over populated that they are sending millions of people to the stars by way of Heinlein's Star Gates.

It is also notable how little place religion is given in the future worlds of SF. If religion is mentioned at all, it is usually portrayed as negative and evil rather than beneficial to anyone. Perhaps the writers believe people will be saved by technology. It is also interesting how both SF and Fantasy seem to have the "average person" as the main character, who just manages to save the World or the Universe. He or she is always being hunted or attacked by the evil ______ fill in the blank (government, underworld, monsters, religious leader etc.) and always seems to just survive due to superior cunning, luck or the fact that the person was really a superhero but didn't know it.

SF writers especially, do not tell stories about ordinary people in ordinary families. If there is a family, the family is usually non-traditional and none of them have more than two or at most, three children. I have seven children and I already know all about the prejudice of the world on this point. Often the family is missing, the hero is an orphan or his parents are killed or whatever. SF writers do not like to deal with families, they are too traditional.

Technology itself is almost always personified. There is always an evil machine gone amok or robots that want to take over the world from humans or some other evil purpose. Aliens are usually evil or have some ulterior purpose when they aren't overtly trying to kill off the human race. If there were alien civilizations, and if they knew about earth, why would we think that they were automatically antagonistic or even uncaring about humans? Why are most aliens pretty bad?

Probably continued.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy 30th Anniversary to the first commercial video game

As usual, Google give us insights into things we never knew we needed insights into. The first commercial video game was called Galaxy Game and was located in the Stanford Student Union. Here is the Wikipedia explanation of the game:

The Galaxy Game is the earliest known coin-operated computer or video game. It was installed at the Tresidder Union at Stanford University in September, 1971, two months before the release of Computer Space, the first mass-produced such game.[1] Only one unit was built initially, although the game later included several consoles allowing users to play against each other.

The game was programmed by Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck. Like Computer Space, it was a version of the existing Spacewar!, which had been created in the early 1960s on the PDP-1 and ported to a variety of platforms since then. The coin-operated game console incorporated a Digital PDP-11/20 with vector displays. The hardware cost around $20,000, and a game cost 10 cents or three games for 25 cents. In June 1972 the hardware was improved to allow the processor to power four to eight consoles. The game remained popular on campus, with wait times for players as much as one hour, until it was removed in May 1979 due to damaged screens.

The unit was restored in 1997 and now resides in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

I never was a fan of computer games, but I do appreciate the advances in graphics and processors engendered by the quest to have more and more realistic games.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Top ten books searched on WorldCat

WorldCat is the most extensive catalog of libraries in the world. It catalogs over 1 billion items in over 10,000 libraries. Each month they publish a list of the top twenty search items in the whole world. Here is the list of the top ten this month.

You may note that Stephenie Meyer has three of the top ten books! Maybe I should try again to read one? Nope, answered that question real fast. Obviously, I do not support or endorse any or all of the items listed. Neither would I look at or read some of the items.

The Mormon Channel

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new online radio service called the Mormon Channel.

The content for the Mormon Channel comes many different sources. First, many of the programs come from the vast archives of the Church. Second, working with the various departments of the Church, a large number of new programs and series have been developed for the Mormon Channel. Finally, some great partners- such as Bonneville, Deseret Book, and the campuses of Brigham Young University, have also provided content for the service. Frequently Asked Questions.

The site explains that the content will include live programming. To quote:

Yes. General Conference, CES firesides, devotionals, Christmas firesides, and other special broadcasts will be carried live on the Mormon Channel, and repeated across multiple time zones. It should be noted, however, that certain Church events, such as temple dedications, are intended to be viewed only in select locations because of the sacred nature of the event. Broadcasts not intended for a general audience will typically not air on the Mormon Channel.

Monday, May 11, 2009

No man has found pure space

Until the early 1900s, many people still believed that the earth, or at least the solar system was at the center of the universe. It wasn't until the time of Howard Shapley, in the 1920s and after, that the true size and arrangement of the universe was generally accepted. It is claimed that Shapley was the first to appreciate the size of the Milky Way Galaxy. The history of science is full of these startling inconsistencies, demonstrating that scientists should never be so sure they are correct.

Even though the true size and scope of the universe were debated into the 1920s, and still are the subject of a lot of theories and conjecture, it is more than interesting that a poet in the 1800s saw the full majesty and extent of the universe and realized how insignificant the world was in comparison.

William Wines Phelps, a prominent player in the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expressed his thoughts on the subject of the size of the universe in a poem, later put to music as a Mormon hymn. In verses of the hymn, If you could hie to Kolob, he poetically expressed the size of the creation by declaring that "there is no end to matter; there is no end to space." He questions whether the end of the universe could be found, even at a speed exceeding that of light itself.

Although the ideas expressed in this hymn are common enough today, the concept of a boundless universe was virtually unknown at the time. Phelps' inspiration came from the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. who spoke of the vastness of the creations in Book of Moses, where, beginning in the Pearl of Great Price: Moses: Chapter 1, we read:

7 And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee.
8 And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.
9 And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.
10 And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.

This came from a man living in a world that still debated the size of the visible universe!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The name of this blog

The title of this blog comes from an old hymn called "If you could hie to Kolob."

1. If you could hie to Kolob In the twinkling of an eye, And then continue onward With that same speed to fly, Do you think that you could ever, Through all eternity, Find out the generation Where Gods began to be?

2. Or see the grand beginning, Where space did not extend? Or view the last creation, Where Gods and matter end? Me thinks the Spirit whispers, "No man has found 'pure space,' Nor seen the outside curtains, Where nothing has a place."

3. The works of God continue, And worlds and lives abound; Improvement and progression Have one eternal round. There is no end to matter; There is no end to space; There is no end to spirit; There is no end to race.

4. There is no end to virtue; There is no end to might; There is no end to wisdom; There is no end to light. There is no end to union; There is no end to youth; There is no end to priesthood; There is no end to truth.

5. There is no end to glory; There is no end to love; There is no end to being; There is no death above. There is no end to glory; There is no end to love; There is no end to being; There is no death above.

The reference to "Kolob" makes for one of the longer articles on Wikipedia. It also brings up a topic that is mostly ignored by the main stream members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today. However, on July 20, 2007, President Boyd K. Packer gave an interview for the PBS documentary "The Mormons." Here is a portion of that interview, telling the importance of the reference in the context of the present day church:

HW: There’s a hymn that you mentioned that you love when talking about the plan of salvation to somebody. Something about “hie to” — I’d like to hear that from you.

BKP: “If I could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye, and then continue onward with that same speed to fly, do you think that I could ever, through all eternity, find out the generations where Gods began to be?”

Then the other verse goes on, and you can read it: “There is no end to matter, there is no end to space; there is no end to wisdom; there is no end to race.” You’re testing an old man. That is a very profound song that you should read when you’re studying about what’s going on in the world today.

When you read that and talk and look into the eternities, you see the endlessness of it all — that’s caught up in the words of that song. President David O. McKay read that to one of the astronauts that came. There’s so many things that we don’t know, but it’s a wonderful world that we live in. There’s no end to what we can learn, but we only use about 15 percent of the room there. It’s a great, great revelation that came from William W. Phelps.

“If I could hie to Kolob” — now you have to know what Kolob is; the scriptures say it is the center place — “and then continue onward with that same speed to fly.”

I know a lot of hymns, and I know that one.

HW: But it does say something essential about Mormons.

BKP: It does; it shows a depth and a breadth and a power that is consistent with all that we know. All of the orbits of all the heavenly bodies follow that same thing — it’s an amazing world we live in. When you see color and life and all that life has to offer, we shouldn’t be bored.

More later

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Worry items seriously questioned

I spent a lot of time worrying about my last post and finally decided that I had really missed the essence of the the American psyche and its motivational worries. It was obvious to me, upon reflection that the list was way off. I had ignored the real causes of worry in our contemporary society. So after a sleepless fifteen or twenty minutes, I came up with an alternative list of the things people actually worry about. These are in order of their importance in our society:

1. Today I will worry about a certain male dysfunction. (This was easily number one by the amount of E-mail I receive each day).
2. Today I will worry about spots on clothing caused by dirt and spills. (No question that this is the most serious problem as shown by a random sample of TV ads over the past fifty years).
3. Today I will worry about my inability to get a close shave. (A really serious problem).
4. Today I will worry about my body odor.
5. Today I will worry about going bald. (although this is a visible male problem, it is really the greatest fear of women also).
6. Today I will worry about a generous overabundance of body.
7. Today I will worry about children being injured by air bags.
8. Today I will worry about removing the tags from new mattresses and pillows.
9. Today I will worry about memory loss.
10. Today I will worry about bad breath.
11. Today I will worry about germs on every surface I touch.
12. Today I will worry about using public restrooms.
13. Today I will worry about loss of data on my computer.
14. Today I will worry about computer viruses.
15. Today I will worry about water quality.
16. Today I will worry about things being taught or not taught in public schools.
17. Today I will worry about roughage in my diet.
18. Today I will worry about indoor air quality.
19. Today I will worry about poor lighting conditions.
20. Today I will worry about being out of shape.
21. Today I will worry about having my child fail kindergarten.
22. Today I will worry about social acceptance. (Usually limited to those with disgusting habits or conditions).
23. Today I will worry about inability to fall asleep.
24. Today I will worry about loss of civil rights.
25. Today I will worry about illegal aliens taking away my job.
26. Today I will worry about losing my rollover minutes on my cell phone.
27. Today I will worry about being lactose intolerant.
28. Today I will worry about identity theft.
29. Today I will worry about my inability to program my DVD player.
30. Today I will worry about my inability to operate my cell phone.
31. Today I will worry about electricity running out of the wall sockets.

Now, that is a more realistic list. I am sure you can think of a few more things, if you can just stay awake long enough to remember them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What me worry?

Look after a couple of weeks of Swine Flu, I thought we might need something else to worry about for a while. So I have compiled a little list of things to worry about. There are thirty one of them, one for each day of the month. Now when you wake up in the morning you don't have to think, "What will I worry about today?" I have a list. All you do is post the list in a conspicuous place, like the door of the fridge, and you can worry to your heart's content, each day on an entirely new and different worry.

1. Today I will worry about being hit by a giant meteorite from outer space.
2. Today I will worry about a resurgence of the bubonic plague killing all of mankind.
3. Today I will worry about global warming raising the level of the oceans until New York is under water.
4. Today I will worry about the build up of pesticides and chemicals poisoning all of the worlds water supply.
5. Today I will worry about a super storm freezing the entire Northern Hemisphere (or Southern Hemisphere depending on where you live).
6. Today I will worry about a monster lizard hatching out of the middle of the Pacific Ocean and invading my town (really only a worry in New York, but you can always hope).
7. Today I will worry about a break down of law and order creating the end of society as we know it (wait a minute, this has already happened).
8. Today I will worry about the destruction of the rain forest (ditto above).
9. Today I will worry about suddenly developing a fatal disease.
10. Today I will worry about aliens invading the earth and killing all of mankind (leaving the women).
11. Today I will worry about nuclear war.
12. Today I will worry about biological war (since we are on wars for a while).
13. Today I will worry about terrorists bombing my city.
14. Today I will worry about a giant _______ fill in the blank (suggestions: earthquake, flood, tsunami, hurricane, tornado or whatever).
15. Today I will worry about all of the cute fuzzy animals of the world going extinct.
16. Today I will worry about all of the rest of the not so cute and fuzzy animals going extinct.
17. Today I will worry about an increase in taxes.
18. Today I will worry about the end of civilization (oh dear, back to number 7).
19. Today I will worry about _______. This is another free choice day. I would suggest Bigfoot, Yetis, Loch Ness Monster, Area 51 or whatever you would like today.
20. Today I will worry about a complete collapse of the world economy.
21. Today I will worry about the alien skull found on Mars.
22. Today I will worry about the hollow earth theory.
23. Today I will worry about UFOs.
24. Today I will worry about a volcano erupting in my town (two extra points if you live in L.A.).
25. Today I will worry about the beginning of a new ice age.
26. Today I will worry about the New World Order and someone taking over the government.
27. Today I will worry about the Apocalypse and Armageddon (Another two for one day).
28. Today I will worry about the earth being hit by a black hole or whatever.
29. Today I will worry about the sun exploding in a supernova. (Do you realize how much work it is to keep this up for a whole month?).
30. Today I will worry about everything on the list for at least five minutes.
31. Today I will worry about all of the things on the TV ads.

Now, wasn't that refreshing?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lord of the Rings after forty-three years

I first read Lord of the Rings about forty-three years ago. This book has been called one of the most popular and influential books of the 20th-century. Some time later, while I was in Panama, I found a copy of The Hobbit and read that also. I wish I could say that reading the books was a watershed time in my life, but at that time I found the books interesting and fairly long. Some of the parts were less than exciting. By 1966, I had a poster of Middle Earth and had re-read the books at least once.

After reading the books a couple of times, I began to appreciate the character of the narrative. The books are written in a flowing style that sounds musical when read aloud. The entire book is definitely not written for children or anyone not willing to put forth the effort to absorb the world of Middle Earth. In a sense, by writing almost the ultimate fantasy novel, Tolkien ruined the genre for most of what follows. It is ironic that the creation of the genre and its destruction take place at the same time.

Although often included with such works as those by George MacDonald and C. S. Lewis, those authors' books are not really in the same category. Lewis' Narnia books can hardly be compared, either in scope or structure, to the Lord of the Rings. I would certainly recommend both MacDonald and Lewis to younger readers, but I would hesitate to discuss the Lord of the Rings with anyone who had not tackled longer novels like the Hunchback of Notre Dame or Les Miserables.
Like many other long time readers of the Lord of the Rings, I was skeptical of any efforts to cinematize the story with any success. Having seen most of the classic books I have read butchered by Hollywood renderings, I could not imagine anyone doing the story straight. I could see Bilbo dancing like a woodland elf or Frodo bursting into a song. I was pleasantly surprised when Peter Jackson was able to pull off a very good movie, not much like the book in some ways, but faithful to the ideas and concepts. Fortunately, they watered down the character of Gollum or the movie would have been a tiresome as the book.

After the release of the film, it is doubtful if anyone will be able to read the book again without visualizing the characters in the movie version. In that sense, the movie has ruined the book, which usually does not happen. Right now, I do not plan on reading the book again, unless I get an audio version and listen to it while I am driving across country or something like that. I may watch the movies again, for the entertainment value.