Monthly Archives: August 2014

Polygamous irony

The irony of the US federal courts overturning Utah legislation on polygamous marriage is rich and thick.  The Mormons who had settled Utah and at the time were practicing polygamous  marriage claimed the freedom to so as a religious belief. US public opinion was decidedly against it in the 19th century, so much so that federal laws prohibiting its practice in the territories were passed as an expression of moral outrage. Utah was denied statehood for over thirty years after it would have qualified on the basis of self-government and population, because as a state it would have had the right to determine its own marriage laws without Congressional interference. The laws passed by Congress became increasingly punitive, draconian, and began to strip the Mormons of their constitutional civil rights on the basis of their religious belief. They took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, and were defeated, in a case which still serves as a precedent on religious liberty rulings, and finally determined that the provisions on plural marriage were non essential and yielded to the law of the land. Utah was required as a condition of admission for statehood to include a provision in its state constitution to forever prohibit polygamous marriages.

Now, a century and a quarter later, we have the spectacle of the Federal courts overruling state law on marriage and forcing Utah to recognize marital arrangements that the Federal government once took great care to prohibit. It is another layer of irony that the advocates of those arrangements are chiefly the libertines that the 19th century Mormons were falsely accused of being. If current trends continue, it will not be long before the heavy hand of the federal government again comes down on the Mormons for defying the morality of the civic authorities. But if it does, there is plenty of reason to expect a different outcome.

What? Me? Teach?

I am having some difficulty in compiling a LinkedIn profile. My work experience has been spotty and full of part time and temporary positions, interrupted by periods of unemployment and stints at school. My school experience has also been spotty..six different schools and no BS to show for it. I suppose it best documents my education in the School of Hard Knocks, but it takes some reading between the lines and I don’t expect it to impress anyone with my skills.

The jobs I liked best were math tutoring positions, mostly associated with schools. A couple of times, I ran an independent math tutoring service. This wasn’t very successfully, partly because I hated to advertise (and didn’t)  and partly because what I could earn wasn’t enough. I also volunteered at an elementary school for a few months. There are other people with much better credentials, more experience, and a better aptitude for teaching in schools.

Then, also, as I worked on my outline of knowledge and tried to find an appropriate placement for it, my views of the importance of mathematics started to change. I now group it with languages and concepts, rather than with the natural sciences, in the more comprehensive scheme.

I haven’t given it up entirely, but there are there are other things I am working on that come ahead of it for now. So, for now, the answer to the title question is, I don’t think so. Not now. There are other things I am putting in place first.


Depth and detail

One of the problems in being a generalist is that there is a tendency for a broad knowledge to be superficial. In order to claim expertise in a subject, I need a lot more depth and detail, which is harder and more time consuming.

For instance. in the review I am doing of the history of psychology, about all I can say is that before about the 19th century, psychology was largely speculative and in the realm of psychology. It did not become scientific, based on measurement and experimentation until the 19th century. I can identify several divisions, but I do not know enough about either the details of psychology or the details of history to make solid connections. I recognize more than I know how to present, but until I can do more than proclaim my ignorance on a topic, I prefer to hold my commentary.


I’m starting to feel my way around more of the social media. I have had a blog for a while, as well as the knowledge base,   In the past month I’ve acquired a smart phone, a tablet compute, signed up for Google Plus, and started to put a profile on LinkedIn, and started a tumblr blog, Farther from the Ground, where I’m doing things like book quotes, favorite music, and so on. This is reserved for more serious stuff.

I’m normally quiet, not very outgoing, and notably incurious about the lives of family and friends. Most of my activities tend to be solitary, and if I don’t have anything intelligent to say, I don’t say much.  However, if I do that, my ideas don’t get noticed.

One of the things I have in mind is to start pruning down the various feeds on Google+ to something I can manage: Then, if I want to, I can add a few more.

Knowledge base progress #2

I have been mostly using science to prompt the development of history. I now have a better summary of world history on the main history page. Antiquity is having the modern history of its study reviewed. For classical and medieval history, I am currently reviewing religion. Modern history is being connected to elements of culture, and the centuries of modern history are being connected to fairly low level aids. These include, notably, biographical entries for specific individuals. This is an important step. For instance, in the history of modern science I can now mention a few prominent scientists.  The 20 year periods of modern history have been expanded. For the 19th century, I am nearly ready to begin a discussion of how it has been studied in the 20th century. The 20th century is being connected to religions. The 5 year periods of the 20th century, and years of the early 21st century are also being connected to lower level aids.

Society is also being connected to elements of culture, a little ahead of modern history. Peoples of the world are getting a review of social mechanics. Other areas are not yet being directly developed, but I am making progress toward them.

Lost in the noise

This week I’ve set up a Tumblr blog Farther From The Ground where I’m starting talk to  about my favorites in interesting quotes from books, music, art, movies, and other oddities; stuff n’ fluff.  This version here  is for more serious commentary.  I also broke down and joined Google Plus.

I have been attempting to promote my three-valued logic on Mathematics Stack Exchange and a rare question about three valued logic as a foundation for mathematics came up today, so I tried composing an answer.

I have also been doing battle all week with spammers, here and on the Independent Learning forum, with people (or bots) trying to get free advertising for their stcudorp ssilybab,  their sgabdnah srok laehcim, and their syesrej LFN.


I had a conversation with a cousin who is attending a college. She mentioned that she was having to take a course in organic chemistry. This course is so difficult that it is expected that students will fail the first time through and will have to repeat it. A student who passes with a C+ or B- the first time is considered extremely smart.

Whether intentionally or otherwise, such courses as this serve the function of qualifying students for entry into a related profession, creating barriers to entry and restricting the numbers of students who can qualify.   This is usually considered a good thing by professionals, but not so good by everyone else.

I need story

Several years ago now, when I was asked to become a Family History Consultant for the branch of the Family History Library in my LDS ward, a new service was just being introduced. This was New Family Search, which is now being integrated with the Family Tree on the Family Search site. As I began attempting to merge duplicates, I found that there were numerous inconsistencies and inaccuracies in information that had been submitted. One day i sat and looked at my family tree and thought “I don’t know these people. These are only names to me. I need….story. ” Since that time, I have begun trying to compile histories of the families, not only the individuals, but their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so forth, where and when they lived, moved, worked, who their neighbors were, and so on.

This applies also to my work on the knowledge base. I need more than an skeleton outline of subjects. In order to develop a subject, I need its history, and to do that effectively,  I need to put the story back in history.