Notes from all over

March 13, 2009 | 9 comments
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9 Responses to Notes from all over

  1. PV on March 13, 2009 at 8:34 am

    The Charles Murray talk really is extraordinary, and makes a powerful case for the American model of society. I especially appreciated his analogy of the 20th Century as the “adolescence” of humanity–true in so many ways (and surely that must fit into the progressive concept of government as the “nanny state”–that humanity, while growing up, is still apparently not able to take care of itself.)

    I think his most powerful point is that happiness is tied, not to the equality of outcomes, but to the liberty of the individual to choose their own outcome–very much a point that resonates with the LDS understanding of the central role of agency in the pursuit of happiness.

  2. Adam Greenwood on March 13, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Put another way, the only equality that matters is the equality in the parable of the talents–did you do what you could with the hand you were dealt, did you lay it at the foot of the Lord? If so, then you are equally a good and faithful servant and can hold up your head in any company.

  3. Ben Pratt on March 13, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Regarding Big Love and its planned episode: *YAWN*

    The Church’s Newsroom, OSC, and others have all made the same point, namely that whatever entertainers do can never change the effect the temple has on me, my family and posterity, and my community. So this whole thing is no threat at all.

    One positive thing about this fiasco is that I’ve had a chance to respond to various emails and Facebook messages from well-meaning friends and family members, pointing out the Newsroom article. I’ve had at least one very positive response. The more LDS who are stopping to think about happenings like this instead of passing on scary emails, the better.

  4. CatherineWO on March 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    re: good marriage, bad name
    This article is hilarious. I got married at about the same time as the author. We never even considered hyphenating our names because they were both too long and awkward, but I had several friends who did it and they have dealt with the same problems over the years.

    I think the whole issue of family names is very interesting, but also very personal. On the one hand, having done much family history research, I understand the confusion when family names don’t pass from generation to generation. (This occurs in my Danish ancestry.) On the other hand, one of the few regrets I have about my own marriage (which has been more or less successful for 36 years), is that I didn’t keep my own family name. I’m not sure what I would have done with the children, probably given them my husband’s name for simplicity and to apease other Church and family members, but as I look back on it, I wish I had kept my own name as it was.

  5. Adam Greenwood on March 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Oh, c’mon, WO is a great last name.

  6. Gina on March 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I enjoyed the Murray speech very much. It is by far the most thought provoking and articulate explanation that I’ve read of why government programs might not serve the greater good, even if they suceed. Although I’m not necessarily convinced, he makes some points not easily dimissed. Also, amen to his call for the elites to get back in touch with real life Americans. I think the physical segregation of our society a la “The Big Sort” is one of the most ominous trends in our country. When people don’t mix their ideas of what “other people” are like can be so damaging.

    I did think his idea that social science is going to enlighten us as to different “groups” limitations and strenghts is unlikely to be positive, as he asserts. How could we seperate groups in ways that are meaningful or useful? He uses the example of women and men. Ok. Past that… Blacks? Jews? Uh, no thanks. Even if we do find trends for groups, how do we apply that in real life? Even though we may find that a random woman is less likely to succeed at the highest levels of math than a random man, that has almost no meaning on an individual level. (See: any of eight million bloggernacle posts about innate nurturing capabilities of women and men, etc).

    But overall an interesting read. Thanks for the link!

  7. Kent Larsen on March 15, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Adam, I’m not exactly sure why you included the “good marriage, bad name” article. If you agree with the author that “a hyphenated name will only give you headaches” or think that somehow women and families must all have the father’s last name, I think your views, like the author’s, are mistaken and simplistic.

    First, I think the author assumes that these errors are because of the hyphenation, and not simply errors made in the computerization of names and changes to databases that contain names over the years. In the little I’ve worked with databases of names, I’ve been surprised at the numbers of obvious errors and ambiguities that I’ve seen–almost always occurring because the programmer who created the database didn’t make it flexible enough (when the name is three fields – last name, first name, middle name – what do you do when someone is a Jr. or Sr.? or has multiple middle or last names?) or the database wasn’t robust enough to handle characters that aren’t letters (spaces, hyphens, accent marks, etc.). Most of the errors that Matthewes-Green mentions are likely, IMO, errors that have little or nothing to do with her hyphenated name.

    I’ve seen the same kind of errors. My wife and I, with our relatively uncomplicated names, have had just as many problems as Frederica Mathewes-Green has complained of. The IRS still doesn’t recognize our marriage through some computer glitch involving her name (we think they have two spaces before her last name instead of one or something), meaning that we have to file our tax returns on paper instead of electronically. We also have received many direct mail pieces that mangled our names in various ways — my wife has taken to changing her middle initial when she fills out forms that might result in her name and address being sold, so that by tracking the middle initial she can guess what form she filled out led to the error (and where the address has been sold).

    The only real quirks in our names are the suffix in my name (“II” for “second” to distinguish me from my father) and the fact that we dared to give our children each two middle names instead of just one (the second middle name is my wife’s maiden name).

    But even this is a bit of a problem because it is unusual. In the case of my youngest daughter, the second middle name was added in front of our last name, I assume by some clerk from another culture who saw a last name from both parents and thought we were following the system used in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries.

    The only lesson I can see in all this is that the more you deviate from the standard way that names are treated in your culture (and those standards are significantly different around the world), the more likely someone will mess it up or that the unusual nature will cause you trouble.

    Historically, errors like this have been one of the most common forms of changes and introduction of new surnames. Immigration authorities spelled names the way that they thought immigrants had said them or even made up new names when they felt like it. Even our own missionaries make errors like this around the world, when they record names incorrectly because they don’t understand local customs associated with names.

    Like it or not, avoiding hyphenated or unusual names isn’t going to avoid a lot of problems.

  8. Alison Moore Smith on March 18, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    As for the basketball team with seven RM’s:

    Posted by: Marc (Hint, it’s not BYU or Utah)

    But almost.

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