Happy Holiday!



“A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat.”


Today is Groundhog Day!


Accordingly, music from the greatest movie ever made is coursing through my mind.  No, not Sonny & Cher, which would be unendurable, but that polka thing.


And, while I’m at it:  Some critics — mostly those who seem never to have actually grasped what the linguistic/anthropological argument is — mock the idea that the Nephites might have used their equivalent of the English word horse to denote a tapir.  Yet these same people commonly see and speak of “seahorses” and “buffalo.”  And the ancient Greeks called hippopotami . . .  well, hippopotami.  (Hippopotamus is Greek for “river horse.”)  And modern Germans call the hippopotamus a Nilpferd, or “Nile horse.”  And the Romans called the elephant a “Lucanian cow.”  And so on and so forth.  So, in this context, consider that we call the groundhog a groundhog, and sometimes a whistle-pig, even though it’s actually, as Bill Murray so eloquently says, a rat.  Or, somewhat more precisely, a rodent of the marmot  type.


The Hale Center Theater, in West Valley City, Utah


And, in other entertainment news:


My wife and I went with a friend last night to the Hale Center Theater, in West Valley City, Utah, for a performance of The 39 Steps.  Good fun.  Lots of laughs.  I like live theater — which is good, because I married a drama major.


This one is a spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous 1935 thriller by the same title, which was based on John Buchan’s 1915 novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps.  (I was actually introduced to the story via the 1978 film The Thirty Nine Steps, which I still like.)


I recommend it for a fun night out.


And, finally:  I once nearly ran into Alfred Hitchcock.  Literally.  I was walking at Universal Studios, and there he was.  One of my earliest brushes with greatness.  I’m a long-time Hitchcock fan.



Of blemishes and deformity
When will the super volcano under Yellowstone erupt again?
Personal encounters with Elder Packer (Part 1)
Happy Independence Day!
  • Lucy Mcgee

    When have tapirs ever pulled chariots?

    • danpeterson

      Who says that tapirs pulled chariots?

  • http://plainandpreciousthing.blogspot.com/ Rozann

    We watched Groundhog Day on Friday night and enjoyed all our favorite lines once again. “Morons, your bus is leaving.” Such a great movie!

  • Lucy Mcgee

    If the Nephites used the word “horse” to denote a tapir, then it seems reasonable to assume that in Alma 20, when Lamoni caused his servants make ready their chariots, that they would be drawn by tapirs.

    In 3 Nephi 3:22, when horses are again written about with chariots, the assumption could be that horses (tapirs) would have pulled them, or that horses (tapirs) and chariots would be destroyed as written in 3 Nephi 21.

    I’d assume that when writing sentences containing the words horses and chariots, that any reasonable person would consider them linked as much as if a person were to write about any domesticated animal performing tasks as beasts of burden.

    Tapirs have not been domesticated as beasts of burden. There is no historical evidence that this had ever been accomplished. Tapirs are a shy animal thriving in the wilds more akin to a hippo than the domesticated horse.

    • danpeterson

      I’m curious to know what Mormon discussions you’ve read, Lucy McGee, of tapirs and “horses.”


  • Tracy Hall Jr

    Thanks for pointing me to Goldberg’s wonderful review, proving that if something worthwhile is repeated ad nauseum, it might finally come to my attention. Thanks to Goldberg, my under-educated self heard for the first time of “16th-century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, who argued that human free will is possible because God’s omniscience includes His knowledge of every possible outcome of every possible decision.”
    Needless to say, I immediately googled his name with the “many worlds” (interpretation of quantum mechanics.) Yep, it’s been considered. Even by Mormons.

    I’m not saying that “many worlds” in Moses 1:35 has anything to do with quantum mechanics, but there’s sure a lot of interesting stuff out there for me to learn when I retire from retirement. We do have access to the Internet in the Spirit World, don’t we?

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    When the first Europeans encountered MesoAmerica in the 1500s, it was over a thousand years after the end of Nephite civilization, and over 1500 years since the era described in the Book of Alma. Since horses, according to the fossil record, originated in the Americas, and migrated across the land bridge to Asia and Europe, some species of horse lived in the Americas until they became extinct. No one knows precisely when that happened, since the fossil record is notoriously incomplete. The Book of Mormon does not describe herds of free roaming horses. It does not describe horses being ridden, or being used as pack animals. They play no significant role in warfare. There is no cavalry,and the description of tactical movements portrays the Nephite and Lamanite armies moving entirely on foot. The use of horses solely to pull a “chariot”for Lamanite royalty is consistent with a small number of a dwindling species, much like the small artificial groups of endangered species that are nurture by biologists in hopes of reestablishing breeding populations in their native habitat. The number of individual members of several species in such captive breeding programs numbers less than a hundred in some cases. A species of horse whose rarity made it valuable to humans, whose ancestors may have hunted horses and mammoths close to extinction, may have been preserved by human breeders, but eventually fallen prey to the lack of genetic diversity in the population, and to the disruptions of the economy that took place in the first forty years AD, including the depradations of the Gadiantons, and the collapse of government, and then the massive disruption of habitats circa 34 AD. Until there is a comprehensive ancient record of the Americas which specifically documents the extinction date and place of the last American horse, based on extensive geographic information about the whole extent of North and South America, there is no way for critics of the Book of Mormon to prove that there was not a small population of horses that reached final extinction circa 34 AD.

    • Lucy Mcgee

      I like your account far better than the tapir story, which if true must have been of some embarrassment to the Lamanite royalty. Giddyup.