Of gamma-ray bursts and the origin of life in the universe

Our galaxy

  A fascinating article in the 18 October 2014 issue of The Economist ("Astrobiology: Bolts from the Blue") reports on a recent article by Tsvi Piran of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Raul Jimenez of the University of Barcelona. Studying the frequency of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) in the universe, they suggest that life could not have developed anywhere in the cosmos much before it arose on earth.  The universe simply wasn't yet ready for it.  And they a … [Read more...]

The Words of Mormon

Graphic of plates of the Book of Mormon

  In today's reading, The Words of Mormon, a voice from many centuries later, out of chronological order, shows up in the record.  It's the voice of the prophet-editor Mormon, from whom the Book of Mormon as a whole takes its name. The little book, known as "The Words of Mormon," represents a major structural division in the Book of Mormon.  It links the Small Plates of Nephi to the rest of the Book of Mormon, which is made up of Mormon's abridgment of the L … [Read more...]

Good riddance!

John Edwards, of happy memory

  Every once in a while, a politician comes along who is so odious and maladroit that, when he or she suffers a spectacular loss, there's the delicious confidence that we'll probably never have to hear from him or hear again.  Unless, of course, MSNBC wants to take on a new political commentator.  But, come to think of it, that too would  pretty much mean that ordinary Americans wouldn't ever have to hear from him or her again. John Edwards was one such pol … [Read more...]

“Why does the U.S. shun Cuba, but not Israel?”

Mr. Castro of Cuba

  Aware that I've written occasionally on both Palestinian and Cuban issues, Jabra Ghneim shared this item from the major Israeli newspaper Haaretz: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.624877 I'm guessing that the author is a left-leaning Israeli. I don't agree with her.  For one thing, although I'm far from uncritical of Israel, I think that equating Israel with Cuba, Netanyahu with the Castro brothers, Shimon Peres with Che … [Read more...]

A young Mormon flash mob in Zürich, Switzerland

The former mission headquarters

  A group of young Latter-day Saints stage a flash mob in Zürich, handing out "I'm a Mormon" pass-along cards afterwards: http://www.hlt.ch/news/eine-neue-idee-fur-die-missionsarbeit Thanks to Tom Walker for bringing this to my notice.  I like it a lot better than having missionaries accost people walking along the sidewalk, and I think this sort of thing could help the image of Latter-day Saints in my beloved Switzerland -- by which I mean that it … [Read more...]

“A place designed to make saints”

Where Professor Hick taught for a while

  A reflection, in my weekly Deseret News column, on the difficulties of mortal life: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865614809/A-place-designed-to-make-saints.html  Posted from Newport Beach, California    … [Read more...]

St. Thomas on conversion

Climbing the mountain

  "To convert somebody go and take them by the hand and guide them."  (St. Thomas Aquinas)   Posted from Newport Beach, California    … [Read more...]

On eating “halal” meat

Compare kashrut

  I received an email a few days ago warning me against eating "halal" meat -- that is, meat from animals that have been slaughtered in Islamically approved ways (i.e., the Islamic equivalent of kosher laws). It saddens me enormously to receive such emails, which increase paranoia, hostility, and mistrust against Muslims on the basis of half-truths, distortions, and outright falsehoods. I began to think that I would have to sit down and compose a … [Read more...]