If you want to arrange it, this world you can change it. -Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Friday, February 21, 2020
Question #92920 posted on 02/21/2020 3:37 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What do you think has to happen for the beard policy at BYU to change? To me it feels like the parts of the BYU honor code that actually involve honor are largely ignored while the beard policy, ridiculous housing rules and the mere appearance of religious piety are the main focuses of the honor code. Consequently, things like academic honesty, career integrity and service toward others (cough, summer sales, cough) take a back seat. How can the students take steps to reign in the BYU Orthodoxy and dispel the fence laws imposed on upon us?


-Русский бот

A:

Dear Dimitri,

Unfortunately, there's not a lot that mere students can do to rein in the "BYU Orthodoxy," and it seems for now that the beard policy is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

If you want my honest opinion--I don't think there's a silver bullet as to "what has to happen" in order for BYU to be a little more introspective. But I do believe there's room for the larger culture at BYU to become more cognizant of the fact that, like every university, BYU has its own politics, disagreements, and policies of varying degrees of efficacy. It may be owned and operated by the Church, but that doesn't actually mean it's "the Lord's university" (in some morally perfected sense) or that every policy and administrative decision gets divine approval before going forward.

That might sound like an excuse to soapbox like I usually do about the nature of revelation and human fallibility, but in my experience, it's a real problem in Latter-day Saint culture. There are lots of people out there who are unwilling to ask questions about even the least spiritual of BYU's policies, because presumably the apostles involved in oversight of the university approve of how it runs, and if it has apostolic approval, then to question is verboten, perhaps even apostate. This is the same line of thinking too many people buy into in the Church. It is my opinion that the only significant reason that the beard policy has remained this long is because our discourse about university policy (at least at the student level, where I participate) is much too enervated. Too many students are prone to conflate it with divine revelation rather than brooking any serious conversation.

An example springs to mind. On my mission, where we had access to mobile devices, a lot of missionaries would use the review section of the approved catalog of apps to post memes, jokes, generally waste time, or complain about the latest poor changes to the Area Book planning app. What surprised me, and led to me writing this answer the way that I have, was the response to those complaints from other missionaries. Many of them piously informed the rest of their brothers and sisters that they had no right to complain; didn't they know the app was approved by the apostles? Didn't they know that church leaders wouldn't have allowed those changes to roll out if they weren't beneficial? Missionaries should have been grateful that the Lord permitted us to use technology at all, and furthermore, since the Lord directs the work, there was no point complaining about the app being harder to use, or losing valuable features, or just not working at all.

Now, I don't know the individual (or combined) programming experience of the Quorum of the Twelve, but suffice it to say that I scarcely believe they are personally involved in the low-level code review of the apps designed for missionary use. I have no doubt the writers of the code prayed for inspiration and guidance in their work (as a cybersecurity major working on far less important projects, I can relate), but do I think God personally dictated--or personally approved--the code that led to the app we got at the time? No. A lot of good things in the Church come about from God adding on to the good ideas that we bring to Him and letting us try our best to do the right thing, even if we get it wrong sometimes. There is a persistent idea in the larger culture that things seem to work in reverse--that good comes about when we wait for God to give us the instructions and raising concerns is pointless if not faithless. I would suggest that the story of the brother of Jared lighting the stones ought to have taught us to be more proactive in seeking and doing good. Lighting a handful of stones by God's divine touch was not the only way forward; surely something else could have been improvised. But it was the way that was brought to God by His people, so He accommodated their request.

I digress. To your point, I believe the beard policy has lasted this long because, being an official administrative decision at a university owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it carries undue weight of divine inspiration, just like each release of Area Book updates did. I don't expect it to change until our dialogue about it comes around to the fact that not every BYU policy must be adamantly defended as an unchanging principle of the kingdom of God. At a university, some policy decisions are just that, policy.

Before I sign off, I do want to caution you not to think too harshly of the BYU environment and the people in it. I fully understand your frustration with the housing rules and with students who are more concerned with appearing righteous than actually being so. But don't let that frustration lead to pride. Be the change you want to see on campus. If the BYU spirit means service, honesty, and integrity, then serve others, be honest, and have integrity. Those people for whom BYU is only about appearing righteous or genuine, with no underlying sense of our divine responsibility to be like Christ, have already received their reward. If BYU is about more than that to you, then focus on living up to that responsibility, and encourage those around you to do the same. It's natural to be frustrated when policy decisions or the larger culture let you down--but the best thing to do is to turn the other cheek and focus on what you can change first.

Genuinely,

9S


0 Corrections
Question #92939 posted on 02/21/2020 11:30 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Im hoping that you can clear up a debate I am currently having regarding a work by Sufjan Stevens titled "Chicago". I am of the opinion that the instrumental version of this track should be considered a concerto and Sufjan himself a composer (in my opinion, the best composer working today). In your opinion, is this description correct?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWX3El-slpY

-An Eternal Fan.

A:

Dear Fan, 

If Sufjan wrote the music, he's a composer - regardless of whether or not "Chicago" is a concerto. Which... I'm kind of torn about. 

A concerto, by simple definition, is a composition where one solo instrument is highlighted (and it should be very obvious which one), accompanied by an orchestra. In "Chicago", the trumpet (right, it's a trumpet?) has two solo segments. It's not a super long song, so I'd say that could be enough to qualify it as a concerto. There's even an obvious form (ABCBDB) that could arguably make it three movements within the concerto (but let's not stretch it). So sure, I think there's enough to qualify it as a concerto.

I just worry that calling the trumpet the solo instrument is a little bit bold. It's possible that the solo segments are more of a cadenza. This doesn't disqualify "Chicago" from being a concerto. The reason I'm torn is that you only hear the trumpet highlighted at those two parts, instead of it being the obvious solo instrument throughout the whole piece. Does that make it a concerto, or just a contemporary instrumental piece with two short cadenzas? But I think you're right enough to call it a concerto, and even more right to say Sufjan may be the best composer of modern times (based on your personal preferences, of course. I think Philip Glass and Steve Reich can't be ignored, of course. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse


0 Corrections
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Question #92931 posted on 02/20/2020 10:03 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Can you find any picture of any US president at any time in their life checking out at a store cash register as they buy something themselves?

-everyday life

A:

Dear Lovely LP8, 

Inklings has answered your inquiry, I just wanted to say that such a picture is just going to be some press opportunity. Like, do you get your picture taken at a cash register? If so, that's pretty weird (besides checkout security cams, of course). I doubt having a picture of Donald at a cash register buying something to appear "relatable" would convince me he has bought his own groceries ever in his life. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse

A:

Dear Life,

I found one. I think that you can find more, but this was the first one I came across.

-Inklings


0 Corrections
Question #92923 posted on 02/20/2020 8:48 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Last year, I invested a fair bit in the stock market. I was very confident that it would do well, and it actually did substantially better than I anticipated. So now I've got about $50,000 that I can use in a myriad of ways.

My personal ambition is to pay off my mortgage in less than 10 years so that I can have the financial freedom to serve my community with greater impact -- I have far more interest in that than going to Disneyland or live concerts, buying expensive cars, or going on international leisure travel, etc. I think it's more important for me to aid the jobless than entertain myself.

The problem is, if I decide to put it toward my mortgage, I'm going to first have to pay about $7000 to the feds, and $1600 in state income tax. I'm not a huge fan of the way tax money is spent (or the insane fact that our national debt is now more than our annual GDP).

But, maybe if I just use the money to spin up something charitable now, that's just as well, and I can take a few more years to pay off the mortgage in the long run.

So if I can start a business or non-profit (or some other tax-deductible application), the $50,000 would be about 20% more effective (in the immediate future) toward my end goal than if I just pay the $8600 and taxes and put $41,400 toward my mortgage.

If you had the opportunity, what kind of jobs/charity would you create? Would you start a soup kitchen? Buy a plot of land and make a public garden? Start up a business where you pay yourself minimum wage but hire jobless people and pay them well?

What community needs do you see around you that you could pro-actively solve yourself if you had the resources?

-Ol' Libby R. Tarian

A:

Dear Libby, 

Honestly, respect. It's really great that you would choose to use your money that way. Also, THANK YOU for asking this question. As you might have been able to guess, I have a lot of ideas here. Some are more researched than others. 

1) Small affordable housing community for the homeless in large cities. I'd start with SLC and Portland probably. Basically, you build "tiny houses" for people to give them a place to come back to while they get back on their feet. I have a lot of respect for the Veterans Community Project and what they're doing. I would place a community garden on the property that people could help maintain to bring down food costs as well. I think it's really important for people to have a place to call home and give them stability. I think Yayfulness would have more knowledge about effective ways to carry this out. 

2) Create something like Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone in other neighborhoods that could use it. Even though I know grit isn't all of the equation, the HCZ is incredibly intensive and involved and seems to be turning out really good results for the people involved and the community that benefits from it. I would want to do some impact research to see what else I could do to improve it, but I definitely want to help improve the lives of impoverished populations by providing them more opportunities and ensuring they have the mentors and support they need to be successful in their endeavors. Geoffrey Canada's hope is that the children that leave the HCZ come back to improve their community, to turn Harlem around.

3) Pay off people's rents to help save them from getting evicted. I don't have a charity in mind or a particular plan to implement this, I just am furious that people could be working full time with children and still not be able to afford a place to stay in places like Milwaukee and Detroit. It's abominable and exploitative and if I had the money I would try to prevent it from happening to as many people as possible. 

4) Do what Kristen Bell does and buy supplies for teachers off their Amazon wishlists. Then spend more of my time advocating for and putting money into fair compensation for teachers. 

5) Research the best way to create parenting programs for people. You have to work around the fact that the impoverished often spend insane amounts of time working and don't have a lot of minutes to dedicate to taking a parenting class. But from research recently published by one of my professors and supported by Annette Lareau's research suggests that differences in child achievement are created very early on and may be largely the results of behaviors at home. If we were able to enable more parents with the tools they need to help give their children a better life, we could try to reduce those differences. This is part of how Utah seems to have good achievement scores while having  the lowest per child investment costs in education in the entire nation. It's because we have communities built into our religious structure that is designed to help people be successful. 

6) Invest in aeroponics to help bring fresh food in unimaginable quantities and at low prices to people living in food deserts.

7) Like guppy, I would consider helping lots of people pay off their medical bills. 

8) Provide school buildings to children in developing countries. I don't want to tell people how or what to teach their children, but I do think kids should have good, safe, clean buildings to learn in. 

9) (only sort of joking) Rebuild the Talmage building. It smells like feet and makes me claustrophobic. The math nerds need a better place to study.

10) Expand community programs like the Sunshine Club at Wasatch Elementary to be more readily available to the entire city, which will help to create bridging social capital, which enables people with less privilege to benefit from knowing and being friends with and interacting with people outside of their social circle. This can help to lessen the catastrophic effects of isolationist & criminalizing approaches to poverty. Remember what Bryan Stevenson said? GET PROXIMATE. 

11) Help expand The Equal Justice Initiative and the Innocence Project. 

12) Create free entry Social Education Museums all across the country to make sociological knowledge more available to people. You can go to learn about civil rights, craniometry, the housing crisis, comparative policies, etc. Maybe there will be guest lectures and art exhibits. I haven't hashed it out yet. 

I have more, but that will have to do for now. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse

A:

Dear Libby,

I've been taking a few classes about measuring the impact of non-profits, non-profit models, etc. With all the research and learning I've done, I've come to the conclusion that I don't know enough to actually make a difference.

Here's what I would do. I would keep investing the heck out of the money because it looks like whatever you're doing is working.

Then I would take a few years and dedicate myself to an issue. I would learn about it. For example, if I was interested in social justice I would read news stories and research articles. I would get out into the community and talk to people. I would research different organizations and the strategies they are taking to work on solving the problem. I would get educated about relevant policy.

While I was doing that I would find a way to volunteer. I would look for local organizations and try and give them ~5 hours a week. This would help me learn how to run a non-profit, and how to work in the space. 

Finally, and I think this is the most important, I would find a way to advocate for the cause. That could mean educating my friends, writing letters to newspapers and congressmen, attending city and county council meetings, and talking to relevant community businesses, governmental organizations, and NGOs.

Thank you so much for asking this. It made me reflect on what I can and should be doing now even when I don't have a lot of money.

Hope this helps!

Peace,

Tipperary

A:

Dear friend,

Be like this incredible church and pay off people's medical debts. 

-guppy of doom

A:

Dear Liberal Arts,

I think it would be super cool to start a really cheap restaurant that sells bulk items at a low price. For example, we make Mac N Cheese or soup and sell a good portion at $1 per cup. Or selling bananas for ¢25 each and apples for ¢50 each, basically buying food in bulk and then selling it below market price (ex. Uncrustables can be bought 18 for $10 at Costco). I think this sort of business would work especially well on college campuses, where it is already a good idea to sell cheap things, but I would try to make it so that the things we sold were also healthy. I think you could name a restaurant like this CHEAT (Convenient, Healthy, Ethical, Affordable, Tasty) or something like that. The emphasis would be on providing solid food at a very good price, and then we would be transparent with our costs. Because we only make a little bit of money on each purchase, I don't know exactly how we would pay employees (hourly or by how much they sold), but we could possibly hire people looking for jobs and a place to stay, and then put a bed or something in a back room for them to sleep at. Most of this idea comes from the Philippines, where this sort of thing happens a lot and there is a lot of street food and people selling things out of their houses. I'm not sure exactly how effective this plan would be at achieving my vision, but I think it would be pretty cool.

I think that it would also be cool if there were a restaurant that had a suggestion box or some sort of survey that customers took to suggest improvements, so maybe we could incorporate that.

-Inklings

A:

Dear Libby,

A few years ago my mom had an idea for a non-profit that she wants to start someday, so if I suddenly had money to put toward a non-profit, I would probably help my mom with her idea. She calls it her "laundry and literacy" idea. My mom is an elementary school teacher, and one year she had a student who would often wear clothes that didn't fit and would come to school super tired, without having done their homework. Eventually my mom found out that this student was often up late driving with their mom to the nearest laundromat almost an hour away so they could do their laundry.

So here's where my mom's idea comes in. It's not totally fleshed out, but basically something along the lines of opening a laundromat or a little center next to a laundromat that also has books for kids to read, places for kids to do homework, people to help kids do homework, places for kids to take naps, snacks and toys for kids, etc. all while parents do their laundry. Obviously this isn't the case across the board, but my mom figures that families who don't have a washer and dryer at home are probably among the most vulnerable and need the most help. Thus "laundry and literacy." 

Sincerely,

Cerulean


0 Corrections
Question #92938 posted on 02/20/2020 7:58 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Does a straw have one hole or two?

-Русский бот

A:

Dear you,

One hole, two ends

-Sunday Night Banter

A:

Dear Bot,

A straw is a long, thin, plastic donut, and a donut has one hole. 

-Inklings

A:

Dear you,

My gut instinct says a straw doesn't have any holes, and I stand by that answer.

Love,

Luciana

A:

Dear you,

I initially read this question, and was really confused about why some straw would have any holes. It took me a second to realize you were not referring to the hay-like substance.

~Anathema

A:

Dear you,

Here's the real question, if you wear a sock inside-out does that mean the entire universe-except for you-is wearing your sock?

Trippy-erary

A:

Dear Manufacturing Bot,

On second thought, I hope that the straws that I drink from don't have any holes. 

-Inklings


0 Corrections