I guess the atmosphere that I've tried to create here is that I'm a friend first and a boss second, and probably an entertainer third. -Michael Scott, The Office
Question #91484 posted on 07/10/2018 11:30 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

There's a certain temple covenant that I'm not sure how to follow in my day to day life. I'm not going to quote it but essentially we're told to conduct ourselves with some amount of seriousness. I have never felt like I was breaking that covenant but I think I could improve. How do you live this particular covenant in your lives?

-The Happy Medium

A:

Dear Happy,

Babalugats gives a great answer below, I just wanted to jump on to say that it's okay, and even good, to be happy and enthusiastic. "Enthusiasm" means "God in us," and the scriptures tell us we exist to have joy, so I don't think they're things that we should avoid. There are obviously some ways that happiness and enthusiasm could go wrong, like if your jokes are at someone else's expense, or if you're blindly zealous about something without any knowledge informing it, and I think that may be what the temple covenant you're talking about is referring to. However, I also don't think it's saying to only be serious all the time. The thing is, everybody shows happiness in such different ways. Some people laugh a lot, others are quietly content, others are super smile-y. As long as they're not mean-spirited, none of those ways is better or worse, they're all just different.

Personally I try to live that covenant by just being aware of what sorts of things I look for happiness in—am I trying to be happy by just watching my favorite TV shows, or making mean/inappropriate jokes, or by doing things that actually bring meaning to my life? If I find that my sources of happiness don't line up with my values, I try to reorient myself to make sure that my happiness is based in something that I actually believe in and want to be part of my life in the long term.

-Alta

A:

Happy,

I like to focus on good examples. 

This:

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LDS-Church-President-Russell-M-Nelson-29.jpg

 

Not this:

noah-building-ark-39459-gallery.jpg

 

This:

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350-commit-to-christ_12.jpg

Not this:

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This:

cardinal-timothy-dolan-honored-with-visionary-leadership-awa_6.jpg

cardinal-timothy-dolan-honored-with-visionary-leadership-awa_4.jpg

Not this:

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So I guess the trend here can be identified with a single question. Are you laughing at the prophet or next to him? (So many gospel analogies in that link.) Ideally, we would be laughing with the prophet. Like cardinal Timothy Dolan there with Elder Holland. 

If you feel like you need to improve, that might be the Spirit! Follow that impression and ask what you need to change personally. I've had and shared a lot of laughter I definitely regret. 

I try to make jokes that make people feel good and aren't at any one's expense. I pray for help to do that because it's honestly so so hard. I try to be more careful about what I watch and how I speak on the Sabbath. I try to stay present.

The staying present is actually a big deal for me in this commandment. In fact, let's go ahead and hang my whole understanding on it. Having a presence of mind covers all the mocking, watching bad stuff, partying like Laman and Lemuel. It serves as an antithesis to getting carried away "unto boasting", being the center of attention, saying things I don't mean, agreeing with/tolerating/laughing at mean jokes made by others. When I act as a keeper of my thoughts and attention (or allow the Spirit to act as a keeper), I come out of social situations with fewer regrets and apologies to make.

Keeping this commandment is also related to being aware of people who need us. I have seen others miss opportunities to serve and I have missed such opportunities. I've seen it with long-term laugh-seeking and with short-term. Sometimes we don't notice friends sinking into depression because we're out every weekend. Sometimes we don't talk to those who need us at church because we're having so much fun with our favorite people. Sometimes my work integrity slips because I'm laughing with coworkers. 

I guess my goal is just to keep my head and be intentional with my time, words, and laughter. Though " [coming to oneself]" like the prodigal son is a powerful and positive turning point for anyone--if we never left ourselves we have much less to regret. 

Babalugats

Question #91415 posted on 07/10/2018 11 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Let's say humans invent a time machine and want to travel back as far as they can in the earth's geological history. Obviously, modern humans didn't evolve until, like, two million years ago, but what's the earliest period that would have been able to support human life had it arrived by means other than evolution? How far back could the time travelers go if they wanted to find a world hospitable to their taking up residence there?

-Darwin

A:

Dear Charles,

One quick thing: you're correct that about two million years ago (1.8 million, to be precise) saw the emergence of the first Homo Erectus, but modern humans as we understand them actually didn't evolve until about 300,000 years ago. But you're right, if we were to travel back in time, we probably could have survived on the earth long before that.

Now let's take some time to talk about human dietary requirements. The three macronutrients humans need in their diet in order to survive are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. As long as there were animals around to hunt, getting protein and fat wouldn't have been too hard, but carbohydrates are another problem. My guess is we would have to wait at least until angiosperms (flowering plants) developed for a really reliable source of carbs. The first angiosperms developed in the Cretaceous Period, or about 125 million years ago, so humans would probably have to wait until then. Conifers have existed on the earth long before that (dating back to about 300 million years ago), but probably wouldn't have been a reliable source of food because they take so long to germinate and then grow, and aren't as nutrient-packed as angiosperms. Also, to clarify--when I say that angiosperms are flowering plants, I'm not just talking about garden flowers here. Almost all shrubs, trees, herbaceous plants, and grasses are angiosperms; or in other words, about 80% of all plants on earth are angiosperms. They're a big deal. They probably wouldn't form the backbone of our fictional time travelers' diets, and meat would remain the staple for probably millions of years more, but having them around would probably be necessary to sustain any sort of human life. So let's put the earliest limit for humans at about 125 million years ago, or 100 million to be safe, if we want to wait until angiosperms really became prevalent.

The again, if humans were to go back to the Cretaceous, it's likely that we would have been wiped out in the KT extinction event (the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs), so we'd probably want to wait until the Paleogene started (66 million years ago) before trying to colonize prehistoric earth.

-Alta

A:

Darwin,

Ecology reserves chiming in here to (mostly) second Alta's answer. I really enjoyed this article about some emerging thought on the diversification of mammals. Still puts major developments after angiosperms taking off (125 million years ago ish?) 

We started getting close around 500 million years ago (mya). But it's less of a progressive time line and more of a series of windows. There were plenty of fluctuations that could kill a human population. Asteroids definitely help, but they have friends. Nailing the right time window would require much more precise estimates of a million factors. Getting it right becomes less likely the closer to 500 mya we get because of increased uncertainty and decreased precedence. 

The first breathable air was starting to occur about 500 million years ago. But how close that air was to a modern human's preferred 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, argon (0.93%), carbon dioxide 0.039%, and other trace gases (0.003%) is another question. Here's a nifty infographic on human tolerance for temperature, humidity, oxygen, and pressure. Those are pretty narrow parameters, and our estimates of those times are very uncertain. Temperatures are especially tricky. But honestly since around 800 mya I think there have been some manageable temps. So I'm still okay with estimating 500 mya. 

Food is another argument. To really allow for the persistence and development of a human colony, I think Alta is pretty much right. They need a reliable source of food that doesn't take too many resources to acquire. 500 mya they had some kinds of fish, but there wasn't much diversity.

500 million years, fish and proto-amphibians;
475 million years, land plants;
400 million years, insects and seeds;
360 million years, amphibians;
300 million years, reptiles;
200 million years, mammals;
150 million years, birds;
130 million years, flowers;

Maybe we could get by eating some small diversity of fish, insects, and seeds. Let's give ourselves at least another 100 million years to diversify the diet. Soo, 400 mya?

This is a short clip about what happens when humans only eat meat. We might be able to work out some of those fiber issues, but honestly the glucose stuff is indeed very real. Especially if we're talking about the propagation of a human culture. 

So basically your question is a fun one because there is no straight answer but plenty of variables to talk about. I've contributed some information to think about but there's so much more! If I were making an official recommendation to society I would tell them to delay a chartered expedition until we had used time travel to sample an acceptable number time frames and locations.  We could get the statisticians involved to decide what that acceptable sample number might be, and then decide the time that would give us the largest window of time before an extinctive event occurred. It shouldn't be too hard to find something worthy of our settlement if you consider how long we've been on the earth compared to the length of the ages and changes were aware of. Regardless of settlement efforts, even a few trips to sample these time frames would help nail down our geologic timescale a TON.  

Keep conjecturing! Conjecture is the primary provision of intellectual fun... and misinformation. But whatevs. 

Babalugats