Look out for the future, because you never know what it might bring…
Question #91940 posted on 01/10/2019 11:28 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

For those writers that served foreign-speaking missions, have you found effective ways to keep up your language skills? I'm coming up on five years having returned home, and worry that I'll lose the skill I worked hard to learn while serving. Beyond praying and reading the scriptures in your mission language, what other opportunities have you found to keep your skills sharp?

-El idoma


Queridisimo Idioma,

Well I minored in my mission language, so that helped. I also try to listen to music in Spanish, read books in Spanish (I'm not huge on reading translations of books that were originally written in English, but I do try to read books by Latino authors that were originally written in Spanish), and most important of all, talk to people in Spanish. I usually don't talk to random strangers in Spanish, because I think it's pretentious for me to assume that I speak better Spanish than they speak English, but I do have several native speaker friends who I speak with, and that's been the biggest thing for me keeping up my grasp of the language. Anything I do by myself, or even speaking with gringos who also know Spanish, isn't nearly as helpful for maintaining my ability to both understand and speak well as having extended conversations with native speakers is.



Dear Lingua,

I agree with Alta that speaking with people is the best way to keep up language skills. The tricky part though is finding opportunities to do so. I'm currently living in foreign language housing at BYU and I love it so much. Immersion is the way to go, so if you can find a way to be immersed such as travel, that would be great. Here are some other ideas to keep sharp without staying immersed:

  • Use it at work: Language skills are useful. See if there's some ways to utilize your language skills in your job. Plus, if you work for an international company, using your language skills can lead to paid travel which is amazing.
  • Go to church in a different language: This isn't always an option, but in areas where the church is fairly strong there are often branches that hold their meetings in foreign languages.
  • Talk to people from your mission: Catch up with the people you met on the mission. I've found sending voice recordings back and forth to be the most effective for me language practice wise.
  • Listen to music: Listening to music is good, but it's better if you learn the lyrics to songs so that you can practice vocab.
  • Start/Join a book club: Book clubs are great because you read and discuss in your target language. If you have friends that speak the same language as you do it's a great way for all of you to practice together.
  • Watch TV series/Movies: I know a lot of people who learned English just by watching movies and TV series in English. I'm sure the reverse works just as well.
  • Visit places where people speak the language: most cities of decent size have ethnic supermarkets or restaurants. I'm with Alta about talking to strangers, but if I'm in a places where menus or labels are in Spanish I feel a lot less pretentious speaking Spanish. Really big cities even have whole neighborhoods or communities that use a foreign language. If there's somewhere like that near you, that's a good place to practice.

I hope this helps! I'm sure there are a lot of other ways to practice that I haven't thought of yet. If any of our readers have novel suggestions feel free to leave a correction.



posted on 01/11/2019 5:08 p.m.
I did not serve a mission. However I did take Spanish at BYU enough to be semi conversationally fluent. When I left BYU,I continue to read out loud 10 minutes every single day. Usually it's the book of Mormon because that gives me a two-for-one, but I've also read Harry Potter, the news, poetry, and other things. As simple as it might sound, reading out loud those 10 minutes everyday and looking up a couple new words each day has significantly helped.

Today I am more fluent than I was when I left BYU, and several years after that I moved to a job where I use Spanish several times a week in my work without a single problem. it really is just muscle memory that needs a little daily use.

-Spanish enthusiast
posted on 01/11/2019 5:08 p.m.
Something else that can help that can enhance what you're already doing: don't just read in your mission language, but read out loud (scriptures or otherwise). I've been home from my mission for nearly a decade and even though I haven't studied my mission language in a class or visited a country that utilizes my mission language in over 5 years my pronunciation and reading skills haven't deteriorated. This engages reading, speaking, and listening to your language without needing to find someone to talk to, and it's something you can do easily by yourself!

Tokyo RM
Question #91934 posted on 01/10/2019 7:46 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I recently read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for school. For those of you who have read it, who do you think the actual "monster" of the novel is and why? Frankenstein? His creature? Both or neither? The DeLacey's? HUMANITY?

-Red Pandemonium


Dear Panda, 

It's easy to say that Victor Frankenstein is the real monster. He dug up dead bodies to create an undead creature. Creepy, dude. Also, because he didn't show his creature any love, it murdered most of his friends and family.... so it's kinda his own problem.

That being said, the creature is still a murderer. After spending some time observing human beings, the creature has emotions and morals and follows social norms in many ways. I mean, he weeps over Frankenstein's dead body at the end. Also, just because Frankenstein was a brat to him and whatever doesn't mean it's an excuse to kill people. What's the death count for the monster? At least 5 or 6. Just because bad things happen to you in life doesn't really mean you should murder people. (Granted, the first one was seemingly an accident and he didn't know any better. He kept killing because he saw he could use the pain as leverage to get Frankenstein to do what he wanted.) 

But... what about the De Laceys? Couldn't they have perhaps made up for the horrible life that the creature had had? His rejection by his creator? Sure, but the hideousness of the monster made Felix turn on him. Felix couldn't reconcile differences and he let his pride and his anger get in the way of what could have been something good. And that brings me to the final conclusion: 

The true monster is US! It's society! And that's really the point, isn't it? Shouldn't people have had compassion for the plight of the monster? How many of the tragedies could have been avoided if someone could have looked past the face of the creature and gotten to know his heart and genuineness? As a reader, you hear the journey of the creature, so you learn to empathize a bit with him. Everyone finds themselves justifying the murders and blaming Dr. Frankenstein for not being more loving. After all, isn't he the real monster? It IS his fault. But you have to think more than that. Who is Frankenstein, but a structured society that rejects the "unlovable"? The socially undesirable? How often do we look down on the impoverished, the homeless, the drug addict, the chronic alcoholic, the unemployed, the immigrant? The way we treat these out-groups is the same way that Frankenstein and Felix De Lacey treated the creature - with abhorrence. We tell ourselves a narrative that erases the humanity and goodness of these people and instead labels them with only what makes them different. When you allow yourself, and as society structurally allows itself, to depersonalize these marginalized groups, you lose your human connection to them. Instead of being blind***, like the elder De Lacey, to the differences between you and another, we cause more anger and self-loathing to burn into the hearts of those who already struggle enough by refusing to acknowledge their humanness and their kindness and their hardships. The ramifications we see because of that (higher crime rates in poorer areas and among drug users, etc.) only serve to reinforce our prejudices, much like the murders of the creature deepened the divide between him and Frankenstein. To stop ourselves from becoming the monster, we have to be like the elder De Lacey, as well as Robert Walton. We must listen to and appreciate the stories of those who are hurting, and do what we can to assist them. 

But then, maybe that's just my inner sociologist speaking. (Or not, because if you know anything about Mary Shelley, that's almost definitely what she was thinking.) 




*** In case you were wondering, differences do exist, and being blind to them in real life only allows for the systematic stratification to persist because we refuse to address the real problems. But this is a simplified and idealized example, so I'm using the word blind here because not only was De Lacey literally blind, in an ideal way, we should be blind as people to differences, but not allow the system to be blind. Blah. I know you didn't want to hear about that, but I felt like I had to explain it so I didn't get someone coming to me telling me that real social difference blindness doesn't exist. I promise, I know. 


Dear you,

I actually just finished reading this for the first time a few weeks ago! And I was going to write something thoughtful and eloquent but I actually agree with Guesthouse 100%.




Dear person,

Dr. Frankenstein.



Dear you,

Both. Dr. Frankenstein for giving life to a creature and then deserting it, causing it to go kinda crazy and not be taught love and respect. But also the monster, because a horrible childhood does not justify murdering people. But if we had to choose just one I'd say Dr. Frankenstein was the real monster.

Also I went to a haunted house when I was 14 and, while I'm usually terrified of those things, I spent most of the ride upset because one of the first monsters was Frankenstein's monster in a jail labeled "FRANKENSTEIN". The actor growled and tried to grab me as I angrily lectured him on how he wasn't Frankenstein, he was Frankenstein's monster, his creator was Frankenstein and how hard was that to remember, and he wasn't the true monster of the story, he was just misunderstood and why did no one understand this. 

If we want a real monster in haunted houses we should put the Phantom of the Opera in there because he's a sexist murdering jerk who doesn't respect boundaries. He's killed at least 2-3 people (depends if we're looking at the movie or book) which doesn't even include all the people killed in the fire at the end. I wanna see him in a haunted house. He's more of a monster than Frankenstein's monster, because at least Frankenstein's monster didn't pose as a girl's dead father/angel and kidnap her with some intention of assaulting her.

Question: Frankenstein or Frankenstein's monster? Conclusion: Phantom of the Opera.

-guppy of doom


Dear Panda,

Both Victor Frankenstein and his monster suck*. I'm sorry to say it but they do. I just spent an entire semester studying this novel, and that is my qualified opinion.

What I really came here to say is that the DeLaceys are absolutely blameless in all of this. The monster just straight up peeping tom-ed them for months, first of all. Then, they return to their home one day to find their sweet, blind old father seemingly about to be attacked by a monster made of reconstituted cadaver meat. You try keeping your cool when confronted with all of that. They did what they needed to do, and honestly? The monster should have thought about all this before he even did it. The dude read Paradise Lost essentially as an infant and yet couldn't figure this out? Higher intelligence, my butt.

-Quixotic Kid

*Look, they do. This doesn't mean that I don't like the novel. The novel is great, Mary Shelley is great, and the story is very interesting and compelling. I just think the two main characters are the worst. 

Question #91916 posted on 01/10/2019 7:46 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Say the world goes to crap, and civilization dies, what's the best way to store an audio recording so that it could be listened to eventually. I'm guessing record or tape, but it might be something else. what audio capture and play back device would be the first one recreated.

me, myself, and eye


Dear I, 

This is two really interesting questions, and like all really interesting questions, the answers are complicated. Firstly, about the the audio capture devices. While you might be right that, if we had to completely start over from the ground up, we would most likely be capable of recreating record players and cassette players before cd players or digital MP3 players. But, knowing what we know now, would humanity skip right over wax cylinders and records and head straight for MP3s? What kind of information loss are we talking about on a global scale? It's very possible that the second time around, humanity would reverse engineer the more advanced technology rather than go step by step. There's just no way for us to know how humankind would do on the second go-round. 

Secondly, in most of these cases, the actual physical recording would degrade and be unplayable far before we likely reinvented the playing method. Both vinyl records and standard casettes are very sensitive to heat, cold, dust, and moisture. Which, if we look to see how our civilization will most likely implode, doesn't really look good for those two formats. However, most of the data that we have about the eventual degradation of these mediums is measured over time, depending on the number of listens. We can't really tell how these mediums will stack up in 100, 200 years, because we haven't had the time to just leave a record or cassette alone for that long.

CDs, while being less sensitive to the elements, are also on this list. They just haven't been around long enough to really study. That being said, there has been a problem with some CDs, where the silver layer that holds the data becomes exposed to air and tarnishes, ruining the disc. There's also another type of disc, called the millenniata disk (or M-disc) that claims to be able to preserve the data on it for 1000 years. While the actual method of how it could even flipping do that is proprietary and secret, some archivists (like the ones in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections) have begun trusting the M-disc for preserving digital copies of their precious archives. The M-disc can be played on a CD player, but would probably last longer than a CD without degrading.

-Quixotic Kid

posted on 01/11/2019 5:08 p.m.
Addition to Quixotic Kid's excellent answer - the M-disc was actually invented at BYU, and then the original producing company was founded by two BYU professors. There's an m-disc in the second-floor western display case. Dr. Lunt's and Dr. Linford's paper on both the m-disc and the problems with standard storage media can be found on ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224937053_Permanent_Storage_for_Digital_Photos

posted on 01/11/2019 5:08 p.m.
This is actually a problem the folks at NASA considered. They wanted to include data, including sound, on the Voyager spacecrafts. They ended up using a gold-plated record, with directions on how to use it etched in it: