Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Atomic Age in the 20th Century

The 20th Century marks the beginnings of what is called the "Atomic Age".  It is a phrase typically used to delineate the period of history following the detonation of the first nuclear bomb Trinity on July 16, 1945. 

This period is interesting because of the myriad of goods and bads that come from nuclear development. Once nuclear development started, is went through phases in which it was encouraged to gain ground in a lot of other countries. As years have passed, we have seen the consequences that can come from having nuclear plants in operation. There have been nuclear disasters. The most recent incident was in Japan. It was caused by the Tsunami that hit in 2011 and consequently, many people have suffered. 

I have many conflicting thoughts about nuclear development. It is incredible to think about the knowledge we have about the atom and in science. Where is it going to take us? Are we developing powers that are too great for us to control? Is it worth development and investment or is it self destruction?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Utopianism: A Very Short Introduction
Sargent, Lyman Tower
"A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of utopias." -Oscar Wilde
I am assigned to the group that is to MASTER the 16th Century. Although I've been slow at getting started, I have been working hard to get everything figured out- Google+, Blog, Books, History and, mainly, just the vision for this class. I have done a lot of exploring to see others in their posting and participation to try and catch a glimpse and hopefully the whole vision. Here we go. I have a long ways to go, but am getting started.. by small and simple things, right? 

I have started reading the novel I am assigned. I have the Title and Author at the top next to the picture. I found the introduction of the book to be interesting. I have never studied much or even been influenced much by the talk of Utopia. It has been intriguing to learn about the term and what it means and what role it may have played in the world, particularly in different civilizations.

The word 'utopia' was "coined by Thomas More as the name of the imaginary country he described in his short 1516 book." The book he wrote in the early 16th century is titled, "Concerning the Best State of a Commonwealth and the New Island of Utopia. A Truly Golden Handbook No Less Beneficial Than Entertaining" and is now known as Utopia. The word utopia simply means no place or nowhere, but More gave the reader a poem that calls Utopia "Eutopia" which means happy land or good place. So then the word Utopia became a reference to a non-existent good place. Although there are early references to Utopia, even before Thomas More, this definition is how we know it today. 

All utopias ask questions. They ask whether or not the way we could live could be improved and answer that it could(Sargent, Intro). In his novel, Sargent has used three faces of utopianism- the literary utopia, utopian practice, and utopian social theory. It can get quite complicated and confusing because the word means different things to different people, but the general idea is that utopianism is a philosophy of hope. I found this interesting because of the way we speak of Hope in the gospel sense and what it means. There is great power in hope. The gospel definition we know, as stated by modern prophets and apostles, is "an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you... it is believing and expecting that something will occur" (Preach My Gospel p.117). Hope in the gospel is placed in Jesus Christ with an assurance that through exercising faith in him, we will inherit eternal life. This hope that we have is real and will become a reality. In great contrast, the hope as referred to by utopianism is often a societal structure dreamed up by someone that can often be nothing more than a naive wish-fulfillment, such as in some fairy tales. Although there is much that could be said-- much that I can elaborate on -- I choose to simply make this connection because it is what I found most interesting as I read the introduction. I realized that in the LDS culture, we have some utopianism among us and it is very prevalent. That utopianism can be coined as eternal life. It is a societal structure that is perfect and that is real. It is God's life.

Sargent states his argument: "utopianism is essential for the improvement of the human condition, and in this sense opponents of utopianism are both wrong and potentially dangerous." He also argues that if used wrongly, utopianism is itself dangerous. It's easy to find examples, such as some communistic countries, that have used utopianism wrongly. I affirm Sargent's argument and concur with a bold exclamation mark.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Digital World

I've had a lot of thoughts recently about everything and/or anything that has to do with the internet. This class has caused a lot more thinking about my involvement in the digital world. There is much going on around us- so much happening in the world. Technology is increasing every day. Although many may not currently be aware of the digital world, it is vast. I have often been intimidated by it. I have also had a lot of conflicting thoughts about it. I have often wondered the effects that come from high participation in the digital world. There has been some type of fear in me at different times. Or maybe at times it has been pride; I've thought, "I don't need any of that.." almost as if I'm too good for it. But I have slowly come to realize the good in it. I've also learned that there is much benefit that I can receive if I use the resources available from modern technology. I have grown in appreciation for the access and availability we have of so many different resources because of the internet. It truly has changed the world. Before, I have thought that the negative changes from the internet have out-weighed the positive changes, but now I feel like the positive changes may be greater. I have had some hesitation and even some resistance in getting myself involved in blogspot, google+, etc. because of these conflicting thoughts I have about all the digitized modern world that has been around me. I feel a bit slow in getting involved. It's been more like.. walking slowly into the pool rather than jumping right in. 

Recently, my wife and I have had some good conversations about the rise of the modernized, digitized world and how it might be effecting individual and/or family life. It's been difficult to put my finger or, as my wife and I discussed, to put our finger on very specific things, but I'm sure others have written on this subject and I could find concise bullets of the effects of our modern digital world. In the past year, I have tried to get myself integrated more into the digital world. I have seen it grow and become a major thread in the human society. As I have thought much about my future and the roles I will have possibly in leadership, career, and home(father and husband). I have felt that if I don't get into the digital world to know how it works it will be much to my disadvantage. I could be more effective and resourceful as a human being living in this modern world if I was well-versed in modern technology. I have worked hard in changing my attitude towards it and in the process, have invested much time into learning the iPad. This piece of modern technology is now my text book, daily calendar, class notes, catalyst to information via internet, dictionary, newspaper, calculator, scriptures, music, map, camera, alarm clock, and more. It feels as if MY WHOLE LIFE IS IN IT. I am nothing without it. YIKES, that's where it gets a bit scary. The line is right around that statement. I am happy investing time into and creating a very useful tool with it wherein my daily activities are accelerated and/or enhanced, but the moment it becomes more important in my mind than my life--my breath, wife, verbal conversation and human interaction--it becomes a power for the worse and the very most important things in life suffer. My wife's body language and interaction has screamed, "I want you and NOTHING ELSE- No iPad, No YouTube- just YOU." Modern technology can be one giant distraction that can destroy lives and relationships. If that is where it takes me, I don't want to touch it. But if I can use it for the good in it without giving up myself and losing all that matters to me, count me in. I feel that this is a balance that's briefly been touched on in this post, but it is a balance that becomes a responsibility if we step very far into the digital world. 

How it is used for good: (specifically, blogs)



...interesting. Just two things that you don't have to look any farther than the home page of byu.edu to find that apply directly to this conversation about the digital world.

I know that there is a lot more tools I can use to make a post more appealing and to create hot buttons to take you to a certain website in a much more fashionable way than a copy and paste of the URL, but I haven't become that acquainted with Blogger to do those things yet and haven't had the time.

...More to come.  :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How digitally civilized am I?

This is a great question. Honestly, I am not sure I know the answer to that question. At times I have felt that I am very digitally civilized, like when I purchased an iPad and became more and more literate in using it. At other times I have felt digitally illiterate, like when I sat in on my first day attending this class. I thought, "I've never kept a blog before, how am I to learn that!? Gmail just updated and I'm working on getting that figured out- that's enough!" The good news is, a few days have gone by and I spent just a few minutes on the new gmail and had it down pat. The blogger world and research online? I'm still trying to build my confidence in my ability to do all of it. Am I digitally civilized? With the pace of change in the digital world, the answer would be constantly changing. As for now, I'd say .....I'm ok :) To clarify, yes. I feel I am somewhat or mostly digitally civilized.