Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Key to Know When to be Wary of Articles About Romney

I have been trying to find a trend of something simple that should lend to or detract from the legitimacy of its representations of Romney and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the LDS Church, commonly referred to as Mormons).

I think I found one.

One of the things that seems to really stand out is that Mitt Romney was a Bishop in a Ward in Massachusetts.

This is true.

There are some articles that go further and explain that he was also a Stake President.

This is also true.

What doesn't always come across is that a Stake President is ecclesiastically, organizationally, and functionally superior to a Bishop.  In fact a Stake is made up of from 6-12 Wards, each of which are lead by a Bishop.  Those Bishops report directly to the Stake President.  The Stake President, in turn, reports to an Area Authority, usually from one of the Quarum's of the Seventy.  They are considered "General Authorities" and often will be seen sitting on the stand with the Quarum of the Twelve (to whom they report), and the First Presidency (who sit at the top of the structure) at General Conferences.

I give all this for context. Why does this matter?

When hack pieces are being written, in most cases a minimum of research is done, and the most inflammatory term is used.

The term Bishop is seen as being much higher up the food chain as in most other religious organizations they are in the LDS Church.  Bishops would be considered "General Authorities" with several layers between themselves and the standard parishioner. In the LDS Church it is not unusual for a single congregation with 100 adult males, to have a half dozen former Bishops, and perhaps several dozen who served as counselors or clerks at any given time in various or multiple Bishoprics.  Currently there are 28,784 wards according to Mormon.org, and each of them have a Bishop.

In short, being a bishop is extremely hard, but it isn't something rare by any means.  Quite the contrary.  As they cycle about every five years, you can rack up a lot of ex-Bishops in not that long a time.

Likewise, the term "Stake President" sounds like the leader of some mens club where they eat meat.  There is no context, and so it isn't as scary.  But a Stake President is over 6-12 times as many people.  Not only that, but he is usually called for about 10 years or so.  So you may have one or two former Stake Clerks or Counselors in your ward, but there is a good chance you don't have a former Stake President.  They are just that rare.  As a comparison with the 28,784 wards quoted earlier, according to LDSChurchTemples.com, there are currently 2,976 Stakes.  Again, each with a Stake President.  This is literally an order of magnitude fewer men serving in that calling than Bishops.

So, an article that is trying to express the facts will credit Romney with having been a Stake President, even though it takes a lot of work to give context and understanding.  The ones that are cutting corners just use the "Bishop" word because they know it resonates, and they don't have to work as hard, despite it actually being a pretty common thing in the LDS Church.  Essentially for every Stake President that is called, there will statistically be almost 20 Bishops called.

My conclusion is that a good article mentioning his church service will mention his having been a Stake President.  A great article will take the time to explain the significance of that.  One that leaves it at him being a Bishop should immediately be suspect, and will have other shortcuts and errors that will skew the article in whatever direction that the author desires.

Yes, it took a little explaining, but it is a pretty quick way to sift out the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just Got My Raspberry Pi

I have become one of the chosen.  My Raspberry Pi just arrived.  For those that don't know the RPi is a revolutionary little computer.  Not only is it about the size of a pack of cards, but the whole thing only cost about $45 with shipping.

It was funny.  After getting everything together and plugged in, my one son started counting things up, and realized that the cables plugged into it probably cost as much or more than the whole computer.  In fact, by the time you add in an SD card, power supply, HDMI cable, ethernet cable, a USB keyboard and mouse, and probably a case of some kind, you could be into it over $100.  That said, in most cases I think people will have the necessary stuff kicking around.

I am using the charger from my old Palm Pre.  It has the micro-usb cable I need to power the thing up, and it is rated for a good 1 amp.  This is important.  It looks online like a lot of the problems are due to lower wattage and cheap power supplies.

Otherwise, the rest of the stuff was kicking around.  I'm guessing most of the people to whom this appeals would be in a similar situation.

My biggest issue was formatting the SD card.  I couldn't get any of the suggested programs to actually see my cards.  And I tried several.  It was driving me nuts!  Windows Disk Manager (the suggested program) never worked, Disk Image errored, Fedora Arm Installer never saw the card, and neither did a few other options.  Finally I found HDD Raw Copy and it worked.  I kept getting an error on close, but it finally did the job.  Interestingly I later decided to go with RaspBMC and it worked like a champ with no errors.

I have been running a Plex server on an old 2006 Mac Mini, and I am looking at using the RPi as a client for my upstairs TV.   After messing with RaspBMC, I am realizing I may really want to move over to XBMC as my media server.

I am going to have some late nights over the next few days!