Saturday, November 30, 2013

You'd Better Watch Out

Dear Madame L,

I went shopping on Black Friday, and at a certain store frequented by young, stylish, waspishly thin persons of several genders, the sales clerk asked if I would like to have a special membership card, which would let me be on their list to get special e-mail notifications of sales, give me special discounts, and give me special discounts also to two or three other nationally known "hip" clothing stores.

I said sure, what did I have to tell her to get this wonder card? She wanted my address from my driver's license, then my phone number, and finally Social Security number. I balked at that and said no. Then she still wanted my e-mail address. I asked if I would receive the special e-mail notifications if I hadn't given them my Social Security number, and she said no.

So I wondered what they were going to do with all this information. It was creepy, to say the least. Can you tell me what's going on with these membership cards and all the information they want?


Spied Upon

Dear Spied Upon,

It's true, the retailers want to know everything they can about you. They want to know where you live, where you shop, what kinds of things you buy when you shop, how they can contact you, and how they can follow you from store to store sending you ads on your smart phone. And once they get as much information from you as they can, they share it with other retailers.

Madame L herself would never give any of that information to any store clerk except what is absolutely required to ensure that Madame L is the only one using her credit card and, for that matter, her name.

Madame L is proud of you for declining to accept the terms of that "special" card offer. Keep it up! Consider that, unless you're a Hollywood star or politician, you simply do not have to buy that much stuff to make it worth your while to get those "special" cards. They are not worth it.

For more information about abuses of personal information, please check the EPIC (Electronic Privacy and Information Center) web page on privacy and profiling. Here's a very small sample of the shocking information you will find there: 
Companies collect information derived from a number of resources to build comprehensive profiles on individuals in order to sell products and to sell dossiers on behavior. This is often done without notice or extending a choice to the individual to opt-out of the dossier building. These dossiers may be used by marketers for target advertising, and they may be sold to government for law enforcement purposes. Companies also "enhance" dossiers that they already own by combining or "overlaying" information from other databases. These dossiers may link individual's identities to the following attributes:
  • Social Security Number
  • Shopping preferences
  • Health information, including diet type, allergies, arthritis, incontinence/bladder problems, diabetes, hearing loss, prostate problems, and visual impairment, birth defects
  • Marital status
  • Financial situation (solvency, creditworthiness, loan amounts, credit cards)
  • Date of Birth
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Household income
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Geography
  • Physical characteristics, such as height and weight
  • Household occupants (whether an individual has children)
  • Telephone number
  • Utility usage (electric or gas usage, telephone usage, cable or satellite usage, Internet subscription, celluar phone usage)
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Occupation
  • Level of education
  • Whether an individual is likely to respond to "money-making opportunities"
  • Congressional district
  • Size of clothes worn
  • Habits (smoking)
  • Arrest records
  • Lifestyle preferences
  • Hobbies (whether and what the individual collects)
  • Religion (affiliation and denomination)
  • Homeownership
  • Characteristics of residence (size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, sale price, rent and mortgage payments)
  • Type of automobile owned
  • Characteristics of automobile owned (year, make, value, fuel type, number of cylinders, presence of vanity or special membership plates)
  • Whether the individual responds to direct mail solicitations
  • Contributions to political, religious, and charitable groups
  • Membership in book, video, tape, and compact disk clubs
  • Mail order purchases and type
  • Product ownership (beeper, contact lenses, electronics, fitness equipment, recreational equipment)
  • Pet ownership and type
  • Interests (including gambling, arts, antiques, astrology)
  • Book preferences
  • Music preferences
  • "Socialites"
These profiles are also indexed by other factors, such as wealth. For instance, American List Counsel sells an "ultra affluent database" that is overlaid with information on age, sex, and presence of children. The database includes the individuals' home phone numbers. Many of the "affluent persons" databases are mined from public record filings (Security and Exchange Commission, State Corporations Registration lists) where individuals are compelled by law to reveal their personal information.
Does this scare you? It should!

So do watch out. Take care, especially this holiday season. Remember, there's no deal that's worth losing your privacy or resulting in identity theft. And you probably don't need most of that stuff, anyway, and neither do the folks you're buying even more stuff for.

Happy Holidays,

Madame L

Friday, November 29, 2013

Overeating on Thanksgiving?

Dear Madame L,

I ate way too much yesterday, and today I'm doing the same, reheating leftovers. Also, it's cold and raining where I live, and I don't want to do any exercise.

What can you say that will help motivate me?



Dear Snap Out of It,

Madame L forced, yes, forced herself to go for a walk today, because she, too, lamentably, ate too much yesterday. (Also, Madame L, lamentably, loves her commas, doesn't she.)

Maybe this will help:  "Exercise counteracts the effects of short-term overfeeding and reduced physical activity..."  As you can see, the actual title of the research paper is much longer than what Madame L has typed in here. Apparently, researchers must write long titles for their papers so that readers will be able to guess the contents of the research without actually reading the entire article. Madame L likes this very much because she does not subscribe to the research publications and therefore cannot read the entire articles. If you follow the above link, however, you will be able to read the abstract as well as its entire title of the article.

As summarized in the Refinery 29 article where Madame L found out about this study:
While the idea of emerging from our cozy blanket fort on Black Friday to go for a run still makes us sort of ill, this research could be a big deal in terms of understanding the best way to incorporate exercise into our lives. Whenever we hear "experts" talking about the importance of regular exercise, it's often difficult to parse out exactly how much is needed — and how that time should be spread out throughout the week. This study suggests that the key to an optimal metabolism may be more complicated than simply "calories in, calories out." 

Madame L is going to do more than take a long walk tomorrow. She's going to JOG. And she hopes you will, too.

Best wishes,

Madame L

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weird Word of the Week: Pisher

Madame L found this wonderful weird word on the "Yiddish Word of the Day" site, which defines "pisher" as something like she suspected it would mean:
Pisher means one who urinates. But it is usually used in the phrase "a little pisher" which means either a) A child who is not toilet trained yet or b) A clever child; this can be used as an exclamation after a kid does something clever, and especially something sneakily clever. This isn't what you'd say when your kid brings home a great report card, it's got a tinge of sarcasm to it. A friend of mine had a son who, at age 6 or so, had cornered the market in his school on Pokemon cards - what a pisher!
And then there's a joke to go with the word. It's not that funny a joke, so Madame L isn't going to add it here, but go to the site if you want to read the joke yourself.

Apparently the link here doesn't work for all the words, so if you're interested in any more wonderful and weird Yiddish words, try this site for "Yiddish Word of the Day."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Book Review: November 24, 2013: Jack McCarthy

Madame L is back at the poetry stuff again. It's an addiction, but not one she's trying to kick.

Here's Vancouver poet Jack McCarthy with his poem "Careful What You Ask For":

Friday, November 22, 2013


Dear Readers, does this make you as mad as it does Madame L?

According to an article on the National Public Radio website:

"Wal-Mart is the largest employer of low-wage workers in the country, and they set the terms of this debate," says Judy Conti of the National Employment Law Project. "Don't add insult to injury and ask low-paid workers to help those even worse off."

The Wal-Mart food drive, and recent reports detailing a McDonald's website for employees that online at eBay for extra cash, come as the Senate — with President Obama's support — is poised to consider a bill that over three years would bump up the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour...

Calculations based on the Consumer Price Index suggest that if the federal minimum wage approved six years ago was adjusted for inflation, it would be $10.75 today — $3.50 more per hour than the actual minimum wage.

According to data compiled for the Senate labor committee, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have since approved minimum wages that exceed the federal mandate, with a high of $9.19 in Washington state. Ten of those states have minimum wage increases tied to inflation, and 30 states have voted to approve higher minimum wages for tipped workers.

And a found that three-quarters of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, would support a hypothetical hike in the minimum wage to $9.

But even the most ardent advocates of the legislation, introduced by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., initial sponsor of the 2007 bill, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, acknowledge that its prospects are dim, given the atmosphere on Capitol Hill and sustained opposition by powerful business interests like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

For more about the actual wages and working of conditions of Walmart workers, please read this Washington Post article.

Mother Jones magazine points out:
According to [a] report, "A Higher Wage Is Possible," Walmart spends $7.6 billion a year buying back stock. Those purchases drive up the company's share price, further enriching the Walton family, which controls more than half of Walmart stock (and for that matter, more wealth than 42 percent of Americans combined.) If Walmart instead spent that money on wages, it could give each of its 1.3 million US employees a $5.83 per hour raise—enough to ensure that all of them are paid a wage equivalent to $25,000 a year for full-time work.
Even U.S. News and World Report writes that Walmart could afford to pay its workers a living wage if it wanted to.

What can you do about this?  Maybe stop shopping at Walmart. Certainly contact your Member of Congress to tell him/her your vote next time around will depend on what they do to help people like Walmart employees, ad the rest of us, too many of whom are living too close to the edge. You could also support Walmart employees who are planning a protest on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving).

Dear Readers, if you have any more suggestions for the rest of us to show our support for Walmart employees, please comment or write an email message to Madame L.

Thanks in advance,

Madame L

Bucket List

Dear Madame L,

What's on your bucket list?


Wants to Go to Italy

Dear Traveler,

Madame L wants to go more places and do more things than she could ever fit in a bucket.

That's one reason Madame L is never going to make a so-called bucket list.

Another is that she thinks making such a list would limit her.

Because here's the thing: Most of the greatest and funnest and most enriching things Madame L has ever done were not things she would have ever put on a bucket list.

So, let's say Madame L, like you, would like to go to Italy. She hopes she can do that, but if  she has a chance to go to, say, Hong Kong or Taipei, or Brazil or Peru, she'll take any of those, not caring whether they were or were not on any list.

Madame L loves hearing about OTHER people's bucket lists, though. She loves the idea of setting goals for oneself that will help enjoy life and appreciate blessings.


Madame L

P.S. Here are a few places and things Madame L would never have thought to put on a bucket list, and most of them she saw right from her own back yard:

Camas, early morning fog

Double rainbow, Camas

Villarrica Lake in southern Chile

Birdley in the "jungle" in Camas

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two More Weird Words for this Week: Filibuster and Nuclear Option

According to, "filibuster" is "an untranslatable word that has its origins in 19th century maritime piracy and was once used to describe the practice of violently overthrowing Latin American governments."

In Slate's article explaining how the U.S. press treats our nation's issues differently than it does news and issues in other countries, the author points out that the result of the recent Senate vote to restrict the use of the filibuster will be a number of vacant judicial posts being filled, which "will improve the quality of U.S. governance in the eyes of the World Bank and other international institutions."

The reason Slate had to point out this fact is that some members of the press, and ultra-right-wing conservative politicians and pundits, are calling the vote to restrict the filibuster the "Nuclear Option."

The Slate article also points out that calling this the nuclear option is "a serious statement in the only country ever to drop an atomic bomb on another country."

Madame L recommends the entire article for its clear and unbiased explanation of the filibuster, the vote to reduce its use, and the consequences.

Here's another excellent article that explains WHY the Senate "went nuclear." 

Madame L Predicts the Near Future (After Passage of the Nuclear Option)

Madame L, as many of her Dear Readers know, has semi-amazing powers of predicting the near future. And, as many of her Dear Readers are semi-continually asking for her advice, Madame L believes that Said Dear Readers might benefit from Her (yes, Madame L capitalized Her) extensive predictive powers.

Alas, Madame L cannot predict the individual futures of her individual Readers, without a quick glance at their faces or their palms, so she will limit her predictions in this case to the public and political arena.

Firstly, Madame L predicts that now that the Senate has passed the so-called nuclear option, many more Presidential nominees for public service will be confirmed.

Madame L heard You, Dear Readers, whisper behind your hands, "Ha! Anybody could predict that!"


Secondly, Madame  L predicts that Fox News will feature many so-called pundits who will opine, without any qualifications to so do, that this signals the end of our democracy; and that MSNBC will feature many so-called pundits who will opine, based on their broad knowledge of what they themselves and all their progressive friends think, that this signals a New Era in our democracy.

Thirdly, Madame L is already really sick of this whole prediction stuff. She predicts that our country's near future (i.e., up through the holidays and well into January 2014) will consist of a lot of really stupid predictions from both ends of the political spectrum, while ordinary people like Madame L and her Dear Readers will get so sick of it all that they'll stop caring.

They'll all enjoy their holidays without listening to or watching any cable news shows and most likely even without the broadcast network news, which, as they have all noted, is insipid and time-wasting and carries the old adage "If it bleeds, it leads" to ridiculous ends.

And the world will carry on. Our democracy will not be changed in any way. Good news in families will enrich all our lives, in spite of all the pundits and idiots.

Please let Madame L know, say, around mid-January, if she has been correct.

Sincerely and hopefully,

Madame L

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weird Word of the Week: Selfie

Declared by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the word of 2013," the word "selfie"refers to the type of self-photograph that has become so popular even Pope Francis has done it.

Photo credit: AFP

According to the BBC, "The word has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph...

"Research suggested its frequency in the English language had increased by 17,000% in the last year.

Other shortlisted words were twerk, binge-watch, showrooming, and bitcoin. Madame L notes that her blogging program is unfamiliar with most of these words, making a squiggly red line under them every time Madame L types them. So Madame L is proud to say she's ahead of her computer on social trends. For whatever that's worth, which is probably very little, since she doesn't even understand the terminology used in a Business Insider article reporting that Bitcoin "Hits $600."

Jackie Kennedy's Letter to Khrushchev


Dear Readers,

Now THIS is a letter, such a great example of Jackie Kennedy's grace and intelligence, Madame L has to share it with you:

Washington, December 1, 1963.

Dear Mr. Chairman President,

I would like to thank you for sending Mr. Mikoyan as your representative to my husband’s funeral.

He looked so upset when he came through the line, and I was very moved.

I tried to give him a message for you that day—but as it was such a terrible day for me, I do not know if my words came out as I meant them to.

So now, in one of the last nights I will spend in the White House, in one of the last letters I will write on this paper at the White House, I would like to write you my message.

I send it only because I know how much my husband cared about peace, and how the relation between you and him was central to this care in his mind. He used to quote your words in some of his speeches-”In the next war the survivors will envy the dead.”

You and he were adversaries, but you were allied in a determination that the world should not be blown up. You respected each other and could deal with each other. I know that President Johnson will make every effort to establish the same relationship with you.

The danger which troubled my husband was that war might be started not so much by the big men as by the little ones.

While big men know the needs for self-control and restraint—little men are sometimes moved more by fear and pride. If only in the future the big men can continue to make the little ones sit down and talk, before they start to fight.

I know that President Johnson will continue the policy in which my husband so deeply believed—a policy of control and restraint—and he will need your help.

I send this letter because I know so deeply of the importance of the relationship which existed between you and my husband, and also because of your kindness, and that of Mrs. Khrushcheva in Vienna.

I read that she had tears in her eyes when she left the American Embassy in Moscow, after signing the book of mourning. Please thank her for that.


Jacqueline Kennedy

Please note these two paragraphs in particular:
The danger which troubled my husband was that war might be started not so much by the big men as by the little ones.

While big men know the needs for self-control and restraint—little men are sometimes moved more by fear and pride. If only in the future the big men can continue to make the little ones sit down and talk, before they start to fight.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories

Dear Readers,

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, Madame L has been reading a lot of stories online and in her local print newspaper about his assassination.

Madame L clearly remembers where she was when she heard about the President's death: She was in tenth-grade biology class, trying to figure out how to dissect a crayfish. She and all her classmates, as well as the teacher, were stunned to the point of being unable to do anything for the rest of the day; and we were all in a state of mourning for days, even weeks. Madame L's chemistry teacher even volunteered to let the chemistry class postpone an important exam the next day.

But Madame L has never been interested in conspiracy theories about JFK's death. And she still isn't, even with all the trumped-up stories about it with this anniversary. (Also, Madame L just hates that feeling that someone is writing about this now so they can sell more copies of their book.)

Madame L is happy to report that someone who used to be a conspiracy theorist has written about how and why he changed his mind.

Fred Kaplan wrote this article on, which Madame L took a few minutes to read. Mr. Kaplan has changed his mind because he has taken a careful look at the evidence from the Warren Report and new evidence.

Books that had convinced him of the conspiracy idea were wrong, as he writes here: "Then, one day, I looked up the footnotes in those books, most of them leading me to the multivolume hearings of the Warren Commission. I was shocked. The authors had taken witnesses’ statements out of context, distorted them beyond recognition, and in some cases cherry-picked passages that seemed to back their theories while ignoring testimony that didn’t. It was my first brush with intellectual dishonesty."

Madame L thinks her Dear Readers will find Mr. Kaplan's article interesting and clarifying, no matter which way Said Dear Readers have thought about this in the past.

And he doesn't seem to be writing this in order to sell a book, which gives him hundreds of points in Madame L's reckoning. (And this isn't because he doesn't write and sell books. He does! Just check his author's page at to get an idea of what he writes about.)


Madame L

Not Long Remembered? Au Contraire, Mister Lincoln

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Echoing Lincoln, keynote speaker and Civil War historian James McPherson said the president took the dais in November 1863 at a time when it looked like the nation “might indeed perish from the earth.”

“The Battle of Gettysburg became the hinge of fate on which turned the destiny of that nation and its new birth of freedom,” McPherson.

In the July 1863 battle, considered the turning point of the war, federal forces turned back a Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania. Lincoln’s speech was delivered more than four months later, at the dedication of a national cemetery to bury the battle’s casualties.

“Lincoln would have been surprised by the reverence accorded to him by future generations,” McPherson said, noting Lincoln himself held in high regard the country’s founders.

He said the Gettysburg Address, despite its brevity, managed to weave together themes of past, present and future; continent, nation and battlefield; and birth, death and rebirth.

“Men died that the nation might live,” McPherson said. “Yet the old nation also died,” and with it, a system of bondage that enslaved some 4 million Americans.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Great Math Riddle

Dear Readers,

Madame L spent about an hour while she was trying to go to sleep last night, trying to figure out the answer to this riddle. Then her sister, Ellen, sent her the answer.

Ellen had started a project of writing about a number of items she's grateful for, as many items each day in the month of November as that day of the month. So, for instance, on the seventh day of the month she wrote about seven things she's thankful for. She kept it up through the 16th, Saturday, at which point she decided that the lists were "getting longer and longer" while not serving any valuable purpose. Not that she wasn't thankful, and not that she couldn't think of many more things she was thankful for, but she was going to go on to actually thank the people she's thankful for. Great idea!

But it made Madame L think of a problem she'd heard of recently. So she mentioned it to Ellen, who had already heard of it, and knew the solution. Here's what Ellen wrote:

"I remember Daddy telling the riddle of the first-grade teacher who was tired and wanted to give the children a task to do on their own so she could rest for a few minutes.  She told them to add all the numbers from 1 to 100. She thought she'd have some peace and quiet for at least an hour, but only a couple of minutes later, much to her dismay, a little boy came to her desk with the answer. She asked him how he did it so quickly, and he explained how simple it was. If you start at each end and add the numbers--100 + 1--and work your way in toward the middle--99 + 2, then 98 + 3, and 97 + 4, etc.--then each answer is 101. By the time you get to the middle, you would have done it half as many times as the number of numbers you are adding, which in his case would be 50, so 101 times 50 is the answer. So with my 30 days of gratitude, then it would be 31 x 15 which is, as you said, 465."

What an elegant solution to the problem! Thanks, Ellen, and thanks for all you do.


Madame L

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Book Review, November 17, 2013: Journey to the Veil

Madame L found out about this book, and the blog called "UnBlog My Soul," from the blog of one of her family members. But who? She just looked at Ellen's blog and didn't find it there, even though she thought that was where she'd seen it a few weeks ago.

Wherever she found it, Madame L wants you, Dear Readers, to be able to find it whenever you want to be inspired. So, go to that link, or, better yet, to this link, an index to the topics covered in the blog and book.

Oops, Madame L just tried to get to some of the links from that index, and they no longer have content. So,  whether you prefer to carry a book around with you (like Madame L) or not, you'll want to find the book "Journey to the Veil" at

Meanwhile, some of the other links on the front page of the blog do work, including the link to "The Challenge of the Book of Mormon," which Madame L loves.*

What's so great about this book? First of all, it's NOT about this man's fight with cancer and his eventual death---any more than it's about how all of us live through trials and hardships, knowing we too must eventually arrive at, and pass through, that veil.

John Pontius wrote his blog, "UnBlogmySoul," without thinking his posts would ever be collected into a book. In fact, as he was dying and his wife suggested she could do that, he objected at first. In

It's about gospel principles. It's about how God loves us. It's about how we should act if we want to be happy.

Madame L promises you that you will laugh and cry as you read the book. And then you will resolve to improve your own life. Thank you, John Pontius (1952-2012) for your life and your legacy and for your testimony.

*Here's an excerpt from "The Challenge of the Book of Mormon," which reminds us, again, that the Prophet Joseph Smith really did translate the Book of Mormon from ancient records, as he said he did. If someone nowadays were to attempt to write a fake document like it, here are some of the things he/she would have to do:

---Write a history of an ancient Tibet covering a period of 2200 B.C. to 400 A.D. Why ancient Tibet? Because you know no more about Tibet than Joseph Smith (or anyone else) knew about ancient America.
---You must be 23 years of age.
---You must have no more than three years of formal education and must have spent your life in a backwoods farming communit.
---Your book must be 522 pages, and over 300,000 words in length. (Remember writing a term paper in high school or college? Can you IMAGINE writing this length in the time Joseph Smith dictated his translation to his scribes?
---Your history must be written on the basis of what you know. There was no library, and no published works on Ancient America for Joseph Smith to reference, so you must use none. There is to be no research of any kind.
---Other than a few grammatical errors and corrections, you must make no changes in the text. The first edition you dictate to your secretary must stand forever....
---Many of the facts, claims and ideas and statements given as truth in your writings must be entirely inconsistent with the prevailing beliefs of the world. Some of your claims must prove to be the direct opposite of the prevailing worldly beliefs of the time.

And so on. Madame L also loved the page from the blog called "Scriptorian's Keys."

Dear Readers, if there's only one book you read for the rest of this year, make it this one. Madame L promises you will be glad you did.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weird Word of the Week: Stone Age

With apologies for letting this feature go for so long, Madame L returns with this weird word, or expression, for this week:

Stone Age: Anything before Android OS 4.0 (including, um, Madame L's mobile telephonic device)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Book Review, November 10, 2013: What's on the Other Side?

Madame L recommends this book to everyone who has ever had a friend or relative die, to everyone who has ever wondered what dying will be like, to everyone who has ever wondered why they're here on Earth and who and where they were before they were born, to everyone who thinks about God's love and what He has in store for us.

Madame L recommends this book to everyone. It's written by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but you don't have to be a Mormon to enjoy the book. The Author, Brent L. Top, has researched the topic of what we often call "life after death" through careful reading of ancient and modern scriptures, statements by modern prophets, and experiences of people of all faiths who have "gone over" to the other side and returned.

And here's what they have in common: They find that they are loved, that they are greeted and welcomed by, as Brigham Young wrote, "more friends behind the vail than on this side, and they will hail us more joyfully than you were ever welcomed by your parents and friends in this world; and you will rejoice more when you meet them than you ever rejoiced to see a friend in this life."

As Madame L said, you don't have to be a Mormon to ask these questions and to have these experiences. And what's great about this book is that it explains it all. As the subtitle promises, the book summarizes "What the Gospel Teaches Us about the Spirit World."

Madame L found the book in her local Deseret Book store, but it's also available on for $15.96 for the new hardcover and for $15.26 for the audio-book CD.

Madame L will also be happy to loan her copy of it to any of her interested readers, if they'll promise to return it so she can read it again.

Madame L sees on the website that the author has also written "The Life Before," which Madame L will be reading and commenting on as soon as possible.

Madame L invites comments and recommendations from all her Dear Readers on these books and any other books on these subjects.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Book Review, November 3, 2013: Who Are the Children of Lehi?

Dear Readers,

Have you ever wondered how religious people can hold on to their religious beliefs while accepting modern science with its apparently anti-religious conclusions about the nature of the universe, the earth, and the appearance of humanity on the earth?

Madame L does not happen to have that problem, because her church (she is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) teaches true religion is compatible with truth in whatever realm; that we should accept truth, and only truth, no matter its source; that we should search for truth; and that we can receive personal revelation from a loving God who wants to lead us to truth, enlightenment, and back into His own very presence.

But Madame L is well aware that not every member of the church thinks the same way she does, and certainly that not every member of the scientific community does. 

So she loves it when she finds some LDS (Latter-day Saint) scientist who explains how whatever  his or her field is does not conflict with the Book of Mormon or with true religion in general.  

Here's an example that Madame L recommends heartily: "Who Are the Children of Lehi? DNA and the Book of Mormon," by Jeff Meldrum and Trent Stephens, available at

The authors, professors at Idaho State University, demonstrates that we have no way of "proving" the truth of the Book of Mormon by comparing the genetics of the modern-day indigenous people of America with the family of Lehi or any of the other settlers of the New World mentioned in the Book of Mormon. 

Does the fact that DNA testing of modern indigenous people of North and South America does not reveal them to be descended from or related to any Middle Eastern peoples "prove" that the Book of Mormon isn't true? Of course not, and these authors demonstrate why the very idea that DNA evidence should "prove" or "disprove" such an idea is preposterous.

If you don't have a background in molecular biology, no worries, because the authors kindly provide about two semesters' worth of background on the subject in the early chapters of the book. If getting that much information in less than 20 pages seems daunting, don't worry about that, either, because you can skim through that part to get to the conclusions, which show precisely why individual genetics won't work to solve this "problem." Then  you can read the chapters on population genetics, again skipping to the conclusions if you'd like, and which show, again, from that point of view, why it simply can't be done. Does it matter? Obviously not.

The book is infused with the authors' strong testimonies of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and its teachings and their conviction that having a background in molecular biology or any kind of science is not necessary for gaining a testimony. 

Madame L recommends this book heartily to members and non-members of the Church. Madame L has started reading another book by these authors, "Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding," also available from, and will report on this book soon.