Mormons are not weird, just "wired"

..."wired" as in technologically savvy.

7 Things You Didn't Know a Mormon Invented
LDS Living
Jannalee Rosner - January 28, 2014

1. Television
One can’t speak of the invention of the television without looking at its inventor, Philo T. Farnsworth. Philo was born in 1906 in Beaver, Utah. His family had followed Brigham Young to the Utah Valley, and Philo grew up on a ranch in Rigby, Idaho where his family moved after leaving Beaver.

Philo loved science and first had the idea for electric television when he was 14 years old. Though he did not have a college or high school education, he was greatly interested in electricity and shared an early sketch of his idea with a chemistry teacher in 1922. In 1927, at age 21, he introduced his electronic television, an image dissector camera tube lit with an arc light that transmitted the first image ever, a dollar sign.

One of America’s largest corporations at the time, RCA, offered to buy his patent for the equivalent of over $1 million today, but he refused. Despite being the man responsible for the invention, Farnsworth later told his son concerning television: “There’s nothing on it worthwhile, and we’re not going to watch it in this household, and I don’t want it in your intellectual diet.” By the time of his death in 1971, Philo Farnsworth was credited with more than 300 U.S. and foreign patents.

2. Electric Guitar
Before Alvin McBurney, the guitar was not quite as exciting and innovative. He built the first electrical amplifier for the guitar when he was just 15 and got a patent for it several improvements later.

In 1927 Alvin changed his name to “Alvino Rey” (“Rey” means “King” in Spanish) to fit in with the popularity of Latin music at the time and in the late 1930s was recruited by the Gibson company to develop a prototype pickup as they developed the Electroharp pedal steel guitar. It picked up popularity and evolved into the current model of electric guitar.

Alvino was not born LDS but in fact converted when he married Mormon Luise King, one of the singing King Sisters he worked with in his time with Harold Heidt’s Musical Knights.

3. Traffic Light
The “flashing bird house” made its debut appearance at the intersection of 200 South and Main Street in Salt Lake City in 1912, manually operated by a patrolman. Though previous attempts had been made to create a mechanical traffic control, Mormon policeman Lester Wire’s traffic light was the first to use red and green electric lights.

Salt Lake citizens originally disapproved of the device, looking upon it as a novelty item or just blatantly ignoring it. Police occasionally found the device had been vandalized overnight and required time for repairs. Nevertheless, the traffic signal stuck around, and Wire’s design has been improved upon several times over into the regulated lights we see today.

4. Artificial Heart Transplant Surgery
December 2, 1982 marked an important day in medical history and Mormon history. LDS heart surgeon Dr. William DeVries received permission from the United States Food and Drug Administration to implant the polyurethane Jarvik-7 artificial heart in humans and performed the first transplant on fellow Mormon Barney Clark. It was a risky procedure, and Clark lived a much-longer-than-expected 112 days following the surgery.

5. Digital Sound and Movie Technology
The digital sound we now associate with CDs and DVDs started with the invention of technology that translated analog sound into a digital format. This technology was invented by Latter-day Saint Robert B. Ingebretsen and his mentor, professor Thomas Stockham.

Later, Ingebretsen wrote the software for the first practical digital audio editing system while working for Soundstream Inc. Sony and Philips beat Soundstream in producing CDs, however, partially because Ingebretsen and those he worked with never patented the digital audio editing technology they had originally created. Ingebretsen also created the first digital movie, a 20-second portrait of a hand, with the help of fellow Mormon Ed Catmull.

6. Hearing Aid
What began with an effort to measure the charge of an electron eventually evolved into what is now known as the hearing aid. Harvey Fletcher, a Mormon born in Provo, Utah, began trying to measure the charge of an electron, and quickly became involved with studying stereophonic sound while acting as head of physical research at the Bell Telephone Laboratories after graduating college.

The first presentation of “Three dimensional” sound was by Dr. Fletcher on January 24, 1934 and was described by many in attendance as “spooky.” Dr. Fletcher also did pioneering work on sound for motion pictures, television, and the transistor radio.

7. Odometer or "Road-o-meter"
Though various types of odometers had been invented by people such as Benjamin Franklin, the one invented by Mormon pioneers William Clayton and Appleton Harmon is counted as a new invention because it was different and more complex than all previous types of odometers. Thanks to the series of moving spokes and gears, Clayton was able to provide fairly accurate distance measurements of the path the pioneers took. When these were published, they were widely used by future pioneers, California-bound 49ers, and others traveling the same path.

... and lots more


The 'Aumaga: The poor, the powerless and the immobile (Updated)

.. inspired by this Samoa Observer picture.

By definition, the ‘aumaga is a group of taulele’a (untitled men) in a Samoan village. It is one of the few social/gender-based groups in a typical village. The aumaga’s main role involves rendering the tautua (service) to the matai (chiefs/titled persons). The taulele’a (plural; singular: taule’ale’a) are similar to the vassals of the feudal system during the Middle Ages, with the matais as lords.
When the chiefs meet, usually in council, the ‘aumaga would sit “in-waiting” outside and around the house where the meeting is held.  They would cook and prepare other things needed for the meeting.
Most, if not all, members of the ‘aumaga are adult men who are school dropouts or did not have the opportunity - for one reason or another - to continue their formal education.  For some families, they handpick a certain male early in his life to "tausi le aiga" (take care of the family) and eventually join the ‘aumaga. Generally, the aumaga do not have jobs; instead they labor exclusively in executing their family and village responsibilities.

Up until the 1950's and 60's, when families were mostly small and fewer in numbers, and Samoan society was semi-primitive, traditional and therefore homogenous, the aumaga members were relatively mobile - socially and politically - within the traditional structure and model. Many of them became successors to their respective family matais through the traditional tautua which consisted mainly of making sure the matai meets his village and/or church dues and obligations and is also protected and cared for. Some more fortunate ones who were bequeathed the titles and honors of ali’i sili (paramount chiefs) of their respective districts (traditional and, later, electoral) went on, by right of their hereditary status, to become Members of Parliament (MP’s) in the then emerging modern system. Mobility therefore was existent, though still limited, prescribed and mostly status-based.

Economic mobility, however, was generally non-existent for the ‘aumaga. Villages were still agrarian communities and so much of what was produced and earned was vassal and subsistence-oriented. Not until some of the aumaga would emigrate (usually to New Zealand) on work permits that their economic status would change, both abroad and at home. The remittances would help build a more modern fale palagi (European house) or buy a car back home in the islands. The common expression to describe families with this new wealth, hence new status, is “ua maua mea” (are able to afford things). Affluence and accumulated wealth then would be “mau mea” (having many things). Emigration also removes one from being a bonafide member of the aumaga, unless the individual returns home within a specified period of time.

Today the changes in the socio-political and economic systems in Samoa have rendered the contemporary ‘aumaga members effectively immobile. Their lack of a good education and modern skills have halted or stalled any mobility, not only within the modern system but also within their “rightful domain” - the traditional system. Mataiship, which used to be their ambition, inheritance and lot, has gradually been ceded to the more educated and well-off members of the extended family.

These privileged family members usually live in Apia (Samoa's main city) holding well-paid jobs. Collectively, they have carved a niche of their own and created an upper class (re: Update below) within the socio-political and economic cultures of the country. Most of them lived and grew up in the city and rarely, if at all, associated with their aiga (family) roots in the villages, until their political ambitions, in most cases, compelled them to reconnect and renew their aiga ties because of the chiefly title prerequisite of Parliamentarians.

And titles they do get - usually not one but two and sometimes more. Multiple names, like sausage links, is one of the unique characteristics of these individuals. Names that would even make Shakespeare rethink asking “What’s in a name?” A typical example is the present Prime Minister whose whole name altogether reads: Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi (and still growing I’m sure - re: red text in Update below). Decades ago, the PM used to be known only by the last two names Sailele Malielegaoi. His rise to prominence in his political career has garnered and “earned” him those other names, which are actually chiefly titles from different villages which claim affinity to the Prime Minister. This same stenciled pattern of multiple chiefly titles is found among the elite (re: Update below - 2nd paragraph) - Members of Parliament, government Ministers, Associate Ministers, CEO’s, lawyers, etc. - who acquire the titles through more modern means like education, wealth and accompanied status.  Sadly, however, this elite class is one that desperate and poor families in the villages have helped create, by awarding and conferring matai titles based on the above-mentioned merits.

So in Samoa, the general rule (pun intended) is: If you’re educated, rich, popular/prominent and powerful (re: blue text in Update below) and your bloodlines run through every village, you will eventually acquire names/titles that  look like a Samoan bucket list to some, and to foreigners, a Da Vinci vowel code. To this title/name-hogging class, Samoa is an open society while to the ‘aumaga, it’s a closed one that has made them poor, powerless and immobile.

...telling it like it was ...and is.

UPDATE (Source: Talamua.com):
Amongst the new title holders was Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, who was bestowed the chiefly title of Galumalemana.
Other prominent people who were bestowed the matai titles included Court Judge Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma, National University of Samoa Vice Chancellor Professor Fui Leapai Tu’ua Asofou So’o, Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Commerce Industry & Labour (MCIL), Peseta Magaret Malua, former Manu Samoa Joe Stanley and journalist Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia. 
( “Opposition whip publicly declares support for HRPP ruling party,” ~ October 2015)