Is the Mormon Church Buying Real Estate Near BYU With Cash?

For several years I have tried repeatedly to purchase a condo, house or apartment near BYU in Provo, Utah for my children so they don’t continue to live in unreinforced masonry structures that may collapse during the next major earthquake.

Each time I lose out to a cash buyer.

This week I made a full-price offer for a BYU-approved townhouse on 700 East. The seller’s Realtor said there were four offers and gave us until Monday evening so I increased my offer by $5k. Later I was told the owner accepted a cash offer.

Who are these cash buyers who can afford $230k to $270k without applying for a mortgage?

I thought perhaps these buyers are smart, wealthy LDS Church members who are looking for safe investments but at today’s real estate prices near BYU and the likelihood that the current real estate bubble will collapse, is a 5% cap rate really attractive for the wealthy?

Before making an offer, I consider the annual rental incomes, HOA fees, property taxes, mortgage insurance, announced HOA assessments, and maintenance (which is usually 20% of married and 25% of single housing income). To save money, I would not pay a property management company.

Unless a significant down payment is made, these properties produce a negative monthly return.

This morning I read how the Mormon Church invests. See the text I highlighted:

“The church invests the money, Bishop Caussé said, following the lesson taught by Jesus Christ in the parable of the talents, by investing in stocks and bonds, agriculture, majority interests in taxable businesses — including Deseret Management Corporation, which owns the Deseret News — and in commercial, industrial and residential property. Those investments are managed by a professional group of church employees and outside advisors.” — see Mormon leader shares details on LDS Church finances.

Is the Mormon Church buying real estate near BYU with cash? Whether they are or not, I cannot compete with cash buyers.

by Robert John Stevens, March 3, 2018

Should Computer Science Colleges Teach C/C++ or Python and Typescript?

Dr. Kevin Seppi and I are both advocates of the computer programming languages python and Typescript and were very displeased years ago when the BYU Computer Science Department, where he works and from which I graduated, switched from teaching their introductory classes using Java to C and C++. We both knew that was a step backwards.

Yesterday, I emailed Kevin. You may enjoy our conversation:

Me: Hi Kevin, I know you will find this python vs C/C++ comparison interesting:

Kevin Seppi: Funny timing! We just had a faculty meeting in which we spent part of the time on “The Language” issue. Python, Typescript, Java and C++ are the contenders. No conclusion even on the horizon. I think some are gun-shy, feeling that we made the choice too fast last time and lived to regret it.

Me: LOL! That’s very funny.

Python just wraps C libraries as you know so it is very fast.

Perhaps the one thing I’ve noticed is that Python programmers don’t hesitate–they can whip out a script to do almost anything. Contrast that to C and C++ programmers who groan, “Agh!”

Kevin: Well said!

— by Robert John Stevens, January 17, 2018

Did President Bush Have 9/11 Researcher Steven Jones Fired?

On August 31, 2006, President Bush flew to Salt Lake and met with Gordon B. Hinckley who was then the president of the Mormon Church. See President Bush mourns Gordon B. Hinckley

Eight days later Dr. Steven Jones was put on paid leave. See BYU places ‘9/11 truth’ professor on paid leave

Paul Craig Roberts wrote, “His reward for speaking out was to have his tenure contract bought out by BYU, many believe under orders from the federal government backed up with the threat that all federal support of science at BYU would be terminated unless Stephen Jones was.” — 9/11 Destroyed America

Startup Marketing Essentials

This may be the best book available that teaches you how to market your idea or startup on a low budget and how to conduct entrepreneurial marketing events.

It is written by BYU professors Dr. Gary Rhoads, Dr. Michael Swenson and Dr. Gary Whitlark who spent a combined hundred years advising startups, teaching and testing their ideas.

C++ Erodes; Python Climbs

Letter emailed today to BYU CS Professors:

July 31, 2016

Dear BYU Computer Science Department,

You’re insistence to continue teaching C++ is having enormous unexpected negative financial consequences for employers.

C++ continues to erode in popularity while Python continues to climb. Kevin Seppi has been right all along:

When we hire BYU CS programmers it costs us in both time and money to retrain them in TypeScript, Python, Java, Ruby or C#. Often other programmers rewrite their C++ code in another language.

The problems I outlined are rampant even in my family: Three of my children were taught C++ from your CS department. The popularity of JSON.NET is enough reason to switch to C#.

I’m told the initial reason for the BYU CS Department to switch from Java to C++ was because the BYU engineering department requested it. To that may I ask–How often has embracing the needs of niche or minority power users led the downfall of software projects?

Armed with Python as one’s primary programming language, programmers feel empowered to quickly create scripts to solve problems.

Programmers are human and humans tend the embrace easier technologies: Python and TypeScript are both easy and powerful.

Python is quickly becoming the choice for scientific programming:

MVC frameworks are being replaced by client-side frameworks such as AngularJS. TypeScript is the language choice for AngularJS 2.

Dallan Quass recently emailed me and said he regrets not embracing TypeScript sooner because its strong type checking would have caught most the errors he’s now finding in his client-side Javascript code.

From the programming language survey data I hope you can see that the world continues to abandon C++.

Over the years I have been told repeatedly that switching to another language for CS 142 is not trivial. I don’t believe that because I know I could teach it using Python or TypeScript, but if the claim is true then the argument should be considered it is even more nontrivial for programmers to switch once they have been compromised having learned C++ as their first language.

Rather than continue to propagate a mistake, please teach Python and TypeScript this fall. The positive repercussions will be enormous and long lasting:

We employers won’t have to pay to retrain, projects will cost less, ideas can get to market quicker, and we’ll have more money for philanthropical contributions.

Best Regards,

Robert Stevens

BYU Cannon Center Distrusts Honest Patrons

by Robert John Stevens, July 8, 2016

I’m writing this not to complain but in hopes somebody fixes a bad policy.

Yesterday I took our two youngest children to dinner at the BYU Cannon Center in Provo, Utah. The cashier wouldn’t permit me to just buy them a meal ticket without requiring I purchase one for myself. “What?” I said. “You don’t trust me?” “That’s our policy,” she replied. “The policy then is based upon distrust,” I clarified.

I learned long ago that most customers are honest and it is best to treat them as such. BYU’s Cannon Center doesn’t. Shame on the church employees who instigated this rule. Even Sizzler allows me to take my kids to the all-you-can-eat salad bar without requiring me to buy a meal for myself.

Parents enjoy watching children eat but sometimes aren’t hungry themselves and would rather save some money.

The BYU Cannon Center is a great place to eat during fall and winter semesters. Professors can eat for just $5. Yesterday evening though the salad was old and reminded me of Subway’s sprayed vegetables—yuk!

My kids were full after eating less than one small slice of pizza. I tasted a left-over scrap. It was uncooked and tasted nothing like the fresh pizza my boys make to impress their friends at BYU.

This post was submitted to BYU Dining Services.