Monday, November 30, 2015

Palliative Care can have Grave Shortcomings

   When it comes to palliative care, hospice and Do Not Resuscitate, we buy the sales pitch much too quickly.
   Of course, we want our family member to have a dignified death. Of course, we want them to be comfortable. So, we say, Give us the papers, and let us sign on the dotted line.
   Often -- well, make that pretty much always -- if it is not the hospice company, itself, then it is the insurance company, or medical provider, or someone responsible for seeing that the medical provider gets paid, that  is coaxing us into palliative care, and selling it as the humane option.
   But, we should be wary to know, what's in it for them, Not always, perhaps, but often it is in the best financial interest of the medical provider to get the patient on hospice or Do Not Resuscitate.
Our emergency rooms are expensive, yet law does not allow hospitals to turn patients away -- regardless whether they can pay. So, if hospitals can get the most expensive of those patients on palliative care, they can prevent some of them from returning to the emergency room time after time.
   Likewise, cancer treatments, heart replacements, and such can be very expensive. And so, often, it is in the best interest of the medical provider to let the patient know the treatments can be painful, or even damaging, and despite all that, not do any good, anyway.
  Insurance companies, likewise, can dodge expenses if they can get some of their clients on palliative care, steering them clear of expensive procedures for which they would have to foot the bill.
   There is a saying: Follow the money. While I would guess those who pitch hospice and Do Not Resuscitate are honestly and earnestly offering what they think best for the patient, I think we would be wise to realize medical providers and insurance companies often benefit financially by having us sign on for hospice and/or Do Not Resuscitate. These programs can be good, but there are dangers in them.
   Indeed, a person should have the right to say "No" to having his life dragged out. Quality of life can, indeed, be more important than life stretched beyond its worth. But, life still remains precious. We should not too quickly sign it away.
  Consider the requirements for getting on hospice. First, the person's doctor, and a doctor from the hospice program, must certify the person will die in six months or less. Second, the patient and family must opt for comfort care instead of curative care. In exchange for signing up, what does the patient get? A company sends a hospice worker to visit, to provide comfort care. That worker or team of workers can visit with the family, as well, helping them through the impending loss of a loved one.
  The word "hospice" might once have meant no more than offering comfort and peace to those going to their deaths. These days, however, hospice is an industry. Companies are created to get paid to come in and provide this comfort care. Often, it is government money, Medicaid, that pays the bill.
   There are surely times when hospice is beneficial, when the love provided by the hospice workers makes a difference in whether the person goes to death in peace, and whether the family is comforted. Still, clearly, the program has its shortcomings.
   Palliative care can have grave shortcomings, and I use the word "grave" knowing it can have a double meaning.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

What of they Who Despise Government, Who Speak Evil of Dignitaries?

   I do wonder at this scripture, 2 Peter 2:10.
   A number of verse before, it speaks of false teachers. (There might be no connection to that and the verse we shall refer to, though.) In the verse before, it speaks of the day of judgement being reserved for some. Then, our verse: "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries."
  I follow down the verses from there, and there are indications they speak of the same set of people. Then, in Verse 19 (already a favorite scripture of mine), it says, "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are servants of corruption."
  I do not know that this scripture refers to anyone but someone back in New Testament times, but I cannot help but see a likeness to many in our day. The scripture might not the least be intended for them. Still, today, we do have people who despise government, who speak evil of dignitaries, who promise liberty to those who will follow them.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

We can Wonder about the Tsarnaev Brothers

   When we suggest Islam preaches the killing of disbelievers, we might be setting in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy.
   If they hear that this is what they believe often enough, some of them will begin to believe it is what they believe. While they might grow up and go for years without believing they should kill non-believers, if they are told it is what they believe, do they sometimes come to the conclusion it is?
  It is like with a child. If you tell him he is stupid, he comes to believe it. The harm you sow, is the harm you have.
   One might wonder if the Tsarnaev brothers are examples of this. They lived in the states with no harm for years. Then, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar pulled off the Boston Marathon Bombing. Did one or both of them become disgruntled with America, and reflect on the suggestion that their religion teaches to kill disbelievers, and conclude they would do just that, kill the disbelievers?
   Most Muslims do not believe they should go out and kill disbelievers. That is a belief only of the radical members of the religion. But, we as a society, sometimes parrot the thought that it is a tenet of Islam that they should kill disbelievers. The Muslims who have not been taught in their own mosques to believe this hear it from us, and can come to believe it, and can come to act on it.
   The harm we sow, is the harm we reap.


Friday, November 27, 2015

University Hospital Bending Costs Downward

  I looked down the line of stories trending on my Xfinity home page and saw one on how a hospital was holding down costs. Hospital costs being a topic of much interest to me, I clicked on the news item. To my surprise, the hospital getting national attention turned out to be none other than University Hospital, right here in Salt Lake City.
  Listening to it once, but not absorbing it, I did some Facebooking and news reading, then attempted to come back to the story later. But, it was gone. The Xfinity page no longer featured it, and I couldn't find it with a word search.
   But, I did find a story, from back in September, from the New York Times. It quoted Michael Porter, an economist at Harvard School of Business, as saying University Hospital's program was making, "epic progress," and I assume that means epic progress in the effort to reduce hospital costs.
   It noted the secretary of health and human services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, came to Salt Lake in August to see what is being done.
  The CEO at the hospital, Dr. Vivian Lee, has set in motion a program in which a computer program has 200 million rows accounting for the various possible expenses -- medicines, tests, personnel time, etc.
   Then, they look at what procedures and things are taking place, and question whether they are needed. For example, they've found so much unnecessary blood work was being done, patients were actually getting anemic. So, they cut back, saving the hospital $200 million a year.
   Since starting the program, the cost of hospital care has actually been slightly reduced, dropping 0.5 percent, while other area academic hospitals have increased 2.9 percent a year.
   I don't know if the hospital will continue to bend expenses down. That would be wonderful. Hopefully, we can check in on University Hospital's program, again, in the future.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

We Need Sound Bites Preaching Against the Jihad

   The voice of the imam needs to be heard. When there is a leader of Islam, condemning violence, condemning attacks by those of radical Islam, that voice should be heard.
   Would be well if such things were blared loud and often on the news. "Imam Muhumed al-Dagen responded to the shootings with swift words of displeasure . . ." Whenever, a Muslim leader says his religion does not call for violence, does not call for killing those who do not believe in Islam, that leader should make the news.
    There is a principle we should worry about. When we tell a person what they are, it affects what they become. If a person is told their people kill Christians, if they are told they believe they should go to war against unbelievers, some of them are eventually going to sign on. It doesn't matter if the message is coming from those who fear Islam and attribute the belief to Islam, or if it comes from those of radical Islam, itself, the message remains the same. Sooner or later, some Muslims who hear the message so many times start to wonder if that is, indeed, what they should believe. The meaning of "jihud," is that it is a war or struggle against unbelievers. If a person is told enough times that that a jihad is what they believe in, eventually they might decide it is true.
   It is much like screaming at a child, telling him he is stupid. If the child hears it, it can affect who he becomes. Telling the Muslims they are Jihadists is no different. Eventually, some of them will say, "It must be so."
   What you teach, is what you get, often. So, it becomes important to have voices that are teaching what is right, it becomes important to have Muslim leaders teaching against jihudist thought. And, if those voices are to reach the populace, they need to be picked up and quoted in the media. We need sound bites that teach peace, if we are to have peace.
   Plant a thought, and reap an action, it is said. And, we better believe that is what can happen, lest we reap the whirlwind.

The God-fearing Response is not to take Another's Life Unnecessarily

   I wish somebody could reach out to the Israelis and say, "Hey, this might not be perfectly right, what you are doing."
   I speak of the number of Palestinians who are being killed while attacking and protesting against the Israelis. I just wonder if death is so often the necessary end result. Any time you can spare a life, you should.
   Look at the numbers. Nineteen Israelis have been killed since mid-September as the Palestinians have been attacking the Israelis. But, 94 Palestinians have died, only 58 of which were attackers, the rest being people who died in clashes with Israeli authorities. I wonder if more of the Palestinian attackers could have been stopped without use of lethal force. And, I wonder if the three dozen who were killed in the clashes, could have had their lives spared. If they were not attacking, what was the need to kill them?
   In the U.S., we currently have a big spotlight on police violence. But, that does not seem to be so much the case in Israel, although the Palestinians are saying the Israelis are using excessive force.
   A God-fearing response is not the taking of life at the least of provocations. Life is precious, all life. A God-fearing person spares another's life whenever he can.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let the Cuban Migrants Come -- Even if it's 44,000 Per Year

   Which refugee crisis impacts us more, in terms of numbers? Is it be the 10,000 Syrian refugees that might come in a year's time, which we are hearing so much about, or the 44,000 Cuban that came in a year's span, which we didn't hear so much about?
   I wonder at a news story I did see on the Cubans. It said they are coming overland, by traveling to Ecuador, then through Central America. Excuse me? That makes it sound like Ecuador is the starting point. How does that work? Ecuador is on the opposite side of South America and south of Cuba.
   At any rate, whereas Cubans came via boats to Florida all these years, now they are taking a much more circuitous route. Why? It might be because the Coast Guard is intercepting them if they come straight up to Florida. The Wet Foot, Dry Foot policy says that if they reach our borders, they will be accepted, but if they are caught at sea, they are sent home.
   So, with the Coast Guard catching them at sea, they are swinging through a different route.
   At any rate, now we have a second group of migrants to decide if we should accept. Now that we have normalized our relations with Cuba, do we change our policy of allowing any who reach our shores (our borders) entry?
   Off top, I would like to see us continue to accept the Cubans. Of course, though, I would like to see us accept migrants from any country. Some argue we cannot sustain unlimited entry of migrants. I wonder.
   Then, there is the question of what might become of Cuba. If we let as many in as want to come, does that somewhat empty that country out? If a Cuban is given the choice of living in terrible economic conditions in Cuba, or coming to the U.S. where things are better, how many stay in Cuba? It's a country of more than 11 million. The upswing in migrants from Cuba is due to their concern that the policy of being accepted if they reach our border is going to end. For all these years that we've had the Wet Foot, Dry Foot policy, it never resulted in emptying the bulk of Cuba. So, it shouldn't now, either.
    There is also the question of why they are coming to the U.S., as opposed to stopping once they've reached Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico, or wherever. Do they simply want to come to America because, like immigrants all along, they cherish America is cherished as the land of liberty, opportunity and prosperity?
   Or, are they eyeballing our social services? I say, let them come. But, we should revamp our social services programs to allow people to work for what they get, and to use more private charity help rather than government payments. The programs need to be more self-sustaining.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It Takes but One Hero to Make a Difference in Right and Wrong

   Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke gets out of his car, and empties 16 rounds at Laquan McDonald, while McDonald was walking away from officers.
   Van Dyke's attorney is saying this is not a case that should be tried in the news media, nor on Facebook. But, one wonders. One wonders but what this case is exactly why the Constitution wisely calls for our trials to be public.
   It took prosecutors 13 months to arrive at the decision to file charges against Van Dyke. One wonders about this, too. One wonders if this case is exactly why there is wisdom in the Constitution's calling for a speedy trail.
   Van Dyke's attorney says Van Dyke was fearful. One wonders. One wonders at how so often the defendants invoke that defense. Is it sometimes a defense without warrant? Do defendants sometimes abuse this defense?
    McDonald's family did not want the video released? They had a large settlement? One wonders at the wisdom of allowing settlements to block what goes on in our courts. It seems, if you want to pay the family for damages, do so, but that should not have any impact on whether the officer is charged. If he committed a murder, no amount of money should have any influence on whether he is charged and whether the case goes to court.
    Maybe the settlement didn't have anything to do whether the case being strung out for 13 months before charges were filed. But, at this point, and knowing what little we do know, it all seems to be a matter that should be investigated.
   Van Dyke stayed on the job. He moved to a desk job, but he stayed on the job. One wonders.
   Van Dyke's attorney says his client was justified. He says the video does not tell the full story. One wonders. One wonders. Perhaps. It is seems highly unlikely. Highly. Yet, we shall see.
    So far, there is one hero in this case: the judge who ordered the video released. One wonders what would have happened -- or not happened -- if the video had not been released. Sometimes it takes but one hero, one person standing up for what is right, to make a difference in a matter.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Seeing Those Who Would Help Gratifies Me

   I am gratified by the number of voices I see (in the media, letters to the editor included) calling for helping the Syrian refugees. I agree with the sentiment I hear, that we simply cannot refuse to help them. These are people in much need. They are in harm's way. We cannot look the other way.
   I am grateful I live in a world where so many people do care, where so many people do mourn for the privations being suffered by those fleeing war-torn Syria.

Science, I have some Questions for You

   Perhaps I have a few questions for Science. And, I believe it is advanced enough that it should have answers. If it does, however have answers to all my questions, it seems we would be further on the road to figuring out good health and maybe even longer life.
   Science: We are discussing muscles. First, how are muscles built, exactly? When I exercise, it seems the exercise, itself, might condition the muscle. How does it do that? I assume the muscle contracts. What of food, and nutrition? Does the exercise serve to draw the food into the muscle, or does exercise not have anything to do with the transfer of food to the muscle?
   What is the condition of a stiff muscle? Is it contracted? When we stretch and flex, what do the muscles do? Do they expand, become longer, what? How does blood flow and circulation interact with the muscles? Do the veins and arteries leak blood to the muscles? For if the veins and arteries contain the blood without any seepage, then it would seem the muscles have no interaction, no way of taking the nutrients in.
   What impact does oxygen have on the different states of the muscle? When the muscle is stiff, does it have less oxygen in it?
   Do muscles wear out through continuous use, or can they forever be rejuvenated? What is the condition of a worn-out muscle? Is it brittle, limp, what? Can the limpness be altered, so the muscle remains healthy?
   I do not think it impossible for the human to live indefinitely. But, to do so, it must remain in good condition, obviously. Having muscles that do not deteriorate seems to be one piece in the puzzle for keeping our bodies in functioning form indefinitely..

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Humble Yourself as a Little Child

   Children are of the kingdom of heaven. What does that mean?
   "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14
    Does it mean we should become like little children, if we are to enter God's kingdom? Surely, it does. The disciples came unto Jesus, and asked him who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. In response, Jesus called for a child, and sat him before them, and said, "Verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
   And, then, this: "Whosoever therefore," Jesus continued, "shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
   Little children defer to adults. They obey. Theirs is to learn, not to teach.
   They are humble.
   If Jesus said this thing, that we must humble ourselves as little children if we are to be great in the kingdom of heaven, then it is so. We should ask ourselves if we are so humble. And, we should endeavor to become so.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

To See a Bird, Come to Salt Lake

   To see a bird, come to Salt Lake. At times, there are more than 7.5 million of them at the Great Salt Lake. Pelicans, songbirds, eagles, gulls, and swans -- they're all there, more than 250 different types of birds.
   So, if you want to see a bird, come to the Great Salt Lake. I wonder if we could do more to market this to tourists. Is the Great Salt Lake as great of a place to see birds as there is in America? I don't know. I do know the lake is known around the world for its wetlands. There are 257 different kinds of birds. Wadepipers? There's a beautiful bird. There are a half million of them. At times, a third the world's population migrate to the Great Salt Lake. Grebes? They are pretty, as well, and are wonderful swimmers. There can be 2.5 million of them, as about a third of the North American population migrates to the Great Salt Lake.
   It is claimed by some that more people come to see the birds than come to the Great Salt Lake for any other reason.

Now is not a Time for Bureaucracy

   So, I read it will take a year or two for those Syrian refugees currently in temporary facilities in Europe to arrive in the U.S.
   Vetting or no vetting, that is too long.
    This is not a time for bureaucracy, it is a time for finding a way to cut through bureaucracy. A year or two in holding spots, in refugee camps? What do they do while they wait? Are they working? Who foots the bill for their food and shelter?
    Yes, vet them, what little you can. But, do not detain them near so long. When someone is knocking on your door for help, don't take a year to answer.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Are Some of the Refugees Little More than Draft Dodgers?

   Bring in the refugees, bless them, and care for them.
   But, there are concerns we should consider. For one, what of the suggestion that a share of the refugees are little more than draft dodgers? Some suggest more males are fleeing than females, and wonder if they are not simply seeking to get out of being soldiers.
  As this group of observers sees it, the refugees should stay in Syria and fight for their country. Maybe, in this case, fighting for your country means fighting against the current leader, Bashar al-Assad. But, you fight. You fight for your country's future by fighting against its present.
   Yes, I would not be surprised if many of those fleeing Syria do so to step clear of pressure to join one side or the other. With all so many already killed, it would seem the war parties would be scrambling to enroll new soldiers. Who knows but what sometimes it isn't a You-join-us-or-we'll-kill-you dilemma.
   I'm not so sure I feel the males under all this pressure should not be given an out. I somewhat think it not wrong to opt out of the war. Is war something we should be obligated to participate in?
   Sometimes, being compassionate requires not being overly judgmental and condemning. We might raise our eyebrows at their dodging the war, we might consider it would be better if they were to stay and fight, but we help them, anyway. In the end, we say, Perhaps you have good reason for not wanting to fight -- I don't know -- but, either way, what you are doing is not such an evil thing that we will bar you from living among us.
   I know someone will read this and wonder if other countries should feel the same about our draft dodgers and deserters (Bowe Bergdahl comes to mind). I don't know. I do know, in this case, if it is Assad's forces the refugees are not wanting to join, that sounds like a moral decision (for some say Assad has the worst crimes-against-humanity record since the Nazis). And, if it is the rebels side they are dodging, they are not breaking the law, for the rebels do not have force of law to use in compelling them into service. And, if it is terrorist groups (primarily meaning the Islamic State), then, again, they are making the moral decision by steering clear of ISIS.

(Blog updated and the last sentence added 11/21/15)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Did Roosevelt Popularize the Idea Immigrants Should Learn English?

   Was Theodore Roosevelt the father of hard-line thinking against immigration, or did he merely echo the thoughts of others, when he wrote:

We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an
American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin.

But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.

   That the immigrant should learn English and assimilate into America is now common thinking among many. Many think it an outrage when the immigrant does not learn English. I wonder if Roosevelt was much the originator of this line of thinking, or at least the person who made it popular.

Paying His Own Way Shouldn't be a Negative

   If Utah Transit Authority board member Sheldon Killpack traveled to Switzerland at his own expense, I don't know that he should be faulted. Perhaps he didn't inform the whole body of the UTA, and perhaps he hadn't been authorized to go.
   But, off top, I find no fault. I find no blame. I think of Congress members who visit foreign places without the approval of their colleagues. Why should Killpack have needed permission?
   The story is still breaking, so there might be elements I am unaware of. But, at this point, rather than finding fault, I am of a mind to laud him. If he truly did pay the full bill himself, perhaps he was only seeking to do the best job he could of being a UTA board member.

Discovered: A Trail of Money taking Them to Switzerland?

    This does not fit the definition of money laundering, as that involves hiding money obtained illegally. But a story on the Utah Transit Authority has some of the same elements.
   These UTA officials, along with some state legislators, winded their way to Switzerland. When I first heard the story, my first response was, You mean to tell me, not only did UTA officials, but state legislators went at UTA's expense? Of course this is wrong. How can they be dipping into public funds this way?
   Then, I learned they apparently didn't charge a dime to UTA. They went, in part at their own expense, in part at the expense of Utah 2040 PAC's, in part from funding from the Utah World Trade Center, and finally, in part from Sen. Greg Hughes' personal PAC.
   Now, if taxpayers didn't foot the bill, what is the problem? Part of the answer might be that the Utah 2040 PAC got its money all from transit and highway contractors. We do not know (for sure, that is) this is what happened, but when lobbyists donate -- and this seems to be a form of lobbying -- they often expect something in return.
   The Salt Lake Tribune put the round-about way of funding this way: "Several current and past Utah Transit Authority leaders combined to keep the agency’s direct fingerprints off a recent trip to Switzerland for public officials . . ."
   Kept their fingerprints off? This does not fit the definition of money laundering, as that involves hiding money illegally obtained, but, as I said, it has some of the same elements.
   There are a couple of other interesting things about the story. One, two of the legislators, Rep. Brad Wilson, and Sen. Greg Hughes, are notable players in the controversial relocation of the state prison. Second, in October, UTA Chairman, H. David Burton (past presiding bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) proposed that no travel of UTA board members be allowed without the visits first being approved -- regardless who pays for the visits. It is natural to wonder if Burton found out what had happened, and wanted to put in place a policy that would prevent it from happening again. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

If We Care for the Victims of the Paris Attack, Care, too, For These

   The refugees flee from those such as ISIS. They are the victims of such, only to be lumped together with them, and rejected as if they are entwined with them. While we mourn for those who died in Paris, let us not forget, the refugees are victims of cousin assailants. Indeed, some of the violence the refugees flee from is of ISIS, itself. As we are often reminded, these refugees represent the largest displacement of people since World War II. They are the largest group of people in harm's way, of that nature. Yes, we morn the 129 deaths in Paris and the many who were injured. But, what of the refugees? I don't know how many of them are dying from the privations they suffer, but we do know thousands are dying from the war they are fleeing from. These, too, are our fellow humans, and the attack on them should be considered -- same as the attack on Paris -- an attack against all of humanity. If we could, we would do something to save those who died in Paris. If we really feel that way, then let us feel to save the refugees. When we can save someone suffering from the portion of the Middle East that are bad guys, then let us do it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Come to Where the Buffalo Still Roam

   Not many places you can go to see the American buffalo. Nope, not many at all. But, one is right up the road at Antelope Island. Just a hop, skip, and a jump -- if you want to call it that -- from the Salt Lake International Airport.
   I wonder, if we could do better of marketing this attraction. Would many come just to see buffalo -- the buffalo of wild west fame, the buffalo that roamed where the pioneers trod? They come to see the bears of Yellowstone Park, why not the buffalo of Antelope Island? Bears are common enough. Why not the less common, and historically significant buffalo?
   More would come than the island could accommodate. So, the tourism would need to have limits placed on it. Still, it would provide some tourism. And, hailing this as the place where  buffalo can be sighted, would increase the overall aura of the Wasatch Front as a tourist destination.

Park Them on the Border, Vet Them, and Let Them in

   We would love to help the Syrian refugees, and President Obama has offered to bring 10,000 of them this way. But, then along comes the Paris Attack, and now we are having second thoughts.
   So, put up a parking lot.
   Presidential contender Marco Rubio says we can't vet them, so we can't take them in.
   New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says put 'em on hold until we can vet them and place them.
   So, put, up a parking lot.
   All 10,000 of these refugees need not arrive at once. So, maybe the parking lot doesn't need to be overly massive, but it would have to be pretty sizable. Put it on our southern border. Raise cement walls, higher on the back side than on the front, so we can monitor any climbing over that side from the front side.
   Yes, it is a little bit of a prison. If we are going to pause them, long enough to vet them, we will have to detain them. But, this must not be a long process. Interview them, contact their towns people, andcheck them against our lists of suspected terrorists.
   And let them in. Rubio is right, that we cannot vet them, at least not fully, not as completely as we would like. But, we could and should make what efforts we can.
   And, then, let 'em in.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

'All children are to be treated with utmost respect and love'

   It was this part of the letter to church leaders two days ago that stood out to me:
   "All children are to be treated with utmost respect and love. They are welcome to attend Church meetings and participate in Church activities. All children may receive priesthood blessing and healing and spiritual guidance."
   As you know, the church is asking children of same-sex parents to not be baptized, or receive ordinance work, until they are 18 and no longer living with the parent(s) who are in same-sex marriages. I've wondered -- of my own thinking not from anything the church has said -- if it is indeed, yes, wise to not overly encourage children who might likely think same-sex relationships are okay to be where they will share those beliefs with other children.
   I see the church might not share my concern. "They are welcome to attend Church meetings and participate in Church activities."
   I would say, the leaders are wiser than I. While I hesitated on whether the children should be included, the Church perhaps had no fear. Love of the child was and is important to the church. As I reflect on it, I think the decision wise. And, though I remain with fears on how children influence each other, I applaud the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for this decision.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

He Developed an Attraction to Young Males

   After having not caught more than headlines on the case, today I read a news story on Kenneth Prince's parole hearing.
  And, Prince, appears to have been born heterosexual. He told the judge that after his last daughter was born, his wife didn't want to have sex anymore. "And I had some needs," he said. The Scout leader turned to exploiting boys and young men, including taking explicit pictures of them.
  Perhaps there should be a number of questions raised. Did he remain attracted to females? It seems surely he must have, but was he receiving all the gratification necessary so that he no longer actively pursued women? Was he still seeking women to fulfill his lusts as much as he was seeking boys and young men? Why did he turn to young males? Was it due to availability? Or, had he always had some attraction to young males, even from birth?
   I believe this must be considered as some form of a change in sexual orientation. It appears, if nothing else, he shifted his emphasis from females to males. It is said that the orientation does not change after birth. I think it can. I think this shows it can. The shift that Prince had constitutes at least some kind of a change in orientation.

How did Paris Attackers Arrive in Paris?

   We should be anxious to learn how the Paris attackers came to the city -- on visas or illegally or how?
   But, we must consider that there might be times when we should take kind of an Ebola-outbreak response. When we had the Ebola outbreak, we shut down entrance from certain countries. 
   I would not like to think any of the assailants were refugees. Still, we should be anxious to learn. I like to think we, as a world, would continue to help the Syrian refugees.
   Are there any commonalities in how the attackers this week gained entrance to Paris and how the Charlie Hebdo attackers gained their entrance 10 months ago? Is there anything France is doing differently than is the U.S. in how it admits people from other countries -- anything that makes France more vulnerable?
   These are questions it would be wonderful to see an investigation address. Indeed, finding answers to them is about as important of a thing as an investigation can pursue, for stopping future such massacres requires it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Does Abuse of Boys Indicate Sexual Orientation can Change?

   Wondered tonight on the stories of clergy abusing boys, and of Scout leaders and coaches doing so. I don't believe such stories normally disclose the sexual orientation of  the offender, but perhaps they should not only do so, but that should be a story in and of itself.
   It is said, sexual orientation does not change after birth. If there is an occurrence of it changing, is that not, then, news?
   Yes, perhaps it could be argued the orientation does not change with these offenders. Perhaps they remain attracted to their wives and to women, and that is where their orientation remains.
   Still, seeking out a male indicates an attraction of some kind. It might make them bisexuals, but it remains there occurs a shift after birth in their orientations.
   Or, perhaps all those in these stories were born gay. I do not know. But I doubt it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Being of Same-Sex Attraction can Happen after Birth

   After working out at the gym, as I turned into the entrance of the shower to see a man standing underneath a shower head, I quickly turned my eyes the other way.
   And, I thought how it has ever been this way. I thought how part of the reason I don't want to look, is that a fear comes over me. If I look upon the man too much, and take any enjoyment in it, I fear I would develop same-sex attraction.
   I believe we are free to find our pleasure in what we will, to a large extent. I have sexual impulses. I can gradify them many ways. And, if I wanted, I could gradify them with another male.
   I do not know, for sure, whether those of same-sex attraction were born that way. I understand it is understood that they were, and I give credence to the believe. Nor do I know how many people have become gay after they were born.
   But, reason tells me it can happen.

No Hillary, so no Investigation

   What makes Benghazi worthy of a Congressional investigation, but not the air strike on the charity hospital in Afghanistan?
   Is it politics? I do say, I do wonder. I wonder if there is no Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to go after, so there is no investigation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

We are a Nation of Laws, but are They Good Laws?

   "We are a nation of laws," it is said. But, every nation is a nation of laws. A dictatorship is a nation of laws, and often they are laws that restrict and oppress. It is not whether you have laws, but whether you have good laws that matters. If you find yourself oppressing the people and looking to punish for no better reason than to show the people that they must obey, wonder if you are of the mentality of a dictatorship.
   Merely having laws does not count you among the world's best nations, but having good laws does. Oppressive nations have oppressive laws. We should wonder about our immigration laws. We should wonder, are we of the mentality that finds a fault and seeks to punish, that takes the poor and oppresses them?
   Oh, forgive, but sometimes I think it as if we tell them, "We are the kings in this matter, and you will do what we say. You have no rights. Yours is to listen and obey." If they so much as cross a border without our permission, we take great offense, and cry how they will be the ruination of our nation.
  Is it so? Or are we just an oppressive people? If we had an oppressive king, would he treat them any differently?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

If the Church Yields the Child to the Parent, that is not Wrong

   Children of same-sex parents are in a devil of a situation. As long as they remain with one or both of the parents, there is the influence from the parent(s) that same sex relations are okay. The child cannot escape that influence.
   If the child lives with that influence, outside pressure suggesting the practice is wrong is going to cause stress -- probably major stress. There is room for the thought, that by stepping clear of giving the child counter influence, you are honoring the parent, honoring his or her wishes for the child.
   If you are a church that believes same-sex marriage is wrong, though, you should not be expected to hold your tongue on that doctrine. It should be understood that, in the youth classes, there will be the teaching that same-sex marriage is wrong.
   Most same-sex parents would not want their children to be taught that way. Some might even be upset if their children came home saying they had been taught against same-sex relationships. I see wisdom in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' decision to not baptize children of same-sex parents. Placing the child in the situation of going to church and hearing it is wrong, and coming home and being told it is not wrong, can be very stressful. The child belongs to the parent, and the church is not wrong to excuse itself from confrontation and yield the child to the parent.
   When the child turns 18, if he or she is no longer living with the parents, then, should the child want, it is time for having him or her involved in the church.

'Valor' had me Wondering

   Putting out a glossy magazine saluting Utah's veterans and the military just out of having a desire to honor them is a wonderful thing to do.
   I must confess, when I saw the "Valor" magazine arrive as an insert to my Deseret News Sunday, I was sceptical. Here news earlier in the week had disclosed that major league sports teams were accepting federal money to host tribute nights honoring the military.
   So, a glossy 45-page magazine with no more advertising than that on the back cover? How, then was it paid for?
   So, today, I called up the magazine and asked them. I figured the marketing director would be the person to ask, but we were playing phone tag, so I called back and asked if there was someone else who could help me. The receptionist (I think her name was Janet) asked if she could help, so I ran my inquiry by her.
   "It's basically just a service we did for our readers," she said. ". . . Once in a while, we do that without making a profit on it."
   So, no money from Uncle Sam?
   "We wouldn't do that," she said.
   The marketing director (Jed Call) and I hooked up a little later, and he verified that the magazine didn't use federal money.
   I was left feeling a little sheepish. When someone does a good thing, out of the goodness of their heart, and then someone wrongfully twists it into something bad . . . Well, I should apologize when I make such a mistake.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Greeting is a Place to Send a Message of Love

   Wondered about the love of the child tonight, about the love of those who have same-sex parents. Wondered how we, as church-goers could show them love.
   I would say, always greet them warmly. Yell, "Hello," warmly across the road if you are a neighbor. Smile as you say it. Teach your children to greet them with the same love.
  Sometimes, it is not possible to do all the things you would like to to help a child. They might be out of your reach for much of what you would want to do. But, the greeting is something you can do. Treating them warmly and with love can mean a world of difference to a child -- or to anyone.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

There is a Benefit to Not Baptizing Children of Same-Sex Parents

   There is a benefit that comes with this, with the decision not to baptize children of same-sex parents until they are 18.
   And, it is not being discussed, nor noticed. Even if it were noticed, it would be a delicate topic, in its own right. I will delve in and do my best, though.
   I will get to the point by telling a story. Years ago, there was a young man who the ward wanted to bring into activity. Unfortunately, even at his young age, he had already been introduced to drugs. I couldn't help but point out that there was a danger to the other kids in the Scout group. Well, as it turned out, a good portion of the others in the group did end up on drugs. One ended up being a drug supplier of note here in the Salt Lake Valley.
   You want to help them, and it seems you must. You feel you have to provide them a good support system, and good, clean friends , so they can break away from the negative influences.
   So, what do you do?
   My thought -- thinking as I write -- is that you must first have them committed to leaving their life of drugs far, far behind. Don't just be talking them into this. They must be committed to it. It must be their decision. Maybe say, "If you ever want to get out of drugs, we can help. Just come see us." Then, leave it to them to approach you. Leave it to them to make the decision, for, if the decision is not coming from them, if it is being imposed upon them, they might not be sincere, or firmly committed enough.
   And, the youth might get drawn back to his old friends even though his initial thought was to leave the bad influences. Maybe it will not be till he is older, if at all, that he is ready to leave the negative surroundings.
   I think this not unlike the situation the children of same-sex parents are in. They cannot escape the influence of the parents. No, not as long as they are living in those homes. It might not be until they are 18 or older before they are free from that influence.
   It is good to care about the ones who go astray, perhaps especially at that age. But, we are blind if we are not mindful of the others in the group. All children are in their tender years, and are influenceable by their peers. It is not wrong to protect them from harmful influences, rather, it is a must.
   For all the good and wonderful people who are in same-sex relationships, the practice still is wrong. Yes, we should want to protect our children from it. Yes, children of same-sex parents are likely to believe same-sex attraction is okay. Yes, they could be an influence upon their classmates at church.
   I think of the scripture that says it is better that one person die than that a nation dwindle and perish in unbelief, and wonder if there is a partial comparison. No, it is not good that Laban lost his life. Nor is it good that we are not in position at some points in life to reach out to the children of same-sex parents. Bless them. Unlike Laban, they are innocent. But, unlike Laban, all is not lost for them. They can be baptized after age 18. If they should die before then, the gospel can be taught them in the hereafter. The comparison to Laban, is only that it is better to let go of one child than than it is to endanger the whole class full of children. It is better to lose one, than to lose many.
   Bless them that all may turn out okay for them while in this life. What harm is upon them, is upon them because of the homes they are in. That harm is that they may believe same-sex marriage is okay. May they make it out of their parents' influence in due time and throw off the belief that the practice is okay.
(Note: A dozen words added 11/10/15)

Long Live Us All; Let Us Live 1,000 Years

 I pick up my newspaper, see the obituaries, and whisper, "We've got to put an end to this." I think how more good could be done for humanity by ending death than by doing any other thing.
   Of course, I'm thinking facetiously and tongue-in-cheek. Partially. Just the same, you judge me wrong if you assume I really don't believe we could bring death to an end. I say, why not? I say, we are living in the last days, and, at some point, there is going to come a spot where people are changed in the twinkling of an eye and live through the Millennium. I say, medicine is advancing, cures are coming. I say, already it is said we could keep some alive clinically long past the day their minds are functional. I say, ending death is possible.
   Long live the king, says the old adage. Yes, let him live for ever. Him and all his subjects.

Border Agents Should Wear Body Cameras

   Word comes that Customs and Border Protection staff are recommending against body cameras, saying the cameras would distract the agents from their work, would hurt morale, would be an unjustified expense, and might not be suited for the hot, dusty conditions.
   I think they should wear the cameras. The immigrants can be as abused as anyone. They can suffer from police brutality as likely as anyone. Wearing the cameras brings accountability to officers, and the officers at the border should not be exempt from that accountability. They should be doing their work by the rules as much as other law enforcement officers.
   Some have suggested there is abuse at the border. The reluctance of officers to wear the cameras sends a signal that those fears of abuse might be true. Rather than giving in to their not wanting the cameras, we should demand all the more that they do wear them. While cell phone videos capture police acts seemingly daily in the United States, there perhaps are few such recordings when officers misbehave on the border. So, the need for having body cameras is not less than with most police forces, but greater.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Reason for Doing a Thing Casts Light on Whether it was Right

   Often, the reason for doing something casts light on whether it was the right thing to do. Such is the case with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' decision to not allow children of same-gender parents to be baptized until they are 18. Although it is correct, that we can follow our leaders even when we don't understand, I am grateful for Elder D. Todd Christofferson for explaining why this policy is being implemented. After listening to him, it makes sense to me. Will this policy hurt the church? It seems the decision to go forward with it came not with an eye to how the public would respond, but rather with concern for protecting the children from conflicts in their homes. I like the comparison to not proselytizing Muslims who live in places where rejecting that religion can cause them harm. This is an eternal gospel, and both the Muslims of concern and the children of same-gender parents will eventually be given the chance of accepting the gospel. If their opportunity is cut short in this life (for example, if a child dies before turning 18 and moving out of his parent's home), missionaries await them on the other side.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ben Carson and the Question of Sexual Orientation Changing

   "A lot of people who go into prison, go in straight, and when they come out, they're gay," presidential candidate Ben Carson said back in March.
   He shortly later offered an apology. "I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that, I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended," a CNN article quotes him as saying.
   Some suggested that the theory of men going to prison straight and coming out gay came decades ago as a suggestion that since there were no women with them in the prisons, some chose to get their gratification else wise.
   My thought? There is no biological wall preventing where a person can get his (or her) gratification. If a person decides that although he has never taken joy and enjoyment with someone of the his own sex in the past, he is now going to do so, it is possible to do so. He is free to choose satisfaction wherever he wants to find it. You can find your pleasure where you want to find your pleasure. Perhaps the laws of nature dictate orientation at birth, but those laws do not prevent a person from from finding sexual pleasures where he (or she) will. And, if he decides he enjoys sex with those of his own sex and decides to have it that way for the rest of his life, doesn't that become a matter of sexual orientation?

Government Pays Major Sports Teams for Shows of Patriotism

   Thanks go to Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake for their report on how the Department of Defense spent $10.4 million on marketing campaigns with major league sports teams for patriotism-themed activities.
    "Taxpayer-funded paid patriotism,"McCain and Flake called it.
    An example of such activities is holding salutes to the national guard.
    Considering that sports franchises usually are very profitable, that they plug into such taxpayer funds is troubling. That they receive such government funding underscores how seemingly everyone, sooner or later, gets a free dime from our federal government. It also should make us consider that we have perhaps become jaded to getting the money, not even thinking it wrong, for surely the sports teams did not think it wrong.

Ran into a Person Who was at the Lafayette Theater Shootings

   He carried one woman away from the scene, and was ready to go back in to help others when police stopped him. He believes the shooter did not commit suicide, but was killed by police. And, he believes a policeman died in the shooting, although no death of a policeman was reported.
   Such is the report of a person I ran into while traveling home tonight via mass transit. The person I spoke to -- I did not get his name -- was at the Grand 16 theaters, but in a different theater in July, when those in the room heard shots being fired, and  fled out of the theater. The man I spoke with didn't flee with the others, but waited for everyone to leave, then poked his head out to see if the coast was clear. He spotted a lady crawling, and went and picked her up and carried her outside on his shoulder.
   He said after the initial shots, there came a point where he heard a series of shots -- too many to be being fired by just one person -- and he believes it must have been the police shooting at the shooter. News reports, however, say the shooter, John Russell Houser, shot himself in the mouth.
   And, he said he saw four officers enter, and only three come out. Then, he saw someone wheeled out and hurried off in an ambulance. He believes it was an officer.
   While I guess he's probably wrong on both counts -- both on whether it was suicide and whether an officer was killed -- I appreciate the man telling his account. He said he had been a security guard, but got out because there was a rule that if you pull your gun, you shoot it, and he did not want to use his gun wrongly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

'A Picture is Worth a Thousand Rumors'

   I haven't thought it through enough yet, nor reviewed everything. But, I have given it some thought. No, Officer Ben Fields should not have done what he did in disciplining the 16-year old at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina. But, was it gravely terrible, what he did? I am tending to think it falls into category of something that shouldn't have been done, but was not a terrible act. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bring the Land Speed Mark back to Utah with the North Arm Salt Flats

   Comes a story about how Union Pacific's rail line through the Great Salt Lake has isolated the north part of the lake, trapping the salt in and making a large plate of salt. The Deseret News article suggests it might be one of the largest man-made objects on earth.
   Now, wait up, on this one. You mean we have another salt flats? If it is hundreds of square miles, it would seem it must have a longer stretch than does the Bonneville Salt Flats. Is it dry, sometimes, or does water continually cover it? Is the remodel job Union Pacific started on Sunday going to take away some of the saltiness? Sounds like it will. Should we be doing that? Or should we be doing just the opposite, and looking to enable a new salt flats? Bonneville was once the fastest place on earth, but the shortness of the course became a limiting factor when speeds became so fast they were hard to achieve in the short 13-mile or so stretch there. Maybe, we could bring the record back to Utah if we developed the North Arm Salt Flats.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hospice is a Word and it's also an Industry

   Has the word "hospice" been stolen, in a way?
   I don't know how long the term has even been in use, but I imagine it has been around for some time, referring to care for those who are about to die, who are terminally ill. Obviously, caring for them is a wonderful thing. And, so, then, to be able to say you are providing hospice places you in good standing.
   So, somewhere back there, there came the creation of a new industry. They decided to charge money in exchange for providing care for those about to die, for those terminally ill. Hospice, they called it.
   That's what they provide, hospice care, so they are using the correct term. As I understand their program, two doctors (the patient's attending doctor and one provided through the hospice program) must certify that the person is going to die within six months, and therefore, instead of treatment aimed at curing them (I believe they renounce their right to that), they receive only palliative care -- comfort and such.
   It occurs to me I haven't learned if all insurance companies insure their clients with hospice. I don't know that it is a benefit that Blue Cross and all the others provide to their customers. I do know, though, that it is available through either Medicaid or Medicare, but am not sure if it is both that offer it.
   Is hospice just a government program, or do private insurance companies also pay for it? I should call some insurance companies and ask if they provide it.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Church Calls for Assistance to Refugees

 I woke one morning this week to find my computer already open to a website, albeit I had not opened to it. I don't know whether that has ever happened to me or how it came to be open to I thought to see if there was any news the Church of Jesus Christ was issuing, and opened that section of the website to be pleasantly surprised that the church was calling on members to contribute to the refugee crisis in Europe.
   This pleased me. The refugee story is a news topic I am following. It is said, it is the largest refugee crisis since World War II. I cannot see how we can turn our heads away, and not care.
   "It is with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of the millions of people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships," said the Church letter, which was to be read in church meetings.
   It was a joy to me to learn the church was so concerned, as to make the call for help. Bless the refugees.