Sunday, November 19, 2017

We Might be Close to the Day of Automated Genealogy

  We have entered the age of  driverless cars, and of computers taking over our work in the workplace. So, could we be on the verge of automated genealogy? Will the computer search out all our genealogy, sending us notices, saying, Do you want to attach this to your family tree? Do you want to go to the temple for this person?
  Are we entering the age of automated genealogy, when the computer does all the work, and we simply sign off on it?
   What, then, of the endeavor of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? It has long been considered an impossible task, to go back and connect the family trees for everyone on earth, and trace all the names back to Adam and Eve. And, surely, it must still seem impossible. But, if artificial intelligence is employed, we might be somewhat closer to the goal.
   What if the computer took every name ever entered in it? And, through automatic searches, connected the names in a genealogy tree? Of course, this would be limited by how much information is placed on the Internet. And, there is nowhere near enough names and information on the Internet to allow us to do genealogy all the way back to Adam and Eve.
   But, perhaps that could change. Perhaps the day will come when you simply scan page after page of names and records and data, and the computer sorts it all out. It takes the bad handwriting, and figures out what was meant to be written. It takes the names and sorts out where they came from and searches out birth records and grave records for the names, being every lick as accurate as a human could be.
There are no perfect people,
only ones who are charitable.
If you have a person
who is charitable towards others,
that is all the perfection you can expect.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Gun Seeks a Society, and the Society Seeks a Crime

   The gun seeks a society, and the society seeks a crime.
   Perhaps, we should say it is the gun owner who seeks friends to play with, for the gun is but an inanimate tool. But, the gun defines its owner --not all of them, but many. Their world revolves around the gun -- or guns, plural, for many have arsenals.
   Not all of them seek friends to share their love of guns with, but many do. Some join militias. Some just talk guns with other gun owners.
   Now, not all those who get together to talk guns are out looking for crimes. But, I will say this: Of those who own arsenals, many --maybe even most -- do so with an eye towards the day their tools will be useful.
   Some are wary of government, and hold that the day might come that they need to rise up in rebellion against it. Some already feel the government is corrupt and in need of a cleansing. I suppose I do not agree that our government has reached such a stage. And, I am much less sure than they that it ever will.
  So, I say, the gun seeks a society, and the society seeks a crime.

Friday, November 17, 2017

They Give of Their Abundance

   As public debate rages on the tax bill, and the richest 10 percent are given accolades for paying 75 percent of the taxes, I think of a person making, say, $12,000, and of how if that person puts in so much as $10, it is giving up money needed for food and rent. And, I think of a rich person, and of how he loses nothing needed for necessities when he places money out of all the extra he has into the tax coffers.
   And, I think of Mark 12:41-44.
   "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
   "And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
   "And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
   "For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Real Health-Care Reform Lies with the Public, not with Congress

   Maybe we will never get true medical reform because we are looking to the wrong people to do the reforming.
   It isn't those in Congress who should be turning the switch. It isn't the president.
   But, since we are all sitting around waiting for Congress and the president to do the modifying, it isn't occurring to us that it is we who hold the keys to change.
   Real reform -- to me -- would be to knock insurance out of the equation -- or at least to knock it out somewhat, get rid of a lot of it. Ironically, the reform measures on Capitol Hill deal with how insurance should fit into the health-care system, not whether it should.
   What if doctors started not accepting insurance, not asking for it?  A doctor's visit might cost, say, $30 and that wouldn't be the co-pay; It would be the full pay.
   What if doctors offices expanded on their services, offering as much testing (maybe even MRIs) in-house? Simple surgeries? Bring them in-house, as well. Get as much of the service and as much of the surgeries and procedures to fit under the $30 fee (or $60, or however much) as possible.
   If medical care of this fashion became a movement, prices would come down.
   What if you put the doctor back in charge of his (or her) own practice? Instead of insurance making the call on which tests, procedures, and treatments were allowed, what if we let the doctor make the call?
   What if you offered one-stop doctoring? What if an oncologist, a cardiologist, a spine specialist-chiropractor, and so forth were all in the same practice? Then, when a patient came in to see the general practitioner, he (or she) could taken down the hall to a specialist the minute a question came up about a specialty concern. Surely, medicine would be quicker, better and more thorough.
   The more care you could fit under one hat (meaning, into one doctor), the better. And, since one person can't know everything, the more care you could fit under one roof, the better. Integrating health care this way would surely improve the quality of the care.
    We don't need Congress to bring about these changes. We just need to inspire more doctors to open such practices. And then, we, the public, need to go to such doctors' offices. I know I would be inclined to patronize them. If I'm going to get more comprehensive care, and it is going to cost less, of course I am going to go that route.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It Seems it is the Chiropractors Who have Science on their Side

  In the battle between chiropractors and medical doctors, I wonder if it isn't the chiropractors who stand on firmer scientific ground. They have more reason, common logic, and science behind them more than do the medical doctors.
   The medical doctor will fuse your spine, basically cementing it. Tell me the solution to a inoperative back is to cement the flaw in place, to cement over the crushed disc so it never can be repaired.
   They will tell you a crushed disc is permanent. What really is permanent is the locking of the back in place through fusion. Tell me -- speaking scientifically and logically -- how repairing a back is best accomplished by cementing it from working as well as it should?
   The chiropractor, on the other hand, seeks to restore the disc to health. If there needs to be more spacing between the vertebrae, the chiropractor does a series of adjustments to get it there. Each session, the bones are moved a little more towards where they need to be, till at last they are where they belong, and there is spacing between the vertebrae.
   I think of it as being kind of an on-going surgery, or a series of surgeries, since each chiropractic session moves the disc a little more towards its goal.
   The doctor's might say it is impossible to heal the disc, but I've seen before-and-after x-rays. I have no reason to believe they were fraudulent. I've signed up for chiropractic care. My lower back is in the third of four phases of degeneration. I'm hoping the before-and-afters for my back will also show that recreating spacing between vertebrae is possible.
   Here is my thought: How is it possible that well-practicing chiropractors have been correcting backs while medical doctors have continued to say it is impossible? Either the chiropractors are frauds, and it isn't happening, or the medical doctors are not taking enough time to step over to the chiropractors' offices to see for themselves. Hasn't it ever been that when advancements in medicine take place, the medical field welcomes and hails them and encourages doctors to practice them?
   Medical discoveries just don't go unnoticed, especially for so many years. If the chiropractors are right, there must be many accounts of backs being rejuvenated.
   So, what gives? Why have chiropractors not been welcomed in to the main steam of medical practice?
   It might well be the chiropractic efforts will not benefit me significantly. The old adage says a fool and his money are soon parted. My $2,700 will be to the wind. But, I hope that will not be the case. It makes more sense to adjust the spine, to recreate the spacing between the vertebrae than to seal them from moving. If you want to correct something, you correct it. You don't make it so the correction can't be made. The chiropractors' way of correcting the problem is more scientifically sound than that of the medical doctors.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Take the Company out of the Doctor's Office

   Take the company out of the doctor's office, and you'll take the crisis out of health care. Or, in the words of the great philosopher, Simplify, simplify, simplify.
    Do you ever wonder if we shouldn't return to the pre-insurance days? They were simpler. And, they weren't so long ago. That was a day when you went in, paid a fee and the fee covered much of what was done, if not all.
    Nowadays, you get a bill from the hospital, and it might have a hundred items listed.
    If we removed as many accountants and insurance people as possible, and left the doctor to run his own business, we most likely would have a better medical world.
    If we didn't have an accountant dictating a minimum number of visits per hour, that would make for a better medical world.
    Fewer surgeries in hospitals, and more in the doctors' offices, that would help.
    Some wise businessmen cut every unnecessary expense. If we believe in this, why don't we adhere to this business practice more in the field of medicine? Don't have surgeries in the hospitals if they can be performed in the doctors' offices because the hospital is the most expensive of medical settings. Cut unnecessary expenses and simplify, simplify, simplify. 

Let the Law Simplifying the Tax Code to be Simple

   How ironic is it that the proposal to simplify the tax code is, itself, too complicated to understand? What is this about how tax rates might go down for a few years, then increase a number of years down the road?
   I want the law that simplifies the tax code to be simple, as well. I don't want wiggle room for a politician to fool me into thinking I'm getting something when I'm not.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Doctors like Dr. Bradley would do more for Medicine than Congress

 Quinn Bradley opened practice on the west side of town. He chose not to hire an appointments clerk, a nurse, or any of the other full-time medical assistants that often come with a doctor's office.
   He shunned most appointments, just telling his patients to drop by and see him when they had time.
   He didn't accept insurance, but that didn't matter much to his patients, since a visit was only $40, anyway.
   Word of mouth came to make a difference. Right from the start, he was thorough with each patient, wanting to discover everything medically he could about them every time they visited. He'd query them forward and backward, and examine them inside and out, anxious not to miss a thing.
   Word got around about how thorough he was, and from that time on, he didn't have a shortage of patients. People knew that if Dr. Everything examined them, they couldn't do better.
    Did I tell you why they called him Dr. Everything? Well, he took a little longer getting through medical school than most because he got a few specialty degrees in order to make him a more well-rounded doctor. He didn't want to diagnose one thing while not even knowing another problem existed. He wanted to be an expert in as much of medicine as humanly possible.
   And, there were a number of surgeries he could perform. It was in those instances that he would take appointments, and schedule his part-time nurse to come in and assist him.
    In an age in which our medical system is struggling, a few more doctors like Dr. Everything couldn't do America harm. Right now, everyone is waiting for Congress to come up with medical reform. I'm not sure that is needed. Instead, just inspire a good share of doctors to be like Dr. Quinn Bradley.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

We can Learn from History, So what of LDS History and Militias?

   With history as our guide, we could look back at militias in early LDS history, wondering about their effects.
   It was a militia group that committed the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It was the Carthage Greys who attacked Carthage Jail. It was a militia that committed the Haun's Mill Massacre.
   I wonder on militias. I wonder if sometimes when you create one, they start looking for reason to justify their existence. If a group comes in from Arkansas, the militia might see it as its prerogative to protect against them. If a militia sees a Mormon prophet as false prophet, they will find in killing him a reason for their existence.
   A militia is somewhat worthless if it doesn't have something to do. So, it finds something to do.
   Today's militias? If they are set up as a defense against government gone bad, they will be quick to find government gone bad.
   There is a danger there.
   I think of the words of the Second Amendment. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." I think it ironic that instead of being there to defend our government, many of today's militias consider rising up against it.
   If we can learn from history, what do we learn from LDS history and militias? That if today's militias see their duty as defending us against our own government, they eventually could rise up against it.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

If not in the House, then Keep a Sheriff Next Door

  Keep a sheriff next door, for the lawless peer down from hotels, wander into churches, and spray lead into school yards. Sometimes, you might want to have the sheriff right in the house. But, if you don't, at least have him within shouting distance.
   With so many mass murders, law enforcement should be evolving, becoming equal to the threats we're facing. If no place is safe, then no place should be left unguarded. It has ever been, has it not, that if you need more officers, you hire more officers.
   Law enforcement almost needs to be everywhere these days, a cop on every corner.
  Others might argue for arming the populace, getting guns in the hands of as many people as possible. And, when the lawless one steps up, a gun-totting member of the public is there waiting, shooting him down in his tracks.
   But, rather than saturating your crowds with guns that might be misused, it seems wiser to have no more guns than you need, and to try to direct them into the hands of those least likely to misuse them. Civilized societies have traditionally turned to law enforcement officers for law enforcement needs, and it seems the wiser choice, to me.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Good Coaches Don't Over Coach

   Sometimes, you can over coach, attempting to control the things you can't control. Maybe it's that you want to shield your players from certain pressures, but the pressures are not going to go away. Better to deal with the pressures than try to sidestep them.
  Sometimes, you can over coach. You institute an offense, or whatever, and you don't want to back down from what you're doing, so you stick doggedly to it. Your pride rises up, and you keep pushing your program.
   Sometimes, you can over coach. You insist your players do certain things, when they just aren't capable. Better to adjust your coaching to the talents you have than to demand the players play with talents they don't have.
   Sometimes, you can over coach. You call timeout and draw up a play, just because you figure that is what coaches do. But, your play isn't anything special, and if you had just let your star player do his thing, he would have found a way to get the basket and you would have won.
   Sometimes, you can over coach. You bench a player because you're the boss and he is giving you a little grief. If he's the player who can lead you to victory, swallow your pride and let him play. This is not to say coaches shouldn't bench players for insubordination, just to say they can be too touchy.
   The best coaches aren't the ones who over coach. They are the ones who know their limits. Coaches tell their players to no try to do too much, to let the game come to them. They ought to realize that that is advice they should keep, themselves. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Let us not Falter in the Search for Solutions

   I turn to the latest online article on the Patrick Harmon shooting, finding only seven comments, and wonder that people tire of the discussion. I think of how many tire of discussing guns in the wake of so many mass murders.
  Violence in America has its saturation point.
   I would we would not tire. These issues are important. Let us not abandon hope. Let us not falter in the search for solutions.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Those Opposed to the Shooting should Perhaps Protest Again

   A review board reviewed the police shooting of Patrick Harmon, concluding that the shooting was justified. That follows District Attorney Sim Gill's having concluded the same.
   I respect Sim Gill. If he exonerates the officer, and the review board does the same, perhaps the shooting was justified. Just the same, many of us have watched that video time and time again, and read as much as we can of what happened, and we remain mystified that the shooting should be called just. If the officer acted within policy, perhaps it is a matter that the policy is bad. If officers are trained this way, perhaps we should be concerned with the policy and with the training and that our laws allow for unjust killings.
   There was some protesting following the shooting. I cannot help but wish there would be more now, coming in response to the review board's decision. If those of us who feel the shooting was wrong do not lift our voices, wrongful policies and wrongful laws will never be overturned.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sugar Plumbs, and Old Prunes, and Automation, and Artificial Backs

    Darance Thomdancer slid his car into a narrow parking spot, exited the vehicle, and gazed at the sign. "Surrerio Senior Living," it said, and he imagined there must be 200 people there he could help.
   He hit every room in the place that day, telling each resident he wanted to move as many of them as possible over to a hospital he had contracted with. "It's the old Brickhaven Medical Center," he said. "I've arranged for as many beds as we will need. You will all have your backs replaced -- well, as many of you as need your backs replaced will have them replaced."
   Modern medicine had never seen anything like this before. Knee replacements and heart transplants? Ah, yes, we know about them. But, spine replacements? Such an idea. Oh, perhaps no one dared try them before, what with nerves being such a tender thing. I mean, how to you separate the nerves from the spine during the operation? How do you delicately remove the bad parts of the spine -- the crushed discs and all -- without disturbing the nerves?
   Back in the 20th Century, this might have been impossible. But, enter the age of automation. These days, more and more things are computerized. Actually, a hospital to the south had already started offering automated back surgeries, although they didn't offer anything nearly so radical as this.
   Spine replacements? No way! Or, so they said.
   The robotic surgeons could sense what parts would need to be replaced, what parts better go untouched, and where to sever the tissue and bones -- with micro meter precision. The hands of a human surgeon would never be equal to this surgery, but the bionic fingers of a robot would not fail.
   Some of the patients from Surrerio Senior Living never went back. After their surgeries, they were able to walk, many for the first time in years. And, I'm not talking just walking, I'm telling you they had all the spring in their steps that a 15-year old would have.
   There have been a lot of advancements in medicine in our life times, but I'm not sure anything was more dramatic than the miracles achieved by Darance Thomdancer and his medical wonder workers at Brickhaven Medical Center that Christmas season in 2017. If sugar plumbs could dance, they would, and so did a lot of old prunes.

Blanding Remains Dry

   Blanding, Utah, bills itself as "Base Camp to Adventure."
   Evidently, adventure doesn't begin with alcohol, as the town voted today to remain dry. No alcohol sales have been allowed for more than 80 years, marking Blanding as one of about a half dozen Utah communities not allowing alcohol sales.
   Nationwide, nine states have counties that are dry, and at least a dozen states have municipalities that ban alcohol sales.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Back to the Days of Christopher Robin and One-Stop Medical Care

   As the nation turns its attention to the tax issue, I would have your ear on another matter: our health-care system.
   If only we would return our system to what it was between the 1900s and the 1940s, all might be well. While Republicans are searching for a replacement for Obamacare, I cannot help but wonder if the real answer lies in returning to the prepaid physician groups practiced in the first half of the last century.
   I get my information from Christy Ford Chapin, author of "Ensuring America's Health: The Public Creation of the Corporate Health Care System," and from an article she wrote more than a year ago for
   Health care was inexpensive in those days because doctors provided their own insurance. They practiced as a group of doctors, with perhaps only one general practitioner, but various specialties under the same roof. Besides the economic benefit, there was this organizational benefit, as well: The doctors could compare notes on patients, filling each other in on needs each were not familiar with since they were not part of his (or her) specialty. Doctors today tend to treat and prescribe within the blinders of their own specialty. Not so, then. Maladies were less likely to go overlooked as the malady in question did not receive all the attention. You received one-stop medical care that tended to be more comprehensive.
   The financial benefits? Being self-insured, the doctors damaged their own financial interests if they either over supplied or under supplied services. They would drain their profits if they overspent, but risk losing customers if they did not provide adequate services.
   If we are to leave our medical system in the hands of private enterprise, perhaps this model that we abandoned in favor of insurance is something we should return to. We should consider doing an about-face and abandon traditional insurance in favor of the old prepaid physician groups.
   The tricky part of this would be how to gradually dismantle our current insurance-based system. With 18 percent of our gross domestic product going to health-care today, and with so many employed in the insurance industry, you don't just tear it apart without risking severe economic trauma.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Conveyor-Belt Medicine is not Good Medicine

   One problem with our medical system, is that it doesn't give adequate time with doctors. You want to properly diagnose an illness, you have to allow adequate time to diagnose. We don't do that. You have perhaps 15 minutes with the doctor, and then he (or she) is on to the next customer.
   Whether he's had time to diagnose the problem or not.
    And, we wonder why we have so many misdiagnoses? Limit your doctor to 15 minutes. Tell him that's all the time he has. He'll likely zero in on the most popular malady with those symptoms and not have time to consider other possibilities. Sure as anything, you are going to have misdiagnoses. We wonder why there are so many malpractice lawsuits? I would guess part of it is due to the number of misdiagnoses.
   Just as bad, if a problem comes up during a procedure, and the doctor is on a time schedule for completing the procedure, he is going to have a tendency to rush through the problem, not addressing it adequately. Once again, we wonder why there are so many malpractice suits? If your brush over the problems, you're going to stumble from time to time, and with a stumble comes a lawsuit.
   If we would heal our health-care problems, one thing we must do is to take the doctor's visit off the assembly line. Conveyor-belt medicine is not good medicine.

  If you would know how good of a person 
you are, measure it by 
how many times you speak evil of others.
The more you speak evil, the eviler you are. 
Blood is spilled where rumors are spread

   Too often, we knife others by speaking ill of them. Do not suppose that truth is excuse for doing so, for we justify for truth that which is often untrue. We thrill in having some dirt on others, and we attack because we enjoy the attack. If only we would see the damage that is done, the blood that is spilled. If only we determined not to be a part of such a blood sport.  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A General was Sent to Prison without it Making the News Much

   A U.S. general was send to prison in the past week, and it didn't even ripple the news much. The story didn't get much play. Marine Brigadier General John Baker was sent to prison in Guantanamo Bay for standing up for lawyers in the USS Cole bombing case.
   The lawyers were allegedly placed under surveillance simply because they were representing the USS Cole bomber. In protest, the lawyers quit, but the military judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, rejected their resignations.
   Baker, as chief defense counsel in military commissions, sided with the lawyers right to resign, and, for that, Spath on Wednesday sentenced him to 21 days in prison.
  Another military judge stepped in, freeing Brigadier General Baker from serving much of the sentence, but one has to wonder at what happened. In a land of freedom and a land where injustice is shielded against, was Baker's imprisonment just?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Arbitrary power
is most easily established
on the ruins of liberty
abused to licentiousness.
-- George Washington

Many of you have libertarian views. It is wonderful of you to have opinions. I guess I do not share in much of the libertarian ideology, however. I find that many of the things allowed under libertarian practice amount to licentiousness.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Joe de Casa's Snake Bite should have Led to an Arthritis Treatment

   I'm considering the case of Joe de Casa, and thinking there is something that could be done about arthritis.
   And, wondering why nothing is done.
   Back in 2002, BBC ran a story on Joe de Casa. He was bitten by an adder while working in his garden. A sufferer of arthritis, de Casa said the months following the bite were the only time in five years that he had not suffered from arthritis. de Casa quite wished scientists would look into the anti-inflammation properties of snake venom.
    And, what do we have to show for it, 15 years later?
   de Casa's case does not stand alone. Other arthritis sufferers have been bitten by snakes and bees and experienced a pause in their suffering. Somehow, it sure seems there is some medical relief that should have been delivered from snake venom by now.
   Why have we seen nothing come of this?
   I don't know if snake venom cream is the answer -- I do see that marketed for anti-aging. I don't know but what you would have to place the patient in a carefully watched hospital setting and inject him with the venom while he was comatose.
   Experiment on animals first, of course. But, has that even been done, after all these years?
   Tens of millions of Americans suffer from arthritis, perhaps one-quarter of all adults. Arthritis accompanies us toward death. The bee stings and snake bites perhaps wouldn't be cures, for the benefit might only last months, instead of being permanent.
   But, it would still be a big step towards ending one of the biggest maladies of the human race. I do not understand why the medical world has not found medicine in this, why we are not using snake bites and bee stings to relieve 40 million Americans.

The Shooting Near the U of U Might have been Averted

   I've posted on how I would handle the homeless. Tonight, in light of the shooting up by the U, my thoughts drift back to what I once wrote:
   "To some extent, you cannot help someone if you do not identify them, So, the first step would be to place workers on the streets, talking to each person, identifying and cataloging them. Call them homeless remediation specialists, perhaps. They would document each homeless person they came in contact with and start each of them on a program, hoping to remedy their homelessness."
   The accused shooter, I believe, went to the homeless district before going east into the hills. What would have happened, if there had been workers there to meet him when he arrived? What if there were so many remediation specialists that they didn't miss a soul, mixing with the homeless, talking to them, ferreting out each one.
    And, what if they ran background checks on each -- and checked them against the lists of those wanted for alleged crimes? Perhaps Austin Boutain would have been apprehended for the crime in Colorado before the shooting near the University of Utah could take place.
   Helping the homeless is important and wonderful, but so it ferreting out the criminals among them. And, if you want to find the lawless, there is no better place to go looking than in the homeless districts.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Russians Seek Only to Divide; 
How Will Americans Respond? 
   We read how the Russians sought to sow discord in not only our election, but on issues such as immigration and gun control. The article says they didn't cease attempting to rile us up and divide us just because the election was over.
   This all should give us pause. Do we really want to give the Russians the satisfaction of dividing us? Or, will we reflect on what they are doing, and resolve to not be so partisan, so divided, so hateful of each other? 
   I wish the morning paper had a banner headline proclaiming: Russians Seek Only to Divide; How Will Americans Respond? I wish all America reflected on this news article, that we might see whose interest we serve when we hate each other. 
Never give an opinion 
without taking one first 
   That's a motto I'm trying to keep. And, of course, I often fail to keep it. But, perhaps if I keep trying, I will turn the corner, and keep the rule more often than not. A corollary is to always show respect for the other person's opinion. Don't just listen to it, waiting for the opening and chance to tear it apart. Instead, listen reflectively and acknowledge any good points and praise the other person for their opinion. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

We won't take 'No' for an Answer: Give us a Good Painkiller

   Are there any meaningful painkillers that are not addictive? You mean to tell me that in the more than 150 years (or however long it has been), drug makers have not found a satisfactory alternative to opioids such as morphine and OxyContin?
   Over the years, the pharmaceuticals have developed one drug after another, only to see them pass from use in the hospitals to use in the streets. We're blessed with both cocaine and heroin thanks to this pipeline.
   This is the 21st Century. Advancements in medicine are on most every front. Why not, then, on this? I hear of national crusades to cure cancer and such. And, President Trump has called opioid usage a national emergency. Why not, then, make this our new frontier: to find a non-addictive, almost harmless pain killer? Why not a we-will-not-be-denied approach to this, same as with so many other things we see as imperative?
   Give us a somewhat harmless painkiller, Big Pharma, or we will march in the streets.

Monday, October 30, 2017

We Should Outlaw some Ways in which Opioids are Used

   If we fear the opioid crisis is a national emergency, perhaps we should outlaw some uses of these drugs.
   I went to the dentist the same day President Trump declared a national emergency. After my teeth were pulled and implants in place, the doctor gave me a prescription for hydrocodone. "Pain medication should be taken before numbness from local anesthetic is gone," said the written instructions.
   That would mean taking it before I knew if I needed it.
   I didn't take it. I didn't really experience much pain, certainly not enough that I should take an opioid.
   I wonder at how some laws could be set up, how we could direct them so that they take away the abuse while still being there for those who need them. Do all patients experience basically the same pain from dental work? If so, outlaw opioids in for dental work. But, that probably isn't the case. Some people probably have severe pain.
  But, I do wonder if we should have the pain set in before the prescription is given. Let the patient go home, but give him a phone number to call if the pain gets severe, so a prescription can be hurriedly issued and filled at that juncture.
   I realize some will suggest this is cruel, requiring the patient to enter into pain before medication can be prescribed. I wonder on it, the same, wondering if it still might be the right thing to do. I do think we should outlaw some uses of opioids.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Choruses I Hear

    I gather my papers, stuffing them under my arms, and hurriedly leaving the room. I must make it to the tavern by eight -- nine at the latest. The QRace will be waiting.
   At the corner, I pause to take a newspaper from the box. I am anxious about the day's news, still not having read the story about the press release from the 13-year-old boy. All the nation is discussing it.
   I slip onto the train at a quarter till 8. The other passengers are discussing the story. Some are taking in the news on their iPhones. Some, like me, are reading hard-copy newspapers. I look up, and see a contingent of people coming down the aisle, singing. They are dressed in costumes, for it is Halloween. Some are dressed as ghouls, some as witches, and some as devils. They sing their well-crafted songs, and then pass through to the next car on the train.
  But, one of them comes back. He steps to his right, then to his left, as if dancing. "What have we forgotten to tell you?" he asks. "Did you hear what little Brighton Billie has to say?"
   He paused, having our attention.
   "Billie would have you believe we should all throw away our guns. He quotes from scripture, something about people turning their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks."
   Out of all the people in the car, he looks at me, staring through a lop of long tangling hair that covers his face. "I'm here to warn you not listen to him. He quotes the scripture wrong. That scripture has nothing to do with what is going on. We must protect ourselves. We know what happens when people do not have guns to defend themselves.
   "I am of the Catalans," he says, as he swings around and walks away. And, I know he doesn't mean he is literally from Catalonia, but rather from a group in the U.S. taking its name from the breakaway Spanish province, calling themselves the Catalans.
   I exit the train at the Mallburst Station. Red's Tavern is but a short block away. As I walk in, those waiting me stand, snapping their heels together and saluting -- in a Nazi salute. "Did you bring the papers?" they ask.
   I drop the papers on the table. "You are free to have them," I say. "But, I have come to tell you that you have taken me for a friend, when I am not. You have supposed me to be one of you, even thinking I might step in and lead you. For that, you invited me here."
   I am interrupted at that point. Brighton Billie's face comes onto the television screen, a screen so large it covers the whole of the tavern wall, with Brighton Billie's face being as large as a semi truck.
"Oh, please, listen!" Brighton Billie says, and the words echo in my head. "I may be but a child, but I hope you will listen. You do not need to worship your guns. They need not be your heroes. Everyone does not need to have them. They will tell you that you will not be able to protect yourselves from crime, and will not be able to protect yourselves from government gone astray. I will tell you, though, crime does not go rampant. I will tell you that, yes, it is important to have armed forces to protect your land, and it is important to have enough police officers to protect the populace.
   "But, this idea that everyone ought to have a shotgun in their closet, it is not wise. Weapons stored become weapons used. Suicides rise. I am not saying there are not things greater than gun ownership that prompt suicides, but guns do add to the problem. Crime rises in societies where guns are a-plenty. I do not say guns are the only factor. You can watch crime decline while gun ownership increases. Still, guns are a big contributor. If everyone has a gun, then both those who are good and those who are bad have them. The bad will surely use them while they sit idly in homes of the good, often waiting until a criminal steals them. If the bad have guns, the nature of their crimes will tend to be worse. You can't keep bad folks from committing crimes, but the nature of their crimes will not be as horrendous if they do not have the tools to make them horrendous."
   The bar owner strides along the bar, picking up the remote and turning the television off. "Qs!" he yells. "You are not here to listen to this garbage. Don't listen to it. Our government is corrupt. It is stealing away our freedoms. All across the nation, we, the people, are rising up to save this nation. The Constitution calls for militias of the people and we now have militia after militia after militia set to attack at once. In addition to the QRace, we have the Catalans and the Zee Bees -- just here in this city. The whole nation has organized into militias, ready to rise up and strike against the tyranny of a government astray, a government that no longer adheres to that which is right and no longer follows the Constitution of the United States."
   The barkeep turns and looks at me. "Then, sir, if you have a plan of action -- is that it you have left on the table?"
  "You are free to have it," I calmly reply. I turn to walk out, leaving them to review the 200 or so pages, page after page saying the self-same thing, the words to an old peace song, once sang by Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash and others.
   As I walk out the door, the first of a large group of people brushes past me and enters the bar. At first, I think it is the same chorus of Catalans who had been on the bus, but it isn't, though they, too, are dressed in costume -- attires ranging from that of Little Red Riding Hood to Dr. Seuss to Mary Poppins -- not a one being violent themed.
  As they start singing, the words waffle back through the door. I turn in shock, for the song is the very song whose words I left on the table.

Last night I had the strangest dream
I ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war
I dreamed I saw a mighty room
The room was filled with men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again
And when the papers all were signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful prayers were prayed
And the people in the streets below
Were dancing round and round
And guns and swords and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground
Last night I had the strangest dream
I ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

   I listen to the words of the song, staying till it is finished, then turn again, to walk back to the train station, I think about Brighton Billie, the Catalans, the QRace and this chorus -- who were they? -- and the notion that people should give up their guns. I can see the danger of guns, but I am not sure it means we should give them up. 
   I watch the southbound train pass, and continue waiting the northbound, still thinking. I pick up a rock and -- reflecting on the QRace and other militias -- throw it angrily back to the pavement. It caroms off into the parking lot, endangering cars  that should be sitting in peace and not endangered. I think of how I do not like it that militias are rising up against my country. I think of how Americans do not know the danger they are facing from them.  I think of this one militia, the QRace. Whatever of the other militias, I certainly am not in agreement with it. 

Note: Story edited and changed 11/4/17

(Indexes: Stories, guns)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Today's Decisions Require Wisdom of Our Own

   If a nation is to survive, it cannot quit being inspired. Wisdom once, must be wisdom moving forward.
   I speak of America. I speak of America's Constitution being inspired. But, if America is to maintain its high standing, it must not cease to be inspired. It is we, in 2017, who face today's decisions. It is we who must decide if we raise the national deficit, if we allow assault weapons, and whether we do something about climate change.
   If the Founding Fathers were wise and inspired, so must we be wise and inspired. Look around; You will not find many of them still around to make today's decisions.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Jim, Jim, and James, and Their Idea for Paying off Credit Card Debt

   Jim Sturgis, Jim Burgess, and James Stengel -- as fine of men as you'll ever meet -- except for one thing: credit card debt.
   These three men were so deeply in debt, I can't imagine them ever getting out. Then, one day, James Stengel had an idea, and he pitched it to his buddies. They were being billed monthly, of course, and it was James's idea that they shouldn't be paying so much.
   "We are Americans, you know, and by virtue of that, I don't think we should be taxed -- I mean, billed -- this way," he said. "Jim and Jim, you know for yourselves that we've friends in Poland, and Scotland, and Iceland and Icelbeckia who don't pay this heavy of taxes -- I mean, don't have this heavy of credit card payments."
   Jim and Jim looked back at him, thought for a moment, and then nodded their heads in agreement.
   "Doesn't seem fair to me," Jim said.
   "Doesn't seem right to me, either," Jim echoed.
    That's when Rawson Wilson came walking in. "I hear you boys talking," Rawson said. "I'm just going to suggest it is a little late for this. You spent the money, and you continue to spend it. You spend as if money grows on trees or comes off a printing press. You buy this and you buy that and you buy a little bit of everything. Then, when the bills come due, you suggest you deserve a tax break -- I mean, a break on paying your bills. It doesn't work that way. You run up the bill, you better pay it. Don't be whining about how nobody else pays so high of a tax rate -- I mean so high of a monthly credit card bill. Don't be telling me it isn't fair. Fair is paying for what you buy. You want a break, you think about that before you buy something."
   He looked them straight in the eyes, but I couldn't tell if what he had said was sinking in.

(Indexes: Stories, national deficit, tax reform)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

It is Policies such as These that I Don't Favor

  Many suggest supporting President Trump because of his polices. And, there are a number of his policies that I might agree with. His declaration against opioids might end up being something I highly laud. (At the moment, I am not quite ready to endorse his opioid effort, as I am wondering what kind of federal funding will be attached, and whether the money being spent will bring results.) His release of the Kennedy files I am very in favor of.
   But, there are a number of his policies and efforts I do not support. A border wall? I do not support that. Bombing in Syria till some cities are largely uninhabitable, and then telling the people in Syria they are responsible for their own rebuilding? That doesn't set well with me. Health-care proposals just for the satisfaction of saying you're getting rid of another health plan, even though your own proposal doesn't appear any better? I wonder what good that will do. A tax measure that increases the national deficit? I'm afraid I don't support that. A tax measure that favors the rich? I cry out against that.
   Bless President Trump for what good he does. But, there are a number of things he misses on.

Would the Founders be Conservatives or Liberals -- or Moderates?

   I don't know that we can consider the Founding Fathers as conservatives, at least not in terms of whether they would support the conservative issues of our day. Conjecture as to what the founders would do, and what stands they would take, is interesting. I am prone to wondering, myself. Gun control? I think they would be in the same boat we are in today, having to weigh the pluses and minuses, with some of them thinking one way and some of them the other. The same would go with many other issues, I would guess. They would consider the issues, think about them, and come to conclusions. True, just as in this day, there would be some with preconceived opinions. Still, I'm guessing there would be more moderates among them than there are today, if we define a moderate as someone who is willing to consider each issue instead of simply going with a preconceived opinion.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Guns Influence the Person for Good or Bad

   You are a product of your possessions, to some degree. If you have a lot of physical possessions, you are going to be a different person than if you don't. If you own a lot of videos, the story lines can affect who you become. If you buy pornography, that is going to affect you. If you are a book reader, the books you read will influence your outlook on life. If you own a half dozen cars, that will influence you.
   Tonight, I consider the influence of the gun. How does the gun shape a person's life? I believe it can take different directions, from influencing one person to become a murderer to influencing another to become a cop -- one outcome being bad, and the other good.
   Just as we often pick what our physical possessions will be, even so, we often can pick how they influence us.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

America could use a few more like Doc Adams and Dr. Jaoust

  Have you ever heard of Dr. Jaoust -- Dr. Thomas S. Jaoust? Of course you haven't because I just made him up. But, you might want to read about him, anyway.
  He's probably the only self-sustaining doctor in all of America. Now, when I say self-sustaining, I mean he sustains his medical practice all my himself: No nurses, no aides, no schedulers, no technicians.
   When you want to see Dr. Jaoust, you call him up. He makes the appointment himself. When you need an X-ray, he runs the X-ray machine himself. Now, if you were to take Doc Adams from Gunsmoke and bring him alive into our day, plopping him down with out explaining all the financial changes there have been, he might well open a practice just like the one Dr. Jaoust has.
   Doc Adams was the original Dr. Jaoust.
   Actually, this type of medicine was standard practice back then. The average doctor practiced medicine without an accompanying cast.
   So, what happened? And, has what happened been for the better? I'm guessing the average doctor sees maybe four patients an hour. That's a broad guess, and I'm probably off a little. But, four patients an hour is 32 a day and 32 a day is $960 a day if you're charging $30 a visit.
   Seems someone could make a pretty good living. I know Dr. Jaoust pulls in a lot of money. But, what is interesting here is why Dr. Jaoust does it this way: He's on a crusade to lower health-care costs. He figures that if he doesn't have to pay for appointment clerks, and nurses, and technicians, there's going to be some savings -- big savings.
   Before I get too far, I should mention that he doesn't take insurance. You walk into his office without that little encumbrance.
   Dr. Jaoust opened his practice back in 2007. It's 10 years later. You should think he's built up quiet a bit of saving from making $1,000 a day, but he hasn't. He's plowed the profits right back into his business. He's watched for discount medical equipment to go on the market -- MRI machines and such -- and he's purchased them. He's now got quite the collection. So, when you go into Dr. Jaoust's office and you need an MRI, he gives you one for free.
   Now, if the average MRI costs $2,600 and you pay no more than the $30 that it costs for the office visit, how much are your health-care costs going down?
   A lot. I'm not sure we couldn't use a few more Doc Adamses and Dr. Jaousts. A few more of these guys just might put a dent in America's outrageous medical bills.

(Indexes: Stories, health-care reform)


Monday, October 23, 2017

Regular MRIs would help Move Medicine into the 21st Century

   Have you had your semi-annual MRI?
   Yesterday, I suggested that full-body MRIs might be a small improvement to our medical system. Today, though, I change my mind. MRIs could be a very significant improvement. Look at what they can detect or help detect: Strokes, tumors, heart problems, pinched nerves, multiple sclerosis, and dementia. And, that's just a partial list. If patients received regular MRIs, many, many of our maladies would be diagnosed quicker. extending life and extending health.
  While many of us get an annual physical, I wonder that now we are in the 21st Century if we shouldn't be getting a semi-annual MRI, and I mean full-body MRI. The capacity for detecting health problems through an MRI is . . .
   Significant might not be strong enough of a word.
   Often, successful treatment of cancer depends on early detection. If we had MRIs every six months, how many more times would we catch the cancer? How many lives would we save? It is the same with other maladies: Catch them early and it makes a difference. So, if you think having an MRI every six months is a little much, think again. There is no harm to often MRIs, so do them often.
   Now, we both can guess why MRIs are not a common thing. They are too expensive. I understand the average cost of one -- before insurance kicks in -- is $2600. We should be pushing to get the price down, to make this great health tool affordable. Just like seeking a cure for cancer is a goal, so should be reducing the price of an MRI.
   The MRI should be the physical of the 21st Century. If we are to move medicine into the 21st Century, this is one of the things we should do.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Full-body Scans

   Tonight's suggested improvement of the health-care system is perhaps a small one: Do full-body MRIs.
   When a person gets an MRI, it targets a certain part of the body. I don't understand why, while we've got the MRI machine up and running, we don't get as much information as we can. At no extra cost. 
   I don't know whether an MRI machine has a limited number of hours in its life. If so, then perhaps there is reason for limiting the MRI to just part of the body. My thought, though, is that there shouldn't be much of an expense for keeping the machine running an extra few minutes in order to get a full-body scan. That way, you not only find what you are looking for, but you can look at the rest of the body to see if anything anywhere is amiss, perhaps finding something you aren't looking for that would therefore otherwise go undetected. 

Health-Care Reform? Bring Medicine into the 21st Century

   We could improve our health-care system in a hurry if we would just update it to the 21st Century. There are two extremely significant improvements we should make -- and one of them would be easy.
   Congress and the nation are considering reforming our health-care system. They are thinking in terms of individual mandate, insurance beyond state lines, whether someone should be on their parent's policies until age 26 or whatever, whether we should cut back on Medicaid, etc.
  I don't know why they don't think in terms of these two things I'm about to mention. They should. My thought is, you do what you can. These two changes might be the low-hanging fruit, improvements that are easy to implement. I don't know that they need to be done by government, though, as private institutions could implement them. 
  One, bring the Internet into the exam room. When the doctor or nurse asks the patient for the symptoms and background, feed those items directly into the computer. I would guess some doctors already do this in some fashion. But, I am rather sure most don't. I didn't witness it on my last visit.
  The computer then spits out a list of maladies the patient could be suffering.
   The second improvement? It might not be so easy. But, then again, maybe it would. Each time doctors receive new patients, they survey them extensively. How much do you sleep? What are the foods you commonly eat? How much do you worry? What causes you to worry? How much sleep do you get? Etc.
   Every 10 years or so, the patients would be re-surveyed. And, information would be entered from their visits on their health condition.
  With every person who has a doctor included in the survey, this would be an exhaustive survey. The computer would analyze the results, determining trends nationwide, such as: Do those who not eat sugar have fewer health problems? How do patients on almond milk differ from those using whole milk? A computer being a computer, it will be able to pick out trends you are not even asking it to look for.
 Opiods? Perhaps more patients are gainfully employed before they start taking them and it affects their employment. The computer will know. What about patients who choose not to take opiods? What other options are there? The computer can help us determine.
   With all the millions of people who could be analyzed this way, we might see significant medical advancements. With the computer making the analysis, and with most every person in the nation included, we should be able to determine causes and influences that we are missing due to our antiquated way of compiling and analyzing data.

Friday, October 20, 2017

If We would Reform Health Care, We must Hire more Doctors

   If we want health-care reform, we must hire more doctors, hire more medical technicians. In all the talk and all the plans and all the proposed legislation, has this been suggested?
   I'm not sure but what it isn't a key to a better health-care system.
   I went to the doctor today. I briefly described my problem, the doctor briefly listened, and quickly arrived at a tentative diagnosis. I left thinking what a great doctor I had happened upon, that he should be able to so quickly identify what my problem was.
  But, as I thought about it later, I realized there's a lot we didn't discuss. I was there because it is becoming difficult to walk, and he hadn't even had me walk that he should observe the problem.
  This is a common way with doctors' visits. Doctors whistle a patient in, do a hurried diagnosis, and then it's on to the next patient. We should have so many doctors, so many health-care workers, that each patient gets the necessary time and review.
   Did I mention that it was a little difficult to find a doctor to see me quickly? They were booked a week or two into the future. If we had enough doctors, that wouldn't have been the case.
   Quick access to a doctor is important. Giving doctors enough time to diagnose you is important. But, perhaps the biggest benefit to hiring more doctors is the economic impact. If we are going to operate our health-care system as a market-driven enterprise, then we surely should realize we need to re-instill the principles of economics.
   Supply and demand is one of them. It goes something like this: If the market is flooded, prices go down. But, if there is a shortage, prices can skyrocket. We surely can see we have sky-high medical costs. And, we surely should see we could use more doctors. Does it not occur to us that there might be a connection?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Has U.S. 'Lit the Wick of War"?

   The U.S. has "lit the wick of war," according to a North Korean official. The U.S. faces an "unimaginable strike at an unimaginable time," says a statement from North Korea.
  Idle threats, or dark images of what awaits? I don't know.
  But, obviously, we should be concerned. As of this writing, I am not coming up with definite ideas for what we should do. Bring them to the negotiation table? Perhaps, but even if we could get them there, would they keep on preparing to strike us even as they used negotiations to buy time in their preparations?
  Cut off their oil imports? I continue to think the quicker you cut off the oil imports, the quicker it will have an impact.
  A pre-emptive strike? Does the UN code of conduct even allow such? Do we even need to strike? Is our intelligence telling us it isn't necessary because the North Koreans cannot make good on their threats?

Is Russia a Threat to 2018 Midterm Elections?

  Just wonder whether the Intelligence Community is concerned with whether Russia will try to hack or influence our midterm elections, and I wonder what measures we are taking to avoid this.
  I thought I heard something on the radio about this. Word-searching, though, I find no current story.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

If Government had a Plan for Making the Rich Richer . . .

   It would seem the nation would rise up in astonishment and outrage if government planned to drop the tax rate for the richest 1 percent by 5.7 percent.
  I mean, if those making $25,000 were only going to get a 0.4 percent break and those making $48,600 were only going to receive a 0.8 percent break . . .
   And, if the top 0.1 percent were going to save $722,500 on their taxes each year . . . And, if the top 1 percent were going to save $129,000 . . .
   And, if those of us making $25,000 were only going to save $60 and those of us earning $48,600 were in line for just $290 in savings . . .
   The rich get richer, they say.
   And, what if we were to learn the tax cuts were to shrink across 10 years for everyone except the top 1 percent? That sure seems like government is going to make it look reasonably good for us when it rolls out the tax plan and we're watching, then government is going to erase much of our benefit down the line when it hopes we aren't looking.
   Would government really treat its people this way?
   Actually, government shouldn't be able to hoodwink us this way. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has released its analysis of the so-called "tax reform." It's all there. We should read it and weep, but we should read it.
   Such reports as the one from the Tax Policy Center place all we need to know right in front of us, leaving us to eye our government and ask just what it thinks it is doing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I'd ask Kaepernick the Hard Questions

   If I could sit down and interview Colin Kaepernick, I'd face him with questions like, Do you still consider Malcolm X a hero? What do you make of socialism? Malcolm X was a leader in the Nation of Islam at one time, and the Nation of Islam's beliefs went beyond equality. They believed in black supremacy. Do you think Malcolm believed that way to his death? How about you? How do you feel about black supremacy? Do you believe with Malcolm X that Christianity is "the white man's religion"?
  I'd ask a lot of similar questions of Malcolm X, if I could sit down with him.
  I believe Kaepernick still ascribes to the teachings of Malcolm. I love Kaepernick, the same, and admire him for standing up for what he believes is right. But, that doesn't mean I endorse everything about Kaepernick.
   I think while it is good to recognize good in people, we must be careful not do be overly affected by them, that we take in that which isn't good.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bless President Trump for Making these Calls

   If President Trump is alone among past presidents in making personal calls to the families of fallen soldiers, bless him. That is a laudable thing.
   And, if he is wrong -- if past presidents made such calls? I still see no big need to fault him for what he said.
  Nor do I fault past presidents. If they made no such calls, I see no fault in them.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Book of Mormon Speaks of Laws that became Corrupted

   The Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have a book of scripture I lean on. Today, I found in it a Book of Mormon passage that makes me wonder about one of our gun laws, and about our immigration law.
  First, what does Helaman 5:2 say? It says their laws were established by the voice of the people and at that time, those who chose evil were more numerous than those who chose righteousness, "for the laws had become corrupted."
  Likening the scripture unto our day, I wondered if any of our laws are corrupted -- are unjust laws.
   Our Stand Your Ground law can be beneficial, spelling out that we have the right to defend ourselves. I respect those who feel it a good law, but I have a different opinion. I fully agree a person has the right to defend themselves. It is the way this law was written that I have a problem with. I see it as a law that allows a person to kill almost at will as long as he says he was only acting in self defense. These laws are written so that if you say, " I did it in self defense; I was afraid for my life," and there is nothing to prove you are wrong, then the killing is counted as justified.
   I see much of the turmoil going on in our nation being caused by this unjust law.
   Our immigration law, it is suggested, keeps us from being overrun and overpopulated, and from having more people than we do who are just here to take advantage of our welfare programs. I respect that opinion, but do not share it. I believe the right thing is to let in those who come because they love America, and who come because they want to join family, and who come because they want to work by the sweat of their brow. It does seem to me that it is an unjust law that keeps them out.
   From my perspective of what is right and wrong, then, if I am to liken Helaman 5:2 to my time and this society, these are two of the corrupt laws we have placed on our books.
  These are things we might disagree on. It is wonderful of you to have an opinion, even if it doesn't correspond to mine. I think it not wrong that either of us turn to the scriptures for guidance, not only in our personal lives, but in all things, including public issues. Others of you say these laws are not wrong, are not corrupt. If you picked the laws you saw as being corrupt, as being wrong, you might well pick some that I support.
  Bless us both.

(Note: Blog was edited for content and changed a little 10/16/17.)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

When a Law gets in the Way of Justice, that Law isn't Just

   If you would revisit the shooting of Michael Brown, which sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and triggered the concern about police violence that embroils our nation today, then turn to the recent shooting of Patrick Harmon on the streets of Salt Lake City.
  Patrick Harmon is Michael Brown, circa 2017.  Brown's shooting was August of 2014 as he fled a police officer.  Harmon's shooting was August of 2017, also as he fled police. Small protests resulted in Salt Lake City, but nothing at all close to what took place in Ferguson.
   Harmon's shooting did not attract as much national attention as it could have. If it had happened in the wake of the shooting and rioting in Ferguson, it surely would have attracted a bigger spotlight.
  The district attorney cleared Clinton Fox, the officer who shot Harmon, of charges.
   I've watched the video. I agree with those who say the shooting was not justified. He was running away. He was shot in the back.
   But, we have a law that will justify his killing. Our Stand Your Ground law is worded so that if a person says he fears for life, then he is justified in shooting and killing the other person. Harmon reportedly had a knife; reportedly verbally threatened the officers; reportedly was turning to use the knife even as he was gunned down. Officer Fox told investigators that in ten years of law enforcement and two military deployments, it was the scariest situation he has been in.
   Many of you also have seen the video and read the news stories, and believe the shooting was justified. I disagree, strongly. The officer yelled that he was going to shoot him, which appears to have been more of an announcement than a warning to stop. You would need to slow down the jumpy video to see if Harmon reached down in his pocket to pull out a knife while he was fleeing, but, I question that. Here's why: They were in the process of cuffing him when he bolted and it was few seconds later when he was shot. If they became aware he had a knife while he was running, it was a quick exchange and does not change the fact he was not in position to use it without first changing the direction he was headed.
   When killing is unnecessary -- and I do not see it as being necessary in this case -- I believe it wrong. Even when you have a law that says it is just.
   The law doesn't mean the shooting was just, it means the law is unjust.
   I understand the officer's superiors stand behind him, arguing that they are trained to respond quickly in such situations, and that what officer Fox did was in line with the training. You may disagree -- bless you, the same -- but I cannot but believe that if officers are being trained to kill in such a situation, their training is amiss.

(Note: Blog added to and edited for content 10/15/17)

Friday, October 13, 2017

If You Would have Nine Lives, Keep these Nine Rules

    The rules of living long:
   1. Never fear, never worry. Do not take to worrying for your job, for your health, or for lack of friendship. One of the most severe forms of worrying is guilt. So, do not be given to beating yourself up. The person who conducts himself without reproach will have an advantage, not having anything to feel guilty of. The person who is not proud will have an advantage, not having any perch to fall from. But, even a sinner might pass the test of never worrying, if he (or she) has no guilt for what they do.
   2. Keep yourself healthy. I guess this one goes unsaid. But, the same, get yourself treated for infectious diseases, and take those screenings for cancer.
   3. Avoid unnecessary pollutions. If you live near a hazardous material, move. Don't smoke. I don't know where you draw the line on air pollution and such, but I know taking harmful substances into our bodies is, well, harmful.
   4. Sing in the sunshine. Be happy, be pleasant, be upbeat. Life springs from our attitudes. Death gathers where gloom sets in. I guess this rule piggybacks on Rule 1, but it goes beyond it.
   5. Do not become overweight. Maybe I'm just guessing, but I believe fewer overweight people live long lives.
   6. Have something to live for. Life feeds on purpose. If you have no purpose, you will lose your vitality. Whether you gather value in your life from the love given you by others, or whether you gain it from achieving things, you must see purpose in continuing to live or your mind will conclude life is not worth it.
   7. As a corollary to Rule 6, stay active, involved in projects, and in just doing things. It has been said an idle mind is the devil's workshop. Well, an idle mind is also the grim reaper's funeral room. Always have something scheduled, so death has less of an opening to make an appointment. More horses die in the barn than in the harness. (Well, that sounds good, but who knows. Still, though it might not be literally true, the principle behind it is true.)
   8. Put your trust and faith in God. I don't know whether religious people live longer or not. But, I do know God is the source of blessings. I do know he is all powerful. Be of the mindset that you do not fear death if God would have you go there, but that you will pray and ask for his mercy to remain here on earth.
   9. Never quit improving and never quit repenting. One of the reasons we are on earth is to overcome our sins and become better people. As long as we are doing that, then, there is reason for staying down here. I don't know for sure that God will let us continue as long as we are improving, but it has served for me as a hopeful strategy.

(Indexes: Long life, health, quotes)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What are the Odds on a Depressed Gambler becoming a Killer?

   If you know gambling addiction leads to depression, and you know Stephen Paddock suffered from depression . . . and, if you haven't established a motive . . .
  Of course you should look into whether his gambling ways were a factor in turning him into the monster who killed so many people. Talk to the escort who reportedly said that after big wins from the casinos, he would take her for violent sex. Do the casinos keep records of their clients' gambling histories? Perhaps not, but, if they do, those records should be looked at and matched with the prostitute's memory of when he wanted violent sex.
  Of course his gambling might have factored into his depression, and that depression could have factored into what he did. Of course it should be investigated. We know depressed gamblers sometimes commit suicide. But not everyone reacts to depression the same. If it can lead to suicide, it can lead to murder.
   That being so, it does not seem so unlikely a depressed gambler would eventually turn to mass murdering. Whether Paddock was the one, it seems even of good odds that sooner or later, a depressed gambler will turn into a killer.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Are We Healthier without Semiautomatics?

   The weapon. Run down the list of mass shootings, if you will. Notice that the semiautomatic is used time after time. That goes unsaid. You've noticed it, yourself.
   And, notice how often the guns were obtained legally. A Washington Post article counts all the weapons the killers had in their arsenals (not just the ones actually used in the shootings). We don't know how all the guns were obtained, but of the ones we do know of, 164 guns were obtained legally and only 39 illegally.
   Whether we make them legal, then, perhaps does seem to affect how often they will be used in mass shootings. 
   The weapon? Now, you would ask if we should ban semiautomatics.
   We've already banned automatics. Do we stretch a step further and ban semiautomatics, as well? This is not completely new territory. We banned a good share of assault (semiautomatic) weapons from 1994 to 2004. 
   One thought? We are already ignoring the Constitution. It says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
   But, we cannot help but look at the statistics and wonder if we would not be a healthier society if semiautomatics were not legal.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

If You Outlaw Automatics, it doesn't Mean only Outlaws will have them

   Enter the fully automatic weapon as evidence that the principle, "If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns," is wrong.
   Automatics are illegal. And, criminals don't have them. If there are criminals who do, they are extremely few, even as there are extremely few people, in general, who have them. (Only automatics made before 1986 are legal.) More, I have not heard of people being murdered with automatics. I read somewhere on the Internet that there might be only one murder involving an automatic.
   The bump-fire stock used in Las Vegas essentially turned a semiautomatic into an automatic. Bump-fires stocks were legalized in 2010. Only seven years later, they were used in the worst mass shooting in modern American history, a testament that if certain weapons are legal, they will be more likely to be used in mass murders.

I added a second verse:

 In the days of dusk
Or the dawn of a dream
 We rally together 
And face life as a team

Tragedy and triumph
Both make us friends
 We lay aside difference
And make our amends

Monday, October 9, 2017

 In the days of the dusk
Or the dawn of a dream
 We rally together
And face life as a team

(Indexes: Poem, Poetry)

I would Write an Anthem

   I would like to write an anthem. But, I can see I'm not up to the task. So, instead, I will just tell you what I would write, if I could write this anthem.
  It would take in both sides of the NFL national anthem controversy. It would express love, respect and honor for the principles of freedom and of equality. It would note that these are the things that make America great. And, when America's got them, she's great. And, when she doesn't, she's not.
  It would be patriotic. It would be uniting. It would be a song both sides could sing.
  This is not to say the "Star-Spangled Banner" is not a song both sides can sing. It is only to say the song I wish I could write would voice the concerns of those who are kneeling for the anthem without going against anything those who oppose the kneelings believe.

For Shess is Quiet

Wishing is wistful
You spend the moment in the heatherlock of time
Wisdom is wanton
You cast a marrow beyond the march

But, I've always waited for gannet space
For fair-paced pennies that fly
And dimes that carry spindles
Inside of every curve that bounces from the curse

So stop
Prevent the hypnosardonical, appro-apparacio
From catching itself in the spoonfilled moonflow of Shess
For Shess is quiet
And neither trusts nor counts the waves

(Note: It sure is easy to write poetry if it doesn't have to make sense, nor rhyme. So it is with life. It can be fun to live life without rhyme or reason, but if you are to have any purpose to your life, you must give meaning to your words and actions.)

(Note about the note: Changed 10/10/17)

(Indexes: poetry, poem, nonsense, wisdom)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Is Boycotting their Games the Right thing to do?

   The nation (or some of it) has a message for the NFL players: Conform to our code of conduct, or we will no longer associate with you. We will boycott your games.
   Bless those who feel this way. They mean only to support America, and to support the flag that represents America, and to support the wishes of their president. Bless them for those things.
   But, I wonder if it is better to love all people, even those who disagree with you. The essence of love is acceptance. We don't have to agree with them to love them, but we do pretty much need to accept them for who they are without requiring them to be like us. We do need to accept their right to have opinions that don't agree with ours if we are to love them. Telling them we will no longer associate with them is not showing love and is not showing tolerance for the beliefs of others.
   If we would compel them to believe as we do, if we would fire them for having a different opinion, or shun them by boycotting them, we are not showing love. Nor are we living by the principles on which America was founded. When our flag flies, it flies as an emblem of free speech, and of free expression of opinion. We would condemn them for not standing for the flag? They could reply that we are not standing up for that which the flag represents.
   If we are to practice both the principles of Christianity and of America, perhaps we should not reject the NFL players just because of their beliefs, perhaps we should not fire them, nor boycott their games.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

By 2015, Gun Checkpoints were Common

  As each person passed through the door at Walmart, they then passed through a metal detector. On school yards, each day people entered the school, they also went through a metal detector.
  It was 2025, and America had arrived at this point. It was a long-spent day from when Stephen Paddock, perched 34 floors up in a hotel, showered bullets down on a country music festival, killing 58 before taking his own life. Twenty-three guns were found in his hotel suite, leaving many wondering why there had been no security to spot him bringing so many weapons into his room.
  That stark day had been followed by others. More school shootings. More attacks in malls. One shooting targeted a line at an election location. "Who is for Bobby McGivens?" The shooter shouted, before mowing down everyone in the line.
  And, so it came to this: metal detectors popping up at public places throughout the country. People became used to them, not thinking it such a great inconvenience to pass through them everywhere they went.
   Note: Though I write this in story form, the point is that we should consider such widespread use of metal detectors. Instead of going through mass murder after mass murder and doing nothing about it, at some juncture we need to consider what can be done, and do something. And, if this is something we should do, we shouldn't wait until 2025.
   Perhaps, after giving it thought, we would decide against such checkpoints. I only say we should consider them. It would be good if there were public debate on this at this time.
   I should also note that everyone going through a gun checkpoint would not be required to surrender their gun. But, the check would reveal that guns were on the property, and security officers could tail that person as he (or she) was in the building.

These Guns are already Banned in America

   Surprise, America, your guns have already been taken. If it is the gun used most on the battlefield, its banned.
   You speak of how a well-regulated militia is necessary for the security of a free state, and how, therefore, we cannot ban guns. Which guns would you be using if you were to fight in such a militia, if you were to fight in the military? Well, which ones? Wouldn't that be the machine guns?
   They're illegal, have been, for more than 30 years, at the least.
   And, nobody had to pry them from your cold, hard hands. You put up no such fight.
   If you are to own a fully automatic weapon, it must have been made before 1986. So, yes, there are some automatics out there, legally, but, not many.
   Semi-automatics? Across the U.S., they generally remain legal. They, too, could be used in war settings. So, do we say that as long as we don't outlaw them, we maintain our gun-totting rights, and the Second Amendment has not been violated? Or, do we say that if we can ban machine guns without violating the Second Amendment, then we can ban semi-automatics, and rid ourselves of them, as well?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

When the Next Mass Shooting came, the Founding Father came back

  The founding father was back, for the next mass shooting. I watched him as he walked among the dead, leaning over each body, weeping.
  I followed for a while, saying nothing. Then I ventured, "It's kind of you to be here, and kind of you to be so concerned about those who have died."
  He grimaced. "In a way, maybe, this is being laid at my feet," he said.
  "How so?" I asked, in surprise.
   "The Constitution was -- is -- a wonderful document, and the Bill of Rights is, of course, part of that," he said.
   I nodded my head.
   "It was inspired," he said. "I am grateful to our Creator for that."
   I nodded, again.
   Then, he quoted, again, the Second Amendment. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
   Slowly, I nodded my head.
   "Now," he said, "if those words are inspired, you can't really bring about what your generation has come to call, 'gun control,' can you? You would be afraid to do that. You wouldn't dare."
   Thoughtfully, I nodded.
    "So, am I to be blamed for this?" He stretched out his hand out at the bodies before us.
    I shook my head.
    He sighed. "If we, your founding fathers, were here, do you think we'd have this all figured out?"
    I shook my head, but only because I could see that's what he was driving at. "No," I whispered.
   "We'd be in the same boat as you. We'd have to figure out what to do."
    I nodded.
   "Some of us might think one way, and some of us the other -- same as you," he said.
   He paused, a steeled look crossing into his eyes. As he spoke, he emphasized each word, knowing what he was saying might come as a shock to me. "We would want to consider if some forms of weaponry should be banned."
   He sighed. The steeled look in his eyes disappeared. "Oh, forgive me. Yes, I would consider this thing you call 'gun control. But, I do not know whether the others would -- or how far they would be willing to go."
   I had quit nodding. Now, I stood perfectly still, my head as if frozen, my eyes staring back at him.
   "If we were here," he said, "many of us would want to consider everything: Who should have guns, and if there can there be too many. All the questions that you face, we would also face. Your generation has said we were wise. Well, this is the nature of being wise: You consider all things, and you consider both sides. Wisdom doesn't come prepackaged. You either put in the effort to think things out, or you go with your biases and do without wisdom. You don't arrive at wisdom without thinking a matter through."
   I swallowed, pursed my own lips, and thought to myself, "Speaking of wisdom, the words you just barely uttered are wise." I didn't say it out loud.
   He smiled.
    "Consider well what I have said," he offered. "If the founding fathers were here, they -- we -- would have to consider these things, same as you, for if we didn't weigh and consider them, we could no longer be considered wise -- and, if you are to be wise, you must do the same."
   He smiled, again, then he continued, "You have some hard things to do -- a lot to consider. And, if you end up deciding to place restrictions on guns, what will you do? Will you rewrite the Second Amendment? I'm sure that is a difficult question, for if you don't change up the Second Amendment, you will, indeed, be ignoring the Constitution."
   He paused. I nodded.
   "You might be stuck with what we gave you. There might not be the political bravery to change even one word of the Second Amendment.
   He looked again at the bodies scattered across the floor. "You see why I say this is being left at our feet -- why, in a way, I and the others are being left to blame for all this?"
(Note: Blog rewritten 10/7/17)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Founding Father would give Me no Answer

  I saw one of the founding fathers walking through the carnage of our latest mass shooting. I was sure I recognized him.
  "Excuse me, sir, aren't you . . ."
   He cut me off.
   "If you would be so kind," he said, "please do not utter my name -- no, not at this time."
   He looked shaken. He looked humbled. His eyes passed along the floor, bodies strewn everywhere. It occurred to me that I was in a make-believe world, for there were no ambulances picking up the dead, no police running everywhere. There was just me, the founding father . . .
   And, the dead.
   The founding father gazed at the dead, then swung his head back to me. He didn't say anything, though, just sat there, and after a moment, I realized he was waiting for me to say something.
  "Okay," I offered. "I suppose if I were ever to have a moment with one of the founding fathers of our country . . . at a time like this . . ."
   I broke off for a moment, then continued. "I suppose I would ask him about the Second Amendment -- I suppose I would."
   He glanced down at the floor, then looked back up. He thought for a while, then said, "Well, I know they say we were inspired. And, I don't doubt it. We wrote a wonderful document."
  Both of our eyes left each other for a moment, and together we gazed over the carnage.
  "Of course, we didn't envision this," he said.
   It was quiet for a moment, then he repeated the words of the Second Amendment. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
   Our eyes were fixed on each other now, considering together the issue at hand.
   "You are going to have to go ahead on your own on this matter," he said. "Though, I suppose if I wanted, I could offer some advice. I could tell you whether we would change the Second Amendment, whether we would take weapons of mass destruction out of everyone's hands."
   He was quiet for a while, then he continued. "If a nation is to survive, it cannot live on the wisdom of the past, alone. It must add to what it has been given, wisdom of its own. Your times are peculiar to you, your challenges and issues are different than ours."
   He paused, again, then said: "If I were to come back from the dead -- a ghost, if you will -- and tell you what to do, that would defeat the way it needs to be done. We can't hold your hand. You've got to learn to make your own decisions. You are big boys, big girls. You have the capability to think. You can see your problems and challenges. Surely you ought to realize you simply need to think this through, and decide what is wise . . .
   "And do it."
   Suddenly, I noticed his image and the image of the dead strewn on the floor was growing dim. "We may have been wise," he said, "but these times are not ours, they are yours. You might borrow on our wisdom, but in the end, you will  find you are much on your own. If you are to survive, your wisdom must equal that of the past."
  With that, the final traces of the images disappeared. He was gone. The bodies were gone. Even the building was gone. And, I was left standing in an empty field.
   Feeling very much alone.

(Index: Story) 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Gun is not My Hero

   The gun is not my hero. 
   Oh, I know of the good it can do, and the lives it can save, and the justice it can exact. And, I consider that perhaps a free nation needs its guns.  
   But, the gun was created to create death. Should I not limit how much I honor such a tool? If it were to become necessary for me to take it in my hands, I would do so grudgingly, knowing the only purpose I would have for it would be to kill someone.
   Such a tool will not become too close of a friend, nor will I allow it to become my hero.