Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Caffeine at BYU?!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or the Mormons) has a health code known as The Word of Wisdom. It is found in Section 89 of the LDS publication known as the Doctrine and Covenants. One vers refers to "hot drinks", interpreted as coffee and tea.
And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly. -- Doctrine & Covenants, 89:9

The general consensus is that this restriction is due to the addictive component of these drinks: caffeine -- not necessarily the "hot" temperature itself.

The world is flooded with caffeinated soft drinks -- which are served cold -- not hot. A substantial portion of faithful members of the LDS church consume these soft drinks every day, usually several times per day. Some even confess (brag about) their addiction to caffeine.

The Church has never issued a formal statement that consumption of caffeinated soft drinks violate the Word of Wisdom. Consumers of caffeinated coffee and tea are considered not worthy to enter LDS temples. Consumers of caffeinated sodas are considered worthy. Dunno why there is a double standard or why many consider caffeine in soda to be okay, but caffeine in "hot drinks" is bad.

LDS owned and operated Brigham Young University (BYU) has long restricted the sale of caffeinated soft drinks on campus. In September, this restriction was lifted. No announcement was made as to whether the Church now deems consumption of addictive caffeine is good or whether the Church capitulated to pressure. A capitulation reminds me of the case where the Lord capitulated to Joseph Smith and Martin Harris, resulting in the loss of 116 pages of the Book of Mormon transcript. The Lord essentially said no, no, then, okay do what you want and see what happens.

I grew up in Utah, but military life had me living outside of Utah for 26 years. During those years outside Utah, I never saw a member of the LDS church with a caffeinated drink. On my return to "Zion" 17 years ago, I was shocked to see a large portion of my fellow "Saints" flaunting their consumption of caffeine. I've even seen caffeinated drinks purchased from the ward budget and served at church functions -- even youth activities!

How am I supposed to counsel my children, grand children, and the young men I work with in the Aaronic priesthood to avoid addictive substances when they see their parents and their priesthood leaders defiantly and proudlly consuming caffeine?

Sure, the church hasn't taken a formal stand on caffeinated sodas. But, should they have to? Consider this:
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefor he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness. -- D&C 58:25-26

As Dennis Miller says, "Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong."

Friday, October 6, 2017

Firearms and mental health

Regarding how to prevent mass shootings, a friend and former coworker asked the following:
What I'm asking here is your take on Pollard who seems to have followed all the rules obtaining his weapons. Apparently his modifications were not obtained illegally. He was an educated man who held professional employment positions and reputedly was of some wealth. He was not a felon and lived in a gated community. By all external appearances he was a "good" guy up until he crossed the line. Until that time he might have shared your argument with some validity. But, then what happened? What happened to make a difference? This was the question I posed to you Blaine years ago. Now we have the reality of the what if my question back then. The inanimate object in the hands of the law abiding citizen until the moment he became a law breaker. What happened? What do we do now?

My answer:

We can't know much about what went on in his mind that led to the shooting because that mind didn't have a flight recorder. We do know that he was taking a psychotropic drug (Valium) to treat anxiety. Such drugs have known, dangerous side effects (confusion, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger, thoughts of suicide or hurting oneself, hyperactivity, agitation, aggression, hostility, restlessness, irritability). Adverse symptoms can be precipitated or exaggerated upon withdrawal. (We give that crap to our children to drug them into factory-like uniformity.) It was reported on Thursday that his girlfriend said some of his behaviors were troubling.

I am opposed to denying a person of any rights solely because that person is under treatment for mental health issues unless due process of law is taken to ensure his/her rights are protected. A blanket, arbitrary denial of everyone who takes Valium would discourage those who need help from seeking/accepting help.

However, even mild mental illness should be sufficient notice to friends, family, coworkers, physicians, therapists, etc. to watch a bit more closely for signs of danger and to intervene before the illness is out of control. Adequate signs of imminent danger were manifest in every mass-shooting incident I know of. Nobody did anything to stop it.

We cannot ban objects simply because they might be abused by someone. Likewise, we cannot arbitrarily imprison anyone who hasn't committed a crime, but has the potential to do so. In both cases, we can and should take steps to eliminate risk. In the case of objects that can be abused, we offer/require training and limit use of those objects to persons who are competent (eg, driving a vehicle after reaching a certain age or driving sober). In the case of persons, we impose background checks and age limits for firearm purchases (which the Las Vegas shooter obviously passed) to identify persons with documented dangerous and irresponsible behaviors and we must watch those around us for incipient behavioral problems and get that person help while treatment is still easy. At some point, after due process of law, we sometimes need to lock people up for treatment until behavioral problems are resolved.

We are our brother's keeper. As airmen, we do that for our fellow crew-members when they deviate from established standards in the cockpit. We need to do that for family and friends in everyday life too. The Las Vegas (Aurora, Austin, Charleston, Columbine, Ft. Hood, Luby's Cafeteria, Pulse Night Club, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Umpqua, Virginia Tech, etc.) shooter needed that help, and didn't get it.

Another safety step I take is personal avoidance of gun-free zones -- places where only dangerous people have guns. The venue for Sunday night's concert and surrounding casinos are examples.

Caveat: Although I have a graduate degree in counseling, I am not a practicing or licensed mental health therapist nor am I an attorney. I don't pretend to be either on TV.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

On Banning inanimate objects

The Las Vegas shooter is reported to have had several bump-fire stocks. The typical knee-jerk reaction is a call to do away with "bump" stocks. I suggest the best way to make bump-stocks go away is by working aggressively to have the unconstitutional federal firearm acts of 1927, 1934, 1938, 1968, 1972, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 1999, and 2008 (ya got enough government yet?) immediately rescinded. If we get that done, there will be absolutely no incentive for anyone to go to the bother to find the loopholes in those laws.

Now, even the NRA says it's willing to "talk" about "bump" stocks. The NRA seems unaware that the ATF, under the anti-gun Obama administration approved "bump" stocks. Regardless, I don't need a "bump" stock to bump-fire any semi-auto firearm. All the "bump" stock does is make bump-firing significantly safer.

The NRA says it's willing to compromise on a firearm safety device!

There is no room whatsoever for compromise on gun rights. We've already lost far too much. (Compromise with tyranny and evil always moves in the direction of tyranny and evil. Always.)

An attack on any segment of the responsible firearms community (including those who own/use "bump" stocks) is an attack on the entire firearms community -- even it that attack comes from within. (Anyone ever hear of Jim Zumbo?)

The NRA's leadership, of all people, should know that.

I am the NRA and I vote. I even vote in the elections to determine who will sit on the NRA Board of Directors. I will remember today's statement from the NRA the next time I vote therein.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The only effective way to implement gun control

Late on Sunday, October 1, 2017, a cowardly madman fired into a crowd of some 22,000 people at an open-air concert in Las Vegas. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured.

Naturally, the call for "reasonable" gun control immediately surfaced. (That call is a tacit admission that none of the 20,000+ gun-control laws already on the books are "reasonable" or effective.)

There is only one way to prevent this sort of tragedy: Simultaneous, instant, complete, 100% confiscation and destruction of all arms -- whether owned by civilians, police, military, or by gun-prohibitionists and their body guards.

Note that the US alone has hundreds of millions of civilian-owned arms (nearly all of which are used safely and responsibly).

How does one execute said confiscation?
• By simultaneously searching every inch of the world -- including in the closets, crawlspaces, and under the beds and carpets of gun prohibitionists.
• It'll require metal detector sweeps of yards, farm fields, and public lands to find any buried arms.
• We'll all (yes, even gun-prohibitionists and other children) be simultaneously marched through metal detectors and strip-search x-ray machines to find arms concealed on the body.
• Every barn, business, shed and vehicle will need to be searched (yes, even those possessed by gun prohibitionists).
• Children, spouses, cohabitants, coworkers, relatives, and neighbors will be required, maybe even bribed, to report any and all suspected possession of arms.
• All these searches will need to be repeated at least daily and forever to identify clandestine manufacture and acquisition of arms.
• Each and every piece of property must be searched simultaneously to catch the movement of arms from one location to another.
• Ironically, the necessarily massive force of searchers will be armed with hundreds of millions of firearms -- for their own safety, of course.

Total, instant, and simultaneous confiscation is the only way to disarm the people. I guarantee it will result in war. When it comes to intrusion on their own person and property, not even the most ardent gun-prohibitionist would tolerate what has to be done to satisfy their own goal.

If the Duchess of Chappaqua, the Indian princess from Massachusetts, the two senators from California, Space Man Mark Kelly, and the widow of Reagan's press secretary who took a head-shot shot in the gun-free zone known as Washington DC have a better plan for disarmament, I'd like to see it.

BTW, anyone who has ever smoked an illicit joint has no standing to call for prohibition of anything.

"While the desire to prevent atrocities like the one committed in Las Vegas is both understandable and good, it is impossible to have a reasoned discussion on the best ways to prevent mass attacks when emotions, rather than facts, are the foundation for debate." —Sean Davis

Emotion is a terrible way to make law or policy.

Roots of [gun] violence

Violence (gun or otherwise) has several roots:

• Selfishness
• Mental illness
• A mass "news" media that chooses to profit more from stirring up anger, divisiveness, and hatred than from simply reporting the news
• Broken and dysfunctional families -- especially families with no father
• Gangs
• Devaluing life to the point where the daily slaughter of 3,000 unborn children is normal (almost always for the mere convenience of one or both parents)
• Shameless, calculated destruction of entities that attempt to teach good values (eg churches, Boy Scouts, families)
• Harmful drugs and the "war on drugs"
• Diagnosing children with ADHD, then drugging them into factory-like uniformity with drugs known to have violent behavior as a side effect
• Government schools that are better at indoctrination than education
• Politicians who prohibit/mandate things/activities they know nothing about
• Dependence on a welfare/police state combined with ironic disrespect for authority
• Rejection of God in individual lives, families, communities, schools, and the nation as a whole
• Etc.

All of those problems are tough to fix. Blaming an inanimate object and responsible persons who own such objects is easier -- the lazy coward's way out.

"While the desire to prevent atrocities like the one committed in Las Vegas is both understandable and good, it is impossible to have a reasoned discussion on the best ways to prevent mass attacks when emotions, rather than facts, are the foundation for debate." —Sean Davis

Emotion is a terrible to make law or policy.