Sunday, June 23, 2013

Our growing family and other topics

Me with Joey (L) and Ryker (R)
1. Benghazi.  A number of scandals are coming to light involving the Obama administration, but the greatest one in my mind is the fact -- and there can be no other reasonable interpretation of the administration's actions or inaction -- that it willingly sacrificed an ambassador, and other diplomatic, intelligence, and military personnel stationed in Libya, in order to try to advance or preserve the perception that Al-Qaida and its affiliates had been rendered inoperative and unable to strike at America or its interests abroad.  And the attempt to lay the blame at the feet of a would-be filmmaker, and thereby absolve the attackers of responsibility for their bestial actions, only compounds the shame (or lack thereof, depending on your viewpoint).  It isn't likely that anyone important will lose his/her job over it  -- Democrats still get a pass for even the most transparent lies and the most venal of actions -- but thank goodness we live in an age when the availability of information makes it harder for a government agency or official to perpetuate such blatant lies.

2. Kermit Gosnell.  Yeah, so "Doctor" Gosnell was convicted on murder charges, possibly more so for the woman he over-anesthetized, and then allowed to expire, than for the late-term fetuses he killed after they managed to be born alive.  Not only is he the logical reductio of an abortion culture that abhors the least bit of regulation, but he naturally raises the question how different, really, his shop was from any number of "women's health" clinics still in operation.  Any provider with a conscience would do a fair bit of soul-searching.

3. "No sin too great."  I've noticed that the LDS Church has now taken the tack, with regard to trying to re-activate "less active" members, of emphasizing that no sin is so great as to be beyond the reach of Christ's Atonement.  In other words, even grievous sins can be repented of and should not prevent members from coming back into the fold, as it were.  What's missing here, however, is the fact that for many formerly active members, the barrier isn't one of great sin, but, merely, the fact that they have concluded that they can never be "good enough" and that it's pointless to try.  To assume that inactivity necessarily results from serious transgression is extremely myopic in my view (no pun intended); more and more, I ponder the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians, Chapter 2:
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
The flip side to Verse 9, of course, is "...lest any man should despair and esteem himself as naught," which describes a lot of Mormons like me.

4. Ken Burns's Jazz.  I recently watched Ken Burns' documentary miniseries Jazz, which was first broadcast on PBS in 2001.  I had enjoyed watching Burns's earlier piece The Civil War, and when Costco in Albuquerque stocked several of Burns's films, I decided to buy Jazz.  Overall, I was a little disappointed in it, as it struck me as depressing, discordant, chronologically confusing, and overlong.  (I also have to confess disappointment in the fact that Burns essentially ignored jazz guitar soloists, with the exception of Django Reinhardt, the great two-fingered French gypsy jazz guitarist -- and even he only came up in a discussion of jazz's being part of a cultural resistance to the Nazi occupation of France during WWII.)  One thing that came across very well, however, is the fact that jazz music gradually became too academic -- too abstruse -- for its own good.  When any literary or artistic expression becomes inaccessible to the masses -- and, remember that swing, an outgrowth of early jazz, was once by far the most-popular form of American dance music -- it runs a great risk of being diminished, regardless of its objective merits.  Modern jazz was instrumental in the rise of soul music and rock 'n' roll, and popular music has never been the same.

[Update 7/11/13: I've re-watched most of Jazz and have noted that there is actually a fair bit about Charlie Christian, the first guitarist credited with using an electric guitar in a jazz setting.  I'm not surprised that I missed it on the first go-round, however.]

5. Prescription Meds.  I finally stopped taking Amlodipine, as it didn't seem to be affecting my blood pressure at all but did appear to make me more sluggish than usual.  I contemplated quitting Sertraline/Zoloft, too, as I was starting to feel more "dis-equilibrated" and unsteadier on the treadmill.  My doctor instead suggested upping my daily dose from 100 mg to 150 mg, but that really seemed to throw me for a loop.  Right now I'm having a lot of difficulty exercising at the gym, and I can't help but attribute it in part to my regimen of prescription medications.  I'd love to be able to get off all of them!

6. Nicole.  Our oldest granddaughter, Nicole, has graduated from high school now, and she's been admitted to Brigham Young University in Provo, UT.  Recently she received  a Dell "AVID" scholarship -- she was the only recipient of such a scholarship from New Mexico this year  -- which will pay most or all of her tuition at BYU.  With a little more FAFSA grant money, she should pretty much have her college paid for.  Having spent more than a little time in the hospital (for "j-pouch" surgeries in treatment for her FAP), Nicole aspires to become a nurse out of a desire to help people with similar afflictions.  Nicole is a beautiful, good, and smart girl, and she deserves all the good things that have happened to her in the last year.

7. New grandsons.  Both Kiley and Kristy have had their little boys now.  Kiley and Sam have named their little boy "Joseph," and will call him Joey -- partly an Australia reference (inasmuch as a kangaroo baby is a "joey"), a nod to Kiley's trip down under with the Albuquerque Youth Symphony in 2009.  Kristy and Chris have named their little boy "Ryker," a name I'd previously only heard in reference to a prison in New York.  (Just kidding -- I like the name.)  Both babies are adorable!