Monday, December 28, 2009

Sports: Monday Sports Roundup

Without question, the biggest sports story has to be the Urban Meyer situation.

Aside from being a sports story of a coach at a highly successful football program at U of Florida, it is a human story of what matters in life.

What would you do?

Would you keep a job you really love but it subtracts from the total number of years you will live and impose health risks during the years you are alive?

Would you choose a high level of success but burn both ends of the candle or less success but have a life closer to "normal?"

In more routine sports stories, last year's Super Bowl champion Steelers still alive in playoff hunt.

Lakers bounce back from being embarrassed by the Cavs on Christmas day.

The PAC10 is 1-2 in bowl games so far. Tomorrow, this Bruin fan will be hoping they come out strong and salvage some pride for UCLA and the Pac10.

Howland's Bruin basketballers took care of business.

Of the seven losses, four (Kansas, Butler, Notre Dame and Mississippi State) were probably expected given the lowered expectations of this year's edition of bball. But the losses to Fullerton, Portland and Long Beach were pathetic.

But with the departure of Drew Gordon, the team may have added by subtraction with all the other players having to step up. This is especially true of freshman Reeves Nelson who has gotten those minutes and shown more heart than the more talented but erratic Gordon.

Roll, a long time 6-7th man, has stepped up as a senior to offer leadership on the team. Malcolm Lee may turn out to be the best of the so far disappointing recruiting class of 2008 (Holiday left for the NBA and isn't do much there, Gordon left the team, Anderson is the current turnover prone point guard and Morgan has modest minutes from the bench).

The keys appears to be the development of Anderson and Honeycutt. UCLA has had solid point guard play the last handful of years. However, Anderson has shown himself turnover prone but if he can play more under control, he could prove to be a valuable piece in turning the season around. Honeycutt is the top recruit from the 2009 class and if he can fully recover from his injury and plug into the team, the Bruins could make it into the top half of the Pac10 which would be a solid accomplishment considering the talent level of this current group and attrition to the NBA from last year's team.

Go Bruins!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Devotional Thoughts: foreigners here in reverent fear

Continuing on ...

Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

What jumps out at you?

For me ...

"foreigners here in reverent fear"

and

"chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times."

I think one of the struggles of living out the Christian faith is finding the healthy tension between recognizing a higher calling (we belong to God) which leads us to be foreigners yet not become isolated from this present life in the process.

As an ethnic minority, I have experienced some of that "foreign-ness" in that there is sometimes not full acceptance by the majority culture. Some differences are innocuous and fall into the realm of mere "taste" or "preference." But some differences are real values clashes.

If we are living out the Christian faith, there will be times we feel like "foreigners." For example, today, there is a very aggressive strand of atheism that views Christians as intellectually deficient and the source of many problems in society. For less aggressive atheists, they view Christians as odd people but tolerable as long as they don't say too much.

Because of this, it will be easy to retreat to one's own enclaves.

But, of course, the life of Jesus and his message calls us to influence the lives of others by demonstrating love, calling people to turn back to God and building bridges. Thus, the temptation to retreat to a private precinct is to be resisted.

Its mind blowing to consider "chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times."

The mission of Jesus was planned before the creation of the world? Whoa.

As humans, we think in linear time: creation of world --> fall of humanity --> Jesus.

This passage says that Jesus was chosen to the sacrificial lamb before the creation... before the fall ... before it was necessary (in our sense of linear time)!

Jesus, as the sacrificial lamb, at that moment in human history, is effective not just for those in the first century but for us in the 21st century and for that matter for all time?!

And in God's time line, Jesus' revelation is "the last times."

People sometimes object to the Christian faith because it isn't rational.

In most people's mind, people believe that means Christianity is irrational and thus not true.

I propose for your consideration that that is inaccurate.

Rather, I consider Christianity supra-rational.

Is that a real word?

Yes.

Love cannot be comprehended by reason alone. It involves reason in that we observe the beloved and interact with words and deeds. But the choice of love, the commitment to love, the cherishing of the beloved requires more than reason.

Christianity posits that God is a person who is seeking to reconcile wayward creatures to himself and each other. Since this existentially is about relationships it cannot be exclusively a rational endeavor.

Do you buy it?

Lord, thank you for redeeming me. I was stuck in a futile path. I was alienated. I was without hope. But you have paid a price to transfer me from that lost life. Through Jesus' life, example, teaching, death and resurrection, there is hope and life and love. Help me to live in this truth with reverence. Amen.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Devotional Thoughts: Set your hope fully on the grace to be given

Its Christmas!

Can we get an Advent perspective on this reading from 1 Peter?

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy.

When is "when Jesus Christ is revealed?"

At one level, when Jesus came to be born in a manger, he was revealed!

Most didn't notice.

But Jesus will come again ...

Some think this passage describes Jesus return, At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. If so, there will be no missing it!

And so Peter appears to be encouraging us to set our hope on that future event. But suffice to say, hope and grace has already begun breaking into the world with the arrival of the Christ child!

The hearers of 1 Peter didn't live to see the day of Christ's return. And 2000 years later, we wonder when Jesus will return. Will it happen in our lifetime?

Mark 13:32-36 tells us no one except God knows when Jesus will return.

And what advice did Jesus give while we wait?

Be on guard ...
Be alert ...
Be about our assigned task ...

And Peter echoes Jesus words:
Prepare your minds for action
Be self-controlled
Set your hope on grace
Do not conform to evil desires
Be holy

Thank you Lord for Christmas! Grace has been given in the Christ child, grace is given each day and grace will be given to your people when you return. But for today my prayer is as the words of the Christmas Carol ...

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Non-profit of the month: December 2009 - The Saban (Los Angeles) Free Clinic

There are 300 million Americans.

If each gave $10 to a local Community Health Clinic that would be ...

$3 billion.

If the Saban (LA) Free Clinic (http://www.thesabanfreeclinic.org) which runs on $13.5 million a year is typical...

$3 billion = 222 Community Health Clinics can be funded for 1 year.

While the politicians in Washington DC pick "winners" and "losers" in 2000+ pages of health legislation, we, taking the initiative, could do something to help out that will make a difference.

Please consider giving to your local community health clinic!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Politics: Improving Health Care Delivery

The "trinity" of health care discussion is cost, access and quality.

The hard reality is that you can't have all three to the degree that people want.

So the best we can do is try to maximize each element without breaking the bank and so that is the premise I use to look at the issue before the nation right now.

We should be honest about the size of the problem.

If indeed 46 million are uninsured, we do have a problem. But looked at another way, that means 254 million do have insurance!

Do we tear up the whole system to address the problem?

Cost

(1) As much as the MDs might not like it but the bottom line is that more of health care needs to be delivered by well trained non-MD medical professionals.


image source: http://innovatorsprescription.com/profiles/blogs/the-importance-of

As research pushes more medical conditions into the upper right side of this chart, more medical care can be delivered by non-MD medical professionals.

Thus, health care reform must include re-writing laws to make this more likely.

(2) Another area of cost control is the success of entities like Kaiser. If the Federal government issues too many mandates and regulations (think there might be some of that in 2000+ pages of legislation?), the creativity and innovation of organizations like Kaiser will get stifled.

(3) Lastly, we need to look at tort reform. The trial lawyers who make bundles of money in medical malpractice lawsuits have a strong lobby on Capitol Hill. From what I have heard, there is no word of any tort reform in the current bill.

Access

(1) For primary care, there needs to be more creative delivery "Doc in a box" mechanisms like Minute Clinic and Take Care Clinic.

(2) From a government standpoint, there must be more funding for Community Health Clinics.

(3) For more expensive care, insurance access needs to be improved.

Part of the problem right now is that there is "cost shifting" because private insurance is distorted by two factors: the tax-advantage of employer-based insurance and the underpayment of care delivered via Medicare. These two factors drive up health insurance costs for those who obtain it outside of employment and Medicare.

Therefore,
(A) Phase in more cost sharing by subscribers of Medicare. Perhaps some kind of graduated scale where higher income seniors pay more than lower income seniors.
(B) Eliminate the tax advantage of employer-based insurance. We buy auto insurance with after-tax salary dollars. We should buy health insurance with after-tax salary dollars. I don't have the CBO at my disposal to calculate the numbers but some kind of graduated tax credit should be offered.
For example:
Income > X, no tax credit for health insurance
Income < X but > Y, tax credit of $ABCD
Income < Y, tax credit of 2 x $ABCD.

More tiers may be needed but a tax credit approach is more fair than taxes on "Cadillac" insurance policies.

To my understanding, under the current bill, high-priced insurance policies would be taxed at a punitive rate regardless of whether it is a high or middle income earner buying it. Under a tiered tax credit system, the high income earner can buy the "Cadillac" policy without a tax credit and the middle income earner if they want to buy it will do so with some tax credit help. The bottom line is give the option to the buyer.

How do we fund all this?

Will anyone have the courage to say, if all benefit from this, we should all chip in some extra taxes?

Instead, what we have is 2000+ pages of wheeling and dealing where politically well connected groups get a break and others get punished.

Quality

As much as politicians don't like it but the profit motive is necessary. The computer and internet revolution was driven by profits at high tech companies. And so the same is true for health care. The medicines and other technologies that make US health care top notch (though unevenly delivered) require risk taking for profit companies.

Thus, as hard as it is for politicians, they must resist demonizing the profit motive of drug, medical instrumentation and insurance companies. They must resist writing into law mandates and regulations that stifle innovation and risk taking.

Instinctively, the American people know this and as such that is why the public is so overwhelmingly against a "public option" or anything that looks like a government take over of health care.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Politics: Some head shaking details of health care "reform"

The idea of extending health insurance to more folks has some merit.

But as the saying goes, "the devil is in the details;" far more than can be discussed in 59 seconds.

I don't have time to read 2000+ pages of legislation and I doubt any Senator or House member has done so either. Instead, they rely on staff to do the reading and writing of legislation and that is when things get slipped in.

And, inevitably, when some items are brought to the light of day, there may be outrage.

I suppose there are web pages that post some of the little "gems" buried in that legislation that if widely known should spark head shaking wonder at what the heck these people on the Hill are thinking?

Here are a few things I have heard that I wonder, if true, who the dickens put that into the bill and confirms the worst suspicions I have about the legislative process.

* the botox tax - There are actual medical reasons why some neurologists use the stuff on patients and indeed, if someone is using it for cosmetic purposes, that is their business. Why not tax cosmetic sales at Macys?

UPDATE: This tax appears to have been pulled out. See Tanning Bed Tax below.

* the Cadillac insurance tax - The Feds will tax insurance polices above a certain value. Again, if someone wants to buy more health insurance that is their business just like if someone wants to spend more money buying a car. Why not tax Jaguars and BMWs and Cadillacs?

* the tanning bed tax - Looks like the dermatology lobby is stronger than the vitamin D lobby! The dermatologists are concerned about skin cancer so tanning beds are evil. The vitamin D advocates believe tanning beds if used properly can help raise vitamin D levels which benefit immune health. Again, what business does the Federal government have taxing a specific industry?

Disclaimer: I work in a vitamin D research lab investigating the molecular mechanisms of vitamin D regulation of the immune system. I wonder if some Congressional staffer had called our lab head (or a handful of other senior level vitamin D researchers in the USA) would they have been convinced to pull that provision from the bill?

* profit regulations on the private insurance industry - How much profits does a company "deserve?" Well, the Federal government will now regulate how much these companies can make. Where is the outrage at the "excessive" profits of Intel or Apple computers? Where is the anger at the "exorbitant" salaries that lawyers make? Do actors and athletes deserve to make 8 figures are year?

* using cuts in Medicare to pay for extension of coverage - Medicare is going broke and they want to cut Medicare? Sure sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul except, in this case, Peter is running out of cash.

Probably many more "rewards" and "punishments" delivered by the whim of Congressional staffs writing these bills.

Beginning to think listening to the details of health care "reform" can make one sick?

UPDATE: I hope to post some thoughts on what I think health care reform should look like rather than just complain about the negatives.

UPDATE: "Hidden gems" in the health care bill ...

Washington Examiner finds Section 3403.
Excerpt:
Beginning on page 1,000 of the measure, Section 3403 reads in part: "... it shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection."

In other words, if President Obama signs this measure into law, Reid intends that no future Senate or House will be able to change a single word of Section 3403, regardless whether future Americans or their representatives in Congress wish otherwise.

Note that the subsection at issue here concerns the regulatory power of the Independent Medicare Independent Advisory Board to "reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending."

That is precisely the kind of open-ended grant of regulatory power that effectively establishes the IMAB as the ultimate arbiter of the cost, quality and quantity of health care to be made available to the American people. And Reid wants the decisions of this group of unelected federal bureaucrats to be untouchable for all time.

And then there is the vote buying.
Excerpt:
To hold together his 60 Senate Democrats, Reid simply dispensed favors -- eternal Medicaid financing for Ben Nelson's Nebraska, a hospital grant for Chris Dodd's Connecticut, more rural health money for Byron Dorgan's North Dakota and Montana's Max Baucus.

And then there will likely be a "ping pong" play to get a secretly negotiated bill through opposition.
Excerpt:
Conferences involving members from both houses are messy things. They are usually conducted in public and often televised, and can produce a compromise version of the bill that leaves rank-and-file members tempted to vote against the final version. That could be perilous in the case of health care since it's likely to pass without a vote to spare in the Senate and the House's version passed by only five votes.
.....
Rather than appoint members to a public conference committee, those measures were "ping-ponged" -- i.e. changes to reconcile the two versions were transmitted by messenger between the two houses as the final product was crafted behind closed doors solely by the leadership. Many Democrats grumbled at the secrecy. "We need to get back to the point where we use conference committees . . . and have serious dialogue," said Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama at the time.

But serious dialogue isn't what Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid are interested in right now. Look for the traditional conference committee to be replaced by a "ping-pong" game in which health care is finalized behind closed doors with little public scrutiny before the bill is rushed to the floor of each chamber for a final vote.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Devotional Thoughts: Angels long to look

Continuing in I Peter ...

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Jesus changed everything.

The prophets of old pointing were pointing to that change. But they didn't get to see it in their lifetimes.

The angels "long to look ..." I wonder what does that really mean?


image source: http://www.binoculartips.com/

Imagine if you will, angels in the presence of God and God speaks to them of His plans to initiate a salvation plan through Jesus. The angels wonder, what is going to happen?

God, being God, can see how it will unfold ... down to the details of ...
people sneering at a pregnant Mary...
Joseph feeling the cold shoulders of people who think he's clueless...
Jesus experiencing the joy of people responding...
and the pain of people rejecting...
the agony of bearing the cross...
the power and glory of the resurrection...
the birth of the church...
and how the church will sometime embody the grace God wants to extend to God's delight...
and how the church will all too often fall into self-righteousness and cold heartedness grieving God...
the culmination of all things when God turns the kingdoms of this world into his kingdom...

But the angels, not being God, can't see how the future unfolds.

They wonder what is going to happen?

They know something wonderful is going to happen and so they in their own way, in ways we don't understand, do as God directs them and participate with us in the unfolding of what God is doing?

Thank you Lord that grace has come. Reconciliation with You and our fellow human beings is unfolding. The suffering of Jesus has opened the gates of salvation and that glory flows out and the angels watch with awe and wonder. May this Christmas season see a renewal in my own heart of the amazing thing you have done and a renewal of my commitment to take part in what you are doing in this world. Amen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Politics: When not nationalizing health insurance is nationalizing health insurance

It appears the "public option" is dead.

It appears the expansion of Medicare to 55 year olds is dead.

But is the current bill still going to result in a defacto national health insurance system?

This is the argument in this analysis piece over at FixHealthCarePolicy.com a project of the Heritage Foundation.

Excerpt:
Of particular concern to patients should be that the detailed benefits in their health insurance coverage will soon be determined by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services. Last week, Americans got a foretaste of what Federal health benefit regulation means when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force changed its recommendation for breast cancer screening (mammography) for women aged 40 to 50 from “B” (recommended) to “C” (not recommended).
.....
Thus, a decision by a, heretofore, obscure HHS Task Force to recommend a specific medical service would in the future carry the force of law, and would impose additional costs on insurers and employer health plans. Conversely, any decision by the Task Force to issue a “C” or “D” rating (not recommended) — as it did last week in the case of breast cancer screening — will be henceforth viewed by insurers and employers as a justification for discontinuing coverage.
.....
The eventual result will be that the only medical care paid for through private health insurance will be the specific, items and services required by federal regulations promulgated by HHS. At that point, Congress will have effectively nationalized the entire American health insurance system under the supervision of the Secretary of HHS — regardless of whether or not it also sets up yet another government health insurance program in the process.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Politics: Health Care Reform in 59 Seconds?

The debate is framed: health insurance = health care.

How does health insurance happen?
(1) payed by employer as a benefit + employee kicks in some premium payments
(2) self-bought if your employer doesn't offer or
(3) Medicare (provides insurance for age 65+) taxes

There is a sizable segment of the population that doesn't fall into categories 1-3.

Proposed solution: force people to buy insurance
(A) some can afford but opt not to buy so penalize them
(B) some can't afford - so they need subsidies; therefore, tax items #1 and #2 in some cases, tax wealthy (define wealthy?) and shift funds from #3.

Of course I've simplified matters greatly and there are all kinds of problems with this proposed solution but I've used up my 59 seconds as my goal was just to attempt to define the state of play.

Was this a fair and balanced description of the situation?

UPDATE: The thing is 2000+ pages so there are lot of "devil in the details" type analysis that can't be done in 59 seconds but I hope I got the big picture aspect of what they are trying to do.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sports: Bruins in ruins?

That was quick ... we knew year 1 would be tough and it was. Year 2 got the Bruins back in the NCAA.

Years 3-4-5 were magic carpet rides to the Final Four.

Year 6 showed some slippage as the Bruins were eliminated in round 2 of the NCAA which wasn't unexpected given the talent level of that team.

Year 7 ... the team has fallen off the edge of the world. 8-(

The fans are getting restless.

How long before there is a http://www.firebenhowland.com just like there was a Fire Karl Dorrell blogspot?

Howland has earned some wiggle room because of years 1-5.

And as far as we can tell, he is running a clean program on and off the court.

But there are concerns about recent recruiting and starting/bench rotations.

Hopefully, Howland can make some adjustments on the floor and in recruiting and that this group of players will realize they just can't put on the jersey with U - C - L - A on it and expect to win.

Go Bruins!

UPDATE: Well, maybe Howland got the player's attention as they finally pulled together some defense and put up some points in their 100-68 win over New Mexico State. Go Bruins!

Politics: Doc in a box and community health clinics as part of health reform?

Had mentioned previously the notion of "doc in a box" as part of dealing with reforming health care.

Was listening to an interview with Clayton M. Christensen, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School who wrote the book Innovators Prescription. He mentioned the innovation of Take Care Clinic of Walgreens and Minute Clinic of CVS.

If this were to become a bigger part of our health care delivery system, would we make a bigger dent in the uninsured problem?

Would it help reduce some costs?

Also interviewed by Hugh Hewitt was Children’s Health Fund founder, pediatrician, Dr. Irwin Redlener.

He too supported a greater role for nurse practitioners and physicians assistants.

Additionally, he stressed a team concept with these mid-level health care personnel with doctors which can often be found at community health clinics.

Hewitt asked, might we get more bang for the buck by committing $100 billion to community health clinics versus $1000 billion in the current ideas floating up on Capitol Hill?

Redlener thought it was a definite possibility.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Movies: Fiddler on the Roof

Some musicals become a part of the cultural landscape when we know the songs without having ever seen the movie.

Such a film is Fiddler on the Roof.

Finally saw it a couple weeks back through my Netflix subscription.

Here is a playlist of the well known musical numbers from the film.

Here are a couple of my favorites ...



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Devotional Thoughts: For a little while

1 Peter 1:3-9 launches into a uplifting reflection of the end of our stories and how that helps us in the day-to-day.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.


image source: http://www.callbox7.com/a-complete-guide-to-ambulance/

2000 years separate us in the USA from the recipients of this letter from St. Peter. In some ways, we are quite different from those people. I think that the shadow of death hung over them much more than it does today. In a time with no medicine or hospitals, death was probably something the average person saw quite often. A trauma on the city street with no ER to rush them too, an infection with no antibiotics and on goes the list of things that could strike someone down that today we could do something about was a potential death sentence for the hearers of St. Peter's letter.

And so the living hope of Jesus would be very powerful. The idea that something that would not perish, spoil or fade would be immensely re-assuring.

How about us today?

Though we have banished many causes of death with medicine and technology, our essential mortality remains.

And so suffering is still as real today as it was then ... maybe here in the USA we can push it from our minds a little more easily ... but it still lingers and haunts in moments ...

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

... and so suffering remains a fact of life ... but rejoicing is possible ... how?

These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.


image source: http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/eduoff/vt-2004/Background/Infol2/EIS-D1.html

Pain, suffering, grief, death ... these remain constants in the human story. The slave in ancient Egypt worked to near death, the farmer in the early church seeing a loved one dying for reasons he does not know, John Donne wondering for whom the bells were tolling ...

And so we believe that this can be gone through and redeemed.

Humility, compassion, gratitude, trust ... these can come from suffering. These things, worth more than gold, could be won from the dark nights of despair.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Lord, through a glass darkly, I see. But I see. And I await the full dawning of the salvation you have begun. Help me to get a taste of the inexpressible and glorious joy. Amen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Politics: Ideas on health care in the USA

Wonder if any of the people on the Hill are reading these articles?

The Problem is Cost of Care by Michael Munger who is a professor of economics, and the chair of the political science department, at Duke University.

Excerpt:
The problem is that health care costs have increased at an annual rate double, or more than double, the rate of inflation for the last two decades. Right now, our attempts at reform are doomed by a law of accounting physics: Insurance can’t cost less than the health care it insures. That means that subsidizing insurance likely makes the problem worse.


Cato's What Is the Free-Market Approach to Health Care Reform? is another that goes beyond the usual mantras of "public option" and "mandated insurance."

Excerpt:
We also need to rethink medical licensing laws to encourage greater competition among providers. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, and other non-physician practitioners should have far greater ability to treat patients. Doctors and other health professionals should be able to take their licenses from state to state. We should also be encouraging innovations in delivery such as medical clinics in retail outlets.


This sounds a bit like what I heard a couple of decades ago when I was an undergraduate at UCLA. For fun, I took a class in the School of Public Health about Health Care Systems. It was a survey of the different methods health care was delivered in the USA in the 1980s. It touched on how some other countries do it also and discussed some of the problems and challenges ahead.

One of the comments that stuck was when one of the profs remarked, we need more "Doc in the Box!"

The point was that a lot of what doctors deal with are pretty mundane.

So I suppose real reform will need for all interest groups to take a hit:

Patients - bearing a higher percentage of the cost of our own care.

Doctors - allowing non-MDs to carry more of the work load.

Insurance companies - tighter regulations on them regarding denial of coverage on pre-existing conditions.

Trial lawyers - tort reform to help reduce the cost of malpractice insurance and excessive defensive medicine.

Government bureaucrats - might they realize that the solution big government believers want is actually making the problem worse? The government already has a big hand in health insurance through the Medicare program and that program is going broke!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Devotional Thoughts: God's elect, strangers in the world

As far as I can tell, there is no other Bible book that deals with suffering as directly as Job. But I think 1 Peter and 2 Peter do touch on the subject a bit more than many other writings of Scripture. These two books discuss many other topics as well.

So let's take a look ...

Let's get to the introduction.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,


image source: http://saintpetersbasilica.org/Exterior/StPeterStatue/StPeter-Apos.jpg

I hope someday to visit St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

I would venture to say that Peter was probably the most famous of the 12 disciples as he was the most outspoken of the bunch sometimes to his detriment!

It is generally believed by scholars that the Gospel of Mark was influenced strongly by Peter's preaching. The Book of Acts which chronicles the growth of the early church has much material about Peter (Chapters 1-12). The Book of Acts eventually followed the role of Paul in the advancement of the church (Chapters 13-28).

Some scholars question whether Peter could have written I and II Peter because he was a plain old fisherman from Galilee.

Though Peter would not have had the high level of education of a Jewish rabbi, being a good Jew, he would had a solid knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. He would also, of course, have had the benefit of sitting at the feet of Jesus!

It should be noted also that he give up the fisherman's life and would have spent much more time contemplating the teachings he heard from Jesus, re-examining the Hebrew Scriptures in that light, discussing with the other Apostles and the Holy Spirit was promised to the disciples to help them.

We can also speculate on the role Silas may have had in helping him craft this letter.

To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,


image source: http://www.bible-history.com/maps/asia_minor.html

Today, Turkey is an almost exclusively Muslim country with a small number of Christians. But way back at the beginning of the church, Jesus followers could be found there, a small number also, in what was probably a society dominated by Greek and Roman polytheism.

who have been chosen
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through the sanctifying work of the Spirit,
for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Isn't this re-assuring?

These believers, whom Peter called strangers in the world, were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God!?

Won't delve into the philosophical implications of that here! 8-)

But it is re-assuring to know that God knew!

There is also the sanctifying work of the Spirit ... we are being made holy and pure.

This work was begun by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus for the purpose of our being obedient to Jesus.

All three persons of the Trinity are involved in our lives!

And so abundant grace and peace can be available to us.

Thank you Lord that you were not content to see us lost in this world alienated from you and living in turmoil. Instead you sent Jesus. Instead you sent the Spirit. You have called us to something better... to yourself. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Science: Climategate and questions I would want to have answered

Yes, Drudge can add sensationalized headlines to items and highlight odd stories.

But most of the time, he just links to articles that he thinks are interesting.

And so he links to an item that says Al Gore was confused on the emails regarding the "Climategate" scandal.

From that item, there are links to various web pages that highlight why some people are skeptical of man-caused global warming.

The daisy-chain as Dennis Prager points out is as follows:
(1) human activity produces CO2
(2) there are temperature increases
(3) CO2 increases lead to temperature increases
(4) temperature increases will result in calamity.

This is what I would want to know:
Statement #1 is probably true. But in the history of the planet has there been times when CO2 were higher than the are today which would have occurred without human activity?

Is statement #2 actually true? Modern technology gives us good temperature data from many locations. But that is using current technology. How good is the data when you go back into history? How do you figure out the temperature when nobody was sitting around with thermometers to measure it?

Is statement #3 actually true? In science there is causation and correlation. Is CO2 the cause of temperature increases? Or are temperature increases the cause of CO2 increases? Or is there some other factor driving the temperature like solar activity?

Statement #4 would be true if we get many degrees of increase in temperature. In the past, there have been ice ages when temperatures dropped which would be bad too! And in the past, there have been much warmer temperatures. So the question is, how many degrees will the temperatures rise, if indeed they are rising? There is a huge difference between global warming of 1 degree C versus 6 degree C.

I'd also want to know why man-made global warming advocates dismiss skeptics by saying they make money from energy companies (I'm sure some do but probably don't) when it could be said that global warming researchers make money from grants studying global warming?

This last question is rhetorical but the previous ones are real questions I'd have about the science of climate change.

UPDATE: Prager rounds up latest problems with global warming in regards to Himalayan glaciers melting.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Life: Adrenaline junkies with invisible capes and angel wings

Be sure to check out this profile on the ER nurses of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Excerpt:

ER nurses don’t give long-term care. They don’t get to know you, and they don’t even know what happens to you after you leave the ER. They are a platoon of adrenaline junkies with invisible capes and angel wings, there to take care of you at your worst moments. And it never ends. “Patients are like waves of ocean hitting the beach,” Shari says. “New ones just replace the old ones.”

As someone who has been on a gurney at the CSMC ER, I can only say, where do we find such people? Thank God for each one of them!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Non-profit of the month: November 2009 - For the Troops and Reagan Library

Went to the Ronald Reagan Library on Veteran's Day.

While there, there were some folks taking contributions to support For the Troops.

President Obama has asked the military and their families for more sacrifice with his plan to send 30,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan. He and they need our support in for this difficult, dangerous and important mission.

Of course, many tens of thousands are already there and will have spent Thanksgiving and will spend Christmas away from home. Thus, I felt the desire to support For the Troops.

There are many other like-minded groups and I hope you will consider giving what you can.

I am also supporting the Ronald Reagan Foundation because I cast my first presidential vote for Reagan in 1984 and for many today what he did is ancient history.

2009 marked the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

None will ever forget that JFK stood there in solidarity with the people of Berlin.



RR stood there in solidarity with the people of Berlin too and saw that the wall was cracking and with his strong leadership in deeds and simple words helped push it down.



Thank you JFK and RR for leadership and THANK YOU to all the US armed forces who have fought for and defended freedom through the decades.