More Pierce Hyperventillating Re Things BYU

More Hyperventillating from Scott D. Pierce About Things BYU – Steve Young’s Comments in Bloomburg Business Week Profile “Stunning,” “Reckless”? Hardly; They’re Simply Another “Dog Bites Man” Story

By Ken K. Gourdin

Salt Lake Tribune television critic Scott Pierce, who also writes often about sports media coverage, is hyperventilating again about more things BYU (Brigham Young University, the school owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [aka Mormons]). Steve Young, of course, played quarterback at “Quarterback U” in the 1980s, and was the most notable, most successful pro quarterback the school has produced in a long line of successful college quarterbacks.

For my commentary regarding the last episode of Pierce’s hyperventilating regarding things BYU that I witnessed, see here, last accessed (this link, along with all other links herein, last accessed February 14, 2017):

Young now is a football analyst for ESPN. Pierce called Young’s confession, in a profile for Bloomburg Business Week, that football is no longer at the very top of Young’s priority list “stunning” and “reckless.” For this episode of hyperventilating by Pierce, see here: I responded to Pierce’s latest episode of hyperventillating as follows:

I doubt Steve Young is poorly compensated by ESPN. That said, what he earns in private equity probably dwarfs his compensation from ESPN. It’s simply human nature to allocate one’s time, effort, and resources based on the return one gets from the activity. If ESPN’s powers-that-be have a problem with how devoted Young is in his role with them, or how much effort he puts into it (if what they’re paying him doesn’t match what they feel they should be getting from him in return) I’m sure Young will be the first to know.

When Young played football, the lion’s share of his time, effort, and resources were expended in maximizing his performance in that endeavor, because at that time, whatever other activities he engaged in, he got the biggest return from football. Now, while football may be somewhere on his list of priorities, he gets the biggest return from something else, so that’s where he expends the lion’s share of his time, effort, and resources, while, accordingly, devoting proportionally less time, less effort, and fewer resources to football.

That seems like a perfectly sane, uncontroversial, common-sense proposition. All of us must establish priorities, and must live accordingly. With all due respect to the first person who put the slogan “Football [or fill in sport here] is life” on a T-shirt, that’s why so many athletes seem to have such skewed priorities. Yes, it’s a great game, but, still, it’s simply a game. And I might also point out that arguably, Steve Young simply did what savvy interviewees/profile subjects do: He considered his audience. If he were talking to someone from, say, Sports Illustrated, whatever his other priorities are and wherever they happen to rank on his list, he might talk about why football is, or why it has been, important to him. But he wasn’t; he was speaking with someone from Bloomburg Business Week, so they talked about … business, about finance, and he talked about why that is important to him.

This isn’t “stunning,” and it isn’t “reckless.” Putting aside his daring nature as an athlete, if Steve Young is “reckless,” then I’m positively insane. This isn’t a “man bites dog” story; it’s simply another “dog bites man” story.

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First Responders and “War Stories”

A Reflection on One Possible Reason Cops (and Other First Responders) Might Tell “War Stories,” Which an Interlocutor Dismissed as “Whoppers”:  Notwithstanding Potential Embellishment, Are the Basic Details of Most Such Stories Accurate?  Is There Any Basis for Assuming That, As a Rule, They Are Not? 

By Ken K. Gourdin

Elsewhere on the blog, I have written of first responders’ potential for using humor as a defense mechanism, as a way of processing (in as healthy a way as possible) experiences which, otherwise, are difficult to talk about.

Another poster at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion related her (?) attendance at a fireside, the colloquial term for a (usually) evening gathering of Latter-day Saints for the purpose of hearing featured speaker(s) on specific topic(s).  This particular fireside featured two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were law enforcement officers and who related accounts of how the Lord protected them in the line of duty.  The theme of the thread is men’s need to tell such stories, perhaps to mask insecurity.

While emotional reactions are not uncommon occurrences for members of the Church of Jesus Christ who feel the Holy Spirit, this poster seemed to have an emotional reaction for different reasons, reasons which, frankly, left me baffled and which she never clarified.  (The post was a bit rambling; she started out talking about the Super Bowl—this thread was started in February of 2014—and implicitly questioning whether watching the game is an appropriate Sabbath Day activity.  I certainly won’t say that it is, nor will I say that I have never watched nor followed it as it has taken place; that makes me something of a hypocrite, I know: welcome to the human race.)

She used the term “whoppers” to describe these experiences.  At, the second definition listed for the term “whopper” is “a big lie” (last accessed February 8, 2017).

I replied:

I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic.  Maybe I simply have a huge blind spot because I come from a law enforcement family and because I don’t know exactly what you mean when you use the term “whoppers,” but I’m having trouble connecting the dots.  You know that this man/these men were telling “whoppers” because … ? The Spirit told you this man/these men were telling blatant falsehoods?  You gleaned enough information about their backgrounds that you were able to research those backgrounds against the accounts related, and you discovered glaring discrepancies between the two?  And even given that you know enough to conclude that these men were telling falsehoods (again, with due respect) I’m still puzzled by your reaction: I might be miffed; I might be chagrined that I just invested an hour or two of my time (or perhaps more) that I’ll never get back in something that turned out to not be worthwhile, but … tears?

While I do think that we need to exercise care in presuming that—since equally faithful people of all religious stripes  aren’t always protected in dangerous situations—protection in the face of danger is some kind of sign of the Lord’s favor, I had a hard time understanding her negative reaction.  While the Lord extends or withholds his protection based on what best will meet His individual plan for the person(s) involved (whether that plan involves continuing one’s sojourn in mortality or being called home on a particular occasion), I have a hard time understanding how speaking of such protection, and perhaps of the accompanying feeling that the Lord protected the person in peril because that person has not yet accomplished everything that the Lord would have him do in mortality, is a bad thing.

Another poster, a good Catholic brother whose son is a law enforcement officer (bless him and his family, including his good father, for his service!), chimed in.  “Vince has some stories,” he wrote.  “I love hearing them.  It [taking the opportunity to relate them] is not insecurity.  I beg him to tell his stories.”

Later, I wrote:

Another (slightly altered) Coveyism [from Latter-day Saint philosopher, author, and motivator Stephen R. Covey]: We don’t see past events as they were; we see them as we are.  If someone recounts an event from his past to me, I don’t necessarily want to hear simply a cold, clinical recitation of facts which is devoid of emotion.  I want to know how he interacted with and reacted to this event from his past. What insight did he gain from it, what did he learn from it? Did it change (and by change, I mean did it improve (hopefully)) his approach to life in any way?  If so, how?  If I simply hear the perhaps-embellished tale, I might, depending on my relationship with the person and other circumstances, probe for these sorts of details.  Now, having said this, is a perhaps-embellished tale on the order of a baldfaced lie or another naked effort to deceive and/or to take advantage of someone?  Again, perhaps I am simply tone-deaf to these sorts of things, but I don’t necessarily put such accounts in that category.

Still later, I wrote:

Another observation.  People wonder why law enforcement officers and soldiers joke around with each other at gruesome crime scenes and battle scenes.  Capt. Hawkeye Pierce, M.D., of M*A*S*H had an astute observation when a patient he treated asked how come he joked about everything.  Implicitly referencing the horrors of war, he replied that joking about it was the only way he could open his mouth about it without screaming.

Perhaps something similar is at work here.  Soldiers and law enforcement officers actually have seen many things most of the rest of us are reluctant even to contemplate.  With due respect for the sensitivities of many, would we prefer that those who protect us (law enforcement officers, soldiers, and others) scream and dissolve into tears when confronted with such circumstances because that’s what we would do (not that that’s not a normal human response)?  Or would we rather that they keep their composure and do their jobs?  Perhaps sharing accounts of these experiences and attempting to find the humor in them is, in part, an effort to process these things in a reasonably healthy manner (as opposed to the alternative of keeping them, and the emotions associated with them, bottled up, or allowing that emotion to manifest itself in unhealthy ways).  As strange as such attempts to process these experiences might seem to outsiders, the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychic maladies among law enforcement officers and soldiers already is high enough: insisting that they not talk about their experiences won’t do anything to improve that state of affairs.

The thread’s originator asked, “Can someone explain to me why some men have to tell [whoppers] about their past triumphs?” And I responded:

A fish story might be a “whopper”; a tale of a past athletic contest/conquest might be a “whopper.”  It’s true that (1) we don’t see the past as it is, we see it as we are/were; and (2) there is apt always to be some difference between our experiences and how we describe them after the fact because mere words always are likely to be inadequate.  That said, I’m still somewhat troubled by your continued reference to accounts of law enforcement officers’ experiences as “whoppers.”  In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word.  I danna think it means what you think it means.” defines the word “whopper” as “A big lie.”  (last accessed February 8, 2017).

Potential for embellishment aside, I’d still like to know why you don’t find the essential facts of such accounts credible.  Again, with due respect, what is the basis of your doubt?  Do you know any of those who related such accounts personally?  Have you interacted with them in the past in ways that would cause you to doubt their general reputation for honesty?

Another poster wrote, “Most of those guys have not aged emotionally since they were playing war as kids in the backyard.”  I responded, “With due respect, if you’re including law enforcement officers in that group rather than simply speaking generally, I disagree.  Please see my previous post(s) for alternate explanations as to why officers might feel compelled to share their experiences.”

Referring to my earlier reference to Capt. Hawkeye Pierce of M*A*S*H and how he said that, essentially, humor is an emotional defense mechanism, another poster wrote (apparently dismissively, although the presence or absence of such nuances can be hard to grasp in written communication), “So my endless joking probably means I would scream about everyday life all the time as a [thing] of abject horror. That actually makes a lot of sense.”

I replied:

I offered [what I wrote] as one possible explanation for behavior that occurs among specific groups in a specific context.  So, if you’re a law enforcement officer or a soldier (or have been one), have had experiences similar to the ones I described, and have related accounts about them after the fact (often invoking humor), then feel free to wear that shoe/boot.  If not, feel free to discard it.



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A Word About LDS Disaffection

A Word About Disaffection from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

By Ken K. Gourdin

I don’t recall which thread at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion I was going to post this on recently, but the thread got shut down before I had an opportunity to do so. Still, I thought these are good thoughts; if nothing else, I can share them here.

While it is difficult for me to imagine, I cannot say, in an infinite number of possible universes, that there isn’t at least one possible universe in which someone cannot have valid historical, doctrinal, or other concerns that might, to his way of thinking, compel him to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

However, I’m not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ because I’ve had all of my questions answered about these things: I think it’s impossible for someone to have a halfway well-functioning brain and not have such questions. Questions notwithstanding, I choose to believe; if someone makes a different choice, that’s their choice.

Different paradigms are useful for different purposes. I have adopted the paradigm provided by the Church of Jesus Christ for, e.g., considering questions of what happens after we die because I think it is the best paradigm extant for considering the questions involved.

Anyone who attempts to use the same paradigm for all purposes, or who insists that people use the same paradigm he does for a particular purpose is apt to be frustrated because people don’t see the world exactly as he does. Notwithstanding my flexible approach to paradigm use, I cannot simply demand that people use the same paradigm I choose to use for any particular purpose.

And when it comes to matters of faith, essentially, all of us are our own triers of fact: we decide what evidence we will admit, what evidence we will exclude, upon what basis we will admit or exclude evidence, how much weight we will accord any particular piece of evidence admitted, and so on. I use the “rules” I do because I think they’re what work best, and others use what “rules” they do because they think they’re what work best. And, as I’ve said so many times before, to quote the great Steven R. Covey, we see the world, not as it is, but, rather as we are.

We’re apt to respond differently to any given situation or circumstance because each of us brings different habits, attitudes, aptitudes, perspectives, and so on, to it. If two people are of exactly the same opinion on absolutely everything, one of them is unnecessary. However we might agree (or not), I certainly don’t think you’re unnecessary.

While I would do my level best to persuade someone to not abandon what Elder M. Russell Ballard [of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] has called “The Good Ship Zion,” whether or not you remain my shipmate, and whether or not you acknowledge our common spiritual heritage, we still have the same spiritual DNA: you’re still my brother or my sister, and I still will strive to treat you as such.

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EBS Tests

A Word About the Former Emergency Broadcast System (Now the Emergency Alert System): The Feds Probably Don’t Like It If Broadcasters (Even Crazy College Kids) Don’t Take It Seriously, Even if it Is “Only a Test”

By Ken K. Gourdin

On, there is a very brief history of the systems the federal government has used over the years to notify the public of various emergencies. The post can be found here (last visited January 31, 2017):

From 1963 until 1997, the system the federal government used was known as the Emergency Broadcast System. The Federal Communications Commission used to require television and radio broadcasters to run periodic tests of the system (much as it does today with the EBS’s successor, the Emergency Alert System) to ensure that it is in good working order and will function as intended in a genuine emergency.

Apparently, comedian and actor Pee Wee Herman did a parody of the test. Another commenter on the Mental Floss thread stated that they used to substitute the parody in place of the genuine test. Mentioning my own (albeit brief) history in college radio at KRDC at Dixie College (now Dixie State University) in St. George, Utah, I responded:

Wouldn’t that, ummm, like, get you in trouble with the FCC … at least, if the feds found out about it? (I know, I know: I’m probably asking too much of crazy college kids, but still …) When I was in radio production for a quarter (shortly after the dawn of radio), we used to have to run those tests, too. In fact, I was in the studio with our station manager one day (off the air), and, on a lark, I started giving that familiar warning:

“This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test. [Specified tone for specified period.] This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area, in voluntary cooperation with federal, state, and local authorities, have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, the attention signal you just heard would have been followed by official news, information, or instructions. This station serves the St. George, Utah area. This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.”

When I started giving the warning, the station manager said, “You know, we need to re-record that. Would you mind?” I said, “Nope.” So thereafter, probably until the EBS was replaced by the EAS three or four years later, whenever that test was run, it featured my melodious, mellifluous, dulcet-toned voice. ;-D

I’m not sure if the Federal Communications Commission or its powers-that-be have a sense of humor, or if they understand the concepts that “crazy college kids will be crazy college kids” or that crazy college kids are the administrative equivalent of “judgment proof” when it comes to having six-figure fines levied against them for violations—although the kids wouldn’t pay the fine; the station (in this case, the station’s sponsoring institution, the college or university) would.

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Obama Foreign Non-Policy

Is No Foreign Policy Really Better Than a Supposedly “Bad” Policy? Deciding Not to Decide Carries With It Its Own Pitfalls and Complications

By Ken K. Gourdin

A Washington Post editorial reprinted in The Salt Lake Tribune criticizes U.S. support for Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen’s civil war. For the editorial (last accessed January 18, 2017), see here:

However anyone might feel about the various foreign policies of previous administrations, and however worthy of criticism those policies (implemented by both Republican and Democrat administrations) may be, at least those administrations had enough courage to formulate discernible policies. To call President Barack Obama’s foreign policy “muddled” is to concede that he actually has one, a fact I pointed out in response to the editorial. I wrote:

These people (read, “The Obama Administration”) were the “smart” ones, the enlightened ones who weren’t going to get the United States into such situations as this. I simply wish President Obama had something approaching a foreign policy that I could criticize him and his administration for: His stance appears to be, “When it comes to foreign policy, I’ll decide to not decide: If I actually decide something, if I attempt to develop and articulate an actual policy, people are going to criticize me, and I don’t want that. If someone asks, I’ll simply blame the previous administration, say, essentially, that doing something ‘bad’ ‘is not who we are,’ and mumble something about a red line.”

Even if I disagree with him, I could at least respect the courage of President Obama’s convictions—if only I knew what those convictions are.

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Obama’s Presidency & Legacy

My Response to One Analysis and Commentary on President Obama’s Presidency and His Legacy

By Ken K. Gourdin

Analysis of President Barack Obama, his presidency, and his legacy by David Lightman of McClatchy News Service’s Washington Bureau, recently appeared in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News. Perhaps my response misses the mark; perhaps that response is unfair to Mr. Lightman. If so, I will simply link to his piece and allow the reader to draw his own conclusions. It can be found here, last accessed January 17, 2017:

I responded:

All of that verbosity, and your ultimate conclusions are that the only two reasons Mr. Obama didn’t succeed are: (1) he needed better messaging (Gee, we’ve never heard that from Democrats before! How novel!) and (2) a sizable minority of the American electorate is racist? Really? Come on! As much as I wanted Mr. Obama to be my president, too, I lost most of my hope that that was going to happen early on when I realized he was more interested in demonizing, marginalizing, and silencing his political opponents than in actually working with them to accomplish any real change. Such change requires a willingness actually to get one’s hands dirty, to engage in give and take, to negotiate, and to compromise. But, with an early Democrat congressional majority and with Senator Harry “Dead On Arrival” Reid providing him political cover in the Senate, Mr. Obama chose a more iron-fisted approach.

If I’d had the room (the News has a 1,200 character length limit for comments), I would have noted the irony that in at least a couple of respects, Mr. Obama and President Bill Clinton are mirror images of one another: On the one hand, on a personal level, President Obama is an honorable man, a good husband, and a model father; on the other, apart from campaigning and winning elections, which he loves (who wouldn’t?) President Obama simply doesn’t “do” politics, preferring to remain (or at least to be seen as staying) above the fray and leaving the “dirty work” to others. Meanwhile, President Clinton proved himself to be an absolute moral reprobate on a personal level, on the one hand, while, on the other hand, accomplishing much politically because he relished the give-and-take and rough-and-tumble processes of nitty-gritty politics and reveled in wonky details.

In the end, however, neither Mr. Clinton nor Mr. Obama was a transformational figure, President Clinton because of his personal failings and President Obama because of his political ones. For more of my thoughts on President Obama’s paradoxical distaste for politics, see here (last accessed January 17, 2017):

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Another (Albeit Indirect) Coach Edwards Memory

More (Albeit Indirect) Memories of BYU Football Coach LaVell Edwards

By Ken K. Gourdin

Current Philadelphia TV sports reporter, former member of the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles, formber BYU Cougar, and former LDS bishop Vai Sikahema recently shared memories of recently-departed BYU football Coach LaVell Edwards in a Deseret News column. See Sikahema’s reminiscences here (last accessed January 7, 2017):

I commented:

Bishop Sikahema:

What advice do I think Coach Edwards would (or should) have given you? I dunno. How ’bout this: When Ty Detmer was playing for the Eagles, and he’d just thrown a couple of interceptions in the game, and you were trying to conduct a serious analysis of why the Eagles lost, you definitely shouldn’t let (now-)Coach Detmer off the hook just because he flashed that Million-Watt, Million-Yard-Wide Texas Grin and drawled, “Awww, Bishop, I’m sorry!” on live television. ;-D

Hope this helps.

Coach Edwards, thanks for the memories (including the above, for which you were indirectly responsible). Condolences to all so deeply affected by the loss, but here’s to eventual happy reunions elsewhere (and, indeed, to current happy reunions with those who have gone before).


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