Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Savior Sibling"

Ever heard the phrase "savior sibling?" If not, I'd encourage you to educate yourself. It's a concept pregnant with moral & ethical controversy. I was reminded of the idea by a story on ESPN.com about Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer and his family. Carlos and his wife CeCe have a son Carmani who was born with sickle cell anemia, and they were told that there was no known cure. The story has many things I could comment on, but I don't have the time right now. It's a heart wrenching story that I wouldn't wish upon anybody. But the following paragraphs stuck out to me:
Finally, at a clinic in Atlanta, she heard something new. Doctors there had been doing bone marrow transplants for years and recently had been eradicating sickle cell anemia, among other blood diseases, with the procedure. It was a revelation, a possible way out.

She went back to the library and the phones to study up on bone marrow transplants and learned an infant sibling who could donate cord blood (rather than bone marrow), rich in stem cells, from an umbilical cord would offer the best chance of a successful transplant and a cure.

But a second pregnancy for CeCe and Carlos would mean the risk of a second child born with sickle cell disease. And there would be no guarantee that a second child, or a third, or even a fourth, would necessarily be both free of the disease and a genetic match for Carmani. They couldn't risk it. They began talking about in vitro fertilization and genetic screening instead.

CeCe pulled together a team that included an in vitro specialist, Dr. Michael Jacobs in Miami, who would biopsy the Boozers' developing fertilized embryos and later perform an in vitro fertilization; a geneticist, Dr. Mark Hughes in Detroit, who would test those embryos in order to determine which of them were sickle-cell free as well as genetically compatible with Carmani's immune system; and a transplant expert, Dr. John Fort at Miami Children's Hospital, who would transplant the sibling's cord blood into Carmani's system, replacing his bad stem cells with healthy ones. Twenty-six eggs were fertilized and began to develop. Ten were genetically compatible. Two of those were disease-free, and both were implanted in CeCe's uterus in case one of them didn't develop.

Six weeks later, the Boozers learned they had twins on the way.
I'd encourage you to read the whole story and share your thoughts. I'll try to share mine when I have some more time.

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers, he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).

The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20', declared the sixth man.

He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!'

'Yeah, that's right', exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!'

'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'

'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.

Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.

For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

(HT: Douglas Wilson)

Monday, October 27, 2008


My brother's looking forward to Marxism. I'm looking forward to Obamanation. (Can someone ask John Hagee if Daniel 9:27 is supposed to read "... an Obamanation that causes desolation ..."?) We're just not sure what kind of Marxism we might be facing. Here's what my brother prefers:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Great Quote from John Stott

"Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance). Indeed, 'only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross', wrote Canon Peter Green, 'may claim his share in its grace.'"--John Stott, The Cross of Christ, page 60
(HT: Josh Harris)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Starving Saints

James MacDonald has a good post at Straight Up:
The legitimate mission of evangelism, the job of the ‘church dispersed,’ has replaced the worship of God by His people and the edification of the saints, the biblical objectives of the church ‘gathered.’ Truth is diluted or displaced by self generated ‘talks’ on perceived issues of importance. These inventions come from communicators who regard their own thoughts more highly than God’s Word, sadly somehow believing that they are assisting the work of the gospel by avoiding the words of the Lord Himself. Such arrogance; go figure. These same messages so lacking in biblical truth are aimed at an audience that too often has no concept of what they are missing. Starving and they don’t even know it. Junk food is all they have ever known, and they have no reference point to relieve their hunger or remedy the ache in their gut. The thing that is missing, the thing they are longing for, the only thing that will feed them is what God’s Spirit was sent into the world to bring . . .
Read the whole post here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Does He Know?

Warren Buffett wrote an interesting Op-Ed piece recently for the New York Times.
THE financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher. In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary.

So ... I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.


A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now.
I particularly enjoyed these two paragraphs, near the end of the piece:
Today people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldn’t. They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value. Indeed, the policies that government will follow in its efforts to alleviate the current crisis will probably prove inflationary and therefore accelerate declines in the real value of cash accounts.

Equities will almost certainly outperform cash over the next decade, probably by a substantial degree. Those investors who cling now to cash are betting they can efficiently time their move away from it later. In waiting for the comfort of good news, they are ignoring Wayne Gretzky’s advice: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”

Weakside Linebacker?

When I first saw this play on ESPN, it looked fairly innocent - a ref getting caught in the middle of a play. However, check out this angle:

Campaign Video

I've posted a couple of these before, but here's a compilation of funny clips from the campaign trail, put together by Trevin Wax:

Ouch! Obama slips up and talks about his “Muslim Faith” instead of Christian faith in an interview on ABC.

John McCain promises to veto beer. Prohibition anyone?

At a campaign rally, Joe Biden tells wheelchair-bound Chuck Graham to stand up. I know people say Obama is a Messiah, but this might be a little too much!

McCain claims Putin is President of Germany.

Terry Moran on Nightline goofs up and says Barack Obama has two dads. Yes, that would definitely go down in the history books.

Obama has visited all 57 states of America.

McCain’s going after Osama to the gates of hell. I wonder if he’ll have that smile on his face once he gets there.

Barack Obama introduces Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

McCain sings “Bomb Iran” and then tells reporters who question him to lighten up and “get a life.”

Obama gets lost without a teleprompter.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Economic Crisis

Tim Ellsworth has an interesting take on the economic crisis, suggesting that the crisis could be good for the nation. Here's his conclusion:

Could the threat - or even the existence - of an economic depression be enough of a reality check to return us to a point where selfishness is not the predominant characteristic of our nation? Would it refocus us and make us reconsider what's important in life? I can't say for sure. But am I willing to put up with an economic downturn - perhaps even a depression - if it means a brighter future for my children? If it means a future in which they feel more connected to their neighbors and communities? If it means a future in which they recognize the value of the eternal more than the temporal? If it means a greater emphasis on the wholesome and the upright, rather than the decadence and filth that mark so much of American society?

If a depression is what it takes to achieve that, then bring it on. It's a price I'm happy to pay.

Read the full piece in the Jackson Sun.


Bret McAtee makes a great observation at The Backwater Report:

Presently, the bottom 40% of income earners pay zero income taxes. The top 20% pay 80% of all the federal income taxes. Therefore, it is not possible to give the bottom 40% a tax cut because they pay no money to the government. So this begs the question: How is Barack Obama proposing to give a tax cut to 95% of Americans?

The truth is that he is not going to give a tax cut to most Americans; it is not possible. Instead, he is going to give welfare subsidy to the bottom 40%. This subsidy Obama is calling a ‘tax cut,’ but in reality it is a tax increase in an attempt to redistribute wealth.

McCain doesn't escape unscathed, either. Here's the very next paragraph:
However, the problem is that the Republican candidate is likewise offering socialistic solutions in the time of a desperate economy. McCain’s proposal that the Federal Government buy up bad mortgages is disastrous. Home ownership is no more an American right then is health care and the government guaranteeing bad decisions on purchased homes penalizes those who didn’t make bad decisions on home purchases. In point of fact, McCain’s proposal on buying bad mortgages with a view to negotiating mortgages downwards is an incentive for all of those who are paying mortgages to suddenly discover they can’t afford their mortgages. McCain’s proposal is socialist insanity.
Read the full post, titled "Socialists Everywhere."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Shack

Gerald Hiestand at Harvest Bible Fellowship's blog Straight Up has posted a review of William Young's The Shack. Here's his conclusion:

It’s obvious Young’s book has struck a chord with the culture at large, and the evangelical culture not least. It’s clear the people in our churches crave an immanent God—one who understands our needs, our weaknesses, and who is able to identify with us in our fragile human existence. And indeed the Word Incarnate is the Father’s way of whispering tenderly in our ear. In Christ, the transcendent God draws near to us in flesh and bone. He walks our paths and feels our pain. Young’s desire for a God of compassion and tenderness is legitimate, and we do well to ask why such a deficit might exist in our churches. Have we failed to communicate properly the deep love that God has for his children? Perhaps. But if we have, Young’s book is not the best corrective. Young, in an attempt to wipe the blood off of God’s hands, ends up diminishing the transcendence and power of God. The best way to correct an unbalanced view of God is not by introducing an opposing unbalanced view of God.

I have no doubt that The Shack is Young’s sincere attempt to sort out some rather troubling issues. The question of how a good God can allow suffering and evil is difficult, no matter how you slice it. But this is not a book I can recommend. For those who need a theodicy wrapped in a narrative, a work such as Lewis’ Till We Have Faces is the better, even if more difficult, way forward.

Read the whole review here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Don't Buy Stuff You Can't Afford

Some good advice, from an SNL skit:

If only our government heeded this outrageous advice.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Visualizing the Bible


The folks at Culture Making Blog have put together (above) a beautiful diagram of biblical cross-references:

This diagram arose from a collaboration between a Carnegie-Mellon Ph.D student and a Lutheran pastor to create a grand map of Biblical cross-references: “We wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level –- as one leans in, smaller details should become visible. This ultimately led us to the multi-colored arc diagram… The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.

(HT: Life Together)

Don't Desire Wealth

From John Piper, at the Desiring God Blog:

I can smell it. It’s like toast or steak or brownies. It doesn’t just draw our desire, it creates desire. Deep drops in the stock market make many people salivate. They know it will rebound. They are sitting on cash. By year’s end their pile could ride the recovery to riches.

For such people I have a word from God. The word is: Don’t desire to be rich. It will kill you. And in a world like ours many will probably perish with you. Paul’s language is more graphic than mine:
There is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.

It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1Timothy 6:6-10)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Matthew 6:33

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33

Ray Ortlund:
In our anxious times, this verse stands out. Let's be clear about what the Lord is saying.

The Lord isn't saying, "If what you really want is 'all these things,' here's how you get it. Seek first God's kingdom and righteousness." He can't be saying that, because seeking God's kingdom and righteousness first means first. The word "first" makes the kingdom and righteousness, not the 'all these things,' our true goal. God is generous, but he will not be used as a stepping-stone to something higher.

The Lord is saying, "Make it THE goal of your life, even above necessities, to seek God's kingdom and righteousness. Use everything else in your life to make progress toward this goal and to help others make progress toward this goal. Don't use God, but use the things of this life toward God, and God promises he will back you up. He will give you all of 'all these things' that you need for a God-seeking-first, kingdom-advancing-first, righteousness-pursuing-first lifestyle."

Every one of us is either seeking God or using God, moment by moment. The word "first" reveals the difference. And God's promise belongs to all who seek him first. The only safe place in all the world.
(HT: Vitamin Z)

You Eat What?

Here's a list of politicians who will never get my vote for any future election for any office. Why? Because they all voted for H.R. 1424, affectionately known as the "$700 Billion Bailout." Earlier this week, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, accurately called this bill a "crap sandwich."

Democrat Senators who voted Yes

Daniel Akaka
Joseph Biden
Sherrod Brown
Thomas Carper
Kent Conrad
Dianne Feinstein
John Kerry
Frank Lautenberg
Blanche Lincoln
Barbara Mikulski
Barack Obama
Harry Reid
Chuck Schumer
Max Baucus
Jeff Bingaman
Robert Byrd
Bob Casey
Christopher Dodd
Tom Harkin
Amy Klobuchar
Patrick Leahy
Claire McCaskill
Patty Murray
Mark Pryor
Jay Rockefeller
Jim Webb
Evan Bayh
Barbara Boxer
Ben Cardin
Hillary Clinton
Dick Durbin
Daniel Inouye
Herb Kohl
Carl Levin
Robert Menendez
Ben Nelson
Jack Reed
Kenneth Salazar
Sheldon Whitehouse

Independent Senators who voted Yes

Joseph Lieberman

Republican Senators who voted Yes

Lamar Alexander
Richard Burr
Norm Coleman
John Cornyn
John Ensign
Judd Gregg
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Richard Lugar
Mitch McConnell
Olympia Snowe
John Sununu
John Warner
Robert Bennett
Saxby Chambliss
Susan Collins
Larry Craig
Lindsey Graham
Chuck Hagel
Johnny Isakson
Mel Martinez
Lisa Murkowski
Arlen Specter
John Thune

Kit Bond
Tom Coburn
Bob Corker
Pete Domenici
Charles Grassley
Orrin Hatch
Jon Kyl
John McCain
Gordon Smith
Ted Stevens
George Voinovich

Democrat Representatives who voted Yes

Neil Abercrombie
Robert Andrews
Brian Baird
Shelley Berkley
Timothy Bishop
Leonard Boswell
Robert Brady
Lois Capps
Russ Carnahan
Emanuel Cleaver
Jim Cooper
Joseph Crowley
Danny Davis
Diana DeGette
John Dingell
Chet Edwards
Brad Ellsworth
Anna Eshoo
Chaka Fattah
Gabrielle Giffords
Al Green
Phil Hare
Brian Higgins
Chris Van Hollen
Darlene Hooley
Jesse Jackson
Paul Kanjorski
Carolyn Kilpatrick
James Langevin
Barbara Lee
David Loebsack
Tim Mahoney
Jim Marshall
Betty McCollum
Michael McNulty
Charles Melancon
Harry Mitchell
Dennis Moore
Christopher Murphy
Richard Neal
John Olver
Bill Pascrell
Ed Perlmutter
Nick Rahall
Laura Richardson
Bobby Rush
Jan Schakowsky
Allyson Schwartz
Albio Sires
Adam Smith
Zachary Space
Betty Sutton
Mike Thompson
Niki Tsongas
Diane Watson
Anthony Weiner
Charles Wilson
John Yarmuth
Gary Ackerman
Michael Arcuri
Tammy Baldwin
Howard Berman
Sanford Bishop
Rick Boucher
Bruce Braley
Michael Capuano
André Carson
James Clyburn
Jim Costa
Henry Cuellar
Susan Davis
Rosa DeLauro
Joe Donnelly
Donna Edwards
Rahm Emanuel
Bob Etheridge
Bill Foster
Charles Gonzalez
Luis Gutierrez
Jane Harman
Ruben Hinojosa
Rush Holt
Steny Hoyer
Sheila Jackson-Lee
Patrick Kennedy
Ron Kind
Rick Larsen
Sander Levin
Zoe Lofgren
Carolyn Maloney
Doris Matsui
James McGovern
Kendrick Meek
George Miller
Alan Mollohan
James Moran
John Murtha
James Oberstar
Solomon Ortiz
Ed Pastor
Earl Pomeroy
Charles Rangel
Mike Ross
Tim Ryan
Adam Schiff
David Scott
Ike Skelton
Vic Snyder
Jackie Speier
John Tanner
John Tierney
Nydia Velazquez
Melvin Watt
Peter Welch
Lynn Woolsey

Thomas Allen
Joe Baca
Melissa Bean
Marion Berry
Dan Boren
Allen Boyd
Corrine Brown
Dennis Cardoza
Yvette Clarke
Steve Cohen
Bud Cramer
Elijah Cummings
Artur Davis
Norman Dicks
Michael Doyle
Keith Ellison
Eliot Engel
Sam Farr
Barney Frank
Bart Gordon
John Hall
Alcee Hastings
Mazie Hirono
Mike Honda
Steve Israel
Eddie Johnson
Dale Kildee
Ron Klein
John Larson
John Lewis
Nita Lowey
Edward Markey
Carolyn McCarthy
Jerry McNerney
Gregory Meeks
Brad Miller
Gwen Moore
Patrick Murphy
Jerrold Nadler
David Obey
Frank Pallone
Nancy Pelosi
David Price
Silvestre Reyes
Dutch Ruppersberger
John Sarbanes
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Joe Sestak
Louise Slaughter
Hilda Solis
John Spratt
Ellen Tauscher
Edolphus Towns
Maxine Waters
Henry Waxman
Robert Wexler
David Wu

Republican Representatives who voted Yes

Rodney Alexander
Judith Biggert
Jo Bonner
Charles Boustany
Vern Buchanan
John Campbell
Michael Castle
Michael Conaway
Tom Davis
Vernon Ehlers
Mary Fallin
Rodney Frelinghuysen
Kay Granger
Peter Hoekstra
Mark Kirk
Randy Kuhl
Jerry Lewis
John McHugh
Sue Myrick
Jon Porter
George Radanovich
Thomas Reynolds
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Jean Schmidt
Christopher Shays
Lamar Smith
Tom Tancredo
Pat Tiberi
James Walsh
Jerry Weller
Frank Wolf
Spencer Bachus
Roy Blunt
Mary Bono
Kevin Brady
Ken Calvert
Chris Cannon
Howard Coble
Ander Crenshaw
Charles Dent
Jo Ann Emerson
Mike Ferguson
Jim Gerlach
Wally Herger
Bob Inglis
John Kline
Ray LaHood
Daniel Lungren
Buck McKeon
John Peterson
Deborah Pryce
Jim Ramstad
Hal Rogers
Paul Ryan
Pete Sessions
Bill Shuster
Mark Souder
Lee Terry
Fred Upton
Zachary Wamp
Joe Wilson

J. Gresham Barrett
John Boehner
John Boozman
Henry Brown
Dave Camp
Eric Cantor
Tom Cole
Barbara Cubin
David Dreier
Terry Everett
Vito Fossella
Wayne Gilchrest
David Hobson
Peter King
Joe Knollenberg
Ron Lewis
Jim McCrery
Gary Miller
Chip Pickering
Adam Putnam
Ralph Regula
Mike Rogers
Jim Saxton
John Shadegg
Michael Simpson
John Sullivan
Mac Thornberry
Greg Walden
Dave Weldon
Heather Wilson

If you read that list carefully, you'll see a name I mentioned before the list - Republican Representative of Ohio, John Boehner. Evidently Representative Boehner developed a taste for fecal matter during the week. What a disgusting display of politics. At this point I'd normally go on a rant talking about how dumb it is to say that our economy is in trouble because people have been borrowing too much money, so we need to tax them more so that they can borrow more money. Or I'd rant about how this is a larger scale equivalent to me cashing out my savings, going to Vegas and blowing it all on craps, and then getting bailed out by the government, despite the fact that I took a really stupid risk. But I'm not going to go into any rants. I just have one question. If you eat a crap sandwich, will you poop whole food?