Monday, September 25, 2006

A Resounding "NO!" on Amendment 2 on November 7!

I haven't always been like the men of Issachar, who understood the times, and knew what Israel should do (1 Chronicles 12:32). In 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court was deliberating over case 410 U.S. 113, Docket 70-18 (Roe vs. Wade), I was a sophomore in college. I should have known about it, but I was sadly in la-la land. The U.S. Supreme Court, the judiciary, effectively legislated the law of the land. Since that time, millions of unborn babies have been killed. We went to war against Adolf Hitler for similar crimes against humanity.

Sadly, it wasn't until a few years later that I discovered the result of that Supreme Court decision. I believe that the first time I spoke out publicly against abortion was in 1979.

I have been a registered voter in Missouri since 1994. 2006 Ballot Measure Constitutional Amendment 2, backed by a strong coalition of Bio-researchers from high-powered corporations, got the initiative on the ballot. Its passage requires only a simple majority. Since Missouri is a red state that has largely been pro-life, the framers of this amendment have resorted to subterfuge, in hopes of having the amendment pass. I am convinced that many Missouri voters will vote without being duly informed, impressed by the media blitz in favor of the amendment. The amendment purports to ban human cloning; however, its adoption opens the door to widespread human cloning. Concerned and informed citizens should vote no!

The initiative itself says, in Section 38(d)2(1): "No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being." That sounds great! A pious person might vote yes, thinking that the amendment bans cloning. However, instead of banning cloning, it allows it! How is that possible? The framers of the document use a special meaning of the word clone. Section 38(d)6(2) defines cloning in this way:

"Clone or attempt to clone a human being" means to implant in a uterus or attempt to implant in a uterus anything other than the product of fertilization of an egg of a human female by a sperm of a human male for the purpose of initiating a pregnancy that could result in the creation of a human fetus, or the birth of a human being.

That's helpful! Most of the scientific world understands that cloning takes place through what is called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. SCNT, which by the way, is the process that was used to clone Dolly the Sheep, is allowed by the amendment. What is banned is the implantation of the cloned embryo in the uterus. What is banned is the practice of the only thing that could save that embryo from destruction. Researchers at the prestigious Kansas City Institute will make billions of dollars if the amendment is adopted. They purport to do this from a humanitarian point of view, promising cures for diseases. The much repeated mantra that many IVF (In-Vitro Fertilized) embryos would be discarded anyway has been disputed. James L. Sherley, Associate Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, discounts the proximity of cures using embryonic stem cells. He says:
The second excuse pits "a greater good" against "the destruction of embryos for the gain of others," and this is a moral dilemma for sure. However, if the public were fully informed that "a greater good" was extremely unlikely and perhaps impossible, the racers to clone human embryos would be disqualified overnight.

Concerning whether the embryos that must be destroyed to create the embryonic stem cells are human, Sherley says:

My answer is, "What else could they be--aliens?" Scientists who want to conduct experiments are quick to say what human embryos are not. I challenge them to tell the public what human embryos are. There is only one answer to this question, "living human beings."

As a non-scientist, it is easy for me to ascribe greed (for both money and prestige) to the motivations of proponents of this amendment. Sherley, who is a scientist, doubts that they are motivated by science:

When scientists arrange their own press conferences to announce promises for the future that involve significant self-gain, let the public beware. The stumbling-block is non-scientific motivations.

I couldn't have said it any better myself!

I will be voting against this amendment, and I encourage you to do the same. Lots of resources are available for those who want to emulate the men of Issachar. I'm even in agreement with some feminists on this one. I would recommend some sites:
Missouri Roundtable for Life
Missouri Right to Life
Missourians Against Human Cloning
Focus on the Family's Citizen Link on this Initiative

As I contemplate our Brave New World, words from Romans 1 come to mind:
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:25)

May God have mercy!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tests, and the Role of a Teacher

I have given tests in each one of the courses I teach this week. Each class has a distinct personality. The levels of difficulty vary as well, though each course is a 4 semester-credit hour course.

My OT History course is a freshman core course. Every degree student takes OT History. I teach just one of six sections. The course material is laid out in such a way that a diligent student knows what is expected of him. The first test (which we just had) is fairly easy, and most students did very well.

My Analytical Grammar course used to be a freshman level course, but is now taught at the sophomore level. English Comp was a sophomore level course, but now is taught at the freshman level, in hopes that students become better writers. The grammar course is somewhat difficult, as some students seem to be wired differently. The grammar makes perfect sense to me (I must be wired correctly.) The grammar course had their first test yesterday, and the scores bordered on atrocious. I realized that perhaps I am not doing as well in teaching the course as I thought. Words spoken to me from a sage long ago reverberate in my mind, "A teacher has not taught until the students have learned." Yet some students have learned. Is it possible that they could have learned the same material without any intervention from me?

My Greek class (first-year Greek) had a test this morning. I gave them the what-for yesterday. I told them that I cannot learn Greek for them. I can help them along the way, but if they do not put in a serious effort, they will fail. I think that they caught my message. Though the test was not easy, everyone in the course did fairly well (average grade was a B.)

I gave my grammar class the same sermon this morning. I hope that they will pick up the pace and that their increased effort will show.

12 years ago, in my first semester of college teaching, I assigned an F as a final semester grade for a student. His failure was unnecessary, caused only by failing to turn in a research paper. Had he taken an F+ on the research paper instead of a zero, he would have passed the course. I cried as I marked the F on the semester grade report, because it was so unnecessary. A sage person (maybe the same sage referred to above) told me that I (the teacher) had not failed the student. Rather, the student had failed himself. I appreciated that word. Since then, I have assigned more Fs, and no longer cry. There does seem to be a certain disconnect, though, in the sage words. How can I reconcile them? I guess my job is to teach in such a way that the student, should he put in the requisite effort, finds success. That is what I try to do every day. Dios me ayude.

Have a nice day!


Saturday, September 09, 2006

This morning, I Withdrew!

My colleague, Dr. Terry Bowland, is the self-proclaimed commisioner of a college football prognostication pool, in which I have participated over the past several years. A few weeks ago, I told him I would do it again, but I have lost interest, and have withdrawn. You can read my letter of resignation from said pool, if you so desire, with a click of your mouse.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An Open Letter to Jim Hendry

Dear Mr. Hendry,

It was 1959 when my family moved to the Chicago area, and I began watching the Cubs on WGN, Channel 9. I consider being a Cub fan to be a chronic malady. I have been infected for years. For nearly 20 years of my adult life, I moved to the southern part of South America. There was no satellite TV, nor connection to the Internet in those days. I would occasionally pick up a USA Today newspaper, and follow the Cubbies. When my family would return to the U.S. (every 3-4 years, usually in the summer), in no time flat I could identify all those who playe
d in the Friendly Confines. The Cubs have taunted me for years now, teasing me every once in a while with a winning season, or post-season appearance. 2003 was the capstone. Oh, we were so close!

Since then, however, we have slid downhill rapidly. Last night, we overtook the Pittsburgh Pirates (Pittsburgh!) for possession of the cellar. We have the worst record in the NL, and the rest of the season doesn't look all that promising. The injury bug may have hit us much more than the average team, but give me a break! Our fundamentals stink! A contributing factor to last night's loss was that Ryan Dempster threw two (2!) wild pitches in the ninth inning, with Pirate runners in scoring position! Such things should not h
appen, Mr. Hendry.

I am writing you to implore you to do something to turn the ship around. You received your contract extension, and I don't begrudge you that. After all, the team you put on the field in 2003 was just a few outs from the World Series. But please, Mr. Hendry, do not bring back Mr. Johnny B. Baker for next year. I thought you would can him before now, but don't bring him back, please.

Please use the money the Tribsters give you wisely. Jacque Jones has a three year contract, but has made too many throws from right field that made it all of 12 feet before hitting the ground. Is Cedeño a shortstop, or a second baseman? I like him, but he's made far too many errors. D Lee's injury was huge, but come on! An MLB team that ignores fundamentals cannot win close games.

Please do something about the pitching staff. I'm ready to give up on our tandem of fireballers, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. They have pitched a grand total of 63 1/3 innings this year, combined! And where has your insurance for the rotation, Wade Miller, been all year?

Please, oh, please, put a better club on the field for next year. That will require a manager and coaching staff that believes in discipline and hard work. Joe Girardi has done a good job with a team that was dismantled. We want something similar on the North Side of Chicago.

I am not suicidal. My hope is found in something much more secure than a mediocre baseball team. But once, just once, before I die, I would like to see the Cubs win.

Thanks in advance for putting together a winner for 2007. Just wait 'til next year!

Sincerely yours,

A frustrated Cub fan

Monday, September 04, 2006

Scooter, OCC, Cubbies, Grandsons

Scooter. I am now a licensed motorcycle rider. A week ago, I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundations Basic Rider Course. It entailed about 4 hours of classroom instruction (I got 100% on the written test), and about 16 hours of on-the-range riding. It probably should have been about 12 hours of practice, but our instructor (retired Air Force) did not take almost good enough as good enough. He even had me wondering if I would pass the course. As it turned out, I passed, but worked pretty hard at it, and was exhausted. A week ago today I turned in my certificate from the course, and got an "M endorsement" on my driver's license. That means that I can ride my scoot after dark, and carry a rider.

Rose surprised me, because I though she had no interest in riding anywhere on the scooter. A few days ago she asked me when I was going to take her for a ride. Yesterday, we borrowed a helmet, and rode out to eat at Steak n Shake. I originally thought we might go somewhere on the scooter for a Labor Day ride. The Sunday evening ride may have sufficed. It rode quite a bit differently with a 2nd rider than just by myself. Though it has a second seat, it doesn't have as much get up and go with two riders. We'll see. I certainly enjoy riding it though!

OCC. We are two weeks into the semester. I had my first test in Greek class already. My OT History class will have a test this week. My class will have their first test in about a week. Our freshman class enrollment is down this year, which has affected the size of my OT History class. I have fewer student-hours this semester than ever before. That will help my grading load substantially. I like all my courses, and the students.

Cubbies. I am a frustrated Cub fan! Imagine that! But you just wait until next year! Actually, the Cubs have had an incredible amount of injuries, some of them freak accidents/injuries indeed. They have used 13 different starting pitchers this year, and 7 of them are rookies, making their very first major league appearance this year! Kerry Wood (one-time ace) began the year on the DL, and has pitched only 19 2/3 innings all season. Mark Prior (the other ace) began the year on the DL, has has pitched 43 2/3 innings. Wade Miller (insurance starter) has been on the DL all season until two days ago, but is really not healthy. Derrek Lee (who should have won the MVP award in 2005) had a freak accident, breaking his right wrist, and has been out for most of the season (before today, he had played in just 40 games; today's game is the Cubs' 137th game of the season). The Cubs' best hitter for the year has been catch Michael Barrett (.307). On Friday, he went to the DL and will not return this season. His injury (should I even put this in my blog?) was called an intrascrotal hematoma, which required emergency surgery. The Cubbies are on WGN today (Labor Day). Pitching ace Carlos Zambrano got only 4 outs before leaving the game (I suspect some sort of injury). He gave up 4 runs in the first inning. The Cubs are now trailing 5-4 against the only team in the division with a worse record, the Pittsburgh Pirates! Just wait until next year! Hopefully, Johnny B. (Dusty) Baker will no longer be on the sidelines, and the front office will do a major overhaul on the lineup, to put a winning team back on the field.

Grandsons. Our grandsons, Nathan and Eli are very cute. Emily, their Mom, has a blog. Recently she posted a video of the boys. Nathan did some "preaching" on the video. The line I remember was "1-2-3, Stand up for Jesus!" When his younger brother got on camera, the message was not as evangelistic. I remember him saying, "1-2-3, Barney is a dinousaur!" You can check out her blog by clicking here.

That's all from here. Nephew Aaron Gage gets married on Saturday!

Peace to all!