Monday, October 20, 2014

The gift of life

The doctor’s facial expression was unsettling. “I don’t know how to explain this,” he began ominously. “You’re in perfect health.”

My wife Stacia and I blew a sigh of relief. “That’s good!”

“It’s very good, and it’s also very strange. I’ve never seen a man at your age this healthy, Mr. Beauchamp. You have the vitality of a 30 year-old! You’re aging at half the rate as the average person. Unless you go swimming in the Ganges River, or kill yourself, you’ll live to 140. Maybe longer.”

I recalled how my grandmother looked at 95. I think I would find a way to die sooner than that!

“How can you tell the rate he’s aging?” Stacia asked.

He presented a printed chart. “We used your blood sample to examine the state of your liver. Look at these levels. I won’t get into what each of them mean, but look. They’re green across the board. Actually, you’re out of range on a few of these metrics, and if I wasn’t standing here talking to you now, if all I knew was your age and these numbers, I’d have called EMS by now. But, as far as I can tell from the rest of the examination, you’re at peak health. My son is 28, and I would be thrilled if his liver looked like yours. Do you drink alcohol?”

I shrugged. “Two glasses of wine a week, if that.”

“What makes you say he’ll live to 140, doctor?” Stacia pressed.

“That I can tell from your husband’s telomeres, Mrs. Beauchamp.”

“What are telomeres?”

“They’re strands of DNA that get shorter as you age. When your chromosomes divide, the telomeres get cut in half. The older you are, the more your chromosomes divide, the shorter your telomeres get. We started gathering data on telomere length 8 years or so ago to measure how quickly the general population ages. You said the last time you saw a doctor was 2014?”

“Yes. I went in for a colonoscopy. I haven’t been to see a doctor since then.”

“As I’m required to do by law, I uploaded your DNA profile to the National Institutes of Health database, Mr. Beauchamp. Your telomere length places you 5 standard deviations from the mean. On the outside, you look 63, but on the inside you’re half as old.”

I wrung my hands. “I don’t want to live that long. I’m retiring next year. I’ll go crazy.”

The doctor turned red from laughing. “Good one, Mr. Beauchamp! With your permission, I’d like to forward your medical chart to Lazarus Whitaker at MD Anderson. He’s an authority in the field of longevity. He may find your case interesting.”

“I don’t want to be some mad scientist’s lab rat.”

“Not at all, Mr. Beauchamp. I’m not asking you to do anything. You’ll remain anonymous. Dr. Whitaker won’t know who you are. Your under no compunction, of course. But your case could help other people.”

I looked at Stacia, whose expression remained soft and calm. She nodded, her way of echoing my conscience, the voice inside my head telling me what I should do.

“Fine. Send it to him, if it’ll help other people.”

The ride in the car was quiet. When we got home, I went to my shop and toyed with some projects I’d been working on. The afternoon seemed to drag on and on.

We finally sat down to eat, and I thought I’d be able to relax, but I found that I couldn’t. I was as impatient for dinner to end as I was for it to begin. I cleared my plate and went back to my shop.

Stacia came downstairs. “Hey. What are you working on?”

“Nothing.” I was glad to see her.

She came up behind me and squeezed my chest. “What’s the matter?”

“I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do with all this time on my hands.”

“What do you mean?”

“You heard the doctor, Stacia. He says I’m going to live to 140. It’s not what we planned for.”

“So?”

“That’s too far off! What if I outlive you? What if I outlive the kids?”

“There was a chance that was going to happen anyway.” She let go of me and spun me around to face her. “When would you rather die?”

I scoffed. “Eighty.”

“So, at 80 years old, you’ll be done with life.”

“When you put it that way, it sounds ridiculous.”

“It sounds ridiculous no matter how you put it.”

The house phone rang. Stacia ran upstairs to answer it. “Len! It’s for you.”

I trudged upstairs. “Who is it?”

“John Whitaker.”

“The doctor?” I took the phone from her. “Hello?”

“Leonard Beauchamp? Dr. John Whitaker with MD Anderson here. I’m very excited to speak to you. I admit up front this a major breach in medical ethics, but I had to contact you personally about your longevity.”

“You mean my telo-whatevers.”

“Telomeres, yes. I’ve been studying your file since I received it this afternoon. I’d like to fly you into Houston to conduct some blood and tissue tests.”

I rolled my eyes. “No thank you. I released my file to you to help your research. I’ve done my part.”

“What does he want?” Stacia asked.

I covered the mouthpiece with my hand. “He wants to fly me in for testing.”

“Tell him yes.”

“What? Why? Hold on, doctor.” I lowered the phone. “Are you serious?”

“You just said you didn’t know what to do with all the time on your hands. Here’s your chance to help people live longer. What could be better than that?”

I wanted to tell her she was nuts, but the voice inside my head again told me she was right.

“I’ll do it.”

“Excellent! Thank you, Mr. Beauchamp. You’re very brave to take me up on this.”

“I have one condition, though.”

“Name it.”

“My wife gets to come with me.”

To be continued...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

In the service of sin

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Note: This is a companion piece to “Hell is self.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers presents in Smeagol/Gollum the saddest, most realistic portrait of sin in man. Possessing the ring for 500 years has split his personality in half:

  1. Smeagol: a remnant of his former innocent self, indulgent, weak, and usually under the sway of...

  2. Gollum: the will of the devil personified.

For a time, though, Gollum helps Frodo and Sam, seeming to put aside his desire for the ring. During that time, Sam calls Gollum belittling names like “stinker” “because that’s what he is, Mr. Frodo. There’s naught left in him but lies and deceit. It’s the ring he wants. It’s all he cares about.”

In Sam’s imagination he would not give in and be so completely dominated by sin as Gollum. There’s no coming back from the hell he’s been, so why not treat the sinner as he deserves?

Frodo, on the other hand, empathizes because, informed by his experience of the ring’s temptation, he sees the possibility of ending up that way himself. He wants to believe Gollum can be released from the captivity of his sin. He knows it’s not something you can keep at distance as Sam does. The truth has begun to dawn on him, since leaving innocence behind in the Shire, that everyone is a captive of sin.

We know how the story ends for Gollum. The ring takes him. It doesn’t take Frodo, who was no different than Gollum in the last moments. Redeeming the good from the bad is possible after all. We have cause to cling to hope.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10)

This man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for his child porn collection. His physical freedom in the prime of life is forsaken. But what is that freedom in the service of spiritual corruption?

“I’d just like to say I’m sorry to the victims. What I did was wrong,” he told the court. “There is some relief that it’s out in the open and I can get help.”

There is more freedom in a prison cell, released from the torment of one’s sin, than there is outside the cell, weighed under by it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Texas water wars

San Antonio is big, maybe too big for a city perched on the edge of the desert. With or without an NFL team, its water needs are outstripping capacity.

In addition to the $2 billion taxpayers approved last year to spend ostensibly to develop Texas’ water infrastructure, San Antonio wants to spend $3.4 billion to pipe in water from 130 miles away.

“They want to farm our aquifer, and use it to build over your more sensitive recharge zone over the Edwards Aquifer,” [Linda Curtis] said.

The recharge zone is the best place for groundwater to seep into the acquifer, which historically has provided San Antonio’s freshwater supply. Just north of the city, the recharge zone is where most of the city’s growth is happening.

Piping in water from Burleson County to slake burgeoning San Antonio’s thirst is a very California idea (i.e., destructive). For a hundred years, once fertile parts of California have been bled dry to fuel the growing Southern California megalopolis. Water diversions start out to satisfy current need, but they end up incentivizing growth that then requires more water. Now, as Californians relocate to Texas, we are repeating their mistake.

The higher you build a fire, the more wood it needs to keep from burning out. Self-rationing is the correct response to a tightening of natural resources. San Antonio should try out conservation instead of attracting others here at fellow Texans’ expense.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Odds and ends 10/14/2014

“Liberty is the prevention of control by others. This requires self-control and, therefore, religious and spiritual influences.” –Lord Acton

When Katy Perry went gaga over Oklahoma University quarterback Trevor Night on College Gameday, Brent Mussberger, the sports analyst who revitalized former Miss Alabama Katharine Webb’s career by noting what a looker she is during the BCS Championship 2 years ago, must have smiled. Mussberger apologized for the liberal prudes at ESPN, who abhor reality but adore transhumanism.

The 29 year-old divorcée’s affections for a man 8 years her junior were yet another proof that women love quarterbacks—as if we needed further confirmation. Tom Brady, the most successful quarterback of the century, ended up married to the most successful supermodel of the century, Gisele Bundchen.


When Steve Goddard says to bookmark this, you bookmark it. Carbon dioxide does not correlate with temperature, rainfall, sea level, anything.


Charles Pope writes about marriage redefinition:

Monday’s decision by the Supreme Court not to take up numerous state appeals regarding same-sex unions pretty much signals that the secular redefinition is here to stay. This is really no surprise given the rather deep confusion about sexuality and marriage in our culture. The polygamists and any number of other groups demanding recognition for their aberrant notions of marriage are sure to follow with all due haste. And what is to stop them, legally, at this point? The word “marriage” is now largely meaningless since, if marriage can mean anything, marriage means nothing, in the linguistic sense.

Every edifice of the old regime that is allowed to stand proves the lie of the whole liberal enterprise, which is why it all must be destroyed.


Houston Mayor Anise Parker is a liberal fascist.

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

The Houston Chronicle calls them “foes,” so why shouldn’t she persecute the insufficiently progressive maggots?


Katrina Fernandez channels Robert Stacy McCain:

If you are having sex it’s safe to assume that you might get pregnant, you know, with a baby. That is the result of having sex.

Yes, yes, birth control blah blah blah. But really all that does is encourage risk taking behavior and well, more sex. Which causes babies. Because we all know the only thing that 100% prevents babies is to not have sex. It’s not rocket science. Just basic biology and common sense. Sex = Babies.

I’m always astounded when I hear women talk about their unexpected pregnancies. What exactly was unexpected about it? Were they having unexpected sex?

That’s one of many reasons why I dislike artificial birth control so much. The prevalent use of it has caused a mental divorce between the idea that sex causes babies and that sex has consequences. All these pro-abortion advocates running around talking about planned parenting...how about if you don’t want a baby just plan to not have sex.

I said it first, but I’m willing to share credit.


Games like this are a hit in Japan, where love is dead.

“The guys do it like they’re walking into a 7-11 and buying a Playboy,” he says. “It’s something that a lot of people do, but they’re not going to announce it. I want to say that some of them are almost ashamed. Because there’s that kind of embarrassment factor. What’s somebody going to think of me?”

The game technically has 35 levels but once you win you don’t have to stop playing or start a new relationship. Amerson hired a man on Fiverr to record a congrats message in a “Budweiser-ad” voice and the girlfriend dances around victoriously, but the game can continue.

“You can stay with it forever,” he says. “I sometimes get people writing into me that say, ‘Hey, I’m at level 65 now.’ And I kind of cringe a little bit, thinking, oh man, I didn’t really design the game for that.”

The furthest that he’s ever known someone to play?

Level 200.

You don’t play a game like My Virtual Girlfriend that long if you don’t have some kind of deeper connection with it.

“A lot of people are lonely,” Amerson admits. “They want some sort of entertainment or companionship, or a little bit of both.”

No, in the end, I couldn’t fall in love with My Virtual Girlfriend. Amerson created the game to be light and funny and, for most people, that’s what it is and that’s all they want it to be.

But it became clear talking to Amerson that maybe some people do wish we had a Love Plus equivalent, that they could be overcome by the same digital infatuation as those men in Japan.

Because, really, we could all use a little more love, even if we have to get it through a tiny screen.

It’s video game porn. It’s machine-assisted masturbation. It’s not love, and as a love substitute it turns people inward on themselves.


Hollywood ruins Ghostbusters:

Fear not: The new Ghostbusters movie you’ve heard about is officially on the way—and it’s starring “hilarious women.”

Bridesmaids director Paul Feig confirmed on Twitter on Wednesday that he’ll be helming the project, and he knows exactly who he’s “gonna call” to star in it.


Alaska doesn’t have a fake economy. Alaska has a real economy. The real economy sucks.

“Things look pretty good, if you’re just kind of looking superficially,” said Jonathan King, an economist in Anchorage. “It’s when you peel back and look at the guy behind the curtain you realize that you’re not where you think you are. There’s an unsettled feeling up here—when is the party over?”

What’s wrong with a gun or a tall building?

Brittany Maynard is planning to die on Nov. 1, and she's fighting to expand end-of-life choices for others in similar situations.

Maynard had just turned 29 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer in January. She had recently married husband Dan Diaz, and the couple were trying for a family.

...

“I’ve had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die,” Maynard wrote in the CNN piece. “But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.”

Death With Dignity acts have only been enacted in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico. But Maynard aims to change this in her final weeks.

On Oct. 6, she launched a campaign called The Brittany Maynard Fund in partnership with Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization working to expand end-of-life options. The campaign works to raise awareness about the widespread need for death with dignity nationwide. Funds raised will go to supporting this effort.

Liberals aren’t satisfied with defiling just themselves. They have to fight for others’ “right to die.”

Related: Euthanasia spikes in the Netherlands.


The Texas legislature considers scrapping the state lottery. Good riddance.

The Lottery has fewer friends in the Texas Legislature now than at any time since the numbers game was approved in 1991, and former Gov. Ann Richards bought the first ticket at a suburban Austin convenience store.

Democrats have always complained that the Lottery preys upon the poor. They have now been joined by financial, “Tea Party” conservatives, who see the lottery as an unnecessary function of government, and by evangelical conservatives, who have long felt the lottery was immoral.

You’ll find gambling has more liberal support than conservative support.


National Review reports on transhumanist reeducation in Lincoln, Nebraska:

A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered [sic] expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender [sic] inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.

“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered [sic] expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.

“Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises.

The document also warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.”

The Adam Lanzas of tomorrow can rely on the “I was just shooting penguins” defense.

Excerpt from John C. Wright’s invective:

These people are mentally ill.

Yes, it is a voluntary mental illness, a group of sane people merely pretending to be mentally ill in order to adhere to the worldview of Cloudcuckooland, and when addressed on topic unrelated to whatever the fashionable faux-outrage of the day might be, seem as normal and sane as a human being. But when some social cue is given, like werewolves under the full moon, they suddenly transform, reason and decency fly away, and they transform themselves, willingly and eagerly, into frothing lunatics.

The mental illness is a lust to control the minds and souls of others. There are certain thoughts they do not want you to THINK, such as, for example, that boys are boys and girls are girls. That A is A. That sodomy is not marriage and marriage is not sodomy.

Burning question: “Which sports teams should transgender students play on?” Whichever team they want, since apparently there is no natural barrier liberal society will not throw out because it hurts someone’s feelings. How they contort themselves to coddle silly, sick, confused kids!

“Generally, our society is becoming more accepting in its understanding of gender identity and what that means, and we’ve been very lucky that in the last few years this cadre of young kids has started identifying themselves as trans from a young age,” said Helen Carroll, sports project director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who helped write a model policy for school systems. “It’s really pushing folks to really grapple with and understand what it means.”

But activists like Carroll have run into opposition, including from groups that say gender is a biological fact rather than a social choice and that schools should not cater to a small subset of the student body.

The nerve!

Vox satirizes:

I feel that I am 16 years old and fully eligible to play high school sports, and anyone who argues otherwise is transagist. After all, it should be obvious that the year of birth recorded on one’s birth certificate means no more than one’s sex recorded there, and “age” is nothing more than a social construct.

I know it’s hard to understand and there is a lot of controversy around this, but to be misaged as a middle-aged man when you are actually a teenage boy is incredibly offensive.


It’s not the NFL’s responsibility to police the motives of its players. But Roger Goodell has made it the NFL’s responsibility, and he is reaping the whirlwind:

A University of North Florida study finds that 25 percent of female NFL fans say the handling of the domestic violence case involving Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice would “discourage them from attending games” and consuming other “league-related media content.” While the NFL remains the top lure on TV, the league’s male viewership has been flat since 2009 as female viewers have jumped more than 10 percent, according to Nielsen. Women make up about 35 percent of the league’s regular-season audience, rising to 45 percent for the Super Bowl.

National Organization for Women president Terry O’Neill repeatedly has called for commissioner Roger Goodell to resign, most recently after Goodell’s Sept. 19 news conference during which he vowed to reform the league. Meanwhile, several female sportscasters, including ESPN’s Hannah Storm and Jane McManus, Fox Sports’ Katie Nolan and Pam Oliver and CNN’s Rachel Nichols, have been among the most prominent voices on the NFL story. “Sports is for everybody, but everybody was not being heard,” says Storm, who delivered a passionate critique on SportsCenter after she watched the video of Rice punching his then-fiancee while at the breakfast table with her three teen daughters. “Asking the tough questions, asking the right questions is critical to my job as a broadcaster and as a parent.”

What is Hannah Storm talking about? It sounds like she’s the one asking and answering the questions. I don’t tune to sports highlights to hear anchorettes talking to themselves.

Monday, October 13, 2014

______ is my strength

Saturday, the future missus, my sister, and I went to Waco to watch the Baylor-TCU football game. I’d been looking forward all year to this matchup between my two favorite teams, and the anticipation was running high as they were both undefeated and ranked in the top 10. The game was an instant classic, a drawn-out slugfest, ending in a last-second field goal by the Bears to win 61-58.

But we almost didn’t get into the stadium. As we walked across the new pedestrian bridge over the Brazos River to McLane Stadium, I felt my pockets for the tickets, and they weren’t there. I swore I had put them in my pocket, and we decided the only place they could be was the car. So I left the group and walked back to the car.

During that long walk downtown, I wondered whether the tickets truly were in the car, or if I’d lost them and the whole day was shot. I wondered if it was God’s plan for us to miss this game and scold me for putting too much stock in it. If so, I probably deserved it.

Part of God’s design is to make us wait longer than we want for the things we want. It’s His way of teaching us patience, that we ought not to sustain ourselves with fulfilling our wants and desires, but rather with spiritual food, the body of Christ. He wants us to put away our anxieties and concerns to seek Him.

Sometimes we lose perspective and base our spiritual happiness on circumstances we can’t control. For example, would I let my strength rest on the odds that I would find the tickets? Or would I trust in God no matter what happened? I prayed for the latter more than I prayed to find the tickets.

As it turned out, the tickets were sitting on the backseat, and we got to see the game after all. More important than that, though, was the reminder that Christ is my strength.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Yoke of freedom

It was Friday, but like every other day of the week, Jim came to the office wearing dark slacks, a dress shirt, and a tie. I saw him in the break room.

“You know, Jim, you don’t have to wear a tie to work every day.”

Jim didn’t look away from pouring his coffee. “I like wearing a tie.”

“The dress code says ties are optional all days of the week, and jeans and polo shirts are permitted on Friday.”

“Fortunately the dress code allows me the freedom to dress how I want to dress,” Jim rebutted dryly.

I scoffed loudly. I confess I enjoyed a spirit of rivalry with this man, that to my disappointment he did not reciprocate in the least. The more he ignored my attempts to antagonize him, the more jubilant I was at besting him in some small way, proving in my mind I was the better man.

I walked around him deliberately, my steps slow and loud. “Who are you trying to impress?” I said.

“You assume I’m wearing a tie out of obligation. You’re wrong. I wear what I want.”

“So you’re more comfortable with that yoke hanging around your neck.”

He set the coffee pot down and faced me. “It’s not about comfort. It’s about being professional and being committed to the mission. Since, according to your words, you are more comfortable without a tie, I assume you are more comfortable in jeans and a polo shirt, which you’re wearing now.”

“Indeed.”

“So you would rather dress every day of the week like it’s Friday.”

“Well, that’s taking it a little far—”

“Just between you and me, tell the truth: You hold it against management that they tell you how to dress, don’t you?”

I bit my tongue, astonished at how deftly I had been disarmed. If I said no, I would be admitting to wanting to dress a certain way to work, dress code be damned, despite a degree of discomfort, which was Jim’s argument. But if I said yes, I would be confessing to a resentment I truly did not feel.

Jim continued: “Does a mother nurse her child because he cries and she wants to satisfy him? Does a firefighter run into a burning building because his captain tells him to? They would be a poor mother and a poor firefighter if that were the case. Do hostile nations comply with the terms of a peace treaty between them?”

“Some do,” I answered.

“Would you say they are united?”

“No, they are as much at war with each other as before, in their minds.”

“Indeed. Therefore, do not take the same attitude with what is demanded of you from an ally, a teammate, a friend, a brother, which is what we are. If you dress for work going by what the dress code says, no matter what the dress code says, you have a bigger problem than the dress code, my friend.”

He raised his coffee mug to me and left the break room. I returned to my desk with some things to think about.

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:18)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Marriage whatever-ism

Eugene Robinson not only is wrong about everything, but is wrong about the reasons he is wrong:

The court’s refusal to take up cases brought by five states seeking to overturn appellate court rulings in favor of gay marriage—Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin—was a surprise. It does not mean that Chief Justice John Roberts and the conservative majority have gone all “Kumbaya.” But it can be seen as a surrender to the inevitable.

Three conservatives, one libertarian (Kennedy), and one cypher (Roberts) a conservative majority do not make. Four liberals and one libertarian do make a liberal majority. But I digress.

Same-sex marriage was indeed “inevitable.” Allowing marriages to end in no-fault divorce transformed it from a one-flesh union into a mutual exchange of beneficence and convenience. That was the new logic, and it’s led us this far. Polygamy is the next step. After that, who knows? All big terrible ideas gestated as small terrible ideas. “Two and two is five” is not a temporary abandonment of mathematical fact, but the defenestration of logic and reason altogether.

The atheist has a point. Under the utilitarian understanding of marriage—in which commitments to one another can be dissolved when they cease to be useful—the marriage contract is an ornament of the relationship.

It’s absurd that Massachusetts can reach into Texas to change Texas law under the equal protection clause:

“What should typically be a joyous time in any married couple’s relationship will instead be fraught with uncertainty and insecurity that no married heterosexual couple must endure,” the motion states. “If the State of Texas refused to recognize Dimetman and DeLeon’s marriage, validly performed in Massachusetts, DeLeon will not be recognized as the child’s parent absent formal adoption. As a result, Dimetman and DeLeon will suffer the substantial uncertainty and cost required for DeLeon to legally adopt the child.”

(Notice the positive rights case that has to be made for the “parents.” When children go from an exclusive blessing of marriage to an optional appendage of any kind of relationship, parental rights fundamentally change.)

This is what federalism is supposed to prevent. But the toothless Constitution has let the courts decide law against good sense and the will of the people. There is no law unique to a state’s democratic identity that is safe from leveling in the name of equality.

A certain wing of the Republican Party is happy about this:

“There’s now a constituency in both parties in favor of this. You have, of course, many liberals [who] favor it. They constitute most of the Democratic Party. And you have the libertarian element of the Republican Party, an important part of the Republican Party, favoring it as well. So it’s been a fast movement, but a bipartisan one.” –Brit Hume

Civil disobedience, secession, adoption of a new Constitution, or a religious revival are the only plausible scenarios in which one-flesh marriage survives in America.