Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Well, I shook hands on it yesterday. I'm officially in a lab. I have a desk, and little clue of what I'm doing. But I have some great friends in the lab, and I really respect the advisor. And I'm not a floating spirit anymore. One undergrad in the lab saw me with my papers spread out everywhere as I was grading. She asked me where I used to grade, and I said, "Random benches." That was true! One night I plopped down on a bench that happened to be in front of an elevator. Somebody came by and said, "Hi, my name's _________. You've been there for 2 hours!!!"

One girl felt sorry for me while I was sitting on another bench another day. She even offered to let me sit in their lab!

So, yes, I've entered my indentured servitude. Hopefully I'll be out before I'm in dentures.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Gotta pencil? I Think I'll Vote Tink.

(In case that title was inscrutable, this post is all about write-in candidates.)

The Secretary of State for Indiana has his own website. You can access general election information, info for poll workers, and a bunch of other things at this site. There's also a list of all the candidates, including write-in candidates: November 7, 2006 General Election Candidate Filings. The “write-ins” are labeled with the letters W/I.

The write-in candidates' names don't appear on the ballot. Instead, there's a line labeled "write-in." When you pencil in a valid write-in candidate's name, it counts. If you pencil in a name for someone who's not a valid write-in candidate (say, "Tinkerbell"), your vote doesn't count. Since no list or write-ins is provided at the polling booth, if you plan on voting for a write-in, write down their name (or memorize it) before you get to the voting booth.

For information on these candidates (and their opponents), see their own, personal websites.
Many of these are provided at this Radio Now

U.S. Senator Write-ins:
Jack H. Baldwin (no party listed on the write-in list, but identified as a Democrat at the Radio Now site; no website found)
Mark Pool (Independent)

Secretary of State Write-in:
Bill Stant (Green)

U.S. Representative, District 5 (mine)
John Miller (Independent)

U.S. Representative, District 7
John Leroy Plemons (Independent; no website found)

U.S. Representative, District 9
Donald W. Mantooth (Republican; no website found)

Also, I just found the official website of Dan Burton, so I will include it here.


I just received the following article in an email from the medical school:
Over the past several years, the completed suicide rate for graduate students on the ____ campus has been on the rise.  While our rates are still below that of other Top 10 universities, it is imperative we find a way to reverse this disturbing trend.

Suicide is rarely an impulsive decision.  It is very likely that the suicidal individual may offer clues to close friends, roommates, colleagues, classmates, teachers, etc. There is no one demographic that can help determine suicidality in an individual, though international graduate students present the highest rate of completed suicides to date in our student population.  This may be a result of cultural issues and stressors.  Students may also turn to drugs and alcohol in order to deal with these stressors.  It is extremely important for faculty, staff, and fellow students to take note of clues that are offered, and to be aware of the University's Suicide Prevention Program. Your awareness about suicide may save a life.

For warning signs and advice on this topic, see this link. As that site points out, many people do have thoughts about suicide. But I know that when the thought presents itself to me, it's important that I "take it captive." If suicide looks like an option to you, don't just accept the idea because it pops into your head. Ask: what kind of an option is it?

Have you ever been so entrenched in a project (a doctoral thesis, a piece or artwork, or a jigsaw puzzle) that even the most minor distraction felt as if it was stealing time from your project? If life is your project, then suicide is equivalent to looking at your project and saying, "Humph, it's not worth it!" Will you ever be given the option of taking up that project again?

Love life. Love God. Doing these two things doesn't necessarily mean that your thoughts will be positive at all times (and anyway, I'm not sure if that can be accomplished without medication). But when we begin marveling at God and, for those who are Christians, realizing that we are God's servants and workmanship, then we see that these lives aren't ours to end.

Monday, October 23, 2006


This was originally written as a letter to one of my friends

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Heaven, too. It's really been making me think. Especially since talking to some of the students here on campus, I think it's very important that I have a clear conception of what Heaven is. One student I was talking to pretty much saw Heaven as a frame of mind. The problem with that is, that Christ said He was returning to Heaven. So Heaven was more than a frame of mind -- it was a location that could be returned to.

One professor on the IWU campus gave a talk on how Heaven is not mentioned in the OT. But if the people in the OT didn't know about Heaven, how could they look forward to it? I just love how Hebrews 11 puts it: "13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a
distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. "

The "new heavens and the new earth" do imply there's a "first heaven and first earth." Might this be the heavens and the earth that God creates in Genesis 1? As Genesis 1 reads, "1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

So, I guess I see a "normal" noun -- heaven -- and a proper noun -- Heaven. (Note: while the NIV uses the lower case for both types of heaven, I'll use the lower case the and upper case to show which one I'm referring to) One noun refers to the sky and the atmosphere while the other refers to a distinct place which is perfect and where Jesus is preparing a place.
Sometimes the little-h heaven is plural ("heavens"), while I've only seen the capital-H Heaven in its singular form ("Heaven.") The capital "H" Heaven is beyond time: it existed before time was created. I don't know of any reference that talks about when God created this Heaven, but if it was created, it would have been done before the earth was created. I also see it as being distinct from earth.. One reason the two meanings of heaven are so related is that many of us consider both the sky and God to be "up there."

Interestingly, the first reference to Heaven I found is when God talks to Hagar: (Genesis 21:17) "God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, 'What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.'"

So, even though Heaven is separate from earth, God is still very much involved in what happens down here.

One picture of the connection between earth and Heaven is given in Jacob's dream: (Genesis 28:12) "He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it." So there is a way to travel from earth to Heaven (but not by a Babel tower like some of our ancestors thought up!).

Because God hears from Heaven, we can pray to Him: (1 Kings 8:43) "then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name."

Really, though, God is omnipresent (everywhere), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipotent (all-powerful). Psalm 103:19 "The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all." He "dwelt" in the tabernacle and in the temple that the Israelites built, but was He confined by those dinky structures? So even though we often pray to God as if He was only in Heaven, people through the ages have realized that God is in many places: (Deuteronomy 4:39) "Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other."

So God is transcendant and imminent. I believe He allows us to see glimpses of what Heaven must be like. C.S. Lewis in the book Pilgrim's Regress shows a boy who sometimes catches glimpses of a beautiful garden. Always, theses glimpses awaken a sense of longing in him: he wants to see more of that garden, to really enter it! Much of his life is spent in wandering in fake gardens. But sometimes there is the reminder -- here is a garden worth finding! Those moments wake him up and move him closer to the truly beautiful garden. Lewis also describes moments of “joy” in his life that “woke up” a desire for God at certain points in his life.

Still, while on earth we consider the physical world to be the major reality (though as believers we realize there's a spiritual realm), in Heaven, the spiritual realm is what defines reality. Paul explained this when he says, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Still, though, Heaven is separate from earth. That's why Jesus says, in John 14: "1Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going."

If Heaven was on earth, why would Jesus need to be taken up into the clouds, through the heavens?

WARNING: This next part might sound goofy. In the movie "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy," some very unlikely people stumble upon a big secret: the world was designed for mice. When the first earth is destroyed catastrophically, the mice recommission a new earth to be made. While that's PROBABLY not too realistic, there is this grain of truth: this heaven (little "h") and this earth have been corrupted. But better than the story in Hitchiker's Guide, the actual designers are God and His Son.

This new heaven and new earth will, I believe, be added onto what Heaven is now (but does my time really apply to Heaven’s time? Is it really just 7 hours forward?).

Given the pictures in movies and books of “spirits” that aren’t much more than vapor, it’s hard for me to think of a world more solid than this physical one. But just how “solid” is it? Much of matter is empty space. But Jesus knows a lot more about real substance than I do! (John 20:26-28) A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

This God knows the ins and outs of Heaven and earth. And He’s willing to work through people as blind as me to bring about His Kingdom.

Jesus does refer to the "Kingdom of God," and uses parables to explain what the Kingdom is like.

I'm really glad that you mentioned this, because I have often wondered what the "Kingdom of Heaven" is! This is what I've been seeing... Looking back at Psalm 103:19 "The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all." Also, "[t]he earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it"(Psalm 24:1). God owns individual countries, as He owns all of the earth, but people don’t always like to acknowledge His ownership, His kingship, or His kingdom.

God's kingdom is not like earthly kingdoms. That's why the King came riding on a donkey instead of a horse. That's why He often appeals instead of commanding. It's not that He lacks force: it's that He is love. People in His kingdom are meek, are peacemakers, and are lovers of God. But they are not spineless: Jesus fully expected His disciples to know persecution as more than a stranger.

As Matthew 6:10 says: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Unlike many kingdoms where there’s constant in-fighting between the heads of state, in this Kingdom, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in perfect agreement. In this prayer, the Disciple’s or the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is speaking directly to the Father. It reminds me of God’s domain over both Heaven and earth, and God’s desire that all of His creation be reunited to Him. Man, is that a big heart!

Like Philips, Craig, and Dean sing, “One day every tongue will confess you are God, one day every knee will bow; still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose you now!” We are God’s people. While God created this world and retains the rights to it in its entirety, at this point He asks Will you follow me? When we decide to follow him, we become His subjects and realize that we live in His Kingdom. When we are meek and peacemakers, and persecuted, we show who we claim as King.

There are also those who do not see themselves as living in a world brought about by Christ. There are those who see the universe as the product of happy coincidence and blind forces. They don’t realize that they are living in a world commissioned, created, and sustained by God. Though they may live close to a person who realizes that the Kingdom is God’s, they might not even acknowledge the existence of God. For those who acknowledge Him, it’s often in a mocking way. This is like the tenants who worked a man’s vineyard while he was away (Matthew 21:33ff). The vineyard belonged to the OWNER. It was temporarily being cared for by the TENANTS. Whenever the owner sent someone to check on the tenants, the people were either sent away or beaten up. There was no sense of stewardship: only greed and self-serving. When the owner sent his son, they killed him. There the chapter closes, but the book continues.

For these people who have been given some portion of the world to steward, a day will come when they’ll be asked to show what they have produced. And “apart from me you can do nothing.” (from John 15:5). For people who lusted for more than stewardship and tried taking on the role of king themselves, this will be a dark day (as it was for the steward in J.R.R.’s “Return of the King.”)

But now is the time to be telling others – it doesn’t have to be a dark day. It can be a day of rejoicing. You can greet the King, the bridegroom, with lights instead of cowering in the shadows. He opens His arms now to all of us who call Him King! God reigns over all the earth, and we live in His kingdom. His throne is in Heaven, but He listens to the cry of His people!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

See What They Think

Who are you going to vote for? If you’re like me, you want to know who you’re supporting. So, here’s some resources to look at before you’re standing in the voting box with a pen clasped between two shaking fingers…

#1 The Indiana Family Institute has a voting guide available here. They asked insightful questions, and some candidates responded.

#2 See the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) website here. The NFIB is self-characterized as "The voice of small business." This site offers you a way to contact the candidate, and shows their background. If they have previously held office, it shows their voting record on slected business-related legislation.

#3 AdvanceAmerica has a voting record that shows how IN senators and representatives have been voting on some key issues. Click here.

#4 The National Organization for Women (NOW) has voting recommendations here. In Indiana, the NOW PAC (Political Action Committee) recommends Julia Carson (U.S. Congress District 7) and Sue Errington (State Senate District 26). Seeing who is doing the recommending may influence how you vote, if either of these candidates are on your ballot!

#5 Project Vote Smart has set up a website that shows how votes have been cast on various bills. As an example, a list of the Representatives are their votes on the bill "Information on Pain and Anesthetic for a Fetus" (HB 1172) is given here.
There is also an incredible volume of information available for candidates. For each candidate, there are the following links: Biographical, Issue Positions(NPAT), Campaign Finances, Interest Group Ratings, Voting Record, Speeches and Public Statements. The "NPAT" is the "2006 Congressional National Political Awareness Test." For example, they show the stance of incumbent Richard Lugar here. All of the Indiana Congressional candidates are listed here.

These are the questions asked by IFI:
1. Education – Should parental choice be expanded through tax credits or vouchers to allow children to attend any public, private, religious or home school?
2. Education – Should parents be allowed to home-school their children without additional state regulation?
3. Education – Should Indiana public school students be given mental health screenings?
4. Education – Do you support tax payer funded full-day kindergarten?
5. Health – Should embryonic stem cell research be legal in Indiana?
6. Health – Should physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients be legalized?
7. Gay Rights – Should government mandate that private business offer “domestic partners” (cohabiting homosexual individuals) the same health care and
employment benefits as married couples?
8. Gay Rights – Should civil rights law should be changed to protect an employee’s sexual orientation in the same way as race, religion, age, gender and ancestry are protected.?
9. Gay Adoption – Should the State of Indiana allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children?
10. Marriage – Should Indiana add covenant marriage as a voluntary option, which would require counseling before marriage, counseling before seeking a divorce, and a more stringent marital contract?
11. Marriage – Should the Indiana Constitution be amended to state that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman?
12. Abortion – Should abortion be prohibited by law, except when the life of the mother is in danger?
13. Abortion – Before having an abortion, should a woman be given written information stating that life begins at conception and that her baby can feel pain in the womb?
14. Taxes – Should the state increase taxes in order to provide more services?
15. Taxes – Should Indiana take steps to phase out and/or replace its property tax system?
16. Gambling – Should taxpayer money go towards subsidizing the gambling industry in Indiana?
17. Pornography – Should existing laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of obscene materials be aggressively enforced?

Here are the candidates responses for the IN Secretary of State race (Joe Pearson, the Democratic candidate, did not respond):

Mike Kole (L) Y Y N N Y Y N Y Y N N N N N Y N N
Todd Rokita (R) Y Y U U N N N N U Y Y Y Y N Y N Y

In Mr. Rokita's case, I'm wondering when exactly he will decide on questions three, four, and nine. As it is, I agreed with his stance on all but the issue of full-day kindergarten (#4) and adoption by homosexuals (#9). It is interesting to see the marked difference between Kole's views and Rokita's views! Does anyone out there have an insight in question #3 on mental health screenings?

I looked closely at the Republican candidates' positions. I would have looked closely at the other candidates' responses, but in the U.S. Senate, Secretary of State, Auditor of State, Treasurer of State, U.S. Representative, and State Representative races, there was a problem. While five of the six Republicans responded to the IFI survey, none of the four Democrats responded, and only one of the three libertarians responded. That made comparisons rather difficult. The one thing I did appreciate was that the candidates who responded at least considered the IFI survey worth their time.

The disagreements I had with Republican candidates are shown below:

Richard E. Mourdock (Treaurer of State) -- He is undecided on whether or not the state should increase taxes to provide more services. How about allowing citizens to decide where their own money goes?

Tim Berry (Auditor of State) -- He supports fullday kindergarten, and is undecided on the question of homosexual adoption. Plus, he gave no response on the phasing out of property tax.

Todd Rikita (Secretary of State) -- He is undecided on the issue of homosexual adoption, and he is also undecided on whether fullday kindergartens should be implemented or not.

Jim Buck and I agreed 100% on the questions shown above.
A slightly different set of questions was asked to U.S. Senators and Representatives. Dan Burton and I agreed 100%, though I didn't fully understand what one question on making tax legislation since 2000 permanent was driving at.
Jeff Drozda and Mike Pence (who represent others in Indiana) agreed, as well.

The questions posed to the Indiana Judical Candidates by IFI were:
1. Which of the following former U.S. Presidents best represents your political philosophy?
John F. Kennedy / Jimmy Carter / Ronald Reagan /George H. W. Bush
2. Which one of the current Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court most reflects your judicial philosophy?
Roberts / Stevens / Alito / Scalia /Kennedy / Thomas / Souter / Ginsburg / Breyer
3. Rate your judicial philosophy on a scale of 1-10 with originalist being a 10 and a living document approach being a 1.
4. Do you support / oppose / undecided a judge’s display of the Ten Commandments in his or her courtroom?
5. Should the code of Judicial Conduct for judges include protection of people on the basis of sexual orientation (Ind. Code of JudicialConduct, Con. 3, §3(5))? Y / N
6. What organizations in the last 10 years have you: been a member of, contributed money, volunteered time, been employed by, been endorsed by for a campaign, received money from for a campaign or had any other affiliation?

None of the judges that I have the opporunity to vote for (Sullivan, Friedlander, Kirsch, and Riley) responded to this survey.

Can I tell you what I find most ironic? I found Vote Smart -- which has the most information on the state and federal candidates –- as a link from the Planned Parenthood site. Of all places to find it! Their NPAT asks the candidates question related to:

Abortion Issues
Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part 1: Budget Priorities
Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part 2: Defense Spending
Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part 3: Taxes (A)
Budgetary, Spending, and Taxes, Part 3: Taxes (B)
Campaign Finance and Government Reform Issues
Crime Issues
Drug Issues
Education Issues
Employment and Affirmative Action Issues
Environment and Energy Issues
Gun Issues
Health Issues
Immigration Issues
International Aid, International Policy, and Trade Issues, Part 1: International Aid
International Aid, International Policy, and Trade Issues, Part 2: International Policy
International Aid, International Policy, and Trade Issues, Part 3: International Trade
National Security Issues
Social Security Issues
Technology and Communication Issues
Welfare and Poverty Issues
Legislative Priorities

The NPAT also includes personal comments from the candidates. I would highly recommend looking at this site, because some people who did not respond to the IFI survey did participate in the NPAT.

The Advance America gives the quickest overview of the votes that have been cast in the Indiana House and Senate, the IFI voting guide shows some of the differences between the candidates who chose to respond, the business website gives you glimpse of their personalities and views of business, but the Vote Smart site includes information on people who did not respond to other surveys (case in point, current senator Lugar who incidentally has held his current office since 1976.)

What I found when I scanned through Lugar's responses on the NPAT surprised me. I've listed some of the items I found pertinent as either "pro" in my view, or "con."

Lugar prohibits public funding of abortions, he's pro-vouchers, and he's in favor of establishing English as a national language. There are other topics that Lugar and I agree on. But, there's also the...

Lugar believes abortions should be legal if the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape. He provided no answer to the question, "Do you support a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman?" He's in favor of increasing the minimum wage, and he is in favor of maintaining or strengthening the current level of gun restrictions. Not only does he support stem cell research on existing cell lines, he is also in favor of allowing new stem cell lines to be developed for further research. He is in favor of developing a program to allow illegal aliens to work here legally.

I realize that my options here are limited; there are only two candidates for U.S. Senate. But because I do not agree with Lugar's stance on many different issues, I cannot in good conscience vote for him.

Ahhhh. I'd hoped to fill out my ballot tonight. But the fun has only begun! I still have practically no information on the county and township races. Maybe I'll finish it tomorrow! Good night!

On the Ballot, Election 2006

Howard County
Monroe Township

Straight Party
Republican (an eagle)
Democratic (a rooster)
Libertarian (the Statue of Liberty)

United States Senator
Vote for one (1) only
Richard G. Lugar (R)
Steve Osborn (L)

Secretary of State
Vote for one (1) only
Todd Rokita (R)
Joe Pearson (D)
Mike Kole (L)

Auditor of State
Vote for one (1) only
Tim Berry (R)
Judy Anderson (D)

Treasurer of State
Vote for one (1) only
Richard E. Mourdock (R)
Michael W. Griffin (D)

United States Representation in Congress
5th Congressional
Vote for one (1) only

Dan Burton (R)
Katherine Fox Carr (D)
Sheri Conover Sharlow (L)

State Representative
District 38
Vote for one (1) only

James (Jim) R. Buck (R)


Judge of the Superior Court 2
Vote for one (1) only
Stephen M. Jessup (R)

Judge of the Superior Court 4
Vote for one (1) only
George A. Hopkins (R)

Prosecuting Attorney
62nd Judicial Circuit
Vote for one (1) only

James R. Fleming (R)

Clerk of the Circuit Court 4
Vote for one (1) only
Mona L. Myers (R)

County Recorder
Vote for one (1) only
Linda J. Koontz (R)
Brenda Duncan (D)

County Sheriff
Vote for one (1) only
Marshal D. (Marty) Talbert (R)
Jon D. Zeck (D)

County Assessor
Vote for one (1) only
Jamie L. Shepherd (R)
Joe Milam (D)

County Commissioner
District 1
Vote for one (1) only

Dwight V. Singer, Jr. (R)
David A. Trine (D)

County Council Member
District 2
Vote for one (1) only

Paul G. Wyman (R)
Shawn P. Fain (D)

Township Trustee
Monroe Township
Vote for one (1) only

David M. Reser (R)

Township Board Member
Monroe Township
Vote for not more than three (3)
candidates in this office

Linda Johnston (R)


Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court
Shall Justice Frank Sullivan, Jr.
be retained in office?


Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals
Second District

Shall Judge Ezra H. Friedlander
be retained in office?


Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals
Second District

Shall Judge James S. Kirsch
be retained in office?


Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals
Fourth District

Shall Judge Patricia A. Riley
be retained in office?


Thursday, October 19, 2006


Tonight I opened up my inbox and saw quite a few emails on vaccines. It all started with someone forwarding an announcement from the Health Center to all the people on the Grad-IV list. It recommended that all students receive a flu shot. The following post shows some of the threads that have been going...

The original email, from Person One

_______encourages all students to get flu shots

Starting Monday, October 16th, McKinley will begin offering flu shots to all students 18 years or older on campus. Hours of availability will be Monday - Friday, 8:00am to 5:30pm. According to the CDC recommendations, October and November are the optimal months for influenza vaccination. Students under 18 will need an approved vaccine that has not yet arrived.

Shots will be provided for ... students at ______ Health Center beginning October 16th and other locations throughout campus as soon as October 18th. Visit the McKinley Calendar for a schedule of times and places - new locations will be listed as they are confirmed.

There is no charge for ______ students who have paid the Health Service Fee. A current ID must be presented and UIN known. If you have questions or concerns, call ____ -____. Also see: CDC Vaccination Information - 2006-07 Influenza Season Tips for Getting Through the Cold and Flu Season

Person Two's Reply

I know [Person 1 and the Health Center] may mean well, but I'd caution you all to think twice before getting a flu shot. The following article lists many of the dangers of flu vaccines and gives links to related articles. 1

In short, with the vaccine are preservatives and other toxic chemical additives which may include:

* Ethylene glycol (antifreeze)
* Phenol, also known as carbolic acid (this is used as a disinfectant, dye)
* Formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent
* Aluminum, which is associated with Alzheimer's disease and seizures and also cancer producing in laboratory mice (it is used as an additive to promote antibody response)
* Thimerosal (a mercury disinfectant/preservative) can result in brain injury and autoimmune disease
* Neomycin and Streptomycin (used as antibiotics) have caused allergic reaction in some people. The vaccine itself hasn't proven to prevent people from getting the flu, and it's common for people to come down with the flu immediately after getting a flu shot. The vaccine itself is usually a weakened flu virus.

The proper way to avoid the flu is to nourish the body appropriately, following Biblical principles of health and nutrition to strengthen your immune system that God created to fight off every disease in existence.

Why do hospitals like to give flu shots then if they don't work? The pharmaceutical industry wants our money, and they don't care what they inject us with as long as they can convince us that it works. Pharma is run on greed and evolutionary principles, rather than good science and Scriptural principles, and we, as believers, need to stand up to their lies. OK, I'll get off my soap box now and have some organic tea.
[Person Two]

My two cents

Thanks for bringing up a good topic! Which evolutionary principles do you see Pharma running on? I guess there's the underlying trend that some evolutionists believe: the world is gradually improving over time.

One reason why flu shots often don't protect you from the flu is that there's so many different viruses that cause the flu. So to gear up for flu season, Pharma has to guess (or reason from past flu seasons) which strains might be most prevalent. Maybe they'll guess right for the majority of people, but maybe I'll be vaccinated for strain A and then get sneezed on by
someone infected with strain B. So it's basically a lottery, and people have variable immunity to begin with!

I guess I'll head down a rabbit trail... the other thing that complicates the vaccine question is this: Vaccinations are often political. When it's compulsory for kids entering school it can cause conflicts between parents who don't want their kids to be vaccinated, and school officials who do want them to be. There's also the question of money. The problem when
vaccinations become a political tool is that people's consciences get trampled.

The doom approach is -- if your kid isn't vaccinated for mumps, then pretty soon mumps is going to be a normal childhood disease again! But if vaccinations are 100% effective, then how would this be putting immunized kids at risk? Of course, vaccines can't possibly be 100% effective. So if kids with an active case of mumps showed up at school, then the child that got a shot but for some reason didn't develop an adequate level of immunity could come down with the mumps. But then, wasn't the shot just a false sense of security for that child?

Maybe in a perfect world
1) the family could decide whether or not their child needed a vaccination
2) when a person decided to be vaccinated, a few weeks later they would have a titer done to assess their level of immunity.

That way, if for any reason they hadn't mounted an adequate immune response and developed their own antibodies to the antigen they were exposed to, THEY'D KNOW IT.

For people who had a conscience-conflict with having a vaccine, they would realize the risks they were taking and take full responsibility. For people who went ahead with the vaccination, they would realize how much trust they were putting in Pharma. For better or worse they are allowing direct entry into their bloodstream.

But wait a minute -- there wouldn't be any need for vaccines in a perfect world! LOL!

Just on the science level, I think vaccinations are pretty neat. But (like my Mom says), there's still so much to be learned about them.

But I see your point with improving diet, too. I can't see God recommending the "take a pill (or get a shot), and forget the problem" approach. When He healed someone, He often gave them pointers on how to improve their walk. It wasn't just -- BAMMO -- you can see! Allright -- next patient. I think He cares about the entire person: body, spirit, soul. That's why He tells one guy just after healing him, "Now stop sinning or something worse will happen to you!"

Have a good night,
Hannah Ihms
Person Three's Comments

I know [Person Two] may mean well, but I'd caution anyone about trusting a website that requires you to enter an e-mail address just to look at it...

It's also kind of funny that you attack the pharmaceutical industry for making lots of money off people (no actual arguments with that proposition, though I think that most of them mean well most of the time), but in response you send us to a website whose primary purpose is to present alternative medical information AND SELL THE ASSOCIATED PRODUCTS. Almost every page I looked at has a number of links to Mercola's books or other products the site is selling. Make no mistake: this isn't an independent non-profit entity that has nothing but the public health in mind; this site exists, among other things, to make money.

Finally, I appreciate that there is at least some attempt to cite sources, but it only took me _one try_ to prove that this site at least sometimes misrepresents information in ways that would lower my Rhet students' grades significantly. On this page, one of the recommendations to fight cancer is this: "Have a tool to permanently erase the neurological short-circuiting that can activate cancer genes. Even the CDC states that 85 percent of disease is caused by emotions." This last phrase provides a link (well, actually a series of two links) to a USA Today article, which states, "Up to 90% of the doctor visits in the USA may be triggered by a stress-related illness, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." Mercola takes a cautious and measured statement from the CDC that talks about "doctor's visits" being related to "stress-related illness" and turns it into the overconfident certainty of "diseases" being caused by "emotions." "Doctor's visits" does not equal separate cases of "disease," and "stress-related illness" does not equal "caused by emotions." In this paraphrase, Mercola is fundamentally changing what the CDC says (because after all, being cautious in your thinking doesn't help to sell books, but being confident and appearing to have all the answers does). Maybe the distinction between the two phrases would be lost on most of the general public, but I'd expect a doctor to know better. I'm sure it wouldn't take long to find other misrepresentations and half-truths...

And sometimes Mercola cites information correctly, but then just decides to disbelieve it, such as when he actually cites a JAMA article that suggests that flu shots _do indeed work_ when the flu strains are properly chosen:

As for the specific flu information given in [Person Two's] e-mail, I was unable to track down where the information he cites actually comes from, b/c the link on mercola.com where the author supposedly got his information, from a group called Concerned Parents for Vaccine Safety, is dead, which is never a good sign. You can check it out yourself.

Just offering my own public service announcement.
[Person Three]

Person Four's Comments

I am writing a quick reply to {Person Two's} email. There are some risks associated with taking flu shots (e.g one study has shown one out of every million people who receive the vaccine have an increased risk of Guillain-Barr Syndrome).

However, I want to caution you about the website www.mercola.com , and its founder Joseph Mercola. Mercola's misleading statements have led to more than one warning from the FDA (source: 1, 2.)

David E. Gumpert of Business Week Online reports:

While Mercola on his site seeks to identify with this image by distinguishing himself from "all the greed-motivated hype out there in health-care land," he is a master promoter, using every trick of traditional and Internet direct marketing to grow his business. (source: 1).

[Person Four]

P.S. Just saw [Person Three's] email, but I'd already written mine up.

Final remarks from Person Two

Last email from me. OK, so I forgot that mercola.com required an email to let you read many of his articles, so I apologize for sending a bad link. Here's a better, though much longer, one. This article is excerpted from the book "The Vaccine Guide" by Randall Neustaedter OMD.

As for the responses blasting Dr. Mercola, I hope you all understand that the intent of my email wasn't to endorse Dr. Mercola, his products, or all of his information (I do disagree with a lot of what he says, but he is right on most of the time.), but to inform you of the dangers of flu vaccines and the pharmaceutical industry in general, while encouraging you all to seek proper nutrition that is Biblically based. That is the best flu prevention possible. One author I highly recommend is Dr. Jordan Rubin, author of The Maker's Diet. I should have mentioned it in my previous email as well. That book presents a model for Biblical health and nutrition, which is basically kosher (Lev. 11), organic, and all-natural (Gen. 1:31). God made us and told us how to best nourish our bodies, so we should listen to Him and do what He said. Anyway, that's all.

[Person Two]

Friday, October 13, 2006

Do you know what you're voting for?

(The following article was recently published in Citizen magazine):
On the ballot Amendment 2 would allow cloning of human embryos specifically for destruction in stem-cell research.  Bott Radio Network is donating air time worth several hundred thousand dollars to counter a $15 million campaign pushing the measure.
Voters need to know Amendment supporters misled the public by saying the amendment would ban human cloning.  Now research shows that once voters know they've been deceived - once they hear that buried deep in the measure, which would add five pages to the state Constitution, is a provision allowing cloining - they oppose the amendment.
Contact Missourians Against Human Cloning, phone 636-536-9877; email info@nocloning.org; Web www.nocloning.org

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bingo -- a billion times over

So you're playing Bingo. The caller says a number, and you have it. The caller says another number, and you have that one too. Pretty soon you stop worrying about whether or not you'll have the number -- you know you will. Bingo! In no time you're clearing out the kitty. Not only do you win the plastic prizes, you get the honor and glory of being a champ.

Is this possible? Is this probable? If this happened in real life, would you stop and wonder, "Was this a setup?"

For all the analyzing "we" scientists are known for (I put the "we" in quote marks, because my status as a scientist is at present extemely debatable), there's quite a few things taken at face value.

For instance, today I heard a practice talk on drug design. The presenter was making the point that often a good place to start when you're designing a drug library is -- Nature. Surprise! "Nature" has some pretty good drugs up "her" sleeve. (You would be amazed to hear the number of high-level researchers who refer to "Nature" as a "she." At least they're not calling her "Mother" yet. I take that back. A Nobel-laureate actually used that term a few weeks ago while he was speaking here. He talked about "returning to Mother." From the context of his talk, this meant looking back at Nature and "her" way of doing things.) Sure, we have synthesized analogs of penicillin such as ampicillin, but the original idea wasn't presented during a meeting of highbrows at Harvard -- the original idea came when a petri dish was fungally invaded by Nature. "Nature" has also inspired treatments for leprosy and burns. Many of the active ingredients in common medications were originally derived from natural products.

But doesn't this seem like a setup? Sure, it's convenient that so many natural compounds would have such beneficial effects, but what's the purely scientific explanation for so many "good" products being readily at our disposal? How could we even be guaranteed ONE such medically active compound? And where's the guarantee that this compound or any compound must have a beneficial effect?

With so many people bustling in their labs, synthesizing this and that modification of this and that naturally-inspired compound, does anyone ever stop and ask --


WHY is this medically beneficial compound present in nature?
WHY is it so convenient to get my hands on it?
WHY is there consistency in nature?
WHY is there consistency in chemistry?
WHY am I able to reason?
WHY am I alive?
WHY have I rejected the existence of God?

At the same time, I can ask myself --


WHY do I put any stock in purely naturalistic arguments?
WHY do I take the creation's consistency for granted?
WHY do I forget to thank God for His gifts, liberally sprinkled in His creation?
WHY am I silent when God has commanded me to speak?
WHY don't I stand in awe before my Creator?

Some say...

Some say... "Green Acres is the place for me."
Jesus said... "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Some say... "The Golden Rule: The one with the most gold wins."
Jesus said... ""Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Some say... "Don't get stuck on Heaven."
Paul said... "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God."

(The following is from an email I sent to my parents tonight)

Hi, family!!!

THANKS for talking to me tonight! It's so good to hear from y'all! When I was hanging up, I was thinking -- if I didn't know better, I would think that somehow the phone links me to another universe...
It's just because I've used a phone so many times without thinking about how it works that I don't marvel at the WAY it works! Who would have ever guessed that radio waves could be "trained" to wander down wires?

One of the speakers who was here a few weeks ago made the point that ANYTHING can be interesting, once you start studying it. (I agree, to a point). As he said, you could spend a long time on -- peanut butter!

That's pretty close to what Carver did, though he started from the peanut. And look at all he could do with that!

Sometimes when Grandpa was sick I would wish I knew more about the disease, and could do SOMETHING to help him. He was so curious about anything and everything medical, so at one point I took my anatomy book up to the hospital and showed him some of the pictures out of it. It was a pretty good-sized book, but he propped it up and studied the diagrams of the lung very carefully! (I remember how strong his arms were!)

I really do miss Grandma and Grandpa. Sometimes something will remind me of Grandma or Grandpa, and I'll just start thinking about them. I AM SO GLAD that they are safe with Christ. This might sound silly, but if you think about the Aggravation game, it's a pretty good picture of life. You go through life, and it's hard to get started. It seems like you keep rolling the wrong number. It doesn't help that everyone around you seems to be rolling those right numbers and hop-skip-jumping their way to a career. Finally, you start your plugging. If you can get several things rolling at once, all the better, as long as you keep track of them! Then there's the star-path, which is doubly hard to get landed in! Just at the point when
you start making it somewhere, somebody lands on you and you're back at the start trying to get on a roll. But the best thing about this picture is that once you're finished, there is no reincarnation. Once your marble's made it all the way around the board (whether by the long plugging path or the quick star-path), you're finished. No one can land on you and send you
back to circle-one.

All that to say -- Grandma and Grandpa have finished their race. Now they're part of the "cloud of witnesses." Can you imagine the people they're able to meet now? Grandpa was calling or interested in calling some of the influential people on earth -- Rush Limbaugh, etc. But now he's meeting people face-to-face. He's meeting people like Moses and Francis
Schaeffer and Adam. Maybe they sit and talk, or maybe they talk while they build buildings. Or maybe they have an entirely different project, that's totally beyond what I can think of.

I don't know if there's crocheting in Heaven, but I can see Grandma making afghan squares. But maybe I'm not thinking big enough -- maybe she's designing tapestries to decorate some of Heaven's walls! Anyway -- she's not wearing her glasses anymore. She's not taking any insulin either. She MIGHT still have peppermints in her big black, purse, though. But are there purses in Heaven when there's not any money?

I wonder what it was like when Grandma got to meet Granny and Beth and Grandma Carrie again. It had to be so hard to say goodbye to them on this side, but it must be SO GLORIOUS to see them again when Christ is there and He has made ALL things new.

Grandpa is able to chat with Uncle Wilton. They can pull up a chair and talk to their mom and dad anytime.

Grandma, Grandpa, Granny -- they don't need an airplane anymore.

But as great as all THIS is (and I'm sure it's wonderful!), the greatest thing is that their KING is there. Instead of relying on letters that have been read, reread, circled, highlighted, and loved, they can talk to their king face-to-face. Grandma can see the One she loved so much. Grandpa can walk with the One who gave His all.

It must be Heavenly.


You are my lamp, O Lord;
the Lord turns my darkness into light.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

That sounds complex

It's been a week since I posted! Yikes!

Yesterday a student asked me about an ion. It was [Cu(OH2)6]2+, and I had never seen it before. Besides that, I never quite understood coordination chemistry. So, a Google search brought me to a page that said:

"Note: If you aren't happy about complex ions (including the way they are bonded and named), it would pay you to follow this link and explore the first couple of pages in the complex ions menu before you go on."

So I followed that advice and found this site:

Complex Ions

I thought I'd pass it on.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who said it?

(A) "We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy."

(B) "When the errant biological properties of human embryonic stem cells are considered, it is difficult to foresee them ever being used directly as cures in children or adults."

ANSWERS (no peeking!)

(A) Sir Isaac Newton -- he went on to say "I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever." (Henry M. Morris, Men of Science Men of God: Great Scientists of the Past Who Believed the Bible El Cajon, CA: Master Books, 1990, p. 26.) Newton is known for his ground-breaking work in optics, gravitation, calculus, and energy conservation.

(B) Dr. James Sherley, MD, PhD at MIT. In an interview, Dr. Sherley was asked, "You seem pretty convinced that human embryos are human beings. Can you explain briefly why?"

"My answer is, 'What else could they be -- aliens?' Scientists who want to conduct experiments with human embryos 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.'"

(To see a further discussion of embryonic stem cell research, and specifically Amendment 2 in Missouri, click here.)

Image credits: Sir Isaac Newton -- 1
Dr. James Sherley -- 2