Saint Louis

Posts filed under Saint Louis

Sara Scramlin: Rest In Peace

Filed in PersonalTags: Friends, Kalamazoo, Michigan, Missouri, Saint Louis

Yesterday I received some tragic news: a friend of mine from Michigan was killed in a car accident near Saint Louis, on her way to a Joyce Meyer conference. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that the driver who crashed into their van was drunk.

I knew Sara through our church: Kalamazoo Valley Family Church. She was one of the team members on my mission trip to England in 2002, right before I moved to Saint Louis.

I know that Sara is in a better place now, and that God has a plan to work out even such tragedy for good. But it is still difficult to cope with the lamentable loss of the life of such a wonderful person, especially considering that once again such woe could have been avoided entirely if one less person had chosen to drink and drive.

Christians Against Human Cloning Rally

Filed in Politics, Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Cloning, Missouri, Saint Louis, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Last night, I attended the Christians Against Human Cloning Rally, held at Life Christian Church and sponsored by Vision America/Missourians for Truth. Speakers included Shao-Chun Chang (professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis), Charles Drury (Hotel Developer), Archbishop Raymond Burke, Rich Bott (executive vice president, Bott Radio Network), Rick Scarborough (President, Vision America), Phyllis Schlafly (Founder and President, Eagle Forum), and Alan Keyes.

Some notable quotes:

"It is wrong to create human life for the purpose of destroying that life."

-- Archbishop Raymond Burke

"The most fundamental premise of our nation is not that we have rights, but that our rights come from God."

-- Dr. Alan Keyes

(Pictures will be available soon.)

UPDATE: See the Flickr photoset for the rally.

CAHC Rally 001

Christians Against Human Cloning Rally, Life Christian Church, Saint Louis, 28 August 2006
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

The Post-Dispatch covered the rally. Below are some excerpts from the article.

(St. Loius Archbiship Raymond) Burke, head of the St. Louis Roman Catholic archdiocese, joined other regional and national religious conservatives - from Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly to commentator Alan Keyes - who addressed hundreds who packed the sanctuary at the Life Christian Church, 13001 Gravois Road in south St. Louis County.

"Hundreds"? My estimation was more like 2,000. I was in the balcony, and couldn't see the entire floor seating area. The Cape Girardeau rally had 300, and gauging by the photo, we had as many in the balcony seating, alone.

(I just called the church to inquire about estimated attendance. Though I didn't get an actual number, I was informed that the rally was believed to be essentially a "full house", and the church sanctuary/auditorium holds between 3,000 and 4,000 people. I know the balcony wasn't entirely full, but the floor seating was.)

Back to the article:

In a telephone interview, (chairman of the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures Donn) Rubin contended that it was the opponents who were spreading untruths. Otherwise, he said, the Cures Coalition wouldn't have support from more than 100 groups, including research centers, health care groups and patient groups.

We'll see the most fundamental of your untruths, a couple paragraphs below. And it's about time I parsed your "factsheet" as well, since every single point listed is a mistruth at best, or a bald-faced lie at worst.

Critics, said Rubin, are "inventing wild claims to distract the public from what we're really voting on - the right of Missourians to obtain the same medical treatments available in other states."

The "medical treatments" canard is nothing but a "wild [claim] to distract the public from what we're really voting on." Missouri's access to medical treatments available in other states has never been in question, and likely will never be in question. In the far-off (and, in all reality, unlikely) event that a human treatment derived from embryonic stem cells ever becomes available, the location of the research into that treatment will not determine the location of the application of such a treatment. The availability of such a treatment will depend only upon the availability of access to the stem cell line from which such treatment was developed.

At the rally, opponents emphasized that much of the debate centers on a procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, or therapeutic cloning.

Under that procedure, the nucleus of an unfertilized human egg is replaced with the nucleus of another human cell. Opponents say it is a form of human cloning and cite the use of the procedure to clone Dolly the sheep. The Lifesaving Cures Coalition says the procedure is not cloning and cites the proposed amendment's specific ban against implanting such an egg in a womb.

And here it is: the number one, most fundamental, outright, bald-faced lie of the Coalition. By definition Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) is cloning; cloning is SCNT. The two terms are interchangeable.

In genetics, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a technique for cloning.

...

This technique is currently the basis for cloning animals, such as the famous Dolly the sheep, and could theoretically be used to clone humans. Scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute are currently researching a technique to use somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce embryonic stem cells.

For human cells, no other method exists as a viable means of cloning.

Even your own supporters recognize and admit this truth. From your own website:

Let us freely admit that the procedure used to produce human stem cells for research is cloning, but not in any way part of a process for creating human babies. The distinction should be clear.

The distinction is clear, but it is also irrelevant. Your Coalition is promoting Amendment 2, specifically stating that the amendment "bans human cloning" - yet, you never reveal that the amendment uses a conjured definition of "cloning" not recognized anywhere else, nor do you point out that the amendment actually prohibits the banning of human cloning - that is, cloning according to the proper usage of the term.

So, which side is it, again, using distractions and spreading untruths?

Back to the article:

Scarborough said the number of Missouri rallies would depend on how much money can be raised to pay for them. So far, each rally has cost close to $20,000. That includes Keyes' speaking fee of $2,500.

The Lifesaving Cures' leaders point to the payments as evidence that Keyes and Scarborough may have financial motives. Scarborough said he was offended by such talk, and added that Keyes' payment was a fraction of his usual speaking fee.

Let's compare rallies, shall we?

How much do you want to wager that the Coalition Rally held at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City, with its Hollywood glitz, busloads of "hundreds" (er, make that, about 150) attendees from across the state, red-carpet treatment of speakers, and applause cues cost more than the Christians Against Human Cloning rallies? To wit (emphasis added):

From their state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment to the busloads of backers brought to town from across the state, it was clear supporters of an effort to amend Missouri's constitution to protect embryonic stem cell research spared no expense at a Monday morning campaign kickoff rally.

With an audience of nearly 150 proponents at the Capitol Plaza Hotel prompted to applaud on cue and a podium of speakers from the political to the poignant, the rally in favor of the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative had the look and feel of a television talk show.

Are you going to imply, with a straight face, that all of the Coalition's speakers are speaking without compensation? Further, what of the over ten million dollars in Coalition support from the Stowers Institute? Would you actually lead to believe that this investment is made without an expectation of a return? Follow the money, indeed!

See also: LifeNews coverage.

Indy Still Tops in Housing Affordability

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Economy, Indiana, Indianapolis, Missouri, Saint Louis

Good news for my parents, since they are currently looking for a home in Indy, now that they have retired (emphasis added):

The Indianapolis area had the most affordable housing among major metro areas in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo.

...

Eighty-seven percent of Indianapolis-area homes were considered affordable for families earning the region's median household income of $65,100.

Here are the '06 Q2 report, and official press release for the NAHB-Wells Fargo HOI:

In the nation’s most affordable major housing market of Indianapolis, 87.4 percent of homes sold in the second quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median household income of $65,100. The median sales price of all homes sold in Indianapolis during that time was $120,000, which is up from $113,000 in the previous quarter and equivalent to the median sales price for Indianapolis homes sold in the final quarter of 2005.

Interestingly, Saint Louis isn't all that far behind: the median house price is $127,000, which is affordable for 79.1% of the population, at a median income of $65,800.

Another note: I apparently missed a golden opportunity to buy a house, as housing prices plummeted in 06Q1, and then recovered in Q2.

Church of the Week

Filed in Personal, ReligionTags: Christianity, Missouri, Saint Louis

My church, Destiny Church of Saint Louis, is featured this week as the 700 Club's Church of the Week:

Destiny Church of St. Louis provides ways to get their members involved in evangelism.

...

For making a difference in St. Louis and throughout the world, The 700 Club commends Destiny Church in St. Louis, Missouri.

The articles quotes my pastor (and occasional tennis partner) Jim Stern and my friends Alicia and Nikki, and references the church's Serve St. Loius efforts, including sending care packages to troops in Iraq and pillows to children at a local hospital.

Saint Louis Songwriters’ Showcase

Filed in PersonalTags: Food/Wine, Friends, Missouri, Music, Photos, Saint Louis

Tonight I'm at the Crave Coffeehouse, just off of the SLU campus, for the Saint Louis Songwriters' group songwriters' showcase. Neat venue for a coffeehouse:

crave coffeehouse
Photo © Crave Coffeehouse

crave coffeehouse
Photo © Crave Coffeehouse

My friend Christina is one of the songwriters performing tonight.

Fun With Electricity

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

While today saw more deadly storms raging across the Saint Louis area, sparks were flying inside my apartment.

I noticed this morning that my lights and power were flickering. The problem seemed to get worse toward the late afternoon, when a power spike fried three of my surge protectors and took out the GFI outlet in my bathroom. Inside the breaker panel, I found sparking and arcing going on at the common line - an indicator of a short somewhere.

I tried isolating the short by systematically turning off each breaker in turn, but could not find a specific culprit. So, right now, I've got all the breakers off, except the essentials: the breaker with the refrigerator, and one with the bedroom outlet with my alarm clock. (The laptop is running on battery power right now.)

Worse yet, nobody was answering the emergency maintenance line for the apartment complex. I'm pretty sure I've mitigated any risk of an electrical fire tonight, and hopefully someone can get over first thing tomorrow to find out the problem.

Flag Burning and Cross Building

Filed in Politics, ReligionTags: Christianity, Missouri, Saint Louis

Surely, if we can even discuss whether burning the American flag is a form of protected political expression (not speech), then a church building a cross must be protected religious exercise.

When it comes to tony Town and Country, some residents like to say there's an understated character in the city.

So imagine the response in this enclave of million-dollar homes and manicured estates when a church proposed building an illuminated cross on its grounds adjacent to Highway 40. And not just any cross. This one would be made of glass and steel, soaring 99 feet into the air - a height equivalent to five streetlights stacked on top of each other.

...

He claimed that when the church first approached the city with its intention to erect the cross, the city had no such height restrictions, but added them soon after. He called that "an effort to erect obstacles to the exercise of our rights of religious freedom."

Hey Town and Country, remember this pesky little line?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I'm sure you do so hate it when the Constitution gets in the way...

Operation: Homeowner – Plan A Update

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

Unfortunately, no-go on Plan A. One of the matching offers was for cash - not really any chance of besting a buyer like that. So, on to Plan B!

Plan B is also in Saint Ann, so it may be just as fast-and-furious.

I must say, as a first-time homebuyer, this is quite an interesting learning experience!

Operation: Homeowner

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

After renting for three and a half years since moving to Saint Louis, the time may have come for me to venture into home ownership. Pre-approval has been acquired, and an offer made on this 2-bedroom house in Saint Ann:

10513 Saint Francis Lane

10513 Saint Francis Lane, Saint Ann, MO, 63074-3407
Photo © Prudential Alliance, all rights reserved.

Within walking distance of Tiemeyer Park and only 6.2 miles from my office:

10513 to 13910

Driving directions from 10513 Saint Frances Lane to 13910 St. Charles Rock Rd.
Image © Yahoo! Maps, all rights reserved.

Mine is one of three offers, and the house has only been on the market since Monday. Things are progressing fast-and-furiously today, so I should know today or tomorrow if my offer will be accepted.

Sunset on a Gorgeous Day

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

Today was a gorgeous late-winter day in Saint Louis. On my way to the men's retreat this evening, I captured this shot of the sunset as I was driving the back roads:

sunset clouds

West Saint Louis county sunset, Friday, February 24, 2006
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.