Saint Louis

Posts filed under Saint Louis

Hailstorm

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

Yesterday the bi-state area got hit with a pretty good thunder/hail storm.

hailstorm 002

After a hailstorm, February 16, 2005
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

St. Louis RNC 2008?

Filed in PoliticsTags: Elections, Missouri, Republicans, Saint Louis

Saint Louis was among 31 cities invited to bid for the 2008 Republican National Convention:

Cities that received requests for convention proposals are: Anaheim, Calif.; Atlanta; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle; St. Louis, Mo.; and Tampa.

I think the Gateway City would be a great place for then convention. TexasRainmaker wants it in Houston; others think that idea is full of crap.

Get Thee Outside!

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

Taking my lunch break outside today:

60 degrees

Welcome to St. Louis: land of the continual indian-summer winter!

Say It Ain’t So, Jim!

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Media Bias, Missouri, Republicans, Saint Louis, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Hat tip: Arch City Chronicle. Also, Jamie Allman discussed this article this afternoon on 97.1 FM Talk while filling in on the Dave Glover Show. He mentioned an email I sent him regarding some of these issues.

The Post-Dispatch reports Senator Talent's capitulation on banning embryonic stem cell research in Missouri, and, as usual when reporting on stem cell research, gets the story completely wrong.

First, on the poor reporting:

Following the lead-in, the article makes the following statement:

Wading into a political minefield that has pitted abortion-rights opponents against some scientists and families struggling with debilitating diseases, Talent, R-Mo., said Friday there were "no prospects" for enacting the ban on human cloning—a bill he has co-sponsored for the last four years.

The argument that this debate pits abortion-rights opponents against scientists and families struggling with debilitating diseases is both specious and sensational. It evokes the entirely unproven notion that embryonic stem cell research has shown at all any unique promise in therapeutic benefits in order to appeal to the emotional sensibilities of an otherwise-ignorant audience. (See this previous post for related links.) The inarguable reality is that, for those families struggling with debilitating diseases, the only real hope exists right now in adult stem cell research. While embryonic stem cell research has produced not one benefit, adult stem cell research has produced some sixty-five benefits (as of July 2005) for cancer, auto-immune diseases, cardiovascular and ocular problems, neural/degenerative illnesses and injuries, anemia and other blood conditions, metabolic disorders, and various wounds and injuries.

Without this context, the uninformed reader is led to assume that without embryonic stem cell research, no hope exists for therapies or cures for such debilitating diseases. Without this context, such a reader is left ignorant even of the differentiation between adult and embryonic stem cell research. Without this context, the reader does not recognize that the ban only applies to embryonic stem cell research, preserving the efficacious adult stem cell research.

Toward the end of the article, the following statement appears:

In his speech Friday, Talent said the new form of stem cell research makes therapeutic cloning unnecessary.

In that process, also known as or somatic cell nuclear transfer, the nucleus of an unfertilized egg is replaced with the nucleus of another cell from a human body. The egg is then stimulated to divide, as it would when fertilized by a sperm, and the early stem cells are harvested. Stem cells can mature into a variety of cells to form organs and other body parts.

Now here's a semantic argument I've not yet heard; likely, because Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) and therapeutic cloning are exactly the same thing. The two terms are interchangeable:

Therapeutic cloning (also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, cell nuclear replacement, research cloning, and embryo cloning)...

What is unclear from this simplified description is that what results from this process is a genetically complete human cell. Stem cells are extracted from the developing embryo (at this stage, referred to as a "blastocyst"), destroying the embryo in the process. Left to its own devices, it would develop into a fully formed human being. This point is indisputible. From Clone The Truth:

SCNT is the same in both therapeutic and reproductive cloning. The only difference is whether the cloned embryo is implanted.

Implantation differentiates between therapeutic and reproductive cloning - not the process that yields the embryo in question.

It appears that the Post-Dispatch just got the story completely wrong. From the Kansas City Star, Talent is favoring not SCNT, but a technique known as "altered nuclear transfer" (ANT):

Saying new scientific research may make it possible to create stem cells without cloning human embryos, Sen. Jim Talent on Friday withdrew as co-sponsor of a bill that would ban all human cloning and make it a crime for anyone to take part in the process.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Talent said the alternative research made the bill unnecessary. The new research - called altered nuclear transfer - would provide common ground for people on all sides of the issue, he said.

First, a brief description of ANT:

Altered Nuclear Transfer uses the technology of NT but with a preemptive alteration that assures that no embrye is created. The somatic cell nucleus or the emucleated egg contents (cytoplasm) or both are first altered before the somatic cell nucleus is transferred into the egg. The alterations cause the somatic cell DNA to function in such a way that no embryo is generated, but pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are produced.

"...no embryo is generated, but pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are produced" - a curious statement, that. In layman's terms, ANT alters the two components prior to the nuclear transfer, such that the embryonic development is genetically altered to prevent the ability of the embryo to develop fully. The claim that the embryo is non-human is clearly untrue; it is simply a human embryo genetically altered to prevent its full development. Contrary to the claims that this method eliminates ethical concerns over SCNT, I find the method to be even more morally repugnant, as researchers assume even more God-like power over the embryo, choosing which will be allowed to develop, and which will not.

ANT still performs a nuclear transfer; this process is, by definition, cloning. Regardless of how the components are genetically altered, the resultant clone still develops enough to produce human embryonic stem cells. Only a human embryo can produce human embryonic stem cells.

Now, on to Senator Talent:

From the article:

In a surprise turnabout, Sen. Jim Talent withdrew his support Friday for a controversial ban on human cloning and offered what he said was a compromise proposal that would heal the deep divide over stem cell research.

...

Talent said his alternative proposal, which he is still developing, would fund a newly emerging technology that avoids the most dicey element of the debate -- the destruction of human embryos that occurs in traditional stem cell research.

...

But even as Talent outlined his new position on Fridays -- saying he’d spent a year researching the issue -- the Missouri senator still declined to take a position on a state initiative petition that has made the stem cell debate so hot at home.

Mr. Talent, with all due respect, if you have "researched the issue" for an entire year, surely you wouldn't make the mistake of trying to differentiate between any form of nuclear transfer and therapeutic cloning. Surely you would know that no such "emerging technology" exists that would avoid the destruction of human embryos. From one of your staunchest supporters, know that you will have a great deal of explaining to do, and will have an extremely difficult time trying to justify this move.

Senator Talent, your argument fails on two points:

First, if ANT, as its proponents claim, is not cloning, and does not produce a human embryo, then it is not inconsistent with a proposed ban on human cloning. Passing such a ban - either federally, or in Missouri - would not prevent research that neither clones human DNA nor produces human embryos.

Second, if ANT is a form of human cloning, and does produce human embryos, then all the same ethical and moral questions remain. It is not then a "compromise" acceptable to both sides of the controversy, as you claim:

"There's a sense on both sides of the controversy that if you propose something that concedes something to the other side, you give up something yourself," Talent said. "It is going to become increasingly clear that the way for both sides to get what they want is to compromise."

Senator Talent, with respect to the destruction of human embryos, we have no intention of compromising on the sanctity of every life, no matter at what point in its development. We have no intention of conceding even a single human life.

Consistent with the Clone the Truth campaign, I am committed to ensuring that the truth about adult and embryonic stem cell and related research is made known. I am likewise committed to ensuring that this deceptively worded and ill-advised ballot initiative is defeated.

UPDATE:
Clone the Truth references this post, and calls ANT a "Trojan Horse."

UPDATE II:
ProLifeBlogs is now running with this story, as well, linking also to Secondhand Smoke, who in turn references Ramesh Ponnuru in NRO.

New Year’s Eve Party

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

Anna, the baby, and I at the New Year's Eve party with several friends from church:NewYearsEveChip, Anna, and baby at New Year's Eve party, December 31, 2005
Photo © Maria Joslyn. Used with permission
I even splurged, and drank the whole glass of sparkling grape juice. Anna made me do it!

This picture reminds me of another blogger in much the same situation, and who had this to say:

For all you single guys, let me say this. If you ever find a woman who can juggle a baby, a bottle, and a glass of champagne, and look this good doing it - you marry her.

For the record, Anna managed all three (except it was sparkling grape juice, not champagne) - and as for marrying her now that I've found her: I intend to!

Sunset in St. Louis

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

We've had some great weather recently. This weekend is gorgeous, and tonight we were blessed with an amazing sunset:sunset002_400x300Maybe the start of a photoblogging feature...?

On The Outside, Looking In

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Missouri, Saint Louis

You know, moving to St. Louis some three years ago has been an educational experience in so many ways. St. Louis remains very much an old-fashioned, blue-collar, labor-friendly city. St. Louis has two very strong religious identities: Roman Catholic and Lutheran. These religious identities are due, in large part, to the very strong ethnic identities with which St. Louis is blessed. One such ethnic identity - the Polish immigrants of the St. Stanislaus Kostka parish - are in the midst of a legal battle with the St. Louis archdiocese that is painful and saddening to witness.

St. Stanislaus is unique in that it was granted a "perpetual charter" to control the property and assets through a board of directors. The St. Louis archdiocese has been attempting to gain control of the parish's $9 Million in assets, having no legal, moral, or other authority or power to do so. The dispute has escalated from the archdiocese removing the parish's priest, to the parish independently hiring its own priest, to the archdiocese excommunicating said priest along with the entire board of directors and declaring all religious rites performed at the parish to be "illicit", to the parish continuing to hold mass and perform religious rites in defiance of the archdiocese's edicts, to the archdiocese removing the parish from the archdiocese altogether.

The reaction of Saint Louisans has been divided, perhaps even hotly, with support for both St. Stanislaus (more) and the archdiocese of St. Louis (more). Of course, both the archdiocese and the parish have their own side of the dispute.

At least at this point, I am somewhat dispassionate with respect to the legal dispute. Others much more well-versed in the details can offer much more meaningful opinions. The issue I have a problem with, though, is the archdiocese excommunicating the priest, board of directors, and essentially the parish itself over a legal dispute. (I question the right of anyone other than the Holy Spirit to "excommunicate" anyone, but that is another matter altogether.) The idea that such a legal dispute could be grounds for moral action does not appear to be consistent with my understanding of the Bible. For the archdiocese to claim that participants in a so-called "illicit" mass are placing themselves in danger of "mortal sin" is preposterous. The mass worships and glorifies God, regardless of whether or not one recognized as an "official" priest officiates it. (Of course, again, my reading of I Peter 2:9 tells me that there is no longer any separation between laity and priesthood - so my bias is obviously against the Roman Catholic position here.)

Yes, I am extremely bothered that I am forbidden to participate in communion (eucharist) if I attend Roman Catholic mass. We profess faith in the same Christ, and claim righteousness through that same faith. What about "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace"? Would the Roman Catholic church consider my Catholic friends to be in danger of "mortal sin" if they attended a service at my non-Roman Catholic church? That very thought is preposterous. I would not join those protestants who think that Catholics are "non-Christian" or "unsaved"; to me, anyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ, and claims salvation from sins through that faith alone, is my brother (or sister) in Christ.

Among my observations of being a Saint Louisan for better than three years now is that this city is fragmented and segregated - ideology, ethnicity, even neighborhoods - more than any city I've ever known. Identity is not so much as a Saint Louisan as a member of a neighborhood community (of which there are too many to list here). It is extremely disappointing that the same segregation appears in the Christian community in Saint Louis. I pray for the unity of the city - but my prayer is first for the unity of the Church of Saint Louis. And I pray that I will have the opportunity to participate in bringing about the reconciliation so desparately needed.

Egads!

Filed in Social IssuesTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

I heard it, but didn't believe it. Now Never teh Bride confirms it:

According to CostofWedding.com, the average price for a wedding in the U.S. is $26,800. The general breakdown they give is thus:

Wedding Attire $1,841.00
Wedding Ceremony $2,337.00
Wedding Favors & Gifts $1,104.00
Wedding Flowers $1,136.00
Wedding Jewelry $1,739.00
Wedding Music $922.00
Wedding Photography $2,659.00
Wedding Reception $13,692.00
Wedding Stationery $809.00

The site features a wedding cost calculator based on zip code, which is pretty cool.

So, I decided to see what a wedding here would cost:

On average, couples will spend $55,208.00 for their wedding in Chesterfield, Missouri 63017

Fifty-five thousand dollars?!? That's one-fourth to one-half of the cost of a house. Needless to say, our wedding won't cost anywhere near that much.

(Hat tip:PJMedia - Top Stories)

Aerosol Can Explodes, Burns at Lambert

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

Another reason I'm glad I didn't check any bags for my Thanksgiving visit to Mom and Dad:

An aerosol can inside a piece of luggage exploded in flames Saturday night on a luggage carousel at Lambert Airport.

An airport police officer grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the small fire on Carousel M1 about 8:15 p.m. No one was injured.

Airport spokeswoman Sandy Singer said the bag was "coming onto the carousel and seemed to be smoking and caught fire."

Here's hoping my flight today is much less eventful.

Nightmare Closed

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Missouri, Saint Louis

A nearly two-month long nightmare has come to a close:

Two St. Charles County chemists who have been living in fear for seven weeks after a former co-worker shot one of them, got word Thursday that their nightmare had ended.

Police told them that a badly decomposed body found in a remote area of Crawford County is believed to be that of Michael William Schreiner, the man who was wanted for a shooting ambush in St. Charles last month. The two chemists had filed complaints against Schreiner, which may have led to his being fired as a chemist from KV Pharmaceuticals.

Yeah, that's the same KV Pharmaceutical Company...