Russell and Duenes

Archive for July 2010


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The new movie just released by The Center for Bioethics and Culture, addressing the issue of human egg trafficking. Looks great!



Written by Michael Duenes

July 29, 2010 at 11:34 am

Posted in Bioethics, Duenes, Movies

Water: Our Thirsty World

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National Geographic dedicated their entire April, 2010 issue to the topic of water. Just browsing through it is an amazing experience. You realize at once how precious water is, and what a grace it is that God provides it. You also realize how incredibly rich even the poorest person in the United States is compared to much of the rest of the world. We don’t give a second thought to the fact that clean water runs through our taps and that we have warm, clean water coming into our showers each day. We flush our toilets without considering what an unbelievable thing it is that our waste is just whisked away. Here are some tidbits from the issue.

We live on a planet covered by water, but more than 97 percent is salty, and nearly 2 percent is locked up in snow and ice. That leaves less than one percent to grow our crops, cool our power plants, and supply drinking and bathing water for households.

Americans use about 100 gallons of water at home each day. Millions of the poorest subsist on fewer than five gallons. 46 percent of people on earth do not have water piped to their homes. Women in developing countries walk an average of 3.7 miles to get water.

I remember my trip to Aktau, Kazakhstan in 1998 when I lived with a family on the fifth floor of their apartment building. Water never reached their floor due to the terrible Soviet plumbing system, so that meant that they had no flushing toilets and no running showers. In other to get their daily water, they had to wait for the city to first turn the water on (sometimes it was turned off for the whole city), and then they had to take any and all large containers down 5 flights of stairs to the central area of their apartment complex and wait in line with all the others who lived on top floors to fill the containers up with iced-tea colored water that came out of a central spigot. Then they had to lug those water-filled containers back up the stairs. It took several trips in order to fill their bathtub with sufficient water. They never complained.

One out of eight people lacks access to clean water. Washing hands can reduce diarrheal disease by 45 percent.

The weight of China’s Three Gorges Reservoir will tilt the earth’s axis by nearly an inch. The longest water tunnel, supplying New York City, is 85 miles and leaks up to 35 million gallons a day.

As developments such as Discovery Bay increase in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, so does the flood hazard. More than a million people now live behind delta levees. More Americans fish than play golf or tennis. In Florida, 3,000 gallons are used to water the grass for each golf game played. U.S. swimming pools lose 150 billion gallons to evaporation every year.

Every time I fly into Phoenix or Las Vegas, I marvel at the number of swimming pools and at the amount of water it must take to keep up all the golf courses and parks. The section on the water issues in California was particularly interesting for me. Having grown up in Los Angeles, I always knew that our water came from elsewhere, but to see the infrastructure that it takes and the way it has impacted the environment elsewhere is stunning. It beggars the imagination that well over 10 million people can live in a desert like Los Angeles.


Written by Michael Duenes

July 28, 2010 at 10:23 am

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

Republicrats and Democans: Six and One-Half Dozen of the Other

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A recent article in The American Spectator gives a historical perspective on how we arrived at our current political and social milieu. It has tremendous implications for how and why we must better educate our children. It’s a bit lengthy, but very well worth sitting down and digesting. Here’s some brief excerpts.

Although after the election of 2008 most Republican office holders argued against the Troubled Asset Relief Program, against the subsequent bailouts of the auto industry, against the several “stimulus” bills and further summary expansions of government power to benefit clients of government at the expense of ordinary citizens, the American people had every reason to believe that many Republican politicians were doing so simply by the logic of partisan opposition. After all, Republicans had been happy enough to approve of similar things under Republican administrations. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind. Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government’s agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed to. Sen. Orrin Hatch continued dreaming of being Ted Kennedy, while Lindsey Graham set aside what is true or false about “global warming” for the sake of getting on the right side of history. No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class’s continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it.

If self-governance means anything, it means that those who exercise government power must depend on elections. The shorter the electoral leash, the likelier an official to have his chain yanked by voters, the more truly republican the government is. Yet to subject the modern administrative state’s agencies to electoral control would require ordinary citizens to take an interest in any number of technical matters. Law can require environmental regulators or insurance commissioners, or judges or auditors to be elected. But only citizens’ discernment and vigilance could make these officials good. Only citizens’ understanding of and commitment to law can possibly reverse the patent disregard for the Constitution and statutes that has permeated American life. Unfortunately, it is easier for anyone who dislikes a court’s or an official’s unlawful act to counter it with another unlawful one than to draw all parties back to the foundation of truth.

Read the entire piece here.


Written by Michael Duenes

July 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Lies Do Not Become Us

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We have gotten so used to speaking and hearing lies that we’ve come to think of it as a small matter. Politicians lie about their real policy positions and intentions. Supreme Court nominees dissemble when asked for their legal views. Students plaigarize papers with great regularity. Employees lie about hours worked or falsify important documents. Witnesses lie on the stand. Spouses lie to each other about money or their whereabouts. People lie about their taxes. And on and on in a downward spiral. Everybody lies, right? Can it be that big of a deal? I read this sentence yesterday in Psalm 5 and wondered how big a deal lies and deceit are to God: “You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors.” That sounds pretty grim. What else does God say about it?

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. (Ps.24:3-4)

Everyone who swears by God will glory, for the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped. (Ps.63:11)

Surely you, O Lord, desire truth in the inner parts. (Ps.51:6)

He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me. (Ps.101:7)

There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:…a lying tongue…a false witness who utters lies. (Pr.6:16-19)

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who tells lies will not escape. (Pr.19:5)

If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, all his ministers become wicked. (Pr.20:17)

They bend their tongue like their bow;
Lies and not truth prevail in the land;
For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know Me,” declares the LORD.
4“Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor,
And do not trust any brother;
Because every brother deals craftily,
And every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
5“Everyone deceives his neighbor
And does not speak the truth,
They have taught their tongue to speak lies;
They weary themselves committing iniquity.
6“Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit;
Through deceit they refuse to know Me,” declares the LORD. (Jer.9:3-6)

Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me. (Hosea 7:13)

Woe to the bloody city, completely full of lies and pillage; her prey never departs. (Nahum 3:1)

Jesus said, ‘You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. (Eph. 4:25)

Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices. (Col.3:9)

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Rev.21:8)

I think it’s a big deal. Every virtue must have honesty and integrity at its root. This is a truth I need to hear and heed over and over again. O Lord, will you make us, your people, a people of truth, integrity and faithfulness, in whom there is no guile or deceit. Amen.


Written by Michael Duenes

July 26, 2010 at 9:09 am

Posted in Duenes, Theology

Oliver Wendell Holmes on the Misuse of the 14th Amendment

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Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing in 1930 (Baldwin v. Missouri) about the dangers of judicial overreach on the 14th Amendment. His warning has come ingloriously true.

I have not yet adequately expressed the more than anxiety that I feel at the ever increasing scope given to the Fourteenth Amendment in cutting down what I believe to be the constitutional rights of the states. As the decisions now stand, I see hardly any limit but the sky to the invalidating of those rights if they happen to strike a majority of this Court as for any reason undesirable. I cannot believe that the Amendment was intended to give us carte blanche to embody our economic or moral beliefs in its prohibitions. Yet I can think of no narrower reason that seems to me to justify the present and the earlier decisions to which I have referred. Of course, the words “due process of law,” if taken in their literal meaning, have no application to this case, and, while it is too late to deny that they have been given a much more extended and artificial signification, still we ought to remember the great caution shown by the Constitution in limiting the power of the states, and should be slow to construe the clause in the Fourteenth Amendment as committing to the Court, with no guide but the Court’s own discretion, the validity of whatever laws the states may pass.


Written by Michael Duenes

July 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Duenes, Supreme Court