Russell and Duenes

Archive for October 2011

7 Billion People: Blessing or Curse?

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To listen to the New York Times and many other mainstream outlets, one gets the idea that the human population, now at 7 billion, is a cause for great alarm and renewed population control measures. But Christopher White, over at The Public Discourse, argues sensibly that a growing human population is not a problem, but a blessing, and thus, calls for more birth control measures are wrongheaded. He suggests some other possible measures that can help us invest in the unlimited potential of human capital. He concludes:

The lesson is straightforward: Economic and national prosperity rises when individuals and families are educated and engaged in cycles of productivity. Once this engagement with productivity has taken place, additional human resources enable greater economic development. Attempting to achieve prosperity or economic growth by limiting the population decreases possible human resources, and does nothing to produce the desired outcome, which requires an investment in the human person—not fewer people.

Along the road to development, these key economic principles seem to have been forgotten. After almost forty years of failed population-control programs, it is time to learn from past mistakes and establish a new course going forward. Rather than lament a population of seven billion, let us instead welcome what could be the next Einstein, Mozart, or Steve Jobs—or just a future mother or father who will face new challenges and exhibit new forms of ingenuity and creativity to overcome them. Meanwhile, let us begin now by enacting the proper policies and the right conditions for him or her to build on.

You can read the whole piece here.



Written by Michael Duenes

October 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Bud Selig is a Bozo

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I’m generally a St. Louis Cardinals fan. If you asked me to pick a team to root for other than the LA Dodgers, it would be St. Louis. I’m not a LaRussa fan, but I love Pujols, and on any other day I’d probably have undiminished joy in seeing St. Louis win.

But my feelings are mixed, and I hope the Cardinals send a big, fat thank you note to Bud Selig.

Because there’s no way they win this series without the home field advantage. And how did they, a team that barely made the playoffs, a team the relied on one of the most colossal collapses in all of baseball history by the Atlanta Braves just to get into the postseason, get the home field advantage? Well, that baseball ruiner Bud Selig thought it would be a good idea to try and give the All-Star game a little heft, and little more “skin in the game,” and so, in that mal-functioning cranium of his, he dictated, by fiat, that the winning league would get the home field advantage in the World Series.

Never mind that the All-Star Game is still a joke: Every team gets a rep, the best players skip out on the game, and the starting pitchers don’t pitch more than 2 innings, 3 at most. The All-Star game is AYSO soccer: “Everyone plays.” And yet Selig has the gall to say that this game is going to determine home field advantage in baseball’s biggest prize? Does anyone think St. Louis should have had it? I’d rather go back to home field advantage for each league in alternating years than carry on the charade we have now. So congrats to the Cardinals; your Game 6 win was one of the greatest games ever. And if it had been played in Texas, where it should have been, the second strike would have been followed by the third.

(Though, as a P.S., I should note that back in 1987, the Cardinals were on the wrong end of a bogus home-field advantage that went to the Minnesota Twinkies. The Twins had a pile of crap record on the road (29-52), didn’t win one road game during the series, and had no business having the home-field advantage. But no matter, they got to play four at that abomination that is the Metrodome. End of story. So I guess what goes around really does come around. And I guess baseball should start giving the home-field advantage to the team that earned it on the actual field.)


Written by Michael Duenes

October 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Another Lesson from Churchill

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Even if you’re not a huge Winston Churchill fan, I highly commend to you Paul Johnson’s short biography on him. In his wonderful epilogue, Johnson touches on five lessons one can learn from Churchill’s life, the second of which is: “There is no substitute for hard work.” Johnson writes,

The balance he maintained between flat-out work and creative and restorative leisure is worth study by anyone holding a top position. But he never evaded hard work itself: taking important and dangerous decisions, the hardest form of work there is, in the course of a sixteen-hour day. Or working on a speech to bring it as near perfection as possible. No one ever worked harder than Churchill to make himself a master orator. Or forcing himself to travel long distances, often in acute discomfort and danger, to meet the top statesmen face-to-face where his persuasive charm could work best. He worked hard at everything to the best of his ability: Parliament, administration, geopolitics and geostrategy, writing books, painting, creating an idyllic house and garden, seeing things and if possible doing things for himself. (p.163)

His work ethic is a great model for me to imitate in these days of taking on the challenge of learning the law. His example goads me onward in working hard to be the best I can be, by God’s grace.


Written by Michael Duenes

October 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

The Promises of Psalm 34

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I’ve been reading Psalm 34 quite a bit since I started law school, and when you consider God’s promises to us in that Psalm, it is jaw-dropping.

“Those who look to him…their faces shall never be ashamed/ The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them/ Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him/ Those who fear him have no lack/ Those who seek the LORD lack no good thing/ The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry/ When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles/ The LORD is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit/ The LORD delivers the righteous out of his many afflictions/ The LORD redeems the life of his servants/ None of those who take refuge in the LORD will be condemned.

What is the condition for receiving all of these magnificent promises? One must “look to”, “fear”, “take refuge in”, “seek”, “cry for help to” the Lord. None of these are the kinds of conditions that we traditionally associate with “being a good person.” Rather, they are simply a coming to our Father, as Daniel Fuller says, as supplicants of mercy. Paul probably summed these things up best when he said, “The Lord richly blesses all who call upon him” (Rom. 10:12). That’s it, just call upon him. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Back to Psalm 34, what did God already do for King David when he wrote this psalm? God “answered” him, “delivered him from all his fears,” and “heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.”

So, as we seek Christ, and hope for good from him, what kind of life ought we to lead, according to Psalm 34? We ought to “keep our tongues from evil, and our lips from speaking deceit.” We ought to “turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

Yes, Lord, Father God. Help me to live in this manner. Help me, Holy Spirit, to rely on your outlandish promises given here. As I continue to work hard in law school, continue to remind me that it profits a man nothing to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul. Let me see your beauty, O God, through your great faithfulness, and to be satisfied with your love each day. Let your grace and goodness be an overflowing fountain in and through my life to others in my world. Amen.



Written by Michael Duenes

October 26, 2011 at 8:18 pm

The Keeler Case and Murdering Your Child

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In Criminal Law we have, of course, studied the issue of murder. We began the semester discussing the question: When does someone become a human being? We need to determine this so that we can know if a murder has taken place, since the textbook definition of murder includes, in part, the intentional and unlawful killing of one human being by another human being. And one of the cases we looked at is a rather famous one: Keeler v. Superior Court of Amador County, 470 P.2d 617 (Cal. 1970).

In this case, the Petitioner, a Mr. Keeler, finds out that his ex-wife is pregnant by another man. Extremely upset at this, he confronts her and says, “I’m going to stomp it out of you.” He then proceeds to physically attack her, during the course of which he knees her in the abdomen. Her child is killed as a result. At trial, Mr. Keeler was charged with murder, but he appealed, based on a writ of prohibition, claiming that he could not be guilty of murder on the facts. The court agreed with him and issued the writ. Our textbook then says something very telling:

“Following the decision in Keeler, the California legislature amended the provisions of the Penal Code § 187, which defines murder, to include killing ‘a fetus,’ except in cases of legal abortion and certain other cases or when the killing was with the consent of the mother.” (Weinreb, Lloyd L. Criminal Law: Cases, Comments, Questions (New York: Foundation Press, 2003).) [emphasis mine]

Let’s see: If someone other than the mother kills the fetus, then the fetus is a human being, and it’s murder under section 187 of the CA Penal Code. But if it’s “with the consent of the mother,” then, what? I guess it’s a blob of tissue or something? So all we have to do is call it “abortion” instead of “murder” and it’s all legal and legit? I didn’t realize that mothers had the ability to determine the essential humanity of their children. But I guess if the courts say so.

Hence, our unborn babies will be protected from the worst sort of vile human beings, like Mr. Keeler, but from their own mothers, they’ll receive no protection at all, and in some circles, not only will they receive no protection, babies will be identified as such a problem as to be positively put in harms way by their mothers. You tell me what this amounts to.


Written by Michael Duenes

October 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm