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Risk

How good are human brains at assessing risk? Not very, as it turns out, according to an article in Psychology Today.

For example:


After 9/11, 1.4 million people changed their holiday travel plans to avoid flying. The vast majority chose to drive instead. But driving is far more dangerous than flying, and the decision to switch caused roughly 1,000 additional auto fatalities, according to two separate analyses comparing traffic patterns in late 2001 to those the year before. In other words, 1,000 people who chose to drive wouldn’t have died had they flown instead.


Of course, all of this falls under God’s sovereign rule, but from a human perspective, other problem areas include underestimating threats that creep up on us — for example, we fear cancer but not heart disease — and substituting one risk for another, i.e., we speed up when we put our seatbelts on.

To get an idea of the actual numbers associated with common fears, take this quiz from the article: 

Mortal Threats

How good is your grasp of risk?

  1. What’s more common in the United States, (a) suicide or (b) homicide?
  2. What’s the more frequent cause of death in the United States, (a) pool drowning or (b) falling out of bed?
  3. What are the top five causes of accidental death in America, following motor-vehicle accidents, and which is the biggest one?
  4. Of the top two causes of nonaccidental death in America, (a) cancer and (b) heart disease, which kills more women?
  5. What are the next three causes of nonaccidental death in the United States?
  6. Which has killed more Americans, bird flu or mad cow disease?
  7. How many Americans die from AIDS every year, (a) 12,995, (b) 129,950, or (c) 1,299,500?
  8. How many Americans die from diabetes every year? (a) 72,820, (b) 728,200, or (c) 7,282,000?
  9. Which kills more Americans, (a) appendicitis or (b) salmonella?
  10. Which kills more Americans, (a) pregnancy and childbirth or (b) malnutrition?

ANSWERS (all refer to number of Americans per year, on average):

  1. a
  2. a
  3. In order: drug overdose, fire, choking, falling down stairs, bicycle accidents
  4. b
  5. In order: stroke, respiratory disease, diabetes
  6. No American has died from either one
  7. a
  8. a
  9. a
  10. b

Sources:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Division of Vital Statistics)
  • National Transportation Safety Board
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Cletus, Take the Reel … Take It From My Hands

A little humor this morning, in the form of parody. Familiar with the Carrie Underwood song, Jesus, Take the Wheel? Well, this video is called Cletus, Take the Reel. Nice. You’ll laugh. Just try it.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

How Infant Boys Go To The Bathroom

(As told by Taylor Joseph Hoak to his father)

1. Eats food (milk).

2. Lets it digest in his stomach.

3. Pees with abandon, soaking his diaper and sometimes his clothes and the couch.

4. Blows out a few experimental toots.

5. Lets fly into his diaper.

6. Waits for mom or dad to change the diaper.

7. As his diaper comes off, feels the cool, stimulating air circulate on areas of his body that had previously been covered up.

8. Before the new diaper can be applied, launches a stream of pee high into the air.

9. Watches as mom and/or dad (it might be a two-person job by now) change his pee-soaked onesie and sleeper and clean pee off the changing pad, their shirt and his own head.

10. As the cleaning process occurs, squirts out one or two more shots of poopie so mom or dad scrambles frantically to catch it with a diaper or wipe.

11. Waits 30 seconds, then sends out still more poopie.

12. Secretly laughs.

13. Repeats every two hours (or in five minutes).

What Happened?

Anyone know what happened on this date more than 20 years ago? It’s one of those life-stopping events that can make you instantly recall where you were when you heard the news. Some of you are too young to remember it, but for those who aren’t, you’ll never forget it.

I’ll post the answer later.

—UPDATE—

You are exactly right (well, Daniel’s extraneous information wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, although it is pretty interesting.) From today’s Writer’s Almanac:

It was on this day in 1986 that the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, killing all seven astronauts aboard. That evening, President Ronald Reagan eulogized the lost astronauts in one of the finest addresses of his presidency. He said, “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and slipped ‘the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'”

I was in elementary school, fifth grade I think. They set up a television in the hallway so we could watch what was happening. We kept the front page of the newspaper with the famous photo around for a long time. My parents might even still have it somewhere.

11[1]

From Wikipedia:

On the night of the disaster,

President Ronald Reagan had been scheduled to give his annual State of the Union Address. He initially announced that the address would go on as scheduled, but under mounting pressure he postponed the State of the Union Address for a week and gave a national address on the Challenger disaster from the Oval Office of the White House. It was written by Peggy Noonan, and finished with a quote (above) from the poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr..

Here’s that address by President Reagan. It’s about four minutes long and worth watching. The man knew how to lead a nation:

 

Some of the astronauts’ remains are buried here, in Arlington National Cemetary. It’s a moving thing to see in person:

450px-Challenger_Memorial[1]

By the way, a teacher finally made it to space last year: Barbara Morgan, the original backup to Christa McAuliffe, flew on the space shuttle Endeavor 22 years after the Teacher in Space progam began.

Support Life — Go to the Movies

On the day after the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it’s worth noting that there has been a run recently of movies coming out of Hollywood featuring a pro-life message. Not that they were made for that reason (don’t worry, Hollywood is in no danger of taking a hard turn to the right), but they all feature women deciding to keep their unborn babies rather than aborting them. This article from Christianity Today takes a look at the “trend.”

The movies range from R-rated to family-friendly fare, and although I haven’t seen any of them, at least a couple look to be worth watching. One of them, Juno (about a teenager who decides to give her baby up for adoption after visiting an abortion clinic), was just nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture.

Here’s the final line of the article, which is worth reading (otherwise, why would I post about it, right?):

Whatever is driving Hollywood’s writers and filmmakers, it’s good to see more movies affirming the sanctity of life. And there’s no denying the power of cinema to change lives—and maybe even to save them … including the unborn.

Affirming life is a great topic for movies. Abortion ain’t. Why not? Because even abortion-rights advocates recognize that a movie about killing a “fetus” won’t attract too many movie-goers. It’s not affirming — it’s depressing and destroying.

And there’s no reason for that unless the fetus has a meaning greater than just a bunch of cells clumped together. It’s called life.

Things I Had Forgotten About Having a Newborn

So we had a baby the other day. Taylor Joseph Hoak, weighing in a 8 pounds, 20.5 inches long. My wife’s site has all the details and a bunch of pictures, so check that out if you want the normal recap. Here, you’ll get one picture:

Taylor

And since Carter was born three years ago, a list of things I had forgotten or only vaguely remembered about having a newborn:

  • How little a new baby is when you pick him up, especially compared to the giant that your 3-year old son seems to have suddenly become.
  • How much contractions look like they hurt.
  • The amount of information and practical application that nurses have to carry around in their heads.
  • All those tiny snaps on a newborn’s outfit and how often you get them off track and so you have to unsnap them all and redo the whole thing.
  • How strong little arms and legs can be.
  • How infuriating it is when he won’t go to sleep.
  • How little sleep you can actually survive on.
  • The amount of difference that just a couple good hours of sleep can make in your perspective on life.
  • How to swaddle.
  • How important swaddling can be.
  • Baby poopie.
  • The vaseline and gauze that that baby boys need in their diapers for a week or two.
  • The words that a couple of weeks ago would have seemed awkward and unnatural in any sort of conversation now just rolling off your lips with practiced ease (think about it for a minute).
  • How amazing it is that a baby is inside his mommy one day and outside the next day, breathing and everything.
  • How much sense God’s design for life makes.
  • Moms are superwomen.
  • How much stuff one little 8-pound kid needs.
  • How much you want the umbilical cord to just fall off already.
  • How cool it is to have a new living, breathing human being that you can hold in your arms.

I’m sure there will be more in coming days . . .

What Kind of Change?

Sure, he’s inspiring. Yes, he offers hope and change. I’m not sure what it is we’re supposed to hope in or exactly what kind of change he wants — he’s big on generalities, not so much on specifics, like they all are — but we’re supposed to believe in him, believe that he is the man to get us there, the man to lead our nation to an unprecedented era of opportunity.

Thing is, at least some of Barack Obama’s ideas of change aren’t exactly what I would call hopeful. Some are calling him the “most pro-abortion candidate ever.” And with good reason. As Terence Jeffrey says in a column on townhall.com:


He is so pro-abortion he refused as an Illinois state senator to support legislation to protect babies who survived late-term abortions because he did not want to concede — as he explained in a cold-blooded speech on the Illinois Senate floor — that these babies, fully outside their mothers’ wombs, with their hearts beating and lungs heaving, were in fact “persons.”


Read the whole column to get a better idea of the issue. Obama did not support a bill that would provide protections to a child who survived an “induced labor abortion.” Other ardent abortion protectors supported a similar bill in Congress because it provided protections to Roe v. Wade. These other Democrats at least drew a line, however arbitrary, that they wouldn’t cross. Obama did not, and he knew exactly what he was doing:


“Number one,” said Obama, explaining his reluctance to protect born infants, “whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — a child, a 9-month old — child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it — it would essentially bar abortions, because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute.”


He gets it. If we call a fetus a child, then we can’t abort it. It’s protected. He just refuses to acknowledge that a fetus is a person. He should read this book. One other question: If a fetus is just a blob of cells, and not actually a person, why do people call abortion a difficult personal choice with emotional consequences? If an embryo is only a bunch of cells, an abortion should be exactly the same as having a wart removed. Not many people struggle with that kind of decision.

I’ve always been against abortion, of course, but the more I think about it lately, the more the evil of it strikes me. Human life is sacred, not because of a few lucky breaks that made it so, not because of a built-in instinct for survival, but because it’s made in the image of a holy God. His imprint is on each new embryo that’s formed in a mother’s womb.

Obama (and others) want people to have the choice to destroy those embryos. Is this really the kind of change we need?

“Life Just Wants to Be”

As it mentions above, I’m reading Bill Bryson’s book, A Short History of Nearly Everything. More accurately, I’m listening to it on my iPod. In this case, the author is the reader and he’s great to listen to — he’s spent a large chunk of his adult life living in England, and you can hear it in his voice. He’s also a wonderful writer — clear and funny, wry without being absurd.

As the title says, he’s attempting to explain pretty much everything — how the universe came to be, our place in it, chemistry, biology, physics, etc. He focuses on many of the known and unknown scientists who made breakthrough discoveries. As he writes about what’s he’s trying to do:


This is a book about how it (the universe) happened. In particular how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since.


It’s all fascinating stuff. But then I can be a science geek (how many of you knew I was a biology major?), so I like it. He actually does a marvelous job of explaining it all and making it interesting (much better than I’m doing at the moment).

Of course, he comes at it from a non-Christian perspective, which has irritated me to no end in some places. Scientists go to great lengths to not involve God, but that oftens ends up meaning they say something like, “The bacteria developed the ability to …” or “In any case, the Earth decided enough was enough and began spewing forth molten lava” or my personal favorite so far, “Life just wants to be.”

Well sure, all those things happened, but in and of themselves, those things can’t happen. There has to be an external force or motivator. Call it intelligent design if you like. But it takes just as much faith to believe that all of the random forces in the universe conspired to bring us to this exact point today as it does to believe that God caused it all to happen. Bryson even makes the point several times that if this or that had happened just a bit differently, life would have ceased to exist or some other such catastrophe would have occurred. Would you rather that you and the universe and the laws that govern it were the result of random chance or purposeful intention?

“Life just wants to be.” Yes, because God wants it to be so. No other reason.

You’re How Old?

Read Genesis 5 yesterday. Here’s a list of the ages of the men named in that chapter:

Adam: 930 years

Seth: 912 years

Enosh: 905 years

Kenan: 910 years

Mahalel: 895 years

Jared: 962 years

Enoch: 365 years

Methuselah: 969 years

Lamech: 777 years

Noah: fathered Shem, Ham and Japheth after he was 500 years old (he lived to be 950)

Can you imagine being alive for 900 years? In today’s terms, that’s almost an entire century. That’s 225 presidential elections in your lifetime if you lived in the United States. 225! (Probably reason enough to not live that long.)

And having kids at 500 years old? Imagine: “Hey, honey, I know we’ve been around a while, but let’s liven things up around the house a little — let’s have some kids! We’re a little set in our ways, but you’re only 500. You’ve got at least a couple hundred good years left. C’mon, it’ll be fun! I’ll get the crib ready.”

Seriously, God’s sustaining grace in their lives was incredible, as it is in ours.

Catch-Up/Catch-All

— Fascinating to watch the political process in America play out. Iowa caucuses last week, New Hampshire primaries this week. Obama and Huckabee rising, Clinton falling. This will affect us all, eventually. Al Mohler’s thoughts on this are good.

–Also intriguing, but kind of depressing, to watch UK playing this year. Our team is not very good. Part of that is past recruiting, part of it is a new coach who’s trying to build a program his way. We’re 6-7 with the always-tough SEC dead ahead. This could get a lot worse before it gets better. On the other hand, we might start to put a few things together. Long-term success though, will most likely be just that: long-term. That doesn’t make UK fans happy, but we’ve gotta give the new coach a fair chance. He won’t be fired after one bad year. After two, maybe. Here’s an interesting take from a cross-section of UK fans.

Cool article about the new Indiana Jones movie coming out May 22. Oh yeah. (Btw, for HBC’ers at the business meeting last night, how funny was it to hear the cell phone blaring the Star Wars theme?)

Parking chief fired for illegal parking. Brilliant.

–Be glad this isn’t your family. Apparently, you don’t mess with the saggy pants.

–If you get hurt, will Lassie save you? Not so much.

–Interesting dilemma of our day: college professors on Facebook?