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Showing posts from June, 2003
Supremes rule on U of M affirmative action cases
In previous posts dated Tuesday, May 06, 2003 entitled "More on affirmative action" and Monday, May 05, 2003 "Affirmative action and Asian-Americans" I discussed some of the issues surrounding the oral arguments and possible analysis about the cases.

I forecasted the following:

"As for the case before SCOTUS, I think they will strike down the Michigan admissions protocols but their ruling will be casted narrowly. The case has been made that diversity is a compelling interest but that the specific program in question is unconstitutional. "

Not surprisingly a closely divided court split the loaf. The undergrad scheme will have to be reworked but the law school admissions system was left intact.

The full text of the Gratz v. Bollinger (the undergrad case) and the Grutter v. Bollinger (the law school case) are posted on the SCOTUS web page.

Idealogues on both sides have reasons to crow and to harp. Affirmat…
Looking at the sky
As a youngster, we had a Sears refracting telescope which I took to the backyard at night. I used it to see the moon, the warm light of Venus, the red color of Mars, Jupiter and its 4 moons and Saturn with its beautiful rings. I miss those days. One of these days I'll get a telescope again.
The vendors:
http://www.telescope.com
http://www.meade.com
http://www.celestron.com



Bush goes to Africa
I'm really excited to hear that Bush is going to Africa. He pushed through the tripling of HIV/AIDS funding to help Africa and now he is going there. Hopefully, his actions will help Africa stay on the policy radar screen. Hopefully, we will see more functional democracies and economic development in that vast continent.
@ the movies
Saw Bruce Almighty. I'll be honest: not a Jim Carrey fan; think he is too wacko. However, I'm told we are presented with a milder gentler Carrey and a story line with a religious theme. Carrey plays a self-centered guy who is just not quite where he thinks he wants to be who gets to be God for a while so God can make a point to him.

Carrey's antics are actually pretty funny and Jennifer Aniston is radiant and Morgan Freeman as God is excellent. I didn't plan on liking the movie going in. I was, pardon the pun, agnostic about how effective a movie with crazy Carrey as God would be especially after the trailer hypes his lunacy.

But the film turned out to be an interesting movie. The premise God sets for Bruce is that he gets to be God but can't say so and that he can't tamper with free will. At some point, an exasperated Bruce says, how can you get people to love you with out tampering with free will? Freeman replies: welcome to my world…
Go Dodgers!
Nomo with his wicked split finger. Brown with is high speed fastball. Ishii with his curve. The bullpen of Moto, Shuey, Martin and Quantrill have been amazing. And of course, closer Gange has been lights out. Pitching is strong right now.

On offense, we really do need to see Green, Jordan and Beltre perk up.

Still got to watch out for the D'Backs... they aren't doing too bad even with Shilling and Johnson out. If they get back as strong as they have been in the past, it is going to again be a three way race.

Last year, the Dodger starters wore out by the end (Brown got hurt, Ishii got hit in the head, Ashby's blisters...) and certainly that is a fear again this year. Dreifort is already done for the season with surgery. You just worry one or more of the other starters will go down and because the Dodger offense is so anemic the margin for error is very small.


The power of genetics
There is always a debate about nature (genes) and nurture (environment). Obviously, BOTH play a factor in life. And here is an item I saw in today's Daily Dish. The item is in June 20 under the title, "The Difference."

Sullivan gives an extended quote from an NY Times article.

I've picked a few excerpts below. Check out the whole article, it is a well written science piece.

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Biologists have made a fundamental discovery about how the human Y chromosome, a genetic package inherited by men, protects itself against evolutionary decay.

As part of the work, the scientists have tallied the exact number of genes on the Y chromosome, finding more than they had expected. That and other research has led the researchers to assess the genetic differences between men and women as being considerably greater than thought.
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The decay of the Y stems from the fact that it is forbidden to enjoy the principal advantage of…
Matrix blogger
Why am I not surprised there are blogs devoted to the Matrix? Came across this one the other day. Go ahead and read and travel down the rabbit hole. This is what Morpheus said to Neo in the first film right when he first introduced to Neo the idea there was a Matrix right?



PFC Lynch story as far as we know
As is often the case, the first reports aren't as accurate as we like. Then came the opposite extreme where the BBC called the rescue mission a staged event. Read the full story and see the courage of all involved in something almost none of us will ever face in our lives.



Surf's up! Reflections on play, technology and life

Went to the LA Filmfest and saw a great documentry about surfing called, Step into Liquid at the John Ford Theatre in Hollywood, a great outdoor venue just across from that other great outdoor venue the Hollywood Bowl.

See Step into Liquid for the great cinematography, the gorgeous locales and the sheer joy of the craziness of surfers. The director was at the LA FilmFest showing and told us that his film has been picked up for wider distribution. So watch for it at the local film festival near you and in general release in August.

So enjoy the film for the fun of it.

However, I want to make a leap into the waters and see if I can springboard into some "deeper" notions. So ride with me in this intellectual surfing!

As I watched the film, I couldn't help but think of Virginia Postrel's book "The Future and Its Enemies."
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Excert from pp. 171-172
Beach volleyball is a technocrat's nightmare. Li…
Save those t-shirts!

A friend of mine a couple of years ago got a quilt made of her t-shirts prepared by her aunt. I thought it was so cool. Well, guess what? There is a company that quilts your t-shirts for a fee. I'm saving up all my various tees!
The Wild West Political Landscape

It started as something akin to tilting at windmills but now it may actually happen.
WaPo reports on the Gov. Davis recall effort.

Generally speaking, I'm very comfortable with representative democracy. Our federal system is built on that concept. A recall is not an option at the Federal level to my understanding. Anyone with knowledge of the Constitution and in the rules of the House and Senate may enlighten me?! To my knowledge, elected Federal officials can only be voted out at their term elections or expelled by their legislative bodies if they are found guilty of some ethical lapse.

However, California has always had a populist strain of political thought as reflected in the initiative process. The idea of people rallying around an idea and putting it on the ballot has been at times been very powerful as in the Prop 13 controls on property taxes which spread across America. And other times this kind of direct democracy is totally ri…
Culture Watch
One would think the city with Hollywood in its borders would have a notible film festival. However, it was only recently that I saw the advertising banners on lightpoles for LA Filmfest. It appears to be a venue of independent films hoping to get discovered. I am surprised that such an event isn't more high profile in the city of movie making. Wonder why that is?

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Meanwhile up in the hills at The Getty there is a fascinating exhibit on artistic images of Christ and Mary with emphasis on the theological concepts that they have a dual nature. In Catholic thought, Mary is somewhat more than a mortal woman as described in religious doctrine as the Assumption of the Virgin which is the subject of the art works on display in the exhibit. I found Rembrant's depiction the most striking and probably more in line with my Protestant understanding of Mary. Christians of most faith traditions will agree upon the dual human and divine nature of Jesus. …
The Men's Movement
US society is filled with "special interest" movements. On one hand, there is a place for them. In the case of ethnic minorities, the reality is that sometimes minority groups are quashed by the majority either out of malice or out of ignorance. It is only when a "special interest" group makes some noise does the issue get addressed. The Civil Rights movement is a prime example.

However, the problem with special interest groups is that often times they become motivated by grievance only or even hatred of "other groups."

The feminist movement is probably one of the strongest "special interest" groups out there. And indeed, when they are fighting to protect abused women and other injustices like that, they serve society well. However, there is clearly an aspect of the movement that is anti-male a la "a woman needs a man as much as a fish needs a bicycle." Also, there is a train of thought that denies that the…
Winged Migration
The film Winged Migration is about migratory birds. It was nominated for Best Documentry in the recent Academy Awards. However, it lost to Moore's Bowling for Columbine.

It is a beautiful movie. The birds are amazing creatures and the film makers went all over the world to capture spectacular images of birds at flight, at play, in danger and simply doing what God meant for them to do. So my first reaction was simply, wow, aren't those birds neat? Then, you sit there thinking, how the heck did they capture that on film? Well, check out the film's web page and you find out all the gadgets they used to ferry a camera up to the birds. It really was a labor of love to make this movie.

The film is simple in concept but beautifully executed. Factor in the incredible music score and sounds of nature you have an amazing cinematic experience.



More on the Matrix Reloaded

*** spoilers below ***


I'm not real clear on some points in the film.

Is this what he, the architec, was saying?

Go through door #1 and you can save some of the people of Zion and your programing code will be spread through the Matrix like cremated ashes tossed to the four winds thus generating matrix version 7.0?

Go through door #2 and you can *try* to save your one true love but Zion is totally destroyed?

Is that the situation we are left with in the white room?

By the way, one friend suggested, can we assume the architect is even telling the truth???

By that point of the movie I was not following very well. If we had arrived at that point perhaps 10 to 20 minutes earlier I might have still had the energy and desire to listen more closely!

Also in the prior 6 encounters with the architect, I take it "the One" choose door #1? That is not clear to me?

Seems to me the door #1 isn't all that tempting? If you know that your rebel base is g…
The Matrix Reloaded

Finally saw the big movie, Matrix: Reloaded.
Here is my review that I shared with a friend via email:
====================================
Well, finally saw the movie with all the hype...

Have you seen?

It really is 3 expository dialogs surrounded by a bunch of action set pieces.

No doubt the action set pieces were great.

The dialogs.... well..... made me think of a radiotalk show comedianne whose tag line was "Give me 22 minutes and I'll give you a headache" which was a take off of a news radio channel's ad tag line, "Give us 22 minutes and we will give you the world."

Anyway, it is an interesting movie and will spawn many hours of table top talking about free will and determinism

Be curious to hear what you think?

R
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If you are a philosophy student or a interested in philosophy, check out this page recommended by a friend. It is chock full of essays on the philosophical aspects of the Matrix storyline.

A…
@ the Movies again!
Saw James "Titanic" Camerron's "Ghosts of the Abyss" which is his documentry on the history of the Titanic tragedy and where he takes the cameras down to the wreck itself to tell the sad tale. They even had rebot cameras that went INTO the wreck and explored some of the cabins! The story telling is amazing as survivors had described what their cabins were like and to be able to go in and find some aspects still intact. The went through various parts of the ship to check out what was known about the design and decorations.

The 3-D is remarkable though it can induce motion sickness. The technology is amazing. A buddy of mine who works with projection technology, tells me the glasses receive a signal from the film and the shutter back and forth between your right and left eye thus creating the depth perception of the 3-D Imax format.

There were also amazing stories of the courage of the crew but also the sadness of knowing that so many dec…
@ the Movies
For the best quality sound and projection in Los Angeles, see movies at the Arclight. Been there once to see Chicago and I had seen Chicago once before at the Grove. Grove is great. Arclight is even better. Costs more but for film fans, enjoy!


Corn
Got this link from a friend. So if ever in Dublin, Ohio check out the Field of Corn sculpture. This reminds me, if you are in South Dakota, check out the Mitchell Corn Palace.

My name is Rene and I'm a West Wing fan
Other day got an email requesting for Republicans to participate in a focus group for the West Wing. I'm guessing their slipping ratings have caused them to wonder if their lefty leanings are hurting the shows appeal? Anyway, as part of indicating my interest they want to know my favorite character. I have to say it is between Josh and Leo. John Spencer's Leo's map of the world on his face is such a terrific actor. As for Josh, he is often the character who gets to give the policy stuff when he argues with Donna and that is always entertaining and enlightening.

For fans of West Wing be sure to check out the following three sites.
For the quick summary of the plot and various real world fact checking.
For extensive recaps and snarky comments.
Federal employees point out boo-boos on the show.
Celebrate LIFE!
This past Sunday did the Rock and Roll Marathon in SD. The support is great with water stations every 1-2 miles with Gatorade at about every other water stop. The bands were good and the local high school cheerleading squads really added to the block party atmosphere of the run and of course the fans on the sidewalk.

A huge number were part of the Leukemia Society Team in Training. Of the three marathons I have done, two have had a large TNT contingents.

I don't know at what point in the past 10-20 years did marathon participation get democratized. At one time, it was an obscure niche sport for the elite few. And indeed, many races are still only for the highly athletic with time limits for completion.

However, the convergence of economics and charity and the fitness craze have combined to popularize the marathon as an event for the everyday person. The economic impact of 20,000 runners plus their family and friends being in the city renting cars, occupying …