Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Swimming Pool: Reloaded


Was talking with a friend the other day who recently saw Swimming Pool. We gave our take on the ending of the film. I think the director would be very happy that we came to completely different conclusions! Drag your mouse over the black box in order to see spoilers from the movie and the alternative interpretation of the ending. If anybody out there within a click of a mouse from this site, send in your interpretations!




My interpretation (see post of September 14 below) was that the author imagined the whole thing in the French village. My friend thought the publisher has TWO daughters and the look of suprise on the author's face back in London is her shock at seeing yet another blonde teenage daughter named Juli. This interpretation makes the publisher a pretty icky guy having kids left and right and naming them both Juli. Hmmm...

Monday, September 29, 2003

Hosea Continued



A few days back, I started a thread on the story of Hosea in the Hebrew Scriptures. Picking up where we left off...

Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, "You are not My people," it will be said to them, "you are the sons of the living God." (11) And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.
Verse 1:10-11 is problematic because in a literal sense, Judah and Israel has not been re-gathered and in fact can never in a literal way be re-gathered. When the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the tribes were scattered; hence the anthropological interest in finding the "lost tribes of Israel." Today's Jews are derived from the remnant of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. So in what sense are they re-gathered? Am not a theologian but from what I've read here are some possible explanations:
(1) Jews return from exile when the Persians toppled the Babylonians around 538BC.
(2) Jews eventually regains national standing which happened in 1947. In dispensational theology, the Jewish nation will grow even stronger in a future "millennial" kingdom.
(3) The church symbolically takes the mantle of Israel.
Explanation #1 is okay though it would be fairly modest fulfillment of the promise but quite feasible. #2 and #3 are almost mutually exclusive. I lean toward #3.
Hosea 2:1 Say to your brothers, "Ammi," and to your sisters, "Ruhamah."
Here is some Biblical wordplay. "Ammi" refers back to verse 1:9 when a son is named "Lo-ammi" which means "not my people" and "Ruhamah" refers back to verse 1:6 when a daughter is named "Lo-ruhamah" which means "not loved." With this wordplay, there is some hope given as the negation is removed.

This chapter begins the merging of the story line of Hosea's broken marriage and the nation of Israel's shattered relationship with God. What follows is a torrent of poetic images in the rest of chapter two. In most Bibles, the text is laid out differently when poetic literary style is employed. If you have a Bible nearby, check it out. Usually, the type face is a little different or the text is indented.

In some parts in this chapter you wonder is it God speaking or is it Hosea or is it both? People often think of the Bible as old and musty or dry and boring. Keep reading and you find fiery passion and vivid images!

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Latest Poll on Cal Race



Shocking, just shocking is all I can say! The latest USA Today CNN Gallup poll has the recall passing with 63% support. The Arnold is at 40% and Bustamante is at 25%. I'll be curious to see what the next LA Times poll says. If these numbers are verified by other agencies, the earthquake of the recall will be bigger than anybody expected.

Memo to McClintock: if you want anybody to return your phone calls, get out... soon... Now... YESTERDAY.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Liberia still in trouble


Noah at Africapundit is a great source for Africa news and he cites two news items to show that the mess in Liberia isn't over just because Taylor left the country. See his post here for the rundown. Noah's succint comment:
Liberia will never be free or stable until Taylor's control of the country is destroyed. And it appears that that isn't happening.

Depressing.

Cal Debate Impressions


Virginia's take on the Cal debate on Wednesday night.
the wonky unelectability of McClintock and Comejo suggests that perhaps substance is too scary for California voters. A smooth operator like Arnold may be just what the electorate ordered.
I'd agree with Postrel's assessment. You know where McClintock and Comejo stand. I have to say though McClintock doesn't come across as well on television compared to radio. The first few times I heard him speak have been on talkradio and I was pretty impressed with his clarity and convictions. But on television he had that slightly spooked scarecrow look. Bustamante just didn't do it for me. With all the problems over his taken wagonloads of money from the Indian tribes, his promises to raise taxes even more and his generally smirky performance further drove me away from his candidacy. As for Arianna, she was simply in attack-dog mode. She is entertaining but not much more.

On issue matters, I am going to vote against prop 54 which would end collecting of racial data by the state government. In principle, I'm all in favor of a color blind society and that is the world we want to be in but we aren't there yet.

As for drivers licenses and illegal immigrants, I'm against it. Gov. Davis vetoed a tighter version of what he signed just now for security reasons. His ploy to curry favor is just so transparent. I have no illusions about the reality that illegal immigrants are part of what makes California's economy work. However, there are immigrants who are here legally and we are doing a disservice to them by this kind of move and encouraging more illegal immigration. We are in no position to round-up and kick out every illegal immigrant but that doesn't mean they should be able to benefit the same as those who have come here legally.

Another issue that came up in the debate was taxation. I haven't given it much thought, but the state is collecting a mixture of property, income, sales, gas, tobacco and probably a few other tax types. I tend toward libertarian economic policies. However, I am not familiar with the pros and cons of each type of tax to raise revenue. Calling all libertarian readers, fill me in please on what is the "preferred" types of taxes?

Prager on the Marriage Gap in Politics


Dennis Prager is provocative with his latest essay, "When Women Marry, Democrats Lose."

His thesis statement:
It takes a particularly noble Democrat to promote marriage and family. The strengthening of these institutions is not in the Democratic Party's self-interest. The more people marry, and especially the more they have children after they marry, the more likely they are to hold conservative values and vote Republican.

That is why it is inaccurate to speak of a "gender gap" in Americans' voting. The gap is between married and unmarried women. Single women, especially single women with children, tend to vote Democratic, while married women, especially married women with children, tend to vote Republican.
He closes the argument with this:
Am I implying that increasing one's maturity and wisdom works in favor of the Republicans and against liberalism and the Democrats? Absolutely. Wisdom and contemporary liberalism are in conflict. That is why the vast majority of people who change their politics as they get older (and presumably wiser) change them from liberal to conservative.

For all these reasons, the Democrats know how important it is for them to expand dependency on government and to promote "alternative families" rather than the family that consists of a married man and woman with children.

The Democrats know where their votes are.

Fear and trembling


Have just started to read Soren Kierkkegaard's essay, "Fear and Trembling."

The story he is analysing, the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, has always evoked mixed feelings within me. On one hand, it is a remarkable tale of obedience on the part of Abraham and on the other hand, I'm troubled that God would even ask him to do such a thing.

Off the bat, I can think of two other stories of similar faith. Joseph being told by God to marry the pregnant Mary and Hosea instructed to marry the prostitute Gomer. I have to say though that these two aren't as extreme as the Abraham episode.

If a fine upstanding Christian today (actually if anyone, Christian or not) told me that he was going to do any of these three things, I would probably sit and have a long talk with him. Yet, the Scriptures contain these stories as examples of faith and of the mysterious outworking of God's plan in the world.

In life, being a trained as a scientist and being a rationalist by personality, these stories cause dissonance. Of course, they had supernatural revelation pushing them to their actions. How does one put that to the test? As a good Protestant, I use Scriptural revelation as a guide to decisions as well as "common sense." However, the implications of these episodes is that direct supernatural revelation would superceed these two? Hmmm....

Hosea chapter one


In case you aren't familiar with the story of Hosea here it is below with some comments from me:

Hosea 1:1 The word of the LORD which came to Hosea the son of Beeri, during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
As a nation, Israel reached its apex under the rule of King David and King Solomon. However, after them, the nation became divided. The northern part came to be known as Israel and the southern part came to be known as Judah. One of my Bible reference books estimates this time period was around 686-792 BC.
(2) When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD."
Some may argue that this story is an allegory which illustrates the relationship between a faithful God and an unfaithful nation of Israel. On the other hand, the high level of specificity of the story by establishing it in a real historic time period suggest it may have actually happened?
(3) So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. (4) And the LORD said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. (5) "On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." (6) Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to him, "Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. (7) "But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen." (8) When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. (9) And the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God."
As a matter of history, Israel (Northern Kingdom) was defeated in 722 BC by the Assyrians. Judah (Southern Kingdom) lasted a while longer but eventual it too fell in 586 BC to the Babylonians. It would appear that Hosea lived long enough to see the North fall.

But as an existential matter, Hosea is now married to a woman of bad reputation and having children with her and giving them names that are dismal!

The positive devotional concept I draw from this episode is that God doesn't keep Hosea in the dark. He tells him what the future holds: things will be bad for the Northern Kingdom. I could also draw encouragement from the fact that if we (humanity) is symbolized by Gomer than the idea that we can still be loved as symbolized by Hosea marrying her, then there is still hope for us.

Is that so much rose-colored glasses or the intent of the tale?

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Dodgers and the future


Though mathematically not out of it, they are out of it. Here follows some thoughts on what the Dodgers need to do. Catcher -- Paul Lo Duca is a pretty decent hitter but being catcher is tough on the body. Some post-game Dodger talk fans are saying move him to first and make David Ross the everyday catcher. First base -- Lo Duca could take that spot and McGriff will have to get his 500th homer somewhere else. Second base -- Cora is a good fielder but his hitting isn't quite up to snuff. He maybe on the bubble about keeping. Third base -- Beltre as usual is hitting up a storm late in the season. Dodgers will keep the youngster and hope someday he will hit strong the whole season. Shortstop -- Izturus is a great fielder but not much of a hitter though he is getting better. I figure the Dodgers keep him. Outfield -- the only sure keepers are Roberts and Green. Both didn't have good seasons this year. Roberts had injury problems so hopefully he will get better off season. Green didn't hit as strong which may be health issues but also maybe the poor protection at the clean-up spot factor. Relief staff -- Gange, Quantrill, Shuey, Martin and Mota were amazing this past year. The only one sure keeper is not surprisingly Gange. One of the others might be trade bait for some offense. Starting staff -- Brown and Nomo are getting old. Driefort is still recovering from surgery so his status is questionable for next year. Perez and Ishii had nearly .500 seasons and were erratic so they may have to re-earn spots in the starting rotation next season. Alvarez was a pleasant surprise and will have a decent shot next year to join the starting rotation. Jackson might get a chance at joining the staff being a young arm and the Dodger staff has got to start getting younger.

Recall Rant


It amazes me how often the charge is leveled that the recall is some kind of political coup by some rich people using a crazy idea of a recall to overturn an election. I think that is an insulting objection. Think about this: rich people got rich because they know how to weigh the costs of an decision.

When hypothetical rich person puts up money to support a signature gathering program, he/she must believe it will (1) succeed in getting enough signatures and (2) the matter he/she is putting on the ballot will win. Why waste money if you don't think you are going to win? The fact of the matter is that critics of the recall using this arguement are in denial about just how angry the voters are with the mess in Sacramento.

Tonight's debate may have some impact in the polling numbers. If the undecided voters think the replacement candidates are clowns then the yes on recall numbers will continue to fall and the no numbers will rise. That has been the trend since the recall was certified. It is one thing in the abstract to say we don't like the governor and its another to actually vote him out.

Two weeks to go!

Cal Recall Polling Numbers


Here is a round-up of the latest polling numbers on the recall vote and the replacement governor race as well as links to various news items.

The heat is definitely on for McClintock to get out of the race. My guess is that he wants to see what happens tonight. If the Arnold makes solid contact with the voters tonight, McClintock will get out by next week. I think he feels he owes it to his loyalists to make an honorable fight but then an equally honorable pull out.

All bets are off if the Arnold comes off poorly.

Meanwhile in the ad wars, I see Bustamante sticking it to the Arnold saying the Arnold is from Planet Hollywood while Bustamante is all for Californians. Not exactly high flying debate but that is the political reality.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Friedman (NYT) takes it to the French


Friedman calls it as he sees it. Excerpts:
If you add up how France behaved in the run-up to the Iraq war (making it impossible for the Security Council to put a real ultimatum to Saddam Hussein that might have avoided a war), and if you look at how France behaved during the war (when its foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, refused to answer the question of whether he wanted Saddam or America to win in Iraq), and if you watch how France is behaving today (demanding some kind of loopy symbolic transfer of Iraqi sovereignty to some kind of hastily thrown together Iraqi provisional government, with the rest of Iraq's transition to democracy to be overseen more by a divided U.N. than by America), then there is only one conclusion one can draw: France wants America to fail in Iraq.......

If France were serious, it would be using its influence within the European Union to assemble an army of 25,000 Eurotroops, and a $5 billion reconstruction package, and then saying to the Bush team: Here, we're sincere about helping to rebuild Iraq, but now we want a real seat at the management table. Instead, the French have put out an ill-conceived proposal, just to show that they can be different, without any promise that even if America said yes Paris would make a meaningful contribution.

Dodgers Done: stick a fork in 'em


Was flying back to LA last night and when back in town, checked the scoreboard to find that the Dodgers lost to the Padres. Dodgers now down 3 1/2 games with 7 to go. All games are on the road and four are against the SF Giants. They aren't out of it mathematically but for all practical purposes, the season is over for Dodger fans.

As an LA sports fan, there is no NFL team to root for but I've been following the Washington Redskins (lived in DC for 4 years), Tommy Maddox (UCLA QB) of the Pittsburgh Steelers, KC Chiefs (coached by a former UCLA coach) and SF 49ers (the only northern Cal team I like sort of like). Of California based NFL teams, only the 49ers have been a serious team compared to the hapless Chargers.

UCLA Bruin football is not looking promising this year after that wipe out in Oklahoma.

Breaking News -- Recall vote is on



9th Circuit 11-judge panel reverses the previous 3-judge panel that held up the election. Appeals to the Supremes are being weighed by the ACLU; however, most believe that the Supremes won't touch the case with an 11-foot pole!

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Three headed multi-legged sack race


The Cal Secretary of State and the pro-recall groups have filed an appeal to try to reinstate the election blocked by the three judge panel of the 9th. For now, all the candidates are working on the assumption that the election will occur as scheduled.

Did a little history checking on the web and found this report on the Minnesota governor's race when Ventura beat out two well known professional politicos.

The final numbers: Ventura 37% Coleman 35% Humphrey 28%.

From the noises of McClintock and his supporters, they are not likely to bail out and throw their support to the Arnold.

The Arnold needs to go to school on how Ventura won in Minnesota because it doesn't look like Bustamante is going to explode under the weight of his own bad moves taking tons of money from the Indian tribes and saying he will raise taxes even more and being part of the failed Davis administration. In the end, there are that many yellow dog democrats in California who will NEVER vote for a republican.

The Arnold has to convince the independents he is a plausible candidate and draw in new voters. That was Ventura's amazing feat. It was so easy to dismiss him as the wrestler but with debate appearances he became plausible and he skillfully used his image as an outsider to bring in new voters and threw the old political calculations out the window.

If the Arnold can't replicate that feat, he will not be able to overtake Bustamante's core of democrat voters who aren't going to be swayed no matter what.

On the plus side, Bustamante is no Humphrey and McClintock is no Coleman. The charismatically challenged Bustamante is only going to get his base and not much more. And if enough democrats are distressed by the shanigans in Sacto, they may not vote. However, they start off with such a huge registration advantage Bustamante may still win even with weak turnout. McClintock is sharp as a tack and knows what he believes and says what he believes and he wins converts for his earnestness. However, the social liberalism of the typical independent voter is not likely to be won over by him. They may like his candor but they won't poke the chad for him. And so that leaves the Arnold. Unfortunately, they are running a cliche campaign counting on the other guys to self-destruct. That isn't going to be enough. The Arnold has the GOP voters who want to win. He may sway some of the Tombots if he shows some specificity on the issues they care about. If he can show himself as a plausible candidate he may draw in some independants and new voters who want to participate partly because of the novelty of this special election.

As it stands, after all the storming and raging by all sides, we may have Bustamante in the governors office and so the recall worked but left the dems still in charge.

Here's hoping the Arnold can turn it around.

Beware of WMD sign?


UN inspector Hans Blix speculates that Iraq probably destroyed their WMDs. Excerpt:
Blix, who spent three years searching for Iraqi chemical, biological and ballistic missiles as head of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, said Iraq might have tried to fool the United States into believing it had weapons of mass destruction over the years in order to deter attack.

"I mean, you can put up a sign on your door, 'Beware of the Dog,' without having a dog," he said from his home in Sweden.
In last night's Nightline, Koppel grilled national security advisor Rice over the WMDs issue. Koppel laid out the possibilities: the intelligence was wrong or the WMDs have now been moved to neighboring countries. She said the administration awaits the report from David Kay and looks forward to a full accounting.

In the end, deception is part of military strategy. In WW2, Patton was established as a decoy in England with a fake HQ, sent false radio messages and created a phantom army that was supposed to invade at the Calaise. This deception pinned a number of Germany army units down while the actual invasion occured in Normandy.

Hussein may well have employed the "Beware of dog" plan. Given the history of US reluctance to suffer casualties in battle, he may have believed the threat of having WMDs would be enough to keep the US away. During the full blown combat phase of the war, some speculated that Hussein's underlings feigned progress in the WMDs to keep Hussein happy but unaware they weren't really having much success making the coveted weapons. So deception could have worked at that level.

Hopefully, in a few months, the David Kay report will clear things up.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Recall history


Greg Ransom at PrestoPundit is all over the recall story and gives these links on the history of recalls in the USA and in California.

With the potential delay in the vote, Gov. Davis and his buddies in Sacto can push through more crazy laws ... oh, joy.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Volokh's take



Volokh posts twice on the recall here and here doesn't address the legal issues but does look at the practical issues. He wonders if the error rate of deploying new technology maybe just as high as the old technology because "bugs" always need to get worked out in rolling out new voting systems. Here is an excerpt:
Now I don't think that this modest level of error would be unconstitutional. I think that as a policy matter, it might well make sense to risk some amount of such glitches in order to get things worked out for the future (if one thinks that over the long haul there'll be fewer problems with the new technologies than with the old, which I'll assume for now).

Will SCOTUS strike down the 9th?


Dan Weintraub links to Daniel Wiener for this analysis:
So here's what I believe is likely to happen. For the next few days everyone is going to froth at the mouth over the 9th Circuit Court's action. Recall supporters will be livid, and recall opponents will be cautiously delighted. Then the U.S. Supreme Court will step in and rule that the public interest in holding a recall election without delay, as prescribed in the California Constitution, outweighs the public interest in waiting for better voting machines. The U.S. Supreme Court will specifically note that the 2002 elections took place using the same voting machines.

But, the U.S. Supreme Court will agree with the 9th Circuit Court that there is no urgency in voting on Propositions 53 and 54, and that those should be postponed until March, 2004. Doing it in that way will take the sting out of the USSC decision; it will appear very measured and reasonable and "judicial", and will be hard to paint as just another Republican coup by a partisan right-wing court. After all, it makes it far more likely that both propositions will be defeated in a Democratic-weighted primary election. Especially for liberals who are horrified by Prop 54, that is a very big deal.
Every court up to this point has turned aside challenges to the recall because it is hard to be opposed to a process that was carried forward in accord to the California Constitution. Yet, the 9th's three-judge panel had no hesistation in blocking the recall and over-ruling the wishes of over two million people who signed the recall petition.

Given the big mess of Florida 2002, how many people really are going to mess up voting on punch cards? Yes, there probably is still some error rate but unless you have been living in a cave, we all know about hanging chads.

Breaking news: 9th Circuit Blocks Recall



Three judge panel halts recall based on equal protection issues of punchcard ballots.

What Arnold has to do



The Condor gives his analysis of what maybe going on inside the Arnold's camp as they figure out what to do about McClintock.

Cal Recall: Prestopundit takes on California Insider


Greg Ransom (Prestopundit) gives Dan Weintraub (California Insider) a piece of his mind saying Weintraub is being to nice to Clinton. And at the bottom of his post he acknowledges that Presopundit thinks Weintraub is being "a wimp for not calling Clinton a liar."

Recall vote and the 9th Circuit


Justin Levine over at SoCal Law Blog isn't so sure the 9th Circuit will stay out of it.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

@ the movies: Swimming Pool


Saw a French film the other day. The premise is a London based murder mystery novelist is having writer's block. Her boss offers the use of his home in a small town in France to give her a change of scenery. Little does the woman realize a lot more will change than the scenary!

Since I'm not in the movie industry I don't know the inside baseball aspects of how distributors decide a film can make the trip across the Atlantic and maybe make some money for them.

The film is R rated and rightly so for mostly nudity, sexuality and language.

I'm not Victorian by any means because sexuality is part of the human experience. However, as a film-maker what is an appropriate amount and when does it cross over into mere titilation?

A film I saw earlier this year was Matrix-Reloaded and that had an extended scene of sexuality and sensuality. Part of it is to illustrate the contrast between the life of those who have been unplugged with the drab life in the Matrix. Even visually, the scenes shot in the Matrix appear as if the color has been desaturated and the emotions of the characters attenuated. So at one level that contrast was appropriate but the length of it and some of its explicitness seemed a bit over the top.

In Swimming Pool, some of it was necessary to move the story line and set up the contrast but at times it seemed the director was merely exploiting the fact that the female stars are outrageously beautiful.

The story line is an intriguing one and it is all set up for the "Twilight Zone" (not in a weird way) suprise ending.

So I'd give the film a 2 1/2 stars out of 4. The film is slow to unfold so you have to be in the right mood for this film. Obviously not a movie to see if you are an action-adventure fan.

Below I'm going to write a bit more but since I don't want to give away the film, what you need to do is use your mouse to highlight the text box to see the words. Go ahead and read if you are interested or have seen the film and want my take on it.





I think Sarah never actually met Julie. My feeling is that her imaginative juices kicked in and she wrote the story and what we see is her novel being played out in her mind. I get this feeling from Sarah's willingness to sign her new novel to give to the real Julie. Also, the slightly surprised look at the London office also suggests that to me. Probably part of the surprise for Sarah was that the real Julie was a little bit like her fictional one in that she is a blond and about the right height. The differences were that the real Julie is a little overweight, has braces and is younger than the Julie in Sarah's novel. As to why she wants the Julie whom she never met to have the novel maybe because Julie lives in the home in France where the novel was inspired. Also, perhaps as a cautionary tale for her should she go down the wrong path that the fictional Julie goes down. For those who have seen the film, I'd love to hear your opinions at rfchun@hotmail.com!

91 years and still running



I generally won't cross post the same material here and at Two Tin Cans but this story was too inspirational not to give it as much bandwidth as possible.

I'm training for the LA Marathon with the LA Roadrunners. In my training group there is a 91-year old training with us! He was profiled for the March 2003 marathon when he was 90. This time around he is going for the speed record for somebody his age! I'm in his training group and it wouldn't surprise me if he gets to the finish line before me!

All ye couch potatos in go for a walk, jog or run!

Friday, September 12, 2003

Pollsters must be nervous


After the famous debacle in 2000 in Florida, pollsters must be nervous about the California situation. Go to this round-up of polls and see the confusion!

The Yes on recall numbers are from 50% to 62%. Arnold is down 5% to up 12%.

Weintraub cites a link to the LA Times to explain the disparity between the LAT and Field polls.

Excerpts:
on two important numbers, the polls differ: The Field Poll pegged McClintock's support at 13%; The Times Poll put him at 18%. More noticeably, the Field Poll showed the recall ahead 55%-40%, but The Times Poll found the race to be tighter, 50%-47%. .......

"Polling is a snapshot in time," said Susan Pinkus, director of The Times Poll. The Field Poll was conducted from Sept. 3-7, while The Times Poll was conducted Sept. 6-10.
Voter sentiment almost always fluctuates over time, so polls taken on different days almost always have different results. ......

In addition, the people surveyed in the two polls differ in some important ways.

Of the likely voters in The Times Poll sample, 38% identified themselves as conservatives. In the Field Poll, only 32% identified themselves as conservatives. That difference could partially explain McClintock's better showing in the Times survey.

In last November's election for governor, 35% of those who voted identified themselves on exit polls as conservatives. If this year's electorate resembles last year's turnout, The Times Poll would have slightly too many conservatives in it, while the Field sample would have slightly too few.

In the last election, 35% of people identified themselves as liberals. In The Times Poll sample, 34% of those surveyed said they were liberal. But the Field Poll sample included only 25% liberals. (In the Field sample, 43% called themselves moderates, compared with 30% in last year's election).

The smaller number of liberals in the Field Poll could partially explain why it had a lower figure than The Times Poll for the anti-recall vote.

Pollsters try to ensure that their samples accurately reflect what they think the voter turnout will be. But of course, no one knows for sure.


And that last part has got to be what worries the candidates and the pollsters. If the turnout numbers are totally out of whack the polls are worthless. I wonder how the pollsters did in Minnesota when Jesse Ventura won?

Thursday, September 11, 2003

What some bloggers are doing on this second anniversary of 9/11



Getting back to normal yet remembering.

Postrel is flying today and she links to an Reason article about how things are getting back to normal.

Where were you two years ago?

Sullivan looks back and looks ahead. While Dan Drezner keeps it short and remembers.

Laying low

Glenn Reynolds wrote frantically last year. This year, just the one post. Asparagirl keeps it simple.

On the scene

Jeff Jarvis is on the scene at the memorials at the WTC. Jane Galt shows the scene before 9/11.

Thinking out loud

Lileks and Green of VodkaPundit write extended essays.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Field Poll


According to Drudge:
Field poll to be released Tuesday:
YES on Recall 55%
NO on Recall 40%

Alternative candidates:
Bustamante 30%
Schwarzenegger 25%
McClintock 13%
Ueberoth 7%
Others in single digit

The Field poll then asked the ballot without McClintock
Bustamante 31%
Schwarzenegger 33%

And still more KaLiForNia KraZinesS



Went to Jill Stewart's page to read the latest outrages. Extended quotes below:
Wednesday's recall debate broke little new ground as meek journalists and inexperienced citizens lobbed softballs at Gov. Gray Davis and the candidates, failed to ask the toughest questions and let false statements go unchallenged.
.......
The utter fallacy, repeated two or three times by Cruz Bustamante, that illegal immigrants pour $1,400 more into California's economy than they get back, for example, should have been stopped cold.
.......
Senate Bill 2 comes closer to socialism than anything I've seen heading for approval in 20 years. It would force California's hard-hit small and medium-sized businesses, with 20 or more employees, to pay 80 percent of employees' health coverage. Companies with more than 200 employees would be forced to pay that for the whole family. Even part-timers get this big perk.

SB 2 will spawn layoffs as small businesses pare down to get below the 20-employee cutoff. Bigger struggling companies will close.

It is widely known among insiders that key details of SB 2, by state Sen. John Burton, were ghost-written by the Service Employees International Union. I am told Davis recently chatted with the SEIU about this dog. Then, miraculously, the SEIU handed Davis a check for $250,000 a few days ago.
.......
Davis says he'll sign SB 18, giving the obscure Native American Heritage Commission the power to stop development on anyone's land in California if tribes feel construction interferes with a sacred site anywhere in the region.

Initially, this turkey included a five-mile zone around each sacred site, meaning construction could be challenged five miles down the freeway from a burial grounds or other site.

SB 18 was idiotic, and opposition by cities was intense. But Sacramento is Backwards World. So its authors (Burton again, and also ditzy San Diego Democrat state Sen. Denise Ducheny) changed the law. Now, tribes can challenge development even further removed from sacred sites. Now, there's no five-mile limit at all.
.......
Remember how Davis vowed to reform workers compensation because California's is the most expensive yet provides almost the worst benefits in the nation?
.......
A Democrat-dominated conference committee now claims that its heavily watered-down proposal will give major relief to California. It won't. Davis was too gutless to force through the two basic reforms that make all others mere fingers in the dike.

First, (although the media rarely explains this) California’s nutty rules allow the workers to essentially determine if they were injured on the job. Many doctors who make their living off workers comp are happy to oblige, proof or no proof. Only three states give workers so much say in this important matter---and naturally California clings more than any other state to this grossly abused and terribly subjective practice.
.......
Second, when determining if a worker should get permanent disability payments---a huge slice of California's crisis---our Orwellian "no fault" laws encourage the parties to go fight it out for months in court (as the trial lawyer lobby insisted so it could get rich off the system). As a result, 50 percent of all California workers comp cases hit court. In Utah, where independent doctors determine permanent disability, 4 percent of cases hit court.
.......
The reason highly irritated Costco CEO Jim Sinegal delivered 150,000 signatures from Costco workers demanding reform to the capitol this week is that businesses---and now even the workers---are sick of the lying and delaying out of Sacramento. Costco operates in 36 states in the U.S., but 70 percent of its workers compensation costs come from California. Think about that math. That's as good a measure of the level of corruption and wealth-creation inside California's workers compensation system as any I've heard.

Where is the outrage?
I say again, VOTE YES on the recall.



California Crazy


The more I read about what is going on in Sacramento, the more I'm getting sick.

I saw the following item in my daily visit to Postrel. She quotes extensively from an article written by Former state controller Kathleen Connell.

Excerpts:
The state budget features at least $18 billion in borrowing this year. And since California's credit rating is the second-worst in the nation's history, taxpayers will pay enormous interest rates on the state's looming credit card charges. But if that's not enough, some of the borrowing may actually be illegal.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has a Sept. 17 court date to challenge the state's use of $2 billion in bonds to pay its contribution to the retirement system. Other groups are considering lawsuits to block the sale of more than $10 billion in deficit bonds because Californians did not vote on the bonds, as required by the constitution.

If courts do block California from selling the bonds, things will get very ugly, very quickly, because there isn't a backup plan and there isn't much cash on hand.


Just great. I was born and raised in California so it isn't like I'm likely to move!

Dear California Readers:
VOTE YES ON THE RECALL

Dynamic Pricing At the Movies



David Bernstein over at Volokh Conspiracy wonders:
why do movie theaters charge the same price for movies on weeknights, when they tend to be relatively empty, as on Saturday night, when they tend to be full?

His co-conspiratory Tyler Cowen replies with a list of reasons of which this is the one I would cite:
4. Fairness: For whatever reasons, many customers resent it when prices change on a daily basis. Those priced out of the market may feel like they are "second class moviegoers," which harms word of mouth and long term audience loyalty.

David Bernstein then reports that Michael Williams says some Los Angeles theatres do charge more on Saturdays.

I almost always try to avoid full price at movies by either seeing matinees or using discount tickets sold through my workplace. Airlines of course are the prime example of dynamic demand pricing. In that situation because supply is somewhat limited they can get away with it. Movie houses would be hard pressed to get away with such pricing schemes. However, a theatre like Arclight could get away with it as it boasts the best projection and sound systems plus reserved seating.

Andrew Sullivan and Flypaper Strategy in Iraq


I'm not sure I buy Sullivan's analysis but it is intriguing. The basic idea is that Iraq is now the focus of Al-Qaida terrorist activities and thus less resources are available to hit civilian targets in the USA and this is intentional on the part of the Bush Administration. Excerpt below:
Listen to U.S. Army Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq. He just opined on CNN that attacks against U.S. forces have increased in "sophistication, especially in the improvised explosive devices that they are using, and we're working to learn from that and to be able to counter them." He went on, critically: "This is what I would call a terrorist magnet, where America, being present here in Iraq, creates a target of opportunity... But this is exactly where we want to fight them. ...This will prevent the American people from having to go through their attacks back in the United States."

Friday, September 05, 2003

Iraq situation viewpoint


Randy Barnett over at Volokh Conspiracy makes some observations about what is happening over there and quotes extensively from NRO's Victor Davis Hanson.

His main point is that the Iraqi situation is just one of many fronts in the battle against terrorism and tyranny and though some criticism is justified it is mostly patience and perspective that is missing.

In my posts prior and during the Iraqi war, I've been supportive of US and UK actions. I remain convinced the Iraqis are better off without Hussein than with him. We nonetheless need to do a better job of helping them get on their feet and running their own country again.

We got to shore up the security situation and get more of their infrastructure fixed and that is going to cost billions of dollars. That kind of investment post WW2 in Germany and Japan was definitely worth it for the long term stability and security of America and the world. The same is true here.

Courts and the Recall


The three-judge Federal panel has turned aside objections based on the Voting Rights Act in the Monterey county lawsuit. Now, I believe the only active case is an Equal Protection arguement before the 9th Circuit. So far every court has rejected objections to the recall. We shal see if the 9th can resist that temptation. They are reputed to be the most liberal and most frequently overturned circuit in the US.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Are you ready for some football?



This Saturday my beloved Bruins go to Colorado to open the season. Expectations aren't high in Westwood this year. Most think UCLA will be in the middle of the pack in the PAC-10 conference. Unfortunately, U$C is looking strong especially after going down to Auburn and vivasecting the Kittens (Tigers?). My Trojan alum friends are going to be INSUFFERABLE this year. Anyway, one can hope the gutty little Bruins may pull off a few surprises this year.

Clap - clap - clap - clap - clap - clap - clap - clap - U - C - L - A - fight - fight -fight!

Update: Drat, Colorado 16 UCLA 14. The Buffalos scored the winning touchdown with 2 minutes left and UCLA was not able to move the ball into field goal range. As is traditional for the "cursed" Bruins, starting QB Matt Moore was injured early and so Drew Olsen had to take over. He managed to lead the team to 14 points. It remains to be seen how serious Moore's injuries are.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Postrel on Buffy


Okay, it sure seems like I'm being a flack for Postrel today. I'm not on her payroll, I just like her stuff sometimes (usually). Here is her long awaited Reason article on the deeper meaning of the famed television show. Disclaimer: I've never seen the show but I know at least one person who is a die-hard fan.
Excerpt:
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Freedom and affluence had made us soft. We were self-indulgent moral nihilists -- materialistic, selfish, and impulsive. We might have been having fun, but we’d created a culture no one would fight for.

At least that’s what the wise men said.

On September 11, 2001, they shut up. Ordinary Americans, it turned out, were not only brave but resilient and creative, even lethal, when it mattered.

Buffy was right all along.

For those who somehow missed its cult success, Buffy tells the story of an unlikely hero -- a pert, blonde teenager whom fate has destined to be the Slayer, the "one girl in all the world" endowed with the supernatural strength to protect humanity against the demon hordes. Buffy would rather be a cheerleader and prom queen, but a normal life is not to be. "No chess club and football games for me," she says. "I spend my free time in graveyards and dark alleys."
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I have never been much for making much distinction between "high art" and "pop culture." I think such distinctions are rather snooty and appeal to snob appeal. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me that if something is labelled pop culture then it means it doesn't have anything meaningful to say. "A" just doesn't lead to "B" like that. I suppose Postrel who really is into the free marketplace of ideas would feel the same way. In the end, I think most creative endeavours are infused with values which could be good or bad. And if a bit of pop culture has good values in it and it gets a following, more power to them. Hooray for Buffy.

Postrel on the recall



While I'm writing about Postrel, here is her take on the recall. She currently lives in Texas but from reading her blog it seems she is often in California. She quotes two sources to describe Bustamante's nutty economic policies and concludes with the following:
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If you're a California Democrat and cannot bring yourself to vote for someone who isn't, please vote against the recall and leave it at that. (Or cast your vote for someone like Angelyne.) Gray Davis is bad, but not this bad.
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Right now, I'm oscillating between voting for the Arnold or McClintock. In my mind, Bustamante is just part of the team that ran California off the road into the ditch.

Buffy and Anthony Cordesman



I sent the following email to Virginia Postrel, the writer of Dynamist Blog. Postrel is apparently a huge fan of the show.

Subject: buffy and Anthony Cordesman (I'm serious, really)
To: vpostrel@dynamist.com

Dear Virginia,

I was googling around for Buffy information. Originally, I was looking for who did the opening theme music for the show.

Anyway, further mousing around yielded this odd web site that summarized Anthony Cordesman's (the rather stern looking guy on ABC news) analysis entitled, Biological Warfare and the Buffy Paradigm.

http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?lastnode_id=11451&node_id=1331438

The full text of the report is here... http://www.csis.org/burke/hd/reports/Buffy012902.pdf

Thought you might get a kick out of it.

Keep up the good work,
Rene
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Will post Virginia's reply if she does so. I would guess she gets lots of fan mail.

Update: Postrel says thanks. It is nice that she writes back. But of course it is completely understandable that she can't write more.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Cal Voter Conundrum


So if we vote NO on the recall, we get stuck with Gov. Davis. But if we vote YES then we get stuck with somebody from part II of the ballot.

What are our "realistic" choices? Bustamante who is Lt. Gov. of the failed Davis administration or the Arnold whose campaign has been nothing but a punching bag for opponents and the media who would love to take down the big guy and see him go down in flames. The media consciously or unconsciously loves to build people up and then tear them down. The A team can still turn the thing around but they can't keep running the run away from questions campaign. That is like running the prevent defense late in the game hoping to run out the clock. That is assuming you got a huge lead which I don't think is the facts on the ground.

Uberroth of course being the gold medal champion from running the 1984's Olympic games can lay claim to being a can do guy but unfortunately steering the State of California is a bit more than running an Olympic games and besides, 1984 was... 19 years ago. Most people probably are saying, Peter who-ber-roth?

Tom McClintock is certainly one of the more colorful characters running who actually has some experience running a statewide campaign (he barely lost in 2002 for controller) and his fiscal conservatism and social libertarianism sits reasonably well with me. But he is the third place candidate and the presures for him to pull out will keep growing unless the Arnold blows up which is still a possibility.

So vote Bustamante if you want to keep the same fools on the hill that are running Sacramento. Vote Arnold if you want to see a train wreck... if he gets the job, I suspect the media will continue attack him and the legislature will be gridlocked until 2004 when perhaps the incumbants are all voted out. Or vote McClintock and be "right" and lose.

Now that I've cheered up your day, be sure to still go out and vote in October.

Technology and Society



Am a regular visitor to Virginia Postrel and recently she posted an article excerpting Eugene Miller. Her links steer us to Tech Central Station where we can find three article by Miller, here, and here and here.

Interesting reading on technology and how society reacts to it. Philosophical discussions at times can seem pretty removed from reality but when you think about it, ideas are what drives public policy and guess who helps make public policy? Politicians. Indeed, it is easy (and they make it easy) to belittle politicians but they do have an impact on our society because they enshrine ideas into public policy and ideas are what makes the world go around for good or ill.

Winning (or losing) the peace in Iraq?



Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria who writes about the international scene comments on the latest in Iraq. He recounts the history of instability in Iraq.

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Excerpt:

IRAQ HAS ONE of the most violent histories of any country on the globe. In comparison even with other states in the Middle East, Iraq’s modern history has been marked by turmoil, coups, bloodshed and mayhem. Consider the fate of its rulers:

Faisal I: Installed by the British in the wake of a violent revolt, he ruled for 10 years and was one of a handful of Iraqi leaders to die of natural causes, in 1933.

Ghazi I: Faisal’s son, he witnessed a coup against his prime minister three years after being installed and then, in 1939, died mysteriously. The official explanation was that he drove his car into a lamppost.

Faisal II: The young king, his regent and almost the entire royal family and entourage were killed in a bloody coup in 1958.

Abdul Karim Qassem: Qassem came to power in the coup of 1958. In 1963 he was killed in a coup himself.

Abdul Salam Arif: Arif came to power in the 1963 coup, which unleashed a wave of massacres across the country. Three years later he died mysteriously in a helicopter accident.

Abdul Rahman Arif: Brother of the above, he lasted about as long. In July 1968 he was ousted in the Baathist coup and exiled to Istanbul.

Ahmed Hasan-al-Bakr: Became president after the 1968 coup and stayed in power until 1979, when he stepped down for reasons of “ill health” in favor of his deputy, Saddam Hussein.

And this has been the history of violence among only the Sunni of Iraq, who have always been able to rule over the Shiites, Kurds, Turkomans and others using brutal means.

-----------------------

Certainly a bleak picture. The question remains: are the Iraqis better off now with the obvious problems they face then they were when Hussein still in charge?

Critics of the Bush administration have legit points but the the bottom line is what next? Zakaria says we need more UN forces and I'd have to agree with that. And indeed, trying to turn more things over to local control would help.

What is really frustrating is that the recent bombing on Najaf was done either by Hussein loyalists or Al-Qaida and guess who the people blame? The US. Muslims killing Muslims and the Muslims blame the US. Sometimes you got to wonder if the people in Washington think, forget this, let's get our people out of there and let these people kill themselves. But of course we can't because we have a moral obligation to help the people get their country back. And unfortunately, the same evil people who would bomb a Mosque would have no hesistation to bomb something in the USA if they had half the chance.