Thursday, October 30, 2003

Gender Genie


The "Big Three" have been blogging about the Gender Genie program that analyzes writing and determines whether the writer is male or female. See what Andrew, Glenn, and Virginia have to say.

So I tried it on my blog entries. My Monday, October 27, 2003 entry, "Weekend round-up" came up with this score:
Words: 372
(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)
Female Score: 561
Male Score: 825

Okay, somewhat male! But under 500 words so I tried another entry. I feed in my Friday, October 24, 2003 entry about "Catcher In the Rye" and this came back:
Words: 434
(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)
Female Score: 1038
Male Score: 589

Oh my, my feminine side was showing! But again, not over 500 words.

I looked for a longer post and found my Friday, October 17, 2003 essay on Hosea 2:14-15. I didn't include the Bible text itself and this is the result:
Words: 555
(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)
Female Score: 608
Male Score: 1393

Whew, I'm male afterall!

Just one more to be sure?! I went back to Tuesday, June 10, 2003 where I made long winded comments in "More on the Matrix Reloaded" and this was spat back at me:
Words: 785
(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)
Female Score: 1014
Male Score: 2380

Heh. And like the great Insta, I can cook too.

GO Bruins!


Not much was expected of the UCLA Bruin football team this year. And they still have time to live down to the lowered expectations. There are four games left in the season.

This weekend, all eyes are on Washington State and USC as they are the top two Pac10 teams in the eyes of the BCS. Technically, UCLA is tied for the Pac10 lead but because the victories were so anemic, the pollsters think UCLA is lucky. As an honest sports viewer, I can't dispute that. The key is how the Bruins do in their final four games. Stanford is a road game and thus always dangerous. Oregon, WSU and USC follow and each have the offense to make the Bruins look bad. Npw, if the Bruins go 4-0 I'll be really amazed. A 2-2 finish would be very respectable.

Hoping for the best.

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

Christian Apologists on the Web


It is good to see some Christians are taking their perspectives onto the internet. So often, people of faith are slow to adopt new technology.

Anyway, those hostile to faith have their own site and they have their right to do that. I can imagine there are many others. But it is good to see, these two sites, here and here taking up the cause of Christianity. Check 'em and look up your questions and see if they address it.

Economy on the upswing?


Saw this item that says the economy might be moving again. I would guess such growth rates aren't sustainable but to have them in the + side is good news. Wonder how do the Federal deficit projections look with these new GDP figures?

11 dimensions!



Elegant Universe (hat tip to my blog buddy over at TTC) was broadcast on PBS the other night. I set the VCR and will again next week as the documentry on the latest theories on the universe are discussed.

As somebody who barely passed 1 year of physics lite (Physics for life science majors) and 4 quarters of calculus, I've really enjoyed these kinds of documentries that try to make the arcane world of Cosmology and Astrophysics accessible.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Anthropic principle in Cosmology Conference Story in NYT


Saw this interesting item in the NYT. Hat tip to Hugh Hewitt.

As molecular biologist, I love science and try to be at least aware of some of the latest rumbling in some other fields. Cosmology has got to be one of the most interesting things going on scientifically.

Excerpts:
CLEVELAND — Cosmology used to be a heartless science, all about dark matter lost in mind-bending abysses and exploding stars. But whenever physicists and astronomers gather, the subject that roils lunch, coffee breaks or renegade cigarette breaks tends to be not dark matter or the fate of the universe. Rather it is about the role and meaning of life in the cosmos.

Cosmologists held an unusual debate on the question during a recent conference, "The Future of Cosmology," at Case Western Reserve University here.

According to a controversial notion known as the anthropic principle, certain otherwise baffling features of the universe can only be understood by including ourselves in the equation. The universe must be suitable for life, otherwise we would not be here to wonder about it.
..................
Scientists agree that the name "anthropic principle," is pretentious, but that's all they agree on. Some of them regard the idea as more philosophy than science. Others regard it as a betrayal of the Einsteinian dream of predicting everything about the universe.
..................
Dr. Gross, director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, Calif., had agreed to lead a panel discussion on the notorious principle. Often found puffing on a cigar, he is not known to be shy about expressing his opinion.

"I was chosen because I hate the anthropic principle," he said.

But playing a central role in defending the need for what he called "anthropic reasoning" was Dr. Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate from the University of Texas. Like Dr. Gross, Dr. Weinberg is a particle physicist who is known for being a hard-core reductionist in his approach to science, but he evinces a gloomy streak in his writings and his talks. He is still famous for writing in his 1977 book, "The First Three Minutes," "The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless."
.................
... the cosmological constant, it is a number that measures the amount of cosmic repulsion caused by the energy in empty space. That empty space should be boiling with such energy is predicted by quantum theory, and astronomers in the last few years have discovered that some cosmic repulsion seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe. But theoretical attempts to calculate this constant, also known as lambda, result in numbers 10 E+60 times as high as those astronomers have measured.
.................
Dr. Gross questioned whether the rules of the anthropic game were precise enough. What were the parameters that could vary from universe to universe? How many could vary at once? What was the probability distribution of their values, and what was necessary for "life"?

Anthropic calculations are inherently vague and imprecise, he said. As a result, the principle could not be disproved. But he was only getting warmed up. His real objection, he said, was "totally emotional."

Ascribing the parameters of physics to mere chance or vagaries of cosmic weather is defeatist, discouraging people from undertaking the difficult calculations that would actually explain why things are they way they are. Moreover, it is also dangerous, he declared to ringing applause.

"It smells of religion and intelligent design," he said, referring to a variety of creationism that argues that the universe is too complex to have evolved by chance.
..................
Dr. Weinberg replied that the anthropic principle was not really a part of science, but rather "a guess about the future shape of science."

"If we didn't have things in our universe that seem peculiar, like the value of the cosmological constant, we wouldn't worry about it," he said.

Dr. Weinberg compared the situation to a person who is dealt a royal flush in a poker tournament. It may be chance, he said, but there is another explanation: "Namely, is the organizer of the tournament our friend?"

"But that leads to the argument about religion," he said to much laughter.

In fact, Dr. Weinberg said, the anthropic principle was "a nice nontheistic explanation of why things are as nice as they are."

By then the audience was squirming to get in on the action. Hands were waving as Dr. Gross called the session to an end. "Clearly there is a diversity of opinion," he intoned. "Some people find the small value of cosmological constant so bizarre that only the anthropic principle will pick it out."

Nobody who adheres to the anthropic principle, he said, would hold on if there were "an honest old-fashioned calculation," that explained the cosmological constant.

Given the floor for the last word, Dr. Weinberg agreed that it was too soon to give up hope for such a breakthrough. "I'm prepared to go on hoping that one will be found," he said. "But after the passage of time one begins to entertain other possibilities, and the anthropic explanation is another possibility."

Applying that mode of reasoning, he said, could help make the cosmological constant less peculiar,

"But we don't know if that's the help that we really deserve to get," he concluded.

And it was time for lunch.

Dr. Gross reported later that younger physicists had thanked him for his stand.

Dr. Weinberg said the panel had generated more fuss than the subject deserved.

"Those who favor taking the anthropic principle seriously don't really like it," he said, "and those who argue against it recognize that it may be unavoidable."

Fascinating discussion. The scientists are looking at the data and are honest about the implications and honest that some of their own discomfort with ideas are emotional more than technical.

In the end, science and religion have the same goal: truth. We want to understand the universe and our place in it. As a Christian, I believe God gaves us minds to explore our universe and we should use it. As a scientist, I recognize that there are limits to our intellectual capability. Use all of what we got but recognize that science isn't the end all and be all at arriving at truth. I want to find the capital T, Truth, and I'll use whatever tools I can get my hands on. And I recognize that there will be variable degrees of certainity in our knowing the truth and reality.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

A rock and a hard place


The news out of Iraq is disheartening. Will the Iraqis blame the US or will they be steeled in their resolve that Hussein and his loyalists must be defeated? Will they stand up and claim their freedom for a future without Hussein?

If the critics here in the USA and elsewhere have their way and get the US to *leave* Iraq, what is going to happen? Hussein will come out of hiding and take over. Only the US is strong enough to even attempt to restore some order in Iraq. Dennis Prager commented on his radio show this morning: we face this choice -- stick it out and suffer casulties or leave and let an entire nation fall to totalitarianism again. What do so called freedom loving liberals have to say about those options? Do they have an alternative?

Comments feature activated!


Finally, I got around to putting in the appropriate coding to get the comments link working. If you drop by, please feel free to leave me and the rest of the readership a note via the comments link!

Monday, October 27, 2003

Weekend round-up



I try not to be too preachy in my blogging but I guess sometimes being a passionate blogger means you jump on a cause and push it and in this case, I'll jump on a shoebox.

There is a terrific effort called, Operation Christmas Child. My church participates in it each year and we got our first announcement about it yesterday.

If you are reading this post, hope your church and any service organizations you are a part of plan to participate in this effort or others like it.

Sometimes, people might ask, are such things worth it? People overseas have so many needs that this seems too little. But given the choice of doing what we can versus doing nothing at all, I think it is a no-brainer. And maybe someday, we will find ourselves doing more. In the end, the emotional struggle we face when we open our eyes to see the needs of the world is the realization there is so much of it and then the temptation to despair leading to inaction. This train of thought must be resisted.

I hope these kinds of efforts here and overseas will gather support.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

===================

Did an all-nighter with the junior high youth group at my church from 8pm Friday to 8pm Saturday. In college, I did maybe two for school projects, so it was going to be a new experience for me!

It was mostly fun and games but hopefully, bonding takes place between kids, between staff and between staff and kids. Hopefully, the high energy event is an investment into the future that will pay interest, yield dividends and eternal gains.

The "message" was at midnight at the movie house when we took the kids to see "Radio." The film is based on a true story of a compassionate coach of a small town high school football team and the unlikely man he befriends. The Christian message of loving one another can't be more clear. I have to say most if not all the kids and the all the hopelessly idealistic staff were misting up if not outright fighting back tears. Great performances, 3 stars out of 4, and bring a hankie or two.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Bookshelf: Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the Rye


Recently started to volunteer with the junior high group at my church. I confess, I don't remember being that antsy when I was a kid. Of course, we remember what we want to remember! Its been a great celebration of life and faith to be with them. They interact with religious ideas in short blocks of time (attention span is still finite -- do we ever totally grow out of that?) and can do so with intellectual honesty and begin to see that there are consequences of belief. They are taking the first tentative steps in a journey that could last a lifetime with eternal consequences.

My hope for us as volunteers and staff is that we can be their guides and cheerleaders. But in today's world with so many dangers, I suspect there will be occasions we will be asked to be more than that. Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison.

A few months ago, I decided to revisit my "teenage" life by reading a book that is often on middle school reading lists, Catcher in the Rye. It wasn't on mine then. I wondered what my reaction would have been if it were. Reading it as a baby-boom/gen X young adult gave me a different perspective I'm sure. At one level, I could relate to Holden because I know from experience something about alienation because all my life I've resembled the "stereotypical shy scientist" nerd type. It took a long time to become at peace with who I am and even to celebrate who I am.

But Holden was stuck. The death of his brother and his isolation were like rip tides that pulled him out to sea. Reading the book's raw descriptions and dialog was heart breaking. I felt like I was watching a auto accident unfold in slow motion. I felt the pang of guilt like I was on the highway stopping to look at the traffic accident: you say, don't look, don't look, but you look.

But it was a picture of humanity and the downward spiral of a lost soul. We need to look at it in real life and in fiction so our hearts do not grow cold. Hopefully, we will be moved to compassion. There were two characters who seem to see through the fog and try to help him. Those in my mind were the "whispers of grace." Maybe they made a difference in what could have been a worse situation? I don't know. The story is told as is and that would be speculative. But I'd like to believe that mattered and that we can matter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Gehry speaks at Disney Hall Ceremony


Yesterday, the Disney Hall had a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration. See this LA Times story for all the details. Here is an excerpt:
Los Angeles architect Gehry, however, explained how he designed a floral pattern that adorns Disney Hall's carpets and seats in homage to just one woman: the late Lillian Disney, whose $50-million gift in 1987 set the project in motion. The hall is also flower-like in form and is surrounded by lush gardens.

"I told her I'd make a flower garden for her," said Gehry, as he leaned into a clear podium with his hands clasped. Gehry described his role in the project as "a great experience, personally."
Also check out this item from CNN.com and be sure to click on the slideshow with wonderful photos.

Miracle of life, another story


Back on October 9, I posted a story of a young woman who volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center (CPC). This past weekend, I heard the story of another woman who works on staff at a CPC.

Her story was another amazing one. She was a teenager and in her early twenties when she made some bad decisions about relationships. In one case, she gave the baby up for adoption and in the other, she had an abortion.

She lived with the guilt of her abortion decision for many years and always wondered what happened to the baby daughter she gave up.

I'm not familiar with adoption law, but apparently, she was allowed to write to the daughter she gave up but that daughter would not receive the file of letters until she turned 18. At that point, the child could seek to meet her biological mother.

The daughter decided to meet her mother. The daughter at some point in her youth became a Christian and so when she met her mother, she thanked her for deciding for life and giving her up for adoption. This guilt ridden mother received a tremendous gift of grace upon hearing that. It would take a couple more years of interacting with her amazing daughter before she worked through the many issues in her life. And indeed, this mom with the help of her daughter turned to Christian faith and received the forgiveness and love offered by God.

This mom now works at a CPC and talks with young women in their time of crisis and decision. They listen because she has been there.

The pro-life movement has its political component. We should not abandon that part. We can legislate morality but only up to a certain point. Thus, I believe the balance of energy, resources and commitment is best spent on the front line of contact with those most impacted. It will be moral persuasion not the force of legislation where the biggest difference will be made.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Los Angeles Abuzz With Disney Hall Expectations


I'll be going to my first concert there soon. I'll be sure to blog about it. Here are some photos I took of the Disney Hall. Enjoy!

The Disney Hall is probably the most high profile addition to downtown LA in an ongoing effort to revitalize the area. The other big addition was Staples Center and the Cathedral. I suppose it does say something about our humanity that the downtown renewal project would include a non-traditional looking Cathedral, a "shrine" to sports (Staples) and a "temple" to the musical arts (Disney). Perhaps, it could be said that these are places to celebrate, the body, soul and spirit?

I am hopeful that LA Downtown will be revived. I was recently in Minneapolis and the downtown there has its not so good areas but there are definite areas that were alive at night with restaurant options, cafes, bookstores, etc. However, in Los Angeles, when the office workers leave, the downtown is nearly dead.

And so now opens Disney Hall, over a decade in the making and over $200 million, the Walt Disney Concert Hall will officially open at the end of the week. The local print and electronic media are doing profiles left and right to mark this special occasion.

Here are two LA Times articles, one about the building by Gehry and the other a book review about acoustics.

Here is an excerpt from the article about the acoustics:

ALL reports indicate that Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed with the acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, sounds fantastic. It is an acoustical success, perhaps the finest symphony hall built in modern times. From the point of view of concert hall acoustics, Gehry and Toyota triumphed earlier this year with the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. Despite these accolades, it is not at all obvious what expectations and standards of judgment lead us to praise or condemn the sound of a hall.

What are good acoustics? Are there objective, stable criteria for optimal listening, particularly to music? Emily Thompson's fine book reveals that acoustics, like most other cultural values, have always been subjective and influenced by historical circumstances.
.........
The greatest acoustics in the world are said to be found in Vienna's 1870 Musikverein, designed by the Danish-born architect Theophil von Hansen. It is telling that the Musikverein is affectionately known as the Golden Hall, a term that refers to its gilded interior. Built for the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, the leading society for the patronage and performance of music in Vienna, the design was driven by visual symbolism. The hall Hansen built was an oversized, palatial ballroom, evocative in a neoclassic manner of the era of Mozart and Beethoven and their aristocratic and imperial patrons — and of the classicism of Greco-Roman antiquity.
...........
As performers and audiences delight in the new concert halls brilliantly produced by Gehry and Toyota, there is a lesson to be learned from these books: We need to reconnect listening to life and think about how and why we listen. We should reconsider our connection to the spaces and social circumstances in which we listen. Gehry's particular genius as an architect is that in his new venues for music, he invites us to look as we listen and to embrace the public space we share with others. There may well be no philosophical priority to the live performance. But in our post-postmodern world, there is an imperative that Gehry reinforces: to relinquish occasionally our privacy, our CD players and our portable machines and sit alongside our fellow human beings to be moved by the sounds made by musicians we can see as well as hear, in real time and real space.

Here is an excerpt from the article on the building:

Few buildings in the history of Los Angeles have come burdened with greater public expectations than the Walt Disney Concert Hall. None has lived up to such expectations so gracefully.

Designed by Frank Gehry, the hall is the most significant work ever created by a Los Angeles architect in his native city. The hall's flamboyant undulating exterior — whose stainless steel forms unfold along downtown's Grand Avenue with exquisite lightness — is a sublime expression of contemporary cultural values. Its intimate, womb-like interior should instantly be included among the great public rooms in America.

But what makes the building so moving as a work of architecture is its ability to express a deeper creative conflict: the recognition that ideal beauty rarely exists in an imperfect world. It is this tension — and the delicacy with which Gehry resolves it — that makes Disney Hall such a powerful work of social commentary. That he could accomplish this despite a tortured construction process that dragged out over 16 years is a minor miracle. Its success affirms both Gehry's place as America's greatest living architectural talent and Los Angeles' growing cultural maturity.

In many ways, Disney Hall occupies a privileged place in the evolution of Gehry's work. Commissioned in 1988, the project marked his emergence as a major voice in American architecture. At the time, the architect was beginning to turn away from the rough-edged chain-link and plywood aesthetic of his early residential commissions to a more flamboyant style.

Construction began several years later, but it ground to a halt in 1994, when problems were discovered with the working drawings. The five-year delay was a major source of embarrassment for the city, but it allowed Gehry to update his design. The building's cladding was changed from stone to steel, giving the structure a tougher, more industrial look. A series of vertical slots was carved out of some of the foyers to allow natural light to flow into the interiors.

The completed hall joins a series of cultural landmarks and office buildings along the top of Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles. The Music Center's bland Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, completed in 1964, stands across 1st Street to the northeast; the Arata Isozaki-designed Museum of Contemporary Art is just across Grand Avenue to the south. Beyond it, a mix of imposing corporate towers and barren plazas forms a perfect snapshot of tabula rasa planning formulas.

Disney Hall's shimmering forms erupt out of this context with a sort of mad exuberance. The hall's main auditorium — enclosed behind canted walls — is set at an angle on the site, giving it a dynamic relationship to the street. A series of voluptuous stainless steel walls wraps around this interior shell. Housing the lobbies and foyers, their layered surfaces spill out above the avenue like the petals of an exotic flower.

They also evoke a city that has been violently torn apart and gently pieced back together. Surfaces break open to offer views of the interior from the street. Along Grand, a swooping steel wall floats above the entry, echoing the more static curved facade of the Chandler Pavilion.
...........
In effect, the entire building functions as a seductive tool, luring the public into an increasingly intimate architectural experience.

The design is also a pointed rejection of the cool, machine-inspired aesthetics of late Modernism. In its place, Gehry proposes an architecture rooted in the messiness of everyday life. His aim is to break down accepted social norms, to liberate the creative imagination.

That sense of an architecture rooted in a more complex psychological experience becomes clear as one moves through the building. Visitors arriving via underground parking ride a series of escalators up to the Grand Avenue lobby. Light filters down through a large skylight at the top of the stairway, drawing the eye upward. When visitors reach the lobby level, a sweeping view opens up to the avenue, momentarily reconnecting them with life outside.

From here, a series of foyer balconies carves up through the interior, the forms wrapping around the volume of the main auditorium. At the third-level foyer, the curvaceous line of a rose-colored marble bar frames the edge of a narrow balcony. Visitors can peer down into the main lobby or out to the intersection of 1st and Grand. As one slips along the bar, this view disappears, and the space opens up to the sky. The effect is remarkably tranquil, as if one were temporarily suspended between two worlds. The eye is in constant motion, engaged in a remarkable voyeuristic dance.

Only as one finally enters the auditorium, however, does the meaning of that social pact finally become apparent. Gehry has said that the design was influenced by Hans Scharoun's Berlin Philharmonie, completed in 1963 — a landmark of postwar architecture. And like Scharoun's work, Disney Hall's interior is organized in a so-called vineyard pattern, with seats arranged around all four sides of the stage. In Berlin, the layout is more open, its energy less focused; Gehry's hall is more compact, its composition almost classically conceived.

Viewed from the uppermost balcony, the orchestra seats cascade down toward the stage in a series of terraces. Two convex walls press in toward the stage on either side, a series of staggered concave balconies rising up behind them. Above, the Douglas fir ceiling's voluptuous form droops down over the room like a billowing canopy. A bundle of large wood and brass organ pipes bursts from between several more rows of seats behind the stage, tying the entire composition together.
............
By wrapping the seats so tightly around the stage, Gehry engages the audience in a remarkable communal experience. Concertgoers become intently aware of both the orchestra and others in the room. Music, here, becomes a socializing force, a place of shared human solace.

Leaving such a space is not easy. And Gehry goes to great lengths to nurture this sense of intimacy. Just as the foyers allow visitors to withdraw from it, they now function to slow the process of reentry into the world outside. Various views open up again to the surrounding cityscape.

On the fourth-floor foyer, the building's layered exterior peels apart to offer a perfectly framed view of City Hall. On the opposite side of the building, doors lead out to the elevated garden. The mirrored stainless-steel Founders Room anchors a corner of the site. A view of the San Gabriel Mountains opens up to the north, framed by the glass facade of the Department of Water and Power building and the back of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. To the south, the downtown skyline rises in the near distance.

These urban elements become part of the architectural composition. It is as if Gehry were pointing out the moments of optimism in downtown's hard-edged urban landscape. His aim is to change our perception of the city, to suggest its secret, untapped potential.
...........
Los Angeles is an ideal testing ground for such an experiment. Largely a 20th century creation, the city has always been remarkably free from Old World traditions. Its landscape represents a vision of life where individual expression rules.

It is also a model of suburban alienation — one that has often been criticized for lacking the traditional urban glue of older cities.

The wonder of Disney Hall is its ability to resolve that conflict.

It is neither as isolated as Richard Meier's Getty Center nor as introverted as Jose Rafael Moneo's Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels — two other recent Los Angeles landmarks.

Disney Hall's power, instead, stems from its ability to gather the energy of that swarming landscape and imbue it with new meaning.

In this way, it should be ranked among America's most significant architectural achievements.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Hosea 2:14-15


(14) "Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness
And speak kindly to her.
(15)"Then I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the valley of Achor as a door of hope.
And she will sing there as in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

Incredible!! After all the waywardness (see previous posts on Hosea), God is still trying to "allure her" and bring her/us back into a state of blessing.

And what is more alluring than a whisper!?

As a matter of perspective, I've taken to looking for "whispers of grace" in this world. If God is trying to allure me back to a state of blessing, if God is working by speaking kindly in this world, then I need to listen carefully. For if power overwhelms then subtlety allures. Thus, if God truly wants a world of free will then there won't be many thunderbolts from on high. Admittedly, there were some in the Hebrew Scriptures but they were recorded because they are unusual. My surmise is that much more often than not, those kinds of displays didn't happen and don't today.

Philip Yancey argued in Disappointment with God, power inspires fear. But God wants love so God must work with Divine Shyness. In Hosea, God is trying to win back the errant wife (Israel/us). So God allures. God can't just zap me, the wanderer, back to the righteous path?

This is the great debate about free will and God. If God chooses to intervene in any way, do those actions negate free will? That seems to be the argument one might draw from the extended dialog with the French sounding guy in Matrix: Reloaded (there is nothing new under the sun, this point has probably been debated from the beginning of time) where he argued free will is irrelevant and only power matters. He pushed the idea where there is power, free will becomes illusionary or at least irrelevant.

Yet people wonder why doesn't God intervene more frequently and vigorously in the world. Free will is why. The film Bruce Almighty proposes that God operates under the constraint of not tampering with free will. And why is free will important? Love. Without free will love becomes illusionary and irrelevant.

Some might argue, that is sure a high price to pay for love and free will. Absolutely agree. We can't know the infinite mind of God as to why God values love and free will. The closest we can come to understanding the mind of God is to look at parents. Why, oh why do people have children? They know they will enter a world that has evil and suffering. They know full well their children may grow up to rebel. They know heartache inevitable awaits especially during the teenage years. Yet, husbands and wives want to become mothers and fathers. Do we declare them evil for wanting this "experiment" in love and free will?

But back to Hosea, I find the incredibly earthy language compelling and comforting. God could simply make pronouncements from on high but instead chooses to communicate in this down-to-earth and very human sounding way. And so here is a picture of God, wooing the wayward wife back in gentleness and kindness and in dare say I a foolishly and hopefully romantic way.

With Christmas just two months away, yet another example of God's alluring us, the fallen creatures, back to a state of blessing. Imagine... sending Jesus to be born in a manger in an obscure small town to parents from an obsure small town. Whisper of grace... divine shyness... alluring...

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Instapundit on good looks and professors


Hmm, is there a trend this morning in the blogosphere? I clicked over to Instapundit and find a post on the same topic Postrel is blogging about. Excerpt:
Everything's show business, these days.

I've heard female colleagues ascribe comments on their dress in student evaluations to sexism -- but I get those comments all the time, and I remember noticing all sorts of trivial things about my professors. They're right in front of you, day after day, after all.



Is Postrel right on this point?


Postrel whose recent book is entitled, The Substance of Style wonders about physical attractiveness as a factor in electoral success. Excerpt:
My take on politicians' looks: Male politicians have to be good looking. Female politicians just have to be polished--in control of their appearance. I can't think of any female politicians as classically pretty as Perry is handsome. Nobody would take them seriously.
I suppose she might have a point because politicians must garner the support of a large number of people on the basis of limited impressions. In most professions where the "audience" is much smaller and contact more sustained, good looks though always a factor (human beings are human beings afterall) might not be so determinative as routine contact with each other diminishes the power of the "first impression" of good looks and the appreciation of competence grows over time. What do you readers think?

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The inside story of the LA Times Arnold investigation


Jill Stewart blows the doors off the LA Times with her inside sources. Excerpt:
Despite the obvious need to get the sex harassment story in the paper well before the election so that it would not act as a last-minute and unfair smear, another source says that Carroll then made a very conscious decision to hold back the article while a story about Schwarzenegger's steroid use was edited (see interview below). The steroids investigative piece was a disappointment to editors, this source says, because it did not portray Schwarzenegger in nearly the horrific light that they had hoped.
......
A leak about the story's contents from the Times to the Democrats might explain why Democratic operatives seemed able to mount an incredibly fast and coordinated attack on Schwarzenegger the moment the story appeared.

Leaking by a journalist to help a political campaign would be a firing offense at most newspapers. Yet Carroll appears to be utterly dismissive of Bradley's story. Bill Bradley and I both specialize in writing about the Sacramento power elite, but we have almost never seen eye-to-eye on politics or politicians. We do not socialize, and at times our relations have been poor. However, both of us can clearly see that something went wrong at the Los Angeles Times.
..........
The overriding issue is the out-the-gate bias with which the paper conducted its coverage. The Times ultimately created a huge---wait until you hear how huge---team dedicated to digging dirt, of any kind, from any decade, on rumored and reported personal behavior by Schwarzenegger. Yet while the newspaper poured massive resources into this effort, (is it too crazy to suggest a pricetag of $100,000?) it did not create a similar team, or even seriously discuss a team, to dig dirt on rumored and reported personal behavior by Davis. (See my Oct. 4 column at www.jillstewart.net.)

It's fine that John Carroll is pushing the Times local staff toward investigative reporting. However, Carroll's own behavior, as described below by someone who was there, and the manner in which the Times staff gleefully seized upon personal dirt about Schwarzenegger while avoiding personal dirt about Davis, does not instill confidence that the Times will use its investigative powers wisely.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Seen around the net


Blogging will be light but these links are not to be missed. Hewitt in an October 13, 2003 post references Little Green Footballs post about the David Kay testimony on WMD programs in Iraq.

Meanwhile, a buddy of mine sent me this web link on the billion dollar industry that is Boba tea.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Art in LA


The art work of Lynn Aldrich is on display at the Carl Berg Gallery on 6018 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. 90036. The gallery is open 11am - 6pm Tuesday to Saturday.

I've arranged for an opportunity to photograph the exhibit later this week. I'll be working on a photo essay which I'll have links here and over at my collaborative blog, Twotincans and at my home page.

Thus, blogging will be light while I work on this project.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Revising Mozart's Requiem


Though the film Amadeus took its share of dramatic liberties, the fact that Mozart died before the completion of the Requiem is true enough. The version we normally hear was completed by his student Sussmayer.

Many have felt that Sussmayer didn't do a very good job. However, what could be done? Sussmayer was there and Mozart would have discussed ideas with him.

I recently heard about a recent effort to modify the Requiem.


(Image from Amazon.com)

This recording is based on the revisions undertaken by Mozart scholar Robert Levin. His premise was that Sussmayer probably got most of it right so wholesale changes would be unwarrented. Levin made some adjustments to clean up some sections that seem too un-Mozartian. Not being musically knowledgeble, I could not detect the changes.

However, there were two more notible changes that could not be missed. Levin adds an Amen fugue after the Lacrimosa. The basis for this addition was the discovery of preliminary sketches for such a fugue.

Levin was thus faced with a decision: did Sussmayer abandon the idea? did Mozart abandon the idea and thus never told Sussmayer? or did Mozart want it in the Requiem but somehow the sketches never got to Sussmayer?

Levin decided to add it in. While at it, he also extended the Hosanna fugue at end of the Sanctus.

To hear audio clips from this CD visit the Telarc site.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Miracle of Life


The other day I was listening to someone share about why she helps out at a crisis pregnancy center (CPC). For those not familiar with CPCs, these are non-profit groups of concerned people who offer counsel and help to women who have unplanned pregnancies. The traditional Planned Parenthood type clinic encourages abortions. However, CPCs offer alternatives. It is the pro-life movement putting its money where its mouth is.

The energetic young woman shared that she was born in 1974, the year after Roe v. Wade essentially lifted all restrictions to abortion in America. She told us her mother was pregnant when her father decided to abandon them. There was also concerns that the child might not be healthy so friends and family were saying abortion is the best thing to do. Her mother almost did it but decided at the last moment not to.

People in the pro-life movement can argue about the extent of political action but we should all agree that CPCs are an essential part because they touch the people most directly impacted with love, practical help and options.

Imagine the feelings and thoughts that went through our minds as we heard this story. This vibrant young woman who is trying to do some good in this world might never have been born and it all hinged on a decision made at a crisis moment in a young mother's life.

One year of blogging!!!


I can't believe it was that long ago that the rambling started. To see the first post click here. Hope some of what has been blogged about been interesting.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

What does it feel like to be god?

Hosea 2:9-13
(9)"Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time
And My new wine in its season.
I will also take away My wool and My flax
Given to cover her nakedness.
(10) "And then I will uncover her lewdness
In the sight of her lovers,
And no one will rescue her out of My hand.
(11)"I will also put an end to all her gaiety,
Her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths
And all her festal assemblies.
(12) "I will destroy her vines and fig trees,
Of which she said, 'These are my wages
Which my lovers have given me.'
And I will make them a forest,
And the beasts of the field will devour them.
(13) "I will punish her for the days of the Baals
When she used to offer sacrifices to them
And adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry,
And follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me," declares the LORD.
From Hosea 2:2-8 we see an angry God with perhaps a glimmer of hope in the punishment winning back the wayward wife in 2:6-8. Now, we see the anger and frustration again here in Hosea 2:9-13 in full force. The charges of her/our sin and the punishment of her/us are explicit.

One may wonder: what does it feel like to be God?

We have no point of reference because we aren't God! However, the two most intense relationships we as human beings can experience is the husband-wife relationship and parent-child relationship. That has to be why God uses this kind of language to communicate feelings. This is the only point of reference we can understand. This is one of God's many dilemmas: an infinite being of power and goodness trying to communicate to us finite beings of mixed motivations. How does it feel like to be a physics professor trying to communicate with a five year old. She must adjust her language to succeed. Likewise, God must use language we can grasp or there is no communication and no relationship.

And the picture is not a pretty one: God being made fool of by the adulterous wife.

For today's ears, where feminism is a strong voice, would God have chosen a Holly to marry a gigalo named Geno? Would God have chosen to illustrate this reality of betrayal with the metaphor of a faithful wife being cheated upon by a serial philanderer?

Change the her to him in this poem and spruce up the language to the modern day:

And then I will make public his sexual indiscretions
And parade his lovers and his foolishness for all the media to show
And no one will stop the bad publicity as my hand of judgment falls on him ...

I will punish him for his worship at the idol of pleasure
When he gave his dollars to pay for it
And adorned himself with his cars and clothes
And followed his lovers, so that he forgot Me, declares the LORD.

The message is still just as powerful???

If you haven't heard...

An amazing night in politics as Gov. Davis was recalled by a pretty wide margin and the Arnold won the replacement part of the ballot.

He was far from a perfect candidate but it was very clear that the voters were totally disgusted with Gov. Davis and didn't believe his Lt. Gov. was going to do any better.

Key thing to watch is the reactions of the Democratically controlled legislatures. Will they play ball or will they play hard ball. They run the risk of being thrown out in mass in 2004 if they become to strident in trying to block the Arnold's efforts.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Drudge with the exit polls



News leak to Drudge:
LATEST EXIT POLLS SHOW 59% VOTE 'YES' FOR RECALL, TOP CAMPAIGN AND MEDIA SOURCES TELL DRUDGE REPORT, 51% FOR SCHWARZENEGGER, 30% FOR BUSTAMANTE, 13% MCCLINTOCK... DEVELOPING...
whoa!

A different take on the CIA leak mess



Instapundit cites this article who cites this Instapundit article.

What is the bottom line of their points?

This excerpt from Hobbsonline:
It is simply absurd for there to be a hugely expensive scandal investigation when, in fact, the identity of the leaker is already known to six reporters whose news organizations will, no doubt, be hammering the White House to find and reveal the leaker. The person or persons who leaked the CIA agent's identity did not blow the whistle on a scandal and, therefore, deserve protection. The leak IS the scandal. National security demands the press put the national interest above its own.
Pretty wild, eh?

Monday, October 06, 2003

Cal recall... one day left...


For your one stop opinion needs on the recall, check out Presto Pundit. Here is a link to the backlash against the LA Times for the last minute hit pieces against the Arnold. Link courtesy of course from Presto Pundit. Excerpt:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Times has had about 1,000 readers cancel subscriptions and been "flooded" with angry letters, calls and e-mail protesting its coverage of Arnold Schwarzenegger (news)'s alleged sexual harassment of women, it reported on Sunday.  

The newspaper has detailed allegations by a total of 15 women in three front-page stories since Thursday against Schwarzenegger, touching off a controversy that has consumed the final days of Tuesday's recall election in which the actor and former Mr. Universe remains the front-runner.

As Presto mentions in other parts of his news clippings, the election is already underway with 25% voting by absentee and who knows how many using the pre-election day touch screen systems they are testing out for 2004. It will be interesting to see if polling data can separate out those who voted before the charges and those who voted on election day after the charges.

Music and fine dining



Saw this amusing article today. Excerpts:
Researchers at Britain's universities of Leicester and Surrey persuaded a restaurant to alternate silence, pop music and classical on successive nights over 18 days, Sunday's Observer newspaper reported.

On nights when the classics were playing -- a tape of Beethoven, Mahler and Vivaldi -- patrons spent more on dinner, especially on "luxuries" such as coffee, dessert, fine wines and starters.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Come back?

Hosea 2:2
"Contend with your mother, contend,
For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband;
And let her put away her harlotry from her face
And her adultery from between her breasts,
(3) Or I will strip her naked
And expose her as on the day when she was born.
I will also make her like a wilderness,
Make her like desert land
And slay her with thirst.
(4) "Also, I will have no compassion on her children,
Because they are children of harlotry.
(5) "For their mother has played the harlot;
She who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, 'I will go after my lovers,
Who give me my bread and my water,
My wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.'
Who is speaking? Is it God talking about the nation of Israel? Is it Hosea talking about Gomer? As you read on, it would appear it is God speaking but using language that Hosea would use speaking about his wayward wife, Gomer.

In any case, isn't this anger justified? Yet, what do we see next?
(6)"Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns,
And I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.
(7)"She will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them;
And she will seek them, but will not find them.
Then she will say, 'I will go back to my first husband,
For it was better for me then than now!'
(8) "For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil,
And lavished on her silver and gold,
Which they used for Baal.
There is obvious anger here. There is clearly punishment and consequences to the waywardness. Yet, the anger is not to destroy. In these steps, do you hear the call and the hope, "Come back?" The call to return is explicit later in Hosea 2:14.

A few words about Baal.

Baal was the local deity in Canaan. Baal was the god of the weather and fertility. It translates to our word, "Lord." Baal was often made into idol form as a bull symbolic of fertility and strength. Other gods in the polytheism of Canaan was Ashtoreth who was the consort to Baal. Ashtoreth was the goddess of war and fertility. Ashtoreth was worshiped as Ishtar in Babylon and can be recognized in the Greek goddess Aphrodite and Venus of the Roman polytheism. There was also Asherah the consort to El, the chief god in their pantheon.

So imagine God's view after having given the wife/people of Israel/us grain, wine, oil, silver and gold only to find those gifts used in the worship of Baal?

Friday, October 03, 2003

Fearless Forecast


The recall looks to be passing. Barring sudden energy for the anti-recall camp, I'm predicting it will pass 56-44. If there is one constant so far it is the feeling that Davis needs to go.

Meanwhile, the replacement ballot is still volitile. The last minute allegations against the Arnold do not appear to be a problem unless there is more out there. However, one would think all the plausible charges are out there now. The timing of the reports couldn't have been better planned if they were straight from opposition research. But the word is that the LA Times is essentially the Gov. Davis mouthpiece.

Will there be a backlash as against the reports? We shall see Tuesday!

The final numbers (my best guess):
Arnold 46%
Bustamante 40%
McClintock 10%
Camejo 3%
Everybody else 1%

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Classical Music in Los Angeles



LA is now anticipating the opening of the Disney Concert Hall which will be the new home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Tickets to concerts are selling briskly. I recently went to the box office to get tickets to an April 2004 concert when Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto #2 will be performed. Of the three concerts with that piece, two are already sold out and the third is nearly sold out.

Disney Hall and the LA Phil is the hot ticket in town for classical fans and probably even non-fans as it will be the place to see and be seen.

As a somewhat free market libertarian, I can't complain that the prices have shot up. The cheap seats in the old Dorothy Chandler was $14. In the new venue they go for $35!

I'll still make a few treks to see the LA Phil because of my love of classical music. However, I'll have to begin looking into other venues and performing groups for classical in LA.

A search of the internet yields the following options.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Pasadena Symphony
Glendale Symphony
Santa Monica Symphony
UCLA School of Music
USC Thornton School of Music

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

LAT poll


There you have it. Even the LA Times poll is showing the same trend. Let's do the numbers:
By 56% to 42%, likely voters support ousting the Democratic incumbent, a sign that Davis has lost ground in the closing phase of his battle for political survival. Support for Davis has slipped among key parts of his political base — Democrats, women, moderates and liberals among them — since the last Times poll in early September found 50% for the recall and 47% against it.
.....
Tapping that public anger is Schwarzenegger, whose campaign against "business-as-usual politics in Sacramento" has boosted his popularity as voters weigh alternatives to Davis. The Republican actor is favored by 40% of likely voters, followed by Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat, with 32%, and state Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) with 15%.

The shift in voter support toward Schwarzenegger is dramatic: Since the last Times poll, he has made double-digit gains among Republicans, independents, whites, senior citizens, women and other major voting blocs. The early September poll had Bustamante in the lead with 30%, followed by Schwarzenegger at 25% and McClintock at 18%. Bustamante had also led Schwarzenegger in an August poll, 35% to 22%.

Over the last few weeks, several events have occurred that may have caused voters to shift their positions. Schwarzenegger has run millions of dollars in television advertising, and the major candidates held a televised debate that roughly two-thirds of likely voters in the poll said they watched.

Voters who were dissatisfied with Davis — and with career politicians in general — seemed to have concluded that Schwarzenegger was a viable option, said Susan Pinkus, director of The Times Poll. "If you're going to vote for the recall, you have to have somebody in mind to replace the governor," she said. "Before the debate, there was no one that they felt they could vote for."