Showing posts from 2004

Political diversity of Christians

The mainstream media seems to lump all Christians into the "Fundamentalist" Red-State Conservative mode.

I suppose it just makes for simpler story telling on their part and there are enough people who fit that mold that it is true to some limited extent.

But in my years of experience of talking with people of religious faith there is quite a bit of diversity of views on politics.

Just a few examples:

One person I knew was a fiscal conservative and socially liberal with the view that the government isn't in the business of morality.

Another friend is pro-life but doesn't have any strong feelings about economic matters.

A third example is a pro-lifer who is against the death penalty and usually votes democrat.

Then there is good friend who is pro-life but libertarian in economics and most other social issues.

And indeed, I have friends who are down the line conservative: pro-life, fiscal conservatives, in favor of the death penalty and will vote Republican no matter w…

Corporations step up

This item tallies up how corporate America is stepping up to help.

The news stories often focus on direct government aid. Money and aid is going to SE Asia also through personal donations to non-profit groups like Americares, World Vision and many more and from corporations partnering with government agencies and NGOs.

Click here for a list of agencies and contribute what you can.

Relief agencies at work

Here is a larger list of agencies at work on relief to South East Asia. Hat tip to DP. is collecting money for American Red Cross. As of this post, Wednesday 11:47AM PST, 39397 people have donated $2,211,086.53 to the ARC.

Return of the King - Extended Edition

During the Christmas holiday, I had the chance to watch for the 2nd time the newly released DVD for Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King.

My favorite new scenes - I hope I'm not spoiling it for people! - are: (1) Merry's conversation with Eowyn on the eve of the Riders of Rohan charge on the Orcs at Pelennor Fields. It was a little moment that shows the bond that forms between the two characters. Paraphrasing Merry: My lady you are fair and brave with much to live for and many who love you. I'm just a Hobbit and can't save Middle Earth. But I want to help my friends. How I wish I could see them again. (2) Pippin's conversation with Faramir. Pippen was wondering why in the world he offered his service to Denathor saying what could a Hobbit offer to great Lords of Men. Faramir overheard his remark and encouraged him by saying that a good act shouldn't be questioned by cold calculation. Pippen realized that the armor he was given to wear was Faramir…

Strengthen the good

This little outpost in cyberspace has joined the Strengthen the Good network.

STG is the nexus of a network of bloggers committed to raising awareness for small charities around the world. Every three weeks this space highlights a new “micro-charity”—a small, inspiring charity, one with a real face and where $1 makes a difference—and the bloggers in the network link to that post, sending traffic, and awareness, the charity’s way.

Check out what charities they have profiled supporting by clicking on the button below.

People trying to do good in times of trouble

One cannot but feel horrible about the massive loss of life due to the tsunami in South East Asia. The death toll is 22,000 and climbing and more is likely because of the terrible conditions that now exist in those devestated areas.

If you want to help with a donation, go here for a round-up of agencies with the global reach and resources to make a significant difference right away.

I urge, request, beg, plead with you that if you have found this post because you are a regular visitor or are an accidental visitor go here and pick an organization to support. I know this sounds like an NPR pledge break but I make the challenge because it will make a difference.

Meanwhile, I want to point you to this heart warming story of some kids with a simply idea to help and made it happen. Excerpt:For all the billions of dollars being spent on the war in Iraq, 14-year-old Brittany Bergquist is surprised that the U.S. military doesn't do what she and her little brother are doing: helping sol…

Larry King Show: Who Was Jesus?

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the conversation on Larry King's show tonight about "Who Was Jesus?"

I have to give props to all the guests and to the Larry King booking people as they chose people who have a point of view but who make them without acrimony. So often these kind of panels descend into shouting matches.

As a Christian, I accept the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John about the life of Jesus. I acknowledge there is an element of faith in believing the Gospel books of the Christian Scriptures.

However, it is a belief not without some basis in reason.

Why would one believe something written nearly 2000 years ago?

On what rational basis would confidence in something written so long ago not be foolish?

We can have confidence in these ancient texts because:
(1) they were written relatively close to the time of the actual events. Mark is generally believed to have been written soon after Jesus' resurrection and is the "bare bones&quo…

Blogging the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl

No, I'm not in Las Vegas. I'm not in a sports bar watching ESPN. I'm listening to the radio in Los Angeles, AM 1150.

I've been listening to the game on and off this evening as I ran some errands and baked some cookies. For the record, I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with walnuts!

Anyway, to reset the game. The Bruins came out flat and promptly fell behind 10-0.

Eventually, UCLA got its act together and cut the lead 10-7.

I didn't hear what happened but all of a sudden, I hear the announcer say the UCLA QB was David Koral. I would later find out that starter Drew Olsen got injured and the backup had to take over. Koral got a TD pass to make it a Bruin lead of 14-10.

In the second half, the Bruins under Koral got it to 21-10 and things were looking good.

However, it seems the Bruins are trying real hard to LOSE this thing. If I read the stat sheet right as of the late fourth quarter, the Bruins have had FOUR fumbles.

The Cowboys scored to make it 21-17.

politics and Christian faith

A serious or even casual reader of this blog will detect that I'm a Christian and that I have center-right political inclinations.

So at one level, I fit the "stereotypical" religious voter that the media says was a part of why Bush won.

Stereotypes persist because there is probably some truth to it. However, stereotypes rarely give the full picture of a person or even the group being stereotyped.

Here is an item that caught my eye in my nearly daily visits at AS's Daily Dish which is currently under guest blog management. Excerpt:Wednesday, December 22, 2004

AN EVANGELICAL LEFT: About a month ago, William Stuntz wrote this piece about political common ground between red-state evangelicals and blue-state liberals: "Helping the poor is supposed to be the left's central commitment, going back to the days of FDR and the New Deal. In practice, the commitment has all but disappeared from national politics... I can't prove it, but I think there is a large, l…

Flew, leading atheist, thinks there might be a god afterall

Got email from a couple of people about the news that Anthony Flew, a renown atheist is reconsidering his views. Excerpt:The first hint of Flew’s turn was a letter in the August-September issue of Britain’s Philosophy Now magazine. “It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism,” he wrote.

The letter commended arguments in Schroeder’s “The Hidden Face of God” and “The Wonder of the World” by Varghese, an Eastern Rite Catholic layman.

This week, Flew finished writing the first formal account of his new outlook for the introduction to a new edition of his “God and Philosophy,” scheduled for release next year by Prometheus Books.

Prometheus specializes in skeptical thought, but if his belief upsets people, well, “that’s too bad,” Flew said. “My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.”It will be interesting to see how …

big trade for big unit collapses

Just turned on the radio to get ready for the UCLA basketball game and the top news item was from Newsday.

The report says the Dodgers opted out of the massive deal that would have moved 4 Dodgers out to Arizona and the Yankees and Johnson to the Yankees.

Fans in LA may just shrug their shoulders as they have seen Finely, Beltre, Cora, Lima, LoDuca, Roberts all let go during the season and in the post-season. Fans are thinking the new ownership is just cutting payroll.

It is going to take a lot for McCourt to regain the fans in LA.

DePodesta is just doing the job McCourt has set the dollar amounts at.

Dodgers fans on a ledge

What is going on?

Dodgers give up Green, Penny and Brazoban to Arizona while Arizona sends Randy Johnson to the Yankees and the Yankees send to the Dodgers one pitcher, catcher, third baseman and two minor leagers.

Dodgers do not re-sign Beltre giving him up to Seattle who paid $64 million over 5 years for the 3rd base slugger.

Dodgers lose the bidding battle for pitcher Tim Hudson.

The new management is continuing to cut payroll. They didn't re-sign Steve Finley who hit the grand slam to clinch the division. They didn't re-sign Jose Lima who was the most consistent pitcher down the stretch and who shut out the Cards in the NLDS for the first playoff win for the Dodgers in a very long time.

Will fans turn out next season to see a team that looks very different than last year's West division champs? Will this team even play .500 ball?

LA Scene: The Los Angeles Master Chorale

People in Los Angeles know that the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the hot cultural ticket in town. When people think of the building, they think of Frank Gehry because he is the architect. When people think of the music, they think of the Los Angeles Philharmonic because they play there. When people think of the LA Phil, they think of Esa-Pekka Salonen because he is the music director.

What people might not know is that Disney Hall is the home of the Los Angeles Master Chorale which is under the leadership of LAMC music director Grant Gershon.

If one wants to see an event inside the Disney Hall with the LA Phil or organized by the LA Phil Association, check this page out for events with tickets remaining.

My impression is that this list is longer than last year's. Last year being the first year of the Disney Hall, everything was pretty much sold out; even the obscure modern works. The novelty maybe wearing off now that the Hall is a year old and so perhaps ticket sales aren'…

LA Dining: Tesoro Trattoria

Had dinner with four friends at Tesoro Trattoria.

Terrific Italian food. I had the Sorano ($13.95) which is farfalle with eggplant, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, basil, pine nuts with extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Delicious and well presented.

Friendly and timely service with a smile.

Very nice setting. Located walking distance to MOCA, WDCH and the other Music Center venues. Definitely a good option for the business meal, celebration dinner and the more serious date.

Entrees are around $20 with some in mid-teens. Our party of five with tips got out paying $100 because we all ate pretty lightly. The menu is a la carte so the bill would be higher if we opted in for salads, appetizers, desserts and drinks.

300 South Grand Avenue
Downtown Los Angeles
Telephone: 213-680-0000

One nice feature is that one can park in the California Plaza parking lot, get a validation from the restaurant and show the attendant your concert …

Another organization I'm supporting...

Christmas is a time to count our blessings and to give to others who have needs.

I've been blogging about different groups I'm sending contributions to. So here is another one for you to consider.

There aren't many things more difficult than being a woman who is pregnant and without support. Some would counsel abortion to "solve" the problem. But for some, abortion is not the solution. I'll leave the abortion debate for another blog post.

As a pro-lifer who wants to give support to people who are offering real alternatives, I've been supporting organizations that support women who decide to bring their child into this world.

One such group is The Harvest Home in Santa Monica.

What is their mission?

It is right on their web page:The purpose of the Harvest Home is to provide love and care to each woman, offering a stable environment where her physical, emotional and spiritual needs can be met.  The ultimate goal is to have each woman  leave the Home…

Join us in supporting Iraq through Spirit of America


Heisman should go to Reggie Bush

I haven't seen enough of Oklahoma to know their potential candidates. But among U$C players... you got to say Reggie Bush is the #1 guy.

No Bush, no victory over UCLA last Saturday.

U$C would have had success even without Leinart. I'm not so sure how good they would be if they didn't have Bush.

Bush, the big play threat, and Bush, the guy who catches, runs and returns helps them win. Leinart and the receiving corp helps run up the scores.

That's this Bruin analysis!

Meanwhile, GO BRUINS in the Las Vegas Bowl!!

The Christmas Season: a time for giving

With Christmas just around the corner, I want to encourage readers of this humble blog both regular and accidental to find ways to give to those who need help.

So below, I'll mention two groups I've just donated to.

Spirit of America: Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge

Check out the Spirit of America: Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge.

They are raising money to support various projects in Iraq. That country has been under decades of oppression and now that it is on the verge of breathing free it is being hit by violence from the old forces that used to be in power. It is an indication of their evil that they would rather burn 1/2 a house down than allow the long suffering people to rebuild.

I decided to donate with the Bear Flag League which is a California blog team.

I was tempted to join Hugh Hewitt's team, Northern Alliance of Blogs, because I occasionally listen to his show. But I am not a Minnesota person and have only been to Minn-e-so-cold just once.


Author Iris Chang, 1968-2004

I was shocked to hear the news that author, Iris Chang was found dead of an apparent suicide. She was 36.

I had the chance to hear her speak at the 2004 UCLA-Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I wrote these two blog posts about the sessions she was involved with.

She was passionate about bringing to the light aspects of Chinese history that were little in the public consciousness. As I watched her speak, she was so full of life.

Yet, as I read the news item about her death, it was reported that she was recently hospitalized for depression and one would guess was probably still being treated for it after being released.

If you or you think a loved one is suffering from depression, please check this web page from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Additional information can be found at the Prozac web page.

After reading those pages, if necessary, get help for yourself or your loved one.

Culture: Wineblogging - Weinrieder 2001 Eiswein Riesling

Wow! I bought this wine many months ago from Blue Danube Wines. I had emailed the owner of this wine importer for suggestions and he raved about this wine and recommended it highly.

Well, I'm glad I finally got around to trying it.

By eye a deep gold color, pleasant aroma is intoxicating already even before you taste it and then you taste it ... it is like nectar with a consistency somewhere between juice and syrup.

Read more about Weinrieder and below is an excerpt about this wine.This wine was chosen to be the crowning soloist at the Masters of Wine gala dinner in Vienna, July 2002. Recently it tied for first place with Canada’s Pilletteri Vidal 2001 ice wine at the Hamburg Wine Salon. Peter Moser writes in the Falstaff 2002 guide, "Enticing nose, redolent of canned yellow peaches; tastes like peach nectar, shows an brilliant acid structure; a racy and classy wine, yet with so much elegance that it is already drinkable. Great." 94-96 points. We should add this beauty ha…

LA Dining: Ngoma Restaurant

Shared dinner with some friends at Ngoma Restaurant.

African restaurant with a menu divided into West African and East African sections. Tonight, 4 of us went to the East side and 1 of us went to the West side. 2 of us had chicken stew and 2 of us had beef stew while one had a fried fish. There is lamb mafe on the menu that I hope to try next time I'm there. Good straightforward food. The menu provides descriptions of the items and some do sound more exotic than others! I confess I went with something that sounded familar and what could be more familiar than stew!

I have eaten here a few times before but it has been awhile. Previously service was a bit slow but this outing the service was quite attentive. One neat ritual is the handwashing. The host brings a bowl of water and a bowl as a catch basin. She poured the water over our hands so we can wash. The water was nice and warm!

It is a cute little place on Wilshire in the Miracle Mile area…

Seen on the web ...

A thumbnail of some noted evangelical Christians can be found here.

A NY Times article about John Stott by Brooks.

HT to AS.

What is a good and happy life?

Is a good life and a happy life inevitably linked?

One challenge (which the postmodern skeptic would agree) is that we are bound in this time and place and so a definition for either may be pointless.

However, can one come up with a definition that is applicable to us here in modern Western society and to poorer parts of the world and to someone who lived in the distant past?

Anyway, more questions than answers?

I think living in the USA does provide benefits (and how) but also lots of distractions!

The question of a "good life," I think, is hard for us because the postmodern skeptical view of the world is so prevalent here in the USA. If "truth" is unknowable or relativistic than the notion of some objective good is hard to find. So people default to finding a "happy life."

But do American's really know what a "happy life" is?

I think we confuse "excitement" for happiness. We are a nation of "adrenaline junkies." E…

One difference between men and women

I was driving to work and listening to the radio the other day.

The guy on the radio had the audience laughing out loud. He was talking about one big difference between men and women. The "air" for women is love. The "air" for men is respect. He cited little stories of how that plays out in typical couples and the audience would laugh out loud because they could relate.

As a single guy, I don't have the context of marriage to observe those differences. But in observing couples and in my own opposite sex friendships, I can see some of those dynamics. He is on to something with what he is saying.

Anyway, I only caught part of the broadcast on 99.5 FM on the show Focus on the Family.

Seen on the web...

culture of shopping

I periodically visit Virginia Postrel's web site. Her big thing of is the economic value of asthetics. She recently wrote this item.

How much money is "okay" for us to spend on ourselves?

On one hand, it seems selfish to spend too much.

But think about this: when we spend money someone has a job. I heard Dennis Prager talking about this. We buy stuff like shoes and some poor man or woman in Southeast Asia has a job making them. What if all American's decided to become totally anti-materialistic and stopped buying things? Hmmm...

So is it better for us to buy the imported good that provides a job or to give the money to a charity that provides help overseas?

Likewise, Postrel talks about how some of the fashion magazines pushes women to buy more and more stuff and more and more fancy stuff to "keep up with the Jones." Hence, she praises magazines like Lucky that has a more realistic assessment of the discretionary spending wome…

Tom Hanks and the Da Vinci Code

I hear that Tom Hanks may star in the movie version of The Da Vinci Code, the Dan Brown bestseller.

The pedigree of the people involved in making the movie will insure the film will probably be a blockbuster. Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Beautiful Mind, Cacoon and many more) will direct. Akiva Goldsman who did the screenplay for Beautiful Mind is adapting the novel into a screenplay.

I think part of the appeal of Da Vinci Code is the whole conspiracy theory. People seem to like the idea that what we think we know is true isn't really true. And so what better story to tell than to call into question Christianity as most people understand it?

We live in an era when there is a lot of post-modern skepticism (people may not use those terms but they know what it is!) which says truth is either relative or unknowable or both. Oddly, this line of thinking leads to this two-edged irony in attitudes toward Christianity: (1) Christianity is based on a fabrication as described by Dan Brown and li…

2nd Annual Thanksgiving Taste Test

In this corner, Charles Shaw 2004 California Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joes for $1.99.

What is there to say?

There are legions of wine drinkers who claim the "Two Buck Chuck" is just as good as the more pricey bottles in the stores!

Competing for votes, the low-priced entry bought at Ralphs, the Meridian Vineyard's Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2002 for $6.99.

Here is what the web page says about it:
This is a wine that I have to be careful not to “over-make” – since I am starting with fruit that essentially tastes how I want the finished wine to taste.  To end up with this fresh, lively flavor in the wine, I simply need to guide it gently through the winery and into the bottle.  I do all I can to retain the original fruit flavors. 

I barrel fermented half of this wine, mostly in French oak from several coopers and forests – Combined Woods, Never, and Center of France.  I then let it rest in the barrel for five months.  This short stint gives the wine subtle toasty arom…

All the people in the world ...

Did you know the US Census Bureau estimates the number of people in the world too?

Click here to see how many people they estimate are on planet earth right now!

As of this post, the number was: 6,402,456,716.

A little more clicking around and you get the world population and the US population side by side. The US population is estimated to be: 294,836,445.

The USA represents 4.6% of the world's population.

On this Thanksgiving Day, let's remember to be grateful for all the blessings we have here in the USA and find a way to help someone less well off today here and abroad.

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:48

Travel: Need to get away?

Happy thanksgiving where ever you are!

Click here if you want to visit my travelogue with photos from my Spring Break 2004 trip.

Nope, no beach resorts for me! Hah, instead I traveled to a places colder than Los Angeles!

It was great to travel with friends to see friends.


Falluja: they are soldiers now ... and young

This NY Times article by Dexter Filkins who is covering Bravo Company of the First Battalion of the Eight Marine Regiment is getting a lot of attention. I first came across it at then heard it discussed on Dennis Prager's radio show and then again on Hugh Hewitt's radio program.


FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 18 - Eight days after the Americans entered the city on foot, a pair of marines wound their way up the darkened innards of a minaret, shot through with holes by an American tank.

As the marines inched upward, a burst of gunfire rang down, fired by an insurgent hiding in the top of the tower. The bullets hit the first marine in the face, his blood spattering the marine behind him. The marine in the rear tumbled backward down the stairwell, while Lance Cpl. William Miller, age 22, lay in silence halfway up, mortally wounded.

"Miller!" the marines called from below. "Miller!"

With that, the marines' near mystical commandment agains…

Go Anteaters!

Anteaters win their opener against CSU Dominguez Hills. Excerpt from LAT:Before making a foray into more dicey college basketball territory, UC Irvine broke a sweat Friday, routing Cal State Dominguez Hills, 106-69, in front of 1,487 at the Bren Events Center.

The Anteaters play USC on Monday and UCLA next Saturday.

"Basically, we just want to have a presence on the court [in those games]," Irvine Coach Pat Douglass said.

"I don't know if we can upset them on their courts, but I want our players have confidence and believe in themselves."I'll be rooting for the 'Eaters on Monday and the Bruins on Saturday!

Go Bruins!

Bruins win home opener, 64-53 over Chicago State. Excerpts from LAT: There were smiles all around, plenty of back-slapping and hugging. If anybody wanted to nit-pick about bobbled passes or being turned around defensively by small, quick city guards and giving up too many layups or letting an undermanned opponent dictate the tempo, this wasn't the day.

Because opening day should be about the positives.

UCLA beat Chicago State, 64-53, Saturday in Pauley Pavilion, and the Bruins didn't need any last-second heroics (remember the home opener against Vermont last year, one-point win, nail biter to the end?).And here are some observations from a friend of mine who is a huge Bruin fan:To say the least, Howland's got some players this year. Both Farmer and Affalo are the real thing!  I enjoy watching guys who can play defense and finish.  They are young and make some mistakes ... Nevertheless UCLA should be good to watch [this year].

LA Dining: Cafe Du Village

Being an LA based blog I should blog more about dining out. I eat out for dinner once to twice a week and so reviewing restaurants would be simple way to get blog posts and might actually be useful to my readership both regular and accidental!

So I recently ate at Cafe Du Village.

I had the Lake Michigan Whitefish. Yum! It came with broccoli, carrot, green beans and mashed potatoes. The fish was cooked just right (when eating out the most common mistake is overcooking fish!) and topped with bits of tomato, capers and thin slices of lemon to give it a hint of that flavor without being overwhelming. The salad that came with the dinner was good too!

I see in the Citysearch reviews there were some complaints about slow service. It was just fine the night I ate there.

It is a cute little place on Larchmont. Agree on the beautiful people watching comments in Citysearch as Larchmont is that kind of area. When I went to the bathroom, there is only one, I not…

UN problems

Here is an item reporting problems at the UN leading to a symbolic no confidence vote on UN administration.

Excerpt: Union officials said the final straw was Annan’s decision this week to clear a senior U.N. official on charges of favoritism and sexual harassment.
The vote was also in response to Annan's failure to accept the “honorable action” of the deputy secretary-general who tried to resign as a result of the bombing of the 2003 United Nations building in Baghdad that killed 22 staff members.

Additionally, U.N. workers are unhappy with leaders for failing to hold accountable the chef de cabinet, whose son was hired to work there in violation of staff rules.

Another concern is the ongoing internal investigation into the Oil-for-Food scandal. At issue is whether a senior U.N. official accepted bribes in exchange for diverting the Oil-for-Food program funds meant as aid for impoverished Iraqis directly to former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein.

I think I heard radio rep…

Michele's Musings: Two Essays on Arafat's Legacy

The view from NYT's Tom Friedman. It also appeared in the International Herald Tribune (IHT).

A European view in the IHT from Daniel Barenboim.

Purpose Driven Life: thoughts from a hospital bed

I started reading the Purpose Driven Life (PDL) in early October. I even joined a small reading group to go through the book with. We met once. The following week on Tuesday (our scheduled meeting time) I called to say I wasn't feeling well and would miss the second meeting. That meeting was on October 12 which was when my stomach ache started which lead to the October 13 just after midnight ER visit and the afternoon surgery.

I had not gotten far in the book. But I had gotten far enough for Rick Warren to introduce what he believes to be the five purposes of our life from the Bible. (1) Worship God (2) Love People (3) Grow to be like Jesus (4) Serve Others (5) Tell Others about Jesus.

When I was in the hospital, I slept irregularly. About every 4 hours my vital signs were taken (temperature and blood pressure). Sometimes I would fall asleep quickly after the vitals check up but sometimes I would remain awake and stare at the ceiling wondering ... hmmm... what is the "…

Survey of public opinion on Iraq

I have a friend who has a child in college. One of the classes has assigned a survey research project. Check it out and help this student increase the "N" in the survey! Thanks!!

This is a fight against evil

Margaret Hassan was probably killed on the latest videotape.

Can we call those who murdered her anything less than evil?

Hassan has devoted her life to helping Iraqis through CARE.

Will Al-Jazeera show the videotape of the Islamic fanatics killing her?

Meanwhile, you can be sure Al-Jazeera will be showing the videotape of a Marine shooting a wounded insurgent.

There will be an investigation and that marine may well receive some punishment.

However, having recently watched Saving Private Ryan, I am not sure what punishment would be appropriate. In the film, there was a scene where the US Army troops are storming the beaches and some of the German soldiers attempt to surrender and they get shot.

The fact of the matter is that terrible things happen in war.

In this blog post I put two deaths side-by-side but I want to make it absolutely clear that I make NO moral equivalence between the two cases. At the very minimum, you have to say that Hassan didn't deserve to die. At th…

Patton: Prayer for Good Weather

Was channel surfing this morning and came acrossAMC's broadcast of Patton the biopic with George C. Scott.

Just a handful of minutes ago, saw the famous scene about the weather prayer.Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.Wonder what kind of prayers are being offered in Fallujah?

Legal protections vs. national security

With the news that AG John Ashcroft has resigned, there is much chatter about whether in the interests of national security he trampled on legal protections.

I was watching Newshour the other night and they had two guests who were both law professors. They were selected because they had different views of Ashcroft's tenure. Both sides sounded authoritative and factual. Who is right?

I don't know.

All I can do is blog as ordinary Joe Citizen who has no legal background and can only apply some common sense.

There is no doubt that terrorism imposes incredible challenges to the legal system because it falls outside the realms of established law.

In the USA, we have firm principles for criminal law like (1) when you detain someone you have to soon afterward charge them with a specific crime (I don't know how much time you have... I guess I haven't been paying enough attention while watching Law and Order) (2) when you put someone on trial you have to prove guilt beyond a…

The Charles Shaw Story a.k.a. "Two Buck Chuck"

It all the rage. In California, you can buy it for$1.99 a bottle and people are saying it is as good as more expensive wines.

Anyway, what is the story of how Trader Joes can sell it so cheap?

Here is the story as told on TJ's own site.

And here is the story from the Urban Legend's Reference Page (

Turns out it is simply Econ 101 at work...

We were soldiers once ... and young

On Nov. 5-7, TNT cable is showing We Were Soldiers.

The film came out in 2002 and I remember seeing some trailers for it but never got around to seeing the film.

I was channel surfing and came across it.

The film is based on the book by Col. Moore of the same title. Col. Moore commanded the troops of the 1st battalion of the 7th calvary regiment. Ironically, it was the same unit that Gen. Custer commanded and had massacred.

The following web pages describe the battle: detailed account) (battlefield map) (photos by Joe Galloway who was at the battle)

On the eve of the battle of Fallujah, the film moved me as it powerfully shows the chaos of the battlefield, the fierce determination of soldiers in combat and the courage of those back home.

American and Iraqi soldiers will fight soon in Fallujah. It is my hope that their blood will not be lost in vain. Freedom is…


That pretty much sums up the re-election of George W. Bush. The polling going into the weekend looked bad, the exit-polls on election day looked bad and guess what, Bush won.

I suppose a lot of the early voting was for Bush and the exits and weekend polling didn't pick that up.

I suppose maybe Bush voters are less willing to talk to exit-pollsters or pollsters in general.

I suppose the GOP really did improve their "ground game" and got turnout in key battleground states.

I suppose the Kerry team played it too cautious counting on flipping either Florida or Ohio and thus leaving themselves with zero options if they didn't.

Anyway, glad the fears of multi-recounts and legal battles didn't turn up and we got a clear result.

UPDATE: Bush 286 Kerry 252. In the end, the Blue State-Red State distribution was almost like 2000. Only switches were New Hampshire which went to Kerry this time and Iowa and New Mexico which switched to Bush.

my voting experience today

Since I'm still recovering from surgery, I had to have help getting to the polling place. My parents were kind enough to drive me to it. I was walking to the location when I saw something really strange. I saw a car with Bush-Cheney bumper stickers on it! More than one sticker I might add. Remember, this is LA!

Anyway, I had to take a peek at the driver and to my delight she was a hot-looking twenty-something lady. Our eyes met and I gave her a smile and a friendly wave and she had a big smile too.

I got to the address listed on my voter booklet and found... the polling place was shuttered. There was a sign that said, polling place moved to such and such a location.

I got back into the car and we went to the new location about 6 blocks away. I went in and it was busy but not too crowded as it was mid-day. I got my ballot and waited for my chance at an available inka-vote gadget. No more chads to poke. Now you poke with a black felt pen to make dots on the ballot. A…

election prediction

Popular vote: 49-49 with either Bush or Kerry winning by 500,000 to 1,000,000 votes nationally.

Electoral votes: two scenarios -- (1) an early end to the evening where Bush pulls off the trifecta in PA, FL and OH and rolls to a win with around 300 electoral votes; (2) the night drags on and on which I think favors Kerry who would then win with a little over the minimum 270.

My wild guess Bush 309 Kerry 229.

Cal Ballot Issues

Having been the hospital, I haven't had much time to figure out the lengthy California ballot for this November. My approach is to vote NO unless given a pretty good reason to vote YES. Here are some links to help you decide: recommendations from LA Times, SF Chronicle and Frank Pastore (talkradio host).

As of this writing, Pastore has YES recommendations for 1A, 59, 60 and 60A. The Los Angeles Times is recommending YES on 1A, 59, 62, 64, 66 and 71. The SF Chronicle editors are recommending YES votes for 59, 62, 63, 64, 66 and 71.

Thus, all three (2 liberal big city papers and 1 conservative talk radio host) of these sources are either against or silent about: 61, 65, 67, 68, 69, 70, 72.

So let's take a look at the ones they are saying yes to. Here is some information on 1A.
Proposition 1A is a historic bipartisan agreement among local governments, public safety leaders, the State Legislature, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and is authored by Democ…

Life: and still more health blogging

She's an angel.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face. A re-assuring smile.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face. A re-assuring smile. A soothing voice.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face. A re-assuring smile. A soothing voice. I can't remember much of what she said.

I said, today is Wednesday, I had surgery. Everything went okay right?

She said, it went well. The slight smirk in her smile led me to believe this wasn't the first time we had this conversation.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face. A re-assuring smile. A soothing voice. The gurney was rolling and she said something about you're doing great so we can move you to the next floor now.

Fade to black.

Post-surgery, I guess there is a holding area where the patient is under the very watchful eye of the post-op staff. At some point though, we come out of the haze and can get moved to the regular…