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Showing posts from February, 2004
Economics of free trade: good or bad for America?
A common belief is that free trade is bad for America and the jobs situation. In boom times, most would say it was good or at least it isn't very bad. However, since the economy has been sluggish, everyone is piling on saying free trade is bad. Certainly, the two major Democratic candidates are making noises to that affect.

Postrel has another view in her latest NY Times economic scene piece where she says the United States has been a laboratory Free Trade Zone for decades and the results have been good. Excerpt:Over the last century, a lot of that movement has occurred. Rich and poor regions have converged to about the same standard of living. But the results haven't been anything like the "race to the bottom" of protectionist imaginations.

Incomes still vary widely across regions. Income per capita in Connecticut, the richest state, was about $42,000 in 2002, compared with $24,000 in New Mexico, the poorest. (T…
How essential is the PHYSICAL suffering of Christ to salvation?
One aspect of the controversy around Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ is the degree of violence in the film.

There are certain things we know about Crucifixion from medical science. Given that Roman tyranny was well known, it is possible and perhaps probable that the Crucifixion of Jesus was worse than what is described in the Gospel accounts but that would be speculative.

Gibson has chosen to emphasize the suffering of Christ beyond what is described in the Gospel accounts; thus, I posed the question in the title of this post to some friends who have a great interest in theology.

Up to this point, I have received two responses. I've made some minor edits of their responses for clarity and brevity.

One said:I do not think that the actual (amount of) physical suffering is essential. I think that the death is the important thing. Physical suffering plays a bigger role in Catholic doctrine compared to Protes…
Cal ballot measures
55 - No.
Normally vote yes on this kind of bond but with the Cal budget in a shambles I can't support it.

56 - No.
There are two ways to control the size of government: restrain spending and keep taxes under control. The state legislature needs a 2/3rd vote to raise taxes so there are controls on the tax side. And still the Calfornia budget is run into the ditch. And so now the legislature comes crying to the people, make it easier to raise taxes? Do they think we are steew-piid?

57 - Yes.
58 - Yes.
The Govenator needs help to get the car out of the ditch. Let's do it and see what happens. Can it get any worse?
Not much to cheer about for Bruin and Anteater fans
Well, UCLA lost yet again to USC in basketball on Wednesday. These are dark days for UCLA fans when both the basketball and football team are down in the dumps.

I had hoped my Anteaters would provide some excitment in the run-up to the NCAAs but they haven't show signs of life.

In today's USA Today the cover story was on D-I teams that have never made it to March Madness. UC Irvine Anteaters are one of 54 such teams.

Neither UCLA nor UCI are likely to run the table at their respective post-season tournaments. Both tournaments only take the top 8 in their conferences and both teams are at the bottom end of that list thus, they may fall out of contention entirely or wind up having to play the #1 or #2 seed in the first round.

Sigh.
The Passion of the Christ
I haven't seen the film yet.

Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ is causing quite a stir. People haven't talked this openly about religion in a long time.

In this round-up of reviews, as of this writing, there were 67 positive reviews and 57 negative ones. Not surprising at all.

In my opinion, most reviews tend to fall into discussions of "it is too violent/not too violent as to obscure the message of Christianity" and "it is (or not) anti-Jewish." These two issues are valid concerns but after reading a half dozen or so reviews of that type, you pretty much have exhausted that line of analysis.

Here are three items on the internet that I thought gave some additional angles worth looking at.

For a perspective of the film in the context of other artistic efforts to portray the life of Christ, check this one out.

This item discusses why Jews and Christians react so differently to the film.

Finally, movies are afterall a busi…
Play Ball!
As someone born and raised in Los Angeles, I'm a Dodger fan. I didn't go to that many games as a kid but I went often enough to love the feel of the ballpark. I mostly followed them by radio. Vin Scully and Jerry Dogett were the voices of the Dodgers in my youth.

They were usually competitive in the 1970s but they fell short until Fernadomania when the Dodgers won the World Series against the dreaded Yankees in the strike affected season of 1981. And then there was the amazing year Orel Hershiser had in 1988 and the memorable Kirk Gibson homer to win game one in the bottom of the ninth against the Oakland As. The Dodgers went on to take the World Series in five games against the big bats of the As.

The 1988 Dodgers won it all with pitching and timely but generally anemic hitting.

The Dodgers have relied on that formula for a long time and since 1988 have neither made it to the playoffs or win a game in them.

Last year was an amazing and frustrating year. The Dod…
Hosea 4
Its been a while since I've been on the Hosea thread.

For those who may not be familiar, Hosea is a book in the Hebrew Bible. Hosea was a prophet. In simplest terms, a prophet is one who speaks for God. Yes, God could speak with a booming voice from the sky but God often spoke through a human agent, a prophet.

And so this is what God wanted to say through Hosea:

Hear the word of the LORD , you Israelites,
because the LORD has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
"There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Because of this the land mourns,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
and the fish of the sea are dying.

What do people care about? How do we know what people care about?

One clue is what is on our calendars. Another clue is what is in our…
Nader is in?
Reuters says he will announce his intentions on Meet the Press. Foxnews says he is in.

In 2000, it could be plausible argued that Nader may have tipped the balance to Bush in a few key states. It is unlikely he will be much of a factor this go around. Third party candidates usually only make a splash the first go around as Perot did in 1992. Perot was a non-factor in 1996.
UCLA wins!
Haven't had much to cheer for but last night the Bruin basketball team took it to the Cal Bears!

The team is back to .500 again (11-11, 7-7). Games remaining: Stanford (home), USC (road), Notre Dame (home), Oregon St. (road) and Oregon (road).

I had forecasted the team to finish 10-8 in conference. It is still possible but unlikely. Stanford has big guys and shooters while the Bruins have neither. A Bruin win on Saturday would lead ESPN Sports Center. USC is more athletic than UCLA but erractic and can be beaten if UCLA doesn't fall behind early like they did last time they met. Road games in Oregon are always tough. However, UCLA did beat the two Oregon schools earlier this year at home so they should have some confidence.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Have had the pleasure of going there three times since it has opened.

The place is a treat for the eyes and ears.

For the eyes, the metal curves are quite something to see. But what I also enjoy is how that provides foreground for what is nearby. Walking along Grand Avenue and seeing the shape of Disney Hall with the more classic looking Dorothy Chandler behind is nice. Strolling in the park on the Garden level you see the shapes of the Hall and the city lights of Downtown skyscrapers.

The interior with the Douglas fir all around and the orchestra stage so close is a treat. You can see the musicians doing their work and how much fun Salonen is having while conducting.

And of course, there is the sound. It is a two-edged sword that the rooom is so "live." People rustling with their programs and coughing is very noticible. In the old Dorothy Chandler, there was always an ambient amount of coughing between movements that was like white noise. …
Breaking news: possible surprise in Wisconsin
Hadn't even bothered to blog the last few blowout primary results. Poll numbers showed Kerry blowing out the competition so I didn't give Wisconsin much thought.

However, as of 6:30 PM PST, the leaked exit poll numbers say it is much closer than expected between Kerry and Edwards. With Clark having dropped out, the anybody but Kerry voters had to choose between Edwards and Dean and it looks like they are going to Edwards.

The question for Dean and the Deaniacs is: does Dean endorse Edwards? Or do they continue the fight on their own? Or does Dean drop out but with a wink and a nod send his staffers and supporters to Edwards?

My feeling is that Dean has no interest at all in being VP and truly wants to shake up the party and the only way to do that is to stick it to the establishment i.e. Kerry and all the big wigs endorsing Kerry.

In 2000, the McCainiacs where the anti-establishment within the GOP. McCain was the only plausib…
9/11 Democrats
I've recently talked with a few democrats for Bush. They may not agree with him on social issues or economic issues but they agree on the national security issue.

This may be a tad over the top but I think it frames the issue for voters who have national security as their top priority.
Lyrics -- "Into the West" from Return of the King
I like to sit through the credits. I'm not in the industry hunting for a name that I know. Rather, I like to listen to the music.

In Return of the King, after 5 minutes of product ads, 15 minutes of movie trailers then you get 3+ hours of a great movie and then you get the credits.

The design is in the form of pencil sketches of the actors and some of the sets and locales and of course the sound and music is "Into the West" with the amazing voice of Annie Lennox.

You can find the lyrics here.

Here they are with a few comments from me:Lay down
Your sweet and weary head
The night is falling
You have come to journey's end
Sleep now
And dream of the ones who came before
They are calling
From across the distant shoreTheologically, what is heaven? How is it pictured?

One picture is: reunion.

I've only lived 40 years on this earth but I've been to more than a few funerals and when I think …
Kerry vs. Bush, 2004?
Sure looks that way doesn't it? Latest poll round up shows Kerry taking tonight on Clark's and Edwards' supposed turf. I would figure that Kerry's people might send out quiet feelers to the Edwards camp about being the possible VEEP. Don't see them trying to recruit Clark.

Meanwhile, in the Dean camp, just how angry are they? Kerry's people would love to get Dean off to the sidelines but the anger factor may keep Dean in.

Then there is the recent Gore outburst. Dean's Iowa speech could be explained by exuberance but Gore was really going way over the top! Don't know what that is all about? Seems to me that Gore's political judgement is nowhere near as sharp as Clinton's. Clinton won the nomination and the Presidency while Gore's run for the nomination faltered prior to 2000. Clinton ran on the centrist DLC platform while Gore ran to the left of that in 2000 and lost an election he should have won easily. Clinto…
Tenet speaks at Georgetown and Bush on Meet the Press
Aside from the Democratic Presidential Primaries, the big news was the Bush appearance on Meet the Press and CIA Director Tenet's speech on the intelligence estimates prior to the Iraq war and how that did and did not match up with what has been found thus far.

I caught most of the Bush interview on the rebroadcast on CNBC. It was okay. But nature, it was a defensive stance he had to take. They have essentially been a punching bag for the Democrats and the media is only too happy to report the sound bites that put the Bush Administration on the defensive. The interview was a chance to make the case unfiltered. But I have to wonder, how many Americans actually watch Meet the Press? What most people will get is the sound bites from the interview.

Bush's responses on the WMD issues were largely what I would have expected. Taken together with what I read in the full text of the Tenet speech it was a reasoned and reasonabl…
I respect Islam but this aspect is troubling...
Saw this item over at the Daily Dish. Sullivan comments on the the 251 deaths in Saudi Arabia as a result of the pilgrimage.

Excerpt:There is a huge difference between seeking holy death or being indifferent to death as a spiritual matter, and suicide bombing. Christ, after all, chose death when he could have stayed alive. Martyrdom is not a uniquely Muslim concept. But it is useful to remember that Western liberalism's attachment to life faces here an ancient and powerful enemy. If harnessed to a political movement, the indifference to death is the biggest and most potent weapon of mass destruction the world knows. Because it cannot be deterred.

Some people place human behavior exclusively on the doorstep of economics and dismiss the influence of ideology and theology. I wonder how they react to hearing about this kind of analysis?
Hanging Out With Junior High School Kids
Last Fall, I started to volunteer with the group that serves the Junior High schoolers at my church. I have never worked with that age group before. It has really been fascinating. In 7th/8th grade they are in that in between age. It seems to me that up to 6th grade, kids are still pretty much kids physically and mentally and they know it and really don't care. Also, in looking at the high schoolers, they are now definitely moving into adulthood at least physically and to varying degrees mentally and emotionally. Junior high... kind of in limbo in the middle of those two worlds?

When kids are young, they may ask a lot of why questions and lots of questions in general and I get the feeling they pretty much take the answers you give them. But by junior high, they sometimes now have the attention span to say, okay, but do I buy that answer? And so you have to be ready to give a follow up answer and to hear out what they may be thinkin…
Whispered exit polling numbers
They have been wrong before but Drudge is citing NRO's inside sources.

AZ Kerry 46, Clark 24, Dean 13.
MO Kerry 52, Edwards 23, Dean 10
SC Edwards 44, Kerry 30, Sharpton 10
OK Edwards 31, Kerry 29, Clark 28
DE Kerry 47, Dean 14, Lieberman 11, Edwards 11

If Clark really does finish third in OK, then he is done. An Edwards win there will solidify him big time. What is shocking is how far and fast Dean has fallen off! We shall see if these numbers hold. The early wispered numbers in NH had the race much closer than it really turned out to be.

UPDATE: Kerry takes AZ with 43 to Clark's 27 and Dean's 14
Kerry takes MO with 51 to Edward's 25 and Dean's 9
Edwards takes SC with 45 to Kerry at 30 and Sharpton with 10
Clark has a very slim lead (a little over a thousand votes) in OK with 30 and Edwards at 30 and Kerry 27
DE was behind Kerry with 50 Edwards and Lieberman with 11 and Clark and Dean with 10
NM and ND went to Kerry easily with …
More Primaries for the Democrats
The lastest poll summary has John Kerry doing very well. Looks like Edwards will hold his ground in South Carolina allowing him to fight another day. I'm surprised to see Clark still up in Oklahoma. I have to wonder what the dynamic is there? It is a three-way race. Is it that some Oklahomans don't want to vote for a North Easterner (Kerry) nor a Southerner (Edwards) and so Clark is kind of the "none of the above" candidate? I wouldn't be surprised if Kerry overcomes Clark's lead there as he is gaining the look of inevitability.

Forcast: Kerry takes everything pretty easily (10% or better margins) except for SC where Edwards will get a nice win of 7% and except for Oklahoma where Kerry will eek out a narrow win of less than 4%. Lieberman will finally drop out. There will be calls for Clark to drop out but he will want to fight on one more round. Kucinich and Sharpton will battle on as protest candidates. Edwards wit…
Health Care: The view from Africa
Here in the USA, we often complain about our health care system: it costs too much, too many people don't have insurance, the wait it too long, getting a referral is such a hassel, fill in the blank with our latest "problem" with health care.

This morning I got an email from a friend who works in a hospital in Africa and it puts things in perspective.

Excerpt:The occupancy rate at the hospital varied from 107 to 110 in the months of November to December. With the over abundance of rain this past season, the malaria season dragged on. Many young children required blood transfusions.

For those of you in the northern hemisphere, you should be enjoying the winter season with the snow and cool weather. The weather here is also cooler. The temperature can get below 20 degree C in the morning (that’s about 68 degree F)! It’s cold for people who are accustomed to temperatures in the low 90’s. To keep warm, many local people keep a fire in the h…
How Conservative Can Bush Be?
Frum says that is the key question in today's political climate. Excerpts:America in 2004 is a less ideologically conservative country than it was in 1984. The partisan map has been trending Democrat for a dozen years: Dick Morris points out that Minnesota is the only state in the Union that has grown more Republican since 1988. Conservatives sometimes forget that George Bush won 500,000 fewer votes than Al Gore in 2000; the Bush political operation can never afford to let that fact slip out of mind.

What has changed since the 1980s? Many things, but here are the four most important:

1) The Democrats have moved rightward on economics. After the defeat of Hillarycare in 1994, Bill Clinton gave up the attempt to enact major new federal programs - and reaped an economic boom and re-election in 1996 as his reward. His example has been noted. Voters just aren't as scared of a Democratic presidency messing up the economy as they were when memories of J…