Showing posts from March, 2004
Am back...
Was away on holiday for a week and a half of travel. Hope to blog about it shortly. Here are a few web links to whet your whistle... I spent two half-days in the Loetschental Valley of Switzerland. I bought a Grolle while in Annecy, France. What do you do with a Grolle? Check out this web page.

Photos and travelogue to come.
Sex in movies
I try to run a family friendly blog here and so I know I'm skating to the edge with this post.

What do you think about the amount of sex in films? Too much, too little or just right?

Interestingly enough, the other Friday and Sunday I was hanging out with friends and the subject came up on both occasions.

In the Friday conversation, the subject came up after seeing the film Havana Nights.

For those not familiar with the premise of the film, it is about a young American girl who re-locates to Havana, Cuba with her family. She meets a young Cuban guy and they both like dancing and eventually each other. There are obligatory conflicts with siblings and parents and everything comes to a big dramatic moment on the night of the Castro takeover.

As far as lightweight fluff movies go, it is pleasant to watch as the two stars are likable and well dressed. Since the film is about dancing and music there is a foot tapping quality to the soundtrack. All well and good. H…
NYT Friedman: Two Species
Thomas Friedman is one of the more articulate writers on the subject of globalization and its implications. Here is an excerpt from last Sunday's column:Infosys said all the walls have been blown away in the world, so now we, an Indian software company, can use the Internet, fiber optic telecommunications and e-mail to get superempowered and compete anywhere that our smarts and energy can take us. And we can be part of a global supply chain that produces profit for Indians, Americans and Asians.

Al Qaeda said all the walls have been blown away in the world, thereby threatening our Islamic culture and religious norms and humiliating some of our people, who feel left behind. But we can use the Internet, fiber optic telecommunications and e-mail to develop a global supply chain of angry people that will superempower us and allow us to hit back at the Western civilization that's now right in our face.
Indeed, it is worth asking what are the …
LA Phil: Premier of Stucky's Second Concerto for Orchestra
Last Friday night in the final First Nights concert of the 2003-2004 season, LA was treated to the world premier of Steven Stucky'sSecond Concerto for Orchestra.

New music is inherently less popular then programs with crowd pleasing favorites. Of my four concerts this season, this was the least well attended though I'd say that 80% of the seats were filled.

Steven Stucky was born in Hutchinson, Kansas in 1949. There was a slide show about Stucky's life. In a surprise, one of his middle school classmates showed up and came on stage to share a story about how Stucky had composed an orchestral piece for the school's music class to play.

Stucky would explain how some other works have influenced his composing style. He would describe some section of a noted work and then have Salonen conduct the LA Phil to play that excerpt illustrating his point.

This type of classroom-talk show-concert format is part of…
Picture of the day
From the Yahoo! News - World Photo section.

Hundreds of thousands of people march down a main street of Zaragoza, Spain, Friday during a demonstration to protest the bomb attacks on trains in Madrid. (AP/EFE/Javier Belver)
Show of support in DC at Spanish Embassy
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, is on the story with photos.
Check it out at
Possible Al-Qaeda Involvement in Madrid Bombing
Hugh Hewitt points to Powerline which has the following bit of analysis in an item from UPI:the Brussels-based World Observatory of Terrorism, an independent think tank affiliated with the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, points to five major reasons that cast doubt on the involvement of ETA.

First, ETA generally warns Spanish authorities moments before launching their attacks in which civilians are likely to be harmed. This, obviously, was not the case on Thursday.

Second, ETA traditionally targets representatives of the government or the administration, such as policemen, the military, magistrates or even journalists who oppose them.

Third, ETA customarily selects "symbolic" targets, such as military barracks and administrative buildings. Although ETA's largest attack to date was in 1987 against a supermarket in Barcelona that killed 21 people, this was the exception rather than the norm.

Fourth, ETA a…
War on terrorism: March 11 - Spain's "9/11"
The news from Spain is awful. Excerpt:MADRID (Reuters) - Simultaneous bomb blasts ripped through packed commuter trains at three stations in Madrid on Thursday, killing 182 people and injuring about 900 in Europe's bloodiest attack for more than 15 years. Numbers expected to rise as the day goes on.

Dennis Prager often mentions when we hear this kind of news, we overlook the number injured. Injured in this case will often mean lost limbs, blindness, brain damage, ruptured internal organs and other terrible life altering problems.

Spain now joins the Turkish (Istanbul bombing), the Indonesians/Australians (Bali bombing), the Israelis and America in suffing a mass attack on civilians.

America and the rest of the freedom loving peoples of the world needs to stand with the Spanish in their "9/11" today. The terrorists (whether they are Basque separatists or Al-Qaeda linked) and those who support them and harbor t…
Pretty Talented Piano Player

Image source:

Am a fan of classical music. A couple of months ago, I was in San Francisco and had the chance to attend this concert with a good friend and got introduced to Strauss' Alpine Symphony. But before the "big music" was the Beethoven Piano Concerto #4 played by a Helene Grimaud. The audience gave her warm applause upon finishing the concerto. A bouquet of roses were handed to her before she exited off stage.

I've always wondered about that phenomena. Does this always occur when the performer is a female? And the person giving the flowers? Is that guy a fan so committed to their favorite star that they would buy roses for their beloved performer? Or has someone on the symphony staff bought them and it is just another way the inviting orchestra can express their appreciation for the guest soloist?

Anybody within the click of this blog know?

You maybe wondering wh…
@ the movies
Was planning to see Gibson's The Passion of the Christ but it was sold out as was Starsky and Hutch as was Hidalgo. So what did we three wind up seeing, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Gasp. A friend said I shouldn't be admitting I saw that movie. I can say I didn't see the original Dirty Dancing which was a hit in 1987.

In brief: 2 stars out of 4, a thumbs up if you are in the mood for something lightweight.

Premise: young American girl moves with her family to Havana Cuba meets young local Cuban guy and they both like dancing and eventually each other. Obligatory conflicts with siblings and parents. Story is set in the time before the Castro takeover.

The two young actors are likable and pleasant to watch as they dance and interact. However, the dialog isn't much to write home about. In fact in one important dramatic scene the lines were so cheesy or corny (I'm not really sure which word best described that scene) that one person in the thea…
End of the road for UCLA and UCI men's basketball
UCI finished 9th in the Big West and thus missed the post-season tournament. UCLA after the 5-0 start ended the season 7-11 and in 7th place the Pac 10. They will be in the Pac 10 tournament but are not expected to do anything. If they could make an upset or two that would be the highlight of a dreadful season.
It's the national security, stupid
In 1992, Clinton's campaign running title was, "It's the economy, stupid."

If the 2004 campaign is run on that, it will probably be close and Bush might lose. But if the economy continues to recover, Bush wins re-election narrowly.

However, if the election is run on, "It's the national security, stupid" then barring some drastic changes in the sounds coming from the Kerry camp, it will be a 40+ state blowout.

Over at MSNBC, Glenn Reynolds has this analysis of the campaign and the national security angle. Excerpts:But the spirit behind this "optimism" is revealing -- the idea that the war is going badly is a reason to be "optimistic."  And I suppose it is, if you think that getting rid of George Bush is more important than, you know, winning the war.  And the evidence is that for an unfortunately large minority of Democrats, that's where the priority lies.

That's a recipe for disaster, o…
Kausfiles on Kerry
Check out what Slate's Kaus has to say about Sen. Kerry. Excerpt:As a Democrat, I have two big fears about John Kerry. The first is that he'll lose. The second is that he'll win. Let's take the second possibility first. One reason Kerry might lose, after all, is an inchoate public intuition that he would not be a successful president.Read the whole thing if you are (or not) leaning towards Sen. Kerry.

Volokh on the same-sex marriage issue
When a big legal matter hits the fan, I always click over to Volokh's legal team blog.

I may or may not buy completely what they are saying there but it is almost always clearly presented and not shrill.

Check out Volokh's latest post on the subject. Excerpts:Moral and practical reasons: Let me set aside for a moment the constitutional doctrine (I'll get back to it below), and focus on moral and practical judgment.

I oppose bans on interracial marriage because I think that race is literally only skin deep (with a very few exceptions, such as certain hereditary diseases that are more common in certain racial situations). A black-white couple is no different, morally or practically, from a white-white couple or a black-black couple. There is no inherent, either biological or very deeply rooted social, difference between a black parent and a white parent.
But people's sex is not skin deep. Men and women are different b…
Articles on the Passion of the Christ
Over at they have a pretty extensive round up of articles pertaining to the movie and the many questions it is raising.
Its a final
With Sen. Kerry winning pretty much everywhere, Edwards has ended his campaign.

Now, for the Veepstakes... Edwards never went after Kerry hard in ads or debates so he probably will be on the list.

Wonder which way will Kerry go... try to go for a regional ticket balancer like Edwards, the Southerner, find somebody (Gephardt?) he believes will be able to be President if needed (Bush chose Cheney who didn't add much electoral votes hailing from Wyoming), try for a generational pick (Clinton selecting Gore, a fellow baby-boomer) or go for the fences with an off-the-wall choice (Mondale putting Feraro on the 1984 ticket).

UPDATE: I should add one last factor, winning a particular state with the VP choice. It doesn't always work but in a really close one, it might. Thus, there is a certain buzz about Sen. Graham and Sen. Nelson from Florida which was the key state back in 2000.

UPDATE: I'm guessing Hillary won't go for it because she is going to wait for h…
Season near end for UCLA and UCI
Lavin's final year was dismal. Howland's first year is looking just as bad. In the end, what can you do when your guards are too slow and your front line guys can't bang around inside?

UCLA gets beat by speed guard play or by dominate front line players and if the opponent has both, UCLA has almost no chance.

Meanwhile, UCI gave a good fight against Utah State but lost. UCI did manage to get back into the game and had a chance to tie on the final possession but the shot didn't go in.

As for the NCAAs... who are the serious powers to win it all? Probably Duke from the ACC. Stanford from the Pac10. Pittsburgh from the Big East. After a dismal start Michigan State from the Big10 is doing well. I'm not convinced that the Big12 is that strong this year. St. Joe's has been beating up on A10 teams which might not be proof they have what it takes to go to the final four. One wonders if Gonzaga is going to finally break the mono…