Showing posts from May, 2004

Bookshelf: A Prayer for Owen Meany & Harry Potter - The Chamber of Secrets

On the night stand
I try to have a mix of books on my reading list. I confess I don't read nearly as much as I should or would like.

Earlier this year I finished A Prayer for Owen Meany.

The book is a coming of age tale set in the North East and touches on the turmoil of the Vietnam war, friendship, family and matters of faith. I would imagine the book would invoke a mix of feelings from those who take Christian faith seriously as there is enough material here to encourage and enrage.

For me, I read the book amidst an interesting context as I read late last year Catcher in the Rye. The two books follow the life of unusual young men. In Catcher, it follows a very small slice of the young teens life while Owen Meany's story arc is longer. What was striking to me was the contrast in the two lives. In Rye, the character is detached from any anchor and the inevitable consequences ensue. In Meany, we have a character with such a sense of destiny it is on one hand frighten…
Anaheim Angels
The hot baseball ticket in Southern California is for the 2002 MLB champion Angels! I went last Sunday (recap and box score) and saw the Angels defeat Baltimore easily. I normally go for the budget seats but the most afforable tickets that still had availabilty was in the $30 section. Here is a another digital stitch.

No post about the Angels would complete without some photos of items in the tribute to the 2002 championship team. Here is the trophy.

Here is a t-shirt inside the display case.

And of course, here is the charming (to Angel fans) and ubiquitious and annoying (to opponents) Rally Monkey!

Angels have been hit hard with injuries but have still played well and remain atop the AL West!
NYT: Friedman's latest column on where we should go from here
I admit I tend to visit center-right and conservative news and commentary sites. I also visit some libertarian ones. Friedman is one of my few left-center writers I like to visit. I should try to find a few more so I can get a more complete picture of the marketplace of ideas. Click here for his latest. Unfortunately, the NYT eventually moves articles into paid archives. Since it isn't kosher to copy and paste the whole article, the typical blog practice is to excerpt and make comments which is what I'll do here.Here's what I'd like to see:

We would take all the money the Bush team has wasted on P.R. campaigns directed at the Arab-Muslim world and put it into three programs: a huge expansion of U.S. embassy libraries around the world, which have been cut in recent years (you'd be amazed at how many young people abroad had their first contact with America through an embassy library), a huge expa…
Szoke Matyas Chardonnay 2001
Tried another wine from the little stash I bought from Blue Danube Wines. My past experience with chardonnay has been with the oak barrel kind. Not quite my taste. Just one of those things. But many think the oaky flavor is okay and even more than okay making chardonnay probably the most abundant wine in a typical market.

Interestingly, the Szoke Matyas Chardonnay 2001 is prepared in stainless steel barrels.

Aroma of peach and a hint of cut grass. Refreshing taste and no oak!

To read what Blue Danube says about the Szoke Matyas Winery of Hungary, click here.
Perspective sure would help
The Daily Dish from Sullivan is as close to a daily must read in the blogsphere as is possible. Here are two items (here and here) that provide some much needed perspective to the diet of bad news shown on the "mainstream" media. Sullivan reprints an email he received. Excerpt:He has been in downtown Baghdad for a year in the middle of it all! He said that it's really like an inner city that has a lot of gang activity. The people that live there are happy that the troops are there and are very friendly and supportive (women and girls always blowing kisses, men waving and smiling!) They point out the "bad guys" and call them "Ali Baba"! He said that so much has changed for the good over there. Kids are back in school, adults suddenly have internet access and telephones where before they had no way of knowing what was happening in the outside world. Businessmen are tearing down old falling apart mud and stone buildings an…
Science Thursday: tigons, ligers and sleep tight little rovers
Did you know that tigers and lions have been bred in zoos? Wow! Check it out here.

And here is the latest news on the Mars Rovers. Excerpt:PASADENA, Calif. - The Mars rover Opportunity will be put into a "deep sleep" mode at night to save energy even though the step risks cold damage to one of its instruments, NASA said.
The twin rovers have less solar power because of the advancing winter in Mars' southern hemisphere and the accumulation of dust on their solar panels.

Opportunity has a more serious energy decline because a switch that controls a heater on its instrument arm is malfunctioning, leaving the heater on overnight even when it's not needed.

The only way to turn the heater off is to use the "deep sleep" mode, but it carries the risk of damage to Opportunity's miniature thermal emission spectrometer, known as Mini-TES.

Both rovers completed their primary missions and …
The experience of family
A couple times a week I drop by Scheherazade's blog. Her blog, or blawg, is a blend of behind the scenes legal profession items and observations on life. Regular readers of her blog will know that her grandfather is ill and doesn't have much time left and that her family is a close-knit one. As such, she has been posting as a way to sort through her feelings. This recent post gave voice to what I think a lot of us feel about life and family.

If you are mid-20s to mid-40s, check out the post and know that you, we, aren't alone in what we are experiencing.
Hope is an amazing thing
Am not a big navel gazing blogger. Though I suppose there have been a small number of posts that skate into the edge of that realm.

So today, how about a full-fledged triple somersault of a navel gaze?

It all started reading this item from Tamara Lawton (a pseudonym). Excerpt:First, I was stunned. Then I felt a twinge in my heart, a flutter it took me a moment to recognize. All at once I felt all cartoony, twitterpated, and full of irrational exuberance.

For a moment, I felt confused and foolish for responding this way. It's not as though this man seemed at all interested in me. I doubt I'll ever see him again, or that anything will develop from that short, conference-based sighting. But later, as I wrote about it on the pages of my journal, chatted with my mom, and debriefed with friends, I slowly realized why I felt so good.

For the first time in a long time, I felt hopeful. Seeing this guy gave me concrete proof that the kind of man I want to marr…
Pop culture watch: Avril Lavigne
Am usually behind the curve on pop culture so what else is new, right? Nonetheless, I try to see what is there.

I've only recently come across Lavigne's music. And as usual, I went to the web to get lyrics behind the angsty sound of Avril's voice.

Here are the words to "Complicated":Uh huh, life's like this
Uh huh, uh huh, that's the way it is
Cause life's like this
Uh huh, uh huh that's the way it is

Chill out whatcha yelling' for?
Lay back it's all been done before
And if you could only let it be
you will see
I like you the way you are
When we're drivin' in your car
and you're talking to me one on one but you've become

Somebody else round everyone else
You're watching your back like you can't relax
You're tryin' to be cool you look like a fool to me
Tell me

Why you have to go and make things so complicated?
I see the way you're acting like you're somebody else ge…
Can you say and spell Trockenbeerenauslese?
A few blog posts back, I mentioned Blue Danube Wine Company. Based on the wine descriptions and recommendations of the owner, I placed an order and the other day I poped open my first wine from them.

I tried the Rosenhof Welschriesling Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) 1998. I found it refreshing and delightful as did my friends. We had the wine with some fruit for dessert. The aromas reminded me of apples and fresh cut celery. Does that sound, oh, so snooty to write?! I know next to nothing about wine and with my Asian genes, I can't drink too much. But I take in modest quantities now and then to enjoy the sensory experience: looking at the color while swirling it in the glass, detecting the aromas before I drink and then letting it linger on the taste buds. Sounds so hedonistic, eh? All in all, a nice wine to end the evening with for its sweet taste and crisp feel.

Here is the page where you can read more about what Blue Danube has …
Three to four liters of sarin gas in Iraq shell is reporting that tests have confirmed that the artillery shell recently found contained sarin. Excerpt:Tests of the artillery shell that detonated in Iraq on Saturday have confirmed that it did in fact contain an estimated three or four liters of the deadly sarin (search) nerve agent, Defense officials told Fox News Tuesday.

The artillery shell was left as a roadside bomb, the U.S. military said Monday. Two U.S. soldiers were treated for minor exposure to the nerve agent when the 155-mm shell exploded before it could be rendered inoperable. Three liters is about three-quarters of a gallon; four liters is roughly a gallon. There is now an ongoing debate as to how serious this is. Of interest is whether the people who rigged it up to be a roadside bomb knew it contained sarin. Some speculate they simple didn't know as there are so many weapons laying around all over Iraq that they just used something they found in some …
Iraq issues roundup
Postrel quotes from an Op-Ed by Charles Freund. Excerpts:Zarqawi's ghouls in this video don't merely behead Berg, as most accounts indicate. Beheading suggests a quick severing and a quick death.

What Zarqawi's friends do is butcher Berg — there's no other word for it. They don't use a sword or an ax; they use a knife. You can hear Berg screaming as Zarqawi's gang hacks at his neck and then pulls at his head until it comes off his body. They then hold his bleeding head in front of the camera. The tape is appalling not only for its utter bloodthirstiness but also for the total absence of simple human empathy.

Elemental empathy is a primary measure of civilization. The shame that Americans felt at the Abu Ghraib images is rooted in such empathy. Even in the dehumanizing context of warfare, which strains the empathy of all its participants, this is savagery.

But if this is a moment of comparative atrocity, the issue becomes whether the Zarqawi …
One word, one word only: UNBELIEVABLE
Lakers 74 Spurs 73 in what was probably the wildest finish to an NBA playoff game in history.
LAT-UCLA Festival of Books Follow-Up, Part I
In a prior post, I tried to give a run down of what was said by the panelists at the two sessions I attended.

For this post, I'll share my reactions to what they had to say.

The "China in the American Imagination" panel had a lively dynamic with four on stage. Lisa See has light hair and fair skin color and you would not guess she has roots in the Chinese-American immigrant experience. Anchee Min is a recent immigrant and her English is fairly good and she has good things to share but occasionally, she struggled for words. Ross Terrill is a Brit but life long China watcher. Iris Chang is an American born Chinese. I thoroughly enjoyed the varied perspectives each brought to the discussion. Also, the types of books they write are completely different.

Lisa's moderating style was just right: a few well place questions and let the panelists take it from there.

When Anchee said that her novels often delve into the Chinese…
Single guy chef
Coq au vin = chicken in wine.

Sounds fancy and indeed the recipes can be pretty elaborate. However, being the single guy chef (will I get as famous as the Swedish chef?), I have to simplify things.

Marinating chicken overnight in refrigerator:
4 pounds of chicken
2 T olive oil
6-12 black peppercorns
Liberal sprinkling of garlic powder
Liberal sprinkling of onion powder
1/2 bottle Pinot Noir

Prepare vegetables:
4 stalks celery chopped
3 carrots chopped
1/2 - 3/4 pounds mushrooms sliced
12-16 pearl onions

Cooking chicken:
1 T olive oil
2 shallots chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
4 T thyme
4 T parsley
2 bay leaf
Saute a few minutes
8 slices of bacon
Saute a few minutes
Use slotted spoon to place wine marinated chicken into pot
Cook about 10-15 minutes
Add the wine marinade
Cook about 10-15 minutes
Use slotted spoon to remove chicken
Cook celery and carrot 5-10 minutes
Use slotted spoon to remove vegetables
Add 1-2 cans chicken broth and simmer to reduce the broth and win…
Tom Peters on a Soapbox
Noted author, business consultant, motivational speaker, management guru, trend watcher and probably a few other descriptors printable and otherwise, Tom Peters sends out a monthly or so email newsletter with observations and web links. Here is an excerpt of a recent one:Engage!

Commit! Engage! Try! Fail! Get up! Try again! Fail again! Try again! But never, ever stop moving on! Progress for humanity is engendered by those who join and savor the fray by giving one hundred percent of themselves to their dreams! Not by those timid souls who remain glued to the sidelines, stifled by tradition, and fearful of losing face or giving offense to the incumbent authorities.


Key word: Engage

You Must Care

Make the time each day to offer an expression of appreciation to just one of your fellow human beings. It is the accumulation of such "small" kindnesses and acts of recognition and awareness and respect that add up to a life …
Dodgers 7 Cubs 3

Sitting in traffic about to enter the stadium.

Parking, $10 parking. Tickets, $10. Hot dog, diet cola and bag of peanuts, $16.50. Dodger victory, priceless.

The computer did the best job it could stitching together the shots but as you can see there are lots of imperfections. If I was more careful in how I shot it, it would look better!

As much as LA fans like to see Gagne pitch, it was nice to see them win a game where he doesn't have to make an appearance.

Jeff Weaver showed good stuff with 8 solid innings mixing a low 90s fastball with his breaking pitches. In his early outings, he would have one bad inning which put the Dodgers in the hole. In his more recent starts, he has pitched well but the Dodger bats were asleep. But this time, it was the Dodgers who jumped to an early lead.

Chicago fireballer Kerry Wood's stuff was uncharacteristically in the low 90s and the Dodgers did the damage as Woods gave up a solo shot to Beltre and then a two-run homer…
Red Wine Taste Off
Totally non-scientific small sample size test. Had a taste off with a handful of friends. In one corner, the $21 Burgundy wine recommended by the guy at the import wine shop. In the other corner, the $7 Turning Leaf California Pinot Noir I picked at the Ralphs because the price was right and the label looked nice. Wrapped them up in brown paper and did the blind taste off.

Guess who won?

Yup, the California!

Almost all felt the French wine had a bit more bite with hints of black pepper while the California was milder and smooth to the taste.

I wrote to law professor and wine blogger, Bainbridge and he was kind enough to offer these encouraging observations: Ultimately, taste is personal. Yet, taste also evolves with experience. Children love sweets, while adults often develop a preference for savory flavors. Folks new to wine often prefer wines with a single dominant flavor characteristic, while more experienced tasters often develop a preference for more com…
Middle East: Intersection of economics and culture
Friedman makes some good observations about the Middle East. Excerpts:I visited the Japanese cellphone company DoCoMo in Tokyo 10 days ago. A robot made by Honda gave me part of the tour, even bowing in perfect Japanese fashion. My visit there coincided with yet another suicide bomb attack against U.S. forces in Iraq. I could not help thinking: Why are the Japanese making robots into humans, while Muslim suicide squads are making humans into robots?

The answer has to do in part with the interaction between culture and natural resources. Countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China have relatively few natural resources like oil. As a result, in the modern age, their first instinct is to look inward, assess their weaknesses, try to learn as much as they can from foreigners and then beat them at their own game. In order to beat the Westerners, they have even set aside many of their historical animosities so they can invest in each o…
Promising Malaria Drug
Saw this item over at NYT. Excerpt:After years of hesitation, world health agencies are racing to acquire 100 million doses of a Chinese herbal drug that has proved strikingly effective against malaria, one of the leading killers of the poor.

The drug, artemisinin (pronounced are-TEM-is-in-in), is a compound based on qinghaosu, or sweet wormwood. First isolated in 1965 by Chinese military researchers, it cut the death rate by 97 percent in a malaria epidemic in Vietnam in the early 1990's.

It is rapidly replacing quinine derivatives and later drugs against which the disease has evolved into resistant strains.

To protect artemisinin from the same fate, it will be given as part of multidrug cocktails.
Like many tropical disease drugs, artemisinin is a fruit of military research. Chinese scientists first isolated it in 1965 while seeking a new antimalarial treatment for Vietnamese troops fighting American forces, said Dr. Nelson Tan, medical di…
How do you like the new look?
Blogger has rolled out a bunch of new features for blog managment and blog look and feel to the end user, you the reader. I decided to give my old template up and try out one of their new ones.
Genocide again: Who will step in?
Did you know some human rights groups are warning that ethnic cleansing maybe happen yet again in Africa?

Here are some excerpts from the Yahoo! News item I just linked above:Bertrand Ramcharan and James Morris, chief of the U.N. World Food Program, spoke to reporters Friday after they briefed the Security Council on U.N. missions they recently led to the region.

"First, there is a reign of terror in this area; second, there is a scorched-earth policy; third there is repeated war crimes and crimes against humanity; and fourth, this is taking place before our very eyes," said Ramcharan, the acting U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

"The government clearly has supported the militias, organized the militias, and this is taking place with the knowledge and support, and active complicity of the government," he added.

But when asked if he held the government of Sudan responsible for the atrocities, Ramcharan said: "I condemn t…
Would the UN do better?
There has been so much talk about internationalizing the effort in Iraq by letting the UN take over. But is that really going to make much difference?

First of all, there is the huge UN-Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal that is still unfolding where UN corruption is being investigated. I don't doubt that the US led efforts have some deficiencies but to my knowledge there haven't been reports of outright corruption.

And now there is this item that says UBL will give gold as reward for killing US and UN officials. Excerpt:CAIRO, Egypt - A statement attributed to Osama bin Laden offered rewards in gold valued at nearly $136,000 Thursday for the killing of top U.S. and U.N. officials in Iraq.
"The United Nations is nothing but a Zionists' tool, even if it worked under the cover of providing humanitarian aid," the statement said. "... Whoever kills Kofi Annan or the head of his commission in Iraq or a representative like Lakhdar B…
Ordinary guy as POTUS
Whether you agree with Bush or not, I think most people recognize that the guy is what he is. There isn't a pretense to be something other than what he is and that basic core person is a decent human being. The photo below and the news article accompanying it are making the rounds in the blogosphere and internet. Be sure to check it out here. I came across this Cincinnati Enquirer item because it was linked by blog biggies Drudge and Andrew Sullivan.

As of now, 103 blogs in the Technorati scan have cited the article. I wonder how many will link to the story by the end of the day?

Image source:

UPDATE: As for noon, Monday 10 May 2004, 340 blog links go to that article with the photo!
Trying to be ordinary daughters
Political trivia question: do you know the names of the Bush daughters?

Jenna and Barbara are their names and aside from their run-in with underaged drinking they have largely been out of the spotlight. I suppose at some point in the future they or someone else might write a "tell-all" book about what their lives are like being the kids of the President of the United States (POTUS). Being POTUS family members means they are under a microscope and face certain security dangers most of us can't imagine.

Thus, even an ordinary thing like graduating, Jenna from UT-Austin and Barbara from Yale, is news. And of course it is news that their parent's won't attend. Hat tip to Drudge.

Why won't POTUS and the First Lady go? The security measures needed of course.NEW HAVEN, Conn. - President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will skip their twin daughters' college graduations later this month to avoid creating a distraction at the r…
If you are a wine fan, be sure to check out Professor Bainbridge who is a law professor at UCLA and a huge wine expert and blogs up his reviews of the wines he samples.

As for me, won't be doing much wine blogging as my tolerance for alcohol is low being a fairly typical Asian person whose enzymes don't seem to process alcohol well. Nonetheless, in small quantities and special occasions, I'll have some.

A friend of mine was hunting for Hungarian wines and I was trying to find a specific type of Austrian wine and voila, isn't the internet amazing? Check out Blue Danube Wine founded by Frank Dietrich and Zsuzsanna Molnar. Their story is that they were in the computer and networking business and did a lot of their work in Eastern Europe. Now they are using their knowledge of that part of Europe to bring to America wines from Austria, Hungry and Croatia.
Iraqis dealing with Iraqi problems
Saw this item where Reynolds (Instapundit) cites NYT's John Burns' reporting from Iraq. The main point is that the US military could have stormed in and killed Al-Sadr but they being on the ground and at the scene detected that many Shiites turned against Al-Sadr. As such, the US held its fire and allowed Iraqis to take care of the Al-Sadr.

Reynolds wonders if something similar is happening in Fallujah. Excerpt:This would seem to vindicate the U.S. strategy there, which many in the blogosphere have criticized as insufficiently militant. It now seems plausible that this will be settled without serious bloodshed -- and that if a violent solution is called for, it's more likely to satisfy than to inflame Iraqi public opinion. Does this suggest that the similar approach we're employing in Fallujah is also a good thing? I don't know (and some of the Shiite clerics in this story want us to be more militant there), but it certainly see…
Friedman's China Observations
Over at the NYT (registration required), Friedman's latest column is about China.

A few days back, I was at the LAT-UCLA book festival and blogged on the session on China. With Iraq and other Middle East flashpoints in the news, China has receded into the background of political discussion but looking at the numbers Friedman cites, it should be getting more attention. Excerpts:The most striking thing about being in Asia today is hearing how much more important China's growth engine has become for companies all across the region ? and well beyond it. When Chinese authorities told banks last week to cut back their wild lending, commodity prices and stock markets tumbled all over the world. News that China is having regular blackouts because it can't buy enough crude oil is helping push up gasoline prices the world over.
And considering the huge amounts of foreign investment that have flowed into China in such a short time, &qu…
March Madness Bracketology Veepstakes
Here is an item from CNN that uses the NCAA Basketball Tournament format. Check it out and see what you think.

Here are my "guesses." Probably won't do any better than my selections for the NCAAs!

Southern Bracket: #2 seed, Bill Nelson, got to go with the Florida connection.

Showdown Bracket: #3 seed, Evan Bayh, it is all about the electoral votes and every state you can flip from the 2000 results is what both sides are after.

Gravitas Bracket: #1 seed, Dick Gephardt, of course, Dukakis selecting Bentsen didn't help (1988), Bush doing the opposite in choosing Quayle didn't hurt (1988) and two gravitas candidates in Dole/Kemp (1996) didn't win.

Women's Bracket: #7 seed, my long shot pick, Dianne Feinstein of California. No, Democrat Kerry doesn't have to worry about California's electoral votes. If it is actually close on the left coast then Bush is on his way to a 40+ state blowout and the celebration pa…
The Fallujah Confusion
Sullivan is concerned about the situation in Fallujah. Excerpts:The U.S. is beginning to look both cruel and (a much bigger problem) weak. The huge propaganda victory handed to the enemy by the celebrations in Fallujah by Islamo-fascists shouldn't have happened.
It is no longer unreasonable to surmise that the administration is preparing to hand over power to any U.N.-blessed Shiite or Baathist general it can find, while indicating to the wider terrorist enemy that we will buckle under to pressure. At a critical moment when Fallujah should have been the occasion for a critical wiping out of the terrorist and insurgent infrastructure, we seem to have blinked. The consequences for our future credibility, for the lives of coalition servicemembers, for the lives of Western civilians, could not be graver.Sitting here in Los Angeles, it is next to impossible to know what the situation really is in Fallujah. But certainly it appears that Sullivan's …
Held to a higher standard
This report and others of abuse of Iraqi prisoners is disgusting.

As someone who has supported and continues to support our effort in Iraqi, I am disturbed by these reports. These reports must be investigated and those responsible held accountable publically so the world sees that the US does hold to a higher standard.