Monday, March 29, 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.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

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. However, when they actually speak, well, at one point, one member of the audience burst out laughing at a crucial moment while the rest of the audience was too polite and stifled the temptation to guffaw.

But back to the point of the post. There was one "they slept together" scene. After the film, my friends and I discussed was that scene really necessary?

Our feeling was, no. The two characters do have some semi-meaningful dialog in that scene but if they said those lines over a cup of coffee, I think the emotional impact would be about the same.

On Sunday, the subject came up again in a conversation with another friend. We went on to discuss other movies that have "they slept together" scenes and wondered was it really necessary?

I thought of Contact and Titanic.

Contact was a film about the discovery of intelligent life in outer space via a radio signal and how the world would react to the message contained in that signal.

Fairly early in the film, the two main characters (Ellie, an atheistic astronomer and Palmer, a writer who believes in God) share an evening together and have a serious conversation where Palmer talks about a how his near death experience changed him and Ellie leaves hastily realizing she is getting too vulnerable for her own comfort. On this occasion, both characters are developed. In particular, we see Ellie forced to face some issues in her life. In this instance, sharing a sexual encounter led to emotional closeness and that scared her.

As a film maker, would there have been another way to develop the two characters as much without the "they slept together" scene? Maybe? In real life, doesn't emotional intimacy precede sexual intimacy? In movies, that line tends to get mixed up?

I also though of Titanic where the two characters share two moments that got some in the socially conservative community riled up: the charcoal sketch sequence and the time they do it in the car in the cargo hold of the ship.

In the context of the Kate Winslet character's life, she is looking back on a set of life changing experiences. Would the grandmotherly character be as believable without those scenes? Perhaps not?

Some reading this blog may think, so what's the big deal that the characters "slept together?"

If it develops the characters in believable and necessary ways that it is understandable. In the three films I've mentioned, in one, I believe it was completely unnecessary. In the latter two, I can see why it was a part of the story though I'm not fully convinced the character's development would have been less plausible without those scenes.

However, a broader point we discussed was: is there far too casual and cavalier an attitude about sex in our culture?

The Islamic critique of American society is partly based on this point.

It doesn't justify crashing planes into buildings to slaughter innocent people.

Nevertheless, having said that, as a society, are we better off with such carefree attitudes about sexuality?

Having some social libertarian inclinations, I don't like the government censoring films or trying to influence people's personal lives with legal constraints and tax incentives/disincentives. I'm still wrestling with the degree to which personal religious based morality should find manifestation in society in law.

However, as an individual acting in the free marketplace, I can choose more carefully where my entertainment dollars go. And it is always good to discuss what I see afterward with friends to mull over not only the artistic elements of what I see but also the moral components.

Interestingly, this topic was discussed in this article by Camerin Courtney who is a single Christian woman who wants her faith to have reality in her day-to-day life. She described the types of entertainment she views and how they affect her views on sexuality. Be sure to check it out. Here is an excerpt:
..... In today's entertainment culture, it's easy to get desensitized to sexual ethics and practices that are contrary to our Christian beliefs. In other words, the new battleground for sexual temptation isn't the bedroom, but our brains.

I'm startled every now and then when watching Friends or Alias or the latest blockbuster flick to find myself not at all fazed when a couple winds up in bed together on the first date, or when I find myself even rooting for the consummation of a long-awaited romance or the breakup of a marriage so a third party can enter the scene.

I'm not proud of these things, but they're true. And I know from a few candid conversations with friends that there are many of us desperately trying to keep from being products of our over-sexualized culture.
......
This is also a reason we need to allow others who share our faith into the messier parts of our lives as well. I need the loving accountability of friends who will call me on certain decisions when I'm perhaps tuning out God's voice or having a difficult time hearing it. What a vital role we can play in each other's lives, drawing us closer to each other and to God, as we take the risk to be real with one another.
Well said, Camerin. Check out the whole article.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

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 spawning grounds for each. Infosys was spawned in India, a country with few natural resources and a terrible climate. But India has a free market, a flawed but functioning democracy and a culture that prizes education, science and rationality, where women are empowered. The Indian spawning ground rewards anyone with a good idea, which is why the richest man in India is a Muslim software innovator, Azim Premji, the thoughtful chairman of Wipro.

Al Qaeda was spawned in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, societies where there was no democracy and where fundamentalists have often suffocated women and intellectuals who crave science, free thinking and rationality. Indeed, all three countries produced strains of Al Qaeda, despite Pakistan's having received billions in U.S. aid and Saudi Arabia's having earned billions from oil. But without a context encouraging freedom of thought, women's empowerment and innovation, neither society can tap and nurture its people's creative potential — so their biggest emotional export today is anger.
..........
Both Infosys and Al Qaeda challenge America: Infosys by competing for U.S. jobs through outsourcing, and Al Qaeda by threatening U.S. lives through terrorism.

Monday, March 15, 2004

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's Second 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 the LA Phil's periodic attempts to make symphonic music more accessible to the masses.

The non-traditional format was a risky proposition (I enjoyed it and I think many did) and it seemed some of the more antsy audience members couldn't get into the spirit of the occasion as I saw a handful of people leave half way through the program.

The Second Concerto for Orchestra overall has a slightly spooky mood to it. It often made me think of movie music for an adventure film. It has a lush sound and a vivid sense of motion.

What I enjoyed most about the work was most notable in the second movement: how the music utilizes the full variety of the instruments in the orchestra. It seemed like every section of the orchestra at one point or another got to lead with the melody and everyone else harmonizes or responds to that section. Because of the close proximity of my seats to the orchestra there were many moments where I felt the sounds coming at me from different directions and you get the sense of the instruments dialoging with each other.

New music is very hit and miss to me. I've been a subscriber since 1999 and some of the new compositions are quite forgettable and the audience is sometimes left granting polite applause with looks ranging from apathy to puzzlement to a vague sense of alarm.

Stucky's work appeared moderately well received as portions of the audience gave the composer a standing ovation and the rest gave proper applause. The response was nowhere near the usual boisterous levels common given to music that is widely known.

As for me, upon it conclusion, I thought to myself, I would like to hear it again and explore it some more. I also found myself wondering if it would be as enjoyable at a less acoustically clear and bright hall? The work highlights the dynamic range of sound an orchestra can make and Disney Hall is lively enough to make that fuller appreciation possible. Interesting, in the post-performance question and answer session, Stucky remarked, I'd hate to think how that would have sounded in the old Dorothy Chandler!

And all the music fans said, "Amen." Okay, we didn't actually say it but I imagine most of us thought it!



At the Department of Water and Power building facing south toward the Downtown skyscrapers



Looking west at the fabulous fountains at the DWP building



And of course, the famed Hall

Friday, March 12, 2004

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)

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 http://www.instapundit.com/archives/014589.php.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

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 always claims its attacks. Following any ETA bombing, ETA militants call in a claim to Spanish authorities. This failed to happen this time.

Fifth, ETA has never in the past carried out multiple attacks. According to some sources, at least 10 bombs were detonated almost simultaneously on Thursday.

On the other hand, these murderous attacks bear the traditional hallmark of al-Qaida: multiple bombs detonating a few seconds apart and programmed to cause the largest possible number of human casualties.

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 them must be hunted down.

Prager in his radio show heard in LA on KRLA-870 cited the statements of the major political leaders as reported at CNN.com.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar
"There is no possible negotiation with these killers. ... Our aim is to win over terrorism. Only by being firm we can stop (terrorism). We must be firm fighting the terrorists and opposing the final aims they want to achieve."

U.S. President George W. Bush
Bush called the Spanish Prime Minister to express "solidarity with the people of Spain at this difficult moment." Bush condemned what he called "vicious acts of terrorism" in the strongest possible terms and expressed his condolences to the families of those killed and wished a speedy and full recovery to the hundreds injured.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
"Once again we see senseless killing of innocent people. The killing of innocent people cannot be justified regardless of the costs. I offer my deepest sympathy to King Carlos of Spain, to the government and people of Spain, and to the people and friends who were killed or injured. I hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice swiftly."

French President Jacques Chirac
"These irresponsible acts, which cannot have any justification whatsoever, are to be fully condemned. ... In these appalling circumstances, I want to offer you the most sincere condolences, both in my name and in that of the French people.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair
"This terrible attack underlines the threat that we all continue to face from terrorism in many countries and why we all must work together internationally to safeguard our peoples against such attacks, and defeat terrorism."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
"With grief and outrage, I have heard of the terrible attacks in Madrid this morning. I am horrified at the high number of deaths and injured. I ask you to convey our sympathy to the victims' families and the Spanish nation. Those who were injured, I wish a speedy and complete recovery."

Russian President Vladimir Putin
"Terrorism has once again shown it is prepared deliberately to stop at nothing in creating human victims. ... An end must be put to this. As never before, it is vital to unite forces of the entire world community against terror."
Prager noted how some explicitly refered to terrorism while some others did not.

These are the top leaders in the world and when they make a press release they know the whole world is listening. They know which two or three sentences the media will report.

I just don't understand why some of them won't call what happened terrorism?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Pretty Talented Piano Player




Image source: http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00001SIBN.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

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 why am I blogging about a concert that happened two months ago and spending all this time on Ms. Grimaud?

I got the booklet for the 2004-2005 LA Philharmonic season and guess who one of the many star performers slated to grace the Disney Hall?

Grimaud will do two performances in Los Angeles.

She will join five other piano players for the Season Opening Gala on October 1 in a program entitled "Grands on Grand." Grands of course refers to pianos and Grand refers to the fact that Disney Hall is on Grand Avenue.

Her second visit to Disney will take place January 21-23, 2005 when she will play Shumann's Piano Concerto.

From her web page you can find out about the handful of CDs she has out, some photos and a web link to her other passion: the conservation of wolves.

I look forward to seeing her play Shumann as I am renewing my subscription and the "budget" series I picked includes her performance. I'll blog back about it in 2005!

Monday, March 08, 2004

@ 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 theatre burst out laughing. The rest of us were too polite to let out the guffaw.

The Latin rhythms do get the feet tapping and if you like watching young people in nice clothes dancing the night away, you'll enjoy it.

The film is PG-13 for suggestive dancing.

I do have a nitpick over the one they slept together scene in the film. If that part had been cut from the film and the dialog they shared in that scene was spoken over a cup of coffee, I think the film would be about the same.

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.

Friday, March 05, 2004

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, of course, electoral and otherwise, and more sensible Democrats know that.  The problem is that the Democratic nominee -- pretty much sure to be Kerry -- will have to deal with the baggage that the "Hurray!  We're losing!" crowd represents.  That places an extra burden on Kerry if he's to prove himself acceptable on national security grounds.  So far, he's not there, though he's offering a few reasons for, er, optimism. 

Kerry's Super Tuesday victory speech contained only one specific on national security, and it's not too specific:

We will rejoin the community of nations and renew our alliances because that is essential to final victory in the war on terror.

I'm not sure what this means -- next time we won't go to war unless the French allow it?  Hard to believe that's what Kerry meant, since he's okay with unilateralism in circumstances that are far less central to American security, saying about Haiti:

"I would intervene with the international community, and absent an international force, I'd do it unilaterally," he said, adding the most important thing was to protect democracy.

There's a lot more democracy in Iraq than there was before Saddam fell, which makes me wonder what the difference is -- besides the fact that Bush went in "unilaterally" to Iraq, except for a bunch of other countries like Britain, Australia, Spain, Poland, Japan, etc. who apparently don't count because they're not France or Germany.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

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.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

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 biologically. To my knowledge, this difference reflects itself in substantial biologically driven differences in parenting styles, behaviors, emotional interactions, and the like; certainly there are at least some very deeply rooted social differences there, but I suspect that they're biological, too. Certainly given the current state of biological knowledge, the claim that there's a biological difference in men's and women's parenting styles is much more plausible than there's any such difference in blacks' and whites' parenting styles.
........
But the arguments against same-sex marriage mentioned above are not ridiculous arguments, nor arguments that can only be justified by irrational hostility or contempt. These are arguments that sensibly cautious and methodologically conservative people can reasonably make against proposed changes in a fundamental social institution.

This is why my view on same-sex marriage is that of cautious and tentative support. I do think that it will probably be good for society to allow same-sex marriage; and I'm pretty sure it will be good for gays and lesbians. But the real differences between men and women (differences that aren't duplicated as to race) give me pause. So does the fact that the male-female marriage model has been broad, deep, and longstanding in our legal system in a way that bans of interracial marriage were not....
........
Constitutional: But, people say, what about Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case in which the Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage? Loving held that a law which considers a partner's race in deciding whether a marriage is allowed is a form of unconstitutional race discrimination (even if both whites and nonwhites are equally covered by the law). Later Supreme Court cases held that sex classifications are similar to race classifications. Therefore, a law which considers a partner's sex in deciding whether a marriage is allowed is a form of unconstitutional sex discrimination (even if both men and women are equally covered by the law). QED.

Not so fast: Analogies between race discrimination and sex discrimination are sometimes helpful, but often not. This is one case where I think they aren't.

To begin with, let me just make some observations that should remind us that race and sex discrimination are not the same. Consider these pairs of case:

Racially segregated restrooms
Men's rooms and women's rooms

Racially segregated schools
Boys' schools and girls' schools

Whites-only basketball teams
Girls-only basketball teams
...........
Men and women are different. They are different in purely obviously biological ways (women get pregnant, men don't, women are shorter than men, especially at the right tail of the bell curve), and in social ways that likely flow from this biology or are at least very deeply rooted (men and women generally want privacy from the opposite sex in certain situations, boys and girls behave differently in mixed-sex settings than in same-sex settings, we think that being the best woman basketball player is a noteworthy achievement in a way that being the best under-6-foot basketball player or the best Vietnamese-American basketball player is not). The law recognizes that there is a difference here.
.........
Conclusion: Let me say it again: I tentatively support allowing same-sex marriage. I would vote for a proposed California law implementing allowing same-sex marriage. I think it's the fairer result, and the practically most useful one.

But I also realize that I may well be wrong. Perhaps we shouldn't be tampering so quickly with an important aspect of a fundamental social institution. Perhaps -- and there is reason enough to think that this is a plausible claim, though not an obviously correct claim -- there is something in male-female relationships that is uniquely valuable for one of the most important tasks of any society, raising the next generation of its citizens, and perhaps the law should therefore officially sanction those relationships in a way that it doesn't sanction others. Perhaps it would be better if people are taught that children are best reared in male-female relationships and not male-male or female-female ones.

These arguments aren't strong enough to persuade me to oppose same-sex marriages. But they are strong enough to persuade me that same-sex marriage rights ought not be imposed on the whole country by unelected federal judges, or imposed on most states by the actions of one or two states.
I think Volokh makes excellent points here. My provisional and tentative bottom line for now is this: (1) the FMA is doubtful to be approved and probably isn't a good use of the energies of the pro-traditional marriage side (2) allow the states to hash it out with calm discussion from both sides (will that actually happen?) (3) are we headed toward a mix of "religious marriage" (man and woman) and "civil unions" (man and woman, same-sex) as the resolution of the current situation? Is that a plausible legal construction? I'm a molecular biologist not a lawyer.

Speaking of not being a lawyer, how will the civil union laws will be written to prohibit polygamy and incestuous relationships?

The argument against incestuous relationships is that children of such unions would be at risk for genetic diseases. But what if the couple is infertile and only plans to adopt? Or decide they will have no children?

Would there be any legal basis to prevent such a union?

As for polygamy, the objection in the USA has always been that it is oppressive to women.

However, in some Islamic countries polygamy is normative. In China, not so long ago, polygamy was common. I'm sure a few of my ancestors were polygamists? On what basis can civil union laws be written to prevent this if all parties consent?

What if Joe, Jane and John show up applying for a marriage license at Mayor Newsom's office saying: Joe and Jane want to have children but Joe is infertile but John is a mutual best friend wants to be the sperm donor. Since he will be the biological father, they want him to be recognized legally as part of the family and thus eligible for various benefits and protections?

On what legal basis would Mayor Newsom deny this loving trio?

I sense the issue is not as radioactive as abortion yet. In abortion, there are probably 20% of the population that is adamently pro-life and anti-abortion and 20% who are pro-choice and believe no restrictions should be allowed. The remaining 60% don't like abortion and think it is a terrible thing but don't want it banned and thus made more dangerous to have. The 60% aren't going to be single issue voters on this issue.

I suspect this is the case on same-sex marriage. 10% of the public thinks it is the end of the world as we know it. 10% think the other 10% are hateful bigots. 80% of the people are very uncomfortable with the notion but aren't going to take to the streets and really hope the issue would just go away.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Articles on the Passion of the Christ


Over at Beliefnet.com 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 her shot in 2008 for the top job. I wonder if Diane Feinstein's name is going to get circulated? If California were actually competitive, then we are looking at a 40+ state landslide. But electoral math aside, would a woman candidate mobilize voters throughout the USA? Feinstein has been Senator a pretty long time and would have a much better "ready for prime time" aura than Ferraro did in 1984.

Monday, March 01, 2004

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 monopoly of the power conferences as they no longer fly under the radar out there in the WCC. Some people are talking up the SEC but I'm still skeptical given past collapses in the NCAA.