Friday, April 29, 2005

LAT Festival of Books - Chef of Everyday Italian, Giada De Laurentiis

Giada DeLaurentiis is the chef of Everyday Italian on the Food Network and she now has as a book based on the show.

Giada started her demonstration off by preparing white bean dip.

She said that whenever you use items from a can, it is a good idea to rinse and drain them or else you will carry over the flavor of the liquid in the cans. She also said to use the flat leaf parsley that is also known as Italian parsley. She said the curly parsley has very little taste.

She then worked on a pasta dish. She stressed that when cooking pasta, use plenty of water so the pasta can swim in it and won't clump together. Also, add salt to the water for flavor and when it is done to save a cup of the water for the sauce. While the ziti was boiling and her helpers were preping the asparagus (she told them to cut the asparagus into pieces the size of the ziti), she fielded some questions from the audience.

Someone asked which brands of pasta she likes.

Giada said she likes Barilla and De Cecco.

One fan wanted to know how she got into cooking.

Giada said her family ran a restaurant and market and as a kid she saw chefs all the time and she was in love with cooking. She got her anthropology degree at UCLA but decided to pursuing cooking and went to culinary school in Paris. After that she worked at various restaurants including Spagos. She also did catering and personal chefing. One day an article she wrote on some easy Italian recipes was seen by someone at Food Network and voila, she was discovered.

She sauteed some garlic in olive oil, tore up some basil, and cut up some smoked mozzarella cheese.

There was a question about about olive oil and her advice on the myriad of choices.

She said, there is quite a variety and it really is all about your personal taste. She said for cooking she likes olive oils in the $5.99 range. When the olive oil is not cooked and used for flavoring then she likes to go up to the $12-$15 range.

The pasta was done and she piled on the various ingredients. The pasta was hot enough to melt the mozzarella and she topped it off with some prosciutto.

For the final dish, she did grilled pineapple with nutella.

As the helpers worked on that, someone asked about the filming of her show.

She said that one 30 minute show without the commercials is really 22 minutes. Nevertheless, it takes 16 hours to film one show. They have one camera that is hand held and it is shot in Los Angeles.

A lady asked, how do you stay so thin! You know people say you can't trust a skinny chef!

Giada laughed. She was wondering when someone would ask. She said people usually ask that pretty early in any of her public appearances!

She said she simply enjoys eating but in moderation. And she exercise. And she said, I also have to give credit to good genes and called for her mom to come to the stage.

And the crowd cheered as Giada's mom came forward and a few people near me shouted: no way, she is your sister!

Related Posts:
Science books session
Talking Baseball with Plaschke and Deford
LAT Festival of Books initial blog post

Thursday, April 28, 2005

LAT Festivals of Book - Plaschke & Deford

The 10AM session I attended had Bill Plaschke and Frank Deford talking about baseball and plugging Deford's new book The Old Ball Game: How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball.

Below is my attempt to reconstruct the session from quickly scribbled notes and my memory!

Thus, the first part of the session was Deford giving a quick summary of the book.

He explained that John McGraw was the manager of the NY Giants and Christy Matthewson was the star pitcher. These two men were opposites. McGraw was a profane, hard drinking self-educated man who only got as far as the 7th grade. Yet, he read a lot and knew many things beyond baseball. Matthewson was the "All American Boy." He was tall and college educated at a time when only 6% of the population graduated from high school. Prior to Matthewson, the only "star" sports figure was John L. Sullivan the Irish boxer revered by many.

Despite the differences between McGraw and Matthewson, they were good friends and they and their wives shared an apartment.

At the time they were in baseball, New York city was coming into prominence with only London larger. The city had officially set up the 5 boroughs, the skyscrapers were going up and baseball was becoming the national past-time.

BP: Do you think baseball is still the national past-time?

FD: It isn't so much that baseball has declined but rather other sports like basketball and football have gained popularity. NASCAR might now be the fourth national sport replacing hockey.

BP: Steroid?

FD: In the past, the problem in baseball was gambling. Games were fixed. The 1919 Black Sox story wasn't really such a shock because of the rampant amount of gambling. Baseball survived that scandal and will survive steroids.

BP: Should McGwire get into the hall of fame?

Plaschke didn't thinks so but Deford was less clear about what he would do if he were a HoF voter.

BP: How do you think Matthewson would do today?

FD: 6'2" 210 lbs with a 90ish fastball and good control. He probably would have done fine.

BP: Do you think today's athletes are worse?

FD: NO! Back then, drinking was a huge problem. Bugs Raymond, a relief pitcher once traded the ball he was using to warm up with for a drink and then entered the game drunk!

BP: Sheffield incident?

FD: I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. The situation could have degenerated into a Indiana-Detroit brawl but it didn't because Sheffield was relatively restrained.

Baseball is unique in that the fans can be part of the field of play. FD thought fans have probably changed more than the athletes. Fans are much less civil than in the past when fans dressed well for games and would never use the vulgarities that are common among fans today. Also, today, there are women fans.

BP: Do you think sports writers who are critical of sports figures have contributed to the problem?

FD: TV has definitely changed things. It has made the players and the lives of the players public.

BP: What do you think of the hostility between fans and players?

FD: Indeed it is a problem. In the past, the fans, the players and the sports writers were all together and not so different. In the past during off-season players would have regular jobs. Now, there is a loss of trust and the players make so much more money that they aren't "ordinary" people anymore.

BP: Jackie Robinson and less black players in baseball, what do you think?

FD: Black sports figures are now found in football and basketball. It seems that city kids are drawn to basketball rather than baseball which needs a big field in order to play.

On a side note, weather is a factor in sports. Notice that lots of the good players come from the sunbelt where they can train more months out of the year.

BP: What do you think about asterisks for records?

FD: What can you do? At one time there were no blacks in baseball. At one time there were no steroids. We simply can't re-write history. Interestingly, McGraw wanted to bring up some good black ball players but it just wasn't possible then.

BP: What do you think of pitching inside?

FD: No helmets then. Pitchers pitched inside but they never were head hunters. Matthewson once bet some cadets at West Point that he could hit the same spot for 20 pitches in a row. He did and collected their money!

BP: Designated hitter?

FD: It is hear to stay. Only the NL doesn't use it. Everyone else does. Speaking of how the game has changed. In the past, pitchers took pride in the complete game. Now, it is rare. In football, the QB lives for the two-minute drill. In basketball, the star wants the ball for the last shot. In baseball, the starter rarely finishes the game. Now, that "drama" belongs to the closer.

BP: LA Angels?

FB: Hilarious! Just like Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers.

BP: No names on jerseys?

FD: Red Sox, Yankees, Giants and Dodgers are doing it now. Show the purity of the game as a team sport. There weren't even numbers on jerseys until the 1920s.

BP: Best player ever?

FD: Babe Ruth. It is almost impossible separate the man from the myth. He could pitch and hit. Jackie Robinson was a huge symbol. He was a terrific athlete and baseball might have been his fourth best sport really. Interestingly, he only got into baseball because he got discharged early from the army because he refused to sit in the back of the bus. He got discharged and wound up recruited by the Kansas City Monarchs.

BP: Best sports moment? For me, it once was McGwire's record breaking homer.

FD: As a child, I saw the Orioles win the World Series against the Dodgers. But as an adult, it has to be Borg versus McEnroe in that amazing tie breaker match. They were at the top of their game and evenly matched. Often times, games are close but the two sides might not be at their best.

BP: I only saw the Gibson homer in 1988 because I got out of the elevator in time to see it.

The time was opened to audience questions (AQ).

AQ: Didn't Matthewson gamble?

FD: Indeed, he did. Otherwise, he was pretty much a clean cut guy but gambling was something he enjoyed.

AQ: Baseball mishandled of steroids?

FD: Football and baseketball got on it faster than baseball. The player's union has to take a big share of the blame.

BP: Do you think Rose should be in the Hall of Fame?

FD: Probably.

BP: I agree. His gambling took place after his playing days.

AQ: Players who are good off the field too?

FD: You have to like Ripkin and Koufax.

BP: What do you think about Bond's for Hall of Fame?

FD & BP: Probably. He can just plain hit. The steroids (he probably took them) would help him hit farther but the skill to hit the ball, he always had.

AQ: Salary cap?

FD: It is needed. As a business, sports needs the competition among the teams. Football has got it to work. Hockey needs it and can't seem to get to it.

AQ: What do you think of TV coverage of baseball games?

FD: It is good. Many camera angles. But one thing is that the game is so much longer now. In the old days, the game could be over in 1 1/2 hours. Now, it is typically 3 hours.

AQ: Greatness of Joe Torre?

FD: He is great. Some will say there is just so much talent with the Yankees. But the job is managing the egos of players and in Torre's case also the owner! Red Auerbach is never given enough credit for the championships with the Celtics. He had to work with big egos like Bill Russell and get everyone to work together.

Related posts:
Science books session
Everyday Italian cooking session
LAT Festival of Books initial blog post

What's new on this blog

Yup, I've gone commercial.

On the right hand side of the blog are Google Ad Sense items.

I wonder if by the end of the year the revenue will be enough to buy a cup of coffee?

The Pay Pal tip jar remains at the bottom of the page if you would like to use it! 8-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

D'backs 6 Dodgers 3

Dodgers continue to struggle dropping 3 of 3 against the Diamondbacks tonight and fall 1/2 game behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West.

For those of you who know Dodger stadium from last year but haven't seen the renovations, take note of four of the most obvious new features:
(1) See the video band along the bottom of the loge level (orange seats)
(2) The new dark blue seat sections which occupy what used to be part of foul territory
(3) The new dugouts are more open and larger and also take a bite out the old foul territory
(4) Advertising on the outfield walls

See the Dodger press release regarding all the renovations and other changes to Dodger's Stadium.

By the way, if you got the fleece blanket at tonight's game and were wondering what the mistake was in their production, according to Yahoo! Sports, the blankets have the Dodger winning championships in 1962 and 1966. It should have said 1963 and 1965.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

LA Press Club: Hewitt Speaks at LA Athletic Club About Blogging

First some relentless "name dropping!"

As a low in the food chain blogger, it was pretty neat to see some of the bigger fish in the blogosphere.

Talked to or saw the following: World's Laziest Journalist, Justene of CalBlog, Baldilocks, Gay Patriot, Boi from Troy, Jill Stewart, LA Observed, SoCalPundit, LA Guy of Pajama Guy, Cathy's World, and Advice Goddess Amy Alkon.

It is really interesting to see that there are actual people behind these blogs.

My biggest highlight was talking for a few minutes with Hugh Hewitt! He asked me what I did for a day job and where I went to school. He also mentioned he saw my blog come up when he ran a Technorati check on his blog. He mentioned, you had a post about tonight's LA Press Club event. I told him I listen to his radio show and have enjoyed blogging.

The other highlight was meeting Mickey Kaus of Kausfiles at He and Pajama Guy debated the merits and problems of the filibuster on judicial nominations. I told him I like his straight shooting style of writing.

As for the actual talk by Hugh Hewitt, he made the following points: (1) the Los Angeles Times has a circulation of 900,000 which is about the same as in 1969. However, the area's population has doubled. This says the newspaper is in trouble. (2) People are now getting their news online and thus not seeing the ads in the hardcopy of the newspaper. This is a problem for all the traditional media forms not just the LA Times. (3) The Los Angeles Times is like the Titanic. It could go down fast from hitting the iceberg of advancing technology and the biased tilt of the paper. But even if the iceberg doesn't sink it, the long term trends are away from traditional media.

He went on to suggest that advertisers of the future will buy ads on blogs because they are so targeted. He mentioned that the Craig's List phenomena is essentially making classified ads in newspapers useless.

He said he was encouraged by the LA Times new effort called "Outside the tent" where bloggers can have a place in the paper periodically but that LA Times needs to do more.

The next part of the evening had Roger Simon and Armed Liberal talk about their idea for a media company with affiliated blogs from all over the world. Advertisers could then buy ads in the blogosphere. Another aspect of the alliance would be a news service. With bloggers all over the world, it could become a news service to rival AP.

There were a few brief remarks from the editor from the LA Times who runs "Outside the Tent." He joked he was the designated pinata for the evening. He felt that the LA Times and all traditional media do face challenges but he didn't think the situation was as dire as painted by Hewitt.

All in all an interesting evening with the people at the forefront of the new media movement that is the blogs.

Stay tuned. If that blog consortium really starts up, I may sign up this humble outpost!

UPDATE: Here is the Pajamas Media description from Roger L. Simon. HT to Instapundit.

Radio Baseball Blogging

Bottom of the ninth. Dodgers down 3-2. Repko pinch running at second. Izturis at first. One out. Choi at the plate ...

Choi pops out for the second out ...

Drew at the plate. Ball one.

Low ... ball two. Kent on the on deck circle.

Strike 2-1.

Fouled back. 2-2. Last strike of the last out.

Ball three. Full count. Runners on 1st and 2nd. 2 outs!

Yahoo! Sports box score.

Fouled off.

Grounder off the pitcher's glove and Counsel gets it and throws to first ending the game.

Dodgers drop fifth game out of the last six.

Hugh Hewitt at LA Press Club Tonight 4/26

Got the following bit of information from Hugh Hewitt and

WHO: Amy Alkon, Emmanuelle Richard, Cathy Seipp and the L.A. Press Club invite you to:

WHAT: A Blogs and the Commentariat evening, starring guest-of-honor Hugh Hewitt: author, radio host, constitutional law professor, blogger and opinion columnist (for the Weekly Standard's online site The Daily Standard.) Hugh will discuss his new book "Blogs: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World," along with related topics such as bloggers vs. the mainstream media -- which means in particular of course, our own favorite mainstream media the Los Angeles Times.

PLUS: Special appearance by L.A. Times Sunday Opinion editor Bob Sipchen, who edits the Times-criticizing Outside the Tent feature, along with Outside the Tent contributors Mickey Kaus, Matt Welch and others (whose names will be added here as soon as they RSVP).

WHEN: Tuesday, Apr. 26, 7-10 p.m. Short talk and Q&A session at 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: The L.A. Athletic Club's main bar (3rd Floor), 431 W. 7th St. (7th & Olive) validated parking in the garage at 646 S. Olive St. (PLEASE NOTE: The L.A. Athletic Club has a dress code, "casual" for the main bar, but that still means no torn jeans, gym shorts, etc.) L.A. Athletic Club phone: (213) 625-2211. Cash bar, complimentary hot hors d'oeuvres. More info:

RSVP is a must, to

SPECIAL THANKS TO: L.A. Athletic Club member Jim McCarthy of Gold Star Events who arranged this great location for us. More info:

WHY: Because we are dedicated to the proposition that bloggers and mainstream media can all get along -- outside the tent, and even inside it, if enough drinks and snacks are provided. Also....oh, let Instapundit tell it:

Glenn Reynolds says of Hugh Hewitt's new book: "There's a history of blogs, an analogy between the changes blogs are bringing to the media priesthood and the Reformation (with which I heartily agree) and -- most significantly -- a lot of good advice to businesses, of both the media and non-media varieties, on how they can use blogs to help themselves, and how to avoid becoming, like Trent Lott or Dan Rather, the focus of a damaging "opinion storm...."

"Journalists mostly don't get this point at all -- every time I get interviewed it seems that they want firsts, mosts, and biggests, when I keep telling them that the real story of the blogosphere is the day-to-day interaction and writing of a whole lot of blogs."

"This is the best book on blogs yet, which isn't surprising since it's by a successful blogger who also knows a lot about communications and the world in general. I'm sure it will get a lot of attention within the blogosphere, but I hope that it will get a lot of attention elsewhere, because the people who really need to read it are the people who won't find out about it from blogs. Best quote: 'Blogs are built on speed and trust, and the MSM is very slow and very distrusted.'"

Monday, April 25, 2005

More book blogging ...

My current dog-eared books ...


Am told this book gives a good overview on how the world economy got to be what it is today.

PBS site for Commanding Heights documentry.

"Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist" by John Piper

Many people have mentioned this book to me. Finally, decided to pick it up and read the book with the provocative title. Sounds almost "sacriligious" doesn't it? Speaking of titles meant to raise an eyebrow, check out Disappointment with God. It is one of those books I couldn't put down.

Author John Piper's web page.

As a biochemistry major science nerd, classic literature was something I didn't get much of in college. So I'm trying to work some in these days.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

2005 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Photos first.

Saturday 10AM session with Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Plaschke with Author Frank Deford. They talked baseball in Schoenberg Hall.

Deford's new book is The Old Ball Game: How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball.

UPDATE: Summary of the Talking Baseball session with Plaschke and Deford is now up.

Giada DeLaurentiis of Food Nework's "Everyday Italian" does the 12:30PM Saturday session at the Culinary Stage.

Giada with her mom. The audience called out, nah, she is your sister!

She was very charming inviting people on stage to help her cook, answering questions from the audience and shamelessly but with good humor plugging her book.

I was sorely tempted to go to the post-demonstration book signing where you can buy the book while waiting in line and then get the author to sign it. However, since the event ended at 1:30 and I had a 2PM session to go to, I had to pass up the chance to meet Giada in person. 8-(

UPDATE: Here is a recap of Giada's cooking demonstration.

The 2PM session I attended had Larry Mantle moderating a panel of four writers of books with science themes. The panelists were: Charles Wohlforth who won an LA Times Book Prize for The Whale and the Supercomputer: On the Northern Front of Climate Change, Alan Tennant, author of On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon, George Johnson talked about his books, A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer and his soon to be released Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe, and Brian Fagan described his just finished book Chaco Canyon.

UPDATE: Science books session

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Readability Statistics

Saw this readability calculator from Bainbridge who saw it on Kevin Drum's site.

So how did my ramblings rate?
Readability Results
Total sentences704
Total words7,370
Average words per Sentence10.47
Words with 1 Syllable5,235
Words with 2 Syllables1,333
Words with 3 Syllables541
Words with 4 or more Syllables261
Percentage of word with three or more syllables10.88%
Average Syllables per Word1.43
Gunning Fog Index8.54
Flesch Reading Ease74.90
Flesch-Kincaid Grade5.41

Fog index ratings for comparison:
Reader's Digest: 8
Most popular novels: 8 - 10
Time, Newsweek: 10
Wall Street Journal: 11

According to Bainbridge:
Instapundit: 8.53
The Corner: 9.37
Hugh Hewitt: 10.98
Volokh: 11.03
Bainbridge: 11.57
Kevin Drum: 12.10

So my ramblings are "on par" with most popular novels and the Higher Being of the blogosphere, Prof. Reynolds, a.k.a. Instapundit!

ACLU vs. the LA County Seal

See for yourself if you have never seen the LA County seal ...


image source:

So what do you think?

Does this seal violate the First Amendment which says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
If you think the ACLU is wrong, then go to and sign the petition.

Friday, April 22, 2005

I'm open to being persuaded - filibusters and judicial nominees

Sometimes I just don't know what to think.

On one hand, the idea of basic fairness leads me to support the idea of up/down votes on judicial nominees. The filibuster is only useful if the opposition knows the nominee would garner 51 to 59 votes which is enough to pass but not enough to end a filibuster.

So is this fair?

Hugh Hewitt has been on this soap box on his radio show and on
his blog. Excerpt:
All weekend long every GOP senator should tell every newsman and constituent: "There was exactly one refusal to close debate on a judicial nominee in the entire 20th century, and that was a favor to a sitting Supreme Court justice about to be embarrassed by defeat who withdrew his nomination immediately afterwards and resigned soon after because of ethics problems.

Since January, 2003, there have been 20 different refusals to close debate on judicial nominees. This disfigurement of Senate tradition, disguised as the appropriate application of a rule intended for legislative debates, must and will end."

That is it. That is all there is to the argument on the filibuster.  And since the Democratic Senators' handlers are pledged to make those senators filibuster Supreme Court nominees, there is a pressing need to return and codify the real tradition asap.
However, some other bloggers I check out have different views.

Bainbridge is a law professor with libertarian-conservative views has this to say:
It's time to try something a bit more drastic. Maybe to try a lot of different things. Some possibilities: Term limits on judges. Congressional legislation per section 2 of Article III of the Constitution to remove certain issues from the jurisidiction of the courts. (I'm not at all convinced that undoing the fillibuster as to judicial nominations is the right call; after all, there likely will again come a day when a liberal president enjoys a liberal majority in the Senate.)
Then there is the left-center Kaus over at Slate who says:
Friday, April 22, 2005
2:02 A.M.

And there are several plausible distinctions between judicial nominations and legislation. The problem is that most of these distinctions cut in the opposite direction from the one Frist is going in:

1) Judges are for life, as Rick Hertzberg notes, while mistaken legislation can be repealed by subsequent Congresses.

2) Judges (however long they serve) have acquired unaccountable, super-legislative powers the Framers almost certainly didn't anticipate. When mere legislators get mad at judges and try to hold them accountable, eminent lawyers from their own party swat them down. When Presidents try to hold them accountable, they're accused of court-packing. Basically, they are not accountable the way other players in the system are--certainly not accountable in any way commensurate with their power.

Both these factors suggest that we must be really, really careful in selecting judges in the first place, which is why both factors militate in favor of requiring compromise--which is what filibusters do.
Plus, there's a much more powerful reason--a third reason--for treating judicial votes differently that I completely overlooked, namely that the Senate's advise-and-consent votes are votes that don't involve the House in any way. That means one of the basic majority-obstructing mechanisms the Constitution provides for legislation--the need to get two quite different legislatures to agree--simply isn't there when it comes to voting on judges.
Finally, center-right, David Brooks has these remarks:
Over the past four years Democrats have resorted to the filibuster again and again to prevent votes on judicial nominees they oppose. Up until now, minorities have generally not used the filibuster to defeat nominees that have majority support. They have allowed nominees to have an up or down vote. But this tradition has been washed away.

In response, Republicans now threaten to change the Senate rules and end the filibuster on judicial nominees. That they have a right to do this is certain. That doing this would destroy the culture of the Senate and damage the cause of limited government is also certain.

The Senate operates by precedent, trust and unanimous consent. Changing the rules by raw majority power would rip the fabric of Senate life. Once the filibuster was barred from judicial nomination fights, it would be barred entirely. Every time the majority felt passionately about an issue, it would rewrite the rules to make its legislation easier to pass. Before long, the Senate would be just like the House. The culture of deliberation would be voided. Minority rights would be unprotected.

Those who believe in smaller government would suffer most. Minority rights have been used frequently to stop expansions of federal power, but if those minority rights were weakened, the federal role would grow and grow - especially when Democrats regained the majority.

Majority parties have often contemplated changing the filibuster rules, but they have always turned back because the costs are so high.
From all these arguments, I'm leaning against changing the Senate rules regarding the usage of filibusters on judicial nominees. I say, bring up the nominees and make the Democrats use the filibuster. In poker terms, call them on it. The public will then judge in the free market of ideas as the two sides debate. The Democrats will try to give reasons why they think those judges are no good. The Republicans will have to give reasons why they think they are good and the public will respond by calling their senators telling them what they think. If the GOP is seen as pushing bad judges the voters will punish them. If the Democrats are seen as obstructionist the voters will punish them.

In the long run, Bainbridge's idea of term limit on judges might be the change that needs to take place.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Mayor James Hahn Speaks to LA GOP Audience

Went to Level One to hear Mayor Hahn speak to a group of Republicans.

His stump speech stressed his "law and order" credentials. He cited his move to replace Chief Parks and support of Chief Bratton as key to the recent drop in crime and better LAPD officer retention rates. He also pointed out that the move was not politically popular and is part of the reason he is trailing in the polls.

He then drew distinctions between himself and his opponent. He cited repeatedly Villarigosa's involvement with the ACLU and the ACLU's consistent opposition to crime fighting initiatives and laws.

Hahn also cited his working with Governor Schwarzenegger on Proposition 1A which prevented Sacramento from raiding city and county revenues for the state budget problems.

He mentioned that the primary had a very low turnout. He said about 20% of the Republicans voted in the primary. If that number reaches 30% and supports him, he could be re-elected mayor.

He finished up his speech by citing that as a Democrat he will disagree on some issues with Republicans but he believes we could all agree on the fact that a mayor's number one job is public safety and his record stands clearly apart from Villarigosa.

Two Republican leaders standing with Hahn encouraging the audience to volunteer their time to help get the GOP vote out for Hahn. UPDATE: Pictured are Edee Blevins of GOP for Hahn, California Republican Party Treasurer Doug Boyd and Mayor James Hahn.

GOP for the Mayor
20121 Ventura Blvd., Suite 305
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
Corner of Ventura and Winnetka

UPDATE: The GOP for the Mayor office in Woodland Hills is NOT funded by the Los Angeles GOP. Rather is it is funded by Hahn for Mayor. To read more about the story, click here. Though it isn't an official GOP operation, Hahn does have the support of most Southland Republican leaders. Excerpt: Walter Moore has endorsed Mayor Hahn as has almost every other prominent Republican with the exception of former Mayor Dick Riordan and Assemblyman Keith Richman.

UPDATE: Here is an item from that says: Hahn is a fairly typical liberal Democrat; but now that he's upset Maxine Waters, a lady who is without a doubt the most dimwitted person in politics today (she believes, for instance, that the CIA created the drug problem in the black community), we have to figure Hahn must be doing something right. Republicans in Los Angeles don't have much of a choice, but the man who fired the incompetant Bernard Parks and makes enemies of Maxine Waters deserves Republican support.

UPDATE: LA Weekly has some analysis on the Mayor's race. They seem to think Hahn is running on the Bush 1988 playbook by highlighting the ACLU angle. Excerpt: But Hahn’s numbers in the current election look sickly, so he’s come up with a proposal that yet again enables him to out-law-and-order Antonio. By extending the scope of such injunctions from several-dozen-block areas to the entire city, and to all the city’s 39,565 identified gang members, Hahn has put forth a policy that cannot possibly be followed unless the police force — currently at 9,131 officers — is expanded by a factor of 10. But Hizzoner has raised an issue that allows him to look tougher than Villaraigosa, and to raise again his opponent’s history in the ACLU.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Why do people become atheists?

As someone who believes in God, I've often wondered how people arrive at atheism. I confess there are times my belief in God wavers but far more often than not, I believe there is someone out there.

In conversations over the years, I have heard people describe their youth as attending Catholic school or being raised in a strict Christian home and so upon reaching adulthood, they quickly discard religious attendance and formally announce their non-belief in god. For these people, it would seem that institutional religion has soured their willingness to believe in a personal god.

Upon conversation with them, their initial atheism and hostility toward god and religion sometimes drifts into a less aggressive agnosticism. They might say: well, I don't know if there is something out there or not but it sure ain't what I was taught as a kid. Sometimes they might even get to the point of saying that religion and belief in god can be a force for good but they would simply rather not get involved.

Another type of objection I have come across is the "science has all the answers" perspective. These folks believe that god is created by man because it was somehow evolutionary useful to have belief in god. They will cite evolution as proof that god isn’t necessary. They will say there is no evidence for the existence of god.

One can point out that every culture has a concept of god. To which they say, see, that shows you god was created by man. To which one can counter: if there is thirst, there must be water; if there is hunger, there must be food; if there is a desire for god, there might be Someone actually out there. Freud's "wish fulfillment" argument actually cuts both ways. One can point out some of the weaknesses of evolutionary theory but usually that is met with well, give science some more time and they will figure out the problems which is a form of "faith". One can also point out the Big Bang Cosmology and ask them did god have anything to do with that? At this point, some might acknowledge a "deist" kind of god who wound up the watch (universe) and let it go. And others people may admit to a belief in a New-Age/Eastern type of impersonal god as part of the universe.

A third and probably most emotionally powerful and intellectually sticky objection is the classic: if god exists why is there evil in the world problem. Many people have either suffered a personal calamity or have had a loved one die an untimely death. The pain of their experience is as real as it gets. The emotional scars then harden into an intellectual rejection of the possibility god.

At an emotional level, what we (Christians) should offer is love, acceptance and support. And at the proper time, we can gently point out that God has chosen to enter into death, suffering and evil through Jesus. The God of Christianity is Jesus living amongst us and dying on the Cross. This God does not remain detached and separated from the messy fray of life.

At an intellectual level, Christianity holds the concept of "free will." A god of power could command obedience out of fear. But a god of love desires freely given devotion. Thus, god has allowed us free will and the price of that choice is the reality that life has evil and suffering.

Does this answer all objections for the atheist? Probably not. And to be honest, does it answer all doubt for the believer? Again probably not.

The final objection I have run across to god is simply: I want to be god.

No one actually says those exact words but the point is that the idea that I am accountable to a higher being is simply unacceptable. We want to be the ruler of our lives and be the masters of our domain.

And indeed, that is the message of the Eden story of Genesis. Adam and Eve had a choice to make. Do they take god's word for it that they could eat from any tree they wanted except for that one tree? It wasn't like they were going to starve to death if they didn't eat from the forbidden tree. So they choose.

Likewise, we choose every day. We can choose to live as if we are god or we can choose to live as if there is a God out there who cares about what we are doing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Milton Bradley Clears the Game Board

Wow! It is like the playoffs already.

Dodgers down 8-5 in yesterday's game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs with bases loaded and Kent the former Giant is walked making it 8-6.

Milton Bradley, he of infamy last year for being a hothead, goes opposite field and clears the bases for the improbably 9-8 victory!

I go to my first Dodger game of the new season tonight!

Monday, April 11, 2005

LA Dining: Prado

I'm continuing to eat my way up and down Larchmont. My recent dining adventure was at Prado. I'd give it a thumbs up but it is a bit expensive. Though the atmosphere is nice, I'm not sure it justifies the extra cost for food.

It bills itself as "Cuisine of the Americas." We had the breaded shrimp for appetizer. It had a nice cilantro-honey sauce with a little zing. For entrees, we had seafood paella and lamb chops. I had the lamb chops and they were delicious. My dining companion had the paella and was pleased. Dessert was raspberry cake.

Our waitress was friendly and attentive.

Two small dining areas so tables are a little close together so probably not ideal for the romantic dinner.

One appetizer, two entrees, one dessert with tax and tips $82.

Prado Restaurant
244 N. Larchmont
(323) 467-3871

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Dodger's Win!

Dodgers beat Giants 6-0 take take 2 of 3 in San Francisco!

The worries: Valentin has 3 errors in 3 games playing third base, Brazoban the "closer" while Gagne is on the DL was a disaster in game 2, J.D. Drew and H-S. Choi are batting .000 so far!

The good news: Lowe, Perez and Weaver have had solid outings and Jason Philips seems to be settling in behind the plate well.

We shall see how Dessens and Erickson do as the 4 and 5 starters down in Arizona.

Dodger offense got 16 runs in the last two games after the 2 run showing in game one. Maybe, we need to give credit to Giant Schmidt for shutting down the Dodgers. Anyway, most experts are picking either the Giants of the Padres to win the NL West. I think the Dodgers will have a say in the end! 159 games to go!

Pope John Paul II - Masculine Spirituality

There has been much said about the Pope and with the funeral Friday, the coverage by mainstream media and by the blogging community will be huge.

Being a Protestant Christian, I am not very familiar with Catholic matters and I'm only familiar with the Pope to the extent of news coverage. However, seeing some of the profiles on TV, I have to say the life and times of John Paul II were remarkable. Some commentators place him in the top tier of influential people of the 20th Century and they are probably right on.

Talk radio host, Dennis Prager who is Jewish and politically conservative, remarked on his program that there were areas where his disagreed with the Pope's views. However, he respected Pope John Paul II's "masculine spirituality." He believed there is simply too little of that in the world these days. I think what he meant by "masculine spirituality" was that the Pope was the kind of person who knew what he believed and fought for what he believed and yet at the same time exhibited remarkable grace in personal interactions.

Living here in Los Angeles, one video clip that has been played numerous times had to do with the Pope's visit to LA. In particular, an electrifying moment when a young musician Tony Melendez played guitar and sang for the Pope. Melendez, born with no arms played the guitar with his feet. When he finished the song, the Pope, much younger then and full of vigor, bounded up from his seat and leaped off the stage to meet Melendez. Since Melendez has no hands for a handshake, he lowered his head so the Pope could hug him and kiss him. The Pope encouraged him by saying Meledez was an example of courage and his life gave hope to others. Like those there then, when I saw this video clip a week ago, I was moved to tears.

Here a USA Today story recounting that incident.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Neighborhood Watch Walk

This evening I joined about a dozen or so residents and about eight LAPD officers for a neighborhood watch walk. We passed out flyers with contact numbers, advice to prevent crime and a Yahoo! Groups address to inform people of community events and criminal activity in the area.

I looked over the site and found out that one recent tactic has teams of criminals knocking on doors asking for help to look for a cat and while the person is distracted the other criminal steals jewelry and other small valuable items.

We need to all watch out for each other and keep informed.

It is only one game but ...

... the concerns about this Dodger team were in evidence in the season opening 4-2 loss to the Giants yesterday.

No run support for Derek Lowe who did well (one bit of good news) and a fielding error lead to the defeat.

I go to my first game next week when the Giants are in town!

G4 white spot problem

My computer is back at home and I can start blogging up a storm.

I finally got the white spot problem fixed. At first, it was just a few white spots. Eventually, it grew into many spots and I was told by a Mac savvy friend that Apple offered to fix it for free. So now, my screen looks completely normal!

You have 2 years from date of purchase to make the repair.