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Showing posts from 2006

Culture: Who cares?

Prager's guest on the radio today is Arthur Brooks, a professor of public administration at Syracuse University, who has writtten the book Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism.

His research indicates the best indicator of charitable giving and other forms of compassion (for instance blood donation and volunteer hours) are:
1 - religious commitment, the more religious generally give more
2 - political perspective, those who believe it is the responsibility of government to redistribute income generally give less.

Sports: Emerald Bowl FSU vs. UCLA

FSU and UCLA are facing off in San Francisco.

At the half, UCLA leads 20-13.

UPDATE:
FSU has been moving the ball in the opening drive of the second half.
7:09 PM PST - UCLA's defense finally slows them down but surrender a field goal. UCLA 20 FSU 16.
7:18 PM PST - ARGH!!!!!! Blocked punt for an FSU TD, FSU 23 UCLA 20.
7:31 PM PST - UCLA is able to run the ball and get the lead back! UCLA 27 FSU 23.
7:39 PM PST - FSU and UCLA both go 3 and out. FSU has good field position receiving the punt. We need DE-FENSE!!!
7:49 PM PST - Game update... after 3 quarters, UCLA 27 FSU 23. UCLA has the ball as the teams change sides for the final quarter.
8:03 PM PST - UCLA didn't do anything and now FSU is on the march. UCLA's defense needs a big play ... a sack or an INT or else FSU is going to chew up tons of clock and take the lead. C'mon DE-FENSE!!!
8:09 PM PST - FSU went for it on 4th and long and get the TD. The big wide-out was too much for the UCLA CB. FSU 30 UCLA 27. Can…

Devotional Thoughts: The Day of the Lord

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Am taking a read through of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Some people believe the rapture (gathering together of believers who are alive) is the first event in a series of events in "the day of the Lord."

They cite the idea of the rapture being like "a thief in the night" event which is sudden and stealthy. I haven't read the Left Behind series of books but that the concept of a sudden rapture is the first event that sets in motion a series of events told in action adventure novels.

Suffice to say, not all theologians agree with that particular line of thought. It is an intramural debate that has b…

Devotional Thoughts: The Rapture

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is one of the passages that theologians get the rapture (gathering of living believers) from. Here are articles on the subject from a Catholic, a Protestant and an Agnostic perspective. There are many other pages on the topic, just Google it.

So what does the passage actually say?

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the…

Science: Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years

Heard an radio interview with authors Dennis T. Avery and S. Fred Singer who have written a book with the title Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years.

Their argument is that climate studies point to periodic warming trends every 1500 years. They believe the current global warming trend is one of these cycles and that human activity only contributes marginally to the increase. They theorize that the cyclical warmings might be tied to fluctuations in the heat output of the sun thus affecting Earth temperatures.

I wonder if somebody will make a documentary on their book?

As a molecular biologist, I have only followed the global warming issues occasionally.

Recipe: Attempt at antipasto

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Have a departmental Christmas holiday potluck lunch today.

The single guy chef at work, eh?!

Can you see all the ingredients?

bell peppers, roasted
tomatoes, cut in half
cheeses, goat and Gruyere
olives, pitted kalamata cut in half
capers, from a Trader Joes jar
salami, slices
red onion, chopped
garlic, minced
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
basil
black pepper
salt

Money: How rich are you?

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I'm the 55,146,441 richest person on earth!


Discover how rich you are! >>

Check it out, it is pretty thought provoking, eh?

HT: YSMarko.com.

World: Maps of War

A friend sent me a link to Maps of War.

Here is probably their most interesting map ...

Devotional Thoughts: How we ought to live - the quiet life

Let's take a look at 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

I suppose it is passages like this that have led to the "Protestant work ethic?"

One wonders if the Apostle Paul were around today, would he have some sympathy for the Libertarian political party?

Now, I don't think when Paul said we should mind our own business that we ignore what is happening around us. For instance, as we live our life, we may come across someone who has a need and at that point, Jesus' Parable of the Good Samaritan should leap to our minds and we should respond.

Also, we should note, Paul mentioned, win the respect of outsiders. Paul used the word outsiders on three other occasions. Therefore, as Christians we do live within a distinct minority community but we don't retre…

Culture: How does military service affect how we view someone?

Hugh Hewitt was discussing this question in this afternoon's radio show.

The first time I heard Hewitt bring up the topic was at the Friday night session at GodBlogCon 2006 at Biola.

From my perspective, I honor those who have served and do serve now.

If I have in front of me two fairly evenly matched candidates and one has military service and one doesn't, I would most likely support the one who has served. Of course if there is a candidate who served but I completely disagree on many policy positions, I will not vote for him/her but I would respect, honor and appreciate their service.

There is something honorable and noble for someone to choose to serve in the military.

I know there is a certain segment of the population who disdain the military. However, I suspect that group is a small minority.

When I attended the UCLA vs. USC football game recently, there were military personnel in attendance. I suppose they might have been guests of either the USC or UCLA athletic program o…

Sports: Clips from the 2006 UCLA vs. USC game

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Since I was at the Rose Bowl and I didn't bring a little television set, I've been curious to see how the game looked from that point of view.

UCLA fans were in the wilderness for eight long years and so with the victory, many fans have posted little YouTube clips and have assembled highlight mini films. Most of the YouTube screen capture films are pretty low-resolution. Here is one hosted at someone's personal site that is medium-resolution and he has edited it with some dramatic music. HT: BruinsNation where there is a link to the lower resolution YouTube version.

There is also a very high resolution video that is 600 MB described at BruinsNation.

Suffice to say, I've enjoyed watching both of them several times!

Below is a picture of the item I have on my wall to help me remember the game! Does this make me a totally crazed fan?

Sports: Thanks for the memories, Eric Gagne!

I heard that Gagne signed with the Texas Rangers for one year. Its been a tough two years for him with all the surgeries and rehab. Here's hoping he will be able to have a healthy season!

Dodger Thoughts has a nice tribute to him. Excerpt:When Eric Gagne comes into pitch at Dodger Stadium, "Welcome to the Jungle" is blasted out of the inadequate single set of speakers behind center field, and an onslaught of blue and white cartoon Gagne heads overruns the scoreboard, in a hallucinatory montage not unlike the visions of Lisa Simpson after drinking tainted water on the "It's a Duff World" ride at Duff Gardens.

The entrance is ridiculous, and would be an embarrassment - if it weren't so wonderful. It captures what worked so well in the Wild Thing scenes with Charlie Sheen from the movie, Major League. Those scenes mocked the hoopla over a relief pitcher's entrance into game while marking a crowd's unmistakably sincere desperation and appreciation …

Non-profit of the month: December 2006 - Soldier's Angels

As we enter the Christmas season with family activities, gift giving, food and shopping, please remember that there are well over 100,000 men and women overseas in our military serving in some of the most dangerous places. For each solider on the field, there are loved ones back home.

For this month's non-profit of the month blog post, I present to you Soldier's Angels.

This group is providing a number of valuable ways to support our military personnel.

Here is their story straight from the web page:The Soldiers' Angels was started by a self-described "ordinary mother" of an ordinary young man turned hero, Sgt. Brandon Varn. Brandon was deployed in Iraq and has since honorably completed his mission and has returned back to his proud and loving family.

In the summer of 2003, he wrote home expressing his concern that some soldiers did not receive any mail or support from home. Being a caring and loving mother, she decided not to allow a situation like that to contin…

Sports: BCS math

The BCS numbers.

Hmmm ...

Clearly the "humans" got Florida into the BCS championship game. The computers pretty much split between Florida and Michigan. 3 computers had Michigan #2 and 3 had them #3. As for Florida, 1 computer had then #1, 2 had them #2 and 3 had them #3.

There are some discrepancies between the computer polls and human polls: the humans had USC at #7 while the computers had then at #4, the humans had Wisconsin #5/6 while the computers had them at #10 and Oklahoma was #8 in the human polls while the computers had then down at #16.

My guess is that the computers take into account strength of schedule in a more objective way than the humans do.

Believe it or not, UCLA is ranked! They are #25 in the BCS composite due to the computers saying they are #20.

For supporters of a playoff system, the numbers are difficult. Let's say you go for a 4-team playoff. Ohio State and Florida are in. But who would you put in for the #3 and #4 spots?

Michgan, LSU, USC a…

Politics: ISG FAQ by Dean Barnett

Dean Barnett has FAQ about the recently released Iraq Study Group report. Sure seems like the ISG wasn't going to be all that useful from the start.

I'd recommend you read the whole thing. However, if you want the highlights, below are the items that jumped out at tme.

I had assumed (my bad) that the ISG was a Congressionally sponsored project. Alas it was not. Excerpt:Something called the United States Institute for Peace formed the Iraq Study Group after being prodded to do so by "interested members of Congress."On how these commission often work he said this:4) If some private group formed the Commission, why was it given such wide deference by all political actors?

That’s really a puzzler. Normally you appoint one of these blue-ribbon commissions when everyone knows what the right thing to do is but no one has the political stones to step forward and do it. So both major parties form a bi-partisan commission to study the matter and reach the conclusions that ev…

World: ISG report, ISG = incomplete-silly-garbage

The ISG (Iraq study group) report was awaited with much anticipation. However, it is not going over well as people are seeing it for what it is: useless.

Excerpts:"There's only one thing worse than an over-stressed Army and Marine Corps, and that's a defeated Army and Marine Corps," said McCain, a Vietnam veteran who will become the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee when the Democrats take control of both houses of Congress in January.

"I believe this is a recipe that will lead to our defeat sooner or later in Iraq," McCain added.
......
Their skepticism focused mainly on two of the recommendations: a diplomatic approach to Iran and Syria, and an acceleration of the U.S. military's work to train and advise Iraqi forces.
.......
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, both said they are skeptical about another of the commission's key recommendations: that the administration approach Iran in search of help i…

Devotional Thoughts: How we ought to live - love

Am looking at 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 today.

Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.

We often think of love as a feeling. For some people of my age, the iconic film on romantic love, love as a feeling, would be West Side Story. That feeling is probably best captured in Tonight:Tonight, tonight,
Won't be just any night,
Tonight there will be no morning star.
Tonight, tonight, I'll see my love tonight.
And for us, stars will stop where they are.
Today
The minutes seem like hours,
The hours go so slowly,
And still the sky is light . . .
Oh moon, grow bright,
And make this endless day endless night!However, when we think about love more carefully, we realize there is a lot more to love than emotion. After all, God commands us to love. One cannot command an emotion. Emotions simply are.

I …

Sports: UCLA vs. Florida State in the Emerald Bowl

I'm surprised to see that UCLA is a 5 point favorite over Florida State in the Emerald Bowl. FSU's losses with the exception of the Wake Forrest game had close scores. In total yards/game the two teams are evenly matched. FSU's defense in terms of yards/game is somewhat better than UCLA. For a full breakdown of the game, check out this analysis by ESPN.

I just hope the team can refocus on the job ahead after the emotional victory over USC.

After a shaky start in the 2005 Sun Bowl, UCLA roared back from a big deficit to win going away. However, UCLA in 2004 lost to Wyoming in the Las Vegas Bowl and in 2003 lost to Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Bowl in very lack luster performances.

Sports: What a fan is is what a fan does ...

What can I say?

The Bruins went from bums to being, maybe, just maybe, a legit rival again.

So I plunked down the deposit on season tickets for the 2007 UCLA Football season.

As a perk, they gave me two tickets to the Emerald Bowl.

Alas, I've already filed for my PTO at work and the Emerald Bowl doesn't fall on the right days. However, I instructed the athletic department to donate my two tickets to military personnel.

Devotional Thoughts: How we ought to live - sex drive

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Taking a look at 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 today.

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

How do we decide what is the right and wrong thing to do?

Those with a religious conviction will cite some source as guidance. Every religion has some text that embodies their beliefs. Obviously in the theistic religions where God is more interactive, the texts are more defined as in the case of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the non-theistic belief systems (Hinduism and Buddhism) where God is less interactive or polytheistic or pantheistic there is a larger number of texts and even the texts that are regarded more highly do not appear to rise to the same level of authority as the theistic systems.

I was listening on the radio on the Dennis Prager show and his guest was a academic studyi…

Life: Nothing But Nets Follow Up

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A little while ago, I posted on the Nothing But Nets campaign to collect money to buy mosquito nets to send to Africa.

Rick Reilly wrote a follow up to the column he first wrote back in April.

The idea is simple: $10 allows a net to be bought and sent to Africa to save a life or two. These bed nets allow someone to sleep inside it at night and keeps the mosquitos that spread malaria away.

Here is an excerpt from Reilly's first article:I've never asked for anything before, right? Well, sorry, I'm asking now.

We need nets. Not hoop nets, soccer nets or lacrosse nets. Not New Jersey Nets or dot-nets or clarinets. Mosquito nets.

See, nearly 3,000 kids die every day in Africa from malaria. And according to the World Health Organization, transmission of the disease would be reduced by 60% with the use of mosquito nets and prompt treatment for the infected.

Three thousand kids! That's a 9/11 every day!
..........
We gotta get these nets. They're coated with an insecticide and co…

Sports: UCLA 13 USC 9

Woo hoo!!!

To think a few days ago, I almost sold the tickets!

Game ball to Dwayne Walker, the UCLA defensive coordinator for coming up with the plan and motivating the defense to a bend but don't break performance. If you saw a 9 on the scoreboard, you would have assumed it was UCLA. However, today, the defense allowed only 7 points (the other 2 was from a safety) and shut out USC in the second half. There were many key 3rd down and 4th down stops by the Bruins!

Game ball to Pat Cowan for using his feet to defeat USC. Cowan gained 55 yards scrambling and with rollouts bought himself time to make some completions. He showed the heart of a fierce competitor on a 3 and 15 scramble that netted only 7 yards but he took a monster hit that the fans in our section heard and gasped. Cowan bounced right up and trotted off the field.

Game ball to Eric McNeal who got his hand on the pass to deflect it and kept after it to gain the interception. It was 3rd down and 4 when he made the inter…

Sports: D-day U$C vs. UCLA

I'm going to the game. A few days ago, my devotion to the Bruins was wavering but after talking to a Cal Bear alum friend who said she went to every home game in a 1-10 season, I knew I had to hang my head in shame for even thinking of selling my tickets and not going to the game.

Check out this item to get a feeling for the intensity of this rivalry. The blogger quotes from the LA Times, a fellow blogger and makes a few terse remarks. Okay, it is way over the top but you get the picture of what this rivalry is about.

Here is the excerpt from the LA Times:How best to put this?

You are not a real UCLA fan unless the thought of knocking USC out of the national title game today makes you giggle out loud in an empty room.

This nexus of neurons got you through a half-day of work Friday before you feigned a scratchy throat, went home, turned out the lights and tried to channel Tommy Prothro.

Like breathing, this is a basic, involuntary, primal, rivalry instinct.

Your season stinks, you&…

Religion: YSMarko.com

Another blogger I've been visiting came about because of my recent attendance of the Youth Specialties National Youth Worker's Convention. The president of the organization is Mark Oestreicher and he blogs here.

He links to this item on why one blogger is no longer going to youth group. Something for all of us who are involved with youth to think about.

Excerpt:Youth are more willing to 'dive deeper' than one might think. As Dr. Faith Kirkham-Hawkins (Emory professor of Youth and Religion, as well as YTI's Director) put it in a seminar she led at a N. GA Conference event, "Teenagers are showing up to youth group, and they're coming in droves. But, they're still dying inside." How good of a job are we doing at bringing them Life?Mark relates something Tony Campolo said recently: We do not take God into places where He doesn’t exist; we join God where God is already at work. God works in mysterious ways which we often don't see. I think …

Culture: "Lifestyle Choices"

Another blog I've been checking into lately is Mere Comments which is a word play on Mere Christianity the famous book by C.S. Lewis where Lewis provides a thoughtful, common sense and, at times, pointed explanation of Christian theology and morality.

Here is a recent post over at Mere Comments of the pointed but common sense variety about the folly of "lifestyle choices." Excerpt:Now there's a deadly phrase, a stupid one, actually, "lifestyle choices," to cover up the fact that not all the choices are equal, and some are dangerous. The family, and children, are fragile in certain ways and we can't ignore those ways without bad things happening.

So here's where "stupid" comes in. If we respect the delicate balance of eco-systems as we say we do (or should), why should that exclude human beings? ....

A farmer has a few "farmer-style choices": he can plant corn, wheat, soybeans, raise cows, pigs, or chickens. But other choices will …

@ the movies: The Nativity Story

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Mary, Joseph and their faithful donkey taking a break on their long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. 100 miles is nothing for us today but 2000 years ago that meant a trip by foot!

The Nativity Story opens in theaters on Friday, December 1, 2006.

I had the opportunity to see the film in a pre-release screening as a guest of Grace Hill Media. I recommend it highly.

For those who believe, the film will be a devotional experience amidst the busyness of the Christmas season reminding us what Christmas is truly about. For those who are skeptics, I hope they will still nonetheless the film and grasp the earthiness of the Christian story: God came to earth in the form of a baby to parents and people with dirty feet and rough hands.


Mary and Joseph growing closer while on the journey to Bethlehem.

The Bible account of the Nativity is very brief. The part the film covers can be found in Matthew and Luke.

The film has to engage in some speculation as to what the story was beyon…

Sports: UCLA vs. U$C Football Game this Saturday

The local sport talk radio is all about how big will USC's victory be and whether Karl Dorrell will get fired if the Bruins get blown out again.

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I don't know if I heard it right but I think there was a radio commercial by H.D. Buttercup that said if UCLA wins the game, you can buy furniture for FREE at their store!

UPDATE: I heard the ad on the radio again so maybe it is for real... I think they said if you buy furniture up to $2000 worth and UCLA then wins on Saturday, you can get your money back.

UPDATE: The bet was if you buy $2000 or more and then if UCLA wins, you get a refund. This LA Times item says they are indeed tallying up the cost of the promotional as people came to the store on Sunday morning to get their refunds!

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Pat Cowan will start at QB for UCLA in the big game on Saturday.

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UCLA has received and accepted a bid to a third tier bowl, the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco.

The Emerald Bowl PR machine went into best face forward spin mode to make the game soun…

Culture: Why Marry?

I'm enjoying the occasional visit over to Boundless: the line.

Here is a recent item that caught my eye.

As a single guy, I do wonder if my views of marriage are excessively idealistic and thus may have made attainment of marriage an idol and essentially impossible?

Here are some excerpts from the blog post by Denise Morris:As I look at my own life and also the attitudes of my single friends, I have to agree with these sociologists. I think we have overly-idealized what marriage is and should be. We expect the person we marry to be perfect, we desire a romantic story to describe how we met, and we hold out forever in search of "the one." The idea of personal choice has been idolized in Western society, and I think it has definitely affected the way we think about marriage. It causes us to delay getting married until we think we'll be supremely happy with that choice.
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Now, I am not saying that you should run out and marry the next person you meet. I do think th…

Devotional Thoughts: The kinder and gentler Paul

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 is nice slice of life moment.

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

I would bet some people have the view of Saint Paul as this hard-nosed General Patton like character. There were definitely moments when he was INTENSE to the Nth degree. But reading this passage, we see the kinder and gentler Apostle Paul. It seems downright sappy!

Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

There might not be anything more delightful than to see other people grow. Not being a parent I don't have that experience in its fullness. However, in life, I've …

Sports: UCLA vs. USC - to sell or not to sell that is the question ...

I bought two tickets for UCLA-USC football game earlier in the year when prospects were still good for the Bruins. Alas, now, it is hard to find a UCLA alum football fan who wants to go to see what amounts to be a ritual sacrifice: USC to earn the favor of the BCS gods will kill the Bruins.

My guess is that "style" points will not be needed but since this is a rivalry game, nothing less than total demolition of the opposition is demanded by the faithful. I threw out a 56-0 score as a possibility in one of my prior posts over at my other blog where I have been posting since D-7 and will continue to do a least a daily post about the famed but now moribund rivalry.

Anyway, the question before me: do I sell the tickets?

They are selling above face value. It is highly likely that USC fans are buying up tickets UCLA fans are unloading.

I have not attended a UCLA vs. USC contest live in 24 years. Would I desire to see a blowout?

Or would I achieve some sense of liberterian satis…

Culture: What Divides Americans?

Why do we feel that America is getting more polarized?

We all have that vague or not so vague sense that that is true.

What is at the core of this?

(1) Faith in God - one part of America believes that God (of the Judeo-Christian variety) places moral obligations upon us while another part of America believes that religious belief is, at best, non-sense and, at worst, the source of all sorts of evil in the world.

(2) America's role in the world - one part of America believes that the United States is the new Roman Empire and the source of all sorts of evil in the world while another part still gets misty eyed when they sing The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America and believes Americans though far from perfect do a lot of good in the world.

I heard this analysis this morning on Prager's radio show.

World: Iraq 3+ years later

I went back to the archives and found this item I posted giving my analysis of the impending war in Iraq. ed. note - I had to recompile the post to generate a permalink as it was such an old post. I made some minor edits but no changes in substance.

As a blogger, my past thoughts are "on record" and I felt it was time to re-visit this topic given what is happening in Iraq these days.

Back then I said ... If Bush wants to get re-elected in 2004, he should drop the war with Iraq and throw all his energy and political clout on turning the economy around. The polls tell him that Americans are concerned about the economy first and foremost. The only way the war will benefit Bush is if it is swift (probable), the WMDs get found (probable), post-war Iraq is rebuilt into a peaceful nation (doubtful before Nov. 2004) and the American people haven’t forgotten by election day (ask Bush41). Feeling lucky GW?If the Democrats had fielded a better candidate than John Kerry, it is quite pos…

Culture: National Park Visits Declining

Saw an interesting item over at the LA Times reporting a 20% decline in visits over the last 10 years.

Why is this happening?

Here are some excerpts:Agency officials admit that national parks are doing a poor job attracting two large constituencies - young people and minorities - causing concerns about the parks' continued appeal to a changing population.

A study commissioned by the park service and released in 2003 found that only 13% of the African Americans interviewed had visited a park in the previous two years.

For more than a year, the appropriations committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has been asking the park service to explain how it intends to attract more minorities to parks.
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Meanwhile, the parks' most loyal visitors over the last several decades are vacationing elsewhere. Baby boomers are changing the way they play. Some of the more adventurous have embraced mountain biking and similar sports that are not allowed in many national parks. But …

Life: How people react to Christianity?

As a Christian who happens also to be a molecular biologist, I get very different responses from people upon finding out that I'm a Christian.

I think there have been four types of responses.

(1) I'm a Christian too! That's cool that you are in the sciences and a person of faith. This kind of respondant might then go on to say, sometimes people think faith means leaving your brain in neutral so it is nice to know that doesn't have to be the case. Christianity is thus a "true religion" to this person.

(2) That's cool you are a Christian. I think all roads lead to god and its good you believe in something. This person holds to "religious pluralism."

(3) That's cool you are a Christian but I think religions are just fairy tales but if those fairy tales make people do good and be happy than I'm all for it. This skeptic thinks of Christianity as a "useful fiction."

(4) How can you be a Christian? Religions are just lies and the so…

Devotional Thoughts: Keeping in touch

Checking out 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5.

The Bible is quite down to earth. The Old Testament is a collection of what happened to the people of Israel in their ups and downs of following God. The New Testament are the Gospels (records of Jesus teaching and deeds), Acts (activities of the early church), Letters (Paul and other early church leaders giving advice to churches and individuals) and Revelation (a vivid description of the battle between good and evil).

The passage I'm looking at today is a window into the lives of Paul and his concern for the group of followers. There is no high flying theology here (there is theology nonetheless) but what comes across is the daily grind of what it means to follow Jesus.

But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. Therefore we wanted to come to you - even I, Paul, time and again - but Satan hindered us.

Rene's really loose paraph…

World: Mess in Lebanon

Was listening to Dennis Prager's radio show and telephone guest was Michael Young, opinion editor of the Daily Star, an English language newspaper published in Beirut.

Prager asked him a whole bunch of questions to get a handle on the situation over there.

The main ideas I got was that Lebanon's government is divided into pro- and anti-Syria factions. The Prime Minister is anti-Syria, the President is pro-Syria and there are 24 cabinent ministers with most being anti-Syria.

However, a government will be in constitutional collapse if 9 cabinet ministers depart from the government either by resignation (the entire pro-Syrian wing has resigned) and there have been assasinations of several anti-Syrian ministers.

Prager asked, why can't new ministers be named to replace those resigned and assassinated?

The reporter said, they must gain the approval of the pro-Syrian President!

As it stands, if two more ministers resign or are assassinated, the government will be constitutionally n…

Life: How not to misplace your car in the parking lot

Heard on the radio a tip for Thanksgiving shoppers: use your camera phone to take a picture of where your car is parked!

Life: Happy Thanksgiving Where Ever You Are!

Psalm 147:1-11

Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant,and a song of praise is fitting.
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Sports: UCLA Wins Maui Invitational

UCLA defeats Georgia Tech to win the Maui Invitational.

UCLA looks pretty balanced with good guard play from Affalo and Collison and solid front line work by Mbah a Moute and Mata. Shipp still seems a bit tentative probably due to the fact that injury kept him out almost the whole season last year. The team is able to play 10 deep.

Only trouble spot tonight was poor free throw shooting.

The season looks promising! Go Bruins!

Culture: Evangelistic Atheists

Over at Boundless: the line there is a post about the call by atheists to show that belief in God should be challenged. Excerpt:Dr. Al Mohler explains that Dawkins isn't attempting to convince believers that they should no longer believe in God. "To the contrary," he says, "Dawkins is attempting a very different cultural and political move. He wants to make respect for belief in God socially unacceptable." Those of us in the biological sciences have know this for years. The argument essentially comes down to: science = good and true, religion = bad (or a harmless fairy tale) and false.

Sam Harris is the other evangelist for atheism that has garnered a lot of attention.

There was once a time when apologetics (defense of Christian faith) type of organizations believed they could try to convince those outside of Christianity to consider faith. I think their mission now is going to be more defensive in trying to help Christians who are tottering on their faith t…