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Showing posts from March, 2007

Sports: 5:47 PDT

March Madness. Florida vs. UCLA, NCAA Men's National Semifinals. GeorgiaDome. CBS television.

Did this once before, and UCLA won!

So here we go again ...

With apologies to Russell Crowe (General Maximus Meridius), Ridley Scott and who ever else was associated with the film Gladiator:Bruins!

Three weeks from now I will be potting my tomato plants.
Imagine where you will be, and it will be so.
Hold the line!
Stay with me!

If you find yourself alone,
walking in the beach with the sun on your face,
do not be troubled,
for you are on Spring Break
and you are at Santa Monica Beach!!UPDATE: What can you say? Hats off to Florida. IN the end, basketball is a simple game: put ball in basket. And when one team has more ways to put the ball in the basket that team wins.

IN post game Bruintalk, the host said, Coach Howland had to pick his poison - play the Florida bigs one-on-one and get beat inside or double-down and hope you can pick off the pass going back out or they miss the outside shot.…

Non-Profit of the Month: March 2007 - United Warrior Survivor Foundation

With news about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, my thoughts turn to those who are putting their lives at risk.

For some, they have given their lives and my sorrow is for those who remain.

Having lived in DC from 1993-1997, I became familiar with Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address which ends this way: With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.Toward the end of my time in DC, the Korean War Veteran's Memorial was dedicated and two panels on that memorial especially moves my soul:FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.

OUR NATION HONORS HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO DEFEND A COUNTRY THEY NEVER KNEW AND A PEOPLE THEY NEVER MET.With these thoughts in mind, for …

Devotional Thoughts: Why. Why? Why!

In a previous blog post, I mentioned the usage of a couple of reference works: the NIV Study Bible and Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. I generally try to take a text for what it is. However, because the text is originally in Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT), reference works sometimes help bring to light things that the translators have that we don't have. As a rule, the English Bible translations will have footnotes if there are any questions about the rendering of some particular phrases. The reference works often will go into more detail that a brief remark in a footnote. What has struck me over the years in reading the Bible is that those footnotes though not insignificant in number aren't as numerous as one might think for something 2000+ years old and often time those uncertainties don't change the meaning of the text at all or not very much.

The other reason for reference works is the cultural gap! I'm sitting here 21st Century American of Asian ances…

Sports: Florida vs. UCLA, National Semifinals, Saturday, 5:47 PM PDT

The newspaper in LA is running an article or three each day in the run up to the Final Four. Fans are hoping for a win but the realists know that Florida is the favorite.

Las Vegas says Florida is the favorite by 3 points. BTW, they have GTown favored by 1 over the Buckeyes.

Last year, the Bruins starting line-up: Farmar, Afflalo, Bozeman, Mbah a Moute and Hollins. The Bruin bench was: Collison, Abboya, Mata and Roll.

This year, Collison has taken over the point for Farmar. Collison gives the Bruins more speed on both offense and defense. He will have a huge assignment covering Florida's point guard Green. Collison will need to force a few turnovers and disrupt the timing of the Florida offense in order for the Bruins to have a chance. If we see the Gators flying around in a dunkfest, we are looking at another blowout so getting back on defense will be a key. When in the half-court, Collison will need to pressure Green so the passes into the Florida bigs are a little bit off …

Religion: Taking a look at the Koran

Like most Americans, I know next to nothing about Islam. I must say even though I live in the cultural melting pot of Los Angeles, I don't know any Muslims personally. I've attended one presentation about Islam which I blogged about and I hear what is in the popular media on television.

As a Christian, I do have a religious perspective to begin with. Nonethess, as a thinking person living in this world at this moment in history, I decided it was time to try to understand Islam a little bit better. I went to Amazon and ordered up a copy of the Koran.

Since the Koran is in Arabic, I have to have an English translation in order to read it.

In Christianity, the Bible's original language is Hebrew and Greek; thus, there are many options for English translations.

I chose the Koran prepared by Abdullah Yusuf Ali because one of the Amazon reviews said this, "This translation is considered the most authentic by Muslim scholars. It is the one that is supported by the governmen…

Money: Risk vs. Reward

I occasionally blog about money. Since I'm not a wealthy person my money advice has to be taken with that knowledge in mind.

I do try to be read up on some of the basic ideas you hear on shows like Suze Orman (I can't watch a complete show as she is a little too intense for me but I catch little tidbits), Bob Brinker and Ric Edelman. I'll visit web pages like the Motley Fool.

One of the big ideas is the risk vs. reward. In order to get a larger return on investment (reward) you have to be willing to take greater risks. The corollary is you can accept greater risk if your time horizon is longer.

In practical terms, if you know you will need the money within a year or two then park it in a very safe place like CDs and super safe short term securities like US government debts.

If your need is farther off into the future, increase the percentage that is in stocks. For instance as a 40-something who is looking at retirement 20+ years into the future, I'm putting retireme…

Devotional Thoughts: Being There

Looking at Job 2:11-13 this AM.

When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Who are these three friends?

I looked at the study notes to (1) the NIV Study Bible and (2) Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament.

Eliphaz, the Temanite may have been an Edomite based on his name and from a city south of the Dead Sea (1) while the other resource speculated the city he was from was near Petra in modern Jordan (2).

Bildad, the Shuhite may have been a descendant of Shuah the youngest son of Abr…

News: Tony Snow's cancer has returned

Tony Snow is the White House press secretary. I didn't know he had fought cancer previously. Excerpt:Snow, 51, had his entire colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. A small growth was discovered last year in his lower right pelvic area, and after months of monitoring, tests now show that it has grown slightly. It was removed Monday.

Doctors determined that it was cancerous, and found during the surgery, which was exploratory, that his cancer had metastasized, or spread, to his liver, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

She said Snow is comfortable and feeling fine after his surgery and has pledged to aggressively fight the disease with an as-yet-to-be-determined chemotherapy treatment course. He will be in the hospital recovering from the surgery, a major procedure, for about a week.I wonder if these intrusions (Edwards and Snow's battle with cancer) of real life and humanity will have any affect on the dia…

News: The Edwards Dilema

Heard the news about the return of cancer for Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democrat candidate for President John Edwards.

Politics aside, they are in a tough situation.

The most thoughtful thing I've seen on their circumstances comes from Dean Barnett who has Cystic Fibrosis and is a political writer from the conservative camp. But on this matter, he writes simply as a fellow human being. Excerpt:Over time, as my condition worsened and got more serious, denial was no longer an option. Compromise became the order of the day. On the golf course, I used to carry my bag for 36 holes a day. First I began to take a caddy. Then a cart. Soon I was playing twice a week instead of twice a day.

On more serious matters, compromises were also necessary. When you get sick, really sick, you wind up compromising on just about everything. Your disease forces you into the habit.

I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW BAD I FEEL FOR ELIZABETH AND JOHN EDWARDS. I’m familiar with the body-blow of a sudden diagnosis that t…

Devotional Thoughts: Curse God and Die!

Earlier, we saw that Job was conscientious about doing the right things before God, had a great big happy family and lots of stuff. Satan showed up and told God, Job would abandon you if I took away all that from him. God permitted this and Job lost everything. Yet, he held onto God anyway.

Today, am looking at Job 2:1-10.

On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?"

Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."

Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason."

"Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own lif…

Culture: 24, 7pm to 8pm

Been a bit distracted by March Madness so haven't gotten around to checking up and writing on 24.

So to recap the latest hour ...

In the DC thread, the nuclear bomb happy Veep is all set to send Un-named country a message with a nuke attack on a remote part of that country. The implausibility here is that no one seems concerned except Karen.

Meanwhile, at CTU, as usual, we find out there is a mole and at the moment it appears that Nadia is the source of the leak. We shall see how that plays out in the episodes ahead but it doesn't look good for Marisol Nichols' contract negotiations for next season.

The terrorists have loaded one of the nukes onto a drone and have sent it on its way to San Francisco. The implausibility here is that the drones they have look like merely oversized radio control airplanes a hobbiest can buy. I just can't imagine one of those things can (1) carry the nuclear device and (2) has enough fuel to fly from the outskirts of Los Angeles to San F…

Sports: Western Regional Finals Next - Kansas vs. UCLA

Sat. Jayhawks vs. Bruins. Western Regional Finals.

Looking at the scores of today's regional semi-finals, it was about DEFENSE. KU beat SIU 61-58. Memphis edged A&M 65-64. UCLA defeated Pittsburgh 64-55. Quite striking that these games were all in the 50s and 60s. The only game that showed some offensive fireworks was the Ohio State vs. Tennessee game with the Buckeyes rallying furiously from a 20-point deficit. It looks to be coming down to the final possession or maybe even into overtime!

UPDATE: Its a final, Ohio State 85 UT 84!

UCLA vs. Pittsburgh game observations:

Was very nervous when Mata and Mbah a Moute picked up some early fouls in the first half. Keefe (10 minutes) and Abboya (19 minutes) played solidly in their place on the defensive end. If you look at their line scores there wasn't much offense but these guys helped keep the Panther's bigs under wraps defensively. In the end, the Panther's rally was lead by 3-point shooting late in the 2nd ha…

Sports: UCLA basketball return to glory???

6:40 PM PDT.

San Jose.

CBS.

Am nervous as heck about the West Regional semi-final match up between UCLA and Pittsburgh. In LA, the stories about the ties between Coach Howland and Coach Dixon fill the papers. It will be UCLA's perimeter players versus Pittsburgh's bigs. It is about two coaches who like defense. We shall see!

Expectations in BruinsNation is way out of control. UCLA's history since the last Wooden-coached championship in 1975 doesn't justify the demands of the fans. To put some numbers on it, in the last 32 years, UCLA has made the Final Four just four times.

Since Wooden, fans have been dreaming of a return to glory. There have been two shining moments prior to Howland that prompted optimism but each time it turned to ashes for fans of the UCLA basketball program shortly afterward.

1980.

Larry Brown arrived on the scene to take over a program in disarray where demanding fans ran out of town two coaches in four years. The Bruins came in 4th in the Pac-1…

Devotional Thoughts: Came with nothing, leave with nothing

Continuing on to Job 1:13-22.

One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

According to the Jewishencyclopedia.com, the Sabeans were from southeastern Arabia. In any case, they raided the area, killed the servants and took all oxen and donkey…

Science: Genetically Engineered Mosquitos!!

In 2006 ... Amazing!

I know people often get nervous about genetically modified anything but this is potentially really good news.

The idea in the research project is to prevent the spread of Dengue Fever Virus by stopping them from growing in the mosquito which passes the virus to people when the mosquitos bite.

The Anthony James lab at UC Irvine genetically engineered mosquitos that hampers the virus reproduction. The lab took advantage of RNAi (inhibitory RNA) technology (watch that biotech space) by placing into the genetic material of the mosquito small bits of sequence that codes for RNAi which in turn helps set in motion cellular processes that destroy the Dengue Fever Viral RNA.

Now, today ... this transgenic approach has shown some promise as a possible way to fight malaria. See the CNN.com report .

In this story, the mosquitos have been genetically engineered to make a protein that inhibits the replication of the parasite that live in mosquitos that cause malaria in mice. The…

Sports: And there were 16

4 #1 seeds made it through. I think that is unusual?

Anyway, they all looked pretty good in their wins and so perhaps we may have for the first time ever 4 #1s make it to the Final Four?

Suffice to say as a UCLA alum, I'm hoping at least one #2 seed crashes the party!

Of the six power conferences, they got in 12 teams (3 Pac-10, 3 SEC, 2 Big-12, 2 Big-East, 1 Big-10 and 1 ACC).

Of the 6 Pac-10 teams, the three (USC, Oregon and UCLA) more athletic ones got in. Following conference play during the season, I felt that WSU and Stanford were probably a step slower. Arizona was an enigma with all the talent in the world but somehow the pieces just never fell into place. As for UCLA, I think they are NOT as athletic as USC or Oregon but their pieces fit together well. USC clearly flew under the national radar but after the mauling they gave Texas, now everyone outside the Pac-10 knows these guys are for real. UNC will need their A game to beat USC and even then I think it will be a …

Sports: Where Gus Johnson goes close games follow

Two dramatic games for Gus Johnson to call today. I remember him from last year's tournament when he went totally crazy during the Gonzaga vs. UCLA regional semi-final.

Today, in the opener, Ohio State looked dead down by 9 with Oden in foul trouble. But they rallied and hit a three with 4 seconds left to send it into overtime where they easily defeated Xavier 78-71. As you might imagine the excitable Johnson was having a blast down the stretch.

In the second game of that sub-regional, Louisville and Texas A&M were trading the leads and tying it up possession after possession. It came down to a dramatic finish with Texas A&M holding off Louisville and Gus capturing the emotions of the arena and the teams with his play-by-play.

Am hoping for a Bruin victory later today, prefer an easy win but will take *any* kind of win today!

UPDATE: By the end of the day there were 3 OT games! Most of the games were hotly contested into the final minutes if not into the last minute. UC…

Theology: Did We Get the Right Jesus?

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A few weeks back, I went to Biola University to hear a free public lecture. The speaker was Prof. Fred Sanders (click and scroll down for bio) and the event was part of the Christian Apologetics program at the school.

Sanders is far from a stuffy humanities professor. He was hilarious! He worked in comic strip images to make some of his points. He also showed some paintings from Art History to give us a flavor for the life and times he was describing.

The premise of his talk was: if you walked into "the Hall of Putative Jesi" how would you know which Jesus is the right one of the dozen or so individuals walking around in that hall claiming to be Jesus?

He mentioned that one approach is to examine the historical reliablity of the Gospel records and that much valuable scholarship is in that realm.

However, for this evening's presentation, he said he would focus on the historical development of our understanding of Jesus.

He said there were seven ancient church counc…

Devotional Thoughts: More than meets the eye

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Image source: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/image/astro/hst_ngc4414_9925.jpg

Taking a look at Job 1:6-12 this morning.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

In this case, "sons of God" is more literal and is translated "angels" in the NIV which is an example of when translation merges with interpretation. The text I'm using in this blog post is NKJV. FYI, I vary the translation I use on this blog just to change things up now and then and not for any particular scholastic reason as I'm not a Bible scholar!

Satan is Hebrew for "adversary" or "accuser." Often Bible names describe the character of the person.

Thus, we have a picture of a realm we don't see with our waking eyes. Angels (probably a mixture of good ones and bad ones?) and Satan, another finite being, in a sense "report" to God in this story.

And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you…

Devotional Thoughts: The happy life of Job

Job 1:2-5 on this blog post.

There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.

Job was quite happy. He had a big family and lots of stuff.

What are we to make of the numbers mentioned here?

One of my old pastors used to say, when you see numbers in the Bible ask: symbol or statistic?

In some cases it may well be a statistic and meant to be taken as an accurate reflection of what was happening. In some cases, it might have a symbolic meaning. In this particular circumstances it would be hard to say. However, I'm probably more comfortable with these numbers being symbolic than more literal Bible interpreters.

In the Bible there are some favorite numbers: 40 (as in 40 years in the wilderness for Moses, 40 days of fasting for Jesus, etc), 12 (tribes, disciples, etc), 7 (creation week with the 7th day being the …

Culture: 24, 6 to 7 pm

Jack manages to evade being killed by the Russian security people in the consulate but can't get off the grounds nor contact the outside world with the information the Russian Consul General gave him after some torture.

In DC, the "hidden hand" conspiracy continues to unfold though we still don't know who is really behind it. If Reed is to be believed from a couple of episodes ago, the Veep isn't actually in on it so he is willing unwitting participant.

Tom continues to vacillate about doing the right thing and in this case opts to back the Veep in claiming falsely that Assad triggered the bomb.

Meanwhile, the President Logan and Martha Logan thread takes a bizarre turn when Martha tabs Logan!

By the way, good old Aaron Pierce shows up as Martha's side kick.

In any case, Martha does make the phone call to the Russian President's wife who in turns convinces the Russian President to green light the CTU attack on the consulate.

The raid is successful and Kief…

Culture: 24, 5 to 6 pm

Am a bit behind in posting about the latest 24.

In fact, 5pm was last weeks show!

Previously, the bomb went off so now the actor who plays President Wayne Palmer won't have many speaking lines for the rest of this season unless he makes a miraculous recovery. Negotiating for next season might be hard for him as in his current state, he would be easily written off the show.

The Veep takes charge and is all set to establish the police state and the war the "hidden conspirators" want.

Meanwhile, this President Logan seeking redemption theme continues leading to Jack raiding yet another consulate.

Implausibility alert: way too easy how Jack breaks into the Russian consulate.

Sports: Bruins in ruins?

They lost to Washington. They lost to California.

Did they get bored and mail it in?

Or is it an indication of problems that this team has which will sink their chances of making a serious run in the NCAA?

I've never bought into the UCLA as #1 hype.

Just look at the team!

Affalo is a A level player with NBA prospects but he isn't an A+ player who will go high in the first round.

Collison and Shipp are A- players with some skills on top of raw athletic ability will need another year or two in order to be NBA ready.

Mata, Mbah a Moute and Abboya (the sixth man) are B+ players. These guys give a lot by sheer hard work on top of more modest athletic ability and skills. Their NBA prospects are not great. Perhaps second round projects and back-up role players.

Don't get me wrong, on paper, talentwise this team is probably better than 90% of the teams out there.

But how did they get the #1 in the country accolades?

Coach Howland has to be given a lot of credit for creating the "…

Life: Life in the Big City

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Went to a neighborhood meeting to discuss crime.


image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragnet_(drama)

Our guest was one of the lead officers from the LAPD division that covers our area. The approximate coverage area: Santa Monica Freeway to the south, Beverly Blvd. to the north, La Cienega Blvd to the west and Normandie Ave. to the east. The population in this patrol area is probably larger than many cities in the rest of the USA.

He acknowledged there is the planned number of cops to cover that beat and the reality of being short-handed. As such, good coordination between ground units and the helicopters is crucial. He also mentioned their careful observation of crime trends so they can deploy their limited resources to regions within the division area.

Another problem is that most police officers in our part of Los Angeles do not live there because they can't afford to. Thus, most commute in great distances and do 12-hour shifts three days a week. Ideally in community p…

Devotional Thoughts: The Patience of Job

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In youth group Bible study, I came across James 5:11:As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.Job isn't mentioned much in the New Testament. In fact, this verse is the only direct mention though I suppose there are other passages where you might hear the echo of Job.

Anyway, with the completion of my blog through of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, I have decided to dive into Job for the next series!

So here we go, Job 1:1.

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

Where is the land of Uz?

Well, this tourism company says:One of the earliest patriarchal figures in the Bible is Job (pbuh), whose book is one of the world's great masterpieces of religious literature. The city of Salt, northwest of the Jordanian capital Amman, houses the tomb/shrine…

News: James Cameron and the Jesus Family Tomb

It is all over in the news.

But the buzz seems to have settled rapidly compared to the Da Vinci Code.

I heard a brief report on it on my iTunes of a ABC Nightline podcast. The story didn't even merit a full show and the tone was somewhat skeptical of the claims made in the documentary. So even the secular news media isn't going crazy for it.

As you would imagine, the Christian scholarship community has been responding.

Be sure to check out the many posts from Mark Goodacre, an Associate Professor of New Testament in the Religion Department at Duke University. He rounds up a lot of posts from other scholars.

Ben Witherington has also posted extensively but unfortunately, he hasn't learned how to use the label feature in Blogger so I link to one of his earlier ones. Witherington is a professor of New Testament at Asbury Seminary.

One more place I'd recommend people check out is Stand To Reason's (by Melinda Penner) breakdown of the controversy.

Bottom line is that the t…

Culture: 24, 4 to 5 pm

The mid-season slow down is happening.

There is no way 24 can keep up the frantic pace.

TWP put it this way:Kiefer persuades Wayne to let his brother's assassin out for the evening, and then he and Logan spend the rest of the episode getting dressed. Meanwhile, Dave Barry put it this way:Not enough Jack. Way too much talking. One boom -- one lousy boom -- at the end. The clear action highlight was Chloe yanking Morris out of the toilet. Anyway, the 4 threads continue to unfold: (1) Chloe and Morris and their problems while trying to save the world as we know it; (2) Jack trying to track down the nukes; (3) the bad guys apparently have stolen some drones to deliver the 3 remaining nukes; (4) meanwhile, the plotting within the White House reaches a crucial point with the old liquid bomb in the tape recorder trick.

Implausibility alerts:
I guess they got 3 drones on that truck? Seems to me those drones might be a bit small to fly the suitcase bombs very far.
Do you think if a liquid …

Science: Photos of Saturn from Cassini

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Amazing images from the Cassini space probe.

Go to Nasa's page for more photos!



image source: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/pia08362.html

Money: The Fool's Recommendation on Where to Invest for Retirement