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Showing posts from November, 2007

Science: Stem cells and the overlap of technology and morality

As a molecular biologist, the embryonic stem cell debate was a difficult one. Possible cures on one hand; moral problems on the other.

Scientists as a group hunger for new knowledge. On the positive side, they dedicate their careers to the progress of their respective fields. Their personal traits are dogged determination to figure out why this experiment failed and how another approach might push back the boundaries of the unknown. As a group they exhibit all the worst of human behavior in pettiness and ego just like any other group in any other profession. But at its best, it is filled with the joy and wonder of discovery, passion and commitment to truth.

As we expand the boundaries of what we know, scientists began to push into territory where morality was standing in the embryonic stem cell technology.

Do we destroy existing embryos to find cures?

Do we deliberately make embryos to destroy them to advance the research?

If scientific progress is the end all and be all why not?

Is th…

Sports: The day before UCLA vs. USC

Last year, I was there.

I had a 3-game mini-plan. There were probably 30% USC fans in our section as many UCLA fans sold their tickets rather than go watch the Bruins lose. I almost did the same.

Plaschke in today's LAT has the where is he now story of Eric McNeal who got the interception that preserved the Bruin victory by keeping USC out of the end-zone and thus out of the National Championship game.

Excerpt:

A week before the big game and the kitchen floor is sparkling.

"I do the mopping around here," Eric McNeal says.

A week before the big game and the bathrooms are shining.

"That's also my job," he says.

A week before the big game, and Eric McNeal is sitting at the dining-room table of the modest Carson home he shares with his parents, figuring out his work schedule.

Today, clean the house.

Tuesday through Friday, report to a nearby warehouse to drive a forklift.

"Maybe I'll add Saturday to my schedule," he says idly.

Saturday?

"Oh, wait,"…

Sports: UCLA vs. USC this Saturday

The game is at USC's home field and I'll not be trying to fetch the tickets.

The listed price at Stubhub ranges from $109 to $1200.

No one expected UCLA to win last year and last year's team was healthy!

This years team has been a MASH unit.

The latest news is that Olson who came in for the 2nd half of last weeks game has had knee trouble again. As such Cowan who has had knee trouble and is recovering from a collapsed lung has been taking the bulk of the snaps at practice. Rassan who started last weeks game but was pulled after going 0-7 passing with 1 int is the backup.

The LAT is running daily articles about the past rivalry games. Saw this one today.

Excerpt:

The year was 1992 and the Bruins had run through pretty much all of their quarterbacks, losing Wayne Cook, Rob Walker and Ryan Fien to injury. They were down to a fourth-string senior.

"He wasn't even on the team the previous year," Dellins said. "Coach [Terry] Donahue let him walk on."

Barnes…

Life: Faith as active trust

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Politics: Political conservatives and liberals

There are stereotypes for both groups.

As I see it, most liberals and conservatives want the same things: keep the kids and the people safe, cure cancer and have world peace and various other good things. Who could be against such things!?

The question is how do we get there and what is the role of government?

As a general rule, liberals want more government and conservatives less government.

So for instance on economic matters: more or less regulation of the free market economy? Regulation requires government.

Of the various government programs regarding social welfare: is this program better run by the government or by a for profit business or non-profit organizations? And if government needs to be involved which level (federal, state or local) is better suited to run it?

National defense is where there can be blurring of lines. There are 9/11 democrats. As a matter of history, the Democrats in the distant past were pro-national defense. Ironically, it was the Republicans who nee…

Sports: USC 20 point favorite over UCLA

There you go ... the line opened at 18 1/2 and has risen to 20.

UCLA's QBs: Olson motoring around on a bad knee; Cowen, still with a bad knee and recovering from a collapsed lung and Rassan, can run but can't pass barely familiar with the offense.

UCLA's RBs: Bell, out for the season; Markey, mostly recovered from turf toe; Moline, I don't think he is fully healthy and thus not carrying the ball much and Sheppard, the surprise walk-on having the opportunity of a lifetime.

Won't be surprised if the line rises higher!

Nonetheless, go Bruins!

Sports: BCS predictions

Hey, that is the fun part about being a blogger!

I can use this platform to express my opinion and you can take it for every cent you are paying for it!

My biases: am a UCLA alum so am a fan of the Pac10. Alas, this year, it doesn't look like the Pac10 is going to get 2 teams into the BCS. Just don't see ASU getting in.

Rose:
USC (pac10) - As a UCLA fan, I would love it if UCLA could knock USC out of the Rose Bowl game but I'd guess USC will be favored by 21 in the annual cross-town game next week. Of course, last year the Bruins weren't expected to win and they knocked USC out of the BCS championship game!
Hawaii (at large, wac) - A huge if is whether the Rainbow Warriors can beat the Washington Huskies. If they do, the Rose Bowl selection committee will see $$$ signs as the Hawaii fans will happily get on a plane to California to root for the Warriors. If Hawaii stumbles, my guess is that the Rose Bowlers will nab Missouri pitting USC's defense against the Tiger's…

Devotional Thoughs: Happy Thanksgiving

Psalm 100 in the old style of King James.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Thank you Lord, for my voice, though I only sing at church and in my car, I will make a joyful noise to you.
Thank you Lord, for the strength of my body by which for this season I can participate with our youth group.
Thank you Lord, for the church I attend and the church universal, for you are the Great Shepherd who has gathered us to yourself.
Thank you Lord, for the Cross and the Resurrection that opens the gates for us to enter into your presence with confidence.
Thank you Lord, for your Spirit that ab…

Sports: UCLA 68 MSU 63

Whoa!

Was listening to the last part of the game on the radio and UCLA was playing catch up.

This was their first game against a ranked opponent and it was a tough one!

Its one thing to be beating up on mid-majors on your home court. Its another thing to be facing one of the top teams from a power conference on a neutral site!

Anyway, I figured they might suffer a narrow loss given the team isn't at full strength missing several key players due to injuries.  It would be a good tough loss that would build the character of the team for the grind of the season.
But they pulled it out!

Only concern: missed free throws. I'm guessing Coach Howland will have the team working on it in the next practice.

They battled back from a deficit. That somehow is tough defense and being smart on offense. And what a huge basket by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute!

Devotional Thoughts: Wonderful Maker Wonderful Savior

One of the knocks on contemporary Christian music is that the lyrics are too simplistic and repetitive.

My feeling is if the lyrics are theologically true and encourage trust and obedience to God then I'll take simplistic and repetitive.

However, having said that, there is definitely a place for song lyrics that contain more depth.

The Christian faith has a rich tradition of communicating its message beyond just the written word. Great hymns of the past would raise the hearts of Jesus followers who would know the story of faith by song because they memorized songs because they couldn't read.

And for those who have been on the journey of faith for many years, songs that moved the soul many years ago would be fresh on the mind and lips the minute the first few notes are heard.

This morning, the lyrics on my mind are from a contemporary song that I think goes beyond the simplistic though it is a little repetitive but I just love it!

Have you heard and sung Wonderful Maker?

Excerpt:Y…

World: Is war ever an answer?

Ever see that bumper sticker: war isn't the answer?

On Veteran's Day, last week, on KCET, the PBS station here in Los Angeles was showing Ken Burns' latest film The War which chronicles the lives and events of World War II. I caught a few of the episodes and the scale of carnage of World War II was incomprehensible.

Was war the answer?

Could Germany, Italy and Japan have been stopped without war?

The other night, I saw The Kite Runner.

Afghanistan has suffered from war as long as I have been alive. There once was a puppet communist government and an insurgency brewing. The USSR decided to invade to prop up that puppet government. The insurgency received aid from the USA in a proxy war which was part of the larger global Cold War. Eventually, the USSR pulled out and the insurgency took over which led to the Taliban. After 9/11, the USA overthrew the Taliban. Now, the Taliban launches insurgent attacks in various parts of the country.

The Kite Runner is not a political mo…

@ the movies: The Kite Runner

Saw a pre-release screening of The Kite Runner courtesy of Grace Hill Media and the Brehm Center of Fuller Theological Seminary.

THUMBS UP!

A very moving film. There were audible gasps in the audience at some powerful moments. There were moments when people reached for the hankies or tried to hold it together without tissue (me). Also, be warned there are some shocking scenes of evil that rightly drew the PG-13 rating.

I can see post-film discussions going in lots of directions.

One can ask was there a Jesus figure in this film about Afghan life which is part of the Muslim world?

I think so!

What emotional and relational issues hit home with the viewer?

I could write/talk about a lot there.

Will readers of the book be happy with this adaptation?

I didn't read the book but I had some unanswered questions which I wonder if they were addressed in the book but were left out of the film because films have to simplify.

Though the film makes no statement about politics, because of its s…

Sports: UCLA football, stick a fork in 'em

The season started with high hopes. Some were saying 10-2! I thought realistic was 8-4 or maybe 9-3.

Well, the best the team can do is 7-5 and to do that they have to beat Oregon, the team looking to be the favorite for the BCS championship and USC. Chances: slim and none.

On KLAC 570, the host often announces one of the guests this way, with us is Matt Stevens, the last UCLA QB to win a Rose Bowl. I looked it up.... 1986!

Since then UCLA made it to the Rose Bowl game just twice and lost both times.

Kind of reminds me of the Dodgers ... the last MLB championship appearance and victory was 1988. Since then, the team has made the playoffs an odd number of times with just one victory.

As a lifelong Dodger fan and UCLA football and basketball fan most of my adult life, it has been a long time. Each year, I go into the season with a "springtime of hope" and wind up in the fall (for the Dodgers) and winter (for UCLA) of despair.

But a bright spot appears on the horizon: UCLA b…

Devotional Thoughts: The Gospels

Tell us about the long longed for Jewish King
And the kingdom, power and glory He will bring
Thank you, Matthew.
Tell us about the Messiah straight and so fast
And the fumbling followers who by grace last
Thank you, Mark.
Tell us about the Savior of the whole earth
And the good story of His humble birth
Thank you, Luke.
Tell us about grace and truth found in the Word
And we along with them life and light we heard
Thank you, John.

Lord, help make my life into a life of praise to you so that by deeds and words I help make followers of you, the true hope of our sorry state, assured you are with me even when I'm afraid. Amen.

Sports: Bruins lost football season?

From such high hopes to wondering if they will win another game this season!

UCLA defense can be had by pass happy teams.

UCLA plays Arizona on the road this Saturday against the #1 pass offense in conference. Arizona State at home the week after with the #2 scoring offense in conference. The Ducks then fly into the Rose Bowl with the #1 offense in conference. Finish the season going to USC's home turf.

Can UCLA win any of those games with a running game with no Bell (out for the season with an ACL), a still gimpy Markey and Moline and a converted defensive back Ramirez?

Can UCLA win with QB Cowen still hobbling around on bad knees?

Time for the gutty little Bruins to show up once again?

Non-profit of the month: October, 2007 - Mission Aviation Fellowship

How do you get supplies to far away places?

Sometimes a bush plane is the only way to do so quickly and effectively.

Thus, for this month's post about non-profits trying to do some good in the world, I direct our gentle readers to Mission Aviation Fellowship.

Check out this story about a pilot working for MAF in Afghanistan. Excerpt:Wrecked fuselages and bomb craters dot the perimeter of Kabul's International Airport where pilot Jim Keech takes off in his Cessna 210 airplane almost every day. Today's flight cargo is medicine destined for a distant village, accompanied by the doctors who will administer it.

By land, the trip would take several days. Flight time today will be about an hour. But time is not the only consideration. Land travel can still be dangerous due to mines and bandits.
........
Recent rains have softened the ground. Keech has instructed the men at Yawan to drive a truck onto the airstrip to check how far the wheels sink in. The test reveals the strip is useab…