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Showing posts from 2008

Non-profit of the Month: December 2008 - Living Water International

At youth group, we saw a video produced by Advent Conspiracy which is embedded above.

Definitely have been thinking about spending a little less for Christmas because of the current economic uncertainties. And after the video, what's really important is the people in our lives. And after watching the video, am going to be giving to Living Water International.

Here in the USA, we drink bottled water, fizzy water, water from the Brita filter, water from various home filter systems and water from the tap. We think nothing of it. Elsewhere, people get sick and die from the water.
Give money, get clean water, save lives.How about it?

Here is the "about us" page at LWI.
Excerpt:Our Mission:
Living Water International exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water, and to experience "living water" - the gospel of Jesus Christ - which alone satisfies the deepest thirst.

LWI is a leading implementer of participatory, co…

Sports: An NCAA Football Playoff Scenario

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ESPN has placed on the web a playoff simulator.

Enjoy!

Here is what I plugged in ...



And this is what the simulator produced ...

Life: Don't eat left over food that has sat in the car for more than one hour on a hot day

Since I'm in a confessional mood having acknowledged I was duped by free credit report.com I have to confess a really stupid thing I did that landed me in the hospital.

Southern California weather can be hot and it was recently and I had left over food in my car. Well, I ate it later on and in a matter of hours I was experiencing extreme abdominal cramps. I was balled up like a shrimp on the bathroom floor waiting to either vomit or have diarrhea. After 90 minutes of this, I realized this was NOT good and called my brother to take me to the hospital. Alas, this was 2:30AM Monday morning a few weeks back.

My wonderful brother and sister-in-law came to get me and managed to drag me into the car as I was in so much pain I could barely walk. We drove to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center emergency room where I went in 2004 and 2005 for a bowel obstruction. In 2004, I had surgery for it. In 2005, the MDs decided to see if it would resolve without surgery.

Given my medical history, they we…

Business: FreeCreditReport.Com is not free

We have all seen the ads on TV or heard them on the radio for FreeCreditReport.Com.

Well, I tried it and indeed got my credit report. What I didn't realize but now looking back, there was "fine print" everywhere that it wasn't really free.

Right there on their home page is this:IMPORTANT INFORMATION
When you order your free report here, you will begin your free trial membership in Triple AdvantageSM Credit Monitoring. If you don't cancel your membership within the 7-day trial period**, you will be billed $14.95 for each month that you continue your membership.I noticed the other day a $14.95 charge by "#CIC*TRIPLE ADVANTAGE" on my credit card and wondered what was that?

A quick search on the internet revealed that many people did what I did.

The articles described how people had a very hard time getting the service cancelled.

In my case, I've seen one billing but for others who don't check their statements carefully, they wind up paying for this se…

Culture: the things you can see on Youtube - mouse obstacle course!

The music is the Wide World of Sports Fanfare (I think?) followed by the Olympics Fanfare by John Williams!

Music: Freeway Philharmonic

Just saw a delightful and moving documentary, Freeway Philharmonic, about freelance classical musicians.

The film follows 7 musicians in their lives in and out of music.

Its a tough way to make a living but their passion for music compels them to be on the road stitching together playing and teaching gigs all over California.

As a orchestra concert goer, the film gave me a greater appreciation for the craft and the commitment they have.

Life: Private Monica Brown Saving

Heard on the radio the story of Army Medic Monica Brown and her actions to help save two soldiers after their convey was ambushed in remote Afghanistan. Below is the video clip of the 60 Minutes feature story about Private Brown.


Watch CBS Videos Online

Technology: AOL Hometown has been shut down

I signed onto AOL back in 1994 and hosted my 1993 and 1997 road trips on their FTP space. I recently discovered the pages were gone!

Some searching uncovered this message:Hometown Has Been Shutdown

Posted on Nov 6th 2008 1:30PM by Kelly Wilson

Dear AOL Hometown user,

We're sorry to inform you that as of Oct. 31, 2008, AOL® Hometown was shut down permanently. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Sincerely,

The AOL Hometown TeamMore web searching revealed many irrate AOL Hometown users and various reports of attempts to recover the pages.

At the moment, I'm attempting to off-load my photos and html scripts by FTP.

Connect to the server ftp.hometown.aol.com. With your FTP program enter your user name and password. Off-load your files.

I'm finding the process to be extremely slow. I'm not sure if it is the FTP program I'm using or the bandwidth to the ftp servers at AOL are just slow.

Another option I found by web surfing is to use Way Back Machine.…

Faith: Viral Christianity?

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Image from: http://feralpastor.blogspot.com/2008/11/viral-christianity.html

As one of the Fan lab alumni, I think about viruses and how they do what they do. It is that kind of function and structure process thinking that I learned in graduate school that I carry into my continuing life as a medical researcher now studying vitamin D.

As a Jesus follower, I am drawn to the metaphor that it may offer: what viral - minimal - Christianity might look like?

Tim and I kicked around some ideas at the Fan lab reunion BBQ at the beach a while back. Since then, I've periodically let my mind wander at the possibilities of weaving "a story" using the simple retrovirus above as the hooks to hang the story.

Admittedly, analogies and metaphors do have limits but they can be helpful in stirring up thoughts.

And so here are some ideas to consider ...

From the diagram there are 5 components: RNA, gag, pol, env, lipid bilayer.

The RNA is the message. The very core of the virus. No RNA; no noth…

Culture: Battlestar Galactica - the final episodes

Am late to the phenom.

The humans and the rebel Cylons form an uneasy truce, four of the final five Cylons are revealed and they arrive at earth ... only to find it is a wrecked planet.

And so that sets the stage for the final episodes to begin airing in 2009.

Click here for the teaser video.

Politics: Trying to get beyond "right" and "left"

The benefits of a two party system is that the USA doesn't wind up with kooky coalition governments where a stronger parties have to bring in extremist parties to assemble a government.

The other side of a strong two party system is that some people don't feel truly at home with either party and join one or the other reluctantly or opt out entirely.

This sense of disconnection with the two major parties is most strongly felt by those with religious convictions.

For example, those on the evangelical and Christian left who have strong economic redistributionist views like the Democrats but feel alienated from that party because they are pro-life.

Meanwhile, Christian conservatives who sign on with the Republicans because of the pro-life issue and Protestant work ethic feel alienated when the party is so pro-business it hurts the average citizen.

In response to these kinds of concerns, some authors have published "manifestos." From the left, there is Jim Wallis and his book…

World: Mumbai hit with terrorism

New York, Washington DC, Bali, Madrid, London ... now Mumbai.

The attack was brazen and the results horrible.

It sounds like the security forces of India are starting to regain control of the situation but their appears to be still some hostages as of this moment.

In reading the news item, I didn't remember that the city had already been hit with bombings of commuter trains in 2006.

Whether we admit it or not, there is a radical segment of Islam that has declared war on humanity that does not hold to their vision of the world.

UPDATE: Here is a timeline of the events from Wednesday to Friday.

Culture: 24 - Redemption

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image source: http://www.vintagedepotdirect.com/media/BK40.jpg

Jack is back!

Redemption - to offer something in exchange for something else.

In old days, when I was a kid, my parents would collect books of "Blue Chip Stamps" and exchange (redeem) them for various household items and toys.

In the story, Mr. Benton sacrificed his life in the minefield in exchange to help his boys escape. Jack gave up his freedom in exchange to get the boys into the embassy.

Thus, Mr. Benton and Jack were "Jesus figures" in this story.

Wonder if some theology student has written a Gospel according to 24?

Well, God can be found in unexpected places?!

There is after all a Gospels According to the Simpsons!

Economics: The Current Financial Mess

Russell Roberts an economist at George Mason University explains how we got into the mess and the problems with the way the Feds are trying to fix it.

LA Scene: LA Phil with Ades

Went to see the LA Phil last night.

The Marseillais Hymn was instantly recognizable and the combined forces of the LA Philharmonic and Master Chorale was quite powerful. What I didn't realize was how blood curdling the lyrics were!

This was followed by the volatile Royal Hunt and Storm by Berlioz.

Ades then went on to take the microphone to explain why he chose these pieces to lead into his work, America: a prophecy.

He set his music as a wraparound to words from Mayan poetry.

Lyrically and musically, it didn't do much for me. It represented some of the excesses of contemporary art and music: attempts to shock for the purpose of shocking.

In its defense, in the program notes, it made the point about how the coming of the Europeans to the Americas had multiple perspectives. For the natives, it meant the destruction of their societies as they were defeated by the Europeans who came from the east. But at another level, those societies had very brutal elements tied to human sa…

Non-profit of the Month: November 2008 - Santa Monica Symphony

Yes, one can sit at home and listen to KUSC or pop in a CD of classic music.

But unless you have a trunk load of money the sound coming from the FM radio in your car or the boom box at home isn't anywhere near the quality of sound of a live performance.

Alas, running an orchestra is an expensive proposition. Thus, community based ensembles have serious financial challenges.

The kick-off of the Santa Monica Symphony's 2008-2009 season was a special affair with KUSC's Rich Caparella making the opening remarks before introducing the Mayor of Santa Monica, Herb Katz. Mayor Katz explained how the SMS is funded by a mixture of sources but that 75% comes from the participating public. Mayor Katz then turned the show over to music director Allen Robert Gross. Maestro Gross encouraged those in the audience who could donate to do so. He also shared that music fans in the Southern California area may have heard that the economic troubles has hit the Pasadena Symphony hard forci…

Sports: UCLA basketball is on the air

Expectations continue to be high at UCLA. After 3 Final Fours, the fans are getting spoiled!

Today, my Sport's Illustrated came in and they put UCLA as #3 behind UNC and UConn.

UCLA is playing their 2nd game of the season and have a mere 2 point lead at the half.

The first half was unimpressive. The team lost some key players from last year's team and they seemed sluggish against a serious mid-major in the Miami of Ohio Red Hawks. The expectation is that the freshmen will be impact players. But I am generally skeptical about freshman press clippings.

Hopefully, they will get their defensive intensity in the 2nd half.

But so far, they don't look like a #3 level team.

UPDATE: UCLA barely won the game. Seniors Collison and Shipp came up big late in the game to save the Bruin's bacon. Hopefully, the freshman will continue to grow and realize they are now no longer big fish in a small pond of high school ball but small fish in the big lake of college ball. Also, the fron…

Science: HIV in the news also Vitamin D in the news

Vitamin D and breast cancer.

Often times a news item's headline will suggest one thing then as you read the opening paragraphs will suggests another and then you realize, the story is a bit more complicated.

Anyway, the large scale study seemed to show no difference between the women who took vitamin D and those who didn't.

HOWEVER, the amount they took might not have been enough. Excerpt:For one thing, the dose of vitamin D supplementation used in the trial, 400 IUs, was relatively low. In the years since the study began in 1993, nutritionists have learned much more about the critical role that vitamin D plays in a wide range of cellular functions, and many now recommend up to 2,000 IUs daily for adults. Most people get very little vitamin D from their diet - the richest sources of the vitamin are dairy products and green leafy vegetables - so supplementation is the only way to reach recommended levels. "Four hundred IUs is just not a lot," says Dr. Larry Norton, a br…

Politics: Where is my bailout?

A bit (?) of sarcasm from the people over at Reason!

Multimedia message

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space alien mice seen!

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Crowds at the polls in my neighborhood! Have 2 more corners to go! Have a great day and God bless the USA!

UPDATE: I cast my ballot a tad after 9AM! I was in line about 75 minutes!



UPDATE: As I drove to youth group this evening, the numbers, as expected, were going toward Obama. At 6:30 PM, Ohio was called for Obama and the hoped for "inside straight" by McCain was over.

Any casual reader of this blog knows I was a McCain supporter. Nonetheless, I extend my congratulations to President-elect Obama. As a proud citizen of America, I have never doubted that an ethnic minority could and would someday be elected president and so on this historic day, my prayers are for God's wisdom to be upon him and the team he will bring to Washington, good health and blessings upon him and his family and a spirit of good will to move within both sides of the political aisle.

Devotional Thoughts: A prayer for the next president

With this post, this blog will go silent on politics until the election is decided. Enough is enough ... for now! 8-)

1 Timothy 2:1-4

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Lord, have mercy on our nation. Help us to see our sins and make restitution. Work within our nation that we may have peace even if we disagree. Work in our world to bring peace to earth through those who follow you living a life that lifts Jesus, the Prince of Peace for all the world to see.

May you strengthen what is good within us. Help us as people and as a nation to seek justice, to show mercy and to be humble. Help us to trust you and not wealth or other worldly power sources. Help us as people and as a nation to seek to…

Politics: A few closing thoughts regarding the presidential election

While many people figured Sen. Clinton would easily win the Democratic nomination way back when all this started, I felt that she had none of the charm and all the baggage of President Clinton. As such, I felt it wasn't going to be easy for her to win the nomination.

And then we all saw the meteoric rise of Sen. Obama.

Sen. Obama became the blank slate upon which the American public have written their hopes on. His eloquence in speech, disciplined campaign and nice biography was a political "perfect storm" for this election cycle.

And that is the problem in my book: Obama is a blank slate.

With McCain, what you see is what you get!

His record and the confidence he inspires on foreign affairs shouldn't be discounted because we feel overwhelmed by the current economic conditions.

In regards to the economic situation, both candidates have backed government interventions. However, as a general principle, McCain is more skeptical of government having too strong a role in …

Politics: The Electoral College Maps

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As you may (should!) know, the president of the USA is officially elected by the Electoral College.

So what are some scenarios?

Playing with the maps over at RCP ...

The 269-269 tie.



McCain pulls off a Harry Truman.



Obama landslide.



Map as of 9:36AM Saturday, November 1 based on the latest polling numbers.



Why I support the Electoral College?

Because it forces candidates to appeal to a wider range of voters.

If all the candidate has to do is run up the popular vote totals, then they would spend all their time in the big media markets (NY, LA, Chicago, SF, DC, and other big metro areas) and ignore the rest.

Why would a candidate try to squeeze out an extra 10,000 votes in Nevada when they could try to get an extra 100,000 votes in California? Why hold rallies and run TV ads in Missouri to eek out an additional 20,000 votes when you can get at 200,000 in nearby Chicago?

If you think the battle over the swing states makes the country divided, imagine if BOTH parties ONLY pander to the big media …

Culture: The You Tube Era - a pro McCain message by an Iraq war vet

Fox News points to a You Tube video that got 11 million hits.

Non-profit of the month: October, 2008 - Teach Overseas and Avenues

This month, I've gone to two fund-raising dinners to support two wonderful organizations.

When I think of what it means to try to live out the Christian faith, I think of the command by Jesus, "Love your neighbor."

In our modern global village world, that will mean not only what happens on the streets of Los Angeles but also in a classroom in Central Asia.

Teach Overseas has been sending capable and winsome English teachers to countries in Asia and Europe since 1981. America's place in the world may draw mixed reviews among those in other nations but Americans who want to serve others by teaching English are most welcome.

A handful of friends I've known over the years have worked through Teach Overseas and they have the highest praise for the experience. Teach Overseas knows that going to a far away place in a completely different culture is not an easy thing. Thus, they have a careful selection process, rigorous training and team approach to supporting the teac…

Business: Immigrants starting businesses - like using worm poop as plant food!

America is the land of opportunity!

At the moment, people are nervous about the American economy but there is a dynamism that I think will help us bounce back!

Politics: RR's Cal Ballot Recommendations

I'll be preparing short posts on the November 2008 California Ballot Propositions.

Here below is my YES/NO rundown with links to my posts as they become available.

1A - No
2 - Yes
3 - Yes
4 - Yes
5 - No
6 - No
7 - No
8 - Yes
9 - No
10 - No
11 - Yes
12 - Yes

Update: In case you are curious, the California Democratic Party says:
Yes: 1A, 2, 3, 5, 12
No: 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11
No position: 10

The California Republican Party says:
Yes: 4, 6, 8, 9, 12
No: 1A, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10
No position: 11

Politics: Yes on Prop 3

This bond measure was placed on the ballot by the initiative process. In California, bonds usually get on the ballot by legislative action. However, sometimes the legislature isn't able to get enough consensus to get an item on the ballot. Thus, generally, I'd be against a bond by initiative. However, in this case, the cause is a good one: $980 million for children's hospitals.

The SD Union-Tribune and Sacramento Bee came out against it mainly because of the current budget mess in California.

Here is an excerpt from the SDUT:

California has a structural deficit of at least $6 billion a year. Not when the state is already on track by 2011 to spend more than 6 percent of its budget just paying off past bonds – much higher than is prudent and far above most of the other 49 states.

Unfortunately, bond propositions often sail to victory based on advertising campaigns that make it seem like they have no downside. Instead, voters should think of these bonds as the equivalent of …

Politics: No on Prop 6

Prop 6 is an initiative statue to require that the state government allocate at least $965 million a year for law enforcement.

When I examine propositions, I visit five of the major newspapers (San Diego Union-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee) of California to see what they have to say. On this proposition, they all are opposed.

The Sac Bee says:

This initiative writes into law new crimes, increases penalties for old crimes, and mandates more spending for police, sheriffs, district attorneys, probation and parole. But it provides not a single penny of new funding to pay for it.

The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates this measure will cost close to $500 million in new general fund spending in its first year with an increase of tens of millions of dollars annually in subsequent years. It will require another $500 million in capital expenditures to build new prisons to house new felons kept in prison longer.

It means less m…

Politics: No on Prop 9

This proposition makes various adjustments to the criminal justice system.

All 5 newspapers I checked (SD Union-Trib, SF Chron, Sac Bee, Mercury and LAT) came out against it.

Here is SD Union-Tribune's analysis:

California's prison system is in such a dysfunctional state that many lawmakers and top corrections officials assume it is only a matter of time before a federal judge will finally follow through on his threat to take over the 33 prisons and their 170,000 inmates. A combination of overcrowding and a perverse management arrangement – one in which the prison guard union shares oversight authority with the state executives who are supposed to be the guards' bosses – has created a money-hemorrhaging department that the polarized Legislature seems unable or unwilling to fix.

But prison woes aren't limited to the state system. Twenty of California's 58 counties – including the largest ones with the bulk of the 80,000 inmates under county supervision – are being monit…

Politics: One journalist laments the media bias

Read the whole thing. HT: RCP. Excerpts:

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del.

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer…

Politics: Jonathan Alter (MSNBC/Newsweek)'s Scenario of How McCain Wins

According to Alter it will be racism.

Alter's key paragraph raises racism and tosses in stupidity.

In the end, the problem was the LIVs. That's short for "low-information voters," the three fifths of the electorate that shows up once every four years to vote for president but mostly hates politics. These are the 75 million folks who didn't vote in the primaries. They don't read newsmagazines or newspapers, don't watch any cable news and don't cast their ballots early. Their allegiance to a candidate is as easily shed as a T shirt. Several million moved to Obama through September and October; they'd heard he handled himself well in the debates. Then, in the last week, the LIVs swung back to the default choice: John McCain. Some had good reasons other than the color of Obama's skin to desert him; many more did not. In October, a study by the Associated Press estimated that Obama's race would cost him 6 percent. The percentage was smaller, bu…

Politics: Yes on Prop 11

This initiative provides a new mechanism for redistricting for state offices. Unfortunately, it doesn't cover Congressional districts.

Redistricting is currently done by the state legislators. In other words, the districts are drawn by the very people who would benefit from those districts!

All 5 California newspapers (SF Chron, LA Times, Sac Bee, SD Union-Trib and Mercury) have endorsed this proposition.

The Sac Bee presents the problem and how prop 11 tries to solve it. Excerpt:

Every 10 years, the state lawmakers who have mismanaged California's finances and governance get a reward for their hard work. They get to design their own legislative districts.

It's one of the Capitol's most egregious conflicts of interest, and it needs to end. Proposition 11 would end it.

Under the current system, leaders of both parties meet in back rooms and carve up the state after each 10-year census. By dividing up communities based on party prerogatives, they ensure safe seats for incumb…

Politics: Yes on Prop 12

Prop 12 was put on the ballot by the state legislature to issue $900 million in bonds to fund the Cal-Vet program to assist veterans to buy homes and farms.

The Sac Bee is opposed:

In better economic times, it might make sense to keep adding this benefit to the ones that veterans already receive, but not now. If veterans were unable to pay back these loans, it would leave state taxpayers on the hook for some of the $59 million in annual debt service these bonds will incur.

In addition, as of July of this year, there was still about $102 million remaining from past bond issues for veterans, so there's no urgent need to pass a new bond issue.

The SF Chronicle is supporting this proposition. Excerpt:

Californians have voted 26 times to continue funding this program, which helps build communities while providing a deserved benefit to men and women who have served their country in the armed forces. The Legislative Analyst's Office pointed out that all of that previous bond debt and ope…

Politics: No on Prop 10

Prop 10 calls for $5 billion in bonds for renewable energy and alternative fuel cars.

Of the 5 California newspapers I checked (SF Chron, LA Times, SJ Mercury, SD Union-Trib and Sac Bee), they all came against this ballot measure.

The Mercury News summed up their concern this way:

Proposition 10 proposes to pay off bonds using the state's general fund - $10 billion over 30 years - primarily to underwrite the cost for individuals and businesses to buy low-emission trucks and cars. That's not a smart use of taxpayer money when the state's already sagging with debt and short of money to build schools, roads, transit systems and water projects. One-quarter of the bonds would go toward research, development and construction of solar, wind and other alternative sources of electricity. But $2.9 billion of the $5 billion in spending - 58 percent - would be in rebates to owners of low-carbon emission vehicles, mainly those fueled by natural gas. Natural gas is at best a transitional f…

Politics: No on Prop 7

This initiative calls for California to use 20% of its power from renewable sources by 2010 and 40% by 2020 and 50% by 2025.

Sound great?

As for as I know, the technology is not cost effective yet.

All 5 newspapers I consulted (LA Times, SF Chron, SJ Mercury, Sac Bee and SD Union-Trib) came out against it.

The SD Union-Tribune called for a no vote with these points:

Proposition 7's key flaw is how it imposes absurd, unrealistic new deadlines for a massive shift away from present energy sources by 2025 - changes that would put a radical burden on Californians and Californians alone. It also inexplicably shuts out many smaller alternative-energy suppliers and mandates the use of long-term contracts that would make price competition among suppliers nearly impossible.

No wonder the initiative is not supported by any significant organization. No wonder its opponents include the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Califor…

Politics: No on Prop 5

Prop 5 calls for $460 million in spending on drug rehab programs along with various adjustment to the laws pertaining to persons convicted of drug-related crimes.

All 5 California newspapers (SF Chron, LA Times, Sac Bee, SJ Mercury and SD Union-Trib) I checked came out against this measure.

The SF Chronicle put it this way:

... none of this new money could be used for drug testing - one of the most critical components of a drug-treatment program. Judges also would lose one of their most valuable tools in confronting an addict who was balking at going into treatment: the threat of a short jail stint. Under Prop. 5, jail sanctions could be imposed only after multiple failures and multiple hearings.
.......
The formula in Proposition 5 would make a good pilot program in one or two counties to see how it would work. It's important to note that many of the judges and prosecutors who deal with these types of cases every day are convinced of its flaws. To bring it statewide would represent …

Politics: No on Prop 1A

This measure is a bond placed on the ballot by the California legislature to support the building of high-speed rail between northern and southern California.

The LA Times has come out in favor of the project. Excerpt:

There's something undeniably alluring about a bullet train -- the technology is so powerful, the speed so breathtaking, it makes quotidian trips seem exotic. Perhaps that's why proponents of Proposition 1a, which would authorize $9.95 billion in bonds for a high-speed rail line connecting Northern and Southern California, think it would be wildly successful. They predict the line could draw 117 million riders a year by 2030, compared with 3 million now taking the high-speed Amtrak train in the densely populated Boston-Washington corridor. And they say it will turn a billion-dollar profit by then even as it keeps ticket prices remarkably low.

As a technophile, I confess to seeing the allure of such a project.

However, the LA Times is honest enough to admit it might b…

Politics: Yes on Prop 4

Prop 4 is an initiative constitutional amendment regarding parental notification for abortions for minors.

The SF Chronicle is against it.

More than a decade ago, the California Supreme Court clearly affirmed that a young woman's right to an abortion was protected by the state constitution's strong privacy rights. Proposition 4 represents yet another attempt to undermine that right. The practical effect of this measure would be to put many young women at risk by delaying abortion procedures, and thus making them more medically complicated.

The San Diego Union-Tribune has come out in favor of prop 4.

If a patient alleges a clear pattern of parental abuse, a physician may notify not her parents but any of several adult family members that she wants an abortion and alleges parental abuse.

The abuse must also be reported to Child Protective Services. Vociferous critics of notification retort that a CPS investigation would alert parents to the abuse allegation, and prompt more abuse.

Und…

Politics: Yes on Prop 2

Prop 2 is an initiative statute to change regulations on how farm animals are housed.

The LA Times has come out against it. Excerpt:

According to a University of California Agricultural Issues Center report, cage-free eggs are about 20% more expensive to produce and cost about 25% more to buy. There is a growing demand, but it is still small -- about 5% of all eggs nationally are produced by cage-free hens. So California eggs would become more expensive, and many consumers would simply buy the cheaper eggs laid by hens living in cramped conditions in neighboring states or in Mexico. As a result, we fear the result of Proposition 2's passage would not be better treatment of hens but merely the export of their mistreatment. We recommend a no vote.

The SJ Mercury News urges a yes vote. Excerpt:

But egg ranchers would have until 2015 to convert to the new system, which should give them ample time to adapt to new practices. By that time, American consumers will probably be demanding tha…

Politics: Yes on Prop 8

Prop 8 is an initiative constitution amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

When I examine propositions, I visit five of the major newspapers (San Diego Union-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee) of California to see what they have to say in addition to my own consideration, conversation with others and checking out other sources with opinions on the matter.

All 5 newspaper editorial boards are in agreement. On this proposition, they all are opposed and I believe they are all wrong.

The San Diego Union-Tribune argues this way:

With gay marriage a fait accompli, society has not crumbled. The long-standing institution of marriage is not in crisis. Californians have taken this change in stride. Indeed, there appears to be a marked shift in public opinion toward acceptance of gay marriage.

Words have to have meaning.

This is not like choosing Coke or Pepsi; a matter of taste.

Redefining a societal institution is …

Politics: Nov 2008 Cal Ballot Measures

There are 12 propositions for Californians to decide.

Will try to walk through all 12 before election day.

There are a bunch of bonds.
1A - $9.95 billion for high speed rail
3 - $980 million for children's hospitals
10 - $5 billion for alternative energy
12 - $900 million for veterans home and farm loans

All great causes but the question is can California afford all these things?

The California budget was busted this past year and with the current economic climate, one wonders if we should be moving forward on these.

Here is an item from the Sacramento Bee from May discussing the budget crisis. Excerpt:

California's credit rating is already among the lowest of state governments. When the state took out an $11 billion loan from Wall Street during the 2003 budget crisis, taxpayers wound up paying the loan with interest - plus an $84 million fee for the cost of borrowing from investment firms.

So what is the current California bond rating?

Go here.

In short, $53 billion in bonds have been a…

Politics: Media double standard

Politics isn't a pillow fight and so people are going to get their shots in.

But the overwhelming double standard has gotten so out of control.

Here is is an opinion piece that talks about it.

Excerpts:

I thought liberals were supposed to be good-hearted, open-minded and non-judgmental.

Tell that to the angry Left's favorite pinata, Sarah Palin. As far as liberals are concerned, Palin can do no right just as Barack Obama and Joe Biden can do no wrong. In fact, Biden is catching more passes than an NFL wide receiver.
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I also thought the Democratic Party was supposed to go to bat for the little guy, the everyday Joe the Plumber.

Tell that to Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio resident who got his 15 minutes -- and 40 lashes -- because he dared question Obama about his tax plan.
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The latest media template is that the vice presidential nominee is a drag on the GOP ticket. Pundits detect a backlash, not just among Democrats who love to hate Sarah Palin but also among women, indepen…

Culture: Do rich people pay taxes?

Being a typical middle-class person, I hear a lot of people complain that the rich don't pay any taxes.

Biden says, it is the patriotic duty of rich people to pay more taxes.

Obama told "Joe the plumber" that he should pay more taxes to spread the wealth around.

So, do the rich pay taxes?

They indeed do pay taxes. The long arms of the IRS isn't letting them get away!

But, in the internet, many argue about whether or not the rich pay their "fair" share of taxes.

Fair of course is a pretty subjective term!

But take a look at these numbers and see what you think ...

Found this item from the Tax Policy Center.

That item is a little outdated (from 2000) and I'm curious if the numbers are still in the same ballpark. But it would appear that $65 of every $100 collected by the Federal government comes from the wealthiest 20% of the population. What I don't know from that table is whether these people make 65% of the money in the US economy.

This item is for 2004…

Sports: Pac10 going bowling

Looks like USC is headed for another BCS bowl game. They have an outside shot at the championship game if the teams ahead of them stumble.

I don't think any other Pac10 team has a shot at a BCS game aside from outright winning the Pac10 title.

So where do the rest of the Pac10 go?

From what I found:
Holiday Bowl (San Diego) - #2 Pac10
Sun Bowl (El Paso) - #3 Pac10
Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas of course!) - #4 Pac10
Emerald Bowl (San Francisco) - #5 Pac10
Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu) - #6 Pac10
Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego) - #7 Pac10

UCLA is currently in 7th place. But to be bowl eligible, they have to have 6 wins. They are currently 3-4 with 5 games to go.

Go Bruins!

UPDATE: From reading bowl web sites, it looks like Las Vegas and Emerald alternate access to the 4th and 5th place teams while Hawaii and Poinsettia will alternate the 6th and 7th finisher from year-to-year. It is not clear what their options are if those teams aren't bowl eligible. I suppose they can invite any bowl eligible …

Politics: Al Smith Dinner with Obama and McCain

Pretty funny stuff!

Here is an ABC news item about the famed charity dinner with what appears to be complete clips of Senators Obama and McCain in their stand up routines. The youtube clips seem to be incomplete but the sound quality appears a tad better.

Enjoy!

Sports: Spring is a little closer when you play in October

That was the sentiment in the Dodger Trolley as we trundled out the stadium.

Congrats to Philadelphia. They got the key hits and some great fielding to take game 5.

Thanks to the Dodgers for a great run in the last 1/3 and winning their first post-season series since 1988.

Will be back in the stands in 2009!

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Drat! Finally here t3 down 3-0 already. :-(

UPDATE: Turns out that I had no cell phone email transmission signal at Dodger's Stadium. 8-( I sent the two photos from the stadium as I was riding away on the Dodger Trolley.

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Almost there! At Union Station. Go blue!

Sports: Game 5, 5:22pm

Going tonight!

My first time at Dodger's Stadium for a playoff game!

The fans will be passionate but let's keep it safe and sane.

For some perspective on the game, check out Weisman's latest:

Don't make this game into something it's not. Don't even give one night the potential to destroy what was accomplished over an entire season. Tonight's game is not about character. It's simply about hoping to experience that joy of victory at least one more time before the sun sets on 2008 and, like 28 other teams, you try to do better next year.

UPDATE: Will try to cell-phone blog tonight! Will see if it works?!

Politics: Don't count your chickens before they hatch (Obama supporters) and don't give up yet (McCain supporters)

This political season has been full of surprises.

Clearly with the economic troubles and the Republicans having held the White House for two terms, the mood was going to be against any Republican candidate.

By rights, any generic Democrat running for the Presidency should easily have a 10% or bigger lead.

Aside from some blips in the polling (right around the conventions where both sides got a bounce) and the initial onslaught of the financial crisis (when Obama's lead got much larger), Obama's lead has been around 4-8%.

He really should be leading 10 to 15% under normal circumstances.

Some say it is latent racism in the polled voters. Some fear a Bradley Effect will shrink the margin even more when voters actually cast their ballots.

I don't know if there is a way for pollsters to guage such an effect. America has changed over the decades. Sure there will be some people who will NOT vote for Obama simply because of race and some will vote FOR Obama simply because of race s…

Sports: Dodgers on the edge down 3-1

Second guessing the manager is an inevitable feature of being a sports fan.

Going to Wade after he pitched 2 innings last night had me concerned.

But the missed opportunity of the bottom of the sixth really looms largest: two runs came in and the bases were loaded with no outs and they got no more runs that inning.

Time to unleash every cliche in the book for the Dodgers in game 5 where Billingsley who got shelled in game 2 goes up against ace Hamels.

I want to believe! Think Blue! Go Dodgers!

Sports: Just like that, the Dodgers are down 2-0 in the NLCS

Game 1 slipped away on two bad pitches.

Game 2 got away in a couple of bad innings.

Game 3 is pretty much must win.

Weisman sets the stage with some perspective in defense of Kemp who has struggled at the plate, some observations about the pitching situation and some other observations of games 1 and 2.

He concludes:

There should be a beautiful sunset tonight. When the game starts, the scoreboard will say 0-0. Let's have some fun.

I have tickets to game 5!

Here's hoping we leave Dodger's Stadium that night sending the team back on the road amid cheers of victory!

UPDATE: Dodgers 7 Philadelphia 2! See you at Dodgers Stadium for Game 5!

Science: Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2008

Woo hoo!

The GFP discoverers were honored with the prize.

Go to any research seminar in the life sciences and you are bound to see something with Green Fluorescent Protein.

Heck, even some of my research projects have used it!

Politics: A Positive Commentary Piece about Gov. Palin in Liberal University Paper!

Wow!

A pleasant surprise in the Daily Bruin the other day. As you might guess, UCLA is a pretty typical left leaning campus and its newspaper trends that way.

Well, a refreshing op-ed piece appeared.

Excerpts:

Sarah Palin got the Republican juices flowing in a way that John McCain simply couldn’t have, adding youthful exuberance and an enticing personality that sent a tingle down the spine of Middle America. But after the initial surge of enthusiasm, there were signs that Palin would fade into oblivion as a one-hit wonder.
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Why does the left hate her so much? Because Sarah Palin’s very existence is repugnant and frankly dangerous to the Democratic Party. The ascent of a red-blooded, pro-life woman to national office would deeply wound the party that capitalized on the women’s liberation movement.

Yes, Sarah Palin caused a paroxysm on the left. It was inconceivable – a woman running for national office who wasn’t part of the highbrow feminist literati. Is that allowed? Heck yeah it is! …