Showing posts from May, 2008

Culture: Battlestar Galactica

Is there a Cylon in my house?

I'm late to the pop sci-fi phenom the re-imaged Battlestar Galactica. I watched the original on ABC back in 1978.

I don't have cable tv (the "Cylon" is my new digital TV converter box) and I haven't watched seasons 1-3 on DVD. Rather, I've watched the last few episodes as they get posted on the Battlestar Galactica web site after it is aired.

The basic premise of the show is the same as the original 1978 ABC series: Cylons nearly wipe out all the humans in a sneak attack and the surviving humans form a ragtag fleet around the last Battlestar, Galactica, in a quest for the mythical lost 13th colony of humanity called earth.

However, the re-imagined version has added considerable complexities.

To catch up, I read this item on Salon which sums up everything very nicely.

Also, be sure to check out this summary on Beliefnet about the theology behind the show.

So who will be the last mystery Cylon?

Will they find earth?

Will the humans and…

Non-profit of the month: May 2008 - World Vision and Americares

There are a handful of groups I think of immediately when disaster strikes. With all the terrible news coming out of China due to the magnitude 7.9 earthquake, one of several groups I recommend donating to is World Vision.

Earlier this month, I mentioned Americares in light of the Myanmar cyclone.

Please consider donating to either group or another one you trust to bring aid to these two hard hit peoples.

Life: Community-Acquired Pneumonia

Earlier this month I had the flu. I returned to work for 1 1/2 weeks. Unfortunately, by the middle of the month, I got hit with one of the complications that can follow on the heels of the flu: pneumonia.

I wasn't feeling great on the Wednesday night from a week and a half ago. I made it into work on Thursday but by half the day, I was coughing so hard everything hurt. And when I wasn't coughing, I felt aches from my feet up to my headache fogged head. I got home and poked a thermometer in my mouth as I was shivering under the blankets.

I hit 101F and called the MD to set up an appointment for Friday.

I straggled into the office and after a description of my symptoms, he tested my temperature and I clocked in at 102.3. He listened to my lungs and said, that sounds a bit odd. His diagnosis: community-acquired pneumonia. Since I didn't get it while in a hospital, it is called "community-acquired."

I got a prescription for Azithromycin. It was for 6 tablets. Th…

Politics: Prop 98 and 99 Eminent Domain Reform

A few years back the US Supreme Court in Kelo ruled that local governments could use eminent domain to obtain land for private purposes but its wording essentially invited governments to write in restrictions.

As a result of that ruling, many states have made efforts to pare back the reach on eminent domain.

Now, in California, we get to vote on this matter in Prop 98 and 99.

I have to say I have heard more supporters of prop 99 than for 98.

If both reforms are bad, I may vote against both. But the risk is that both will pass and the one with more votes will take effect in which case the voter might be stuck with voting for the one they think is less worse!

Today, I ran a search in the Los Angeles Times online and found the paper itself is against 98 and for 99 but to their credit they did run an item against 99 because the author feels it is strong enough. The author seems to support 98 but didn't say much about 98.

The author warms that 99 is too watered down ... ... protects onl…

Devotional Thoughts: Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me

image source:

By the way, the blog post I got the photo from has a positive spin on the role of oxen in our lives!

But for this blog post, I wanted you to see how big one is. And imagine how scary it would be to be surrounded by a bunch of these critters. And of course, they have horns! Though the one above has little nubs on the horns!

In case you are curious, Bashan appears to be the northmost of eastern Palastine, now modern day Syria. For more about Bashan see here.

Am looking at Psalm 22:12-21 this morning.

Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dus…

Sports: Dodgers 6 Angels 3

The Angels have dominated the freeway series for quite some time, often in sweeps. So it was nice to see the Dodgers actually win a game. They go for the series victory tomorrow.

Aside from simply growing up listening to the Dodgers on the radio and seeing the games occasionally, the Dodgers have been in the forefront of bringing Asian players into the MLB.

In today's game, Chan Ho Park from South Korea started for the Dodgers and put in 4 decent innings in the 98 degree heat. Hong-Chih Kuo from Taiwan pitched 4 shutout innings of middle-relief. Takashi Saito from Japan finished up the ninth.

Politics: Electoral College for Political News Junkies

Obama 274 McCain 264 is the current forecast.

For records of past elections go here.

To test out different scenarios, go here. By the way, I clicked around and came up with a scenario where it was Obama 269 McCain 269!

Do you know how an electoral college tie is resolved?

Pros and Cons of the electoral college.

Of the many reasons for and against the electoral college, the biggest reason I support the electoral colleges is that a strict popular vote system would tip the balance to urban areas (large media markets) where candidates can more easily run up vote totals. I don't think the national interest will be better served by presidents who owe their election to urban voters exclusively.

Movies: Hotel Rwanda

While sick at home from the flu last week, I dusted off the Netflix envelope that had gotten buried.

I put into the DVD player, Hotel Rwanda.

It was a film that showed the evil of humanity but also inspirational in how Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle) managed to find ways to save lives in such a desperate situation.

The backdrop of the film is about the Rwandan genocide of 1994 when it is estimated that 800,000 people were killed in 100 days. For a backgrounder, check out this item from BBC News. The specific story line followed Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager of Hotel des Mille Collines, a luxury hotel in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, and how he was able to turn the hotel into a haven for over a thousand refugees from the genocide.

One might wonder, how can 800,000 die in a third world country? What kind of technology would be available to kill that many people?

image source:

Though many died from gunfire, most were killed by ma…

Music: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Am listening to Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

We think of our technology as being so powerful. But in the face of nature, it is not.

Many of the lines from the famed ballad are haunting so here below are some of the final words from the song:"And all that remains is the faces and the names of the wives and the sons and the daughters"

"Lake Huron rolls Superior sings
in the rooms of her ice water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams
the islands and bays are for sportsmen
and farther below Lake Ontario
takes in what Lake Erie can send her
and the Iron boats go as the mariners all know
with the gales of november remembered"

"In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
in the maritime sailors' cathedral
the church bell chimed 'til it rang 29 times
for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald"

"The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior they said never gives up her dead

Non-profit of the month: May, 2008 - Americares

The news coming out of Myanmar is very bad.


ANGON, Myanmar (CNN) -- Bodies are being thrown into rivers by Myanmar cyclone survivors in desperate need of help.

The government-run radio station said Tuesday that 22,464 are confirmed dead and 41,000 are missing, and the United Nations says that up to 1 million could be homeless.

CNN's Dan Rivers is the first Western journalist to reach Bogalay township, where China's state-run Xinhua news agency says 10,000 died. He reported miserable conditions.

Rivers said that bodies were being dropped into rivers and that survivors had only small amounts of eggs and rice. The area's rice mills are destroyed, leaving Bogalay with a five-day supply. Water pumps were also ruined, and fuel was scarce.

He reported destroyed homes along 30-kilometer stretches. In one area, only four homes remained from a total of 369. People were taking shelter under canvas sheets, and the weather remained awful.

There are many relief agencies mobilizing…

Life: The Flu

Can't say for sure I have the flu but the fact that I'm still feeling pretty icky on day 6 suggests it is more than your usual cold bug which a typical adult should be able to beat off in a day or two.

Been doing some web surfing about the flu.

Good starting point is the CDC.

Based on the symptoms page, I probably have the flu.

Fever (usually high) - I have only had ~ 99-100F
Headache - YES
Tiredness (can be extreme) - YES!!
Cough - YES!!!!
Sore throat - YES!!
Runny or stuffy nose - YES
Body aches - YES
Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults) - Fortunately, no.

From the Flu Summary Map, it looks like the flu season is tailing off as most of the country is listed as having sporadic activity. If you hit the previous week tab, you'll see that in February 2008, the flu was widespread.

I did get the flu shot earlier in the year. Unfortunately, this year's mix of strains missed what is hitting us hard. Excerpt:Each year, health officials - making essentially an …

Music: Scarborough Fair - The History Behind the Lyrics

Still sick at home. 8-(

Came across this interesting music video.

Like most people my age, I am most acquainted with the Simon and Garfunkel version Scarborough Fair/Canticle. That edition blended anti-Vietnam war lyrics with the haunting love song with non-sensical love song lyrics.

Seeing the video and following some of the links from its home at helped explain the point of the non-sensical lyrics: the song poses tasks (impossible ones) to the two lovers in order for their love to be realized.

To read more, check out these links:

Here is a rendition with Simon, Garfunkle and Andy Williams ...

And here is one by a fan using the original track mixed with art images from the middle ages ...

Devotional Thoughts: not only the old who are wise

Job 32 ...

So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.

Elihu appeared on the scene without prior mention in Job 2:11. Job had been having a back and forth with those three friends. The short version of what was said would be: Job saying, as far as I can tell, I've lived rightly with his friends saying, since you are suffering you must have done something wrong.

Elihu, apparently, quietly listening all this time, decided to enter the fray.

So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:

I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring t…