Showing posts from November, 2008

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

image source:

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

space alien mice seen!

Multimedia message

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

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 …