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Showing posts from February, 2009

Culture: Star Trek - The Original Series in HD

I wonder if they are going to re-master all 79 episodes?

At the moment, I've seen Where No Man Has Gone Before as well as The Corbomite Maneuver in the new crisp HD via streaming video!

As of today, there are 16 episodes in the new format!

I wonder how much is it costing them to clean up the old episodes?

Sports: UCLA 76 Stanford 71

UCLA is struggling this year.

They lost some big time players to the NBA and the freshman class hasn't lived up to its billing.

I was initially worried that their inside game would be very weak with the loss of Kevin Love but Alfred Aboya has really stepped up. He is no Kevin Love but he isn't a potted plant either.

The big problem has been the team speed covering shooters. Howland likes defensive pressure which can force turnovers. But sometimes people get left open and the team can't seem to recover quickly to cover. The most telling stat has been the shooting percentage of the opponents.

The team needs to win out in the regular season and make a serious run in the Pac10 tournament. Otherwise, they are going to wind up a 7 or 8 seed with a tough round one game against a 9 or 10 seed and then a 1 or 2 seed in round two.

Economics: A trillion here and a trillion there ...

The saying used to be "a billion here and a billion there and before you know it you are talking about some real money."

A 10-year US government budget was announced today.

There are things the government should do. But one wonders if they are doing too much.

Do you ever get that nagging feeling that maybe the solution to the problems is sometimes what is causing them?

Part of how they are funding this budget is "soaking the rich."

As someone who is NOT rich, I benefit from that kind of thinking.

But that approach is being used in California and the result is that when the rich are really doing well in good economic times the government gets lots of money which it spends and when the economy falters the revenue from the rich falls, the government cries, we can't cut the programs we started!

UPDATE: See the pdf of the budget.

Science: We are number 6!

Image
Seen on Yahoo! main page on Wednesday, Feb 25, 2008 at 1:25 PM PST.

Vitamin D was the #6 in Today's Searches at Yahoo!

Culture: Oscars 2009 - Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway Opening Act

Loved it!

Mixing in all the big movies and poking a bit of fun was great!

Politics: President Obama's Address to Congress

The transcript.

Without a doubt, he speaks well. His acknowledgement of what the people are going through will continue to win him some good will. Excerpt:I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven't been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has -- a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don't need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It's the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It's the job you thought you'd retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that's now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.So on that front, definitely an A speech.

However, what I'll try to do below is look…

Non-profit of the Month: February 2009 - Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

With these tough economic times, it is not surprising that food assistance is on the rise in Los Angeles.

That is why I'm making a contribution to The Los Angeles Regional Foodbank.

The Foodbank collects food from donations from the food industry, USDA supplies, donations from the public through food drives and purchasing food at a discount. 900 agencies and charities in the greater Los Angeles area can obtain supplies from the LA Foodbank to help people in need in the areas they serve.

Click here to see their informational video about the work going on in Los Angeles Regional Foodbank.

Please consider supporting the LA Foodbank or some comparable organization in your area.

@ the Movies: Frost/Nixon

Thumbs up for Frost/Nixon.

This film follows how David Frost, on the downside of his career, went all in to snag an interview with the disgraced Nixon.

Nixon agreed to the open ended extended interviews for money and an opportunity to recast his presidency to the public.

Frost was considered a lightweight by many in the media at the time was not given much chance to produce an interesting interview. But in a shocker, he peppered Nixon with facts on the Watergate coverup in such a way leading to the closest thing to a confession the public every obtained from Nixon.

Claudia Puig of USA Today gave it high marks and from her review I learned that the film is an adaptation of a stage play of the same name. The actors MIchael Sheen (Frost) and Frank Langella (Nixon) reprised their roles from the stage play.

Like The Class, this is a talky movie and you need to be in the right mood to follow fast flowing conversation.

Its worth it to see two actors on the top of their game!

3 stars out of 4.

@ the Movies: The Class

Thumbs up to The Class. It is up for a Best Foreign Film Oscar.

An at times claustrophobic look at the life of one classroom in urban France.

Within a matter of minutes, I felt as if the movie could have been any major city in the USA where the challenge of ethnic mixes and difficult students and home life situations clash with the mission of an idealistic teacher who refuses to give up on his students.

Emotionally, it is discouraging to watch the difficulties but the occasional moments where things look up and lighten kept me watching and rooting for a good outcome.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stones gave it high praise and informed me that the lead actor was the author of the book that the film is based on and that the students in the classroom were real life students.

The LA Times reports that The Class won't win the Oscar because it was forced into the category by the powers that be to keep good PR with Cannes Film Festival where it shined.

Not having seen the other films in the cat…

Technology: "The Spy Factory" on PBS - NOVA

Fascinating documentary on the NSA, 9/11 and the challenges of trying to sift through the massive amounts of communication in the world to find information that may prevent a terrorist attack.

Culture: Will Star Trek's Newest Form Be Successful?

May 8, 2009 ... Star Trek returns.

If you want to revisit the original, go to this site where the shows from 1966-1969 can be found.

The Star Trek fan base is well known to be ardent. Some have gone so far as to make new stories of the show with no hope of getting any money for it.

Culture: Civility on the Internet

Because there is a certain anonymity on the internet, blogs can generate well over the line commentary.

I welcome comments even ones that disagree with me.

However, I try to run a family friendly blog here and will delete comments that egregiously breach decorum as I find them.

Below is my comments policy based on Jon Weisman's Dodger Thoughts Blog.

So here are his rules with modifications for this blog:
Thank you for not ...
1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
6) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
7) making the same point over and over again
8) being annoyed by the existence of this list
9) commenting under the obvious influence
10) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Also, please note that sidebar ads are placed by Google.com and do not neces…

Culture: The Ad NBC Refused to Run During the Super Bowl

What do you think?

Life: The story of Flight 1549 on 60 Minutes

60 Minutes devoted 2/3 of the broadcast tonight to the story of Flight 1549. Segment one was with the pilot Captain Sullenberger. Segment two was with the Captain and the 4 fellow crew members. Segment three was the reunion of the crew with a number of the passengers and their family.

Riveting television and incredibly moving.

Hats off to the crew and the first responders of New York City!

Politics: What if they "gave" away the $800 billion?

The Senate is closing in on a deal for a $811 billion "stimulus" package.

It is simplistic to ask, what if they just "gave" the money to the American people?

There are 300,000,000 or so Americans. $811 billion divided by 300 million equals $2703.33 per person.

Would that help our economy as much as, more than or less than the "stimulus" package?

I don't know, I'm just thinking aloud.

Politics: Tax troubles

Its easy to criticize the latest nominees with tax troubles.

But I have to give them a break.

There are two likely reasons people have tax problems:
(1) the tax laws are complicated and people make boo-boos
(2) they are engaging in tax evasion and got caught.

If the reason the nominees have tax issues is because of #1 then they should just apologize and pay up and get confirmed.

If it can be shown that it is reason #2 then they should be rejected and penalized.

My taxes aren't very complicated but when I go through the Turbo Tax program, I sometimes get this weird feeling ... am I making a mistake somewhere?

I still remember getting a stern letter from the IRS a few years back saying, I could be penalized for not paying estimated taxes! I'm still not clear what happened that year as to why the amount taken from my paycheck wasn't enough such that I had to pay owed taxes on April 15.

Since then I have tended to overpay and get a refund. Of course, if I was more savvy about taxes…

Politics: What is really in the stimulus package?

An NPR audio report interview with Clinton OMB director Alice Rivlin.

Her take is that the package merges both short-term stimulus and long-term projects.

It sounds to me that there is some mixing of long-term projects in the guise of a short-term emergency stimulus package.

Sounds like the Senate might add more $$$ to the package.

If one actually wants to plow through the thing, check ReadTheStimulus.org. If their pie charts are accurate, 79% of the money will kick in 2010 and beyond. This does give the feeling that there is a certain amount of political payoff to Democrat interest groups after 8 years of being shut out of power

Amity Shlaes who has written a best-seller about the Depression posed the thesis that the New Deal wasn't all that helpful in solving the Depression.

In the end, it was WW2 that really got the engine of the American economy moving.

Does that mean we should have defense spending? Or will any old spending do? Or is it just a matter of time before the recover…

Non-profit of the Month: January 2009 - Forest Home Camps

The church I go to isn't big enough to run its own camps for the youth. So we send them to Forest Home. In fact, this past weekend, our middle school students went up there. I look forward to hearing about how it went!

Forest Home's mission statement:
"To provide a place, away from the distractions of the world, where you can hear the Word of God and encounter Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit."

Aside from the camps for youth, they also offer these kinds of events:
Mother & Daughter
Mother & Son
Father & Son
Men's Conference
Women's Retreat
Memorial Family Camp
Couples Conferences
Father & Daughter
Holiday Family Camp
Single Parent Family Camp
College Briefing

Please consider supporting them or some other camp in your area that helps provide opportunities to people to get away from the distractions of the world, where you can hear the Word of God and encounter Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.