Showing posts from 2010

Non-Profit of the Month: December 2010 - Orthopaedic Hospital

Who is responsible for helping the helpless?

We are ... those of us who can help.

I wonder how many hospitals were built on that simple idea?

One such hospital in Los Angeles is the Orthopaedic Hospital.

It was founded in 1911. Below is an excerpt from their story:Orthopaedic Hospital was founded by Charles LeRoy Lowman in 1911, beginning as a clinic for children with crippling disorders. Ever since, it has provided this care regardless of the family's financial circumstances. To support this mission, the Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital Foundation was established in 1917. Following that, in 1922 the first hospital completed construction. It was replaced by the second in 1959, and today the third is under construction. This new state-of-the-art facility is a cooperative effort with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as part of a Master Strategic Alliance to create the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital. Combined with the new Orthopaedic Hospi…

Devotional Thoughts: Jesus is the Christ

Christmas is about Jesus born into this world to be the Christ.

The full meaning of that is far more than words can tell. But words are all we have!

You might wonder, what did the earliest believers believe about Jesus?

Below is perhaps one of the more notable statement of who Jesus was and is:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death -
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

For us in the USA, it is easy to forget. We get busy with shopping, office parties and family gatheri…

Devotional Thoughts: The Messiah's Mission - take away the sins of the world

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

John the Baptist is described here. When he was in the womb, John "knew" there was something special about Jesus because when Mary, pregnant with Jesus visited Elizabeth, mother of John ... as soon as the sound of your (Mary) greeting reached my (Elizabeth) ears, the baby (John) in my womb leaped fo…

Devotional Thoughts: Waiting for the Messiah

Mary, Joseph and Jesus came to the Temple ...

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Let's do the math: if she married as a teenager of say 16 which would have been common in that culture, then had 7 years with her husband; thus, she became a widow at 23. If she was 84 when she met Jesus, then she had been a widow of 61 years!

And now, whom she had waited to see arrived!!

One wonders what she said when she "spoke about the child to all?"

Simeon had spoken moments earlier to whom to most eyes would have been a fairly mundane mom and dad with their son,

Sovereign Lord, as you have…

Devotional Thoughts: The Jesus Prayer

In the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition, there is a practice known as the Jesus Prayer.

I've heard that it can be as short as:

Lord, have mercy.

And as "long" as:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.

For classical music lovers, we hear the same thought in portions of liturgical music in the Kyrie. Here is an example in Gregorian Chant.

For a discussion of the history and practice of the Jesus Prayer, check out Frederica Mathewes-Green's essay on the topic.

I've taken to using the prayer at various times during a typical day.

Green put its benefit this way: Mostly, it gets rid of the clutter.

I definitely have my share of "squirrel moments" during a typical day!

And so the prayer helps me get settled.

More thoughts from Green ... I think it is wise that the Prayer asks for mercy, to remind us of the necessity of humility, rather than the narcissism that can accompany the self-designation “spiritual.” So the Jesus …

Life: Living donations are not without risk - surgery is never without risk

Interesting item at about living donation of organs.

In some cases organs come from those who died who indicated a willingness to be a donor. In some cases the organ comes from a living person who is compatible to the recipient.

It should be said that transplanting a part of a liver is probably a bigger challenge than transplanting other organs. However, the reality is that in any organ transplant it is surgery and surgery is NEVER without risk. Of course, in the case of Laura Fritz, the donation saved the life of her mother but resulted in Laura nearly dying due to complications of the surgery.

6 years ago I had emergency surgery for a small bowel obstruction (SBO). The risk benefit calculation was that if nothing was done, the SBO could get worse and lead to the type of infection described in the piece about Laura Fritz. By all accounts my surgery was uneventful.

However, since that surgery, I have been hospitalized three additional times for SBO. Fortunately, t…

Economics: In defense of the drug companies

Who discovers the medicines that save people's lives?

Drug companies who hire armies of scientists who work their butts off to find something that works.

Medical innovation is hard work.

Life: Are we beginning to forget 9/11?

It is beginning to seem like ancient history in our 24/7 cyberspace linked fast paced world.

But it was only 9 years ago that 9/11 occurred.

The US held a day of prayer and remembrance after the attacks of 9/11. On that day, these words echoed in the National Cathedral and went out to all who watched and heard:
We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who loved them.
God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that His purposes are not always our own, yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral are known and heard and understood. There are prayers that help us last through the day or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers that give us strength for the journey, and there are prayers that yield our will to a Will greater than our o…

Politics: One of the new voices of the GOP

Rep.-Elect Kristi Noem (R-SD) speaks on the priorities of the incoming House Republicans.

World: Terrorism in Stockholm

Not all bombings are performed by extreme Islamic individuals but many are.

Thus, eventually, the news reports confirmed such was likely the case in the bombing in a Stockholm shopping district this weekend.

Some people say that terrorism is driven by poverty. In some cases that is probably so. But time and again, we find out that the individuals often had what would be considered "normal lives" but turn out to be driven by extreme ideas.

The Telegraph of UK has a profile on the Stockholm suicide bomber. Excerpt:

It emerged last night that Abdulwahab, who was due to turn 29 yesterday, is a former physical therapy student at Bedfordshire University in Luton, and that his wife and three young children still live in the town.
Tahir Hussain, 33, a taxi driver who lives nearby, said: “I used to see him around often. He didn’t say much but seemed nice. I used to see him walking with his kids.

“I was shocked when I heard what happened because I never thought he could do su…

Politics: Tax and Spend - the numbers as percent GDP

Lots of data at

Here are two charts I generated at their site that shows Federal tax as a percentage of GDP and Federal spending as a percentage of GDP while I have been alive.

As you can see taxes have been around 17.5% of GDP.

As you can see spending has been around 20% of GDP. However, currently, and for the next five year, it is projected to be consistently above 20% while taxes consistently below 20%.

It isn't rocket science: we want more government services than we are willing to pay for with taxes leading to deficits. We have to either cut services or raise taxes or some combination of both.

And so what are the government services?

See the pie chart.

Est for 2011 (total = $3.8 trillion)
Defense $928.5 billion
Health Care $898 billion
Pensions $787.6 billion
Welfare $464.6 billion

Its nice to get tough on "earmarks" and "pork projects" but these four areas are where the pots of money are.

We either cut back on them, rai…

Politics: Health insurance coverage matrix

One government study put the uninsured at 16 percent of the US population. This USA Today item puts the number at 46.3 million.

From this matrix, there are four groups of people:

Group 1
These people can afford insurance and buy it. It might be a strain on the budget but these people realize it is a good idea to have health insurance and thus try their best to buy it and do so.

Group 2
There are those who can't afford it but want to buy it. They want to be responsible but because of a combination of low income and high insurance premiums they are unable to buy. Some people in this category qualify for Medicaid and thus wind up in Group 1. But some don't qualify for Medicaid and can't afford health insurance.

Group 3
Some people actually earn enough money to buy health insurance but for whatever reason do not buy health insurance.

Group 4
Sadly, there are people who belong to this group who are unable and unwilling to buy health insurance.

Thus, the 46.3 million uninsur…

Politics: Unintended consequences of new health bill (a.k.a. Obamacare)

One of my friends who is an MD has taken a look at the health bill and points out some problems which I've tried to summarize below.

1. New mandates
Because there are additional requirements placed on health insurance policies being offered, the premiums have risen to pay for those new features. In the recent open enrollment at my work place, most plans showed a rise in monthly costs.

2. Dropped coverage
In some cases (mini-med plans), employers have had to drop coverage because those plans didn't measure up to the new regulations. Many companies have applied for waivers to keep offering these plans and have been granted temporary waivers by HHS. One wonders how many weren't granted waivers? Also, what will happen when the waivers expire?

3. Medical loss ratio
The new regulations require that insurance companies must spend 80-85 percent of their costs on patient care. He thinks this is a bad idea and explained it this way:

This "medical loss ratio" rule …

Faith: Re-telling the Christmas Story

Amidst the busy schedules of our lives and the reality that the story of Christmas has been diluted in our society, it was refreshing to see this video that simply re-tells the Christmas story!

The story teller is Keira, a child who was helped by the work of Union Rescue Mission.

When we think of the Christmas story, we often think of "no place at the inn." But looked at another way, some individuals in the community of Bethlehem provided space (may not have been much but they opened it) for Mary and Joseph so that Jesus could be born. They may not be recorded in the Gospels but that good deed would be recorded by God.

And so please consider supporting Union Rescue Mission or a like-minded organization in your local community that is helping those in need! You would be standing in a long line of people who have helped like those who did in Bethlehem.

UPDATE: Came across this item that discusses the "no place at the inn" feature in most our thoughts of the Na…

Non-Profit of the Month: November 2010 - Union Rescue Mission

Do you give money to the guy at the entrance to the store or at the corner of a busy intersection?

I've been told in many cases the money winds up on alcohol and drugs. As such, I generally don't give. But, sometimes I do.

I don't know what to do.

I think what gnaws at us is that it doesn't take too much to wind up as that guy on the street.

There are many worthy organizations in the LA area that tries to offer services to the down and out. I've tried to profile some in these "non-profit of the month" posts.

Today, I'll mention a group I've supported occasionally over the years: Union Rescue Mission.

Right now, in LA, there is some unseasonably cold weather and I'm sure the shelters are filling up with people trying to get out from the near freezing nights. Please consider supporting an organization in your area that is doing the work of compassion for those who have hit hard times for whatever reason.

Travel: Alaska Flag Song

Alaska Flag Song performed by Adele Morgan

Travel: Denali Shuttle and Wildlife Viewing Bus

Everlasting God performed by Lincoln Brewster

Travel: Alaska 2002 - Kenai Fjords

Classical Gas by Mason Williams and Mannheim Steamroller
Title music to Northern Exposure by David Schwartz

World: Easiest to Describe, Hardest to Solve

Dennis Prager offers his analysis of the Middle East problem.

Life: The Astronomical Numbers Associated with the Information Age

HT: Nick W.

Politics: States (like Alaska) with lots of per capita Federal Aid ... stats can be deceiving ...

Alaska has come under fire for receiving lots of Federal Aid.

Upon closer examination, the numbers are somewhat skewed by (1) the small population of Alaska and (2) some unique geographic and ethnic features of the state.

To see the amounts various agencies receive go to the Federal Aid to States page at the US Census.

No doubt, Senator Ted Stevens who died in a plane crash recently was effective at bringing Federal dollars to the state. Thus, that part of the story can't be denied.

But per capita statistics are tricky things.

A "pork project" going to a small state skews the numbers dramatically. Imagine a $70 million project's impact on per capita stats. For California, with over 35 million people, that project brings in a mere $2 per capita. But for Alaska with 700,000 people, that same project would bring in a whopping $100 per capita! California Senator Boxer would have to bring in 50 such projects to match the impact of just 1 such project brought to Alas…

Science: Contrarian views on Global Warming

Saw this item about Bjorn Lomborg who believes global warming is occurring and that humans cause at least part of it. However, he is doubtful of the worst case scenarios proposed by some climate change advocates and thinks the money used fighting global warming could be better spent on other things.


Lomborg believes that the world climate summits held in Rio, Kyoto, and Copenhagen over the last 18 years have been futile, because no country—especially such rising powerhouses as China and India, just now emerging into prosperity—will agree to cold-cock its economy in order to join the wispy Western global-warming crusade. And he claims that since the $250 billion the European Union spends every year to combat warming will ultimately reduce temperatures by only one-tenth of one percent, that money would be better channeled into worldwide battles against malaria and AIDS—diseases that are killing people right now—and into funding new climate technology.

Sports: Go LA Galaxy!

The Galaxy defeated the Sounders!

They now advance to the next round against Dallas.

Last year, the Galaxy got to the championship but lost in penalty kicks.

They started off the season strong had a stretch where they were dismal but finished up strong.

Some experts were picking against them because they do have some older players.

But their surprisingly easy win against Seattle might get them some renewed attention.

Go Galaxy!

Politics: California is Republican on the issues of the day?

If you use the ballot measures as an indicator of the perspective of California voters, they said ...

Yes: 20, 22, 25, 26
No: 19, 21, 23, 24, 27

Bold marks indicate matches between the party endorsement and how Californians voted.
The Libertarians
Yes: 19, 22, 23, 26
No: 21, 25
Undeclared: 20, 24, 27

The Greens
Yes: 19, 21, 24, 25
No: 23, 26
Undeclared: 20, 22, 27

The Democrats
Yes: 21, 24, 25, 27
No: 20, 22, 23, 26
Undeclared: 19

The Republicans
Yes: 20, 23, 26
No: 19, 21, 24, 25, 27
Undeclared: 22

Stunning isn't it?

Californians voted with the Republican recommended position in 5 of 9 races. Yet, no Republican won a statewide race in California last Tuesday.

Thus, it appears when you take away the "R" and "D" next to the item and vote purely on the issue like a ballot measure, California voters hold Republican views.

A ballot measure is about choosing yes or no about a given idea. In that situation, Californians were practical and voted very much in line wit…

Politics: Viral videos of the political mood and moment

Top viral political videos according to

Regarding the House ... there was a large swing to the GOP ...

Regarding the Senate ...

The Democrats lost ground but retain control.

Over the past few years, academics have criticized the Senate’s "un-democratic" character, attacking the filibuster and even bemoaning the body’s very existence. So here’s the safest prediction of all: As the academics realize that the Senate provides opportunities for fighting the Republican agenda, the institution will suddenly regain their favor.

- John J. Pitney Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College

Politics: Nov 2, 2010 Predictions - 51-49 Dems hold Senate, 60 seat gain for GOP in House

No more political blog posts until after the election results come in!

So looking forward to being able to watch television or listen to the radio WITHOUT seeing or hearing political ADS!

Real Clear Politics probably has the best round-up around for all the races.

Senate races: I predict the Democrats hold on 51-49.
Sadly, it appears that California voters will be sending Boxer back to the Senate.

Call Me Senator from RightChange on Vimeo.Hopefully, Nevada voters will indeed be wiser and send Reid into retirement.

As for the House, according to RCP, of the 435 House races only 44 are toss-ups. Thus, if RCP is correct, the Republicans will gain 45 House seats even if they lost every toss-up race. My guess is that in the end the Republicans will gain 60.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday afternoon: Senate 52-46 with 2 undecided. The Democrat leads in Washington and a Republican leads in Alaska. So the final will probably be 53-47. Meanwhile, in the House, the GOP gained 60 with 11 undecide…

Politics: No on Prop 19

Do I think widespread pot smoking is good for society?


But the reality is that the medical marijuana law has resulted in almost de facto legalization.

Thus, from a governmental point of view, what is the proper regulation of the stuff?

Alcohol and tobacco are heavily regulated and taxed and proponents of prop 19 say that they want to see marijuana moved into the same category.

Did the drafters of Prop 19 do a good job?

I figured the newspaper that is most likely to support legalization of marijuana is the San Francisco Chronicle.

And guess what?

They came out against Prop 19. Excerpt:Even Californians who support the legalization of marijuana should be extremely wary of Proposition 19. This is a seriously flawed initiative with contradictions and complications that would invite legal chaos and, more than likely, fail to deliver its promised economic benefits.
Among the specific problems:

Workplace: A nondiscrimination clause would prevent employers from firing or disc…

Politics: No on Prop 23

Prop 23 is an effort to reverse AB32.

In brief, AB32 sets a target of lowering California's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. It is estimated that will require a 25% reduction.

As such, California will need to have more Green Energy.

Green energy is useful in that it reduces air pollution and lesses our dependance on foreign sources of energy. Thus, one can make the argument for Green Energy on those basis without resorting to "end-of-the-world as we know it" global warming scenarios.

Prop 23 tries to "soften" its tone by saying it would only suspend AB32 until unemployment reaches 5.5% for one year. Unfortunately, that level of unemployment has been rarely reached. The drafters of Prop 23 should have been more honest in calling for an outright appeal.

Are the goals of AB32 too ambitious?


As the application of AB32 gets underway, we will begin to see its impact both positive and negative. It is quite possible that the target date…

Politics: No on Prop 22

Prop 22 in the words of the Sacramento Bee tries to build a moat around local funding.

I have great sympathy for local governments tired of the California legislature raiding their funds to try to fix their budget messes but as is often the case, the measure over-reaches.

I like the part that protects transportation funding and allocations of property taxes. But not permitting state fuel taxes to help pay state transportation bonds? Protecting redevelopment agencies which are ripe for abuse?

The lefty Los Angeles Times and the righty Orange Country Register have also come out against Prop 22.

Politics: No on Prop 25

The budget situation in California is a mess.

Some say Prop 13 limits on property taxes are too strict. Others point to Prop 98 that requires education automatically getting the lion's share of budgetary dollars. Legislators complain about the 2/3 rule to pass taxes and the budget. Think tankers point to the wild fluctuations in revenue due to the capital gains/stock options taxation system. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Prop 25 calls for the end of the 2/3 rule for passing budgets and says it will dock legislator's pay for each day they miss the budget deadline. The Sacramento Bee calls it a partisan power play.

I think the "punishment" really has no teeth. The legislature could pass a "phony" budget to meet the deadline because there is a difference between passing a budget and enacting a budget (Governor signs it and Legislature appropriates money for it). So that part of the measure sounds good but probably is meaningless.

But what about the impact of the sim…

Politics: Yes on Prop 21

As a general rule, I don't like budgeting by ballot box.

But sometimes the Legislature just isn't doing its job.

The California State Parks are a treasure that needs support in order to preserve them for today and future generations.

Is adding a Vehicle License Fee of $18 the best way to fund California State Parks?

Probably not. But since the Legislature isn't getting the job done, this proposition does.

Yes on Prop 21.

Politics: No on Prop 24

The California Legislature made some changes in the business tax laws that lowered their taxes.

Prop 24 rescinds those changes.

California has gained a reputation for being business unfriendly and passing Prop 24 will further fuel that perception.

I'm recommending a NO on Prop 24.

Politics: No on Prop 26

What is a fee and what is a tax?

Generally, taxes are broad based (income, sales, property) and go to general revenue for services widely used (education, public safety, etc.). Fees are usually paid by a specific group and go to specific programs.

The lines do get blurred in some cases: the vehicle license fee for automobiles is pretty broad based and sounds more like a tax than a fee and there are some fees that wind up being used for things with wider benefit (i.e. environmental programs).

Legislatively, taxes can only be raised with a 2/3 vote while fees can be raised with a simple majority.

Prop 26 calls for some fees to be considered taxes and thus under the 2/3 vote rule for passage in the legislature.

There are situations where super-majorities make sense: you want broad consensus on a major policy issue.

I don't think fees crosses that threshold.

Politics: Is the LA Times/USC Poll On Target or an Outlier?

Polling .... sometimes they are right on and other times they miss.

LAT/USC released a poll showing Brown ahead of Whitman and Boxer ahead of Fiorina and by fairly wide margins. The Los Angeles Times is a well known lefty paper so it will tend to trumpet this kind of news. But the question is simply this: is the poll "correct?"

Perhaps, however, when compared to other polls, the LAT/USC Boxer lead is much larger (8 points) than other polls out there (average 2.5 points as of 10/25, 1pm). Likewise, the Brown/Whitman race shows less of a Brown lead in other polls (6.2 average vs 13 as of 10/25, 1pm).

Thus, the LAT/USC poll (show 2-3 times larger margins than other polls) is either picking up a trend not detected up by other polls or it is flawed in some aspect of its design.

Clearly, Whitman and Fiorina always had an uphill battle to win in a deep blue Democrat state like California and in the end it might be too much to overcome but this LAT/USC poll might be an outlier …

Politics: Nov 2010 ballot - LA Times and Orange County Register endorsements

The LAT is a well known lefty paper. The OCR is a well know righty paper.

Here are their views on the ballots for this Nov...

YES: 20,25
NO: 19,21,22,23,24,26,27

YES: 20,23,26
NO: 21,22,24,25,27

They share in common views on props 20,21,22,24,27 which is 5 of 9!

All the items this year are initiatives and are probably poorly written or bad ideas or both such that the newspaper editorial boards at the LAT and OCR which live at both ends of the political spectrum have issued the same endorsement for 20 and against 21,22,24 and 27.

Politics: Yes on 20, No on 27

Figure is from the Official Voter Information Guide.

Prop 20 and 27 are about how California does redistricting which is something that has to be done after each census.

In Nov 2008, Californians passed Prop 11 (I supported prop 11) to set up the Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Prop 20 extends their work to include drawing districts for House seats.

Prop 27 disbands the Citizens Redistricting Commission and returns that function to the State Legislature.

Suffice to say, since I supported prop 11, I don't want it reversed by supporting prop 27.

The liberal SF Chronicle says Yes on 20 and No on 27.

The conservative Orange County Register says Yes on 20 and No on 27.

They agree!

How often does that happen?

No brainer: Yes on 20 and No on 27.

Politics: 2010 November Cal Ballot Measures

Plan to blog through each proposition on the November 2010 California ballot.

But first, a round-up of the endorsements from the political parties.

Bold face marks where I agree with the respective party positions.
The Libertarians
Yes: 19, 22, 23, 26
No: 21, 25
Undeclared: 20, 24, 27

The Greens
Yes: 19, 21, 24, 25
No: 23, 26
Undeclared: 20, 22, 27

The Democrats
Yes: 21, 24, 25, 27
No: 20, 22, 23, 26
Undeclared: 19

The Republicans
Yes: 20, 23, 26
No: 19, 21, 24, 25, 27
Undeclared: 22

Rene's Recommendations:
19 NO
20 YES
21 YES
22 NO
23 NO
24 NO
25 NO
26 NO
27 NO

Religion: Who are the Metzger's and Ehrman's of Koranic Textual Scholarship?

Cool thing about being a blogger is that sometimes you post something that appears to have continuing interest. Around five years ago, I attended a lecture on Islam given by Jay Smith and I posted a summary and periodically someone will comment.

Some recent activity in the comments section and my recent reading of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus and the 3rd Edition (borrowed from library) of Bruce Metzger's NT Text: Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (now in 4th edition) has caused me to do some googling about the topic of scholarship on textual criticism of the Koran.

Here are some items I found. I'll give the link and excerpt a few lines.

New York Times item from 2002.

Christoph Luxenberg, a scholar of ancient Semitic languages in Germany, argues that the Koran has been misread and mistranslated for centuries. His work, based on the earliest copies of the Koran, maintains that parts of Islam's holy book are derived from pre-existing Christian Aramaic texts tha…

Non-profit of the month: October 2010 - Friends of the LA Phil

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Went to the LA Phil on Friday night for the season opener. Gustavo Dudamel was quite the showman as he led the band with his characteristic high energy.

Of Dudamel's conducting, LAT's Swed said...Essentially what Dudamel did was invest each measure of Schumann’s symphony with a sense of swagger and hunger. He wanted every yearning phrase to yearn like it had never yearned before. He wanted big chords to imply some kind of untold meaning.

He was cocky on the podium with his conducting gestures. He jumped. He wiggled his hips. He could be hyperactive, and he could be still. He sometimes put his whole body into the desire for a certain expression; sometimes he needed only a finger.

Mainly, there was a sense that Dudamel was in love with every note in this score, and that he had the technique to show the orchestra and the audience why.

And there was Emanuel Ax in the first half of the show with white hair walking onto the stage with a Yoda-likes shu…

LA Law: McCourt Trial

Being a Dodger fan who is watching this year's team fall into a black hole, I am beginning to think about next season. And, of course, with the McCourt case on trial, the next season is pretty much up in the air.

From the latest items over at Dodger Divorce ... it would appear that Frank McCourt is the owner of the Dodgers in regards to the team's relationship to Major League Baseball. However, the marital property rights agreement which addresses assets within the context of their marriage remains in question. It would appear the McCourt attorney who prepared it is claiming that Frank's claim is what was intended. However, Silverstein's mixing up the words exclusive and inclusive and then fixing it without explicitly informing both parties was made clear under Boies questioning.

Suffice to say that seems very fishy and at least poor legal/business practice.

I would suspect that having these facts come out in court is driving the parties to try to settle out of cou…

Technology: E-banking doesn't mean Error-free banking

In the old days, I would balance my checkbook. Invariably, I'd find a math error somewhere. Sometimes it would take quite some time to find the boo-boo.

Well, with e-banking, I don't balance my checkbook looking for every last penny.

BUT, I still take a look at the numbers and so far, as far as I know I haven't found any boo-boos... until ... yesterday!

A check was written for $49 but the account recorded the check as $549!

A quick online chat while browsing in the e-banking web page cleared it up quickly.

Thus, beware!

E-banking doesn't mean Error-free banking!!

World: The 2 Minute Guide to Swedish Politics

In the USA, the political left lauds the effectiveness of large government as practiced in Sweden. The USA right complains that the US shouldn't go the way of Sweden's big socialism.

Of course, the reality of today's Sweden is a bit more nuanced as revealed by the latest elections.

The left leaning Social Democrats, according to the article, has ruled 65 of the last 78 years. However, for the first time, a non-socialist government appeared headed for re-election.

The current government is a coalition known as the Alliance comprising of the Moderate Party, Center Party, Liberal People's Party and Christian Democrats which has been leading Sweden slowly away from its big government socialist past.

The Social Democrats head a coalition consisting of the Social Democrats, Left Party and Green Party.

The wild card in the mix is the Sweden Democrats that have made headway on an anti-immigrant platform and are not aligned with either side. As of the current vote count, n…

Theology: Top 10 Theological Issues

Ed. note - this post is periodically updated with new material usually at the bottom.

Saw this item over at Laura's Writings where she highlights ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) as one of the top 10 items cited by Monday Morning Insight who was citing Brian Schulenburg who is writing a book about the subject. Excerpt:1) Soteriology - I am so concerned as I read more and more people who would self identify as Christians who are saying that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. In a world that has become increasingly diverse, we are seeing more and more people, perhaps because they are afraid of offending, perhaps because they want to create God in their own image, who say that all religions essentially lead to the same place.

2) The Embrace of Open Theism - So many of the college students and young adults that I work with have bought into this doctrine, which among other things, teaches that God does not know the future. They would teach that God knows all of the possible …

Non-profit of the month: September 2010 - AIDS Healthcare Foundation

The good book says, "Love your neighbor."

In the early 1990s, my laboratory research projects involved trying to understand some of the details of how HIV survives. At that time, there were few medical options.

Today, there are medications that help keep the virus in check, but the disease remains a major problem here and around the world. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is on the front-lines of fighting HIV/AIDS with education, testing and medical care. One of my friends at my church works with AHF in clinical care of patients. A number of us at my church will be participating in the Cal AIDS Walk as a way to stand with those who face life with HIV/AIDS.

When a neighbor is in need, we must help and I hope you will consider supporting the work of AHF as one way to do so.

Please consider making a contribution at my Cal AIDS Walk pledge page. The funds will go to AHF and other organizations addressing the needs of individuals with HIV/AIDS.

Thank you and God bless!