Showing posts from May, 2010

Politics: No on Prop 15

Props 13 (yes) and 16 (no) were fairly easy for me to decide.

I generally lean "no" as a default position. In the case of Prop 15, I was leaning that way and upon further reflection, I remain a "no" vote.

Prop 15 provides for public financing and campaign spending limits for the next two elections of the Secretary of State. However, it appears the agenda of the proposition is to eventually open the door to public financing for other races became clear in this KPCC Air Talk segment featuring both sides.

I believe the best way to finance campaigns is for people who support the candidate to donate money to the candidate. The idea of public financing goes against this basic premise. Even though tax payer dollars aren’t involved in this proposal because the matching fund is supported by registration fees on lobbyists, the idea of candidates receiving funds only from the people who support them is violated.

Campaign spending limits in exchange for public financing …

Politics: No on Prop 16

Prop 16 provides that if a government (city or county level) wants to enter into the electricity business, a 2/3 vote of the affected populations would be needed to approve the plan.

In California, residents get their electricity through investor-owned utilities like PG&E (the major backer of this proposition), city owned utilities like DWP or electrical service providers which I believe are companies that buy electricity off the market from various generators and provide it for their customers.

Some city and county governments are looking into running their own versions of electrical service providers called community choice aggregations.

PG&E, the largest utility in California, recognizes that they could lose business to these government run entities and have placed this measure on the ballot to make it more difficult for such entities to be formed.

As a general rule, I prefer investor-owned companies because theoretically, even in highly regulated industries like electrici…

Politics: Yes on 13

Will get the easy one out of the way first!

Prop 13 makes an adjustment to property tax rules to make it easier to do earthquake retrofitting. This passed the California Legislature without objection, there is no organized opposition to this proposition and most newspapers and organizations are supporting it.

Yes on Prop 13.

Politics: Cal Ballot Measures - the Endorsements

Los Angeles Times
Mercury News
San Francisco Chronicle:
Yes on 13, 14, 15
No on 16, 17

Orange County Register
Yes on 13, 16, 17
No on 14, 15

Sacramento Bee
Yes on 13, 14
No on 15, 16, 17

California Libertarian Party
Yes 13, 17
No 14, 15

California Green Party
Yes 15
No 14, 16, 17

California Democratic Party
Yes 13, 15
No 14, 16, 17

California Republican Party
Yes 13, 16, 17
No 14, 15

A Google search yielded this handy table summarizing the endorsements of newspapers and organizations in California.

Between endorsements and my reading of the voter book, I hope to make votes in the next few days.

RR recommends:
Yes on 13
No on 16
No on 15
Yes on 17
Yes on 14

What are your thoughts?

Politics: Arizona Law and 1200 More National Guard Troops

To be surprised that politicians play "politics" with issues is to be shocked that gambling is taking place in Las Vegas.

Arizona passed a law pertaining to illegal immigrants that was widely criticized.

The problem with the law is that it will undermine the relationship between people in the community and law enforcement: people who are here legally would be questioned wrongly and illegals would be hesitant to report crimes for fear of deportation.

Nonetheless, perhaps, as a result of the law, the Feds have sent in additional troops to the border.

Would this have happened without the uproar caused by the Arizona law?

Is it an admission that the Feds haven't done enough about the borders which is one of the major complaints that led to the Arizona law?

Interestingly, the article reports that as of a month ago, the administration believed they have control over the borders. Excerpt:
The move comes a month after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senat…

Non-Profit of the Month: May 2010 - California State Parks Foundation

In the era of tight budgets, the role of non-profits that support our parks have truly stepped up.

Please consider supporting the Parks Foundation for you state.

As for me, I've become a member of the California State Parks Foundation.

Christianity 101: Part II, In the beginning God ...

The incredibly obvious place to start, of course, is at the beginning! 8-)

Genesis 1:1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.The world view options are: there is a god and there is no god.

Within the "no god perspective" there is the stronger claim (atheism) and the weaker claim (agnosticism).

Within the "there is a god perspective," one could broadly designate those who believe god is in the creation (pantheism) and those who believe god is separate from the creation (theism).

Genesis One tells us that God approached creating in a fairly systematic way and is separate from it.

There is a long running argument about whether aspects of evolution are compatible with Genesis. I think trying to read Genesis One as a scientific textbook is not necessary and not the original intent. I think of the creation account of Genesis as an impressionist painting. There are limits to using analogies but I do find the idea of this analogy helpful.

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Technology: Over the air digital TV - International Ice Hockey

International Ice Hockey Federation championships are underway. With OTA digital TV through Universal Sports TV, I'm watching live coverage of the Russia vs. Germany semi-final. After one period, Germany 1 Russia 0.

If you are in Los Angeles:
Charter 305
Cox 805
Time Warner 226
Verizon FIOS 464
NBC over-the-air 4.4

I'm using old school rabbit ears with a signal amplifier to watch the event!

Food: My pet microbes, Part II

I tried once before. The thing started smelling funny so I tossed it.

Am trying again. So far it still smells normal.

I've also attempted the Pineapple Juice Solution described by Debra Wink.

If the yeasties look pretty active when I check them tonight, it might be time to see if they can rise some bread!

Politics: How much an impact on our lives?

Came across this interesting interview with NYT's David Brooks.

Excerpt:DB: I would guess there’s a lot of juice in the system right now. You know, I spend my life analyzing politics, so I don’t totally want to disagree with it. But let’s fact it, in terms of how we actually live, what happens in our families is just way more important. I mean, the thing that set me off there was that you had a demographic of Asian-Americans living in New Jersey, live 26 years longer on average than Native Americans living in South Dakota. Now there is no public policy short of war that creates that kind of difference in how we live and how long we live. So that what happens in culture and sociology and religion is just way more important than what happens in politics.

HH: That was remarkable, especially opening up with the Swedes who are here and the Swedes who stayed in Sweden, and the fact is that their life expectancy simply doesn’t have a statistically significant difference is an eye-opener.…

Christianity 101: Part I, Is defining Christianity possible?

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How does one define Christianity or being a Christian?

Someone might self-describe themselves as a Christian. And for some people, self-attribution is enough to substantiate the claim.

But does that make sense?

For example, if I claim to be a Dodger fan but never go to see them play, don't listen to them on the radio, can't name any of the players on the team and fail to check their scores in the sports page, is it a reasonable claim for me to say I'm a Dodger fan?

Thus, is it possible to define Christianity and who is a Christian?

Jesus will certainly know and won't be fooled!

However, for the sake of discussion, I think for anyone to claim a certain designation, in particular, a religious one, there are some things that should be in place in order for that claim to be a reasonable one.

Religions have some body of beliefs, a code of ethics, common practices and a community of…

Politics: What experience makes for a good judge?

I think all of the current Supreme Court judges have been lower Federal court judges at some point in their lives.

The current nominee has not served in this capacity.

One theory is that the best qualification to be a judge is to have been a judge.

Another theory says that having worked in the executive branch, legislative branch and/or in the private sector means the prospective judge has seen the implications of legal matters and is good preparation for SCOTUS.

I think the latter view makes sense, thus, having had no judge experience is not a disqualification.

In my opinion, the key question is whether this person has been wrestling with the Constitutional issues of our times in whatever capacity: as a judge handing down opinions, in the executive branch defending actions or determining how to carry out policies, in the legislature writing laws, or in the private sector at the receiving end of the laws of the land.

I think ideology is also fair ground up to a point. No judge wo…

Politics: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

The Cross at the heart of the controversy in Mojave has been stolen.

My understanding of the 1st Amendment was the intent to prevent the formation of a "national church" which was very common in Europe and the problems that kind of entanglement yielded.

But it seems in the eyes of some, having a cross on public land is seen as "endorsement" of Christianity which they define as tantamount to "establishment" and thus unconstitutional.

I think there is a huge difference between having a state church where tax dollars fund the building and staffing of a specific denomination and having a cross that honors veterans or a plaque with the Ten Commandments that acknowledges the heritage of our legal and ethical codes.

In the spectrum of activities, establishing a state church is a clear no-no.

But is acknowledging religion that is part of our history and culture so objectionable?

Business: Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac = Black Holes for Tax Dollars?

The politically correct targets these days are: the bankers, the insurance companies, the oil drillers ... they are indeed blame-worthy.

But I came across this news item ...

Fannie Mae has again asked taxpayers for more money -- this time $8.4 billion -- after reporting another steep loss for the first quarter. The taxpayer bill for rescuing Fannie and its sibling Freddie Mac has grown to $145 billion -- and the final tally could be much higher.

The rescue of Fannie and Freddie is turning out to be one of the most expensive aftereffects of the financial meltdown, and Fannie Mae's first-quarter financial report on Monday made clear that there is no end in sight.

Where is the outrage here?

Could it be that because these two are GSE (government sponsored entities), they are getting a free pass because the paradigm of the political and media elites is "private business is evil and government is good?"

How big might the bailout get you ask?

Late last year, the …

Faith: Northland Village Church

Dear Neighbors in Atwater Village,

Northland Village Church is delighted to be part of Atwater Village! We look forward to celebrating with everyone at the Atwater Village Centennial Street Festival on Sunday, June 13. We will have a booth there, so please feel free to stop by and visit.

We love connecting. As such, we are excited about participating in the life of Atwater Village and learning more about the needs of this community. Connecting people’s passions to the needs around them is how needs get met and lives changed. We would be honored to connect with you and together we can begin to meet the needs of our neighborhood and our world.

We meet every Sunday at 5 PM at the Glenfeliz Elementary School Auditorium and you are most welcomed to celebrate with us on any Sunday!

See you at the Centennial Festival, out and about in Atwater or at our Sunday celebrations!

The family of Northland Village Church

Sunday worship, 5pm (childcare available)
Glenfeliz Elementary School Auditori…

Non-profit of the month: April 2010 - Friends of Atwater Village

Neighborhoods take work to build up and to remain strong.

And it takes groups of energetic volunteers who take the bull by the horns and roll up their sleeves to make things happen.

One such group is Friends of Atwater Village.

The list of projects they have undertaken and completed is impressive!

Their current project is to produce an Atwater Village photographic history book for Arcadia Publishing's the Images of America series.

Poke around your neighborhood and find out if there is a group you could support to make your community a better place!

Devotional Thoughts: Stand fast

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Winding up I Peter ...

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Peter, guided by the Spirit, ended this letter with an admonition about the role of being a shepherd to the flock. This message would have had a great emotional connection to him.

One of the episodes in his life that undoubtedly seared Peter's heart was being told by Jesus that he would deny Jesus. Peter, of course, insisted, no way, no how, not goin…

Technology: Agilent vs. Invitrogen SYBR Mix

Took the same set of samples and ran them with Agilent SYBR (catalog #600548) and Invitrogen SYBR (catalog 11762-100).

The results:
Agilent SYBR: Ave. Ct=15.57, SD=0.30
Invitrogen SYBR: Ave. Ct=18.23, SD=0.93
dCt=2.66, Fold=6.33, P=6.9e-09

In fairness to Invitrogen, the primers had been optimized in the past using the Agilent reagent and from the spec sheets for the Invitrogen product, they recommend different extension temperatures than the Agilent mix.

For my next test, will compare Invitrogen vs. Fermentas (catalog #K0251).

Invitrogen SYBR: Ave. Ct=17.45, SD=0.35
Fermentas SYBR: Ave. Ct=14.56, SD=0.25
dCt=2.89, Fold=7.41, P=5.0e-11

Disclaimer: merely reporting what happened; individual results may vary; all reagents were received at promotional pricing discounts; this blog post does not constitute any endorsement.