Thursday, December 28, 2006

Culture: Who cares?

Prager's guest on the radio today is Arthur Brooks, a professor of public administration at Syracuse University, who has writtten the book Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism.

His research indicates the best indicator of charitable giving and other forms of compassion (for instance blood donation and volunteer hours) are:
1 - religious commitment, the more religious generally give more
2 - political perspective, those who believe it is the responsibility of government to redistribute income generally give less.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sports: An exciting time to be a UCLA sports fan

Tonight is the Emerald Bowl.

The Emerald Bowl is a third tier bowl game. It will be carried only on cable and on local radio. UCLA usually is on 570AM but since the Lakers are playing tonight, the UCLA game moves over to 1150. The signal strength of 1150 is so low such that my car radio sometimes has trouble picking it up. My radio at home is able to bring it in. I suppose I might have to wander over to a a sports bar to see the ESPN coverage as I don't have cable at home. It costs a fortune to have cable in Los Angeles!

UCLA is supposed to win but they were supposed to win in 2003 in the Silicon Valley Bowl and showed no heart in a dismal loss. In 2004, they were supposed to win in the Las Vegas Bowl but they couldn't hold on and lost the game in the final minute. In 2005, they did win in the Sun Bowl but not before digging themselves into a 21-0 deficit!

The Pac-10 is having a down year and it showed with Oregon getting beat up by BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl and Hawaii shredding Arizona State in the Hawaii Bowl.

Normally, I'd be offering a friendly wager to a certain Big-12 fan friend but I'm not too optimistic about the Pac-10's chances in the Holiday Bowl between Cal and Texas A&M nor the Sun Bowl contest between Missouri and Oregon State.

The Pac-10 might go 0-6 this bowl season. I'm hoping for at least 1-5 with UCLA being the lone win. If we go 2-4, I wouldn't mind if the second win is USC over Michigan as long as the first win is UCLA over FSU!

In any case, Dorrell needs this victory just as much as he needed the win against USC to improve recruitment prospects for the years ahead. 2007 isn't expected to be a big recruiting year as they have only a small number of seniors leaving the program but UCLA still wants to get some good prospects.

Recruitment is so much about momentum. Once it became clear that the UCLA basketball program was on the downhill side under Lavin it became harder and harder to get top level players. Likewise, when Howland came aboard, recruits began to reconsider UCLA. A solid win over FSU would help assure recruits that signing up with UCLA means signing onto a rising football program.

Meanwhile, in basketball, UCLA is #1 but Arizona, Washington and Oregon are in the top-25. Arizona and Washington has some big guys who could wreck havoc on the undersized front-line of UCLA.

My impression is that UCLA's success has been truly a team effort. I don't know if any of the current starting five at UCLA is considered a lottery pick for the NBA. I'm not even sure how many of the starting five would be first round draft material! However, they play tough defense and share the ball on offense.

Go Bruins!

UPDATE: 6:50 PM PST, at the half, UCLA 20 FSU 13. The total yards stat has it essentially even: 256 vs. 245 with the slight edge to UCLA. The difference, at the moment, was the interception by the UCLA defense on FSU's first drive. The Seminoles were moving the ball easily and threatening to score when Horton picked off the pass.
7:09 PM PST, FSU gets a field goal cutting the UCLA lead down to 20-16. UCLA fans are nervous as the defense which is supposed to be the team's strong point has been getting beat badly.
7:16 PM PST, NOT GOOD 3 and out and then a blocked punt for a FSU TD. FSU leads 23-20.
7:32: PM PST, UCLA gets the lead back on the back of the running backs! UCLA 27 FSU 23. C'mon UCLA defense! Gotta to stuff these guys on the next possession!
7:36 PM PST, 3 and out but FSU gets a good punt.
7:51 PM PST, after 3 quarters, the score stands UCLA 27 FSU 23. UCLA has the ball as the teams switch sides for the final quarter.
7:58 PM PST, UCLA can't do anything with the ball and has to punt. FSU is moving the ball. They got a good running back in Booker. They also got some tall wide-outs. But the QB isn't delivering the ball to them consistently.
8:11 PM PST, FSU's QB is inconsistent but he hits his big wide-out and FSU takes the lead 30-27. Can UCLA's offense get off the deck?
8:23 PM PST, UCLA goes 3 and out and FSU is moving and is about to score again.
8:25 PM PST, only 6 minutes left and FSU now leads 37-27. It might be over.
8:33 PM PST, it is over. INT-TD for FSU. The score is now 44-27. You can stick a fork in the Bruins.

What can you say?

UCLA came to play but the difference between victory and defeat can be so small. That 4th quarter .... everything fell apart and that was all she wrote. The Fire Dorrell crowd will be burning up the sports talk shows and the internets.

Bruins fans are in mourning once again. The defense that came up big against USC couldn't stop FSU.

The brain trust at FSU recognized that if you can give the QB a little bit more time, the UCLA secondary is vulnerable. Oregon, Washington State and the Cal Bears exploited it. Shockingly, USC didn't.

The FSU QB isn't the greatest passer but he had enough time for his wide-outs to get open so he could deliver the ball to them.

Also, big plays all went against UCLA... the fumble that turned into an FSU TD on the next play, the blocked punt that turned into an FSU TD and the INT for TD gave FSU the third big play of the game. 21 points on BIG PLAYS. The margin of victory is erased if those big plays are erased.

Both Dorrell and Walker go from on the hot seat to heros to on the hot seat once again.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Money: How rich are you?

I'm loaded.
It's official.
I'm the 55,146,441 richest person on earth!

How rich are you? >>

Check it out, pretty thought provoking, eh?



Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sports: Clips from the 2006 UCLA vs. USC game

Since I was at the Rose Bowl and I didn't bring a little television set, I've been curious to see how the game looked from that point of view.

UCLA fans were in the wilderness for eight long years and so with the victory, many fans have posted little YouTube clips and have assembled highlight mini films. Most of the YouTube screen capture films are pretty low-resolution. Here is one hosted at someone's personal site that is medium-resolution and he has edited it with some dramatic music. HT: BruinsNation where there is a link to the lower resolution YouTube version.

There is also a very high resolution video that is 600 MB described at BruinsNation.

Suffice to say, I've enjoyed watching both of them several times!

Below is a picture of the item I have on my wall to help me remember the game! Does this make me a totally crazed fan?


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Space: Mars Humor on You Tube

This blog began in August of 2003 and the very first post was about Mars.

Mars exploration gets into the news now and then and the increasing pace of that exploration leads to this item on ...

HT: Robby at

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sports: Call me crazy but I bought 2007 season tickets to UCLA football

What can I say?

The Bruins went from bums to being maybe just maybe a legit rival again.

So I plunked down the deposit on season tickets for the 2007 season.

As a perk, they gave me two tickets to the Emerald Bowl.

Alas, I've already filed for my PTO at work and the Emerald Bowl doesn't fall on the right days. However, I instructed the athletic department to donate my two tickets to military personnel.

Monday, December 04, 2006

World: Nothing But Nets, an update

A little while ago, I posted on the Nothing But Nets campaign to collect money to buy mosquito nets to send to Africa.

Rick Reilly wrote a follow up to the column he first wrote back in April.

The idea is simple: $10 allows a net to be bought and sent to Africa to save a life or two. These bed nets allow someone to sleep inside it at night and keeps the mosquitos that spread malaria away.

Here is an excerpt from Reilly's first article:
I've never asked for anything before, right? Well, sorry, I'm asking now.

We need nets. Not hoop nets, soccer nets or lacrosse nets. Not New Jersey Nets or dot-nets or clarinets. Mosquito nets.

See, nearly 3,000 kids die every day in Africa from malaria. And according to the World Health Organization, transmission of the disease would be reduced by 60% with the use of mosquito nets and prompt treatment for the infected.

Three thousand kids! That's a 9/11 every day!
We gotta get these nets. They're coated with an insecticide and cost between $4 and $6. You need about $10, all told, to get them shipped and installed. Some nets can cover a family of four. And they last four years. If we can cut the spread of disease, 10 bucks means a kid might get to live. Make it $20 and more kids are saved.
Here is an excerpt from his recent follow up column:
It was the alltime no-brainer. Skip lunch; save a life. Buy the Top-Flites instead of the Titleists; save a life. Don't bet on the Redskins; save a life. Nothing to research. No government to topple. No warlords to fight.

Bless your little hearts, all 17,000-plus of you who chipped in more than $1.2 million -- enough to buy 150,000 nets, which the United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization started hanging all over Nigeria, where kids younger than five are getting murdered by mosquitoes that come out only at night.

I know, because I saw the nets. Just got back. Feel a little bad about going without you. After all, it was your money. So let's pretend it was you who made the trip, not me.
And they'd play a soccer game in your honor that featured nine-year-olds who played like 14-year-olds in the U.S., on fields full of weeds and trash, with goals made of tree branches. In three games the closest thing you saw to a boy with shoes was a set of brothers who wore one sock each.

And they'd hand you the mike, and you'd try to say how blown away you were and how you wished you could raise 100 times more in donations, because already one hospital in Nigeria is saying that since the nets went up, outpatient cases of malaria have dropped from 80 a month to 50. But they'd all put their hands to their ears and go, "What?"

When you bribed the drummers into taking a union break, you finally met the people you'll never forget: the mothers. Turns out they're nothing but nuts about the nets. In fact, so many mothers want the nets that to get one, the World Health Organization requires them to bring their kids in for a measles vaccination. How often do you get two for one on diseases?

You met a mother who walked half a day to get a net. You met a woman who sleeps with her four kids under her net, maybe because she knows that three out of every 10 child deaths in Nigeria are from malaria.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sports: UCLA vs. USC Aftermath - HD Buttercup Tallying Up the Cost

Here is an item on the HD Buttercup deal on furniture should the Bruins win. Excerpt:
"Thanks for the furniture," UCLA graduate Stewart, 30, said as he readied to load his loot Sunday into a rented truck.

Last week, H.D. Buttercup on Venice Boulevard announced that anyone who spent $2,000 or more on merchandise between Thursday and Saturday's 1:30 p.m. kickoff could keep the furniture but get their money back if UCLA won.

Sunday the store began tallying up the damage, and it will be days before the total amount is known, said Mila Becker, the store's director of public relations.

Winners like Stewart wasted no time. Customers were lined up before the doors opened Sunday morning to sign up for the refunds and pick up their furniture. News vans filmed the action.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sports: UCLA 13 USC 9

Woo hoo!!!

To think a few days ago, I almost sold the tickets!

Game ball to Dwayne Walker, the UCLA defensive coordinator for coming up with the plan and motivating the defense to a bend but don't break performance. If you saw a 9 on the scoreboard, you would have assumed it was UCLA. However, today, the defense allowed only 7 points (the other 2 was from a safety) and shut out USC in the second half. There were many key 3rd down and 4th down stops by the Bruins!

Game ball to Pat Cowan for using his feet to defeat USC. Cowan gained 55 yards scrambling and with rollouts bought himself time to make some completions. He showed the heart of a fierce competitor on a 3 and 15 scramble that netted only 7 yards but he took a monster hit that the fans in our section heard and gasped. Cowan bounced right up and trotted off the field.

Game ball to Eric McNeal who got his hand on the pass to deflect it and kept after it to gain the interception. It was 3rd down and 4 when he made the interception. If he had only batted it down, USC would have one more shot to get the first down and would have had one more minute left to score while in the red zone.

Game ball to Justin Medlock who got 7 points: 6 by field goal and 1 by PAT.

Game ball to Aaron Perez who punted. Not all of them were very good but good enough. On the last punt, he got 63 yards!

Other key items:

Penalties! USC with 9 for 56 yards compared to 3 by UCLA costing 21 yards. Some of the USC penalties were drive killers.

Rushing yards: USC got only 55 compared to UCLA's 121. Without Reggie Bush, the USC ground game didn't have a big play threat which allowed UCLA's defense to watch the wide-outs and pressure the quarterback.

Just like 24 years ago, I was on the north side end zone where the final moments of the drama unfolded. 24 years ago, USC got the ball at the far end of the field and marched down toward our seats. They got the TD but was sacked on the 2-point conversion preserving the 20-19 UCLA victory. Today, USC got the ball at their 20 with nearly 6 minutes left and marched down the field assuming they were going to win.

From Yahoo! Sports:

1st-10, USC29 5:52 J. Booty sacked by B. Davis
2nd-14, USC25 5:10 J. Booty incomplete pass to the right
3rd-14, USC25 4:42 J. Booty passed to S. Smith to the left for 13 yard gain
4th-1, USC38 4:31 J. Booty rushed up the middle for 1 yard gain
1st-10, USC39 4:05 J. Booty incomplete pass to the left
2nd-10, USC39 3:59 J. Booty passed to C. Gable down the middle for 7 yard gain
3rd-3, USC46 3:25 J. Booty passed to F. Davis to the right for 5 yard gain
1st-10, UCLA49 3:10 J. Booty passed to S. Smith down the middle for 7 yard gain
2nd-3, UCLA42 2:50 C. Gable rushed up the middle for no gain
3rd-3, UCLA42 2:01 J. Booty passed to S. Smith to the right for 17 yard gain
1st-10, UCLA25 1:50 J. Booty passed to C. McFoy to the left for 6 yard gain
2nd-4, UCLA18 1:50 J. Booty incomplete pass down the middle

3rd-4, UCLA18 1:15 E. McNeal intercepted J. Booty for no gain

We were on our feet the last 5 minutes screaming like crazy hoping against hope that the defense would keep them out of the end zone to seal the victory.

All fans were up hollering and jumping up and down, USC fans urging their team forward for the last minute victory and UCLA fans urging their team for a dramatic defensive stand. When the interception happened, it was like slow motion as I saw the UCLA fans continuing to jump up and down and screaming and hollering and the USC fans looking down silent in disbelief immobile.

UCLA 13 USC 9.


Sports: USC vs. UCLA

With apologies to Tolkien, Jackson and Mortensen ...

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come, when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship, but it is not this day! 

This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, stand, Bruins of Westwood!


Sports: D-day U$C vs. UCLA

I'm going to the game. A few days ago, my devotion to the Bruins was wavering but after talking to a Cal Bear alum friend who said she went to every home game in a 1-10 season, I knew I had to hang my head in shame for even thinking of selling my tickets and not going to the game.

Check out this item to get a feeling for the intensity of this rivalry. The blogger quotes from the LA Times, a fellow blogger and makes a few terse remarks. Okay, it is way over the top but you get the picture of what this rivalry is about.

Here is the excerpt from the LA Times:
How best to put this?

You are not a real UCLA fan unless the thought of knocking USC out of the national title game today makes you giggle out loud in an empty room.

This nexus of neurons got you through a half-day of work Friday before you feigned a scratchy throat, went home, turned out the lights and tried to channel Tommy Prothro.

Like breathing, this is a basic, involuntary, primal, rivalry instinct.

Your season stinks, you're trying to justify the tanks of gas it'll take to get you to the Emerald Bowl, you hurt in your solar plexus and relief will come only when you see rivulets of mascara dripping down the faces of anguished Trojans cheerleaders at the end of today's joy-filled UCLA conquest.
He quotes from another blogger ...
Coach, YOU OWE THIS TO YOUR TEAM. You are leading a group of kids who have NEVER felt the pride of beating their cross-town rival. These young men have worked, sweated, endured injuries, and will gladly leave everything on the field tomorrow if YOU can find it within yourself to inspire them. Can you?

When warriors have prevailed against overwhelming odds, they didn't accomplish their miracles by being cold, calculating, and reserved. They did it by summoning every part of their souls to defeat the enemy.
Go Bruins!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sports: D-1 until UCLA vs. U$C

UCLA has not won this game since 1998. The games have been blowouts with the exception of 2004 (29-24) and 2000 (38-35) and 1999 (17-7) where it was a low scoring affair.

My earliest memories of the rivalry was 1975. UCLA with a victory could go to the Rose Bowl and the Bruins actually won the game against USC, 25-22! Coach Dick Vermeil would use that victory and a Rose Bowl victory to make the jump to the NFL.

Terry Donahue took over as coach of UCLA and lost in 1976, 1977 (on a last second field goal), 1978, 1979. One wonders if he had lost in 1980 would he have been fired. In 1980, the Donahue led Bruins finally won 20-17.

In 1981, the Bruins were down 22-21 and were moving into field goal range. Norm Johnson was the star field goal kicker for the Bruins who went onto a decent NFL career. We can win this thing. The field goal unit went out there and ... it got blocked. Another heart breaking loss for the Bruins.

The one and only time I saw a game live was 1982.

The Bruins were leading 20-13 when USC started to march down the field. As a student, I was in the upper stratosphere of the student section in the end zone. It seemed like most of the game was played at the other end of the field. But on this drive, USC started at the opposite end and was moving down toward us. We watched in horror as they got first down after first down. Memories of past defeats were haunting us. We had a bad feeling about this: they were going to get the TD and go for the 2 point conversion.

They scored the TD on the final play of the game making it UCLA 20 USC 19.

There was no time on the clock.

USC called a time out to set up the play.

They came onto the field.

UCLA called a time out.

Both teams gathered around their coaches and the fans were all on their feet waiting.

The teams came back onto the field. The UCLA pep squad exhorted the fans to make noise. The Rose Bowl with 100,000 stood as one screaming at the top of their lungs either as Trojan fans wanting to steal a win or Bruin fans wanting to hold on for a rare win.

The snap. The sack. The crowd goes wild.