Saturday, October 16, 2004

Nobel Prizes

Let me take some time to plug UCSB!

The faculty at UC Santa Barbara was awarded two more Nobel Prizes in the respective fields of Physics and Economics just within the last two weeks. The university had already possessed four nobels, three of which were awarded within the last six years. This brings the grand total to six.

I received an undergraduate degree as well as a graduate degree from UCSB, both from the College of Engineering. I can say that the College of Engineering as well as Institute for Theoretical Physics are absolutely top notch and are improving every year. In fact, physicists today expect the next major research breakthrough in theoretical physics to come out of either UC Santa Barbara or CalTech. Not a bad playing ground, that.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Beauty of the Liturgy of the Temple

I am struck by the imagery in this description of the work of Simon "the Just", the high priest, son of Onias, in the temple and the people gathered around him worshipping God. It is recorded in Sirach 50:1-21.
How glorious [Simon, the high priest] was when the people gathered round him
as he came out of the inner sanctuary [from behind the veil]!

Like the morning star among the clouds,
like the moon when it is full;
like the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High,
and like the rainbow gleaming in glorious clouds;
like roses in the days of the first fruits,
like lilies by a spring of water,
like a green shoot on Lebanon on a summer day;
like fire and incense in the censer,
like a vessel of hammered gold adorned with all kinds of precious stones;
like an olive tree putting forth its fruit,
and like a cypress towering in the clouds.
Can you picture that? It continues. It gets better.
When he put on his glorious robe and clothed himself with superb perfection and went up to the holy altar, he made the court of the sanctuary glorious. And when he received the portions from the hands of the priests, as he stood by the hearth of the altar with a garland of brethren around him, he was like a young cedar on Lebanon; and they surrounded him like the trunks of palm trees, all the sons of Aaron in their splendor with the Lord's offering in their hands, before the whole congregation of Israel.

Finishing the service at the altars, and arranging the offering to the Most High, the Almighty, he reached out his hand to the cup and poured a libation of the blood of the grape; he poured it out at the foot of the altar, a pleasing odor to the Most High, the King of all. Then the sons of Aaron shouted, they sounded the trumpets of hammered work, they made a great noise to be heard for remembrance before the Most High.

Then all the people together made haste and fell to the ground upon their faces to worship their Lord, the Almighty, God Most High. And the singers praised him with their voices in sweet and full-toned melody. And the people besought the Lord Most High in prayer before him who is merciful, till the order of worship of the Lord was ended; so they completed his service.

Then Simon came down, and lifted up his hands over the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his lips, and to glory in his name; and they bowed down in worship a second time, to receive the blessing from the Most High.
As you read this, what comes to your mind?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Which Biological Molecule Are You?

You are mRNA. You're brilliant, full of important,
interesting information and you're a great
friend to the people you care about. You may
have sides to you that no one understands. But
while you understand more than most people,
you're only half-there most of the time.

Which Biological Molecule Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, October 11, 2004

Media Unbiased?

I oppose the war in Iraq, and I have many questions about how real the possibility is that the Iraqi people can take control and sustain a democracy after so much turmoil. Nevertheless, I do believe that the Iraqi people are better off having the chance to do this without living under the oppression of a brutal dictator. I have had an interesting time trying to form a balanced opinion about this matter - especially when thinking about who has the better plan to see the situation in Iraq all of the way through to really keep it from becoming a future haven for terrorist networks. But where can we really get a balanced view of things?

Chris at Veritas reports:
So, yesterday the Iraq Survey Group -- which was/is responsible for finding WMDs in Iraq -- released its long-awaited, 1000 page report.

Now, if all your news comes from the MSM -- like this AP story -- then you're bound not to hear certain things, like the fact that Saddam bribed politicians, journalists, and anyone else he thought would help him get rid of the sanctions on Iraq. Specifically, he went after France, Russia, and China, three countries which -- surprise! -- happen to have veto power on the UN Security Council.

In addition, the ISG found that Saddam's intent was that once sanctions were gone, he would begin -- again -- to actually develop WMDs, because the infrastructure for their production remained.
In other words, though there was no evidence of the physical existence of WMDs in Iraq, the future of the world is better without Saddam in power. I listened to details about Duelfer's report on all of the various networks, but the most balanced account, which included details about Saddam's bribery of the very countries responsible for imposing sanctions, was on FoxNews. Can we really trust those whom we like to call our Allies?
Quite the contrast

This was interesting. Toward the end of the 2nd presidential debate last friday, Sarah Degenhart asked the following question:
Senator Kerry, suppose you are speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?
An issue near and dear to my own thoughts. Here's what Kerry had to say to Sarah:
I would say to that person exactly what I will say to you right now. First of all, I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I'm a Catholic, raised a Catholic. I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life. It helped lead me through a war, leads me today. But I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn't share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can't do that. But I can counsel people. I can talk reasonably about life and about responsibility. I can talk to people, as my wife Teresa does, about making other choices, and about abstinence, and about all these other things that we ought to do as a responsible society. But as a president, I have to represent all the people in the nation. And I have to make that judgment.
In other words, Sarah, he can't reassure that voter, because he's going to use that voter's tax dollars to support murder. This position isn't popular enough to be worth defending, and Kerry's moral conscience, supposedly informed by his Catholic upbringing, has no part in decisions that affect the well being of the American people. One wonders how we can trust him to take a principled step in any endeavor that requires the motivation of his moral conscience.

Bush's response to Sarah Degenhart seemed much more clear:
My answer is, we're not going to spend taxpayers' money on abortion.
Kerry also stated that he wants to work to reduce the number of abortions, yet he's willing to give $100 million each year to advance research using stem-cells taken from destroyed human embryos. Am I the only one who fails to see the consistency with a position such as that? Bush's position, while insufficient, is at least more consistent. He stated what Kerry couldn't state:
Embryonic stem-cell research requires the destruction of life to create [extract] a stem cell.
Considering the pull in America today to federally fund this type of research, I'd say it isn't easy for a politician to stand up, take a principled stand for what appears to be the minority opinion: not to federally fund the destruction of human life.


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