Thursday, May 25, 2006

Blair and Bush talk about Iraq and mistakes

Blair and Bush held a press conference tonight and answered questions about Iraq. Reporters asked about troop deployments, progress, mistakes, etc. It was essentially the same old questions and the same answers, except one: I was impressed with President Bush, he mentioned that one of his biggest mistakes was talking too "tough" and it made him look arrogant to other parts of the world. That was a surprising, humble reply.

My thoughts on the attack
The execution of the war and the technological victory against Saddam's forces was incredible. That was one of the fastest (and one of the most expensive) wars in earth's history.

We know WMDs weren't found; however, for me removing Saddam was the reason I supported the decision of our government. Why? Saddam was a dictator that conducted genocide against his own countrymen and conducted hostilities against other countries like Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and tried to kill a former U.S. president. To say that he was dangerous was an understatement. His continued interference against UN inspectors and blatant ignorance of international law was a shameful disgrace -- thankfully a handful of countries stood up to topple him.

My thoughts on the restoration
Prime Minister Blair called for a balance perspective on Iraq. Not everything is perfect, and not everything is wrong. If the restoration project was simplified to a scale of a 100 percent, we would probably be sitting around 60% of goal. The major part of the last 40% is Iraq's ability to enforce the rule of law. If they are able to keep the peace, civilian infrastructures can be built.

Whether you agree or disagree with the decision to go to war, we all agree that we should finish the job and go home as soon as possible. As an American, what can you do to help in this goal?

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Gospel of Judas - Trash Before, Trash Now

Over the past few months, there's been a lot of news regarding the Gospel of Judas. There was a lot of speculation that it could change Christianity's point of view on Judas and of God. But in actuality, the Gospel of Judas is nothing more than a gnostic's integration of Jewish mysticism and Christianity. It's a heretical book and will always be a heretical book.

The history of this book
Contrary to what the U.S. media suggests, the Gospel of Judas has been known to exist for a very long time. It was not "found" -- it's been rejected and thrown away. There's a difference between a lost book and a rejected book. It seems like those that "found" this book was hoping people would forget about the book's history -- since it reduces its significance and market value.

The truth is, it was written after all of the gospels of the Bible has been written and nearly 160 years pass the time of Jesus. Judas was already dead by the time this book was written. It was rejected by the Christian church as heretical and will continued to be rejected.

Early church leader rejected this book
A Christian theologian and church elder by the name of Irenaeus (130-202 AD) wrote about the Gospel of Judas: "They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas."

Irenaeus clearly recognized the heretical problems of this supposed new gospel. He was a student of Polycarp, who was a student of the apostle John. He knew the Gospel of Judas did not meet the standard Christian faith.

Specific problems
There are some very specific problems with this book:

1. This book does not recognize Jesus as one with God. He is considered a "lesser" being. This does not match the faith of the apostles and the foundational belief of the Trinity.

"“The twelve rulers spoke with the twelve angels: ‘Let each of you [52] […] and let them […] generation [—one line lost—] angels’: The first is [S]eth, who is called Christ."

2. Gnostic beliefs usually pursue mysticism or "special knowledge" (gnosis) as the central goal of life. In the Gospel of Judas, the Cainites wrote that Judas alone received the "special knowledge" from Christ. This conflicts with the rest of the gospels that clearly show the Good News as transparent, open, and inviting to the world. Additionally, contrary to this book's ideas, there are no different spiritual realms.

Jesus said, “[Come], that I may teach you about [secrets] no person [has] ever seen. For there exists a great and boundless realm, whose extent no generation of angels has seen, [in which] there is [a] great invisible [Spirit],

3. The book conflicts with Old Testament's account on Creation. God created the world by Himself and not with angels.

“Then Saklas said to his angels, ‘Let us create a human being after the likeness and after
the image.’

4. The book talks about new realms, and rulers of spiritual levels. It also talks about twelve angels ruling over chaos and the underworld. All of which contradicts with Biblical accounts.

“The multitude of those immortals is called the cosmos— that is, perdition—by the
Father and the seventy-two luminaries who are with the Self-Generated and his seventytwo
aeons. In him the first human appeared with his incorruptible powers. And the aeon
that appeared with his generation, the aeon in whom are the cloud of knowledge and the
angel, is called [51] El. […] aeon […] after that […] said, ‘Let twelve angels come into
being [to] rule over chaos and the [underworld].’ And look, from the cloud there
appeared an [angel] whose face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with
blood. His name was Nebro, which means ‘rebel’; others call him Yaldabaoth. Another
angel, Saklas, also came from the cloud. So Nebro created six angels—as well as
Saklas—to be assistants, and these produced twelve angels in the heavens, with each one
receiving a portion in the heavens.

Truth revealed

The Gospel of was trash before and still belongs to the trash today.

Friday, May 19, 2006

One of the Largest Malls in the World Opens in Manila, Philippines

This is the third largest shopping mall in the world, beating out West Edmonton Mall, the largest North American mall built in 1981. Here is the rest:

1. South China Mall, China (7.1 mil square feet)
2. Golden Resources Shopping Mall, China (6.0 mil square feet)
3. SM Mall of Asia, Manila, Philippines (4.3 mil square feet)
4. West Edmonton Mall, Canada (3.8 mil square feet)

All Headline News

Manila, Philippines (AHN) - Philippines' biggest mall opened on Saturday with Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo present.

Arroyo joined Mall developer Henry Sy in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Mall of Asia. The mall sits on 148 acres of land looking over Manila Bay.

The 4.3 million square foot mall features an Olympic sized ice skating rink and the Philippines' first IMAX movie house.

Dell Inc. even has 145,000-sq.ft for a call center at the mall. It is Dell's second contact center in the country.

Hans Sy, son of Henry Sy, said, "We are a nation of mall-lovers with millions flocking to our air-conditioned malls daily and more so on weekends."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bush's immigration speech: a balanced approach

Bush's 16 minute speech about immigration tonight was clear:

  • Supplement border security with National Guard troops until DHS can hire more border security agents.

  • Create process for illegal immigrants to register themselves, pay current and back taxes, and move themselves from the dark shadows of illegal immigration.

    This is a good start to comprehensive immigration reform. You are protecting the borders and registering the illegal immigrants.
  • Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Happy Mother's Day!

    To all the mothers out there...Happy Mother's Day! Day in and day out, mothers provide for their family. They work, they cook, and they make sure that their children gets the best. Without their care and guidance, who knows where we would be.

    Exodus 20:12
    "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, so that your days may be long..."

    Ephesians 6:2
    "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with a promise...

    The Bible promises a long life if you honor your father and mother. Honor is of high respect as if you were to honor an award to someone. It also means to give credit for someone's tasks or profession. The word is also used to glorify or to recognize, and the very last to signify the dignity of that person's position in your life.

    How can a person have a longer life if they honor their parents?
    We know a lot about early child development and the human psyche. We know that if you have a good relationship with your parents, you have a better emotional and mental life. A good physical, emotional, and mental upbringing is better than a bad one. Common sense right?

    As an adult, we should continue to honor our parents even if we disagree with them. We should continue to recognize what they've done for us. We can never truly repay them for bringing us up into this world. As birth or adopted parents, they gave us life. That's the gift that is hard to ever repay.

    Importance of this law in the Ten Commandments
    As we know, the Ten Commandments is active in the New and Old Testament (Matthew 5:17-18). Whenever Jesus quoted a law from the Ten Commandments, He calibrated the Jews. He taught them to not only follow the letter of the law, but the spirit of it. Here's some examples of Jesus calibrating the Jews...
  • Matthew 12:10: You can't heal or help people on the Sabbath -- the Jews made that up. Jesus corrected them.
  • Matthew 5:21-22: Not only shouldn't you murder someone, you shouldn't even be wrongfully angry at them or call them names!
  • Mark 2:27: Man wasn't made for the Sabbath but vice versa. The Sabbath was made for mankind (that's a universal statement in Greek, meaning the whole world not just Jews alone).

    So what did Jesus say in terms of honoring your father and mother? He corrected the teachers of the law and told them not to be hypocrites. "Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Mark reminds the religious Jews that lip service isn’t all that is required in the honoring of parents. But making sure also that they are loved and financially and physically cared for in their old age." (Source:
  • Thursday, May 11, 2006 The New Trend in Lending, Customer Service Getting Better

    Lending Revolution: The Individual Investor

    I was reading a news article about Prosper, the newest auction-style marketplace...but you're not buying shoes or books, you're lending or borrowing money!

    If you have extra cash, you can lend it to people. Prosper will show you their credit rating, their debt to income ratio, the reasons they need the money, and what return you are going to get back. If the borrower doesn't pay, they'll incur penalties and if they default, they will get a flag in their credit report and a collection agency starts calling. You can calculate your risk by understanding the default rates based on the person's credit rating. You'll take more risk from someone that has bad credit, but the interests are usually higher -- meaning greater reward.

    How can this web site make me money? Consider this layman's example. A bank gives you 4-5% interest on your savings account, while they take that money and lend it to other people at 10-14%. They profit the difference.

    You now have the ability to lend to people and cut out the bank. You will be the one earning the 10-14% interest. I took a quick glance at one Prosper auction: a homeowner needs $15,000 to fix up a house and re-sell it. He has AA credit and he is offering 10% interest. 136 people funded his $15,000 request and they'll be getting interest on their money for the next 3 years -- more than a normal savings account would get. The fact that the consumer has AA credit reduces your risk as well.

    Lending Revolution: The Borrower

    If you're on the opposite end of the spectrum, Prosper makes it easy too! You don't have to go to the bank and fill out dozens of forms. With Prosper, you sign-up, and get verified through a credit report and you're done. A profile will be built based on your credit report results. Lenders will start bidding on your request. The better your credit is, the better.

    If you have bad credit, you'll probably want to raise the interest rates higher to attract more lenders. Additionally, Prosper submits payment history to the credit agencies; hence, getting a loan (no matter what size) from Prosper actually helps in rebuilding your credit! Bad Customer Service

    There is one missing thing about In a brick and mortar lending institution, if I need something done quickly, I can go to their office; however, with, you can't do this.

    Their call center operators in the Philippines (they number around 12 agents), do not have authority to manually verify your credit report. If there is a problem verifying your identity, U.S. operators need to verify you. However, you cannot reach a U.S. operator directly -- a phone rep needs to send a message to Prosper's California headquarters for a callback. I got somewhat irritated when I didn't get a callback for almost 72 hours.

    I talked to Karen Appleton, Vice President of Development for Prosper to see if she could help to improve the manual verification process. She said that they are "...working diligently with our customer service team to prevent situations like yours from occurring." Within 24 hours, Karen and her team started changing the process to make it more user friendly. As of May 12th, 2006 -- the manual verification process has been changed to where the customer can manually fax the needed documentation without having to wait for a callback.

    Awesome! I give an A+ for process improvement and they have one new lender on their boat (me)!

    Prosper's Karen Appleton

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Business Tip: Labor Intensive Businesses Should Adjust With Market Conditions

    If you're the CEO of a labor intensive, skilled business such as a services firm, one of the biggest challenges you have is recruitment. In Southwest Florida, where we lead the state with a 2.2% unemployment rate, it is an incredible challenge for a labor intensive business.

    Many employees are "job shopping" for greener pastures. Over the course of this blog entry, I'm going to comment on some mistakes that I've seen labor intensive companies make and how you as a business owner can avoid it.

    Understand Market Conditions
    Market conditions change for a variety of reasons. The more growth a region has, the harder it is for you to recruit. Supply and demand. The more jobs available, the less inventory of applicants. As the number of jobs grow, the wages have to increase in order to compete.

    If you are finding that your business is now competing at the same level of pay as unskilled workers like fast food chains, you know you have a problem. The problem won't disappear and if the future forecasts state that growth isn't slowing anytime soon -- start changing.

    Don't get me wrong, you can still hire people even if your wages are below the industry average in the area. But you are not attracting the best and brightest, but rather the unskilled or those that may require significant coaching and training.

    Increased Wages and Margins Sacrifice
    The major reason that companies do not increase wages is due to profit margins. Your customer may not be willing to pay anything extra to address your labor cost. So profits stay the same but the cost of wages go up. This is actually normal as your business industry is maturing: more choices for the customer, and less profits for you. Come on now, we learned that in business school. :-)

    The truth is, you need to seriously look at your options:
  • Increase the wage and sacrifice parts of your margins
  • Continue to be underperforming in terms of wage levels and have a slow death through a labor crunch, or have an unqualified workforce handling skilled jobs
  • Look for other income streams
  • Close shop, look for other regions that are more competitive -- you'll probably face this same issue when the market conditions change in that area

    Some profit is better than no profit -- don't get too greedy. If you don't invest in your workforce in a competitive and growing region...consider yourself dead. About seven years ago I gave the same advice to a services company. Listen to market conditions, adjust your labor. Sadly, it fell on deaf ears, and they closed down in a few months. Labor issues affect morale, and if you are not addressing it head on, you are a sinking ship. Don't panic, don't play politics, don't push other people, just fix the obvious problem: listen to the market.
  • Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Fishing Report: Estero Bay 05/07/2006

    After fishing some artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and trying out the Caloosa River, we found little to no fish entertaining our bait. As we came closer to the marina, I didn't want to give up yet... I started casting near the docks and from 3pm-7pm, we couldn't keep up with the fish!

    Over 30+ mangrove snappers with the average size of 12 inches or more, crevalle jacks (great fighters), and scamp groupers. We also had some rare Atlantic spadefish giving us a fight on the line.

    For sure, this was the best day of fishing for all of us this year. We caught so much fish, it was incredible!

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Movie Review: Mission Impossible III...and Keri Russell?

    Director Abram's vision of Mission Impossible III was done well! Lots of action, good twists, character development, and a solid cast. Furthermore, the movie didn't carry an R-rating and most Christians movie watchers would appreciate this: it had limited profanity and sensual scenes were limited.

    Good vs. Evil
    I'll try not to spit out any plot spoilers here. The consequences of Ethan's actions in this movie carry a heavier price compared to the previous installments of MI. In the past, there was a bad guy wanting to do bad things. As shown in the previews, Ethan now has a personal reason to make sure the mission is successful: his new wife is in danger! And the line between good and evil start blurring gray.

    Keri Russell's debut
    I haven't seen Keri Russell in any major production for almost four years. It was a good surprise to see her in this movie. Gone is the old petite, innocent girl image from her old TV series, Felicity. In this movie, she's a secret agent sent on a mission. And if you're a martial artist, you'll appreciate this -- she was praticing a form of Filipino martial arts (escrima) in one of the movie's flashbacks.

    Russell was one of my favorite TV stars and I'm glad to see her comeback to the screen.

    Tom Cruise's performance
    Cruise can jump the couch on this one -- his acting on this film was like his previous projects: superb. Paramount is correct in assuming that Cruise is a bankable actor. His films will always go past $45 million on a box office weekend even if he jokes around that he is going to eat his baby's placenta. By the way Tom, congrats on the baby.

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    California Trip

    Just got back from California! Destinations: Long Beach, Seal Beach, Glendale, Loma Linda, and Los Angeles. Overall my trip was good -- really no major problems except my group was delayed on the first leg of the trip (we had to stay overnight in Minnesota because we missed a connecting flight).

    Los Angeles International Airport or LAX seems to be a lot better than what I experienced in the past. Good landing, quick luggage checkout, and it was easy for me to find the shuttle bus for the rental cars. Once I hopped onto the rental cars and referenced maps, I was able to find my way to my destinations. I'm happy to say that it was easy to navigate California's highways, despite the fact they don't have mile markers like Florida does. I saw a few traffic mishaps where four lane highways were a dead stop due to an accident -- thankfully I was on the other side.

    What I like about California
    The weather in California is comfortable. There are some stunning views to be seen through the Pacific Coast Highway, especially near the U.S. navy depots. The boating activity there reminded me of Southwest Florida. The business activity in the area is also great -- commerce is California's biggest strengths along with a higher wage average.

    What I don't like about California
    As we were driving through some upscale neighborhoods, we were surprised to find $800,000 homes that were not very attractive. In fact, our friends that live in the area said a lot of the homes are 2-3 bedrooms and are 10+ years old. Some of the homes didn't even have driveways. But hey, to each his own right?

    Loma Linda University
    We also drove to Loma Linda University. It's about an hour and a half drive east from Los Angeles. The university is one of the most famous universities in the world in relation to health sciences. It's associated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and is a leading provider of doctorate and professional degrees in the nation.

    To think the entire organization was started with a single vision from one lady by the name of Ellen G. White. She didn't even have a high school education! But through her guidance, she started not only the church but the organizations and health system that formed Loma Linda to what it is today.

    It was encouraging to see that a Christian organization like Loma Linda has been blessed with so much, and is recognized for its achievements in science. Many scientists believe Christianity and science do not mix -- but in Loma Linda, they make it happen. And according to the National Geographic, the people that live by the health principles provided in the Bible live longer than most people in the world. In fact, Loma Linda's population has a good number of people that live over 90+ years old (and they're still active!).

    Nothing Like Home
    I have to say though, despite having an oceanfront hotel room in Long Beach, I still prefer my bed. Once I got home, I instantly fell asleep. Florida might not have the population or economic clout like California, but it has relatively affordable housing, boating, and it is home sweet home.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Immigrants: Legal & Illegal Show Their Strength

    Over 1 million people throughout the United States have gathered on Monday to march against recent immigration reform bills proposed in Congress. Some like Bill O'Reilly (FoxNews) and Lou Doubbs (CNN) have commented that these immigrants who have marched together are not helping their cause. I respectfully disagree.

    By coming out and marching, they effectively sent a message that they are people too. They've put a face to the United States' labor force.

    Are illegals paying taxes?
    One of the biggest complaints that uninformed individuals have against illegals is that they assume they do not pay taxes.

    This is untrue. While many use fake social security numbers and they pay taxes through their employers, there are others who pay taxes through legal tax IDs provided by the IRS. Since 1996, the IRS has opened the way for illegal immigrants to pay taxes. Unlike most people, most hard working illegal immigrants are actually thankful of the opportunities in the United States and are willing to pay taxes.

    Are illegals taking our jobs?
    The overall answer is no. The country doesn't have enough willing citizens to work certain markets.

    For those that understand the principles of macroeconomics -- you understand that cheap, effecient labor will result in a net gain for the economy. Let's face the truth: agriculture, housing, and construction industries of America are laid on the backs of illegal immigrants. The cheap labor that illegal immigrants provide bring the costs down. Can you imagine if house builders can no longer hire illegal immigrants? Can you imagine fruits and vegetables jumping up as fast as gas prices?

    Are illegals becoming a burden on our social programs like education?
    If an illegal family is hard working and is paying their taxes, they are NOT a burden to our society. If an illegal family is not paying their taxes, absolutely, they are a burden to our social programs.

    Do you support illegal immigration?
    The term illegal immigration is largely based on what Congress labels as legal. In fact, most people don't understand how HARD it is for someone to be a legal immigrant if they are coming from a developing country.

    Congress does not make it easy and technically, the bills they have passed have been discriminate against poor people. Only rich countries can come into the country freely. Take a look at Canada -- they can come in with a driver's license to the United States while Mexico, you'd have to sacrifice life and limb before you can get a visa.

    We should not be discriminate because a country is poor. America in its infancy accepted everyone with open arms and we became stronger because of it. The immigration process should be the same for ALL countries (except those that we are at war with or have sanctions on). My point is: if a person is hard working, makes a contribution to society by not committing any crimes, and pays their taxes -- they are making the country better. They should be allowed to work, and stay in this country. That's how this country was built.