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Showing posts from July, 2007

Science education blues

Offensive to the Church? Darwin?

Last Saturday I gave a plenary talk to a basic science education symposium attended by science teachers from ASEAN and Asian countries. I gave my talk about what needs to be done in biodiversity education. Now that the biodiversity crisis is a major global environmental concern, teachers will have to quickly create learning and teaching strategies that emphasize conservation. However what constrains us is that the cornerstone theory of our modern understanding of biodiversity, Charles Darwin's and Alfred Russel Wallace's theory of evolution is not taught well in many schools.

But before I gave my talk, a woman speaker outlined our education department's gender sensitivity and sexuality education program. It looks like that many of our learning strategies need to be gender sensitized by which stereotypical gender roles must be removed from lesson plans and textbooks. I don't see anything wrong with that. Today in many households, men do th…

State of the Nation

Today as required by the Constitution, the President of the Philippines will address the Congress and outline her plans and what detail she has achieved since the last session of Congress. This tradition of the Head of State appearing before the legislature is from the days when the Monarch summons Parliament so that he can have tax money. Only the Parliament can levy taxes. To this day, Her Majesty the Queen appears before the Parliament in Westminster and reads the throne speech. The speech outlines the legislative program of the government of the day.

The Queen today is barred by convention to express her political opinions even before Parliament (she can only do so in the confidence of the Prime Minister in Buckingham Palace). The President however is not accountable to the legislature and can express her opinion. In this way the President is more like an absolute ruler than the Queen. While it is the unwritten constitutional convention that prevents the Queen from exercising her a…

Leftist hysterics and the Human Security Act of 2007

There is something hysterical about the reaction of the Philippine Left (and a few Catholic bishops) about the implementation of the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007. This act is so watered down (compared to similar laws in other countries) that it puts the burden on the law enforcers to immediately build a convincing case on a "terrorist" suspect. In other jurisdictions a terrorist suspect can be detained for a month without charges. The HSA however says that a suspect can be detained only for 3 days without charges or a warrant from a judge. Police are immediately required to present the suspect to a Judge.

At least the HSA does not define "unlawful combatant" unlike the world's only Superpower.

The penalties for the law enforcers violating the rights of the detained are quite heavy from hefty fines to prison terms of up to 12 years. Furthermore all acts of law enforcers in prosecuting suspects are subject to judicial control. Only a competent court can orde…

Do geeks really Die Hard?

The erstwhile computer geek has been made a hero (by saving the US of A from a major computer crash and terrorist attack) in the latest and most unbelievable Bruce Willis starrer "Die Hard 4.0". This heroic geek is played by Justin Long as Matt Farell.

Of course if you have a geek as the savior of America you must have a geek as the Evil one Who's Name is Legion convincingly played by Timothy Olyphant as dumped national security consultant Thomas Gabriel.

I have nothing against computer geeks. They have a niche in our society. But what I don't like about this latest movie dished out by Hollywood is that geeks are stereotyped once more. Geeks are portrayed as uncoordinated and bumbling in the movie except the evil geek whose cold moves may strike terror in the viewer. Another evil geek is a female named Mai Linh played by Hawaiian Asian-American actress Maggie Q. This female geek is a martial artist. Well Asian women have been stereotyped once more. One fat geek called …

A dissenting Catholic's take on Benedict's lifting of restrictions on the Tridentine Mass

Pope Benedict XVI recently issued a motu propio "Summorum Pontificum" authorizing the wider celebration of the Tridentine Mass in Latin thereby allowing the old rite's celebration irregardless of what the local bishop decides. Whereas before, John Paul II issued an indult allowing the celebration of this old rite if the laity requests for it and the diocesan bishop allows it. John Paul left it to the local bishops to make the decision. The bishops have been extremely hesitant to grant the permission since very few Catholics requested for it and that it may cause divisions in the Church.

Conservative and traditionalist Catholics have complained that the New Mass or Novus Ordo (Mass of Paul VI) has been innovated a lot. This is true. Some parishes celebrate the Mass according to the rubrics of Paul VI and some add dances, mimes etc that make the Mass more like a concert than a sacrifice.

Some of the traditionalists have separated from the Catholic Church. These former …

nuclear fireball

The first lesson in my undergrad environmental science class is about this picture. The Sun is really a nuclear furnace. Earth was born from dust and fire and the elements came about. Humans are nothing but dust from a star. We were once hydrogen and we will become once more hydrogen. To the Christian who reads his/her Gospel, the riches and kingdoms that the Devil offered to the Christ in the desert is really nothing. What does it profit a man to gain nothing in the process lose his soul?

Rocky shore Zen

A meditation
For when the tide comes
The rock stands with the foam

What is the truth value of science?

In the latest issue of Scientific American two eminent scientists were asked to exchange their views on how scientists ought to approach religion and its followers. The two are Cosmologist Lawrence M Krauss and Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins. While Krauss is amenable to concede that religion may have beneficial functions in human society he won't be hesitant to fight against fundamentalist religion if it teaches against what empirical evidence would say about nature.

Dawkins on the other hand wouldn't concede any ground to religion. Dawkins has a scientistic philosophy. I have reviewed his "God Delusion" in past blog posts and I am of the opinion that this books is the WORST book Dawkins ever wrote (I have read all his books!) since he had ventured into Theology of which he is nothing but a mere writer of caricature (his philosophical discussion of purgatory is a comedy) as bad as any unsophisticated religious fundamentalist.

Dawkins posits that the moral or c…

Mass Dress code

The Cardinal Archbishop of Manila, the Most Reverend Gaudencio Rosales recently sent guidelines to his diocese about the proper attire for Mass. The directives have been favourably viewed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) whose members are likely to adopt the Cardinal's guidelines.The issue of Mass attire is not just an issue for Pinoy Catholics but also with Catholics worldwide. Let me give my own take on the issue.Overseas, especially in countries with a British heritage or colonial history, the Catholic church is usually near the Anglican or Protestant church. Sometimes the two churches are located across the street from each other. I usually make it a point to attend Mass in the morning and attend evening prayer with the Anglicans and Protestants in the evening. This is where I observe some major differences in what people wear for worship.It seems that the Anglicans and Protestants dress up for services compared to the Catholics. The Anglican men ma…