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Showing posts from August, 2007

On the beach at Talim Bay

Talim Bay, Lian, Batangas- My research takes me to look into some beach dwelling snails and crabs that could indicate the first signs of environmental change. We are developing rapid ways of detecting and diagnosing this change.

In recent years, environmental scientists have been asked to become medical doctors for the biggest patient, planet Earth! Unlike the patients of pediatricians and vets , my patient can't talk cry or bark, hiss or meow. So I have to listen and try to see what ails her.

To those wags who think PhDs are not real "doctors", I say that I have become a doctor in the original and fullest sense. Too bad there isn't any drug company that gives me freebies and golfing junkets! BTW I am also a fish doctor!

Seriously people begin to notice something's wrong with the planet when something big dies. A Brydes whale washed ashore in nearby Nasugbu town. The beached whale attracted media attention but it need not take an biggie iconic species like a whale t…

Do editors and editorial writers know how to fight a war?

The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) must be lauded for stating truths in its editorials such as 1) war is a waste, 2) war is stupid (ooops that's a Boy George hit!) and 3) Some generals could be incompetent.

Take the last paragraph in their editorial today

"It is not too late to de-escalate the hostilities. If the Marines have to avenge their slain and beheaded comrades, so be it. But limit their activities to surgical operations that will not affect entire islands. Macho warriors cannot forget the Old Testament maxim of “a tooth for a tooth” and “an eye for an eye.” And it is always easy for generals who stay in the comfort of their airconditioned war rooms to wage war and play with the lives of their men. But the morally courageous stand is to call for the reduction of hostilities and to work for peace"

The PDI is now acting as a General Headquarters where battle plans are made! The opening lines of the editorial seems to suggests. I wonder what credentials do the editors…

What was I doing? when Diana's car crashed? Ninoy was shot?

August marks the height of the hot summer season (in the Northern Hemisphere), the depths of winter (in Australia), and the worst of the rainy season (in the Philippines). This August Pinoys would still remember Ninoy Aquino (after all he is on 500 peso bills!) and Diana, Princess of Wales who died in a Paris tunnel car crash ten years ago this August 31st.

Diana Princess of Wales

I was a student in the British Empire oooops Commonwealth of Nations, in Australia when we got wind that Diana's car crashed and the Princess' condition was unaccounted for. We then learned from the news that she was with Dodi Al Fayed and that Dodi was indeed dead. Commercial broadcast seemed to stopped with only updates on the Princess' condition. Later that day, we learned that she was dead.

It was a sunny but bitterly cold and windy winter day. That I can remember. The university held a memorial service for her since the university has some connection with British royalty (after all the Elizabet…

Toxic toys, Oratio Imperata and a Typhoon

Toxic Toys

The major toy stores in Manila have started recalling some Made-in-China toys from their shelves. The US consumer authorities and regulators have found that the paints used in these toys contain high amounts of lead. Also one brand of toys have magnets that easily detach and small children are liable to swallow them.

What's wrong with these Chinese made toys? Earlier this year other Chinese made products were the focus of consumer rage and controversy, starting with melamine laced pet food, toothpaste with anti-freeze and drugs that killed patients in Panama. China's economic growth has raced but it seems that product safety had been left on the wayside. The Beijing politburo has to take note for this would definitely tarnish from Gold to Bronze the Made-in-China Olympics next year.

On the other hand toy design is now extremely complex with kids demanding more realistic and complex toys. While my parents contented themselves with wooden and metal toys in their child…

Thoughts on the news this day

I've read from the national blurbs the following

Massacre of 20 soldiers in Jolo

The Yellow (centrist) blurb and the Blue (left-leaning) blurb had op-ed and headlines about the massacre of army troops in Jolo. My dad must be spinning in his Libingan ng mga Bayani grave. On this is sure, the AFP leadership better account for this loss as it reflects on the Queen as commander-in-chief. The Peemayers who make up top brass should tender their resignation and or if not Her Majesty should have their heads cut off (I'm speaking here in the figurative sense!)

One retired Air Force general and EDSA 1 hero likened the Sulu massacre to the Charge of the Light Brigade. He writes that the AFP should be better called AFGMA!

How I wish the Great Saluyot Max Soliven were still around writing columns for the Yellow blurb. He would have thundered with a lot of sanamagans and compared this to the similar debacles during Apo Ferdinand's presidency. At least the great Apo immediately crushed th…

On Heresies and why the 21st century needs heretics

The Orthodox Church defines heresy as " a strange doctrine". defines it as

1. opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, esp. of a church or religious system. 2.the maintaining of such an opinion or doctrine. 3.In the Roman Catholic Church. the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church. 4.any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc.
Today heresy can be euphemistically called a "dangerous idea".

The patron saint of heretics could be Galileo Galilei. The famous "heresy" quote from this first modern scientist is

It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved [By Science].

Galileo's thesis throws a spanner [or for American English users "monkey wrench] to the maintainers of orthodoxy. Orthodoxy may not represent truth at all and thus the orthodoxy may really endanger souls. A heresy may …

License to Wed

I just saw the comedy "License to Wed" with Mandy Moore and John Kransinski playing the engaged couple and Robin Williams as the Reverend Frank, a pastor of a church that obviously holds on to traditional values.

I couldn't figure out Robin William's character as a priest of a church. What church? He looked so Episcopalian and High Church! He was once married and Catholic priests can't be ordained as divorced men.

I found the movie both hilarious and serious at the same time. After all I was in a similar situation. Now the film makes it clear some important gender differences. I can't say it and she can't get it!

Now the positive note is that nothing is indeed irreconcilable. If marriage is an image of God's relationship to all of us and God won't stop at anything to make it work, then we can always make it work. There isn't any excuse.

"Never to fart"

On Hillary Clinton's Cleavage

Male biology undergrad students first meet the word "cleavage" in embryology class. Later on when time permits for some girl ogling (usually after the embryo exam!), the word takes a new and more interesting meaning.

I read with much mirth the news article on Democratic presidentiable Hillary Clinton. I think Ms Clinton should be nonplussed and even congratulated. At least she had no qualms about expressing some aspect of her sexuality (that obviously had caught Bill's eye) despite the position of power that she aims to get.

I don't think revealing some cleavage "objectifies" women. In Darwinian sexual selection sexes really objectify each other. After all why should female birds put a big fuss about how colourful or big a male's feathers or wattle!

It is the female that does the selection. And we taxonomists know that the females really choose their mates on the basis of the attributes (the secondary sexual characteristics) of males.

The Washington Post wr…

On the shore and waiting for the tide in Dumaguete

My work takes me to many places in the Philippines and the world. But one of the perks is to wait for the tide and reflect on what life has brought, is bringing and will bring me. (Dumaguete, Philippines)

In the whalebone museum of Silliman University, I get to get a feel of traditional whaling in the Visayas.

Falling coconuts are a hazard on Silliman Beach!