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Showing posts from December, 2007

Jose Rizal: First Pinoy Darwinist

Much has been written about Jose Rizal to the extent that Rizal historian Ambeth Ocampo has achieved a sort of historiographic megastardom (All of my Ambeth books are autographed by him!). Ambeth has written many popular essays on the national hero. But very little has been written about the history of science in the Philippines. Rizal figures in the history of Philippine science as children are taught. Textbooks say he is an inventor,naturalist, psychologist etc. Some authors would even concoct titles for Rizal as the first "hydraulic engineer" for making an irrigation system in Dapitan! (Didn't the Ifugao have a headstart on that?)

But none would say that he was probably the first Pinoy to have read Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species" and "Descent of Man". Darwin's books revolutionized our understanding of biology and laid forth the idea that a Creator God isn't needed for the diversification of life. This idea made the two works more…

Reassessing the New Society

In his latest opinion column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the ever incisive Manolo Quezon challenges readers on the occassion of the death of Marcos’ apologist Adrian Cristobal, to objectively reassess the Apo’s (not Jim, Danny and Boboy but the Great Ferdinand) New Society.

I agree with Manolo that it is about time to cast an objective eye on the Marcos years and have a better appreciation of why EDSA 1 etc including latest spin-offs like the la affaire Trillanes flopped. If we deal with the Marcos years, we can also have a more realistic assessment of Corazon Aquino's presidency. We can also have a sane assessment of Jose Maria Sison's Maoist Revolution (in which on the 39th anniversary of the CPP he suggests the house where the party was founded turned into a tourist spot. It is a Long March in capitalist tourism from Pangasinan to Utrecht!) and why it also flopped!

Manolo assesses the career of Adrian Cristobal who ghost written a lot of Marcos' works. But Manolo…

Tony Blair becomes a Catholic

British media has had a field day reporting on ex British PM Tony Blair's reception into the Catholic Church.

Blair isn't the only high profile Brit that left the Established Church of England for the Church of Rome. Several members of the Royal Family have converted for various reasons. They were required to get the permission of the Queen. She gave it without fuss as long as the converts give up their rights to the throne. After all, the succession laws of England prevent a Roman Catholic from ascending the throne. This is the last of the laws that discriminate against Catholics.

There is no law that bars a Catholic from being Prime Minister although Britain has never had a Catholic PM.

More Catholics now attend church than Anglicans in Britain. Catholics make up the fastest growing Christian denomination in the kingdom. The Anglican Communion is in the process of rupture after some of its member churches decided to ordain women and gay priests and bishops, something the conse…

Empty on Christmas

My car almost went empty of gas after the gas stations ran out of unleaded ethanol blend. I had to buy the more expensive high octane fuel.

What has this got to do with Christmas? Like a carrier shell that has collected the sea's junk our Christmas celebrations have accumulated parties, feasts, presents (which we expect), presents (which people expect us to give) and Christmas bonuses (money!)

There was one baby born on this day with never had anything at all although he had all right to everything. One thing I have learned in the spiritual sense when studying environment and biodiversity is that nothing belongs to us. If there is a moral lesson to the global warming problem this is that the planet really isn't ours.

To whom does the planet and the cosmos belongs? It belongs to the one who made them. Christians believe that God made everything and God became one of us (in doing so became part of the biosphere). He had to go through the stages of life starting with a zygote and e…

ATM crash!

There is no doubt that automated teller machines (ATM) have convenient for many Pinoys. Many now receive their salaries through their ATM accounts in the banks.

However during times of heavy withdrawals especially at Christmastime and during other holidays the ATM system is overtaxed and that the network crashes. This causes probably millions in loses for the banks and merchants.

This should give banks pause for thought. Banks probably have done studies on Pinoy use of ATMs behaviour thus machines are situated in malls and near offices. Pinoys tend to withdraw their whole pay at a time.

Thus the volume of transactions that costs much. We are still really a cash based economy and people tend to use ATMs as a sort of electronic bank book.

Obviously the system can't handle the large withdrawals that cause long queues at the machines. Criminals also have taken advantage of this and they "prey"on the unwary. Businesses and merchants also lose. If a customer can't get his/her …

Throwing the monkeywrench or spanner as you like at

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Philippines and Animal Welfarists

The PETA Philippines statement has this to say about keeping fish in captivity at a Manila public aquarium

"The chlorine, copper sulfate, and other harsh chemicals used to keep tanks clean causes some dolphins to go blind and makes their skin peel off"

Unfortunately dolphins aren't fish! Besides only a sadist could think about letting fish swim in chlorinated water. I wonder how and where animal welfare advocates get to think of such cruel ideas?

Copper sulfate at low doses is an aquatic animal therapeutic. Fish health specialists know at what levels can be therapeutic or dangerous to aquatic animals.

A massive dose of science is what PETA needs and not a dish of green salad. BTW plants and bacteria have rights too. Bacteria can suffer as well as plants! Using PETA's fallacious logic I will uphold bacterial rights! If PETA doesn't want to harm animal life and cause suffering to the biosphere…

Resurrecting a Cold War Dinosaur

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) want to revive the Anti-Subversion Law (ASL) as the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports today. Both houses of Congress oppose the plan.

The President is again trysting with fascist ways. This betrays a lack of imagination. The ASL never achieved its goal of curbing communism. Criminalizing believers of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology is so passe. After all followers of this non-scientific belief system should be guaranteed freedom of worship rights! They worship Marx, Lenin, Mao and Jose Maria Sison. Marxism is a religion since it has no empirical basis. Once a practitioner of a religion begins to use a weapon to advance the religion's goal he/she becomes a terrorist.

The Human Security Act should be enough for the moment. If need be, more teeth should be given to the law.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Bacteria!

I think we should campaign for bacterial rights! Why stop at cute animals? Why stop with plants?

We have PET A why not PET B!

Bacteria have the right to evolve and to live on you and me and everywhere. Bacteria probably live throughout the universe. They were here before Homo sapiens was. And Homo sapiens can't exist without them.

We have to give bacteria the right to consent. After all they have the biggest slice of the global biodiversity pie.

What can be gained by slipping a foreign gene or two in their genome? Drugs? New peptides? We did not even ask them if it were OK!

Bacteria suffer too. So when animal welfare advocates use antibiotics to treat their animals who suffer from diseases their immune systems can deal with, they are applying needless suffering.

Bacteria need to grow and form colonies everywhere, from your kitchen top surface, to your toilet seat. The lab can never replicate these organisms’ natural habitats. Bacteria are meant to spread freely. In the lab, they are con…

Narnia for Gnostics: The Golden Compass

What could happen if you brew a mixture of fantasy, Oxbridge philosophy, the English Residential College, Gnosticism, New Age and talking animals doing theology in a movie?

Answer: a headache.

Pope Benedict XVI doesn't rail against movies as he respects the autonomy of the arts. But the movie has generated controversy since some Catholics say that the movie alludes to organized religion (read as Roman Catholicism) and how it "controls" minds. After all who would be cheeky enough to call the villainous organization in the movie as "Magisterium"? What organizations on heaven and earth use the word "Magisterium" in its official documents?

Answers: The Roman Catholic Church and the Evolution Church of Stephen Jay Gould!

Nonetheless putting some theology in a fantasy isn't new. CS Lewis did it in "Narnia" but he took care to couch it as purely metaphors and allegories. Thus the atheist could tune out of "Narnia" and just relish the t…

En la madre patria and some observations

Sassy sashes.

Our Glorious Queen and her consort are on a visit to the mother country. In the cover of today's Philippine Daily Inquirer print edition we see Mrs President Arroyo, her husband, the King and Queen of Spain, and the Spanish crown prince and his wife. The royals wear their sashes of office and medal (these represents Orders of the State). The prince is supposed to be grandmaster of a knightly order successor to the Knights Templars but I don't know if the sash he wears is from that order.

Mrs Arroyo and the First Gentleman wore yellow sashes and a corresponding medal. Is this a Philippine State Order or one awarded by the Spanish King?

President Quezon wore a Presidential sash of office to his inauguration in 1935. President Laurel wore a sash representing a Japanese Imperial Order when his official protrait was made.

While to this day the Presidents of Latin American countries are presented with a sash during their inauguration, this has gone out of fashion in the Ph…

The Kingdom

Hollywood has finally dished out a movie about terrorism without the "fighting for freedom and democracy" cliche. As I had once blogged about the movie "World Trade Center", America and Hollywood will have to deal with the issues up front. The producers of "Kingdom" have to be commended for making a movie that at least tries to do that.

At least the movie was shot in the Middle East and of course it wasn't Saudi Arabia but a nearby country. The opening terrorist attack scene on a Western housing complex was as realistic as a movie can be. And this is not a film about US troops storming the Kingdom (the Saudis wouldn't allow that) but an FBI team lead by Jamie Foxx' character, Chris Cooper as the southern toughie, Jennifer Garner as the woman agent who in the end did in one of the Jihadis was sent to do a forensic investigation with the blessings of a Saudi prince. Israeli actor Ashraf Barhom has a scintillating role as the Saudi cop who was fir…