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Showing posts from July, 2008

As I eat my sandwich, I ask. What happened to Betamax?

The Sandwich hit "Betamax" I first heard on RJ 100.3 FM (well he really does "bridge generations") and was then followed by a Petula Clark staple of weddings hit. I saw the "Betamax" video on Myx. For nostalgia trippers, this video is a bit funny. I was only in grade 4 when we had our first VCR, a humongous Betamax that my Dad brought home from Japan. It ran on 100 volts so Dad was very strict. He commanded that the machine be plugged only to a 5 kg voltage regulator that came with the machine. Those were the dark days of Martial rule and Ninoy Aquino was beginning to campaign from his cell. Dad had a bit of a difficult time to bring in the damned machine through customs. Marcos and his intelligence apparatus had apparently recognized the subversive possibilities of the VCR. But it would be 5 years at least before his fears were realized. By then it was too lateNonetheless, I remember that day when the Betamax was unpacked. I was circumcised (on an out pa…

Glory be!

We are watching Gloria's SONA 2008 with the usual sprinkling of wags!

Gloria again dishes out her motherhood statements and commensurate "empathy" for the poor.

VAT is here to stay and probably be expanded?

"Napakahalaga ng VAT sa problemang ito." (Few applause!)
"T0 shore up fiscal independence" (few applause!)

"Take VAT away and pull the rug out of us" (politicians! says Wag number 2)

"Leadership is doing what is necessary however hard". (How about resigning? says Wag number 1,mahirap yun di ba?)

"Sinusugpo daw ang kotong." (Ano? Eh di sugpuin dapat si you know who! sabi ng Wag number 1, How about large scale kotong? asks Wag number 3)

"Yan ang paraan kung paano napapanatili ang pasahe sa 1 peso per liter. Texting is a way of life. Cut down text messages to 0.5 peso" (More applause).

"Natural family planning curbed pop growth rate". Wag 1: "Where does she get her stats? Now she favors Catholics! This is …

The State of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

The annual ritual commanded by our Sovereign, the Constitution, the State of the Nation Address (SONA) is on again.

The Constitution commands the President to appear before Congress on its opening and give her account of how government performed in the year just passed.

This tradition comes from England. Her Majesty, the Queen has the prerogative to appear before the Lords and Commons assembled. Similarly our own Glorious Queen has that prerogative. But in the case of Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and all her Realms and Dominions, she cannot express her own opinion in the Speech from the Throne. The throne speech is written by the government of the day and today that is the one headed by Gordon Brown.

In contrast our Queen of the Kapampangans can express her own perceptions and opinions in her SONA. Elizabeth II is beyond reproach and it is very unjust and rude to accuse her of lying in her throne speech. If anyone would lie, it is none other than Gordon Brown…

What really turns on women?

The NYTimes has this article about what turns on heterosexual women. According to experimental psychologists.

It seems that images of naked men like David above

turn on women as much as

Mount Everest does!
No wonder men really can't figure out women!

Population futures, K and Fundamentalism

Environmental science has come to a point in its development in which it can predict future trajectories for the planetary environment. Among the issues being debated is the carrying capacity (K) of the Earth. K is one of the seminal concepts in ecology. In high school kids are introduced to the classic Paramecium culture experiments to demonstrate this concept. The theory says that environments are limited in resources and if populations exceed the K then the population will crash.

This is the concept behind "ecological footprint" which was first proposed by Mathis Wackernagel, in his PhD in regional planning dissertation in 1994. Wackernagel now heads the Global Footprint Network, a NGO dedicated to sustainability issues. Based on his latest assessment, we are now using 120% of the biosphere's capacity. Clearly this isn't sustainable and means we have overshot the planet's K.

Wackernagel's concept has been criticised for being simplistic in that it attempts t…

Is secularism the enemy?

What probably is the most discomforting aspect of the Ratzinger's papacy is that it has taken aim at secularism is the new "evil" that threatens the Church. This is worrysome since secularism has been coexisting with institutional religion for more than a hundred years but never was in the sights of the Church as a whole.

This trend has many alarmed since Benedict's subalterns have taken on science, with a top cardinal questioning the basis for evolutionary theory. As a corollary of secularist principles, science has achieved autonomy from religion. John Paul II has admitted and apologized for "theological misunderstanding" in the Galileo affair and was extremely careful not to intrude into the Magisterium of Science. Here John Paul got the praises of agnostic evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould.

The possibility of another Galileo affair has increased under Benedict's watch. If this happens this would inflict considerable damage to the Church. We have Galileo …

The Disestablishment of the Philippine Catholic Church

Dr Rizal got shot for espousing it. Plaridel died of pthsis in Hong Kong in the struggle for this, but it seems that we are now seeing the disestablishing of the Philippine Catholic Church. Por Dios por Santo, my Masonic abuelos (their padres were involved in Republic Filipina) would have never imagined it would be so soon! (They expected it after 1000 years!)

An Established Church is one that has state patronage. Perhaps the most famous Established Church is that of England. The Church of England is the State Church. The Queen is its Supreme Governor. But in 21st century Cool Britannia, the idea of an Established Church is at best barmy. Those who defend the idea are tolerated as daft. This Church is having its decennial Lambeth Conference and the whole church is split on Gay bishops and women bishops! Rowan of Canterbury is an apt icon for the barmy bit!

The Philippines legally had an Established Church. But the 1898 Treaty of Paris did away with that for a cool 20 million dollars. Th…

Cafeteria morality

I rarely agree with the Running Priest, Father Robert Reyes. But this time he is right. He accuses the bishops of "selective morality". While Fr Reyes won't argue on grounds of canon law, he warns the bishops of falling into the trap of selective morality. The clergy he says "needs to focus their energies" on other pressing issues that affect the country.

As for denying communion to "anti-life" politicians, Reyes believes this won't work.

Reyes' opinion is reminiscent of the condescending term "cafeteria catholicism". If there is such a thing the bishops have fallen for "cafeteria morality".That is the danger of not heeding what the Gospel says about prejudging people.

Obviously none of our bishops are in the league of John the Baptist !

The original meaning of symposium

After returning from the Intl Coral Reef Symposium, let me reflect on a few things. This quadrennial meeting of the world's top marine scientists deal with issues ranging from how corals can breathe to the long term effects of global warming on the carbon cycle. But the symposium ended with the REAL SYMPOSIUM.

The Floridian hosts of the meeting reminded that this event was a real symposium. It was on the last night that truth was revealed. Notwithstanding the scientific issues raised during the day, the night defined what a symposium is all about.

The word symposium is derived from the Greek "symposion", which is a bacchanalian night were truth was supposed to be spoken ( I wonder if the Greeks were prone to drunken riots?!?). The Romans gave us the aphorism "Vino veritas" but the their equivalent of symposium was the more formal and somewhat churchy "convivium". (from where we get the ecclesiastical term "convocation").

Well the coral reef sym…

Growing up

Our pollies publicly calling some Pinoy Catholic bishops and their stand on the populationand reproductive health bill as "stupid" is a refreshing piece of news.

The country's body politic is growing up and becoming mature. The country will have to debate issues on an informed platform without the threat of sanction if we are to face serious environmental problems head on.

The politicians save for the incumbent Malacanang tenant have finally realized that there isn't a Catholic vote in this country.

That the bishops have to resort to denial of Holy Communion instead of intelligent debate shows how ill equipped they are to respond to these challenges. Benedict XVI would not renounce any of Church's teachings (I support that!) but wouldn't just deny communion to anyone on mere perception and hype alone. That's why Benedict gave communion to an American politician at Mass in Washington DC. Catholic conservatives claimed that this politician was "anti-life…

Things worse than clear air turbulence

Now that the airlines have started to count the number of ice cubes they carry on a flight, they have also have entertained the idea to do away with on board movies and other forms of entertainment no matter how long your flight is.

The fuel price rise is the culprit. Some US carriers have started to charge for second piece luggage. Some are also considering charging good cash for carry-ons (this will force an airline cultural change for Pinoys).

Anyone who has taken a ride on small prop driven planes would understand. Any useless weight (payload) on an aircraft costs money! Those who have taken small planes are required to weigh in prior to boarding. The captain has the right to refuse boarding to chubby humans!

But US airlines have been charging extras for 1) food 2)movies and 3) blankets for some time now. If you want these creature comforts,then buy a first class ticket. (BTW, having been in 1st class,the only diff between the food in 1st class and economy class is that they serve t…

The Bad News International Coral Reef Symposium

Fort Lauderdale FL USA- The 11th International Coral Reef Symposium is at its midpoint and the word from the reef gurus is out. The buzz word now is coral reef resilience. The effects of global climate change has resulted in more acidic oceans and warmer seas. While some corals can indeed tolerate warmer seas, none of them can survive an acidic ocean. Those who have taken college chemistry or have drank Coca Cola would know. Calcium carbonate (which make up coral skeletons) will dissolve in acidic water.

The corals have had a double whammy. Increased sea temperatures result in coral bleaching where their symbiotic zooxanthellae are expelled. These symbionts provide the coral their nutrition and help them build their skeletons. Increased carbon dioxide in the air results in more carbonic acid in water. Under these conditions, corals can't build their skeletons.

Coral reefs have been poetically referred to by none other than Jacques Costueau as the "Stones Alive". Here he wr…

On Manolo Quezon's latest op ed piece

Fort Lauderdale, FL USA-Manolo Quezon writes something interesting about Pinoy global competitiveness in his "Bringing the world to our shores" What Manolo writes is very true. As an academic, I have seen that in this academic year; our department has seen an unprecedented number of graduate school applications to our programs. The only reason is that many of these applicants have been made redundant by company downsizing. In this situation the best option to maintain one's competitiveness is for one to go back to school.

While Manolo writes about doing an MBA, I believe that this really won't give you that competitive edge. Manolo doesn't write that the problems of the world have been brought to our shores. One has to take academic programs that will allow you to fully exploit the opportunities provided by this new regime. It seems that the academic programs offered at our universities cannot cater for this. Even with CHED autonomy, universities are still trapped…

Out of economy and kicked up into first class!

Ninoy Aquino International Airport- An airline ticketing snafu has resulted in moi being kicked up to first class! Well I have to enjoy the accidental perk, especially I have to cross the Pacific and the continental USA.

Wow, I have never been in a first class lounge before but my proletarian stomach can only risk taking goto arroz caldo and not the heavy brekkie stuff they have here.

More later.

Rainforest biodiversity, fruits, sex and, sexual function or dysfunction

Six years ago we 6 guys did the Subic rainforest trail with an Ayta guide who used to train American soliders on jungle survival. The man showed us what he called "jungle viagra" that was guaranteed to work let you rise and shine in the morning (pun intended!)

Our guide told me that the rainforest has heaps of plants that can help in sexual performance and function for men and women. I guess this could be THE BEST REASON why the rainforest needs to be protected at all costs!

It is only now that I realize that our guide wasn't fibbing us. It seems that the watermelon has its gifts for man (aside from summer coolers). The UK mirror has this to say. Watermelon works like Viagra scientists have found out.

Watermelons have always had sexual cultural connotations. This Chinese farmer has prime evidence why this is so. In Pinoy culture a pregnant woman is said to have"swallowed a watermelon"!

If watermelons can make you rise, papayas are said to make you relax! Again this…

Beauty can spring from the mud

Gumamela or Hibiscus is the photographic cliche of tropical flowers. But this bloom is more than a cliche. It is significant for it blossomed in a mudpacked garden in Iloilo City on the first sunny day after Typhoon Frank. Iloilo is a city heavily damaged by muddy floodwaters when the typhoon passed north of the city last June 21.

Can a weather bureau be sued?

Sulpicio Lines has filed suit against PAGASA for erroneous weather forecast and for ""gross negligence and incompetence" in predicting the typhoon's path.

I think this is an important suit and whatever judgement the courts may give, it will give important precedent on how legally liable are providers of scientific services. PAGASA is in the business of providing these meteorological services.

The Palace has given its full support to PAGASA.

I think the lawyers on both sides will have to deal with the word "predict". The legal profession makes money on the "meaning of words" as one SS lawyer once said it in his defence in the DeNazification trials after World War II.

This leads us with some observations. Scientists can only predict to a level of confidence and by convention that is within 5% of the real value. The lawyers will have to argue that PAGASA was within or outside the bounds of this 5%.

Perhaps the case will open the government's and the …