Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Forces of Good?

In this televised debate on the BBC, Stephen Fry probably best captures how I feel about the church.

The kicker is this bit: "It’s the strange thing about this church, it is obsessed with sex, absolutely obsessed. Now, they will say we with our permissive society and our rude jokes, we are obsessed. No, we have a healthy attitude, we like it, it’s fun, it’s jolly, because it’s a primary impulse it can be dangerous and dark and difficult, it’s a bit like food in that respect only even more exciting. The only people who are obsessed with food are anorexics and the morbidly obese, and that in erotic terms is the Catholic Church in a nutshell."

Right from Wrong

Currently enjoying Michael Sandel's lecture series on justice. How do we know - what is the right thing to do?

This is the first hour-long lecture/discussion of a 12-part series. In this episode Sandel and students from Harvard university talk about pushing a fat man off a bridge to save lives and the merits of cannibalism. If only my Philo 1 prof were as engaging or interesting. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Preying on the Weak

Every once in a while, our version of reality blurs and we get a glimpse of what its like in the 'real' world.

J of thenutbox recounts the nightmarish ordeal his mother went through, allegedly, at the hands of some police officers stationed in Talipapa, Novachiles, Quezon City.

Last April 14, my mother went to visit a friend named Janet who lives in a slum area in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. That friend owes my mother some thousands, which my mother decided to collect because she needs money for her medication. My mother was accompanied by an old friend, Maximo Gabriel.

At around twelve noon, just when my mother and Gabriel were about to leave Janet’s place, two plain-clothed policemen- one called Allan and another named Mar Palic- approached them, accusing them of drug possession. My mother and her friends aghastly denied this, and before the two cops could search them they showed their bags to the police officers and emptied their pockets to show that there was nothing incriminating inside. Still, the cops “invited” them for questioning. 

Read the rest here.

Its an extraordinary story. Most of us would never dream of such a thing ever happening. But these insects - they prey on the weak.

Monday, April 26, 2010


In Jose Saramago's novel 'Seeing' an imaginary electorate in an imaginary country came out in full force to vote. But at the end of the tally, 83 percent of the ballots were blank. The remaining 17 percent were votes for the p.o.t.r (the party on the right), the p.o.t.l (the party on the left) and the p.o.t.m (the party in the middle). But what had happened to the majority of the votes? Were they stolen? Was this the result of massive electoral fraud? Or the work of terrorists?

After having read Saramago's political allegory, I wondered if such a thing were possible in real life. What if, come May 10, all registered voters were to vote for absolutely no one? What if, by some unknown force, the governed refused to choose the next set of those who would govern?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Democratize the Catholic Church

By god, I never thought of the Church this way. But this is so spot on. Thanks to Emily on FB for the link!

The Catholic Church is an authoritarian institution, modelled on the political structures of the Roman Empire and medieval Europe. It is better at transmitting instructions downward than at facilitating accountability upward. It is monolithic. It claims the unique legitimacy of a line of succession going back to the apostolic circle of Jesus Christ. Its leaders are protected by a nimbus of mystery, pomp, holiness, and, in the case of the Pope, infallibility—to be sure, only in certain doctrinal matters, not administrative ones, but the aura is not so selective. The hierarchy of such an institution naturally resists admitting to moral turpitude and sees squalid scandal as a mortal threat. Equally important, the government of the Church is entirely male.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

CenPeg on Comelec Striptease

 If we have a failure of elections, I think Comelec is probably most deserving of a lynching. (Thanks to Blogwatch for the link)

The money quote:
...the country will have an [automated election system] that has been stripped of processes and features designed to resist attacks by third parties, data manipulation, and fraud...
CenPEG on Comelec Striptease April 5 2010

Diagnosing Symptoms

A new discovery, UP Prof. Bong Mendoza's blog. Don't be intimidated by the tone of the language (just keep plugging on), this is an excellent summary of what is wrong with the Philippines'...

economic system:
The failures of the Philippine state and politics are highlighted by the inability to sustain and realize a promising economic growth potential (as of the 1950s) when the country was supposed to be second in Asia only to Japan in terms of economic development.  At the core of this failure is inconsistency and incompatibility of economic policymaking with the requirements of sustainable growth since 1946.

...The source of policy inconsistency is identified in the literature as reflective of incomplete elite class differentiation in the country.  For example, as the country’s elite groups are involved in almost all lines of business such as external trade (imports and exports), real estate, commercial agriculture, manufacturing, and finance—there has been for a long time no elite consensus on trade and foreign exchange policy.

Calling on all Readers of Political Blogs

Dear All,

If you have a few minutes to spare, you might consider being a participant in Grace Mirandilla's research on political blogging. For details, see below. Cheers!


A Call for Survey Respondents: Filipino Blogging and Political Participation Study

Good day! Do you read political blogs*? Can you spare 10 mins. to answer a survey? Then, please read on.

My name is Mary Grace P. Mirandilla, an independent researcher conducting a study on "blogging and political participation among Filipinos,” which is funded by the SIRCA** grant program of IDRC*** Canada. This research wants to look at (1) why Filipinos read political blogs; (2) how they participate in politics--both online and in the real world; and (3) whether and how political blogs affect their participation.

I’m looking for respondents to answer a survey that inquires about these research questions. If you want to participate, you must be Filipino, at least 18 yrs old, and read political blogs (or have read them at some point during the past year). It only takes 10-12 minutes to answer the survey, which will be administered via email.

If interested, please send me a PM or email me at mg(dot)mirandilla(at)gmail(dot)com. Rest assured that your identity and response will be kept confidential.

I hope to hear from you by April 15. Thank you very much.

Grace Mirandilla

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Pimping Manny

Advertising has a single purpose - sell. Gizmos and gadgets, consumer goods and in these elections - political candidates. Here is Greg Macabenta's enlightening view on the way Manny Villar has handled his campaign:
...At any rate, Villar apparently listened to his new creative brain trust and, together, they came up with some very impressive commercials, based on some very bold claims, expressed in very memorable language.

To solidify Villar’s positioning as the "champion of the poor," they concocted the line, "Nanggaling sa hirap. Tumutulong sa mahihirap." (From the poor. Helping the poor.)

To portray him as the role model for the upward-striving masses, they attributed his rise "from poor boy to billionaire" to "Sipag at Tiyaga." Industriousness and diligence. Yes, indeed, what better formula for success?

And to really, truly, effectively, dramatically, and memorably drive home the point, they created the gems: "Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?" (Have you ever bathed in a sea of garbage?) and "Nakaranas na ba kayong...mamatayan ng kapatid dahil wala kang perang pampagamot, wala ka namang magawa?" (Have you experienced the death of a sibling because you had no money for medicine and you could do nothing about it?"

No soap opera writer could have spun greater tearjerkers.

And that was not all. Armed with such fantastic creatives, Villar decided to make sure that every man, woman, and child in every corner of the archipelago would have an opportunity to see these products of communications and creative brilliance.

Read the rest. Its a tidy little summary of the campaign so far.


I have not seen my father in seven years. And yet I remember every feature, every crease on his face, every mole. I remember the timbre of his voice, slightly nasal, not unlike mine. This quiet week, my unconscious unearthed snippets of memories. A Sunday morning when I was very small, looking up at spiders on the wall. His fingers as they caressed piano keys and sang with me Beatles. My father praising his alien daughter, so wise for someone so young. How do the dead look when they’re up in heaven? Do they eat? Do they look as they did when they died? Gunshot wound, cancer-wracked, diseased? Do they wear clothes? I was ten or eleven. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now, that look on my father’s face. My father of humble truths sat in awe of a little being he helped create.

Where is my father now? Is he in heaven if there is such? He could not be in hell, could he? While wholly imperfect, my father was not a bad man. He lived. And in his quest to be happy, he lied. But little sins seem unimportant. Now all I want, all I have really, are memories of how my father was good.

Friday, April 02, 2010

No sense in the senseless

Here is a rather interesting article on the Swede giant IKEA battling with the hairy monster of corruption in Russia. I thought this part rings especially true:
Corruption is irrational: its very existence is fatal for a state. This makes it an ideal accompaniment to the realm of the absurd, its operating system. You don't have to understand how it works, but it is has a very convenient function which any idiot can grasp. Press the button and you get a result. Survival in such a state depends on not looking for sense. If you do, then any acquaintance with the news bulletins in the Russian internet soon turns into a psychedelic bad trip. You experience a veritable avalanche of negative emotions: fear, horror, shock, outrage but, try as you will, you cannot find a cause-effect link...

Family Planning Advice

It doesn't guarantee protection from STDs....but no chance of conception here.

Thanks to Eloisa for plurking the image! LOL.