Tuesday, April 24, 2007

David Halberstam (In Memoriam)

Yahoo! News reports that one of my favorite authors died in a car accident.

I've only read five of his books (The Powers that Be, The Best and the Brightest, The Amateurs, Summer of '49 and Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made) But I cannot forget his prose. Nor my awe in reading them.

If I could write like he did, I would die happy. His writing seemed to flow effortlessly, all the sentences are beautifully crafted. He makes reality seem more real. His death is a great loss.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sonia Roco for Senator


From Positive Liberty via Dispatches from the Culture Wars
I object to the notion that marriage is or should be a government license to have sex. Yet that’s precisely what teaching abstinence-until-marriage entails that we teach to our kids: It’s wrong to have sex, unless you get a permission slip from the government.
There's more. Read the complete post

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Philippines in Slashdot

samzenpus submitted to Slashdot the COMELEC's challenge to hackers to test the proposed internet voting system.

among the comments from the slashdot crowd, I want to quote this from goldcd responding to a post by circletimessquare (444983) that said:
"the philippines is famous for handing out wads of cash to the poor to get them to vote a certain way come elections 200 peso notes famously become scarce before elections no need to hack the system to alter the vote, just keep buying the votes the philippines is a beautiful land, with beautiful people... and a corrupt political establishment, it's a sad commentary on corruption the philippines, the vote buying"
goldcd responded:
"But surely all elections are bought to some degree as people vote in their own self-interest.

Whether that self-interest is 200 Pesos thrust into their hand as they walk into the booth, or 200 Pesos less tax paid due to new tax system voted in doesn't make much difference.

Actually the more I think about it - In the Phillippines the cash seems to be given to you by the politician if you promise to vote for them. In the 'democratic West',we get nothing for our vote apart from the promise from the politician. Personally I'd prefer to see the cash in my hand, rather than a promise."
I can see goldcd's point, and actually agree with him in theory. But as a Filipino, I have seen what actual vote buying can lead to:
  1. Dehumanization, because you are literally bought by the politician
  2. Violence, because of the competition for votes by different faction leads to friction
  3. Apathy, because as politicians buy votes, people get the feeling that they cannot change society as they can never win
  4. Blaming the victims, where middle class Filipinos blame the "masa" or poor Filipinos who sell their votes. This also let the middle class Filipinos feel superior to the masa
  5. Entitlement, the politicians who buy votes get the feeling that they are entitled to do anything they want while in office
  6. Sloth, the politicians, because they actually know that they did not deserve the position they got does not exert any effort to actually do their jobs
All elections may be "bought" but buying into promises is better than buying into cash.

The Newest (Christopher) Tolkien Novel

The Lost Tolkien Novel
"There are two kinds of Tolkien fans. There are the day trippers, the weekend warriors, who've read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and seen the movies and let it go at that. Then there are the hardcore — the Uruk-hai of Tolkien readers — who have delved further, into The Silmarillion and beyond, who seriously grok the deep history and elaborate geography and endless mystical genealogies of Middle Earth."
I don't know if I'm going to be flattered because I've read the Silmarillon and delved into the Lost tales and Unfinished tales, and the tales of Tom Bombadil, thereby making me superior to the "weekend warriors" or insulted because I was not able to read all the tales in the Tales books or that I found most of the stories in the Tales books (that I own, I did not buy all of them) boring and thereby making me less than a "Uruk-hai". I'm just an ordinary orc I guess. Just take the article with a grain of salt however because it's final paragraph is:
Just heed this warning: The Children of Húrin is a darker, bitterer tale than we're used to seeing from Tolkien. Its hero is proud and imperfect and willful — more Boromir than Frodo — and his story is full of accidents and disasters, poisoned barbs and ruinous betrayals and grievous misunderstandings. Which makes sense: after all, if the good guys had beaten the forces of darkness in the First Age, they wouldn't have been stuck with Sauron in the Third.
Which any Tolkien reader would know is incorrect. The good guys did defeat the forces of darkness in the First age, after all if they didn't, there would not have been a Third age.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Apologies from the Dancing Queen

via MLQ3

Politics of ‘sorry’ - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

It is an unusual campaign commercial. It begins with someone off camera (a canny stand-in for the general public) asking the question Oreta herself says there is no getting away from: “Bakit ka nag-dancing queen [Why did you act like a dancing queen]?”

She responds, in Filipino: “What I did was a big mistake. I want to ask for forgiveness.” She tearfully expresses remorse for giving offense, and then raises the hope that it is in atoning for our mistakes that we rise above ourselves and become better persons. [“Ngunit siguro sa mga pagkakamali, doon tayo bumabangon.”]
I have not watched a commercial for some months now so this is the first time I heard about this and I agree with the Inquirer's editorial take. For what it's worth, I thought she did a good job as the Representative for Malabon-Navotas (where I hail form) and was not unsatisfied with her performance in the Senate until the whole Estrada brouhaha. I would certainly re-evaluate my decision not to vote for her because of this, and if this is my only reservation against her, I might change my mind, but there is this whole crossing from the Estrada camp to the Gloria camp (among others) to figure out.

The Doggerel Index & Suggestions

A resource for people who debate against nonsense.

The Bronze Blog: Doggerel Index & Suggestions

Saturday, April 07, 2007

How do you prove photography to a blind man?

via Bad Astronomy Blog

Skeptico: How do you prove photography to a blind man?
I knew what he was getting at. We had been discussing psychics. He was a firm believer in psychic powers, had had psychic experiences, and regularly visited a psychic. His point was, since I had not experienced psychic powers, I would never be able to believe in what he “knew” to be true. You could never prove to a blind man that photography exists, and likewise no one would ever be able to demonstrate to me that psychic powers were real.
Read the post to learn how.

1984 is here

Apparently, within a radius of just 180 meters of George Orwell's house in London, its crawling with security cameras.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I would never have guessed

via pharyngula

You are Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Honest and a defender of the innocent. You sometimes make mistakes in judgment but you are generally good and would protect your crew from harm.

Malcolm Reynolds (Captain) - 75%
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command) - 60%
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic) - 60%
Wash (Ship Pilot) - 45%
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic) - 40%
Alliance - 25%
River (Stowaway) - 25%
A Reaver (Cannibal) - 20%
Derrial Book (Shepherd) - 20%
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary) - 15%
Inara Serra (Companion) - 15%

Click here to take the "Which Serenity character are you?" quiz...