Friday, October 22, 2004

"George, God here..."

TheGuardian is an amusing repository of what I would term rapier wit. Terry Jones, one of their writers, dreams up an imaginary conversation between God and US president George. W. Bush.

George?"
"Yes?"
"This is God here ..."
"Hi, God. What can I do for you?"
"I want you to stop this Iraq thing, George."
"But you told me to do it, God!"
"No I didn't, George ..."
"But you did! You spoke to me through Karl, Rumsey and Dick and all those other really clever guys!"
"How did you know it was me talking, George?"
"Instinct, God. I just knew it!"
"Do you really think I'd want you to unleash all this horror and bloodshed on another lot of human beings?"
"But they're Muslims! They don't believe in You, God!"
"But, George, they do believe in me. Jews, Christians and Moslems all worship the same Me! Didn't you do comparative theology at school, George?"


For the rest of the conversation, just click on the excerpt.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

They're out.


Down and out (From the Newsday.com print edition)Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Fantasizing and Mr. Darcy.


Colin Firth as Mr Darcy (from the Sydney Morning Herald) Posted by Hello

Fine, fine. I have succumbed to my latent desires and will write about a subject I know nothing about: men.

Particularly tall, dark-eyed men.

And apparently, I'm not the only one who unabashedly adores Mr. Darcy. According to this article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr. Darcy is women's favorite fictional romantic icon in the UK. He is the hero of Jane Austen's beloved romance, Pride and Prejudice, which also introduces us to lovable heroine Elizabeth Bennett.

The Orange Prize for Fiction polled 1900 women across the generations and found that 'dashing' Mr. Darcy emerged on top, writes Cherry Potter. But she remains puzzled--as do I--over the fact that Mr. Darcy was also the fictional character that women would most like invite to a dinner party...

because he is a grump. That's his character--forbidding, repressed, rude, condescending--just as Jane Austen describes it. But he remains to be fantastically good-looking, morally upright, and broodingly sexy, a combination most women seem to have found potent.

Even the irrepressible Anne in Anne of the Island writes of her ideal man as thus:
Tall and handsome and distinguished-looking -- dark, melancholy, inscrutable eyes -- melting, musical, sympathetic voice -- yes, the very hero of her dreams stood before her in the flesh. He could not have more closely resembled her ideal if he had been made to order. (Click here for whole chapter)
So what is it about Mr. Darcy that turns otherwise smart, intelligent women into slavering lovefools? Apparently, writes Potter, it is "that they will be the one and only woman to discover the key to unlocking a man's tortured soul, thus setting free his hidden passions."

That was the trend two centuries ago, when patriarchal society wielded a lot of power, making slim the chances of women knowing a man until her marriage to him. Males were severe, dominant, and repressive. It was only natural for a woman to feel that she could be the one to set him free from these.

But Potter asks the question that begs to be asked: why does Darcy continue to have a compelling hold over women, particularly educated literary feminist women, in the 21st century? According to publisher Carol Welch, Pride and Prejudice encouraged her to read, but it also encouraged her "to fall for moody, charismatic, seemingly unattainable men, with unfortunately less happy results than for Jane Austen's heroine."

That is the reality, Potter says. Modern women should know better by now. "The fact is dark, smouldering, moody, charismatic, arrogant Darcy types, whom we hate at first sight and later fall in love with, often - particularly after we have married them - turn out to be rigid, dominating and controlling."

And what of the males? Women say they want men who are emotionally intelligent, sensitive, flexible, all the attributes of the modern perfect male. But Potter writes that these same women are fantasizing "over a fictional character who is the epitome of the dominant patriarchal male. No wonder men are confused."

Women must be confused too. But for the meanwhile, the Mr. Darcys of this world will continue to be loved and adored.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Ultimate Silence.


THE ULTIMATE SILENCE
October 12, 1998




Listen to the mustn'ts, child.
Listen to the don'ts.
Listen to the shouldn'ts,
The impossibles, the won'ts.
Listen to the never haves,
Then listen close to me ...
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.

~ Shel Silverstein


Six years ago today, Matthew Shepard was murdered for being homosexual.

What will you do to end the silence?

Click here to post this on your own page or weblog

Friday, October 15, 2004

Diary of an Idiot.

'Awake! Awake!' trilled the birds, 'wipe that yawn upon your face!'
No sooner did I opened eyes, did not a minor headache make,
gesticulating to progenitor,
(stealthily wandered to second floor)
'Shut the lights! Shut the door!'

Made ready for the day ahead, excited to meet college friend,
first day of job at same company, delighted as a bumblebee.
'*Arrivaderci! Arrivaderci!'
Cried I to all in home,
Rushed out the door, then was floored,
By the text of the progenitor.

'Sweetie drop off the books at the office', read the blinking reminder,
Saying inwardly, 'Yes Mother!', I then followed order.
And so the plastic would not hold; to the plastics cabinet did I go,
(Books were already sliding through; scratches in plastic did accrue)

And through all this, the mobile where?
Placed upon the table there,
Rushed enough, as it were,
Blinking mobile left unaware.

Standard bus loomed as I found out, alas for me as I had no clout,
To make driver wait and rush back to the house,
To claim cursed mobile and rush back out.

And now the end, if one may ask?

Meeting up with a friend, if I still can, phoneless idiot that I am.

*Goodbye in Italian.
**My thanks to Kris for the inspiration.

Monday, October 11, 2004

"And now, a word from our sponsors..."

I. The idea of home.
How do you welcome "home" someone who's never been "home"?
I define "home" as a place where you feel safe and secure, where your friends and family are; one can be born in his/her native country but consider "home" somewhere else. By reason of this, I cannot assume that Jasmine Trias accepts the Philippines as "home".

Those obstrusive banners all along the metro all welcome her "home", however incongruous that is. And what do you know, local politicos like Peewee Trinidad join in the bustle of welcoming our diminutive Filipina-Hawaiiana-Americana "home" as well.

There is something very strident in that a lovely and talented Hawaiian teenager is getting this much attention. No doubt, some sectors say that she deserves it. But the amount of media hype is unprecendented in recent history. Jasmine eats McDonald's, Jasmine calls through Smart. It may be only two ads, but two of the country's biggest companies have apparently erased the word "saturation" from their vocabulary. And they're milking her for all she's worth (not that I'm particularly surprised).

So these massive sponsors dictate to the masses who to appreciate and who to idolize. With respect to this, Adrian's essay is straight up: those who truly deserve to be appreciated and idolized are the ones shoved to the sides, oftentimes without a front-page news story about their efforts. Adrian cites Dr. Josette Biyo and Patricia Evangelista, and while I've seen the both of them get their much-deserved attention, their names fall on deaf ears for the ordinary masses.

Thanks to Jasmania, she won't lack for idolization, nor will she lack for appreciation. And she has acknowledged her pride of being born a Filipino. All things considered, however, this is not her home. It never has been.

*Julian of PiercingPens.tk has a related (and much better) article on Jasmania. Click here to read.

II. The idea of naturally beautiful.
Skinwhiteners bring with them a powerful message: white is beautiful. It's not a particularly ugly message, but for people who are naturally moreno/morena, this strikes too close to home in this country. Granted, we aren't the only country suffering from white-skin envy. Sellers in South Africa, for example, openly sell their wares on the markets advertising whitening creams, soaps, and even shampoos unfurling kinky hair.

I'm dark-skinned myself, but I've never had the urge to break open a bottle of whitening cream. I'm the darkest in my family (all the others are fair), but I've always loved the way I looked.

Splash Corporation, a wholly Filipino company, capitalizes on the typical Filipina insecurity of her dark skin. After having aired a controversial ad in which a fair-skinned mother had just given birth to her dark-skinned baby (it was shown later in the commercial that the mother had been using Bioderm), the forward company decided to air another ad, this one where the dark-skinned baby is now being prepared for her baptism.

That wasn't what caught my eye, however. It was the product tagline: "Naturally beautiful." What's more "naturally beautiful" than using whitening soap? The irony is too inherent, too paradoxical, too outlandish for words.

You'd think Splash Corporation would know better. Their company motto - "Bagong Pilipino, Maka-Pilipino. Kayang tumapat sa buong mundo" - is redolent of shame in this instance.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Shyster Attacks!

Fascinating.

I missed the first US presidential debate, and I made sure that I wouldn't miss the second one.
But I woke up late today, and missed the first half (which, I heard from CNN analysts and observers, was quite spirited).

Kerry, as usual, was in fine form, sounding smooth and polished, and Bush made up for his dismal performance in the first debate, by sticking to his basic platform and putting Kerry on the defensive. The format of the second debate allowed the two candidates to walk around as they gave their answers, which suited them both.

So, you ask, what is Bush's basic platform?

Putting Kerry on the defensive. Not that it's such a dastardly thing in politics ( it's politics, for crying out loud). No holds barred, and all skeletons in the closet are revealed. Bush has added a new word to the average American vocabulary: flip-flopping.

Of course, he's still got his pet issues - homeland security, domestic economy, stem cell research, abortion - but like Chris says, this is so much funner!

Kerry's basic platform is simple: He will lead this country better than Bush. It's time for a change, and what better change than him? He will be a president who will vouch for all of the people, not just the top two percent in the upper bracket. At least, that's what he says.

Topics they talked about were:

On Iraq:
Bush pointed out that Kerry voted for America to go to war with Iraq, and yet to this day he condemns the way things are right now in Iraq. Kerry came back with the argument that yes, he voted for the war, but he does not like how the US had rushed into war.

On jobs:
Kerry claimed that under the Bush administration, 1.6 million jobs were lost. Bush countered that when he became president, the US had already entered into a recession. And he was able to stop the recession quickly, one of the quickest recessions in US history.

On homeland security:
Bush stated that the Patriot Act does not infringe any citizen's constitutional rights. In part, he created the Act so that different agencies could spread and share information about possible terrorists. Kerry replied that these very men are investigating people who have had no history of terrorism and show no inclination towards becoming terrorists. They're even in church meetings, he says.

Dubious claims, misrepresented quotes, and inflated figures dominated this debate. Fortunately, websites like FactCheck.org are there to help sort out the truth from opinion when politicians make their statements. And there, I found out that
I'm looking forward to the third and last debate.

___________

Shiro's Quote of the Day for October 8: "I met Sarah, and the earth shook."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Perspectives in World, part one.

Each of us have our own unique points that we bring to others. Some, we bring unintentionally, and at other times, we hammer down our points home. (don't bother arguing; it's inherent.)

Let's say, for example, the place we live in. I live in Pasay City, right next to NAIA. It's literally close enough for my dad to walk home when he comes from international flights. What I get from most of my friends is commiseration, thinking of the airplane noise. It must be pretty noisy over at your place, they say sympathetically.

Last Monday, two of my friends from the North (Quezon City area) offered to drive me home from Makati. When I gave them directions, they both got excited. "Sa airport tayo pupunta? Ang saya!" Amused, I let them talk.

"Kasi kami sa QC, madalang lang kami nakakapuntang airport," Patrick explained. "Pero masaya yung feeling kapag pupunta kami kasi it's either na may susunduin kami or we see someone off at the airport."

Clarice was just excited. "Shucks, pupunta tayo sa airport! Sana makaalis din tayo no? Sana derederecho na!"

Call it a mini-epiphany, if you will. But driving home with two friends who were excited at taking the bridge to the old NAIA and passing through the arrival lane made me rethink my dusty position. Airports have an irresistible allure. Who was I to take that for granted? The dream of foreign lands is an idea as old as time.

It's incredibly easy to stick to what we believe in. But we owe it to ourselves to go beyond our paradigm and find out what makes others tick.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

From Mesopotamia, With Love.

Back in high school I was enthralled with the history of civilization and how it came to be. A favorite subject of mine was World History, taught by the incomparable Ma'am Tort. Through her I could imagine the might and power of the Athenian Navy, the spareness and military discipline of Sparta, the trade and barter of Babylon and Assyria.

Mesopotamia means "the land between two rivers", indicating the plain between the Tigris and Euphrates. It was the cradle of civilization, namely because the earliest written works were found to have originated there.

Now, we just call this place Iraq. Torn apart by war, struggling with poverty, and yet oil-rich, it's a shadow of its once-former glory, no thanks to Saddam Hussein, the Bush presidents, Tony Blair, to name just a few. Thanks to Operation Iraqi Freedom, 1,000 US soldiers have died, and many of those remaining have no idea what they're fighting for.

TheGuardian recently printed a couple of letters from soldiers and civilians based in Iraq to Michael Moore, who will be out with his latest book Will They Ever Trust Us Again? Letters from the Warzone to Michael Moore this October 7. Here are a couple from this Guardian article.

From: RH
To: mike@michaelmoore.com
Sent: Monday,
July 12, 2003 4:57 PM
Subject: Iraqi freedom veteran supports you

Dear Mr Moore,
I went to Iraq with thoughts of killing people who I thought were horrible. I was like, "Fuck Iraq, fuck these people, I hope we kill thousands." I believed my president. He was taking care of business and wasn't going to let al Qaeda push us around. I was with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia. My unit was one of the first to Baghdad. I was so scared. Didn't know what to think. Seeing dead bodies for the first time. People blown in half. Little kids with no legs. It was overwhelming, the sights, sounds, fear. I was over there from Jan'03 to Aug'03. I hated every minute. It was a daily battle to keep my spirits up. I hate the army and my job. I am supposed to get out next February but will now be unable to because the asshole in the White House decided that now would be a great time to put a stop-loss in effect for the army. So I get to do a second tour in Iraq and be away from those I love again because some guy has the audacity to put others' lives on the line for his personal war. I thought we were the good guys.

From: Kyle Waldman
Sent: Friday February 27 2004 2.35am
Subject: None

As we can all obviously see, Iraq was not and is not an imminent threat to the United States or the rest of the world. My time in Iraq has taught me a little about the Iraqi people and the state of this war-torn, poverty-stricken country.

The illiteracy rate in this country is phenomenal. There were some farmers who didn't even know there was an Operation Iraqi Freedom. This was when I realised that this war was initiated by the few who would profit from it and not for its people. We, as the coalition forces, did not liberate these people; we drove them even deeper into poverty. I don't foresee any economic relief coming soon to these people by the way Bush has already diverted its oil revenues to make sure there will be enough oil for our SUVs.

We are here trying to keep peace when all we have been trained for is to destroy. How are 200,000 soldiers supposed to take control of this country? Why didn't we have an effective plan to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure? Why aren't the American people more aware of these atrocities?

My fiancee and I have seriously looked into moving to Canada as political refugees.

Great civilizations often die out, but they have help from other nations.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Rights, or Protection?

It's not just all about the books at Bookcrossing. But isn't it just like politics to get involved in everything?

According to The Age, Australians who will travel to the United States will need to get fingerprinted.
Every Australian who enters the United States from tomorrow will have their fingerprints scanned, a digital photograph taken and their details stored and checked on American databases.

Australians will have no choice but to surrender their fingerprints and submit to a photo if they want to enter the US. The information will be available to American law enforcement agencies and government authorities.

Deputy director of the new visa waiver program, Robert Mocny, said it was designed to catch terrorists, drug traffickers and visa overstayers while at the same time protecting people in the US. (Click here for full article and loooong but interesting thread)
As one poster said in Bookcrossing, considering Australia's long history of terrorists, it was a mighty smart move.

Barring the obvious wryness in that statement, the implications of the new US policy are staggering. ArJohn, a Bookcrossing member who is an avid opponent of fingerprinting, protests that it is an infringement of their US constitutional rights. Only with a warrant could a police officer legally obtain your fingerprints. He points out that once your information is in the US system, it remains there forever. And who knows what it will be used for in the future? What exactly are you giving up your rights for, he asks?

WIAPilot, on the other hand, says that at least the government is taking precautions with regard to terrorists entering the US. He would rather go through stringent procedures if it meant their collective safety as a country. What's the big deal if you have nothing to hide?

Also, I note, he takes pride in that the US has always lent its strength and power to less-powerful countries and helped out in wars whenever it could. Here's a direct quote.
But have you EVER thought of all the GOOD that our country has done for the world? When Hitler was ready to literally "rule the world"- NOT that long ago, the U.S. was virtually the ONLY country that could stop him. MANY American lives have been lost defending other countries from governments which threatened to conquer them. And historically speaking, I do not know of ANY country that has EVER been in the #1 "world power position" that did not use their power to conquer and overthrow other countries- except for the U.S. We do not do this and instead have tried to be a "watchdog" for other countries being overthrown by more powerful governments. We spend BILLIONS each year on foreign aid, and yet our country can't even afford health care for its own citizens. Likewise, when there is a natural disaster in the world, we are always first to offer aid and support.
I'm not denying any of that. America is a great country; no doubts there. My points are just this: with regard to Hitler, it literally took the US years and years before it responded to his threat. And that included intercessions by worried individuals such as Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew who coined the term genocide and lobbied for an international court of justice.
The US has also supported corrupt and despotic regimes such as Ferdinand Marcos here in the Philippines, Suharto in Indonesia, the Cambodia government before the PolPot regime. The US may be great, but its foreign policy is something else.

So you have nothing to hide, right? No problem there, most people think. But then ArJohn and other posters bring up the question: how do you know what it is they're looking for? Mojosmom writes: "If you don't have anything to hide, you'll let us interrogate you without a lawyer", "if you don't have anything to hide, you'll let us search your car/house/luggage", "if you don't have anything to hide, you'll let us subpoena your library/internet use records without even telling you we're doing it".

Sparkyredhead, another poster, returns with the statement that the people who cried post 9/11 about the laxity of US protection are the same ones who are now strenuously protesting against the infringement of their rights. The government is doing all that they can to protect its citizens against terrorism.

ArJohn, the ever-vigilant defender of rights, makes a statement that I think has been the most definitive in that thread.
So how do you stop terrorism? You don't-- you stop the reasons to BE a terrorist.
Still, all these opinions point back to the original question: Rights, or protection? Which is more important?