Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Dolphins, and not dogs.

According to a report in TheGuardian, dolphins can now take the place of dogs when it comes to being man's best friend. It emerged yesterday that four swimmers were saved from a great white shark by a pod of altruistic dolphins, who swam in circles around them until the humans could escape.

Rob Howes, swimming with his daughter Niccy and her friends, was suddenly surrounded by a group of bottle-nosed dolphins that herded and pushed them by enclosing them in tight circles. He tried to get out, but was stopped by two of the bigger dolphins. Then he spotted a great white shark heading towards their circle.

For the next forty minutes, the dolphins surrounded the group until the shark lost interest and went away.

Amazing, isn't it? To even read about it is particularly insightful, given that humans kill other humans, and humans kill dolphins, and that these dolphins had made it their goal for forty minutes to protect Howes and his group and sheperd them to safety.

Of course, the dolphins could have been entirely made up. New Zealand people, known for migrating to other countries and getting higher salaries and making a fuss over almost-natives who place high in big American singing contests, probably needed some good news, because the whole country is in a rut.

Who knows?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Call of the Wild?

In response to Adrian's question of why the television is called the boob-tube, I now present something entirely unrelated to his question in the first place. But it does have some relevance...I think.

Boys in Blue



The flight crew of an Australian Army helicopter has been relieved of duty pending an investigation of its actions. During the Indy 300 auto race on the Gold Coast, the chopper was supposed to be on anti-terrorist patrol, but instead was hovering near apartment balconies with a crewman hanging out the door holding a sign reading, "Show Us Your Tits", which was apparently targeted to bikini-clad women on balconies watching the race. The stunt came to light when an onlooker took a photo of the Iroquois gunship and posted it on the Internet. (Brisbane Courier-Mail) ...Meanwhile, everyone else was taking photos in the other direction. (From Randy Cassingham's This is True website. This is the URL of the article).

Friday, November 19, 2004

Boob-tubes.

One thing:

1. You know that US viewers are entirely fixated on their entertainment when CBS fires an "overly-aggressive" producer for breaking into popular drama CSI: NY to air a special report on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The viewers never got to watch the ending and CBS got a barrage of complaints because of it. CBS promised to repeat the episode the next day.

And here I was thinking that this country is the only one turning vidiots*. I recall a particular Starstruck wannabe during the eliminations round as he was asked, "Do you think movie stars should earn millions of pesos, while their assistants earn only a portion (or something to that effect)?"

Smirking Wannabe: "Well yeah, because movie stars work hard, promoting their shows and movies and everything, and the assistants can't earn that much, kasi assistants lang naman sila eh (or something to that effect)."

Smirking Wannabe bastard got in the Final 14. Whoop-de-doo. And as I last checked, Smirking Wannabe bastard is still there.


*I love CSI. It's my favorite show. But there is a limit to entertainment!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Foreign.

He was a huge, heavy man, ponderously walking along Paseo de Roxas.
It was an empty Monday afternoon, and the streets were quiet.
His hands were holding a neatly-folded white piece of paper.
"Excuse me, Miss, but could you point me to Aayalah Avenoo?" he asked, his voice deep, well-bred, and oddly comforting. A driver waiting for his amo was disinterestedly watching, alternately taking drags on his cigarette.
"Yes, you see that traffic light? The traffic light after it is on Ayala Avenue."
The man glowered at the sunlight, scratched his face, and digested the directions.
"So I just walk all over the way there? I need to get to EDSA from Aayalah."
The young lady blinked.
"Why not take the train, Sir? The MRT?"
The leathery creases of the man's face lifted.
"What is the MRT; I don't know what that is and where it is! I just arrived here in Manila," he said in a flood of words; he seemed strained and tired.
He stopped, and was quiet for a moment.
He held out the white piece of paper. A map was sketched there, together with an address.
"I need to walk here, to this address: a building in Annapolis, Greenhills. How do I get there?" the man asked searchingly.
The young lady was astonished; the man was tired, perhaps, and a lapse of words was understandable.
"Sir, you can take the bus there on Ayala Avenue, as it will go straight by Annapolis," she tried once again.
The man was impatient.
"Are you a Filipino?" he inquired brusquely.
"Yes."
"Two days ago, at the Dusit Hotel, a Filipino lady stole my briefcase with everything in it - my wallet, documents, papers, passport, laptop."
She was embarrassed.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Sir."
"That is why I have to walk to this building, the only place that can help me. The police said it will take me 4 1/2 hours of walking," he replied, his dark eyes piercing.
For a moment, she was afraid.
Then she shook it off.
"Thank you anyway, Miss," he was saying, turning away purposefully.
She could only nod.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A kingdom for a horse...

Or you could just donate your old children's books to the Philippine DailyInquirer, Chino Roces Avenue, corner Yague and Mascardo Sts., Makati City.

You can give these c/o Gidget Aranda.

*With much thanks to Zane

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Quotes for the Day.

"The more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied with it; and everyday confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense."

- Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

At the lowest point of my day, J.R.R Tolkien comes back through the voice of my friend Mon:

"What can men do against such reckless hate? When the courage of men fail, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. This day we fight!"

- Aragorn, The Two Towers

Thanks Mon.

Monday, November 08, 2004

A tale of two Frenchies.

Paris Hilton, I'm sure, you're all well-aware. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, maybe not so well, but still enough of a household name in the United States. What do they have in common? Read on.

What we all know.
Hilton is the daughter of hotel magnate Rick Hilton and his wife Kathy. She and sister Nicky are heiresses to a $550 million fortune. Hilton rose to fame when a sex video with ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon was unleashed online in 2003. Since then, she has taken on the duties of a recording artist, author, actress, and model. She may not portray them all extraordinarily well, but as Jay Leno said in an interview with her, she could win an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Nobel prize, all in this year.

What we most probably don't know.
Louis-Dreyfus is most beloved for her portrayal of Elaine Benes in Jerry Seinfeld's Seinfeld, a "show about nothing", and arguably one of US television's most successful sitcoms.
Fortune-wise? Louis-Dreyfus can kick the ass of Hilton when it comes to money. Dad Gerard runs the Louis-Dreyfus group, a diversified conglomerate that is estimated to be worth $2.9 billion.

So yes, the parallels between Hilton and Louis-Dreyfus are evident - born from money and rising to Hollywood fame (and infamy?).

All's well, except that an enterprising website called GorillaMask.net decided to compare these two heiresses/actresses.

Here are some highlights:

Estimated fortune:
Louis-Dreyfus' estimated fortune is held at *$550 million (split between three kids and two grandkids).

Hilton's estimated fortune is held at *$27.5 million (split between eight kids and 12 grandkids).

Developmental years:
Louis-Dreyfus spent her developmental years "studying theatre at Northwestern as a member of Delta Gamma (class of 1982), becoming a member of The Practical Theatre Company, and later joining The Second City Improvisation Group."

Hilton spent her developmental years "receiving a weekly $100 allowance, before getting her first credit card at 13. Also had five parties to celebrate her 21st birthday - one each in Tokyo, London, New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas."

Quotes that best defines personality:
Louis-Dreyfus: "The best thing that ever happened to me was having my children. It’s quite clear to me it’s the meaning of life. Even when I was working, I was with them."

Hilton: "Every woman should have four pets in her life. A mink in her closet, a jaguar in her garage, a tiger in her bed, and a jackass who pays for everything."

Closing argument:
Louis-Dreyfus: Responsible, tireless actress who worked her way to the top of the entertainment industry, independently earning a lifetime of financial freedom for her and her family.

Hilton: Dipshit socialite who wrecklessly (sic) rode her family's wealth and ex-boyfriend's dick to the top of the American disgrace that is the reality television food chain.

*Assuming inheritance is split evenly among and accepted by all heirs

A word to the wise?

Djong forwarded me the link to this interesting story.

About three weeks ago, a LiveJournal user was surprised when she was paid a visit by the Secret Service due to an inflammatory post about US president George W. Bush. In her October 27 post, she wrote that "At 9:45 last night, the Secret Service showed up on my mother's front door to talk to me about what I said about the President, as what I said could apparently be misconstrued as a threat to his life." (Go here for the link to her post)

She also wrote that she had deleted what she had written down that had provoked the visit from the Secret Service, but Google helped me out and directed me to a Poynter.org E-media tidbit relating her story. A poster named Jukio Smith was able to provide a link to her original post. (View it here; just scroll down)

I have my own opinions on what she wrote and what subsequently happened, but for the meanwhile you can view threads and comments here and here.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

American backlash.

*The US elections are over, but I thought this would be interesting.

In the last couple of weeks, TheGuardian started a controversial campaign for Britons to send in their letters to US voters over at Clark County, Ohio, in an effort to influence them in voting for Sen. John Kerry.

Why, you may ask?

Because TheGuardian believes that the world should have a say in who becomes the next US president. Jonathan Freedland, a regular Guardian writer, posits in his September 22 column that US policy affects the whole world, not just the US.

This election will be decisive not just for the United States but for the future of the world.

Anyone who doubts it need only look at the last four years. The war against Iraq, the introduction of the new doctrine of pre-emption, the direct challenge to multilateral institutions - chances are, not one of these world-changing developments would have happened under a President Al Gore. It is no exaggeration to say that the actions of a few hundred voters in Florida changed the world.
According to the Guardian people, the response they garnered from their readers was overwhelming. 11,000 readers expressed interest to send over their letters to registered voters in Clark County.

As with all big ideas, though, the responses these US voters sent over to Britain were a mixture of gladness, dry wit, anger, and sarcasm. TheGuardian published their responses in this article. Here are a couple.

KEEP YOUR FUCKIN' LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN'T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT'S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON'T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS ... TOUGH SHIT!
PROUD AMERICAN VOTING FOR BUSH!

Thank you for taking such an active interest in the elections here in America. I appreciate what the Guardian is doing. Your effort to reach out to "swing states" and make a difference is commendable. I hope that many of your readers will take your challenge to help make a change in Washington by contacting voters.
Clarke County, Georgia

Shame on you for using the people of Ohio like this. The US presidental election isn't just about foreign policy, it's about healthcare, taxes, education, transportation, natural resources and all manner of issues with little to no impact on the people of Britain.

We live in a globalised, interconnected world. If China shuts its borders to US imports, you better believe American companies, shareholders and workers are affected. Should US citizens therefore have a direct say in Chinese policies? No - Americans should demand that their own elected leaders address the issues with their Chinese counterparts. The British have a similar voice in US policies - through your own elected representatives who have any number of diplomatic, economic and military tools at their disposal. You vote for your leaders and we'll vote for ours. Your problem is with your leaders, not ours.
Washington DC

Please be advised that I have forwarded this to the CIA and FBI.
United States

Mind your own flipping business.
United States

I suggest that if a particular reader of the Guardian would like to vote in America - would really like to influence the American election, say - that reader should move to America, become a citizen of the United States. Everyone is welcome here. Even the readers of the Guardian. But if you don't wish to be an American, to live in Ohio, for instance, and participate in the American political process, that is too bad. Perhaps there is something wrong with you. Perhaps it is your teeth.
New York

As a US citizen, I want to advise you that you and anyone that participates in subverting the US presidential election can be criminally charged and perhaps even charged as spies.
California

And my personal favorite:

My dear, beloved Brits,
I understand the Guardian is sponsoring a service where British citizens write to Americans to advise them on how to vote. Thank heavens! I was adrift in a sea of confusion and you are my beacon of hope!

Feel free to respond to this email with your advice. Please keep in mind that I am something of an anglophile, so this is not confrontational. Please remember, too, that I am merely an American. That means I am not very bright. It means I have no culture or sense of history. It also means that I am barely literate, so please don't use big, fancy words.

Set me straight, folks!
Dayton, Ohio

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I dare you...

I snagged this from Ate Pao's blog. I was in stitches within minutes.
Go to Pornolize.com and type in my URL address (or any blog URL, for that matter).
The "new" links and "new" entries are particularly entertaining.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A casualty of faith?

Who is America voting for today, pray? Or, demographically speaking, who is backing Bush or Kerry?

CNN.com reports that "Exit poll interviews indicate Kerry doing better among women, blacks and younger voters. Bush does better among whites, military veterans and voters who go to church weekly."

There you have it, the American voters in a nutshell - at least those that have been targeted by media and political analysts as people who are likely to vote for Bush or Kerry. (*Ralph Nader has officially conceded.)

I'm particularly interested in who's voting for who with regard to the Christian camp. Because they are seen as conservative and evangelical, it is seen that the majority of them will vote for Bush.

It's also easy to label them as wholly white, rabid supporters of morality - one aspect of which Bush is favored upon, since he embraces the Christian faith and is not afraid to show it, nor, as we have seen these past few years, does he hide it in his presidency. If during the early years he was a bit soft on his approaches to foreign policy, a May 2003 article at ChristianityToday.com was written thus:

In response to 9/11, Bush's vision became coherent and deeply linked to his Christian convictions. He declared during the Washington National Cathedral's 9/11 memorial service, "Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil." Bush no longer sounded like a balance-of-power realist, but like an abolitionist intent on ridding the world of vice. The service ended with a powerful rendition of the abolitionist war song, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

A few days later Bush told the nation that terrorists were trying to remake the world so that they could impose their beliefs on others. "They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." Bush said God is not neutral in this conflict between "freedom and fear, justice and cruelty." (click here for whole article; it's a good read)

The question now is, is it eminently fair for Christians to be thought of as a bloc voting for Bush?

According to Natalie, an Anthropology major at Wheaton College in Illinois, it's not. And yes, Wheaton is a known conservative Christian college.

She writes, "It becomes frustrating when, on one hand, we are perceived negatively by other evangelicals when we don't necessarily choose, for example, to support Bush. On the other hand, non-evangelicals automatically assume that, because we are religiously conservative, we will be so politically, too."

Natalie also brings to light the frustrations of many Christians who are encouraged to vote on the basis of single-issue voting. She admits that "she differs from conservatives regarding immigration, social programs, gun control, and foreign policy."

In her October 25 post, she again brings up the issue of single-issue voting. "How did evangelicals get to the point where abortion and gay marriage are the only issues to consider when it comes to politics? I've been repeating this all along, but what about other issues that should concern Christians like economic injustice, human rights, feeding the hungry, the list goes on..."

Faith-based. Christian-based. That is what many critics have labeled as Bush's doctrine. And there's nothing wrong with that, so long as one doesn't presume that God is always on your side. Is this Bush's casualty, then?

In America today, the word 'evangelical' is left with a bitter taste in one's mouth. But I take heart in students like Natalie, who continue to push their minds and answer difficult questions, those who aren't afraid to trust, believe - and be different.


Monday, November 01, 2004

What constitutes responsibility?

Writing is a wonderful medium to express your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It comes with the idea of freedom of speech, whereby censorship is banned, because it does not promote healthy reasoning and debate.

Knowing how to temper your writing with reason can come across as a bit stifling for the average writer, but for the journalist, it is a must. If a particular publication you work for has an acknowledged slant, then it follows that the writing should be geared towards that slant. Again, though, that should not hinder one from presenting all the facts in a story, though that story may be anathema to the writer and/or publication. That is the tenet of healthy journalism.

But all's not fair in writing, I'm afraid, if in love and war it is. Media has gotten such a bad rep these days so as to render their once-mighty respectability into pieces. The damage that can be dealt to a person or even an institution aren't delivered by the even-toned news anchors you watch on CNN and BBC; they're delivered mostly these days by a growing number of people we know as bloggers.

But I digress.

Officially, not everyone has the power to speak out their thoughts and opinions (although blogs are there to fill in that gap). But when you are given that power, that privilege, to speak, you must also acknowledge that awesome responsibility and take the necessary steps to live up to that privilege.

This might all sound a bit vague, but one can apply this anywhere in media and publishing these days, even from the days of old.

Take Pride and Prejudice, for a veritable stretched example (it's neither media, nor publishing, but bear with me). Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet found out too late that the ill feelings she beheld towards Mr Darcy were from the machinations of Mr Wickham, who conveniently twisted the whole story. Elizabeth was inclined to believe Wickham due to his affable and amiable manners, plus the goodness of his facial features. But because she allowed her dislike of Mr Darcy to overcome whatever good sense and reason she had, the general feeling in her part of the county was that he was disagreeable, proud, and arrogant. And all this ill-will was descended from the power of the spoken word.

In this case, I make my point: one has the power to take back spoken words. And fortunately, in Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy's case, the not-so-trifling situation was settled most satisfactorily.

If spoken words are powerful, then what about print?

In print, what you write stays forever. And right there, the journalist is faced with a heavy responsibility: that whatever s/he writes is truthful, factual, to the best of their capability. Because if it isn't, then history will judge, as it did when The Chicago Tribune belatedly ran their headline during the 1948 US presidential election, "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN".

So what constitutes responsibility, then? Our own discerning selves, an overflow of good common sense, and respect for your medium. That might not do the trick for the nitty-gritties out there, but it's a good enough start.