Sunday, February 26, 2006

Beware the Ides of March...

*image from here

It is no secret that parts of the country have been active over the weekend, commemorating the first EDSA rallies that eventually turned into protests against the now-infamous announcement by the president.

On Friday, February 24, GMA gravely announced that the nation was under a state of emergency after having 'crushed' a coup attempt by the military and had the freedom to arrest without issuing any warrants (the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus; scroll down). Sassy probes the proclamation announcement here and here; Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison likened (scroll down again) the emergency powers to "tyranny".

It wasn't long before the people took to the streets in protest against the proclamation, and in the midst of all the mess came the reports (bottom stories) that Randy David, a columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Argee Guevarra, a lawyer, were arrested while participating in an anti-Arroyo march on EDSA. Media clampdowns (second to the last story) came in the form of the Daily Tribune newspaper, where police seized mock copies early Saturday morning and secured the entire office.

All these events happened within hours of each other during Friday and Saturday, and it is obvious that Arroyo's critics still do not agree with her recent 'tactics'; some have called her an improved version of Ferdinand Marcos. So why does March 15 feel somewhat ominous?

Julius Caesar was assassinated that day, the Ides of March, by a group of patrician Senators who feared that he would pronounce himself as king over Rome and not, as you may think, over his becoming a dictator for life. What's even more meaningful is that his assasinators wanted to restore the Republic and in doing so tangibly altered the course of Roman history.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should take note, and quickly. I suddenly feel chills.


Turns out I was misinformed about the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. There is none, although the country is still under a state of emergency.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bow to Chuck Norris.

An officemate sent me this link to Chuck Norris Facts, a veritable treasure of Chuck Norris and the wonderful things he can do.

Some gems:
  • Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
  • When the Bogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
  • Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.
  • Chuck Norris does not get frostbite. Chuck Norris bites frost.
  • Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy, it is a Chucktatorship.
  • Chuck Norris doesn't wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.
  • Chuck Norris gave Mona Lisa that smile.
  • There's no such thing as global warming. Chuck Norris was cold, so he turned the sun up.
Take that, Conan!

Monday, February 13, 2006

This just in - Sex sells!

*image taken from Sydney Morning Herald

You may have heard of a fantasy airline called Lynx Jet. Hugely popular in Australia, the highly-charged airline has proven the old adage that quite simply, sex sells.

Lynx Jet is not a real airline, but ever since the titillating television ad debuted in late November (see video here), more than one million Lynx deoderant (intended for male teenagers and pre-adoloscents) have been sold and by all indications, (male) enthusiasm has remained strong.

The Lynx Jet website has received more than half a million hits, and interestingly enough, a lot of visitors BOOK TICKETS to go on an airplane that is not real. To encourage the current wave of popularity, Unilever (maker of Lynx) has also offered a mobile massage parlor, called the Lynx Mile High Club, where around 30,000 people have come up for a, erm, massage.

Lowe Hunt was the agency tasked by Unilever to set up an ad using a real airplane provided by Jetstar. It took them just eight weeks to put up everything and present it to the public.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Interestingly, the campaign as we see it now was never meant to happen. The wide-ranging Lynx Jet program only transpired because one of Unilever's rostered ad agencies didn't do what it was asked...Rather than scurry off and do what the client asked - and you can see here how disconnected it can get when media agencies are buying media space independently of creative shops and vice versa - Lowe Hunt instead came up with a completely new communications plan under a process it calls "brand explosion".

Most marketing services companies have fancy proprietary processes which apparently facilitate all this brainstorming and idea creation stuff but Lowe Hunt's seems to actually work.

So, rather than tart up a plane for Lynx in two months, Lowe Hunt pulled in all of its specialist divisions to create a "fantasy airline" concept 10 times as big but delivered in the same time frame. Lynx Jet was the idea and it meant remaining deliberately ambiguous about whether Lynx Jet was a real airline or not.

The ad was successfully ambiguous alright, judging from the reactions of the audience. Here's the kicker - Lynx Jet was supposed to have become a reality. According to Duncan's TV Ad Land,
Unilever arranged to have one of Jetstar's planes painted in the yellow colours of the Lynx campaign. Hostesses on the designated flights between Victoria and Queensland were not expected to dress or behave like the 'mostesses' in the Lynx TV ads. All the same, Jetstar has thought again and withdrawn from the deal. The plane has gone back to normal colours in the light of complaints from airline stewards, Jetstar marketing consultants and the general public.
Real, fantasy, the message is clear - when it comes to sex, everything becomes discombobulated. Says an anonymous commenter from Duncan's blog:
amazing how gullible men become when hot chicks are involved... and in the states men only fly Hooter's Air for the chicken wings too!


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Don't be such a swot!

Oxford is planning to introduce contracts requiring students to attend lectures and tutorials. But is that any way to spend your university years?

Ah, university years. The common answers to how one has spent it are typically getting drunk, getting laid, and getting high - and maybe get a degree in the process. So how did I spend mine? Let's just say I was half stick-in-the-mud and half wild child. The wild child part being where I went to school in my shorts and sandals and running all over the football field getting wet. Look out world!

Oh, and I also got into "disagreements" with some of the academe due to the content of the The LaSallian, but come on. I was obviously bad-ass.

I was a fairly conscientious student. I attended lectures, but I also stealthily filtered out some of the more boring ones and would come crashing back to earth whenever a classmate nudged me. I've had vanilla (generic) professors, mind-boggling professors, and sardonic professors. I've had professors who gave religion a bad name and goaded us to say otherwise, and professors who were so obviously learned and academic that my eyes just glazed over whenever they lectured. I didn't understand a thing.

Germaine Greer has something to say about batty professors:

If I doubted that people who studied too much went mad, I had my lecturers to prove it. Notorious among them was a professor who lectured with a pipe between his teeth or waved aloft in his left hand, while his right hand wandered about deep in the front of his corduroy trousers. His lectures consisted in reciting gobs of Paradise Lost, a process that moved him so deeply that cascades of rheum fell from his eyes and nostrils, joined the saliva foaming at the corners of his mouth and dripped off his chin.
I have had classmates tallying how many times my professor would say "Oo" after a sentence. It reached up to 40 in about half an hour. I also remember the professor in my freshman year who uttered with complete sanguinity, "If you're bad, I'm badder!" Obviously quite lacking in comparison to Ms. Greer's, but you take what you can get.

On a more serious matter, Ms. Greer comments that
"Confusion is the most productive state of mind. Respect your confusions. Don't let me waft them away." She tells of a lecturer who was so misguided on Byron that she had to write a research paper on Byron's comic verse in order to have her accumulated bile purged. On that note, she believes that "a truly incompetent teacher can be of more value than a good one."

Ms. Greer says that students go to university to meet other students, and that they can learn more from arguing over cold coffee than from the academic staff. She also says that her most brilliant students were those who watched the hit TV show

John Sutherland, Ms. Greer's co-writer of the Guardian comment, is funny but hits home just the same:

Academic idleness, of course, is a complicity thing, and the hardest-hit victims of the new contractual regime will be the teachers. No more snoozing on the job. If those traditionally absentee slackers start going to lectures, it's then that the lawsuits will fly. As the lecturer mounts the podium and pulls out the yellowing sheaf of text that has served him (it's usually a him) for decades, there will be the awful realisation that he has in front of him that most alarming thing for any public performer: a hostile audience. As far as his bleary eye can reach, there will be rank upon rank of bolshy, overcharged consumers, all asking the same thing: "We're paying for this shit? Get me a lawyer."