Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another From Google Video

Not all videos available in it's treasure cache are as controversial as the previous one. Like for example this one which shows a very adept Michael Jackson performing. Okay, so it is a smaller version of MJ.

From Google Video : A Question

Do you find this video parody offensive?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Personal Critique On Popular Blogs and Their Commentaries

As I intimated in a couple of earlier blogs, one of my avid avocations when I get the opportunity has been to cruise around the obstacle-ridden racetrack popularly named as the blogosphere and like the proverbial fly on the wall to scan through the different entries and the often juicier commentaries allowed. And some popular ones can typically boast of upward to 200-300 comments in one post. Quite a few registering over a 1,000 comments. Very good traffic figures, indeed. If that’s the paramount target.

But personally, I find the present prevailing format quite cumbersome and exactingly confusing, no different from having to wade through thick clutter to get at the gist of where things stand. Granted most everybody in the blogosphere have ripe opinions about most issues and are avidly and readily expressing them.

But what about those who simply want to read and learn from the discussions?

Blog surfers are invited to visit some of them to get a taste first hand how at times wading through the main blog entry and the ensuing commentaries, and at times updates on the main entry, can be a very daunting task especially for visitors severely restrained by time limits or maybe suffering from some kind of attention deficit.

Especially in hotly-commented sites, when one enters in the middle of a discussion, no thanks to time constraints or time differentials, one feels no different from having stumbled into the middle of a fierce gunfight. Think OK Corral. Bullets are whizzing by every which way, not really knowing whether they hit the targets or not. Or whether they are simply stray bullets fired from a gun and not really intended to hit any target. Just shots fired.

And most riveting blog entries no doubt are floated out to stir up and to engender wholesale animated discussions on controversial or hot-button issues of the day.

How are the readers helped in their dilemmas, problems, unease, nagging questions, etc. about the differing issues that are being propounded?

Personally, I believe many are confused and none the better off than when they initially chanced upon the discussions. I know that’s how I feel at times.

Many blogs, not unlike a number of those listed on the links on the right, have simply abandoned the idea of allowing comments after their entries. Aided in their decision by the nasty development of having commentators using the ready access and space to litter with indecent, defamatory, silly, at times outrageous remarks. And there is also the universal problem of spams forcibly inserting themselves and littering blogs through comments.

Now, wouldn’t it be nicer to have some kind of order to this madness, for maximum penetration and effects?

Some organized format so that those coming in at any point of the discussion can easily grasp some sense of direction and purpose of the discussion. And in the process learn and be educated.

Many are familiar with the debate format which makes provisions for a more orderly and dispassionate discussion, analysis and assessment of different and differing issues.

I propose we make accommodations to use this format or something similar to it, incorporating such salient components as a list of “givens”, a little intro on the realities in which the question exists, a definition of terms and issues to frame and limit discussions/commentaries to relevant points, etc.

No doubt a welcomed departure from or a modest improvement on the present free-wheeling, open-thread type discussions that permeate and contribute to the gathering disorder of the entire sphere.

A healthy development for this much-touted salvific interactive medium.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Happiness Index Revisited

Here’s a very interesting, though findings are not novel, latest report on a poll on happiness from the Pew Research for the USA. Download complete report on pdf here.

Could the findings apply to other countries as well? Why not?

Being still a nation of immigrants, it ought to be a microcosm of the population make-up of the world.

And maybe more arguable than the one where the beleaguered country of the Philippines scored highest among its more progressive neighbors?

Some very interesting correlations between certain factors such as income, religiosity, political affiliations and beliefs, etc. Now remember just correlations, meaning factors going together or found together, but not necessarily one causing the other.

And another qualifier, the survey did not measure happiness based on psychological characteristics or life events down to the individual’s level, such as being happy because of a promotion, owning a new house, or losing a boyfriend, etc.; rather the field of happiness is measured in demographic and behavioral traits.

Income and Happiness

Well, obviously our conventional wisdom about happiness not being bought by money may have to be rethought and re-aligned. Why?

Because the report shows that increasing incomes also signal increasing happiness. As incomes rise to certain levels, happiness also rises.

It is then hard to imagine how very poor sectors of a population could show significant levels of happiness as a behavioral trait.

Political Affiliation

To be applicable for our purposes we may have to replace this category with whether a person has conservative or liberal political beliefs.

For some reasons those who are conservatives show a greater percentage of being happy than those who are liberals.

Does this explain then why when one visits the different political blogs, or even those which occasionally write about local or world politics, those on the left, or more appropriately those on the hard-left, engage more in hateful, belligerent, and negative rhetoric than the other side? Remember it is just a correlation.

Religiosity

Those who are quite open about their religious faiths and attend services frequently tend to be happier than those who don’t. And even within different religious affiliations, the correlation still is that those who frequent more services are happier than those who don’t.

Discover also findings on other factors such as Marriage and Parental Status, Race and Ethnicity, Age and Gender, and Work, Education, Health, Geography, and Miscellanceous.

Finally, here’s a quote from the report about this statistical technique called multiple regression analysis:

One way to find out is by way of a statistical technique known as multiple regression analysis, which gauges the relationship between each factor and happiness while controlling for all the other factors. That analysis shows that the most robust correlations of all those described in this report are health, income, church attendance, being married and, yes, being a Republican. Indeed, being a Republican is associated not only with happiness, it is also associated with every other trait in this cluster. Even so, the factor that makes the most difference in predicting happiness is neither being a Republican nor being wealthy - it's being in good health.

The same regression analysis also finds that education, gender, and race do not have a statistically significant independent effect on predicting happiness, once all the other factors are controlled.

Monday, February 13, 2006

There Is No Blogosphere

I knew it. And implied so with posts here and here. There could not possibly be something we can call the blogosphere.

The hodge-podge in content and purposes of weblogs are just too diverse and undefined as to be readily categorized as one discrete entity.

One cannot think of any uniformity or unifying factor that could possibly link together this very unruly glob that is exponentially growing in numbers and variety. Consult Technorati about this.

True, weblogs use technologies that may be adjudged similar but then these are the same technologies already extant in the world we have known for quite a while as The Internet or The World Wide Web.

Consider several definitions of Blogosphere on the Web:

• The totality of weblogs or blog-related webs. (From Wikipedia.
www.fullcirc.com/community/interactionterms.htm

• used to describe the world or community of blogs and blogging
www.fzelders.nl/weblog/

• Blogosphere (alternate: blogsphere) is the collective term encompassing all weblogs or blogs; blogs as a community; blogs as a social network. Weblogs are densely interconnected; bloggers read others' blogs, link to them, reference them in their own writing, and post comments on each others' blogs. Because of this, the interconnected blogs have grown their own culture.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blogosphere


They describe it as a community, a social network, interconnected, and a culture.

But honestly, can it be described as a cohesive, mutually inclusive community of bloggers/writers sharing common aspirations and purposes?

We know that within this expanding universe are all the seeds of divisiveness, exclusiveness, cliquishness, belligerence, bellicosity, differences, even callousness as one would not find in an interconnected social community, sharing the same culture.

Even within the smaller spheres of political blogs, glaring differences likened to night and day are already exhibited. Not only in language but even in approaches and core purposes. And Powerline highlights this utterly glaring difference with its comment on a Washington Post column done by one of its executive director named Mr. Jim Brady. Both, by the way, share this sentiment about there being no blogosphere.

No Blogosphere We obviously are driven to commit the same mistakes over and over again. And yet Ms. Patricia Wallace, author of Psychology of the Internet, had emphatically inferred and cautioned that with our forthcoming universal use of the newest medium, the electronic interpersonal medium, we have the opportunity to blaze a new more civil and more polite trail because we have in our collective grasp the power to control and direct its development. An opportunity maybe already lost in the conduct of our personal and global face-to-face relationships wracked with many undesirable developments.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

3D Illusions

In the 90's at the height of the tech boom, this one particular technology caught the "eye" of many as the newest art form that was expected to soon invade the other areas of visual wonders such as cinema and video.

They were called 3D illusion images, or stereograms, and required a special technique of viewing them to arrive at the hidden images.

Books and big posters got printed showing them and challenging viewers to discover the hidden images.

I actually secured a book which essentially was a collection of works by different authors and waited breathlessly for the explosion.

Indeed, there was a "bust" or explosion, but instead this became an ancillary victim among the many, laid waste when tech stocks careened downward at the start of the new century.

But anyway, test your visual acuity and look for the hidden 3D images in these images taken from here:

1.

2.

3.



If unsuccessful, please drop a line and will be glad to show some techniques.

UPDATE:

I have about a 100 of these glossy images which because of copyrights cannot be reproduced here. They can be viewed personally.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Rene Barrientos: Manny Pacquiao’s Precursor

Before the era of multi-million dollar purses, coupled with equally astronomical PPV deals, another world champion boxer from Mindanao started his pugilistic arts not very far from the inauspicious origins of the current boxing idol. This unassuming, though quite strapping and muscular, guy started honing his boxing skills in the town of Marbel, north of General Santos, but still within the Cotabato region.

This boxer who carried the name of Ireneo Barrientos, but shortened to Rene Barrientos as an appropriate boxing handle, lists his birthplace as Balite, Aklan, in the Visayas Region. It can be surmised that not unlike many of the Christian residents of the Cotabato region which has been traditionally and predominantly Muslim, Rene’s family resettled in the area. Which place had been renowned for holding alluring promises for those who dared. The tempting enticements of a very hospitable climate, fertile agricultural lands and enviable homesteads, which had earned the huge Cotabato basin the distinction of being the rice granary of the entire country.

In October 10, 1962, Rene made his first professional fight in Cotabato knocking out a fighter named Charlie Kid in two rounds.

Of his 48 professional fights, this would be the only one held in Cotabato, because after this he was ready to move on to bigger places and greater heights.

He moved to the Northern Mindanao city of Cagayan de Oro to be managed by one of its more popular boxing enthusiasts, Dodong Almirante. This partnership would lead Rene to a world championship and beyond.

Standing at about 5’7” and fighting at a comfortable 130 lbs, (ideal for a junior lightweight or super featherweight), Rene in many ways then was also like Pacquiao. Add to that the fact that he was also a southpaw with a very mean left.

Though maybe minus the extravagant financial rewards now very common among boxing champions, Rene took hold of his highest crowning glory by grabbing the vacant WBC Super Featherweight Word Championship in a bruising 15-rounder that ended in a unanimous decision. This was against a fighter named Ruben Navarro in front of a hometown crowd in Manila, on the 15th day of February, 1969.

Though nothing compared to the frenzy and mania created by the latest Pacquiao conquest, the nation was nevertheless ecstatic for having a world champion.

Unfortunately, about a year later, Rene lost that title to a Japanese fighter named Yoshiaki Numata on a split decision and under a fight that was held in Tokyo, Japan on April 4, 1970. Many would claim that it was a hometown decision, and unfortunately during those years, Japanese officials were notorious for being partial to their fighters.

Though stripped of his rightful crown, Rene would continue to fight until the 70’s, already into his 30’s, and losing only one more fight, again on a split decision. And you guessed right. To another Japanese boxer in another Japanese venue. But the chance for another world title never showed up again.

Today, Rene continues to live with his family in Cagayan de Oro, ensconced among many friends who have stayed loyal to him all these years.

Look him up, if perchance you find yourself in the very hospitable gateway to Northern Mindanao. And see how he sizes up with the current idol.

Rene among friends in his adopted hometown: (CLICK ON THE PICS TO ENLARGE)



Barrientos - With Lady Friend

Bridging The Them and Us Gap

We like to tell the story that mankind (Homo sapiens) started as one, and that more profoundly, everybody is made to the image and likeness of a good God. Thus, the only race that we all belong to is the human race.

But we tend to forget that people GET different growing up in their own unique environment. They develop the same ways of reasoning and using their own perceived logic as the rest in those familial and social milieus. Sadly, the Middle East and its people, in many places where they may have sought to live and prosper, still resolutely cling to their adherence to many cultural and religious practices and mores that have not changed much since the 12th century. This continues to be the same way they look at the world and how they judge the rest of the world. This kind of time warp very much explains those confusing and very illogical behavior we see exhibited in the world today. And of course, which obviously alienate them from the rest of the world that has in the meantime, moved on.

I see a long-term solution from where I sit. The USA is a very good example of showcasing how integration and assimilation of the different ethnicities into the mainstream can radically change not only how people look and act. But more importantly, how people think and relate in the social environment quite different from their old homelands. And this while still continuing to learn and maintain one’s past ethnic heritage in ways amenable to the rest.

For after all, the US is probably the only place in this globe where the convergence of practically all the races/ethnicities can be found. At times messy, but essentially bound together by common goals and ideals. And this could be a good reason to advance why the US is still essentially insulated from such illogical behavior now raging in other places of the world.

Thus, comparing the first generation immigrants, whether adamantly resistant to assimilation or not, with the next generation offspring, one witnesses a world of changed differences. Not only in the manner of dress, speech, and demeanor, but even in the more profound social or moral values that somehow manage to reveal themselves in the many innocent and uninhibited ways kids express themselves.

Instilling democracy and democratic ideals are definitely a good commencing step toward pushing the Middle East and its people away from the constricting clutches and demands of the past ages that present civilization has cast aside a long time ago as largely irrelevant, inadequate, and illogical.

Note: The lithograph on the left came from a gilt-edged devotion book published in Barcelona, Spain, in 1881.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More On Jesus Christ

VonJobi and DJB mentioned their familiarity with the image of a Laughing Christ. Made a little search and found this, though I couldn't attribute its origin:
Laughing Christ

But I do have the following images that I have kept for quite a bit:
HeMan XT
This he-man looking Christ reminds us of the movies we have seen. Do the names Jeffrey Hunter and Robert Powell come to mind? Or even Max Von Sydow? Do you remember when the movies about Christ started showing his face? Before then, his face was never seen on screen. Reminds one about the present egregious violence world-wide connected with the Danish cartoons.

But guess what?

Sometime ago, scientists using all possible technologies then came up with a mosaic of Christ, as he would have looked based on factual findings about that bygone era.

And this is what they came up with:
Real XT
Not a very pretty sight.

I don't recall any perceptible protests or street marching and burning from fellow Christians.

And as my puny contribution to the raging cartoon controversy, I will borrow words from Mr. Daniel Pipes, who knows a thing or two about Muslim affairs and history, since they echo my own personal sentiments:

The key issue at stake in the battle over the 12 Danish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad is this: Will the West stand up for its customs and mores, including freedom of speech, or will Muslims impose their way of life on the West? Ultimately, there is no compromise: Westerners will either retain their civilization, including the right to insult and blaspheme, or not.

More specifically, will Westerners accede to a double standard by which Muslims are free to insult Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, while Muhammad, Islam, and Muslims enjoy immunity from insults? Muslims routinely publish cartoons far more offensive than the Danish ones. Are they entitled to dish it out while being insulated from similar indignities.

The deeper issue here, however, is not Muslim hypocrisy but Islamic supremacism. The Danish editor who published the cartoons, Flemming Rose, explained that if Muslims insist "that I, as a non-Muslim, should submit to their taboos...they're asking for my submission."

Peoples who would stay free must stand unreservedly with Denmark.

Friday, February 03, 2006

You Be The Judge



Here’s the reply of Mrs. Gail Ilagan of MindaViews:

http://www.mindanews.com/2006/01/31vws-ilagan.html

to a blog posted here.

If delays are noticed, please remember blogging for me is still very much a passionate avocation that I engage in when I have the time away from the concerns of continuing to attend to my family’s future. And blogging itself continues to be a learning process, essentially a self-learning process.

And importantly also, I have learned to try to always take a long and hard look before I put out there anything that may not be edifying. For once released, it is quite difficult to undo or repair. Still, I find myself failing this test at times.

Anyway, these are the points of explanation and clarification I would like to bring up relative to the reply above. And I bring these out only because they reflect on my personal character, admittedly flawed as it already is. And not because they relate to issues that were initially brought out by me.

1. Mrs. Ilagan berates me for taking 10 weeks to reply to her two columns. I have me to blame for that since on the latter half of 2005 I was away for one of my regular trips to my old hometown, this time for a total of 5 months, and have only gotten back here in my adopted place in the middle of January. Thus, though I was quite physically near Mrs. Ilagan when she wrote her columns, I was in the dark having only very limited internet access and having used whatever available time I had in internet cafes to attend to personal business.

And pointing to my many short trips to the old homeland, I take exception then to Mrs. Ilagan’s insinuation that I am part of the “uninvolved” quite unconcerned about domestic problems. The reason for the last longer stay was because we now operate a little vegetable farm in a barrio in Bukidnon which employs at least a dozen farmers and other workers. Aside from a couple of private projects in the city where we have invested outside capitalization, with the earnest hope that the added financing generates more employment for the local economy. And I issue an open invitation to Mrs. Ilagan to look us up when she gets the chance to be in our part of Mindanao.

2. Regarding the issue of blogs and blogging, I would advise Mrs. Ilagan, though she adamantly resists the urge, to learn more and immerse herself in the blogosphere. For this is now the new medium, manned by unkempt writers in their pajamas, that has exponentially prospered in its task of leveling the playing field between the MSM and the rest of us. She should really take the effort to understand that the blogosphere is now where ordinary people can air their gripes and grievances against MSM operatives, and not really be restricted by the traditional practices and conventions such as of writing letters to the editors to seek audience and redress.

3. I apologize to Mrs. Ilagan for her misconstruing the implied connection made by me between the manner she writes about her opinions in MindaViews and the way she teaches her students in class. I never for a second doubted that Mrs. Ilagan teaches her students with the strict standards and demeanor that exemplify teaching in a Jesuit University. That was not the point I wanted to make. The question was: do her students also read her opinion columns and what do they think about how she expresses her opinions? Do they think it fair for her to prejudge and condemn others so gratuitously? Etc. For after all in the real world, it is really difficult to claim that we can compartmentalize our different personas and hope that people will not connect one with the other(s).

4. BTW, aside from also making available my initial blog to a close email group that I belong to, I also copy-furnished by email all my children. So far not a single comment from them. Maybe when we are able to get together, I can elicit some comments. But all this will go the same route.

5. Mrs. Ilagan also takes me to task by implicating me as part of the deserter teachers. But truly, it looks to me it was the other way around. Teaching deserted me. I found out early on that teaching did not really take too kindly on me, for I lacked the intellectual aptitude and of course, proper academic degrees, to even qualify as a good instructor. Add to that the realization that I was also missing the more important intangibles such as patience, perseverance, and maybe even passion that were so exemplary in the teachers that I admired.

6. In her reply, Mrs. Ilagan uses the phrase “bully’s pulpit” twice, in an apparent reference to my follow-up in the initial blog in which I used the word, “bully pulpit”. I sure hope she distinguishes the big difference between the two because again I apologize if misunderstood. I only meant this:

bully pulpit ,n.
An advantageous position, as for making one's views known or rallying support.


and not to refer to a bully using or owning a pulpit.

7. And lastly, I find it quite unfortunate that Mrs. Ilagan never addressed any of the issues that I exposed and which were the primary and maybe only, reasons for the personal judgments made by me in the initial blog.

But maybe also I should never have expected answers to the issues I raised.

In any way, you be the judge. And let it be known, I mean and harbor no ill-will toward anybody, in case any such malice appears to any reader of this writing.

And finally, this will be my last blog on this same issue. I shall lay it to rest, as any dead horse ought to be.

A little UPDATE for a finale
Some excerpts from a column aptly titled:

The work of a columnist

Feb 05, 2006
By Randy David
Inquirer

In the spirit of public debate, of which there is so little in our society, I will respond to his rejoinder.

He thinks that in criticizing Abueva and Davide, I have made "judgment calls that clearly lack academic detachment." So far as I know, "detachment" is a posture that has been questioned even in academe. If "academic detachment" were my goal, I would not write an opinion column. I would write dull monographs for specialists, in a language stripped of social judgment. Surely, Doronila does not believe that academic treatises, written in the dry dispassionate style of scholars, are the only justifiable statements that can be made about the world we live in. I have precisely kept one foot in media while continuing to teach at the university because I refuse to be trapped in academic debates that have little to do with the social reality of ordinary people.

Of course, this does not mean that a columnist is free to make irresponsible statements. I do believe that, harsh as it may seem, I am justified in my assertion that Dr. Abueva has lent himself as a "prop to a moribund presidency.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

How Do You See Christ?


How Do You See Christ?
Click to Enlarge avnerijr.
As a youngster many years ago, somebody now quite unnamed and anonymous gave me this pocket-sized picture of Jesus Christ, with the question:

How do you see Christ? Are his eyes opened to you or are they closed as if in dismay and shame?

Now, many years later, I ask myself:

What say you?