Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Slice Of The Filipino Diaspora

Filipinos like to talk unabashedly about their own diaspora. And it is usually couched in general terms under the context of the current OFWs (Overseas Foreign Workers) exodus world-wide induced by financial hardships to leave their traditional ethnic homeland.

Thus, what emerges is the picture of a Filipino, either solely or with spouse, catapulted to different parts of the world in search for financial resources to support a family in want back home.

But such is either an incomplete picture, or a picture that does not typify the Filipino in diaspora. Many Filipinos are scattered throughout the nooks and crannies of the globe, for reasons other than want. True, the present phenomenon is of the typical OFW forced to leave for abroad, as the only viable option in his limited perception of the problems that he faces. But recalling past waves of immigration from the old homeland could reveal a more or less truer picture of the different mindsets of the earlier Filipinos who migrated to this country.

Many came to stay for good with their families, made possible by liberal family reunification laws that allowed them to petition up to a certain legal degree their extended families. Of course, this is not to say that those of this mind all have the earnest desire to assimilate into mainstream communities. Rather many have through conscious choices made possible the existence of barrios or cliques, where they can continue to be as Filipino as can be allowed by the rest of the communities that they have invested their lives on.

One such community is Daly City, a city that shares a contiguous boundary with its northern neighbor, the fabled San Francisco. A city of about 110,000 and where the voters registry shows that a third are FilAmericans. The ratio increases if we include those Filipinos who are still just permanent residents or otherwise and thus not allowed to vote. Now, a unique phenomenon expressed by many has been the cases of Filipinos, many old-timers, who though qualified to become citizens continue holding on to their original nationality. Quite a phenomenon considering that for all intents and purposes they have staked everything in the adopted country – spending countless years here, buying expensive houses, and making investments here.

Our own family had lived in this area, specifically in the area referred to as “old Daly City”, one close to the boundary with San Francisco. Developed earlier and sharing many similarities with its next-door neighbor. Daly City used to be a haven for a good number of self-exiled Italian Americans as their quiet escape from nearby bustling and congested San Francisco, the monickered Baghdad by the Bay city.

But after a quarter century, we decided to move to our new location and to sell the house which has been in the family for just as many years. Over time we have seen this little enclave metamorphose from an integrated community composed of Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Filipinos, to a now largely FilAm domain, i.e., the same old houses have been bought and sold by FilAm families. To a point that the most likely expectation I have for our house is that it will sell to another FilAm family.

It may help to understand why Daly City in particular, and not any other city this side of the Bay. And yes, there are also other cities on the other side of the Bay, where Filipinos have also staked out their claims for their own barrios or cliques. Daly City’s proximity to San Francisco plays a very crucial role. The latter is only 10 miles away and can be reached either by private vehicle, by bus, or by rapid transit called BART. And SF is the city where many jobs tailored for the fresh Filipino immigrants can be found and easily secured. Thus, Daly City has been rightfully described as a bedroom community, because workers from SF and elsewhere go there to live, sleep, and raise their families.

Daly City in general, and this part of the city in particular, then should provide a representative slice of the typical life of the Filipino who has decided to consider this place his primary domicile, away from the old homeland which though still continues to exert strong ties, both nostalgic and otherwise.

This morning, I took a twenty-minute leisurely walk around familiar haunts where many of our compatriots gravitate, either to worship, send their kids to school, or buy groceries and other needs, etc. For old Daly City is quite small and quiant and can be easily hiked from any direction in minutes. The pictures provide the illustrations for this little narrative tour.

(Click on pictures to enlarge) The pictures above show a typical street scene in the morning during a weekday. Most of the houses, flushed to each other, are owned by FilAms. The streets are empty because most are out at work. Notice also two things about the cars parked curbside, mostly on one side of the street. First, they are outside because the garage spaces have been utilized either as additional storage, or because they have been used (mostly without permit) as added living areas. Second, the cars are parked mostly on one side because of street cleaning, which is scheduled twice in a week, one for each side of the street. The first situation has one native here jestingly remark that only in Daly city can you find “junk” stored inside the garage, but the expensive $20K vehicle is parked outside exposed to the elements.

The backyards of the houses around a block are all hemmed in because the houses do not have sideyards or alleys. The back area is completely land-locked and isolated.

K-12 public schools are stragetically located within the residential areas, thus this school in Colma has both elementary and middle (junior HS) grades. It is only two blocks from where we live and is also similarly situated for the rest. Another public elementary school is also two blocks going another way. Kids walk to school and many become latch-key kids after school hours, until their parents arrive from work.

Since many Filipinos are Catholic, their places for worship are nearby, many within walking distance. The pictures show the Holy Angels parish, with the parochial elementary grade school tucked behind the imposing church steeple. This parish is one among several in a city now dominated by Filipino parishioners. This particular parish used to be frequented mostly by the Caucasians in the community but they have since gone and moved elsewhere. Now, even the school is run by nuns imported from the Philippines.

This is Mission Street, the main commercial avenue in the city. It is one of the oldest and longest streets in this part of the state. One can take this road and end up in LA some 400 miles away. These particular shots show Mission Street going north, toward SF which is 10 miles away.

Strip Mall - Pera&PampangaCuisin- Another
Strip Mall - Pera&PampangaCuisin
Though nothing compared to the Filipino pride of Daly City, Serra Monte Mall, which has been nicknamed Little Manila, these shots show a strip mall, one among several within walking distance. Notice the signs, Pera and Pampanga’s Cuisine, definitely Filipino enterprises, one engaging in money remittances and the other serving Pampango cuisine. And I did not forget that also nearby along Mission Street and on a more spacious location is Jollibee, banging heads with the likes of Albertson's, a Hawaiian fastfood center, and other specialized and niched eating places.

Toward Freeway- Seton Background
Toward SSF - Seton Background
The shots show a well-travelled artery, which connects to the freeway on- and off -ramps. Many of our compatriots use this road to get to the freeway, on their way to work either heading toward SF or going south to such places as South San Francisco, Redwood City, etc. Notice the Philippine Grocery tucked in a rather secluded area with the freeway behind it. The strategic location allows the commuting FilAms to purchase their “baon” from the grocery’s cooked food section on the way to work, and on the trip home, take the off-ramp and pass by the grocery to purchase dinner for the entire family. On the two lower pictures, one can see in the background the unmistakable outlines of another impressive landmark in Daly city, where many FilAm doctors and nurses figure prominently - nestled on a stately hill is the Seton Hospital.

Thus, a cameo of your typical FilAm living away from the old homeland has been attempted. Piecing together their permanent abode and environs, for him and her and their Americanized children, settling and sharing with compatriots their comfortable pockets of relatively convenient but pricey neighborhoods.

A related post:
Profiling The FilAm Homeowner

Monday, April 24, 2006

“GOSPEL OF JUDAS”: A Personal Look

One can always count on media to do things with a flourish, both dramatic and poetic. Thus in the midst of Christendom’s holiest of holy week, media found exactly the right spark to ignite some passionate discourses and some raised eyebrows. And lest we forget, some considerable bumps in their viewership and readership worldwide.

Last week, right about Easter, media particularly National Geographic TV, rent the somber mode of Lent, with their publication of the translation of the long-anticipated Coptic text heralded as the newest gospel, “The Gospel of Judas”. And thus in their eyes and in the eyes of the countless Christians and Christianity observers around the globe, a revelation that surely will usher in fresh challenges to the largely unopposed canonical Gospels of the four evangelists, John, Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Understandably, reaction was mixed, strongly both for and against.

Though I could have been counted among the more subdued and conciliatory third front minority, who whispered in hushed tone that maybe, it is about time reviled Judas Iscariot be given some slack and be allowed to redeem himself, using a disembodied voice extracted from old papyrus accidentally excavated out of the burning sands of the Egyptian desert. This original codex allegedly was found sometime around the 1950s and 1960s.

Many, especially those who were probably secretly gladdened to see new text evidence to challenge the heavy dominance of the existing Gospels over the centuries, were only too quick to lend credence and authority to the translated text. Though one wonders if many have seen and read the text in question.

I was one of those who had not seen nor read the newly touted gospel, thus accounting maybe for my kinder condescension on the claimed findings. If it is a gospel of Judas, maybe it has some validity and not as bad as some older apocryphal gospels that were thrown out many centuries ago, because many of them could not establish any historical context.

Thus, I began my little journey, trying to find out more about this newest “gospel” that has stirred so much emotion and discussion among the pundits and elites of society and religion.

It was not difficult to find sufficient material to enable one to discern and make some preliminary judgment about this new finding. The web is full of it.

There are .pdf files for both the translated (English, of course) and the Coptic text. The first for 7 pages and the other for 27 pages, though some sources put them at 24 pages. And as expected, the Web is littered with articles, essays, opinions, news items, etc. all about this.

Before proceeding, it might help to understand a few things first.
The original papyrus is in Coptic text, which by definition is the liturgical language of the Coptic Church used in Egypt and Ethiopia, and written in the Greek alphabet.

It is called a codex, because the manuscript is bound together into a book form.

The new “gospel” is a Gnostic one, which is therefore read and accepted by the Gnostics. The word comes from the Greek term, gnosis, meaning knowledge.

Gnosticism is one sect of Christianity which dates back to the very early centuries, a belief that holds that salvation could be obtained only through the “knowledge” and acceptance of certain divinely revealed mysteries. And the caveat is that only Gnostics have possession of these divine revelations. They were considered heretics by orthodox Christianity.

What can we, laypersons, discern and deduce from a reading of this gospel?

First, one notices that though this is supposed to be a codex, thus a book, it is really quite short and one familiar with the four Gospels can easily compare and see that the latter are much more voluminous and chockfull of historical details. The Judas gospel offers very scant historical details and settings to lend itself open for easier research and verification. Very much unlike the canonical Gospels. And overall, personalities mentioned in Gnostic gospels such as Jesus, Judas, Peter, and even Mary Magdalene are not fleshed out for any understanding about them, other than as sources for certain spiritual truths claimed. And historical credibility has been the main criterion that distinguishes the canonical Gospels with those judged as apocryphal, because they provide a clear and accurate, and almost contemporary, historical picture of Christ and his times.

Second, this new gospel reads like a rather extended private conversation between Jesus and Judas. Thus, immediately the question why just him and not the rest of the followers? There were at least 12 Apostles and countless disciples.

Third, the new revelations are quite in conflict with some core doctrines in the canonical Gospels. Christ talks to Judas about other deities and angels and thus debunking the doctrine of a monotheistic Deity. And the bombshell is of course the clandestine strategy of Christ as revealed to Judas: that He has to be betrayed so that he can be killed and thus can rejoin the spiritual world. And Judas has been tasked to do this and for which he agrees.

Fourth, the canonical gospels were pretty much set and written by the first century, 100 C.E. and the Gnostic gospels, including this one, were written on the second century, and some further beyond. Common threads in doctrines and beliefs in the Gnostic gospels can be found, and this one is no exception, including one purportedly attributed to the Apostle Thomas. Thus, clearly this new gospel fits into the core beliefs of the Gnostics, and does not even add anything new that was not already known about Gnosticism and the early Christians who practiced their beliefs.

But then again, many of us Christians will continue to hold on to beliefs and opinions that we already treasure and cherish, all this notwithstanding.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Why We Blog

What is indisputably true is that the majority of bloggers create blogs to publish their own views and opinions on essentially any subject that interest them. In that respect, they are not your typical journalist reporting straight news. They act as pundits, dispensing their own opinions or editorializing on matters that pique their fancy. They are therefore your most opinionated group. And many will not be shy to remind any reader/commenter straying from the line laid out in the blogs about this sacrosanct right.

In other words, their behavior is quite congruent with human nature.

As children, we always wanted everyone around us to think, feel, and act like we do, or we balked. We gathered people around us who shared the same interests we do. And even as we got older, we still preferred to be with like-minded people, forming our closely-knit circle of friends. Excluding most everybody else as outsiders.

Though, mind you, as mature persons we know that we should not think too highly of all our opinions.

That pride is at the center of our avid quest in promoting our own deeply-held opinions. Because we know that we should be open-minded and not too foolish to believe that we know all the answers.

Though we have learned to accept that when one listens to others, the better likelihood is that we can learn more, rather than when we are constantly promoting and defending our own set opinions.

Though we have learned that at times, it is the better part of discretion not to express one’s opinions on all the things that are wrong in the world. And that listening and being silent work better toward peace and harmony.

That in most times, discussions center on the likes and dislikes of people, and are thus not that important to one’s life.

That it takes deep humility and delicate charity to restrain one’s deep urge to correct people and things at the slightest opportunity. That because of our inability to control this inclination so much hurt has been inflicted on neighbors all in the name of not compromising the “truth”.

That the control of the tongue is in many instances the greater virtue to practice, because we understand that peace is better prepared for in solitude and silence.

A Reprint Reminder

Friday, April 14, 2006

Jesus Vs Socrates

The name of Jesus Christ has once again invaded and pervaded in the world of US politics and media. Not because this week commemorates his Agony and Death on the Cross, but more like a little ball in any sport, being tossed to and fro in the frenzied attempt to score points. And in this regard some secularists are only too glad to oblige and kibitz from the sidelines. Paradoxically and uncharacteristically, not to cheer on but to lambaste and castigate all political sides for taking and hiding under the emblem of Christ.

The recalcitrant issue that has brought the name of Christ into the fray has been the illegal immigration problem besetting the US and which is now in the midst of very heated discussions and raucous protest demonstrations nationwide.

One can believe that the revered name of Christ has once again hogged the limelight because from the start, the still influential Catholic Church has unequivocally taken a strong stance in favor of the illegals and against what the government has been able to muster so far as possible equitable and humane solutions.

The politicians of all persuasion are simply making hay, riding on the ripples and waves stirred by powerful groups who have taken the cudgels for the “hapless” illegal aliens.

One particular piece, titled Christ Among The Partisans was written by Mr. Garry Wills who is professor emeritus of history at Northwestern University and the author of the book, most recently, of “What Jesus Meant.”

Never mind his very strident position enunciated on surgically separating Christ and all he represents as revealed in the Gospels from government and the political sphere because the association of the two is utterly incongruent. Instead his analogy of Christ with Socrates and Nietzsche was one I found most interesting.

He postulates:

The Jesus of the Gospels is not a great ethical teacher like Socrates, our leading humanitarian. He is an apocalyptic figure who steps outside the boundaries of normal morality to signal that the Father’s judgment is breaking into history. His miracles were not acts of charity but eschatological signs accepting the unclean, promising heavenly rewards, making last things first.

He is more a higher Nietzsche, beyond good and evil, than a higher Socrates. No politician is going to tell the lustful that they must pluck out their right eye. We cannot do what Jesus would do because we are not divine.

According to Mr. Wills, Christ is not a great ethical teacher and Socrates is a humanitarian, a leading one. And Christ can be likened to a higher Nietzsche, though he does not proceed to tell us why. Which would have been enlightening, especially for the uninitiated and inadequately schooled like me.

Theologians would probably describe Socrates as more a philosopher, in the same way that Nietzsche is also described as a philosopher, an existentialist at that so more attuned to the realities of the world we live in rather than the world beyond. I hope by a higher Nietzsche, Mr. Wills meant that Christ was more attuned to the realities of the world beyond, rather than the temporal kingdom of our reality.

But going back to the comparison of Jesus with Socrates, here is what a Jesuit theologian, Fr. Michael Buckley, writes about in his study of the two:

There is a classic comparison running through contemporary philosophy between Socrates and Jesus, a judgment between them in human excellence. Socrates went to his death with calmness and poise. He accepted the judgment of the court, discoursed on the alternatives suggested by death and the dialectical indications of immortality, found no cause for fear, drank the poison and died.

Jesus - how much to the contrary. Jesus was almost hysterical with terror and fear, “with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death.” He looked repeatedly to his friends for comfort and prayed for an escape from death, and he found neither.

Finally he established control over himself and moved into his death in silence and lonely isolation, even into the terrible interior suffering of the hidden divinity, the absence of God.

From the above, one is led to the conclusion that measured in human excellence, as perceived by us humans, “cool” Socrates has the edge over almost hysterical Jesus.

But the differences in their deaths may account for the flagrant signs of weakness, at least physical and not necessarily moral. The death sentence of Socrates was for him to drink the hemlock and lie down to die. And this he did with nary a whimper, but with stately calm and ease.

However, the death sentence of Christ was quite different. He had to undergo all that agony and suffering, both physical and mental, before actually dying. Even actual death took a while after the crucifixion. And even as pure man, he must have had forethought and foreshadowing of all this. This was a process not unique to his case, but common for all criminals sentenced to die.

This may account for the physical weaknesses exhibited by Christ as contrasted with the obvious strength shown by Socrates.

But another theologian, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, goes further to declare that Christ indeed was more profoundly weak than Socrates. And his beautiful prose clearly lays out a very strong case of a most human Christ, foibles and all:

Now I believe that Jesus was a more profoundly weak man than Socrates, more liable to physical pain and weariness, more sensitive to human rejection and contempt, more affected by love and hate. Socrates never wept over Athens. Socrates never expressed sorrow and pain over the betrayal of friends. He was possessed and integral, never overextended, convinced that the just person could never suffer genuine hurt. And for this reason, Socrates - one of the greatest and most heroic people who have ever existed, a paradigm of what humanity can achieve within the individual - was a philosopher. And for the same reason, Jesus of Nazareth was a priest - ambiguous, suffering, mysterious, and salvific.

In what way precisely was Jesus a weaker man than Socrates?

In his incapacity to protect himself against pain, in his vulnerability, and in the interior anguish and exterior humiliation that this congenital, moral trait inevitably produces. In contemporary language, Socrates was simply set together better as a human being than Jesus was, at least in terms of how we normally judge this.

In Socrates there was, certainly in the face of opposition and death, a poise, an ease, an interior peace, and an attractive calm that was absent in Jesus. Socrates was “cool” in a way that Jesus wasn’t. Socrates always looked attractive. Jesus didn’t. Jesus sweated blood (no glamour there), shed tears that he was unable to hide, and was stripped naked and humiliated in front of his loved ones. You don’t look attractive when that happens and you can’t hide the pain of that from others.

And yet, that’s exactly what we most want to do. In our world there’s a powerful, omnipresent pressure (put forth even in the name of religion, humanity, and maturity) to protect ourselves against pain and humiliation, to never, never be vulnerable enough so as to risk falling flat on our faces. At all cost, no matter what other kinds of pain we must endure, we don’t want to be caught needy, being the one who has to ask, the one who has to beg, the one who’s embarrassed, the one who doesn’t look good.

And so we try to arrange ourselves, our lives, and our relationships in such a way so as not to be too affected by things, so as to avoid the tension of interior anguish, and so as to never risk not looking good. The attractive persona (“cool”) of Socrates more than the humble, all-too human, tears of Jesus is our ideal.

But, and this is the point, by protecting ourselves in this way we don’t ever become vulnerable enough to enter into an intimacy with others and the world that is salvific and priestly. We never save anyone, even though we look good. What’s meant by that?

To love is to care. But as soon as we begin to do that, we open ourselves to weakness, sensitivity, and humiliation. Why?

Because to be sensitive is to know that it’s better to be sad than bitter, better to be hurting than hard, better to shed tears than be indifferent, better to taste death than never risk living, better to feel rejection than never to have loved, better to groan in interior anguish than to prematurely resolve tension, and better, for the sake of love, family, faith, and commitment, to sometimes look the fool, the needy one, the simpleton, than to always successfully hide what’s most true inside us so as to be the one who never has a hair, a feeling, or an opinion that’s out of place.

A poignant picture of a Christ who is magnificent in his humanity. A most perfect model for man, who himself is heir to a flawed nature and consigned to a life of countless trials and defeats.

God gave us a son incarnate, purposely and assiduously mirrored to the image of fallen man. But yet, man who has been given a reprieve and enjoined to follow in the footsteps of the GodMan on the path to his own redemption.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Objectivity Vs Opinion

"Things known are in the knower according to the mode of the knower."

Thomas Aquinas

Objective versus Opinionated. Straight News versus Opinion writing. Unbiased news versus Biased news. Fox News versus other members of TV media. Mainstream media versus Blogosphere.

Most know and accept that the lines are drawn the way the are above. But do we take the time and effort to find out why the lines are there in the first place?

Fox News trumpets itself as being factual, fair and balanced in giving news and rendering opinions. O’Reilly of Fox touts himself as a venerable traditionalist, neither conservative nor liberal. And ratings-wise, his network rules the cable TV kingdom. But what does it make of the others in both cableTV and broadcastTV media? Slate’s Michael Kinsey now says that in today’s journalism objectivity in news is an unreachable goal, which is best left on a pedestal.

Everywhere one turns to read or listen, issues about objectivity in news reporting and other journalistic pursuits are constantly served and analyzed as questioned criterion for credibility and reliability. Even with regard to straight news, many pundits recommend that consumers read as many sources for news to arrive at the truth, because buried in all the redundant clutter are patent or insipient biases of those who report news.

It has become all too blurry and confusing for a typical consumer like me. I used to consume news much like the way one turns on radio. Turn the dial and stop on the first station that comes up and consume its feeds. After that, you can consider yourself well-informed by turning on that same radio, with the dial untouched and listening religiously to its feeds.

But obviously somewhere along the way this became insufficient. One now has to turn the dial every which way and listen to all the different voices coming out before one can arrive at the truth about the news.

Do we even know the differences between objectivity against opinion, or being objective against being opinionated?

We ought to get back to basics and define those two terms. Hopefully, one can then delineate certain thresholds to differentiate one from the other.

Here’s sampling of definitions of objectivity:

Is the universal understanding of a social action which is based on the combination of adequate interpretation of motivation and its empirical verification. Without adequate interpretation, our understanding left unsatisfied. But without empirical demonstration, a theoretical interpretation would be empty.

State of being detached from, and external to, whatever is being perceived or affirmed, often previously seen as aiding neutrality and therefore accuracy in judgment, but now seen as impossible or inappropriate in both science and theology.

The ability to view something without influence of feelings or emotions.

Expressing no particular opinion, neither for nor against, a topic or issue.

Now for opinion:
A personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty; "my opinion differs from..”

Opinion is a person's ideas and thoughts towards something. It is an assessment, judgment or evaluation of something.

In academic terms, is the judgment or viewpoint reached after analyzing, assessing and evaluating arguments, claims and evidence. Academic opinion is objective, like that of a judge who weighs the evidence (for and against) and judges each case on its merits. (Personal opinion which is based on beliefs or codes of ethics, rather than evidence, is not acceptable in academic terms as it cannot be tested in the same way.) See What is Opinion? (in detail)What is Opinion in Academic Work? (in detail) Opinion in academic work does not mean personal opinion. It means the view-point or conclusion you come to after considering the evidence for or against a particular theory (analysis/explanation of events) and with reference to factual evidence or the logic structure of someone else's argument. Opinion in academic terms has to be demonstrated using evidence. The role of students is to select evidence which is appropriate and present it in such a way that any intelligent person could come to a similar conclusion (opinion).

A belief or judgment that is strongly held, but without actual proof of its truth.

What about being objective or being opinionated?

Undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena; "an objective appraisal"; "objective evidence"

Independent of the perceiving individual; in Spinoza, as existing in thought.

The ideal that the media producer or reporter is representing a balanced viewpoint on issues. The ideal that media producers are fair, accurate, unbiased conduits for information. Opposite of subjective.

And opinionated:

Obstinate in your opinions.

Let us then collate all these disparate definitions and come up with one definition for each term or point of view. Hopefully we should be able to distinguish the differences (and/or similarities) between the two.

Our collated definition of objectivity:

A detached universal understanding of an act supported by empirical demonstration and verification, aiding in neutrality and accuracy in judgment, and uninfluenced or undistorted by feelings and emotions. Which understanding is independent of the person giving the report and is the ideal that media producers are fair, accurate, unbiased conduits of information.

While opinion:

A strongly-held personal belief and judgment not founded on proof or certainty, thus is a personal assessment or evaluation to be differentiated from academic opinion or public opinion which are two different things.

Studying closely the two points of view one can readily distinguish the obvious and nuanced differences between them and thus be able to distinguish how well producers in media are doing in their straight news reporting and their rendering of opinions.

A little monkey wrench has been thrown by that above quote from Thomas Aquinas.

Succinctly stated, Aquinas meant that how we perceive and know is affected by our own individual context. Though we are born literally with minds looking like blank slates, our experiences as we grow up and interact with other people become the filter through which we understand things and events. And in like manner, how we report things and events is also uniquely affected by all this.

While perfect objectivity may indeed be an unachievable ideal in this imperfect world we live in, the primary responsibility of journalism should not be shunted aside either. A journalist is still bound to search for and report facts that are accurate if he is to report news, or straight news. While an opinion writer may not only be bound by a similar code, there is the added ethical caveat that must be subscribed to, which is intellectual honesty or forthrightness in his/her writings.

In the crucible of public opinion and the harsh realities of the public arena, how are these media producers to be judged, and who are the qualified judges?

Why not rely on the consumers and their choices? What use are revered principles, rules, and other good stuff taught and adhered to in journalism and by journalists if they fall short of their avowed goal of having people read, listen and cater to their products?

Before the era of cable television, the broadcast networks ruled supreme. The Big Three stood literally unchallenged. Not anymore. Cable TV networks are now close on their heels while the collective viewership of the Big Three continues to careen downward. In fairness, their numbers are still gargantuan compared to cable TV, but the continual downward spin is a portent of things to come. Remember also, that viewing broadcast media carries no cost, unlike cable TV. Thus as cable TV makes more inroads and connects and wires more distant places in the continent, we can expect their numbers to continue increasing.

In another milieu, before the birth of the blogosphere, the MSM ruled their own domain unchallenged, epitomized by the venerable broadsheets, news mags, and other glossy publications. Again, not anymore. The major newspapers in the continent continue to lose readership and reach. The newsmagazines are on the same path. Who will be next? I believe it is only all a matter of time.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Real World Problem: Parking A Vehicle

I suppose if you live in Metro Manila, or tiny San Francisco, you would readily agree that parking your vehicle in most public places can qualify as a real world problem and maybe even a bit of a nightmare, at times.

Thus, this revealing bit of news was a welcomed development:
A car that parks itself!

So ladies and gentlemen, you lovers of Toyota, prepare your hearts and wallets for this next attraction. When realized, consider your eternal battles with parallel parking shelved and completely solved.

A little personal account will assist highlight the God-sent benefits of such a feature, in the eclectic world of vehicle ownership.

I bought a pick-up recently. More like a little Sherman tank given that it was a Ford F150. Many may squirm and cry, over-reaction. But consider poor me, weaned on compact cars all my life, starting with a 360cc dual-cylinder toy car hatchback in the 70’s aptly called Minica, manufactured by Mitsubishi, Japan, and marketed in size-strapped Philippines. In fairness, it did accommodate, more or less, a family of six, with my twin sons neatly crimped in the back area which passed as a trunk.

Thus, suffering under such a stiflingly constricted background, indeed getting an F150 is like moving from a car to a light Sherman tank (is there such a tank?). Though it definitely drives like a car, any car.

Still, there are parallel parking issues to be addressed. But, oh, the motivated car salesman advances: one of the features is a fool-proof buzzer that beeps as it nears an obstruction when one is in reverse. And it beeps louder as the object gets closer. What he did not tell me is that when the trunk lid is down as is usual when one carries over-sized loads, the buzzer beeps even when one is in the middle of a desert.

Thus, getting a car that parks itself will be heavenly, more so approvingly in leftover-space havens like Metro Manila and the craggy landscape of San Francisco.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Google Video: Some Old Elvis

Now, let's rock the whole place up, with some Elvis melodies of the 50's and beyond.

Music of Elvis Presley
Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley
6 min 27 sec - Nov 8, 2005

Performed by Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, Blue Suede Shoes follows the lives of three people growing up during the Elvis Era, from High School through adulthood. Artistic Director Dennis Nahat secured the use of original Elvis Presley master recordings as the backdrop for this ballet. This movie has some of the highlights from the 1:30 performance.

Some Thing Light: From Google Video

Nothing like sitting back and enjoying the lovely countenance of a beautiful woman, albeit that many of us may not understand what she is saying in French. For this somber Sunday afternoon, with the sky gods quite undecided on which grand display to honor us with - rain clouds or sun.

But it should be more than sufficient to admire this earth-bound beauty for the next two minutes, listening to the lilting sounds of the regal language of diplomats, French.


Eyes In The Sky

We have always considered and associated as secret and clandestine info, charts and maps relating to things military and national security. But nowadays, these things need not be so and in some instances they are common knowledge.

Consider what one can find in a site innocuously titled Google Sightseeing.

This is a sparklingly clear picture of a military base in Utah, with the spanking new BI bomber sitting on the runway.

Here’s how the graphic is described in the site above:

This is a cracking shot of a B-1 bomber on the runway at Hills Air Force Base in Utah. The B-1 long range strategic bomber was first built in 1984 and has seen combat in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a big beast of an aircraft with a crew of four and that cool “Swing-Wing” thing. This allows it to take advantage of the aerodynamics of swept back wings at high speeds (top speed of Mach 1.2) while avoiding the drawbacks of such a configuration at lower speeds. It can carry a frightening 34,000kg in ordnance in three internal bays.

The B-1R is a proposed replacement for the aging B-1 fleet and would have air-to-air missile capabilities and the engines of an F-22, allowing it a much improved top speed of Mach 2.2.
And here is one comment for this blog entry:
Another unusual aspect of this very clear photo is that there is a B-1 in it at all… Hill AFB is where F-16s, A-10s and C-130s get fixed up en masse. They also support maintenance of the Minuteman IIIs. I suppose they could have support services for B-1s, but there aren’t huge stacks of them there for maintenance like the other planes. I suppose its also possible the B-1 could be there on a visit to the Utah Test Range (which is one of the sub-commands of the base) (though, its not like South Dakota is too far for an Armed B-1 to come to Utah for practice….).
Visit Google’s site and search for more to your heart’s delight.

A brave new world, indeed, not necessarily to Aldous Huxley’s delight or congruent with his vision.