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Victor Hugo – Critical Romantic

French poet, touted as the most influential romantic writer of the 19th Century, Victor Marie Hugo, and his thoughts on:

Religion

These two haves of God, the Pope and the emperor.

God became a man, granted. The devil became a woman.

Obstacles to Fame

You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do no bother yourself about it; disdain. Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear.

Death Penalty

You insist on the example [of the death penalty]. Why? For what it teaches. What do you want to teach with your example? That thou shalt not kill. And how do you teach thou shalt not kill? By killing.

Progress

A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas. A day will come when the bullets and bombs are replaced by votes, by universal suffrage, by the venerable arbitration of a great supreme senate which will be to Europe what Parliament is to England, the Diet to Germany, and the Legislative Assembly to France.

Ideas

One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.

Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.

Balance

To put everything in balance is good, to put everything in harmony is better.

Humanity

Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. Of that divine tear and that human smile is composed the sweetness of the present civilization.

Tolerance

There shall be no slavery of the mind.

Revolution

I represent a party which does not yet exist: the party of revolution, civilization. This party will make the twentieth century. There will issue from it first the United States of Europe, then the United States of the World.

Life

To love is to act.

Foundation

 The need of the immaterial is the most deeply rooted of all needs. One must have bread; but before bread, one must have the ideal.

Marcos Jr: What Then?


 

The following post is an email from Domingo T. Ligot:

Not too long ago Jessica Soho had Bongbong Marcos on a one-on-one interview on live television and, as may be expected, Jessica asked Bongbong what his take was about the past regime of his father qualifying it as one of the blackest (pardon the paraphrase) in this nation’s history. Bongbong did not respond immediately and appeared at a loss prompting Jessica to follow up to ask “mahirap bang sagutin ang aking tanong?” This time Bongbong replied “hindi, pero matagal ng pinagusapan and tunkol sa regimen ng aking ama at lahat ng maaring sabihin tungkol dyan ay nasabi na” now, what then?

Indeed, really, what then? I lived through the martial law years of Marcos and even before that, I voted for him for his first term. Certainly there were scandalous episodes then (as in all succeeding regimes) among which I vividly recall is an alleged affair of Marcos with a foreigner (American I think) actress named Dovie Beams. The affair with very sordid details was written about in a Playboy Magazine purportedly based on the confession of Dovie Beams and it was a sensational smash at that time especially because Imelda reportedly threatened Marcos  with ending their union unless he stopped this nonsense. I recall that Martial Law was declared during the final years of Marcos’ second term and, as Teddy Boy Locsin admits in his TV journal in “The World Tonight”, Marcos was twice elected in a democratic process and should be treated as such. There were many incidents happening in Manila prior to the declaration of Martial Law and in hindsight many would claim, rightly or wrongly depending on whose side one was on, that all of these were merely contrived and stage managed to justify the declaration. In the years before the war in Europe Germany reportedly went on a sustained media blitz warning the Germans and the rest of Europe that France was gearing up to invade Germany so that when war finally broke it was more a sigh of relief among many Germans that the war that they have been anxiously anticipating finally came. Historians report that it was Germany all along that wanted the war and the media campaign was really just a mind conditioning ploy to gain the people’s support for Germany’s plan to crush France and Russia first on its way to conquer the whole of Europe. Media was a tool then of the powerful as it has always been, even more so now. But during the time of Marcos the owners of most of media were his enemies so that among the first things that Marcos did after establishing Martial Law was to close down all media until new ones sympathetic to his regime started sprouting and were allowed to flourish. Opposition media however continued underground.

Historian Louis Paul Benezet in his book “The World War and What was Behind It” wrote “Someone has said that no people are happier than those living in a despotism, if the right kind of man is the despot”. He was referring to one Otto Eduard Leopold Von Bismarck-Schonausen or more popularly known simply as Bismarck. His one object was a united Germany, which should be the strongest nation in Europe. He organized the German army and equipped it with every modern weapon anxious to use it to accomplish his purpose to conquer all of Europe. The historian noted how “marvelous to see how near he came to carrying through his whole plan”.

The first years of Martial Law I remember were very positive. There was discipline among the people I noticed that people begun lining up to board jeepneys and buses and most importantly the economy markedly improved and boomed. I remember that I was at one time a scholar in The Hague, Netherlands under the sponsorship of the UN for students from developing countries during those years and my colleagues were all praising Marcos and the progress of the Philippines under his Martial Law regime. But as the saying goes: “power corrupts and absolute…” you know how it ends, and perhaps like Bismarck in Germany, Marcos despite his lofty intentions (I will grant him this) was destined to deteriorate in power as well as his health sooner than the time line required for his plans to succeed. That is over now and I agree with Bongbong that talking about it still will serve no useful purpose. As he said “What then!”

It will serve us better to look into our present and talk about where we should be heading. Accusations fly thick and plenty that P-noy is showing signs of authoritarianism and some even say that he is even worse than Marcos. Surely, with Sec. De Lima defying a TRO of the Supreme Court and we can rightfully assume that this is with P-noy’s blessing or upon his direct orders even, indeed there are signs that this regime is headed towards a despotic regime.
Any lawyer will tell you that a court order must be obeyed more so if it is the highest court that orders it, subject only to well defined exceptions under the constitution. This is another case where all that needs to be said has already been said so lets leave this to the courts to finally decide. As lawyers would say the matter is now “subjudice”.

My take on whats happening however is, granting that P-noy is intending (this must be intentional no less) to rule the country as a despot and will not tolerate political opposition of whatever color, he must look at it as an opportunity to progress the country. At the end he will either be loved or despised depending on what happens to us. As the historian said “no people are happier than those living in a despotism, if the right man is the despot.”

Domingo is a retired lawyer from the Philippines. He has worked in various capacities as a lawyer in both the private sector and Philippine government.

Campaign Sloganeering


 

This post is an email from Domingo T. Ligot:

In his book entitled “The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell wrote about a campaign slogan a long time ago about cigarettes which read “Winstons taste good like a cigarette should”. Slogans like these are coined by highly paid experts employed by advertising agencies who sell their services to anyone wishing to promote something like an item or product for sale including a candidate seeking public office. Mr. Gladwell recounts that the Winston slogan successfully “stuck” in the minds of cigarette smokers in America first then the rest of the smoking world that steadily Winston started to gain ground and eventually begun to outsell its competition like Philip Morris, L&M, and other brands. It goes without saying that the study and coining of effective slogans certainly requires an understanding of its target market. The market for Winston cigarettes and its competitors Philip Morris and L&M clearly would be a higher strata of the smoking public than perhaps smokers of Bataan Matamis, Gold Coin, and Fighter, local cigarette brands then that were cheaper (1/2 the price of Winston etc. or cheaper for those who still remember) so that the slogan for Winston must appeal to a more sophisticated motivation to choose this cigarette from its competitors than slogans promoting the cheaper cigarettes. It will not be unusual therefore to find slogans aimed at lower strata markets like the poor sounding unsophisticated, inane, and ridiculously simple because, lets face it, they would’nt be able to understand or appreciate a sophisticated slogan anyway. (Do you recall a sound bite for Bataan Matamis that aired over the AM radio many years back which even sounded like a “ngo-ngo” speaking? The idea perhaps was to promote Bataan Matamis to the real poor even a “ngo-ngo” who is a ridiculed but amusing fellow likes it). An ad agency which does not know or appreciate this basic reality will fail in its business.

With the foregoing as background let us now examine certain political slogans of the recent past. Candidate Joseph “Erap” Estrada used the slogan “Erap Para sa Mahirap” when he won the presidency and more recently candidate Noynoy Aquino had the slogan “Kung Walang Corrupt Walang Mahirap” when he won the presidency. Glaringly common in the two slogans is the word “Mahirap” betraying that the target of both slogans are, you guessed it, the “Mahirap” or poor. Going back to the Winston slogan analysis above, it makes sense that when your target market for a slogan are the lower strata of society it must by necessity sound inane and ridiculously simple otherwise it will not be effective or, in the words of Malcolm Gladwell, it will not “stick”. If we are to ask their promoters whether the candidates sincerely believed or meant what their slogans said, we will probably just get a shrug and a “who cares they won did’nt they” retort. But unfortunately the “Mahirap” will swallow these slogans as true albeit inane and insincere, just look at how Erap remains popular among the poor despite his shenanigans while he was in office, and in the case of President Noynoy you can see how the poor currently resonate with his supposed anti corrupt campaign they have become like mindless hooligans out to lynch GMA at whatever cost. The lamentable thing however is many of those who should know better ride on this ignorance and instead of promoting calm and orderliness they serve like rah-rah boys egging the poor to proceed in their mob mentality (Recall who were on platforms with microphones egging the “masa” to invade Malacanang during the so-called EDSA III and those now in congress, especially the party list kind, and priests who love to run and those who love to appear in media every chance they get who are dressed and speak nowhere near being poor). Are the poor really in the hearts and minds of these powerful people, are they concerned that the poor are just being exposed to more harm than good? Who cares, they won didn’t they!

The ad agency and the expert who came out with the slogans must have gotten a hefty bonus and a rousing celebration after the elections for coming up with the winning slogan, now they rest until the next election, that is simply how it works.

Domingo is a retired lawyer from the Philippines. He has worked in various capacities as a lawyer in both the private sector and Philippine government.

 

American entrepreneur, inventor, founder of Apple, Steven Paul Jobs, and his thoughts on:

Life

I want to put a ding in the universe.

Key Differences

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They make it by being Wal-Mart. We make it by innovation.

It is piracy, not overt online music stores, which is our main competitor.

Customers

You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.

It took us three years to build the NeXT computer. If we’d given customers what they said they wanted, we’d have built a computer they’d have been happy with a year after we spoke to them – not something they’d want now.

A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.

Excellence

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.

Definition of Design

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

Market Share

Apple’s market share is bigger than BMW’s or Mercedes’s or Porsche’s in the automotive market. What’s wrong with being BMW or Mercedes?

Innovation

To turn really interesting ideas and fledgling technologies into a company that can continue to innovate for years, it requires a lot of disciplines.

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.

Work

The people who are doing the work are the moving force behind the Macintosh. My job is to create a space for them, to clear out the rest of the organization and keep it at bay.

I think we’re having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we’re always trying to do better.

Rugby and Pseudoscience


 

Having spent a couple of weeks in New Zealand for a business trip, coincidentally coinciding with the Rugby World Cup, I thought it an interesting interlude to point you to a (rather dated but still interesting) post looking at some pseudoscience, rugby, and incidentally the All Blacks:

32 genetically determined combinations of left right dominance of brain hemisphere, hand, foot, eye and ear, determine people’s reaction to stress. Based on the genetic brain profile, Lotter and Associates claim that they are able to predict “blockages” persons will experience under stress. These “blockages” cause different parts of the brain to become inaccessible under stress.

“(Rugby) Players with left-eye dominance are overly sensitive to body langauge, and if you know that, you can throw them of their game by pulling faces or making gestures. You might also wonder how they would react to the haka (the Maori war chant used by the All Blacks)”

I find the post an interesting example of critique and persuasion (albeit satirical) on what is otherwise a passionate subject of rugby. Check out the rest of the post here.

Meanwhile back to the games… er… I meant work! And by the way, the All Blacks is facing Japan tonight! Go All Blacks!

 

 The internet is no longer a new thing, and with the explosion in internet traffic and most recently, social networking media — the pace at which data about everything circulates amongst everyone is faster than ever before. The internet is a powerful medium for exchanging information, and as Carol MacKnight writes for EDUCAUSE, is a perfect tool for education and encouraging learning and critical thinking:

Online communication offers the potential for collaboration as well as increased participation in the learning process, reflection, peer tutoring, monitoring of student learning as it is taking place, and extension of the classroom learning.

 Online forums, internet blogs (such as this), and social networking sites provide the venue for discussing ideas, debating arguments, and promoting advocacies. It does not come without a price though: the more information at the disposal of users, the more it demands from the users of that information. MacKnight is quick to point out (bold emphasis mine):

However, online communication puts emphasis on students’ comprehension and knowledge of the elements of an argument and thus on how to interact with ideas and each other in a meaningful way. We cannot assume that all students will come with sufficient critical thinking skills to advance an online discussion, nor can we assume that faculty have sufficient skills and practice in monitoring discussions or skills in creating productive communities of online learners. Both may need support and training.

Read the rest of MacKnight’s insightful article here.

Meantime, we join Carol MacKnight’s call in supporting and promoting critical thinking online as a tool for education.

For the past weeks, Mideo Cruz and his artwork have been feverishly discussed.

I had not gone to the exhibit, but I have seen a number of pictures on the internet. Being a former Catholic, I could imagine how some of the Catholics would react. But being a spiritual atheist, such art did not bother me. I am not saying that Mideo Cruz created his exhibit to offend. In fact, in an interview, he explained his reasons for such display.

Most of the outcry has been about the phallic object placed on the works. Phalluses have been objects of devotion in many cultures; they use them as amulets, symbolic statues, etc. They might be a symbol of power and patriarchy.

If Mideo did have good intentions for the display, should the offended Catholics have the right to complain or not?

The purpose of this article is not on the Mideo’s intentions with his art. It is not even to figure out if Mideo is guilty of anything or not. What a lot of people here in the Philippines are concerned about is Mideo’s art and how it impacts the idea of “free speech” and “free expression”. While a lot of people are offended by his art, a lot of those same people also do not want to censor such expression since it might serve as a precedent and limit free expression in the future.

I am not a lawyer, but my curiosity made me read the on the internet on what possible laws may be related to free speech and expression?

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