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Friday, May 29, 2015

Does the United States need to become more Scandinavian to be more egalitarian?

May 28, 2015
by benign0
I don’t necessarily subscribe to liberal views and populist rhetoric, but there is some truth in what United States Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont) is pointing out — that America’s middle class is progressively being eroded, presumably by (1) advances in technology that progressively and intelligently automate work done by white collar workers, and (2) increasing outsourcing of work to the Third World (also facilitated by advances in technology).
This simply means that the competition for decent-paying work in the US will only get more intense because not only will humans compete with one another for employment, they will also be competing against intelligent systems. Indeed, Sanders’s proposals to explore an increase in the minimum wage will only more likely have the effect of increasing the economic viability of the development and take-up of human replacement technologies by businesses. Minimum wage increases are a short term solution at best, not a long-term one.
Businesses increasingly see human workers as an unnecessary waste of space.
Businesses increasingly see human workers as an unnecessary waste of space.
Technology will surely drive growth but there is strong cause to be worried that most of this growth will be enjoyed by the tiny elite who will harvest the “productivity” gains delivered by the human-replacement systems they will be deploying in their businesses. It is no surprise, for example, that Silicon Valley is the engine room of California’s “booming” economy. This is where much of the technology that is replacing American jobs and “disrupting” the “status quo” is being developed. The “digital economy” it seems will be one where the bulk of economic value is generated by the operations of app stores, robots, and artificial intelligences inhabiting the Net.
All of the above describes the certainty in the future America faces. Thedebatable aspect of the discussion is what to do about this looming future.
A free market is premised on competition. In its most brutal form it invokes the principle of survival of the fittest. The smartest and strongest workers get the best jobs while the not-so-smart and the not-so-strong get all the rest. In the old days, one can become a more competitive worker in the job market through education and better health. The result is an overall more productive human economy, but not necessarily a more egalitarian one as those who fail to achieve those gains in employability are left behind.
The trouble is, the definition of “fittest” is progressively becoming narrower. Strength, which was once a highly-valued human trait is no longer held to a premium in highly-mechanised societies. Being “good at numbers” no longer cuts it either since old whiz kids are no longer any match for even the cheapest computing devices. Soon, being the most organised, most analytical, and even the most knowledgeable fellow will draw mere ho-hums from recruiters (assuming future recruiters will even be human!). Unless new types of work where humans can be better than machines form the foundation of future employment opportunities, people will be facing an increasingly difficult battle for jobs ahead of them.
So should America continue to allow the free market to run its course? Or do we look to government to intervene in the market and implement measures to artificially re-distribute wealth through taxation and regulation?
Obviously, not everyone can be technology-savvy capitalists whose personal bottomline will, in part, be determined by how many human jobs they are able to replace with robots. Most ordinary people depend on the creation of job roles that require warm analogue bodies to fill. And that is the hard reality Americans need to confront over the near- to long-term future.

Duterte’s iron-fisted leadership is popular with crime-weary Filipinos

May 28, 2015
by Ilda
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has been making the news in both national and international papers lately due to his controversial statements about the notorious Davao Death Squad. In an interview with a local television program, he admitted that there is truth to the rumor linking him to the vigilante group. He even warned that if he becomes the Philippine President, the number of extrajudicial killings could rise from 1,000 to 100,000. But like a reluctant vampire, he is fighting his need for blood by avoiding being in a position to bite potential victims – he is not running for the Presidency despite the clamor from his supporters. Here are excerpts from his interview:
“But if I become president, you all better hide. I will kill all of you,” he said, addressing suspected “criminals”.
“Me? They are saying that I’m part of a death squad? True, that’s true.
“I do not want to commit a crime but if by chance, God will place me there, you all better watch out. That 1,000 will become 100,000. I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there.”
Brand of justice reminiscent of the Marcos years: Rodrigo Duterte
Brand of justice reminiscent of the Marcos years: Rodrigo Duterte
Human rights advocates were outraged that the Mayor was so blasé about his preference for being the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to dealing with alleged criminals particularly drug lords. One would think that a person would stay mum about his role in the killing of 1000 potentially innocent victims in his jurisdiction.
What was Duterte thinking when he admitted he is part of the death squad? Was he trying to sound cocky? Was he trolling his detractors? Did he have a death wish himself? Only Duterte knows the answer to those questions. However, it is mind-boggling pondering the question of why the Mayor would want to give any reason at all for the Philippine justice department to breathe down his neck.
Speaking of the justice department, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, a former Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights has spoken out against Duterte’s brand of summary justice. She said Duterte should be held criminally liable for the killings that started back in 1988 when he became Mayor of Davao City for the first time. I say good luck prosecuting Duterte. De Lima could try prosecuting him but it would be hard to bring Duterte to justice. In fact, the irony of what De Lima is saying escapes her.
It’s not obvious to De Lima yet, it seems, but Duterte may have resorted to sanctioning the termination of suspected criminals in his city because he finds the justice system too slow in dealing with them. Many people not just in Davao, but also around the country agree with him, which is why they turn a blind eye to what civilized societies refer to as “human rights abuse”. Another irony here is that some people still think the Philippines is a civilized society and expect people to act civilized when it is anything but. Maguindanao massacres, anyone?
The face of slow justice in the Philippines: Secretary Leila De Lima
The face of slow justice in the Philippines: Secretary Leila De Lima
It is a bit absurd to think that the very slow justice system in the Philippines could successfully prosecute Duterte within his lifetime. Aside from his recent candid admission on local television, where will De Lima get the evidence to file the charges against him? Knowing that De Lima is more bark than bite was probably why Duterte was bold enough to admit his link to the Davao Death Squad. Besides, she is up to her eyeballs in other cases and even admitted a few weeks ago that she doesn’t have the time to file charges against other public officials implicated in the pork barrel scam anymore because there are more urgent cases that she has to personally attend to. Preparing for the Senate race is one of them, some have claimed. But I digress…
What I am trying to say is this: the fact that the extrajudicial killings and that the rumor that Duterte sanctioned them has been an open secret for decades but no one has done anything about them says a lot about the profound dysfunction in Philippine society. Why didn’t De Lima file complaints against Duterte years ago when she was still the Chairman of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights in the first place? Why is she making noise against Duterte only now? Some people say it’s because he is very popular with voters as a potential candidate for the 2016 Presidential election.
While I personally do not condone extra-judicial killings, it is really astounding how this activity can go on for decades in the Philippines while the perpetrators get away with it with total impunity. As boxing champion Floyd Mayweather once said in an interview, the Philippines is effed up.
Public servants in the Philippines divide rather than unite the sentiments of Filipinos. That’s because most of them use short cuts instead of following the law. The controversy surrounding Duterte has certainly divided the sentiments of the Filipino people. Duterte thinks he can justify killing suspected criminals by saying the end justifies the means and a lot of people agree with him. His supporters cite the perceived low crime rate, economic progress and peace and order in Davao City and credit it to Duterte’s iron-fisted leadership. Never mind that members of the Davao Death Squad commit the most basic crime themselves – killing people and depriving them of their right to a fair trial. We will never know if some of those people were actually innocent of the crimes they were suspected of committing.
With law and order in the Philippines deteriorating at a fast rate, a lot of people find Duterte’s brand of justice “refreshing”. They think that the answer to the lack of discipline in Philippine society can be solved using tyranny. The other irony here is that Filipinos have forgotten former President Ferdinand Marcos already used that approach, but he eventually got ousted in 1986 partly due to the rampant extra-judicial killings during his reign. This should tell Filipinos something – that one man cannot bring the kind of justice that will be applied equally to all. Only observing the rule of law can do that.

Why Rodrigo Duterte’s vigilante justice strongly appeals to Filipinos

May 29, 2015
by benign0
I recall two movie franchises I enjoyed in my youth, Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, and Charles Bronson’s Death Wish. At the time these films were released, major cities in the United States were in the grips of a vast crime wave. Americans living in big cities lived in fear of the stereotypical armed mugger lurking around every corner. There are many other mass media works that tap into people’s lack of confidence in legitimate authorities’ ability to serve their needs. The A-Team and The Equalizer of 1980’s television added a layer of sophistication to the brutality of vigilantism Eastwood and Bronson portrayed in the 1970s. Even in the Golden Age of Cinematic Superheroes we are in the midst of today (thanks to the fully-matured computer-generated imagery (CGI) employed by today’s movies), the bad guys are portrayed as forces far more powerful than human security institutions could handle. Superheroes that simply “smash” (as The Incredible Hulk likes to call his way of resolving issues) save the day in every such stories.
In America, vigilantism is no longer seen to be as glamorous as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. But it is not because the vigilante heroes of Eastwood, Bronson, George Peppard, and Edward Woodward are now seen as the bad guys. Indeed, the characters they played remain strong cultural pillars in America. Rather, it was because America has improved its ability to protect its citizens using legitimately improved policing, investigation, criminal justice application, and security management.
rodrigo_duterte
In the Philippines, the response of government in light of the increased scrutiny Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s approaches to establishing law and order in his domain is to demonise him. While Duterte’s approaches are, indeed, violations of “human rights” and, we are told, have no place in “civilised” societies, it is interesting to note the 11-th hour (yet again) “indignation” being expressed by Imperial Manila’s chattering classes.
Perhaps what the likes of Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima who, in recent days, reportedly said that Duterte should be “held criminally liable for 1,000 summary killings in Davao City” should also consider is the question of whether a justice system as snail-paced, unreliable, and corrupt as that she presides over in the Philippines belongs in a “civilised” society.
The only way Filipino ‘superheroes’ like Rodrigo Duterte, who are loved and admired for their ability to simply smash rampant criminality, could be made to fade into the background of the national consciousness is for the Philippines’ police and justice authorities to step up and forward and take their rightful places as the Filipino’s real champions. In short, bring back the days when one sees the police as the go-to people when in trouble.
The quaint hypocrisy in the way De Lima and so-called “champions” of “human rights” go around stomping their feet in contrived “indignation” is the real outrage on exhibit today. While championing “human rights” in the Philippines only yielded the flaccid post-1986 governments we see today, guys like Duterte were delivering real results to their constituents. Indeed, the notion that post-1986 governance in the Philippines was an improvement over the the allegedly dictatorial regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marocs has gone from being a widely-accepted truism into a hopelessly debatable idea. In fact, the idea that “freedom” and “justice” were “regained” by Filipinos after 1986 will likely degenerate further into no more than a curious myth thanks to the failed presidency of President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III.
If Duterte’s vigilante-style justice has no placed in “civilised” society, neither does the mediocre glacial-paced justice that people like De Lima and her boss, President BS Aquino, has had more than ample opportunity to fix. For that matter, until both vigilantism and the crooked way “justice” is served in the Philippines is fixed, the notion that the Philippines is a modern “civilised” nation remains debatable too.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why I Miss Rodney Dangerfield

He once said...

With my old man I got no respect. I asked him, "How can I get my kite in the air?" He told me to run off a cliff.

I went to a massage parlor. It was self-service.

My wife only has sex with me for a purpose. Last night she used me to time an egg.

It's tough to stay married. My wife kisses the dog on the lips, yet she won't drink from my glass!

Last night my wife met me at the front door. She was wearing a sexy negligee. The only trouble was, she was coming home.

A girl phoned me and said, 'Come  on over. There's nobody home.' I went over. Nobody was home!

A hooker once told me she had a headache. If it weren't for pickpockets, I'd have no sex life at all.

I was making love to this girl and she started crying. I said, 'Are you going to hate yourself in the morning?' She said, 'No, I hate myself now.' 

I knew a girl so ugly... they use her in prisons to cure sex offenders.

My wife is such a bad cook, if we leave dental floss in the kitchen the roaches hang themselves.

I'm so ugly I stuck my head out the window and got arrested for mooning.

The other day I came home  and a guy was jogging, naked. I asked him,
'Why?' He said, 'Because you came home early.'

My wife's such a bad cook, the dog begs for Alka-Seltzer.

I know I'm not sexy. When I put my underwear on I can hear the Fruit-of-the-Loom guys giggling.

My wife is such a bad cook, in my house we pray after the meal.

My wife likes to talk to me during sex; last night she called me from a hotel.

My family was so poor that if I hadn't been born a boy, I wouldn't have had anything to play with.

It's been a rough day. I got up this morning and put a shirt on and a button fell off. I picked up my briefcase, and the handle came off. I'm afraid to go to the  bathroom.

I was such an ugly kid! When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up.

I could tell my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and radio.

I was such an ugly baby that my mother never breast fed me. She told me that she only liked me as a friend.

I'm so ugly my father carried around a picture of the kid that came with his wallet.

When I was born, the doctor came into the waiting room and said to my father, "I'm sorry. We did everything we could, but he pulled through anyway."

I'm so ugly my mother had morning sickness AFTER I was born.

I remember the time that I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.

Once when I was lost, I saw a policeman, and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, "Do you think we'll ever find them?" He said, "I don't know kid. There's so many places they can hide."

My wife made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday.

I'm so ugly, I once worked in a pet shop, and people kept asking how big I'd get.

I went to see my doctor. "Doctor, every morning when I get up and I look in the mirror I feel like throwing up.

What's wrong with me?" He said: "Nothing, your eyesight is perfect."

I went to the doctor because I'd swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. 
My doctor told me to have a few drinks and get some rest.

Some dog I got. We call him Egypt because in every room, he leaves a pyramid. His favorite bone is in my arm. 

Last night he went on the paper four times - three of those times I was reading  it.

One year they wanted to make me a poster boy -- for birth control.

My uncle's dying wish was to have me sitting in his lap; he was in the electric chair.

THAT'S WHY I MISS RODNEY DANGERFIELD

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2016: Will Anything Ever Change?

May 21, 2015
by Grimwald

I have been asked more than twice now whether or not I believe that Duterte is the best candidate we have for president in the up and coming 2016 election. Okay, first, let’s just get something out of the way first. No, I would actually prefer to vote for Gordon even if there are more than a few criticisms leveled against him. I have seen first hand what kind of man and leader he is to the citizens of Olongapo. However, that is only of course my personal opinion and I am sure that supporters of Duterte have also seen merits in their own candidate. Indeed, whether or not Duterte is a good choice for Philippine presidency is not the point of this article but whether or not we will ever be able to select a good leader that can lead us to progress and prosperity.

philippines_election_2016

The thing is, a leader is always necessary for any community to thrive. In any culture, be it the Scandinavians with their “jarls”, the “chiefs” of Native American tribes, the “shogun” of Japan, the “moguls” of India or the “datus” of our ancestors, a good leader is key in the survival of the tribe. Without any authority figure to unite them, it is likely that many civilizations may not have grown to prominence at all. However, note also that it is not a leader that defines a community but the members of the community itself. A leader is more or less the captain of the ship and it falls ultimately to the crew to make sure that the ship travels in the right course and that the ship and all its parts will hold together throughout the voyage.

In one article here by Ilda, she asks if Filipinos need a leader with an iron grip in order to set the country in the right direction. It discusses whether or not violence really is the right solution for problems such as crime and corruption and if the end ultimately justifies the means. While certainly effective at reducing the crime rate, I myself have to wonder that just what is it about common Pinoys that authority figures now need to resort to violence and terror just to get the people to obey the laws. Yes, I am impressed with Davao’s development and of Olongapo’s change to a decent city when it came under the control of the Gordons but is force really necessary for development? Do Pinoys really need to be terrorized into subservience and self-discipline?

Sadly though, if the answer is yes, then I think this country is truly doomed.

A Moral Compass

I think that what we really need as a people is a better moral compass. It is said that “character is who you are in the dark” and I myself am a firm believer in this. It is not what people see you do in public that defines you, it’s what you don’t.

For instance, I see so many politicians pretending to sympathize with our poor farmers and dance in the streets to impress crowds. However, when everything is said and done they ultimately reveal themselves to be the pompous and greedy scoundrels that we all come to hate. Sure, you’re nice to people who you want to like and respect you such as that cute guy or girl over there or the rich people who know you by name but can you be nice to the Average Joe or Jane that you see everyday? Would you bother to be nice to that poor old woman collecting bottles in the alley near your home?

A lot of my friends at GRP and other communities are either atheists or agnostics but one reason I want to hold on to my religion even with them frowning at me is because I believe in personal responsibility. I believe that everything that I do has more effects than I know and that the consequences of my wrong decisions will come back to haunt me. And believe me, with all the things that I’ve done in the past, I have a lot of armed skeletons in the closet who are just dying (pun intended) to get a shot at me.

Even as an atheist or agnostic, you have to think whether or not you can live with yourself after making the wrong choice even when a good option was presented to you. Even without the purview of a god or deity, can you give your enemies the satisfaction of seeing you resort to your worst just to get ahead?

Sadly, it is the lack of a moral compass that has again led to the further detriment of our country. Ferdinand Marcos, while I do acknowledge the improvements he has brought to the Philippines, was too lenient with some figures of authority, allowing them to commit reprehensible acts against the common people. It is the lack of a morally guiding principle that leads cops to hurt common citizens, parents to harm their children and politicians to deprive this country of much needed resources.

As they say: “What we need is not a change of men, but a change in men.”

It doesn’t matter who sits in position whether it is Rodrigo Duterte, Dick Gordon, Jejomar Binay, Mar Roxas, Kris Aquino or Vice Ganda. If we ourselves cannot discipline ourselves into becoming responsible citizens, then there is truly no hope for us as a people. Without a moral compass within the heart of each of us then we are all ultimately lost.

The Role of the Media

Ever notice why I keep bashing the media? Well, you see, I have always believed that it is up to the media to instill a sense of responsibility and accountability in its people. So no, while entertainment is good, it’s not the only thing the media should concern itself with.

I think that if any kind of change should occur in the Filipino people, the media should be the catalyst. Here’s a short list of what I’ve learned through foreign media:
  • It was Spider-Man (NOT Robin Padilla) who taught me that doing what is right might be difficult or even painful but must be done anyway because it is RIGHT.
  • It was Optimus Prime (NOT Willie Revillame) who taught me the meaning of both fatherhood and leadership.
  • It was Star Wars (NOT The Legal Wife) that taught me the power of forgiveness and how liberating it truly is.
  • It was Naruto (NOT FPJ) who taught me to make a stand for what I believe in even if it hurts.
  • It was Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (NOT May Bukas Pa) that restored my faith in God and the goodness of humanity.
  • It was Deadpool (NOT Kris Aquino) who taught me the wonders of Chimichanga and how good it actually is.
All of the things I mentioned just about sums up the values I learned from the media. Take note also that hardly any local program has ever had anything to teach our people, especially our youths, about having a moral compass. When all we see in our programming are sordid affairs, hollow bravado of pompous men and women slapping each other silly, then I really doubt our people will ever learn for themselves the value of being a disciplined and productive people.

Final Thoughts

So there, you know how I feel and what I think of the upcoming 2016 presidential election. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s who becomes president that will improve the country; it will be in how we choose to govern ourselves.

This coming 2016, I am hoping and praying that voters will finally hold themselves accountable for their decisions.

Why the misfortunes of the rich are more important than the tragedies of the poor

May 19, 2015
by benign0

In case nobody’s gotten the hint yet, nobody really gives a relative rat’s about the plight of those boat people and the 72 factory workers killed in a slipper factory in Valenzuela. Scan the news and the feeds and you will find that the top stories are all about the rich. Binay’s and Pacquiao’s billions and Kris Aquino’s stressful issues in an airport in Bangkok.

Even overseas, the small handful of crimes affecting three- to five-odd people in wealthy white neighbourhoods attract a massive cult following in the news while the travails of thousands of poor black inner-city folks are literal page turners (readers see the headlines and turn the page). I myself sometimes scan the “Doom and Gloom” section of our train line paper and think, Oh, 4000 dead in the latest cyclone in Bangladesh. Sad. My subconscious mind (over which I have absolutely no control) then thinks after scanning the rest of the section, well, another fine day nonetheless.

rich_and_beautiful

Think about it. There are entire celebrity and society magazines that are dedicated to routinely monitoring and tracking the little “tragedies” of the rich and beautiful. But these cash-cow publications have no counterparts at the other end of the market that document the plight of squatters, trailer trash, and “ethnics” in those other neighbourhoods. The only time these “unfortunates” matter to a TV audience is when Paris Hilton decides to live amongst them for a few days.

Let’s not beat ourselves up about this otherwise natural aspect of the human psyche. It’s the truth about the human condition. We are more fascinated by the rich and beautiful and grant surplus mental bandwidth for some brief token empathy for the poor when convenient. At best. It is on this basis that skin whitening products, luxury goods, and hedonistic rituals like “Laboracay” capture our best sensibilities. Evolution has programmed our brains to acquire resources, look good, and dominate others. In fact we are all products of ancestors who, themselves, obsessively aspired for the same. If they didn’t we’d all have loser genes coding our appearances and behaviours today.

In short, there is much to learn from the rich and beautiful and the problems and challenges that beset them than there is from the plight of the poor and downtrodden. People find glamour and mystery in how people acquire vast resources. But there is nothing mysterious about how others end up wretched and obscure.

Indeed, while big thick books with very small print form a rich and profound body of knowledge on the topic of “how to get rich” and on the lives of the tiny minority of human beings who have achieved just that, activists throughout history and at present are united in a very simple straightforward explanation about the poor. The poor are victims, see. That’s all there is to it.

The “boat people” are victims fleeing persecution perpetrated by oppressive regimes in their homeland. The 72 dead factory workers are victims of oppressive labour management practices implemented by evil capitalists. All tragic of course. But there’s not much else to those stories. In other news… wonder about how Kris Aquino came to be Queen of All Philippine Media or how Steve Jobs came to build the most valuable brand of all time and a thousand conversations and a thousand books will be launched.

Who will “take care” of the poor then?

It’s long been obvious that Big Media and Big Politics (left to their respective devices) will not. They will follow the money and the road to money does not lead to the Payatas, Valenzuela, or to Burma. It leads to Ayala-developed neighbourhoods, New York, and London.

But hang on a minute, the Philippines is a “democracy” last I heard. In a “democracy”, the majority rules, right? Considering that the majority in the Philippines is made up mainly of the poor, you’d think that the “rule” of this poor would result in a government — and a media community — responsive to their needs. But it isn’t. It’s not the system, it’s the human condition. Stupid.

The hypocrisy in Filipinos’ outrage over the Jejomar Binay Billions

May 18, 2015
by benign0


In most normal societies, the mere smell of a rat in one’s person would be enough for that person to be regarded as a political pariah. Not in the Philipines. For months, smoke has been detected in the camp of Philippine Vice President Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay thanks to an onslaught of politically-motivated “probes” into his public affairs and personal finances. As far back as mid-2014, convicted mutineer and Philippine “senator” Antonio Trillanes has already been waging a mudslinging war against Binay, using Senate “inquiries” as his vehicle (presumably ‘in aid of legislation’, right?).

jejomar_binay

Yet, even after more than half a year of demonisation, Binay continues to emerge as the top people’s choice for next President of the Philippines. As recently as March 2015, an SWS poll revealed that Binay remains the most popular “presidentiable” in the land with the inexperienced Senator Grace Poe a distant second. It speaks volumes how an alleged crook and a no-experience political newbie are embraced by the Filipino public as the top potential trustees of their future fortunes.

Now, the fire producing that smoke has supposedly been “discovered”. Suddenly coming out of the woodwork at the usual eleventh-hour are findings issued by the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) which reveal a vast network of bank accounts, dummies, and conduits allegedly involved in the management of Php 16 billion “since 2008″. The revelation has led to a successful petition of the Court of Appeals to order a freeze of Php 600 million of these funds kept across 242 bank accounts.

One wonders, then, given the astounding scale of the value of the assets involved: Why only now?

So chalk another one up for the Philippines’ now world-renowned Eleventh Hour Tradition of asset and risk management. The “discovery” of this alleged thievery merely highlights just how deep the Philippines’ culture of crime and neglect permeates its society. When astounding wrongs (that could have been prevented had the various agencies tasked with monitoring and controlling risk — the police, state investigation agencies, and regulators — done their job properly) take centre stage in Filipinos’ short-term awareness it is likely that its most sensationalised aspect (in this recent instance, Binay and his billions) represent just the tip of the iceberg of profound banal criminality going down to the society’s underbelly.

This brings us to the reason Binay remains so popular despite these recent “discoveries”. You gotta wonder why the nation’s noble “activists” need to plead with Filipino voters to at least harbour second thoughts about voting Jejomar Binay President of the Philippines in 2016. You’d think the mere suggestion alone that he may be a crook would turn Filipinos off him en masse.

There may be a couple of things at work here underlying Filipinos’ impressive tolerance for banal criminality in their society.

Firstly, it is likely that Binay is not alone in his possible use of his office to effect systematic thievery of the Filipino taxpayers’ hard-earned funds. More importantly, he is certainly not a standout as there are likely others who had stolen easily a lot more than those alleged billions. Perhaps then, in the mind of the average Filipino, the stink being raised about Binay’s “ill-gotten wealth” just happens to be par for the course in the lead up to elections. He just happens to be the biggest threat to the other crooks who have big investments at stake in the 2016 elections.

Second, for the C-D masses Filipino activists presume to “understand”, Binay’s billions fail the So What? test. What, after all, is in it for them if he gets thrown in jail? Will those billions eventually trickle down to them? Will these even be recovered? Philippine history has already answered those questions. On the contrary, perhaps they see Binay’s vast wealth as something they may have access to come election time. After all, a presidential candidate with a multi-billion-peso war chest can be expected to spend big and dole-out big. Amazingly, it is not just the wretched masses who salivate over a piece of those billions, but many in the A-B demographic as well. But it really is not that amazing when you thin of all the businessmen who stand to collect windfalls selling campaign paraphernalia and services to big spenders like Binay over the next few months.
And so we get to the bottomline.

Binay is not the crooked Filipino politician. He is just a crooked Filipino politician. How can one be impressed with billions in stolen goods when the average Filipino cannot even grasp the vast scale of routine thievery many many other Filipino politicians have perpetrated since time immemorial?

The joke, as usual, is on the Average Filipino Schmoe.

Token gestures like the AMLC’s eleventh-hour “investigation” and the Court of Appeals’ last-minute “timely” asset freeze order may impress the legions of “thought leaders” who routinely apply a whole brain to the issues but deliver less than half a brain of “insight” to the fore. The real crime here is staring us in the face — that the Philippines, despite the the bounty of “promise” it showed after more than its fair share of opportunity dangled within its reach — remains the crooked and wretched society that it is today.

Filipinos may feast on the Binay Billions circus today just as they had on other “scandal” fads over the last several decades. But, like the high we get from a meal of chicharon, all we will get out of it is an extra coating of bloat in our arteries and the empty pang of deep hunger in our political gut the following day.

Manila’s primitive public transport system: A national embarrassment!

May 25, 2015
by benign0

It is no longer news that Metro Manila, the Philippines’ premiere urban centre is a mess, and its residents’ biggest bane is its mass transport system. For a metropolis the size of Greater Manila, the existing rail network is extremely sparse and public road transport is utterly chaotic. Over the last couple of years alone, appalling “mishaps” have beset the city’s most “modern” commuter rail lines. Most recent is a head-on collision that occurred on the Light Rail Transit line where, forunately, only one person suffered minor injuries.

Metro Manila's sparse and decrepit public transport system results in billions in lost productivity annually.
Metro Manila’s sparse and decrepit public transport system results in billions in lost productivity annually.

Years of neglect have turned Manila’s train services into decrepit national embarrassments. On the busy Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), the number of trains operating has gone from 20 down to just 8 simultaneously running trains resulting in long queues and dangerously-crowded platforms all over the network. MRT management have dismissed the unbearable queues and delays as “normal” even as it attributed the drastic service cuts to “techincal problems such as speedometer malfunction, air-conditioning and poor lighting system.”

Even without these “mishaps”, just looking at the public transport newtwork diagrams of other major southeast Asian cities already gives one a visual idea of just how behind on transport infrastructure development the Philippines is.

Bangkok is currently served by three rapid transit systems: the BTS Skytrain, the underground MRT and the elevated Airport Rail Link. Although proposals for the development of rapid transit in Bangkok had been made since 1975, it was only in 1999 that the BTS finally began operation.

bangkok_rail

The BTS consists of two lines, Sukhumvit and Silom, with thirty stations along 30.95 kilometres (19.23 mi). The MRT opened for use in July 2004, and currently consists of one line, the Blue Line. It runs for 20 kilometres (12 mi) and has eighteen stations, three of which connect to the BTS system. The Airport Rail Link, more recently opened in August 2010, is operated by the SRT and connects the city centre to Suvarnabhumi Airport to the east. Its eight stations span a distance of 28 kilometres (17 mi).

Rail transport in Malaysia comprises heavy rail (including commuter rail), light rapid transit (LRT), monorail, airport rail link and a funicular railway line. Heavy rail is mostly used for intercity passenger and freight transport as well as some urban public transport, while LRTs are used for intra-city urban public transport and some special uses, such as transporting passengers between airport buildings. There are two commuter rail services linking Kuala Lumpur with the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The sole monorail line in the country is also used for public transport in Kuala Lumpur, while the only funicular railway line is in Penang.

kuala_lumpur_transit

The railway network covers most of the 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia. In East Malaysia, only the state of Sabah has railways. The network is also connected to the Thai railway 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) network in the north. If the Burma Railway is rebuilt, services to Myanmar, India, and China could be initiated.

TransJakarta is a bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was the first BRT system in Southern and Southeast Asia. The TransJakarta system began operations on January 25, 2004. TransJakarta was designed to provide Jakarta citizens with a fast public transportation system to help reduce rush hour traffic. The buses run in dedicated lanes and ticket prices are subsidized by the regional government. As of 2014, the buses carried more than 350,000 passengers per day with more than 500 buses in operation and more than a hundred in maintenace and for reserve. The subsidy per passenger-ticket in 2011 was around Rp 2,900 ($0.29) and for 2012 the subsidy is expected be around Rp 2,100 ($0.21) per passenger-ticket.

jakarta_transjakarta

Currently TransJakarta has the world’s longest BRT system (208 km in length), with 12 primary routes and 10 cross-corridor routes. Three more corridors are due to commence construction in 2014 or 2015 and will be partially elevated whereas the existing corridors are at ground level. In addition there are 18 ‘feeder’ routes that continue past the end of the exclusive busways into the municipalities surrounding Jakarta and use special buses that allow for boarding at either ground level or the TransJakarta station platforms.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org articles “Bangkok”, “Rail transport in Malaysia”, and “TransJakarta” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]

We Need to Wake Up for 2016

May 23, 2015
by Grimwald

I’m not gonna mince words anymore. It’s time for me to be brutally frank. The immaturity of Filipinos as it is is probably one of the biggest factors that keep it in the dark about what’s really going on in the world around us. Remember my article about the immaturity of Filipinos? Well, I think now we’re seeing the outcome of what all our lollygagging as a people has done. As we continue to bicker among ourselves on who to blame about what, events on a global scale unwind, affecting other events which affect other events. The dominoes of international proceedings are in motion but, sadly, countless Pinoys are either unaware of their progress or simply don’t want to care.

poverty_manila

Look ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for me to be brutally frank. Despite the call for prayers and positive thinking, the future does not look well for the Filipino people. Indeed, while the media tries to cover up the many incidents that are taking place both within and without the country, there are still so many Pinoys who stick to knowing everything about Kris Aquino’s sex life or where Daniel Padilla’s next movie will be. Again, as I’ve said perhaps for the thousandth time, distractions are okay as long as we remember their central nature: distractions. Things that are not necessary for our survival and progress should take a backseat to what does. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Please allow to be elaborate on the stupidity of the common Pinoy:

The Approval Of The BBL
Okay, it stands to reason that one of our biggest concerns is the passing of the BBL. Why? Because its approval will mean that territories in Mindanao will be declared independent and given over to terrorist organizations like the MILF. Should this ever be signed by Congress, no one can ever intercede in what happens in those territories as even the United Nations will be forced to accept whatever terms are put forth to them by the MILF which are the territories’ de facto leaders. Genocide on non-Muslims communities as well as Muslims that disagree with the agendas of the MILF will likely take place as they have in many African and Middle-Eastern states and no one can do anything about it as they will have been granted free rein.

Well, yes, the BBL or its spirit means well. A decentralization of power may indeed be beneficial to the Filipino people. Unfortunately doing so at gunpoint and under the the threat of terrorist attack is not a “negotiation” but essentially a “surrender”.

However, all things considered, it will probably be approved. Using simple distractions such as the threat of an earthquake (which can be adequately prepared for through proper planning), the president’s dating habits with a beauty queen (which is totally irrelevant in the grand scheme of things and doesn’t make him any less a loser) and Pacquiao’s defeat and the possibility of a rematch, they’ll probably run the thing right under our noses. Remember my articles about Pacquiao and how so many people reacted negatively? Well, lemme remind you that Pacquiao is just one of many congressmen who openly support BBL. With so many of his fans supporting him like he’s the next Jesus, will it be any surprise that Mindanao will soon be ruled by Islamic tyrants.

The Chinese Invasion
Let’s face it, the Chinese are planning an invasion. For all their hatred against the atrocities of Imperial Japan against them during WWII, here they are doing the exact same thing as the Axis Powers of that age. Seizing territories and bullying surrounding countries with military power? Where have I heard that before? Does that ring a bell to any of you?

Oh well, maybe I am too old. Anyway, when you look back in history, Nazi Germany treated its surrounding states with the same contempt as China. They seized territories and what not, claiming that they belonged to the German people to begin with. They maltreated many Eastern European states like Poland and Romania, claiming that Slavs are an inferior race to them.

China, with its establishment of various installations in the South China Sea are doing the exact same thing. These are acts of war, ladies and gentlemen. This is not something we can easily scoff at and sweep under the rug. This is happening right here and now. As we speak, the Chinese Navy is building airfields in their claimed territories which could pave the way for the use of military aircraft. They say that these are for civilian aircraft but with the presence of radar and other defenses as well as their issuance of strong warnings against any approaching aircraft or vessel, can we even really trust them?

The Loss Of Free Speech
Sadly, this too is a growing concern. Yes, there is still freedom of speech in the Philippines but it is all too often the wrong kind. What qualifies for freedom of speech in the Philippines these days is celebrity news, celebrity news and celebrity news. When others clamor for something else or call people out on their hedonistic and naive tastes, they are lambasted immediately by retards and beholden masses who worship their chosen celebrity as an incarnate deity of some kind.

But then, think about the thousands of journalists who have done their best to look into dangerous situations such as corruption in the government or the terrorists down south. Needless to say, we rarely ever hear of them again or their cases being solved.

When President Aquino made mention of Journalists in Belgium and how some of them probably “brought their problems on to themselves”, I can only imagine if this is what the Aquino family thinks of other journalists who don’t agree with them. With the recent death of Mei Magsino as well as the disappearance and death of so many other Filipino journalists in the country, can we ever really trust what the local media is feeding us?
***
Please people, we need to wake up…

Filipinos have no Philippine ‘Nation’ to rely on in the event of a catastrophic earthquake

May 22, 2015
by benign0


So some residents of Metro Manila now know how big or how little a risk they face in the event of a strong earthquake hitting sometime in the future. A certainty, we are told. But information is only useful when it is actionable.

The information so far being circulated by the Philippine government comes primarily from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhiVolcS) which issued detailed data on the areas traversed by the now-infamous West Valley Fault Line. The other source of information — on how individual and small local community efforts can be mounted to mitigate risks — comes mainly from the public service efforts of various activists.

earthquake_philippines

Various local politicians have also come out to assure their constituents of the state of disaster preparedness in their respective jurisdictions.

Suffice to say, however, disaster preparedeness really comes down to how much resources one has at their disposal. To put it bluntly, the rich are the safest and the poor, as usual, are most vulnerable when disaster strikes. In the event of an earthquake — or, for that matter, a big flood or a powerful storm, or any other natural calamity — the biggest proportion of body bags will likely be used to collect the poor’s dead. For example, it is easy to guess which communities all the big typhoons that hit the Philippines killed in the past — squatters.

Perhaps, some say, earthquakes won’t kill as many squatters — because they all live in sprawling colonies of houses that are made of lightweight junk, unlike the vertically-oriented hollow-blocks-and-mortar structures more affluent Filipinos live in. That’s a bright light shining on the problem that will easily blink out when one considers what happens after the first big strike. Emergency services become crucial in disasters’ aftermath. What will be the priority deployment areas of what are likely to be severely-strained disaster response capability?

Obviously, disaster response, is a challenge. There is lots of information about city-level measures being taken, but what everyone is holding their breath for is some insight on what the national capability brings to the table. The Philippine National Government’s track record on the matter of disaster response capability is not as reassuring. The Philippines has the weakest military in the region and has to rely on the charitable disposition of wealthier societies in its frequent times of need.

Whatever capability the national government wields is funded after all the informal “taxes” are collected by various politicians and government officials who’ve got siphons dipped into the public funding channel from the budgeting process all the way down to the disbursement procedures. By some accounts this thievery makes off with up to 80 percent of original appropriated amounts.

Most disturbing of all, no amount of physical resources available can mitigate the petty squabbling between political families that rule their respective fiefdoms across the archipelago. This reality about how well (or unwell) Filipinos work together was on exhibit in the days following Super Typhoon Haiyan’s deadly strike on Tacloban City when Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Mayor Alfred Romualdez bickered over who was responsible for what.

The Philippines’ notoriously world-renowned red tape alone could leave an abundance of critical equipment, food, and medicines languishing in warehouses and staging areas for days. Add to that the lack of a credible crisis management command structure and you have a complete recipe for the continued banal squandering of vast opportunity to prevent loss of life. Reporting from the ground in 2013 when Haiyan struck Tacloban, CNN correspondent observed “no real evidence of organized recovery or relief” effort coming from the Philippine government in the critical days following the disaster wreaked by the storm.

The real deal is in the effort and resources poured into disaster preparedness. Unlike responsiveness, preparedness requires far more foresight — something Filipinos cannot be considered to apply in abundance in their “nation building” efforts. Sadly, the six-year electoral cycle that fatally hobbles national development offers no relief to long-term planners and strategists.

Rather than focus on the future, presidents after president focus more on crushing their predecessors and replacing their infrastructure development initiatives with their own pet projects. Back in 2010, newly-minted Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III for months busied himself killing many critical disaster-mitigation infrastructure projects started or continued by his predecessor former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This along with other cuts was blamed for a collapse in economic growth in the first couple of years of the Second Aquino Government and the likely devastation-by-flooding suffered by millions of Filipinos that marked the following several years of his administration.

Indeed, it is disturbing that the issue of the West Valley Fault menacing Metro Manila suddenly resonates today. The risks of eathquake destruction hanging over Metro Manila were identified in various detailed studies done going back many years. But the timing of this renewed “interest” in the subject is quite tragic. The 2016 presidential elections is only a few months away. This means, the Philippine government is effectively in a state of complete paralysis — focused on politics foremost at the expense of strategic leadership — that will last well past the next 12 months.

As activists now insist, it really is up to individuals and their immediate communities. There is no nation to rely on. Kanya-kanya na lang.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

FILIPINO STUPIDITY NEVER CEASES TO AMAZE THE WORLD

Shocked Dog and Owners
Rather than venture down some long-winded path, harping on such an amazing level of stupidity. I have decided to simply show you a list of what I know to be some of the best examples of stupidity ever perpetrated by a people. Upon themselves. And the world.

Unless otherwise specified, I shall not attempt to explain the reasoning behind my choices here. Because if you don’t know where you went wrong. Then you’re either too stupid to begin with. Or your paper-thin ego won’t allow you to accept it altogether.
So here we go folks…
  • EDSA1
  • Treating Cory Aquino as a saint.
  • Actually believing she has been Canonized.
  • Electing Nancy Binay to a Senate seat.
  • Electing Antonio Trillanes to a Senate seat.
  • Electing “Bam” Aquino to a Senate seat.
  • Electing Manny Pacquiao to Congress.
  • Not understanding what’s wrong with the aforementioned political figures.
  • Loving and treating Kris Aquino as your own sister. And not knowing why.
  • Your so-called leaders treating the Presidents SONA as if it’s the Academy Awards, or the Golden Globes.
  • You idiots watching it as if it actually was the Academy Awards, or the Golden Globes.
  • Blaming Ferdinand Marcos for all that’s wrong in your lives.
  • 30 years later. Still believing Marcos is the fault of it all.
  • Defending the belief that all Filipino’s are victims.
  • Claiming President BS Aquino is the nations best-ever President.
  • Allowing a Yellow Personality Cult to rule the country.
  • Believing the economy has improved.
  • Accepting ComElec’s answer to the 2013 mid-term 60-30-10 results favoring Aquino’s candidates as “coincidental”.
  • Not accepting the fact that you’re a 3rd world country.
  • Any Filipino who blindly follows the Manalo Cult, known as Iglesia Ni Cristo.
  • Listening (and believing) the annual Aquino (SONA) State of The Nation address.
  • Believing the MyPhone is a Philippine-made product.
  • Insisting on renaming Typhoons from their Internationally recognized names, to some goofy Filipino name.
  • Electing public officials, simply because they are cute. Or you just like their name.
  • Believing the AFP can defend the country.
  • It’s more fun in the Philippines.
  • Pinoy pride and trying to prove you’re all better than everyone.
  • Your Air Force bragging about how they spent 10 years to refurbish a C-130, all by themselves.
  • Your Navy actually has more Admirals, than it does boats.
  • Filipino driving tactics. Again, insisting you’re better at it.
  • No organized direction when walking down the street. Or in the Mall.
  • Doesn’t understand the term, “Right side of the road.”
  • Labeling Squatters as Informal Settlers.
  • Inability to stand in line or maintain any mental or physical semblance of organization.
  • Constantly getting drunk and actually taking the time to look for a fight.
  • Homicide is the cure-all answer to everything.
  • Rape seems to be a past-time.
  • The Judicial system labels almost everything as malicious mischief.
  • Believing President Aquino deserves a 2nd term.
  • Actually believing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will finally bring peace to war torn Mindanao.
  • Treating your celebrities as if they were family members. And not understanding that it’s an unhealthy fetish.
  • Comedian — and Senator wannabe — Ai Ai Delas Alas, at age 50 has announced she is banging some 20 year college student. And you idiots think it cute.
  • The ability to read a simple Facebook comment, combined with the inability to understand a single word. Only to start an argument that had absolutely nothing to do with the article to begin with.
  • Assuming by virtue of either being in, or having graduated college, this makes you more worldly than others. If you’re not sure of this. Refer to the statement directly above this one.
I would love to continue. But sadly, at this hour, it’s all I can come up with. As time goes on, or I wake in the middle of the night with something new, I shall add to this list.
Keep in mind, those of you Filipino’s who may be reading this. The above is not just my opinion. It’s the same, the world over. Some of us even see moving to the Philippines as a source of great amusement. From watching the evening news. To seeing someone force their way IN through the OUT door. The stupidity of the Filipino never ceases to amaze.






http://thestagnantfilipino.com/2014/07/filipino-stupidity-never-ceases-to-amaze-the-world/