We Blog; Therefore, We Are

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From passion, to business, to hobby, to news and information, to arts, to fashion or just mere expression—the blogosphere is growing exponentially in every split second.

In fact, in 2012, the world-renowned Nielsen (Nielsen/McKinsey Co.) reported that there were already 181million blogs” worldwide. It was “up by 36 million five years earlier in 2006” (Nielsen 2012). However, according to Wikipedia, our numbers were nearing billions as of this writing. (Wikipedia)

As a blogger myself, I am very happy to hear this news knowing the amount of heart we are investing into this, especially in the cases of most of you. As admittedly, I barely have time to write, because of school and work; and apologetically, I have been missing your posts as well because of those too (my sincerest apologies).

Nevertheless, I am delighted with this encouraging information, because I have so much faith in what we are doing. Moreover, I am looking far ahead, when it comes to our results. That although I barely have readers, unlike most of you (who are counting hundreds and thousands of followers and friends too), but I am honestly, not bothered at all. Coz I am sure, the Internet is not going anywhere. Which means we should not limit gauging readership in today’s numbers; and that we should never feel discourage at all if we do not see likes, and/or comments each time we post. For what is most important, is the quality what of we are posting and sharing, along with the bonds we are blessed to share and keep as an online community.

In regards to the latter, I actually realized that when a closest friend (a fellow news writer back home) told me that some or one of my poems about writing, were or was used in academics (in my native country, Philippines).

Regardless, I am really looking far ahead, because I see things as a mother. And speaking of mothers, Nielsen and Technorati both reported: We, women–mostly mothers, represent the largest group among us, bloggers. Now, isn’t that is another good news? ‘Cause with mothers, we can expect manners–for we also have to self-regulate ourselves. Because what comes with this privilege to speak before the world, is our responsibilty to our successors; and that is to set benchmarks on the things we do-regardless if we are blogging for profit or not.

No matter, it is crystal clear, we are in the process of bringing down the “grand walls” that set men and women apart. That whether knowing or unknowingly, we are now dealing with one another not based on genders nor sexual orientations. Rather, in our world, in the blogosphere, we regard one another as fellow highly educated, passionate and creative human beings. We, women are getting more confident in expressing ourselves. And you, men are also getting confident in sharing the soft side of you. And with that, we can say, we are getting close in healing our fears in being true to ourselves, just as we are healing the wounds of prejudices, religions, cultures, and all those that enslaved humankind for ages. Although, we only exist and interact virtually, but we collaborate and support one another in ways that not even the United Nations have done in the past. We are making a difference.

Without further ado, below are the links to the good news. I am proud of you all! You should be proud of us too.

To God be all the Glory! Happy blogging everybody!















GOODFELLAS:

Abozdar

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AshiAkira

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WritingToFreedom

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GOODREADS:
Nielsen reports: Buzz in the Blogosphere. . .
http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/buzz-in-the-blogosphere-millions-more-bloggers-and-blog-readers.html
Technorati reports: Growth of the Blogosphere
http://technorati.com/state-of-the-blogosphere-2010/

Brilliant Blunders, a Book Review

Brilliant Blunders
 

Five science “luminaries” are seemingly put in a petri dish by astrophysicist, Mario Livio. Published in May 2013, in Brilliant Blunders “colossal” errors by the greatest scientists of all times are exposed by the operator of Hubble Space Telescope, as allegedly, they all “. . .could have potentially jeopardize our understanding of life, earth, and the universe; and, they could have potentially hold back the progress of science.” (Livio 2013) Indeed, science is such a complicated subject that even gigantic figures are vulnerable to mistakes. Hence, it is important to understand its meaning, methods, mechanisms, and to set a unifying thread; to establish limitations in order to understand how the natural and/or physical phenomena work.

On a personal note, being a non-science major student, reviewing this book is so challenging for me. In fact, I have to read two books to come up with this review. In addition, I have to go back to the very beginning of our class, in January of spring 2014 and read ten chapters of our Biology textbook, Campbell Essential Biology with Physiology (Custom Edition), to establish my unequivocal stand on the underlying issues of Livio’s arguments. In addition, I also read two versions (both digital and print) of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published in November 24, 1859. (Livio 2013) For it is my utmost priority, to come up with a fair and fact-based evaluation. However, because I know I cannot delve deeply about everything in that book, this review is only covering what I learned from this semester, of spring 2014, and in my biology class, evolution and inheritance.

Nevertheless, Brilliant Blunders is composed of eleven main chapters, and five additional all others (e.g. Preface, Coda, and etcetera), written in three-hundred and forty-one pages.

In the first chapter, Mistakes and Blunders, Livio talks about the five “protagonists,” “luminaries” as he addressed them, but all with the anti-hero characters—caused by their apparent “colossal” mistakes or blunders in the very profound world of science. The scientists are as follow:
1. Charles Darwin
2. Lord Kelvin
3. Linus Pauling
4. Fred Hoyle, and
5. Albert Einstein

In this take-off chapter, Livio also informs his readers that the world evolution is the “unifying thread” that connects all chapters. Each “luminary” is assigned two chapters. Every beginning chapter (for any luminary), he talks in a positive note by citing their contributions to science, and how they affect the world and the universe as a whole. In the succeeding chapter he sights the blunders of the “luminaries” and the repercussions, or possible repercussions of their apparent “errors” in their respective fields of science, along with the possible causes of either psychological or neuroscientific factors surrounding their “brilliant blunders.”

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In regards to the Origin of Species however, there are fourteen chapters, five-hundred-and two pages, and a single figure of a tree, which looks like a simple phylogeny tree, personally drawn by Darwin. According to Livio, that Darwin’s book “. . . changes our understanding of life on earth.” It talks about four pillars of biology, namely:
1. Evolution
2. Gradualism
3. Descent with Modification
4. Speciation

Furthermore, Livio acknowledges that natural selection is correct. Moreover, natural selection is the mechanism behind those four mentioned processes. Livio specifically stresses that he is not taking it against Darwin, that the latter does not know about genetics, nor what the acceptable theories of inheritance in the nineteenth-century (or Darwin’s day). 61ylbx7vBZL

In science though, it was a given fact—one that was well-embraced that Darwin was once a mediocre student. Although science was in his genes (from his grandfather, to his father, and his siblings most of them went to medical school), he did not have the instant intelligence for science. Worse, he struggled with it; and, he did not have a stomach for it (witnessing surgeries without the anesthesia, of course, it was such gruesome sight). He even dropped pursuing science, and switched to theology instead, just to earn his undergraduate degree. All facts were in most books, articles, videos, and other academic resources, and in all mediums (or forms) about Darwin (and just as how we covered all these in class as well).

I first learned about him in my anthropology class, Emerging Humanity (or Anthropology 151). Wherein, at the beginning of our semester, my classmates and I watched a NOVA PBS documentary, What Darwin Never Knew. In that film, amid knowing the “blunder” of Darwin (as Livio castigated) that indeed posed challenge to natural selection–which was DNA (Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid)–from the biologists, to paleontologists, anthropologists, and paleoanthropologists, they all spoke highly and with so much regards and enthusiasm about Darwin. To the point, the film seemed like a celebration of his life, when they could have featured the man behind our understanding of inheritance, Gregor Mendel (the Augustinian monk from Czech Republic, who studied rigorously about genetics, and almost the same time as Darwin published his book in 1859). (Simon Et Al, Pg. 146) 81vaYJkSNUL
Livio knows that the concept of inheritance in the nineteenth-century or in Darwin’s day, is ultimately wrong. Since he knows this fact, why is he talking about something that “Darwin never knew?” Why is his arguments against Darwin is based on the latter’s concept of inheritance?

Please allow me to reiterate, I am not a science-major student. From arts, I switch to business. Although science is not my field, I really appreciate Darwin for his courage in writing and publishing the Origin of Species. Because most people at that time only believed in our biblical creation. Moreover, I admire him for spending nearly all his life, trying to grasp how the natural world works. Therefore, it’s not fair (for anyone) to question his contributions to science, and to this world. For in reality, the science communities know so well that Darwin’s natural selection has been the golden gate to our understanding of how evolution works.

In our Biology 101 class, we learn science is “Any method of learning about the natural world that follows a scientific method” (Simon Et al 2013). Moreover, our biology professor, Wendy Kuntz, Ph.D., even stresses that science is a “discipline . . . limited to the study of the Physical Universe.” Likewise our textbook defines natural selection as the “. . . process in which organisms with certain inherited characteristics more likely to survive and reproduce than are organisms with other characteristics; unequal reproductive success” (Simon Et Al). Most importantly, our textbook is clear in differentiating hypothesis (is an idea) from theory (a set of ideas). (Simon Et al 2013) Moreover, on inheritance, we learn how to use Reginald Punnett’s Punnett Square that helps us predict the possibilities of transferring inheritable diseases. However, there is nowhere in our book that states for a hypothesis to be accepted as a theory, theorist like Darwin must use a mathematical expression to prove his arguments. 382px-Golden_Ratio_cover

Because what is clear to me, after completely reading his book, Livio demands math especially from Darwin. Livio look at those five great scientists and their apparent brilliant blunders in the mathematician’s eyes—as he is really more of a math expert than a scientist. In fact, most of Livio’s previously published works feature more of math than science. Moreover, if science highlights his study, there is always a strong and convincing math computation, or expression behind. No doubt, he’s a math genius. But are we talking of math? Or are we talking of science? Maybe, we can say, kudos to him. However, let this be a challenge: He should make an invention of his own. He should make his due contribution to science, and prove his intelligence. Rather, than talking about others’ mistakes, he should prove the world that he can make viable contribution than can make our lives better, or at least something than can improve science. Rather than intriguing predecessors, who are way farther than six feet down under. For those great scientists have already given their fair share to the evolution of knowledge, and of science. They deserve respect; they deserve to rest in peace.

Honestly, two months ago, in my last evaluation essay on the first three chapters of this book, I supported Livio. Admittedly, I was one great critic too. I agreed with him that those “luminaries” should have exercise diligence, patience, and perseverance in proving their hypotheses, more so in publishing their works. However, after thorough reading and synthesizing what we learned from class, and have realized the remarkable contributions of Darwin to biology (and the rest of natural science), sad to say, I cannot agree with Livio anymore. For even though, he did not say anything wrong about science, and how it worked, or at least not about biology and evolution, nor about inheritance. However, he missed one writing and researching essential, and that was to synthesize. It’s a basic concept of gathering ideas to come up with a non-bias unequivocal stand. A very basic concept that is greatly taught in higher education in United States of America, in Great Britain, Canada, and Australia, or in most English native speaking country, learning how to synthesize may not be available in Israel, where Livio earned both his graduate and undergraduate studies. So maybe it’s fair not to judge Livio on this blunder, just as Darwin is deprived of how genetics works in the nineteenth-century.

Sadly, Livio miss to synthesize the works of these great scientists in a greater and broader concept. He picks their weakest links, and labels his harsh critiques as blunders. He further says that the common denominator for all the chapters of his book is the word of evolution: “evolution of life on earth, evolution of earth itself, and evolution of the universe.” (Livio 2013) He even emphasizes “. . . blunders of evolution, and evolution of blunders.” But what about knowledge? Did he even realize that knowledge is very much evolving too?

Indeed, knowledge or its nature is very much evolving–and therefore, Livio should have considered. Because science indeed, is about knowledge. It’s about exploring, gaining, and/or advancing knowledge in its most profound and verifiable form. In fact, one definition of science (that we learn in class) is its Latin meaning “to know.” (Simon Et al 2013)

Another blunder of Livio, is the dragging use of the word “luminaries.” If he is a scientist, and that he respect his profession, he should have just address them as scientists. Because I am sure, they would rather hear that they are recognized in their chosen fields. Moreover, luminary means popularity; the effect in using such term is the malicious use of the user in seemingly riding on the established popularity of those great scientists.

Finally, “what if Darwin knew” about genetics? What if he knew how to use Punnett Square? What if the title of his book was the Genetic Origin of Species? What if he merged his works with Mendel? What if Darwin had the tools and technology that Livio have these days? Can you imagine?

Regardless, I believe that there is righteousness in committing errors. And that is the wisdom we gain after we accepted we err. In science, the way the field accepts mistakes, is inherent to science itself. For studies in all branches of science are continuously ongoing and evolving. Everything is subject to advancement. Moreover, the way experts in this field synthesize their works, is they use the past as a foundation to establish modern definitions and to incorporate recent theories and discoveries. Most importantly, it is the “job” of the scientists of today, to improve the works of Darwin, Kelvin, Pauling, Hoyle, and Einstein. The scientists of today need not to point fingers who did wrong nor who did best. They should just get to work and embrace the challenge. Livio should have known better; he should have written better. I guess, there goes another “brilliant blunder.” But is Livio a luminary? Is he a scientist or a mathematician? I let his books speak for him.

 

Works Cited

Darwin, Charles Robert. The Origin of Species. Vol. XI. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14; Bartleby.com, 2001. Web. 30 Apr 2014.

Livio, Mario. “Brilliant Blunders, From Darwin to Einstein – Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe.” Simonandschuster. Print. 14 May 2013.
Simon, Eric J., Jean L. Dickey and Jane B. Reece. Campbell, Essential Biology with Physiology, Custom Edition. 2013. Print. 1 May 2013.
charles darwin quotes

BEWARE: The Horrors of Genetically Engineered Foods

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The author does not own copyright of the image above, nor of the video below; usage of both is non-commercial.

A Film Review

Genetics is a very young branch of science. Its wonders range from biology and evolution, forensics, cultural and anthropological advances. Scientists these days are now even eager to use it in medicine for pharmaceutical development and cure. It is admirable to hear scientists are eager to use genetics to relieve people of current terminal diseases such as cancer. However, it is very horrifying to hear that genetics is now being used, or misused by scientists paid by big corporations, agribusinesses like the infamous Monsanto, to generate mass production of foods we buy from fast-food chains, and even the ones we buy from the supermarkets and serve to our families.

In the 2010 documentary film, Food Inc., horrors of genetically engineered foods supplied to McDonalds and supermarkets around the nation are exposed. Products like corn used in the production of not just in wide array of foods, but in many commodities including medicines, are no longer going through the natural processes of agriculture and farming. That harvesting is happening all-year-round, as agribusinesses are able to find ways through GMO, or through the use and misuse of genetics, to boost productions leading to lucrative profits.

Personally, as a mother of three, I think the most horrifying part of this film, is to learn that a two-year old boy died from an ecoli in a genetically modified made hamburger patties. His mother and grandmother even nearly beg to a Republican senator from the mainland (U.S.) in search for justice. And yet just the recall of those hamburger patties alone seemed next thing to impossible. Neither did they hear an apology from responsible parties.

Furthermore, it is frustrating to learn, that Monsanto even has the nerve to patent GMO made soya beans. First of all, I am totally not in favor of using GMO on foods at all. As a writer, just in the usage of words alone: “Foods engineered?” It doesn’t sound right to me. And to use GMO in agriculture, it means just one thing: GREED. Second, no one should own or patent something that nature owns. Anyone can claim ownership of a land (if one owns the land). But to limit the farming of any crops (just like that soya bean Monsanto just got patent for) simply, because nature owns their creation. And if those agribusinesses concern, is their evil formulation of genes and chemicals (for the heck of earning profits), then by all means: remove those evils out of the products they are providing us, consumers. We don’t need them! And they should spare the animals of some respect as well.

Nonetheless, another horrifying fact of GMO, is how they (the irresponsible scientists, chemists, and agribusinesses) come with their evil innovations and  ideas of using it on crops: They use GMO first on rodents, and then among pigs (to make them heavier and for fast breeding), beefs (to make them more meaty), chickens (to make the breast bigger, for that is the most in demand part ), and fishes (larger). And though they see massive growth, but there are also physical deformities among their “guinea pigs” that are too obvious to ignore. And yet they disregard and continue using GMO in agriculture and aquaculture, and animal raising. So, now it’s everywhere, and in almost every food product we buy from the supermarkets and fast food chains.

On a more personal note, seeing this film though, makes me proud and relieved that I am in Hawaii. For in here, in our state, our kama’ainas (Hawaii locals) are strongly fighting head-on with Monsanto. In our state, as far as I know, Monsanto could not operate their kind of farming here (or at least not, the way Monsanto want it)

Monsanto to me, and the likes of it, are evils with horns and tails, holding their pitchforks; dragging us to the hell of health destruction–beware!

Finally, Food Inc. is not just a review of diabolic processes that Monsanto and all other irresponsible big agribusinesses are doing behind our backs. Because this film is educating us, by telling us, consumers: Sustainable farming is not far-fetch. Therefore, we should not settle to alternatives that are not even tested. Sustainable farming is indeed very doable, but only to those who are willing to comply with the law and be ethical in doing business. That sustainable farming is truly doable, but only to those who are willing to do the hard works and be satisfied with just enough money, or at least not to earn money at the expense of people who are patronizing them.

Moreover, I do know (and understand) business is business. In fact, I am a business major student. But shouldn’t business come with responsibilities as well? For as consumers, we are very much entitled to fair and equitable business. And that every time we buy something, let us keep in mind that what comes with the money we are paying producers like Monsanto (and from the manufacturers as well); what comes with our trust, is their responsibility to ensure whatever they are trading to us is not harmful to us in any ways.

For the horrors of genetically engineered foods are as follow:

1. They are chemically produced.

2. Chemicals and improvised genes are never tested in humans.

3. The guinea pigs (poor animals mentioned above) use for testing exhibit severe deformities internally and externally.They deserve dignity too.

4. GMO foods heighten obesity rates.

5. Small farmers are losing their rights to farm crops belonging to nature.

6. Mass production leads to mishandling of foods.

7.Mass production and agriculture contribute 51% to our growing predicament on climate change.

In an article, written by Nicolas Gryson, DNA (which is of course, the main ingredient of any GMO made foods) handling should be as follows:
Important food-processing conditions, for example temperature and pH, may lead to degradation of the DNA, rendering PCR analysis impossible or GMO quantification unreliable. . . Food processes involving mechanical stress, high temperature, pH variations, enzymatic activities, and fermentation affect the primary structure of DNA and cause, for example, hydrolysis, oxidation, and deamination of the DNA.

What this study means, careful and thorough evaluations are must prior to even contemplating use of GMO (which obviously Monsanto and the rest never get into).

To conclude, this is one of the best documentary films I ever watch in my life. This does not incriminate agribusinesses like Monsanto in a blunt and careless manner, rather this unravels the truth that we, food consumers are entitled to know. Moreover, this film covers processes, and interviews witnesses (both farmers and consumers, and experts) from different parts of the world, to bring awareness and encourage sustainability. Likewise, the film aims to introduce us to healthy lifestyles that our bodies and Mother Earth are long seeking from us. Let us be responsible to ourselves,  and to our families. Let us be critical of the foods we eat by reading labels and nutritional facts at all times; likewise, by considering the health ramifications of nutritional and economic choices we make. And if we have a place in our homes to plant organic foods, please, let us do so–for that’s even better. Because organic farming is one the best long-range solution (and not to mention, it’s very healthy too).

Lastly, we should really appreciate this film. Because this documentary encourages awareness on how foods are being handled these days. We have the rights to be educated consumers after all. Let us keep in mind: WE EAT TO NOURISH OUR BODIES. However, with the plague of genetically modified and engineered foods, we can no longer confidently say such foods are nutritious still. Health is wealth. We should never bargain for less.

This version of YouTube is not complete:

The film is available via NetFlix.

For Dish subscribers, it’s available OnDemand for free.

Or you may check FoodInc.com

Unearthing Our Journey to Humanity

Birth of Humanity

(Copyrights of the image above belongs to NOVA PBS)

Unearthing Our Journey to Humanity: Becoming Human, Second of a Three-Part Series, a Film Review

If the Part I of Nova PBS documentary film, Becoming Human had caused us the daunting reality of our ape origin, the Birth of Humanity was an inspiring one. For in this second part of the film, the journey of our ancestors to humanity was featured in such a meaningful way. As nearly one-and-a-half-million years ago, a very intelligent species called Homo erectus evolved, lived and left the “great rift valleys of Africa,” and begun colonizing different parts of the world.

In 1984, a fossil discovered by well-known African anthropologists Richard and Meave Leakey, Turkana Boy—was found to have a bigger brain, bigger jaws, and very much taller compared to any Homo habilis or Lucy and Selam (Australopithecus afarensis) who highlighted the Part I.

Named after the Lake Turkana of Kenya, the species of Turkana BoyHomo erectus was branded as the pioneer in so many human traits and behaviors; and, was also tagged as the “fire tamer,” tool maker, innovator, the great “originator of human society,” fierce-hunter, and one of the most successful species in the Homo genus.

What was truly remarkable in Part II, was the chain of compelling stories told by scientists about human evolution that existed roughly 1,300,000 years ago by merely fossil discoveries alone. And it was through Turkana Boy and the completeness of his skeleton, that scientists learned thoroughly about the physique, height, and face structure of Homo erectus. In addition, his age and even the medical condition he suffered were likewise traced through the genetic dating process called molecular clock.

But one big difference of Turkana Boy to Lucy and Selam was his ability to run persistently.  Although the latter have pioneered bipedalism (walking upright on two feet), they weren’t capable of long distance running at all. This was because, through the nearly hairless bodies (having the ability to sweat and diffuse heat) of Homo erectus, that they became so agile and adept to persistent hunting.

On a lighter note, scientists believed Homo erectus can cook too. And though primitive, that cooking led to the transformation and development of their physical features. It made them sociable as well.

Experts likewise attributed their success, to their apparent exodus to Africa. Labeled as great travelers and colonizers, they started building the human societies in Indonesia and China.

To end, the Part Two of Becoming Human was indeed very inspiring. For through fossil discoveries, and the painstaking works of scientists, and amid earth’s primitive age—it was clear, that our ancestors evolved and survived the wilds, and found their road to humanity by exhibiting the simplest, yet  greatest and most humane behaviors. For it is during the Prehistoric time of Homo erectus, our ancestors started caring for one another. It was then, that they started to think analytically and creatively.  As they made enhanced tools out of stones, to outwit animals, and to feed themselves and take care of one another.  Therefore, it wasn’t just about physical differences that truly set distinctions between earlier species and Homo erectus. Rather, it was during the Prehistoric existence of the latter, that our ancestors earned the universal legacy of exhibiting emotional, analytical, and social characteristics. For those humane behaviors have ultimately led Homo erectus to the path of humanity–and this is something we should always keep in mind. For those traits, even on these very modern days, should be inherent to all of us. For those traits set us apart and above everyone and everything in the animal kingdom–we should really be mindful of  them all the time.

Resources:

BecomingHuman.org

NOVA PBS Becoming Human

What’s in the News:

Neanderthal DNA Shows that Man’s Family Tree is Decidedly Gnarled

The Importance of Taking Notes

Copyright of the image above belongs UMass Amherst

 

(Updated, 10/18/2020, 23:39 HST)

 

From prep all the way to college, to graduate and post graduate studies: The importance of note taking is so relevant to learning. Even in the workplace, during meetings, conferences, client interactions, note taking plays a pivotal role in achieving a greater understanding of the challenges we’re facing. On a personal level, it speaks of our humility and conviction, to accept that we’re not all-knowing–and that learning is a continuous process that must be carried throughout our lifetime.

I remember, when I was in my second year at Kapiolani Community College: Because, I was enrolled full-time. I saw the only way to earn a little to survive, was to apply as a note taker for people with disabilities to the University of Hawai’i. The requirements were: A legible handwriting, decent grade in upper English courses, decent GPA (grade point average), and good listening skills. I also had to show how I note take to get hired. And I did secure the job. I needed to do my duties well, so that the students assigned to me would succeed in their academic pursuits. I have to take notes for them legibly, accurately, and sensibly, to ease the challenges in their respective academic life. And at the end of every class, I have to show my notes to their professors, before I turn them in to the ADA (American Disability Act) Center, where the students can get them in person. I also made it sure to have copies of all class materials to supplement the notes. I had to ensure, I didn’t miss anything that was said and distributed in class.

Likewise, I remember, in one of the eulogies during the funeral service of the late former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, former Canada Prime Minister Brian Mulroney shared his deep admiration for his beloved friend, seeing President Forty-One took notes during an important event that they both attended. President Forty-One did so to understand other nations leaders’ point of views, and for obvious reasons that he cared.

And those are just two accounts in light of the importance of note taking. I am sure that most of you, my dear fellow bloggers, who according to many reports are educated, you know the importance of note taking in the professional world. It is a testament to your earnest efforts in taking into account and to remind yourselves the priorities of your organizations or companies. It is evident to you engaging with one aspect of due diligence, which is critical to your integrity and credibility.

For when we take notes, it shows our professional skepticism that no matter how smart we are, we can’t fully entrust everything to memory alone. Simply, because, we can’t afford to miss significant information and/or facts, which could lead us to a sound decision and broaden our understanding.

So, I urge you to reflect in your good conscience, what does it mean when someone shows an empty pad? Especially, during a process that involves hundreds of millions of lives?

So, please tell me, what profession that doesn’t require taking notes? Is there anyone of us, who truly knows it all that would not need any new knowledge at all? Aren’t other people’s concerns and challenges worthy of our attentions and notepads? Is insensitivity an indicator of intelligence or arrogance?

As an aspiring jurist, one who had the privilege of working with and for the finest attorneys in Honolulu: I witnessed them all took notes during client interviews, hearings, depositions, research and discoveries. Some even brought their legal secretaries and or paralegals who took notes as well. And in the end, they compared their notes making sure nothing was unaccounted.

Because, hearing is different from listening. And their defining difference: The latter is both a skill and virtue, which makes listening the very foundation of note taking. For without listening, how can you take notes? And how can you attest that you are fully listening without taking notes?

Thus, if you have doubts on the importance of taking notes in our lives, please get your cellphones: Do you notice by default there’s an app for notes? I am an Apple user since 2010; and I can’t remember a version of iPhone, or iPad and iPod that doesn’t have notes as one of their default apps. Again, it’s because, taking notes is part of our lives. It is integral to our growth: it boosts our productivity; and it supplements our recollection and/or memory.

Lastly, public service is not a show. It involves lives, real lives, including those of generations to come. Public servants (be elected or appointed) must have some reverence to the trust endowed to them. And the least that they can do in exchange of that very precious trust, is to take notes of people’s concerns and to genuinely find time; to ponder and dare to act; strive to make a difference in people’s lives.

 
 

Personal:

Please bear with me; I’m behind on yours. Forgive me. I’d make it up this weekend. Happy blogging to you all. I love you, WordPress!

The Greatest Threat to Democracy

Copyright belongs to Karremans Johannes of the European University Institute (for the image above)

 

(updated 10/20/2020, 23:04 HST)

THE greatest threat to democracy is a dictator, who abuse and misuse power against his own people, who have vested their trust and put him in the highest office of the land in hopes that their lives would be better. To grip onto power, the ungrateful chief executive cares less if he breaches that trust; worse, the ungrateful chief executive cares less if he violates people’s rights. For a dictator’s MO (modus operandi) is as follows:

            A dictator has no respect for the rule of law; he has no respect for civil liberties. A dictator is a fiduciary in breach of his duties; in his duty to care, in his duty to protect; in his duty to serve . He is someone whose moral compass is malfunctioning, because of his tight grip on power.

            A dictator has no reverence for the sacredness of that very rare privilege to lead his nation to a greater good. He has no reverence for true democracy (Obama, 2020). He has no reverence for that humbling privilege to serve his citizenry—what can be more unpatriotic?

            A dictator does not care if he overlaps and infiltrates the greatest institutions and agencies of the republic. Wittingly or unwittingly, he taints the sterling reputations of those institutions and agencies–as he demands loyalty (ironically, amid his betrayal). His message is to “make it clear” that he is in command. And that all should align their undertakings to his theatrical rhetoric regardless of its constitutionality and reasonableness.

            A dictator is vindictive to his own people, who voice their opposition against his ill-leadership. He cannot and will not tolerate peaceful protests, fearing that he would lose command, and his power would be outnumbered by the people who exercise their rights to free speech. He takes advantage of a national emergency, such as the current global pandemic of Covid-19 to deter and even punish his critics and protesters using abusive policing.

            A dictator abuses and misuses the weaponry of his nation against his own people who disagree with him. He twists facts. He misleads his people on unfounded, baseless, merit less conspiracy theories, all nothing but paranoia. He disseminates false or disinformation, to avoid transparency and accountability. He sows division, hatred and fear to divert people’s attention to the very fact that he simply cannot lead. He is a stranger to diplomacy, decency, and empathy; and a total alien to humility.

            A dictator abuses his nation’s resources and will resort even to criminal means for the sake of power. Power power power. To him, power is all that matters.

            A dictator treats public service as a business enterprise to enrich himself at the expense of his own people who continue to sink in poverty—what a very sad reality!

            The good news is people do have the power against dictators by exercising their rights to vote. They must ensure fair and honest election. They also must ensure elections are taking place accordingly. Because every election is an opportunity for the people to change the course of their history. Every election is an opportunity for the people to improve their lives and to make their nation rise to the occasion and overcome dictatorship. Every voting citizen must responsibly exercise the right to vote.

            Lastly, dictatorship is not leadership. And an autocrat is not much of a difference. As both engage in a subtle treason against a democratic republic; against “. . . the government of the people, by the people, and for the people” (Lincoln, 1863). Because in a democratic country the citizenry pledge allegiance never to a party more so, to a  dictator, nor to an autocrat; Rather, to the nation and sovereign “. . . government of the people, by the people, and for the people” (Lincoln, 1863). United States of America is the greatest inspiration of democratic nations. A north star of the free world, U.S. must relentlessly denounce dictatorship, autocracy and communism. It will be monumental and inspirational for the people of those nations to hear U.S. President Donald J. Trump rebuke the evils of dictatorship, autocracy and communism that are happening in the Philippines, in Russia, in Belarus, in Turkey, in China, in North Korea and perhaps somewhere else. It is hard to dismiss the fact that President Trump is seen too cozy with the dictators of those nations mentioned above, which according to many national security experts, the President’s personal choice of friendship and adversaries poses immense endangerment to U.S. It is important to note that historically, dictators and autocrats are men, abusive men who are so obsessed with power. Also note, although the late and former United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Margaret Tatcher (1925-2013) was widely criticized for her conservatism; but no one can accuse her of dictatorship. Her toughness in men’s world was warranted.

            Personally, I strongly believe that dictators and autocrats are not only the greatest threats to democracy; but, likewise, they’re the grave humiliations and embarrassments to great republics, disgrace to humanity and to civilized societies in this twenty-first century.

 

References

Lincoln, Abraham. (1863). The Gettysburg Address. The Library of Congress.

Obama, Barack. (2020) Democratic 2020 National Convention.

 

Copyrights belongs to Associate Professor Tom Gerald Daly, University of Melbourne (for the image above)

Democracy

Thomas Wimberly. (2020). Realizing Democracy Demands Addressing Deeper Structural Roots of Failure and Possibility of Shared Power. Stanford Social Innovation Review

 

(Updated September 4, 2020, 13:20 HST)

 

Merriam Webster has five definitions of democracy: One, it is a “government by the people especially: rule of the majority; [a] government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections,” (Merriam Webster 2020). I am skipping the two and three definitions to avoid bias. But to continue: Four, “the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority,” (Merriam Webster, 2020). And five: “the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges,” (Merriam Webster 2020). I am sharing those most basic concepts and/or principles of democracy not because of ignorance neither a hasty presumption of unawareness. Rather, to remind those who may have forgotten the north star of the free world.

 
I am not a native of United States. I am an immigrant, who is originally from the Philippines. And although, it is considered a third world, it is a democratic country, which up to now many of our political and civic leaders continue to struggle to fight for the ideals that Americans have inspired us, Filipinos. Indeed, America is the greatest inspiration of the free world; but, likewise, other nations fighting for deprivation of liberty, justice, and equality, also those crying for abuse of authority are counting on the United States in countless of ways. Most importantly, we look up to Americans as role models who embody the greatest in human spirit: brave, bold, intelligent, compassionate, generous, always rallying and ever ready to battle–even to die–for a greater good. It is a sacred, noble calling that no American should ever take for granted.

 
Going back to the Philippines, sadly, poverty undermines democracy. It is the root of massive graft and corruption in our system of government. Correcting it seems forever to many of us, which is the very reason many Pinoys are either living and/or working abroad. And although it is our sad reality, we, Filipinos have a remarkable history defending democracy, when hand-in-hand we marched twice in peaceful protests against two former presidents, who we believed were existential threats to democracy. Guided by our faith as we are largely Catholics, we marched and vigil for days in Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in 1986 and 2001. Armed with rosaries and bravery to bring down dictators–together, we succeeded.

 
Because when democracy is in peril, people are under threats of their rights, of their rights to a better life, of their rights to speak and be heard, of their rights to vote, of their rights to equality and justice. Democracy is indispensible if we truly aspire world peace.

 
Of course, America is different from the Philippines. The left and right pundits may argue, I am comparing oranges to apples. However, that comparison only applies to wealth, to standard of living, to quality education; but, if we just stick to democracy; democracy is democracy. Democracy.

 
Democracy in the United States means liberty and justice for all. It is the breadth and depth of America’s soul.

 
Personally, in my English (rhetoric) class at the University of Hawai’i’s Kapiolani Community College in 2014, I had the privilege to recite the Gettysburg Address of United States former president Abraham Lincoln (as an academic requirement). Frankly, I used not to have an American dream (simply because, I had to leave my entire family in Manila to join my husband here in Hawai’i). However, that recitation led me to one. And that is to earn my JD (Juris Doctror) in an American institution and to be an attorney for the less privileged who are deprived of equal access to justice.

 
Regardless, please allow me to conclude by sharing to you the Gettysburg Address courtesy of Cornell University. May it continue to serve, guide, and inspire all Americans today, tomorrow, and beyond:

 
 
“President Lincoln delivered the 272 word Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania,” (RMC, Cornell, 2020)

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

 

 

References

Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Adams County, Pennsylvania
http://www.gettysburg.com/

Merriam Webster. (2020)
The Nicholas H. Noyes Collection of Historical Americana in the Cornell University Library. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1951.
John Mason Potter. “The Gettysburg Address.” The Cornell Library Journal, Winter 1966, no. 1.

Rare and Manuscript Collection. (2020). Transcript of Cornell University Copy. Cornell University. Retrieved from https://rmc.library.cornell.edu/gettysburg

The Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/gadd/gadrft.html

 
 

Pursuing Education Amid Covid-19

Courtesy of St. John Vianney School

 

(Update on October 14, 2020)

 

It is a big relief to complete the Spring Semester of 2020 amid the menacing of Covid-19. I am grateful to my Alma Mater, the University of Hawai’i (UH) system particularly, the Kapiolani Community College and UH West Oahu for the two associate degrees: one in science (accounting), and another in arts (liberal arts), for which I will be awarded this August; while my bachelor is upcoming next Spring, sometime in May. Sadly, due to Corona virus, we, the graduates, did not have any ceremony to attend, no celebration to party and be merry due to stay-home orders.  However, despite all the impacts of pandemic in our lives, modesty aside, I refuse to be considered as a victim for the very reason that whatever I earned in academia cannot be taken away by Covid-19.

Thus, with all honesty, I do not feel bad missing the graduation ceremony at all. Simply because, I am confident of owning the knowledge and wisdom I learned and earned in pursuing my undergraduate degrees. Although my heart goes to our youngsters, who worked so hard to attain education, and then they miss marching on stage being in caps and gowns, and tassels too. For there is a great sense of fulfillment in every graduation; Regardless of the level education, it is a milestone in one’s life worthy of celebration with our loved ones, families, and friends.

Moreover, marching on stage is monumental; because it marks an achievement. It takes a lot of work to pursue a degree. Being in college requires more than thousands worth of student loan. It likewise demands hard work, perseverance, determination and/or strong will, tenacity and faith. 

Personally, to be in college in my forties is very challenging. Every subject or course is a mountain to climb. For example, in College Algebra, which I took two courses (one is a required lab) this last Fall of 2019; For both courses, I must write every concept extensively. Often, I cannot afford to look at my hands and fingers because they look like ginger to me already. Seriously, I must be in class three days in a week and spend four-hundred-eighty (480) hours in classroom just for those courses alone. Note that I also took at that time two Geology courses (with required lab too), and Audit as well. So, from Monday to Friday, I was at UH West Oahu (as early as 8:00 in the morning and as late as 7:30 at night). Going back to algebra, I must watch my professor’s videos every week—repeatedly–for at least eighteen (18) weeks. Likewise, I must turn in assignments for every chapter on time each week (one in paper and another in MyMath Lab). Last, but not least, I must earn at least B in four (4) exams (no calculator was allowed except in the final exam) followed by doing four (4) extra credits exercises to secure a decent grade. Because if I earned B in one, I also earned only B for the other. I struggled really hard with law school in my mind. Admittedly, math was tough, and the work was brutal.  But with perseverance and faith, thank goodness! I earned what I aimed.

A moot class room in William Richardson School of Law

In our Audit class, we also have a lab on Pearson, where we worked on a weekly assignment online. And because, there was an ethics component to it, we must write in the language of business ethics. We must be proficient (at least) with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), various ethical frameworks, all concepts, and principles in intermediate accounting, along with business law. I must read and reread each chapter and worked on end-of-chapter exercises to survive the class decently. 

In our History of Economics class, we must know beyond the rudimentary of economics, we must study great economists, such as Adam Smith (the father of economics), Karl Max, John Maynard Keynes, and many more others, along with their scientific theories. And in class, we have essay exams in which we must write in strict academic standards live, and we were timed.

Most importantly, we must be present and engaged in every class and in every subject because attendance is graded. I believe that alone speaks of our commitment to learning. Also, it speaks of our determination, our will to achieve our dreams. One of my favorite writing professors once say, “Aina, you have to come to class every day, not unless you are dying.” quite a tough love—but still it is love, so I am thankful for the wisdom and of course, my professor.

To end, Covid-19’s impacts in our lives are pervasive and unprecedented. In this Spring 2020, amongst the academic community, we, students are forced to study through distant learning. I took three (3) upper courses of Financial Management, Statistics, and Business Intelligence. Challenged by anxiety caused by the pandemic and the given demands of full-time employment, I barely survived. But amid it all, I am not bitter considering the lessons we learned (e.g. What matters, is not the letter grade but our perseverance to achieve something great. Likewise, we learned that we are all unprepared for the contagion. Responsible parties fell short in addressing the crisis). To my fellow graduates of 2020, missing the ceremony is to ensure everyone’s safety. By taking our courses online; by us following stay-home-orders and social distancing, we paid our fair shares in dealing with the crisis. Lastly, know that what we learned and earned cannot be taken away by the pandemic. For along the knowledge and wisdom, we also attained the very invaluable true grit. Let none hinder us from achieving more. “Kulia I ka nu’u,” says my Alma Mater, which means strive for the highest. Because by striving for knowledge and doing things meaningfully such as pursuing college regardless of our individual challenges and especially during a crisis, we create and/or sustain an educated society.

James and Abigail Campbell Library, University of Hawai’i West Oahu

Burning Earth

(Updated 10/18/2020, 06:57 HST)

We just completed the Fall 2019 semester at University of Hawai’i West Oahu. Among the many invaluable skills and knowledge (I gained), it was the scholastic understanding of climate change that I appreciated the most. Likewise, it was inspiring to witness firsthand, how the academic and science communities took stance and the lead in addressing this highly significant issue of our times.

As a scholar of science, it’s hard to fathom why there are still many of us, including leaders, who claim it’s not happening. Maybe not all could sense the urgency; but to denounce or ignore the science community, is to deny Mother Earth of the solutions.

The consequences of global warming are too dire and pervasive, as they affect our ways of living. In fact one country that is so impacted, is about to lose its place on the globe, Vanuatu. Have you heard of climate change refugees? I know the words alone sound too depressing; but that’s how mean climate change is to humanity.

In brief, Vanuatu sits in the Pacific and sinks 6mm per year–faster than any other country –due to rising sea levels (UN, 2015). Mostly Melanesians, the Vanuatu’s people (with roughly 296,000 of them according to United Nations) are facing threats of losing their homes, their very country, and perhaps their heritage (2015).

Similarly, millions of people living in coastal communities around the world are under threat from fast rising sea levels. The consequences include threats to the quality of our lives, to our health, to our properties, to our sources of living, and even the existence of many marine species–those too are in jeopardy.

Note that the issue is not that we don’t know the solutions. Neither, we can’t do anything to any of our wrongdoing. The missing piece in addressing this dilemma, is our unanimous will. But to find out, if we can solve this problem, we have to refer ourselves to other global threats, which we successfully addressed.

For example, although in the nearly 14,000 years of world’s battle with smallpox (CDC, 2016); and millions including kings and queens died from the disease: The vaccine was finally developed by the English physician, Edward Jenner in 1796. It was delivered house to house in billions of arms (CDC, 2016). Consequently, in 1980, “the World Health Assembly announced its complete eradication,” (CDC, 2016). Also, most recently, we contained the outbreak of another deadly virus, ebola that started and spread in Africa. Amid its ”discovery in 1976” (CDC, 2018); and only just few hours ago (as of press time) that “the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine;” but again, we were able to addressed ebola threats effectively. So, why can’t we bring that same passion in dealing with the issues of climate change? Is it procrastination? Underestimation? Complacency? Or denial?

Personally, there’s guilt and shame to hear a 16-year old girl taunt us that we “sold” their generation–and I can’t blame her for the frustration. But it is my hope to find the answers to my questions through writing this series. The first one is below. It is an informal academic piece submitted last December 2, 2019.

 

 

 

Burning Earth: Endangered Oceans and Coasts

Courtesy of Yale 360. (2)
https://e360.yale.edu/digest/global-warming-causing-profound-changes-to-the-worlds-oceans-scientists-warn

From corals, to fishes and other marine life dying, to coastal communities losing properties and their sources of living: Climate change’s lethal impacts are getting ubiquitous in the oceans and coasts all over the world. Worse, the consensus among scientists, is that the rising temperature is showing no retreat (NASA, 2019). And we, humans are responsible (NASA, 2019).

“Seventy-one-percent of the Earth is covered by the oceans,” (Johnson et al, 2017). Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise most of CO₂ we caused the atmosphere ends up in the ocean, in which millions of species depend to us for survival. However, note that we also depend on the ocean for our diet and commerce to name few.

Regardless, on September 24, 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported, “global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970. . . [And] Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled. [Moreover,] marine heatwaves have very likely doubled since 1982 and are increasing intensity. [And that] By absorbing more CO₂, the ocean has undergone increasing surface acidification. A loss of oxygen, salinity intrusion, and sea level rise have [also] occurred,” (IPCC, 2019).

Accordingly, in class, we learned through rigorous academic works using scientific materials and processes the real-life “horrors” of global warming. To name few, we learned that due to warmer ocean waters and acidification: The corals (considered as the back bone of the ocean) suffer losing their skeletons. As algae abandon them due to warm water; They turn weak and bleached. Unable to fight diseases eventually, they die. Likewise, shellfishes are either born without shells or they easily lose their shells; while other, smaller marine species dissolve. Aren’t their lives as important as ours?

Worse, some of these issues are getting personal. Because say for example, the corals: In Hawai’i, we only have roughly fifteen. So, to learn that those in Maui are already suffering the effects of global warming, is devastating.

Also, on rising sea levels, most of our coastal communities here, in Oahu, are threatened by beach erosion—and we are talking of billions of dollars’ worth of properties. Sadly, the only solutions to their problem: One, to bear the hefty cost of yearly sand replenishment. Two, to build a jetty, and destroy their good relationship with their neighbors. Three, to build a seawall, and give up the beach. But none of those solutions, is cheap and favorable to coastal home or property owners.

So, to say that global warming is a myth: We are undermining the sufferings of those greatly affected. And although the rocks in Africa speak of climate change as old as antiquity; its current rate of acceleration is unprecedented. Lastly, the causes back then were natural; and now, it’s man made. We should really hold ourselves accountable.

 

 

 

References

Aguirre-Villegas, H., & Benson, C. (2017). Case History of Environmental Impacts of an Indonesian Coal Supply Chain. Journal of Cleaner Production, 157(C), 47-56.

Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. (2018). History of Ebola Virus Disease. CDC.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/history/summaries.html

Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. (2016). History of Smallpox. CDC.gov.

https://www.cdc.gov/smallpox/history/history.html

Central Intelligence Agency. (2019). World Fact Book, South Asia: India. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html

Earl, S. Physical Geology OER Textbook. (2015) BC Campus OpenEd.

Johnson, Chris, Matthew D. Affolter, Paul Inkenbrandt, and Cam Mosher. (2017). An Introduction to Geology. Salt Lake Community College. Retrieved from http://opengeology.org/textbook/15-global-climate-change/

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2019). The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate: Summary of Policy Maker, pgs. 10-15. Retrieved from https://report.ipcc.ch/srocc/pdf/SROCC_FinalDraft_FullReport.pdf

National Atmospheric and Space Administration. (2019). Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. Retrieved from https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

Schwarzenegger, Arnold, James Cameron. (2016). Years of Living Dangerously Season 2. Los Angeles, CA: National Geographic Channel.

United Nations. (2015). Vanuatu. Adaptation-UNDP.org. https://www.adaptation-undp.org/explore/melanesia/vanuatu

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale Environment 360. (2019). E360 Digest: Global Warming Causing Profound Changes to the World’s Oceans, Scientists Warn. Retrieved from https://e360.yale.edu/digest/global-warming-causing-profound-changes-to-the-worlds-oceans-scientists-warn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas




The Yule tradition became official during the reign of Queen Victoria in 1860 (Today’s Farmer, 2011). However, back then, it was more of a culmination of long held traditions around the world and in celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ during Winter Solstice.

In Germany, Christmas tree decorations began in 1820 (Today’s Farmer, 2011), when German families displayed trees with tidings for merriment and memories. Note that this tradition was passed to English when the former’s Prince Albert married Queen Victoria.

(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com) On Christmas: S’mores and love for all.

A decade after, in 1830, an English man named John Calcott Horsley created Christmas cards (Today’s Farmer, 2011). At almost the same time, caroling likewise started in England, where talented vagabonds knocked on fancy doors of the affluent for minutes of heartfelt carols in exchange of hot meals.

(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com) Nothing is more precious than the love we share on Christmas Day.

Among the Norse, as early as the Seventeenth-century, Yule was celebrated as a comeback of the sun (Today’s Farmers, 2011). Then Norse families feast over burning logs, which were labored and cut—with love—by the men in the house.

In Rome, slaves have a month (although later reduced to a week) of role playing as masters in celebration of Saturnalia (the Romans god of agriculture). Which according to History.com, “Peasants were in command of the city; while businesses and schools were closed so everyone could join the fun,” (2009).

(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com) Sweeter than the cookies, are the Christmasing hearts that care.

Here, in the United States, every Christmas season, there were approximately 30 to 35 million trees being sold (History, 2009). While busy, working American parents took advantage of the federal holiday (since 1870) to make up for the lost times with their precious tots.

Be as it may, the key figure of Christmas—other than Jesus, is Santa Claus, who according to folklore was a Turkish monk. He was born 280 A. D, and was known for his faith and kindness (Today’s Farmers, 2011). He became phenomenal when he saved three girls from being sold by their father by leaving them with bags of golds (Today’s Farmers, 2011).

(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com) Taller than Christmas trees are kind thoughts always there all along.

Lastly, regardless of any traditions, what makes Christmas very special, are the hearts we put to celebrate the occasion. As it speaks of our inspiring ability (oh yes, we can) to set aside our innate selfish sides; as we immense ourselves to giving, to fellowship with our inner circles.

And so from the gifts, to trees and tidings, to dinners—everything we do in spirit of Yule, is truly extraordinary–and a blessing to cherish. That unknowingly, we achieve the seemingly elusive peace on individual level by simply thinking more of others than ourselves.

Without further ado, Merry Christmas all! And Happy New Year too.






Reference

Editors. (2009). History of Christmas. History Channel.

Moroz, Ded. (2011). Christmases. Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture. Sage.

Today’s Farmers. (2011). The Traditions of Christmas. History Channel.

YouTube/It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas/Pentatonix


Precious in the godless World of Nietzsche and Sartre

precious21

(All copyrights of the image above belongs to Richard Crouse (subject to fair use.)

In the godless world of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre, we are completely on our own. And because morality does not exist, life is brutal all the time. But amid its brutality, we always have a choice. We can resist evil (anything harmful to us) or walk away safe, sane and sound—and take the call–just as how Precious in the 2009 movie should have long done for herself.

In brief: Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is a fictional character in the novel Push by Sapphire. (Natividad, 2010, p. 339) She is a sixteen-years-old, African-American descent, who is born and raised in Harlem, New York. She is overweight and quite vulgar for her age.  Almost illiterate, she has been behaving badly at school as influenced by domestic violence ongoing at home.  She is pregnant with her second child through incest by her father; while she is verbally, physically, and emotionally abused by her mother (Mo’Nique). Worse, her dad had caused her HIV; and her mom is capitalizing her and Mongol, her eldest daughter to finance her mother’s bum ways of living (on welfare). It’s disturbing to see Precious has endured it all.

Nonetheless, this film is telling us, how a bad call can take a toll to one’s being; how domestic abuse is fatally dangerous; how dysfunctional concerns could lead to moral catastrophes. Furthermore , the movie tells us home is not always sweet as we’d like it to be. That our domestic life can either make or break us. However, amid the strife, it doesn’t mean we have to embrace and endure evil. This movie tells us that if our families or anybody are causing us harm more than good; we can stand on our own, or we can treat our friends, classmates, or others as our extended families, if we are really seeking a sense of belonging.

Thus, if Precious is trying to find essence in her life, in Page 319, Sartre argues that “existence precedes essence” (2000). What it means to me, is that we’re born into this meaningless world—and it’s all up to us to find the meaning as we’d like them to be. That if we do aim for it, we have to work for it or create it ourselves. But regardless how we should never let anyone define our lives (like how Mary humiliates her daughter). Neither, let our tribulations (like the incest Precious has endured) limit us to who we can become. Because if we do, Sartre (2000) says we’re engaging into “self-deception” (also known as bad faith). Apparently, people who engage into such, are scared to define themselves as they are as supposed to; so they let others define them.

Finally, it’s relieving to see Precious fight Mary and walk away with her two children in her arms. I feel a sense of joy in seeing her overcome bad faith. Although she is placed only in eight-grade, what matters, is that she’s now safe and free, and she has a good chance to be happy. On the other hand, I’m disappointed to watch the evil character of a mother in Mary. I find her so pathetic to talk about her insecurities and her irrational love for a worthless man. Imagine if all women are like her, perhaps it’s impossible to win our war against the misogynistic world. Thank goodness, there other characters in the film such as Ms. Blue Rain (Paula Patton) and Ms. Weiss (Mariah Carey) who are educated and sensible that they made a difference in Precious’ life and those of others.

Last, but not least, no matter how damaging the injuries Precious has sustained from her parents, change for the better is never too late. Walking away from Mary is the best thing she has done for herself. Although it doesn’t mean that her struggles are over, for she still has to raise her kids, she also needs to deal with the HIV, and she does not have a job and no home to stay–but still, it’s okay. Because she’s heading towards a better life. Also, if she remains in that house with Mary, she’s not only punishing herself, but she’s tolerating Mary’s evilness. In the first place, she has to consider her kids for they need her protection, care, and love. It’s impossible to provide those and raise them well if she stays there. As for Mary, I can’t say that she’s too old to change. However, I doubt if she has the guts to face her verdicts in life. If she doesn’t face imprisonment for what she has caused her daughter: She needs a therapist. But more than the therapist, she needs a job.

To end, in the godless world of Nietzsche and Sartre, we are the gods to ourselves. We are empowered by our knowledge, by our judgment, by our tenacity to create a meaningful life. Indeed, we are the products of the choices we make. That if we are dealing with any demons on earth, our responsibility to ourselves, is either to fight them, or we can walk away in peace; but never to endure. For enduring evil is not resilience; it’s insanity. We need to have a good grip of our self-worth– because we are all Precious and worthy of all the best things in life. To fellow women, gone are the days that we are a minority to men. We must say “No” if we do mean no. We must be relentless in pushing ourselves to greatness, by achieving education, by building a meaningful career, by enriching our passion,  or by fulfilling our roles to our respective homes to the best of our abilities and sound judgment.

References

Daniels, L., & Fletcher F. S. (2008). Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire [Motion Picture]. United States: Lions Gate Studio.

Natividad, A. (2010). Movie Review: Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 5(3), 339-342.

Sterba, James P. (2000). Ethics: Classical Western Texts in Feminists and Cultural Perspectives: Oxford University Press.

What Living Together With Animals Means

Animals have long endured cruelty from us, humans. In fact, the most diabolical genocide in the history is not of humanity; but by humanity to animals. But the most morally horrifying part isn’t about the beatings nor violence they endure; Rather, those who consume and inflict them with pain are justifying their inhumane acts by their crooked reasoning that animals are ineligible of any legal entitlement. Thus, such devious belief can make animals forever vulnerable to human injustices. For example, the stance of the University of Michigan Philosophy Professor Carl Cohen, who in Page 420 of Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus 4th Edition contends that rights are only for humans. Apparently, Cohen is talking about the statutory definition of rights, which of course, will automatically disqualify animals in most situations. However, in utilitarian ethics, we learn that there is a kind of right that leads us to common good. And that’s the kind of entitlement animals deserve.

Hence, I believe there’s a rationale behind naming state funded animal rights advocates as Humane Societies versus Commission on Animal Rights. Because with the first, it’s clear: We should regard animals with care as we co-exist with them. In fact, we domesticated some of them; and we even give our pets names. Having said this, it means we consider them part of our households, which makes them entitled to rights against violence.

On animal farming and agriculture, I agree with Tom Regan (p. 414) “what’s fundamentally wrong, is the entire system,” (p. 414) which views “animals as our resources” (p. 414). Regan has been out all over the world for his advocacy against animal abuse and exploitation. (Hinman, 1996, p. 413) He’s not attacking anyone, but he hopes to correct the system. I agree with most of his arguments; because animal farming is indeed unhealthy for the environment and our body. Although they are the best sources of protein, they are main contributors of major diseases (e.g. consumption of their fats increases our cholesterol levels, which could lead to heart attack, high blood pressure, athritis, thyroidism and etcetera).

Nonetheless, I am truly with Regan in his war against animal abuse and exploitation. However, I am also realistic that the horrors of animal farming are too ingrained in our ways of living. That I hear the task to correct, is larger than life. But it doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything. We can if we will. For there’s a tiny step that we can do as consumers, that is to ensure that animal farming and agriculture leading to food production are processed or handled with care, which is for our own safety too. 

Thus, if we are to synthesize the lessons of deontology (ethics based on duty) and utilitarian perspectives (ethics based on common good), and if we apply them in our ways of living with animals, it will lead us to the just understanding and conviction: We should treat animals like how we wanted to be treated. We do this for our happiness and peace of mind; so we treat them with dignity.

Therefore, in the case of domestic ones, having them as part of our household; they’re but entitled to our affection and care. Perhaps that’s how we show them our emotional ways.  What’s even better, given time: They can reciprocate endearment:

In regards to livestock, although they’re safe for human consumption, it’s for our own sake as consumers, to ensure sound and sanitary food production. Sadly, that’s not the case most of the time, for many agricultural farmers have even resorted to GMO (genetically modified organism) for artificial and asexual reproduction, and for profit. As a result of genetic engineering, animal offsprings are born inflicted of deformities.

Bottom line, if it’s okay for animals to attack us, bite us, inflict us of rabies, perhaps we are warranted to deprive them of rights. But in reality, we do not condone their jungle ways. We even sue their handlers for their predatory behaviors. We expect them to learn our human ways, and yet we treat them inhumane–why?

Finally, it’s implausible to legislate The Jellyfishes Bill of Rights, and Crime Against Arachnids, and to grant crabs of their Freedom of Speech–but we’re humans. We’re capable of intellect, morals and compassion.Hence, it’s but common sense, to live in accordance to normative human behaviors. It requires us to think and put ethics into action for that will always lead us to the common good. That even in the midst of complicated societal dilemmas, our moral compasses built from our understanding of virtue, duty, and care, we will arrive in a just destination that is fair and equitable be among humans and animals, and be on living or non-living things. Because living together with animals means, we live with them our human ways.

Reference

Hinman, Lawrence M. Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996. Print.

Warranted Death

Warranted Death

Is capital punishment warranted? Or is “the death penalty overdoing it” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151)? Are murderers entitled to compassion? Those who argue for commutation (or for life), would usually appeal to our emotions without realizing their hindering justice. For as Yale computer science professor, David Gelernter stresses “In executing murderers, we should be declaring [as a society] that deliberate murder is evil and intolerable,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 154). For indeed, it is. Worse, such crimes are humiliation to God-fearing communities and an insult to a “civilized society” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151).

Thus, those who critique Gelernter, as being once a victim of a heinous crime that he’s just bitter–(Hinman, 2013, p. 147) are wrong. In fact, Gelernter even emphasizes that “If our goal were [solely] vengeance, we would allow the grieving parties to decide,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152). Sadly, if that happens, “We would call the whole thing off,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152). From this statement alone we can infer, despite all the injuries (of his soul and body) that he sustained, to this day, Gelernter remains constructive and not vindictive.

For the truth is, “Our big cities are full murders at large” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152).  What’s more alarming, “political scientist John J. Dilulio, Jr.” (Hinman, 2013, p. 152) claims approximately half-a-million murders are happening in the United States. (Hinman, 2013, p. 152) And again, Gelernter could be right that we are to blame. One best justification is the case of “Theodore Kaczynski” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151). Amid “pleading guilty (in three murder cases) and striking anew;” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151) he continue to cast his horrors and terrors in the society; but he “will not be executed,” (Hinman, 2013, p. 151) why? Undoubtedly, emotion is such a good criminal attorney.

In regards to Jeffrey Reiman’s opposition to death penalty, as Gelernter strongly argues, it’s not about vengeance. Hence, I disagree with his commentary in Page 156. That to justify capital punishment, we have to apply the adage: “An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth . . . ” (Hinman, 2013. For as a society, we need not justify ourselves in asserting our rights.

Finally, capital punishment is a strong consensual statement; and there’s no turning back. For the death penalty aims not just to give justice to a loss of life, but to ensure the safety of many. Now, with commutations here and there, perhaps we should reflect: Are we truly being human? Because it seems the other way around. For what could be more cruel and inhumane than to put others at risk? Just because we sympathize with one, we can disregard what happened and the likelihood of its recurrence? Perhaps when in doubt: We need to think deeper and feel broader, to find murder as a crime against all of us. For indeed, in executing capital punishment–we have the moral obligation to declare: “Deliberate murder is evil and intolerable” (Hinman, 2013, p. 154). And we don’t have room for such.

 

 

References

Hinman, Lawrence M. (2013). Contemporary Moral Issues Diversity and Consensus, 146-151.