Category: Uncategorized


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 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 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, “Peasants were in command of the city; while businesses and schools were closed so everyone could join the fun,” (2009).

(Image courtesy of 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 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.


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


(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.


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.


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.




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

Seeing Through the Lense: The Deepwater Horizon Spill



The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (a.k.a. BP Oil Spill) is America’s largest environmental disaster ever recorded in the history (The Ocean Portal Team, 2015). A purely man-made chain of catastrophes that led to deaths of eleven of its workers, the spill resulted to billions of dollars and pounds in losses. Worse, six-years after, its grimmest impacts are still seen on the habitants (dead and alive) of the seventy affected coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and in five states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and the least affected, Texas.

On fatalities, the bodies of the eleven missing rig workers are not recovered (Papp, 2011). Perhaps their cadavers are scorched; and their ashes are amalgamated with the mud and oil contaminating the vast ocean. Their bereaved families have struggled with their losses, as apparently many of them have called home minutes before its explosion. While those who survived may not be lucky to have been spared their lives—for they continue to endure the injuries and traumas of the disaster.

On wildlife, the poorest and most helpless victims of the spill, are the aquatic and avian animals of the 617,800 mi² Gulf of Mexico and those populating the 1.063 million mi² of the Caribbean Sea (The Ocean Portal Team, 2015). Dead fishes (big and small), lifeless crustaceans (including, but not limited to shrimps and crabs) and cetaceans (dolphins, and whales) float the ocean and swamp to coastal areas of the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico during the 87-days duration of the spill—and until the wellhead is capped on July 15, 2010 (The Ocean Portal Team, 2015). The brown pelicans nesting in and around Queen Bess Island at Grand Isle, La. are starved to death as remnants of oil killed the vegetation up and below the Gulf (Smithsonian, 2015). The death counts of those in wildlife are mere rough estimations; because no one can tell how many aquatic animals are engulfed during the 36-hour fire and series of explosions.

Regardless, recovery in any disaster means concerted efforts of the responsible party (or parties), the federal, state and local governments, and the communities. Although it may take years of continuous efforts, but the uppermost concern is to ensure recovery and that lessons learned are applied–so that history will not repeat itself.

When the Well Becomes Hell

On the evening of April 20, 2010, roughly pass 10:00 (Central Time), the fire broke in the facilities of the Deepwater Horizon. On board, were 126 of its live-in workers—worse, most of them were asleep (Bazeley, 2010). Those who were awake were disoriented and in shock (Bazeley, 2010). They were inexplicably lost on responding to such life-threatening emergency. Some claimed that although they were trained, but it wasn’t about what was happening (New York Times, 2010).

The New York Times reported, “the chief mechanic and three workers knew that there was gas on the rig; but they did not activate the emergency shutdown—because they were waiting for instructions and or a signal from the bridge” (New York Times, 2010). The rig workers claimed that it was a strict protocol they had to abide. They had no choice, but to wait for the warning (New York Times, 2010). Unfortunately, their waiting quickly ended–for the next thing they witnessed were explosions one after the other.

The first responder was a team from United States Cost Guard led by Lt. Nathen Houck, followed by two sets of highly skilled firefighters imported from Holland (Bazeley, 2010). All of them attested witnessing “a fire so raging and violent—something (they) never seen before (Bazeley, 2010). One pilot claimed looking at the burning rig, “it was like seeing the Devil’s eyes,” (Bazeley, 2010). One firefighter tried to articulate the incomprehensible sight of a steel-made structure—something created to be strong and immovable—yet crumpled to crumble by a raging fire unabated for thirty-six-hours (Bazeley, 2010). The burning rig was showing no sign of retreat; no chance for survivor—as the fire was fueled by uncapped wellhead beneath the ocean floor (Bazeley, 2010).


The Rig

Situated “forty-five miles off the coast of Louisiana” (ISPR Final Report, 2011), the rig was 396-feet tall and 256-feet wide (Smithsonian,). It was operating in waters of up to 8,000 feet and drilling oil in the depth of 30,000 feet (The Ocean Portal Team, 2015). Owned by Transocean, it was a mobile offshore drilling unit that was submersible (New York Times, 2010) made by Hyundai.

Structure wise, below its derrick were the main and second deck (New York Times, 2010). A true-state-of-the art facility, there were six engine rooms, a movie theater, helipad, mess hall/ galley, and living quarters for its workers (New York Times, 2010).

However, amid its sophistication, the rig had limitations. One, its positioning required perfection that demanded 24-hours monitoring from the 126 workers on board, who were divided in two shifts (actually a set of four, as onboard personnel were alternating every 21 days). It was completely reliant to electric power. And the fact that it was operating offshore, and its wellhead was located in a very dark environment, it was so vulnerable to high risks.

What Went Wrong

In sincere attempts of various academic communities to mitigate the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, research studies and conventions were conducted nationwide immediately after the spill and up to the present day. One that caught my attention, was conducted by the School of Earth Sciences of Stanford University.

On the first day of a two-day convention, Thomas Davis Barrow Professor Roland Horne (an energy and petroleum expert) explained what went wrong on Deepwater Horizon on that catastrophic night of April 20, 2010:

A very gassy kind of methane oil went onboard the rig. It entered into the engine room that led to electric overload and subsequently, ignition. The disaster was triggered by four major causes as follows: The cement job that was supposed to seal off the producing oil reservoir failed. Hydrocarbons entered the riser and went onboard. The gas ignited on the rig causing fire and power failure. The spill continued unabated until July 15, 2010 due to the malfunctioning of the BOP (blowout preventer) in sealing the well head (Horne, 2010).

Horne stressed that if only one of those major causes did not happen, the disaster could have been avoided (Horne, 2010). He emphasized that although the Negative Pressure Test (a standard procedure; a preventive measure in offshore drilling that should have been publicized to benchmark the practice) was constantly monitored, yet misunderstood by the alleged inexperienced crew on board (Horne, 2010).

Immediate Response

The first responder was a team from U.S. Coast Guard, who received a call from Rigs and Boats situated few miles away from the rig (Bazeley, 2010). This team was deployed in four (4) helicopters. In several interviews, the rescuers narrated they abruptly left their post of command bearing in mind to save 126 lives, and the injured were their utmost priority (Bazeley, 2010).

Approaching the rig, they saw the fire raging in all angles of Deepwater Horizon. The pilots can’t get close due to extreme heat and violent combustions ongoing (Bazeley, 2010). Some of the rescuers were even worried they might not be able to save everyone on board–because their helicopters can only carry 3 to 4 of the victims (Bazeley, 2010). When the Coast Guard rescuers finally got hold of 115 survivors, the seventeen injured were rushed to the closest medical facilities (Bazeley, 2010); while those unharmed had to stay with the rescuers who weren’t giving up searching for the missing 11 (Bazeley, 2010).

Meanwhile, Salvage team manager Ray Lord, who was featured in several documentary films, spoke of how their team struggle to identify what equipment to bring; what tools do they need; who to call to salvage the burning rig (Bazeley, 2010). In matters of disaster recovery though, someone in Lord’s position must have plans (at least one) in hand. Because the first hours of the disasters were so critical not just to the rescue operations and disaster recovery process, but to lives.

Independent Review of the Response

On the Final Report of the Incident Specific Prepared Review signed by the 24th Commandant of United States Coast Guard, Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., it stated that “Due to the severity of the spill, the complexity of response efforts, and the potential impact on public health and the environment, this incident required extraordinary coordination among Federal and State agencies, tribal organizations, local governments, and BP, the responsible party,” (ISPR Final Report, 2011).

The ISPR Final Report recommended a “thorough review of the standards to determine the adequacy of the private sector oil spill response capability,” (ISPR Final Report, 2011). Likewise, it recommended the need for better technologies on and offshore to address catastrophic blowouts and improved response protocols (ISPR Final Report, 2011). In its Executive Summary, it denounced any reports of disagreements between Coast Guard and BP (ISPR Final Report, 2011). The Final Report proudly attested that both parties collaborated effectively. And their good working relationship “benefitted the ability of the government to rapidly assess and adapt to new or unusual contingencies and develop innovative solutions for problems not previously experienced,” (Deepwater Horizon ISPR Final Report, 2011).

Lastly, the Final Report of the ISPR was highlighted by a bulleted of many revelations of lessons learned, which on top were deficiencies in planning and inadequate competencies. The report also attributed the indirect cause of the disaster to lack of full coordination by the responsible party (BP) and the government in drilling offshore. It was distributed on March 18, 2011.

Analysis of the Immediate Response and the ISPR Final Report

As a scholar of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuance, I am taught that “Today, security and the ability of an organization—regardless of size—to recover from a disaster situation is becoming uppermost in the minds of management for organizations” (Wells et al, 2007, pg. xvii). Furthermore, I am aware that the risks and or likelihood of “hurricanes, tsunamis, terrorism, and power outages,” (Wells et al, 2007, pg. xvii) are becoming more “apparent that organizations need to think the unthinkable,” (Wells et al, 2007, pg. xvii). Sadly, that’s not the case in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

The truth was, multi-billion dollar British Petroleum was not prepared at all. Although the Coast Guard attested that there was a contingency plan; and that it was merely deficient (Papp, 2011)–such assessment was questionable for three valid reasons: One, the ISPR Final Report was distributed March 18, 2011. That was too soon, in fact not even a year had pass after the disaster. To label the report as “final” was premature. Two, recovery efforts normally take years. It could have been acceptable, if the review was labeled “updated” instead of final, for risk assessment should have been ongoing, or at least until all facts were gathered; and or the case was closed. Three, the Coast Guard wasn’t so prepared either. In fact, the limitation of the rescue helicopters to three or four were evident that whatever they have be a tool or the knowledge, weren’t enough to fully respond to such disaster of colossal nature.

On assessing the readiness of the crew, all of the 126 employees should have known that evacuation is paramount to save lives, their respective lives. The Chief Mechanic on board should have taken the “call” to promptly initiate manual emergency warning—to give everyone on board a chance to survive.

Another instance that a responding team failed to exhibit full regards to life, was when the U.S. coast guard made the unharmed rig workers, stayed in the life boats while waiting for the 11 missing others (Bazeley, 2010). Because in making them stay in the life boats during the fire–and with the thought that eleven of their peers were still onboard–it was so traumatic! And in doing so, the rescue team exposed them to injury so punitive of character.

Moreover, importing firefighters from Holland wasn’t reasonable (Bazeley, 2010) if the team’s utmost goal was to save lives first before the rig. The rough estimation of Google was showing 1228 miles and more than 16 hours of air travel (Bazeley, 2010). Given the enormity of the disaster, it didn’t make sense to import rescue teams from another country due to the urgency of the need.

Notwithstanding those grave mistakes, one can evaluate the efficiency and effectivity of response through the conditions of the affected communities of the disaster. According to a scholarly written article, “Coastal residents did not experience significant onshore spill-related mortality or severe injury,” neither “shortages of survival needs, disruption of vital services (health care, schools, utilities, communications, and transportation), loss of homes, population displacement, destruction of the built environment, or loss of social supports. Initial acute economic losses were partially offset by large-sum BP payments for cleanup and recovery of the coastal economy,” (Schultz et al, 2015). But the credit also goes to the “Gulf Coast populations,” who displayed “remarkable resilience in the face of daunting challenges,” (Schultz et al, 2015).


The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is the first declared by the White House as Spill of National Significance (SONS). Eleven people died; while seventeen others were injured (ISPR Final Report, 2011). Last year, the District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana found BP guilty of eleven counts of manslaughter and awarded $4.5 billion for compensatory damages (Court Docket, 2015). In some reports, the estimated computation of all the damages and response/ recovery efforts amounted to roughly $100 billion. Thus, the impact could have been mitigated if there was a disaster recovery plan in place; or at least, all lives could have been saved–for the blowout wasn’t instant. The hydrocarbons that went onboard was due to leaks ongoing for a while. Sadly, to their own detriment, those rig workers who knew about the leak and spread of gas, have relied on a defective equipment and malfunctioning facilities for warnings (New York Times, 2010).

On a light note, if you are to compare the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to that of Exxon Valdez, you’d be relieved to know that the qualities of oil in those two infamous spills, are different. Apparently, the latter is more errant and vicious. In fact, in an article entitled the State of Gulf, the carcasses of bird from the two spills are compared:
“. . . during the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill accident, over ten times more oiled bird
carcasses were collected than during the DWH accident. In EVOS, over 35,000
bird carcasses were collected, an estimated 30,000 of which were oiled. In
contrast, the government has reported collecting 6,381 bird carcasses in the
Deepwater Horizon Spill response, of which 2,121 were confirmed as visibly
oiled” (The State of Gulf, 2014).

Personally, although I know BP has “paid” literally the consequences of its negligence; the fact that its name is becoming synonymous to oil spill, I hope that the U.S. government should be cautious in awarding contracts to companies whose name is present in major disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (BP was directly responsible) Exxon Valdez (BP was part of the consortium), and also in a smaller spill (in California) in between the two largest spills. For a reasonable person will never disregard the warnings of bad precedents. Although, in ISPR’s Final Report, the government is seemingly satisfied with the cleanup efforts of BP, many are not. For there are affected communities that are struggling to deal with the effects of the oil-stricken ecology in the Gulf of Mexico. And the totality of its environmental impact—-up and below the earth’s surface—-are still subject to further investigative, scientific works.

Take for example, the livelihood of various communities such as the seafood industry in Louisiana, and the number and quality of their fishing are still at its lowest ever recorded. Some catches are deformed; and who knows, some may not even make it to existence.

Because to date, no one can–and never can–exactly measure the true impacts (in entirety) of oil spills to Mother Earth. From the toxicity of oil to ecology (fishes are born with the weak hearts; shrimps are missing eyes), to the fumes of hydrocarbons spread all over the atmosphere (thinning the Ozone layer that is causing climate change), to the depleted oil reservoirs beneath the Earth’s surface–this planet is in jeopardy. Perhaps we should not wonder why there are earthquakes everywhere, hurricanes and storms are stronger than ever, deadly floods and tsunamis are inundating urban areas, while unprecedented wildfires are driving the neighborhoods in rural zones. For our dire dependency to oil–at the expense of this Earth we call home–comes at a price. We are responsible for the ongoing Armageddon.

Finally, I hope that the apparent “good working relationship” between the Coast Guard and BP, is just mere good working relationship; and not that kind of unholy alliance to cover each other from one blunder to another. Because disaster recovery is not about pointing fingers, nor finding the negligent to crucify on cross. But it’s about finding the truth, regardless if it is deficient, or inadequate, or dysfunctional. For the recovery teams and those who are responsible for their actions along with the communities and all stake holders, can fully and truthfully assess the risks, to create a comprehensive plan that will work against the likelihood of another disaster and or to mitigate the impacts.


Bazeley, Mark and Wael Dubbous. (2010). Oil Disaster: The Rig That Blew Up (2010).

Films for the Humanities & Sciences, & Films Media Group. (2010). Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Spill.

Horne, Roland. (2010). The Deepwater Horizon Disaster and Future Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Stanford University.

ISPR Team. (2011), BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Incident Specific Preparedness Review, Final Report.

Kanopy. (2015). Big Oil: In the Wake of Exxon Valdez.

New York Times. (2010). Final Moments on the Deepwater Horizon (An Interactive Feature).

Papp, Jr. Robert J. (2011). Memorandum. United Coast Guard.

Quinn, T., & Kanopy. (2015). Deepwater Disaster; The Untold Story (Horizon).

Shultz, J., Walsh, M., Garfin, L., Wilson, D., & Neria, R. (2015). The 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: The Trauma Signature of an Ecological Disaster. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 42(1), 58-76.

The Ocean Portal Team. (2015). Gulf Oil Spill. Smithsonian.

The State of Gulf. (2014). Comparison Between Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. TheStateofGulf.Com. Retrieved 26 April, 2016, from

Wells, April, Timothy Walker, Charlyne Walker and David Abarca. (2007). Security Disaster Recovery Principles and Practices. Pearson Prentice Hall.


Beyond Repair

Punitive Damages

If there is a beauty beyond compare; there are damages beyond repair – and they are called punitive damages.

Defined in our textbook, Business Law (Text and Cases, Twelfth Edition) as “. . . money or damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff to punish the defendant and deter future similar conducts,” (Miller & Cross 2013) punitive damages amounting to $185 million are awarded recently by the federal jury to Rosario Juarez, forty-three years old of San Diego, California and on the grounds of discrimination against her former employer, retailer AutoZone.


Juarez was employed by AutoZone in 2000. She was promoted in 2001 as parts sales manager. Noticing that were only 10 females holding non-store managerial positions in 98 outlets of the defendant–but not as store managers: She alleged that the AutoZone was discriminating and practicing glass ceiling.

Furthermore, Juarez believed that although the company promoted her as store manager in 2004, the discrimination continued–as her district manager repeatedly asked her to resign in 2005. Apparently, the latter stressed the possibility of her being unable to handle the demands of work, as she was pregnant. In 2007, although still employed, she filed discrimination complaints before the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Few months after, AutoZone terminated Juarez.

Regardless, Inside Counsel Breaking News correspondent, Juliana Kenny writes:

A federal court jury ruled that the discrimination, retaliation, and harassment
against Juarez had been “severe and pervasive,” unanimously finding that she
had been discriminated against and fired because of her pregnancy, and the
verdict in favor of Juarez included an award of $250,000 for emotional distress,
as well as a $185 million judgment in punitive damages against AutoZone.


The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination on the base of color, gender, race, age, disability (American Disability Act), and religion.


Finally, what I find ludicrous in this case, the defense counsels representing AutoZone are reportedly negotiating for $1 M instead of $185 M of punitive damages and on top the $872,000 compensatory damages. I am not sure what calculators those esquires are using; and where they base their “out-of-the blue” calculations. Shouldn’t it be clear, punitive damages come into two-folds; “to punish the defendant and deter future similar conducts” of willful or reckless wrongdoings? I don’t get it. Wrong! The “low-lows” don’t get it.


Kenny, Juliana. (2015). Landmark Sum of Punitive Damages in Gender Discrimination Case to Settle Soon. Inside Counsel Breaking News, Inside Counsel Breaking News, March 17, 2015.

Miller, Roger LeRoy & Frank B. Cross. (2013). Business Law, Alternate Twelfth Edition. Retrieved from

Stoneburner, Christina. (2014, November 19). $185 Million Punitive Damages Against AutoZone: How Did They Get There? Mondaq Business Briefing, p. Mondaq Business Briefing, Nov 19, 2014.

Just Write

20130320-032352.jpgIf you think clear, you can write!” William Zinsser

The saddest thought for us, writers, is to think that no one would ever read our writing. However, why entertain thoughts that pull us down, when we can think of beautiful things to lift our spirits? Because it is very critical for us, to have the confidence and clear minds each time we write, and just as the William Zinsser emphasizes on his New York Bestseller’s, On Writing Well.

20130320-032428.jpg Personally, being an avid fan of writing, I read a lot of autobiographies of famous writers. Ironically, a lot of big names in writing and literature, either died of sickness triggered by depression or anxieties (or both), or by suicide–thinking no one was reading their works anymore and fame have abandoned them. To name one, was Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 to 1961), but there were a lot more, like Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter Thompson, even the great Edgar Allan Poe died committing suicide. Some of those suicidal deaths were not even published. However, in respect to our profession (as well as to the departed souls), I won’t delve on how they died. Rather, on the WHY or the reason for taking their own lives–fame (or the death of it) was the common denominator for most of those suicide cases.


A friend (a poet and a fellow blogger too) led me to write this essay. He wasn’t too happy yesterday of his readership. So, I told him, “You know what? You are better than any “wanna bes” out there. Just keep writing! Because you are doing good.” And I mean it; I sincerely do. Actually, my readership is not even a quarter of his. In addition, there are some who can’t even construct a sentence, and he’s not like that (not even an inch closer). In fact, his poems are poignant that too often I find myself sniffing, sometimes, even sobbing (seriously, I did, and for so many times). Nonetheless, if you are on the same boat, I suggest that you finish reading this post, and keep this in mind.

Regardless, if you’re writing or not, or you are writing professionally or not, you can’t rest your happiness on anyone. You shouldn’t even let anyone define your happiness. For more than writing, your well-being matters. However, if writing is your passion, just write with all your heart. If writing is what you do for a living: then you can’t let emotions get in the way of you performing your work. If you are writing for fun: but you aren’t happy with how things are going, then stop! That’s how simple it should be! Because you shouldn’t clog your minds of unhealthy thoughts. Again, more than writing, your well-being matters the most.

Therefore, when you write: Just be confident! Always clear your minds (and vacuum all those unhealthy thoughts away), just as Zinsser remind every writer to do so. Value your readers, but don’t let readership haunt you. Because part of being a writer, is to be creative, but it’s impossible to be creative, if you would “box” yourself, and limit your thoughts with just pleasing your readers. For doing so, you are depriving your writing of your own voice and style. Moreover, we, writers, have to be open minded, optimistic, and imaginative as possible. Most importantly, we shouldn’t think of fame; never think of fame! For many writers like Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson, they didn’t even knew they’d be famous. They just kept writing and remained loyal to their passion until their passing.

Lastly, think clear, and have the confidence each time you hit the keyboard. Write as if you are writing your first love letter; and talk as if it’s your last hour on earth. Bottom line: Think clear, and just write!