Friday, June 24, 2016

Are we doomed due to politics? Are you progressive, conservative, rightwing, leftwing, wings of desire? What if MLK and Gandhi are alive these days?

IS it just Facebook? I don't know. Are we human beings really doomed as hell? Just in case our chosen political leader didn't make it? What if Donald Trump wins? Or Hillary Clinton? Will ONE president make a country what it is? Really? People show disgust and frustration with the system--online. Why do we instead go out there and usher change right in our community?

          Check this out. Bell Chere is gone. Lex Av Art Fest is gone. What do we have for a community convergence? Festivals that are reeking with alcohol. Our neighbor got shot yet do we talk over dinner? No, we don't because you may serve antibiotics from an Ingles meat. And then we post, "Namaste! Let us heal!" on Facebook! Hallelujah! Post a cool blues/rock gig, 55 will like it but only 5 will show up. Post a beautiful butterfly in nirvana, get 155 likes. Post how great life is because heaven is all in our heads--and that meme of the Himalayas. You'll get 255 likes. All those 410 who "liked" you plus more will show up again in your next Facebook talking cat/holy be thy rainbow post first thing in the morning. A Universe of Likes!
          Whoever wins as next president, life moves on as is. Cyd The Koolcat and Georgia The Babedawg don't care as long as they're fed on time. Food stamps will be given out and wheat bread will be sold irrelevant you supported Bernie, Hillary, Trump or Eric Clapton. Why can't we simply say, "Ah!" And start brainstorming something awesome for one and all this summer? That, we can do that, whoever sits in power. Because it's us the people who will it, not Bruce Springsteen The President. Politics sucks and those who glorify it? I don't know. Chill. Loosen some fibers and get naked (in the tub, I mean) and say more, "Ahhh!" Now I gotta go get Mexican lunch. Fried pescado/veracruz fish and sweet rice.

PEOPLE leaning towards the Democrats (or progressive bloc or leftist mindset) are still fighting as the Republican camp watches in quiet glee. I don't think the Dems will make any effort to convince or persuade the current GOP supporter/voters to their side, no. They call them idiots. And some are even proposing that Bernie runs as an Independent or with another party. Sad. I don't think it's about the candidates or parties anymore—now it have evolved into people's individual takes on stuff. Yes indeed, two warring camps of the Dems are knocking each other out. Let's do the math: The Dems/Hillary are losing possible votes—while maybe the GOPs (in the light of Trump's softer stand in re Republican leadership) are building up their fort for November.

          I remember the fight between two forces in the Organized Left back home: the Rejectionists and Reaffirmists. It eventually spelled the downfall of the Left. But we were not talking about elections. We were talking about a segment of society—but a segment that are valuable as fiscalizers and change-movers. So whoever was elected as President, the progressives treated the chasm as a way to reflect inward—since we are all Filipinos, that's the truth and our country is the Philippines. The country has improved since then yet we are still working things out. At least we are not begging for dough from IMF anymore.
          What bothers me about some people, in the light of Bernie Sanders' nomination loss is how people show hatred against America as their country. I don't think it is right to be ashamed of one's country just because some don't favor a President. When I left my country in 1998, I was angry of the new administration—as I was angry most of my adult life with the Martial Law-propelled dictatorship. But that anger was fired up by my love for my country. Never in my career as a journalist and activist that I felt ashamed of being a Filipino. The Philippines wasn't Ferdinand Marcos as America isn't Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. America are Americans.
          The world is watching and the world isn't dumb. I don't think that an American who struts around the streets of Toulouse, France mumbling “Oh how I hate my country!” will be embraced by the French as their own. Show us how good and brilliant you are as an American—I don't care about your President. Then you will be part of any piece of sociocultural geography you wanna be. Same way as how the media malign the Philippine president-elect. I don't care about what Newsweek says. I care about my people and my country. I am sure if President Rodrigo Duterte starts reincarnating as the despots of the past, Filipinos will be out on the streets again to kick him out. Meantime, Filipinos will always be Filipinos irrelevant who sits in the Palace.

          I love America for what it is as I love the Philippines for the way it is. Like family. I will fight for my family no matter how I argue/d with my dad. Wherever I or we end up, we will always be seen as American or Filipino. We cannot change that. So instead of fighting, why don't we sit down and work things out for the betterment of the collective community and entire nation? When the smokes of elections have simmered and gone, it all boils down to an America to, by and for Americans. Not the Republicans and Democrats anymore. A politician, or political party or a fraction of a nation doesn't make a country—it is the people's majority voice that counts. 
          Yet if we will always question election outcomes in a democratic system—then we will always question stuff and things that don't go our way. I don't like the new president back home but it's the people's will that did it. That's just the way life goes. The people. If I believe that the people who voted for the person that I didn't like need reeducation so the next time they vote a leader, they'd choose better—then I will start regrouping on that end. Advocate and convince and show by example. But I will not call them “idiots.” I may just end up with a bloody nose if I do that. I know how to do it. But I digress.

SOMETHING tells me or asks me, what if Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King or any of the venerated human beings that we love to anchor goodness and greatness--are alive today and then running for political office? Would people be praising them? Or we also diss and ridicule them in social media just like politicians and personalities these days? In my time, saying bad things about superiors, leaders or plain neighbors was subject to reprimand. Many times I was a witness to many gatherings in a cafe or community hall where some people act a little too intensely and started cussing at whoever is on the mic, so they are kicked out automatically and later banned from entering the premises again. 
          Yet in social media people openly and blatantly say whatever they wanna say and make fun of those they apparently don't like and even post incorrect infos that malign individuals and groups, ideologies, religion and cultures. And when some are suspended etc they howl in protest. "A basic human right has been violated!" Back then, it wasn't easy to get published. Even a "mere" letter to the editor or 2-minute spot on live radio had to be screened/edited and/or prearranged.
          These days we are blessed by a wonderful privilege to speak our mind out about stuff and things short or long. We can also freely share new birthday photos of our dog and cat and whatever we had for dinner, side by side with our opinion about a city Mayor's program or a new blockbuster movie--without going through tedious processes. One click, done. Yet we abuse it. We are such spoiled brats. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

On the subject of the November presidential election.

TOO much hatred on Facebook. And outside of it. But am I going to shut the door and avoid social media? No. I need to know what's on people's minds, no matter how harsh and foul, than not to know what's going on. Offline, I've been talking with older citizens of this country—and we share the same fear. People simply hate people these days. I am flabbergasted how those who categorically say if you post something religious (Bible verse or whatever), you are out of one's Facebook. Same people who unfriend people just because they don't agree about current presidential candidates. You are out because you don't like my candidate. You are not my friend because you don't sing with my choir? And these come from mostly people who call themselves progressives or activists. That is not activism to me. That is a very one-dimensional take at things. So instead of bridging gaps, we widen them. 
          I am not angry. I am writing/talking the way that I've been all through my life. And I don't shut it if I deem something has to be said.

IN 1999, when the hardcore activists waged a battle in Seattle against the World Trade Organization's (WTO) economic globalization program, not many were talking. Then China went in following its embrace of open-door policy (following the Tiananmen Square tempest in 1989) and so this is the world now, according to Beijing. Meanwhile Russia, the world's number #1 producer of oil, entered WTO as well in 2012. Due to globalization, most of what we consume in America are coming outside of this country, and labored by people in mostly third world economies. The Bernie Sanders camp should have learned after the Occupy din went silent, and groundworked the American mass—especially those who gravitate to Donald Trump, instead of calling them idiots. Groundworking/advocating beyond the choir is old school activism/advocacy. Yet it was effective and it always worked.
           We went deep into urban poor lairs and countryside/small towns and talked to people—while we forged tactical alliance with the middle class and the sympathizing rich. That was the activism that I knew. There was hope when the Occupy Movement gathered people. They could have used that massive throng to carry on and then reeducate the public vis a vis elections. I don't think Trump is the answer and I don't Bernie is either to America's woes. I don't know if Hillary is. America is very fragmented right now and Washington, both camps, are worried. China now has a WB/IMF counterpart and some European countries are joining in. Russia may rule OPEC. And South China Sea (where Foxconn, the largest manufacturer of our e-baubles, is located) and where regional security is utmost vis a vis global terrorism is holding forth. A US president who works around that, will be the effective one.

I WOULD like to gladly educate (or inform) my dearest friend, who is obviously a rabid Republican, not to fear or sound alarm that a socialist president will most likely turn America into a Third World nation. Here are six rich countries that somehow follow certain socialism tenets: Norway, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Denmark. Then there is China, which uses the basis of socialism: the state controls everything for the benefit of the people with the absence of any real democracy. They are of course fast becoming a very rich superpower in a quaint mix of socialism and state-planned semi-free capitalism. Then there is Russia, the Numero Uno producer of crude oil globally. To illustrate how rich Russia is--the max salary of a WNBA player in the US is $250,000. In Russia, it's $5 million.
         Moreover, the countries that I enumerated above, for long periods during their ascent as a modern democracy, social democrats have had a large influence on their legislation and government policy. As a result, certainly by American standards, these countries can be considered socialist. They tend to favor government influence or regulation over free market dynamics. They're all in the top twenty of the world's richest nations.
Yet I still maintain that whatever a president's sociopolitical agenda is—socialism, democracy, donut freedom—if the people don't abide by it or this mode of governance doesn't gain public support, that administration will fall. I don't need to cite historical records.
         So there!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

More talk. The work not the worker, the art not the artist. Future shocking. Political candidates and political platforms.

THE work, not the worker; the art, not the artist. I was once chastised why the dafuq I entertain myself with work by people whose personal views supposedly run counter with mine? Immediate examples that come to mind: Clint Eastwood, a devout conservative GOP; and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Southern rockers that spout the same rightist views; and my so-called trailer park homeys with so-called “redneck” demeanor.

          My response: “Mr Eastwood is an actor and filmmaker, and I like his work; appreciation of work is always subjective. The Skynyrds' music are a lot more enjoyable than most leftist blues rockers, but that's just my opinion. My redneck homeys are people, we don't debate confederate army stuff, we just laugh together and we treat ourselves as friends, with or without apps—they are around when I need them, and vice versa.” There are many “idols” whose work are immensely adored timelessly and glorified in august halls yet their personal lives (or some chapters of their life's journey) don't seem to conjure positive vibes... Ernest Hemingway was a known alcoholic and hothead; and does anybody know that Mohandas K. Gandhi kept a harem of young village ladies; or when JFK exuded leadership strength, he was also swimming in shady sexual dalliances; or genius mathematician John Nash was a schizophrenic etc etc.

         Who cares about shit, as long as they don't break laws—that's fine with me. A Tea Party damsel or a Dem zealot are as “good” as a Christian or Buddhist to me. Political views, right or left, don't make people evil. Alcoholism and bad-tempers and “womanizing” are personal demons that people struggle with; it's their shit... Some are “sick” when the camera isn't rolling but we all have “madnesses.” We all wrestle with private Armageddons—clinical, genetic, acquired or “experimented.” No matter how weird or “sick” some individuals may seem to some people—we just look at them on the basis of what they do beyond, they are not gods. We all work around our nagging imperfections, squeezing mightily out of our darknesses... Some may think I am a cool guy because of what I ramble and rant here: I am not, actually. I am a narcissistic jerk with a passion and intensity that match a wayward buffalo. At least, I do some cool shit—like cook awesome soups and give real hot foot massage.

WHY is it—it seems so hard to connect the past to the present, these days? It is because the world—and life and living—has changed so much and so fast. In his book “Future Shock,” published in 1970, Alvin Toffler defined a future where there is too much change in too short a period of time, that humanity's psychological state may not be able to cope up... Actually, we can—if we try to at least, go back to the past. Yet it has become so difficult or painstaking to explain these to the young whose truths gained ground at a time when information/computer technology flourished and moved the universe in quicksilver overload. But those who lived the past have concrete basis of comparison; those who worked around typewriters and one phone for 2,000 people and widespread public transports etc etc. These were the tools that moved families, communities and societies...

          I have 5,000 friends on Facebook (I don't Tweet) but a mere chunk of that ocean of “humans” actually know me or have met me in person. I try to meet some--by offering good stuff like food/cooking, free shows etc that were traditionally offered in friendship long time ago—but it is never easy as it was. There are a number of people here that I consistently “chat” with but I don't even know their real name, why is that? We don't even necessarily see real faces or photos in the current time.
         Back in the days, as writers and artists, we knew each other--even if we carry pseudonyms in our bylines (we reveal our identities to editors and friends). When we say "friends," that means a real name ("The name is Bond, James Bond"). Before, when you say "meeting," we don't repeat the invite many times, only once will do—and people show up. These days we post the invite 100 times a month amidst all the traffic of infos that flood the laptop screen or Smartphone viewer... So instead of remembering, we forget. We forget because there are so many to remember, or filter.

          Yes, there are many infos here that we could probably find good use for, but the problem is—which are the ones that are credible, “true” facts or just sent by some wacko blogger or a nerd 14-year old trying to amuse himself in the confines of his warm shell? We may even photoshop a photo and it will look like it was the real deal. It's dangerous, it's distant, it's suspicious. That is why I insist that the only way to do this is--maximize the outside world, go back to the past, and let the internet galaxy just be a complement, a one-click, short attention distraction, entertainment. As what Mr Toffler inferred or suggested (same with Orwell, Atwood, Vonnegut etc and movies like The Matrix, Transformers etc), if we don't control the machine, the machine will control us. The machine "controls" us these days by continually feeding us a crisscrossing onslaught of fancy and awesome stuff and things online. One second, gone. Next distraction coming up... The kick: Business rules the internet; hence, “controls” us. How do we cushion the punch? Go out.

SAD. When people say or infer, what is the point of looking at (or analyzing) political platforms of political candidates when these don't work anyway or these are lies anyhow. Where do we go from here? So what we do is justify the bickerings and negativity in the internet in regards all these prospective leaders? Are we saying these because we actually don't care whoever wins because it's all sham and bullshit anyway? This defeatism and resignation is more than apathy and insensitivity. It means we don't mind who sits there as long as we have roof over our heads and the other one doesn't? Is this what we call relevant activism? Who is winning here? That is scary? The one winning is the One Percent who actually/maybe implanted that in our psyche--so they can continue to frolic while we are looking the other way.

          In the 90s, back home in the Philippines, I sat with a respected team of political/economic thinkers to help (the late) Sen. Roco's first presidential campaign. The country wasn't as bad as the last years of the Marcos regime that time. There were good stuff--we just have to carry on “rebuilding” and believing. I believed my candidate was the best among those who ran. Yet Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who was later on disgraced out of power, lopsidedly won. In time, after I left the country, I realized why we lost. Elections aren't about the best person--it is about winning. It is about slogans and one-liner blurbs and speeches that instigate applause. Yet that was only the surface of leader/people nation-building. Next and the most important is how the people work to make sure that what we were promised are delivered. A leader meanwhile had to work around powerful variables while seated--especially how to work around a usually divided Congress and the influence of the corporate One Percent. It's either they give in or they don't. That is a historical fact.
          But if our stand say, “What dafuq? They are all assholes anyway! Let me just enjoy my basketball game and tinapa,” we aren't going anywhere. Deadend. Sadly, that is also the thinking in America. People gravitate to Trump because of utter disgust and resignation. So they are willing to “install” a leader on the virtue of a “battlecry” without really looking at what he's gonna do when he's finally in the Oval Office. Is this just social media or this is actually happening? If so, the more that I want to go old-school and feel the pulse of the people out there. Those whose houses are blown away by typhoons and subsist on whatever that they can scrounge and yes no internet privilege. Sometimes I think we have become so comfortable that our only response to misery out there is induced numbness. We don't care because we are alright. There is no Great Depression and there is no Martial Law-level grief. We got cellphones and wi-fi and cable TV and food on the table. So let's continue making fun of all these leaders online while the One Percent watch happy as hell. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Just Talking Again. Educate the "Illiterate"? Abuse or Support?

SOME people say, the only way to awaken people up from the stupor of supporting a demagogue politician is to educate them. True. But first we have to look deeper why do these “illiterate” people gravitate to whoever their favored candidate is. People are upset or disappointed with the system. They believe only a privilege few are benefitting from a government's effort/s. Hence, before we bat for a good educational system, governments (as well as nonprofit organizations) should find a way how feed people first or give them jobs to feed and house themselves. It is impossible to educate hungry people whose priority is food to mouth. Their brains will find it hard to respond to such a system of learning.

          Who are voting for Trump? Small town folks who lost their jobs in mining towns and paper companies, sent their kids to war, couldn't get health insurance especially after these soldiers lost a limb and/or their mind. And then when they get their food stamps (if ever), all they see are Chinese products in retail stores. We can't educate people who don't have time to sit and listen to a 10-page rhetoric that they have grown skeptical with anyway. Gather them to a community hall and educate them what is racism, political correctness, gender sensitivity and environmental awareness? Those are good and noble. But once you knock on people's doors, expect this query: “Is this a job market seminar? Are you giving us jobs? If not, we don't have time for all this educational bullshit." You see, the word "education" to a poor person these days is sometimes called "elitism."

ABUSE and SUPPORT. I notice these days that whenever a friend (partner, parent, teacher etc) reminds another friend of repeated wrongdoings or simply neglect or errors that tend to cloud the latter's potentials and promises, the former is automatically labelled “abusive.” So what is the opposite of “abuse”? Maybe “support”? So if a friend ignores another friend's failures and instead joins in the latter's drinking, weed-smoking, and partying—then that is “support”? So we can do whatever we want because that is called “independence to be one's self,” right? Let them be themselves, don't restrict them—it's their right to be themselves. Okay.

         Meanwhile, how do you remind a person to clean up his/her act? With a soft voice of love? Or an irritated tone of frustration? I don't know. Voice of love, tone of frustration—if these are coming from someone who took time to excise such energy, then that is concern if not love. Because who cares... Who cares but those who actually care. Yet when someone is doing fine, do we expect a sound of annoyance from the person reacting? Of course not. Everything's fine anyway.
         As for me, I got my own set of faults and flaws and it's okay to be reminded of all these by close friends, ex'es, mom and dad, older sis, editors, teachers, and superiors. It was hard hearing them, of course. Yet I don't think they were abusive. I never thought my dad's prolonged sermons on my face many years ago were abusive. They were not. And he wasn't an Abusive Rightwing Bigot either, LOL! My dad and those around me (who knew what was going on) were concerned but they were also frustrated. But although I was called lazy and stubborn and disrespectful and arrogant, I've never been called dumb, idiot, stupid or douchebag by any of those people. Namecalling people those words is what I call abusive. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The “problem” of food? Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Men think about sex more than women, really? The young's living woes. Simple, online banking start-up. China's working class might, crumbling?

THE “problem” of food. Is there really such a problem? This freaks me out. Nobody gets “hungry” in this Western part of the universe... In the UK as much as 30 percent of vegetable crops are not harvested due to their failure to meet retailers' exacting standards on physical appearance, it says, while up to half of the food that is bought in Europe and the US is thrown away by consumers. As much as half of all the food produced in the world – equivalent to 2billion tons – ends up as waste every year, engineers warned in a recent report. The UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) blames the "staggering" new figures in its analysis on unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free and consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, along with "poor engineering and agricultural practices,” inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities... I remember the days when whatever that was served on dinner table had to be eaten—no complaints, no excuses, no qualms whatsoever—and no speck of rice grain left on my plate... 

LONG come coming. Once thought to be exclusively biologically-based, psychiatric research now looks to social and cultural factors to explain and find treatments for schizophrenia. The side effects of antipsychotics are not very pleasant. While they damp down the horrifying hallucinations that can make someone’s life a misery, it is not as if the drugs restore most people to the way they were before they fell sick. How many more gruesome crimes—perpetrated by mental psychosis—are going to pummel society's fiber for us to realize that it's not just medications that bog down each time a person goes deadly... To signal how much psychiatry had changed since its tweedy psychoanalytic days, the National Institute of Mental Health designated the 1990s as the “decade of the brain.” Psychoanalysis and even psychotherapy were said to be on their way out.

A COUPLE of evolutionary psychologists recently published a book about human sexual behavior in prehistory called “Sex at Dawn.” Evolutionary psychologists who study mating behavior often begin with a hypothesis about how modern humans mate: say, that men think about sex more than women do. Then they gather evidence — from studies and statistics — to support that assumption. Finally, and here’s where the leap occurs, they construct an evolutionary theory to explain why men think about sex more than women. Blahblahblah.. Men do talk and brag and—and anchor their macho fixation—via a flood of sex talk. Problem is, when it is already happening, one shot—blam!--the talk fizzles out to limped surrender. This, while the woman is just warming up.

WE already see so many young college graduates toiling on wait staff and blue collar jobs, just barely earning enough to pay rent, put gasoline on their cars and attend to student loan debt. And the woes aren't about to ease up. There's a growing body of evidence suggesting that today’s young adults are also drowning in credit-card debt — and that many of them will take this debt to their graves. More than three-quarters of renters between the ages of 18 and 24 spend more than they earn every month, according to a survey of 1,000 renters (of all ages) by This is the case even though 17 percent of respondents in that age bracket say they’re willing to live with roommates to save money. More than 20 percent overspent their income by more than $100. That’s every single month. And since they haven’t built up their credit histories yet, it’s a safe bet that these young adults are paying relatively high interest rates on the resulting credit card debt.

SIMPLE is an online banking start-up company based in Portland, Ore., that offers its customers free checking accounts and data-rich analysis of their transactions and spending habits. Co-founder  Josh Reich, a software engineer from Australia, started the outfit, with Shamir Karkal, after Josh decided enough is enough with banks that charge overdraft fees and who endure painful customer service calls to fight them. Reich is confident that Simple’s minimalist approach — it promises not to charge any fees for any services — will draw fans and customers. Two years ago, company has already signed up 20,000 and has processed transactions worth more than $200 million. I hoping the Big Guys don't take a liking with Simple and buy it out.

ARE the Chinese transforming into a white collar nation—sliding away from its vaunted working class might? Guangzhou, a city of 15 million, is the hub of a manufacturing region where factories make everything from T-shirts and shoes to auto parts, tablet computers and solar panels. These days, however, many factories are desperate for workers, despite offering double-digit annual pay increases and improved benefits. Still, these don't suffice. Factory jobs don't offer much future. Millions of recent college graduates in China want higher salaries. Hence, an imbalance ensues. Jobs go begging in factories while many educated young workers are unemployed. A recent national survey of urban residents showed that among people in their early 20s, those with a college degree were four times as likely to be unemployed as those with only an elementary school education. With factories crumbling, this could be the downfall of China...