Friday, April 29, 2005

Darth Vader's Blog

A pretty hilarious blog. I just read the first few entries so far so good. The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster Of course you need to be familiar with Lord Vader to appreciate the humor. The blog has links to several other Star Wars articles and links, a few which I pasted below: The case for the Empire Darth Vader Grotesque Enjoy

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

New Poll: The prophecy of St Malachy

I have just added a tag board and a new poll to the blog. This should be interesting. The new poll is about St Malachy and The Prophecy of the Popes.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Benedict the XVI

As I am writing this essay the new Pope, Benedict XVI, is celebrating his inaugural mass. According to the newscaster, this mass indicates the beginning of this Pope's reign. It has been almost a week since Cardinal Ratzinger was elected to be the successor of St Peter, the Archibishop of Rome, the Holy Father, The Pastor of the Roman Catholic Faith. And by the time several articles and programs would have come out about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who is now Pope Benedict XVI. I would like to focus on two issues that have come up with the ascndancy of Cardinal Ratzinger. The first issue deals with the conservatism of the new Pope. Ratzinger has been described as a conservative's conservative. His critics call him the Pope's "Grand Inquisitor" or God's Rottweiler. Ratzinger was appointed by Pope John Paul II as prefect to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or CDF, one of the oldest and most active congregations of the Roman Curia. Its job was to oversee the Roman Catholic Church doctrine and in the ages past it was known as the congregation in charge of the Inquisition. The congregation was established on the 21st of July 1542 by Pope Paul III, it was then called Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition and its task was to defend and maintain the faith and to examine and proscribe false doctrines and errors. According to JP II, its task was to promote and afegurard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world. Understandably the liberal Catholics seemed to be disappointed with God's Rottweiler as assuming the role of Pope. But I would not be too hasty to pre-judge Benedict XVI. BenedictXVI is a theologian and academician before he became the prefect of the CDF. His choice of name indicates the direction where he wants to take his pontificate. But perhaps we should be aware that he may be referring to not only Benedict XV but also Benedict XIV. Benedict XV is best known for his efforts seek the end to World War I during his time. Benedict XIV, who as Cardinal Lambertini was the head of the Inquisition, believed that the Church needed to use argument and rationality to deal with the world, where Christians were increasing to be a minority. In this spirit, Cardinal Lambertini corresponded continuosly with the lead philospher of the French Enlightenment, Voltaire. This dialogue continued when Cardinal Lambertini became Benedict XIV. And it would seem that Cardinal Ratzinger seems to hold this view of the necessity of dialouge. According to Harold James, author of the book "Europe Reborn" and Princeton University professor, in his article ,"A Pope devoted to dialogue on values", since last year Ratzinger had actively participated in a debate with the leading European secular rationality philosopher Jurgen Habermas. Despite what the critics this Pope might just surprise us. (Post script) I just finished viewing and listening to the first mass of Pope Benedict XVI and his message was not disappointing. Rather than say outright what his platform of government was he explained his ministry with the symbolism of the pallium and the fisherman's ring. The second issue is the preoccupation with the supposed prophecy of St Malachy. St Malachy's prophecy of the pope is a list of 112 short latin phrases supposedly describing each of the Roman Catholic popes and a few anti-popes from Pope Celestine II, who was elected in 1143. The list ends with Petrus Romanus, whose reign as pope will end with in the destruction of the city of Rome and the Last Judgement. The exact motto reads like this - "In persecutione extrema S.R.E. sedebit Petrus Romanus, qui pascet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis ciuitas septicollis diruetur, & Iudex tremêdus iudicabit populum suum. Finis." (During the final persecution, the seat of the Holy Roman Church will be occupied by Peter the Roman, who will feed the sheep in many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed, and the terrible Judge will judge his people. The End.) Pope Benedict XVI is supposed to be "Gloria Olivae" the last Pope before Petrus Romanus. Then again those who have interpreted St Malachy's prophecy differ on how to interpret this: First, Petrus Romanus is the last Pope and the world will end when his reign ends Second, Petrus Romanus and Gloria Olivae are the same pope, since these last two popes are not numbered. Third, There may be a number of popes between and after Gloria Olivae and Petrus Romanus As you can see the prophecy differs from interpreter to interpreter. The prophecy was first published in 1595 by a Benedictine historian Arnols de Wyon in his book Lignum Vitae. According to Wyon, the list of future Popes was made in 1139 by the Bishop of Armagh (in Ireland) Saint Malachy when he was summoned by Pope Innocent II. St Malachy allegedly experienced a vision of future popes, which he recorded as a sequence of cryptic Latin phrases. This manuscript was then deposited in the Roman Archive, and thereafter forgotten about until rediscovered in 1590. Interestingly, St Malachy's biographer Bernard of Clairvaux never mentions this. Nor are prophecies mentioned in any record prior to its 1595 publication. Critics further observed the prophecy's pronouncements or mottos fit all the popes elected before the document was first published. The critics further state that whatever whatever similarities exist between tall popes elected after 1595 and their mottos are due to coincidence and the mottos' vagueness, that is to say that the later prophecies are prone to confirmation bias and postdiction: post-shadowing, prediction after the fact and retroactive clairvoyance - the use hindsight to prove that a prediction occured. I have no doubt that friends and people who will read this will have arguments for and against the authencity of the prophecy of Malachy. To me it is irrelevant for consider the what Jesus said when he concluded the parable of the ten bridesmaids, "Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Book Curses

Stumbled upon a website called Litera Scripta and found a set of Medieval book curses - for those who have been victims of people not returning borrowed books or worse, people whose collections have disappeared with malice, a few phrases on the book plate might convinced would be book robbers of not doing the crime. The first set of curses, concise and effective. Thys boke is one And God's curse another They that take the one God geve them the other. He who steals this book may he die the death may he be frizzled in a pan... Or one for the whole collection For him that Stealeth a Book from this Library, Let it change into a Serpent in his hand & rend him. Let him be struck with Palsy, & all his Members blasted. Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy,Let there be no Surcease to his Agony till he sink to Dissolution. Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, When at last he goeth to his final Punishment, Let the flames of hell consume him for ever & aye. They may be effective as a the curse found on the entrance of each pyramid, nearly all tombs of the Pharoahs were plundered. Personally, I think hiding your books would be a far better strategy. But it might give pause to any book robber contemplating pillage on ones books.

Monday, April 18, 2005

History from movies and books

I just finished reading Tom Holland's book entitles, "Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic". It tells of the different events that led to the demise of Republic and the rise of Roman Empire. An informative and enjoyable read. After reading the book, I had to view again Stanley Kubrik's Spartacus and as much as I enjoy parts of the film I began to note down the facts and characters that were creatively embellished. The movie was adapated from Howard Fast's novel of the same name (?) and I wonder did Mr Fast remain true to the story of Spartacus? So much so for learning history from movies. But then again history is also not that accurate since history is written by the winner. The last Plantagenet Richard III was demonized by historians and writers from the Elizabethean period that he is widely remembered as hunch-backed monster who killed his own nephews. Even most of his portraits depicts him as such. In fact Richard III was not that foul-shaped(he was not a hump backed) and there may be doubts that he killed his nephews, or at least his rival Henry was as bad as him. There is even a society , called Richard III Society, dedicated to redeeming the reputation of Richard III. In the end I think its up to the reader to peruse books and movies with a questioning eye. For history books aside from the facts more they also showcase a particular point of view and for movies they are there to inspire and entertain.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Earthquake scare

Yesterday, a lot of people became worried when they received a prediction, by email or text, about a cataclysmic earthquake that was suppose to happen at around 5:00 pm. The prophesied temblor did not come. What did come was a call from folks and relatives asking me to come down from my building before five. My workplace is located on the 42nd floor of the PhilAm Tower building in Makati. At the time of the call I was already near my domicile safe and secure. I told the people who warned me that although their concern was much appreciated their faith in an unnamed seer, nun or otherwise, whose warning was dispersed by email, text and phone call was unfounded. The next day, I read Alex Villafania's article that reported Philvolcs rebuffed the psychic warning about the temblor. I just smiled and remembered what one person told me, "At least safe ka kahit na hoax." Again I just smiled but then again she was right. We live in an area called the pacific ring fire, zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions . Around 81% of the largest earthquake happen within this ring of fire. Since 1589, the Philippines has been struck by around 42 destructive earthquakes. The first earthquake recorded was on June 21, 1589 its epicenter was in Manila and its Mercalli Intensity Scale, , was VIII (- at this level it would be difficult to stand and cause considerable damage to poorly built ordinary structures. And noticed by persons driving motor cars). Prophecy or not it is prudent to be aware of what to do in case of an earthquake or eathquake related phenomen. In the early 1990s, my Father a geophysicist compiled a list of do's and don’ts in case an earthquake or quake related phenomenon like tsunamis (tidal waves) and landslide occurs. Each has a before, during and after section. I thought this might welcome information to everyone living or visiting the Philippines and any other place located within the ring fire. What to do in case of an earthquake: Before the earthquake - Get informed. Find out all you can about quakes and related disasters. Study your environment. Support community programs aimed at preparing for earthquakes. These include assessing the safety of buildings; strengthening public structures; and preparing evacuation plans. Check your home for potential earthquake risks. Anchor to walls shelves, cabinets and other unstable fixtures and appliances. Large and heavy objects must be placed on lower shelves. heavy, hanging objects must be secured. Conduct earthquake drills. During the earthquake - Above all be calm. Do not panic. If you are indoors, stay there. Get under a desk or heavy piece of furniture. Do not run outside as you risk injury dye to falling objects or electrocution. If you are in a high-rise building, find a table or similar fixture - which can be your shield against falling objects. Don't bother with stairways since these may be broken or jammed with people. If you are caught inside an elevator, keep calm and wait until help comes. If you are in a crowded public place like the market, do not rush out of it. Other people may have the same idea and a stampede may occur. Quakes usually last for only about a minute so there is actually no time to run outside while the ground shakes. If outside, stay away from building walls, electric posts and fallen electrical wires. If at home, turn of the main electrical switch and gas stove. After the earthquake - Before you start checking whether or not your family members have been injured, check your house for beginning fires. These can start from the broken gas lines or electrical short circuit.Check your family members for injuries and apply first aid Check your kitchen utilities. The quake may have broken your gas or electrical stove and water lines. If you smell gas, open windows and shut off the gas stove or gas lines. Do not light a stove or lamp with a match as this could trigger a fire or an explosion. Do not turn on electrical power until you have checked your house wiring for any damages. Do not touch downed electrical lines or objects touched by live wires. Have a battery-operated radio on hand and listen to safety instructions issued by authorities. Stay out of damaged buildings. Inform authorities of damaged buildings and other structures. Don't mill around in waterfront areas as they are high risk and in case tsunamis may have been generated by the quake. What to do in case of a tsunami: Not all earthquakes generate tsunamis. However, when one feels quake while in a coastal area, the earthquake can be taken as a natural tsunami warning. Tsunamis are usually preceded by a pronounced rise and fall of coastal water Before a tsunami strikes - The most effective mitigation measure to avoid damage, injuries and death is to refrain from putting up your residence in a tsunami prone area. If you are in a coastal area, move immediately to high ground as soon as you feel an earthquake. Do not wait to watch for a tsunami. If you can see it, you are too close to escape it. Stay off the beach during unusual tidal action. A tsunami may have been generated from a distant source and no official warning may have reached you. As a community, identify tsunami risk zones and inform people exposed to the risk. Establish a warning system and evacuation procedures Develop protective barriers against tsunamis. Plant rows of sturdy trees, to serve as buffers for tsunamis. When the big waves come in - Move inland to higher ground as quickly as possible When evacuating, don't burden yourself with personal effects. This will only serve to delay you. It is better you check that all members of your family are moving with you to higher and safer grounds. Stay out of the danger zone until authorities issue an "all clear" signal since a tsunami is not a single wave but a series of waves. After a tsunami - DO not use fresh food that has come in contact with floodwaters and pumped out wells. Let the water from the faucet flow for some time until it clears. Check the water before using. Before entering your house or any building, check it for structural damage. Make sure it's not in danger of collapsing. Upon entering your house or any building, cut off electrical power and check for short circuits, live wires and gas leakages. Don't use a match or lamp as a light source because of the danger of leaking gas. Use a battery-operated flashlight instead. If you smell gas, open windows and doors Open all doors and windows to keep your house dry. Clear your house of mud and other debris to control the spread of disease causing germs. What to do in case of landslides: Before the landslide- Plant ground cover or build retaining walls Reinforce the foundation and walls of your home. In mudflow areas, construct channels to divert mudflows from your homeConstruct interceptors along the possible paths of mudflows During the landslide- If you are warned of an impending landslide or mudflow, evacuate at once If you are inside a building during a landslide, stay inside and seek refuge under strong furniture If you re outside and cannot get inside a building, get away from the path of landslide materials or seek refuge behind a sturdy tree or boulder. You can survive mudflow only by avoiding it. If you are in a valley, get out as soon as you hear rumbling sounds from upstream or when you feel the ground trembling. These are signs that mudflow may be coming your way. If you are caught in a mudflow, try grabbing on to large rock, tree, or anything being carried along the flowing mud. This is one chance you may be able to survive. After the landslide- Check the foundation and walls of your home as well as the surrounding ground for damaged electrical and water lines The community must exert effort to stabilize the new land for reinforcement against subsequent damage Damaged land must be replanted.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Virtual working has its advantages and disadvantages. My work necessitate that part of my workspace is virtual. This means I do the writing, editing and posting via an online interface, quite similar to blogging. One advantage of such a job is that you can spend most of the working day on the Internet. The disadvantage is that to start and complete your work one is totally dependent on technology. Just this morning as I was beginning work I discovered that my on-line system was not working. It took a longer time to log-in I thought. A few minutes later it came back with an error message. I promptly went to our local IT guy to ask if he could fix the problem. Unfortunately, he could not so we sent an SOS email the central IT help team. After a few minutes the quick response team came back with its solution to the problem. According to them it was a server related problem. The solution was that everytime an error message occured just tap the cancel button again and again until such time that I , will eventually be able to enter the system. To say that the solution left me at a loss of words is an understatement. I did try the left clicking bit for a while. About half an hour before giving up. To be fair at times I can also be troglodyte. There were times when I thought it was a system problem only to find out one had just drag something too much or one had unknowingly minimised a window. Now I reached the end of the workday. The system was still not working. I wonder if they can fix it or will there be another brilliant solution for tomorrow.

Holy Relics??

The Pope was entombed last Friday. All over the world the Roman Catholic Faithful watched as funeral rites of Saint Peter's Successor. World leaders - hereditary, elected and otherwise - went to pay their last respects. No one will doubt that this was the biggest funeral of this century. John Paul II, despite his conservative and steadfast views on religion, is well loved. His reign, which was one of the longest papal reign, will greatly affect the fate of the Church.Immediate would be the indentity of the new Pope.

The Pope is selected by a vote of the Cardinals. All but three Cardinals, actually two since one of the Cardinals (Cardinal Sin) is to ill to travel to from Manila to Rome, will be voting the first time. And nearly all Cardinals were appointed by John Paul II.

What caught my eye in the last few days was the emergence of objects used by the Pope during his visits to the Philippines.

Last weekend at Gateway, on display was the chair the Pope was sitting on when he first visited Manila. This was the chair he used when he gave an audience at the Araneta Coliseum. Another thing that appeared was the Pope mobile. The bullet proof mechanised chariot was used when the Pope navigated his way around Manila. This was during his second trip to Manila, post-Mehmet Ali Agca.

The threat to a Pope's life was real. During the 1970s when Paul Paul VI visited the Philippines, a mentally disturbed a Bolivian surrealist painter named Benjamin Mendoza y Amor Flores tried to assasinate the Pope with a kris hidden inside a cross. According to one story a bishop shielded the Pope from the attacker. Another story said that then President Marcos delivered a karate chop that disabled the painter. Nevertheless the attempt by the Bolivian was stopped, whether by the religious intervention or by a presidential chop nobody really cares.

Going back to the topic.

The emergence of these objects during the wake of the Pontiff is interesting but also a little bit alarming. As keepsakes for history one can understand their value and the need to display them for all of us. However, I do hope that these things remain things and not be turned into relics.

This actually reminds me of an episode in the British comedy series "Blackadder" where Blackadder becomes the Archibishop of Canterbury and he discusses with his henchmen Baldrick how to profit from being a priest. And Baldrick promptly shows Archibishop Blackadder the different methods of earning money: from selling curses - both big and small, selling holy relics - Jesus' nose and Joan of Arc's breast among other things, and assorted wood work done by Jesus during his carpenter's years - sandals and cheese boards. Sandals and cheese boards.

My fear is that sometimes we put too much faith in objects and often times there are people who take advantage of this.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Vat and Witholding Tax

For the past months the Philippine government has been pressing with the passage of revenue enhancing measures in the House of Representatives (Congress) and in the Senate. Hmmm, revenue enhancing measures ... tax or more specifically Value Added Tax. During the Spanish time if you were unable to pay your taxes you would be conscripted to the military service for a number of years or work for the Spanish crown. And certain revolts were catalyzed by attempts to impose a tax on the local wine called basi. I am just wondering,with the advent of the VAT and other new tax measures will there be a chance that the government will lower the witholding tax for salaried workers? Wishful thinking on my part I guess.

Star Trek

Thoughts after reading David Gerrold's book entitled "The World of Star Trek..". The book brings back memories of Star Trek shows and movies past and distant present. Just finished reading David Gerrold's book, "The World of Star Trek: The Show the Network could not kill", it is an interesting read not only for Star Trek Fans but also for writers. I wrote a book review on it in my book blog. A few days after that I cam across a VCD documentary entitled "Trekkie" on sale for 75.00. In the Philippines if you want to buy original DVD or VCD it is always wise to buy the disc a few months after they arrive in order to take advantage of the price drop. An honest and entertaining documentary about Star Trek fans. Fun to watch. Another Star Trek related movie that I enjoyed was Free Enterprise. A movie about two thirty year old trekkies in a mid-life crisis and who meet William Shatner, who is determined to stage his version of William Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar - with him playing all the parts. They, same cast and crew, are actually doing or have done a sequel, Free Enterprise 2: My Big Geek Wedding, I have to see that one too. I also liked watching the Star Trek Movies but mainly those featuring the cast from the original series. I used to watch the re-run of the original series with my friends. Comments and wise-cracks about Kirk would always occur. I would classify ourselves as irreverent fans, some of us were even rooting for the bad guys.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Oblation at sunset

One of the shots I took while we were at UP. If you look carefully you will be able to see my nephew and cousins.

Monday, April 04, 2005

From the mouth of babes

A case of the Emperor's new clothes in the modern day setting. Or how truth comes from the mouth of the innocent. Last week, my nephews and I were enjoying merienda at the house. And my nephews were arguing amongst themselves who was the leader of the group. I say group but they possibly meant their team, lately they have been watching a lot Justice League and Teen Titans cartoons. My youngest nephew was proclaiming himself the leader of the group. He did so in such an direct and effective way. "Ako leader" my youngest nephew. Honest and straightforward, Bismark would have been proud. My oldest nephew disagreed and told his brother that their tito, me, should be their leader. We Tagalogs have a very accurate expression to describe the joy one's feel when we hear a very effective praise to us, "Pumapalakpak ang tenga". My ego, however, had no time to enjoy the filling up of intellectual gas and take flight because. My oldest nephew said, "You are not the leader, Tito is the leader, Because he is the oldest and fattest person in this room!" :)


Zambales Posted by: sepiabrown.
Pope John Paul II died yesterday.
Given his medical condition no one in the world was surprised at the outcome. I myself was stoic to the events.
Death was the only possible outcome. No that is not right to be in a coma would be another. In any case death would ease the burden the Holy Father was enduring.
It was painful for me to see him talk during Easter. You knew he wanted to speak but he could not. Again it would be one of the most tragic things I have seen. I reasoned that death would be a deliverance for the Holy Father. Well Death did come for the Vicar of Christ. It was expected more so because the Vatican had announced that he was near death.
When I switched on the television this morning there it was. BBC and CNN were announcing the passing of John Paul II. I do not know why but a few seconds after I saw the announcement I cried. It lasted for a few minutes. I was in my room and it was early morning. The heat did not seem as scorching as the day before and I cried for my Pope.