Tag Archives: socially relevant issues

Around the Web

Art

Drugs by Bryan Lewis Saunders

Bryan Lewis Saunders takes different sorts of drugs and expresses his experiences through art.

 

100 mg Seroquel

I’m surprised he can still draw after taking Seroquel. I used to take 10mg of it for my manic depression and it always made me feel dizzy, lethargic and all around crappy. Nevertheless, props for this man for being so brave in trying those drugs and chronicling his experiences. I wonder how far should a man go in the name of art?

Society

The Internet is a surveillance state by Bruce Schneier

Welcome to an Internet without privacy, and we’ve ended up here with hardly a fight.

Bruce Schneier writes about how panopticons are now everywhere through the internet and it’s almost an impossibility to stop them. George Orwell would be surprised how efficiently his work of fiction has come to life. After I publish this, companies and government agencies are probably analyzing what I have written in this post. Unwanted collection of personal data really is creepy and rather scary.

Evolution

Essentialism Revisited by John Wilkins

In fact it is my opinion that essentialism in biology postdates Darwin, and was in fact due to the revival of Thomism among German and French speaking Catholic biologists who were reacting to the metaphysical views of people like Herbert Spencer and Ernst Haeckel.

John Wilkins talks about how essentialism in evolution is most probably not what we think it is. For one, he’s of the opinion that essentialism was not the norm in the pre-Darwinian era as most people believe and as stated by Ernst Mayr. In fact, it may be more of a post-Darwinian thing and even so, only a few people held it to be true.

If that’s the case, we have to change a whole bunch of textbooks. It would also give us a different perspective of the history of evolution. I wonder, if not essentialism, then what was the general paradigm before Darwin’s evolution? And was it really a backward paradigm compared to the Darwinian thinking?

Comics

Banned and Challenged Comics Revealed! by Betsy Gomez

Click on the link to see the list of banned and challenged comic books in the US. In all honesty I believe comic books are more than just a piece of entertainment. It is a reflection of life and reality so I don’t see the point of removing it from shelves. It may actually teach people a thing or two.

 

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Quote

On the Conflict in Sabah

By Kert

“… ‘nation’ is a fundamentally contested concept that defies easy definition or explanation.”

“when we locate and define a ‘nation’s origins’ we are in effect also mapping, often literally, it’s current political claims and aspirations”

(Jackson-Preege 2010)

(Image Via GMA News Online)

Presently, the talks and arguments I hear on Sabah from Filipinos revolve around the legitimacy of Sulu’s claim over Sabah. Different figures are maneuvering in relation to Sulu’s claim — the Malaysian government, the Philippine government and the Sulu sultanate.

But other things are also wanting of discourse here. First is how Malaysia was threatened as armed men from Sulu landed in Sabah, which the two parties consider their territory. As a nation, Malaysia has to protect if not their people, but their political claim towards Sabah. Second is the human rights violation the Malaysian government had done towards Filipino citizens (and the Philippine president’s inaction). The brutal response of the Malaysian government with sixty three people dead cannot and must not be overlooked.

There is another dimension to it that is absent in most conversations about the issue. Everyone seems to have forgotten the actual people living in Sabah and how they consider their nationality. How do they define their identity? Which nation do they consider “home”? We talk so much about the sultan of Sulu’s claim, but what about the claim of the people actually living in Sabah? Would they consider themselves Malaysians or members of the Sultan’s people? And if we take into account the definition of territoriality back in the time of the Spanish, what sort of national identities should we follow? — and I mean this not only for Sabah but for the entire Insular Southeast Asia.

Voices of the ordinary people are seldom heard in the conversations. But the people of Sabah should be at the heart of this issue.  At the moment, the lives of the people in Sabah will be the most affected by the recurring changes of the decisions of the nations. They’re in the middle of the game set between Malaysia, Philippines and the sultanate of Sulu. And as the tension gets higher, they’re the ones left in a difficult situation.

Around the Web

Every week we scourge the internet for interesting materials. This week, we feature the following posts:

Psychology

Strange or just plain weird? Cultural variation in mental illness by Dominic Murphy

Murphy comments on the western-centric perspective carried on by the American Psychiatric Association and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The research done in psychiatry may not be representative of what’s going on around the world as only westerners are mostly studied and taken account in the DSM. Mental conditions can be culture-specific and psychologists and psychiatrists must recognize that. Murphy writes,

People in western countries have values and minds that are not like those of the rest of humanity. These differences should not be overstated, but they are real, and they have implications for the cognitive sciences that we are only just beginning to explore.

Anthropology

Failure of Policy by whiskfern

This post recounts instances in which policies failed because of lack of social research. The writer points out

It is very naïve to say but how nice would it be if the good intentions of organizations really played out? It seems like things would be a lot simpler, at the same time though, when the result is not like the intentions it is often from arrogance on the part of the organization and a lack of research that tries to understand the cultural context that their framework should fit.

Entertainment

New animated music video ‘Transfer’ wins fans the world over by Philip Kendall

Run, Forest, run! (Image via Japan Today)

The article features the Ongaku unit’s music video Transfer which took the world by storm. The music video features the singing voice of Megumi Nakajima and shows amazing synchronicity with superb animation.

Society

Why the Philippines is Standing Still by F. Sionil Jose

F. Sionil Jose, one of the best writers of our time, writes about why Philippines lags behind compared with its Asian counterparts. It is a fact that we have not modernized as much as, say, Japan, Korea and Thailand among others. This is despite the history of greatness of the Philippines and its edge compared to the other countries before the 20th century. F. Sionil Jose laments that

we have a real and insidious enemy that we must vanquish, and this enemy is worse than the intransigence of any foreign power. We are our own enemy. And we must have the courage, the will, to change ourselves.

However, Jose remains optimistic that we can recover from this muck that we gotten ourselves stuck with.

Blood had been spilled in the lands of Tarlac: Commemorating the 8th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre

By Kert

“The land is my life” (Image via Harvey Keh’s blog)

The land is life for Filipinos and it’s more than just a metaphor. It is the source of their food, the clothes on their backs and the roofs on their heads. It sustains the family in more ways than one. And it can even be a source of hope. It is not at all surprising that every family in the country wishes to have a patch of land where they can plant rice, corn, sugarcane and other crops.

The farmers of the 6,443-hectare Hacienda Luisita, owned by the Cojuangco family through the money of the government, have been waiting so long for the patches of land promised to them. Many of them had or have been working in Hacienda Luisita almost all their lives. It was in 1988 that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP happened. Through CARP, they were given the promise of shares in the land holdings of Hacienda Luisita. Indeed they have every right to these shares. They’re the ones who worked and tilled the land every day with only meager wages. The government is doing the right thing when it declared that the lands be given to the farmers.

But what has happened to that promise now? By this time the lands should’ve been distributed to the farmers already. But yet the promise — CARP — remains unkept.

Yesterday marks the 8th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita where over a hundred farmers demanded and fought for their rights from the Cojuangcos. Cops and soldiers were sent to gain control of the perimeter. After throwing teargas at the picketlines of the farmers, the cops and soldiers started  shooting and firing bullets at them. Thirty people were wounded by gunshots and around two hundred people were injured one way or another. Still, twelve men and two children were killed. Supposedly guards and saviors of the people in this country  carried out this terrible and very brutal massacre. All these for the benefit of the few elites.

It has been 8 years and still, no justice has been served. According to an article in Bulatlat, “the problems that drove the Hacienda farmworkers into launching a strike in 2004 still remain” (Salamat 2012). These problems are “cheap wages, landlessness and trade union repression” (Salamat 2012).

When will they hear the cries for justice? (Image via Vince’s Photobaket)

There’s still a lack of stand and comment from the President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding this issue. His relationship to the Cojuangcos, being a Cojuangco himself, puts him in a very controversial spot. Yet the man still lacks action, and the rest of the Philippines is too enamored by Tito Sotto (who I also dislike, by the way) or by the imagology (see previous post here for definition) of the media.

Our claim of being a democratic country is becoming a joke. Or has it always been a joke? I have no idea. But for sure, if the government still has any ounce of humanity left in its system (and I refuse to think otherwise), it should serve justice. What use does it have if not for the protection of its people?

Reference:

December 2004. Massacre of Sugar Plantation Workers in the Philippines. Retrieved from http://www.internationalist.org/philippinesluisitamassacre0412.html

Hacienda Luisita. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2012 from the Hacienda Luisita wiki. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacienda_Luisita#Jos.C3.A9_Cojuangco_period

Salamat, M. (2012, November 17). Trade union repression even worsened, 8 years after Luisita massacre – progressive labor. Bulatlat. Retrieved from http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/11/17/trade-union-repression-even-worsened-8-years-after-luisita-massacre-%E2%80%93-progressive-labor/

Around the Web

It’s another week of very relevant topics around the internet.

Politics and Society

Where are they? (Image via Franz DG)

Gone Tomorrow: The Vanishing Voices of Democracy in the Philippines by Michael Mira

I was a first year student in the University of the Philippines Diliman when news broke out that two UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan were reported missing. The case of the “disappeared” was rekindled as many from the left were reported missing. Enforced disappearances were also the stuff of conversations until a few years ago. Indeed, if we really consider ourselves to be a democratic country, then why do these things happen? As Mira said,

A true democratic nation should guard freedom of speech, no matter who it is that utters their opinion.

The Scientific Community

Academic paywalls mean publish and perish by Sarah Kendzior

Studying and eventually teaching in a so-called third world country (or as others would call it, developing country), I have faced the problem of acquiring academic articles more often than not. Publishers require $20 per article and around $40 per book. Tough luck. But anthropologist Kendzior talks about how we’re building elitism in the academe instead of sharing our knowledge to the public who is supposed to be at the receiving end of our research endeavors. The pricey amount for knowledge also marginalizes those who are from non-first world countries to obtain up-to-date and relevant studies. These all end up to one thing: only a limited number gets to read published materials. Kendzior writes,

“Publish or perish” has long been an academic maxim. In the digital economy, “publish and perish” may be a more apt summation. What academics gain in professional security, they lose in public relevance, a sad fate for those who want their research appreciated and understood.

Sociology

The Rationality of Irrationality by Peter Kaufman

Modernism has changed us in so many ways as people moved from the villages to the cities. We are all alienated with one another and everything needs to be speedy. This is because speedy and efficiency is the “rational” thing to do work, and rationalism is the forte of modernism. As my professor once said, “everything is touch-and-go”. Face-to-face interactions are done in split second. When you’ve finished getting your order, you have to leave the counter immediately. This is what sociologists call McDonaldization. However, irrationality might be the better way to live on this planet. Kaufman draws an example through Community Supported Agriculture.

CSA’s are really the antithesis of McDonaldized systems. I don’t know what varieties or how much food I will get each season because it all depends on unpredictable forces (namely, the weather). When I pick up the food it is not cleaned, there may be signs that bugs had a few nibbles before it was picked (not to mention the occasional bug that is still there), and the produce may not even be in recognizable shapes. There are also vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers that I can pick myself each week thereby reversing the McDonaldized trend to replace human efforts with non-human technology.

Anthropology

Anthropology and the Assault on Common Sense: Critical Thinking About Being Human Is a Useful Hobby by Agustin Fuentes

Even Albert Einstein questioned the reliability of common sense. Many scientists have many times told us that our organs can lie. Thus, science was created to decrease the errors our organs make. Fuentes, in his Huffington Post article, calls for us to be critical and not to be complacent in what we think is the “truth” — because that “truth” is not absolute. It is enfeebled by our culture, our history, our nature and our biology — or as Fuentes says, or “naturenurture”. We always have to question. We always have to think.

 But we all have to realize, and accept, that the process of becoming and being human is messy, and it takes a lot of work to try to direct your own path in life. One must be an active learner and a critical thinker, always.