Dec 7-13 2014

[another last-minute insertion] TaN: In today’s article from The Philippine STAR (December 10, 2014) entitled, “China condemns US report on sea claims” from Reuters, China, through its Foreign Ministry, argued that the report “…went against Washington’s promises not to take sides in the [South China Sea] dispute.”  In the same article, the basis for the condemnation is the report’s supposed statement that “…China’s claims were both unclear and inconsistent.”

If the issue is really about the claims being “both unclear and inconsistent“, then China is being overly defensive and onion-skinned.  The report statement made no mention as to which side the USA is siding with.  It only stated regarding the claims of China but made no mention as to which specific claimant country its is favoring or arguing for.  For all China knows, the USA may even be siding with the former and is just providing China with an opportunity to make clearer and more consistent claims to bolsters its position.

Although it would seem obvious that the USA is not siding with China on this issue, the report statement did not specify with claimant country it is siding it.  Therefore, the report is still being consistent with the promises of Washington of not taking sides.

[last-minute insertion] Tan: In a letter to the editor of The Philippine STAR (Dec 9, 2014 issue) entitlted “K to 12: Producing uneducated Filipinos” by a certain Jose R GULLAS, founder of the JRG Halad Foundation, he argued that the K to 12 program of Mr Noynoy Aquino is not only badly conceptualized and designed, it is likewise badly implemented and will exacerbate the educational system already in bad shape.  Aside from the points he raised that I had not thought of is that more parents, who are already struggling to put their children through the 10-year program, will now have to contend with 2 additional years and may eventually be tempted to opt for discontinuance of the education.

The issue of producing gaps in the secondary or high school and tertiary or collegiate levels due to the additional year attached to the last year in the concerned level — i.e., primary or elementary going to secondary or high school and secondary or high school going to tertiary or collegiate — could well be avoided had the implementation been done at the lowest instead of the highest/last year.

This would be a better implementation plan — assuming that there are no legal impediments.  Even though the additional year is at the end or last year, the students will be accelerated — e.g., Grade 5 jumps to Grade 7, Grade 4 to Grade 6, Grade 3 to Grade 5, Grade 2 to Grade 4, and Grade 1 to Grade 3.  Then for the incoming Grade 1, admit enough to fill Grade 1 and 2, “accelerating” those with higher test scores to Grade 2 and those with lower test scores to Grade 1.  In this manner, gaps will be avoided.

However, since there will be 2 additional years, this program will have to be repeated in the succeeding year and the acceleration transcends or is done through all the way up the levels — i.e., High 4 jumps to College 1, High 3 to High 5, High 2 to High 4, High 1 to High 3, and all the way down the line to Grade 1 (repeating the double admission again).  The adding of extra years to the system should be done one year at a time otherwise it complicates things.  (There are certain things and times where and when short cuts just cannot apply.)

Finally, those to be affected should be those who are just coming in — i.e., those who will be taking the extra years are those who are just starting.  It would be very unfair to “change the game in midstream” — i.e., a parent who has prepared a 6-year budget for his/her child should not be “surprised” by an additional year where the amount involved is no joke.  For the child not to finish because the parents could not afford an additional year is the epitome of injustice.

TaN: Our rights are surreptiously and most definitely being eroded and deprived from us — mostly by cleverly manipulating the people to “voluntarily” give them up usually under the guise of or in the name of public safety and national security, like warrantless searches (at airports and sea ports and building entrances) and access to private correspondence (such as email) and communications (such as voice calls) without a court order, without consent and knowledge of the parties communicating, and without probable cause.

It is both sad and alarming that people are “carefully” and systematically being manipulated to “voluntarily” (agree to) give up one right after another.  The tried-and-tested scheme of Hegelian diametrical opposition — where a thesis (in the form of a problem or a situation that requires resolving) is presented or transpires, then an anti-thesis (or solution or remedy) is proposed or brought forth, which subsequently or consequantly produces a synthesis — is the classic strategy and it never fails, especially when most people are so predictably gullible and ignorantly innocent.

There are numerous examples: (1) the infamous September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack, which started the “War on Terrorism” and the body and cavity searches at air- and seaports and in buildings and we gave up our rights against/from scrutiny and to security; (2) the spreading global and borderless drone war, which appears to be a significant factor in curtailing our rights to privacy and information when various government intelligence agencies — principally the NSA or National Security Agency, the GCHQ or Government Communications HeadQuarters, and the other members of the Five Eyes (Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) — by means of trawling, going through, and amassing all possible communications that can be gathered and stored, regardless of whether the communications are privileged or private or not; and, (3) the “stealthy and covert” gathering of private personal information through educational, financial, governmental, and various other businesses where transactions are perforated with new and additional non-traditional data for purposes of profiling (a clear indication of paranoia slow but steadily creeping into people’s lives and will eventually become permanent).  These are just to name a few.

Under the guise of looking after the welfare, security, and safety of an individual, people are slowly but steadily hoodwinked into voluntarily giving up cherished rights — aside from privacy, information, choice, against scrutiny, and even the fundamental “innocent until proven guilty” and “due process”, as beginners.  To submit oneself to body (and cavity) searches is tantamount to being considered guilty (to prove that one has nothing to hide) and one must take steps to prove otherwise.  Under the supposed “normal” situation, authorities must first show evidence or the individual must show some form of suspicious activity or be in possession of suspicious material before any search can be conducted — except when there is a court order.

Under the guise of the state protecting itself, information may be gathered and/or withheld from the public — information that came from people who do not even show the slightest hint of being a threat to the state (or to any state, for that matter).  Instead, the alibi of information being withheld in the interest of national security is being used to prevent or hinder the public’s right to know certain government activities what may be graft, corruption, bribery, conspiracy and connivance, treason, conflict of interest, and lots more.

Under the guise of fighting crime and terrorism, people, and especially business establishments, are being encouraged to spy on others.  To make matters worse, it is said or reported that in the United States of America, spying is even encouraged among house members and neighbors and friends — shades of the Third Reich of Adolf (Schicklegruber) Hitler’s Nazi Germany — but then again, the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) appears to be the splitting image of that of Hitler’s.

All in all, it is stealthily and surreptitiously evolving into the “prediction” of George Orwell’s “1984” — Big Brother is in control and watching you every moment everywhere.  You have nowhere to hide and no place to go.  It is also in line with the Apocalyptical prediction in the Book of John Revelations.  It is so written and so it must come to pass.

TaN: Though I likewise have my lapses, there are certain grammatical/syntactical faux pas that are unforgiveable.  Among these are: “Go here”, “Frame up”, “Cope up”, and use of “safety” where it should be “safe” — as a description rather than a noun — and “promise” when they mean “honest” or “no kidding”..

For “go here”, this is a common mistake among Filipinos who insist on using the English language when they have insufficient mastery or even just fluency over it.  It frequently occurs when the speaker thinks in the vernacular then literally translates the words to their English equivalents.

In the case of “frame up” and “cope up”, speakers often fail to understand that framing — as in setting up someone as against framing a picture — and coping do not have any “ups”.  One may be framed for something but one cannot be “framed up”; just as one tries to cope but does not “cope up”.

And it is very irritating to hear someone say that s/he is taking extra precautions “‘para ‘safety” when they really mean (just) “safe”, and using “promise” (for saying something that may seem unbelievable) instead of “honest” or “no kidding” or “I swear”.

My argument is that one should avoid trying very hard to “impress” others by speaking in a language that one is not familiar or fluent in.  It is embarrassing enough to “practice” among friends but to blurt it out in public or in front of strangers is really moritfying.  But then again, those who commit such linguistic faux pas do not appear to have any shame.

In addition, I frequently hear average man-on-the-street Filipinos, especially news reporters and commentators (which is unforgiveable), make up their own words, e.g.: “chansa” and “korte“, which are supposed to be “pagkakataon” and “husgado” or “hukuman“, respectively, although the latter two are nearer the term “judge” — that have become common staple fare.  It is really irritating and I shrink and cower in embarrassment.  Please, if you must speak in another language (not your mother tongue), make sure the words used are appropriate and as precise as possible, otherwise it is alright to “borrow” and use the original term in order to be accurate in our transmission of information, especially if you are reporting or informing others.

And then there is my all-time favorite (pet peeve): the stop light, when they mean traffic light.  Come on, I know it feels like it is always “STOP” when it is your turn to move forward, it is still properly referred to as a traffic light because — believe it or not — it also has a go (green) light and, sometimes it may be missing, an amber (not yellow) light which, surprisingly to some, does not mean “go faster” but “STOP because it is about to turn red”.

Moreover, it is incorrect to say that one is late because s/he was stuck in traffic.  Instead, one should say that one was stuck in a traffic jam or traffic snarl, and not traffic.  This is because “traffic” means movement, hence drug trafficking and human trafficking.  And, yes, it is correct to say that there was no traffic when no vehicles were on the road — because there is nothing moving.

Finally, I fail to see anything wrong or shameful in speaking in a language (that is not English) that one feels comfortable with and can speak it well.  With respect to language (and communication), it is better to be accurate and as precise as possible with the message rather than to insist on struggling with a language just to impress or pretend to be fluent and grammatically knowledgeable.  Often, it becomes an embarrassment.

TaN: Paparazzis are not totally to blame for their intrusive invasion of privacy; gossip and various celebrity rags are just as if not more responsible for the violations of people’s rights.  If they do not buy or pay for the photographs and gossip, there would be no paparazzis.  The consuming public may share some of the blame but there would not so much if media does not manipulate and hype thngs up.  This is aside from the fact that a large portion of consumers have small minds — as the saying goes: Great minds talk about ideas; average minds talk about events; small minds talk about others.  Small minds know no better and take great pleasure in delving and prying into the private lives of others.

I do not, as a rule or habit, watch gossip news but I came across this while channel surfing and I felt I have to repeat this — because I have had dealt with the paparazzi issue in earlier TaNs.  Gossip is really for the weak- and tiny-minded who have nothing better to do than talk about others, especially on matters that makes one feel good knowing about the misfortunes and the bad things that happen to others.  It is really the lowest of the low.

TaN: In time with the 2nd super typhoon to hit the Philippines since Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, people tend to consider only the wind strength/speed when determining the destructiveness of a super storm — note: not just an ordinary but a super storm.  We are, of course, speaking of the danger posed to coastal areas.  It is not only unreliable but even dangerous because much of a storm’s destructive power comes from its storm surge.

What makes storm surges exceptionally dangerous are the debris it picks up and contains along its path.  This is similar to the danger posed by super tornados — not the wind itself but the debris flying around aimlessly that are smashed into anything in the tornado’s path.  Unlike the wind, water is much denser — which multiolies and magnifies the destructive power — and has a much greater capacity to pick up debris and slam them into anything along the way, especially if the storm surge is sustained.

To make matters worse, the forward speed of a storm likewise has a substantial impact on the destructiveness of a storm.  Unlike a super storm even when its wind is strong, for as long as its forward motion is fast, the destruction — outside of the storm surge — will not be as damaging as when it is weaker (note: weaker and not weak) and traveling at a slower pace.  In the latter case, since the forward movement is slower, even if the winds are weaker, there will be more lingering time which means there will be more time for more damage.  Of course, this is on the argument that the weaker super storm is not a lot weaker than the stronger one.

In conclusion, as discussed in earlier TaNs, the relative amount of damage done by the same super storm will not be “the same” for all affected — outside of the relative sturdiness of the structures and things along the path of destruction.  Those on the right side of the storm will experience a greater destructive force while those on the left will tend to experience a weaker force.  This is because the wind strength is constant and circular, so since there is forward movement, the right side will experience a force equal to the wind strength plus the forward momentum whereas the left side of the storm will have a force equal to the wind strength less the forward momentum (because the storm is moving in the opposite direction of the wind direction).

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