This just in: New York Times Suggests a Fill-in-The-Blank-Constitution..wonder if that would work in the Philippines?!?

Got wind of this article at New York Times:

AS the Senate awaits the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, a frank discussion is needed on the proper role of judges in our constitutional system. For 30 years, conservative commentators have persuaded the public that conservative judges apply the law, whereas liberal judges make up the law. According to Chief Justice John Roberts, his job is just to “call balls and strikes.” According to Justice Antonin Scalia, conservative jurists merely carry out the “original meaning” of the framers. These are appealing but wholly disingenuous descriptions of what judges — liberal or conservative — actually do.

To see why this is so, we need only look to the text of the Constitution. It defines our most fundamental rights and protections in open-ended terms: “freedom of speech,” for example, and “equal protection of the laws,” “due process of law,” “unreasonable searches and seizures,” “free exercise” of religion and “cruel and unusual punishment.” These terms are not self-defining; they did not have clear meanings even to the people who drafted them. The framers fully understood that they were leaving it to future generations to use their intelligence, judgment and experience to give concrete meaning to the expressed aspirations.

For more, click here.

This just in from NY Times: Education ain’t just an Asian problem

ON A WINTER DAY five years ago, Doug Lemov realized he had a problem. After a successful career as a teacher, a principal and a charter-school founder, he was working as a consultant, hired by troubled schools eager — desperate, in some cases — for Lemov to tell them what to do to get better. There was no shortage of prescriptions at the time for how to cure the poor performance that plagued so many American schools. Proponents of No Child Left Behind saw standardized testing as a solution. President Bush also championed a billion-dollar program to encourage schools to adopt reading curriculums with an emphasis on phonics. Others argued for smaller classes or more parental involvement or more state financing.

For more click here.

Quoted here last: Jessica Zafra and Conrado de Quiros on success

From Jessica Zafra’s blog post “This just in” :

“I think it’s a good policy to aim too high. It is more practical to be overly ambitious than to set a goal that is well within range of your abilities. How is this possible?

Well, if you aim low and fail, you put your talent and competence in doubt. You want so little but you still don’t get it, so maybe you don’t have what it takes.

However, if you overreach and you don’t achieve your goal, it will be viewed as a case of wanting too much rather than a simple failure due to insufficient skill. Even if you really do lack the skills and are a complete twerp. People will see the ambition first…”

read more of her post here

And Conrado de Quiros backs it up in his column, “There’s the Rub” on inquirer.net:

Success…build confidence…As you can see from Pacquiao today—he is more confident than ever. But isn’t the opposite true as well? Doesn’t confidence also produce success?

You have to wonder on a broader plane if that is not the thing that has held us back from making the kind of giant steps Pacquiao has…

I have a friend who was thought of being aggressive and boastful by his classmates. Not surprisingly, he made it big in America.

Of course there’s a level at which frankness becomes bluntness, assertion becomes abrasiveness, outspokenness becomes loudness. You get a lot of that in US airports, a stunning contrast with Narita where the personnel are awesomely polite but just as awesomely efficient. But just as well there is a level where obedience becomes submissiveness, respect for authority becomes mindlessness, and patience is no longer a virtue. Certainly they can stand in the way of the dogged pursuit of greater goals, or giant dreams.

Read more of de Quiros’ column here.

Hmmm….Is this why I probably have difficulty finding a job? Because during interviews I exude a confidence that may border on arrogance? Because I refuse to be less ambitious? Because I believe in something more than just corporate things?

If so, this makes me feel better. I am on the right track.

You should too. 🙂

 

London Pride 2009 in Central London was a blast!

London Pride

(photo by M. Bayaua)

Tired and sleepy. Went out yesterday to check out London Pride Parade at Oxford Street. Temperature: 40 bloody degrees Celsius! English sun: out the whole day! Parade: one hell of a fun one! ^^

Parade started at 1pm, but I had to come from Gloucester Road and so I had to take the Picadilly, get the Northern Line (?), get off at Oxford Street and find a nice spot near some Filipino gay men (yay!) where I can view the parade. The Filipinos, as part of our culture, asks me what visa I had, when I got here, when I was leaving (and if so, why? And if not, how did I do it?) and where I was living and how long I was here for.

Anyway, parade started off and I was immediately overwhelmed. Droves of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals! About half a million strong! Wow! Back home,in Baguio, there would be about a hundred or so only. ^^ Here, it was one massive parade slash party with each sector having its contingent: LGBT people from the military (the Royal Navy, Army, Air Force), The Met, the post office, London Transport, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, the NHS (ah, gay and lesbian doctors and dentists, yay!), the Civil Service, British Airways, Amnesty, the Catholic church, Christian Churches, Buddhist groups, Asia, Lithuania, various night clubs (the queen in one of the floats was especially hilarious and for the man-loving people, a great treat with the man in briefs with a permanent hard-on, beside him), sex workers groups, old people, young people and always the never-ending parade of really awesome drag queens, in full feather regalia, gowns, sequins, lace, leather, and always, the hair. ^^

(photo by M. Bayaua)

(photo by M. Bayaua)

The best part was seeing Boy George in one of the floats. A bit starstruck now. ^^

Anyway, after the parade, I maneuvered my way to the tube, hopped on the next one that will take me to Leicester Square, made my way to Trafalgar Square, where that half a million strong of LGBT people were gathered in a concert that featured political and not-so political speeches from prominent figures, and music from Eurovision winners, A1, and so on. I just went around the Square, checking out the booths, bought a bottle of Carlsberg, then just hung out at the Square, listening to the music, with my beer and the heat of the sun on my face. ^^

After that, I bought a shirt and a rainbow flag as souvenirs and reluctantly went back home because I had to meet my Nigerian friend and her friends. We had spicy spaghetti, while listening to music on TV. We had a Michael Jackson moment, then just had fun listening to Justin Timberlake (“Sexyback”)Lady Gaga (“Po-po-po-pokerface”), Kings of Leon (“Sex on Fire” – what does that even mean? Could make a great pick-up line though or a great prank you can do to emergency services: “Pardon me, miss, but your sex is on fire!” or “Hello?! This is an emergency! My sex is on fire!). My friend and I watched “Drag me to Hell” after, at the Vue. The movie was parts ridiculous, preposterous, outrageous, disgusting, depressing, sad, fun, funny, all at the same time. I can see why it was a hit. I don’t know which is better  – this one or Transformers 2. But for sheer consistency in its original purpose to entertain, I think “Drag me to Hell” wins hands down, since Transformers 2 just ends up being consternating.

I got home around 2am with a nice sunburned face and nice memories of my last few days in London.

Watching The Pride March reminds me how much has changed I left the Philippines  last year. Pride marches back home are nowhere near as massive and diverse and festive as this one in London is. But it has made me realize how important it is to share how much I’ve seen and learned, to be part of the change that can make a difference in people’s perceptions of the world.

Next up, Pride March in Manila. Yay!

And the debate is on: Michael Jackson, King of Pop? or Reluctant father of modern-day celebrity culture?

I must say I have been having a grand old time scouring the internet for articles on Michael Jackson, if only because since his death writers from People, MSNBC, CNN, Time to Newsweek to the Guardian to moreintelligentlife.com have been struggling to write articles that can encompass the high drama, the low comedy, the talent, the scandals that wracked a pop star whose career spanned almost 50 years – about the same age in which he died.

Already there is much debate about his talent (writers are in disagreement here although most of them believed his greatest creative period was the 80s), his albums (later albums lackluster, 80s albums the best), which is better, “Off the Wall” or “Thriller”, although most of them agree he was the biggest bestselling artist of all time, second only to Elvis Presley and the Beatles, but that he had been quickly dethroned (by whom is another debate: Newsweek believes it was Nirvana, in the early 90s, but Time believes it could have been earlier, when  Prince and Madonna came out with more pop-savvy albums). All agree though that he was a pop culture icon though and that his studded gloved hand, sequined military style jackets, aviator sunglasses, trademark moonwalk moves will go down in history as the images that defined much of the early 80s. His relevance to popular culture is being debated, although some agree that if it were not for him,  Beyonce, 50 Cent, Usher and countless African American artists would not be reaping the billion dollar benefits now. Sure, if he had not come along somebody else would have paved the way, but he did come along and he was the one who started it all. One thing that comes out though is his ability to stay in the limelight even though he has not come out with an album in over 10 years: wracked by scandals, lawsuits, bankruptcy, health problems and an ever changing face and pigmentation, he probably unwittingly (or not so unwittingly) spawned the modern day papparazi-infested celebrity culture that celebrates crass journalism that covers people who are simply famous for being famous.

The message boards are even more interesting: Michael Jackson fans debate these things as passionately as do anti-Michael Jackson critics.

Only time will tell whether Michael Jackson’s legacy (if there was any to begin with – if somewhat ambivalent articles lead us to believe) will endure or live on.

As I was pouring over the articles last night, I came across a speech by the late writer David Foster Wallace, who had committed suicide in September 2008. It was already 1 in the morning,but I read his rather lengthy commencement speech, because it was very moving, and I had not encountered such since I read Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech. In his speech, he effortlessly discusses the importance and practicality of liberal arts education as applied to grocery shopping and being stuck in traffic, what thinking really means and that one does not have to be stuck in misery all the time, one can choose to have a better life just by choosing to look at things in a better, more positive way, that education is about succeeding at being well-adjusted and ends with the warning that what we choose to worship will eventually eat us alive and finally, that, education is more about awareness, rather than knowledge (hmmm…I see a pattern here – I had just finished “Random Acts of Love”, which has the same message as well).

Excerpts I liked include:

“The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too…

I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master”.

“If you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently…It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down…The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re gonna try to see it.”

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think.”

For the full speech, go to moreintelligentlife.com or click here.

Sad though that David Foster Wallace would not be as remembered as Michael Jackson. For this one speech seems to resonate with deeper truths than anything else. Then again, we find our truths in different ways – be it in an 80s pop album by a pop icon only a few hours dead, or a young writer whose one enduring legacy is a commencement speech delivered at a little-known college.

Michael Jackson, RIP

Slept last night to news that Farrah Fawcett has died of cancer at 60, woke to news that Michael Jackson has died as well, at 50.

Spent the whole morning thus verifying this news as I first heard it on facebook. I thus went on msnbc.com, bbc news, people.com and so on.

It’s a bit weird finding out that the singer who defined the music of your childhood has already died.

But as imeem.com has said, rather than dwell on the drama, I’ll  celebrate his life and his music:

Thriller Music Video (Vincent Price! Zombies! The hair! The clothes! The music! The awesome dancing! The campiness of it all! Yay!), which you can see by clicking here (sorry, for some strange reason I cannot put it here).

The Thriller video spawned others such as this:

Man in the Mirror (my all-time favorite Michael Jackson song. That video haunted me and changed the way I viewed things when I was a child)

RIP, Michael.

How about you, what was the Michael Jackson song that changed your life?

North Korea fires more missiles, Margaret Cho says Koreans are sneaky-assed people

Bet you didn’t expect this post to have North Korea, missiles, and comedian Margaret Cho on the heading huh? Well, I have.

So South Korea has claimed that North Korea has fired more missiles, according to the latest BBC News. In true international diplomatic fashion, UN has issued a statement, is scrambling to make a resolution, to condemn North Korea actions, and are thinking of tougher measures. Meanwhile, South Korea has decided to join the “PSI – a US-led non-proliferation campaign involving searching ships carrying suspect cargo, aimed at stopping the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction”. North Korea has, of course, claimed this is tantamount to an outright declaration of war. And why did North Korea fire the missiles in the first place? Because they realized the US still has a hostile policy against North Korea.Why did I italicize and put those words in bold letters? Because I find it interesting – even amusing that after firing a missile, this is what the UN does -1. issue a statement, 2. make a resolution that 3. condemns North Korea actions and 4. come up with tougher measures. These euphemisms, vague replies, well, it almost seems as if this is an admission of impotence. I can almost see UN dignitaries wringing their hands, walking to and fro, throwing up their hands in the air, saying, in a Dustin-Hoffman-Rainman-like way, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do? What are we going to do? Def-def-definitely, they fired a missile. Def-def-definitely they fired a missile.”

I am wondering if the global financial crisis is already over. What are they doing now? All I can hear on Philippine news is the Katrina Halili and Hayden Kho sex scandal. All I can hear from the UK news is the MPs charging their exorbitant expenses for non-existent homes to the government. Who knows?

I think a video of Margaret Cho explaining North Korean political attitude towards weapons policies is way better than the UN one. So I am posting it now.