Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Social Nitwitting"

Since I am in the academe, with special interest in using e-learning as a teaching and learning mode in technical education, it is of concern for me to read in the news and blogs (thus, through the internet, mostly) about how technology affects in a negative way our children (and us) -- this is not saying that there aren't any good that can be derived from it.

In a post I received today through email from Laura Ingraham, she says this:

THE DUMBEST GENERATION? Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein (author of "The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future") appeared on today's show (365ers, click here to listen) to confirm what many of us have already started to notice: The Digital Age is wreaking havoc on young Americans' ready and writing abilities. Of course, the Internet offers countless opportunities for learning, but Mark's research found that kids are using for vanity rather than intellectual enrichment. Spending endless hours texting, chatting, and posting every intimate detail of their lives online, kids today suffer a new kind of peer pressure -- one that keeps them locked in a state of immaturity. Far from using the 'net for mental enrichment, Bauerleins discovered that average high school students spend an hour per week studying for their classes online and nine hours on social networking sites. No wonder kids' standardized test scores for reading comprehension have been falling since the birth of the 'net.

I checked out Mark Bauerline (yes, online) and saw a link to a site of his book. As a way of summary, here is what the homepage says:

The Dumbest Generation
50 Million Minds Diverted, Distracted, Devoured

For decades, concern has been brewing about the dumbed-down popular culture of young people and the impact it has on their futures.

Social Nitwitting
The dawn of the digital age once aroused our hopes: the Internet, e-mail, blogs, and interactive and ultra-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children. The terms “information superhighway” and “knowledge economy” entered the lexicon, and we assumed that teens would use their know-how and understanding of technology to form the vanguard of this new, hyper-informed era.

That was the promise. But the enlightenment didn’t happen.

Mind(less) Games
The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their minds had the opposite effect.

According to recent reports from government agencies, foundations, survey firms, and scholarly institutions, most young people in the United States neither read literature (or fully know how), work reliably (just ask employers), visit cultural institutions (of any sort), nor vote (most can’t even understand a simple ballot). They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount foundations of American history, or name any of their local political representatives. What do they happen to excel at is – each other. They spend unbelievable amounts of time electronically passing stories, pictures, tunes, and texts back and forth, savoring the thrill of peer attention and dwelling in a world of puerile banter and coarse images.

The Not So Greatest Generation
Anyone who thinks this is mere intergenerational grousing, the time-worn tradition of an older generation wagging its finger at a younger one, should think again.

Drawing upon exhaustive research, detailed portraits, and historical and social analysis, The Dumbest Generation presents an uncompromisingly realistic study of the young American mind at this critical juncture. The book also lays out a compelling vision of how we might address its deficiencies.

To fail to do so may well mean sacrificing our future to the least curious and intellectual generation in national history.

Laura has this to say:

Worried about your kids? Here's an easy solution: Get the computer and television out of their rooms and set limits! Trade online time for time spent reading and writing. The study and work habits your kids learn during their teenage years will stick with them for years. They'll thank you for it later.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do we want a childless Philippines?

I direct you to Dr. William E. May who writes "'Childless Europe,' Humanae Vitae, and Familiaris Consortio". He begins:

The Sunday, June 29, 2008 edition of The New York Times Magazine featured a very interesting and provocative essay by Richard Sharto entitled “Childless Europe: What happens to a continent when it stops making babies?” I believe that its publication, coming a few days before the beginning of July, 2008, a month marking the 40th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Humanae Vitae was providential.

It is not only Sharto who talks of this basic problem in Europe. In 1990, I was in Rome preparing for the eventual start of my school in Cebu. I was then in Centro ELIS, the NGO-partner of CITE. In one conversation with a pediatrician who was living with his family in the quartiere Tiburtina, he commented that he was not getting as much patients. I told him that he should be thankful that children are more healthy now. He looks at me (with the "where is this guy from?" look) and almost rebukes me: If only that were the case, caro amico. Not only sick children go and see their pediatricians; even healthy ones go regularly also. The real reason is that there simply are less children. I wonder, but I shouldn't, considering that so many do the baby-making act, if you understand what I mean."

Many have written about similar declines and the ill-effects happening in many other countries. I remember that during a break in one technical education workshop I attended in Tokyo, a workshop staff and I were looking out the window towards a 6-story building across the street. He told me that the building used to be an elementary and high school and that about 3 years before, the school closed down. Before I could ask him for the reason, he added that it was due to the fact that there were very few students because simply this part of Tokyo did not have families with children anymore -- true in many other parts. I told him that if only we could transfer the building to Cebu for the use of schoolchildren in my city, I'd be the first to ask for it. He countered that if only he had the authority and the technology to do it, he'd have given it to me as we spoke.

I am happy that many of our students are now abroad with very good jobs. Most of our graduates outside the country are in Singapore. And Singapore is in need of workers because local talent is just not enough. Mostly testament to past advocacies on contraception, no less. This story is repeated many times in many countries.

And yet here we are in RP wanting to experience situations that these countries are dying to get out from. Reminds me, perhaps not a very good analogy, of something that a former teacher at graduate school told me. He said that the Philippines was fond of following the US. It is not really bad in itself, but it seems we follow most of the evil and less of the good. He says one of the good that we did not follow: the railway system. And how about the evil? Too many to mention, but one is artificial contraception.

Here we are, simply fulfilling the prophecy that is Humanae Vitae:

Consequences of Artificial Methods

17. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Limits to Man's Power

Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural functions, in the light of the principles We stated earlier, and in accordance with a correct understanding of the "principle of totality" enunciated by Our predecessor Pope Pius XII. (21)

Concern of the Church

18. It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a "sign of contradiction." (22) She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.

Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man.

In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization. She urges man not to betray his personal responsibilities by putting all his faith in technical expedients. In this way she defends the dignity of husband and wife. This course of action shows that the Church, loyal to the example and teaching of the divine Savior, is sincere and unselfish in her regard for men whom she strives to help even now during this earthly pilgrimage "to share God's life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men." (23)

I hope we become the exception.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Packard and leave?

A PDI story entitled "US donor hits Arroyo policy on population" begins:

"A top United States-based benefactor of population management programs worldwide has criticized President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for backing the Catholic Church’s hard-line position on reproductive health (RH) issues."

The report on the Philippines can be seen here, where it says among other things:

"Large families are one reason why 40 percent of the 85 million Filipinos live in extreme poverty. Many women and couples are highly motivated to plan their family size but have difficulty accessing contraceptives and quality services. Even though abortion is illegal and postabortion care scarce, hundreds of thousands of women make the difficult decision to abort their pregnancies, often in unsafe conditions.

"The Philippines was one of Southeast Asia’s first countries to develop a national population policy. Yet the fervent opposition of the Catholic Church to contraception continues to hamper service delivery and policy implementation. Under the current administration of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, the federal government has refused to buy contraceptives, worsening the shortage.

"The program’s top priorities in the Philippines included expanding rural families’ contraceptive options through innovative models of service delivery and outreach, improving postabortion care, and increasing access to information and services for youth. Foundation grantees achieved signi´Čücant gains in all three areas and made important inroads toward improving the policy environment, despite the fact that support from other donors for local NGOs was on the decline."

The report continues by naming the foundations and government agencies that the Foundation helped (the funding amounts can be found in other portions of the main report). Now despite the US$23 million worth of grants to 29 organizations, it would seem that the desired result has not been achieved.

US$23 MILLION! Do you think the foundation has been had?

PS. The report says the Philippines has a federal government. Do they know something we don't. A sitting Senator of the Philippines is pushing for federalism. Will he get funding from the foundation to campaign for this change in form of government? Or will the foundation allow themselves to be had? again?

Should they now pack up and leave? Maybe not yet, for they believe:
"... even modest investments in innovative approaches can achieve meaningful results."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beyond the numbers

World Youth Day 2008 ended last Sunday. Here are words from the Holy Father in a get-together with WYD volunteers before he left for Rome on Monday.

"In the crowds that have assembled here in Sydney we have seen a vivid expression of the unity-in-diversity of the universal Church, a vision in microcosm of the united human family that we long to see.

"Those experiences of prayer, and our joyful celebration of the Eucharist, were an eloquent testimony to the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit, present and active in the hearts of our young people. World Youth Day has shown us that the Church can rejoice in the young people of today and be filled with hope for the world of tomorrow."

Even as we should look beyond the numbers, here are some from National Catholic Registrar WYD blog:

WYD Numbers

For a breakdown on the WYD numbers, here are a few:

223,000 total pilgrims

110,000 overseas pilgrims from 170 nations

3.5 million meals served in 400 venues

8,000 volunteers

2,000 accredited media

4,000 priests and deacons

420 bishops and 26 cardinals

Pilgrims consumed 215,000 meat pies, 360,000 lamingtons, and 100,000 litres of milk.

1.1 million communion hosts were produced for WYD Masses and 1,000 priests heard confessions

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


AC Milan have acquired Ronaldinho!


AC Milan and FC Barcelona have reached an agreement for the transfer of Ronaldinho to the Rossoneri's club. Tomorrow the player will be in Milan for the medical and to sign the contract which will tie him to Milan until June 30th 2011.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Pope in retreat

Pope Benedict is in retreat prior to World Youth Day festivities in Sydney. He is staying at Kenthurst Center in the outskirts of Sydney.

Here is a picture of the Mass he celebrated on the day he arrived at Kenthurst.

H/T: Australia Incognita

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

They don't know love

In a 1957, Mike Wallace interviewed Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger who talked "about why she became an advocate for birth control, over-population, the Catholic Church, and morality." If one reads the transcript, one can agree on what Dawn Eden says in her blog of MS, "There's no eugenicist like an old eugenicist."

There is one stinging rebuke that she makes of the Church, and I should say that it is MS who doesn't know how to love.

Here I quote from that interview:

WALLACE: Well let's look at the official Catholic position...opposition to Birth-Control. I read now from a church publication called "The Question Box" in forbidding Birth Control it says the following: It says the immediate purpose and primary end of marriage is the begetting of children, when the marital relation is so used as to render the fulfillment of its purposes impossible--that is by Birth Control--it is used unethically and unnaturally. Now what's wrong with that position?

SANGER: Well, it's very wrong, it's not normal it's -- it has the wrong attitude towards marriage, toward love, toward the relationships between men and women.

WALLACE: Well the natural law they say is that first of all the primary function of sex in marriage is to beget children. Do you disagree with that?

SANGER: I disagree with that a hundred percent.

WALLACE: Your feeling is what then?

SANGER: My feeling is that love and attraction between men and women, in many cases the very finest relationship has nothing to do with bearing a child. It's secondary. Many, many times and we know that --you see your birth rates and you can talk to people who have very happy marriages and they're not having babies every year. Yes, I think that's a celibate attitude...

WALLACE: Surely, a celibate attitude but you agree that Catholicism according to the tenets of Catholicism they rule that birth control violates not only the church's position --it isn't the church's position but they say it violates a natural law as I have just explained, therefore birth control is a sin no matter who practices it. Now the violation of the natural law--you certainly can take no issue with the natural law as the hierarchy of the Catholic Church regards it...

SANGER: Oh, I certainly do take issue with it and I think it's untrue and I think it's unnatural.

WALLACE: Well let me ask you

SANGER: ... It's an unnatural attitude to take --how do they know? I mean, after all, they're celibates.They don't know love, they don't know marriage, they know nothing about bringing up children nor any of the marriage problems of life, and yet they speak to people as if they were God.

Unfair and most untrue. Even then, the Church hierarchy has asked the laity in consultation in many of her decrees and pronouncements. As she does today. And I do not believe that she speaks as if she were God.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

No Good Organizations

One of the most tracked stories of last week was the Colombian Army's daring rescue of Ingrid Betancourt, 3 American defense contractors, and 11 other Colombians held hostage by the FARC for years. Definitely feel-good story.

The Colombian Army fooled the FARC into thinking that they were handing over the hostages to a FARC bigwig through an NGO.

Leaves a bad taste in the mouth since I work for an NGO. Now, why would FARC trust an NGO? Is it because FARC has dealt with NGO's before? NGO's that favored them? NGO's are non-government, yes, but should they be anti-government, working with rebels, helping them transfer hostages?

It is no wonder that governments are wary of NGO's sometimes.

Read here.

How the Hostages Were Rescued - Operation Jaque

In an operation codenamed "Jaque" members of the Colombian armed forces over time were able to infiltrate the ranks of the FARC and persuade a guerrilla known only as "Cesar" to move the high profile hostages to a pre-agreed spot for a helicopter rendezvous with an NGO. This NGO would then supposedly move the hostages to a secure place to meet potentially with the new leader of the FARC Alfonso Cano or possibly with FARC Secretariat member Mono Jojoy. The NGO in question was of course fictitious and as soon as the helicopter was airborne the Colombian military let it be known that the captives were on their way to freedom, first to San Jose del Guaviare and then later on to Bogota.

Or here.
Undercover Colombian commandoes flew to the jungle camp in a civilian helicopter, claiming to be from a fictitious non-government organisation.

There's been a buzz that "rebels" in the whole world will no longer deal with people who wear Che Guevara shirts or use anything with Che Guevara. Attention to "negotiators". You might be regarded as double crossers?

BTW, do your children like spicy food or foreign food? If they have aversion to these food, chances are they'll turn out to be declared as RACISTS! At least if they are in the UK. You cannot make this up. Read here.

Thanks to my Momma who fed me well. Thanks Ma.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Proud to be Cebuano? again?

This is another one of those.
Confusing indeed..
Why the frown?
What's this for?>>>

Proud to be Cebuano?

In a recent trip to my hometown in Mindanao, some friends and acquaintances commented especially when I talk that I have become Bisaya. Even as my Bisaya accent and vocabulary have improved through the more than half of my lifetime spent in Cebu, I tell them that I do not consider myself Bisaya.

I am still a Mindanaoan. True, I was born in Manila but my parents, both from Mindanao, came back to the Land of Promise soon after I was born and they have lived there ever since. I went to university in Manila, staying there a little over five years, and has since lived in Cebu City for almost twenty.

For about ten years now, however, I have made fortnightly trips to Mindanao for an average of 6 days a month. I still consider me, Mindanaoan.

There are just many instances when "being Cebuano" is not something to be proud of (sounding like Michelle Obama in her "hasn’t had a real moment of pride in her country" spiel some months back). One is the Cebuanos's penchant for throwing stuff into the playing field (and to the people and players in the sporting field or stage) when a decision is not favorable. Of course, hey, this happens in many places. But then why be like those in other places?

Then recently Elai narrates of a trip she makes to Cebu, an otherwise enjoyable trip to a Cebu tourist spot, with a little hitch -- she says, "ripped off".

Okay. okay, this happens in many places too. But why do we need to do as others do when we can always do better?
My hunch was that it was because of the company I was with. Like aliens carry millions of cash in their backpacks. And this company of mine told me that its unbelievable, that I get ripped off in my own country. So if you plan to go there too...i recommend you go there and get away from the noisy city. And just enjoy nature. But by all means, be smarter than me, and beware of the bad guys.
Makes me almost think, as my evil twin: GABA. GABA. GABA.

The links forzamillan made in this blog do not in any way suggest that the authors of those blogs and articles linked to support my thinking. Only that these appeared as the first ones in a google search -- evil twin.