Kapanalig Sa Wala - Literally, one who also have faith in nothing, is a play on words and wasn't really intended to mean something. It was made in jest to call the atheist camp when I was still actively debating god in one of the demised public forums out there. I think walang pananalig (faithless) would have proven to be more precise but I think the intended humor will be lost.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I tried my hand at creating a small video from a slide-show. Enjoy and please feel free to comment and/or criticize! BTW, the song title is Ask Me Jon by the Ocean Blue.

video

Edit. I have made 3 small edits on the original video. Here is an updated version.

Monday, December 24, 2007

New Old Blogs

I have moved a few posts from the other blog that I have been rarely posting to and which is about technology and geek-speak. I am shutting it down. They are mostly under the tech tag.

Filling Empty Book Shelves

If you have books lying around the house that you want to sell for cheap, please drop me a message kapanalig_sa_wala-at-yahoo.es (replace -at- with @). Please send me the titles and with the price and the conditions. I prefer books on history, Filipiniana, literature specially Philippine literature, philosophy, and art. No romance books please. I will be in Manila from time to time, I can contact you for a meet. No rush.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Foie Gras

I was in the the office today from 8:30 in the morning until about 6:00 in the evening. Except for the short break around 10:00 am to pick up a ham and cheese sandwich and a big cappuccino from the cafe at the basement, I didn't take another break until about 4:30 in the afternoon. As a result, I was starved. I work in a really expensive portion of the city and I didn't intend to spend a small fortune for a quick meal so I went to the supermarket also located at the basement. I took a banana, a chicken and rice noodle salad, and what is labeled as something with (テリネ) terrine, salmon pie, and foie gras pate. I was so tired such that I merely mumbled when the lady behind the cash register asked me something and I think I said "はい、お願いします" without really understanding what she said. Back to my desk, and after a detour to the loo and the vending machine to get my limone tea, I thought to myself I should start with the foie gras as it looked - おいしいそう - so tasty. But wait a minute. Where's the chopsticks? So that's what the lady was asking me about! Anyway, the basement is too far to go back to and I most probably somebody else has been keeping some disposable chopsticks around and sure enough just a few desks away, I found them. Great foie gras using chopsticks! I took a bite and savored it. It really is so tasty! Why didn't I know about this before? Right then I decided that it's never to late to learn a few more things about it so I turned to the net to find out more about this very tasty something. But what I found out almost made me choke for two reasons. First is reading how foie gras is prepared force-feeding the goose or duck to make its liver grow abnormally bigger and second, because literally, foie gras is French for fatty liver! I know of a disease in humans of the same name and I thought it could not be any different given the way its preparation has been described. I was diagnosed with a fatty liver two or three years ago so I know it very well to make my imagination run weird things. I don't usually eat liver, except the occasional chicken liver and the canned liver spread. Moral of the story is the old cliche that if you want to enjoy what you're eating, don't bother finding out how it's prepared. I heard from my very knowledgeable ex-manager how some great tasting tender juicy Japanese beef are prepared but that's another story. Will I have foie gras again? I love steaks. Maybe I'll have foie gras with it occasionally.

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Books On Origins

The books currently in my small shelf. This section is where books on science and religion are lumped together. Due to lack of space (space is a premium in Tokyo!) and from time to time I ship my books to the Philippines such that they don't accumulate here. Shipping them over has its downside and upside. The downside is that I cannot just pick up a book if I like to. The upside is that I get to keep them even if they are so inconvenient for me. I'd rather ship it than give them to others here as what is customary once there is a space crunch at home.

I just got news that the first shelves in my home mini-library in Laguna are almost done. I hope they look good. My shelf here is one of the cheap assemble-yourself type so there's not much joy looking at the books since the shelf is so ugly. I may get the chance to come home yet this New Year's and I am excited with the book shelves. If it looks good, I'll take a picture and post it here.

The small purple book above is the Jefferson bible. A curious book the verses of which were based on the Christian bible and compiled by Thomas Jefferson, handpicking the non-supernatural portions of the four gospels and arranging them chronologically as he thought the events "happened". The huge book is Stephen Jay Gould's Structure of Evolutionary Theory. I still have to read it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Clutter

I just realized how cluttered my desktop has become in just a week!



Here is another shot taken a bit later. No wonder I couldn't find small items when I need them.



On the pictures is six-year old Yuki's monitor, an Eizo FlexScan L557. On the foreground is AnnieHall, the 3 year old PowerBook G4 I am using. I think the flat screen can be used in the Philippines. I read somewhere it's dual rated with 100/240 VAC but I couldn't confirm it yet. If so, I'll bring it home one day to make space to my desk and give me some legroom since Yuki's half tower is bulky, noisy, and dissipates a lot of heat, specially in summer. And besides, I have been using AnnieHall all of the time now proving that I don't need a Windows desktop any longer.


(This post has been moved from another blog I am thinking of shutting down.)


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Obligatory Post

Low Red Moon by Belly is playing on iTunes. I don't know what to write about. All I know is that I have to write something. This blog has been desolate for quite some time now. Neglected. I had been busy with a lot of things lately, mostly work or work-related. Nothing fantastic about if you may add. Something that wont go away and wont let up anyway. I am giving myself a small break tomorrow so tonight I can stay awake longer than what have been my recent usual bedtime. I may not be home by year-end. Everything is still not so sure given that I am responsible for a delivery of something important that cannot be delayed. I have to stay in the office even a few days of missed work-days can be fatal. I am writing this as a filler. So that the archive will not look ugly. LOL. Maybe I should talk more about work and less about other things since it's work that keeps me busy for most part of each passing day. As a matter of fact I came in late this morning at 10:15 right to the minute that I promised my team I would be in. There was the regular fire drill but I didn't participate. I told them my role this time is to be the unknown casualty to be discovered under the rubbles or the ruins after the fire shall have been been contained. I just came in, dude. Didn't want to waste my time, or what's remaining of it on something I think I am already certified given that I had participated in it twice or three times before... After getting coffee it's even 15 minutes shortened and yet the amount of work to be tackled for the day was unchanged and unapologetically keeping my mind busy... I'd better start digging in soon. Tomorrow morning I shall not be in the office though I may find myself logged in from home just to check on the guys and fire off some emails to make sure things don't stop and wait for my input when it's needed. I am but a small part of a huge machine we call The Corporation. This particular corporation happened to have some 100,000s moving parts. Each part has its designated role much like in a socialist state. Each role is deemed necessary though the degree of importance vary by degrees or orders of magnitude. There is a rationale behind each moving part however small. Just like there is a rationale for each moving part of a real mechanical apparatus like typewriter or a computer keyboard even. I fool myself that I am a part that is essential though I'm not. I can be replaced anytime. A commodity. I know this and I understand its implications. One day I may find myself replaced but the machine will continue to move on.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Unconditional Pardon?

Today's news item almost made me fall off my seat:

"...deposed president Joseph Estrada on Sunday strongly indicated he would accept an unconditional pardon that would involve no admission of guilt, if Malacañang offered it to him."

This Erap guy is still in denial. By now, he should accept reality. He was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt so he is not in the position now to lay down any terms for his pardon. But we cannot really blame him. The GMA administration, it looks like, is willing to trivialize the otherwise very significance of Erap spending the rest of his life rotting in jail, deservedly if I may add, for serious crime of corruption, under the preposterous guise of "national interest" according to Interior Secretary Puno and according to the same news item. National interest my ass? Reducing if not eradicating corruption is for national interest. What he should look at, in the name of national interest, is how to reduce corruption under his responsibility.

This is what is so wrong in our country. Justice is prostituted by those in power. Petty criminals or even those that are just falsely-accused rot in jail even before their cases get resolved, if at all, while the rich and powerful talk about pardon for very serious crimes. To Mt. Puno, please use your time for more important matters please.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

OFW Assistance Or Burden?

I am an OFW. I mean, I now call myself an OFW. I don't like the term. It's not necessary. Or it's not necessarily applicable to any Pinoy who happen to be working outside the country because we all have our different reasons. One valid reason is that our government is grossly inefficient and our society is generally corrupted. I started to call myself an OFW because I was forced into it by our government. I hate dealing with our government bureaucracy. It always set me into cursing for the small stupid things that it makes you do before you can complete something, like filling out government forms. Let me narrate my latest story about this OFW thing. You can call it a tragedy, a comedy, or horror, depending on your mood. Here it goes. I went into a short holiday last month. All in all, I was in the country for about nine days. I didn't get an Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC (which always get me into trouble at the immigration) this time since going to the Philippine embassy in Roppongi is out of my way. I figured, I'll just have to get an OEC before I leave and before I check in my baggage because the last time I left the country, I was turned back by the immigration officer to get an OEC but that's another tragedy to narrate for another day. So departure date, the morning flight was delayed by four hours because there was a typhoon raging in Tokyo. I went to the OWWA office of the old terminal to get an OEC. The guy told me I needed to give him an updated copy of my e-ticket that reflects the flight time as 13:30, not 9:30 as the original flight time was. He said he needed it because I am a chance passenger. I explained that I was not a chance passenger, my flight was delayed by four hours because of the typhoon but he insisted. Knowing that I cannot win an argument against one-track mind people like him (I've dealt with his kind many times), I left and decided to check in first. (For those of you who have not heard of an e-ticket, your flight booking is stored in a system that is accessible anywhere given the right permission so what you have is a printout copy of your flight booking. It's a better system compared to traditional ticketing in the sense that if you lose your ticket printout, you can request a new one and you are guaranteed to get it since it's just a matter of printing out the e-ticket details again.) Anyway, since I thought I can get it only from the check-in counter since the airline doesn't hold office outside the terminal, I had no choice but to get inside the terminal and check into the counter and get it from the airline officer at the check-in counter. I queued up outside the airport terminal and finally was able to get to the check-in counter after about twenty minutes. I requested the lady if she could issue me an updated ticket that reflects the new flight time but she said they are not issuing such kind, and besides my printout is still valid and because there is no need of such updated printout. I said the guy at the OWWA would not take that explanation but she said that my flight details including the delay is posted in the OWWA office as well. Ayun naman pala. Okay, I had to go back to the OWWA office to give exactly that explanation. Since I already checked in, I had to exit through this small door which is right next to the OWWA office but I would have to surrender my boarding pass to the lady guard who will then give me the usual "bilisan mo, malapit na boarding ng flight mo" crap (translated: hurry up, your flight is close to boarding). She never fails to give me this each time the system gives me a hard time. So I got my small piece of cardboard that will serve as my claim ID when I come back to get my boarding pass. Thirty minutes later, I was back to the OWWA office. I queued and waited for my turn. There were about two dozen Pinays also queued up. When it was my turn, the guy said I was in the wrong queue but he signalled the next guy to take my case anyway so that I didn't have to go back to the end of The Right Queue. I tried looking for any sign or instruction that could possibly give me a hint which one is the right queue but there was none, as I suspected. Somehow, they think OFWs have some kind of power to tell which is the right queue or there would be a lot of cussing around the place because people are in the wrong queue half of the time (there are only two queues at the moment). The other guy gave me a form and told me to fill it up and go to the other end of the floor to get further instructions. The guy and lady at the other end examined my passport and had it photocopied. Then he told me to go back to the other end. I had to queue again to be fair to every other OFW. When again it's my turn, the guy told me I was in the wrong queue again. I would have argued but I thought I needed to exercise restraint because at this moment I was at their mercy, they can further delay me. The last time I tried arguing with the another OWWA employee during another earlier vacation, the OWWA employee tried to hoodwink me by inserting my Alien Registration Card between the receipts and telling me he already gave it back but I never took my eyes away from it so I was able to get it back. Going back to the story, he told me he could not issue my OEC yet unless I gave him a copy of my boarding pass. WTF?!? This doesn't make any sense at all! This statement put me into semi-argumentative mood in order to sway their mind why for the life of me, do they need that for? I said it's just the boarding pass, what's it got to do with all these? My flight was to board in the next sixty minutes and besides, they should know that the guards take the boarding pass when passengers exit the airport terminal. Hindi talaga pwede, balikan nyo na lang po. I stepped outside the office seething with anger now since I fail to see the point at all. The existentialists must be saying: I told you so. A lot of the fellow OFWs heard me curse "putang-inang OWWA talaga 'to kahit kailan pahirap!" as I walked away from the counter. I stepped outside and went to the terminal exit next door to get my boarding pass back but the security guards, including the lady security guard who was holding my boarding pass, wont let me even explain why I seem to be trying to enter the terminal through the exit door which is absolutely not allowed, and which I wasn't trying to. I tried to explain that I only wanted to get my boarding pass back which is right there with the lady guard. They told me I had to use the entrance door to get back inside. No lady, I am not trying to get inside. I am just trying to get my boarding pass which you are currently holding. As I tried harder to argue, yet another guard started to walk my way motioning that they are not interested in what I was saying, telling me to go back and use the entrance door. Fuck! I went to the entrance door jumping the queue since I could not lose another thirty minutes. The guards at the entrance told me to go back to the end of the queue since it's not fair for other passengers but what is fair in this scheme of things anyway? I explained that I already checked in and I am just going to get my boarding pass. After awhile they let me in. Once inside again, again I jumped the queue and went straight to the X-Ray machine and walk straight through inside. If I had a bomb, I could have easily did it. What security! I went straight to the lady guard and told them why they had to make me go all the way to the entrance door when all they had to do was give me back my boarding pass which was right in her hands. Obviously, they sensed that I was already angry and told me that I shouldn't be angry because they were just doing their job. The government must have been paying them to be stupid because that seemed to me to be what they were doing - to be complete stupid automatons unable to think on their own. I got my boarding pass now after badmouthing them. Another fifteen minutes later I was back in the OWWA office photocopy machine to have my boarding pass copied. I went back to the OWWA officer to give him the copy and he game me my OEC. I swear to the devil, I would have turned terrorist if they told me to go back again. Now my flight is about boarding time and I still had to go through immigration. I went to the entrance door jumping the queue again and again the guards told me to go back to the end of the queue. After a minute of argument, they let me in. I jumped the queue again in the X-Ray machine and went to immigration.

That's it.

If I may suggest a few improvements into the system. Here they are:

1) After check-in passengers should be allowed to get outside the terminal again without surrendering their boarding pass to the stupid guards at the exit door. There is absolutely no point for them to hold a passenger's boarding pass should the passenger need to exit the terminal.

2) Have a more efficient method in OWWA. Get another fecking photocopy machine right next to the guy at the counter who needs them copies. Don't have to require copying the boarding pass. They already copy the passport and visa and the ticket. It's more than enough information. In fact, don't require copies of the ticket as well. It's just a waste of paper.

3) OEC can be in the form of a sticker that is attached to the passport like a visa. It should have a fixed-term validity that is as good as the passport, say five years, and optionally applied at the same time as the passport, paid-for once. On immigration, it takes validity (exemptions) if when leaving the country, the OFW has a work visa.

4) Abolish the government.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Origins Library

The Origins Library. That's how I fancy the name of my future self-sufficient library that will house, hopefully, a comprehensive collection of great books on origins, most specially, human origins. I have started to collect the books by the greatest evolutionary biologists like Theodosius Dobzhansky, Sewall Wright, R.A. Fisher, J.B.S. Haldane, Motoo Kimura, John Maynard Smith, Stephen Jay Gould, Ernst Mayer, George Gaylord Simpson, Richard Dawkins, and of course Charles Darwin. A lot of things have been discovered, new ideas introduced, and old ideas refuted since Darwin. Evolutionary theory has undergone many revisions in the course of the last hundred and fifty years that Darwin's ideas are not sufficient to understand evolution in its current incarnation. I would like to get as many books as possible that contributed immensely to the current understanding and/or consensus on evolution as well as the current issues and debates peripheral to the theory. Aside from evolutionary biologists, I would also like to include books by Frans De Waal and Jane Goodall of which I have a few already, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas. I will post the list of books in a website I would like to build in conjunction with it for purposes of "advertising" it to the community. I would like it to be accessible to college students taking up biology as well as to teachers of science. I am still thinking of how best to manage it since the books are not so cheap specially if preference is given to hardcover editions over paperbacks to make them last longer.

The Origins Library, founded 2007.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Of Spambots

I have added the "Humanizer" mod into the Philippine Atheists forum. From now on, spambots must contribute to the debate: the forum will now require that spambots express an opinion on the existence of god, in short, more human than robot. Soon we will see them categorized into two camps: on one side are believer bots, and on another, the non-believer bots. I am sorry to say agnostics wont be able to join the forum. :D Just kidding! Try it, you may be surprised that your answer may be acceptable.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lost in Akihabara

Akihabara is a district of Tokyo. It is the unofficial geek Mecca to the technology religious. I will never be lost in its streets. I guess I know its streets very well now. I have bought a lot of stuffs from there, including the used 14" CRT monitor for Hiroko, the first and cheap PC I built here to help me fight boredom in my serviced apartment. In Akihabara you'll find all kinds of things and merchandise and services that target the otaku. There were lots of people and there are girls dressed in different costumes called cosplay in Japanese. (Another place where cosplay is common is at Yoyogi Park in Harajuku.). Anyway, I went to Akihabara today straight from work around 3pm. It was very hot this afternoon but there were many people as usual, including the gaijins carrying big Laox paper bags filled with shopping merchandise as if it's the only store out there. I had to check at Tsukumo on what is the latest and hottest gadgets if I want to build a new PC. Based on what are now abundantly available, it looks like super-cooling your PC is now a necessary part of any new PC as a big portion of the 1st floor is dedicated to all kinds of schemes to cool the CPU, the case, the memory, the video card, etc. I was surprised at myself because nothing that I saw appealed to me. I usually get excited at seeing new motherboards and new peripherals but today I didn't have the urge to buy anything yet. I was kind of hoping I would be able to find a cable that will convert VGA or DVI into D4 for my TV but I was not so eager to look for it as well, and maybe I already saw it but I suddenly became uninterested. I went next to Yodobashi Akiba, maybe I can take a peek at the latest iMac released just last Monday. It was sexy. I would like to have one. Again I started to think about having Yuki exiled to Laguna to make some room in the 4.5 tatami room where I have my stuffs. Oh, I wish things will be so much simpler than getting caught in a desire for something I don't need at all. But who could not be tempted, 24" of beautiful pixel real-estate enough for an xemacs and many X terminals to be visible at the same time! No, I wont get lost in Akihabara, but I easily lose the sense of time, as I drift from store to store not just gawking but most of the time able to touch and feel and play around with the latest geek toys.

Each time I visit Akihabara, I had had to buy something, anything, before I can really go home. And if I didn't set out to buy anything in particular, I usually ended up buying something I didn't have immediate need for but still related to electronics. One time, I was so desperate I just picked up a Philips screwdriver just so I could start for home. Today I bought a cheap but cute red camera bag. It was 7:30pm and I was starving already so I had to really get going. I think it's a steal with it being a practical thing to buy.

Picture above is the Akihabara JR station on the side where Akihabara UDX building is located.


(This post is copied from another blog I am thinking of shutting down. 12.24.2007)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Of Macs and Men

Whenever we visit Ginza, we always drop by the Apple Store. There, you can check the latest products and try them out. I love the latest notebooks specially the black 13" MacBook with a widescreen aspect ratio. I wish I have a penny for each of the things I want, but here in Tokyo where space is a premium, you can only have one (or two?) of them at a time. I am seriously considering ditching Yuki, my Athlon PC running Win2k, to make space for an Apple computer but I don't have a new home for her yet. I think I should ship her to Laguna but I have taken good care of her that parting with her will not be easy. And besides, she's got choice parts when I built her a good five years ago. She is sexy in the all-aluminum case, with a 500 watt power supply. I have not replaced a single part since I built her and I only re-built her OS once in her first year. Recently, Win2k support has been discontinued such that I have not been getting anymore OS update. This means, her OS is now officially, frozen in time, waiting to be euthanized when no more new software will be compatible out-of-the-box for her to run. Consider the latest digital cameras and mobile phones. The latest of these gadgets are no longer supported directly so I had to use a cheap flash card reader if I need to upload pictures. Going back to Macs, I thought I should get a Mac mini instead so that I can still use the monitor and the keyboard, and ship only Yuki's brain out but I read somewhere Mac minis are no-brainers but the next option is a PowerMac which I think is too costly for my own purposes as most of the time I will only be using her for no-brainer tasks like emailing and browsing porn so it wont really matter that much if I use a mini. Add to that the fact that it's simply too bulky for Tokyo reality. I may decide yet, when Leopard starts shipping.

The truth is, for a year now, I had been itching to give Yuki a make-over. I have not built a new PC for over five years and new technologies have been around and old ones that she was built upon have been obsoleted. I need to to be able to feel the new hardware whenever I click the mouse or save a file. But Yuki has been performing well. She has been hit by a few worms before that I had to remove manually and she always came out less and less prone to infection with every OS updates, maybe because the worm-making industry had shifted its effort to XP a few years ago. Since she has continued to give good service, I intend to reward her by not upgrading any of her parts and OS until they're really broken. I reckon I can still get good service for a few more years without breakage but Apple is really dishing out good arguments for it. The only complaint I have for Yuki is that she is a little bit noisy, with her three fans. (She has five but I disabled the two.) Well, let's wait a few more months then...

On Adobo


One casual moment, my manager told me about his mother who likes to cook chicken avocado which he said is a Filipino dish but surprisingly there's no avocado in it. I was a bit puzzled because I never heard of such a dish before so I asked him more questions. Finally, I figured out he was talking about chicken adobo so I explained to him what is adobo. I explained to him (I could be wrong) that adobo is a Filipino dish, the main characteristic of which is that it has vinegar in it. It doesn't matter what kind of vinegar, as long as it has vinegar. That not all Filipino dishes with vinegar are called adobo while no adobo has no vinegar. No vinegar, you don't have adobo. (This is not the fact it seems.) But there are many ways of making an adobo, and none of them are more adobo than the others. For example, in eastern parts of Laguna, there is a very common but different kind of adobo - cooked with coconut milk - while I have never encountered it elsewhere, it seems like it's quite well-known in the whole country. On our part, we call it, adobo sa gata (adobo on coconut milk), and it's usually chicken.

Based on the above, it now seems that the word adobo is a generic term, and based on the above-cited Wikipedia article, is in fact, Spanish in origin, which means marinate. Not a surprise of course given that the Philippines was under Spanish rule and cultural influence for over three hundred years. So adobo means different things to different Pinoys, and non-Pinoys for that matter. There is a standard-carinderia adobo and sub-culture adobo cooked in a non-conformist kitchen. Arguably, today's adobo is not the same as yesterday's adobo since ingredients also change over time. Whereas now we use commercial vinegar, my grandparents used vinegar from Balian (Pangil, Laguna) which also implies that tomorrow's adobo will be different still. At any given time, there will be an adobo dogma and adobo heresy. There is traditional adobo and fusion adobo. I bet that if adobo ever attains international recognition (doubtful), in the same way that pizza or chopsuey did, it will be a relative adobo to the culture it finds itself into. Indian adobo will be spicy, while Japanese adobo will definitely have mirin in it. Perhaps a Korean adobo will have a hint of kimchi and a Saudi pork adobo, though a valid theory, is less likely to exist in practice at all, the idea itself considered absurd/heretical by the gastronomical orthodoxy held by the zealots but nonetheless merits serious attention that holding the concept in public discourse must be punishable by public decapitation. Yet all of these variations are adobo in their own right taken in their respectively proper context. As long as adobo cannot be reduced to mathematical and mechanical means, adobo will continue to be a concept with different meanings and different degrees of having the quality of adobo-ness taken from different vantage points.

Pictured above is a mean pork Adobo with hard-boiled egg, Tokyo, circa 2007 CE.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Niigata Earthquake Today

Niigata prefecture (and Northern Nagano prefecture) was hit by strong earthquakes again today. The earthquakes are strong enough to be felt in Tokyo, where I live, as intensity 4 in the Japanese scale. Japan is probably the most earthquake prone country in the world. Ever since I came to Japan more than seven years ago, I could not remember a single year that an earthquake of considerable magnitude didn't strike, somewhere in the country. Here is a running list of earthquakes that has hit the country, updated automatically I presume: Japan earthquakes. What is very interesting though is how they have managed to live and deal with this type of natural disaster. For example, earthquake bulletin is really impressive, with reporting on the epicenter, the magnitude, and the depth of the earthquake are flashed on TV as it happens, followed immediately by the tsunami bulletin. Even the newsroom while the earthquake is happening are sometimes shown. For example, today's strong earthquake bulletin included footage of the Niigata newsroom. Because of these strong earthquakes that strike Japan in a regular basis, Japan maybe the most earthquake-aware and earthquake-ready population. Niigata was hit by a M6.8 (Japanese scale) earthquake three years ago. That year, the people most affected by the quake had a difficult winter. I hope the damages this time would be less.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Did Rizal Retract?

Rizal was not Catholic. At least for most of his adult life. He was most probably a deist like most freethinkers of his time. Sabi ng Katolikong Simbahan si Rizal daw ay nag-retract ngunit walang matibay na prueba ang Simbahan. Maliban sa testimonya ng pari, ang "ebidensiya" ng Simbahan ay isang sulat daw na pinirmahan ni Rizal nung araw bago siya pinatay. Yung dokumentong ito ay "nawala" daw kasama na rin ng dokumento ng di umano'y Katolikong kasal ni Rizal kay Josephine. Hindi maipakita ng Katolikong Simbahan ang dokumentong sinasabi kahit na mailang ulit na hiningi ng pamilya ni Rizal. "Natagpuan" lang ang mga mahahalagang dokumentong ito noong 1935, o 39 na taon matapos ma-firing squad si Rizal. As suggested already, the Catholic Church should submit the supposed retraction letter to an independent forensic investigating body, for example, the FBI, to settle once and for all the issue that the retraction letter is not a fabrication but the Church has not been frorthcoming in this regard.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Venus Doing Good

It's 2:00 AM and I am supposed to be asleep. Tomorrow i need to be at the office for some very important work. I came home late just one and a half hours ago having left the office around 10:30pm but dropped by the Izakaya where some friends are having a quick chat over beers and Japanese food. Then Wimbledon! I caught Federer's match against Ferrero where the world number one disposed of Ferrero in four sets. Next up is the Venus Williams Ana Ivanovic game which Venus won to advance into the final. Williams owned Ivanovic. The first set just ended after 35 minutes with the set going to Williams at 6-2. The second set also went to Williams with some spectacular play. I am rooting for Williams to win Wimbledon for the fourth time and she is now waiting for her opponent, most probably world number one Henin. I think Venus will beat her convincingly. Let's see.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Power of Prayer

Everytime I leave the office, I say my goodbyes to the people who are still working. In IT, you know a lot of developers do it as programming is a creative process. I have a few colleagues who are Pinoys and I always make it a point that I'd drop by their cubicles before I leave. My favorite expression to them is Magpakabait ka (be good). This evening, it's my turn to be left behind and W, my Pinay colleague who sits next to me, said the same thing. "Yes, I will," I replied. Then put my hands together as if in the act of praying. She said, being good is doing good not in praying to be good. Now, this is what I also believe. Being good has got nothing to do with praying. She said, it's like praying to be rich. You can pray all you want but no amount of praying, if praying is all you do, can make you rich. You have to work (hard) for it. That is obvious of course. What is not obvious for the believers though is this: you need not pray at all in order to accomplish anything, including getting rich. Prayer has got nothing to do with work. I asked her if she's heard about Occam's Razor. She said she haven't so I proceeded to explain it to her. What you have just told me is practical Occam's Razor. I will give you another example. I have this paper cup on my table. I placed it in front of me and pretended I was praying. I told her, I can pray all I want but the paper cup wont move, no Divine Intervention coming my way. I know it and she knows it and you know it but if you are a fanatic, you wont be able to accept it, but it's true nonetheless. What I can do is use my hand to move the cup, which I did. Normally, one would not see anything unusual in this simplistic exercise. It's not an issue as moving the cup is a straightforward undertaking where there are not much unknowns involved. But as more unknowns are added into the situation, as more ignorance is involved, bigger and bigger portion of the exercise are attributed by the religious that a Cosmic Force is out there helping us thus, "sa awa ng diyos, nailipat ko yung tasa." Such is the supposed power of prayer. To me, it's nothing but a function of the believer's ignorance and misguided belief.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Love My Pointers!

As I mentioned in the earlier post, I am very reluctant to switch to Java as my main programming language at work. Why? I guess one reason is that I have this fetish of feeling the wires of the machine in my own programs. I don't want to stay away from the 0s and 1s. As much as possible, I like to have the illusion of control on my pointers, memory, and registers. I tried looking for assembly language work but they were scarce then, and scarcer now than before, so I settled for C programming. When I first did C++/C programming, I immediately loved it. My cousin wanted to have a pulldown menu system in his Clipper application and I volunteered to write one for him, in C. I read up on how to interface Clipper with C modules. It was sweet. I like to visualize my functions on how they will look in the stack, how my data structures will populate the heap, what the application footprint will be. Because of this, I was slower than necessary in finishing my programs. I tend to do premature optimization and always conscious of memory footprint and application performance. This is a product of my abnormal passion to do assembly programming. I remember in COBOL class, my teacher Miss Chua noticed that I was having trouble with my workstation so she approached me to ask me what seemed to be the problem with my COBOL program. The assembly language program I was debugging in the COBOL lab was hung and even a Ctrl+Alt+Del wont do to abort it as the BIOS interrupts were messed up already. Yes, that was DOS era and I am talking about BIOS, interrupt handling, and a COM program as opposed to an EXE program. I was debugging a small COM program that's supposed to be for my Operating Systems class under Mr. Didulo, a memory-resident utility I affectionately called Looney Tools. It was made to intercept the BIOS keyboard interrupt and scan the key combination of Ctrl+Alt+T and it will kick in, much like the Borland Sidekick. She asked me if I wanted to do my COBOL machine problem in assembly. I restrained myself so I wouldn't get into trouble any further but deep inside of me, I wanted to scream: YES! Fuck COBOL, give my pointers back!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

13 Years Of Being A Code Monkey

Next month, I shall have been programming, officially as my job, for thirteen years. In all these years I have done mostly C++/C programming in various platforms including DOS, Windows, and now UNIX (Solaris). But nowadays, I have been spending less than half of my time on programming and finding myself doing more and more of paper pushing, chasing signatures, and being the dump site of the miscellaneous stuffs that other co-programmers don't want to do - mainly, paperwork. I am starting to feel I am losing that technical side the more I do this. Part of this is that I have been resisting being absorbed by the Java wave as I seem to be reluctant to spend considerable effort on getting acquainted with the Java class libraries. I have been doing mostly C++/C programming and with which I feel I am still not an expert, yet I must build my skills again from the ground up for yet another programming language. I have many books that I have yet to read but my motivation is so low. Part of this is because I don't see myself as programming in Java full-time but rather, the skills that I need to acquire is to give me a certain level of proficiency where I can jump into the code and fix small items to help the team by focusing on the things that don't seem trivial and easy while others devote their time and energy on solving the biggest issues of the day. Any problem that will require longer time to do than a day or two will just drag on and on as I get interrupted with the other stuffs that I would be looking after, e.g., replying to trivial queries from other groups, attending meetings, reporting status, and so on. I know this look like I am stuck badly but I see something at the end of all this. I know there is some value in what I do but I cannot give a name to it somehow. At any rate, I can go back to programming any time if I choose to yet I haven't done so. I am at the crossroad. I am re-thinking my next move all this time. Meanwhile, I am giving myself a few petty projects that should finally help me re-gain that competitive technical skills that I will be needing in the next few months.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Independence Day

In my opinion, you don't have the magnitude to imply things like what you belive in, because if there's no God then you wouldn't have a purpose at all in this world even if you control the whole world with your computers.

If you will read "The Purpose Driven Life" and "Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom you'll be enlightened.


Believe you me I got this piece of unsolicited advice from somebody who admitted he got agitated because I wrote a statement of fact: that I don't believe in the concept of god. Based on this mere statement, he was able to write a lot about me. Frankly, I don't know how to react to his post because I don't like to stir the forum with a non-issue. But I think he read too much between the lines, flamed me, but got a blowback instead. Good for him.

I must tell him though, that the people who read The Purpose Driven Life are still in doubt about (a) their purpose, or (b) their life. Seriously though, I haven't read that book myself and I will do so only if somebody will lend me his copy - by all means, let me see if I will be enlightened! Do I need a purpose in life? Naaah. I am happy with what I have and what I am and what I live for. It doesn't sit well with me the idea that there is some cosmic force (farce?) out there that is interested in my life and how I live it, whether I screw up or not.

Happy Independence Day. I hope today your mind is free.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

New Dawn Fades

I am listening to Joy Division - my reliable source of self-induced depression. This song is one of the most intense I've ever heard and is a personal favorite.




New Dawn Fades (by Joy Division)

A change of speed, a change of style
A change of scene, with no regrets
A chance to watch, admire the distance
Still occupied, though you forget
Different colours, different shades
Over each mistakes were made
I took the blame
Directionless so plain to see
A loaded gun won't set you free
So you say
We'll share a drink and step outside
An angry voice and one who cried:
"I'll give you everything and more,
the strain's too much, can't take much more."
Oh, I've walked on water, danced with fire
Can't seem to take it anymore
It was me, waiting for me this time
Hoping for something more
Hoping for something else
Me, waiting for me this time
Hoping for something more.


Here is a great acoustic cover by John Frusciante. Please take note that the lyrics is somewhat different.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Zard Vocalist Sakai Izumi Dead At 40

I was shocked and saddened to hear the news, though a week late, about the passing of Sakai Izumi, the vocalist of the very popular J-pop group Zard. When I first came to Japan, I immediately felt at home because of J-pop. I bought this cheap component system with MD player/recorder entirely from the points I got when I bought my SLR film camera from Yodobashi. I would borrow CDs from this CD/video/DVD rental shop near my place in Hatagaya (near Shinjuku via Toei Shinjuku line) and I'd record them in MDs. Zard was one of the bands I liked listening to because of the very enthusiastic beat that made me feel light and happy. Zard's melodies set me into an optimistic mood.

Here is one song I like to listen to.

She will be missed by fans.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Being Blunt

My manager and a peer were discussing their project this morning and joking about it while I was staring at my PC when I thought I heard my name mentioned again so I peeked behind my monitor and asked them what it was they're discussing. They were telling me, as a kind of joke, that my manager should first convince me about something (I didn't really catch what it was) because I am hard to convince, as I am an atheist. My manager said, "but he is not an atheist" and turning to me repeated it, "you are not an atheist" and I replied: "What is it to you? Is it relevant to your project?" Yes was my peers reply. I asked them again, "how is my lack of belief relevant to your discussion or project?" My manager insisted that I am not an atheist. But I stood firm and asked him again "why is my belief a relevant subject in our work environment?" Sensing that I was serious, they changed the subject. Sometimes, you have to be blunt in order to deliver the message.

Monday, May 28, 2007

PhilippineAtheists.Org Is Offline

It will be back soon. Apologies.

Rebranded!

I have renamed the blog from Pinoy Infidel, Inc. to Kapanalig Sa Wala to give it a more Pinoy flavor. Also, I have revived a dead blog to separate my posts that are not about atheism.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Voter registration

I was able to vote in the last election but not without a slight snag. My name was still in the voters' list but when I was to cast my vote, my name was crossed out already in the list inside the precinct (not the one posted just outside). The chairman (I don't know her) was for a moment at a loss. I insisted that I be allowed to vote and she relented.

My question is, how does the COMELEC decide who should be struck out from the list and who decides? What are the criteria used? I have been abroad for over seven years now but I always make it a point to come home to Laguna at least three times a year. I am building my residence in Laguna and am planning of opening up my business very soon, right in the same barangay where I am a registered voter. I have vested interest in the future of Laguna and have as much the same right to vote as anybody who is staying in Laguna.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Inefficient utility company or deliberate?

I was in the Philippines during the last election. During the ballot counting, as this is not without precedent in in my hometown, power was cut-off many times, and at least in one instance, only in the portion where ballot counting was happening. This happened in the second level of the public market which is temporarily converted into public high school classrooms. I posted this in the community forum, just to ask the question since it seems it has not been mentioned at all:

I am wondering why the brownouts were never mentioned at all? Is it not important?

I was in Ibaba and in the upper palenke during the ballot counting and in one instance, the brownout hit only the upper palenke while in the heat of counting the ballots. After sometime, Ibaba had the power restored but the upper palenke continued to have no power for some time. It's totally irrational. It makes one think that it can only be explained as a purely deliberate action by somebody playing tricks on our townfolks as it happened a couple of times. I am not saying it's this or that camp. It could very well be just a prank but I am not sure if any effort has been made to find out why power was lost only in the upper palenke during the crucial moment of ballot counting. I have never seen anything like it before.

Just wondering.

I am waiting for the first ad hominem I'll get with this post. Pinoys are very sensitive and always resort to ad hominems as if it's always the best argument.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Freethought discussion group

I will be experimenting on organizing an informal group of freethinkers or with people interested in what freethought is about. When on vacation in the Philippines, I spend most of my time in my hometown in Laguna so I think it's better to have a local group there where it will be more convenient for me. So far, I have received no email. I will keep the thread alive in case somebody notices, or maybe it will take off one day. One day may be months and months ahead. I'll be waiting. Anyway, my library is still not setup. I would like to have a plan of the library to be built soon. I will be stuffing it with books on history, philosophy, science, and religion. I envision a cafe+library style venue where there are few coffee tables next to the bookshelves. I already shipped many books but they are languishing in the stockroom waiting to be re-discovered. I will make sure the library will be available by the end of this year.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Updated PA.org Forum

I took advantage of the Golden Week holidays to update the Philippine Atheists forum consolidating forums and posting initiating a few new topics. Hopefully, I can sustain this for some time until it becomes self-sustaining.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Re-organizing Pinoy atheists

There is again an initiative to register a truly atheist organization for and by Pinoys. This time, it's being started by somebody new to the Pinoy Atheists mailing list. If you are interested, please visit the Pinoy Atheists for details.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Priest as drinking buddy

This article from the Inquirer reminded me of an occasion many many years ago. When a HS friend of mine had his son baptized, one of the godfathers was the Paete parish priest of the time, also named Tony. He was a drinker and being the priest that he was, he can really sing (I always think priests are good singers) likes to sing as well. In fact, he had his own karaoke machine to bring along with him. While drinking, he told us stories and anecdotes about sex. Yes, he was a priest; a Catholic priest. I wonder where he is now?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

After Holy Week

Somebody commented that Holy Week must be the happiest holidays in Paete. I can only agree with him. It's during this time of year that friends and family alike gather together like that other holiday - Christmas - only better: no pesky ina-anaks. LOLs. The good part of Holy Week is that Christians or more precisely the Catholics and Aglipayans are not supposed to be obviously happy during this time and must pretend that they are grieving, and hence must not be somewhere else having fun like the heathens in Boracay. So your typical Paetenian Catholic family finds itself holed up in a small town of about 20,000 people with nowhere to go but in spite of it are genuinely happier. What I like about this special week is that people are up and down around town on slippers and pambahay endlessly checking the on-going preparation for the evening prusisyon. Most probably I'd bump into somebody I haven't seen for years. This year, I couldn't take a break since I have a more important reason to take my vacation next month. I wish I can take my usual vacation during next year's Lenten season. Until then, belated Happy Holy Week to the Paetenians!

Monday, April 09, 2007

A Matter Of Inconvenience

I am starting to have a reputation in the office regarding my non-belief. I don't know why it had to be so since our company values diversity highly and put it in concrete written policy for everyone else to understand. Every opportunity, the word "diversity" is emphasized. Something that I fully believe to be sincere and effective. I believe religion has no place in our work environment so this incident came as a real surprise for me. Just the other day, A, was talking with R about something related to their project when I passed by them. I had to excuse myself since R was blocking the aisle. Then out of the blue R called on me and ask me: you don't believe in anything do you? I was a bit taken off. It was loud enough for everybody to hear and I can say I was a little bit "embarrassed" by the frankness of the question. I said, of course I believe in something. Please be more specific. In god. R: you don't believe in god do you? No, I don't. A: what? I am sure you must believe in something higher or anything like that. If you define god, I may answer in the affirmative. Now if you'll excuse me. Why did they have to do that? I never discussed my atheism with them. In fact, I don't discuss my atheism at work. Specially at work. It's a non-issue. I work in a company of diverse culture and presumably of belief. But could it be that some people simply assume that this diversity doesn't extend to non-belief in the same sense that many Filipinos simply assume that freedom of religion does not extend to freedom from religion since the constitution clearly states god almighty. Why does atheism seem inconvenient to the average believer? If I don't believe in their god, why is it a big deal? It's not that people of other religions share their belief so why is atheism being singled out?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rizal No Retracto

I found a gem of a blog. I am sure I will be back for more.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Short Film: Qwerty

In the Pinoy Atheists mailing list, somebody posted a link to a short film by one Paolo Dy. My knee-jerk reaction was that I thought it was lifted from an X-Files episode. Maybe it's just a coincidence but the many similarities cannot be denied. Of course I wish it's really an original by a Pinoy artist but I have to entertain my doubts. Today I have some time so I searched the net to be sure that my initial reaction carried some weight. I found the actual episode titled Conduit and it was first aired in late 1993. A few links will help, here and here, with the latter even have a snapshot of the mosaic of the missing girl, Ruby.

How did it happen?

Maybe some alien civilization had abducted Paolo Dy in his childhood and implanted in his memory this particular episode of the very popular TV series, or maybe there was a time machine and the X-Files script writers saw Dy's short film and used it as a sub-plot to an upcoming episode back in '93. Maybe Dy watched this episode (very likely given the popularity of the TV series) and the memory quickly settled in his subconscious and this short film is some sort of an artistic Freudian slip. Whatever the case may be, and if I find some time, let me try visiting the nearest Tsutaya shop and borrow some old DVDs so I can make a better comparison. For now, all I can say is: the truth is out there.

BTW, the short film itself is not bad, to the credit of Mr. Dy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Philippine democracy is a farce

If the Filipino masses are intelligent enough to collectively arrive at decisions that are well argued and well thought of, our democracy will be a lot better shape than it is now. With the upcoming election, it's so obvious that our "democracy" is a cosmic farce. It will be proven once again when the votes are cast and counted, the winners announced. This is true at the local level, this is true for the national level. Our criteria and mechanism for choosing our public servants and leaders are irrational and not reliable. It is to the interest of the powers-that-be that the status quo be undisturbed. They need to keep the masses in line in order for them to continue to rule and enrich themselves. Our system is nothing but a public battle ground for families aspiring for power. Some things never change. We still have the ago-go Oreta of the Aquino clan as Exhibit A for this madness. We have old dynasties persisting, and new ones in the making. To my fellow Pinoys: congratulations, you deserve the clowns.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I Make People Sick?

Somebody, told me a few hours ago:

pinoy_atheist2000 (2007/02/15 21:47:56): Your presence makes me sick

[sic]

I guess I can live with that. I don't have time to be bothered by people who have so much time in their hands that even my existence becomes an issue. Get a life, dude! Or better yet, get a girlfriend!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I Was Once An Atheist

I often hear the score: like you "I was once an atheist" but I weighed the evidence and found {Jesus Christ|Allah|Natalie Portman} to be real! While I'd prefer not to doubt their sincerity, the phrase has become too common that it has now almost achieved cliche status. Now I take it as the usual yadda yadda you can skip to arrive at the point he/she is trying to make, and that is: I know the emptiness of your (atheism) argument because I have been there already and it ain't any better. I wasn't really a true believer so I cannot counter with "I was a believer once". All I remember is that I finally accepted "god" is nothing but an excuse not to pursue the big questions any longer. Once you accepted the "god did it" hypothesis as fact, all the important questions fall in the proper places, i.e., under the philosophical rug.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Confrontation or Tolerance?

It's been a long time since this has been last asked. Are you for spreading atheism by openly engaging the religionists in debates or are you for a live-and-let-live approach?

When it comes to religion, I used to think that "live and let live" is a nice approach that avoids direct confrontation with the believers but if the belief is so stupid, I am for the open engagement, or on/about areas where religionist thoughts hold sway. Philippine society is soaked in religion and superstition even now that letting the religionists and superstitionists run the show is not good for our general health as a nation. I hope slowly we can weigh in on the public debate concerning policies that have basis on theism but that affect us all nonetheless.