Seven Million Golden Fish

Muslims are stupid
November 24, 2008, 7:59 am
Filed under: news, opinion, religions | Tags: , , ,

At least, that’s what this fatwa implies.

The National Fatwa Council’s chairman, Abdul Shukor Husin, said on Saturday many Muslims fail to understand that yoga’s ultimate aim is to be one with a god of a different religion — an explanation disputed by many practitioners who say yoga need not have a religious element.

There must be something in the water over there in Malaysia. First, it was “Non-muslims can’t use the word ‘Allah’ as a synonym for ‘God’ because Muslims might get confused.” Then it was “girls shouldn’t act like boys because it violates Islamic tenets; the sub-text probably being that Muslims might get confused. And now, yoga. Maybe next they’ll ban environmentalism because Muslims might confuse their priorities and not be able to discern whether the environment is more important than Allah.

For the record (and because I don’t want to get my head chopped off), I don’t think that Muslims are stupid. I think that some Muslims might be tho. And it worries me that it’s the stupid ones who seem to get to make the rules.


Why not just shoot her?
November 24, 2008, 5:32 am
Filed under: opinion | Tags: , , ,

This has been brewing in my brain for the past few weeks. If the quick and absolute removal of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is the goal, why not just kill her?

As MLQ3 writes:

The only checkmate on the President is impeachment, not the official end of her term; for her term expiring is at best, a moveable goal-post (create a new job, and the expiration of your term isn’t consequential; retiring isn’t a problem if besides an obliging Ombudsman and a friendly Supreme Court, you have a new President you swung the election to). Only impeachment means sudden death, politically. And things can happen very fast, when people see a check mate unfolding, for capitalizing on it requires only a committed and nimble minority with its eye on the prize.

On the contrary, the only real checkmate on the President (on any head of state for that matter) is assassination. Kill the damned bitch and get it over with. I’m pretty sure that’s what’s on a lot of people’s minds anyway since there no longer seems to be any interest in strengthening democratic institutions. People like Doronila speak of the Presidency as a prize to be “captured;” and the great Manuel L. Quezon’s grandson’s view on the matter seemingly (and ironically) trivializes the expiration of the president’s term, ergo, trivializing also the necessity for an orderly transfer of power through democratic means. The presidency, therefore, is no longer for the people to bestow on a pretender, but a crown whose resting place of the moment is determined by the new nobility. Monarchists would be proud.

Is this really the  kind of impatience with the long ways of democracy and republicanism that we want to teach future generations? Do we want to teach future generations that democratic institutions can be dispensed with because they can’t be trusted anyway? Well, how can they ever become trusted when we tear them down whenever we feel we’re not getting the results we want? Is this the way to build up our democracy?

MLQ3, with his children’s crusade, seems to think so. I’ve no reason to doubt his patriotism, but his methods leave me cold. Down the road he has chosen you can foresee only more of the same. I think he does too. I think they all do. Which is probably why no one has yet advocated regicide. Kill a king and you have to be ready, when you’re in power, to live under the same sword and at the mercy of the same strand of horsehair.

If God is for Pacquiao, is He therefore against dela Hoya?
November 23, 2008, 3:46 pm
Filed under: brumdingle, news, sports | Tags: , ,

manny-prayerThis Nike ad begs the question: if God is for Pacquiao, is He therefore against dela Hoya? Or if dela Hoya should win, is God then against Pacquiao?

The quick and suitably pious answer is that whoever wins is the boxer God wanted to win. But that’s just a lame excuse for determinism, isn’t it? What that statement really means is that whoever wins is the one who was supposed to win. In other words, the part where God is roped into the excuse for losing is nothing but bullshit.

The theological and philosophical baggage aside, this is a good advert. It keys into the Filipino’s superstitious spirituality. We like to think of ourselves as good catholics in the Roman tradition, don’t we? The truth is that we have more in common with Haitian-type christianity than we might care to admit. And this advert takes advantage of that.

Unfortunately, I think Pacquiao (and by extension for the legions of Pacquiao faithful, God as well) will disappoint. My guess is that Pacquiao will either lose or the match will end in a draw. After all, a loss would not serve either fighter. 

So take it easy on God, eh fight fans?

Does it even feel like Christmas?
November 21, 2008, 6:27 am
Filed under: brumdingle | Tags:

z_sad_treeRunning around the city last night, I was struck by how bare many of the streets felt.

When I was younger, one of the sure signs of Christmas was the atmosphere of the streets, and the atmosphere was due mainly to the proliferation of Christmas lanterns and various strings of colored lights. And somehow, along with the lights came those huge kettles of chestnuts being slow roasted on black pebbles (at least that’s how I’ve always thought of them), styro boxes of grapes, and foam stockings filled with fuji apples.

The sad part is that if I described that scene to a young’un now, they’d say that I was describing a typical night. And they’d be right too. The chestnuts and the fruit are likely due to free trade or whatever; and the bright lights to the egos of the mayors.

The net result is that we’ve been desensitized to the visual cues of Christmas. And since many of us don’t really view Christmas as a religious event (admit it!), that desensitization leaves us with very little to mark Christmas with. Even the splurge shopping that used to set Christmas apart as a time when we could forget thrift for a while now has become a year-round thing with growing influence of american culture, thanks to the internet.

And with the economic crunch, there have been fewer parties. Even among families, me and my friends have noticed that we don’t get together as much as we used to.

So does it even feel like Christmas? Well it looks like Christmas, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.

The emperor’s new tailors
November 20, 2008, 12:34 am
Filed under: news, opinion, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

The impeachment bloggers seem to be all up in arms over the dismissal of their complaint. Well, what did they really expect anyway?

Leaving aside accusations of partisanship, the intervention itself was pretty shaky. Maganda ang pagkakasulat, pero hindi naman lahat nadadaan sa husay ng pananalita o pagsusulat.

Much was made in the intervention of the fact that the Supreme Court had declared the MOA unconstitutional. Two things must be considered: is the performance of an act that is later declared unconstitutional tantamount to a culpable violation of the constitution? doesn’t the 8-7 decision reflect the reality that the declaration of unconstitutionality is not definitive? And hasn’t the appropriateness of the tenor of the decision been the subject of some debate?

What is Constitutional or not is essentially a matter of interpretation. Which is why the SC is called the final arbiter of Constitutionality. It has the last say and it’s interpretation is what ultimately matters. In fact, until the SC says something is unconstitutional, that something is presumed to be constitutional.

This being the case, I would imagine that a culpable violation of the constitution would be an act (or something) that flies in the face of an established fact (read:something that the SC itself has already declared unconstitutional) of unconstitutionality.

If this seems like too-difficult a standard, well it is. And it is because impeaching a president should not be something that is easy to do. If it were easy to sack a president, then we would have a different president every other year, and most of them not even elected by the people.

The way politics work here is that everyone who isn’t in the fold is against the shepherd, allies all. When the shepherd is kicked out, not all of the erstwhile allies will be able to remain in the fold obviously, so those who are left out become allies with the previous shepherd’s clique and they form the new opposition whose raison d’etre is to oust the new shepherd. And so it goes, round and round. And if it were easy to kick out a shepherd, there would be exactly zero stability in the pasture.

Anyway, an 8-7 decision only means that the constitutionality issue was decided by exactly one person. Without that one person, an equal number of those high-and-mighties pretty much disagreed.

Joaquin Bernas (a constitutionalist beloved by the anti-GMA crowd when he speaks in their favor, but recently rather disgraced because they disagree with him) wrote

But back to the Court’s decision. Does the decision say that peace negotiators may not be authorized to propose amendments to the Constitution? Or, since peace negotiators are the President’s men, does the President’s oath, cited by the Court, to “preserve and defend” the Constitution prevent her from working for changes in the Constitution if needed to achieve peace?

The decision does not say that. After all, the President’s oath binds her not just to “preserve and defend” the Constitution but also to “do justice to every man.” Doing justice to every man may require her to work “out of the box.” Jurisprudence recognizes that the powers of the President are more than just those which are specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

But in these highly charged times, who really cares what the powers of the President are? Its a case of gotcha! advocacies nowadays. Which is exactly what the complaint-in-intervention was. One big GOTCHA! moment. And I might add that it is also a set of new clothes for the emperor.

November 19, 2008, 9:15 am
Filed under: brumdingle | Tags: ,

I’m obsessed with stories. I have stories coming out of my ears. Or, to be more painfully precise, I have snippets of stories coming out of my ears. It’s like my brain is stuck, permanently channel-surfing. I catch the middle of every story – rarely knowing for certain how any one storyline begins or how any of the others end. It’s frustrating.

At some point, I’m gonna have to rope these wayward stories and make ’em toe the line. Truthfully though, I suspect that I’m the one who needs roping in.

Discipline. I has none.

The 16 Lost Cities
November 19, 2008, 6:23 am
Filed under: fiction, news | Tags: ,

cityThe Elder looked up from the manuscript he had been reading and looked quizzically at the crowd gathered in front of him. Up front, a tall man – with a patrician nose and sharp eyes that looked grey from certain angles – stood talking with an older man with a paunch and a slack-jawed look; to their left, a small knot of young ones stood gawking at the great hall they were in, as though uncertain that they belonged there; and behind them, stretching all the way to the other end of the hall, there stood the others – an odd assortment of men and women, some old, some young; some meek and others brass; some standing silently from the rest, wrapped in an air of mountain stillness, and other talking incessantly about anything and everything.

The Elder cleared his throat. It was a soft sound, barely above a whisper, but it was enough to silence the hall. All eyes turned to him and waited.

“We seem to be missing some of your number,” he said solemnly.

The reaction was immediate. All throughout the hall, cries of indignation erupted. The noise ran unabated for almost a minute until the tall one with the patrician nose raised a hand to the crowd and addressed the Elder.

“Who, Milord Senex, seems to be missing?”

The Elder peered into the manuscript again. “Bogo is not here, nor Cabadbaran. I spoke with Baybay, Tandag, Catbalogan and his brother Borongan yesterday, but I haven’t seen them since. Tayabas had a disagreement with Lamitan – called her wayward or something of that sort – so maybe that’s why neither of them are here. Strangely, tho’ even their names seem to have disappeared from this roll.”

“Eight of our number!” the slack-jawed man exclaimed.

“Well, not just eight, Manila,” the Elder replied. “Other names have disappeared. Those of you who know them, perhaps you can help sort this out. Tabuk is missing, and so are Bayugan, Batac, and Mati. Guihulugan is not here either; nor Carcar, El Salvador, and Naga.”

Sixteen!” The patrician hissed. Looking up at the Elder, the patrician asked: “How long do we have?”

The Elder looked down at the crowd in the hall and shook his head sadly. “The Old Man is eager to close the Doors and, well, he’s been accusing me of dragging my feet to delay things. When he closes the Doors after the Selene has run the next race and these 16 cities still have not been located, I’m afraid they might never be found at all.”

“But the Wall …!” someone in the back of the hall shouted. The cry was quickly taken up by others. “Yes, what about the Wall?” “Who’ll stand their watch?” “Who?”

The Elder held up his hand again. “You will. With any sort of luck, the Ancient of the Sea has gone to sleep by now and will no longer try to break the Wall before the Doors are thrown open again. Still, you never know. He might hear about this and decided that now is the opportunity he has long awaited.”

The echo from the words of the Elder had not even  died down when the great doorway at the end of the hall flew open. The crowed gasped as one when, staggering, a lone figure entered. Its clothes were tattered and soaking wet, and from his head hung tendrils of thorny seaweed. “I bring news, milords,” the figure rasped.

“The Ancient has battered down the Regis Wall. The Lower Levels are flooded and the Drowned are rising.”

In the tumult that ensued, few noticed – and even fewer cared – that the bringer of news had fallen down dead.