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Primate Change? Or Climate Change? 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in Blogal Village, climate change, Global Village, global warming, waging peace, waging war.
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You Choose! – The Blogal Village Voice

By Frank A Hilario (American Chronicle, 03 March 2007)

PRIMATE, I GO APE! IF YOU ARE HOMO SAPIENS, THE THINKING SPECIES THAT I THINK YOU ARE, BEFORE YOU FINISH READING THIS, YOU WILL TOO.

In my primate mind’s eye, right in the forefront of country-to-country efforts to mitigate Global Warming, I envision Blogal Warming, a rise by 2 degrees Celsius in the body temperature of primate bloggers all over the world to the level of passion in their advocacy for A Greaner World, greener & cleaner. Personally, only last month, I found that a damn good reason to write more ardently, not the least to blog more arduously, to fever-pitch. Normally, before this, I had been held prisoner by other primal interests.

Primates of the world, unite: You have nothing to lose but your chains!

Consider this Frank Hilario’s Blogal Warning, a 3-decades-delayed response to Al Gore’s Global Warning: We need to change perspective about Climate Change. Houston, we have a problem. The Global Village is fact in that the electric impulse connects us all through the Internet, as Marshall McLuhan predicted, yet the Global Village is fiction in that the connection is divisive and not distributive, elitist and not equitable, devoid of commitment to community, without a shared vision. Whose fault is it? THE PRIMATES, THE GREAT THINKING APES – THE US.

If the billions of us Primates will not change, the one single Climate will change us!

For love of the great apes, I have been thinking of inviting people to join in the grand adventure of The Late Great Planet Earth – it’s late but not too late to be great. Global Warming, The Beast is yet to come, even if Al Gore warned us 30 years ago. Just remember one thing: If we can’t be great this time, we can’t be. With finality, Hamlet’s soliloquy haunts us: ‘To be or not to be, that is the question.’

Now then, I present here what I have defined as 7 Primal Instructions for sapient primates to build the Second Noah’s Ark, to inspire sagacious primates to their late (hopefully not their last) great act of kindness to the planet and therefore to themselves:

(1) Visit the Global Village.
(2) Make out the Blogal Village.
(3) Take the road not taken.
(4) Choose the high road.
(5) Speak of reason.
(6) Declare your faith.
(7) Wage peace, not war.

Come see that you are part of it and can’t be an outsider even if you want to. Come realize the bloggers’ village. Come see about making a difference. Come see the need for ideals. Come see the need to be rational. Come see the need to be hopeful. Come see the promise of peace and the premise of war. Come one, come all!

(1) PRIMATE, COME VISIT THE GLOBAL VILLAGE.

If you’re not with me, you’re against me. Looking at the Internet as a global network of electronic structures and systems designed for unlimited interactions through messages sent back and forth, I see irresistible Promise, but I don’t see intense Practice in terms of translating the Global Village from virtual to verifiable. I see the Internet denizens still have to get their acts together to make the Net a major tool for thinking global, thinking local, acting global, acting local. As of today, it’s more scenes than sense, more bravado than brave, more sex than sexy, more invites than inviting, more tease than ease, more disarray than array. The Net is still as daunting to use as it was in the beginning – and ever shall be?

More, in the McLuhan sense, in the Internet, I can see that the Medium is not the Message yet. The ideal social relationships coming out of the electronic interactions are imperative but not empirical; they are more theoretical than practical. The experts are simply talking to fellow experts or addressing themselves. So, we know that the Internet is too serious a matter to be left to the experts alone! So, we know that the best of the Global Village is yet to come.

Another way of looking at the Internet is that the medium is not one single message but many conflicting messages. As old as of 24 BC, Babylon meant ‘the gateway of the gods’ (Wikipedia) – as young as of 24 years ago, the Internet is simply the modern Babble-On, the gateways of many gods with many tongues, some forked. In the Internet, there are too many people talking at the same time without trying to see each other’s point of view. And multitudes are trying to hurt each other by words, short of the sword.

Notwithstanding, because of the Internet, it is much easier for you and me to realize that we are members of a global tribe called Mankind. In the early 1960s, decades before the Internet came into being, Marshall McLuhan saw whom he called Tribal Man and called this virtual community Global Village. McLuhan saw that radio and TV interconnected man to man by sights and sounds, some of these interactively. In a TV broadcast on 18 May 1960 aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the interviewer mouthed McLuhan’s thoughts, saying by way of introduction:

Touch a button, the world is yours. You know, they talk about the world getting smaller? xx
Everyone is now our own neighborhood. xx The world is now a global village … a global village.

Reading again McLuhan’s little big book Understanding Media: The Extensions Of Man (1964, 13th ed, New American Library, 318 pages), I agree with William Stewart (2006, livinginternet.com/) that McLuhan effectively predicted the Internet (the Net), saying: ‘Marshall McLuhan’s insights made the concept of a global village, interconnected by an electronic system, part of our popular culture well before it actually happened.’ I see the Net as the global network of networks of computers. With the invention of the World Wide Web (the Web), the Net exploded in the 1990s. I see the Web as the global network of publications online. And therein lies a great promise, a hidden power. Primate, let us discover it.

(2) PRIMATE, COME Make out THE BLOGAL VILLAGE.

I see the Internet as a publisher, The Universal Publisher, and I revel in that thought. With McLuhan’s eyes, I can see that from the Web has arisen the Phoenix of Unpublished Authors in the form of the blog. I see a blog as an uploaded, instantly & automatically approved, published musing, sometimes amusing. There are millions of blogs out there in cyberspace, and millions of bloggers. That computer-generated world I now want to call, in honor of the one and only Marshall McLuhan and the millions of bloggers: The Blogal Village. I love it! I have written a few hundred blogs myself since 04 October 2002 when I posted my first pair of blogs. Now then, paraphrasing Alfred Lord Tennyson, I have become a part of all that I have writ. (And passionately, if not magically. Even as a Muggle, in 30 days, I have written and published in the American Chronicle alone 3 long feature articles on greening the world: ‘The Yankee Dawdle’ 04 Feb, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ 26 Feb and now 03 March ‘Primate Change.’)

Not only blogging, I take to writing like a turtle takes to water. I take it seriously, even when I’m funny. I learned it all by myself, almost. In the mid-1950s, I began to teach myself to write, encouraged by the Reader’s Digest. I began to blog earnestly in 2005, encouraged by my son Jomar. I learned to upload images to my blogs late last year and, a few weeks later, to link the source to it. Interestingly, I called my first blogsite iNNOViSiON (set up 2002 at blogger.com), a pun on innovation, and now, 5 years later, I get an error message when I click ‘View Log.’ Some passions last, some innovations don’t.

From what I’ve seen and heard, the voice of the blogger is largely that of a lone wolf crying in the wilderness. But I am undaunted. I do not write just to count how many will read me afterwards; rather, I write either because I have a new or different message, or I have an old message that I know it would be of value to express in my own way.

I am Blogger, and my name is Legion. Ah, to think of the awesome power the bloggers can exercise as one Village Voice if only they will! I wrote this because I want them to realize that, because they haven’t already. Let the Blogal Village Voice rise in symphony with the stars!

I propose that the Blogal Village Voice be the Global Village Voice. To speak to Primates for Primates. To espouse Primate Change to moderate Climate Change.

Now, what can we expect of the Blogal Village Voice? To speak of the road not taken. To speak of the high road. To speak of faith, of reason, of peace. Never mind if the Village Voice will be one crying in the wilderness of the Internet.

(3) PRIMATE, COME TAKE THE ROAD NOT TAKEN.

So how will the Blogal Village Voice move the Global Village to act?

I now call on all bloggers: Remembering that we are primates ourselves (assuming Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is correct), let us blog to bring about primate change to bring about climate change. Be warned that it is a lonely road; it is the road taken by one in a million primal bloggers.

Precisely! A few of us can make more of a difference, more of us can make small worlds of a difference. For inspiration, I offer these verses from one of my favorite Yankees, John F Kennedy’s personal choice of poet laureate, the earthy one of San Francisco (born 26 March 1874) and New England:

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost (1915)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler; long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Remember, primates: If we don’t make a difference today, we won’t make a difference tomorrow. Remember, Big Brother Global Warming is watching!

(4) PRIMATE, COME TAKE THE HIGH ROAD.

Primates all, we have refused to acknowledge the fact of global warming until it is this late. WE HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY, AND IT IS US. So, in trying to defeat the enemy within us, let us defeat evil not with evil but with good.

So, primate bloggers, allow me to offer you what I wrote 19 months ago, ‘The (Real) Ten Commandments Of Blogging,’ published 15 Feb 2006 in my blogsite Blogging Rights (braggingrights.blogspot.com/). They are reality-based and clearly patterned after The Ten Commandments of God. There are other Ten Commandments of Blogging out there but none of those sets are created equal, that is to say, the commandments in a blogger’s ten are not mutually exclusive of each other, even as they are convenient lists of ten things to do or not to do. In my case, I wanted a real group of ten memorable, practical, Bible-based commandments to help bloggers become constructive rather than destructive, creative rather than critical, based on my own writing experience of 50 years. So now, dedicated to a higher good, I give you those ten commandments that I have retitled and rewritten as my contribution to the Blogal Village Voice:

The Ten Commandments Of Blog

I.
I am the Lord, your Blog; thou shalt not have strange blogs before me. Don’t write blogs that are ambiguous, indeterminate, hazy, fuzzy, muddled. Follow the 4 Cs of communication and be clear, concise, comprehensive, coherent. And: Be convinced that your fight is right, in this instance, that the only way to combat climate change is primate change – man has to change his attitude, from one of indifference to concern, and from concern to concerted action, about greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere that deflate the ozone layer and cause global warming. If that primate change has to begin with you, just do it!

II.
Thou shalt not take the name of your Blog in vain
. Be serious, but do not swear when you blog. To be funny or ridiculous? You choose. Be productive, but don’t lie, don’t fabricate, don’t exaggerate, don’t obfuscate, don’t prevaricate. Above all, remember that as a blogger, you have a high moral duty to not make a joke of it at the expense of others.

III.
Remember the sabbatical, to keep it holy
. Sabbath is a day of rest. To be creative, learn to relax even as you write your draft, as you revise what you have written. Refresh and give yourself long breaks and weekends from being critical. Enjoy the masters of thinking like Ray Bradbury and his theory of association, Edward de Bono and his theory of lateral thinking, Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences, even Robert Pirsig with his motorcycle & art of Zen maintenance. Don’t write as if you are always in a hurry. Write a draft; after finishing a draft, set it aside and do something else; then go back to that draft the following day. If you want to write well, learn to revise well, and that takes time. Take it from me. I find that I am very happy with the results when I have 1 draft and 4 revisions of that draft. Starting to write this 01 March, I will publish only after the 5th draft.

IV.
Honor thy fodder and thy madder
. Think well and do better. Think fodder, to remind yourself about the need to put food on the table: you have to eat, your family have to eat. Think madder too, and remind yourself along these lines: Do not get mad, do not get madder, do not get even – get religion!

V.
Thou shalt not kill
. Be stout of heart as you wrestle with big or unwieldy theories, but entertain no murderous thoughts. Do not abort unborn infant ideas; instead, let them be delivered unto the world; be a good parent to them. Do not oppose the delivery of babyish concepts and constructs; instead, expose and offer them as sacrifice to the minds of the world and let The Great Wind Of The Survival Of The Greatest run its course. If you do that, you will be traveling the road to healthy, invigorating creativity. Let me be the judge of that!

VI.

Thou shalt not commit adulteration. Be pure of heart. Be honest. Do not contaminate your attack, or defense, with any ad hominem, argumentum misericordiam, non-sequitur or any of the other defects of debate. Argue logically, beautifully; convince imaginatively.

VII.
Thou shalt not steal
. Learn more. Stop, look & listen. Read & revise, not plagiarize. If you have to copy ideas, cite your sources. To avoid embarrassing quotation marks, learn to extract the essence of what you read and put them down in your own words. With software, you can cheat on Grammar & Spelling (click the icon), but you can’t steal vocabulary; to be able to write well in your own fashion, you have to increase your stock of words. Use the Thesaurus – how do you think I wrote this one?

VIII.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor
. Build, not destroy. Do not manufacture evidence; do not misinform, do not twist facts. Be truthful and tactful. Do what the Romans do in Rome following Saint Paul: As much as possible, be at peace with everyone.

IX.
Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s wile
. Admire, not desire. Let him have his own gimmick, stratagem, ruse, device, ploy or contrivance. Learn from it if you can. Be original, think up your own artifice. Or get ideas from the Bible – Shakespeare did. Get ideas from the Internet – I always do. And yes, learn from marketing, such as to transform a negative into a positive.

X.
Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s gods
. Remember: Love of money is the god of all evil. Use but not amuse yourself with wealth. Trust your heart on what is the true treasure, the higher value, the utmost ideal. Finally, primates, following Saint Paul, be seekers of whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there by any virtue, and if there by any praise, dwell on these things.

If you like, call them ‘The Ten Commandments For Primates To Love.’ But: What if primates can’t follow The Ten Commandments? Let the primates do their best anyway – only their best is good enough.

(5) PRIMATE, COME SPEAK OF REASON.

It may be that even at this point you’re not convinced global warming stands to reason. Where’s the proof? you ask. I say: We don’t need proof.

If you ask for proof, you’re asking for the testimony of science. ‘A solid understanding of the world is the first step for improving living conditions of all people throughout the world,’ Gene Shackman says (2006, gsociology.icaap.org/). You need science for that. The theory is that we need to be certain, if not know for sure, before we can wisely act. But that has been the paradigm of the world since the invention of the scientific method as early as 1600 BC; from that time on, the steps of the scientific method adapted had been: examination, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis (Wikipedia).

And where are we now after 3,607 years of the application of science to life? We are in after the beginning of global warming. That is The Inconvenient Truth.

You still doubt that there is global warming? Then the Hollywood stars are more discerning than you are – the members of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have just bestowed the 2007 Oscar for ‘Best Documentary’ on Al Gore’s The Inconvenient Truth. Read the news, watch the film! This is a film that substantiates the claim of global warming with evidence from around the world and conclusions of scientists & experts after much deliberation & debate. Oh, it’s a film I myself haven’t seen but have believed. Didn’t Jesus Christ say? ‘Blessed are those that have not seen but have believed!’

Earlier, the United Nations came out with a report that global warming is a fact (‘unequivocal’) (for more details, see also my other American Chronicle article, ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ In response (to the UN Report, not to my article), European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas was reported to have said (William Echikson, 1 Mar 2007, nasdaq.com/):

I am deeply concerned at the accelerating pace and the increasing extent of climate change that (the UN Report) shows. It is now more urgent than ever that the international community get down to serious negotiations on a comprehensive new worldwide agreement to stop global warming.

The EU has been urging the US to agree to a unilateral cutting of greenhouse gas emissions at least 20% by 2020. But the United States is not about to be persuaded. That is because US officials are convinced that unilateral cuts of gas emissions will result in a damaged economy for the US (AP, 2 Feb 2007, foxnews.com/). What is bad for General Motors is bad for the US.

We need the Blogal Village Voice to say that the Yankee explanation for the US Government’s refusal to order public and private cuts in greenhouse gas emissions is damaged reasoning. We primal bloggers need to keep faith with the people if the politicians will not.

(6) PRIMATE, COME DECLARE YOUR FAITH.

Man is the creator of the Internet, the Web, the email, the chat, the blog – and primates see that it is good. Something tells this primate we have an intelligent species here, truly Homo sapiens, a sapient human, a thinking species. I have faith that the Blogal Village Voice can help the fight against global warming that threatens the global village if more primates open their mouth.

Fortunately, all bloggers are driven; unfortunately, millions of primate bloggers are driven by selfish motives: they blog only for self-expression or self-aggrandizement. That is why I write: To raise the consciousness of Blogal Villagers from being parochial to being pivotal, from being insular to peninsular, from being narrow-minded to broad-minded, from being present-thinking to future-thinking.

The voice of faith calls for the Blogal Village Voice, that is, US BLOGGERS, to use the medium of the Internet to get the message across. And we need teamwork so that we can conduct not sporadic, uncoordinated efforts but a Village Voice Campaign – and if it’s a campaign, it must follow the AIDA precepts for the diffusion of knowledge that graduates into a clarification of theory which must precede a determination of practice:

Awareness – First, we need to raise the consciousness of the people from the ground up as well as from top to bottom, about climate change. By awareness, I refer to an alertness or watchfulness on changes in environmental conditions prevailing over certain periods of time: temperature, wind, water of all forms everywhere: rain, clouds, snow, iceberg, irrigation water, evaporation, transpiration, groundwater.

Interest – Next, we must further raise the consciousness of those who are already aware into the level of curiosity, further to lead them into desiring to do something about it, whatever they can where they can with what they have.

Decision – Then we must be able to convince those who have expressed desire to select a path for them to take and then to make the decision and go ahead and do what they have to do.

Action – Above all, we must get our acts together. There must be a corporate plan in the first place. We will need to have a common vision, a common mission to achieve that vision, and a common goal to carry out that mission.

My primal goal in this article is not to provide the practice (what to do) but to promote the theory (what to think before one has to do what has to be done).

(7) PRIMATE, COME WAGE PEACE, NOT WAR.

In all that the Blogal Village Voice must do, it must be the voice of peace. The premise of war is that it is for peace – a contradiction. I know this is almost impossible for primate bloggers who equate primal freedom with primeval license, but primal blogging must follow AJ Muste’s dictum: ‘There is no way to peace; peace is the way.’ Now, in this planet where every movement seems to point to violence, how can we bloggers blog in the name of peace? At this point in time, I can think of no primal guide but this prayer of St Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 

Primates, unless we make a paradigm shift to love, in time Planet Earth will make a parabola shift and launch us in a well-deserved orbit either toward the sun (fire) or away from the sun (ice) – then Robert Frost’s poem ‘Fire And Ice’ will finally show us poetic justice.

Copyright 03 March 2007 by Frank A Hilario. The image I used is from the Internet via Yahoo Image Search, with rendering by Photoshop. And you know what? I have made a primal primate change and moved from another bloghost to WordPress. I like the climate here, that’s why. Frank’s Technorati ProFiler 

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An Inconvenient Truth 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in climate change, Filipino, Global Manager, global warming, poor man's crop, sweet sorghum, Wlliam Dar.
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the-inconvenient-truth-colored-pencil.jpg

William Dar, The Filipino

As Global Manager

THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH, ITS ORIGIN IS WESTERN.

Al Gore’s film, Our Film, directed by David Guggenheim, has just won the Oscar for ‘Best Documentary’ as I revise this 26 February 2007, at high noon Manila time. An inconvenient truth is that it is high time we revise everything we have on our hands that has anything to do with polluting the physical environment, not to mention polluting the psychological, spiritual, political, economic environments, not necessarily in that order.

The Inconvenient Truth as documentary also won the Oscar for ‘Best Original Song’ with the one written by Melissa Etheridge, ‘I Need To Wake Up.’

We need to wake up to the reality that we have to have faith in whom we can’t see, such as God and gravity, and to believe in the things we can’t touch, such as the ozone layer above our heads and the bottom of the iceberg beneath our feet. A crewman said of the Titanic: ‘God himself could not sink this ship’ (National Geographic quoted in NextTag.com/) – well, an iceberg tipped the unsinkable ship. The ozone layer protects us from the relentless ultraviolet radiation of the sun; in return, the ozone layer is not protected from our own relentless greenhouse gas emissions, thereby depleting the ozone layer. So: Global warming is of our own making. Planet Earth is our Noah’s Ark; God would not sink Noah’s Ark, but we would.

After the disquieting UN Report on climate change early this month, I happily note in quiet that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (the one that awards the Oscars) has not gangrene but has gone green. The difference is gross: In case of injury or disease, gangrene results from an insufficient blood supply to body tissue; in the case of Hollywood, gone green results from a sufficient blood supply to the brain tissue. With that observation, I shall assume most managers will take a lesson from Mr Global Warner himself. Observe how Al Gore is behaving intelligently in his advocacy: Acting locally, acting globally. Thinking locally, thinking globally. Advocating business unusual.

So now I can tell myself: ‘There is intelligent life on earth.’ Long ago and far away, I asked myself some 40 years before this: ‘Is there intelligent life on earth?’ In those times I thought I was the only intelligent life on earth. You call that conceit. Today, some managers’ conceit is that there is no global warming. Insisting business as usual.

We need to go back to the basics of faith and reason. We are 30 years late in responding to Yankee Al Gore’s global warning but, I hope, not too late. In an interview after the Oscars, he told Kim Chipman (25 Feb, bloomberg.com/) about how to behave globally toward climate change and knowing many Yankees wanted him to run again for President of the mightiest nation in the world:

It’s not a political issue; it’s a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act. That’s a renewable resource; let’s renew it.

The will to act? The 79th Oscars acted on its will – in fact, it went green like this (Mary Milliken, 26 Feb, in.today.reuters.com/): first, they made sure the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood underwent an energy audit; then on The Day of the Oscars, movie stars rode in plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars; all around, print materials being distributed had been printed on recycled paper; organic food was served at the Governor’s Ball, with advocacy by the National Resources Defense Council. How green was the Hollywood valley!

About the strange creatures called hybrid vehicles and Hollywood stars, FTM tells us (forthemen.com/) that Cameron Diaz (Shrek) has one, Leonardo di Caprio (The Departed) has two. The Toyota Prius, the first hybrid car released to the public, is very popular with Hollywood stars. The Honda Insight was the first hybrid car sold in the US. Thank God for Toyota and Honda and Hollywood.

How about those of us outside of Hollywood? We can do no less! CNN (06 Feb, cnn.com/) quotes Al Gore as saying:

Our responsibility to our children and those who come after us is sacred and we must discharge our responsibility. And the good news is the changes we need to make are ones that will improve the quality of life. They’re things that we should be doing anyway.

‘My fellow Americans,’ Mr Green Al Gore told the Oscar audience in the US and all over the world (Gary Gentile, Associated Press, 26 Feb, cbsnews.com/), ‘people all over the world: We need to solve the climate crisis.’ Global warming is ‘the overriding world challenge of our time,’ he said. ‘I really hope the decision by the Academy to honor the work by Director David Guggenheim and these producers will convince people who did not go see it to see the movie and learn about the climate crisis and become a part of the solution.’ The producers – Lawrence Bender, Scott Burns, Laurie David (Wikipedia) – have become part of the solution while we’re still part of the problem.

To those who can’t manage their global doubts, or global indifference, I suggest this: First, look at whatever you’re doing (thinking locally) and then think long and hard about what it’s doing outside of you (thinking globally). What about freedom? you Americans may ask. You’re free to decide what to do next. I only hope you appreciate the fact that this time you can’t manage to evade your responsibility in the exercise of your freedom. And why is that? Freedom is like this: You are free to swing your arm short of my nose (I borrowed that from Dean Ricardo Pascual of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines, something I memorized more than 40 years ago). You are free to ride your car and throw your CO2 (acting locally) short of my nose (acting globally).

In case you didn’t know, carbon dioxide or CO2 is the most infamous of the exhausts from humans. Of the 6 major greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, carbon dioxide leads all the rest: methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, HFCs and PFCs (Larry West 2007, environment.about.com/). And the United States is still leading all the rest of the countries with her contribution of 5 trillion tonnes of CO2 a year, and all 16 countries of the European Union with their total of 6 trillion tonnes (West 2007). This should not be the case.

Enter The Inconvenient Fruit, a different kind of hybrid.

THE INCONVENIENT FRUIT, ITS ORIGIN IS EASTERN.

Belonging to the inconvenient class, fossil fuels are non-renewable; so, making them the major energy source for cars should not have been the case in the first place. Those gas-guzzling-and-therefore-gas-emitting cars have become the antithesis of man’s civilized progress.

We need to completely junk fossil fuels in favor of biofuels – that’s an inconvenient truth. Meanwhile, hybrid cars in many states in the US now use 10% to 90% ethanol to gasoline blends; Brazil uses 24% (Madhu Chittora, 2 May 2005, projectsmonitor.com/). We do have a choice of source: The Yankee gets his bioenergy from Zea mays (corn); the Brazilian gets his from Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane); the Indian gets his from Sorghum bicolor (sweet sorghum). To each his own species.

Let’s go Indian, choosing the inconvenient fruit. Among those I call the climate crops, sweet sorghum is relatively unknown among those species that catch the CO2 from the air and turn it into food, feed, fuel, fertilizer for the survival of the species. I know that to advocate sweet sorghum as the global source of ethanol for biofuel is to advocate a relatively unknown and largely unappreciated crop in Asia, Africa and America – to write two major feature articles on this poor man’s crop may be on my part an inconvenient froth over an inconvenient fruit. This should not be the case either.

Meanwhile, they have gone Indian at the campus of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (icrisat) in Andhra Pradesh. They have come up with what I shall refer to here as the sweet sorghum initiative. For having come up with the initiative, the concept if not the term, for having led Team icrisat in the rediscovery and nurturing of sweet sorghum as an energy crop, for having successfully marketed the idea of sweet sorghum ethanol first to the private and government sectors in India, for now boldly propagating sweet sorghum as the climate crop in Africa and Asia:

Dr William Dar, Director General of icrisat in faraway India, Filipino, is My Global Manager of the Year (2006).

Since there is no such award, it has been necessary to invent it. I have 7 reasons choosing Dr Dar as my global manager because he has chosen:

(1) A global crop – Sweet sorghum used to be the least famous of those species that catch the CO2 from the air and turn it into food, feed, fuel, fertilizer for man and beast – and help mitigate global warming for all of us sinners & saints, black & white & brown. I happen to believe that sweet sorghum is the best climate crop of them all, for 7 reasons; here’s a summary of what I said about it in ‘The Yankee Dawdle. On Discovery Sorghum, The Great Climate Crop,’ earlier published in American Chronicle: (1) Sorghum is a much cheaper source of ethanol for blending with gasoline than sugarcane. (2) It is plantable in wastelands, drylands and wetlands, so it does not have to compete for space with major food crops like rice, wheat and corn. (3) Like rice, sweet sorghum is a cash crop; it grows fast and the farmer harvests in 4 months. (4) Since it thrives even on poor soils, sweet sorghum can save on millions of dollars of fossil fuel-based fertilizer imports where the optimum sustainable yield is the objective. (5) Sweet sorghum is the crop of millions of poor farmers, and therefore any increased need for the harvest increases their benefits from their crop. (6) Cultivating sweet sorghum as crop for ethanol production will save more millions of dollars in terms of fossil fuel non-imports than corn or sugarcane. (7) An ethanol distillery based on sweet sorghum is less polluting than that based on sugarcane or corn.

(2) A global vision icrisat’s global vision is ‘Science with a Human Face.’ A ‘corporate vision is a short, succinct, inspiring statement of what the organization intends to become and to achieve at some point in the future’ (1000ventures.com/). ‘Corporate success depends on the vision articulated by the chief executive or the top management.’ As chief executive of icrisat, Dr Dar has been articulating this global vision for 7 years now. I have not seen or read a vision more global than that for science. So: Sweet sorghum for ethanol production is a global crop with a global vision.

(3) A global mission A mission must be that which is designed to help bring about a vision. With that in mind, as I see it, icrisat’s advocacy of a ‘Grey-to-Green Revolution’ (William Dar 2007, Nurturing Life In The Drylands Of Hope, icrisat, Andhra Pradesh, India, in CD) is the Institute’s global mission. So: Growing sweet sorghum for ethanol production is implementing a grey-to-green revolution towards achieving a global vision.

(4) A global strategy From Vadim Kotelnikov (2001, 1000ventures.com/), we learn that a strategy is ‘the way in which a company orients itself towards the market in which it operates and towards the other companies in the marketplace against which it competes. It is a plan an organization formulates to gain a sustainable advantage over the competition.’ As I see it, sweet sorghum was chosen by icrisat as its climate crop not for maximizing production but for optimizing it: what you sow is what you get (wysiwyg). To optimize is to make the most of what you have; ergo, to wysiwyg is to optimize. So: icrisat has come up with sweet sorghum hybrids that are ‘photoperiod insensitive’ – meaning, they can be planted at different months so that there can be harvests of the crop all months of the year, ensuring continuous supply of raw materials, which is necessary for successful manufacturing and marketing. As far as I know, we don’t have corn or sugarcane hybrids that grow well whatever the month or season. So: The planting of icrisat’s sorghum hybrids for ethanol production is a global strategy to implement a global mission / global revolution towards achieving a global vision.

(5) A global outlook An outlook is a point of view, an attitude (American Heritage Dictionary 2000). By dictionary, the word global has many shades of meaning: international, worldwide, multinational, great, powerful (American Heritage); universal, comprehensive, total, inclusive, overall, large-scale (Microsoft Encarta Dictionary 2005). I will now summarize all those and thereby add my own definition in one word: shared. Within icrisat itself, the work ethic is shared – the work force call themselves Team icrisat. Dr Dar, Team Captain, leads and guides the icrisat staff to work together for the good of all, literally and figuratively. This is how icrisat has been able to produce hybrids of sweet sorghum as well as sell the species as a global crop for ethanol production to Rusni Distilleries Ltd so that now Rusni is producing commercial ethanol from sweet sorghum stalks (IPR, 11 Oct 2006, seedquest.com/). So: Teamwork is icrisat’s internal global outlook in nurturing sweet sorghum as a global crop using a global strategy to implement a global mission to achieve a global vision.

(6) A global reach and impact – Today Africa, tomorrow the world. Already, icrisat has regional centers and research stations in Africa: Kenya, Niger, Mali, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique. Icrisat is now reaching out to Asian and American countries with its sweet sorghum initiative. Sweet sorghum is actually already grown in many countries: the United States, Australia, Africa (where it is known as durra), India (jowar), Ethiopia (bachanta). On her part, directly inspired by the Rusni sweet sorghum distillery as proof of concept, led by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Philippines has embarked on her own program of producing ethanol from the crop despite the fact that sweet sorghum is exotic to the islands (INF, 10 Sept 2006, nordis.net/). So: icrisat is reaching out globally in nurturing sweet sorghum as a global crop using a global strategy to implement a global mission to achieve a global vision.

(7) A global mode of operation – My readings of the many reports of icrisat and on icrisat have given me another idea. The global mode of operation that this international research institute has adopted for its successful sweet sorghum initiative may be referred to as the sci-fi mode. That’s an acronym for science, citizen, financing, management, good offices, distribution of benefits, ecology. The assumptions here are that there is (a) a coalition of the willing: science, citizen, financing, management, good offices, and (b) a qualification of benefits to man and the ecology. It is science that brings the crop to the attention of the citizen farmer who cultivates the soil and the citizen entrepreneur who brings in the needed technology and financing for a distillery. The good offices that have been supportive of the sweet sorghum initiative of icrisat are (a) in terms of policy – the local and national governments of India, and (b) in terms of advocacy – the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (cgiar), of which icrisat is one of the 15 international centers under its wings. Since the growing of sweet sorghum is labor-intensive, starting with the sowing of the seeds, this crop benefits more people by way of job creation. This kind of sci-fi must be managed well, remembering that what sci-fi management needs is not a business model but rather a development model. And since ethanol lowers the cost of energy for cars as well as lowers the threat of global warming, the sci-fi mode for sweet sorghum distributes the benefits of science-citizen-finance collaboration truly on a global scale, to the largest ecology of them all: Planet Earth.

Al Gore’s film is Our Film, as Planet Earth is Our Town. Thornton Wilder is quoted as saying about his play ‘Our Town’ (PBS (pbs.org/) :

Our claim, our hope, our despair are in the mind – not in things, not in ‘scenery.’ Moliere said that for the theatre all he needed was a platform and a passion or two. The climax of this play needs only five square feet of boarding and the passion to know what life means to us.

We can say then that ‘global warming’ is merely scenery, so we don’t have to present it to the citizens of Our Town. If we believe that, we lack five square feet of understanding and the passion to feel what life means to us, all of us together.

Now then, an inconvenient truth is that what the world needs now is go into not only a paradigm shift but a mode shift. The sci-fi mode I have just described for the sweet sorghum initiative of icrisat is so far a successful attempt to scale up science as to become global, as in:
(a) pandemic, involving wide geographic areas within a country
(b) universal, involving applicability under varied conditions
(c) multi-sectoral, involving all sectors of society
(d) multi-national, involving international partners within a country
(e) total, involving production, processing, marketing of products and distribution of benefits
(f) regional, involving formal groupings of several countries in an identifiable geographical setting
(g) worldwide, involving multiplier effects or ramifications throughout the world.

Cannot the climate change initiative of Al Gore learn from all that?

Sugarcane ethanol is the Brazilians’ choice, corn ethanol is the Yankees’ choice. Sweet sorghum ethanol has lower sulphur and higher octane and is cheaper to produce than sugarcane ethanol (Belum VS Reddy et al 2006, ‘Sweet Sorghum,’ icrisat brochure), as well as is cheaper than corn ethanol (Michael H Lau et al 2006, afpc.tamu.edu/). With a global manager in the person of a Filipino from Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur in Northern Philippines, an inconvenient PhD (Horticulture) graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños working in inconvenient India, sweet sorghum as an inconvenient fruit is proving to be a convenient fruit of science in the service of the people, directly aimed at effectively delivering good fire to stronger car engines, contributing good wealth to fuller people’s pockets, distributing good health from cleaner everyday winds.

Al Gore’s Occidental initiative is global warning; William Dar’s Oriental initiative is global cropping. Oh, East is East, and West is West / And it’s up to us to make sure / The twain ever shall meet.

Al Gore is a layman talking science; William Dar is a scientist talking layman. They are talking the same language: it’s called Global Warming. The Oscar for The Inconvenient Truth is another global warning about the survival of Planet Earth as we know it, our own survival as a species as we cherish it.

Another ‘scholar of grand ideas,’ in Andrew Leigh’s words (2000, econrsss.anu.edu.au/) is Francis Fukuyama, who is into politics and economics and is Chairman of the Board of a new magazine, The American Interest. Fukuyama is best known as the brash author and proclaimer of The End Of History And The Last Man published by the Free Press in 1992. Fukuyama says in his book The Great Disruption (1999): ‘A great deal of social behavior is not learned but part of the genetic inheritance of man and his great ape forbears’ (quoted by Marc D Guerra 2001, acton.org/). Now, I don’t think Fukuyama’s theory of the great disruption of social order worldwide in the 3 decades between the 1960s and 1990s is correct, but if we continue to ignore the 3 decades of global warning by Al Gore, it is not to the American interest only that we are not descendants but that we are the great apes ourselves and Fukuyama’s prediction will come true:

The End Of History And The Last Man.

Copyright 27 February 2007 by Frank A Hilario. The image of Al Gore and the globe is from the Internet; what you see is my rendering by Photoshop.

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To Love Anyway 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in 'To Love Anyway', love, red heart, Valentine's Day.
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 red-heart.jpg

Man invented Valentine’s Day to love anyway, dating it 14 February and celebrating love each year with the Signs of the Times: Valentine cards, greetings, gifts. I shall from now on celebrate it with the Signs of Love.

The world stones me with the gravel of hate and showers me with the sand of indifference, unceasingly. Love, I shall love anyway, endlessly. This much I know: Love is the affirmation of the true, the good, the beautiful; hate is the affirmation of the untrue, the ungood, the unbeautiful.

In the 3rd century, Bishop Valentine celebrated love by giving all of his great wealth and all of himself – he was beheaded by Emperor Claudius on 14 February 270 AD for celebrating young love and rejecting the Emperor’s War. Today, the world celebrates his love sacrifice with tokens of affection. I shall be of this world and not of this world.

What the world needs now is to collect on the promises of Love, not on the promises of Man (embracing Woman). What Man needs now is not liberation from hunger, not liberation from war, not liberation from terrorism, not liberation from disease, not liberation from poverty, not liberation from global warming, not liberation from political incorrectness – what Man needs now is liberation from unlove, which is his own. What Man needs now is to make love, not war.

I know that love is beautiful.

To love is always to be unfair, never to be fair. That’s why it’s love. That’s why it’s beautiful, that’s why it’s heavenly. Otherwise, it’s just economics, just swap, just barter, just exchange of goods, just commerce, just intercourse. Otherwise, it’s just a rule of law, just a rule of Man.

What is love? Love is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that all who may believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting love. Except that I am born again, I shall not enter the kingdom of love.

Love is something that doesn’t belong to me – it belongs to everyone. I shall not know the power of love until I share it. I know that it’s a treasure. If I keep a treasure to myself, I limit its power to multiply my pleasure.

Sometimes I shall love more, sometimes I shall love much; always I shall love. I shall love food but not excessively. I shall love leisure but not make it my master. I shall love TV shows but not allow them to rule my life. I shall love the newspapers but not believe everything they say. I shall love the Internet but not make it my fountain of wisdom. I shall love the computer and make it my slave.

I know that love is in and out. I was conceived in love. I was born out of love. Why can’t I go out of my way in love? Only, I, am, stopping, me.

A love has he who loves his friend. A great love has he who loves his enemy. No greater love has he who dies for his enemy.

Love is not writing a love letter; it’s writing a love life. Love makes me happy even if there is so much unlove in the world. I’m happy writing a love life.

I shall be full of love. And it is only I who can fill the emptiness. And there is only one thing I can fill the emptiness with: Love.

In love and in time, I shall know the answers to many questions. What’s the best form of love? That which I have right now. What’s the best expression of my love? That which I can think of. What’s the best gift in love? Myself. What’s the best time for love? All the time. What’s the best toast for love? ‘To love!’ When will I find love? When I will.

I know that love is a mystery, beyond understanding.

I don’t know how to love, but I shall love anyway.

To one who has love, no explanation is necessary. To one without love, no explanation is possible.

I don’t understand love. Love is beyond me. Love is something I sense and not sense, feel and not feel, see and not see, hear and not hear, think and not think.

To me, love is like a red, red rose. And a pink. And a yellow. And a blue rose.

There are no ingredients of love. Love is the ingredient entire of itself.

I know that love is not a 50-50 proposition. It’s not a proposition at all. I can’t propose love – I can only do it, I can only give it. And when I do love, it’s not a ratio, not a proportion, not a share, not a turn, not a schedule. Love has no components, no elements, no facets, no dimensions. Love is always all or nothing at all.

Love doesn’t prove anything. It is not out to prove anything. What need do I have of proof?! It is itself the proof. I know that love is not a heroism of the intellect; it is a surrender. Love has reason that reason itself does not understand.

I know that love is a paradox: If I give more love, my love will give me more. A little love will bring my soul to heaven; a little more love will bring heaven to my soul.

I know that love is a mystery, so I shall not bother trying to define it for myself. If it were not a mystery, what would be the reason to seek it? Love is meant to be defined in the living of it. Love depends on the lover, me.

Love has no beginning and no end. I shall not look for the beginning – I shall just go ahead and do it. I shall not look for the end – there is no end if there is no beginning.

From whom shall I learn love? Except that I be born again, I shall not learn love. I shall learn from the infants, the children, the innocent ones. They trust. They keep faith. They keep on caring. They will get mad and cry and run away and come back. They hug with their little arms and their big hearts. Their smile is as fresh as the morning dew. They know how to love beyond their hurts.

The best kept secret of love is that it’s an active verb, not a passive noun. Love is something I give, more than what I receive. I know that in love, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Love is a passionate intuition. Unless I love, I will never understand.

I know that love is enriching.

I want to know. I know that love is for knowing. Why should I love someone who hates me? Because I want to know what love is. Why should I love someone I hate? Because I already know what hate is.

I shall think of love always. I know that love is the greatest good. Even when I think it’s stupid to love, I shall love anyway. Love is how I define it by what I do and how I do it. I define the blessings that love gives back to me by the love I give.

If I give love, love is what I get back. Love cannot give anything back except itself. Maybe not at once, but sooner or later. I look forward to the day when I can say, sincerely: ‘My cup runneth over.’

What’s the best medium to express my love? My action.
What’s the best way to say ‘I love you’ to someone? To mean it.
What’s the best place to make love? In my heart.
What’s the best music for love? That which is available.
What’s the best reason to love? None. If I reason it out, it’s not love; rather, it becomes a prize and there can be only one winner.

Love is addicting, love is fulfilling. Love is the most profound thought I can have – but only if I don’t think about it.

I know that love is everyday.

I can recognize love in any message sent to me, whatever the form is, whatever the subject is. It’s the love that counts, not the message.

I shall love the peace and seek meaning from it. If I don’t find meaning, I shall love anyway. Someday I’ll find that meaning.

I shall love the noise of life. It’s part of life. I shall live life. I shall love life. I shall live love.

I shall love myself. I shall remind myself always: Don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t abuse drugs, don’t abuse women, don’t abuse the maid, don’t abuse the clerk, don’t abuse the bus driver, don’t swear. And don’t gamble, except on love.

I shall cultivate love. I shall call my family and friends and send them messages once in a while, especially those who have forgotten me. I know that love is beautiful when remembered; even so, love is more beautiful in the doing than in the remembering.

How can I love Management when I’m Labor? I can. I can think of them as family, because they are. How can I love Labor when I’m Management? I can. I can think of them as family, because they have always been.

I can’t go out searching for love; I can only go out and make it. I can’t go out looking foreatest love of all.

I know thatr love, because outside is the wrong place to look: I can only look inside myself.

I know that the best month to love is February. Then March. Then April. Then May. Then June. Then July. Then August. Then September. Then October. Then November. Then December. Then January.And then it begins again.

I know that love is difficult.

On Valentine’s Day, my loved ones love me; my enemies hate me, and I’m afraid to love them. I shall love them anyway. Then I will come to know the g love is easier said than done. I shall love anyway. What gain is there if there is no pain?

I shall teach love. How can I love those who plot against me in all manners evil? I know that they don’t know what love is. So I shall love them anyway.

What if my love turns out also to be money, power, privilege? I shall love myself anyway. Then I will begin to understand that if I wish myself well, I will love myself, not money, not power, not privilege.

I shall love my neighbors. How can I love my neighbors when my neighbors are dangerous? I shall remind myself that hate is more dangerous than love.

How can I love when I can’t forget the hurt? Precisely! That’s a damn good reason for me to love. How can I love when I’m angry? All the more reason to love. I know that it’s easier to hate than to love. But I shall love anyway. If love is not one of my habits, then I shall cultivate it.

How can I measure love? If I can measure love, it’s not love; it’s already a commodity. Why can people love humanity but not people? They know only to love in the abstract. If somebody asks for a favor and I give it, is that love? No, but it’s a good beginning.

How can I love when I feel miserable? I can try harder. It’s good for me.
When is the time not to love? None. It’s always time to love because it’s always appropriate.
Suppose when I love I endanger myself? That’s nothing new. I’m always vulnerable when I love.

If I have not discovered that love is all that, I have not discovered love at all. Love is not a destination; it’s a journey. Love is not what I attain; love is what I assume right from the very beginning. Love is not someone or something to remember. Love is what I have. Love is either with me, or against me.

What about indiscretion? An indiscretion is a lapse of love. It is easier to be indiscreet than to love. It takes courage to love, it takes just a little cowardice to surrender to temptation. It takes a lot of love to forgive an indiscretion, but I shall love anyway.

I shall not call it sacrificing but giving love.
I shall not call it forgiving but giving love.
I shall not call it forgetting but giving love.
I shall not call it remembering but giving love.
I shall not call it repairing a damage but giving back love.

When I love, numbers don’t count. I don’t mind the times. I don’t make a list. I don’t enumerate. I don’t resort to bullets as in a PowerPoint presentation. I don’t compute.

If there is a Ms Right, it’s because of me. I can’t look for a Ms Right; I have to make her myself. If she isn’t Ms Right, I shall love anyway and that will make her Ms Right.

I can’t go out selling love – I have already debased it. I can’t go out asking for love – I can only go handing out love. I can’t go out demanding love from the world – there are millions of people out there doing exactly the same thing.

Even if I don’t know how to love perfectly, I shall love anyway. I know that in the loving, love will teach me. Then I shall know what is good, what is pleasing, what is perfect.

I know that to love is to assume love.

I know that the beginning of love is the beginning of wisdom. How can I give a gift of love if I have no love to begin with? I shall love anyway. I shall begin by assuming love. That is the only way I can begin, I can go on, I can stay in love. It is the only way I can love the unlovable.

The poor don’t bother me; the rich don’t bother me, so why should I bother about them? I shall love anyway. Then I will come to know what God and love is.

I shall love aside. I shall love some other person aside from my spouse, aside from my siblings, aside from my children, aside from my friends, aside from my officemates, aside from my group, aside from my classmates, aside from some people I know, aside from some people I like.

How can I love people? I can wish them well. I can do them well. I can think well of them. Amidst all that, I shall remember: Love makes all things possible, but not easy.

I shall love the time. I shall love the morning, the noon, the afternoon, the evening, the night’s sleep. I shall love the sleepless night anyway.

Love is what I make it. I shall make love in peace; I shall not make war. How can I make love in war? The same way I can make love in peace. It’s much harder, but it’s much more rewarding.

What if after all I don’t know how to love? I shall love anyway. Love is in finding the way. What if I don’t have a loving heart? I shall love anyway. Love is in the trying to love.

How can I love if I have been taught to hate? I shall begin by loving the person who taught me. And how do I begin? I shall begin anywhere but begin!

I know that love is more than making love.

On Valentine’s Day, there is love exchanged between loved ones. Why is there no love exchanged between enemies? Because in hate, it’s more difficult to love than to hate. I can’t build love as I can build rage in my body. Anger consumes my body; love consumes not only my body but my whole being. In hate, to assume love is more exhausting. Remember, the hater prefers the path of least resistance.

What if in particular I love a person, a thing, a place, or something else? Love has no object of love. If I love, I love all. To have an object to love is to select. If I select, my love is incomplete. Love does not select; instead, it encompasses. Love is bigger than all. Love covers all.

I shall love the challenge, the opportunity, the impossible. I shall love them all. If the challenge defeats me, if I miss the opportunity, if I fail in the impossible, I don’t miss on love anyway.

I shall love what I shall get. I shall love the flowers even when they are not the most expensive, not the loveliest, not the freshest, even when they are a thousand days late. I know that it’s the thought that counts. If there are no flowers sent, it’s my thought that counts.

I shall love everyone. How can I love the dishonest, the crook, the corrupt, the liar, the killer, the traitor? I shall love them as people, as human beings, as God’s own, as I am.

I can’t spend time with the one I love; I can only spend love. That’s quality. There is no such thing as quality time if there is no love in it, if I can’t give myself fully to it. I shall give myself fully to love!

What can I do when I have loved and lost? I can love again.

When I love, I don’t simply desire – I express it. When I love, I don’t turn the pages back – I keep writing on the book of life. When I love, I don’t reject – I accept hook, line and stinker.

Love is a will: I will forget, I will forgive, I will love. I can’t wait for love – it waits for me. I can’t fall in love – I can only jump right into it.

This I am aware of: The end of love is the end of wisdom. This I know: Hate hates haters; love loves lovers.

I know that love is all that. How can I ever love like all that? I can. If I can’t find a way to love, I shall make it. I shall be patient. If I can’t grow in love in a hurry, I shall grow in love slowly, in always trying. If I don’t succeed, I shall love again anyway. For to love anyway is to be born again to life.

To Love Anyway
A modern meditation on the world
Copyright 14 February 2007 by Frank A Hilario. Clipart from Microsoft Publisher 2000. I thought and wrote most of this in one sleepless night, 10-11 February 2007, in a room in a friend’s house at #9 Camaro Street, Fairview Subdivision, Quezon City. Thank God for friends.

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The Yankee Dawdle. 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in biofuel, climate change, ethanol, global warming, poor man's crop, sweet sorghum.
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handheld-sorghum-paint-daubs.jpg

On Discovery Sorghum, The Great Climate Crop

Global warming is heating up the thinking of the world about an inconvenient truth: FIRE & ICE. Except that of the Yankees, the Rip Van Winkles of the Millennium.

Remember Washington Irving? You will also remember The Legend Of The Sleepy Yankees a hundred years from now. I certainly hope the world is still around around that time.

One hot little verse written by my favorite Yankee poet Robert Frost, ‘Fire And Ice,’ published in Harper’s Magazine in the winter of 1920, has been inflaming the hearts of many a reviewer of poetry. I like what Katherine Kearns says of it: ‘Like ice shrieking across a red-hot griddle, his poetry does, indeed, ride on its own melting.’ I like best how Jeffrey Meyers describes it (1996, english.uiuc.edu/): ‘concise, laconic, perfect and perfectly savage.’

Fire And Ice Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

One hot little piece of paper has been igniting the passion of many a world government in reducing greenhouse gas emissions following international agreements. It is called the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty in full force since 2005, and which assigns country targets. But the Yankees are unmoved, standing still; the Yankees continue to refuse to ratify the Protocol. It would be pardonable if not for the fact that the US is the single biggest polluter of them all.

One hot little crop has been thawing the icebergs of climate change in the thinking of African and Asian governments about global warming. It is called Sorghum bicolor. But the Yankees are unmoved, standing still; the Yankees continue to ignore sweet sorghum and continue to propagate Zea mays as their elite energy crop. It would be forgivable if not for the fact that corn is hugely more expensive to produce, several times more than gasoline.

What has the world wrought? How do you like the imperial behavior of the Yankees, who up to now don’t even have a Biofuels Act? (Giles Clark, 8 January 2007, biofuelreview.com/) Shame on them! But to be diplomatic about it, let me just call it The Yankee Dawdle, a sin of omission, of unenlightened interest in climate change.

It is the enlightened interest of every country that the Kyoto Protocol be ratified by the whole world but especially by the US, and the gas emission targets reached as agreed upon. Time and tide waits for no one, not even for the mighty United States of America; neither does climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in December 1997. Fiji had acted the first, the fastest and the most furious; she signed on 17 September 1998 and ratified the Protocol on the exact same date. The European Union (all 16 countries) ratified it in 2002, the Philippines in 2003, Russia in 2004; for the last 20 years, the US, along with ally Australia, has adamantly refused to ratify it. The Yankees say ‘No Deal.’ Big Deal!

If the US refuses to be a winner against climate change, can the rest of the world be left behind? If the Yankees doubt global warming, all they have to do is ask the old folks; there is much to learn from folk wisdom. If you’re listening.

Now apparently there is expert wisdom; there is much to learn from expert wisdom. If you’re reading. Today, 3 February 2007, the news from a United Nations study confirms global warming. I first read it in the American Chronicle by email; go to Google and there are  more than 2,000 pieces of news of it; the one I like most has it and says it best right in the headline (Oliver Burkeman, 2 February, guardian.co.uk/, cited by buzzle.com/): ‘The scientists spoke cautiously but the graphs said it all.’ Walk softly, but carry a big stick.

Still, the US will dismiss that UN report, unless perhaps Poet Laureate Robert Frost recites that poem to the President of the United States in front of a multitude. I have a dream.

To counter this one intercontinental snub of the Yankees, let us consider this one intercontinental crop of the Indians. I am tempted to call the whole thing The Indian Protocol, because it was in India where a science group had made the first moves, a private group took up the challenge, and farmers joined hands to develop the world’s first climate crop for rainfall-challenged farms in the semi-arid tropics of Africa and Asia, not to mention America. That crop was sweet sorghum. That science group was the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (icrisat), a non-profit, non-political international center of excellence in agriculture and 1 of 15 institute members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (cgiar). That private group was Rusni Distilleries Ltd. The result: The world’s first commercial sweet sorghum-based ethanol distillery, and it began operating last October in Andhra Pradesh, a state with 76 million people, among the most economically challenged Indians. Potential, beginning to be realized. The Indians alone grow sorghum in 9.3 million hectares, about 1/4 of the world’s total of 40 million ha. Potential, yet to be realized.

From the scientific side, The Sorghum Equation is:
Yeast à C6H12O6 = 2CH3CH2OH + 2CO2 ­ heat

That is sugar converted by yeast to ethanol and carbon dioxide, giving off heat. Given that Albert Einstein’s famous E = mc2 is elegant where this is not, nonetheless, where one is earth-shaking, the other is earth-shattering; where one presages the end of the world, the other presages the beginning of a new one – climate on hold. Inspired, I hereby propose the Climate Equation and it is this:

YEAST OF US PEOPLE à SWEET SORGHUM = SWEET US$ + CLIMATE ON HOLD

That is a simple lesson waiting to be learned by the poor like the Filipinos in Asia and Nigerians in Africa, now running scared, and the rich like the Yankees and Australians, not running scared. The Yankees can learn from their own Indy Racing League, which will be running its race cars on 100% ethanol starting 2007 (AEF, 2006, 25×25.org/).

Still and all, sorghum seems to be a crazy choice of climate crop. Indeed. Over 6,000 years old, this one has had a very bad reputation among Yankee scientists. Cornell University lists it as a poisonous plant (2003, ansci.cornell.edu/); the Weed Science Society of America lists it as a weed (2005, weedscience.org/); and the American Phytopathological Society lists it as susceptible to disease, and gives a list of 45 diseases attacking this crop: 3 bacterial, 26 fungal, 12 nematodal, 4 viral (apsnet.org/). Adding to that, it is certain that from the sweet syrup, the US Department of Agriculture has found it difficult to extract dry sugar (2000, ca.uky.edu/nssppa/). Born loser.

But not in Andhra Pradesh, India, at icrisat, whose scientists and experts have developed hybrids that make sweet sorghum a great energy crop and air freshener. To plant with and make richly productive the poor soils in the rainfall-challenged parts of much of the world, the millions of hectares of wastelands. To grow and clean the air of carbon dioxide. To produce ethanol for cars to greatly reduce their carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. To raise in millions of hectares, to help forestall climate change. To help the people, poor and rich. Born winner.

The awkward truth is that black power (petroleum-based fuels) has contributed the most to climate change, and that now we must turn to green power (plant-based fuels) if we are to save Planet Earth from the deadly ozone of our own making. And we will do it by pushing fossil fuels over the edge and pushing on photosynthetic power, biofuels. And pushing bodies, minds & spirits. And pushing the Big Bad Wolf Yankee. There are 6 major greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, HFCs and PFCs (Larry West, 2007, environment.about.com/). In carbon dioxide emissions alone, the Yankees contributed 5 trillion (5,000,000,000,000) tonnes in 2002 – compare that which the 16 countries comprising the European Union contributed, a combined 6 trillion tonnes (BBC 2005, news.bbc.co.uk/); thus, the US is contributing 13 times more CO­2 than the average EU country! While the Europeans have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the Yankees have their own protocol. Building their own Noah’s Ark, I presume? Truth is stranger than fiction. Ostrich-like, the Yankees have been burying their heads in the sands of time, if not in the deserts of science, refusing to face the awesome truth dramatized in the documentary by a Yankee himself, eco-pusher Al Gore as the modern Atlas, his film An Inconvenient Truth: A Global Warning, directed by David Guggenheim (2006). The Yankees are a United States of Denial. If the Yankees will not be a winner against climate change, we can only be a whiner against the Yankees. Atlas cannot carry the whole world on his shoulders alone. I’m now thinking of a book I will be very sorry to write alone: While Atlas Shrugged, The Yankees Demurred.

Time to listen once more to one of the world’s most respected global thinkers, Lester R Brown, another Yankee, who in his latest book writes that we must now and we can be eco-friendly and save ourselves from the clear and present danger of global warming. His book is entitled Plan B 2.0: Rescuing A Planet Under Stress And A Civilization In Trouble (2006, New York: WW Norton & Co; the whole book is free to download if you go to earth-policy.org/). Translated, that would be transforming Plan B into what I call Planet B, if we could get beyond our global ignorance or indifference to the global meltdown that has startlingly started, as shown dramatically in Mr Gore’s documentary. The Yankee attitude: The proof of the flooding is in the swimming.

Mr Gore’s inconvenient film in fact comes after Mr Brown’s inconvenient book, the first edition having come out in 2001. The Yankees are not listening; Mr Gore and Mr Brown are prophets not without honor except in their own country. In the Preface to the 2006 version (page ix), Mr Brown says, ‘The purpose of this book is to make a convincing case for building the new economy, to offer a more detailed vision of what it would look like, and to provide a roadmap of how to get from here to there.’ And how do we do that? We focus on cars. Mr Brown says:

If economic progress is to be sustained, we need to replace the fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy with a new economic model. Instead of being based on fossil fuels, the new economy will be powered by abundant sources of renewable energy: wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and biofuels. ¶ Instead of being centered around automobiles, future transportation systems will be far more diverse, widely employing light rail, buses, and bicycles as well as cars. The goal will be to maximize mobility, not automobile ownership. ¶ The throwaway economy will be replaced by a comprehensive reuse/recycle economy. Consumer products from cars to computers will be designed so that they can be disassembled into their component parts and completely recycled.

Great! The only problem with Mr Brown’s grand proposal is that it is all economics. The great economists like Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Alfred Marshall, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, some of them Yankees, have always been that: Great Economists, no more, no less. Great economics has been the cause of all this global warming in the first place!

Mr Brown does not even mention the very first of the 3 Rs of conservation. The mantra of conservationists has always been Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I memorized that 30 years ago and it’s not rocket science. Mr Brown’s scenario is populated by procedure, not people. In fact, he says on page 7 that we are confronted with ‘two urgent major challenges: restructuring the global economy and stabilizing world population.’ He considers the number of people as part of the problem; I beg to differ – I consider the number of people as part of the solution. He refuses to accept the fact that the Malthusian theory that population tends to outstrip food supply has been debunked many a time – it is ‘a fairy tale,’ says Larry Azar (quoted by Eric Bermingham, 11 November 2006, kolbecenter.org/). The Malthusian theory is unexplained by science, unsupported by experience. And even if Thomas Robert Malthus were right, right now, overpopulation is one of the least of our problems.

I submit that what we have to do is FOR A CRITICAL MASS OF US TO WORK OUT FIRST A USER-FRIENDLY WORLD, and then and only then can we dream of a sustainable universe, where everyone reduces, reuses, recycles. By user-friendly world, I mean the other way around: We people become friendly to Earth. The Earth is Hallowed Ground – Show some respect! We are not Owners of it; we are Users only.

For an exemplary model, a big one in its totality, we turn not to Government but to Science as our Virtual Savior. Now then, if science is to save us from self-destruction, what we need is, in my view, a paradigm and a shift:

Paradigm: Science with a human face.
Shift: From grey to green.

Perspective. ‘Science with a human face’ signifies theory and practice being dedicated to serve the people’s real needs, not simply those imagined by scientists or imaged by thinkers.

View. ‘From grey to green’ signifies fields impoverished turning into soils productive of crops, or super crops turning poor soils into productive ground.

And from there? From green to white, which signifies harvest turning into white as source of heat – ethyl alcohol. This is ethanol ignited to run engines that run transport vehicles, with the result that the air is cleaner than when we started, with the end result that cars and trucks do not contribute to global warming. For it is true that the green crops harvest the bad breath of Earth (carbon dioxide in the air) and turn it into organic matter; and the best of such crops yield the 4 Fs of the organic world: food, feed, fuel, fertilizer.

One of the best 4 Fs crops is sweet sorghum, known in scientific circles as Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench. This complete name originates from Germany; the original taxonomic nomenclature was assigned by the ‘(L.)’ – the Father of Taxonomy himself, Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus (also abbreviated Linn.); the nomenclature has been revised by and so is attributed to ‘Moench’ – the German botanist Conrad Moench. While the US is adamant to change, science stands corrected.

For all its rotten reputation, sweet sorghum, to distinguish it from grain sorghum, is sweet and juicy. It is a wonderful crop in fact. Let me compare it to corn, the energy crop of choice of the poor Yankees.

From Yankee LC Anderson of Iowa State University (August 2000, energy.iastate.edu/), I learn that:
(1) The stalks of sweet sorghum can yield 1,235 gallons of ethanol to a hectare, 2x that of corn. Great provider.

From what I gather from Yankee Syngenta (2003, syngentafoundation.org/), I think this is a thinking plant if ever I heard of one:
(2) When in drought, sweet sorghum remains dormant; with the coming of rain, it resumes growth and recovers, unlike corn. The FAO refers to it as ‘a camel among crops’ because it can survive where the soil is too dry as well as when the soil is too wet (Agronomy21, 2002, fao.org/). Intelligent being.
(3) Again, unlike corn, sorghum’s aboveground parts wait for the root system to be well established before they grow any further. Intelligent system.

To compare further, from AERC Inc (2003, aerc.ca/), and DJ Undersander et al (November 1990, hort.purdue.edu/), all Yankees, I gather that:
(4) Sorghum produces 2x more roots than corn. More roots underground produce more aboveground: stalk, leaves and grains. Designer cereal.
(5) Sorghum has half the transpiring leaf area of corn and, therefore, needs 30-50% less water than corn to produce a unit of matter. Designer plant.
(6) The leaves have a waxy coating (called bloom) and have the ability to fold rather than roll in during drought, reducing transpiration under hot, dry conditions. Designer vegetation.
(7) The plant competes favorably with most weeds. Designer crop.

Sorghum wins! Corn is an also-ran.

Sorghum was cultivated in the dry lands of Sudan over 6,000 years ago (G Grassi, 2001, wip-munich.de/). Since then, it has become a life-saving crop, the staple food of more than 500 million people in more than 30 countries (ET Rampho, January 2005, plantzafrica.com/). Introduced to the United States in the early 17th century, sweet sorghum has been grown mainly for its syrup, which is used as a substitute for sugar (Undersander et al, cited).

In the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) signed the Biofuels Act of 2006 (Republic Act 9367) one year late, on 17 January 2007. Better late than never. With her signature, GMA has set forth the process by which the country will reach a target blend for vehicles of 5% ethanol (E5) with 95% gasoline within 2 years and 10% (E10) with 90% within 4 years. Thailand as well as China wants E10 right away, in 2007 (Moustapha Kamal Gueye, 2006, regserver.unfccc.int/). Brazil is in center stage and now aiming for E100 in 2007 for all new cars (David Morris, 17 April 2005, commondreams.org/). Brazil is dancing the Salsa of the Universe.

Again, in the Philippines, sugarcane is currently the official choice of biofuel crop (Elaine Ruzul Ramos, 2006, manilastandardtoday.com/). Sweetheart, sugarcane may be a good choice, but sorghum is better, much better. I learn that from icrisat, whose paradigm / shift I quoted earlier, the institutional focus / strategy being ‘Science with a human face’ / ‘From grey to green’ (William Dar, January 2007, Nurturing Life In The Drylands Of Hope, Andhra Pradesh, India: icrisat, 160 pages). icrisat is led by a visionary. The Yankees are led by a blurred visionary.

Comparing crops as sources of ethanol, the biofuel of choice of Brazil, India, the Philippines, the US, France and many other countries, icrisat’s brochure ‘Sweet Sorghum’ (Belum VS Reddy et al, 2006, 24 pages) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (Agriculture21, 2002, fao.org/) tell us that:

(1)   Sweet sorghum can grow like no crop has grown before: in drylands, acidic or basic soils, waterlogged fields.

(2)   Sweet sorghum grows faster than sugarcane, 200 days (2 crops) vs 365 days.

(3)   Sweet sorghum needs 4.5 times less water than sugarcane, 8,000 (2 crops) vs 36,000 cubic meters. No irrigation necessary.

(4)   Cost of cultivation of sweet sorghum is 3 times less than that of sugarcane.

(5)   Sweet sorghum is easily planted, 5 kg of seeds to a hectare; sugarcane requires the handling of 5,000 cuttings. Many hands don’t make light work.

(6)   Ethanol production process from sweet sorghum is eco-friendly while that from sugarcane is not.

(7)   Ethanol from sweet sorghum is better than from sugarcane for two reasons: it has lower sulphur content (is less polluting) and higher octane (yields more power).

In India, at Andhra Pradesh, with icrisat as incubator of technology (their term), Dr William Dar, Director General of icrisat, inaugurated on 2 October 2006 the production of commercial ethanol by Rusni Distilleries Ltd. In an interview, Dr Dar tells me that Rusni is owned by Mr Palami Swamy, an Indian national. Rusni is a multi-feedstock system, meaning it can squeeze the juice from sweet sorghum as well from sugarcane & other materials. Rusni has already made history: It is the first of its kind in the world (Reddy et al, cited), that is, a commercial sweet sorghum ethanol plant born out of the coalition of the willing: science, citizen and government. Doesn’t the world owe that lesson from the Yankees?

The sweet sorghum story has happened in India, which before that has been advertising itself as (tourisminindia.com/) The Destination Of The New Millennium. It is now.

In the Philippines, intrigued and interested, GMA sent last year Mr Benedicto Yujuico, Special Envoy for Trade Relations to study the icrisat-supported Rusni distillery; upon his return, he recommended replication of the Rusni model in the country. In an email, Dr Dar tells me that GMA has given her full support to the Philippine sweet sorghum project and has accepted the invitation for a project visit to Batac, Ilocos Norte this February. Batac is where Mariano Marcos State University (mmsu) is located; the mmsu campus is the base whereby the discovery sorghums (hybrids actually) of icrisat have been successfully test-planted for the last 2 years by the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR). In the interview, Dr Dar tells me there are 8 hybrids that have passed through multi-site field trials and are ready for commercial planting, the recommended variety depending on the farm’s location in the country.

In fact, after India, in the Philippines, the wheel of prosperity run by sorghum energy has started rolling. On the 19th of January this year, a technology investment forum was initiated by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap. As a result, Dr Dar tells me that 5 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) have been signed between icrisat and Rusni Distilleries on one side and 5 interested local and foreign companies on the other side to use the Rusni multi-feedstock distillery system and icrisat sorghum hybrids. Target distillery-farm sites are the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog Region, and Central Philippines. To each its own sweet sorghum variety, I presume.

Over lunch with Dr Dar, Dr Luis Rey Velasco (Chancellor of UP Los Baños), and Dr Santiago R Obien (consultant) among others, I am talking to Dr Belum Reddy, Principal Breeder (Sorghum) of icrisat, about the Institute’s 8 sweet sorghums tested in Northern Luzon for the last 2 years through mmsu. Having been Editor in Chief of the Philippine Journal of Crop Science for the past 6 years, I have been thinking about national (multi-location) testing of many varieties, where the protocol is to select for outstanding performances in a production trial, composite; that is, in the case of sweet sorghum: sugar yield + stillage (bagasse) + grains, average of several locations. So they select in 2 out of the 8 varieties as top of the line. What happens to the others? They select out 6. I suggest another approach: Don’t get the average; get the best performance of each variety. If you’re after sugar, go after sugar. In other words, why not select and recommend all 8? Surely, a different variety is an outstanding performer in a different location, but maybe not in all locations. Dr Reddy is kind enough to agree.

Ethanol is the fuel of choice in the Yankee Ford Company’s alternative fuel strategy program (TMT, 18 April 2006, manilatimes.net/). Ford leads with more than 1 million ethanol-powered vehicles on the road worldwide. Has Ford considered source? As source of ethanol, sorghum is most certainly promising, corn is most certainly not. Yankees Jerry Taylor & Peter Van Doren of Chicago Sun-Times vehemently declare that corn ethanol is ‘enormously expensive and wasteful’ (27 January 2007, suntimes.com/). They quote the production cost of $2.53 per gallon of ethanol, and affirm that such amount is ‘several times what it costs to produce a gallon of gasoline.’ These Yankees are saying: Wrong crop!

Compared to that of corn ethanol, the economics of sweet sorghum ethanol is sweeter. For instance, in India with Rusni Distillery, the production cost per gallon of ethanol is $1.47 (my computation, data from Reddy et al, 2006).

In the Philippines, Dr Dar tells me the initial investment per enterprise is US$8.5 million for the distillery, which can produce 40,000 liters of ethanol a day. For full operation, it needs 150 people to run the plant, 4,000 hectares to raise sorghum and 20,000 hands to grow and harvest the crop. Considering 5 distilleries, here are the figures: initial investments in dollars US$42.5 million, total area planted 20,000 hectares, farm hands employed 100,000 people, and total ethanol produced in a year 73 million liters. In developed countries, they welcome mechanized farming; in developing countries, they welcome manualized farming, creating jobs. Considering all that, with the 5 different distillery sites, sorghum as one crop alone will have immeasurable multiplier effects on the local and national economies of the islands.

Compare that with sugarcane as feedstock for ethanol. The initial investment is $45.6 million (P2.28 billion) for 1 distillery (Ramos, cited), which is 5 times more than that with sweet sorghum. Too much for an initial investment.

According to AK Rajvanshi & N Nimbkar (2001, nariphaltan.virtualave.net/), sweet sorghum is ‘the only crop’ that provides grain and stem that can be used for sugar, alcohol, syrup, jaggery, fodder, fuel, bedding, roofing, fencing, paper and chewing (animals). Actually no; sugarcane provides all those too, but rather more expensively.

What about the buying price? Dr Dar says that ethanol is now competitive with petrol (gasoline) in India due to high prices of fossil fuels, even adjusting for energy equivalency (1 liter of petrol = 1.5 liters of ethanol) (September 2006, ‘What icrisat Thinks,’ icrisat.org/). ‘The constraint is not the cost of ethanol production,’ Dr Dar says; ‘it is the supply of raw materials.’ Sorghum will supply more stalks for more ethanol for less.

According to Dr Heraldo Layaoen, who is a pioneer scientist grower of sweet sorghum in the Philippines, who is also Vice President of mmsu, within a year, 2 crops of sweet sorghum will yield a combined average of 200 tonnes of sugar to a hectare in 200 days, while 1 crop of sugarcane will yield a maximum of 90 tonnes in 365 days (INF, 10 September 2006, nordis.net/). No comparison. Sugarcane was introduced by the Arab traders to the Philippines before the Spanish era (Jose Maria T Zabaleta, 1997, fao.org/); to me that means the Filipinos have been cultivating the wrong crop for sugar for more than 500 years! Thanks but no thanks. Dr Layaoen says that sugarcane has as high as 14% sugar content while sweet sorghum has 23%. Thank you very much! Translation:

Sweetheart, sugarcane is sweet, but sweet sorghum is sweeter.

Copyright 04 February 2007 by Frank A Hilario. The image shown is the cover of the book by William Dar, Nurturing Life In The Drylands Of Hope – January 2007, Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (icrisat), 160 pages – based on the prize-winning painting of Brenda Bae, Grade 11, International School of Hyderabad, part of a competition sponsored by icrisat. In the youth, there is hope.

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Software IQ. 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in a question of software upgrades, Bill Gates, Office 2007, Word 2007, Worp.
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iq-mouse.jpg

Microsoft’s Mr Bill Gates

And The Boy Who Cried Worp

Shockingly innovative is Microsoft’s Office 2007, and I’m convinced that its appearance is evidence that its rival, OpenOffice 2, is winning the game with its suite of application programs equivalent to those of Office 2003, which means that what is 4 years older is as good as new. Office 2007 with a unique user interface is in response to the redoubtable challenge of OpenOffice; Microsoft’s Gambit is: If the enemy is game, change the rules of the game. I’d say Microsoft has high IQ.

Having experimented with OpenOffice 2, I almost converted. OpenOffice 2 shipped last year, free; Office 2007 ships this month, but I’m not buying. I’m content with a test drive that Microsoft Office Online (MOO) (2007, office.microsoft.com/) offers me. This is because to me paying $500 for one DVD is out of sight. MOO, did you say test drive? Now, I know that that metaphor is out of place. Funny, but I don’t drive; I’m not driven. Much as I, user, would like to, I don’t drive software; it drives me, as Word 2007 does: It drives me crazy!

Is it insanity or is it genius? After studying Word 2007, let me count the ways:

One, MOO says the 2007 Microsoft Office System is ‘simplicity at your fingertips.’ I say it is definitely not; it is complexity at my fingertips, and I’m no novice at this. I’ve been using much Microsoft software for most of 20 years, especially Word for much of 2 decades.

Two, Microsoft cooks up a new menu and calls it The Ribbon – that’s bizarre. As the name of a bakeshop, The Ribbon may be appealing. The main menu of Word 2007 is unappealing, and it is this – so, what else is new?

[Home] [Insert] [Page Layout] [References] [Mailings] [Review] [View]

I don’t see any ribbon at all. The emperor has no clothes!

Three, I find that tab-menu eccentric if not zany; it is comical because of its incongruity. The Insert, Page Layout, References, Mailings, Review, View sub-menus relate to each other neither as identifiable members of one class, nor equivalent parts of a whole, which they should be. And they are an odd mixture of verbs (Insert, Review, View) and nouns (Home, Page Layout, References, Mailings). They provide a strange guide both to the beginner and the expert on what to do. In fact, that’s not surprising at all; the previous menu – [File] [Edit] [View] [Insert] [Format] [Tools] [Table] [Window] [Help] – was in the same quaint genre that nobody noticed!

Four, with Word 2007, you are beyond help: There is no Help. They must have realized it wasn’t any help at all. What they have now is a mini-toolbar when you select text (even when you simply right-click and not select text) – the mini-toolbar is icons and words, no explanations. If you hover the cursor over any icon on The Ribbon, there appears a brief note. Actually, Help is still there, hiding: press F1 and Help appears. But no more Clipit, the Office Assistant, no more running dog of Microsoft.

Five, there are more goofy things: Under Review is Research. And Translate. Also, Spelling & Grammar – you mean I have to wait till the manuscript is under review before I do the research, or translate, or check the spelling and the grammar? What happens if I don’t ask people to review my work? What happens to those who do not review even their work? You will be surprised at how many of them there are.

Six, there are other maddening things Microsoft did with Word 2007. No logic too. They couldn’t decide on how to combine commands under the old File and then they came up with the Microsoft Office Button, what I call the Belly Button. Decent, but not very smart.

Seven, an outlandish thing Microsoft has done is put Macros under View. You know macros of course; briefly, macros are shortcuts. If all I have to do is view macros, I’d rather be going.

Eight, they couldn’t decide how to re-present or re-name the Style sheet and they came up with Home. That’s a horrendous oversight, to say the least. This is the Home that doesn’t relate at all to the members! In computing, Home is where the hearth is, your starting point, where you can see where you want to go. With Word 2007, they are saying that Home is all style (formats), and that doesn’t make sense. Format Font (name, size, effects etc), Format Paragraph (indent, justify, align, space etc), Format Styles (automatic, programmable formats of fonts and paragraphs etc) – not home, by any stretch of a sorcerer’s imagination. Home, of all places. Why, does Microsoft think Home is where the Art is?

As if that is not enough, under Home there’s Editing (Find, Replace, Select, Select All). If that’s editing, then Editors are over-paid! Actually, all that is only clerical work; only correcting, and not even the whole of correcting. Perhaps Microsoft has forgotten that editing is finding fault with grammar, figures of speech, organization, finding fault even with the title; not forgetting the 4 Cs of communication: clarity, comprehensiveness, coherence, conciseness. Or perhaps, and this is worse, Microsoft doesn’t want to give credit to whom edit is due?

Kidding aside, Mr Gates, I think you and I both can learn about Home from writers, this time from those who lived in the dinosaur era of the typewriter, before the historic age of word processing. Surprise. Here’s one from GK Chesterton: ‘Home is not the one tame place in the world of adventure. It is the one wild place in the world of rules and set tasks.’ Clue: The world of rules and tasks, not just some rules and tasks, Mr Gates. That’s not irrational, is it? And from TS Eliot: ‘Home is where one starts from.’ Home is where you get directions, Sir; married or unmarried, you know what I mean. That’s not outrageous, is it?

That should set the three directions of this easy-essay; so now, let me expound on:

(a) Microsoft trying to advance the world of word processing

(b) You trying to advance in the world of word processing

(c) Me trying to be the man in the middle.

Now, let’s see how far we can get.

(A) Microsoft is trying to advance the world of word processing.

With Word 2007, for the first time, Microsoft is innovating software; not for the first time, I’m innovating terms. Thus: worp for word processor, worping for word processing, worper for worp user; worperer for worp creator, Worder for Microsoft Word user. (You shall see later that, alternately, this is the story of ‘Frank Hilario & The Worperer’s Stone’ – a gem, I hope.)

Worperer Mr Gates is trying to advance word processing by advancing his own word processor. Welcome! That’s good marketing strategy; in fact it’s excellent. We worpers may all benefit from such enterprise. Worping with a revolutionary worp? All I can say is that I remain a loyal Worder after all is said and done. Now, let me say it and be done.

Word History. Looking back into my 19-year love affair with Microsoft Word, and ogling now at my brand-new 17-inch MAG color monitor into the fresh, feminine-looking, ravishing Word 2007 (aka Microsoft Office Word 2007), I, worper, can see that Worperer Mr Gates has procreated a new tempting sweetheart of a software on display in shades of yellow and blue, the blue that OpenOffice has emulated. Much obliged, Mr Gates. This is a far cry from about 1987, when I first learned Word (Version 1) after a friend, Ms Bernie Quimpo gave me a tiny 1.4 MB diskette with the whole software in it and a Xerox copy of the thin manual, gratis et amore. I love friends. Learning and working with this worp, I have learned to love Mr Gates’ Word.

Over the years, as a loyal Worder, I have gone on from Word 1 (the one with the Alpha key), to Word 4, to Word 5 (if I remember right, the first version with the graphic user interface, GUI), to Word 97, to Word 2000 (I didn’t try it; I clung long to Word 97), to Word XP (released 2002), to Word 2003 (the one I’m using now to write this).

The Alpha key in Word 1 was silly. Word 5 was a welcome GUI, if still gooey. Already, starting Word 4, I began to love the mnemonic commands: Ctrl+J for Justify, Ctrl+I for Italics, Ctrl+P for Print Setup. For Microsoft to remove Ctrl+T for Hanging Indent was foolish. And to love other shortcuts: F4 to repeat a command or any sequence of commands; F8 to select a word, sentence, paragraph; Ctrl+Arrow to move the cursor fast etc. Then came Word XP, truly a high-end word processor.

Word XP is the one that enabled us at the Crop Science Society of the Philippines (us means the Executive Board, that would be them; and the Editor in Chief, that would be me), to claim an achievement worthy of a Guinness Book of World Records – however, we did not officially claim it. We did claim online on a blogsite I created (to check, google for “CROPScience Philippines”): The Philippine Journal of Crop Science (PJCS) is the most advanced technical journal in the world.

In declaring that unequivocally, I justified it two ways. One, at the time we claimed that, May 2006, we were 1 year advanced in our published issues. Two, the PJCS was the only technical journal that was 100% digital in production, from encoding to camera-ready pages; no cut-and-paste at the office or at the printing press, and no blueprints to proofread.

Not to mention enabling people & processes, among other products, for PJCS it was Word XP that enabled me to be a one-man-band: editor, copyreader, proofreader, page designer, layout artist, publisher. With Word XP’s built-in features, I can drag illustrations (photos, graphs, GIFs, BMPs) across any page or number of pages; I can do exactly the same with tables. That’s simply magic! Thank you, Mr Gates.

Word History In The Making. Now, how much progress have we made with the latest Microsoft worp, Word 2007?

Paul Thurrott (4-23 May 2006, winsupersite.com/) calls the latest graphic user interface of Word, seen in Word 2007, ‘the most innovative user interface work that Microsoft has ever unleashed.’ While the mixed metaphor is a little queer (interface unleashed), I agree with the defining declaration. The user interface is ‘completely new,’ Paul says. It is.

Anil Dash (19 June 2006, dashes.com/) calls Office 2007 ‘the bravest upgrade ever’ and the GUI (The Ribbon) ‘the ballsiest feature in the history of computer software.’ That’s a sensible statement. He means that, first, Office 2007 is the biggest gamble Microsoft has ever made in the software game of upgrades – Microsoft gambles in many other software games – and, second, that as a manager, Mr Bill Gates has balls. Mr Dash is right both times.

But: Is Word 2007 any good? Or, which I prefer to ask: Is it any better? Let’s talk also about best.

MOO (2007, cited) claims that the new user interface (NUI) is meant ‘to make it easier for people to find and use the full range of features’ that the new worp provides. That’s ridiculous. With the Word 2007 and its NUI, I’m Bab, bothered and bewildered. I find it difficult to summon many of the commands & features myself, and I’m a 19-year veteran Worder! Those commands & features I discuss in more detail in the next section (C); here, suffice it to say that in OpenOffice Writer, it would be easier for me to find the commands I like to use, not to mention I need to use; therefore, if I had to choose between Writer and Word 2007, my choice is clear: Writer.

But I have another choice: Word XP. With only 57 commands, Mr Worperer, I assure you I can make your worp jump through hoops. Your Word 2007 looks great but not enough to make me jump through hoops.

I respect Paul Thurrott’s (2006, cited) lusty opinion of Microsoft – A little more, Paul, and you’ll make a convert out of me! I happen to have my own healthy opinion that differs with his. By way of introducing him and me, he says he has been ‘investigating Microsoft and its products for over a decade’ and has written ‘over a dozen books about Windows, Web and software development and other computing topics.’ He says he makes use of only a few basic functions in Word, and spends about 50% of his working time there. In contrast, being a writer, editor and publisher, I have been using Microsoft Word almost exclusively for almost 20 years; I use at least 342 of the advanced functions of Word XP and spend about 90% of my computer time with this software. So, the comparative advantage of experience is mine when it comes to this sweetheart of a software. Now, remember: Sweethearts are not perfect.

With that background, you understand why it drives me bats that most of the reviewers I have read are agreed that Microsoft has come up with another winner. Except Andre Da Costa (2006, activewin.com/). He says, ‘I only use 10% of the features; Office is bloated, and I don’t need Microsoft Office when I have OpenOffice, which is free.’ Andre, you probably know why Office is bloated: Microsoft programmers don’t use truly object-oriented programs (OOPs) like SmallTalk. With OOPs, Microsoft, IBM Lotus, Corel, Sun Microsystems, OpenOffice.org, Google would save millions of lines of codes, not to mention millions of dollars in TIME: time, initiative, money and energy. And we won’t have to pay ridiculous prices for software!

No, Microsoft Office does not win my heart, only my admiration. I give Microsoft A for Attempt to change the rules of high-end word processing. Nice try.

I have OpenOffice Writer myself; even so, I prefer Microsoft Office Word, even considering that Writer is free and Word comes with a price and that Word 2007 is not the top banana it’s touted to be. I probably use 30-40% of the 2000+ Word commands (including many, many shortcuts). Writer emulates the menus and commands of Word, but it lacks many of those I usually use, like F4 (Repeat), Shift+F3 (Change Case), Shift+F5 (Last Edit) – and its Customize is way below the standards set by Word for power, flexibility and ease of use. For instance, I can be a sorcerer myself and customize the menu of Word by itself in the blink of your eye – it’s that powerful, magical.

Simon Jones (2007, PC Pro, pcpro.co.uk/) sees ‘not many new features’ and says ‘but the new interface breathes fresh life into an already great product.’ Me, I like the already great product, not the fresh life.

Jerry Pournelle, that indefatigable talker and tester of hardware and software and writer of science fiction (2006, chaosmanorreviews.com/) says:

Word 2007 is entirely different. The tool bars are different. The menus are different (and mostly gone). The starting points are different. With Word 2007 Microsoft bit the bullet: they reorganized Word from the ground up, grouping features in a reasonably logical manner. There are not many new features in Word 2007, but it’s easier to find the ones that are there. ¶ That’s the theory, anyway. In practice it doesn’t work that well. Word 2007 is probably easier to learn for someone who never used Word before, but for long-time Word users like me, it can be sheer hell.

Me, I refuse to choose hell.

Dennis O’Reilly (4 January 2007, pcworld.idg.com.au/) says: ‘In Word 2007, the ribbon toolbar does enhance productivity once users figure out where its predecessor’s various commands have been relocated.’ That’s the whole problem, Dennis: Old user me, I can’t find them myself, and I’ve grown old along with Word, almost one-third of my life so far – would you believe 67?

Rick Scott, David DeJean & Serdar Yegulalp (20 November 2006, networkcomputing.com/) say: ‘With Word 2007, Microsoft has made the broadest and probably the most constructive set of changes to Word – and Office – since tear-off toolbars came along.’ Me, I like those old tear-off toolbars – I like what I can do with them, and I can do an unbelievable lot.

Jonathan Blum (5 January 2007, money.cnn.com/) says: ‘Now you get a long horizontal bar called The Ribbon that holds – no, hides – most Word commands.’ I told you so!

My namesake, Frank Dzedzy (2006, frankdzedzy.com) says: ‘My biggest problem is with the new interface.’ Same here.

The new interface: The Ribbon is the raison d’etre of Word 2007, I say. Paul Thurrott (2006, cited) says ‘The Ribbon has been designed … to expose the most commonly needed commands in a logical fashion.’ No Paul; I have yet to locate the logic of it all. The worper’s commonly needed commands are not only on fonts, paragraphs and styles; they include these: revise, copy, delete, paste, find & replace, go to page, break page, insert symbol, set up page, number page, check grammar & spelling, view layout, open new file, open old file, save file, search for file.

In truth, in attempting to describe the claimed success apart from the unclaimed failure of Word 2007, words fail me.

(B) You are trying to advance in the world of word processing.

Me, counting the last 10 years only, I’ve been using Microsoft Word for a minimum of  1,235 man-days, that is, 57 hours a week. (I calculated that using Word’s Math feature.) That’s very conservative. I’ve desktopped up to camera-ready at least 10 books and 18 issues of a technical journal; I have ghostwritten and edited innumerable papers and speeches; I have written countless articles published and unpublished, all using Microsoft Word, so much so that I know more of this software than the palm of my hand. I have quite a number of blogsites, with hundreds of blogposts, many of them several pages, almost all of them created first and formatted in Word. So I can tell you that Word XP is as good as they can get (Word 2003 is only slightly better).

So, if I were you, the target worper of Word 2007 (not to mention WordPerfect, Word Pro, Writer, Write, Writely), I would be smarter than Microsoft (not to mention Corel, IBM Lotus, Sun Microsystems, OpenOffice.org and Google) in word processing. I would demand that the language of the worp be mine, the worper, not the language of the Worperer as it is today.

As for me, I see that the latest incarnation of Microsoft’s latest worp, Word 2007, is only half as good as it is claimed to be.

My advice to Worperer Microsoft is: Think outside the box, outside yet another Microsoft box. My advice to you the worper is: Think outside the box of Microsoft; they do not have the monopoly of genius.

Inside Microsoft or outside, for you to advance in word processing, try and master the commands and features in the list that follows; at the same time, use them as a test of how good the software is. There are 57 in all; they are about half of the Word command and features I use most often. So here’s

Frank’s IQ Test For Word Processors

Based on usability and/or ease of use, here’s 57 word processing commands and features based on Microsoft Word; your task is to look for each command or feature in your word processor and time yourself. The results will tell you whether or not you have an intelligent worp. Assign 2 points for each item. Use this rating scale:

127 min – Trying Hard (Lowest IQ)
117 min – Neophyte (Low IQ)
097 min – Advanced (Fair IQ)
087 min – Professional (Average IQ)
077 min – Expert (High IQ)
067 min – Master (Higher IQ)
057 min – Genius (Highest IQ)

If you spend an average of 2 minutes looking for each command or feature, your worp is not user-friendly and therefore has unacceptable IQ.

01. Autocorrect
02. Autotext
03. Blue Background
04. Bold
05. Bookmark
06. Bullets & Numbering
07. Center
08. Copy
09. Create Backup Copy
10. Customize
11. Cut
12. Delete Outright (No Undelete)
13. End of File
14. End of Line
15. File Locations
16. Find
17. Find & Replace
18. Format Columns
19. Gallery
20. Go to Page
21. Grammar & Spelling
22. Insert Drawing Canvas
23. Insert Page Number
24. Insert Section Break Next Page
25. Insert Symbol
26. Insert Text Box
27. Italics
28. Justify
29. Last Edit
30. New File
31. New Window
32. Overwrite
33. Page Break
34. Page Setup
35. Paste
36. Paste & Replace
37. Print Layout
38. Print Setup
39. Redo
40. Repeat Search
41. Save
42. Save All
43. Save As
44. Soft Break
45. Sort
46. Space Before
47. Start of File
48. Start of Line
49. Styles & Formatting
50. Subscript
51. Track Changes
52. Underline
53. Undo / Undelete
54. View Header & Footer
55. View Normal
56. View Print Layout
57. Zoom

Know what? If you rate OpenOffice Writer against Microsoft Office Word 2007, the results will shock you. You will find that the Worperer’s Stone is only half the gem it seems. 

You can’t advance in word processing if your word processor is not advanced. So, you have the right to demand the best from the Worperers like Microsoft and OpenOffice.org. I did that with OpenOffice.org last year; I reminded them this year.

The fellows at Hewlett-Packard (HP) (2007, government.hp.com/) tell us that Office 2007 is ‘more than getting just a mere makeover;’ the HP people also say that the user interface is ‘now streamlined with less visual clutter.’ I’m staring at that user interface (The Ribbon) of Microsoft’s Word 2007 right now and I see there is much clutter to assault even an old hand like me. In fact, I see less elegance than in Word 2003 where the double rows of toolbars are nice to look at beneath the menu bar – even if in Word 2007 they subdued the colors (swaths of blues & some yellows). I still like deep blue, which I’m enjoying right now as the background to my Word Window, white against blue, the words in reverse; I enjoy the contrast: the readability is a sight for sore eyes.

Paul Thurrott (2006, cited) tells us about the new user interface of Word 2007:

The new UI does expose functionality far more effectively than previous Office versions. It’s so good, in fact, that I recommend that software development teams inside and outside Microsoft study it and determine how well their own applications can be moved to this UI.

Incorrect, Paul, and rather reckless. Word 2007 exposes the commands but hides their functionality by bewildering the user with the interface (The Ribbon) full of icons seen and lurking. Design is not one of the strong suits of Microsoft. There’s more chaos and less class.  

MOO (2007, cited) says Word 2007 is ‘a powerful authoring program that gives you the ability to create and share documents by combining a comprehensive set of writing tools with an easy-to-use interface.’ Okay, I concede that the writing tools are powerful, but the interface is very far from easy to use. Access is forbidding. Okay, I want to write a letter; where and how do I begin? I want to write a book; how do I design it? I want to edit this technical paper: how do I proceed? I want to send an email: how do I do it? I want to spell-check this document which is in Ilocano: what should I do?

I stare at the Word 2007 tab-menu and it stares back at me.

(C) I blink. Me, I’m trying to be the man in the middle of it all.

If you can’t beat them, don’t join them; instead, change the rules of the game. That’s what Worperer Microsoft did with Word 2007, Paul Thurrott (2006, cited) says. Yes. Anil Dash (2006, cited) says: ‘By radically changing the user interface in Office 2007, Microsoft made the riskiest bet in the history of commercial software. And I think they’re going to win the bet.’ Wanna bet?

So, here’s another idea, also from me: Go get a fresh tablet of stone and etch on it the idea of an entirely new word processor. Worperers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your worps!

To create that new, improved, intelligent, exciting worp, I hereby present a less unwise menu than that of the latest worp by Microsoft (with its Word 2007), OpenOffice (Writer), IBM Lotus (Word Pro), Sun StarOffice (Write), Corel (WordPerfect), Google (Writely), or Yahoo or Apple in case they’re interested; here’s my menu I call Seven Heaven:

[Help!] [File] [Revise] [Access] [Nicen] [KnowMore] [Surf]

Help! To include, first and foremost, in the form of submenus, short lists of commands grouped as for Basic, Professional, Advanced, Expert and Master levels of word processing. (Guru is really the highest level, but you learn that outside of worping.) For my original idea of Help! alone, this new word processor is worth its weight in gold.

File to include all file management commands: Open, Save, Save As, Close, Set Up Page, Set Up Print, Search; Information (such as word count), Sections, Columns, Page Number.

Revise to include Check Grammar & Spelling, Cut & Paste, Insert, Delete, Delete-Insert, Copy & Paste, Footnote, Repeat Format, Search & Replace Text, Search & Replace Format, Search & Replace Style, Sort, Track Changes, Do Bullets & Numbering, Compare Documents.

Access to include View Normal, View Outline, View Print Layout, View Header & Footer; Window, Zoom, Printer, Copier, Fax.

Nicen to include Bold, Italics, Underline, Drop Cap, Change Case, Format Font, Format Paragraph, Format Style. (To nicen is to make look nice; my coinage.)

KnowMore to include Options, Autocorrect, Autotext, Mail Merge, Table, Macros, Customize.

Surf to include Translation, Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Internet.

You will have to agree with me that as a Worperer myself, my Seven Heaven menu is more logically arranged than the menu of Word 2007 or any other worp’s menu for that matter.

It took Microsoft 4 years to redesign Word 2003 into Word 2007 with The Ribbon; I think they went into too much trouble. Comparatively speaking, and in a much smaller scale, I can redesign Word 2003 into Seven Heaven Word 2007 within 4 weeks. Truth to tell, any nerd can probably do the same with or without any other inputs from me except my menu.

Meanwhile, I’m asking either Microsoft, Corel, IBM Lotus, Sun Microsystems, OpenOffice.org, Yahoo or Google to come up with a better worp than any we have now.

Now, as I anticipate that nobody is listening, I propose more than changing the rules of the game: The game now is to change the game. So, here’s the best idea of them all:

Create the world’s perfect word processor.

The idea is old to old me. About 15 years ago, I sent a letter to Mr Bill Gates at Redmond, Washington about my love-hate relationship with Word and suggested that Microsoft come up with a radically different word processor that is output-oriented, not merely results-oriented, which Word 2007 undoubtedly is. I sent it airmail; I did not receive any acknowledgement or reply. My wife remembers that letter very well.

Already at that time, I had the idea that an ideal worp would be one that a user, simply looking at the first screen, would know exactly what to do even if this was the first time he was using that program. What kind of software would that be? I had a definite idea then as I do now what that program would be. At this point in time, I can only describe it:

To be perfect, a word processor’s mission is to make word processing instinctive, spontaneous, fun. Here, curiosity does not kill the cat – he’s invited to come in and run after the mouse that is docile, yielding. The user interface shows a worp in sheep’s clothing – submissive, easily led. That is to say, one click on an icon, or one hover on a keyword, or one typing of a question, any question, or some other device, and with the feedback, a neophyte worper knows exactly what to do for what he wants to do it as if he were an expert. The worper doesn’t have to know the technical term or the name of the command to use that worp; he doesn’t have to read the detailed instructions; and he doesn’t have to remember any command at all to be able to work like an expert all the time.

Word 2003: It’s the best word processor today, bar none. Word 2007? This new vibrant worp of Worperer Microsoft doesn’t quite hack it. The Worperer’s Stone is blemished. The perfect word processor is a sorcerer’s dream. And Mr Bill Gates doesn’t have the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Copyright 13 January 2007 by Frank A Hilario. Image from Microsoft Publisher 2002; I call it the IQ Mouse.

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We 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in forget, forgive, Saddam Hussein, The Hangman.
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I, Specimen.

I, Specimen.

I, the hangman of Saddam Hussein, the one who would be king of kings of Iraq. Iraq – Mesopotamia – the world’s first civilization. He would not be hooded, so he was not; he would be an eyewitness to his own execution, so he was. I circled his neck with the hangman’s noose, and in the next instant, I activated the gallows, and he went from here to eternity. Iraq would not be the world’s last civilization.

We shall not forget. Whatever Saddam Hussein’s crimes were, they were not against his own people, but against humanity, human life. We shall remember his vision for his country was limited by lust for power that brought privilege beyond responsibility, the symptom of an unwell mind. We shall record he wanted to harness nuclear energy as it represented ultimate power. We shall put in writing his art was without heart. We shall recall at the height of his best, what we saw was Saddam Hussein descending to the level of Saddam Hussein at his worst. We shall etch on stone he succeeded mightily at becoming a gargantuan failure.

2007. We shall go on and memorialize we ourselves are equally greatly guilty; we shall remind ourselves not to throw the first stone as we ourselves have been waging wars against humanity, and their number is legion:

Our war for quantity with the personal computer, by which we ignore quality of life.

Our war for equity, which we think can be won with justice.

Our private wars of prejudice, some we are not conscious of.

Our war of error in the name of knowledge – the race to the moon, the race to Mars, the race to the edge of the universe and sanity – we shall recount that it is so much money spent on the rich.

Our war on ignorance using the IQ (intelligence quotient), measuring only critical thinking, instead of using the EQ (enlightenment quotient), measuring also creative thinking, which we forget; measuring also the spiritual, which we ignore.

Our war on Faith, which we call Reason. We shall try to forget Yankees have had the ludicrous position of rejecting the very moral spirit of their own Declaration of Independence announced to the world on 4 July 1776 saying in part, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ We shall recite to them all those inalienable rights were derived from their Creator, which they acknowledge in one of the greatest documents of history. We shall gently urge them, having declared their independence from the British Empire, not to declare their independence from God, not to declare God has nothing to do with Government.

2007. We shall learn to live a life of paradox. We shall look at the glass, clearly, and inquire:

Who is to gain if we pain for the true, the good, the beautiful?
Who is to receive if we give love?
Who is to be healed if we forgive and forget?
Who is to be comforted if we apply mercy?
Who is to be enriched if we give generously?
Who is to be encouraged if we point in the direction of hope?
Who is to be strengthened if we advocate for others?
Who is to be rewarded if we sacrifice for the disadvantaged?
Who is to be magnified if we think highly of others lower than ourselves?
Who is to be persecuted if we revile people?
Who is to be impoverished if we steal?
Who is to be Caesared if we play the role of Brutus?
Who is to be Hiroshimaed if we play with nuclear fire?

We.

Ultimately, we is i. The naked i.

Copyright by Frank A Hilario 31 December 2006. (Image of the statue of Michelangelo’s David, slingshot over the shoulder, considering whether or not to confront Goliath. From all-things-photography.com/.)

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Contrary Christmas 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in A Conspiracy Of Love, A Conspiracy Of Pagans, Christmas, Contrary Christmas.
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A Conspiracy Of Pagans/Love

 IN OFFENSE OF CHRISTMAS, 2000 years before Christ: The story of Christmas goes back to malevolent times. Historically, celebrating Christmas begins its history from idolatrous Babylonian, Egyptian, German, Roman, Scandinavian fertility festivals – the factual origins of Christmas are that of wicked spirituality.
Since the celebration of Christmas has been intellectually challenged, since Christmas is the grandest and gayest and goodwillingest Christian act in all the world if you ask me, since Christmas was instituted by the Roman Catholic Church and that makes it a gargantuan responsibility, since the Philippines is 80% Catholic and the only Christian country in Asia, and since the United States is predominantly Protestant and is not listed as one of the major Catholic countries in the world by ratio of believers to population, we Filipino Catholics should play a starring role if the Church is to successfully define and defend the world’s Contrary Christmas.
If Christmas is pagan, now then, my country the Philippines has the longest modern uncivilized celebration in the world, lasting from 16 December (1st Misa de Gallo, dawn mass) to 6 January (Feast of the 3 Kings), a total of 22 days. I blame the 16th-century Spanish friars for bringing Christmas to the islands; but I forgive them, for the Catholic faith is a difficult act to follow – or lead.
My research informs me that all those pagan rituals embedded in Contrary Christmas can be blamed in fact on the following people:
(1) Catholics
(2) Romans
(3) Mesopotamians
(4) Turks
(5) Protestants
(6) Pilgrims
(7) Americans.
(1) Contrary Christmas: Blame the Catholics
Christmas is pagan from head to foot. For instance, the date 25 December is buried in ancient festivals. The birth of the sun-God Attis in Phrygia was celebrated on that date, and so was the birth of the Persian sun-God Mithras (Alan Williams, 2000, christmas-time.com/). We blame the Roman Catholic Church first of all because it was her Nicene Council of 325 AD that decreed the incorporation of certain pagan practices, among which is celebrating on the 25th of December the birth of Jesus. Jesus, of course, is he who became Christ, who came to save man (embracing woman) from sin.
(2) Contrary Christmas: Blame the Romans
Blame it on the barbaric Romans, who gave us Saturnalia (SS, 2002, science-spirit.org/). Saturnalia rhymes with bacchanalia, debauchery. Yearly, Saturnalia began on 17 December and lasted 1 week, ending 24 December. The ancient Romans were honoring Saturn, their god of agriculture (MoAS, 2001, arts.atenveldt.com/). For one month, society was turned upside down, that is, slaves became masters and masters became slaves. Business and schools were closed and everything else was open for merrymaking. ‘Saturnalia was a hedonistic time’ – the Romans were given to pleasure, sensual, intemperate, denying themselves nothing. Heathens.
(3) Contrary Christmas: Blame the Mesopotamians
Many of Christmas traditions date back to early Rome and Mesopotamia, where the festivals honored visible power (that of Caesar) and invisible forces (those of the gods) that controlled men’s lives (Joseph W Williams, 2001, usask.ca/). These rituals included the 12 days of Christmas, giving of gifts, parades with floats, caroling house to house, feasts and religious processions (FM, 2006, funmunch.com/). Ancient Europeans believed in many gods; in December, as the Winter Solstice visited upon them with its long nights and short days, the people feared the sun would not return, so they devised rituals and feasts to implore the sun-God to return the sun.
(4) Contrary Christmas: Blame the Turks
Nicholas, the monk who later became St Nicholas, was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 AD, and he helped convene the Nicene Council in 325 AD (JO, 2006, simpletoremember.com/). Being rich, he traveled and helped people, gave them gifts of money and other things (AM, 2005, santas.net/). After his death, a cult grew around him, and the members of the cult began giving gifts to each other year after year. The cult spread to Germany, then to Europe, then to other parts of the world. In the 13th century, St Nicholas became the third most beloved religious figure, after Jesus and Mary; moving to the United States, he became Santa Claus.
(5) Contrary Christmas: Blame Martin Luther
Martin Luther, father of the Protestant Movement, was he who introduced in the 16th century the custom of singing Christmas carols at home, as well as hymns in Church. Carol-singing is pagan; it can be traced back to the Middle Ages (CTiS, 2006, swissworld.org/). From there, church concerts, visiting choirs, outdoor singing concerts and Salvation Army choirs became popular. Modern times borrowing from the ancient, Protestantism arising from Catholicism.
(6) Contrary Christmas: Blame the Pilgrims
The Dutch settlers brought St Nicholas to the United States (Victor M Parachin, 1995, members.aol.com/). With the settlers came the Dutch custom of giving presents to children on St Nicholas Day, which was 6 December (Ken Collins, 2006, kencollins.com/). What the Dutch called Sinter Klaas the Americans came to call Santa Claus and love it. Santa resembles the German god of thunder, Thor: elderly, long white beard, rides through the air with a chariot drawn by two white goats, dressed in red, friendly and cheerful, comes down the chimney into the fire (Richard P Bucher, Dec 1999, orlutheran.com/). If Santa Claus has become a Christmas Contrary, it was the Dutch settlers to the United States who made it all possible.
(7) Contrary Christmas: Blame the Americans
Blame it on the Americans above all, especially the Alabamans. They were the ones who set the precedent: Alabama was the first state to make Christmas a holiday in the United States (WJ Bethancourt III, 1997, locksley.com/). People in Alabama are not afraid of setting precedents, or believing the opposite of what American liberals believe in. In the latest news, a poll of adults throughout Alabama found that 88% favored nativity scenes being displayed on public property, not necessarily including symbols of other religions such as Judaism and Buddhism (Sebastian Kitchen, 24 Dec 2006, al.com/). The Nativity scene is okay; the Americans are not okay. The Americans have made 25 December the Day of Santa Claus, who is probably now more associated with Christmas than Jesus Christ.
IN DEFENSE OF CHRISTMAS, 2000 years after Christ: The essence of Christmas goes back to munificent times. Philosophically, celebrating Christmas has its relevance to modern life all over the Christian world. The essential story of Christmas is that of wonderful spirituality.
Now then, let us highlight the elements of the celebration of Complementary Christmas that can be credited to both Catholics and Protestants:
(1) Christmas Day
(2) Christmas tree
(3) Santa Claus
(4) Gift-Giving
(5) Christmas Card
(6) Lanterns
(7) Nativity Scenes.
(1) Complementary Christmas Day
No, the Nicene Council did not declare 25 December as the birthday of Jesus; instead, it decreed that from then on, 325 AD, Catholics shall commemorate the birth of Jesus on 25 December (Robert Shea, 2005, serve.com/). That is not the same as declaring that Jesus was born on that day. The date was chosen because ‘it coincided with some rival religions’ celebrations’ and therefore, if the believers observed the Church’s Christmas Day on 25 December, those other celebrations will die out (Bethancourt III, 1997, locksley.com/). Our God is greater than your God!
(2) Complementary Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree has become one of the most beloved and well-known symbols of Christmas (JBR, 2006, jinglebellranch.com/). In one version of its origin, it actually started as an oak in Germany (Maria Hubert von Staufer, 2000, christmasarchives.com/). When a monk (St Boniface) went there to spread the gospel, he found the pagans giving reverence to the oak. He had the bright idea of teaching the eternal truth of the Holy Trinity using the triangular shape of the evergreen tree: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Soon the people transferred their respects from the oak to the eternal tree. A metaphor made in heaven.
In objecting to Christmas trees, a Lutheran minister has cried, ‘Better that they should look to the true tree of life, Christ!’ (Kelly Wittmann, 2006, christianaggression.org/). Precisely! Mr Minister. And they can do that by looking at a Christmas tree, any Christmas tree, because, according to American writer Charles N Barnard, ‘All Christmas trees are perfect!’
(3) Complementary Santa Claus
Santa Claus personifies Winter; he is the bringer of gifts at Christmas. It was the Dutch who brought the tradition of St Nicholas (Sinter Klaas) to New York from where it spread to the rest of the United States (LSI, 2006, lone-star.net/). The story is like this: John Pintard, influential patriot, founded the New York Historical Society in 1804 and promoted St Nicholas as patron saint of both the City and his Society (SNC, 2006, stnicholascenter.org/). In 1809, Washington Irving, a member of the society, published his satirical fiction Knickerbocker’s History Of New York, where there were many references to a jolly St Nicholas. The poem ‘The Night Before Christmas’ published in 1823 made jolly St Nicholas better known. What made Santa Claus immortal was the artwork of Haddon Sunbloom who, beginning in 1931, drew the Santa Claus we all know: roly-poly, red-suited American with a flowing beard, the one with flying reindeer and goes down chimneys to give toys to children when they’re all asleep and to remind them to be good. Kids will always be kids.
(4) Complementary Gift-Giving
In pagan times, the Roman emperors compelled their ‘most despised citizens’ to give them gifts during the Saturnalia, that is, in December during the Winter Solstice (Lawrence Kelemen, 2006, simpletoremember.com/). Over time, this custom changed to include the giving of gifts among the people. ‘The Catholic Church gave this custom a Christian flavor by re-rooting it in the … gift-giving of St Nicholas.’ The exchange of gifts was different in ancient Rome: candles, little clay dolls, urns, jewelry, coins, gold (Ben Best, 2006, benbest.com/). Not all gifts glitter, but all giving counts.
(5) Complementary Christmas Cards
In 1843, the founder of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London Sir Henry Cole started the custom of sending Christmas greetings through a card. The words on that first Christmas card were: ‘A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You!’ In 1875, Louis Prang, a German immigrant, opened a lithographic shop to print the first US Christmas cards (Christmas Gallery, 2006, emotionscards.com/). The cards had flowers and birds, not exactly related to Christmas but, it’s the thought that counts.
(6) Complementary Christmas Lanterns
In the Philippines, Christmas is a big deal as it is the only Asian country whose religion is Christianity. We Filipinos celebrate this season with twinkling lights, decorative lanterns (parols) and/or nativity scenes (Belens) and 9 dawn masses (Misa de Gallos) from 16 December, with a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Today, there is a great variety of Christmas lanterns created by Filipino artists you can say they have put the spirit of Christmas in their art. Christmas is so popular in the islands there is now a yearly Christmas-lantern festival & contest in the City of San Fernando in Pampanga Province, Central Luzon. The lantern-making industry in the City has made San Fernando the ‘Lantern Capital of the Philippines.’ This year, in the 4th lantern festival in San Francisco, California; more than 2,500 lanterns displayed ‘the Filipinos’ sense of optimism’ (Tonette Orejas, 12 Dec 2006, newsinfo.inquirer.net/). Let the Filipino lanterns light up the world.
(7) Complementary Nativity Scenes
The original nativity sets were live, with people and with animals. The first nativity scene may have been created by St Francis of Assisi in the 12th century; the practice spread to Germany in the 17th century (2005, history1700s.com/). Most scenes include the baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the star, donkeys, cows and a manger. In St Francis’ case, he found a niche in the rock near the town square, prepared a manger, placed the statues of St Joseph and the Blessed Mary and a little baby doll; he then added hay, ox and ass to the place. The people were summoned and they ran together, the forest resounding with their voices. St Francis chanted the Holy Gospel, then he preached to the people. A miracle happened that night, and miracles long after. Francis was the first great Christmas Complementarian.
COMPLEMENTARY CHRISTMAS, A CONSPIRACY OF LOVE
Yes and yet, it is almost impossible for most people to see that in fact, Christmas is a conspiracy of love, because there are more active Christmas Contrarians than Complementarians, or because of commercialism, or because the contrary mass media gleefully prefer to pay attention to contrariness.
A vehement Christmas Contrarian is Charles Halff (2006, sovereigngrace.net/) who does not celebrate Christmas for many reasons, including claiming that:
1) Christmas is a pagan holiday.
2) Christmas is of this world.
3) The Bible forbids celebrating Christmas.
4) Christmas is not a Bible doctrine.
5) Christ was not born on 25 December.
6) Christmas is a Catholic holiday.
7) Exchanging gifts is unrelated to Christmas.
As a Christmas encourager, first I urge all the Charles Halffs in the world to read Hamilton Wright Mabie, American essayist, who declares: ‘Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.’ I shall now show you that Christmas is that conspiracy of love.
Christmas is a celebration of life. Christmas has practices that are pagan in origin, but the essence of Christmas is not pagan – Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus who came to rescue man from himself. Pagan though their origins may be, the customs and traditions of Christmas are there to encourage the celebration, not discourage it. Pagan means practiced by the uncivilized. In that case, hunting is pagan; so is each one of these: sailing, planting, harvesting, telling time by the sun, counting days, making tools, making love. If you take away pagan practices from modern life, what do you have? No art, only science; no life, only people. The past is prologue; you take away the pagan and you take away progress.
Christmas is of this world. Christ is not of this world; Christmas is. Of this world defines our humanity; not of this world defines our divinity. Of this world is truth in human terms. Christmas is of this world, as it should be, as it cannot be otherwise. Fishing is of this world, as is carpentry, husbandry, being a housewife, lawyering, ruling, cooking, eating, writing, lecturing, word processing, doing PowerPoint, preaching, blogging.
The Bible does not forbid celebrating Christmas. ‘I don’t celebrate Christmas because God’s Word forbids the observance of any holy days in this dispensation of grace,’ writes Charles. He cites Galatians 4: 10-11 as his proof that God does what Charles says God does: ‘Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.’ But nowhere in the letter to the Galatians does Paul mention ‘holy days.’ Instead, by days, months, seasons and years, Galatians refers to the ‘pagan, idolatrous festivals and observances that the Galatians observed before their conversion’ (CGG, 2006, bibletools.org/). God forbids pagan practices; God does not forbid the use of pagan practices to modify and edify modern practices.
Christmas is more than a Bible doctrine. No, you can’t find the word ‘Christmas’ in the Bible. You can find in the Bible neither such distinguished American traditions as ‘Independence Day’ nor ‘the right of a woman to her body’ in any English version. The gospel of Christmas can be seen in full only if we look into three sources of data all at the same: The Bible mentions the birth of Jesus the Christ; Holy Tradition shows us the need to commemorate that birth; and the Church, with its age-old wisdom, teaches us that Christmas is correct in both theory and practice. If you look only in the Bible, you will never find the essence of Christmas. Remember: Sola scriptura (the Bible alone) itself is not Bible doctrine.
Christmas is not 25 December. 25 December is only a date. Christmas is not to say that Christ was born on that date but that we like to celebrate that birth on 25 December anyway. Christmas is for celebrating the coming of Christ, the coming of redemption. About the hubbub on the exact date of birth of Jesus, it is a tale told by an idealist, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Christmas is a Catholic holiday. Yes, and it’s good for everyone; just don’t over-commercialize it, don’t over-sentimentalize it. America loves Roman Catholic and don’t know it! Proof: The Protestant Bible which has so many American versions is Catholic in origin; it became ‘Protestant’ only after a monk named Martin Luther decided to split from the Church and translated the Bible himself. We Catholics invite Protestants and everybody else to the Catholic mass for Christ every year; we would like you to share in the full blessings. Merry Christmas to all!
Christmas is about exchanging gifts. With a little more inspiration, the most zealous Christmas Contrarian will see through the glass clearly that the Bible alone tells us: The visits paid by the Shepherds, the animals and the Magi to the Baby Jesus were exchanges of gifts. Ω The magi visited the baby and when they offered their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus, at the same time they accepted the gift of love and sacrifice from Christ. Ω The animals paid their respects to their Creator, and they received the Love of the Child. Ω The shepherds accepted God’s gift of His Son and gave of their humble selves, acknowledging the divineness of it all, expressing their heartfelt thanks, even if they never even said a word. In giving of yourself, you receive.
So: Blame the Catholics for bringing all those pagan customs, rituals, traditions & other particulars into Christmas. Thank the Catholics for plotting Christmas as a pagan conspiracy of love.
Copyright 27 December 2006 by Frank A Hilario

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Common Will. 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in ACTMalaria, Asia, malaria, malaria symposium.
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Filipinos Show The World

How To Fight Malaria

Copyright 2006. Photo by Mark Evans who captions it ‘Malaria Dreaming’ (flickr.com/)

THE DEADLIER SPECIES IS MALARIA, NOT AIDS. THAT IS IF YOU BELIEVE THE BRITISH DATA, AND I DO. AIDS JUST HAS HAD MORE ADVOCATES, MORE MEDIA ATTENTION.

1 December: Today is World AIDS Day. How do you solve a problem like malaria? President George W Bush of the United States has announced his new anti-HIV/AIDS initiative for the next 2 years: $500 billion. He should be informed more. If it would, the US should allocate for malaria 500 billion dollars times 13 more.

There are 13 times more people (millions more) suffering from malaria than AIDS. According to a group of British researchers led by Robert Snow who published their findings in the internationally respected journal Nature (Mark Henderson, 2005, timesonline.co.uk/; Priya Shetti, 2005, scidev.net/), there are an estimated 515 million malaria cases yearly, 2 times more than the World Health Organization’s estimate of the disease’s occurrence worldwide. In Africa, the situation is so bad there are 1 million new cases of malaria every day! (Tim Radford, 2005, The Guardian, guardian.co.uk/). The sad statistics of 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2006 (Avert, 2006, avert.org/) is only 7.77% of the number of people suffering from malaria this year. 515 divided by 40 equals 13. If we multiply the WHO estimate of 2.6 million deaths by a very conservative factor of 2, we have a malaria mortality of 5.2 million yearly. Conservative but devastating, overwhelming.

Malaria and AIDS are millionaire diseases – their victims run in the millions of lives, not simply bodies. The qualitative difference? Malaria is a disease mostly of the poor in material possessions; AIDS is a disease mostly of the poor in spirit and those who have had relations with them. I sympathize with the first; I empathize with the second. The poor we have always with us; the poor in spirit they have always the choice with them. And the quantitative difference? AIDS has a United Nations day dedicated to it: 1 December each year. Malaria has 3,650 days assigned to it, 2001-2010 being the Roll-Back Malaria Decade. The United Nations must know that not AIDS but malaria is the world’s #1 disease.

$500 billion from George W Bush in 2 years, and yet the Global AIDS Alliance and other groups have been reported to be complaining! (Jim Lobe, 2006, commondreams.org/). Some people don’t know when they have had enough.

Well, not only the AIDS groups and George W Bush are ill-informed about AIDS and malaria; so is The Global Fund, which has so far allocated out of US$2.97 billion a total of 57% to AIDS, 27% to malaria and 15% to TB (2006, theglobalfund.org/). I don’t know about TB, but I can see that The Global Fund has much more to learn from malaria than AIDS. Like the media, The Global Fund hasn’t caught up with the facts of the matter. At least, the European Union (EU) has its priorities right. EU President Jan Van Den Berg says (2004, europa-en-un.org/): ‘The EU has also significantly increased funds to fight malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis over the past few years.’ The EU contributes 55% of all resources pledged to The Global Fund.

We must have victory over death, as much as we can as long as we can. In the case of malaria and the Philippines? We are showing the world how it may be done, through the concept I refer to here as communalizing malaria. While this disease is millions of cases worse than we thought it was, the world can do better thinking systematically about malaria – as we can about AIDS. To understand and appreciate what communalizing the disease is, let’s discuss some meetings over matters malarious:

(1) A meeting of minds
(2) A meeting on minorities
(3) A meeting of objects
(4) A meeting of objectives
(5) A meeting of peoples
(6) A meeting of wills
(7) A meeting of means.

(1) A meeting of minds

We must see eye-to-eye. For documentation, I attended the 3-day Regional Symposium on Malaria held at the Philippine International Convention Center in the City of Manila last week, 28-30 November. The Manila symposium was historical in that it was the very first gathering of malaria experts and professionals in Asia. The theme of the conference was: ‘StrateGems Against Malaria In Asia: Harmonizing Malaria Control Among And Beyond Borders.’ The symposium was in celebration of the 10th-year anniversary of ACTMalaria, the Asian Collaborative Training Network on Malaria, which is based in Manila. There are 10 Asian member countries of ACTMalaria: Bangladesh, Cambodia, PR China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Singapore used to be a member, but not now that it has been declared to be malaria-free.

Philippine Secretary of Health Dr Francisco T Duque keynoted the symposium, saying among other things:

This particular gathering is significant. And certainly, the Philippines is proud to host this Symposium as ACTMalaria today marks 10 years of successful collaboration and partnership. We are remembering our finest achievements as well as past failures against a disease that has proven to be a most difficult enemy. We have waged this war for a century, and so has the human body’s defense mechanisms for millions of years. Still, despite new tools and weapons … despite our best efforts towards eradication … in spite of technology … malaria is still a fact of everyday life among our countries’ poor … killing more people today than anywhere in history … and crippling the economies of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and most of Africa measured in billions of dollars.

Was he saying malaria we shall always have with us? He ended his remarks with a positive note, declaring that as ACTMalaria continues the journey of life on its 11th year: ‘We are welcoming a new era of best practices and innovation so that we can bring in more colossal triumphs in this escalating battle.’

Making their presence felt in the Manila symposium were John MacArthur of USAID Asia, Richard Nesbit of WHO, Larry Slutsker of the Center for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Ridley of the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, Sylvia Meek of the Malaria Consortium, Marion Landers of Management Sciences for Health, and Raman Velayudhan of WHO.

Members of the ACTMalaria Board in attendance were Sohrab Hossain of Bangladesh, Duong Socheat of Cambodia (the incoming Country Coordinating Director), Tang Linhua of PR China, Zaizing Zhang also of PR China, Ferdinand Laihad of Indonesia, Samlane Phompida of Lao PDR, Ami Hashim of Malaysia, Than Win of Myanmar, Mario Baquilod of the Philippines, Wichai Satimai of Thailand, and Le Khanh Thuan of Vietnam (the outgoing Country Coordinating Director).

The Manila symposium was a hugely successful affair. The signs were there:

(1) Those who belonged to the Who’s Who in malaria in this part of the world were unanimous in their praise of ACTMalaria playing its level best in training and communication exchanges. In the wrap-ups, they encouraged ACTMalaria to continue to play the roles it does best in the next 10 years at least.

(2) There was very active sharing of experiences and airing of questions and concerns among the participants from the different Asian countries. There were no debates.

(3) The affair was well organized and the scheduled speakers came all prepared with their PowerPoint presentations.

(4) While it was agreed that malaria remained to be a scourge of Asians, as it is of Africans and other peoples, the hope was raised that Asians will ultimately triumph over the disease, ever learning from best practices. (The best practice came from the Philippines, as we shall learn more later.)

(5) The symposium was well-conceived, not leaving any stone unturned about tropical malaria, topics ranging from mosquitoes to alternative products to diagnostic tests to political will. The Asian delegates paid it their compliments by showing up in full force during the deliberations.

There was a total of 40 papers presented within 2 days, the first day being spent for the opening ceremonies and some local-culture entertainment for the Asian visitors. The Philippine provinces of Benguet, Cavite and Masbate were declared malaria-free. With 350 minds tuned in on the subject, it became clear that everyone agreed Asian malaria was going to be defeated. The question was: How?

(2) A meeting on minorities

We must see for whom the bells toll. The Manila symposium made it clear to me that, there, but for the grace of God, go I. The victims of malaria are mostly the minorities, a term which I define here differently: the poor in the lowlands and the people in the highlands, mostly the impoverished, the ones who cannot afford healthy surroundings or healthy dwellings.

In the symposium, 12 papers were presented on ethnic minorities in Cambodia (2 papers), PR China, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines (3), Thailand (2), Vietnam. The papers mostly dwelt on strategies on how to control the disease. This is necessary especially in the remote areas where most malaria cases have been reported and are likely to report more. These areas are also where most resistance to prevention measures are encountered, such as the hanging of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to ward off mosquito bites during the day (for babies) and during the night (for the rest of the family, but especially the children 5 years old and younger, since these are the more vulnerable ones). ITNs do not constitute a priority to these peoples. They have other needs than fighting malaria, and these come first: food, clothing and shelter.

The problem is that the minorities are the ones who are the last to know their own vulnerabilities to malaria. Ignorance is an invitation to disease, to epidemic.

(3) A meeting of objects

We must see The Big Picture ultimately. In the meantime, we must be able to visualize and understand how the pieces fit to solve the jigsaw puzzle. In the Manila Symposium, so many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were pointed out, some of them being:

(1) community
(2) political will
(3) partnership
(4) collaboration
(5) communication
(6) insecticides
(7) detection, diagnosis & treatment
(8) alternative products & services
(9) mosquito control
(10) drugs
(11) ethnic minorities
(11) research
(12) education
(13) training.

How do you solve a jigsaw puzzle like malaria? At this point, we are just beginning to appreciate the length, width, height and corrugation of each piece. Are all these objects necessary to make the puzzle whole? Ah, we still have to come up with some means by which to determine whether such and such a piece is connected to the picture, as well as establish to which part of the whole does it belong.

In other words, we must discover the system or formulate the scheme by which everything works together for the good of those who are and are not afflicted with malaria.

(4) A meeting of objectives

We must see what each one wants to see. As I see it, there are at least 7 groups of stakeholders in the fight against malaria: (1) families, (2) government units, (3) non-government organizations (NGOs) including civic societies, (4) church-based groups, (5) commercial sector, (6) educational institutions, and (7) funding agencies. They have their respective objectives, so what should be done so that these legitimate agendas do not collide against each other but instead complement each other?

An answer has come from the Philippines in the form of the Kilusan Ligtas Malaria (KLM), literally movement to be safe from malaria. The American Heritage dictionary defines movement as follows: an organized effort by supporters of a common goal. KLM was that from the beginning, born in the jungles of Palawan in 1999. The Governor had asked for a ‘high-impact project’ from his staff. The germ of the idea, which was blood smearing for malaria, was fathered by Dr Jose Antonio Socrates, was conceived and delivered by Ms Marvi Rebueno-Trudeau, and raised to adulthood by the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc (PSFI).

Marvi was the first Project Director. After a few months, political interests intervened and Marvi resigned her position at the Provincial Government of Palawan. KLM then died a natural death. Resurrection Day came when David Greer of PSFI and Marvi met in Palawan and he recruited her to carry on with KLM. With dedicated staff, she traversed the hills and valleys of Palawan, the last Philippine frontier; they braved rains and rivers and rocks; they labored hard and long with the locals where they were, in sickness and in health. And the rest is history. KLM has become the model for the anti-malaria campaign not only in the Philippines but the rest of Asia. The record? Within 5 years, the number of deaths from malaria went down 56%; total cases of malaria went down 64% in Palawan. A brief history of communalizing malaria.

As I see it, the secret of KLM is members of society sharing their resources and communalizing their efforts to meet their respective objectives. Malaria is the entry point but the management of malaria is only one of the multiple objectives: generate income, acquire new skills or improve old ones, train in industry, train in agriculture, train in health, upgrade facilities, micro-finance livelihood projects, upgrade teaching, encourage science scholarship, care for the total health of the community. All that is what the PSFI is dedicated to in the first place.

Communalizing malaria in Palawan is the private sector working with the public sector to combat not only the feared disease called malaria but more so the dreaded disease called poverty. Communalizing malaria is fighting malaria along with poverty.

(5) A meeting of peoples

We must see that other peoples are involved. From the seeds of KLM, the concept of communalizing malaria became the egg from which a bigger endeavor has hatched: the Movement Against Malaria (MAM). Marvi-Rebueno Trudeau & Margaux F Diaz tell us (August 2006, ‘Movement Against Malaria,’ Milestones, Manila: Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc, page 27):

The gains of KLM paved the way for PSFI to be selected as the primary recipient of (the Global Fund Malaria Component) Round 5 (2006-2011). A total grant of US$14.3 million was approved for 5-year implementation of the Movement Against Malaria (MAM) by PSFI. MAM is designed to pursue malaria control measures in the provinces of Palawan, Apayao, Quirino, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

I note with jealousy that that $14.3 million is only 1/3 of the $42.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Institute for OneWorld Health, the first non-profit pharmaceutical company in the US; the grant is for creating ‘a powerful new approach to developing a more affordable, accessible cure for malaria’ (Robert Sanders, 2004, berkeley.edu/). After 100 years, we are still pinning hopes on a cure for malaria. Hope springs eternal in the human breast.

In fact, MAM is co-implemented by the Philippine Department of Health and the provincial governments of the 5 project provinces, where the disease is endemic, high danger zones of malaria. MAM is expected to reach 2 million peoples – many of them natives of Northern Philippines (Apayao, Quirino), Central Philippines (Palawan) and Southern Philippines (Sulu and Tawi-Tawi).

MAM has adopted 4 strategies: (a) early detection and prompt treatment of malaria, (b) use of available technologies to prevent the spread of the disease, (c) strengthening of local capability to control malaria, and (d) building a wide stakeholder network to help control the disease (Milestones, page 27). ‘We are pushing for a malaria-free Palawan,’ says Marvi of KLM and MAM (Margaux F Diaz, ‘Power House,’ Milestones, page 37). We are pushing for a malaria-free world.

It is not articulated in any of the 52 pages of the August 2006 issue of PSFI’s magazine Milestones¸ the issue dedicated to malaria, but I hope that MAM is predicated on the major lesson learned from KLM, from whom MAM owes its existence. And that lesson is? Communalizing malaria. You cannot fight malaria by fighting malaria. And neither can you fight AIDS by fighting AIDS; you have to communalize it. To fight disease, fight poverty.

The Manila symposium did not tackle research because that is not a major agenda of ACTMalaria, which handles research only in terms of training. But shouldn’t researchers be involved in the fight against malaria? By all means. However, Martin Alilio, writing for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, warns us (2001, aaas.org/): ‘On the one hand we have an enormous amount of research that has already been done and on the other hand we have a disease that is growing. That is the challenge of malaria.’ I call it The Hundred-Year Challenge.

(6) A meeting of wills

In the end, as in the fight against a disease, I say development is a matter of political will. Now, ‘political will’ is an interesting topic as it has been horribly misunderstood. It has always been referred to in terms of the politicians, especially the elected leaders of society, especially the incompetent. ‘The problem with Filipino government officials is that they have no political will.’ Chickens. This is a long-standing deficient view of political will. Meditating on this has led me to the discovery of a new concept, new at least to me: We all have political will, and we all are chickens until we express it.

I have found at least one mention of political will that parallels my own view. In 2003 (2005, helsinkiprocess.fi/), the Helsinki Group launched the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy and thought loudly of ‘the challenge of improved global and national governance through engaging the resources and political will of all stakeholders’ and considered it as ‘the key concern’ for their group. (emphasis mine)

Now then, the political wills of all stakeholders should be the key concern of any development group. What do you mean ‘stakeholders?’ The Helsinki Group enumerated the stakeholders as follows: governments, civil society, business community, international organizations, academe and media. The Helsinki Group explained:

The different stakeholders have such diverse resources at their disposal that they could make a difference in addressing complex globally manifested problems such as environmental degradation or poverty through joint and well-coordinated action. Whilst governments are able to agree on norms and legal frameworks, the business actors often have the technical solution and knowhow to address the problem efficiently. Civil society, typically, has as its strengths the ability to contribute to civic dialogue on priorities and mobilization of awareness and political will. If combined, the common action of the stakeholders could manifest a new era in agreeing upon and implementing the global agenda.

Let us not forget the target of development: the community of people – the most important stakeholders of them all, the ones whose political will has always spelt the difference between failure and success of any project.

Hart Schafer, World Bank Country Director for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe says (2005, kaisernetwork.org/): ‘Malaria is not only a health issue; it is a growth issue; it is an economic issue. Labor productivity is affected; tourism potential is affected; children’s learning is affected.’ The whole community is affected.

(7) A meeting of means

Finally, we must see a smart way out of the maze of disease. To combat malaria, the countries of Bangladesh, Cambodia, PR China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam have created their own programs and projects and formulated their own strategies; all that has been expected. Since 1899, the world has been unsuccessful in its fight to wipe out malaria from the face of the earth (DJ Bradley, September 1999, Parassitologia, Rome: University of Rome, page 11); that has not been expected. So what’s the guarantee that the world will suddenly find, if you will pardon the mixed metaphor, the silver bullet to slay the dragon called Malaria?

To fight malaria, don’t fight malaria. That is the lesson I have learned so far.

To avoid the mistakes of the last hundred years, as I wrote the first draft of this article, thinking about it for the last few days, I got an idea how to summarize the lessons I saw in this, my little study of how not to fight malaria. And I wanted to give it in the form of an acronym: ACTs Malaria, briefly explained as follows (all definitions from American Heritage):

Access, meaning a means of making use of: If you give people access to financing, to management, to improvement of skills, to help, to hope, then you are sending them on the journey of growth. Access, not dole-outs, not giveaways.

Community, meaning a group of people living in the same locality and under the same government: If you engage the whole community in a common endeavor, the people will rise to the occasion. Community, especially the poor and illiterate.

Technology, meaning the scientific method and material used to achieve a commercial or industrial objective: If you offer technology, it must be in an arrangement of access and a democratic choice of the community.

System, meaning a functionally related group of elements: If you consider access, community and technology, the scheme must be based on their total relationship with each other, as they collaborate, as they cooperate.

ACTs Malaria? Nice, if I may say so myself. But in polishing my writing, I have had a flash of inspiration playing with ideas, and it is this: Communalizing malaria is collectivizing the political will of all stakeholders in the fight against the disease. It then dawned on me that the key to solving the Rosetta Stone of malaria is these 2 words: Common Will.

Every stakeholder must be a politician exercising political will. If you can cause all stakeholders to exercise their political will, you can expect them to come together and fight the good fight – be it malaria, TB, AIDS, poverty. Where problems persist, there exists the political will of the peoples – the poor, the illiterate, the disadvantaged, the Christians, the Muslims, the others – and it lies latent, unharnessed.

Is man equal to The Hundred-Year Challenge? That is my faith. We can cultivate political will and help raise it to the power to change the world – if only we commonly will.

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I, Moviegoer. 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in Daniel Craig, Ian Fleming, James Bond, Pierce Brosnan.
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Daniel Craig? Not Bond, James Bond

He’s Blond, James Blond. He’s a counter-spy, an impostor, a pretender, a double-agent. The fingerprints don’t match the real McCoy.

You ask, rhetorically: ‘Who cares whether James Bond was black-haired or blond in Ian Fleming’s mind?’ I, Moviegoer mind. And I mind not only the color of the hair, the color of the cocktail – more so the color of the character.

After the release of the latest Bond film by Sony Pictures, what did all those movie experts say? Their best. But their best isn’t good enough. They all miss the point. James Bond is a sharpshooter; ‘I never miss!’ he says. If he can only read the critics. On Casino Royale (the movie), I have scanned a hundred movie reviews, most of them are in praise of the new Bond – arising from:

(a) a wrong assumption – Most assumed that it was all about revivifying a movie series, which is error in logic.

(b) a forgotten rule of thumb – None said anything about satisfying the customer, which is error in marketing.

I, Moviegoer have something to say about most of those film appraisals I have read and about the movie itself: Eh? Anyway, I got a bang out of browsing those approving works. I’m happy no one hit the bull’s-eye, so I can shoot for my own.

A fair warning: James Cunliffe (19 Nov, mk-news.co.uk/) overhears a moviegoer coming out, saying to the companion: ‘It was okay. I’m still not converted though.’ Me too.

Thinking of Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale and as a writer, I love it when not everything comes together! How do I love it? Let me count the ways:

1. Casino Royale mixes metaphors, not cocktails.

As a drink, Casino Royale is mixed cocktails that stirs me to the opposite direction of expelling it – if you will pardon the mixed metaphor. It’s too heady for me.

The movie critics are bewildered themselves, as I shall show you. I’m referring to online male and female performers in a starring role – as they assign stars to the motion pictures they critique. Once the movie critics mix their metaphors, I say, Watch out!

Like: Stax says (17 Feb, au.movies.ign.com/), commenting on the script: ‘Casino Royale reboots the Bond franchise much the same way as Batman Begins.’ Stax is one of (if not) the first to say it, ‘reboot,’ trying not to copy from Batman, trying to be chic and knowledgeable. Nice try. If you reboot your PC, it’s the same banana – you just get rid of a bug or register a change or something. You are not installing a different program, not updating software, not scanning for viruses, not even scanning for errors. With Casino Royale, with a new software, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson have changed the image, and that’s not rebooting – that’s morphing.

No. This Daniel Craig and his Casino Royale don’t make a reboot, they don’t even make a pair: Yes, they make a morph. To morph is to transform from one image to another … completely and instantaneously (from Encarta Dictionary 2006). A real, physiological and psychological remake – Daniel Craig’s James Bond in Casino Royale come up very different from all the other James Bonds. The producers have made a paradigm shift about their superspy.

Stax approves. He thinks of Casino Royale in terms of Batman Begins of which he says: ‘The Dark Knight has been gloriously reborn on film.’ Batman floats on air, beautifully. It’s a freshly sensational story (I love it), but Batman Begins is not a reinvention of Batman; it is, in the language of George Lucas’ Star Wars, a prequel, the one before this one, the one that establishes the present. On the contrary, Daniel’s Casino Royale de-establishes the present! In fact, it destabilizes the present. In the years up to 4 BC (Before Craig), that is, from 1962 (Sean Connery in Dr No) to 2002 (Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day), James Bond is a suave, sophisticated, smooth, sexy sweetheart. Daniel’s James Bond I note is NOTA: None Of The Above.

The movie experts don’t see Batman Begins and Casino Royale as prequels; For good’s sake they are, the stories before the stories. Prequels MaryAnn Johanson knows and puts the words in my mouth describing what she likes of The Phantom Menace and, in effect, defining what is a prequel in terms of the Star Wars storyline (1999, flickfilosopher.com/):

From the opening scrawl – which mirrors the slight hyperbole of Star Wars’ as it describes an ‘alarming chain of events’ involving the ‘greedy Trade Federation’ and the Jedi Knights, ‘guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy,’ who will put things right – to the echo of Luke’s theme in Anakin’s in John Williams’ wonderfully operatic score, this is without doubt the same self-contained, internally consistent, astonishing and frightening universe we’ve come to love. (my emphasis)

That is to say, when you’re in a James Bond or Star Wars prequel, you can feel if not see the same self-contained, internally consistent, astonishing and frightening universe you’ve come to love. And how do I, Moviegoer rate Casino Royale as a prequel? A non-prequel prequel. Out of 5 stars, I give it not one; it’s ill-starred. It changes James Bond himself. It doesn’t reveal him from the very beginning; it doesn’t uncover the hero. Instead, it reveals a different James Bond – not the one that I, Moviegoer have come to adore.

Not only ‘reboot’ is mixed metaphor applied to Batman or James Bond; it’s too high-tech. Folks, go down from your level. When you talk about Ian Fleming and his James Bond (in his books), talk low-tech: Fleming used an old, manual Remington typewriter to type his stories in Goldeneye, the name he gave his house on the North Coast of Jamaica, writing at the end of World War II (commanderbond.net/).

Daniel Craig is the wrong Bond. I agree with danielnotbond.com, whom Clint Morris (17 Nov, moviehole.net/) quotes and disagrees with:

How can a short, blond actor with the rough face of a professional boxer and a penchant for playing killers, cranks, cads and gigolos pull off the role of a tall, dark, handsome and suave secret agent? This is what happens when you lose touch with public opinion. By casting Daniel Craig, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson have proven once and for all that they care little for the opinions of Bond fans.

You’re right, Clint. I, Moviegoer am the one Broccoli and Wilson are making Bond movies for. Of course, Casino Royale is making millions of dollars right now all over the world, so they must have done something right, right? That’s because we moviegoers wanted to see what’s new, or if the rumors were true. It was not out of closeness but out of curiosity. Now they know that James Bond is dead. This time curiosity did not kill the cats; instead, it killed their curiosity.

2. Casino Royale makes Bond imperfect.

Anton Carrera says it well in favor of Daniel’s Casino Royale (21 Nov, rutgersobserver.com/):

In every other way, Casino Royale is an audience pleaser because it introduces a more human, imperfect Bond.

Anton, I, Moviegoer am not pleased; I don’t want a more human, imperfect Bond. I want a perfect Bond!

About being perfect, Blair Pettis says of the spy in Casino Royale (21 Nov, commanderbond.net/):

Daniel has found the essential Bondian chords within himself and played them to near perfection. The man is James Bond.

Blair, I don’t want that kind of perfect.

Mimi Avins reports that Director Martin Campbell claims (15 Nov, southflorida.com/): ‘(Casino Royale is) the perfect opportunity to reboot the series and go back to basics.’ So! Even the director is guilty of mixed metaphor; he should go back to the basics of grammar. When you reboot a PC, you don’t go back to basics – you go back to the original; in James Bond, you are trying to create the original that fits into the stories already told. You cannot simply ignore the character and color of the James Bond that’s already in the moviegoers’ mind. Otherwise, you lose your credibility.

Mimi also reports that the director also says:

Once I saw where we were going, Daniel was the perfect fit for the story we were telling. The character in the books is much darker than he has been in the movies and that’s what we’ve returned to. It’s a more personal, more emotional story than we’ve seen Bond in before. Daniel has a sexuality that’s very much in keeping with how Fleming saw the character.

The story you are telling? I’m not listening. The character you are showing? I’m not liking. The sexuality Daniel is exhibiting? I’m not interested.

3. Casino Royale makes Bond a brute.

George Grella says of Daniel Craig as James Bond (22 Nov, rochester-citynews.com/):

Daniel possesses some of the brawny virility of Sean Connery, for many the only true Bond; in fact, contrasting with the generally supercilious manner of some of his predecessors, he rather resembles a well-dressed thug.

George, James Bond is not about brawny or virile; it’s about sexy. And George, I, Moviegoer don’t want my hero as a thug, no matter how well-dressed.

And it’s not about adhering to the details of Ian Fleming’s story, not like what Devin Zydel reports when Daniel Craig first read the script for Casino Royale (22 Nov, commanderbond.net/):

Upon finally seeing the Casino Royale script, Daniel said, ‘Paul Haggis had sprinkled his magic dust on it. I was honestly wanting to dislike it. It would have been an easy decision. I could have said, “That’s very nice. Good luck with it.” But it was too much. I sweated when I read the script. I thought, this is a great story, probably because it adhered to the book quite closely.’

Daniel, if I want the original, I’ll read the book! James Bond (the movie) is not supposed to be James Bond (the book). It can’t be, no matter how you try. When I watch a James Bond movie and celebrate, I’m not celebrating Ian Fleming’s James Bond, who is too intellectual. Try him; published by Signet (1961), here are the first 4 sentences of Thunderball (the book):

It was one of those days when it seemed to James Bond that all life, as someone put it, was nothing but a heap of six to four against.

To begin with he was ashamed of himself – a rare state of mind. He had a hangover, a bad one, with an aching head and stiff joints. When he coughed – smoking too much goes with drinking too much and doubles the hangover – a cloud of small luminous black spots swam across his vision like amoebae in pond water.

Ian Fleming’s James Bond is psychologically intense and intelligent in the book. You can’t create him in film – you have to recreate him. If you create a James Bond that is like that in the book, I can’t call that originality – I can only call it lack of imagination.

And oh, yes, the first 2 sentences of Casino Royale (the book) make my point even more clearly:

The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable, and the senses awake and revolt from it.

Outside the book, I want my spy suave and sophisticated, one that I am not. How can I fantasize if I can see myself in him, if I can identify with him? I must only be able to admire him, look at him as if he were one of my friends, entirely different from me.

James Frazier describes the Bond he loves that’s not my type either (21 Nov, fp.uni.edu/):

Each star had his own niche, from Connery’s macho unflappability to Pierce Brosnan’s ice-cold lethality, and Daniel is no exception. He portrays a significantly more predatory killer that nonetheless carries a glimmer of regret in his intelligent eyes.

My point exactly! Lethal is different from predatory.

Joe Williams doesn’t like my favorite Bond either and describes Daniel Craig in Casino Royale in these terms (17 Nov, stltoday.com/):

Daniel Craig is a fair-hair, bare-knuckle antidote to Pierce Brosnan. Instead of depending on gadgets and good looks, this Bond is stripped to his basic brutality.

I never did like any beast. Not even King Kong.

James Verniere puts it more bluntly describing the James Bond he loves (21 Nov, townonline.com/):

Daniel is the real story. His Bond is a cold-hearted killer and screaming madman who likes his sexual partners to be married, but not to him. This Bond wears his lacerations like a Marquis de Sade-approved badge of honor.

Brute!

And what has Blair Tellers to say (21 Nov, whitworth.edu/)?

As for the newest member of the Bond family, Daniel Craig is, in a word, spectacular. Todd McCarthy of Variety magazine along with an impressive multitude of other movie critics, praises Daniel’s acting, describing the reinvented Bond as ‘recharged with fresh roughness and arrogance, along with balancing hints of sadism and humanity.’

Et tu, Brute! I like the humanity but not the sadism.

4. Casino Royale makes Bond a superhero.

James Bond is from the mind of Ian Fleming, not Stan Lee; he’s a superspy, not a superhero. Kevin Cowherd calls him in Daniel’s Casino Royale a ‘Marvel Comics hero’ (20 Nov, baltimoresun.com/). Kevin writes (excerpts):

In Casino Royale, Bond is tortured so much. In the opening scene alone, Bond survives about three-dozen brushes with death. … By the end of the movie, Bond has been beaten, shot, whipped, poisoned, nearly run over by a tanker truck, thrown from a speeding car and almost drowned. … And tortured in a very, um, unique way. … The point is, it’s so over-the-top, this physical abuse, that it becomes cartoonish. Even for a Bond movie. It’s Bond as-cyborg. Bond as Marvel Comics hero. Bond able to withstand the kind of punishment no human being – not even a bionic man – could withstand.

And so Kevin pleads, and so do I, Moviegoer:

No, Give me the old days, where all Bond had to sweat was the occasional tarantula dropped on his pillow, or a powerful laser inching toward his groin, or a nutty Spectre agent who looked like your grandmother with a stiletto hidden in her shoe. He never took the kind of beating they give him in Casino Royale. Heck, back then Bond would wipe out 20 vicious martial-arts-trained hitmen and barely get a scratch on his face. Not a lick of hair was out of place, either. I liked him a lot better back then.

After all, Kevin says, remembering the good old days of Bond:

As everyone knows, watching a James Bond movie requires what the poet called ‘a willing suspension of disbelief.’

Too much of a bad thing makes one a superhero. If I wanted to watch a cartoon, I’ll watch Superman or Batman or the Simpsons.

5. Casino Royale makes Bond different.

I, Moviegoer am a Catholic, and I listen not only to non-Catholics but also to other Catholics, even movie critics. Here’s what Catholic David DiCerto says (22 Nov, catholicnews.com/):

Some fans will applaud its harder-edged return to the grittiness of Ian Fleming’s novels. Others may feel it’s too dark and serious, and lacks the sense of campy fun of earlier films. Both sides, however, will agree that from its brutal prologue – shot in stylish black and white – this is a different kind of Bond movie.

David, yes, it’s a different James Bond – It’s the one I don’t like. It’s different from the previous James Bond films – It’s the one that doesn’t thrill me at all.

Tim O’Connor describes the Casino Royale in these words (21 Nov, purdueexponent.org/):

Right from the beginning, we’re treated to a stylistic black and white flashback of Bond earning his promotion. This opening is so cool you’ll wish the entire movie were filmed this way. After that, there’s a thrilling chase scene with Bond and his target running across a construction site. Then, for the next hour, nothing.

That hour is spent playing poker. Sherwin Das says of it (22 Nov, baltictimes.com/):

Too much is built around the poker game which, for me, is a tad more exciting than watching paint dry.

That’s 2 against this 1: Basil Deakin must be so in love with Daniel’s Casino Royale he doesn’t see the soporific poker hour that eats up the film he watches, and says the opposite (23 Nov, thechronicleherald.ca/):

I regard the new movie as possibly the most exciting, action-packed 007 epic of the 40-year-old, 21-strong film series, with Daniel a riveting, hard-fisted Bond.

Okay, it’s most exciting – where there’s action, outside of the hour-long poker game. Hard-fisted? That’s what’s wrong with this Bond.

Let’s hear from Tim O’Connor again:

Bond movies are all about explosions, hot women and one-liners. This movie has very little in the way of any of those. The action is spaced too far apart to keep our interest and the one-liners aren’t especially clever or memorable.

The James Bond movie I find irresistible has the explosion of explosives, expletives, women and wit.

Tim continues:

Another change for the series is its tone. Casino Royale has a more somber tone than any previous Bond flick. Die Another Day had a brief torture scene at the beginning, but it was quick to return to a campy, fun atmosphere. This time, the torture scene is longer and more disturbing.

Campy, as in affectation or appreciation of manners and tastes commonly thought to be artificial, vulgar, or banal … appreciated for its humor (from American Heritage Dictionary).

My James Bond is high camp.

Peter Travers tells us why he likes Daniel’s Casino Royale (13 Nov, rollingstone.com/):

Not only is Daniel, 38, the best Bond since Sean Connery, he’s the first of the Bonds (great Scot Connery, one-shot George Lazenby, charmer Roger Moore, stuff-shirt Timothy Dalton and smoothie Pierce Brosnan) to lose the condescension and take the role seriously.

Peter, I don’t want my James Bond to take his role seriously. I want him to enjoy so I can enjoy too!

I hope Daniel Craig’s James Bond will finish with Casino Royale. Meanwhile, we’re not finished with Tim O’Connor who wants to finesse the whole thing:

One interesting question the movie brings up is how does Bond deal with all the killing? How can one cleanse his soul after taking another life? Unfortunately, that question is never really answered and the dilemma resolves itself by removing the inspiration for our hero’s internal struggle. This is evidence that the Bond franchise should let other films deal with such serious questions, and you should just deal with another Bond film.

I, Moviegoer want James Bond back!

Andrew Hard doesn’t see the subtle difference, but I do; he says (15 Nov, foxnews.com/):

It’s a radical change from his predecessor: the suave, ladies-man assassin played by Pierce Brosnan.

Andrew, you’re right about the radical change but, I beg your pardon, James Bond is not an assassin. He is licensed to kill, 007 is, but he kills neither for business nor for pleasure. Rather, he kills under pressure.

The title of Basil Deakin’s review is this: ‘West needs real Bond with brains over brawn’ (23 Nov). But, Basil, they’re offering a Brawn, James Brawn.

Michael Calleri says (21 Nov, niagarafallsreporter.com/): ‘In this new adventure … Daniel is a better Bond because we are at the beginning. We learn how Bond became Bond.’ That’s faulty logic: ‘better … because … beginning.’ So far, I have yet to see better logic with Casino Royale.

6. Casino Royale leaves much to be desired.

I want more than Daniel Craig’s James Bond. Kevin McQuarn puts the words right in my mouth, listing what are/should not be there (23 Nov, 2theadvocate.com/):

1. Not as many big explosions.

2. This James Bond is blonde.

3. No Q.

4. No gadgets.

5. Not enough hot cars.

6. James Bond actually falls in love – with a ‘real’ woman.

7. Daniel’s Bond reminds me too much of an underwear model.

Perhaps producers Barbara and Michael are thinking of their life after James Bond, going into the apparel business?

Anthony Breznican dismisses Casino Royale in all but one sentence, this one (16 Nov, usatoday.com/):

James Bond arrives at a ritzy tropical resort in a blue Ford Mondeo, the kind of nice-but-everyday vehicle that projects ‘suburban dad’ more than ‘superspy.’

I, Moviegoer don’t want your suburban dad; I want my superspy.

Anthony quotes Daniel Craig as saying:

There’s a duty to fulfill here. Nobody is more aware of the responsibility for this than me. I get that this is incredibly important to a lot of people. It’s part of their movie upbringing. My only plan is to deliver everything I am.’

And the actor did. And I, Moviegoer did not like it.

Casino Royale made $42.2 M in 27 countries in its opening weekend (NS, 22 Nov, playfuls.com/). That’s quantity. What about quality? Ben Hoyle & Joanna Bale quote Peter Taylor of Sony Pictures as saying (20 Nov, timesonline.co.uk/):

It’s the most successful opening weekend of any Bond film … we are delighted – it’s a great testament to the quality of the movie.

Now I know $42.2 M is a record of sort, but then I don’t know that quality can be measured by quantity.

7. Casino Royale is not psy-fi.

When Ian Fleming thought, he was metaphorical; when he typed, he was mechanical, which is beside the point. By creating James Bond, Ian Fleming left me a legacy, and I treasure it as a writer. That legacy John Cork describes well (1995, klast.net/):

Fleming single-handedly transformed popular detective and spy fiction from the dark, middle-class heroes of Hammett, Chandler and Sapper, to the elegant world of his own, seen through the eye of James Bond, secret agent 007. Bond grew from the literary world of Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, E Phillips Oppenheim, John Buchan and Sax Rohmer.

Fleming argued that he created Bond as ‘an interesting man to whom extraordinary things happen.’

That’s my man.

In Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale, the poetry is gone, that wonderful character is gone. I call Ian Fleming’s James Bond stories in book or movies, psy-fi, psychological fiction. I invented the name; Ian Fleming invented the genre.

Petri Liukkonen says of Ian Fleming (2000, kirjasto.sci.fi/): ‘Fleming spent some years with British intelligence, but his books are far from reality – they offer colorful locations, beautiful women, and exciting and inventive adventures.’ Precisely! A construction site is not my kind of colorful location. And Eva Green is not my kind of unreal beautiful woman, Daniel’s Casino Royale is not kind of unreal adventure. It’s the story that unmakes the film.

One book can’t define a genre; all 13 Bond books make the series psy-fi. Daniel’s Casino Royale stands out as a standalone film – no relation to the other Bond films. James Bond is dead. Long live James Bond!?

Patrick Herald inadvertently puts it well, in these his own words (20 Nov, svsu.edu/clubs/vanguard/): ‘Due to my less than all-encompassing knowledge of Bond, this review will focus on Casino Royale as a standalone film.’ He believes he can view Casino Royale apart from the 20 other ‘official’ James Bond films produced before. No Patrick, you can’t have one without the others. Ignorance is not an excuse for not knowing.

James Bond is not James Bond if he can’t repeat his adventures and miss-adventures in different stories in different times. And I’m not indifferent to that.

Simon Hooper sums it all in 4 words, speaking of James Bond as (15 Nov, edition.cnn.com/) ‘The world’s favorite spy.’ I, Moviegoer don’t care about the world – he’s my favorite spy, and that’s good enough for me. Give him to me!

Peter Fulham is convinced when in praise of Daniel he says (22 Nov, buffalonews.com/):

If Pierce Brosnan, who held the job for the past four films, was the gentleman’s Bond, annoyingly suave and relentlessly indestructible, Daniel is his infinitely cooler younger cousin – gritty, brusque and deadly.

Ah, but you miss the point, Peter. I, Moviegoer want him to be a gentleman’s Bond, and annoyingly suave, and relentlessly indestructible – that’s what I call a deadly combination

Daniel’s Casino Royale is so standalone that it stands opposite all the other film Bonds. This is what I mean, in the words of Andrew Hard (15 Nov, foxnews.com/):

Casino Royale offers a frightening new take on England’s most famous spy – this grim-faced character played by Daniel Craig is as menacing as any classic 007 villain.

Grim-faced? Daniel Craig doesn’t have to act at all. James Bond as villain? Thereby Casino Royale turns James Bond’s world upside down. But it’s okay – he’s not my James Bond.

So, after all is said and done, who is my favorite James Bond? Dean Kish’s favorite is Connery; he ignores mine (23 Nov, realmovienews.com/):

No matter if your favorite Bond is Connery or Moore, one thing is for sure that we always remember why we love James Bond. The allure of the world of espionage and intrigue, of course.

Of course. And my favorite Bond is Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan. Having said that, I better beware of Simon Winder; Simon says of the films of my beloved Bond (18 Nov, nytimes.com/):

The film Casino Royale is a remake based on the first of Ian Fleming’s Bond books: an attempt to return the character to his roots, a fresh beginning after the increasingly witless Pierce Brosnan years. In astrological terms, this is the equivalent of several planets or suns or whatever being perfectly aligned. Will Bond’s latest rebirth usher in some new era in our history?

The Brosnan years witless? I’m witness otherwise. If you don’t recognize wit, you’re without.

But Simon insists. With Brosnan as Bond, Simon says:

I have always felt Mr Brosnan was a false prophet – a figure more at home modeling chunky watches or conservative suits than fulfilling Bond’s homicidal and sexual core competences. But the scale of his films’ success at last banished Mr Connery’s ghost. His followers may have been misled, but there could be no arguing with the immense, fervid crowds Mr Brosnan could draw.

So Simple Simon says. ‘Core competences’ eh? Simon, when I watch James Bond, I don’t want to learn about management, not even about core values. The heart of James Bond, yes; and it is this: international intrigue internalized intelligently & individually. You can call them The 5 Is of Bond, James Bond.

And Simon, I, Moviegoer say I make that passionate crowd, and my number is legion. Misled? I love the Pierce Brosnan that Simon says he hates. And the one that Michael Phillips pontificates on (15 Nov, chicagotribune.com/):

For a long time now, the James Bond franchise has been operating with a license to overkill. That license has been revoked by Casino Royale. It doesn’t even feel like a Bond film as we have come to expect (each of) them, in their numbing, increasingly gadget-dependent gigantism. No death rays from space this time. No invisible car. For once, most of the laws of physics are given due respect.

Michael, physics has nothing to do with entertainment. I am after entertainment, not respect for the laws of physics. Science is too serious for entertainment if you’re not Isaac Azimov or Ray Bradbury or Arthur Clarke. Else, science doesn’t make sense to the I, Moviegoer.

Jeremy Reynolds walks softly talking about the new Bond movie, but he too trips (20 Nov, dailytoreador.com/):

Casino Royale is a gritty James Bond masterpiece that redefines what the series could be – minus all the British-charm fluff. Daniel Craig … takes over where Pierce Brosnan left off. Daniel is a younger, blue-eyed, blond-haired Bond who is still wet behind the ears and allows his arrogance to overshadow his brains.

Jeremy, my Bond is more brain than brawn – that’s why he survives. When he kills, he thrills.

Oh! And my dear TP says it quite frankly that I do give a damn (19 Nov, teluguportal.net/):

This movie, in many ways, is the antithesis of the Bond archetype. Apart from the simpler action sequences, there are no one-liners, sexual innuendos and hi-tech gadgets.

Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis. Following Hegelian thought, you can’t have an antithesis without a thesis first.

My thesis: The Bond archetype is the one that moviegoers favor in their individual dialectic. And as customers, they are always right.

At 66, I am suddenly grown up, thanks to Daniel Craig. I don’t like James Bond anymore.

My synthesis: Pierce Brosnan as James Bond sharpens all my senses. Now that he’s Gone, James Gone, I’m going back to reading James Bond as he sharpens my mind. I’ll leave the broccoli soup to Barbara. They don’t make it like they used to anymore.

Casino Royale (the book) was published in 1953 by Jonathan Cape in London (commanderbond.net/), the first of Ian Fleming’s 13 James Bond novels. I have read many of them and admired Fleming’s passionate, cerebral 007. Everything was right in all those books, everything about this superspy. Most anything was right about the first 20 James Bond movies; most anything is wrong with Casino Royale, the 21st Bond film. Here, James Bond wins millions in the poker game but loses millions of his fans. He survives the assassination attempts but he will not survive the series.

What else is there to say? Daniel Craig’s James Bond chains us, the legion of movie boomers, to the new dialectic of Broccoli & Wilson, producers who, not being perfect, forgot to ask the pertinent customers what they want.

Boomers of the world, unite: You have nothing to lose but your chains!

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Winpower. 31 March 2007

Posted by frankahilario in champion, Eric Morales, faith, knockout, Manny Pacquiao, science.
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Or, Paquiao’s Sense

Knocks Out Morales’ Science

Erik Morales’ Reason told him that Science belonged in the Top Rank if he wanted to win – and he did. Manny Pacquiao’s personal Faith told him that his uncommon Sense was the way to go if he wanted to win – and he did.

Faith won over Reason on the 18th of November (19th, Manila time) at the Thomas & Mack Event Center at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, where Sense knocked out Science in the 3rd round of the WBC International Super-Featherweight title fight when Filipino Manny Pacquiao boxed Mexican Erik Morales out of history. Pacquiao gave Morales his ‘Grand Finale.’

It was Pacquiao’s determination and tonight wasn’t my night. He’s very fast and he punches very hard, giving no quarter. The Filipino has a quick left hand and I couldn’t see a lot of them coming. I don’t know what was wrong but that wasn’t me out there. I am going to relax now and take some time with my family. I respect Manny Pacquiao. He’s the true champion.

Pacquiao is the true champion: Who said that? Not Erik Morales The Defeated and not in 2006 but another Mexican, Marco Antonio Barrera The Defeated in 2003. What Morales actually said was this (Greg Beacham, 19 Nov, Canadian Press, canada.com/):

He was too fast and too strong.

As did Barrera, Morales learned his lesson too late. He wasn’t reading the news. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said days before the fight (Robert Morales, 15 Nov, 15rounds.com/), describing his boy: ‘The power and speed are unbelievable.’ And so the ‘Grand Finale’ made Morales a believer.

In fact, I have 7 explanations for Morales’ misery:

(1) It was karma.

It was Morales who had destroyed himself prior to the fight. The reality of his reputation as ‘El Terrible’ (The Terrible) caught up with him – millions all over the world saw on TV that day that his sharp punches were only as strong as his insults. He had been using punches and pejoratives in demolishing his opponents: Carlos Hernandez, Jesus Chavez, Guty Espadas Jr, Fernando Velardez, Eddie Croft, Paulie Ayala, Rodney Jones, Kevin Kelley, Mike Juarez, Reynante Jamili and many others. One of hundreds of impoverished Tijuana kids, Morales had escaped from the dark streets to the brilliant lights of the boxing ring, carrying the same old boy in him: ‘fearsome … overbearing … a sneering, snarling predator whose business was the assembly of a grand legacy’ (Jim Cawkwell, 19 Oct, boxingscene.com/). What you sow is what you reap. This time his lie caught up with him. Pacquiao is a street fighter like Morales but he’s clean where the other is only mean. In Pacquiao, Morales met more than his match – he met his fate.

(2) It was also the science of it.

The Exercise Physiologist of Velocity Sports Performance (Los Angeles) commissioned by Top Rank Big Boss Bob Arum to monitor Morales’ training, Jorgen Persson said Erik Morales was ‘in tiptop shape and strong’ going into the fight from his training at the Otomi High Altitude Training Center, high in the mountains over Toluca in Mexico (James Blears, 21 Oct, boxingscene.com/). At the weigh-in 30 days before the fight, Morales was 142 pounds, 12 above the target. Persson said:

Erik can lose the remaining weight gradually which is good, because he’s not going to get burned out, and he’s not going to become what in technical terms is called catabolic. If you don’t eat enough your body actually starts using up your muscles and you fatigue, which could have been what happened in the previous fight, where he didn’t time the gradual progression of weight loss. That is not going to happen this time!

To me that was too much science.

Persson didn’t stop there. In another occasion, he said (Salven Lagumbay, 2 Nov, specials.inq7.net/):

The improved difference you will see on November 18 (will be) a direct result of an intelligent sponsor, caring coaches and a great boxer thinking ahead by embracing traditional knowhow and progressive conditioning science.

Also too much talk about science.

To Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, it was too little science. He did not believe that body conditioning such as what they do in personal velocity training will work well with boxers since it has been designed for athletes other than boxers (Morales, 15 Nov). ‘Boxing is a different sport from other conditioning sport.’ Roach was right. So now, in any case, somebody has to redo his science – without Velocity.

(3) It was also the training.

Homer Sayson describes a day (and then some) in the life of Manny Pacquiao in training (27 Oct, sunstar.com/):

He rises at 6 AM. He slips into a running outfit … then darts into the streets of a megalopolis that is just slowly getting up on its feet. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Manny jogs only on flat surfaces around Sunset Blvd … On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, he runs at Griffith Park and the hilly terrains that lead to the world-famous Hollywood sign.

He takes a nap at 9:30 AM … At around 11:30, he rushes over to (Freddie Roach’s LA) Wild Card Gym. … From 12:00 to 3:00, Manny is in constant motion. And under the watchful eye of uber trainer Freddie Roach, PacMan spars, punches bags, abuses the speed ball and skips ropes. Somewhere in between … does 200 to 300 sit-ups.

Morales can do all that himself, right? Right. Maybe, Morales even trains like Pacquiao, who Jake Joson describes is like ‘an animal in the ring’ as he is out to finish his opponent in the early rounds, out ‘to fight like there’s no tomorrow’ (Abac Cordero, 8 Nov, abs-cbnnews.com/).

Enough? That’s not all Pacquiao does. After a long day at Roach’s gym, Manny surfs the Internet, or reads (yes, reads), or just hangs out in his abode at Sunset Blvd. Dinner at six. After that, he ‘devotes some time on a new album that will be released soon’ that which ‘might not win a Grammy, but boy, it’s good enough to go gold, if not platinum’ (Sayson, 27 Oct). I can see that Manny Pacquiao is fighting on all fronts while Erik Morales is only fighting all his demons.

(4) It was also the mind-reading.

Jorgen Persson said of Erik Morales (Blears, 21 Oct):

Erik is possibly the most intelligent boxer I’ve worked with. He is very dedicated … to accomplishing his goals. He doesn’t need any baby sitting. He knows what he’s doing. … Overall, he’s very capable of taking care of himself.’

If Morales thought that of himself, he was misreading himself.

Actually, that was a huge misreading of a mind by an expert.

Jose Morales, Erik’s trainer, himself misread the mind of the son when the father said, ‘We’re working with enthusiasm and we’re going to triumph definitively against Manny Pacquiao like the first time’ (Blears, 21 Oct).

Bob Arum, Chairman of the Board of Top Rank, misread Pacquiao too. He said: ‘If you’re going to fight Manny Pacquiao successfully, you have to be in top, top condition because he’s going to out-work you’ (Morales, 15 Nov). Wrong. Pacquiao didn’t out-work Morales – he out-thought him. He thought of everything, including rejecting the idea of weight reduction by nutrition, the selling point of Velocity Sports Performance, including polishing his right hook.

(5) It was also the tactic.

In the first Pacquiao-Morales fight, Pacquiao got a nasty cut above the right eye, and that spelled the difference. ‘The problem was the cut,’ I heard Pacquiao say afterwards, on TV; ‘I couldn’t see with my right eye anymore.’ The problem was that it was caused by a head-butt by Morales, as shown by television replays (Ronnie Nathanielsz, 23 Oct, boxingscene.com/). Morales won using his head the first time, by head-butting. And so one of Pacquiao’s Grand Finale tactics was to not get in the way of the head of Morales. This time, both used their heads and the more intelligent man finaled the lesser man.

(6) It was also the thinking.

Those not in the camp of Manny Pacquiao didn’t think the boy from countryside Philippines could demolish their boy from countryside Mexico and the US of A.

Just before the fight, the TigerBoxing staff were polled; here’s the results (18 Nov, tigerboxing.com/): * Franklin McNeil, Pacquiao in 9. * Kieran Mulvaney, Morales in 12. * Todd Thorps, Pacquiao by decision. * Ian Palmer, Morales wins. * Lyle Fitzsimmons, Morales in 12. * Nat Gottlieb, Morales by TKO in 10. * Shawn Krest, Morales 114-113. * Tom Thompson, Pacquiao in 12.

No one got it right! No one hinted at the intelligence and power and speed of Pacquiao over El Terrible Morales. What’s the matter – not using their intelligence? Not so. It was a matter of prejudice, a matter of colors: white is always better than brown.

Only Bob Arum seems to have gotten it right, in a sense. He said days before the fight (TR, 14 Nov, 15rounds.com/):

As good as the first two fights were, the third fight is going to be the best fight. The third fight will be remembered in boxing history forever. Trust me – it will be one of the great, great fights in history.

Was anyone listening to Arum that day? Good. He meant Morales was going to demolish Pacquiao and send his career to the boondocks of General Santos City where it had come from in the first place. Still, Arum was right: The Grand Finale is now written as one of the greatest lost fights in boxing history.

(7) It was also the pride.

Always the pride before the fall. According to Joaquin Henson (18 Oct, Philippine Star, abs-cbn.com/), Morales called Pacquiao a ‘braggart whose luck will run out’ when they meet again, in the ‘Grand Finale.’ That was Morales’ reaction when he was told that Pacquiao had ‘vowed to give him a beating so bad as to force his retirement;’ he in turn accused Pacquiao ‘of not having the b*lls to tell him to his face.’

Now that Manny Pacquiao has devastated Erik Morales’ dreams of umpire, rabid fans are trying their best to find excuses for why the loser lost. Most point to the unscientific, too-fast (Velocity) weight reduction. In my list, that’s only one – and, in any case, if Morales were as intelligent as Jorgen Persson said he was, why did he allow Jorgen Persson to work his Velocity science on his body?

More to the point: ‘Why is it so hard to see a Filipino boxer be the champ?’ asked Vanessa McConnell (19 Nov, eastsideboxing.com/). Pride, Vanessa.

And Pacquiao? It is not pride for him to say this (Morales, 15 Nov):

When I am in the ring, I am also fighting for my people. I want to make my country proud and make my fans happy. It is very important to me because my country is important to me. That is why I must win. Our fight is bigger than the two of us because we carry more into the ring than most other fighters. We carry the heart and soul of our people, and the pride and honor of our nations. The pressure on us is enormous, which is why I will be on the attack the second I hear the bell for Round One. But there can only be one winner and that winner must be me, and it will be me.

Folks, that’s not pride, that’s willpower. I call it winpower – Where there’s a will, there’s a win.

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