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Monday, March 31, 2003
12:31 PM
Poem for Baghdad

In Baghdad's skies
We see bright flames
Resembling eyes.
Like eyes we see
When we look deep
On brief faces
Of sullen girls.
Their countenence
An openess:
So great, so great
Whose faces blaze
In Baghdad's skies
When fires explode
In the lone night?
Distant faces
Resembling ours --
Burning, burning
As the Tigris'
Long gentle arm
Props the heavens,
From caving in.

-- by Charlie Samuya Veric
22 March 2003
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11:01 AM
Friday Five.

1. What was your most memorable moment from the last week?
Graduation was one. Particular moments with my students, another.

2. What one person touched your life this week?
Some of my students.

3. How have you helped someone this week?
I hope so. By telling some students what they needed to work on.

4. What one thing do you need to get done by this time next week?
A lot.

5. What one thing will you do over the next seven days to make your world a better place?
Uhhh ... my job?
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10:52 AM

Wednesday, March 26, 2003
11:08 PM
Collateral Damage.

Link from cheesedip.
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Monday, March 24, 2003
9:36 PM
Movie drought.

Wanna know how seldom I've been to the movies lately? The only movie I watched this year that won an Oscar is The Two Towers. :) heheh! I'm not complaining, though. ;)
[ link | ]

9:32 PM
War Debate.

Had a long discussion with my mom, who is very Republican, and pro-war.

Mom: I just think that Bush probably knows something that we don't, and the government can't tell us what it is because it would be too much of a risk.
Me: I agree. I do think that he knows something we don't know, and has chosen to just discuss it with the other world leaders. But that's the problem: assuming the other world leaders know what it is, it's obvious that most of them don't think that it's enough reason to go to war.
Mom: But Bush HAS to know what he's doing; he wouldn't risk so much if he didn't think he was doing the right thing.
Me: But if you say that, you're saying that the other world leaders DON'T know what they're doing. I guess that's what it boils down to: it's a question of who you trust. You trust Bush more. I trust the other world leaders more.
Mom:But you know, they've been interviewing all these Iraqis who escaped from Iraq and Saddam's government is really evil. They were talking to these people who witnessed how Saddam tortured and killed hundreds of people.
Me: I agree with you on that point. Saddam is evil. My own stand is not that Bush should NOT go to war, but that he shouldn't go to war without the blessing of the rest of the world. I think Saddam should be shot, but it should be done the right way: not at the expense of throwing the United Nations out the window. What's going to happen to the UN now? Who's going to look after the interests of poor developing countries?
Mom: Well, there's still the U.S.
Me: That's the problem. This was the chance for the U.S. to show it deserves to be the superpower that it is, by proving to everyone that the U.S. actually listens to the rest of the world and cares what they think. Instead, it did the opposite.
Mom: Yeah, but look at the countries that wanted to veto the security council resolution. They all have their vested interests.
Me: I agree with you there. I don't like France myself. But then again, every country has their vested interests.... I just think it's so sad. This was a chance to make diplomacy work, but instead, so many things were ruined ....
Mom: Oh well, when this is all over, the truth will come out ....

Sigh. I wish it were over already.


In the meantime, my cousin Joey sent an update from the Middle East. He's in high spirits.
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Friday, March 21, 2003
10:49 PM
Where do we come from?

National Geographic is airing this really amazing show, tracing--with the help of genetics, paleontology, anthropology and archaeology--how we all came from Africa, and how our ancient ancestors travelled from Africa to the rest of the world.

A lot of the show involves visiting and talking to indigenous peoples. The issue of IPs has always interested me, and one of the most memorable experiences of my life was spending my fourth year college Theology immersion with a Dumagat family in the Sierra Madre mountains.
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7:04 PM
High points.

M is coming home from his business trip today ... yay!

And yesterday I received a really moving card from one of my classes. :)

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2:05 PM
Generation Y.

I like articles that talk about that mysterious (to me) generation that comes after mine, Generation Y ....

An excerpt: Andres is one of the 42 million Americans aged 12 to 24, a collection of kids whose first historical memories were the Rodney King riots, O.J.'s trial, Princess Di's death, Columbine and, of course, Sept. 11. The members of Generation Y -- or the Millennials, if you prefer -- are now doing what Generation X did 12 years ago: girding themselves for war. The political names are the same (Bush, Powell, Cheney, Hussein), but the kids are not.

That's funny. I missed that generation by 3 years. But I knew that. :) And honestly it makes a lot of difference in the Philiippines, that my peers remember EDSA 1986 and they don't.


Update: Here's a survey of Gen Y-ers about themselves (and, sorry, they prefer to be called the "Millenial Generation"). :D

According to the survey, their generation thinks that people in their 20s (which includes people in my generation) are selfish, easy-going complainers. That's about right ... :P

I wonder what the results would be if they conducted a similar survey here in the Philippines. The political experiences of the Gen X generation (my generation) shaped our country differently, you see.

The general description of the Gen-Yers, also from the same website, paints a very optimistic view of what this next generation is going to be like. Interesting, interesting, interesting .... And much more positive than the way many people my age and older have branded them.
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Thursday, March 20, 2003
10:33 PM
Letter to Bush.

Here's a good one from Michael Moore.com. Quick excerpt: "The Pope has said this war is wrong, that it is a SIN. The Pope! But even worse, the Dixie Chicks have now come out against you! How bad does it have to get before you realize that you are an army of one on this war? Of course, this is a war you personally won't have to fight. Just like when you went AWOL while the poor were shipped to Vietnam in your place." Read the rest on his site.
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10:28 PM
Letter to Bush.

Here's a good one from Michael Moore.com. Quick excerpt: "The Pope has said this war is wrong, that it is a SIN. The Pope! But even worse, the Dixie Chicks have now come out against you! How bad does it have to get before you realize that you are an army of one on this war? Of course, this is a war you personally won't have to fight. Just like when you went AWOL while the poor were shipped to Vietnam in your place." Read the rest on his site.
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9:12 PM
Brown Man's Burden ...

I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!

Do you hear it too? In Bush's speeches? Echoes of the "Brown Man's Burden" ....
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8:50 PM
Warmonger Vs. Peacenik, part 2

PN: So what are you saying? Why are we invading Iraq?
WM: As I said, because there is a chance that they have weapons of mass destruction that threaten us and our allies.
PN: But the inspectors have not been able to find any such weapons.
WM: Iraq is obviously hiding them.
PN: You know this? How?
WM: Because we know they had the weapons ten years ago, and they are still unaccounted for.
PN: The weapons we sold them, you mean?
WM: Precisely.
PN: But I thought those biological and chemical weapons would degrade to an unusable state over ten years.
WM: But there is a chance that some have not degraded.
PN: So as long as there is even a small chance that such weapons exist, we must invade?
WM: Exactly.
PN: But North Korea actually has large amounts of usable chemical, biological, AND nuclear weapons, AND long range missiles that can reach the west coast AND it has expelled nuclear weapons inspectors, AND threatened to turn America into a sea of fire.
WM: That's a diplomatic issue.
PN: So why are we invading Iraq instead of using diplomacy?
WM: Aren't you listening? We are invading Iraq because we cannot allow the inspections to drag on indefinitely. Iraq has been delaying, deceiving, and denying for over ten years, and inspections cost us tens of millions.
PN: But I thought war would cost us tens of billions.
WM: Yes, but this is not about money. This is about security.
PN: But wouldn't a pre-emptive war against Iraq ignite radical Muslim sentiments against us, and decrease our security?
WM: Possibly, but we must not allow the terrorists to change the way we live. Once we do that, the terrorists have already won.
PN: So what is the purpose of the Department of Homeland Security, color-coded terror alerts, and the Patriot Act? Don't these change the way we live?
WM: I thought you had questions about Iraq.
PN: I do. Why are we invading Iraq?
WM: For the last time, we are invading Iraq because the world has called on Saddam Hussein to disarm, and he has failed to do so. He must now face the consequences.
PN: So, likewise, if the world called on us to do something, such as find a peaceful solution, we would have an obligation to listen?
WM: By "world", I meant the United Nations.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the United Nations?
WM: By "United Nations" I meant the Security Council.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the Security Council?
WM: I meant the majority of the Security Council.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the majority of the Security Council?
WM: Well... there could be an unreasonable veto.
PN: In which case?
WM: In which case, we have an obligation to ignore the veto.
PN: And if the majority of the Security Council does not support us at all?
WM: Then we have an obligation to ignore the Security Council.
PN: That makes no sense.
WM: If you love Iraq so much, you should move there. Or maybe France, with all the other cheese-eating surrender monkeys. It's time to boycott their wine and cheese, no doubt about that.
PN: Here... have a pretzel, instead.

stolen from here
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12:51 PM
A Warmonger Explains War to a Peacenik, part 1

By Bill Davidson

PeaceNik: Why did you say we are we invading Iraq?
WarMonger: We are invading Iraq because it is in violation of Security Council resolution 1441. A country cannot be allowed to violate Security Council resolutions.
PN: But I thought many of our allies, including Israel, were in violation of more security council resolutions than Iraq.
WM: It's not just about UN resolutions. The main point is that Iraq could have weapons of mass destruction, and the first sign of a smoking gun could well be a mushroom cloud over New York.
PN: Mushroom cloud? But I thought the weapons inspectors said Iraq had no nuclear weapons.
WM: Yes, but biological and chemical weapons are the issue.
PN: But I thought Iraq did not have any long range missiles for attacking us or our allies with such weapons.
WM: The risk is not Iraq directly attacking us, but rather terrorist networks that Iraq could sell the weapons to.
PN: But couldn't virtually any country sell chemical or biological materials? We sold quite a bit to Iraq in the Eighties ourselves, didn't we?
WM: That's ancient history. Look, Saddam Hussein is an evil man that has an undeniable track record of repressing his own people since the early Eighties. He gasses his enemies. Everyone agrees that he is a power-hungry lunatic murderer.
PN: We sold chemical and biological materials to a power-hungry lunatic murderer?
WM: The issue is not what we sold, but rather what Saddam did. He is the one that launched a pre-emptive first strike on Kuwait.
PN: A pre-emptive first strike does sound bad. But didn't our ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, know about and green-light the invasion of Kuwait?
WM: Let's deal with the present, shall we? As of today, Iraq could sell its biological and chemical weapons to Al Qaida. Osama Bin Laden himself released an audio tape calling on Iraqis to suicide-attack us, proving a partnership between the two.
PN: Osama Bin Laden? Wasn't the point of invading Afghanistan to kill him?
WM: Actually, it's not 100% certain that it's really Osama Bin Laden on the tapes. But the lesson from the tape is the same: there could easily be a partnership between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein unless we act.
PN: Is this the same audio tape where Osama Bin Laden labels Saddam a secular infidel?
WM: You're missing the point by just focusing on the tape. Powell presented a strong case against Iraq.
PN: He did?
WM: Yes, he showed satellite pictures of an Al Qaida poison factory in Iraq.
PN: But didn't that turn out to be a harmless shack in the part of Iraq controlled by the Kurdish opposition?
WM: And a British intelligence report...
PN: Didn't that turn out to be copied from an out-of-date graduate student paper?
WM: And reports of mobile weapons labs...
PN: Weren't those just artistic renderings?
WM: And reports of Iraqis scuttling and hiding evidence from inspectors...
PN: Wasn't that evidence contradicted by the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix?
WM: Yes, but there is plenty of other hard evidence that cannot be revealed because it would compromise our security.
PN: So there is no publicly available evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
WM: The inspectors are not detectives, it's not their JOB to find evidence. You're missing the point.
PN: So what is the point?
WM: The main point is that we are invading Iraq because Resolution 1441 threatened "severe consequences." If we do not act, the Security Council will become an irrelevant debating society.
PN: So the main point is to uphold the rulings of the Security Council?
WM: Absolutely. ...unless it rules against us.
PN: And what if it does rule against us?
WM: In that case, we must lead a coalition of the willing to invade Iraq.
PN: Coalition of the willing? Who's that?
WM: Britain, Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain, and Italy, for starters.
PN: I thought Turkey refused to help us unless we gave them tens of billions of dollars.
WM: Nevertheless, they may now be willing.
PN: I thought public opinion in all those countries was against war.
WM: Current public opinion is irrelevant. The majority expresses its will by electing leaders to make decisions.
PN: So it's the decisions of leaders elected by the majority that is important?
WM: Yes.
PN: But George Bush wasn't elected by voters. He was selected by the U.S. Supreme C...
WM: I mean, we must support the decisions of our leaders, however they were elected, because they are acting in our best interest. This is about being a patriot. That's the bottom line.
PN: So if we do not support the decisions of the president, we are not patriotic?
WM: I never said that....
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12:32 PM
What's happening in Iraq?

Read Where is Raed?, a blog by someone in Baghdad. An excerpt from several days ago: A BBC reporter walking thru the Mutanabi Friday book market (again) ends his report with: “It looks like Iraqis are putting on an air of normality” Look, what are you supposed to do then? Run around in the streets wailing? War is at the door eeeeeeeeeeeee!


Also read Kevin Sites' blog. Kevin Sites is a CNN journalist who's in Iraq right now. Lotsa pictures and links.
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11:53 AM
A poem for March 20, 2003.

Keeping Quiet

And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas,
wars with fire,
victory with no survivors, would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
(Life is what it is about,
I want no truck with death.)

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.

-- Pablo Neruda
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1:24 AM
Please pray for Joey.

Please pray for my cousin Joey. He is a U.S. soldier of the 101st Airborne Division and is in the Middle East right now.

Please pray that God keeps him safe, and leads him home soon to his wife and two children.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2003
2:05 PM
Aaack! Willing my foot!

So it turns out we're part of the US's coalition of the willing.

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1:59 PM

About the legality of going to war. I think this case is similar to EDSA 2. If you look at the issue legalistically, then going to war is questionable.

But law is also about hermeneutics. And very often the hermeneutics of law allows for making the moral choice even beyond narrow, rigid legalism. This was the "escape route" that the Supreme Court used to declare Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the legal president of the Philippines. They believed it was the moral choice, and that the moral choice went beyond narrow legalism.

After watching yesterday's parliamentary debates in the UK, it appears this is also what the Brits believe (whether or not they explicitly say so).

I understand, but I do not necessarily agree, as I also did not completely agree with what happened during EDSA 2. The question, you see, that has to be answered is whether it truly is the moral choice, or at least the more urgent one.

I do not think going to war is either.
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1:52 PM
UK Parliament.

I may not agree with his views, but man, you gotta hand it to Blair. His speech was amazing. Such rationality, such rigor of reasoning. I'm glad BBC showed Liberal Democrat party leader Kennedy's speech as well, though (CNN didn't). The first part of his speech was a little controversial, but at the end he very clearly outlined the reasons why going to war was questionable both morally and legally.

Sigh ... if I had grown up in the UK, I wouldn't have minded working for the Parliament. When will our government ever become as reasonable as theirs?

Now compare their speeches to Bush's speech .... Sigh ....

I was telling my students: If you based your judgment purely on the speeches their politicians make, it would sound like the American government is a government run by propaganda (oversimplification of issues, etc.), while the UK's is a government truly based on reason.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2003
6:34 PM
March 18, 2003

Before I started today's lecture, some of my students requested an update on Bush's speech this morning (Manila time) because they hadn't been able to watch it. I told them the gist of it, then we discussed contingency plans for exam week: What to do if there are bomb blasts or if a rally gets called in the middle of exam week and CHED officially calls off classes. For many of my students, I think the reality and the horror of what's happening is finally sinking in; there was a look of fear on many of their faces as we talked about contingency plans.

Last week, a colleague of mine said, "Once the war starts, how can we do philosophy?" He said that the reality of the situation only began to strike him two weeks ago, and now he was really scared ... and stupefied ....


Meanwhile ... while we all contemplate the closing of the American mind and other tragedies, have fun with Bush. (Click on "Blair" and the other links while you're there.)
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12:49 AM
On a lighter note ...

Congrats to GMA News and Public Affairs for that excellent show on Iraq last night! Go Howie! :)
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12:44 AM

Monday, March 17, 2003
11:57 PM

Oh god, what is our world coming to.

Bush doesn't get it, does he?

And it doesn't help that the U.S. has never had an international war fought on its own soil. They just don't understand how horrible war is ... and how it must be an absolute, last resort, only resorted to when one is faced with imminent threat!

This is a war of choice.

And, as this woman (sorry, I don't know her name) on BBC's HardTalk just said: The war may be winnable, but will the peace be winnable?

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Sunday, March 16, 2003
10:52 AM

Aside from being musicians, what do Busta Rhymes, Sheryl Crow, Ani DiFranco, Missy Elliott, Peter Gabriel, Natalie Imbruglia, Dave Matthews, Natalie Merchant, REM, Sonic Youth, and Suzanne Vega all have in common?
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Saturday, March 15, 2003
10:12 PM

Sometimes I wish I could speak Spanish, just so I could read poetry in Spanish. Here's something from Cesar Vallejo to depress you today:


Black Stone on Top of a White Stone

I will die in Paris, on a rainy day,
on some day I can already remember.
I will die in Paris--and I don't step aside--
perhaps on a Thursday, as today is Thursday, in autumn.

It will be a Thursday, because today, Thursday, setting down
these lines, I have put my upper arm bones on
wrong, and never so much as today have I found myself
with all the road ahead of me, alone.

César Vallejo is dead. Everyone beat him
although he never does anything to them;
they beat him hard with a stick and hard also

with a rope. These are the witnesses:
the Thursdays, and the bones of my arms,
the solitude, and the rain, and the roads. . .

--translated by Robert Bly


Piedra Negra sobre Piedra Blanca

Me moriré en París con aguacero,
un día del cual tengo ya el recuerdo.
Me moriré en París -y no me corro-
talvez un jueves, como es hoy de otoño.

Jueves será, porque hoy, jueves, que proso
estos versos, los húmeros me he puesto
a la mala y, jamas como hoy, me he vuelto,
con todo mi camino, a verme solo.

César Vallejo ha muerto, le pegaban
todos sin que él les haga nada;
le daban duro con un palo y duro

también con una soga; son testigos
los días jueves y los huesos húmeros,
la soledad, la lluvia, los caminos…


Incidentally, Cesar Vallejo died in exile in Paris, on a rainy Good Friday.
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9:40 PM

My archives are still screwed up. I went to an unofficial Blogger tech support website to find that I'm not the only person in the world whose archives disappeared after September 2002. The bad news: No one seems to have a solution.

Meanwhile ... I spent much of today napping and bumming in front of the TV. This must be my subconcsious rebelling against all the papers I have to check. Argh!

High TV point of the day: Seeing the last thirty minutes of The Graduate on Cinemax. Solar interference knocked out the Dustin-Hoffman-confronts-Anne-Bancroft-before-making-his-mad-rush-to-First-Presbyterian scene, but I caught enough to feel awed by the film's cinematography. Although I've seen the film before, this is the first time I've seen it (or rather, seen part of it) after being initiated into the mysteries of video production.
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Friday, March 14, 2003
11:07 AM

Did you hear that? Is it just me or is that a big red welt on Tony Blair's cheek?
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Thursday, March 13, 2003
11:26 PM

Frankly, Britain's attempt at a compromise resolution is restoring my faith in Tony Blair's capacity for world leadership.


And in case you want to add to your protest music collection ....
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9:59 AM
At our doorsteps.

"What other international body? Salma Hayek?"


The Beastie Boys say no to war.


Meanwhile, the war appears to be approaching my doorstep. Police foiled a terrorist plot in Metro Manila a few days ago.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2003
10:32 PM

Just heard on CNN that the Serbian Prime Minister was assassinated.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2003
11:25 AM

Monday, March 10, 2003
10:59 PM
Nobody you know. Just foreign people.

An excerpt from John le Carre's much-talked about article, "The United States of America has gone mad" (originally published in the Times of London):

"But will we win, Daddy?"

"Of course, child. It will all be over while you’re still in bed."


"Because otherwise Mr Bush’s voters will get terribly impatient and may decide not to vote for him."

"But will people be killed, Daddy?"

"Nobody you know, darling. Just foreign people."

"Can I watch it on television?"

"Only if Mr Bush says you can."

"And afterwards, will everything be normal again? Nobody will do anything horrid any more?"

"Hush child, and go to sleep."
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10:49 PM

Clare Short, the British International Development Secretary, is ready to resign over the Iraq war.

The closer we come to the brink of war, the more I feel we are all unraveling.

I have a feeling that the events that are about to unfold over the next few months are events that will define our age. They will be discussed in history books twenty, fifty years from now, and our children will ask us if where we were, what we were doing, what we felt.

Where we stood.

Gary Kamiya says that this is going to be the first unprovoked war in history (or the second, if you count the Spanish-American war). Is that true?
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Sunday, March 09, 2003
11:10 PM
No to war!

In the news today:

No to war without just cause, says Jimmy Carter, former president of the United States and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

No to a unilateral war "based on quesetionable propositions," says the New York Times.

No to war, say musicians all over the United States.


Here are excerpts from Jimmy Carter's piece:

As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards....

For a war to be just, it must meet several clearly defined criteria.

The war can be waged only as a last resort, with all nonviolent options exhausted. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war exist.... But now, ... the United States seems determined to carry out military and diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the history of civilized nations. The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.

The war's weapons must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants.... Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf, has expressed concern about many of the military targets being near hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes....

Its violence must be proportional to the injury we have suffered. Despite Saddam Hussein's other serious crimes, American efforts to tie Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing.

The attackers must have legitimate authority sanctioned by the society they profess to represent. The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international authority....

The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists. Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home. Also, by defying overwhelming world opposition, the United States will undermine the United Nations as a viable institution for world peace....

...American stature will surely decline further if we launch a war in clear defiance of the United Nations. But to use the presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with all United Nations resolutions - with war as a final option - will enhance our status as a champion of peace and justice.


And here's an excerpt from today's New York Times editorial:

... If it comes down to a question of yes or no to invasion without broad international support, our answer is no....

There are circumstances under which the president would have to act militarily no matter what the Security Council said. If America was attacked, we would have to respond swiftly and fiercely. But despite endless efforts by the Bush administration to connect Iraq to Sept. 11, the evidence simply isn't there....

The second argument the Bush administration cites for invading Iraq is its refusal to obey U.N. orders that it disarm. That's a good reason, but not when the U.N. itself believes disarmament is occurring and the weapons inspections can be made to work. If the United States ignores the Security Council and attacks on its own, the first victim in the conflict will be the United Nations itself....

President Bush has switched his own rationale for the invasion several times. Right now, the underlying theory seems to be that the United States can transform the Middle East by toppling Saddam Hussein, turning Iraq into a showplace democracy and inspiring the rest of the region to follow suit. That's another fine goal that seems impossible to accomplish outside the context of broad international agreement....

[Mr. Bush] obviously intends to go ahead, and bet on the very good chance that the Iraqi army will fall quickly. The fact that the United Nations might be irreparably weakened would not much bother his conservative political base at home, nor would the outcry abroad. But in the long run, this country needs a strong international body to keep the peace and defuse tension in a dozen different potential crisis points around the world. It needs the support of its allies, particularly embattled states like Pakistan, to fight the war on terror. And it needs to demonstrate by example that there are certain rules that everybody has to follow, one of the most important of which is that you do not invade another country for any but the most compelling of reasons. When the purpose is fuzzy, or based on questionable propositions, it's time to stop and look for other, less extreme means to achieve your goals.


Here's more, still from the New York Times:

"Beyond Iraq, U.N. Is Issue," an analysis by Patrick Tyler. It expresses concerns similar to the ones raised in NYT's editorial a few days ago.

Reactions against the U.S.' attitude towards Mexico, from Paul Krugman. Apparently, John Brady Kiesling, a career diplomat in the United States, recently resigned from the Foreign Service in protest against Bush's foreign policy. An article on Salon.com quotes an excerpt of Kiesling's resignation letter: "The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known." (The same article, by the way, urges Colin Powell to resign as well.)

A point for point rebuttal of the statements Bush delivered on Thursday, by Thomas Friedman. Friedman ends his column with this bit of brilliance: "Think about F.D.R. He had just won World War II. America was at the apex of its power. It didn't need anyone's permission for anything. Yet, on his way home from Yalta, confined to a wheelchair, F.D.R. traveled to the Mideast to meet and show respect for the leaders of Ethiopia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Why? Because he knew he needed them not to win the war, but to win the peace."
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Saturday, March 08, 2003
8:14 PM
From Sacred Space.

A thick and shapeless tree-trunk would never believe
that it could become a statue, admired as a miracle of sculpture,
and would never submit itself to the chisel of the sculptor,
who sees by her genius what she can make of it.
--St Ignatius
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8:02 PM
Friday Five

1. What was the last song you heard?
A hymn at my grand-aunt's funeral this morning. The second to the last song they sang was the one that starts, "Hiram sa Diyos ang ating buhay ..." but they also sang another one after that; I just don't remember what it was.

2. What were the last two movies you saw?
Hero was the last one. Before that? Hmmm ... I'm not sure; maybe Before Sunrise on video.

3. What were the last three things you purchased?
Potato chips from a vendo machine, iced tea from KFC, and ... uhhh ... I dunno, but I bet it was food.

4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
Work, work, work, and sleep.

5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
Mike, Alma, the cab driver, the guy who fixed the air-conditioner at work, Jack, and John.
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7:34 PM
Science Fiction/Fantasy.

Half my friends grew up reading this stuff (including M, valkyrie, brownpau, and many of my colleagues at the department) so they can probably appreciate this list a lot more than I can:

Fifty Most Significant Science Fiction/Fantasy Books of the Last Fifty Years.

I can already guess which of my friends are going to have violent reactions about the list. Hehehe!

(link from cheesedip)
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7:13 PM
Jinxed tourists.

That'll teach them to mess with sacred sites. What are tourists doing there anyway, if the aborigines don't want them there?
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7:08 PM
Women's Day.

It's International Women's Day today!

Personally, I don't want to think of today as a day to honor women; it sounds patronizing and ironically condescending. I mean, why should there be just one day to honor fifty percent of the planet's populace? As M said to me this morning, does that make the other 364 days of the year "Men's Days"?

I would rather like to think of today as a day to honor and remember all the women and men in history who helped to make people more aware of women's issues, to fight for women's rights, to fight against the abuse and oppression that millions of women all over the world have gone through for centuries and that millions of women all over the world continue to suffer from today. I would rather like to think of today as a day to honor everyone who has fought against the ways of thinking that have made some men think that it is okay to rape or beat women, simply because they are women.

I would like to celebrate today honoring all those people who paved the way for me, today, to vote; to study in a university; to wear jeans; to have a job and be financially independent; to receive the same wages my male counterparts do; to not be afraid of speaking my mind in front of a group of men; to have the courage to create who I am as a woman.


A few days ago, I was talking to a colleague of mind about sexist ways of thinking. One thing he couldn't help believing, he said, was that women do tend to have a "narrower" view of the world, compared to men. Many women, he pointed out, tend to be stuck in a very "domestic" way of thinking; they tend to think of the Good only in terms of their personal relationships. When a choice has to be made between the Good of the private realm and the public realm, many women, he felt, were unable to choose the greater good, the Good of the public realm.

He wanted to know what I thought about that.

I said: Before anything, whether these women he was talking about represented all women, was already debatable.

But I said, Okay, for the sake of argument, let us presuppose that many women do prioritize personal relationships over the "public good" (we used the character Flying Snow in Hero as our example). Even if we admitted to that, I said, his argument had several quandaries. What follows is the gist of what I said to him, plus a few additional points:

This is what I'd like to suggest: what if the whole division between the public realm and the private realm is actually a male construct?

In today's urban world, a typical adult (whether male or female), leaves the home every morning, commutes to work, and stays at work for eight to ten hours. At the end of the day, he leaves his workplace and goes home to his family.

And in today's language, we consider the work place to be our experience of the "public realm," and home to be our experience of the "private realm."

But might that distinction--along with the presumption that the "good" of the public good is a greater good than that of the private realm--be a masculinist one?

You see, I don't think women experience the two realms in such a polarity. I think that most women experience a blending, an integration of their "public" and "private" realms. A woman who is pregnant, for example, cannot leave her pregnancy--considered part of the "private" realm--at home. A breastfeeding mother cannot leave her breasts filled with milk at home, either. She carries her bloated breasts--that tangible experience of motherhood--with her even as she putters around the office or the factory.

I worked in a female-dominated office before, and I experienced it there as well--the lack of the dichotomization between the two realms. In my female-dominated office, it was not frowned upon to mix home concerns with business concerns; our conversations easily shifted between work concerns and personal problems, without affecting our productivity at all. If someone had to rush home to attend to a sick child, everyone understood and covered for her; if someone had to bring a child to work because no one could baby-sit him at home, that was understood and accepted too. And, despite what you may be thinking, ours was an incredibly well-run, well-managed office, and one of the most successful companies in its field.

Contrast this with the office where I work now: a male-dominated office where private concerns are strictly kept as that, until office hours. In my office now, there appears to be a certain expectation not to talk about personal concerns during work time; in fact, I barely know about my officemates' lives, except for those of my officemates whom I get to talk to after hours as well.

Might the private realm/public realm distinction be a solely male experience, and hence, a male construct? Might it actually be wrong to presume, then, that the good of the public realm is necessarily better than the good of the private?

Let me speculate about history. The whole work/home dichotomy of the urban world is, I'm guessing, a model copied from Western cities. And, I'm guessing again, that model in Western cities began with the industrial age. Factories and the growth of cities made it less and less possible for people to do their work (e.g., their craft--carpentry, carving, etc.) at home. With the growth of cities more and more people found themselves having to leave their home to go to their place of work.

What is significant about that structure is that it was very often the men who left the home to go to the workplace, with the women staying home to tend the children and keep house.

But what if it as early as then, women worked as much--or almost as much--as men did? Or to stretch it further--let us imagine if the growth of the cities were forced to follow a pattern more accomodating of women .... Would things be any different?

My guess: Work places would never have been built far away from homes. Technology that allows people to work from their houses would, in fact, have been built sooner. Work places, likewise, would have been made more family-friendly: office-based daycare centers would have become a trend a hundred years ago, baby monitors on every woman's desk would be a standard sight, schools would be built beside offices .... Ahhhh ... don't you think so?

Anyway, nobody dare steal my ideas! I might want to write a paper on this. Everything I wrote above is copyrighted, okay? ;)


Well, having said all that ... to all my women friends out there: Happy Women's Day!
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12:32 AM
Huli sa balita.

Okay, maybe I'm the last person to know about this (considering the date of this article), but I have a serious question: Are they going to start calling it a Freedom Kiss now?
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Friday, March 07, 2003
11:04 PM

For some reason, my archive links aren't complete. (Something I ought to ask M about; he's the web designer.)

One of today's high points: Bumping into a former student I haven't seen in a looong time. That was nice. :)
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10:32 PM
Isaiah 58:5-9

Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

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10:13 PM

Religious artifacts (e.g., crosses, Rosaries, pictures of Jesus), pork or pork products, anything with adult content, anything bigger than a shoe box or weighing more than twelve pounds.

Those are the things that we are not allowed to send my cousin when he's deployed in the Middle East. Please pray for him, his whole division, and all the other soldiers who will be involved in the conflict.
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Thursday, March 06, 2003
2:48 PM

It's only the first week of March, but it feels like summer is already here. This heat is suffocating .... Argh ....
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Monday, March 03, 2003
11:08 PM

The season of Lent begins two days from now. Traditionally, a person isn't supposed to publicly discuss what form exactly his/her asceticism or conversion is going to take (Matt 6:16), but I do treat this blog as a thoughts-journal and I have been thinking about this year's coming forthcoming Lenten experience, so I guess I'll allow myself to write my thoughts here ....

This Lent, first of all, I want to be more mindful of the Sabbath and of what each Sunday really means. I've been feeling a gentle tug in that direction for several months now--especially because I've been spending many of my Sunday evenings working, but this article about "bringing back the Sabbath" read like my heart's song....

Secondly--in relation to the first, actually--I want to spend more time in silence and mindfulness. "Do what you are doing," a retreat master of mine once told me. And that's what I hope to do.

Third--related to the second--I want to be more conscious of the sacredness of each day. I want to be able to clear space in my life for that sacredness.

I guess those three things describe what I hope this coming season of Lent brings into my life: the Sabbath, Silence, and (an awareness of) Sacredness.
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10:16 PM
Sister, sister.

Finding a long lost twin sister.
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Sunday, March 02, 2003
5:15 PM
Happy now?

Iraq has begun to destroy its short-range missiles. And the UAE is asking Saddam Hussein to resign, to avert the possibility of war.

But will that avert the war?


The thing is, NYT columnist Maureen Dowd suggests, this U.S. plan for re-engineering the world order has been around for quite awhile:

Conservatives began drawing up steroid-fueled plans to reorder the world a decade ago, imperial blueprints fantastical enough to make "Star Wars" look achievable.

In 1992, Dick Cheney, the defense secretary for Bush 41, and his aides, Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, drafted a document asserting that America should prepare to cast off formal alliances and throw its military weight around to prevent the rise of any "potential future global competitor" and to preclude the spread of nuclear weapons.

The solipsistic grandiosity of the plan was offputting to 41, who loved nothing better than chatting up the other members of the global club. To Poppy and Colin Powell, this looked like voodoo foreign policy, and they splashed cold water on it.

In 1996, Richard Perle, now a Pentagon adviser, and Douglas Feith, now a Rumsfeld aide, helped write a report about how Israel could transcend the problems with the Palestinians by changing the "balance of power" in the Middle East, and by replacing Saddam.

The hawks saw their big chance after 9/11, but they feared that it would be hard to sell a eschatological scheme to stomp out Islamic terrorism by recreating the Arab world. So they found Saddam guilty of a crime he could commit later: helping Osama unleash hell on us.

Mr. Bush is his father's son in his "trust us, we know best" attitude.

After obscuring the real reasons for war, the Bushies are now obscuring the Pentagon's assessments of the cost of war ($60 billion to $200 billion?), the size of the occupation force (100,000 to 400,000?) and the length of time American troops will stay in Iraq (2 to 10 years?).


Of course, that's not how everybody reads the issues.

NYT columnist Thomas Friedman took W. Bush's statements at face value when he (the president) said:

"A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interest in security and America's belief in liberty both lead in the same direction — to a free and peaceful Iraq."

But even the war supporters like Friedman don't think W. Bush has done a very good job of making friends with the rest of the world.


It isn't even rocket science. Whichever of the two ways you look at it, U.S. foreign policy is guilty of the same crime: it puts too much weight on its own status as "the only superpower," to the extent of violating other nations' sovereignty.

The U.S. will only remain a political superpower as long as all the other nations of the world allow the U.S. to wield such influence on the globe. And if the U.S. isn't careful, they are going to lose their allies as well as that "superpower" status.
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4:34 PM
Uneasy alliances.

"You are our allies, for heaven's sake," we were told the other day.

But there have been decades of skepticism about what being an ally means. After all, only four generations ago, tens of thousands of Filipinos all over the country met their deaths at the hands of those whom we now call "allies."
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11:49 AM

I learned from Migs' journal that one of the girls hurt by the the BMW accident at UP is a band member of Matilda ... which, if I'm not mistaken, is my sister-in-law's friend's sister's band.

Someone posted pictures of the incident, but I'll spare you guys the link. I could only look at four or five photos before I felt compelled to close the browser window; they're quite upsetting, and I felt a little embarrassed looking at such pictures of people I don't know.
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11:15 AM
Hung over.

I am ever so slightly hung over. Something I haven't felt in a long time (sign of age: not that my tolerance for alcohol is rising, but that I haven't gone drinking in awhile).

But the past two nights have been really nice....

Friday night, I met up with some of my college friends in Makati (mental note: Never Makati on a payday!). Dinner, ice cream, much laughter, and much serious kwentuhan about one another's lives. Despite our age I'm still not entirely comfortable with the "adultness" of some of our problems. Us? Adults? It must have happened when I wasn't looking. The past seven years have passed so quickly ... and it alarms me to think that we are almost halfway done with our lives.

Last night, one of M's buddies threw a party to celebrate his birthday and his passing the bar exam (whoo-hoo!). (We were supposed to head to ganns' get-together afterwards but the evening stretched on at hindi na kami nakahabol. Sorry, ganns! :( See you next weekend though!) The night was was loads of fun: the inebriatedness of the two new attorneys provided the rest of us all the laughter we needed (hehe!).
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Saturday, March 01, 2003
3:15 PM

Belated happy birthday to Ganns who has just been through an incredible year ... and whom I wish another year abundant with grace and blessings!

Congratulations to all my friends who passed the 2002 bar exams!!!!! Whoo-hoo!!!!
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