Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin: "The Bush Doctrine"

If you watched Charlie Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin, your heart probably stopped, just as mine did, when he asked her if she agreed with the Bush Doctrine.

She had no idea what he was talking about.

In fact throughout the interview, Palin's body language said it all. She was slouched, bending forward. She had a lost look in her eyes, and it was almost as if you could see her brain grasping around for answers. Like a typical student who feels that they're going to fail a college oral examination, she prevaricated every time she was asked a question she didn't fully understand; you could see the panicked "gulp" in her throat. She looked embarrassed ... nervous ... almost apologetic.

And this woman could be a heartbeat away from becoming the "leader of the free world."


And not just that. But she pretty much turned Russia into an American enemy. Crikey.

The Russian government, whom I'm sure was watching, should come out with a statement about that.

In her ignorance, she's a loose cannon. Geez, for all we know, she could get the Cold War started again with her careless remarks.

Friday, August 29, 2008

American Politics.

I've been following the American elections with some interest, and as I write this I'm watching the reports regarding McCain's choice of running mate.

I find it really weird.

If I were American, I wouldn't vote for Republican myself right now but I find it really strange that the Republican party are choosing Palin as VP.

And it's funny how, even on Fox, the anchors and commentators seem to be grasping at straws trying to make sense of the choice.

Since Obama's speech last night, I've heard pro-Republican commentators criticize Obama for many of the usual things: he isn't experienced, he's too young, nobody really knows who he is.

And now McCain chooses someone who is about as inexperienced as Obama (you might say she's even less experienced; at least Obama worked in public service before entering politics; Palin was a television sports reporter before she entered politics); someone who is even younger than Obama; and someone whom not even the Republican spokespersons being interviewed on television know. Not only that, but she appears not to have any experience in foreign policy at all. So basically what that means is that if McCain dies, the next president is going to be someone who doesn't have any foreign policy experience. And isn't the issue of foreign policy supposed to be one of McCain's strengths?

So that really doesn't make sense, because McCain just crippled his own campaign: now he won't be able to attack Obama on experience.

Theory Number 1. The theory that many anchors are toying with is that maybe McCain chose Palin because she's a woman, so this is their ploy to win the support of female Hillary supporters.

Now to be quite honest, as a woman, I find that analysis a little insulting. If I were a Hillary supporter, I would support her primarily because she believes in the same things I do and only secondarily because she's a woman.

So do these analysts (or, for that matter, John McCain) think that women are so mababaw that they will vote for Palin just because she's a woman, even if she believes in things completely different from what I believe in?


Hahaha, in fact if you do want to make mababaw generalizations about the way women vote, then you should bear in mind the generalization that women are much likelier to be cattier about one another than men, so choosing a woman just to get the support of female supporters ... that could actually backfire.

Theory Number 2. Another theory that the commentators are playing with is the notion that McCain chose her to get stronger support from the more extreme right. Apparently, Palin is more conservative than McCain.

But that doesn't make sense either. Instead of trying to attract voters who are most likely going to vote you anyway, shouldn't you be trying to attract the center, the independents, and the right-leaning Democrats?

So weird.


I dunno ... maybe McCain just has a crush on her. :) (Kidding.)

The only other possibility I can think of is that McCain really thinks he's going to lose and he's desperately trying anything to throw a monkey wrench into the Democrats' momentum.


Update: Rumors are she's a creationist. Uh.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Last lecture.

Randy Pausch died this week. :(

That's really sad. I got all teary-eyed the first time I watched his lecture on Youtube. What an amazing spirit.

ABC's report is here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Books, books, books

My husband and I have had a carpenter over these past several days to help us build new shelving and storage units. But no matter how many new shelves we've had built, it seems like we still can't solve our top problem: WHERE TO PUT ALL OUR BOOKS?

I'm startled that I can't find any articles on the web on academicians and their book storage problems, because I know from conversations with my colleagues that it's a problem many of us have.

One of my older colleagues married a fellow-academic, and every hallway of their house is lined with bookshelves. Yet their living room still has stacks of books that seem not to be able to find a home.

Another colleague married a lawyer. He recently bought some new shelves for his house. When I visited his house, however, the number of books on his new shelves was so high that the shelves were sagging in the middle.

I didn't marry an academic, but I married a bookworm who buys books more frequently than I do. And we simply can't seem to find the space to put all our books!

We've resorted to the terrible two-rows-of-books "solution" on most of our bookshelves. We have books under the bed and in cabinets ... but we still have books stacked on our desks and night tables! I've brought as many books as I can to my office cubicle, but I have exactly the same problem at the office as well: the shelf on my carrel has already fallen a few times because of the weight of books, and I already have books in boxes under my desk. Every year, I go through my books to see what I can give away, but it isn't easy--reading books is how I make a living and unlike books-for-leisure which you can read often read once and toss, most of my academic books are ones I need to keep as reference for current and future projects.

If any academicians or bookworms out there have thought of solutions to their book storage problems, please share them with us. Meanwhile, Mike and I seriously thinking of getting an Amazon Kindle to make some kind of a dent on our book storage problems.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Should philosophers be politically active?

I've been thinking about this question in response to a comment from a colleague of mine (who works in the School of Social Sciences) that philosophy, the way it is done in the Philippines, doesn't seem to be sufficiently "applied."

Here's an excerpt from one of my two responses to him:


I was thinking about how to express better what I said about philosophers feeling that philosophy isn't necessarily an "applied" area of the humanities, because I don't think I expressed it very well. So I'm going to try again, and I apologize in advance if this is a little long ....

I suppose it's something like this. A good economist (I think) presumes that economic development is good, and looks for an economic theory that will best lead to economic development. A good political scientist (I'm presuming) already has certain presumptions about his vision of what effective politics is, and looks for the political theory that will best actualize that vision. A good catechist presumes certain doctrines about God and faith, and looks for the best theological framework to explain those ideas to catechumens in a way that the catechumens can apply those ideas to life.

Many philosophers believe, however, that if a philosopher wants to do philosophy, he has to be "free" enough to be able to question the very notion of "economic development" (not just what it is, but even whether it's actually desirable) or "effective politics" or the presumptions about God and faith.

If he espouses the "application" of only one particular economic or political theory, then that binds him to that theory and stifles the philosophical freedom to question the very premises of economics/politics. As a colleague of mine said, once "application" becomes the "end-goal," you're no longer doing philosophy, but ideology or indoctrination (which is okay if you're, say, a catechism teacher or a political activist, but that isn't philosophy).

(Actually, sometimes I get uncomfortable with the way political debates are handled in school, because I do feel that sometimes they tend to be of the "indoctrinating" type rather than the dialogical type ... but maybe that reflects a failure of us philosophers more than anything else [something I'll talk about again later on].)

This doesn't mean that the philosopher believes his philosophies shouldn't be applied; rather, that the application of philosophies is not necessarily the task of the philosopher himself. The philosopher's job in society is to think about ideas that other people take for granted as "truth" and question/challenge the premises of those ideas, while it's the task of other people to "apply" the theories that they individually choose to subscribe to. Many philosophers feel, however, that the good philosopher himself should never "subscribe" with finality or permanence to any one philosophy because the premise of philosophy as an activity is that the philosopher never has the final answer; he/she always has to be willing to question the ideas he (or others) have previously held.

This also doesn't mean that philosophy has nothing to do with real problems. I agree with you whole-heartedly that philosophy shouldn't just be about dropping names of dead white men (or women), and I strongly believe that any philosopher worthy of the name is motivated by *true* questions (i.e., questions about concrete reality, or tungkol sa talagang nagmemeron, as Fr. Ferriols would say).

That having been said, I personally do think it's wonderful and admirable and important when philosophy-trained people go out and do find practical "applications" for the philosophies they've chosen to espouse for the time being ... however, I also tend to agree that those activities aren't part of philosophy anymore and aren't necessarily intrinsic to the philosophical activity.

The only "application" (if you can call it such) that I do think is an intrinsic part of philosophy is the activity of dialog: I think every philosopher has the responsibility to promote dialog and questioning, and to encourage all people (especially the people whose "jobs" are more "active" than contemplative) to stop every now and then and be willing to critically question their ultimate presumptions.

Through Google, I found this link (PDF) to a document written, coincidentally, by a philosopher who has come to our school a few times to give talks, Fr. Patrick Riordan.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Okay, so the ZTE-NBN thing is sickening.

But having Erap, a convicted plunderer, make a speech about truth and accountability at an anti-corruption rally?

I'm sorry, but you've got to be joking.

And to people who are willing to be bedfellows with Erap; be careful -- it sends the message that it's more important to be anti-GMA than it is to be pro-honesty.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


This whole ZTE-NBN is sickening.

Will this be the issue that finally brings this administration down?