Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On sucker-slapping suspected drug pushers

Taken from ipushmoyan.com
Slapping a member of a gang involved in murder is hardly the worst thing an honorable statesman can do.

But you have got to laugh at the way a significant number are cheering our former matinee idol on, as though a publicity stunt in front of cameras and beside the suspect held in his car wasn’t so obvious, as though he was not deliberately trying to project himself as the tough guy envisioned of a major national politician.

More importantly, many neglect the real problem: prohibition, which shifts control of potentially beneficial chemicals to the more violent elements in society, endangering families and shifting focus away from health concerns, not to mention serves as rationale for continued state expansion and a larger incarcerated population. Expanding black markets goes along with an expanded state. Sadly, the US’ prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s is a lesson heeded only half the time.

If our slapper were really serious about wanting positive social reform, he would not put at risk a criminal case against gang members by having called to question the dueness of process. Also neglected is the implicit precedent set to abuse and coerce those not yet proven to be guilty of a crime. 

Bloodlust accomplishes nothing. Do we merely want to vent our vengeful tendencies, or do we want to understand?

The mayor’s act is a gamble that the majority is as base as he hopes they are.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Why the QC half-rice ordinance is bad

Doesn’t it make sense to offer a half-cup serving of rice in restaurants, as Quezon City has recently ordained? I mean, they did point out how much rice is wasted when an entire cup is not consumed. Isn’t this a failure of the market to avoid excesses, for which the government justly steps in?

You would think that a demand for half servings would be enough for restaurants to offer half-rices of their own initiative. This hasn’t been a widespread practice, so I can’t really fault politicians, listening to the consuming public, and being as ignorant and vote-hungry as they are, for stepping in.

And it’s not like people will be deprived of the choice to eat a whole cup of rice, right? So it’s a win-win for consumers, the restaurants who profit from the demanded half-rices, and the numerous poor who’ll have more to eat! Or so we hope.

Beyond the knee jerk

Rice in restaurants is priced the way it is, already factoring in the wastage. It may seem unfortunate that x amount of rice is not eaten, which may lead to the conclusion that x amount could have been eaten by someone else.

But in fact, there wouldn’t be this x amount to be wasted at all were it not for producers meeting the existing demand for whole-cup servings (the non-halving of which to be honest is doubtfully a large part of the supposed P8 billion wasted). In the absence of more half-cup options in the market, legislation artificially creates lesser demand, which, unbeknownst to most, will in the long run reduce the supply produced. z supply becomes z y. To create less supply is actually more wasteful than creating more supply that isn’t all eaten. And less supply also means more expensive.

Import restrictions – The real enemy

If Quezon City Hall were really concerned about food wastage, and missed opportunities to feed the poor, they should oppose existing rice importation limitations that keep rice prices higher than they otherwise would be. This also makes rice less accessible/affordable to the poor.

But really, what is done with food that is uneaten, and why don’t more restaurants recycle this for charity (as far as we know)? Perhaps there are bureaucratic health restrictions. Perhaps restaurants are worried of getting a bad reputation of the food they serve. Whatever the reason, greater public awareness of what is done with uneaten food can spur those in the food industry to make better use of leftovers. For now, the tendency is to leave it to bureaucratic bozos to act enlightened.

Just because something sounds good (e.g. less rice wastage, less cracked heads due to motorcycle helmet laws, more housing through easy loans, etc.), it does not follow that legislation is the way to get it done. Prudence is something demanded and thus reflected in market prices, for which manipulation via the state does not make for a more prudent population, or greater resources.

Addendum

The boring, but ultimately more compelling reason to oppose ‘anti-wastage’ legislation is this.

The varying price for a cup of rice in restaurants is the basis for all other prices of goods used to make the rice. When businesses are forced to provide something where considerations are not factored in via direct consumer decisions (i.e. not through lobbying for legislation), there will be a change of prices, of the consumer good and of the capital goods that made it, in a way that is less coordinated with what people actually want.

When the price mechanism, which is really an information system, is tampered with, you also make market participants less knowledgable, for which we can expect misallocations of resources, leading to reduced supply and higher prices. What a waste.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why dictatorships (and other threats of force) are never the answer to achieve social reform

Increasing accountability is a matter not of shifting behaviors per se, but shifting mentalities. It’s only with a critical mass of people who understand private property in some aspect that social reform happens. Legislative prohibition, or the use of fear to promote or discourage certain actions, merely changes the manner in which mentalities manifest (e.g. prohibiting alcohol empowers mobs, prohibiting certain types of speech empowers those who benefit from a na├»ve society, etc.).

But there is the argument that people won't change for the better unless it gets written and passed into quote-unquote law for them to do so, through certain actions and restrictions. And to think people would just change of their free will is plain stupid.

But history is an attestation of human beings becoming freer and better off materially and spiritually, thanks to continuously accumulating material and mental capital, and this is most often in spite of the state and whoever happens to be running it at the time. 

What’s more likely, for people to change their concept of private property and freedom, or for the majority of people to live in fear sustainably? No empire in history has lasted. People somehow wise up long enough to get free of even the most brutal dictators. The lack of a stateless society doesn’t point to unlikelihood of its future, it only tells of what is past. And over time, the trend has been towards an increase of freedoms, a decrease in privilege by force.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

NBA vs. Gilas fail: Beyond the booing

Why do NBA superstars, in this day and age, seem to have so little power, that they couldn’t even play an exhibition game in the so-called third world?

It reminds me of pre-WWII Hollywood, where the bosses of MGM and Warner Brothers had a tight hold on stars like Clark Gable and Bette Davis, who had to sign contracts that limited their ability to choose their films. It was only slowly that the talents obtained independence so that today, actors are not limited to doing films for one studio or another (nor do they have to sleep with some big executive such as Jack Woltz in ‘The godfather’).

Monopoly

The NBA today, even more than the golden era of Hollywood, is a monopoly, partly to meet popular demand for the best to compete against the best, but also because of the subsidies it is granted by the cities with NBA teams. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars paid by people, many of who couldn’t give a crap about basketball. Nor of baseball. Nor of football. The leagues of which are also financed similarly.

Excuses

It is no wonder then that they have such control over even the most renegade of players. Sure, the league will have its reasons for their use of powers of sanction. They don’t want to dilute the players’ images with non-NBA performances. They don’t want the risk of injury (as if players could not assess the risks themselves). Perhaps pickup games in a player’s neighborhood would be banned if this were possible.

They can want all they want, but this shouldn’t mean having authoritarian control. Which is a natural consequence of nonmarket protections via the state.

It’s not just a PLDT problem

So yeah, it was foolish of the PLDT people (who incidentally are part of an anti-SME crony empire as well, in case you were wondering why your internet connection blows) to make promises they couldn’t keep. They’re paying the price for such dishonesty bigtime, and not just from refunds. 

But outrage shouldn’t be so one-sided; it should not be taken for granted that a sports league could say yes or no to every professional decision made by their laborers.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sports is trivialized tribalism (World Cup 2014)

Look at the anguish on their faces.
Similar to Brazilians watching
Germany (for lack of a better name for a team)
beat the shit out of Brazil (ditto).
Sports is tribalism, trivialized.

When humans’ acquisition of resources was uncertain, and chances for survival were improved by violent domination of others, such actions could be said to have been ‘socially’ acceptable.

But what could be considered of ‘society’ back then? Society, least of all on a global scale, was basically non-existent, so talk of what is right, morals, rights, etc. was pointless really.

With the rise of trade/civilization, a return to such savagery meant thwarting the mechanisms by which society came to be. It was now the market, and no longer threats and harm, that allowed people to satisfy their wants, however base or spiritual such wants may be judged by so-called improvers of mankind.

People’s value judgments evolved along with, and are tied to, humanity’s quest for power. As this quest goes on through the generations, the ‘irrational,’ primitive impulses of kinship and tribalism that kept our ancestors alive are being more and more relegated to games, and humor too. A sense of belonging or connection with other perceivers of worlds is now a matter of ideas, not blood.

When I watch the 2014 World Cup, there’s much that is appalling, such as the presence of state officials and ambassadors, or FIFA’s cronyism, as well as the uptight rabidity of fans on the basis of culture or political boundaries. But there is also a recognition, somewhere, of it being ‘just a game,’ by which people like you and I cheer for the team of our known-to-be-biased preference.

Friday, July 11, 2014

What subjectivity has meant to me

Subjectivity is not only an economic concept to explain an exchange of products. Recognizing the subjectivity of our minds allows us to be emotionally dependent. You recognize your perspective as valid owing to your intuiting makeup, which itself is not of physical origin, just the conveyor of such physical forms.

All we have are physically-oriented metaphors to understand, but they are metaphors no less.

In the face of habitual mechanisms for dealing with one’s environment, one has the element of control, a sense of power in not being a slave to the apparent, the materialistically reduced.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Top 10 best albums ever

Here are 10 albums that I believe will be highly regarded in future, more civilized, ages.

1.       Images & words (Dream Theater) – Untouchably the greatest album of the 1990s. Start to finish a masterpiece. This one is a pleasure to discover.
2.       V: The new mythology suite (Symphony X) – With an album title as pretentious as that, you have to deliver! One of the most fantastically visual musical works. The only real competition of ‘Images & words’ for greatest album ever.
3.       Worldwide (Everything But The Girl) – The songwriting and performing chemistry of Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn is a miracle in this ‘adult’ subgenre of pop. They have at least two more truly great albums, and the five-year period of 1988 to 1992 has given us some of the best cover songs and originals. This 1991 album has at least six classic tracks, including my personal favorite since 2008, ‘Boxing and pop music,’ which pretty much concludes this album.
4.       Surfing with the alien (Joe Satriani) – This started it all for me, guitar-oriented-music-wise. My appreciation of it now is much deeper than back in the wondrous summer of 1990, when I learned the joy of vinyl. Some of the greatest solos by Satch are found here, including ‘Crushing day’ and ‘Echo.’ And ‘Midnight’ is so nostalgic to me, I can almost smell the film of the old cassette tape my dad first bought.
5.       Blaze of glory (Jon Bon Jovi) – What a consistently brilliant album. What can I say but it’s just great Springsteen-inspired rock n’ roll with JEFF BECK on guitar. Better than any Bon Jovi album fo sho.
6.       Slave to the grind (Skid Row) – ‘Wasted time’ stands out as one of the most complex-harmonied rock radio hits of the 1990s. Love the lyrics throughout the album. Nothing else from Rachel Bolan and co. matched this 1991 effort.
7.       Scenes (Marty Friedman) – Some of the most beautiful guitar passages you will ever hear in life. When it comes to eliciting a sense of the beautiful absurd, no one beats Marty Friedman. He applies this style for Oriental-sounding tunes, primarily using clean tones.
8.       Youthanasia (Megadeth) – If you like guitar crunch, this album has the best sounding crunch ever. Currently the last Megadeth-Max Norman collaboration. Immortal mid-tempo tunes from the most inspired era of the band.
9.       LOVEppears (Ayumi Hamasaki) – Many Japanese musicians, apparently, like making English lyrics and titles without knowing quite how to use the words. Apart from that, this Ayumi Hamasaki album has some of the best techno-oriented pop ever. The production is perfect, the songwriting is otherworldly, and it’s wonderful how the producers must have had such a wide choice of songs so as to pick only the best. Off the top of my head, I count eight unbelievably brilliant songs from this album.
10.   The stranger (Billy Joel) – Billy Joel is the songwriter with just about the greatest versatility. He outdid Elton John being a ‘piano man,’ and certainly had more voice types to use than Stevie Wonder ever did. The greatest moment of this album must be the saxophone solo in the Brenda and Eddie segment of ‘Scenes from an Italian restaurant.’ The best song in my opinion is ‘Get it right the first time.’ The worst song of the album, ‘She’s only a woman to me,’ is one of the biggest songs of that decade.

Monday, July 7, 2014

10 best overplayed songs

I also really like Air Supply’s ‘Goodbye.’
You know, those songs that sicken you from being on the radio and in the mall all the time, or sung by your younger-generation relatives.

(Oh don’t worry. ‘Let it go’ doesn’t make it to this list.)

Here are my 10 most underappreciated overplayed songs:

1.       Sweet child o’mine – Great solo/s, and even ignoring the notoriously hilarious opening lead guitar by a Slash in his mid-twenties, it has a great verse that works really well with the chorus. And the ending takes it somewhere unexpected, and it is uncommon for popular radio songs to have such arrangements.
2.       Creep – I remember it was 20 years ago that then-RPN-9’s noontime show, which launched the careers of Michelle Aldana and Arnel Ignacio, and brought back Hajji Alejandro and Rico J. Puno from their graves (and this was score years ago! One fourth of the time between the great Declaration of Independence and the not-that-great Abraham Lincoln), damn this is a long run-on sentence, I’ll end it now. So ‘Chibugan na’ had this battle of the bands where the bands played a rendition of Radiohead’s ‘Creep.’ That was the low point of this otherwise brilliantly simple song. If you just listen to it without remembering its past, it’s a decent groove.
3.       Call me maybe – I’m surprised myself by this choice of mine, made a minute ago. I always hated this song, since first hearing it in 2012 in Megamall. Then I heard one of those typical acoustic Pinoy groups covering it. The singer was great, I forget her name at the moment. It’s surprisingly likeable. [This just in: Stephanie Dan]
4.       What a wonderful world – Whether it’s with ironic footage in a film, or heard with Kenny G. dubbing himself into the mix, or its plain version in an old CD, this song is still heard around. I myself didn’t come to love it till this past year. It’s so happy with everything, even death!
5.       The way you look tonight – Everybody has covered this song, usually not very well. But idea-wise it’s just perfect as it is, really.
6.       Beethoven’s fifth symphony – The ears of this generation, and at least two or three before it, find the opening of the symphony ironic, spoiling any chances for passionate appreciation. It’s just been played to death. But apart from this one passage in this one movement, are many other great passages in the other movements.
7.       Also sprach Zarathustra – I used to resent Kubrick for using it in his holy ‘2001: A space odyssey,’ but really, the first half of Richard Strauss’ masterpiece is comparable to the best of Wagner and Mahler. There is this one movement which makes its way to the Harold & Kumar and Smoochie movies. A minute long. But the next seven minutes of it are just several levels higher in inspiration. The key changes are so sweet, and somewhat tug at you.
8.       Macarena – Just checking to see if you’re still paying attention.
8. All this time – This Tiffany song is the one you’re most likely to hear when you switch to 96.3 WROCK. It is the ultimate ‘That was the 1980s!’ song. Ton of melody. Excellent solo. Good memories.
9. Cross my heart – People by now are numb to this song. You hear it, but once it passes, you don’t know what it was. It’s that ubiquitous. Luckily I didn’t care for it, or Everything But the Girl, until about six years ago. And it was my blessed luck to find out they had way better stuff never once on the radio or any compilation. EBTG’s album ‘Worldwide’ is one of my 10 favorite albums of all time. Its second half is the most amazingly (randomly?) arranged half-tracklist (TAFKA Side B) in the history of recorded music. The songs are THAT good, even though it may take some time to comprehend. I’m telling you, find it somewhere!!!
10. Imagine – I wasn’t sure if I could include this, because it’s so rightfully considered as one of John Lennon’s best. But if you’re like me, you’ve only been half-listening to it in the past decade or so. This is genius at its simplest.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fraternities are mini-governments, and other great thoughts

Fraternities are college-related; 
this is a good excuse 
for a Community photo.
Question: There is a certain institution. Leaders are venerated, their sovereignty unquestioned. Authority is respected. True devotion is part of its idyllic image.

a.       The state.
b.      Fraternities.
c.       All of the above.

The answer is c of course.

If one sees the wrong of frat leaders inflicting violence on their supposedly willful subjects, one ought to transfer these variables to observe an equal in the acts of the state.

People are brainwashed from birth to see the state as legitimate. Similarly, in high school and college, the idea of being in a fraternity is, to some impressionable people, badass.

***

It does not follow that the death of a frat initiate means that frats are bad, are wrong.

Having many corrupt government officials does not mean government itself is wrong (there are way better reasons for saying so). Having (a relatively small percentage of) hazing resulting in death does not mean hazing itself is wrong (It can be done tastefully, such as initiates being required to write poetry and recite it in Greek wear, or something not lame).

***

Frats can be a great way for students to interact. People who want to host events can reach them and this ultimately makes for a stronger school spirit (whatever that is worth). Frats and sororities can set up whatever parties easily. A fraternity can be a great study tool (e.g. getting the best notes, daily study tidbits, etc.), and the friendships made from it make for great networking opportunities post-graduation. And so on.


Banning fraternities for acts that were committed by coercion-oriented individuals is throwing out the proverbial baby.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

If something is bad, should it be prohibited?

Calling something bad as a reason for prohibition has the same logic as calling people ‘bad’ because you have bad relationships with the people you know. 

No matter how much ‘evidence’ you have of lousy people in your life, a judgment against them reveals more about your lifestyle and attitudes than the people themselves.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The feeling of “Oh no, I shouldn’t have bought this album” is slowly dying out of existence.

This is one of the CDs I least regret buying. 
In broad strokes, it is Symphony X's proclamation 

of faith in the power of progress.
On my Facebook, I posted the title of this entry. There was a comment asking why, and I answered. Here’s what I would want to say if it were a more proper forum than a dumbed-down facebook comments section. The ones who sound smart in their comments are not thinking that everyone will see it as narcissistic, attention-whoring.

But this is my blog for me so I can say what I want.

Why do people regret their music purchases less now?

There is both less buying and less time given to albums themselves.

So buying by singles is less regretful.


Quality of music has gone up, arguably. Production at least is getting better. I mean, nothing has quite competed with Roy Orbison since his time, songwriting-wise. But quality is still high (e.g. Symphony X), if not better.

Moreover, the structure of the industry is no longer as dictated by centralized big entities like capitol or mercury, which as connected to the film industry as well makes for an unrivaled-in-history propaganda machine. 

People are becoming more independent-minded, having more choices than before, people are more open to the unknown. So music has to get better, more ingrained, more habitual, more natural, because of such interactions.

Indies have as fair a shot of megadownloads. So their profitability allows recorders (executives may not exist other than the artist) to be more discerning and not dismissive either because or not because of a rejection of primitive manners of appreciation (e.g. Pang-masa lang ‘yan! or Eto ang pang-masa!).

More niches make for mutually empowering competition, which is how free, huge society experiences cooperation.

Decentralization such as the internet also means cheaper means of production, where companies give free samples without hurting, and so there are reduced barriers to appreciation of a product and their producer.

So consumers are empowered, knowing exactly what they’re going to buy, yet buying still. Who would’ve thought you can profit in such an accumulative (e.g. ‘me-me’ mentality) intellectual climate?


Summary: Consumers are less likely to feel ripped off.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

With peace comes technology

So I thought to myself just now. Technology gets a bad rap, as exemplified by sci-fi TV like 'The twilight zone' and 'The outer limits.' The fear of the unknown surfaces in the popular media.

Yes technology can be dangerous, but less so when you allow others to experiment on their own, aware of their self-interest to get along with you.

That's the beauty of understanding the implications of peace. There can be no institutions defined and built on threatening violence. 

Markets are a celebration of technology, the denial of free actions a regression into mere bodies.