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.

Racism is unscientific

fusionanomaly.net
Evolution can be used either to support or refute racism. In a more apparent way, we see how natural selection eliminates those members of a species with certain traits, some of which constitute racial classification. 

On the other hand, contemplating the variety of genes within a species makes the concept of race virtually meaningless. 'Race' is of no use in determining abilities and actions of those whom we would once describe of mixed breed. In fact, the very possibility of offspring between a man and woman of different racial characteristics should lead us to question to what extent these labels are helpful at all. 

If we are to accept the implications of evolution, we would admit that typical representations of certain races from 1,000 years ago, or even 100, are obsolete, in their being of different genetic makeup, no matter any remaining surface similarity.

'Race' is a mere tool for communication, and inadequate in a study of individual actions which make for a science.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

10 things I love about being Filipino

A just-finished halo-halo. Mmmm, halo-halo.
In the spirit of freedom, I thought to write about something you might not think I was happy about: my being Filipino. I love being Filipino. The ideas in my head right now that define my self-conception are a result of my being in this archipelago. So I love it. Here are 10 specific joys:

1.       Chicharon, sisig, bibingka, bilo-bilo picked out of ginataan, sweetened kamote chips, maja blanca, butter dropped on hot puto, etchetera.
2.       Basketball obsession – The US has hoops, baseball and football. The Philippines has basketball alone, and is a basketball capital of sorts, and it’s a craze that has affected me, for which I’m glad. Shooting free throws is in my top 10 favorite things to do.
3.       Being bilingual – Being able to speak the most ‘official’ language in the world, and a rather obscure one spoken by 0.5% of the world, is a beautiful thing. Studies have been made, I believe, indicating the positive mental effects of speaking more than one language. And my bilinguality must have spurred me somehow in my as-yet poor efforts to learn other languages.
4.       Melting pot of cultural influences
5.       The Philippines’ relative poverty to the rest of the world, and of some of my cityfolk to me, has taught me to be grateful for whatever material things I have.
6.       The culture of faith – Granted there is a lot of superstition out there, but the idea of “What if?” is so ingrained, challenging us to question the apparent.
7.       The wonderful Original Pilipino Music I would have never discovered almost anywhere else – I love Wolfgang. I think the Apo Hiking Society released some really good and distinctly happy songs. My guilty pleasure is Jessa Zaragoza.
8.       Most people are understanding to the point of discarding official decree – There are some aspects of the law that are unfair as viewed from a wiser, more civilized age, and this is understood even by representatives of the state. Sure, bribery is a problem (actually, more a symptom of one), but only because there shouldn’t be that many acts deemed illegal anyway.
9.       Pugad Baboy – Some of my most enjoyable moments of laughter as a young kid (as opposed to being an old kid today) were from reading Pol Medina’s comic strip in the Inquirer. The summer of 1992 was all about Polgas and co.'s trip to 2078. I learned somewhat the concept of inflation from the two-million peso shoes in the future. 
10.   I have plenty of Filipino friends!

Kay sarap maging Pilipino!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Donald Sterling controversy, good and bad (mostly bad)

The Donald Sterling controversy appears to show us the power of public opinion in influencing what is normally seen as an untouchable elite in the corporate world. After a phone recording where Sterling, owner of the NBA’s LA Clippers, allegedly berated his girlfriend for being seen in the company of black people (Magic Johnson for one) was made public, Sterling was banned from NBA activities by Commissioner Adam Silver, but the worst consequence he has to face may be ostracism even outside of the NBA community.

On the surface, we see how a rich, powerful figure can be successfully opposed by a critical mass in a nonviolent manner, if not without resentment. But we also have to ask, how much of this was orchestrated for some reasons we don’t know yet? Not to justify the things Sterling said, but why was he singled out? Why now? He’s not the only person, rich or poor, to say offensive things about certain races or creeds. And saying bad things is considerably less harmful than much of what is done.


Still free speech

The things Sterling said in a private context are hardly as offensive as other racist things said by many, and pale in comparison to the harm caused by fraud and theft, which often goes ignored (the state for example). And as repulsive as Sterling’s remarks may be, he has a right to say them. As civilization advances, ignorant and prejudiced opinions become more harmful to the person who expresses them. The capacity to induce violence depends not on such remarks themselves, but the quality of thought of the people who hear them.


Who is Sterling worried about?

And if we study what Sterling is saying exactly, we find him not saying directly that black people are this negative thing or that negative thing. He is expressing his concern about the impression that association with them gives. So the question now is, whom is he worried about leaving a bad impression? Is it just one person? A large segment of the population? Everyone? It is in this notion, of seeking approval from a real or imagined entity that sees the world through the limited lens of ethnicity, that may help us understand society a little better.


Beyond Sterling


Sterling himself is just one person whose prejudices circumstance had led to their being exposed. He did not create racism, nor is he one of only a few racists. And given the widespread myopia of demonizing such a limited aspect of society, racism and all related stupidities are unlikely to fade as part of the intellectual climate anytime soon.