Saturday, July 29, 2006

Life and death

The mere mention of "Russia" has lately been conjuring images of a society with no babies in sight, with a people that will soon be wiped out from the face of the earth. In my mind at least.

A post a couple of months ago showed just how the falling birthrate and the population decline in general are influencing President Vladimir Putin's priorities in formulating programs for his country. Russian women, however, are not exactly brimming with excitement over prospects of motherhood despite the proposed childcare benefits.

Now initiatives have produced a project that is gaining ground in the city of Balashikha, a city near Moscow, and is renewing Russia's maternity-care system through its test-pilot maternity hospital. The project's success has encouraged Russian authorities "to establish a new health-care district, extending the project to serve the 700,000 people in the area surrounding Balashikha. The pro-life model developed at the Balashikha hospital will be implemented in three other health district hospitals," states a LifeSite news article.

It sure looks like life is slowly coming back to Mother Russia.

Read Russia's first pro-life maternity ward a stunning success: Three more in the works
By Peter J. Smith

* * * * * * * * * *

As life is being nurtured in some parts of the world, death seems to be the favored option even of those whose vocation is supposedly to save and protect life. Pamela Winnick is a writer at the Wall Street Journal and the following is an excerpt from her experience with "fending off a series of doctors and nurses who all insisted that it was the family's duty to let her father die."

"Your husband wants to die," an internist told Pamela Winnick's mother soon after he was taken into the hospital. After she responded that he was incapable of talking, the internist who the family dubbed "Dr. Death" said, "He motioned with his hands when we tried to put in the feeding tube." "Not exactly informed consent," Winnick retorted.

˜'Dr. Death' was just one of several," explains Winnick. "A new resident appeared the next day, this one a bit more diplomatic but again urging us to allow my father to 'die with dignity.' And the next day came yet another, who opened with the words, "'We're getting mixed messages from your family,' before I shut him up."

Her father, says Winnick, was by no means in a state that merited or necessitated pulling the plug. He was "heading ineluctably toward death. Though unconscious, his brain, as far as anyone could tell, had not been touched by either the cancer or the blood clot. He was not in a "persistent vegetative state" (itself a phrase subject to broad interpretation), that magic point at which family members are required to pull the plug--or risk the accusation that they are right-wing Christians."

Then there were "a series of miracles." Within a week of being brought into the ICU, her father had regained enough strength to be removed from the Unit. Soon therafter he was off the respirator, and before long they found him "sitting upright in a chair, reading the New York Times."

"On Father's Day, we packed my father's hospital room: his wife, daughters, grandchildren, each of us regaling him with our successes large and small," she wrote. "'Life's not so bad, after all,' the atheist said. I wanted to go back to ICU, find Dr. Death, drag her to my father's room and say: 'This is the life you wanted to end.'"

Read Doctors kept asking to 'let' my father die: Wall Street journalist
By Terry Vanderheyden

Reinforcing the 'idiot box' moniker

“If you can get their emotions going, make them forget their logic, you’ve got them. At MTV, we don’t shoot for the 14-year-olds, we own them.” –Bob Pittman, creator of MTV.

Hmmmmm, is that so? Well, young people who use their intellect disagree.

Read more at Generations for Life

From Stand True --

For years MTV has believed that they own this generation and have fed them complete garbage. MTV tries to portray themselves as hip and cutting edge, but they are nothing more than smut peddlers, and their target audience is the youth of America. It is honestly shocking to me that the feminist movement is not outraged by what is spewing out of the screen on MTV. I don't think there is another network that glorifies the objectification of women mor

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Goodness gracious cute balls of fur!

From Cute Overload

Warping a whole generation's value system

Now that I think about it, this is the first time I'm reading a newspaper article regarding the issue of the sex education modules of the Philippine Dept. of Education that doesn't have a pro-reproductive health stance. To be sure, Pro-Life Philippines is not against sex education; in fact, educating young people on human sexuality is a must. But it's an education in life and love, transmitted with sound values and taking into careful consideration each young person's character, age and level of maturity. As I mentioned in a previous post, the kind of sex education that the government is out to promote and implement in all public and private elementary and high schools is not anchored on such a foundation at all.

What great news it is that The Varsitarian, the offical student publication of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST), has decided to devote much attention to this matter! The following is an article from the July 15 issue, p. 7 (by the way, the same issue contains an extensive coverage of pro- and anti-life legislation, even presenting in tabular form the different relevant bills in both the Upper and Lower House) --

'Sex modules can't be put to bed'

The release of sex education modules by the Department of Education (DepEd) has drawn a number of critics, including a UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery professor who blew the whistle on the modules' "disturbing" contents.

Cardiologist and Bioethics professor Dr. Angelita Aguirre said that the modules, Lesson Guides on Adolescent Reproductive Health: A Population Education Concept, condone sex activity among the youth.

"Instead of promoting abstinence from sex, the modules encourage oral and anal sex and the use of artificial birth control methods, including condoms that are hardly 100 per cent effective," Aguirre told the Varsitarian.

Aguirre, also the chairman of Makati Medical Center's Committee on Bioethics, noted pages 54 to 57 of the modules that say "sexual experimentation is normal among the youth, thereby requiring experiences and skills in self-protection prior to sex."

Further, the modules suggest young teens to "exercise non-penetrative sexual practices like oral and anal sex, to have sex with only one partner, to avoid penetrative sex without protection, and to use the condom correctly."

The modules were prepared by foreign-contraceptive grant chasers like the TRIDEV Specialists Foundation, Inc., United Nations Population Fund, and David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

Sex tips for kids?
A volunteer of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, Aguirre wrote a letter to Acting DepEd Secretary Fe Hidalgo regarding the contents of the modules.

Aguirre said that the modules' language was inappropriate for high school students due to the explicit words used.

"The language used was not only explicit, it tells about sexual techniques," she said, pointing to the modules' integration with basic education subjects like Health, Social Studies, Technology and Livelihood Education, Science, English and Filipino.

Two other early versions of the modules have equally disturbing instructions. A sex education module under then DepEd Secretary Bro. Andrew Gonzales included lessons on how to properly wear condoms by using bananas, cucumbers or eggplants and other models of the male genital for demonstration.

Due to the controversies, DepEd has stopped the distribution and implementation of the modules in Manila public schools since June 19.

In an earlier statement, Hidalgo denied Aguirre's claims that the modules promote "value-free" sex, saying that the modules were intended to make students realize the consequences of engaging in premarital sex, thereby discouraging sexual activity outside marriage.

Hidalgo said she will meet with Aguirre and the CBCP. Aguirre believes that sex education initiatives must always consult family groups and the parents, who she said are the reproductive "guardians" of their children. - Nathaniel R. Melican

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

An explosive wedding

Here comes the bride -- in the bomb shelter

Ten months ago, Shlomi Buskila, 29, a native of Kiryat Shmona, was on his way to his nephew's wedding in the town when he stopped to speak to friends on a street corner. Maya Lugasi joined the group and took a look at Shlomi, and it was love at first sight.

They decided to get married. The wedding date was set for July 20 at the Tehila banquet hall and 800 guests were invited.

Then the war broke out.

The problem: Home Front Command instructions do not permit public gatherings in communities within range of Katyusha rockets. The solution: on Sunday, guests were informed of the new venue, the Matmid religious high school's bomb shelter.

Only a kilometer to the west of the school, just over the mountain ridge, is Lebanon. Throughout the day, the silence of a deserted Kiryat Shmona is pierced by deafening booms - usually the sound of Israeli artillery pieces, but sometimes the noise of incoming Katyushas exploding.

"This is the day we've been waiting for and I'm not going to let the terrorists destroy the happiest day of my life," said Shlomi. "We are getting married in the bomb shelter and later, when the situation calms down, we will reschedule the party." About 50 guests turned up, including 20 out-of-towners who decided to risk it.

Full story at Jerusalem Post

Hat tip: Modestly Yours

Getting better acquainted with the Mideast crisis

Background and updates concerning what's been happening in Israel and Lebanon are explained in Q&A form. For you who'd like to understand the issues more (some of the questions are "What was the genesis of this round of fighting?" "Why is Israel bombing Lebanon?" and "How is Hizbullah connected to Syria and Iran?") here's the short feature dated July 19 and provided by The Christian Science Monitor --

Q&A: Behind the Israel-Hizbullah crisis

The current crisis in the Middle East involves a constellation of players. Hizbullah is tied to Iran and Syria; the Lebanese militant group shares common cause with the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Israel is committed to protecting itself and wants to see its soldiers returned. The US wants Hizbullah disarmed and supports the Lebanese government, which is now facing a destabilizing barrage of Israeli bombs. The Monitor's Dan Murphy looks at all sides of the escalating conflict.

What was the genesis of this round of fighting?

Before dawn on June 25, an eight-man team of Palestinian militants tied to Hamas, the Islamist party that now controls the Palestinian Authority after a January electoral victory, entered Israel through a half-mile long tunnel under the border and attacked an Israeli Army post, killing two soldiers and capturing 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

The next day Hamas demanded the release of Palestinians from Israeli prisons in exchange for Corporal Shalit.

Read the rest here

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Archives of a different sort

Well, this is amusing. And since complaining seems to be my pastime the past few days, I'll go one step further and post this interesting bit that I got from The Christian Science Monitor --

Dear Mr. Mayor, Why hasn't ...

It's said that a New Yorker is never truly happy
unless he (or she) is griping about something. Such
as? Oh, you know: the noise, lax trash pickup,
burned-out streetlights, even how poorly the Knicks
have been playing, for example. In fact, so constant
has been the kvetching over the centuries that
conceptual artist Matthew Bakkom came up with the
idea for a "New York Museum of Complaint," which
would have its own newspaper. He gained access to
City Hall archives to see what citizens have sought
in the way of redress from the mayor's office. And
did he get an eyeful: 30,000 boxes of letters. In
1797, an early environmental activist was irate over
a glue factory that dumped its waste into a neighbor-
hood pond. Fast forward to 1935, when another writer
wanted Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to call off the cops
so burlesque dancers could bare more skin without
being arrested. Bakkom chose 31 letters that he decided
were representative - none of which indicated any
evidence of a response - and reproduced them in a
tabloid that he's handing out around town. "It just
seemed to me ... very vital, very original, and very
striking," he said. "Some are on the verge of paranoia.
Others are on the verge of genius."

Monday, July 24, 2006


Not exactly sunny news

I keep postponing writing about what's happening in my country in terms of pro-family and pro-life legislation. Why? Frankly, because it doesn't look good at all. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo just delivered the State of the Nation address this afternoon so both Houses are back in session -- and that means the bills (including those proposing reproductive health care, population control and everything along these lines) will be moving closer to being enacted into law if we don't act fast enough (and if we don't pray enough).

I've also been toying with the idea of writing something here about the latest sex education modules that the Dept. of Education has come up with and which has received tremendous criticism due to its gross emphasis on contraceptive use. The modules -- called Adolescent Reproductive Health or something like that (I'll supply the complete title as soon as I get my copy from the office -- okay here it is: LESSON GUIDES ON ADOLESCENT REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: A POPULATION EDUCATION CONCEPT) -- have this as their underlying motto: it's okay to have sex as long as you don't get pregnant and you don't get a disease. Riiiight, that's certainly the message we need to bombard our nation's 11- to 17-year-olds if they're to be equipped with life principles, if they're really to be the hope of the nation. Six subjects, six years -- can they think of anything else after that besides how to put a condom correctly? Probably the rudiments of proper Pill usage, dating, boyfriend blues, their "reproductive rights" which, according to their teacher, are a basic human right, how overpopulated the world is (yet another myth)...

This is turning out to be a cynical post (sorry). Alas, some news that don't exactly make for "look-at-the-bright-side" material. There's the new school curriculum in Spain that'll have kids learning that homosexuality is normal, and the approval of the Dutch political party that supports legalized pedophilia and child pornography. (Sigh.) Then in Bolivia, not only did a 10-year-old girl have to experience the trauma of rape; she got pregnant and then obtained an abortion with the backing of her parents, an NGO and feminist groups. Talk about double trauma.

Really, with all this news, I watched the last 20 minutes of the Miss Universe beauty pageant (which I chanced upon on TV this morning) with much relief and delight. Notwithstanding all the in-your-face silicone-enhanced exposure, watching the pretty finalists from Switzerland, Japan, USA, Puerto Rico and (my personal favorite) Paraguay sashay and hold hands in anticipation of the final outcome, proved to be a welcome respite. Oh, and Miss Philippines was adjudged Miss Photogenic.

I'll get around to reporting the updates on the sex education issue as well as on legislation sometime. Just not today.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Where the bombs are

Found these via GulfNews --

I left Lebanon because I have three kids. I left Lebanon because I do not want them to live through wars and civil wars and death and destruction. I left Lebanon because I do not want them to hate. I left Lebanon because I do not want them to become me. I left Lebanon because I have three kids whom I love more than country and flag.

I look at them today in London and they have a smile on their faces. Their cheeks are red and their lips are not yellow anymore. No more tears or fears.
Last night, they heard aircrafts flying overhead and they did not jump out of their beds into mine, crying and worried that they might die. And when I asked my eldest daughter who is eleven why did she fear the sound of aircrafts in Beirut and not in London, she said: "the ones in Beirut are out to kill".

Beirut Notes


I’m one of the unlucky ones. I left just as it was happening. I didn’t want to go. I had to go. I had to ensure that everything I’ve been working so hard to achieve didn’t go up in smoke. They had other plans for me. For us.

It was a normal morning. Downtown Beirut. My favorite hotel. Business as usual. Putting the finishing touches on my dream. I was scheduled to leave the next day, back to my home in exile. I was in a café overlooking the old city, the real Beirut. Having a meeting with a friend over a Turkish coffee and mille feuille when we all heard. I went numb almost immediately. I wear my emotions amongst friends.

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.

I told her that this is bigger than it looks. I know them, I kept telling her. I know them. Nasrallah has played the wrong card. Al Assad has played his trump card. I know them. I know them all too well.

I continued the day. Finished what I needed to. Yet I was distracted. I was making contingency plans for what was about to occur. What I didn’t realize was that Hell was already taking reservations. The grand opening was just around the corner.

The Perpetual Refugee

Monday, July 17, 2006

Listening to what matters

I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don't know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.

- Christopher Reeve

Baby love

That's Regan Gray and her 4-month-old son, Cameron, who was born with some deformities. Read the story of how family, friends, doctors and an entire community have been pulling together for the little one's sake.

Fragile fighter: Community pulls together to help infant
By Terri Greene
Montgomery Advertiser

What is 'normal'?

Is there really such a thing as a perfect child? Who among us can say that we were perfect children who gave our parents no headaches whatsoever, no trace of heartache? Can anyone say that he/she is dependent on no person in any way?

Judie Brown, president and co-founder of American Life League, dishes out food for thought in a commentary published at ProLifeBlogs. Excerpts:

A perfect child

By Judie Brown

A tragedy has unfolded in Pekin, Illinois, where a 3-year old girl was suffocated by a woman who put a plastic trash bag over the child's head. Dr. Karen McCarron, a certified pathologist, now sits in jail, facing charges of first-degree murder. That a respected medical professional is charged with such a crime is shocking enough; but you also need to know that the victim is her own daughter, and McCarron has confessed to the killing. It sounds surreal, but the numbing fact is that an innocent child's life has been brought to an end at the hands of the woman who bore her.

Katie was an autistic child; she had a number of problems that her parents had been dealing with during the years leading up to her untimely death. Like Katie, other children have been affected to varying degrees by autism and other problems. But in most cases, parents have accepted reality, learning how to best help their child and cope with the condition themselves. This can be a strain, no doubt. But a special needs child is also a blessing in many ways.

Growing up with a little brother who had Down syndrome taught me a lot about parental love, patience and acceptance of the unbelievable hardships that can occur when one of the family members is in need of so much care. But every moment of my brother's life was a gift; it is a great sadness to me even now, fifty years later, to recall his short life and the common cold that took him away from us. But my brother died a natural death.

In Katie McCarron's case, the media has gone out of its way to portray the conditions of living with a child with autism as so difficult that the overwhelming burden can cause someone to do what Katie's mother has reportedly confessed to. And while Valerie Brew Parish, a polio survivor, a mom and a grandmother has coined the term "disabledocide" to describe the act of killing people with disabilities; her most telling comment is this: "My daughter recently was asked what she would wish for. Her replies startled her friend, who chastised her by saying, your mom has paralyzed arms, your dad is blind and your son is autistic. Don't you wish they were normal?"

When a mother who has been accused of taking her daughter's life is described as a "fantastic mother," a "loving mother," but someone who lacked sufficient support from the community, there is something wrong. When individuals are quoted in the media as saying that raising a child with disabilities "could move any normal person to be a different person and consider things they never considered before," the impression is given that deadly acts against vulnerable people are understandable and even compassionate. It further begs the question: what is "normal" in today's self-absorbed culture?

Is it normal to murder a baby in the womb? Is it normal to warehouse sickly grandparents? Is it normal to become so frustrated with a loved one that taking his life is the only way out?

This is all part of the thinking that accompanies 33 years of decriminalized preborn child killing. There are more and more people these days who honestly believe they have a right to the perfect child and an equal right to reject those who are either burdensome or simply unacceptable. It's all about "me," rarely about "you." How sad our world has become. How terribly disordered is our thinking.

More at ProLifeBlogs

Friday, July 14, 2006

At home with being at home

From MercatorNet's Family Edge newsletter (July 6 issue):


British mothers are being offered tax credits and daycare places to help them hold down paid jobs but the majority do not like the policy, a survey among 1,736 mothers by First magazine shows. Six out of 10 thought the government "doesn't like traditional families" but favours single mothers and working parents. More than half also said they would send their child to a private school if they could afford it, and two-thirds thought grammar schools -- abolished in the 1970s -- were a good idea.

Among those surveyed, whose average age was 37, about a third worked full-time and a third part-time. Three-quarters of those working said they would reduce their working hours if they could, and nine out of 10 said that if a mother was married and wanted to stay at home, her tax allowance should be added to her husband's, allowing more women the option to be stay-at-home mothers.

They blamed the destruction of family life on "families not eating together" (72 per cent) mostly due to both parents having to work, "video games consoles" (46 per cent), "working mothers" (41 per cent), and "women becoming breadwinners" (23 per cent). The main reason mothers of young children returned to work was to meet basic needs (60 per cent). But with many outside influences, mothers said they were struggling to discipline their children - eight out of ten did not think their children were well disciplined either at home or school and a third admitted that their children swore at them.

The Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, admitted recently the government had probably erred in its approach. "If I look back over the last six years I do think that we have given the impression that we think all mothers should be out to work, preferably full-time as soon as their children are a few months old." ~ Telegraph, June 28

Celluloid families

I remember Bart as the googly-eyed boy who yelled "Eat my shorts!" at adults and advised his dad, Homer, to "chill out, homeboy." That was in the mid-'90s, I believe.

The Simpsons quickly became the poster family for everything wrong in modern American culture (rude kids, oafish fathers, a thumb in the eye of authority).

It's amazing how things change. Or maybe the more positive traits of The Simpsons were something I merely overlooked. Or maybe lumped together with the rest of what TV has to offer nowadays, this show comes out as positive viewing fare...

...the show is something of a paragon of conservative, traditional mores. Hard work is rewarded. Characters drift from church, but always come back (sometimes God makes a special guest appearance on the show to drag a character – usually Homer – back to Church). Marriages are tested, but in the end, Homer and Marge always stick together. Bart, for all his mischief, really loves his family. And Homer, for all of his simple-mindedness and naiveté, is a good father.

Read "Dopey and dysfunctional, but not depraved" at MercatorNet

A NeW alternative

After coming across NeW (Network of enlightened Women) for the first time via Modestly Yours, and then following a link to Concerned Women for America, I learned that this group in fact has been around for quite a while. What never ceases to amaze me (and inadvertently edify me) is news of people in the West who express views that go against the current in the prevalent hypersexualized and relativistic culture of theirs. Hence, hearing about this group of campus women certainly made my day =)

Saw on the group's website today that "A NeW Generation of Women," its first annual national conference, will be held today (July 14) on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. Let's hope for more enlightened women!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wash for Life!

Here's another fruit of the creativity of young pro-lifers in the United States! The Wash for Life is barely 2 months away -- please support it in any way you can!

Check out their blog and see what Jonathan Tonkowitch, Ingrid Mitchell and the other college students behind Wash for Life have been doing the past months in preparation for the Sept. 16 event...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cleaning up the grocery check-out lines

Campaign Works to Remove Sexually Explicit Magazines 7/6/2006
By Molly Hamrick

Check-out lines display them for children and adults.


Morality in Media (MIM) and the American Decency Association (ADA) are trying to do something about the sexually explicit magazines that line grocery-store check-out lines. They have renewed an endeavor that started in 1999 to prompt grocery stores around the country to put a stop to these explicit displays.

"Now that we have candy-free aisles for parents who don't want their children exposed to unhealthy stimuli as they go through the grocery check-out lanes, smut-free aisles are long overdue," said Dr. Janice Crouse, Senior Fellow at Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.

The presidents of MIM and ADA sent a letter to 558 supermarket executives on June 27, saying: “A captive audience, regardless of age, shouldn’t be required to pass through a gauntlet of smut to purchase necessities, and children shouldn’t be able to purchase smut anywhere.”

They asked the supermarket executives to “either cover up the sexually offensive headlines and photos on the front covers of magazines displayed at check-out lanes or to display them elsewhere.”

Read the whole thing at Culture and Family Institute

Monday, July 10, 2006

It's black & white & 1 year old

It's fun to train our attention on celebrity animals for a change. And one such celebrity that has been getting much camera time, cubhood days is Tai Shan ("peaceful mountain").

July 9 proved to be another day in the spotlight as the National Zoo in Washington celebrated the cub's 1st birthday, with staffers preparing "a giant fruitsicle for the cub, a frozen melange of apples, yams, carrots and fruit juices" (in photo are Tai Shan and mother Mei Xiang exploring the frozen delights).

"More than 1.2 million have visited the panda exhibit since the cub went on display last December, and more than 21 million people have linked to the panda cam Web site."

Full story at Yahoo News

Want to see more of pandas? Check out and get a load of videos and other cute materials showing Tai at different stages of its first year.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

In the privacy of...a magazine cover

Finally, a commentary on Britney's posing nude on a women's mag cover ... and then her bemoaning her lack of privacy.

Oops, I'm Naked

I don’t want to pick on Britney because we’ve already talked about her and to castigate her is, to use her native Louisiana lingo, like shootin’ fish in a barrel. But I do think something needs to be discussed regarding her recent interview with Matt Lauer on NBC, and her subsequent decision to pose nude a la Demi Moore for Harpers Bazaar.

During the interview on NBC Britney said, “I’m very, very blessed. But my safety, my privacy, and my respect are three things that I feel like are trying to be taken away from me right now.”

Hmmm. So, if you feel your respect and privacy are being taken away from you, why the magazine cover? Here’s a tip: if you don’t want the attention and the lack of privacy that follows then don’t do things to gain attention, such as posing nude for a magazine with a readership of 700,000.

Read the whole thing at Modestly Yours

More on a related topic:

In sum, women have shown themselves capable in careers formerly closed to them, but seem no longer to enjoy the pleasures of being a woman. They know how to imitate men but are confused about how to remain women while doing so. Having started from the rejection of femininity, women's identity necessarily becomes a search without a guide. To see confusion in action, all you have to do is watch the television show Desperate Housewives.

On that show you see that women have not really been liberated by the gender-neutral society. Men and women are not the same, as the gender-neutral society of feminism claims. Nor are men and women merely different. They are both same and different. Formerly society recognized the differences between the sexes, and with laws and customs accentuated those differences. Now society does the opposite: it recognizes the similarities and accentuates them. There is no society without social pressure in one direction or another. Whereas before women were held back from the careers they could have attained, now they are pushed further than they may want to go. In this new situation women do need an identity; they need a feminism to replace the tradition we once lived by. But they need a new feminism, one that does justice to the differences as well as the similarities between the sexes.


A second suggestion following the acceptance of sex differences is to respect the manliness of men. Manliness is the character of men that makes them insist on being men, on distinguishing themselves from women and also from unmanly men. Manly men reproach unmanly men, but merely look down on women, who are excused from manliness. After all, they are women. To accept differences between the sexes is to tolerate this apparently irrational prejudice of men. “A man needs to feel he is important.” I came across this statement in a professor's book made by an uneducated woman about her husband; in her embarrassment for him, she generalized the fault to all men. But it is true of most men and it may not be a fault. Human beings need to feel important so that they believe that what they do for good or ill matters in the grand scheme of things. Manly men who stand up for a country, a cause, or a principle help all of us to feel important. Women want to feel important as well, but usually in a different way; they want to be important to someone-to their children, to their man. Men, poor dears, have a more abstract sense of importance than women that is also more egoistic. Women may be vain, but men are conceited.

Read more of A New Feminism, the 154th Commencement address delivered at Hillsdale College on May 13, 2006, by Harvey Mansfield, a professor of government at Harvard University

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Beyond eye-patched sea robbers

Last weekend, three days after Superman Returns opened in Manila theaters, a friend and I met up at a mall, planning to watch the flick. We stood in line for about half an hour, exchanging stories as the long and winding queue moved at snail's pace. Finally, after calculating our chances of getting tickets within an hour (slim to none), we opted to go window-shopping instead.

I still haven't had a chance to see the movie, but anyway my attention has been on another one. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest will be opening here soon, and it's yet another I'm adding to my list of must-see movies. I didn't pay attention to the first of the three-part story, partly because I assumed it was just one of those swashbuckling action films about ... pirates. Then it was shown on the Disney channel and I realized I had missed what seemed like a good comedy (and much more).

Then I came across this interesting review of Dead Man's Chest --

In Peril of Our Souls: Theological Considerations from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Analysis by Dr. Marc T. Newman
July 7, 2006


What makes all of the Pirates of the Caribbean films stand out from your average swashbuckler is that these movies are not primarily concerned with treasure maps and buried doubloons. As The Curse of the Black Pearl demonstrated, no amount of tainted gold is worth the soul-destroying effects of the curse. Dead Man's Chest never even pretends to be about the more mundane aspects of pirating. From the beginning of the film the story arc centers on souls as the most valuable trading commodity. As Pintel and Regetti, two of the pirates from the first film who were saved from ghastly immortality, are rowing for shore, Regetti tells his partner that now that they are mortal again, "We've got to take care of our immortal soul." Truer words you will not find spoken, even in more serious films.

Full review at American Family Association Online

Nobody's friend

My name is Gossip.
I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing.
I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious
and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted, the more I am believed.

My victims are helpless.
They canot protect themselves against me
because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible.
The harder you try, the more elusive I become.

I am nobody's friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation,
it is never the same.
I topple governments
and wreck marriages.
I ruin careers
and cause sleepless nights,
and indigestion.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name hisses.
I am called Gossip.

Before you repeat a story, ask yourself:
Is it true?
Is it harmless?
Is it necessary?

** Artwork: Gossip Mongers, from "The Capriccios" -- a series of 50 lithographs by William Gropper

While some keep harping on the 'too many people on the planet' myth...

... they refuse to look at the facts. Decades of spreading the overpopulation myth and insisting on curbing birth rates worldwide have led to dire consequences in Russia, Germany, Japan and South Korea.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Signs of our times

T-shirts and buttons available as well

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Hunger and happiness

“Sister,” I asked, “is there a great difference between, say, the kind of poverty you saw in the East, in India, and what you see here?”

Her eyes widened at me, and she nodded. “Ohhhh,” she breathed. “It is not the same thing at all.” She said that that in India, material poverty is much, much greater than anything she’s seen in the West, and so she is never really impressed by what she sees here. Here, people suffer from poverty, but they do not die just from it; there they will die tomorrow if they do not get food.

[...] India, if people are hungry, they are still happy. The poorest people on the streets, she said, are the happiest. If they have food today, they are happy; they do not wonder if they will have food tomorrow. Their joy, she insisted, is something unlike anything you see on any face in the West.

We could believe it, looking at her face.

She went on.
Here in the West, she said, it is different. Here most poor people have enough, even though they don’t understand how little “enough” is. But they are unhappy, she said (and she knelt to look through the rear window at the tired faces of the mothers gathered outside the van, as the other Sister led them in Santa Marias before distributing their food). They are unhappy, because they have no God. That is the real poverty. The farther North you go in America, she added, the more wealth you see, and the less joy you find. Those people, she said, looking seriously at us, the depressed, and the sad people “with no God and a great big house”, are the poorest of the poor. That’s what Mother Teresa meant. It is hard, she added with a sigh, to find Christ in them. Sometimes we must put Him there. And she added quietly, “That, girls, at your home, that is your real mission, no?”

Read Spiritual Poverty of the West vs. Material Poverty of the East
An encounter in Tijuana
By Cassidy Bugos

Searching for meaning

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state
but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.
What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost,
but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.

- Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist; Holocaust survivor

Being connected, feeling disconnected?

This morning, I was charging my cellphone and forgot all about it. Thus, I left the house sans the thing. I dropped off my mom at Church then proceeded to get some photocopying done at a mini-mall three blocks away. As I got out of the car with papers in hand, I patted my jeans pocket -- something I instinctively do to make sure my cellphone is there. No bulk. Initial reaction: "Oh, no." Two seconds later, "Yay, I'm free!" accompanied by a chuckle. Walking over to the photocopying shop, I recalled the few times that I had accidentally left my phone at home, agonizing during the first few minutes over important messages or calls I might miss, only to "let go" and feel relieved that I was free the entire day from the stress that comes along with the need (perceived or otherwise) to reply immediately to text message after text message.

Here's a related piece from the June 3 issue of The New York Times (one section of the Manila Bulletin every Saturday contains selected articles from that paper). Hope the essay makes you think about your own buzzing devices and if they're actually helping you live a better life.

BlackBerry Users, Free Yourselves (and Your Thumbs)

By Adam Bryant

Dear BlackBerry,

It’s been a few weeks since we parted company. I’m sure you’ve forgotten me by now and are still hard at work for my former employer.

That’s good. No hard feelings. I’ve decided I’m actually better off without you.

Why? Because even though you made me feel more productive, I’m realizing that in fact you made me less so. You were always tugging at my sleeve, your blinking red light a constant reminder that maybe, just maybe, you had an urgent e-mail for me. You were a black hole of attention. If there was something urgent, I reasoned, better to know about it sooner rather than later. So I checked. And checked.

Most of it was spam. Thanks.

I thought you were under my thumbs, but I was under yours.

Sure, I’m to blame, too. I made some mistakes, I liked your alarm feature, so I kept you bedside. I’d check you late at night. I’d check you first thing in the morning. Sometimes I’d even check you on Sundays, and often regretted it.

But you gave me something to do in idle moments, while I was standing in line or waiting for a train. With you, there was no dead time. It seemed great for a while.

Living without you, though, there’s more time to think. Daydreaming is an underappreciated pastime, and I’ve been doing more of it since we broke up, often to good effect. The idea percolator works better with fewer distractions.

I realize that not everyone can let go like I did. People who are on the road a lot, in particular, are still in love with you.

But here’s a thought. What if they cooled it just for a week? Wouldn’t that leave more time to puzzle through the kind of questions that help us keep a step ahead of the competition?

I don’t know if this factoid ever landed in your inbox – Google gives its engineers “20 percent time” to pursue pet projects, which has led to nifty new offerings like Google News (something tells me the engineers aren’t spending that free time on their BlackBerrys).

Come to think of it, would it really have been so bad if your company, Research in Motion, had lost that patent dispute a couple of months ago, and service had been shut down for everyone for a while?

It would have ended, at least temporarily, the connectedness arms race – that nagging need to feel plugged in because key people might be e-mailing from anywhere at anytime.

I bet a BlackBerry blackout would strengthen marriages and friendships. Conversations could continue without all the “bzzzts” of vibrating alerts to derail them (Hmmm, let me think. It could be just spam. Then again, it could be something REALLY IMPORTANT. Let’s check. Oh, it’s just spam. Back to the conversation. Sorry, where was I?).

Please don’t take all this the wrong way. It was fun while it lasted. But I’m getting more done without you, even if I look less busy.

I hope we keep in touch. Send me an e-mail sometime.

Just don’t expect an immediate response.

This you have GOT to read!

It talks about flip-flops. It talks about manners. It talks about appropriate wear and tripping on your own feet. It talks about the beach and the office.

Whether you're one to have your toes painted weekly, couldn't care less about shoes, or basically know the difference between espadrilles and Mary Janes ... whether you're always in search of the "perfect pair" or have never heard of Manolo Blahnik, whether you're barefoot most of the day or your feet are in agony without adequate arch support ... this piece you have GOT to read. Manolo's ideas and the comments that follow are not so much about footwear as these are about the attitudes reflected behind our "shod-dy" choices.

* * * * *

Flip-Flopping Away the Career

Manolo says, here is the obvious article about the various career dangers of the flip-flops.

With more women wearing flip-flops to the office this summer, U.S. style gurus are warning that the casual shoe once mainly seen on the beach could be damaging to careers — as well as to feet.


An online survey conducted for retailers Old Navy and Gap found flip-flops topped the list of wardrobe items that college and high school students planned to wear to work this summer.

More than 31 percent of women said flip-flops were the single “must have” item for work this summer.

But many companies disagree.

“The dress code says no beach wear and flip-flops are considered beach wear,” said a spokeswoman for BNP Paribas.

Style gurus warn that flip-flops, which are worn mainly by younger women, could be harmful to a career.

“Shoes convey the mood of a woman. Wearing flip-flops conveys the mood that you are relaxed and on vacation. That’s not a good message in the office,” said Meghan Cleary, a style commentator who wrote the book “The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say About You.”

The Manolo’s internet friend the Miss Meghan she is, as usual, exactly correct. Unless you are working as the waitress at the beach cafe, or are the Jimmy Buffet, you should not be wearing the flip-flops to your place of professional employment.

And it is silly that we must even discuss this, just as it was silly last year when we were compelled to discuss the flip-flopping in the House of Whiteness.



Gina Says:

I think I have seen it all: flip-flops at a funeral. The mourner was in her late teens; she was wearing a very appropriate black dress. But she was wearing flip-flops on her feet. At her grandmother’s funeral.

Peter Gøthgen

I teach at a public middle school. We were told several times that flip-flops are a no-no for both students and teachers. Many wore them anyway.

What they fail to realize is that it becomes a safety issue. If the building catches fire (after seeing the build-up of lint in the dryers I was surprised it hadn’t already), or some other emergency happens, you need to be able to get out of the building. Flip flops = tripping = pile of people = obstruction = danger for even those smart enough to wear proper footwear.

Plus, as the wife says, they are ugly.

Nabushi Says:

Manolo, thank you for highlighting this article. I work at a university, my department hires undergraduates as support staff, and we have a policy against flip flops in the office. We ask them to either wear “real” shoes or bring them to change into while they are at work - otherwise they are sent home to put on some real shoes, which effectively makes them “late.” Anyway, they always want to know WHY - well, no one wants to see their naked, possibly dirty, feet, and now we have THIS article to hand to them! Many, many thanks! (we also have a policy against exposed flesh between the neckline and the knees, after having seen far too many stretch-marked muffin tops, hairy butt cracks, and the center tips of bra underwires - but maybe that’s for another blog)

Zarba Says:

Why would a parent allow their teenager to wear the flip-flops to a funeral???

A well-adminstered beating should suffice to make the point.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of parenthood that someone would be so afraid of offending their little “Britni, y’know, with an ‘i’”, that they would allow their child to be so inappropriately dressed for such a solemn occasion.

And yes, you may wear the flip flops to your interview. It makes it that much easier for me to weed out the unqualified candidates. I’m amazed that someone would have the temerity to ask “Why?”. BECAUSE IT’S INAPPROPRIATE BUSINESS ATTIRE, STUPID!

Read more comments at Manolo's Shoe Blog

P.S. Here's a previous post that contains a light but insightful read about them flip-flops once again. Hope you get a kick out of it, too!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Who's afraid of who?

Found this amusing entry at Cute Overload:

WEST MILFORD, N.J. - A black bear picked the wrong yard for a jaunt, running into a territorial tabby who ran the furry beast up a tree—twice.

Jack, a 15-pound orange and white cat, keeps a close vigil on his property, often chasing small animals, but his owners and neighbors say his latest escapade was surprising.

"We used to joke, 'Jack's on duty,' never knowing he'd go after a bear," owner Donna Dickey told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's editions.

Neighbor Suzanne Giovanetti first spotted Jack's accomplishment after her husband saw a bear climb a tree on the edge of their northern New Jersey property on Sunday. Giovanetti thought Jack was simply looking up at the bear, but soon realized the much larger animal was afraid of the hissing cat.

After about 15 minutes, the bear descended and tried to run away, but Jack chased it up another tree. Dickey, who feared for her cat, then called Jack home and the bear scurried back to the woods. "He doesn't want anybody in his yard," Dickey said.

'Kid stuff'

The following has been passed around on email; I myself got it a few years ago but kids' simplicity and candidness never cease to give make my day. Here are some from the list of children's letters to God:

Dear Mr. God, I wish you would not make it so easy for people to come apart. I had to have three stitches and a shot. Janet

God, I read the bible. What does beget mean? Nobody will tell me. Love Alison

Dear God how did you know you were God? Who told you? Charlene

Dear God I bet it’s very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it. Nancy

Dear God my Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go? Love, Dennis

Dear God do you draw the lines around the countries? If you don’t, who does? Nathan

Dear God did you mean for giraffes to look like that or was it an accident? Sincerely, Norma

Dear God in bible times, did they really talk that fancy? Jennifer

Dear God if you watch in Church on Sunday I will show you my new shoes. Barbara

Dear God is Reverend Coe a friend of yours, or do you just know him through the business? Donny

Dear God I do not think anybody could be a better God than you. Well, I just want you to know that. I am not just saying that because you are already God. Charles

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