Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Virtue Greater Than Nationalism

ON-TOPIC UPDATE: Just saw the first working model of a $100 laptop from the Seven Countries Task Force meeting May 23, 2006. Here via Digg from Pete Barr Wilson and One Laptop Per Child. Those smart folks at M.I.T. engineered one devilishly simple looking computer, with horns! Check it out. Now all we need is cheap, universal access to a network that connects them all...>But what I really want is one of those new laptops with a SOLID STATE DISK...
ENGLISH AND MULTICULTURALISM: Regarding the recent "cause celebre" involving the alleged "Filipino cultural trait" of eating with a fork and spoon and 7-year old Luc Cagadoc at Ecole Lalande school in Montreal, Canada it suddenly occurs to me how utterly nutty and mentally loose-sprung this business of multiculturalism is.

Take the case of language, for example. What could be more essentially a Filipino cultural trait than the native tongue, or tongues as is actually the case? Yet all the most eloquent attacks on those awful, reprehensible, racist ogres at Ecole Lalande were conducted not in Tagalog or Cebuano or Pampango or even French, but in English. Surely not a "Filipino cultural trait." Or is it?

Then, there is this Newsweek (May 29 edition) article authored by Marites Vitug "The Philippines: Lost in Translation" which considers the issue of English language proficiency in the context of the challenge to compete in such important industries as outsourcing and call-centers.
Ms. Vitug:"Now, to become more globally competitive, the government is scrambling to promote English to young people as the ticket to a good career. Three years ago the Department of Education reinstated English as the primary language of instruction in schools. Various business groups, including both the U.S. and European chambers of commerce, are sponsoring public-relations programs lauding the career benefits of English; one of the campaigns is called "English is cool" and is designed to break young people of their habit of speaking "Taglish"—a mix of English and Tagalog. In addition, Arroyo has promised to set aside $9.6 million to help put so-called near hires—an industry euphemism for applicants rejected due to a weak command of English—through a 100-hour English refresher course. The grant was made after an aggressive campaign by the industry lobby group, which was getting worried about call centers' losing business to countries like India."
Indeed, looking at the government's 2006 budget (just passed today by the Senate minus P31 billion in excess porkahydrates) for the Dept. of Education, I notice a P1.5 billion peso special fund for English instructional materials and teacher training.

It's no wonder, not only Luc Cagadoc and his mother, but 10% of the Filipino population is out about in the wide world earning a living as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). They aren't sending back over US $1 billion to keep the archipelago afloat using their Filipino cultural traits alone, I reckon. It's their HUMAN traits that others surely appreciate in our over eight million countrymen working abroad.

I think the issue of language proficiency presents a challenge to ultranationalists and "multiculturalists" about just exactly what their position is on the matter of assimilation in one's work place, or new home. In fact, I'm glad l'affaire Cagadoc happened, because it certainly proves to me that there has to be a virtue that is greater than nationalism, just as nationalism was greater virtue than tribal or clan loyalty. Let us call this as yet unidentified virtue as Globalism or Humanism--the notion that membership in the human species ought to be considered as being above membership in any one nation or culture, just as being Filipino comes before being Ilocano or Pampango or Cebuano or lumad. Certainly above being a Catholic or Protestant or Muslim.

I think that the angry, defensive kind of multiculturalism displayed by most of the local Main Stream Media and huge parts of bloggerdom in the fork-and-spoon brouhaha is a retrograde ideology that belongs in history's dustbin. Along with Mao Tsetung and Renato Constantino!

ENVIRO-PIG VS. FRANKEN-PIG Well, it looks like my day to indulge Newsweek. Here is another article from the May 29 edition about Genetically Modified Organisms, specifically,
"...a pig that is more efficient at digesting phosphorus, which would cut back on a source of pollution, and whose flesh is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which would make ham as good for you as salmon. The "Enviro-pig," as Silver calls it, will most likely never be allowed because of a popular prejudice against anything that involves genetic manipulation. By contrast, Silver points out, organic food is seen as healthier and environmentally sound, even though organic farmers are allowed to spray their crops with chemicals and pesticides like pyrethrin and rotenone."
The article has an OPEN Comment line to participate in the ongoing debate with nay-sayers who say such a pig would be a "Franken-pig" and that the true agenda of the scientists is to start making designer human beings. (Think about it!) Here again, there are opposed forces of progress and reaction that have a great deal to do with whether we see humanity as essentially united and one, or forever "multicultural." The centripetal forces and iconoclastic ways of scientific discovery and economic progress powerfully interact with tradition and culture.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARY MAGDALENE: I think that Mary Magdalene is the most fascinating literary character (next to Jesus Himself ) to emerge from that apparently large genre of story-telling and gospel-writing which was written in Greek during the first centuries of the First Millennium, A.D. I suppose the endpoint of this period has to be at the Council of Nicea when the "Church Fathers" deemed a few these works of purported historical testimony or witness (namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to be divinely inspired and produced the canonical New Testament's Four Gospels. By necessary implication, those same Church Fathers had declared the rest of the genre of writing as not divinely inspired, or apocryphal.

NEWSWEEK (May 29, 2006 edition) has the scoop on the logical and rhetorical continuation of the Da Vinci Code premise that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were man and wife, by focusing in this week's cover article on one of those apocryphal works: the alleged Gospel according to Mary Magdalene!

It's a worth a click over to Newsweek just to see this 15th century painting of Mary Magdalene and Mary the Blessed Mother, both at the crucifixion of Jesus. And the following paraphrase of the Gospel according John which places Mary Magdalene right at the very beginning of Christianity itself at the Resurrection -- then disappears completely! --
I have seen the Lord: such is the story of the Resurrection, as told in the Gospel of John. With it begins the history of Christianity, and with it ends the New Testament history of Mary Magdalene. Peter and Paul form the new church, Stephen dies a martyr's death, John the Divine envisions the End Times. But Mary Magdalene—a critical figure in his earthly circle—is neither seen nor heard from again.

Yet the Magdalene—that part of her name derives from Magdala, her hometown—lives on in another tradition that can be found in an obscure second-century text. Dubbed "The Gospel of Mary," it depicts Mary as a leader of Jesus' followers in the days after his resurrection. Written by Christians some 90 years after Jesus' death, Mary's is a "Gnostic gospel"; the Gnostics, a significant force in the early years of Christianity, stressed salvation through study and self-knowledge rather than simply through faith. The text was lost for centuries until found in fragments by a collector in Cairo in 1896. In its telling, Jesus rises and vanishes after instructing his disciples to "preach the good news about the Realm." The exhortation makes them uneasy: Christ had died preaching that gospel. What was to save them from a similar fate?
The plot thickens. I think Mary Magdalene's story will become a Hollywood blockbuster long before Judas does! Even the Gospel According to John paints a poignant image of Mary Magdalene, if you think about it. She's there at the Crucifixion of a man condemned by the Roman Pilate and the Jewish Sanhedrin; she's there to anoint his corpse a few days later; she is the first to see the risen Lord and to report it. Then she disappears from the narrative that goes through the Holy Roman Empire! Ah! Love!

ONE BISHOP BLOGGING: CBCP's head, Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo has been blogging up a storm lately. But he doesn't get any comments inspite of the fact that I think he is the only one among the blogging bishops with an open Blogger Comment line.



Ah.. religion and politics are probably conversation stoppers but they inhabit the minds of people in every society worldwide.

But who can write a credible story on the life of Mary Magdalene. If the apostles themselves didn't write about her, how would a scholar, theologian, etc. forrest gumpish as he may be, start and end a credible story.

Just like Pope Joan, whose records were apparently burned by the church. Nothing much was known about her.

Maybe, so much for the better so that people can come up with a kind of "code de la madeleine..." ho...humm...

Dominique said...

Hi, Dean: I thought this quote would apply:

'My country, right or wrong,' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober.'

--The Defendant, GK Chesterton, 1901
Here's a link to the full article - http://www.dur.ac.uk/martin.ward/gkc/books/The_Defendant.html

Dominique said...

Hi, Dean: your wish for a laptop with solid state disk isn't too far off. I can actually boot off my Thinkpad from a USB flash drive with Slax on it.

Dominique said...

Sorry for the multiple posts. HB, you might want to take a look at this:


I like the last two paragraphs of the last article.

Rizalist said...

i think this one is a lil different but same idea. already a commercial product.. i saw the link but lost it yesterday...a 32GB NAND ram array built into the thing. think its panasonic or something have to look it up/


Thanks for the links Dominique.

Btw, Dean, is this 100$ laptop for real?

Haven't actually clicked on the link yet but will. Imagine, 100$ laptop? Cable connections here are cheap - for 29 or 39 euros a month, you can connect 3 to 5 comps (and more).


Hang on, what is a solid state disk? Thanks.

Rizalist said...

Solid state disks ahve no moving parts, unlike conventional disk drives, DVD rom drives, CDROMs etc, which are all mechanical motordriven things. it's basically an array of memory like what we call RAM, except it doesn't lose its information when you turn the power off. Made up of something called Static Ram. Manufacturing costs are plummeting and the commercial product I read about had a 32GB solid state disk. More dependable, longer life of course. And soon cheaper! Also ten to a hundred times faster than hard drives.

Rizalist said...

Haha, I just realized that calling such memory a "disk" is really wrong. Ther eis no "round thing" like a disk in a solid state "disk" -- it's a hangover from the predominance of those spinning devices in mass storage applications like PCs.

But solid state is definitely the future.



Just read the article.

There's actually a book written about Pope Joan by an American woman which I read a while back but can't remember the author's name off hand (will have to retrieve it from the bookshelves in the cellar).

But the story as told by one of the bloggers in the link you gave was very simplistic. The author of Pope Joan, the book did some research in France and came up with a piece of evidence but it stopped there.

I'm not saying the story of the female pose is true but 9th century is not too long ago by European standards. Archives containing records of periods earlier than the 9th century do exist.

The author of the novel wrote about how she came about the evidence. Kinda impressive too.

Btw, Dean speaking of books, I promised to send you a book on the French - I actually have a copy of a book written by a good friend of mine, Mort Rosenblum, a former IHT editor in chief based in Paris (some 10 pounds ago) "Mission Civilisatrice, The French Way". It's very well done actually and it would be a good intro to the Gallic culture.

Gotta order a copy coz the one I've got a b-day present he gave me. (Mustn't procrastinate now Anna! Gotta do it Anna! Bad girl Anna!)

ricelander said...

Just left a comment on Archbishop Lagdameo's blog. Take a look.

ricelander said...

It doesn't show on the meter though.

Why don't the rest here leave a comment? Today's topic is about Truth.
That should prod the good Bishop and CBCP to urge its most powerful member of the flock to become a good Catholic not only in being seen praying in newspaper front pages but also in other deeds.

Amadeo said...

Bishops a-blogging! Try this one below:


He is a Jesuit, once taught at Ateneo, and is newly installed as bishop of Northern Mindanao, seated at Cagayan de Oro.

Rizalist said...

thanks for that link amadeo. been checking them guys out. I think they're going to be big in the blogosphere.

secondcup said...

Wasn't the Magdalene angle already explored in "The Last Temptation of Christ" by Nikos Kazantzakis? The movie version was banned here but, of course, that never stops anyone from finding a copy.

Rizalist said...

That it was SecondCup. Welcome to Philippine Commentary. I think the book, The Last Temptation of Christ" was frankly better than Dan Brown's, literarily speaking. But the premise in the Da Vinci code seems to be more revolutionary in that Mary Magdalene isn't considered to be a prostitute or loose woman, but Christ's wife.

R. O. said...

"in that Mary Magdalene isn't considered to be a prostitute or loose woman, but Christ's wife."

That's only because Magdalene has repented, her past sins erased.

Rizalist said...

Welcome to Philippine Commentary R.O.: Christ's wife was a repentant prostitute? Seems lurid. Perhaps the story about her BEING a prostitute was untrue or exaggerated and only happened in 591 A.D. as Elaine Pagels claims. But even accepting that she was a "prostitute", my own main interest is what she did AFTER she repented of her sins, and why there is no mention of her in the official texts after the Resurrection, in which she seems to have played a pivotal part.

the jester-in-exile said...


(too late this comment)

strictly speaking, flash drives aren't faster than standard hard disk drives, in terms of data storage and retrieval. far from it. hard disk drives (thus far) can still store more data, write it faster, and retrieve the data faster tahn flash drives. having worked in an HDD manufacturing firm, i can say this for certain.

of course, flash drives have no moving parts and can work in vacuum -- a definite advantage.