IN THE PERFECT 20/20 OF HINDSIGHT, none of the awful things that have happened this past year, would have happened if Bunye had not bungled so terribly. It is sweet schadenfreude (my translation of "buti nga!") that I feel for the fact that it was the Palace itself that "spilled the beans" on what may really have happened, or not happened, during the 2004 national elections.
To this day, the true provenance and origin of the Garci Recordings are UNKNOWN.
Perhaps they were made in a recording studio to put the President in a damaging light. But if they were artificially manufactured, why were they released to the public a whole year after the elections, and after FPJ had already died? It is a well-known fact that as early as late April, early May 2005, Opposition figures like Atty. Alan Paguia and former Senator Francisco Kit Tatad were trying to disseminate copies of the recordings they had received from Joseph Estrada. But who was going to believe them?? Poetic Justice could not therefore have better been served, than by the happenstance that the Palace tried to PRE-EMPT the release of the tapes, and instead ignited the controversy that has led to a year-long political crisis with no end in sight.
Perhaps, as many now believe, they were made by the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp), which however did not take care of the extensive domestic needs of one, T/Sgt. Vidal Triple (err, Doble)--he with the three wives--who allegedly sold copies of these recorded conversations to Joseph Estrada via the now disappeared Atty. Sammy Ong, former NBI deputy director. Perhaps, the trove of recordings at Isafp is a part of a much larger intel data base related to the global war on terror. Perhaps there is even a connection with the data mining operations of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The Senate under Sen. Biazon has done the most substantive investigation into this aspect of things.
Perhaps, the President may yet get impeached over this though that prospect is currentlyin serious doubt. But the President has wreaked havoc on Philippine Democracy in the continuing attempt to save herself and a Presidency that is now all smoke and mirrors to hide the ashes of its utter failure at the one thing a President must do: to ACT for the good of the Nation!
666 NUMEROLOGY AND JUETENG I suppose that on such an evil day, I can indulge in a little science to ward off the Evil Spirits. Jueteng, the ever-popular numbers game, is back in the news. Jueteng will allegedly be used to bankroll local administration bets by a selective liberalization of enforcement efforts in pro-Palace bailiwicks. In jueteng, bettors can wager as little as a peso (or even less) that they an pick the two eventual winning numbers drawn out of 37. Now the number of possible two number combinations drawn out of 37 is given by a well-known combinatorial formula once worked out by Blaise Pascal (I think), like this:
Thus the chances of winning a simple bet at JUETENG is one in 666.
POINCARE CONJECTURE PROVED? Jueteng, it is said, was introduced by the Chinese during Spanish times, along with other vices like opium smoking. But two Chinese mathematicians may be in for great fame and fortune if this news article turns out to be true that they've complete a proof of Poincare's Conjecture, an outstanding problem in modern mathematics for whose proof a $1 million reward has been offered by the Clay Institute. Harvard Prof. Shing Tung Yau, winner of the prestigious Fields Prize of the American Math Society, describes Poincare's Conjecture:
"The conjecture is that if in a closed three-dimensional space, any closed curves can shrink to a point continuously, this space can be deformed to a sphere."
The result is important to physicists because of many key theoretical and engineering applications, such as in string theory and cosmology. To me, it's some of the sexiest stuff in Science right now, though the next thing comes close...
One Laptop Per Child dot org provides a detailed technical peek at the "Model A" working model:
The proposed $100 machine will be Linux-based, with a dual-mode display--both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3X the resolution. The laptop will have a 500 Mhz processor and a128 MB of DRM with 500 MB of Flash memory, it will not have a hard disk, but it will have four USB ports. The laptops will have wireless broadband that, among other things, allows them to work as a mesh network, each laptop will be able to talk to its nearest neighbors, creating an ad hoc, local area network. The laptops will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data.Nota bene: Click on the picture at right to magnify it, and tell me those aren't Pinoy kids in the picture that they used for the blazing orange model!
Negroponte and Massachusetts Institute of Technology must be sending us a message. Consider this. Call it 5,000 Pesos per laptop. That's 5 billion Pesos for a million laptop units, or 100 billion pesos to supply a laptop of above quality to each of the 20 million school age kids in the Philippine education system.
Coincidentally, 100 billion pesos is just equal to "Personal Services" portion of the 2006 Deped Budget. (Note that though Deped may only get 112 or 116 billion pesos under the version approved by the Senate, I doubt that the 100 billion pesos in salaries will be reduced!)
If only we didn't live in the Socialist Republic of the Philippines, we could probably decide to just buy each Filipino school age child a laptop in 2006, and even give one to the the 450,000 teachers!
On the technical side, the above configuration will literally become obsolete very quickly, given the pace of innovation that powers the computer revolution. So the real significance of the accomplishment is really this: the OLPC team has undeniably demonstrated that for about $100 in 2006 dollars, at any given time in the foreseeable future, it should be possible to build a leading edge, networkable laptop computer with ever-improving computational, mass storage and communications capabilities. To show that something CAN be done by actually DOING it, is what of course, distinguishes physicists and engineers from philosophers and mathematicians. Still it is a valuable bit of knowledge that roughly 5000 pesos equals a laptop of above quality. In some ways that is incredible because the commercial laptops on the market cost at least ten times that or much more. P100,000 is not an uncommon amount to have to pay for a decent portable. So what OLPC dot org have really done is to show that a suitably organized group of people, (like a nation or a corporation) CAN produce such a thing as a laptop computer of above design for the COST of about 5000 pesos. But I'm sure this does NOT mean that, if we do nothing and just wait around, there will soon be 5,000 pesos laptops with garish colors and designs available at the nearest tianggein Manila. There are after all, perfectly valid economic reasons, not just technical design ones, why commercial laptops are closer to P50,000 than P5,000.
In other words, if we want to benefit from the $100 laptop design, we best plan to manufacture them ourselves locally. It is as if a brilliant invention has not been patented by its inventor but instead donated immediately to the public domain. Yet, concrete, working models of that invention will not materialize out of thin air by themselves, since only the intellectual property, consisting of the detailed engineering design, materials, components and configuration, have actually been donated to the public domain, and will presumably be available for free from the OLPC dot org. Like other inventions that "come off patent," it still remains for people to exploit the free knowledge that is being made available.
BACK TO SCHOOL: The eloquent cut and cutting prose of Manuel L. Quezon III writing in his column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday, Suffer the Little Children -- will be much imitated during the next few weeks, as the season called "Back to School" unfolds. MLQ3's essay is the standard bearer for what would be called in other climates, "the liberal position." (I shall leave it to Manolo whether or not to further qualify this designation.)
I must say, the vast majority of what Manolo calls the punditocracy agrees with him on this. No one can imagine any other solution to our education mess it seems, other than to spend oodles more money on it.
Here appears to be the root of the public education rhetoric. The very last line of Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution (verbosely titled Education, Science and Technology, Culture, Arts and Sports) is famous for how it is used in current debates about education in the Philippines:
(5) The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment.The historical fact is that education has NEVER enjoyed "the highest budgetary priority" in the Philippines. Its nadir was surely during the long, deep valley of 350 years of Night under the Taliban, pre-incarnated in the Spanish frailocracy; and its zenith arguably during a second colonial time, as America's First Iraq. Or that zenith is yet to be, if you wish.
But what we have today is an incomprehensible refusal to see that you cannot run Fedex with all truck drivers and no trucks. In fact the problem is bigger than that. It has become an article of political faith that you CAN run Fedex with all truck drivers and no trucks!
A REVEALING DOUBLE STANDARD: One ironic thing to note about most of the less creative and original of MLQ3's imitators: few of them would ever dream of sending their precious babies to the public schools. (Just ask them.)