Election 2016 Philippines: Election of the Lesser Evils: Ang Pangulong Pwede Na

The 2016 Philippine Elections will probably go down as the least satisfying one in recent years. In nearly all local polls except for Manila, Makati and other towns, the incumbents are up against non-opponents guaranteeing their victory. In the senatorial race the name of the game is name recall, where incumbent and past senators would have the advantage. In this race fresh faces would come in but they have to play the game of name recall. This is why the senatoriables neophytes are more eager to participate in debates and do interviews since they need the exposure.

In this election the pretence of party philosophy have been shed off and reveal what these political parties are – an alliance of political families and political personalities intent primarily on winning the elections first and fulfilling promises later or none at all. This is what Philippine Politics is without the veneer of nationalism and belief – faces and families.

Admittedly, This has been probably the case ever since the Legaspi and company landed in the country but never has been a national election, save for the Marcos – Santos Presidential election, so dismally short of promise.

Binay, the Vice President is a veteran politician who was originally a street parliamentarian and a human rights advocate whose fortune changed when Cory Aquino came to power. He become Mayor of Makati and his family stills holds political power over that city. In the last presidential election he beat Mar Roxas in the Vice-Presidential race. And now he is running for president and he is plagued by the issue of political dynasty and alleged corruption, highlighted by the longest hearing of a senate blue ribbon sub-committee. These allegations and his presidential ambitions have compromised his image. However, despite this he has done well in the latest surveys from the SWS and Pulse Asia.

Grace Poe, Senator and presidential candidate is one the fresh face in this election. The daughter of the late actor and cheated presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr has rose meteorically from being a citizen to the number one senator during the last election. She become popular with a number of people because of her stance and investigation in two key issues the MRT and the Mamasapano Massacre. Citizen Poe had promise as the fresh face in the presidential race however it was after she declared her candidacy that moves were made to tarnish her image. Poe’s citizen was questioned and this led to case before the Supreme Court. The tarnished Poe has been left by Binay in the survey results and at present she has not escaped the political crows pecking at her because of her citizenship.

Duterte, Mayor and presidential candidate is another fresh face in the election. If Grace Poe promises a presidency of compassion, Duterte on the other hand promises an iron fist approach to the presidency, a promise alluring to voters seeking solutions to crime and corruption. However, Duterte’s promised Iron Presidency scares also a number of people. Also his salt of the Earth personality endears him to one group also alienates him from another. These and his initial wishy-washiness in announcing his presidential run has had a negative effect on his image.

Mar the technocrat and the President’s anointed presidential candidate should have the advantage, well he should have if there was a surplus of good will for the Aquino government. However, the Aquino government version 2 has everything but goodwill from the public. Daang Matuwid could not recover from its self-inflicted wounds the DAP, MRT woes; traffic and the Mamasapano Massacre. It does not help that Mar of all candidates is the least colourful and perceived to be the most weak. His inaction after Mamasapano cemented this image of weakness. This is probably why Constant Mar has been constantly at the third row of the presidential surveys. Even the machinations from committee of ungentlemanly political warfare will not solve this: The strategy of Dagdag Bawas will not be enough and the strategy of Victory by Disqualification would have disastrous and terminal impact.

So here we are confronted by presidentiables who are not so presidential. What to do? What to do?

Despite what all the campaigns and spins say it will boil down to how one’s view the Aquino Government and what seems best for the country in one’s eyes. Some of us who feel the Aquino has failed and sinned its ABM – Anyone But Mar; Some of us who hate Binay will go ABB – Anyone But Binay; Some of us who fear Duterte will go ABD – Anyone But Duterte; And some of us who feel Grace Poe is not qualified will go ABP- anyone but Poe. In the end the less-evil president would be elected or in Tagalog ang Pangulong Pwede Na.

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The Future Incunabulii

Our last complete family portrait was taken two years ago. This was a snapshot taken after a dinner at our old house. Since then my parents have passed away: my father first and a few months after my mother. The shot was taken with a digital camera and the image was printed at our local photoshop. It now sits along with other photos that have been taken through the years. The column of memories contained a photo taken before World War of my grandfather when he was in the army. Then there were photos of us growing up. Memories frozen on a photo paper. A personal inculabula.

An inculabula is a book printed before the 15h century that survived the ravages of time. There are three types of old books that we consider ancient the incunabula; the handwritten manuscript; and the palimpsest – a book made of parchment that contains more than one content on its pages. The original content was written over after the page was scoured. An example of this would be the Archimedes Codex. The calculations and notes of Archimedes were scoured and written over with prayers.

Inculabulas are rare books because not much of their kind were produced and survived.

What has this to do with photos?

Actually it has to do with photos and the medium were we store our information, knowledge and culture right now, the digital format.

Digital may be handy and convenient but it does have to weak points; First, it is fragile; a mis-click, a compromised memory stick and a electromagnetic pulse can easily destroy it. Second, the format it was stored in might became obsolete thus making inaccessible.In other words the vast amount of culture, art and science of humanity sits on gossamer thread that can snap at anytime. On a personal level a lot of us store all that we treasure from ideas to opinions and from memories on the same fragile thread.

And that is why it is wise to have the things you treasure the most from snapshots and tomes in a form that is not digital. So when you’re device fails – whether by accident or by forces beyond your control – you do not lose such a precious piece. Print it: Back it up with hardcopy.You never know what might happen in the future.

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Lessons from the Wannsee Conference, Lysenko and the Sparrow

If you are an observer of Science, Technology and Society one realises that Science and Technology cannot be separated from the Arts, Culture, Business and Politics. In politics let us look at four moments in human history,

First, The Wannsee Conference

A meeting of representatives of the different agencies of Hitler’s Third Reich met to decide how to handle their Jewish Problem. Years before this Hitler and company were able to embed into German Law means to separate and in dew Jews, non-Aryans and other undesirables. This was not a new thing hatred against the Jews and campaigns have happened before : (i) expelled from Spain; (ii) forced into Ghettoes; (iii) ordered to wear badges or judenstern in public; and (iv) pogroms. At Wannsee the Nazi’s were able to put a system to the exploitation and purge of the Jews. This was a system that followed a production assembly line for cars by Ford. However, instead of producing a car for the masses; masses of Jews were eliminated in a genocide that the Nazi’s called the Final Solution. Majority of the Nazi officials meeting at Wannsee were lawyers a study of the minutes and other related documents one notes a lot of words used in a round about way to describe exploitation and murder (EUPHEMISMS) – resulting in a distrust of words.

It is of no surprise then that Auschwitz and Dachau resembles industrial estates.

One of things that can be observed with the Nazis is their use of Science and Technology to improve weapons and technology of war. This of course is not limited to the Nazi’s alone their Allies and Opponents were also involved in this technology race. It is then ironic that the same racial law and anger against the Jews of the Nazis led them to their defeat in the tech race. In particular the production of the Atomic Bomb was won by the United States with the help of scientists hounded and fled from Germany. One of them was Albert Einstein – a German Jew who was forced to flee because of the Nazis. Hitler and the Nazis assured their defeat by alienating and killing their pool of scientists.

After the war Germany’s technology were spoils that the Allies got. V2 Rocket scientists like Von Braun were adopted by the US and in turn allowing them to develop ICBM and the Nasa Space Program.

TWO, Stalin and Trofim Lysenko

Trofim Lysenko was a Russian Scientist who promoted non Mendelian Genetics. Lysenko was also a politically astute scientist. Whenever the Party suggested an agricultural measure, he would be the first one to suggest a remedy that will. Also his adherence to non Mendelian Genetics – which in a nutshell is that an organism can change despite the inherited characteristics – was in line with the Party belief that a comrade can change regardless of their background. And more importantly his friendship with Stalin made Lysenko a powerful scientist in the Soviet Union. Anyone who disagreed with him were told to be quiet or suffer a holiday to a gulag or a permanent residency in cemetery. The only scientists who were not affected by this Lysenkoism were nuclear scientists. Stalin may have been as or even more bloof thirsty than Hitler but he was not dumb enough to delapitate his important scientists. The influence of Lysenko thrived even after Stalin’s death affecting the growth of Biological and Agricultrual Science in Russia.The successors of Stalin eventually backtracked on supporting Lysenkoism and Lysenkoism became a pejorative term to describe any science use to support a political purpose.

Third, The War Against the Four Pests

When Mao Zedong and the Communist came to power in China, one of Mao’s aim was to modernise the country. This include an increase in industrial and agricultural production. At the same time Mao was organising farmers into collectives and communes he launched the War Against the Four Pests – Rats, Mosquitos. Flies and Sparrows. In particular Sparrows were targeted because they ate the grains. Several things were done to kill the Sparrpws – hunting them, destroying their nests and even playing loud music (The loud music prevented them from landing and resting – in effect the Sparrows were killed by exhaustion). The campaign was a success there was a significant decrease in the Sparrow population of China. Unfortunately, The Sparrows also preyed on the Locusts and with the Sparrows gone the population of Locusts increased. This large Locust population feasted on the crops that led to the collapse of China’s agriculture. The people of the commune and cooperatives were not prepared for this and forced to eat green crops (crops to young to be harvested) and sometimes even shoes. Famine and death followed. It is believed more than a million or even a billion died. There were political repercussions to what would be known as the Great Famine. The least was the revision of the propaganda of the War Against the Four Pests – the Sparrow was dropped from the list and replaced with the cockroach. Mao Zedong was severely criticised by his colleges. And this resulted in backlash of all critics during the Cultural Revolution.

Mao’s War Against the Four Pests is story of an ecological disaster. The cause was political, the effect was ecological and it affected China’s politics.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DOES NOT LIVE IN A VACUUM

A study of Science and Technology in history will reveal that progress, the lack of it or the abundance is dependent on the influencers and the movers of society. Business and politics make science and technology possible. Orwell once said everything is politics and this is true. The Bayt Al-Hikma would not be possible with the caliphate of Haroun Al- Raschid and Al-Mammun.Su Song was a scientist, philosopher and a statesman. One wonders if Gallileo and company were part of the ruling political elite would they have been hounded. Arguments and counter-arguments that can probably fill up an afternoon or two of lively discussion.

What is important at least in the post and the earlier one is to realise how Science and Technology can and is affected by Politics an Business. Perhaps it is not bad to learn from it.

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