Friday, March 13, 2015

Terry Pratchett, and the High Cost of Living

Terry Pratchett passed away yesterday. I never read a lot of his books - The Light Fantastic, The Colour of Magic, Sourcery, and Good Omens are the only ones I've read - but I loved his work. The literary and fantasy worlds have lost a champion, and so soon after losing Spock, too.

Sir Terry also suffered from Alzheimer's. This frightens me, because my family has a history with the disease. But I digress. Terry battled his ever-worsening dive into the well of dementia with what Neil Gaiman called an unusual kind of fury. Which, somewhat paradoxically, translated to the kind of unabashed situational humor you'd find in his work. Death, for example, has been shown to be a bumbling parent unable to resist the charms of his teenaged daughter. The most efficient travelling suitcase in the world is one possessed of many legs and an uncanny sense of humor that, in my opinion, probably influenced the character of Alladin's magic carpet in the Disney iteration of that character.

But perhaps the most interesting character in the series is Rincewind, the inept wizard with a secret so insane that only the end of the world can make any sense out of it. I connected with the bungling ineptitude of Rincewind so much that I gained  a new perspective on what it means to be second-rate. That is, you can be the most inept human being in the world and still be a hero.

Sir Terry was undeniably more than just Discworld and Rincewind, but that's what I will always remember of him. And as the rest of us keep on swimming through the cosmic soup on our own personal great A'Tuins, I know that every once in a while, I will stare out into the horizon, and trick myself into thinking the world was flat - and thank the gods that we ever had a mind like Terry's.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Straying From The Straight Path

I have a lot of friends who don't understand how some folks can't agree with the current administration. Most of these friends work, in one way or the other, with the government. So I can understand why they feel so strongly about the admin as they do.

But I respectfully beg to differ with their views. There was a point in time where I agreed with what they had to say - I even supported the BBL for a time - but as the years went on, and the chinks in Noynoy's administrative armor began to show, I started souring of whatever respect I had of the man and his cabinet.

I imagine it all started, for me, with his lackluster response to typhoon Yolanda. People tell me that Yolanda was am isolated case that we weren't prepared for. I agree! The fact that we responded so terribly after the fact , though, does nothing to make things better. I appreciate how difficult it must have been for the people in charge to react positively to the disaster, but if they can't accept that the fact that they were insufficiently prepared to deal with its aftermath was a sign of administrative weakness, then they're not being very true to themselves for the sake of appearances.

The next turning point came when a friend who worked for Coloma's staff quit his job due to disagreements with the admin. If you can't keep people who disagree with your beliefs happy with their jobs despite their misgivings, then your policy probably isn't very friendly.

And then the whole DAP thing came about. A friend tried to rationalize the DAP as the admin testing the limits of our Constitution. Screw that. If testing the limits of the constitution were ok, then I should be able to test the limits of the law by stealing fruit because I was hungry. The thing is, if I get caught stealing, I pay the price because I broke the law. How differently should the admin be treated?

I don't think I'm oversimplifying things. Least of all because our good leader sees it fit to simplify the communication of the military during an emergency situation to texting somebody across town.

Speaking of which, let's talk about the Mamasapano incident, and the whole BBL.

I won't mince words here. Mamasapano was a breakdown of command. The administrative figures fucked up big time here. And the worst part is that the guy who's accountable for all the actioms of the military is washing his hands off the matter. I'm glad NapeƱas is finally throwing PNoy under the bus. The guy needs to be humble enough to accept his mistakes without hiding behind his accomplishments. They don't cancel each other out. That's just irresponsible.

And then there's the BBL. I liked it when it started out. Peace is, after all, a worthy cause. But when Mamasapano happend I read up on Sharia law - because it sounded like what the government was giving the MILF was the ability to promote Sharia law. And let me tell you, what I learned wasn't pretty. If the local law of the Bangsamoro takes precedence in their region before the law of the land, then the BBL is virtually dooming non-Muslims as second-class citizens within Muslim Mindanao. Peace indeed.

And you knw how there are people saying that the SAF died as part of their jobs? Well, let's put this into perspective. The government improving the country is their iob. Why do we need to celebrate the government doing their jobs? I don't expect praise whenever I finish a milestone in a project. That's just inefficient and unprofessional. You entered the government, and working for the government means you will deal with criticism. Not all of it is valid, but the opinion of every person in a democracy counts - whether it is directed in the proper forum or not. So Mr. President and the current admin's staff - live with it. You chose that path. Man up, admit your shortcomings, and maybe, just maybe, we'll start respecting you a little bit more.