Categories
Asides

LIFE Hacks with Atty Chel Diokno

It’s been a tiring, busy yet very fulfilling week as together with good friends and colleagues, we’ve launched the first installment of our ‘LIFE Hacks‘ series of webinars last June 27, 2020.

Our keynote speaker is none other than the venerable human rights defender, nationalist and founding Dean of De La Salle University’s College of Law, Atty Chel Dionko in which he talked about the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the recent cyber-libel conviction against veteran journalist Maria Ressa.

The webinar series is the inaugural project for our little volunteer group Lasallian Initiative for Empowerment or LIFE. Our mission is to help our fellow Filipinos, especially the youth, to better understand current issues and take part in the national conversation.

Despite the speed bumps and misses, we were surprised that the event exceeded most of our expectations given that we only had almost a week to put it all together. It was also my first foray into moderating or hosting a webinar and the experience has been a humbling and inspiring learning experience for me.

Apart from managing the logistics of the webinar and hosting it, I also handled the technical production – learning how to use and setup OBS Studio to jazz up our zoom webinar the night before and live streaming the event on our Facebook page. All those years of tinkering with computers, sound mixers and DIY-community theater really helped a lot.

We’re now working on our next event which would be a lot smoother and better thanks to all the valuable lessons we learned from the pilot episode. I’ll be talking more about this soon in the coming days.

If you’re one of those who joined our first ‘LIFE Hacks’ thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We look forward to seeing you in the next installment soon!

Categories
Daily dose

Mozart, spaghetti, eclipses & zoonosis

You may be able to spot a ‘ring of fire’ eclipse this weekend link

On June 21st, at 3:45 UTC, there would be an annular solar eclipse in which the moon only partially covers the sun creating a flaming silhouette. This rare event happens once every one or two years when the moon comes in between the Earth and the sun in its farthest point in its orbit. It will be visible in northern India, southeastern Europe to northern Australia in varying degrees. Don’t forget to use the proper equipment in viewing the eclipse as looking directly at the sun could cause permanent eye damage. And no, sunglasses, x-ray films, polaroid filters, or color films won’t give you protection.

The tangled history of spaghetti bolognese link

The spaghetti that we know – pasta noodles with red sauce often referred to as spaghetti bolognese has nothing to do with the Italian town of Bologna. Its origins can be traced to when Napoleon invaded Italy in 1796 and the Italians’ embracing French cooking. American soldiers and Italian immigrants brought it to the United States at the end of World War II. The growth and global expansion of American fast-food chains then exported it to the rest of the world.

Mozart may reduce seizure frequency in people with epilepsy link

A study suggests that listening to Mozart reduces the frequency of seizures in people with epilepsy. It doesn’t say exactly what in Mozart’s music gives this benefit. Maybe music from other classical masters like Beethoven, Bach or Vivaldi would give the same positive effect. From time to time, I put on Spring from Four Seasons just to lighten up the mood and get the creative juices flowing.

“Cat” by strogoscope is licensed under CC BY 2.0
People probably caught coronavirus from minks. That’s a wake-up call to study infections in animals, researchers say. link

The consensus among experts is that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 came from bats and then jumped to humans in what is called zoonosis. Now there’s a growing body of research that suggests the sources of other pathogens may be closer to home as our domesticated animals in farms and including our pets are potential reservoirs.

Even during the SARS outbreak in 2003, it has been proven that cats and raccoons played a role in the spread of the virus in Hong Kong. Back in April, minks in Dutch fur farms got sick from SARS-CoV-2 and later passed it on to humans. Aside from pet cats and dogs, lions and tigers in zoos have also caught COVID-19. So what can be done with the certainty that there would be another outbreak? Better and widened surveillance that includes animals both domestic and wild.

What we can learn from New Zealand’s successful fight against COVID-19 link

The exact opposite of what the Duterte administration did and is doing. New Zealand may have had the advantage of a smaller population and geographic isolation, however the following steps proved more decisive:

  • The early shutdown of its borders
  • Early ramping up of diagnostic testing
  • A meticulous contact tracing system

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did well on risk communication, explaining clearly and frequently what was happening and why. This made people feel that they were part of a communal effort to care for each other. She promoted solidarity. – Gavin Yamey, director of the Duke Center for Policy Impact in Global Health

In contrast, the Duterte government did the opposite:

Relented on imposing travel restrictions even saying that it didn’t want to offend China

Communication was all over the place: from having different officials saying one thing in the morning only to have another official contradict it later in the day.

They even had the bright idea to classify cases as “fresh” and “old” in their official reporting which only made things confusing. It didn’t hide the fact that more people are getting COVID-19 despite imposing the longest lockdown in the world, billions spent, and the available capabilities of local health experts and scientists.

Worse, Duterte’s late-night appearances on TV were laced with his signature profanities and incoherent statements were clear only one thing: threatening to jail or kill critics and naysayers.

We’re in the third month of the outbreak in the Philippines and it seems that this terrible situation will drag on for longer.

Categories
Quotes

Duterte’s Style

How would I describe Duterte’s style of governance or politics? To date I still have no clear answer my self, so I will borrow Prof Randy David’s answer:

The Duterte style appears to be a blend of at least two things. The first is a unique way of engaging audiences that combines tough talk with crass humor, and self-righteous moralizing with an oversimplified view of the world. And, the second is an unfaltering will to act that eschews reasoned discussion of any issue.

This style seems to serve him well regardless of the issue. It could be the jailing of Sen. Leila de Lima, the cancellation of the Inquirer owners’ contract of lease on a government-owned property, the cancellation of the “onerous” contracts of the water companies, the renewal of the franchise of the ABS-CBN broadcasting network, the withdrawal of the country’s membership in the International Criminal Court, the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, or the so-called pivot to China and the concomitant refusal to assert the favorable arbitral tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea. Or, to take a more recent instance, the issue could be the fairness and wisdom of imposing a travel ban to and from China in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Whatever reasons he gives for his decisions, they rarely rise above his personal feelings or grudges. He shows no patience for nuanced arguments or for the need for careful study by experts. He delights in being able to interrupt all debate by the mere issuance of a decision, leaving his spokespersons and members of his Cabinet to either soften the blow or to find a legal and nonpersonal justification for the decision.

Randy David – Activating the Rule of Law, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Could it be said that Duterte is the epitome of or personification of the anti-intellectualism aka “smart-shaming” that has become pervasive in our national consciousness? Or he has simply became the symbol and expression of our collective frustration from the failure of our democratic setup and past governments post-Marcos to give us a better life.

Categories
Daily dose

How the novel coronavirus outbreak gave birth to #OustDuterte

A lot has happened in the past month since the world learned of the 2019 novel coronavirus that started an outbreak in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. As of this writing, figures from the WHO are as follows:

Globally
11953 confirmed (2128 new)
China
11821 confirmed (2102 new)
1795 severe (268 new)
259 deaths (46 new)
Outside of China
132 confirmed (26 new)
23 countries (4 new)

Novel Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 12 as of Feb 1, 2020

In the Philippines, the numbers from the Department of Health as summarized below:

DOH tracker of novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines

The first fatality in the Philippines also earned the distinction as the first one outside of China: 44-year old male who was the companion of the first patient, 38-year old female to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Both were tourists from Wuhan arriving at Cebu via Cebu Pacific flight 5J 241 (Hong Kong-Cebu) and DG 6519 (Cebu-Dumaguete) last Jan. 21, 2020. From Cebu, they then took a flight to Manila on January 25, 2020 via Philippine Airlines. Both airlines have pulled out the actual planes boarded by the tourists for disinfection and have had their cabin crews and pilots screened for the the coronavirus. They are also working with health authorities in tracking down and contacting the other passengers who sat nearby the two tourists.

For some measure of relief, 24 persons under investigation have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

On January 31, the WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. In response, neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Mongolia and Russia have declared travel restrictions on passengers from China. Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, all the government did was declare a travel restriction only to passengers coming form Hubei province where the epicenter of the of outbreak is. This slow response and deference to ‘avoiding the ire of Beijing‘ sparked public outrage that made #OustDuterte a top trending topic on Twitter.

Which was no surprise considering that on that same day, still active Presidential-aide turned Senator Christopher Go stated that President Duterte would meet have a meeting with heath experts and government officials to deal with the outbreak NEXT WEEK! Adding insult to injury, Presidential Spokesperson followed up with a statement that for Duterte, “weekends are sacred” and that he “likes to sleep long.

The response of the administration’s supporters was not totally unexpected: the deployment of online trolls and bot farms with a different, albeit hypocritical narrative: an appeal for sympathy for our Chinese brethren and that a travel ban smacks of racism:

Be careful with sharing the sob stories you read surrounding current events. Some of them are fake/propaganda…

Posted by Martin Luke Lastrilla Patiño on Friday, January 31, 2020

This quickly backfired as netizens used the troll’s message as a template to further mock and throw shade against the administration:

I'm sad. We have Chinese neighbors sa condo, and just now may nakasabay kaming babae (Chinese) with 2 kids. Ang sabi nya…

Posted by Rafael Antonio Anton Dulce on Saturday, February 1, 2020

There are a lot more of these and quite sure you’ve seen either type or both on your newsfeed. The key takeaway is this, at the very least the Duterte administration is sensitive to public opinion.