Sunday, May 31, 2009

Daily Report: Sneezes and Flies

Not too much went on today. I worked in the morning. Epril cooked sweet and sour pork for lunch. The black fly population seems to have hatched, and I spent about an hour chasing them around with my electric fly swatter. Also, something seems to have bloomed, and I'm sneezing like crazy.

Mike and Marissa Turner stopped by in the afternoon on their way back from The Eagles Family Togetherness Weekend at Duka Bay, and visited for a while.

In the evening, we watched "Wall-E" on DVD.

Out there...
There's a world outside of Yonkers
Way out there beyond this hick town, Barnaby
There's a slick town, Barnaby
Out there...
Full of shine and full of sparkle
Close your eyes and see it glisten, Barnaby

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Daily Report: Eagles Party At Duka Bay

Today Epril and I rode to Duka Bay Resort to join the Eagles Club for their Family Togetherness Day. It is about 50 miles further down the coast on the same national highway that Jasaan is on. As you can see above, we had a lovely trip going out. The road was fine, and twisted along the coast and through small villages. A gorgeous drive that took us a little over an hour.

Duka Bay Resort
Epril poses with one of the cozy coves
of Duka Bay in the background.
Duka Bay Resort was surprisingly nice as well. The entire beach is cement. I know it sounds nasty... but over the edge of the cement is beautiful clear water with coral, sand, and wonderful little coves to swim in. The jungle foliage and flowers and rocks and tropical surroundings come right up to the water's edge, so it is possible to be sitting at a nice table underneath the canopy of a banyan, while the water laps gently against the wall just a few feet from you.

The resort takes up about a mile of beach, and there are about two dozen very nice bungalows in the terraced gardens that come right up to the water's edge. There is a pleasant river with water features too. Lots of snorkling and diving options available as well.

Duka Bay Bungalows
One of Duka Bay Resort's bungalows
up on the hill.
I didn't see the rooms, but Epril said that Michael and Marissa Turner's room was monstrous. The bungalows looked quite nice from the outside though, and they were perched up on hills with nice views out over the bay. The restaurant was also nice, and Epril and I had a quick bite to eat there. (The prices were a bit high compared to what you would find at a "regular joint", but not so bad. A medium-sized appetizer of calamari was 200 pisos... $4. Small sodas were 35 pisos... 75 cents.)

All of the Eagles were down on the beach having a good time. The kids were swimming, lots of cards were being played, and food was being cooked. Somebody put on a CD of The Little River Band's Greatest Hits. The San Miguel flowed, the smoke rose over the bar-be-que pits, the kids splashed, and everybody had a great time.

Yours truly burning his fingers
on hot marshmallow. I like mine
burned on the outside, thanks.
There was a roast pig for dinner, as well as fried chicken, kinelaw, and rice. After that, we roasted marshmallows. Unfortunately, we had to roast them over the bar-be-que pit instead of a campfire, and there were no good sticks to put the marshmallows on, so I had to use a plastic fork... but I haven't roasted a marshmallow in 25 years, and it was just as enjoyable as it was when I was a kid.

At 8:30, Epril and I rode home. (The resort was fully booked weeks in advance, as it was an overnight event.) We went nice and slow... and just as well: On one of the those narrow turns, I was watching to make sure that the oncoming tractor trailer wasn't too far to the inside, and I drove off the pavement onto the muddy inside shoulder, fishtailed, and Epril and I went down in a heap. We were only going about 10 miles per hour, and weren't hurt in the slightest. Scratched the paint a little though. Then, further down the road, we had the usual idiot walk out in front of us. Then, we discovered that a huge rainstorm had come through this particular part of the coast, and as I was driving along I suddenly found myself staring at a road covered with about 4-inches of mud from a landslide. Fortunately we didn't go down a second time. Then more stupid people in the road. Then more mud. Then tree branches. Then more people.

All in all, it was easily the scariest and most challenging ride I've ever had on a motorcycle. But it was the end to a great day, and the journey there and back to hang with The Philippine Eagles was worth it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Turn Around Bright Eyes = Mullet With Headlights

They took the Total Eclipse Of The Heart and gave it lyrics that better-match the video. Absolutely brilliant stuff... and hysterical.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Welcome To The Jungle

Yes, it's real. It's a moth with a foot-long wingspan.

Mike in the comments tells us that this is an Atlas Moth.

Funny Little Boy Albert Dermott

Albert Dermott (the mouth-breathing doofus of Thomas Hunt / Grace Songcuya / Janelaze Songcuya fame) has been visiting my blog and leaving anonymous comments, pretending he is... I don't know... some Filipino nationalist who hates expatriates and is out to get me or something like that. I've been deleting the comments, as there is no point in upsetting my mother. (They're dumb anyway. If Albert should suddenly become halfway amusing or intelligent... I know: Unlikely... I'll post them.)

Albert: You're up rather late... 3:18 a.m. Did you finally lose your job or what?


I changed the name of this post from "Funny Little Boy" so that this post will rank higher up on Google when people (i.e., Albert's prospective employers) do a search for "Albert Dermott". I wonder how devastating it is to a guy's job prospects and professional life when almost every hit that Google dishes up on that person talks about what a louse he is?

See? This is a perfect example of somebody dermotting themselves. I would probably have never mentioned Albert Dermott's name again in my life after I last wrote about him 2 weeks ago... but now a whole new round of fun is starting up. My e-mail inbox had 3 letters in it this morning from regular readers who plan to start fucking with Albert again after reading this post. Looks like Jakal in the comments section (a seriously spooky guy) wants to get in on the fun too.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fact Check Of The Day: Reversals

With the upcoming Supreme Court nomination, Republicans are pointing out that nominee Judge Sotomayor has had her decisions reversed by the Supreme Court 80% of the time.

That's actually true.

What Republicans won't tell you is that the national average by which federal judges' decisions are overturned by the Supreme Court is 77%... with some federal courts (such as Denver's 10th circuit) being reversed 100% of the time.

To put it simply: The Supreme Court doesn't hear appeals unless it is likely to overturn a lower court's decision. Therefore, one shouldn't be surprised when the Supreme Court overturns a high percentage of the cases that they hear.

Remember kids, there are people out there who are paid to make you stupid.

Hat tip to John Cole.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Daily Report: Jungle Conditioner

I had an okay morning of work.

For lunch, The Harem (Epril, Ednil, Susan, and Fatima) and I walked to the market where I bought a rather large fish (6 pounds) for lunch. I'm not much at cooking fish, but I gave it a shot: Filleted, pan-saute├ęd with some garlic, onions and spices. Not great, but edible. The girls didn't care for it much either, leaving me with quite a bit leftover.

In the afternoon, I went back to work while The Harem gathered up all of their shampoo, soap, and conditioner, and rode up to Faustina Pool Resort to swim and bathe and do their hair. When I got back upstairs to work, the internet went down again, so I took Tyson along with me and we joined the girls... and we all had a nice dip and bath in the cold and pure springwater of Faustina.

When I got back home, the internet was back on and I did a little more work. Tonight, the Jungle Jumpers went 5-0. The team was over to the house after the game for popcorn.

At 10:00 I watched a show on the History Channel about ancient Chinese warships. It was good, except the part where they gave this twit from Oregon a good 10 minutes of air time. He was using divining rods to locate a "600-year-old Chinese Treasure Ship". He then drilled down through a 5-century old sand dune, found a piece of wood in his drill samples towards the bottom, and claimed that that proved that Chinese ships landed on the American west coast before Columbus came to America. Get real.

Anyway, I went to bed with my stomach complaining about the fish I had earlier in the day. This sucks: I wonder if I'm going to start spitting whole eggs out of my mouth any minute now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Daily Report: A Little Slower

Today being Sunday, I only did half a day's work. Then we had lunch of bar-be-que chicken and Jil's World Famous Fried Rice. (Potatoes, carrots, ground pork, onions, garlic, Magic Sarap, turmeric, black pepper, rice, and eggs.)

The Star Satellite TV has lost HBO, Cinemax, and Star Sports. That's kind of a rip-off, since we paid 9 months in advance only 2 months ago. Star Satellite did lower everybody's monthly charge from 900 pisos per month to 650 pisos per month. I'll leave it up to you as to whether that is a good deal now. Parasat Cable is now available in Jasaan, but it's more expensive than in CDO, and it still doesn't have The History Channel... so that makes up my mind.

In the evening, Epril and I went into Cagayan De Oro. First we stopped by Ron and Eve's house. They showed us the house they had refurbished next door: They want to rent it out by the week or month. It's really quite nice, all done up in bamboo, with a view out over Macajalar Bay.

Also, we discovered that they found a very nice little security system (a motion detector attached to a light and a bell) for a very low price. Epril and I had looked for something like that before and couldn't find one. Now we know where to look.

We went to dinner at Jollibee (we already did our one fancy dinner on Friday night) and then to watch a movie. We saw "Night At The Museum 2", which had a couple of funny moments, but really was kind of lame: A large portion of the movie consisted of pointless banter between various egotistical figures in history. Hank Azaria (of Simpson's fame) was enjoyable... barely.

(I had wanted to see Star Trek, and made up my mind to go into CDO to see a movie based on seeing that particular film. However, as I have learned before (and since forgotten), movies come to The Philippines a month behind the rest of the world. So Star Trek will have to wait.)

After that it was back to Jasaan. It's a good thing that I got those extra lights put on the motorcycle: Filipinos + roads + nighttime = idiocy. First, a woman, dressed all in black, walked right out in front of me, apparently oblivious to the four bright headlights and blaring horn bearing down on her. The nice thing about being on a motorcycle is my vehicle is only 2 feet wide, and it is easy to avoid things. In a car though, I would have sent her home to Jesus.

Then (even better... or worse), as Epril and I were going across the bridge at Tagoluan, I was behind a slow truck. I looked out ahead and saw no oncoming cars, and pulled out to pass. There in my headlights is a guy, dressed all in black, on a little black motor scooter, with no lights, coming straight at me.

Fortunately, having driven in Asia now for over 6 years, I expect just that kind of thing, and I just pulled back in behind the truck with plenty of time to spare. Dummie Darko on the other hand apparently shit his pants and went into the railing on the other side. Serves him right.

Anyway, it was an otherwise uneventful and pleasant trip back home. Then it was off to bed and I read my book for a while.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Raise Your Hand If This Ever Occured To You

Chen wanted to kill himself because he had 2 million yuan ($294,000) in debt after a failed construction project, Xinhua reported.

Lian Jiansheng, 66, who was passing by the bridge, offered to talk Chen down, Xinhua said. Police refused, but Lian broke through the police cordon and climbed to where Chen was sitting.

Lian greeted Chen with a handshake, then pushed him off the bridge, Xinhua said.

Chen fell 26 feet (8 meters) onto a partially-inflated emergency air cushion, damaging his spine and elbow in the fall, Xinhua said. He is now recovering in a hospital.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Now That's Entertainment

In what can only be described as a win-win development, loud-mouthed media stars are volunteering to be waterboarded (fun to watch) and are being cured (in about 3 seconds average) of the thought that waterboarding is not torture.

More please.

Daily Report: Darkness Falls

Tyson in his doghouse... an old
cabinet off in a corner.
Work went okay in the morning. Tyson has been become my new matutinal aide, coming to the bedroom door at about 6:30 every day and making a racket until I let him in, so that he can sit at my bedside and have his head scratched. He is saving Epril the bother of having to poke my nose and tickle my ribcage and climb on top of me and pry my eyes open in order to get me out of bed, and I'm sure she is appreciative.

In the evening, Epril and I rode in to CDO for dinner at the Japanese Restaurant and drinks with the folks at Spooks. I talked with Spooks' owner Mike, and he is pretty worried about the police coming along and closing him down. I sincerely hope that does not happen: Spooks is — more than anywhere else in town — the expatriates' club house.

The drive back to Jasaan was very nice: A cool, clear night after a good rain storm. The new lights on the motorcycle are now doing their job fantastically.

When we got back to Jasaan, we found that the power had gone out, and the town was a beautiful darkscape of flickering candles in windows and on porches and little roadside campfires, with folks sitting outside finding company in the darkness. The clouds had moved off and left Jasaan under a fantastic starlit sky. Epril, Fatima, Ednil and I lit 40 or 50 tea candles, and turned our house into a cozy bright spot on the block. We sat out on the front porch and (I apologize for saying) allowed ourselves to be entertained by the sundowning rants of a demented member of the local senior citizenry who lives with the family across the street, her shouts about smelly vaginas coming to us out of the darkness.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CDO Fails Audit of Funds Badly

An auditor from the state government has come to Cagayan De Oro's city hall to check and make sure that all of the city's books are in order.

This is probably how the conversation went:

Auditor:"Forty million pisos is missing."
City hall guy:"Where's that?"
Auditor:"Right there."
City hall guy:"Oh. We spent that."
Auditor:"You did? On what?"
City hall guy:"On stuff."
Auditor:"Well, where is the receipt?"
City hall guy:"Right there."
Auditor:"This is just a piece of paper that says 'we spent 40 million pisos.'"
City hall guy:"Right. A receipt."

I know I shouldn't, but I make a distinction between the local cop who is getting paid 10,000 pisos per month, and engages in a little on-the-job "fund raising" to double his salary to 20,000 pisos per month, and the government politicians who are getting paid 500,000 pisos per month, and engage in a little on-the-job "fund stealing" to double their salary to 1 million pisos per month.

As always, Gold Star Daily has the goods on Teh Stoopid.

Daily Report: Road Trip With Tyson

The internet went out while I was on my lunch break. (I made Jil's World Famous Fried Rice for lunch.)

Without any work to do, I decided to take Tyson out to get his vaccinations. We had purchased the vials and syringes at a veterinarian in Cagayan De Oro, and were told that we could take Tyson to either the Agriculture Department here in Jasaan to get his shots, or to the nearest veterinarian, who was located in the next town up the coast from Jasaan, called Balingasag.

We took Tyson to the Agriculture Department, and they wouldn't give Tyson his shots. They'll inoculate stray dogs, but not family dogs. They don't want to be liable for making a mistake apparently.

So, Epril and I decided to put Tyson on the motorcycle with us and drive him the 15 kilometers to Balingasag. Epril sat behind me holding onto Tyson. We've taken Tyson before on short motorcycle trips, and he squirms a little bit, but mostly to get comfortable, or to get his face in the breeze... but he doesn't try to jump off. He did fine for the 25-minute trip, alternating between curling up on Epril's lap, and standing on my shoulders with his tongue flapping in the breeze.

By the way: The drive along the coast from Jasaan to Balingasag is simply gorgeous: The very apotheosis of tropical island vistas with mountainous jungle looming on one side, beautiful shoreline on the other, and the volcanic Camiguin island in the distance. (Next time, when I don't have a 20-pound dog sitting on my head, I'll stop and take pictures.)

When we got to Balingasag (a town that is actually prettier than Jasaan in many ways), nobody there had ever heard of a veterinary office in town. On a whim, we went to the hospital and asked if they would send out a lab tech to inject Tyson. No. And no, they didn't know where to find a veterinarian either.

We went to the office of the Agriculture Department in Balingasag and the guy there was all ready to do the injections, and was filling up the needle when he asked Epril something in Visayan and she replied, "Jasaan." Shit. I knew instantly what was being said without speaking a word of the language. "Why didn't you go to the Agriculture Department there to get the shots done?" "Uhh... We did. They wouldn't give him the shot." That was the end of that.

So it was back to Jasaan.

I figured now was a good time to stop by the mayor's office and ask him about setting up the Jasaan Eagles Club, but Mayor Jardin wasn't there. I talked with his assistant, the eminently nice guy, Alan. I asked him if he knew of any vets in the area so that I could get my dog his shots. "The Agriculture Department downstairs will do it," he replied. In short order, Alan had arranged for us to stop by the house of one of the Agricultural Department guys after work, and (in a totally unofficial, non-liable manner) the fellow quite expertly gave Tyson his shot.

The internet stayed out the rest of the night. We watched Forrest Gump on DVD and drank Jil's World Famous Cagayan Cocktails.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fact Check Of The Day: More Food Stupidity

Republican Reality: People (i.e. you, apparently) are angry that homeless shelters are spending government money on fancy meals for the homeless (like risotto, pumpkin soup, and red-wine bar-be-que beef) when they should be serving macaroni and cheese and hamburger helper.

The Actual Reality: The two homeless shelters that were mentioned in the above Republican Reality don't receive federal funds for their operations, and the menu they offer to the homeless is based on whatever donations their kitchens receive from local restaurants' leftovers.

What is it with Republicans and their culinary philistinism these days? John Cole thinks they are revisiting the old Communist jeremiad of "bourgeois scum eat chicken kiev, real comrades eat borscht", while one of his commenters (using reaction to Obama's "put air in your tires to save gas" statement as an example) comes closer to my belief that Republicans will just bitch about anything endorsed by liberals. (I especially like his quote, "I swear you could kill off all of these assholes with one well placed MoveOn.Org add imploring people not to eat cyanide.")

Old Video Predicts The Internet Quite Well

Usually when you see old videos from the 1950s and 1960s that try to predict the future, you get girls with beehive hairdos, tin-foil boots, and styrofoam-collared shirts driving rocket cars or emptying nuclear-powered washing machines while a robot dog beeps in the background.

Here is one of those videos that (while obviously visually inaccurate) has the notional aspects of the internet down almost perfectly.

Scientists Discover Jil Is Special

There is a discernible correlation between creativity and people who opt to leave their home country in order to seek new experiences by living abroad. Living abroad will make you a more creative person... and chances are you are a more creative person because you choose to live abroad.

Here is a short summary. Here is the full 15-page .pdf report.

Daily Report: Jungle Jumpers Go 4-0

A fair day of work today, but I got started quite late. That's been my main problem recently: Getting started at work nice and early.

About three years ago, I started taking Zyban to stop smoking. It's the same drug as Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, just under a different name. I never stopped taking it because I loved the fact that when on the medicine, I always bounced out of bed after exactly 8 hours of sleep, refreshed and ready to go. However, after 3 years on the drug, I wasn't getting out of bed quite as well as I used to, and I figured that whatever benefit I was getting had worn off. So I stopped taking the drug, and I'm still getting out of bed in the morning fairly well... with Epril's help.

Mostly, I'm getting to work late because I find things on the internet (like the posts I put above about creativity and expats, and that 1960's video about the internet) that grab my attention.

Anyway, I got started at work around 1:00 in the afternoon, and worked through until about 6:00.

The Jungle Jumpers had their first game tonight in their new uniforms. As before, I was there for the first half: They were ahead 12-6 after the first quarter, and then collapsed to 15-16 in the second quarter. So I left. As per usual, as soon as I left, the team came from behind and won. Epril, Susan, and Ednil stayed around to cheer though.

We're sleeping without the air conditioning now... and getting along pretty well with just the fan. That should cut our electricity bill in half if we can go without it most nights.

Two Tourists Who Must Hate Thailand About Now

Next time come to The Philippines?

A British man is facing 2 years in a Thai jail after being "rude" to Thai immigration officials on his way out of Thailand. I suppose when you are expecting to get on your plane back home, and instead are arrested on the suspicion of having a forged passport (it wasn't), rudeness might creep into the picture. But, of course it is all the Thai authorities have to charge the guy with.

An Australian woman is facing 5 years in a Thai jail after stealing a coaster from a bar in Phuket. Again, when confronted by police and taken into custody, rudeness crept into the picture. The bar owner of course wasn't interested in pressing charges, but again, rudeness is all the Thai authorities are focusing on now.

I really must say that with the world's economic problems, Thailand's recent political riots and coups, the 2-week sit in and closure of the Bangkok airport, and now tourists getting thrown in jail for being rude... that there remains even a single tourist willing to visit Thailand is amazing in and of itself.

Not For Mom

Epril and Tyson seem to be collaborating in an effort to get me to put the same louche photo on the internet time and again. A couple more inviting photos like this, and I'll be able to get Tyson his own page on Cherry Blossoms, to see if he gets letters from any interested ladies.

Miss Bikini Open 2009 To Be Rather Tame

Contestants for Miss Bikini 2009.
Photo courtesy of Gold Star Daily.
In order to please as many uptight people as possible... and bore the rest... Cagayan De Oro's Miss Bikini Open 2009 contestants will (a) not get wet, (b) not do The Sexy Dance, (c) not allow their knees to ever get more than 10 centimeters apart from each other. (Okay... I added that last one in for kicks.)

Oh... No photography will be allowed at the show either. To quote show organizer Erica Dosoran, "Our show is going to be wholesome. We only want to show that Cagayan de Oro has lots of beautiful bodies... but we certainly don't want photographic evidence of that fact to get out." (Okay... I added in that last part for kicks too.)

I've got a cool idea: Change the name from Miss Bikini Open 2009 to Miss Aerobic Instructor 2009. Then get all the contestants to come on stage and do some jumping jacks and splits and pelvic strengthening exercises.

Some leg lifts might be nice too: Get all the contestants on their backs. "Up apart together down. Up apart together down."

All the nuns monitoring the show will be nodding approvingly at the wholesome display of fitness and health. The teenaged boys will all be nodding approvingly too, I'm sure. "Is that a camera phone in your pocket son? Or are you just enjoying the show?"

As always, Gold Star Daily has the goods on Teh Stoopid.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dumb American Busted Buying Meth In CDO

Kano meth addict in police custody.
Photo courtesy of Gold Star Daily.
If you are a foreigner and a methamphetamine addict in The Philippines, you're already an idiot. But you are double-deep-fried stupid if you wander down to the local gas station where you stand out like a sore thumb to meet up with your friendly neighborhood drug dealer to get your hands on some crank.

Meet Kim Tutt, who did just that. Of course he got busted and jailarity ensues.

It's called delivery dude. Keep your white ass indoors where the entire world won't notice you scoring some shabu.

(Why the drug dealer didn't run like Usain Bolt when he saw Mr. Caucasian Cop Bait walking onto his turf is beyond me... but there you go.)

Gold Star Daily has the goods on Teh Stoopid.

More Unappreciative Girls Rescued From Their Jobs

Girls in Cebu beg police to allow them to return to the jobs they were "rescued" from: Dancing in bikinis for some appreciative foreign tourists.

Stupid bikini girls. Don't they know that making a living dancing around in various states of undress doesn't meet with the approval of the well-educated, properly-employed women of The Philippines, and that they should just give up their unacceptable jobs and get back to starving and struggling for the sake of societal harmony and peace of mind of their wealthier counterparts?

Note to The Philippines Bureau of Tourism: Y'all ain't Singapore, you know. Your country only has two "S" words to offer foreign tourists who come here, and "sand" is one one of them... and those foreign tourists can get cheap and pretty "sand" in any number of places on this planet. If you are going to get rid of the other "S", then you'd better start building some world class theme parks, historical and cultural events, golf courses, nature preserves, shopping districts, monuments, museums, and other tourist attractions which you are sorely lacking to make up for it.

Philippines exports are down 31% this year, and there is a 30% drop in Filipinos employed overseas this year, and now the government decides is a good time to start closing down go-go-bars and scaring off the sex tourists? That's intelligent.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Daily Report: The Costs Of Services Rendered

Committing crime in a small town is never a good idea. Regarding the burglar that broke into our house, Susan called my father-in-law (who is off fishing in Bohol) and said, "You know, he looked a lot like that what's-his-name back from when we used to live in so-and-so." My father-in-law just happened to know a chronic fuckup across town who looks quite a bit like what's-his-name (but not the same guy) and made some calls. It turns out the fuckup had tried to sell some phones and cameras around town recently.

By the time the police got there, he was gone to Bukidnon. I found this out as I went to the police station. "Are you going to arrest him?" "He's only 14 years old." "Are you going to bring him in for questioning?" "He's run off to Bukidnon." "I've got a 2,000 piso reward out for the person who brings that kid back to this police station." "OK. We'll do our best."

Still waiting.

Epril engaged in her tonsorial duties of matrimony today and rebraided my hair in the back. If you've never seen it, it's a long thin single braid. I don't know why I have it really. Well: When I shaved my head, I wanted some remnant of how long my hair used to be, I suppose. Puppy Tyson chews on it.

My Motorstar motorcycle developed an exhaust leak on the way home from Cagayan De Oro on Friday night. There was also a bushing on the rear suspension that occasionally develops a squeak that was acting up, and the new rear disc brake wasn't nearly as tight as I wanted it to be.

I took the bike around the block from my house to the motorcycle shop there, and within an hour they had those 3 problems fixed. A 70-year-old old mechanic named Boy with bad dentures did the work. Coming in with a new model and brand of motorcycle that he had never worked on before didn't faze him in the slightest.

I told him about the problem with the new lights, and how I've had 6 months of misery with the battery getting drained and the engine not generating enough electricity to keep all the lights and gadgets working. I told him of the various attempts Mechanic Jun had made in his 3 months with my motorcycle to try and fix it. I told Boy to see what he could do, and special order parts from Milan or Tokyo if he had to... 2 weeks or a month... whatever. I could wait.

He had the thing fixed and working in perfect order within an hour.

It turns out that in the circle of electrical flow on the motorcycle from battery to motor and back to battery, Old Mechanic Jun had hooked the new road lights up to the electricity flowing from the battery to the engine. New Mechanic Boy just switched the lights over to the electricity flowing from the engine to the battery.

Why this works, I do not know. It's not my area of expertise. However, it seems like such a simple thing... a kindergarten-level repair... that there is only one conclusion I can make: Old Mechanic Jun is gravely retarded when it comes to motorcycle electrical systems... or New Mechanic Boy is, and putting the lights on the motor's "outgoing electricity" wire is going to do untold damage to the motorcycle.

However, since the motorcycle's original two headlights were hooked up to the "outgoing electricity" already, and now all 4 headlights are lighting up beautifully, and the battery is holding a charge... I'll wait to see if anything bad happens, and then render my final judgement about Mechanic Jun's knowledge.

Of course, after I found a fantastic mechanic right around the corner from me, and I was all prepared to have him do all kinds of work, the old bugger charged me 1,000 pisos for his work. (To wit: He tightened a bushing, adjusted the brake, replaced a nut that had fallen off the exhaust header, and moved some wires from the positive to the negative lead of the battery.) If I go back to Mechanic Boy (which I may: he is the only/best in town), I'll definitely be negotiating prices with that guy before I have him do any more work next time, and not wait to ask the price after the work has been done. (In my defense, his was the shop that did work on my electric scooter when we broke something in the rear axle on a big bump... and the price wasn't that bad.)

I sat in bed and played Civilization on the laptop again tonight. It's rainy season here on Mindanao, and we are getting some very nice rain showers moving through a few times per day. But in between, there are wonderful clear blue skies.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

An Interesting Article On The Democrat Generation

Read this.

It's common knowledge that the popularity or success of the person who is President when one turns 18 has a strong bearing on what political party one affiliates with throughout life. The fact is that while historically this has been true in The United States, it is currently becoming more true. More importantly, as this article shows, Americans don't change political affiliation much once they get settled in.

For the generation of Americans who came of age during the 8 years under Clinton, they identify as Democrat-over-Republican by a margin of about 10 percentage points. For the generation who came of age during the 8 years of G.W. Bush, they identify as Democrat-over-Republican by a margin of about 16 percentage points. That is a 16-year segment of the American population that is much more strongly Democrat than Republican. That's quite significant.

Now, assume that President Obama gets his 8 years and does no worse than Bill Clinton. That will create a 24-year segment of the American population that is much more Democrat than Republican. That's extremely significant.

Imagine if after that, Hillary comes along as President? Assuming she also does no better or worse than Bill Clinton, that will probably create a 28–32 year span of our population... and a period of time that is actually double that — 60 years, until a putative equivalent 30-year gain by Republicans can offset the Democrat advantage... in the year 2054 — that Democrats will have a huge voter advantage over Republicans.

But the truth is that once you've reached that point: where a significant span of the population (half: aged 18 to 50 in the year 2024) identifies significantly (by 16-plus percentage points) as Democrat, then all other things being equal, the likelihood that a Republican can get elected to the White House beyond the year 2020 or 2024 becomes very slim. Then each subsequent batch of 18-year-olds will be coming of age under a Democrat president.

And that is indeed just assuming all other things are equal... which they sure as hell aren't: Currently, it's much worse for Republicans than just not having the White House. They have a terribly tainted and collapsing message and are hemorrhaging registered voters.

Republicans talked about a "permanent majority" once a few years back. I didn't believe it then. Now though — assuming the Obama administration manages to at least muddle through, and Clinton (or someone else) after — the birth of a "permanent majority" may be exactly what America is witnessing.

The only way that this future Democrat hegemony could be avoided now is for liberalism to crash and burn in both message and in practice, and in a manner more severe and more lengthy than conservatism is currently doing. And, to be honest: The damage to the country that such a crash would cause would be so extreme, that anybody who places the health of America over the health of the Republican party better hope and pray that it does not happen.

I suppose that the rise of libertarianism could stop the dominance of liberalism. Right now, libertarians are voting anti-Republican (which of course means voting Democrat). If libertarian candidates can start presenting an attractive-enough platform to lure the 60% of Americans who would vote anti-Democrat, then the permanent Democrat majority could be avoided... and that is probably what will happen eventually, but (unless, as stated above, disaster falls) that won't be happening anytime soon.

OK, Now THAT'S Some Sweet Shrewd Strategy

Obama has just appointed the Mormon, Republican Governor of Utah (a millionaire businessman, fluent in Mandarin) to be the Ambassador to China.

What a fantastically shrewd move. Just as the last echos of the words of RNC Chairman Michael Steele were beginning to fade — that Massachusetts Mormon Mitt Romney didn't get the Republican nomination to run for President over John McCain because Republicans don't trust Mormons — Obama comes along and lassoes one of the nation's top moderate conservatives and Republican rising stars into his own circle, and gives Mormons (who have huge constituencies in the swing states of Nevada and Colorado) something to think about before they cast their straight-line Republican vote the next time they go to the polls.

Says Al Giordano:
The appointment of Huntsman is thus, politically, a slam dunk. When GOP primary voters inevitably reject Romney once again in the 2012 primaries and caucuses outside of the Mountain West, the resentment - already boiling after last year's adventures in presidential politics - among rank-and-file Mormons that the party to whom they've given so much still doesn't really want them in the Master's house rather than the servant's quarters, will sting. Meanwhile, another of their prominent citizens will likely still be Obama's man in Beijing, proof that somebody in American politics isn't dissing the LDS and its members. And in key swing states like Nevada and Colorado, LDS members are legion.

Quick Update On Slumdog Millionaire Kids

I wrote a couple of days ago that the young actor from Slumdog Millionaire was still living in the slum from which he was hired for his role in the movie. I turns out he has gotten a compensation package (CNN video) for his work in the movie:
The producers set up the Jai ho foundation specifically for the slum child actors. They say the children have been paid, get a stipend, a trust fund, and that the families have been offered better housing, but Ismail's mother says what is being offered is not good enough. "My son should live in a nice locality, a nice place where other stars stay," she says, "The family should own a home there." But the homes she is referring to cost millions of dollars in [Mumbai] and so far no one is offering that kind of money. So the family is staying put in the slum they know.

According to this article:
[T]he children's parents rejected the filmmakers' offer to move them from their makeshift shacks into proper apartments, demanding instead payment in cash. "Nothing would be easier than to throw money at this," says Colson. "But we felt from the beginning that that would be irresponsible." So he and Boyle (with input from the film's U.S. distributor Fox Searchlight) have hired local Indian social workers to help negotiate a solution that will relocate the families into safe and clean housing. Colson can't say how soon they'll resolve the matter, but he promises he won't quit until they do. "We are committed to this," he says. "We'll still be on this in two or three years. And you can hold me to account on that."
According to this article:
The movie's distributor, Fox Searchlight, as well as Boyle and Colson, all have responded to the Telegraph story with statements, asserting that "For 30 days' work, the children were paid three times the average local annual adult salary," and that the families have been given funds to cover "basic living costs, health care, and any other emergencies."

Boyle mentioned that he and the producers, cognizant of how a movie like Slumdog could change the kids' lives for the worse if proper care wasn't taken, had set up a trust fund for Ali and Ismail, accessible only if they enrolled in school — a first for both of them. "They’d never been to school," Boyle said. "So they have to stay in school until they're 18. When they reach 18, and if they've passed all their exams, a quite substantial sum of money — extra money [on top of their salaries] — will be released to them."
And then, of course, there is this:
Ten-year-old Slumdog Millionaire star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail was physically disciplined by his father in full view of a crowd in Mumbai, drawing an outcry from onlookers, reports. The actor, who played the youngest Salim in the Oscar-winning film, was reportedly slapped and kicked by his father after refusing to talk to local press.
In related news, the father of the little girl who played the young girl in the movie "considered an offer" to sell her for $300,000.

I'm starting to get a picture of parents who see these actors as nothing more than little sacks of money which they are trying to pry open. It's sad, but it's unfortunately the kind of thing you expect to hear about in India's slums.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cash For Clunkers: Analyzing The Idea

One of the new ideas (.pdf) being bandied about by Congress is a $4,500 voucher that will be given to any person or business who is going to buy a new vehicle in exchange for an old vehicle that gets bad gas mileage (i.e. less than 18 miles per gallon).

Let me see what that yields:

  1. Assume that the average person drives 12,000 miles per year.
  2. Assume that the average mileage a car gets is 22 MPG.
  3. Assume that there are 250 million vehicles in the U.S.
  4. Assume that the MPG of the lowest 25 million is 15 MPG.
  5. Assume that a new car MPG is 29 MPG.
Therefore: 300 million people in America multiplied by 12K miles that each person drives on average per year divided by the average 22 MPG that their cars get, and that means that the United States uses 163 billion gallons of gasoline per year on road vehicles.

Then, for $112.5 billion spread over 5 years:

  1. 25 million 15 MPG vehicles would be replaced by 29 MPG vehicles.
  2. At 12,000 miles per year, x25 million by a 14 MPG difference:
    1. 10.3 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved per year.
    2. 10.3 B gallons x $2.50 / gal = $25 billion saved per year or $125 billion over 5 years.
It's a bit socialist in its application, I agree, using government money to decrease expenses of the citizenry, but look at it this way: The federal government is spending $34 billion to bail out automakers, and not a single additional car is being sold, and not one bit of benefit (other than saved jobs) is making it back to the public in general.

About 17 million cars per year are sold in America. This "Cash for Clunkers" program would cover (or add to that number) 5 million cars sold per year. For $112.5 billion, the federal government could (a) bail out or prop up the auto industry for the next 5 years, (b) spur domestic spending, (c) decrease vehicle gasoline consumption and increase fuel efficiency of cars in America by at least 6%.

It's not much, but like I said, if you're going to bail out the auto industry, I would think that this is a much more practical and beneficial way of doing it.

A Jungle Jil PSA: Be Wary Of Rasmussen

Okay, I know you're wondering what this is about or why it is important. You know my saying, "Remember kids, there are people out there who are paid to make you stupid," right?

Well, this is one of those posts, and the subject is the poll-taking company called Rasmussen.

This is one of those rare instances where you aren't actually smarter than the people paid to make you dumb. Sorry: It's very hard to catch Rasmussen doing what they do, to explain what they do, or to show what they do... until now, which is obviously the reason for this post.

Here is what you need to know: Rasmussen is the polling company that Republican bloggers and pundits always quote to show how much America dislikes Obama's politics and policies. That is because Rasmussen always falls — no matter what the question — several-to-many percentage points closer to what the Republicans would like than other polls. For example, throughout the entire McCain-Obama Presidential campaign of 2008, Rasmussen was the polling outfit that always showed Obama the least ahead (if not behind). Rasmussen always shows Obama's approval rating 4 to 7 points lower than other polls.

You will normally never know how they do this. Sometimes it is the wording of the question (as in today's example below), sometimes it is statistical vagaries like sample criterion and other mathematical slight-of-hand, and sometimes it is polling methods. But, the #1 lesson to take away from this post is this: When you see "Rasmussen statistics" used in an article or post, just remember that the numbers you are seeing are almost always "skewed to the right" for whatever opinion is being sought. (Oh... and for balance's sake, watch out for "Research 2000" on the other side of the coin. They aren't as bad as Rasmussen, but they do skew Democrat somewhat.)

Anyway, let's take today's Rasmussen statistic:
"Most voters (58%) shared Cheney’s view on a related topic, that the release of CIA memos about the harsh interrogation methods used on terrorism suspects endangers U.S. national security."
Wow. What does that mean? 58% of Americans were against releasing the CIA torture memos, right? 58% of Americans disagree that Obama released them?

Well, look at the question that was asked to get to that 58%:
"Does the release of CIA memos on interrogation techniques help the image of the United States abroad or does it endanger the national security of the United States?"
Note the wording: "help the image of the United States abroad" versus "endanger national security". Also note the order: "image" before "national security"... that's important too.

This is called "a Hobson's choice" and it displays very poor poll-taking style. It forces the person being asked the question to pick the second response, because the first response is an answer to a rhetorical question: Of course releasing the CIA memos harms the image of the United States. Everybody knows that. This question therefore corrals people being polled directly into the second response... the response that Republicans want to hear and use against further revelations of American torture practices.

But in truth, what this poll really shows is not the answer to the question, "Does the release of CIA memos on interrogation techniques endanger the national security of the United States?" but instead answers this question: "Does the release of CIA memos on interrogation techniques help the image of the United States abroad... or not?"

Sorry for the bold and red color and stuff, but I don't want you to miss it: Do you see the Hobson's choice now? Do you see the bait and switch?

(Hell: The fact that 42% of people still felt that the answer to the rhetorical question "Does the release of CIA memos on interrogation techniques help the image of the United States abroad?" was "no" is in and of itself a more significant finding than the 58% of people who said "yes", and actually displays a finding that is quite the opposite of what Rasmussen probably hoped to convey.)

So, the lesson for today is: Watch out for the word "Rasmussen" when reading about polls. Those folks are paid (vast quantities of money) to make you stupid.

Hat tip to John Cole.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Republican Pundits Up In Arms Over Mustard

No really. Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and The Rush Limbaugh Show all actually took the time to make fun of the fact that Obama ordered spicy mustard on a hamburger.

Even in the deepest gloom of the Bush presidency, was there ever an example of even the most extremely-out-there left-wing Democrat pundits getting so desperate as to focus their fire on something even remotely as trivial as the President's hamburger condiments?

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When it comes to the behavior of the once-respectable Republican media over the last 10 years, I've gone from dismay to disdain to contempt to now slack-jawed incredulity at what they have become. Can you imagine Russell Kirk or Milton Friedman ever taking time to make fun of Lyndon Johnson's love of Fresca? Can you imagine William F. Buckley Jr. taking time to mock Carter for his choice of ties or Clinton for his jogging shorts?

I keep thinking the Republicans have hit rock bottom... and I'm always wrong.

Daily Report: The Just Rewards

Work has not been going well lately. I'm annoyed most at the fact that it seemed to be smoothing out and picking up quite nicely there for a while... but now it has taken another nosedive.

Epril in her Jungle Jumpers
uniform, taking a break from
her dreams of basketball
stardom to pose for a pic.
The basketball team uniforms arrived today. I was surprised: They are quite nice, and have the "Jungle Jumpers" team name on the front. In the end, I wound up spending $100 instead of $60... but the guys are quite happy, and they keep winning.

Epril got a uniform for herself as well. She's really cute running around the house pretending she's a basketball star. She's all excited for the next game, as are Susan and Ednil. The next game is this coming Tuesday, and I'll get a team photo then.

Tyson and his girl, Ednil.
We've added Epril's best friend Fatima to our household as well. It is now me and four lovely ladies in the house... plus my boy Tyson. I told Tyson yesterday that it wasn't fair for me to have all the ladies in the house while he had none, so I gave him Ednil. She is his number one chew toy anyway.

We watched Slumdog Millionaire tonight. It was a great movie. It reminded me so much of Forrest Gump, which I was surprised to learn only Susan had seen so far. Therefore I'm going to buy a copy of that movie and we'll be watching it tomorrow night. I just read that one of the actors, the little boy who played Jamal's brother early in life, is actually a "slumdog" in his own right and his family's house was just razed to the ground today. You would think that in the millions of dollars that movie made, he would have seen enough money to at least get himself and his family out of the hovel they occupied. Apparently not... and that's definitely wrong.

No... We're Serious... Stop Laughing... We Mean It

A member of the Republican National Committee told me Tuesday that when the RNC meets in an extraordinary special session next week, it will approve a resolution rebranding Democrats as the "Democrat Socialist Party."
In other news, the Democratic National Committee will be meeting to approve a resolution rebranding Republicans as the "Republican Stinky Poopy Pants Booger Eater Party."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Thomas Hunt Update

Now that Thomas Hunt is dead and buried, the media spotlight has turned to Hunt's adulterous wife, Janelaze, and her lover Albert Dermott who are living in Virginia.

The Gold Star Daily has become All Janelaze All The Time now, as the story has moved on from the disrespected dead to the liable (and loutish) living, fueled by some huggy-kissy photos of Janelaze and Albert — and the happy halfwits astounding dyscalculia regarding the odds against them and a startling ignorance of knowing when to STFU.

A good old fashioned media chivaree has begun for the cohabitating couple: Evidence of Janelaze's green card fraud are on the front page (discovered online that she lied about having any children on her application), while behind the scenes expatriates are spending their days picking apart Albert's professional life with unmitigated glee.

One would think that this story wouldn't "have legs" at this point, but the crud that the expatriates are able to find in the darkest corners of the archives of the internet about Janelaze is gossip page gold, and it plays fantastically to both Filipino and expatriate sense of fair play and outrage at Janelaze's poor sportsmanship and lack of morals. Quite simply, Janelaze and Albert are an execrable couple, easy to despise. (The Songcuya family's laughable assertions that Albert is "the husband of a friend of Janelaze", and that Janelaze was a good wife and working hard to support the erstwhile victim of her affections, Thomas, adds a poo-flavored coating to the whole sordid story.)

In reality, that information wouldn't be enough though: The world is filled with human turds such as Janelaze and Albert. Everybody knows this, and normally people just mutter "assholes" in regard to their type, and get back to their own lives. However, behind the scenes (out of the news stories), Janelaze and Albert are meeting the accusations against them with an endless stream of vituperative e-mails chock full of threats of violence, name calling, and I-dare-you goading of all comers. These two twits seem to have an endless supply of matches to rival the Gold Star's supply of expatriate-supplied gasoline, ensuring that a the fire continues to burn and the public is served yet another piping-hot chapter of Janelaze The Bitch every day.

The goal obviously is to get Janelaze kicked out of the United States after she used a poor old man — and bankrupted him, and then discarded him, even as he lay dying — to get a green card to live in America. I'm fairly confident that that effort will eventually succeed, given the tenacious traits that her antagonists have shown up to this point.

While the campaign to ruin her lover Albert is born out of spite, his loudmouthed threatening and grandstanding e-mails... promising a shadowy doom on all who dare cross him... puts the blame for his coming woes squarely on his own shoulders: The more he arrogantly postures and adumbrates his revenge on the people who are devising ways to make him miserable, the more happily and zestfully those people fuck with him.

All in all, this is the kind of story that can just keep going to its bittersweet conclusion: The deceitful, conniving, and villainous woman and her dumb, detestable, attack-dog sidekick lover wind up in a perpetual misery, wails of frustration falling on deaf ears while the credits roll, and the ghost of a hapless-yet-vindicated old man gazes down on it all with a look of forlorn satisfaction.

(p.s. I'm thinking about coining a new word in honor of Albert Dermott: It will be the verb "to dermott". It will be defined as "engaging in an uncontrollable urge to shoot one's mouth off or talk trash even with the knowledge that it will only lead to more problems for oneself." To use it in a sentence: "Why do you have to go in there and dermott with your boss when he is already mad at you?")

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

For Mom

Tyson taking a much needed rest from guard duty.

Daily Report: Power

We got the electric bill today: 7,000 pisos... about $140. (That's compared to $90 when we were at Camilla homes.) I'm really surprised at how much our bill went up.

At first I thought the extra money was being spent on keeping too many lights on at night, because as far as appliances and such go, our selection is barely different than what we had before. However, I use nothing except the 5-watt energy-saving fluorescent bulbs here, and $50 per month by my math is approximately 3,500 hours per day of 5-watt lighting... or 150 light bulbs burning continuously.

The most obvious place to look then is the air conditioner. We do run it a bit more than we used to... although not by much. Also, in the old house, Susan would run the air conditioner in her room occasionally, which does not happen now. Still though, $50 per month is enough to run the air conditioner for 20 hours per day.

Well, the extra electricity is getting used somewhere. I conclude it's just getting used everywhere: We're just being sloppy with our power consumption. Plus perhaps electricity in Jasaan is a little more expensive than Cagayan De Oro.

Here is the work that was done on my
bike: This is the rear disc brake
that was shoehorned onto the rear
axle. It needs some adjustment, as it
still is not strong enough a brake.

Here you can see the two running
lights mounted on either side of the
front tire. They drain the battery
too quickly and place to heavy of a
burden on the electrical system to
be used at the moment.
I got my MotorStar back from Mechanic Jun last night. There are two problems: First, every piece of the bike's electrical system is made out of bamboo and twisted tin strips. Adding the extra electrical doodads onto the bike overloads the system on a regular basis. Second, the alternator on the motorcycle is providing less power than the motorcycle uses with the new electrical doodads turned on, and eventually the battery is drained. That needs to be replaced. I'm taking it back to Mechanic Jun this weekend to get the fixes completed.

It can still be driven; I just need to switch off the new road lights (and the headlights) for a while to let the battery recharge a bit... or even without a charge, the bike still has an alternative kickstart that doesn't need the battery.

So, with that in mind, Epril and I drove into CDO this evening.

First, we went out to Kinse Amigos, where I chatted with Attorney Joe for a while about the Hunt-Songcuya affair. I found what he had to say to be very informative, and most of all I agree with his two main points: First, it needs to be figured out who spent what money, when, and where. Second, there is the question of Thomas Hunt's health, and whether he would ever have been given a doctor's permission to travel at any point during his hospitalization... whether he could ever have gone home to Arizona alive. The doctors and the hospital are the primary place where this story must now focus for new information.

After that, I went with Micheal Turner to a meeting of the CDO chapter of The Fraternal Order of Philippine Eagles, of which he is a member. I'm going to join, I've decided. I took a pass on an invitation to Rotary because I'm not a business owner or executive. I'm still up in the air about The Masons. That would be my natural choice since I was in Demolay (a Masonic youth organization) when I was a teenager. Maybe later. I'm going to try to set up a chapter of Eagles here in Jasaan.

After that, it was a late drive back to Jasaan. No mechanical problems with the motorcycle, but I couldn't use the new running lights because they drained the battery.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dumb Dogs Rule

Jasaan's police investigators take
photos of the window that the burglar
crashed through.
(Title taken from the anonymous comment left here.)

At 3:30 this morning, our local burglar came back for a third helping of our mobile phone collection. He only got Susan's broken and worthless mobile phone in the living room before sneaking back up to the TV room to make his exit via the small opening he had made by removing a couple of slats from the jalousie window where an air conditioner used to be.

Puppy Tyson went to Ednil, who was lying on the couch in the living room, and grabbed her hair in his teeth and pulled. She didn't wake up. Tyson then went to Susan and grabbed her hair in his teeth and pulled. Then he ran upstairs where the burglar had gone and started barking from the top of the stairs.

Susan woke up and noticed that her phone was missing and went upstairs to investigate. She opened the door to the TV room and came face to face with the burglar, who responded with a punch to Susan's stomach (she was okay but shaken up), and then a headfirst dive, smashing through the remaining panes of the jalousie window to land flat on his back on the tiles of the balcony outside. The crash woke me up, but by the time I had some pants on, there was nothing I could do... the burglar was off the property and gone into the night.

Three big burly police guys came with their machine guns, but couldn't do much except look at the broken glass, shine some flashlights around the neighborhood... and stay a respectful distance away from Tyson, who was now giving them the best junior-grade dog menacing act he could.

My little guy switched it on last night. I can't wait until that little hellion is 80 pounds and has a bark that sounds like a cannon. (Neither can our mobile phones wait for that matter.)

Getting Close To Nature

My jungle perch has windows on all 4 sides, and they are all thrown open when I am up here.

Just now, a bird about the size of a robin came flying along and smacked into the glass of the closed half of the window about a foot in front of me. WHAP! He went down on the deck outside, out for the 10-count. Scared the hell out of me.

I instantly stood up (more in surprise) and went to peer out the window to see if the little fellow was alright. It was just a few seconds getting around my desk.

That was when his two bird friends, who were following along hot on the trail of the accident victim, realized what had happened, and made a last-minute desperate dodge to the left and towards the open window where I was just coming into view.

In full emergency avoidance mode, the two birds both barely managed to miss the edge of the window frame by fraction of an inch, managed to miss the top of my head by about a fraction of an inch, and managed to zoom out of the other open window without hitting anything. Pure luck.

The second and third birds were there and gone so fast, I didn't even have time to react. I just saw two flashes of brown in front of my face, and then turned my head in time to see the tail feathers disappearing over the edge of the balcony back behind me.

The original bird sat outside for about 3 or 4 minutes clearing his head, and then went on his way.

Hmm... now I'm kind of morbidly curious about how much it would have hurt to have two birds flying more or less at full speed crash one after the other into my face. Well, we'll file that ill-advised experiment away for some other day.

And no, dear readers: I will not be accepting your offers to smack me in the mouth with a couple of dead chickens, as much as you may want to... thank you all the same.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fact Check Of The Day: Movies At The Whitehouse

Right wing fantasy: President Obama is acting "like the king of the world" by ordering Paramount to deliver him his own personal copy of the new Star Trek movie so that he can watch it in his own personal theater.
So, were I the king of the world, I too would give Paramount Pictures a call and demand that they set up a free, personal screening in my super cool movie house built especially for the president.

Of course, I’d have to jettison every ounce of self respect I have as well as fall to a nearly psychotic view of my own superiority to assume that the world should stop and cater to my every whim. I’d have to be completely unaware that my actions could easily be seen as one of arrogance, one that reveals a disregard for those I am supposed to be leading, one that ignores the concept of being a servant to the people.
Hmm... hyperventilate much?

Real world reality: Basically since movies were invented, the White House has had a movie theater where Presidents and their families can watch any newly-released movie they want, and have been doing so regularly without generating hysterical reactions from crazy Republican bloggers since "Birth of a Nation" was screened by Woodrow Wilson in 1915. According to the New York Times:
[President Bush] watches first-run films in the White House movie theater, a cushy 40-seat room on the ground floor near the entrance to the East Wing. ... The president saw "Paper Clips" and "Hotel Rwanda" late on recent Saturday afternoons, along with a small group of friends and senior White House staff members. ... The movies are sent overnight directly from the studios, in 35-millimeter film format, as soon as the White House requests them. The system was set up many presidencies ago by Jack Valenti, the adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson and the recently retired president of the Motion Picture Association of America. ...

Presidents get Hollywood perks beyond first-run movies, of course. Perhaps the ultimate one is the power to summon people connected to the movies for conversations afterward. Mr. Bush did that last month with Mr. Rusesabagina, the wily and courageous hotel manager in "Hotel Rwanda" who was played in the film by Don Cheadle.
People who write stuff like the "king of the world" quote above won't give you facts like this though. Including the facts would make the fake outrage seem a bit petty, wouldn't it? And it would make you smart about stuff, which doesn't help their cause much either, does it?

Remember the rule kids: There really are people out there who are paid to make you stupid.

(I do give credit though for a really snap job at photoshopping Obama into Spock.)

Happy Mothers Day

It's Mother's Day in case you didn't know it. A Happy Mothers Day wish to all those mothers for whom I care and love!

As is tradition, here is another Mothers Day video.

Daily Report: One Hour Was Right

Epril and I went into Cagayan De Oro today. After 3 months, my motorcycle was finally ready to be picked up and taken home to Jasaan.

I told Epril that the motorcycle would last for an hour and then break down. The guys at the shop told me if I had any problems to bring it back. At least they seem invested in making sure that I do walk away satisfied.

I stayed in Cagayan De Oro with the bike: First, Epril and I went to McDonald's for lunch. Then we paid some bills, stopped by the vet to make an appointment to get Tyson's ears done.

And then, as we came out of the vet's... almost one minute to the hour after picking up the bike. You guessed it: The motorcycle wouldn't start. No electric flowing from the battery to anything. Entirely dead.

We contacted Mechanic Jun (who was out of town for the weekend) and told him that we were stranded, and then we caught a cab back to his garage, and dropped off the key to the motorcycle with his head mechanic, and then caught a cab back to Jasaan. Jun's folks then went and picked up the bike. No word yet on what the problem was.

I sat in bed this evening and played Civilization (the PC version) tonight on Epril's laptop. It's so much a better game than the PS3 version.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Second Hunt / Songcuya Article In As Many Days

Herbie Gomez and his Gold Star Daily Newspaper today has published a second article on the Thomas Hunt and Grace Songcuya story. The Mayor of Cagayan De Oro has gotten involved with the situation now (three cheers to Hizzoner), and plans to ameliorate the situation to the best of his ability. In this article, I'm actually quoted several times quite extensively, primarily from an e-mail eclaircissement that I sent yesterday in regards to the first Gold Star story in which Grace Songcuya claimed that she had "never received a centavo" from the Ladies Charity.

Why was I the big source for this story? According to Herbie, I was the only one who was willing to be quoted. Since I was saying things that everyone else was saying, Herbie said, in response to my telling him that he could quote me, "I'm a reporter hungry for quotes and sources willing to be quoted. The things you said are basically the same as the things said to me by the others. The difference is, they don't want to be quoted. So I'll quote you. Thank you." (So, I'll acknowledge anybody out there who feels I "stepped into the spotlight" and thinks perhaps I shouldn't have... but I'm confident I did the right thing.)

What is really sad is that the girls of the Expatriates' Ladies Charity are apparently unwilling to step forward and defend themselves in the press. Bless their hearts: They really are exactly what you would expect a ladies charity to be: All action and minds and hearts of steel when it comes to helping the sick and needy, but when attacked and maligned, they haven't the slightest idea what to do. Fortunately, the requirement for being in the Expatriates' Ladies Charity is to be married (or engaged) to an expatriate, and we fornurs are a hearty bunch and willing to stick up for our wives. We make good teams... dynamic duos.

I really encourage people to talk to the press when they are part of the news. There is just one simple rule: Don't say things you cannot substantiate at a later date. If you don't get in there and tell your part, the reporter assigned to your story will just get the information you have somewhere else (perhaps in a form not as much to your liking or benefit), or he or she will omit it completely. No benefit there... and perhaps even harmful.

Daily Report: Jungle Jil PR and Marketing

I was quoted extensively in the second Hunt-Songcuya article today. I tried to get a plug for the blog in the newspaper so that my quotes would be attributed to "Jil Wrinkle, local expatriate and author of Mindanao's most fantastic and widely read blog, Jungle Jil," but instead I was just put down as "Jil Wrinkle". Sigh.

About half of the guys in this
picture are the Jungle Jump-
ers. (I'm not sure which though
because they don't have their
jerseys yet. Team picture will
come in a week when the team
uniforms arrive.)
I now own a basketball team. George Steinbrenner, eat your heart out. Actually I just donated 4,000 pisos to the local Kimaya league team for their uniforms. I've named them the "Jungle Jumpers", but I think that it really is pointless because everybody just calls them "Kimaya." Oh well. I'm taking everybody on the team out to get "" tattooed across the backs of their necks next week.

When I used to live in Houston, I was a big Rockets basketball fan. Thing was, whenever I turned on the TV to watch a game, The Rockets would start to lose. If I turned off the TV, the Rockets would make a comeback and win. (The Rockets went on to win 2 NBA championships and I never watched a game... radio only.)

The Jumpers had their first game with me as team owner tonight. When I arrived at The Big Vagina (the local basketball pavilion decorated with a rather gynecological-looking giant cement clam) at halftime, my team was ahead 24 to 22. When I left at the beginning of the fourth quarter, my team was down 36 to 39.

After I left, they came from behind to win. Seems like I'm destined to give "blind support" a whole new meaning.

Anyway, for everybody else who isn't a jinx, you all should come out to Jasaan (or just walk over, if you're already here) and enjoy a nightly basketball game. They are an enjoyable way to spend an evening. There are at least 2 games every night, starting at 6 p.m.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Effort To Convince Sex Workers To "Go Straight"?

CBCP has an article up talking about a new effort to "teach" kids here in Cagayan De Oro not to go into the sex trade.

Good idea: Convince girls that it is somehow better to slave away in a restaurant for 60 hours per week for 1,000 pisos than to sit for 15 hours per week in front of a webcam with a sex toy for 4,000 pisos.

Good luck with that.

Not until The Philippines gives women a tool more powerful than sex to lift themselves out of poverty — and not until the result of having that tool is something better than a dollar-a-day shit job in the mall — this country can waste all the hot air on nostrums like this as it wants: it won't do a bit of good.

And if you ever needed any more evidence that I'm right on the mark with what I say, check out this piece of news:
The 15 "cybersex women" who bolted from a government facility the other day have pressed charges against the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the social welfare department.

They said hauled off from an establishment in Kauswagan last April 23 without an arrest warrant. They also alleged that they were pressured into signing a document against two Swedes. They said NBI agents told them they would be jailed for 20 years if they did not cooperate."
Yes folks, these are the women... well, 15 out of 18 out them at least... who Annabelle Ricalde claims were "rescued" from the evil Swedes.

As noted in the comments section of that link by Dick Mellon, some of the girls are even making compassionate visits to the Swedes in jail... while at the same time pressing charges against the people who "rescued" them.

Yeah: These girls are definitely going to be receptive to the idea of giving up their high-paying online sex gig because some Filipina feminist tells them to.

Well, fortunately, some of these girls have found new employment at other cybersex dens in the city. Unfortunately, I'm sure that the know-nothing, brain-dead, do-gooder feminists of CDO — who assuredly don't face the problem of poverty and lack of education that the "cybersex" girls do — will ensure that these girls are soon once again in jail, threatened, and unemployed in short order. Let justice be done, eh?

Expats' Ladies Charities Has A Website

Stop by and see what they're up to. Obviously donations for their worthy causes are always appreciated if you can spare a bit.

Thomas Hunt and Grace Soncuya Make The Paper

Everybody go out and buy The Mindanao Gold Star Daily today: Thomas Hunt is the cover story. My own personal thanks to Editor in Chief Herbie Gonzalez for taking an interest in this tragic story. May I recommend that you go out and show your appreciation to The Gold Star by buying a copy? It's only 8 pisos.

Murdoch To Charge For Online News

Good luck with that.

Rupert Murdoch, "within the next year" plans to turn all of the online versions of his news holdings into "members only" pay sites. He is doing this because his Wall Street Journal online membership is booming, and thinks he can replicate that success elsewhere.

The problem (and you would think that a billionaire businessman would see this) is that Murdoch is confusing data with details. The Wall Street Journal is a primary source (in some cases, the only source) for financial DATA that people NEED... especially need to do their jobs and maintain their fortunes. No other place on the planet provides the in-depth financial analysis, nor provides the numbers — at least as concisely and completely — as the Wall Street Journal does.

News outlets, on the other hand, provide DETAILS. Everybody knows about the plane crash... and they turn to a news outlet to get DETAILS about that event. People DON'T NEED the details... it is just helpful to further their understanding. They certainly aren't going to pay to get those details, especially when their jobs and fortunes don't depend on it... and super-extraspecially when they can go to some other news outlet and get those same details for free.

And, lets face it, even if every single newspaper on the planet decided to charge people to visit their websites, you will still have all the blogs and chat rooms and boards and other websites that will still pass on the news for free.

Fear and Ignorance Continued

OMFG! Terrorist Mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed is going to be knocking on your door soon to borrow a bowl of sugar if the Demoncrats have their way! Save yourselves! Vote Republican!!!1!!

Actually, I'm rather smug with imagining something that, while still a lie, would at least be marginally closer the truth: That Terrorist Mastermind Khlaid Sheik Mohammed might be dumped in an American penitentiary amidst a bunch of 7-foot tall armed-robbery homies, drug-dealing chulos, and cop-murdering neo-Nazi rednecks.

Unfortunately, the actual truth is that the terrorists will have their own special little wing of some deep underground military installation surrounded on all sides by 2-foot-thick reinforced cement where nobody... not even Allah... can reach them.

Oh well. Hilzoy comes up with the most proper retort to the Republican "commercial" above:

Daily Report: Home Alone

Epril is out of town for 2 days. It's essentially the first time since September 28, 2007, that we've been apart from each other... aside from the occasional 10-hour overnight visit that Epril would do at her parents house when we were living in Camilla Homes.

She has gone to Osamis City for Honey Maeh's birthday party.

Last night, I chatted with her online by Yahoo Messenger. She was on webcam, which took me back to the time before I had met Epril in person, when we chatted online, first getting to know each other. It was a refreshing perspective, and made me miss her.

Epril left me with 2 babysitters however: Older sister Susan and best friend Fatima. They are keeping me company. Actually they are just watching the house and cooking for me. (Today was my favorite: Sweet and sour chicken.)

I watched one of my favorite shows, "No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain" on Discovery Travel & Living. If you've never seen it, check it out: It's a 1-hour program about a guy (retired chef) who goes to different cities around the world and samples the best food that they have to offer, and some culture and tourist attractions on the side. I like Anthony Bourdain because he is city-slicker cool (in New York City, he'd be from Tribeca), isn't afraid to smoke or get drunk in the course of filming, isn't afraid to be a prick... or an idiot... or a fool when the time is right, and all at the same time comes across as a guy you really would love to hang out with.

And, most importantly, he puts together a great show. Usually the show has an underlying tenor or running gag used to carry the show along. Last night, the underlying theme was Vancouver's constant rain. Bourdain decided to bring his new producer, a cute little Asian girl named Nari, out in front of the camera to be his sidekick for the show and then proceeded to (pretend to, obviously) make her life miserable for her having scheduled a trip to Vancouver at the height of rainy season.

Here is part 1 of 5 of the Vancouver show. (Don't know if it will be up forever... but the entire hour is up on YouTube now.) After watching, you'll be able to click your way through to the next 4 episodes, or click on 2, 3, 4, and 5, if you want to skip ahead. (Reader TMF is from Vancouver, and I'm sure will enjoy this immensely.)