smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Militarization is it?

It’s funny how we so love the labels created by agitators. It’s a public relations tool, really: reduce a complex idea into as brief a statement as possible – a one-word slogan would be best – and feed it to the masses. After all, the masses don’t need to fully under the whys and hows; they just need something to chant or scream until their throats are raw – a kind of shortcut to meaning. It’s the power of symbol, and some say that it lay at the heart of Hitler’s success as a demagouge. This administration has seen more than its share of these ‘key words’ and now the latest agit-prop is “militarization.”

gloriageneralsWhat the rest of the world understands as the process of preparing for war or other violent conflict, we gleefully appropriate the word “militarization” to refer to the naming of former military officials to top government posts. Implicit in the use of the word is the promise of dark days of repression to come, the demise of liberty, and the extinction of all that is good and beautiful …. zxngrkCKZ!

The preponderance of military men in high government positions isn’t necessarily the portent of doom that some people wish it to be – yes: i think they actually want it to be that, so that they can later on have the bragging rights of having called it out first. If we’re being calm and logical about it, the appointment of military men to high government positions can actually be attributed to a number of factors:

First, very few people in the lucrative private sector want to enter the thankless public service. With GMA as appointing authority, even fewer. This means that, second, candidates for top level positions are actually drawn from a pretty shallow pool of people currently – or were – in the public service. Third, of the people currently – or previously – in the public service, there are very few who are as well trained as military men of officer rank in management and planning – skills needed by any good administrator. This is so because the military invests much in the training and schooling of its officers. In fact, it is the rare military officer who spends more than a week being unemployed after retirement from the service. They get snapped up by private corporations who see their upper management skills as potential assets. An uncle of mine was picking among offers three months before he finally retired from the service!

Outside this logic loop, military men are also much in demand on their own right – without necessarily being fiddle to private sector top picks. This is especially true for such services as reasonably require a background in military-style operations and discipline. It’s all well and good to emphasize the civilian nature of, say the PDEA, but the truth of the matter is, the learning curve is much steeper (steeper=better) when the person trying to learn the ropes has a background in activities like intelligence gathering, urban skirmish, and enemy engagement. And yes, dealing with crooks nowadays is practically like dealing with a para-military unit. You don’t send Mother Teresa in to arrest a bunch of BDSM brothel whores with whips and ballgags.

So talk of militarization is likely to be just more fear-mongering.

In fact, if anything, there was a massive de-militarization of society when the Reserve Officer Training Course – and it’s latter day cousin, Citizen’s Military Training – was effectively shelved.

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Filed under: language, politics, , ,

Between the devil and a hard rock

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the chair of the foreign affairs committee that is looking into the fund mess along with the blue ribbon committee, said she felt “sorry” for De la Paz, who she described as caught “between the devil and a hard rock.”

WtF? Miriam Santiago must’ve been so boggled by dela Paz’s self-immolation that she got her cliches mixed up. The way she said it, I couldn’t help but imagine the former PNP comptroller being caught between a Prada and a nightclub. So, for the sake of clarity (and because I’m a kind of english gestapo) Dela Paz was either caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, or between a rock and a hard place.

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“Between the devil and the deep blue sea” came from a Cab Calloway song, circa 1931, but it’d been around much earlier – only the sea wasn’t necessarily blue – as “between the devil and the deep sea.” That was in 1637. Now whether this was just a clever turn of phrase – the expression being pretty self-evident anyway – or was derived from nautical lingo is a matter of some debate.

Aparently, the “devil” was a particularly precarious seam on a wooden ship that needed regular waterproofing. The process of waterproofing must’ve exposed sailors to the danger of being washed overboard. While this makes some sort of sense, some argue against it because it seems that the phrase is actually older than the the use of the word ‘devil’ in seafaring. 

“Between a rock and a hard place,” a phrase that basically means being stuck between two opposing forces, was first seen in 1921, in a work that might have been referencing the 1917 labour disputes in Bisbee, Arizona. Miners there had unionized and were demanding better pay and working conditions. Instead, many of them were forcibly deported to New Mexico. So, it’s pretty convenient – I suppose – to imagine that the phrase referred to the problem of miners either being forced to work the mines or facing unemployment and poverty; a rock and a hard place indeed. 

Just thought you might be interested.

Filed under: language, vacuity, , , ,

Recah’s lovesong

I’ve always enjoyed Recah Trinidad ever since I heard him as a commentator when Onyok Velsaco fought in the Olympics. I was just a kid but those hysterics were forever burned in my memory. “Sumuntok si Onyok! MABUHAY ANG PILIPINAS!!!! … teka, teka, DINADAYA tayo mga kababayan, DHINAHDHAYAH TAHYOHHH!!!!” He just unabashedly abandons all pretense of professional detachment and that makes him a true representative of the public – the one who speaks in our hyper-ventilating language, and with our hysterical voices at ringside.

Of course, I’m still conflicted about dear old Recah. I love his total lack of restraint, but I also cringe at his hyperboles.

Well, today, he unleashed a doozy of a lovesong to the boxer du jour. It’s a long article, but I just had to put it up here.

COMMENTARY
Pacquiao dumps the script for his greatest moment

By Recah Trinidad
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:04:00 07/01/2008

MANILA, Philippines—He was a work in progress, trainer Freddie Roach kept saying of Manny Pacquiao. There was likewise no clear hint the former poor boy, a skinny southpaw who used to sleep on the cold floor, would be able to come up with the greatest, richest performance of his life.

But last Sunday in Las Vegas, Roach, a two-time trainer of the year, could only watch in quiet glee as Pacquiao transformed from a brawling bull into a full-fledged ring matador with his clinical demolition of defending world lightweight champion David Diaz.

The change was complete as it was classy.

It also erased whatever cheap doubts there were on Pacquiao’s earlier installation as world pound-for-pound boxing king.

Not bad so far. A little too gooey-eyed, but still tolerable. Now if only he would quit while he was ahead.

* * *

Roach may have exaggerated in bragging that Diaz would need something supernatural to conquer Pacquiao.

I think I may need something supernatural to get through this smarmy crap.

But the way Pacquiao did it, not even a miracle would’ve saved Diaz from the speed and sharpness of the former one-handed raw banger they now call a prizefight masterpiece.

Raw banger?

Fight promoters hit it right when they labeled the championship “Lethal Combination,” peddling the promise of a bloody, no-holds barred duel in the Nevada desert.

Pacquiao however threw away the script and, in the process, created one of the most awesome mismatches in prizefight lore.

What script? I’m confused.

* * *

Indeed, there were suggestions of two brick-fisted warriors out to outgun and out-slug each other in a terrible test of steel nerves and gangland guts.

You gotta love’em metaphors, but gangland guts? Awesome alliteration.

Pacquiao however left his boiling temper, his predictable impatience in the dugout.

Of course, there were instances when he would smirk and again bang his gloves—a trademark of his explosiveness—after getting hit.

But these could all be a put-on, a ploy to mask a surefire edge he had gained with his newfound overview fighting stance.

Instead of bend low, engage his foe in an eyeball-to-eyeball goring battle, Pacquiao coolly stood his ground, speared and danced his way out of harm’s way enroute to a slow but sure dominance, before unleashing a crisp, soundless left cross to the chin, a sword thrust through a bull’s heart vein.

Heart vein? Is that the same as the lung windpipe? Or the kidney ureter? Or the womb fallopian tube? And didn’t you love how he “danced his way out of harm’s way?” Sounds like a male flamenco dancer ducking the flying stilletos of his partner. But beyond that, if it were such a storied mismatch, how could Pacquiao have ever been in harm’s way?

* * *

To those who wondered where they had witnessed this scene before, it could be in the movies, out in the sun-baked bullfight arenas in Madrid or Hemingway’s Pamplona where, as the great American writer put it, “the bull, as it should be is dead; the man, as he should be, is alive with a tendency to smile.”

Fight fans can be such gore-loving fuckers, can’t they?

The truth is that, after completing a perfect execution, an unforgettable world boxing rarity, fear suddenly crossed Pacquiao’s mind as Diaz lay battered, bloodied, convulsing on the floor.

Oh dear god, no.

Here, Pacquiao decided to again dump the fight script.

Again with the script! Are we in Hollywood? Or Gangland? Or the bull rings of Spain? Make up your mind, Recah.

* * *

Instead of thumping his breast, instead of bursting into a triumphant yell, Pacquiao readily turned to his fallen foe. Pacquiao reached out for Diaz’s arms and tried to pull him back.

The celebration could wait.

He suddenly saw in the opponent a brother in utter distress and, like a passing Samaritan, Pacquiao offered to help Diaz off a deathly cliff.

That he did it before claiming triumph as cameras rolled and the whole world watched was indeed incredible.

Maybe this same thing had happened to other ring greats, Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Julio Cesar Chavez, or Oscar de la Hoya himself, but they had left the golden chance at heroism and nobility slip.

Anyway, Pacquiao may have not realized it but, after making his countryman very proud with his conquest of a fourth world crown, he next handed the Pinoy a rare gift. The native nobility Pacquiao displayed in that moment of moments helped immeasurably in telling the world that the Filipino, cheated, cursed, corrupted, is brave, strong, and, last but not the least, worthy of applause and respect.

*Sniff-sniff.*  Okay. I admit it. This part really rang true. I was never prouder of Pacquiao than I was at that moment when true concern came over his features and he grasped Diaz’s outstretched arm. That was a golden moment for sportsmanship. Quite a refreshing change from all the trash-talking one has come to expect – and dread – from professional sports.

Thank God for the greatest Filipino fighter ever.

Too cheesy, but can’t argue with that.

Filed under: jurisprudence, language, pop-culture, sports, , , ,

Beh

I hate it when people call each other ‘beh.’ Obviously short for baby – or more precisely, short for baby’s idiot cousin: bebeh.

I explain this because today, I lost patience with an otherwise dear friend of mine. It had been a long afternoon and this thing we were working on just wasn’t … well, working. Now this friend kept whining (sorry luv – you know you were) and dreaming up worst case scenarios. “Oh, shit, we’re in trouble if we can’t get this done, beh!” “We’ll fail, beh!” “We’ll turn into pillars of salt while the known universe crumbles into so much sawdust, beh!”

Arrrrrrgggghhh!

I shot up out of my seat and rounded on her so severely that I think she fell out of hers. Remembering it now, it all seems so funny. But back then, everything seemed to be unfolding underwater. I felt so sluggish, but the words were spilling out of my mouth faster than I could edit. I watched as her face went from worried to shocked to incredulous to weepy; I watched as tears welled up in her eyes and start making tracks down her cheeks.

And during it all, I had a mounting sense of satisfaction. Everyone is a sadist; the only difference is how deep we’ve buried it. Well, tonight, my inner Marquise clawed its way to the surface and went apeshit on my friend’s ass.

Not that I’m proud of what I’d done. She’s the sweetest thing on earth. She’s so sweet that once, when she couldn’t sleep because of a buzzing mosquito, she caught the pesky thing, cupped it in her two hands and – instead of squishing it – made loud buzzing noises into her cupped hands. “So it’ll know how annoying it was,” she explained. Hahaha.

Well, tonight, I guess was her turn to be annoying; and it was her that i held in my cupped hands. I only wish I hadn’t lashed into her like that. Hence this semi-public apology … and *gulp* debasement.

P_______, I’m sorry … beh.

Filed under: language, pop-culture, vacuity, , ,