Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sentencing of Dr. Murray and my text message to the Philippines

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California
– Sometime in July this year, I made a promise to Health and Wealth publisher, Herbert Vego, not to disturb his sleep by sending a text message early in the morning in the Philippines (between 2 to 4 o’clock) if the news I wanted to relay was not a matter of life and death or something earthshaking, to say the least.
I did disrupt Mr. Vego’s trip to dreamland on June 26, 2009 (June 25 US time) morning when I sent a “flash” report through a text message in both his Globe and Smart cellphones: American pop star Michael Jackson had been declared dead upon arrival at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after his body arrived at around 1:14 o’clock in the afternoon.
At around 9:58 o’clock this morning (November 29 US time), I again roused him from sleep when he became the first beneficiary of my text message that screamed, “Flash report: Dr. Conrad Murray sentenced to four years in jail for death of Michael Jackson. Dramatic scene here in L.A. court!”
Having been at the Stanley Mosk Los Angeles Super Court several times in the past, it was not hard for me to worm my way inside the courthouse when 58-year-old Murray was handed a four-year jail term for “involuntary manslaughter” in the celebrity’s death by Judge Michael Pastor, who called the doctor’s treatment of the singer a “cycle of horrible medicine” and “medicine madness.”

EXPRESSION

I observed Dr. Murray’s facial expression from start to finish. 
He had a somber mood like John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a giant black man convicted of raping and killing two young white girls, arriving on death row in a 1999 Tom Hanks movie, The Green Mile
Coffey showed all the characteristics of being a "gentle giant": keeping to himself, soft-spoken, fearing darkness, and crying often.
The doctor was teary eyed and fighting back tears; he was aware being videoed inside the courtroom.
Last November 7, Murray was convicted by a jury.
Jackson's death had triggered grief around the world, creating unprecedented surges of Internet traffic and causing sales of his music and that of the Jackson 5 to increase dramatically.
Jackson, 50, was treated like a "medical experiment," the judge exploded, which factored into his decision to hand down the maximum sentence of four years, which the Jackson family had requested.
Jackson died of acute propofol intoxication after he suffered a respiratory arrest at his home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood in Los Angeles. Murray, his personal physician, said he found Jackson in his room, not breathing, but with a faint pulse, and that he administered CPR on his bed to no avail.
After a call was placed to 9-1-1 at 12:20 pm, Jackson was treated by paramedics at his home, and later pronounced dead at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. On August 28, 2009, the Los Angeles County Coroner ruled Jackson's death a homicide.
It was immediately reported that jail overcrowding could result in the four-year sentence being cut at least in half.

NOT ENOUGH

"Four years is not enough for someone's life," Katherine Jackson, the singer's mother, told a TV crew after sentencing. "It won't bring him back but at least he got the maximum."
"One hundred years is not enough," quipped Jermaine Jackson who said he would miss playing music with his brother Michael and being a family.
Along with Jermaine, Katherine, siblings LaToya, Tito, Rebbie and Randy were present at the sentencing, but did not speak, instead allowing family friend and attorney Brian Panish to read a statement on behalf of Jackson's three children and family.
In the statement, Jackson's children told the Los Angeles court that they lost their "father, best friend, and playmate" when the singer died, but stressed they were not seeking "revenge".
The statement asked the judge to "impose a sentence that reminds physicians they cannot sell their services to the highest bidder."
"As Michael's parents, we never imagined we would live to witness his passing," Panish read, on behalf of the singer's parents Katherine and Joe Jackson. "There is no way to describe the loss of our beloved brother, son, father and friend."

PLEAD

Murray's defense attorney pleaded with Pastor to consider the cardiologist's humble beginnings and good deeds, stressing that this was an unfortunate, tragic chapter in the doctor's life.
"Whether he's a barista or a greeter at Walmart, he's still going to be the man who killed Michael Jackson," Ed Chernoff said.
The defense lawyer also put some of the blame on Michael Jackson. "Michael Jackson was a drug seeker... He was a powerful, famous and wealthy individual."
The judge's tone grew sterner as he gave a scathing review of Murray's actions while treating Jackson, saying the doctor “violated his sworn oath for money, fame, prestige." He said there was a "recurring, continuous pattern of deceit, lies," and cited a "longstanding failure of character" by Murray.
Murray "unquestionably violated the trust and confidence of his patient," Pastor said.

TAPE


The judge also mentioned the tape that Murray made of a drugged up Michael Jackson who was slurring his words so badly he could barely be understood and suggested that Murray was contemplating a new tactic if he needed at a later date.
"That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy. It was designed to record his patient surreptitiously at that patient's most vulnerable point," Pastor said.
The judge called the recording a "horrific violation of trust," and asked, "What value would be placed on that tape recording if it were to be released?"
Prosecutor David Walgren read from a statement Katherine Jackson made shortly after her son's death, telling of how the family's world "collapsed" after Jackson died.
Walgren described how Jackson's daughter Paris was crying at the hospital. "I want to go with you," she told her father after he had passed.
"He trusted he would be cared for by Conrad Murray so he would see another day," Walgren said.
He mentioned that Jackson had plans to go into film making with his children, a passion they had recently developed.
The Jackson family watched from the packed court room.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Woman’s Evolution

"The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is 'What does a woman want?'" 
--SIGMUND FREUD


By Alex P. Vidal


NEW YORK CITY – Never mind that she was a veteran socialist. 
What will attract us to Evelyn Reed’s book, Woman’s Evolution, was the research she made for over 20 years for the book dubbed as “an impressive and absorbing reconstruction of human history” by Sociology. 
She takes us on a million-year expedition through prehistory from cannibalism to culture, and covers the world of the ancient matriarchy.
Tracing the origins of the “incest taboo,” blood rites, marriage, and the family, she reveals the leading role women once played. 
By pinpointing the relatively recent factors that led to patriarchal domination, she offers a fresh insight into the issues raised by today’s feminist movement—and refutes the myth that “human nature” is to blame for the male supremacy, greed, wars, and inequalities of modern society.
According to Reed, the early history of half the human species—womankind—has largely been hidden from view. “To bring it to light requires a reinvestigation of anthropology, where the role and accomplishments of women in prehistoric society are buried,” she explains. 
Her book is a contribution to unveiling that remarkable record.

RESURGENCE

She stresses that the resurgence of the women’s liberation movement in the 70’s has thrown the spotlight on certain dubious assumptions and disputed questions regarding the past. 
Foremost among these is the subject of the matriarchy. Reed asks, “Was there a period in history when women held a highly esteemed and influential place? 
If so, how did they lose their social eminence and become the subordinate sex in patriarchal society? 
Or is the matriarchy, as some say, a myth that has no historical basis?”
She contends that the matriarchy is one of the most hotly contested issues in a hundred-year controversy between contending schools in anthropology. 
Reed’s book affirms that the maternal clan system was the original form of social organization and explains why. 
It also traces the course of its development and the causes of its downfall. 
Such partisanship on the side of the matriarchy would alone make her book controversial. 
But it contains other challenges to long-held opinions on prehistoric society.
“Disagreements are to be expected in a field that covers so vast a stretch of human evolution, extending from the birth of our species to the threshold of civilization, and where the available data derived from biology, archeology, and anthropology is fragmentary and uncoordinated,” Reed writes.

SCIENCE

Anthropology was founded as a distinct science in the middle of the 19th century. 
Most of the founding fathers (women entered the profession only later) had an evolutionary approach. Reed says Morgan, Taylor, and other pioneers regarded anthropology as the study of the origin of society and the material forces at work in its progress. 
They made brilliant beginnings in illuminating the main stages in human development.
Reed says Morgan delineated three great epochs of social evolution—from savagery through barbarism to civilization. Each was marked off by decisive advances in the level of economic activity. 
The most rudimentary stage, savagery, was based on hunting and food-gathering. 
Barbarism began with food production through agriculture and stock-raising. 
Civilization crowned the development of the ancient world by bringing it to the point of commodity production and exchange.
These three epochs, she explains, were of extremely unequal duration. Savagery is sometimes differentiated into an earlier “primeval” and a later “primitive” stage, both of these rested upon a hunting and gathering economy. Savagery had a span of million-odd years, comprising more than 99 percent of human existence. 
Barbarism began about 8,000 years ago; civilization only three thousand years ago.

SAVAGE

The early investigators of savage society, to their own surprise, came upon a social structure totally different from ours, adds Reed.
“They found a clan and tribal system based on material kinship and in which women played a leading role,” she elaborates. 
“This stood out in sharp contrast with modern society which features the father-family and male supremacy. Although they were unable to tell how far back the maternal system went, we propose to show that it dates from the beginning of humankind.”
They made other astonishing discoveries. 
They observed that savage society had egalitarian social and sexual relations, arising from collective production and communal possession of property.
Reed says these features too were at odds with modern society, based on private property and class divisions. 
Thus the maternal clan system, which gave an honored place to women, was also a collectivist order where the members of both sexes enjoyed equality and did not suffer oppression or discrimination.
“Subsequently, these discoveries evoked doubts and resistance from the schools of anthropology that became dominant in the 20th century,” Reed points out. 
“There arose a deep division between evolutionists and anti-evolutionists that has persisted to the present day. It is only through the evolutionary approach, however, that the concealed history of women –and of men—can be uncovered.”

UNIVERSAL

The principle of universal evolution had already been applied to the problem of the genesis of Homo sapiens with the publication in 1871 of Charles Darwin’s book The Descent of Man.
After he demonstrated that the earliest sub-humans, the hominoids, arose out of the anthropoids, the question was posed: How did this transformation come out? In the following decades, biology, archeology, paleontology, and anthropology jointly assisted in the detective work required to clarify this problem.
Reed’s book adheres to the evolutionary and materialist method in utilizing these findings. 
It also presents a new theory about totemism and taboo, among the most enigmatic institutions of primeval and primitive society. 
Anthropologists of all persuasions have held the view that the ancient taboo on sexual intercourse with certain relatives, like our own taboo, arose out of a universal fear of incest. 
Reed’s book challenges that assumption. The ancient taboo existed—but it was primarily directed against the perils of cannibalism in the hunting epoch.

THEORY

Reed says the elimination of the theory of a universal incest taboo removes one of the most serious obstacles to understanding other savage institutions, such as the classificatory system of kinship, exogamy and endogamy, segregation of the sexes, rules of avoidance, blood revenge, the gift-exchange system, and the dual organization of the tribe. 
It clears the way toward an understanding of how society arose--and why it arose in no other from than the material clan system or matriarchy.
“The question of the matriarchy is decisive in establishing whether or not the modern father-family has always existed. The very structure of the material clan system precluded it,” Reed explains. 
“Instead of being the basic social unit from time immemorial, as most anthropologists contend, it is a late arrival in history, appearing only at the beginning of the civilized epoch.” 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our differences in taste

“All of life is a dispute over taste and tasting.” 
--FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

By Alex P. Vidal


HOLLYWOOD, California
– What is bad taste? How do we differentiate it from good taste? Who determines whether my taste, your taste, their taste is the better taste over someone else’s taste?
That people differ in their tastes is itself an indisputable fact. It is also true that there is no point in arguing with a man about what he likes or dislikes. But it is still quite possible to tell a man that he has poor taste and that what he likes is in itself not excellent or beautiful. Here there is plenty of room for argument.
Those who say there is no disputing about tastes usually mean more than they say. In our judgment they are wrong not in what they say but in what they mean. They start from the fact that people differ in taste, in what they like and dislike, and conclude that that is all there is to it.
They conclude, in other words, that in talking about works of art of things of beauty, the only opinions which people can express must take the familiar form of “I don’t know whether it’s beautiful or not, but I know what I like.”

SUBJECTIVE


This conclusion makes beauty entirely subjective or, as the saying goes, entirely a matter of individual taste. People sometimes take the same position about truth and goodness. The truth, they say, is merely what seems true to me. The good is merely what I regard as desirable. They thus reduce truth and goodness to matters of taste about which there can be no argument.
Let us illustrate the mistake they make. If a man says to us, “That object looks red to me,” we would be foolish to argue with him about how it looks. The fact that it looks gray to us has no bearing on how it looks to him.
Nevertheless, we may be able to show him that he is deceived by the reddish glow from a light shining on the object and that, in fact, the object is gray, not red. Even after we have proved this to him by physical tests, the object may still look red to him, but he will be able to recognize the difference between the appearance and the reality.

ILLUSTRATION

This simple illustration shows that while there is no point in arguing about how things look, there is good reason to argue about what things are.
Similarly, if a person insists upon telling us what he likes or dislikes in works of art, he is expressing purely subjective opinions which cannot be disputed. But good critics try to express objective judgments about the excellences or defects of a work itself. They are talking about the object, not about themselves.
Most of us know the difference between good and bad workmanship. If we hire a carpenter to make a table for us and he does a bad job, we point out to him that the table is unsteady or that its legs are too light for the weight of the top. What is true of carpentry is true of all the other arts. Like tables, works of fine art can be well made or poorly made. Well-made things have certain objective qualities which can be recognized by those who know what is involved in good or bad workmanship in the particular field of art.
To recognize excellence in a piece of music, one must have some knowledge of the art of composing music. If a man lacks such knowledge, of course, all he can say is that he likes or dislikes the music. The man who insists that that is all he or anyone else can say is simply confessing his own ignorance about music. He can go expressing his likes and dislikes in music, but he should not, in his ignorance, deny others the right to make objective judgments based on knowledge he does not have.

QUESTION


The question to ask anyone who insists that the beauty in works of art is entirely a matter of personal taste is whether some people have better taste than others. Do some men have good taste and others quite bad taste? Is it possible for a person to improve his taste?
An affirmative answer to these questions amounts to an admission that there are objective standards for making critical judgments about works of art. Having good taste consists in preferring that which is objectively more excellent. Acquiring good taste in some field of art depends on acquiring knowledge about the art and learning to recognize excellence in workmanship.
If there were no objective differences which made works of art more or less beautiful, it would be impossible to say that anyone has good or bad taste or that it is worth making a great effort to improve one’s taste.
Whether we like it or don’t
we have differences in taste

“All of life is a dispute over taste and tasting.” FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE



By Alex P. Vidal

HOLLYWOOD, California – What is bad taste? How do we differentiate it from good taste? Who determines whether my taste, your taste, their taste is the better taste over someone else’s taste?
That people differ in their tastes is itself an indisputable fact. It is also true that there is no point in arguing with a man about what he likes or dislikes. But it is still quite possible to tell a man that he has poor taste and that what he likes is in itself not excellent or beautiful. Here there is plenty of room for argument.
Those who say there is no disputing about tastes usually mean more than they say. In our judgment they are wrong not in what they say but in what they mean. They start from the fact that people differ in taste, in what they like and dislike, and conclude that that is all there is to it.
They conclude, in other words, that in talking about works of art of things of beauty, the only opinions which people can express must take the familiar form of “I don’t know whether it’s beautiful or not, but I know what I like.”

SUBJECTIVE

This conclusion makes beauty entirely subjective or, as the saying goes, entirely a matter of individual taste. People sometimes take the same position about truth and goodness. The truth, they say, is merely what seems true to me. The good is merely what I regard as desirable. They thus reduce truth and goodness to matters of taste about which there can be no argument.
Let us illustrate the mistake they make. If a man says to us, “That object looks red to me,” we would be foolish to argue with him about how it looks. The fact that it looks gray to us has no bearing on how it looks to him.
Nevertheless, we may be able to show him that he is deceived by the reddish glow from a light shining on the object and that, in fact, the object is gray, not red. Even after we have proved this to him by physical tests, the object may still look red to him, but he will be able to recognize the difference between the appearance and the reality.

ILLUSTRATION

This simple illustration shows that while there is no point in arguing about how things look, there is good reason to argue about what things are.
Similarly, if a person insists upon telling us what he likes or dislikes in works of art, he is expressing purely subjective opinions which cannot be disputed. But good critics try to express objective judgments about the excellences or defects of a work itself. They are talking about the object, not about themselves.
Most of us know the difference between good and bad workmanship. If we hire a carpenter to make a table for us and he does a bad job, we point out to him that the table is unsteady or that its legs are too light for the weight of the top. What is true of carpentry is true of all the other arts. Like tables, works of fine art can be well made or poorly made. Well-made things have certain objective qualities which can be recognized by those who know what is involved in good or bad workmanship in the particular field of art.
To recognize excellence in a piece of music, one must have some knowledge of the art of composing music. If a man lacks such knowledge, of course, all he can say is that he likes or dislikes the music. The man who insists that that is all he or anyone else can say is simply confessing his own ignorance about music. He can go expressing his likes and dislikes in music, but he should not, in his ignorance, deny others the right to make objective judgments based on knowledge he does not have.

QUESTION

The question to ask anyone who insists that the beauty in works of art is entirely a matter of personal taste is whether some people have better taste than others. Do some men have good taste and others quite bad taste? Is it possible for a person to improve his taste?
An affirmative answer to these questions amounts to an admission that there are objective standards for making critical judgments about works of art. Having good taste consists in preferring that which is objectively more excellent. Acquiring good taste in some field of art depends on acquiring knowledge about the art and learning to recognize excellence in workmanship.
If there were no objective differences which made works of art more or less beautiful, it would be impossible to say that anyone has good or bad taste or that it is worth making a great effort to improve one’s taste.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New estimates of universe's age

"Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work." 
--A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

By Alex P. Vidal

HOLLYWOOD, California – A major goal of astronomy has been to determine the age of the universe. Astronomers have been forced to accept imprecise estimates because of uncertainties in the data used in their calculations, according to The Five Biggest Ideas in Science co-authors Charles Wynn and Arthur Wiggins.
One technique for making estimates involves running the expansion of the universe in reverse, as though it were a movie film, they explain.
In the reversed movie, instead of moving away from each other, galaxies approach one another. 
They explain that the age of the universe in this scenario is the time it takes for the galaxies to meet simultaneously, re-creating the primeval fireball.

EXPANDING

“Assuming that the rate at which the universe is now expanding has been constant (and, thus, the rate in reversal is constant), the age of the universe can be calculated from the distances separating the galaxies now and the rate at which the universe is expanding,” write Wynn and Wiggins.
According to early data, the age of the universe was estimated at 2 billion years. 
But this value was inconsistent with the Earth’s estimated age of over 4 billion years! 
Subsequent data gave the universe an age of about 20 billion years.


QUESTION

Recently, the previously accepted age of the universe came under serious question because of more precise data obtained from the Hubble space telescope.
These data resulted in a much lower estimated age, 12 to 15 billion years. 
This age has created a crisis in astronomy as earlier estimates and the theories associated with them are reconsidered in light of the new findings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

National Union of Journalists 
of the Philippines
November 22, 2011

STATEMENT


The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) joins media organizations and other groups worldwide in commemorating the first International Day To End Impunity.

The massacre, considered the worst ever single attack against journalists, has become an infamous symbol of impunity as justice continues to be denied to the victims and their families.

Fifty-eight women and men died on November 23, 2009 after they were waylaid and slaughtered in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao by armed men believed to be under orders of the Ampatuan clan.

Thirty-two were media workers while six were passers-by. The body of media worker Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay remains missing.

Two years after the gruesome crime, 103 of the 196 suspects remain at large and only two of the principal suspects have been arraigned. The case remains snagged on hearings on petitions for bail of the accused.

Protest actions will be held nationwide on Nov. 23 to be led by NUJP chapters and other media groups and multi-sectoral organizations including in the United States, Dubai and Canada.

Around the world, protests and other actions will be held by affiliates of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and other groups.

Similar activities will be held nationwide including Quezon, Cagayan de Oro, Baguio, Pampanga, Bulacan, Bacolod, Iloilo, Aklan, Leyte, Bukidnon, Davao, Sorsogon, Pagadian, Kidapawan, Agusan del Norte and in Canada and the United States.

In  Cagayan de Oro City, journalists will join a “walk for peace and press freedom” from Rodelsa Circle to the Press Freedom Monument where an ecumenical prayer rally to be led by Archbishop Antonion Ledesma will be held.

Media groups including the NUJP in Baguio City will hold a tree-planting activity at the Convention Center grounds before a torch parade along Session Road to the Peoples' Park.

In Iloilo City, the NUJP chapter will lead journalists in a Mass and motorcade of media vehicles, Balloons will be released after the Mass.

Media groups led by NUJP in Bukidnon will also hear Mass and hold a candle-lighting activity and motorcade.
           
Other activities include photo exhibits, film-showing, release of joint statements, wearing of black shirts, airing of public service ads calling for justice for the victims and their families and an end to impunity.

Reference:

Nestor Burgos Jr.
Chairperson
0917.7256.333

Rowena Paraan
Secretary General
0910.4950.095

Sunday, November 20, 2011

US-based former Iloilo councilor decries Mrs. Arroyo's arrest

US-based former Iloilo exec 
decries Mrs. Arroyo's arrest

By Alex P. Vidal

HOLLYWOOD, California -- A former councilor in San Miguel, Iloilo in the Philippines has decried the "intervention" of the Department of Justice that prevented Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from leaving the country to seek medical treatment abroad.
Reynaldo A. Uy, who ran and lost for mayor against Gregorio Villarico under the Liberal Party-Atienza Wing in 2007, reiterated the statement made by Sen. Edgardo Angara that the lower court can not overrule the decision of the Supreme Court which had approved Mrs. Arroyo's right to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Uy believed Mrs. Arroyo, being a former president, "deserved courtesy from the Aquino administration and should have been allowed to leave the country for Singapore last week for humanitarian reason."
"We cannot prevent the people from thinking that politics reared its ugly head when Mrs. Arroyo was prevented from seeking treatment abroad," said Uy, who now resides in San Antonio, Texas. 
Uy said, "Filipinos are known to be compassionate especially to women and the sick. Politics has no place in this kind of circumstance and it should take a back seat in favor of humility and compassion."

SUPPORTER

Uy served as municipal councilor for three terms from 1995 to 2001 and was an ardent political supporter of Mrs. Arroyo.   
Uy lamented that justice system in the Philippines "can be influenced by political maneuvering" depending, he said, on who controls the power in Malacanang.
"The speed of their move to prevent the former president from leaving the country and the subsequent filing of election sabotage case against her was suspect," stressed Uy. "She was not even convicted yet but look at how some people treat her after she has served them for nine years. Is this how we pay back the services of a former leader?"
As this developed, a Pasay City court on November 21 allowed Mrs. Arroyo to stay at the St. Luke's Medical Center (SLMC) in Taguig City while waiting for her doctors to submit a report about her medical condition.
Report said the court did not issue a decision about making public the mug shots that police took of Mrs. Arroyo on November 19, a day after she was arrested for electoral sabotage. 
Pasay City Court Branch 112 clerk of court Joel Pelicano said they have to wait for the medical report submitted by SLMC, particularly Dr. Juliet Cervantes, Mrs. Arroyo's attending physician.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Glutton Santa may have suffered from diabetes

"I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark." DICK GREGORY 

By Alex P. Vidal 

HOLLYWOOD, California -- Christmas season is already being felt in every nook and cranny in the United States. 
Malls have displayed Christmas decors, toys and other items for Yuletide season. 
Most FM stations are playing 99% Christmas songs. Everywhere you go you can bump into men and women wearing "Santa Clauses" uniforms.
Meanwhile, recent studies suspect that Santa Claus may have a defect in a particular gene. 
Because a gene is disrupted by a "spelling error" in his DNA, "Santa has a propensity to pile on his pounds," observes Roger Highfield, science editor of The Daily Telegraph
Indeed, there is strong evidence that he also may have suffered from diabetes.
Highfield observes in The Physics of Christmas that "despite our image-conscious society, Santa's huge stomach is one trait that amazingly gets little attention."
"Generations of children have asked how he managed to squeeze down chimneys. But few if any have asked the more obvious question: why is Santa so fat? After all, if he lost a few pounds, surely his job would be that much easier," stresses Highfield.
According to him, a thinned-down Santa also would provide a role model for moderation and self-control during the holidays.

CARD

Highfield writes further: "Perhaps Christmas card artists pay homage to seasonal excesses and Santa's overwhelming cheerfulness by equating rolls of flesh with peals of laughter. Perhaps his girth is the result of eating the millions of cookies and mince pies left out for him on Christmas Eve."
In fact, Santa is not alone. 
Obesity is now the most common nutritional disorder in the Western world. 
In America, for example, the epidemic is well under way. 
An estimated one-third of American adults are overweight, and the incidence of obesity is rising particularly fast in children. 
Since 1976 the prevalence of pediatric obesity has increased by more than 50 percent. 
Eight out of 10 obese adolescents grow up to be obese adults, it was learned.
In Britain one-third of all people carry too much fat, and about five percent of the population is obese--that is, they are 20 percent or more above their maximum desirable body weight, it was learned further.

INCIDENCE

The incidence of obesity has doubled in the past decade, and much worse is to come, warns Highfield. A recent report predicted that one-quarter of British women and almost one-fifth of men will be obese.
In much of Europe, obesity affects 15 to 20 percent of the middle-aged population, he adds. 
This picture is better for Scandinavia and the Netherlands, where the figure is around 10 percent, but worse for eastern Europe, where it can soar to 50 percent among women. 
The United Kingdom, France, and Germany each reportedly has between five million and 10 million inhabitants who are obese.
Highfield warns that the possible consequences of adult obesity include diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, coronary heart disease, sleep apnea (a life-threatening problem in which breathing stops), gallbladder disease, chronic heartburn, arthritis, certain cancers, and depression.
Socially, fat people can be as successful as anyone else--think of Santa, for example--but their shape can undermine their self-esteem, particularly in western societies, where thin is fashionable, he adds.

WAR, DEATHS

Doctors have declared war on obesity. Nowhere is the battle of the bulge waged more seriously than in the United States, where obesity causes an estimated 300,000 deaths each year and accounts for at least $69 billion in health care costs, lost workdays, and disability.
It was learned further that Americans spend another $33 billion each year on weight-reduction products and programs, offered by a largely ineffective slimming industry. 
"The lack of progress in addressing this problem has provided a powerful spur for efforts to find out why we are getting so fat--in the process shedding new light on Santa's stomach," concludes Highfield.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Art of Loving

"He who knows nothing, loves nothing. He who can do nothing understands nothing. He who understands nothing is worthless. But he who understands also loves, notices, sees...The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love...Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes." PARACELSUS


BY ALEX P. VIDAL


HOLLYWOOD, California -- Through his practice and teaching, Erich Fromm has helped hundreds of thousands of men and women to achieve rich, productive lives by developing their hidden powers of love.
Now, in his astonishingly frank, candid book, The Art of Loving, he explores the ways in which this extraordinary emotion can be used to alter the whole course of life. 
Here is his wise human counsel on: How to overcome the fear of love...How to use love to conquer shame and anxiety...How to use love to release hidden potentialities...Finally, how to make love become the most exhilarating and exciting experience of life.
"Is love an art?" Fromm, the world-famous psychoanalyst, asks. "Then it requires knowledge and effort. Or is love a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter of chance, something one 'falls into' if one is lucky?"
Fromm's book is based on the former premise, while undoubtedly the majority of people today believe in the latter.


IMPORTANT


Not that people think love is not important. Fromm says people are starved for it; they watch endless numbers of films about happy and unhappy love stories, they listen to hundreds of trashy songs about love--yet hardly anyone thinks that there is anything that needs to be learned about love.
The author observes that this peculiar attitude is based on several premises which either singly or combined tend to uphold it. 
"Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one's capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable," Fromm explains.
In pursuit of this aim they follow several paths, according to Fromm. 
"One, which is especially used by men, is to be successful, to be as powerful and rich as the social margin of one's position permits," he adds. "Another, used especially by women, is to make oneself attractive, by cultivating one's body, dress, etc. Other ways to making oneself attractive, used both by men and women, are to develop pleasant manners, interesting conversation, to be helpful, modest, inoffensive.
"Many of the ways to make oneself lovable are the same as those used to make oneself successful, 'to win friends and influence people.' As a matter of fact, what most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal."


PREMISE


Fromm explains that the second premise behind the attitude that there is nothing to be learned about love is the assumption that the problem of love is the problem of an object, not the problem of a faculty. "The attitude has several reasons rooted in the development of modern society. One reason is the great change which occurred in the twentieth century with respect to the choice of a 'love object.' In the Victorian age, as in many traditional cultures, love was mostly not a spontaneous personal experience which then might lead to marriage," he stresses.
"On the contrary, marriage was contracted by convention--either by the respective families, or by a marriage broker, or without the help of such  intermediaries; it was concluded on the basis of social considerations, and love was supposed to develop once the marriage had been concluded."
Fromm points out that in the last few generations the concept of romantic love has become almost universal in the Western world. 
In the United States, while considerations of a conventional nature are not entirely absent, to a vast extent people are in search for "romantic love," of the personal experience of love which then should lead to marriage. 
This new concept of freedom in love must have greatly enhanced the importance of the object as against the importance of the function, he enumerates.
Closely related to this factor is another feature characteristic of contemporary culture, Fromm adds. "Our whole culture is based on the appetite for buying, on the idea of a mutually favorable exchange. Modern man's happiness consists in the thrill of looking at the shop windows, and in buying all that he can afford to buy, either for cash or on installments," Fromm says. "He (or she) looks at people in a similar way. For the man an attractive girl--and for the woman an attractive man--are the prizes they are after."


PACKAGE


"Attractive" usually means a nice package of qualities which are popular and sought after on the personality market. What specifically makes a person attractive depends on the fashion of the time, physically as well as mentally. 
Fromm explains: "During the twenties, a drinking and smoking girl, tough and sexy, was attractive; today the fashion demands more domesticity and coyness. At the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of this century, a man had to be aggressive and ambitious--today he has to be social and tolerant--in order to be an attractive 'package.' At any rate, the sense of falling in love develops usually only with regard to such human commodities as are within reach of one's own possibilities for exchange.
"I am out for a bargain; the object should be desirable from the standpoint of its social value, and at the same time should want me, considering my overt and hidden assets and potentialities. Two persons thus fall in love when they feel they have found the best object available on the market, considering the limitations of their own exchange values.
"Often, as in buying real estate, the hidden potentialities which can be developed play a considerable role in this bargain. In a culture in which the marketing orientation prevails, and in which material success is the outstanding value, there is little reason to be surprised that human love relations follow the same pattern of exchange which governs the commodity and the labor market."
The third error leading to the assumption that there is nothing to be learned about love lies in the confusion between the initial experience of "falling" in love," the author says, "and the permanent state of being in love, or as we might better say, of 'standing' in love."
"If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love."


INTIMACY


This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitated if it is combined with, or initiated by, sexual attraction and consummation, he explains. 
"However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting," Fromm warns. "The two persons become well acquainted, their intimacy loses more and more its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disappointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the initial excitement. Yet, in the beginning they do not know all this: in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation, this being 'crazy' about each other, for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness."
Fromm says this attitude--that nothing is easier than to love--has continued to be the prevalent idea about love in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 
"There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love," he explains. "If this were the case with any other activity, people would be eager to know the reasons for the failure, and to learn how one could do better--or they would give up the activity. 
"Since the latter is impossible in the case of love, there seems to be only one adequate way to overcome the failure of love--to examine the reasons for this failure, and to proceed to study the meaning of love."
The first step to take is to become aware that love is an art, according to Fromm, just as living is an art; "if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering."
Fromm asks: "Could it be that only those things are considered worthy of being learned with which one can earn money or prestige, and that love, which 'only' profits the soul, but is profitless in the modern sense, is a luxury we have no right to spend much energy on?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dialectic of Sex

"When we consider and reflect upon Nature at large or the history of mankind or our own intellectual activity at first we see the picture of an endless entanglement of relations and reactions, permutations and combinations, in which nothing remains what, where, and as it was, but everything moves, changes, comes into being and passes away. We see therefore at first the picture as a whole with its individual parts still more or less kept in the background; we observe the movements, transitions, connections, rather than the things that move, combine, and are connected. This primitive, naive, but intrinsically correct conception of the world is that of ancient Greek philosophy, and was first clearly formulated by Heraclitus: everything is and is not, for everything is fluid, is constantly changing, constantly coming into being and passing away." FRIEDRICH ENGELS


By Alex P. Vidal


HOLLYWOOD, California -- What is the deepest division in nature? 
The biological inequality of men and women, says Shulamith Firestone in her brilliant book, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution.
But what is fact is not necessarily human. 
To survive in our time we must break down politically traditional sex-roles, she suggests. 
Ten provocative chapters push Women's Liberation to a new radical peak and paint a persuasive picture of a post-revolutionary society where the sexual class system has been eradicated.
Firestone cuts into the prejudice against women (and children)--amplified through the modern media--that paralyzes our society.
With penetrating insight into the political machinery that consolidates male power, the author examines the historical development of special cultural constructs--such as romantic love--that have kept women subservient to their gradually eroding roles as wives and mothers. 
She looks at the cultural backlash to the feminist movement and, finally, envisions in amazing detail a post-revolutionary computer society in which the deepest source of social and cultural disease, the sexual class system, has been eradicated, thereby allowing for the first successful revolution in history.


DEEP


Sex class is so deep as to be invisible, according to Firestone. 
Or it may appear as a superficial inequality, one that can be solved by merely a few reforms, or perhaps by the full integration of women into the labor force. "But the reaction of the common man, woman, and child--'That? Why you can't change that! You must be out of your mind!'--is the closest to the truth. We are talking about something every bit as deep as that. This gut reaction--the assumption that, even when they don't know it, feminists are talking about changing a fundamental biological condition--is an honest one," writes Firestone. 
"That so profound a change cannot be easily fit into traditional categories of thought, e.g., 'political,' is not because these categories do not apply but because they are not big enough: radical feminism bursts through them. If there were another word more all-embracing than revolution we would use it."
Until a certain level of evolution had been reached and technology had achieved its present sophistication, she says to question fundamental biological conditions was insanity.
"Why should a woman give up her precious seat in the cattle car for a bloody struggle she could not hope to win?" she asks. 
"But, for the first time in some countries, the preconditions for feminist revolution exist--indeed, the situation is beginning to demand such a revolution." 


MASSACRE


Firestone says the first women are fleeing the massacre, and, shaking and tottering, are beginning to find each other. 
Their move is reportedly a careful joint observation, to resensitize a fractured consciousness.
"This is painful," she adds. "No matter how many levels of consciousness one reaches, the problem always goes deeper. It is everywhere. The division yin and yang pervades all culture, history, economics, nature itself; modern Western versions of sex discrimination are only the most recent layer. To so heighten one's sensitivity to sexism presents problems far worse than the black militant's new awareness of racism: Feminists have to question, not just all of Western culture, but the organization of nature.
"Many women give up in despair: if that's how deep it goes they don't want to know. Others continue strengthening and enlarging the movement, their painful sensitivity to female oppression existing for a purpose: eventually to eliminate it."
Firestone explains: "Before we can act to change a situation, however, we must know how it has arisen and evolved, and through what institutions it now operates. Engels' '(We must) examine the historic succession of events from which the antagonism has sprung in order to discover in the conditions thus created the means of ending the conflict.'


REVOLUTION


For feminist revolution, the authors suggests the need for an analysis of the dynamics of sex war as comprehensive as the Marx-Engels analysis of class antagonism was for the economic revolution. 
"More comprehensive. For we are dealing with a larger problem," she points out, "with an oppression that goes back beyond recorded history to the animal kingdom itself."
Firestone says in creating such analysis, "we can learn a lot from Marx and Engels: Not their literal opinions about women--about the condition of women as an oppressed class they know next to nothing, recognizing it only where it overlaps with economics--but rather their analytic method."
Marx and Engels outdid their socialist forerunners in that they developed a method of analysis which was both dialectical and materialist. 
The first in centuries to view history dialectically, they saw the world as process, a natural flux of action and reaction, of opposites yet inseparable and interpenetrating. 
Because they were able to perceive history as movie rather than as snapshot, they attempted to avoid falling into the stagnant "metaphysical" view that had trapped so many other great minds.


VIEW


Firestone says they combined this view of the dynamic interplay of historical forces with a materialist one, that is, they attempted for the first time to put historical and cultural change on a real basis, to trace the development of economic classes to organic causes. 
By understanding thoroughly the mechanics of history, they hoped to show men how to master it.
"Socialist thinkers prior to Marx and Engels, such as Fourier, Owen, and Bebel, had been able to do no more than moralize about existing social inequalities, positing and ideal world where class privilege and exploitation should not exist--in the same way that early feminist thinkers posited a world where male privilege and exploitation ought not exist--by mere virtue of good will," writes Firestone.
"In both cases, because the early thinkers did not really understand how the social injustice had evolved, maintained itself, or could be eliminated, their ideas existed in a cultural vacuum, utopian. Marx and Engels, on the other hand,  attempted a scientific approach to history. They traced the class conflict to its real economic origins, projecting an economic solution based on objective economic preconditions already present: the seizure by the proletariat of the means of production would lead to a communism in which government had withered away, no longer needed to repress the lower class for the sake of the higher. In the classless society the interest of every individual would be synonymous with those of the larger society."  
But the doctrine of historical materialism, as she explains further, much as it was a brilliant advance over previous historical analysis, was not the complete answer, as later events bore out. 
For though Marx and Engels grounded their theory in reality, it was only a partial reality.

Is Bob Arum afraid of truth?

"Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance."
--W. Clement Stone

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California -- Filipino-American journalist Granville Ampong warned us we could kiss goodbye our media accreditation when Manny Pacquiao fights next year either against Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time or Floyd Mayweather Jr. if we spoke our mind out against the Pacquiao-Marquez III decision.
Top Rank is Bob Arum and Bob Arum is Top Rank.
I told him it's OK as long as we have the moral courage to tell the truth and nothing but the truth; we aren't beholden to anyone in Las Vegas, and we owe it to the reading public to uphold the truth.
We are duty bound to protect it no matter who gets sideswiped along the way.

STORM

The storm signal was evident when Uncle Bob gave San Francisco-based veteran boxing analyst and former promoter Hermie Rivera the severe dressing down when he asked, during the post-fight press conference, the 79-year-old wily Top Rank boss whether he believed Marquez "could be high with performance enhancing drugs" since it was widely known he had hired the services of Angel Hernandez 
as new strength and conditioning coach.
"I don't want to hear anymore scrap. You shut up and you sit down," Arum blasted Rivera.
Arum did not want to hear questions from sportswriters dwelling on allegations the judges had stolen the win from 38-year-old Marquez (52-6-1, 39 KOs). 
Ampong and several sports scribes in the media room believed Marquez had won the fight. 
He described the verdict as "a travesty of justice." But there were those who agreed with the judges--especially Filipino broadcast and print journalists who thought the 32-year-old Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) deserved to retain his welterweight crown being the more aggressor and more active.

CONGRATULATE

A Latino-speaking sportswriter congratulated Marquez before throwing his question: "Congratulations, Juan Manuel. In my scorecard, I saw you the winner, 112-116."
Reporting from Las Vegas, LA Times sports analyst noted that while Marquez "briefly basked in the celebration of an apparent triumph after the 12th round, lifting his right fist to the air as if to forever puncture the cloud of close-call shortcomings versus Pacquiao, the Filipino superstar retreated to his corner to kneel and pray."
For the first time since he racked up wins against seasoned world champions in the United States, Pacquiao showed up at his post-fight news conference late by more than one hour. 
Arriving with 28 stitches to close the three-level cut he suffered in a 10th-round head butt, Pacquiao looked like a defrocked champion.
He was allowed to answer only a few questions and was stopped by Arum "because he (Pacquiao) still has many things to do." 
Pacquiao arrived in the media room 20 minutes after Marquez had wrapped up his press conference. They were supposed to face the media together.
Marquez, who brutally disposed of in a single round Likar Ramos in Cancun, Mexico last July 16, thought he had the win in the bag as early as 8th round. 
"I really believe I have to drop Pacquiao, but even if I drop him, I get the feeling they'll stand him back up and give him this fight again. I am very frustrated right now," he declared.
His trainer, Ignacio Beristin, called the majority decision a "joke."

DEAR

Dear is Uncle Bob, but dearer is the truth.
The truth is, Pacquiao retained his WBO welterweight belt on Saturday night (November 13) with a majority decision win against Marquez -- Dave Moretti 113-115; Robert Hoyle 114-114; and Glenn Trowbridge 112-116. 
But there are always several versions of truth: their truth, your truth, our truth. 
Defining truth is easy; knowing whether a particular statement is true is much harder; and pursuing the truth is most difficult at all.
In the Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy, the fact that majority of the three judges saw Pacquiao the winner is an indication that it is probably true. 
But this is only one of the signs of truth, the "official" truth, and by no means the best one. 
Since boxing fans and experts are split on their opinion on who really won the fight, it does not answer even Pontius Pilate's question on "What is truth?"
Josiah Royce, an American philosopher at the beginning of this century, defined a liar as a man who willfully misplaces his ontological predicates; that is a man who says "is" when he means "is not," or "is not" when he means "is." 
His definition of a liar leads us quickly to the most famous of all philosophical definition of truth.