Sunday, March 29, 2020

I live in Elmhurst and my place is like a war zone

“The massive COVID-19 outbreak in New York City demonstrated that dense urban environments are undesirable places for humans to live.” 
Steven Magee

By Alex P. Vidal

MY fellow journalist from Iloilo City, Ma. Regine Soliman-Algecera, complained that the loud siren from the passing ambulance distracted her while we were talking over the phone Sunday night (March 29).
Ano ina sa background mo man? Kada 10 minutes may ambulance nga naga uwang (I heard a siren from an ambulance every 10 minutes in the background),” Regine, who was calling from the Long Island, pointed out.


She was referring to the ambulances that carried suspected coronavirus patients to the Elmhurst Hospital here in Queens. 
Every now and then, an ambulance passed by our apartment—day and night non-stop since it was reported that Elmhurst Hospital became the epicenter of coronavirus cases in the world. 
Some residents, fearing they had coronavirus, would call 911 if they weren’t feeling good or if they were coughing and having a fever. 
One New Yorker or COVID-19 patient died every 17 minutes, according to reports here.
Elmhurst Hospital, located on corner Baxter and Broadway Streets in the most ethnically and linguistically diverse neighborhood in the borough of Queens, is where the biggest number of COVID-19 patients died over the week. 
The death toll, the highest in the United States, has passed 1,000 as of this writing.


“At least you heard it; you’re a witness to what has been going on here in Elmhurst now,” I replied. “Our neighborhood has become like a war zone since five days ago.”
I informed Regine I visited the Elmhurst Hospital Saturday afternoon amid a slight downpour, but didn’t penetrate the emergency room and the area where coronavirus patients were placed.
For our own safety, we have been discouraged from going to that hospital unless we were coronavirus patients or health authorities.
Regine and I actually both live here in Elmhurst.
Her apartment is very near the hospital, or approximately five minutes away by walk.
My apartment is located four blocks away or 10 to 15 minutes (I mentioned 20 minutes in my previous articles) away by walk.
She was confined in the same hospital two years ago for hypertension. 
Regine, formerly of Cable Star in Iloilo, had been stranded in the Long Island as a “stay-in” and was advised by her landlady “not to go home” because the government had imposed a strict lockdown order and Monday would be “very difficult” for all New Yorkers who would try to go out.


President Donald Trump has extended federal guidelines on social distancing until April 30 after a top health official warned more than 100,000 people could die from the coronavirus in the United States.
“The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks," Trump told reporters at the White House. "Therefore, the next two weeks and during this period it's very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines ... We will be extending our guidelines to April 30th to slow the spread."
The initial 15-day period had been due to expire on March 30.
The United States has 139,000 confirmed infections from the coronavirus, more than any other country in the world, while more than 2,400 people have died from the respiratory illness caused by the pathogen.
Worldwide, the number of cases has reached more than 718,000. Some 149,000 people have recovered, and more than 33,000 have died.
This developed as The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms and a full medical staff, was scheduled to arrive in New York City on March 30.
Crews on the West Side pier have been preparing over the weekend for its arrival.
Several city agencies have worked together to deepen the area in which the hospital ship can come in to dock.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

My love affair with Big Apple's Central Park

"My favorite place is Central Park because you never know what you're going to find there. I also like that when I look out the windows of surrounding hotels, it's seems like I'm looking out over a forest." 
--Haley Joel Osment

By Alex P. Vidal

EVERYBODY who has visited and lived in New York City will fall in love with the Central Park.
State leaders, beauty queens, sports icons, journalists, film makers, students, religious voyagers, rock stars, tourists, Hollywood heartthrobs, photographers, gangsters, comedians, ordinary folks.
Like them, I also fell in love with the Central Park. 
It was in the Central Park where I officially played my first serious tournament in chess in September 2016.
It was in the Central Park where I wrote some of my most memorable articles—many of which weren’t yet published. 
For a while, Central Park became part of my life. 
I love the trees and the surrounding tall skyscrapers. I love the birds, the lakes and green grasses. I can spend my time in the Central Park any day of the week if I am not busy.  
It was on July 21, 1853 when the New York State Legislature enacted into law the setting aside of more than 750 acres of land central to Manhattan Island to create America's first major landscaped public park; they would soon refer to it as "the Central Park." 
Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the winners of the 1858 design competition for Central Park, along with other socially conscious reformers understood that the creation of a great public park would improve public health and contribute greatly to the formation of a civil society. Immediately, the success of Central Park fostered the urban park movement, one of the great hallmarks of democracy of nineteenth century America.


By the early 20th century, vicissitudes of the social, political and economic climate threatened the fabric of the Park and caused its first serious decline. 
Robert Moses, park commissioner from 1934 to 1960, received federal funding for the restoration of many eroded landscapes and crumbling structures, and embarked on massive public programming for the post-Depression populace. 
When he left office, however, there was no management strategy for maintaining those improvements or educating Park visitors in proper stewardship, and for the next two decades the second -- and most devastating -- decline took its toll on the fragile 843-acre Park.  
Physically the Park was in a chronic state of decay. Meadows had become barren dustbowls; benches, lights, and playground equipment were broken, and the one-hundred-year-old infrastructure was crumbling. 
Socially, the Park bred a careless, even abusive attitude towards the Park evidenced by unchecked amounts of garbage, graffiti, and vandalism. Positive use had increasingly been displaced by illicit and illegal activity. The perception—and in many cases, the reality—of Central Park was of a lawless and dangerous ruin. Despite a workforce of over three hundred Parks Department employees assigned to Central Park, there was no accountability. 
New York City had abdicated their responsibility as Park stewards and, as a result, this national treasure became a national disgrace.
To help remedy this troubled situation, George Soros and Richard Gilder, under the aegis of the Central Park Community Fund, underwrote a management study of Central Park in 1974 by E.S. Savas, who was at that time the Columbia University School of Business, Professor of Public Systems Management. 
The groundbreaking study proposed that two important initiatives be implemented to ameliorate the conditions in Central Park: one, that a Chief Executive Officer be given "clear and unambiguous managerial authority" for all Park operations, and two, a Central Park Board of Guardians be created to oversee strategic planning and policy, thereby instituting private citizen involvement in their public park.


The study's first proposal resulted in the appointment in 1979 of Elizabeth "Betsy" Barlow (now Rogers), a Yale-educated urban planner and writer, who became the newly created Central Park administrator, charged with overseeing all aspects of the Park's daily operations, in essence the Chief Executive Officer recommended in the Savas study. 
For four years before her appointment, Betsy had been overseeing the Central Park Task Force's program for summer youth interns, eventually becoming the head of that small, private organization, financially separate from the City but existing under the aegis of the Parks Department.
Given her new official status and responsibilities as administrator, Betsy first conceived of and then helped to create a revolutionary public/private partnership with the support of then park commissioner Gordon Davis that would bring private monies and expertise in partnership with the City of New York to manage and restore Central Park. 
In 1980, the two most prominent private advocacy groups—the Central Park Task Force and the Central Park Community Fund—merged to become the Central Park Conservancy—the citizen-based Board of Guardians that the Savas study had essentially recommended.
Under a Conservancy-funded master plan, the gradual restoration of those decrepit landscapes evolved, and success bred success. As the Conservancy showed its ability to protect and maintain its investment, many more private individuals, foundations and corporations put their trust and their money into the restoration of the Park. 
To date, the Conservancy has had three successful capital campaigns towards rebuilding Central Park. The first campaign was launched in 1987; the second, "The Wonder of New York Campaign," was launched when Richard Gilder made a challenge grant to the Conservancy and the City in 1993. 


The work was continued in the "Campaign for Central Park," which ended in 2008, ensuring the completion of the Park's transformation. Most importantly, for the first time in the Park's turbulent history, the Conservancy has created an endowment that will ensure a sustainable green and healthy future for Central Park.
In 1998 a historic management agreement between the Conservancy and the City of New York formalized the then 18-year public-private partnership. 
With that contract Douglas Blonsky, who began his career in 1985 in the Conservancy's Capital Projects office as a landscape architect supervising construction projects, assumed Betsy's title of Central Park administrator. 
In 2004 he assumed the additional role of president of the Conservancy and CEO, responsible for not only the Park's management but also all fundraising and administrative duties.
Blonsky created innovative management practices to ensure that those healthy new landscapes would have a skilled and dedicated staff to maintain them in a professional manner. 
His clear vision for a well-managed and well-maintained Park took the Conservancy's design and restoration vision one step further with the implementation of Zone Management System, which brought accountability, pride of workmanship, and clear and measurable results to the Conservancy and Parks Department staff under his jurisdiction. 
Under this pioneering system, the Park is divided into 49 geographic zones for managerial purposes, each headed by a zone gardener, who in turn supervises grounds technicians and volunteers.


The Park's restorations gradually fostered important social changes in public behavior that returned the sanctity of public space to Central Park and ultimately to New York City at large. 
The American ideal of a great public park and its importance as a place to model and shape public behavior and enhance the quality of life for all its citizens once again defines the measurement of a great municipality. 
Towards this goal, the Conservancy was first in its demonstration of zero tolerance for both garbage and graffiti. An immediate call to action came when even the slightest sign of vandalism appeared in the Park — a busted lamppost or broken bench, for example— and became the tipping point, that turned public opinion of Central Park from one of dire repulsion to one of deep respect.
Today Central Park has never been more beautiful or better managed in the Park's 156-year history, and the Conservancy is proud to be the leader of the Park's longest period of sustained health and beauty. 
To date the Conservancy has raised over $875 million towards the restoration, programming and management of Central Park and is responsible for 75 percent of this year's annual operating budget of $67 million. Furthermore, just as Central Park was the leader in the birth of urban parks, so today Central Park, through the Conservancy's innovative care and expertise, is the leader in the rebirth of urban parks, public spaces and the quality of life movement. 
City officials and park professionals from across America and around the world come to the Central Park Conservancy Institute for Urban Parks to learn of its best practices to restore and manage their local parks.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Death every 17 minutes

“The uninformed stay home and pray they are never infected with COVID-19, whereas the knowledgeable stay home and prepare the body for a possible future fight with the killer virus.” 
Steven Magee

By Alex P. Vidal

I went back to the petrifying Elmhurst Hospital in Queens amid a slight downpour Saturday afternoon and noticed that the area, where hundreds of people lined up for coronavirus admission in the last three days, was empty.  
There were police cars and the tents placed outside to accommodate a horde of patients (from 200 to 400 a day the last week, according to reports) were still there.
Outside or near the entrance, everyone was coughing and apparently had breathing shortage.
A nurse had said earlier dozens of people with symptoms of the coronavirus were sent to sit on chairs in one unit because there were no beds available.
I decided not to enter the area where coronavirus patients were being treated when I sensed some people screaming.
I didn’t want to add to the burden of the front liners if my issues weren’t that serious.    
Dr. Collin Smith, Elmhurst Hospital emergency room doctor, had exposed the eerie situations inside including the lack of tools needed for the “overflowing” Covid-19 patients.
Conditions at the hard-it hospital, located in the most ethnically and linguistically diverse neighborhood, were so bad that it resembled a “war zone.”
There were shortages of both supplies for the medical personnel and beds for their overflow number of coronavirus patients.


The latest grim citywide statistics as of this writing was that New Yorkers have been dying at a rate of one every 17 minutes as 84 more patients died only on Thursday and Friday.
The deaths occurred as the number of positive cases and of those who are critically ill had climbed.
New York has become the epicenter of the country’s outbreak with 52,318 confirmed cases and 728 deaths so far. 
When adjusted for population, that translates to roughly 269 known cases for every 100,000 residents.
But experts say those numbers don’t give the whole picture because many cases—including mild or asymptomatic infections—have not been diagnosed.
States have also approached testing differently. In our state in New York, where officials have been testing aggressively, the number of known cases is now doubling about every two days. 
In California, the number of known cases is doubling about every three days.
These were the statistics in the United States as of March 29 (Source: State and County Health Departments):
New York (52,318 cases 728 deaths); New Jersey (11,124-140); Michigan (4,659-111); California (4,643-101); Washington (4,310-189); Massachusetts (4,257-44); Florida (4,037-55); Illinois (3,491-47); Louisiana (3,315 -137); Pennsylvania (2,751-34); Georgia (2,446-79); Colorado (2,061-44); Texas (2,052-27); Connecticut (1,524-33); Ohio (1,406-25); Tennessee (1,373-6); Indiana (1,232-31); Maryland (992-10); Wisconsin (989-13); North Carolina (935-4); Missouri (838-10); Arizona (773-15); Virginia (739-17); Alabama (720-3); Mississippi (663-13); South Carolina (660-15); Nevada (621-14); Utah (602-2); Oregon (479-13); Minnesota (441-5); Arkansas (409-3); Kentucky (394-8); Oklahoma (377-15); District of Columbia (342-4); Iowa (298-3); Idaho (261-5); Kansas (261-5); Rhode Island (239-2); Delaware (214-5); New Hampshire (214-2); Maine (211-1); Vermont (211-12); New Mexico (208-2); Hawaii (151-0); Montana (147-1); West Virginia (113-0); Nebraska (108-2); Alaska (102-2); Puerto Rico (100-3); North Dakota (94-1); Wyoming (84-0); South Dakota (68-1); Guam (51-1); US Virgin Islands (23-0); Northern Mariana Islands (2-0); American Samoa (0-0); Repatriations (152-0).


Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that transmits its signals between the nerve cells and the brain. It reduces hunger, increase sexual interest, improve memory and mental alertness, and alleviate depression. (Vitamin Bible)
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Coronavirus who

By Alex P. Vidal 

Who are you
Where did you come from
Why did you make my body suffer
Why did you terrorize my friends
Why do you want me to die
Who sent you to torment us
If you are a crown where is your kingdom
If you are a virus what is your purpose 
How far can you make us suffer
How soon can you stop wreaking havoc on our populace
Now that you have made your presence felt with enormous catastrophe,
Will you please walk away from our life now and set us free

Thursday, March 26, 2020

How does it feel to be in the ‘No. 1’ city

“If a severe pandemic materializes, all of society could pay a heavy price for decades of failing to create a rational system of health care that works for all of us.”
Irwin Redlener

By Alex P. Vidal

Scared. We’re so scared that New York is now the No. 1 hotbed of coronavirus in the United States (82,135 cases and 1,195 deaths as of March 26 night).
As of this writing, 365 have died in New York and cases were up to 23,000.
We got goosebumps when Mayor Bill de Blasio hinted March 26 that half of New Yorkers or about four million people could be infected if the situation wasn’t remedied.
We have eclipsed Italy, which hogged the headlines for over a month with horrendous number of cases and casualties.
We’re scared even more because the epicenter of New York’s pandemic is in Queens, where I currently live.
Another reason to tremble in our short pants is that Elmhurst Hospital, now the focal point of “apocalypse” for having the highest number of COVID-19 patients and where death rate has skyrocketed in only several days this week, is located in our neighborhood.
It’s in the Elmhurst Hospital where I regularly had my medicals in 2016. 
Elmhurst Hospital ironically was my supposed destination for a check-up on the day I decided to have a “recess” after about two weeks of self isolation and self-imposed “enhanced community distancing” on orders of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for all New Yorkers.
We now feel like there is an “urgent” reason to extend the “stay at home” guidelines we started in the second week of March in order to help prevent the spread of infection, which has savaged the economy prompting nearly three million Americans to seek unemployment benefits.


Coronavirus reportedly tends to spread in dense places and the first and most obvious explanation for the severity of the area's outbreak is that New York is the largest and most densely populated city in the US. 
"That spatial closeness makes us vulnerable," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said March 25.
According to the 2010 Census, New York City had an average of just over 27,000 people per square mile, or more than double the density of Chicago and Philadelphia and more than three times the density of Los Angeles.
At all times of day, we pack together on the subway, bump into each other on sidewalks and brush knees at bars and restaurants—all while potentially contagious. 
We live in crowded apartment buildings, squeezing up stairs or into elevators with neighbors. 
The transit system connects us across all five boroughs, so most people here don't own cars that might otherwise separate us
"We're used to crowds," New York City Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "We're used to lines. We're used to being close together."
New York City is also the largest city in the country with over eight million inhabitants.
New York's high number of coronavirus cases is also just a reflection of its size. The state will likely lead the country in coronavirus cases even if its infection rate per person is not the highest, according to Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.


The U.S. Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance programs provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements. 
Unemployment insurance is a joint state-federal program that provides cash benefits to eligible workers.
There is now the coronavirus relief package which dramatically expands unemployment insurance for the jobless during the outbreak, aimed at easing the suffering imposed by the crisis as claims shattered unemployment claim records.
Passed by the Senate and is set to be approved by the House on March 27, the $2 trillion bill creates two main categories of benefits for individuals. 
The first is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which covers people who are unable to work because of the coronavirus outbreak—that includes independent contractors, gig workers, sick people and those caring for a loved one during the outbreak. 
The second is an extra $600 per week over the next four months for those who are out of work and getting jobless benefits in their state.


ATOMS CANNOT BE SEEN. To show that the world was made of particles a million times smaller than objects visible to the naked eye was so difficult that their existence was not established beyond reasonable doubt until the end of the nineteenth century.
WELCOME THE WIND. Many products can cause air pollution to build up in our home, including modern cleaners, which contain strong chemicals. Let's make sure to ventilate our home well, ensuring a through-flow of air to help reduce pollution levels and encourage good ventilation.
FILTER IT AWAY. The human body requires at least 1 gallon of water a day. If we are considering stocking up on emergency supplies, let's bear in mind that plastic bottles are thought to leach chemicals into the water if left for a length of time. Let's save space and the environment by stocking up on water filters instead.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wrong timing

“If we can provide even a few months of early warning for just one pandemic, the benefits will outweigh all the time and energy we're devoting. Imagine preventing health crises, not just responding to them.”
Nathan Wolfe

By Alex P. Vidal

AFTER two weeks of isolation (I religiously followed the “stay at home” guidelines ordered recently by Gov. Andrew Cuomo) and nursing a sore throat and intermittent sneezing, I finally decided to go out Wednesday (March 25) afternoon for a checkup in the hospital.
Destination: Elmhurst Hospital on Broadway Street in Queens.
From my apartment, it would be a 20-minute walk.
It was my first “exposure” in public after several days, and I didn’t like the atmosphere several steps after coming out from the gate.
I could count with my fingers the people I saw walking in the streets.
Most of them were walking fast like they were fleeing from a volcano eruption nearby and were wearing masks like me. 
The scene was a reminiscence of the 1932 Victor Halperin’s “White Zombie” film: people avoided eye contact with each other like they just came out from a whore house.
I became suspicious.
I thought it was a mistake to interrupt my “self quarantine” strategic plan, which started days ago, when I suddenly learned that Elmhurst Hospital ostensibly “wasn’t safe” for me.


On that day, news spread here that the hospital had suffered an “apocalyptic” coronavirus (COVID-19) surge.
Elmhurst hospital was No. 1 among the New York City hospitals facing the kind of harrowing increases in cases that overwhelmed health care systems in China and Italy.
Wrong timing. I chickened out in the eleventh hour and hurriedly returned to my apartment.
The day I decided to go to Elmhurst Hospital was the day the hospital was at a breaking point amid the coronavirus crisis with 13 patients dying there in a 24-hour span, it was reported.
The 545-bed hospital had been overrun and in desperate need of supplies.
It was reportedly operating at more than 125-percent capacity, compared to its typical 80-percent capacity rate.
The number of deaths recorded there between Tuesday (March 24) and Wednesday (March 26) was “consistent with the amount of ICU patients being treated there,” according to a spokesman for the city public hospital systems.
“Elmhurst is at the center of this crisis,” said Christopher Miller. “It’s the number one priority of our public hospital system right now.”
“Staff are doing everything in our power to save every person who contracts COVID-19,” Miller said. “But unfortunately this virus continues to take an especially terrible toll on the elderly and people with preexisting conditions.”


Source said nurses were complaining they were like “working at a field hospital in the middle of a war zone.”
New patients were reportedly lined up the doors and there weren’t enough beds to hold them. Equipment is running out faster than they could restock it. The situation was reportedly something nurses have never seen before.
According to The New York Times, some people have died inside the emergency room while waiting for a bed.
“It’s apocalyptic,” Dr. Ashley Bray was quoted in the paper.
Scores of people were seen lining up outside the hospital just to get tested for the coronavirus weeks earlier.
It was learned that in the last 24 hours, Elmhurst added 25 staffers from other hospitals, as well as a number of ventilators. 
The hospital, where I used to visit for my medicals in 2016, might need a lot more help to sustain itself amid a surge in coronavirus patients.
Data shows Queens has been hard-hit by the pandemic and accounts for about a third of Big Apple cases, 6,420 as of March 25.


About 30 percent of Big Apple cases are Queens residents, 5,066 as of Wednesday, according to the City Department of Health.
Elmhurst staffers on the front lines were said to be doing a tremendous job with limited resources they have but the hospital is reportedly “at a critical stage.”
“Right now, we're seeing double our average census every day," said Dr. Ben McVane. "We're filling up we're filling up our ICUs. We have several floors now that are devoted only to COVID positive patients. So we're finding ourselves getting close to being overwhelmed by patients. Some of these are very sick patients."
Elmhurst has a level one trauma center and is located in one of the most densely populated spots in the city's most populous borough.
It is also the hospital to which Rikers Island inmates are rushed in the event of an emergency at the city's jail complex.
Of the more than 20,000 coronavirus cases in NYC there are at least 6,000 cases in Queens, the most of any borough.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, March 23, 2020

Woman: cannibalism to culture

"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?'" 

By Alex P. Vidal 

The research made for over 20 years by Evelyn Reed (1905-1979) on Woman’s Evolution, the book dubbed as “an impressive and absorbing reconstruction of human history” by Sociology, will give us a profound understanding why she became a veteran socialist.
Reed 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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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 maternal 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, March 22, 2020

Different sexual behaviors

"One of the bizarre satisfactions of rape for the sadist is that the writhings and facial expressions of pain he produces in the female are somewhat similar to the writhings and facial expressions of a female experiencing an intense orgasm."

By Alex P. Vidal

When we put a piece of food into our mouth it does not necessarily mean that we are hungry.
When we take a drink it does not inevitably indicate that we are thirsty.
In the Human Zoo, writes English zoologist Desmond Morris, eating and drinking have come to serve many functions.
We may be nibbling peanuts to kill time, or we may be sucking sweets to soothe our nerves.
Like a wine-taster, we may merely savor the flavor and then spit the liquid out, or we may down 10 pins of beer to win a wager.
Under certain circumstances, we may be prepared to swallow a sheep's eyeball in order to maintain our Facebook status.
"In one of these cases is the nourishment of the body the true value of the activity," explains Morris. "This multi-functional utilization of basic behavior pattern is not unknown in the world of animals, but, in the human zoo, man's ingenious opportunism extends and intensifies the process."
Let's examine the different functions of sexual behavior one by one.
Morris reminds us that "it is important to realize at the onset that, although these functions are separate and distinct, and sometimes clash with one another, they are not all mutually exclusive. Any particular act of courtship or copulation may serve several functions simultaneously."
These are the 10 sexual functional categories, according to Morris:
1. PROCREATION SEX. There can be argument that this is the most basic function of sexual behavior. It has sometimes been mistakenly argues that it is the only natural and therefore proper role. Paradoxically, some of the religious groups that claim this do not practice what this preach, monks, nuns and many priests denying themselves the very activity which they hold to be so uniquely natural.
2. PAIR-FORMATION SEX. The human animal is basically and biologically a pair-forming species. As the emotional relationship develops between a pair of potential mates it is aided and abetted by the sexual activities they share. The pair-formation function of sexual behavior is so important for our species that nowhere outside the pairing phase do sexual activities regularly reach such a high intensity.
3. PAIR-MAINTENANCE SEX. Once a pair-bond has been successfully formed, sexual activities still function to maintain and reinforce the bond. Although these activities may become more elaborate and extensive, they usually become less intensive than those of the pair-forming stage, because the pair-forming function is no longer operating.
4. PHYSIOLOGICAL SEX. In the healthy adult human male and female there is a basic physiological requirement for repeated sexual consummation. Without such consummation, a physiological tension builds up and eventually the body demands relief. Any sexual act that involves an orgasm provides the orgasmic individual with this relief. Even if copulation fails to fulfill any of the other nine functions of sexual behavior, it can at least satisfy this basic physiological need.
5. EXPLORATORY SEX. One of man's greatest qualities is his inventiveness. In all probability our monkey ancestors were already endowed with a reasonably high level of curiosity; it is a characteristic of the whole primate group. However, when our early human ancestors took to hunting, they undoubtedly had to develop and strengthen this quality and magnify their basic urge to explore all the details of their environment.
6. SELF-REWARDING SEX. It is impossible to draw up a complete list of the functions of sex without including a category based on the idea that there is a thing as 'sex for sex's sake'; sexual behavior, the performance of which brings its own reward, regardless of any other consideration. The function is closely related to the last one, but they are nevertheless distinct.
7. OCCUPATIONAL SEX. This is sex operating as occupational therapy, or, if you prefer, as an anti-boredom device. It is closely related to the last category, but again can be clearly distinguished from it. There is difference between having spare time and being bored. Self-rewarding sex can occur as just one of many ways of constructively utilizing the spare time available.
8. TRANQUILIZING SEX. Just as the nervous system cannot tolerate gross inactivity, so it rebels against the strains of excessive over-activity. Tranquilizing sex is the other side of the coin from occupational sex. Instead of being anti-boredom, it is anti-turmoil. When faced with an overdose of strange, conflicting, unfamiliar or frightening stimuli, the individual seeks escape in the performance of friendly old familiar patterns that serve to calm his shattered nerves.
9. COMMERCIAL SEX. Prostitution has already been mentioned, but only from the point of view of the customer. For the prostitute herself the function of copulation is different. Subsidiary factors may be operating, but primarily and overwhelmingly it is straightforward and commercial transaction. Commercial sex of a kind also figures as an important function in many marriage situations, where one-sided pair-bond exists: one partner simply provides a copulatory service for the other in exchange for money and shelter. The provider who has developed a true pair-bond has to accept a mock one in return.
10. STATUS SEX. With this, the final functional category of sexual behavior, we enter a strange world, full of unexpected developments and ramifications. Status sex infiltrates and pervades our lives in many hidden and unrecognized ways. It is concerned with dominance, not with reproduction, and to understand how this link is forged we must consider the differing roles of the sexual female and the sexual male. Although a full expression of sexuality involves the active participation of both sexes, it is nevertheless true to say that, for the mammalian female, the sexual role is essentially a submissive one, and for the male it is essentially an aggressive one.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Ilonggos unite vs COVID-19

“One of the primary purposes of civilization - and certainly its primary strength - is the guarantee that family life can flourish in unity, peace, and order.”
Robert Kennedy

By Alex P. Vidal

BY being always available and visible in the public, Iloilo officials led by Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. and Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas are sending a buoyant message to the Ilonggos that “we are on top of the situation and with your help and cooperation, we can surmount this crisis.”
It’s in times of crisis and calamities that the leadership and worthiness of our leaders are scrutinized and best tested.
Novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has laid low the Ilonggo populace, just like other places all over the globe, by an enemy too small to be seen.
There seems to be a a sudden resignation and fatalism in the air even as despair unrelieved by even glimmers of hope befouls social media and traditional media alike.
All of a sudden, the scourge of the coronavirus strikes many of Ilonggos as well as people caught flat-footed around the world as something supernatural. 
For the Ilonggos, however, the show of unity is heart-warming and unparalleled. 
They know when and how to turn despair into hope by cooperating with the authorities and cajoling others to toe the line using the social media and person-to-person persuasion.


The good thing about the fear and confusion that cascaded in the hearts of many people is that the Ilonggos are now united against the common enemy.
There have been no opposition; no bellyaching; no protest, and nobody criticized or opposed our local officials who sent out stern executive orders (EOs) limiting the movements of warm bodies in the borders.
When Treñas ordered the temporary closure of the famed Iloilo Esplanade in the Iloilo River, nobody complained and everybody cooperated. 
The city currently has 16 patients under investigation (PUIs) and 1,097 persons under monitoring (PUMs) for COVID-19.
When the people are facing a cloud of uncertainty and confusion, they need leaders who are intrepid, decisive, firm, and who can assure them everything is being handled efficiently and professionally and that the government is ready to confront the crisis using its full authority, resources, and technical capabilities and otherwise.
Health experts and members of the disaster and coordinating council, the police and the military will work alongside the chief local executives to assuage the nervous public and help the people prepare for the next episode while everyone shakes in their pants but are optimistic there will be light at the end of the tunnel because their leaders are in the forefront helping contain the conflagration.


KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Instead of spending lots of money on a new desk for our office, let us invest in some salvaged wood and paying a carpenter to make us one to measure--it will have the added advantage of fitting the space exactly.
THE USE OF HAVING TWO EYES. If we look at our room with one eye only, we will find that it looks much flatter than it does with two eyes. With two eyes we can see that the chair is n front of the desk, that the wastebasket is round and that the closet looks deep. Our eyes are set from about two to two and a half inches from each other--measuring from center to center.
WHY WE HAVE EYEBROWS. Our eyebrows serve a good and useful purpose. If we had no eyebrows, the drops of sweat that form on our foreheads when we get warm would run into our eyes.
 (The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)