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Month: February 2014

The Great Dare: USA, Military Budget Cut, China, and the South China Sea Dispute

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The United States of America (USA) is cutting its military budget to pre-World War II levels. Due to the Afghanistan war, the United State’s longest ground war, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel proposes that it is necessary to refit the armed forces. He proposes to reduce the army to pre-World War II levels – about 450,000 strong, from post 9/11 570,000. He also proposes to decommission the nuclear super aircraft carrier USS George Washington. But the cut doesn’t stop there, the air-force’s entire A-10 “Warthog” attack aircraft fleet, that benefits ground forces in combat, is also scheduled for the chopping board.

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South China Sea / West Philippine Sea Dispute Timeline

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When trying to get a ‘low-down’ on a big and complicated issue such as the West Philippine Sea (WPS) / South China Sea (SCS) dispute, more often than not, facts, details, and fine-print obscure the matter considerably – if not completely. Like learning a new language from a dictionary, infoxiation – or the over abundance of information, just gets in the way. If the intent is simply to learn how to say, “back-off” in Mandarin, etymologies, phonetics, and other nuances, though important in their own right, dissuade the reader from reaching his/her objective – to be informed. Such is the case of the WPS/SCS dispute, it is obscured by in-obscurity! There are just too many materials on the issue and they grow every day.

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A Day in the Life: Stress, Brain Rewiring, Self Pleasure, King Leopold’s Ghost, the Philippines, Rubber, and the Congo

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If it’s any indication of stress, I am writing more frequently than ever. According to Kelly Lambert, a neuroscientist at the psychology department at Randolph-Macon College, “[W]hen you do meaningful work with your hands, a kind of neurochemical feedback floods your brain with dopamine and serotonin.” These two chemicals induce the brain to feel pleasure and elation. They are aptly called, ‘the pleasure hormones.’ Probably this is why I am so ‘attached’ to hand intensive tasks such as aquaponics, electronics, mechatronics, photography, cooking, painting, and recently, decoupage. It is not a stretch to say that, I am literally pleasuring myself with my hands.

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A Day In the Life: PH Economy, Unemployment, and Samurai Haircuts.

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It is quite mind-boggling how the government can claim positive economic growth while there is a 12.1M employment deficit. According to Okun’s law, “a one point increase in the cyclical unemployment rate is associated with two percent age points of negative growth in real GDP.” Therefore, the relationship between GDP and employment is directly proportional: positive economic growth means more jobs, vice-versa. Thus the current domestic economy-to-employment ratio is anything but logical.

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Today in the West Philippine Sea: China, Lawfare, and Stick Diplomacy

sam-galope-philippines-china-big-stick-diplomacyChina is waging “Lawfare” – China’s implementation of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), that requires all aircraft passing over Japanese occupied Diaoyu islands and the seas surrounding it to register with Beijing or else face “defensive measures,” is a clear example of Lawfare or the “Act of Using International Laws as a Weapon of War.” The term was coined by Air Force General Charles Dunlap in 2001 at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy in Harvard.

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February BookSale Raid

It is amazing what you can find in BookSale. Likewise, the prices that they are sold at are mind boggling! Today, I found 7 hard bound books with topics ranging from the ‘Psychology of Eating’ to ‘Retracing the Steps of Gengis Khan.’

The whole bunch I acquired for less than P600.00. The cheapest book I have is the biography ‘Roscoe’ for P5.00! It is followed by ‘Charlatan: a Study on America’s Greatest Con Artists’ that is sold for P10.00! Business and motivational books range from P80.00-P160.00. Coolness!

In hindsight, though I am not complaining, histories and studies are priced the lowest. Is it because nobody appreciates them except academics? Does the public prefer fiction over non-fiction? Why? Moreover, if history is the guidepost that ensures our future, what does the general aversion to it say about our society and culture?

Sam Rodriguez Galope BOOOKS 2014-02-12 13-54-45

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Hard Bound Ayn Rand Loot!

Finally, I have Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ rare hard bound edition. Despite the rock bottom price I got it for, it is in pristine condition. It is virtually untouched thanks to the lengthy foreword that dissuaded the ‘donor’ from reading it. Thank you soooooo much for the loot, Lorna Lovelace!

Now let’s discuss Nobokov’s ‘Lolita,’ Kerouac, Tim Leary’s ‘The Politics of Ecstasy’ and KLR cameras that you are willing to part with.

Our Cinemalaya project pa pala!

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Reflections

2 o’clock in the morning means sleep for most people but for me, it is the time for introspection. It is the best time because…

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