Monday, April 2, 2007

Letterman's Top Ten (The Beatles)

I saw this at the Late Show Web Site (Top Ten Archives) and thought it would be a good segue from the previous post. Kinda funny....

Top Ten Signs The Other Beatles Don't Like You:

10. Whenever you start talking, they say, "Let it be, Bonehead";

9. You're making less money from the reunion than Pete Best;

8. You find out you were the inspiration for "Nowhere Man";

7. If you didn't see it in T.V. Guide, you wouldn't have known about a reunion;

6. The only way you can get their attention is by eating Christmas ornaments (Cut to shot of Anton eating ornaments);

5. After you spent the week working on a painting for the cover, they decide to go with "The White Album";

4. They make you sit in the back of Air Force One;

3. When they hear you play, they say, "Wow -- you're even worse than Ringo!";

2. They won't stop singing "We hate you - yeah, yeah, yeah!";

1. Always trying to set you up with Yoko;

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beatles Trivia Collage

Here are some interesting, funny and relatively wierd things I've picked up about the legendary Fab Four. I can't quite vouch for the veracity of every account, but still they do add some spice and flavor to a Beatle-maniac's appreciation of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Feel free to add, correct, or comment on any of the items listed below:

1. Ringo Starr is the oldest of the four, but he's also the shortest;

2. Decca Recording Co. actually had the first crack at the Beatles but rejected them stating that they "didn't like their sound" and that "guitars were on the way out". (Can anybody spell LOSER?);

3. Randolph Peter "Pete" Best, the Beatles' original drummer worked as a baker making £8 a week, after he was "fired" by the Fab Four;

4. The Beatles had their biggest sold-out performance at the Rizal Stadium in Manila, Philippines. The crowd estimate was 100,000. The open air sports arena (with an open field in the middle) was so packed that the Fab Four had to be flown in by helicopter, which landed in the middle of the field. Ironically, a day or so after the performance, the Beatles had their worst "send-off" when they were literally chased out of the country by an unruly ban of "nationalists" who were offended after the boys snubbed former First Lady Imelda Marcos' invitation to perform at the presidential residence. That was in 1966 and about 20 years after, it was the Marcoses turn to run for cover. During an ambush interview with the late George Harrison, the former lead guitarist recalled how he and the rest of the band believed that former President Ferdinand Marcos ("the old dweeb", in his words) tried to "have them killed";

5. Still in relation to the previous item, it is said that during the sell-out concert in Manila, an emmisary from the First Family tenaciously (and annoyingly) insisted that the Beatles do a private performance at Malacanang Palace (presidential residence). Finally, it was Paul McCartney who said "You tell those #$%&*^ at the palace that if they want to watch, buy a ticket" (or something to that effect);

6. There is an on-going (whacky) conspiracy theory which suggests that the murder of John Lennon was actually ordered by hard-line conservatives in the Republican Party. The plan was supposedly hatched by the likes of Richard Nixon and carried out by then President-elect Ronald Reagan. Here's the best part: the person who actually shot John Lennon was not Mark Chapman but....(drum roll)...Stephen King! They say chapman is but a look-alike patsy. (Now, somebody forgot to take their medication.);

7. Former Beatle and good friend of John Lennon, Stuart Sutcliffe died on April 10th, 1962. Exactly eight years after on April 10, 1970, the Beatles officially broke up;

8. The original title of the popular Beatles ballad "Yesterday" was "Scrambled Eggs". McCartney's original lyrics were, "Scrambled eggs, Oh, baby how I love your legs." ;

9. The song "Hey, Jude" was actually written as a "cheer-me-up", "feel-good" song for Julian Lennon. Paul McCartney wanted help John's young lad emotionally as he was going through his parents' divorce. Unfortunately, the song was briefly misinterpreted as an "Anti-Sematic", since Jews were often called "Jude";

10. With Beatles' steady rise to fame, Stuart Sutchcliffe unwittingly introduced the band's official "haircut": mop-top, never showing the forehead; hence the cardinal rule: FORGET THE HAIRCUTS. John Lennon was actually the first to breach this "sacred" precept when he was compelled to visit the barber in 1967 and in preparation for his role in the movie "How I Won the War". He played a role of an army lieutenant and somehow the mop-top look didn't quite fit the part and so....snip-snip...;

Once in a while, I'll try to post whatever facts, trivia, or even non-sense that I can pick up about those four lads from Liverpool.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

On the Issues 2008 (part 3)

HEALTHCARE: Senator Barack Obama envisions a healthcare system that "works". As such, the promotion of affordable, accessible, and high-quality health care is a "high priority" In line with this, he has co-sponsored legislation which promotes patient safety initiatives (National MEDiC Act) and madates the use federal hospital quality reporting requirements for the purpose of informing and, thereby assisting would be patients and other consumers in making crucial decisions relative to their health care (Quality Report Card Act). To contain the potentially burdensome costs of the existing system of health care to government workers, Obama (along with Democratic Senator Harry Reid) introduced the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Efficiency Act, which apart from precluding sky-rocketing costs for health care, encourages the much needed development of healthcare information technology, which would, hopefully, translate to an efficient and effective system of settling the claims of the numerous beneficiaries.

Senator Clinton's pitch for affordable healthcare consists of supporting efforts to allow access to insurance and lower prices for healthcare services. For instance, she has gone on record to advocate (1) that families be allowed to buy into the State Children's Health Insurance Program and (2) the provision by small businesses of insurance to their employees through tax credits and large voluntary group purchases. In line with this, she has, along with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, introduced legislation to restore access to health care for legal immigrant children and pregnant women, specifically by eliminating the existing five year waiting period before the federal government will reimburse states for providing Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) services to said people. Instead, the states are to be given the option of extending such appropriate health services to new legal immigrant children and pregnant women and, more importantly, allowing states to receive the corresponding federal reimbursement for these costs through Medicaid and S-CHIP. In order to address the rising prices of drug costs, Senator Hillary Clinton is moving to improve the Food and Drug Administration’s process for approving generic biologic drugs.

Arizona Sentaor John McCain's position on the issue of healthcare has been, on occasion, characterized and distinguished by his focus on patient rights. This is part and parcel of a full range of principles he intends to imbed in the existing system. The pertinent principles thereof, comprising, in effect, the reforms he envision, include (1) affordable healthcare and the increased accessibility thereto, (2) the right of the insured to meet the doctor of his/her choice, (3) access to emergency care, (4) continued coverage despite change in employment, (5) open and full communication between the doctor and patient and (6) the establishment of a grievance process that addressed to the HMO's concerned in the event that medical care is denied (inclusive of an unequivocal right to litigate on the same). His advocacy for patient rights are further high-lighted by his vote in favor of Patient's First Act of 2003, which, he believes would respond to a "broken" medical malpractice system. In connection with this, he laments the increasing polarization of the nation caused by intense and heated debate between two powerful and influential special interests groups, namely the medical/insurance industry and the trial lawyers. Under the said bill, while an aggrieved patient would be able to recover the full costs or medical expenses as well as current and future losses, a cap on the non-economic damages is imposed so as to control the cost of medical malpractice insurance. McCain likewise seeks to expand the coverage of healthcare to an estimated 11 Million uninsured children, while he acknowledges though that obtaining the necessary funds for this would require a certain amount of political will ("And I’ll tell you what: I have the guts to take the money where it shouldn’t be spent in Washington and put it where it should be spent, including 10 percent of the surplus.")
To specifically address the necessity of affordable medicine, McCain puts a premium on generic drugs and the best evidence to this would be no less than the Schumer-McCain legislation. The bill was actually re-introduced to the Senate on account of Senator McCain's desire to prescription drugs in its coverage and to assist millions of senior and uninsured Americans who find it difficult to purchase their much needed medication on a fixed income.

Governor Mitt Romney's postion on this issue is grounded on the notion that healthcare is a personal responsibility and hence, the individual should be responsible for securing his or her own sealthcare insurance. Inspired the success of his "universal" healthcare program during his stint as governor of Massachusetts, Romney seeks to replicate this in the national arena by undertaking some radical re-structuring of the financial system of the current healthcare program. This includes subsidizing low-income families purchasing private health insurance in lieu of the usual reimbursement of hospitals for treatment afforded to the uninsured. He likewise envisions the creation of an insurance exchange that would allow people to purchase health insurance before tax. Through such market reforms, he hopes to cut the cumbersome costs of healthcare and provide more opportunities to secure quality service. He also strongly advocates his subsidy program as a better alternative to requiring employers to contribute to healthcare plans of their employees.

From the positions discussed, the latter plan of Governor Mitt Romney would seem to be the boldest and most novel approach to addressing the age-long and highly contentious issue. Whether his success can trasncend to the federal level remains on his political will and how he would deal with Congress. This is, of course, after and assuming he secures the Republican nomination and goes on to win the elections.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Urgent Medical Bulletin

I got this Medical Bulletin from my sister-in-law. We have to be very careful, especially with the elections coming up and all that. Be advised that this applies to Filipinos and Americans alike.

The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of Sexually Transmitted Disease.The disease is contracted through dangerous and high-risk behavior. The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim and is pronounced "gonna re-elect 'em."Many victims contracted it in 2004, after having been screwed for four years. Cognitive characteristics of individuals infected include:anti-social personality disorders, delusions of grandeur with messianic overtones, extreme cognitive dissonance, inability to incorporate new information, pronounced xenophobia and paranoia, inability to accept responsibility for one's own actions, cowardice masked by misplaced bravado, uncontrolled facial smirking, ignorance of geography and history, tendencies towards evangelical theocracy, and categorical all-or-nothing behavior.Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed at how this destructive disease originated only a few years ago from a Bush found in Texas.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Rudy Here, Rudy There...The Nuance of Rudy Giuliani

One of my favorite vegetable dishes is an American-Chinese concoction known as chop suey. It is essentially a stir-fried blend of bean sprouts, cabbage and celery laced in a starch-like sauce and oftentimes supplemented with either beef, chicken, pork or shrimps. What makes this highly relishing meal interesting is how the rather unorthodox mixture of various staple food items sumptuously caters to the heart (and appetite) of one's content.

Its not often that we see the appeal of such unconventional craftsmanship but so far former New York City Mayor Rodolph Guiliani has been successful in manuevering himself through the course of his political life, most of the time following a unique blend of his conservative and liberal beliefs. Yet the question remains whether this can be carried on past the Republican Party primaries, or beyond that, the 2008 Presidential Elections.

Concededly, Giuliani's success in battling the criminal elements of the Big Apple reflect his conservative side; "government exists above all to keep people safe in their homes and in the streets". The same can be said with his view of government's role as well as that of the private sector; "The private economy, not government, creates opportunity, government should just deliver basic services well and then get out of the private sector’s way." However, these circumstances constitute a sharp and stark contrast to his "liberal" views on gay marriages, abortion rights and gun-control. In maverick-like fashion, Guiliani has defied several positions comprising basic Republican conservative ideologies.

Without being explicit so as to actually mention and eventually tolerate the ideal of "gay marriages", Giuliani goes on record to support the notion of giving the same legal status of married couples to unions of the same sex. Such "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" clearly don't fit well in the conservative Republican's blueprint of government. Neither will it make him more appealable to the Christian and social conservatives that traditionally take up the cudgels of the GOP (as if the numerous marriages and divorces weren't enough reason to stay away from him).

On the matter of abortion, its no secret that Rudy Giuliani supports what he calls, "women's right of choice" and would even go as far as to "fund abortion so that a poor woman is not deprived of a right that others can exercise". As with his position on gay marriages, Giuliani's abortion stance is no less bad news for his conservative colleagues at the Republican party.

As for gun-control, its been suggested that his advocacy was brought about by the compelling need to deal with New York's crime menace. But for whatever reasons there were, the fact remains that he now finds himself yet again at the opposite side of the field, awkwardly polarized from his party, which stands as the proud bullwark of the Second Amendment.

Now a tough decision has to be made. Rudy Giuliani has all but officially declared his intention to seek the presidential nomination of the Republican party. And why not? After all, he has so far proven to be one of the most charismatic leaders in the GOP, or one, who some surmise, is capable of matching the "rock star" status of Barack Obama. Furthermore, his fatherly assuring image amongst New Yorkers during the dark hours of September 11, 2001, still resonates deep in the heart of a nation in search of alternative leadership. Along with this, his record of investigating and prosecuting cases against terrorist as well as his eviction of Yasser Arafat from New York in 1995 (for being a perceived terrorist) strike a positive chord among the citizens of a world power leading the War on Terror. Taken into consideration with his record of reducing and/or eliminating taxes during his stint at city hall, Giuliani's handlers hope to bring forth the image of an affable, or at least, a tolerable conservative. But the question is whether this would be sufficient to off-set indifference and growing hostility among the social and religious right and brewed by his seemingly unrelenting positions taken on gay marriages, abortion and gun-control. It would be noteworthy to consider that unlike Governor Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani has not taken any concrete steps towards reconsidering his said views on those issues. And it doesn't seem that the hard-line party conservatives, with their strong and sacred respect to life and the essence of marriage, will be ready to part with their ideals..., or their guns.

Like chop suey, Giuliani's mixture of conservative and liberal views may appeal to the political appetite of some of the voters out there. But whether or not this would as healthy to a hungry and consuming public remains to be seen.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My Take on The Philippine Senate

In a few months, we will once again cap this ordeal of a campaign with an election of a new batch of leaders including 12 characters who would constitute the Philippine Senate. Now, I've been dwelling deeply in the United States Presidential Elections which is more than a year away and I have yet to post an item under this blog which deals with something much closer to home. Shame on you, Mr. Kite! Where's your sense of nationalism? Why not give equal coverage to those "honorable" men and women who make up the alleged bastion of Philippine Democracy? Do something for your country. Be a patriot!

ALRIGHT!! Enough! Ok? I will accede to this annoying call of conscience and give you my take on the Philippine Senate. Here goes nothing....

On August 29, 1916, the United States Congress enacted "The Philppine Autonomy Act", otherwise known as the "Jones Law", which provided for the creation of a bicameral legislature, wherein the first Philippine Senate was created, slosgjhnoclndlhond,fyhdasllx adoaqeiflkholnfelhfldnflandlfjhaopdnfldjhfand,fanduhfeonrqLHEFNOalefnlfnfaldnflandflANDFLndflNLFllajfapjfal

Oh, sorry. Dozed off a little bit. Oh shit, its almost 6:00 pm. Gotta hit the gym. See ya!

Hey, you can't say I didn't try.............

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

On the Issues 2008 (part 2)

EDUCATION: Republican Governor Mitt Romney and Democratic Senator Barack Obama take off from a common starting point by acknowledging that the current American school system needs to be reformed, given the number of failing students as well as the fact that schools have been lagging behind world standards. They both push for such urgent reforms if only to remain competitive on the global arena with countries like China and India, whose proven and growing strength in mathematics and science have highlighted their role of new world powers. The educational programs advocated by both candidates deal with, among others, the increase and/or innovation in teachers' pay, thereby recognizing their valuable role in uplifting the nation's educational standards as well as the need to reasonably compensate them for their priceless efforts. While Romney and Obama push for pay increases for teachers, said candidates give equal emphasis to thier quality performance as the country's primary educators.

The Democratic candidates are vocal in their support for early education and actively push for the full implementation and perpetuation of Head Start, a federally funded project that underscores the role of parents in their child's education. Hillary Clinton is firm in her support for the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLBA) and has gone to the extent of criticizing President George W. Bush for supposedly "breaking the promise" of the said law by limiting its funding under the 2007 budget. But like her Republican counterparts, she supports the idea of charter schools and boasts of introducing legislation which would creat "an innovative funding source to help build and expand charter schools". She is, however, strongly against any school voucher system that would "divert precious resources away from financially strapped public schools to private schools that are not subject to the same accountability standards". (Obama is reportedly also against the school vouchers.) Furthermore, she has legislated for funds to ensure school modernization, thereby recognizing this as a critical part in boosting student achievement. This, of course, says nothing of the fact that she has also introduced such legislation intended to help schools construct healthier and more energy efficient buildings.

As earlier implied, Barack Obama is determined to pour more money into education. His record on this score proves this without any equivocation. Consider that for his home state, apart from the purpose of recruiting and rewarding good teachers, Senator Obama has, on the national level, introduced legislation that calls for funding of a program that supports summer learning opportunities in favor of disadvantaged children through local schools or community organizations, otherwise known as Summer Term Education Programs for Upward Progress Act or STEP UP. Notably, Senator Obama recognizes the issue of education as both an individual and social responsibility and while he tirelessly pushes for additional funding, he enjoins deeper motivation and drive on the part of the students, parents and of course, the teachers.

Both Democratic candidates value opportunity for higher education and have their respective records to show for it. Clinton, for her part, introduced the Student Borrower Bill of Rights and has co-sponsored the College Quality, Affordability and Diversity Act. In order to ensure a student's upward mobility after secondary education, Obama supports the idea of state-funded tuition and other fees for those students attending a public college or university and who maintain a "B" average. He is also introduced, as his first piece of legislation in the United States Senate, the HOPE Act which, among others, increases financial aid under the existing Pell Grants.

Walking the conservative line, Senator John McCain supports the concept of unrestricted federal grants for education in favor of the states who would thereby decide on their own how the same should be spent to address their respective educational concerns. While the grant includes an amount ear-marked for the teacher's merit pay, he puts his full trust on the concerned state as to how the same should be disbursed for the said purpose. In other words, it is upon the state and not the federal government, to decide who are those teachers qualified to recieve the said sums of money. As with the other candidates, he supports higher pay for teachers and sees this as a means of attracting "the best and the brightest". According to him "good" teachers should earn more than "bad" lawyers.

Not surprisingly, John McCain, as with Mitt Romney, is a strong advocate of school vouchers. In line with this, he legislated the "Educating America's Children Today" or the ED-ACT, under which an eligible child would be entitled to $2,000 every year for three years, for private or religious school tuition, including transportation costs as well as other supplementary educational assistance, while attending either a private or public school. In his own words, "Vouchers encourage public and private schools, communities and parents to all work together to raise the level of education for all students." As with the unrestricted federal block grants for educational purposes, John McCain pushes for federally financed vouchers but with the states deciding on their own whether or not to use standardized tests to determine who would be qualified to receive the same.

Mitt Romney likewise supports vouchers for both public and private schools. He is similarly supportive of the position that matters of education are best controlled and decided, at the state level and not by the federal government. In fact, the Governor from Massachusets believes that any reforms on education should be directly undertaken at the lowest levels of government, closer to the community, the schools and the family. He is also known to be a strong advocate calling for the abolition of the federal Department of Education.

Finally, both Republican candidates believe in integrating values and virtues in the classroom. However, while Senator McCain has voted to require all schools to allow voluntary prayer by the students, Governor Romney religion should be kept out of and not endorsed by the schools.

The basic distinctions between the educational platforms of the two parties lies mainly in their support or opposition to school vouchers as well as the role the federal government should play in matters pertaining to education. This, of course, is reflective of the traditional ideological divide subsisting between the two political parties, or in a looser sense, the "Big Government" vs. "Small Government" debate. Given the sanctity of the issue and how close it is to the hearts of the voters, it should be interesting to see how the candidates creatively argue their platforms and market the same for the primaries and eventually the elections next year.