Friday, July 28, 2006


If you've ever been the type of person to use fillers during a speech. Here's something that might help you.

I don't know if it will actually work, but it's worth a shot.

Better than seeing everybody in the room counting to your 'ums' and 'ahhs'.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hell March

If you like Hunter S. Thompson and his gonzo journalism, here's a pretty good piece on the current state of the mail order bride industry.

Actually, if you've ever wondered what exactly the mail order bride industry was all about, this is a good place to start as any.

An excerpt:

Again and again, my companions declared that they weren’t looking for a sex tour, and that neither were they simply looking for a servant to cook for them and clean their home—that it was a real companion they sought. Each consistently made a point of saying how intelligent their dates were, even if their outing had only lasted for half an hour and had taken place without a common language between them. One, a California contractor with a seething, hostile energy and the blue-eyed, mustachioed handsomeness of a 1970s porn star, summed it up thusly: “I don’t want someone that I’m going to run; I need somebody’s help. I need an opinion. I’m not out to pound a bunch of pussy. If that’s what I want, I’ll go down to the whorehouse.”

But what they really wanted, and what most imagined they would find in Ukraine, was a fusion of 1950s gender sensibilities with a twenty-first-century hypersexuality. Along with everything else, the men had heard that the women here were “wild,” “uninhibited,” that being with them was “a whole different ball game.” As always, Dan the Man had done his part to stoke this fantasy, peppering his talk of traditional values and wifely devotion with just the right amount of lasciviousness. “I’ve heard stories from all the guys who have been married to them, and they all say the same thing: they definitely are much, much, much more passionate, much more open-minded,” he told us at one point. “This guy, he’s been married for six, seven years and his wife is just as crazy, they have threesomes all the time.” The vision was Madonna and puttana rolled together, an American male desire shaped in equal parts by the Promise Keepers and Internet porn.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Weird Science

Some science issues that might lead to interesting debates.

Just remember, when debating on science, be careful not to deal too much with specifics. When that happens, the debate tends to go to shit.

Some science bloggers wonder out loud about the dangers of researching on the possible biological origins of homosexuality. Which, in a debate, may be discussed with a motion like,

This house condemns the continued scientific research on the possible biological origins of homosexuality.

Another blog talks about the current double standards that the US administration has with regards to being "pro-life". And no, it's not just a picking between embryos who can potentially become babies and the people who have diseases that might be cured by embryonic stem cell research. It's also to do with the US government completely ignoring the thousands of embryos currently in frozen storage waiting to be discarded the moment the couples who made them stop their payment for their storage. This therefore begs the question: if the Republicans are so pro-life, why aren't they doing anything to 'save' the potential lives of these thousands of embryos?

Which leads us to a motion that might be something like,

This house believes that the government has the responsibility to take care of all unused embryos in storage.

This has the underlying logic that in a country much like George Bush's United States where embryos and unborn children are increasingly acquiring the rights we accrue to actual living minors, then in the same way that the government has children of the State, the government should also have embryos of the State.

After all, as Karl Rove said, "we were all embryos once..." and young.

Lastly, this might seem old, but I never recalled debating on this in the 5-6 years I've been debating, so I think it's a good time to start discussing this. Especially since it's becoming a hot topic once again.

This house supports the testing of animals for scientific progress.

If you want to make it harder for the opposition, make it "the ethical testing".

And for those of you wondering where to get more scientific political goodness, there's The Scientific Activist for you.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jon Stewart on Net Neutrality

By far the easiest and simplest explanation of how the internet works and what net neutrality is. If you can't be bothered to read up on the stuff, at least watch this.

Friday, July 07, 2006

On Divorce

Here's a situation: Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl gets married, boy and girl start to hate each other and separate, boy (or girl) start divorce proceedings, during divorce proceedings boy (or girl) die. What happens?

That's the new question people are asking. Do you allow for posthumous divorces to take place?

You might ask yourself, what's the point? They can't get any more divorced than THAT!

Then again, there are other things that need to be considered. To summarize what's said in the article, what happens to deceased spouse's estate if said spouse died before signing divorce papers or updating his/her will?

That's basically the problem. Under current law (but correct me if I'm wrong here), since they're still married, surviving spouse gets everything, unless specified in the will. Posthumous divorces address that problem by allowing the division of assets that would otherwise have happened had deceased spouse wasn't actually deceased.

The question is, should that happen in the first place?

In this debate, much like any other debate concerning dead people, you have to prove whether or not dead people have rights in the first place. If they don't prove that they should.

On the other side of the coin, you need to prove why they shouldn't, or barring that, why the rights of the living need to be prioritized. Corollary to that, you also need to prove that the rights of the living and the rights of the dead are actually in conflict.

Be careful though, as opposition in a debate like this, it's very very easy to come across as cold and insensitive. Be very careful with what you say.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

English as a First Language

One of the stranger issues that've come out of the United States is Lobbyists who are advocating for English Langauge reform. By English Language reform, they mean they want to change how English is spelled from the current status quo to being spelled phonetically.

However, there HAS been precedent for this. Not in the last fifty years or so, sure, but it's been done before. The last time, If my knowledge of history is correct, was to take out redundant letters (e.g. doughnut becomes donut) to save on space when it comes to publishing.

It's basically a practicality vs. principle debate. And like most practicality vs. principle debate, you either have to prove which side has both, or if your side (be it more practical or more principled) is the higher value.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

On Argumentation

I read this commentary on today's issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and I just had to laugh. Hard. The arguments that this person had to say about death penalty were that ridiculous, I couldn't believe that he was a former justice of the Sandiganbayan. Read it, and I hope I need not explain to you how exactly almost everything he said was patently absurd as arguments supporting the death penalty.

Reflections on the death penalty abolition

By Manuel R. Pamaran
Last updated 02:06am (Mla time) 07/02/2006

Published on Page A11 of the July 2, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

WITHOUT much debate and public hearing, Congress passed the bill abolishing the death penalty and the President signed it into law. In these times when heinous crimes imperil the daily lives of peaceful citizens, and unabated graft and corruption hinders the country’s economic growth, the justifications for the abolition are flimsy.

Among the main reasons given for the abolition of the death penalty are: (1) it is not an effective deterrent to crimes; (2) human life is God-given, therefore, it must be respected and only God has the right to take it; (3) a death sentence that has been executed can no longer be remedied; and (4) it deprives a convict the opportunity to reform.

On the first reason, let it be stressed that the death penalty was re-imposed by Republic Act 7659 only on Jan. 1, 1994. Since then, not more than 10 convicts have been executed despite the fact that there are more than a thousand death convicts. Besides, most of the death sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment, if not indefinitely suspended. In short, there had been no real implementation of the death penalty law; therefore, there is not enough basis to say whether or not the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crimes.

To be an effective deterrent, the “threat” of death penalty should be complemented with the efficient and speedy administration of justice in the arrest, investigation and trial of the accused. Without this complement, death penalty would be a lonely scarecrow. Worse, in the absence of both—death penalty and efficient, speedy justice—our country will not be a wholesome place to live in.

On the second issue, the purpose of the death penalty is to uphold the sanctity of life. The taking of human life is justified by necessity under certain circumstances. One such situation is “self-defense.” Another is the defense of the person or right of one’s wife, ascendants, brothers and sisters, or relatives by affinity in the same degree, and those by consanguinity within the fourth civil degree; and of the person or right of a stranger under circumstances analogous to self-defense. (Art. 11, Par. 1, Revised Penal Code)
Under the law, the author thereof is freed from any and all liability, it being understood that had he not done the act, he or the person he defended would have been killed.

If under such circumstances -- where at stake is only the life of the person defending or being defended -- killing is justified, the more reason that the State is justified to take human life in defense of thousands of other lives and of the community itself. This, undoubtedly, gives greater meaning to the sacredness of human life.

Viewed from another angle, the abolition of the death penalty seriously sets back our fight against graft and corruption, especially against plunder which is punishable by death. It puts in serious doubt our thrusts toward and avowals for a clean and honest government.

As to the third issue, it is unlikely that someone innocent could be a “victim of execution.” The victim of a crime or his heir -- knowing that accusing an innocent person will set free the real wrongdoer and, therefore, he will not get justice -- will in all likelihood see to it that he accuses only the person who has wronged him. This is human nature and is not debatable.

Moreover, our judicial system practically reduces to zero any error of judgment: A criminal complaint is first filed with the police officer who conducts an investigation to determine if there is a reasonable ground to charge the suspect. If such ground is found to exist, the case is forwarded to the prosecutor who in turn conducts a preliminary investigation to determine if there is probable cause showing a crime has been committed and the suspect is probably guilty thereof. In the event of a positive finding, the case is filed with a regional trial court. If the accused is convicted and sentenced to death, his case is reviewed by the Court of Appeals and if affirmed, it goes up to the Supreme Court for automatic review. The votes of at least eight of the 15 justices are needed to affirm a death sentence. All these proceedings are done in succession and are adversarial in nature: the accused, assisted by counsel, is given his day in court to confront the witness(es) against him and to present witness(es) in his behalf. If there is even just an iota of doubt about his guilt, he is absolved or acquitted of the crime.

In the event that the death sentence is affirmed by the Supreme Court and becomes final, the accused has still a chance to have his case reviewed, this time by the President who decides whether or not the accused deserves to be granted executive clemency.

Lastly, the claim that the death penalty offers the criminal no room for reform is not accurate. On the contrary, it is the best way to reform criminals. In a limited sense, it may be said that the executed criminal will never have a chance to reform; but from a wider perspective, we can say that reformation occurs when criminals avoid suffering the same fate by not persisting in their evil ways. If they do, they have only themselves to blame if they end up with the death penalty.

Montaigne, a French essayist, once said: “We do not aim to correct the man we hang; we correct and warn others by him.” Voltaire, another French poet, said it another way: “Life resembles the banquet of Damocles; the sword is ever suspended.”

At this point, all I can really do is shake my head.

Again, THIS is a Justice of the Sandiganbayan.