Sunday, March 4, 2007

How Real Is Global Warming

By: Ringo Bones and Vanessa Uy

Since the runaway blockbuster success of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and a well-founded case of “Republicans” suppressing evidence on global warming since the mid-1990’s, is everyone ready to heed the warning signs?

We’ve been always fascinated by the concept behind the “Einsteinian Dictum.” It’s Albert Einstein’s suggestions to scientists when presenting their scientific theories and laws to the general public. Einstein says “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.” On presenting their ideas on global warming to the public, “simple as possible” is fast becoming “we don’t get it” unless you’re a climatologist with a minor in chaos theory. The earth’s climatic system is quite complex that at present there are still some aspects of it that we don’t understand. The good news is that more and more people are well informed of the issues on taking care of our climate. The bad news is that a lot of people, including climatologists and policymakers under the tenure of the industrial-political-powers-that-be, can quite easily refute the existence of global warming using the complexity of the earth’s climate as an excuse.

One aspect of this confusion is the natural “greenhouse effect” that keeps the global average temperature to within 25ºC. This is caused by the small amount of carbon dioxide gas (200 parts per million) that’s naturally present in the earth’s atmosphere. This traps the infrared or heat component of the sun’s radiation that reaches us. Without this, our global average temperature would be about -30ºC. The main culprit of global warming is the dramatic increase of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere due to our industrial processes being run by burning fossil fuels.

Global warming that’s caused by the increase of greenhouse gasses, primarily carbon dioxide, was first described by Dr. Roger Revelle back in 1957. Revelle was concerned about the vast quantities of carbon dioxide venting into the earth’s atmosphere as a by-product of our industrial processes like electricity generation and/or transportation. Revelle wrote that, ”Mankind is inadvertently conducting a great geochemical experiment.” As the world’s climatologists continue to gather data during the intervening years, recently, a large majority came to an alarming conclusion. It was assumed that Earth’s climatic system was resilient enough to absorb shocks and respond to human influence in a steady, gradual way has come under question. One prediction by climatologists that’s being suppressed by the industrial-political-powers-that-be is that the climate can suddenly – within a century or less – flip into an entirely different mode, a “climate change.” In fact, the climatologists argue using evidence recently collected from the polar ice caps and ocean sediments shows that it has already occurred in the past.

Due to the lack of concrete findings from the scientific community, our policymakers are forced to adopt a wait- and-see approach, which is being criticized by the experts as a dangerous naïveté. A number of qualified weather experts are challenging the present existence of global warming that’s being caused by the increase of greenhouse gas emissions. Reid Bryson, a prominent professor of meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, has stated that the global warming predictions are based on flawed data. If anything Bryson and others claim, that the worldwide climate over the past 50 years is getting colder, not warmer. Kenneth E. F. Watt, professor of zoology and environmental studies at the University of California at Davis, points out that the urban "heat-island" effect known since 1952 is the reason why the data we have at present that points to global warming is suspect. Another critic is James Goodrich, one time chief climatologist for the state of California, points out that the use of urban temperature records for monitoring long-term climatic trends skews the results that would validate the existence of global warming.

Despite the credible experts probably with vested interests from the industrial-political-powers-that-be, an- albeit less vocal majority of the scientific establishment in the United States tends to accept the existence of global warming. One of them is James Hansen of NASA, has been recommending immediate congressional action since the mid-1980’s, to slow down the degradation of the earth’s atmosphere, and set targets for global reduction in the burning of fossil fuels.

As Vanessa and I viewed Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” a movie which is a critique-backed-by-scientific-data to the policymaker’s inaction in taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We can say that we are now better informed and thus have a more realistic perception of the big picture. Using the worse case scenario projected progression of global warming, we can conclude that the Kyoto Protocol’s target and timetable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is unrealistic. It’s a “catch 22” of the industrial world’s reluctant to develop and adapt non-carbon based alternative sources, and the long term effects of the greenhouse gasses from industry even if we suddenly stop generating them.

And even if you don’t believe that global warming exists, you should know that the “American Foreign Policy Du Jour” affects us all. The U.S. Government’s dependence on foreign oil and reluctance to develop and adapt alternative energy sources is a sign that it’s okay for them to “reward bad behavior” to despotic Middle-Eastern States that are the primary producers of petroleum. This petroleum dependence is the source of revenue of these repressive regimes that threaten geopolitical stability.

Bad Habits From the Cold War

By: Ringo Bones

Are assassinations of dissidents a holdover of the Cold War – era Soviet Union? Or is it just a bad habit that’s extremely hard to break.

The news on Alexander Litvinenko’s assassination using polonium210 in London triggers déjà vu to us folks old enough to live in the shadow of the Cold War. During the early part of the 1980’s, an almost similar event occurred in London. The Bulgarian Georgi Markov, one of the staunchest critics of the Soviet State was poisoned using an umbrella equipped with a hypodermic ricin (a toxic protein found in castor beans) injector. Markov survived his agonizingly painful ordeal when a doctor tried an unproven procedure, removed the then unknown ricin pellet from his wound. Unluckily, Litvinenko’s case was so rare that doctors were at a loss as to what to do. It was only a few days later that the investigators knew the cause of his death. Rumors are abound that the secret apparatus of the former Soviet Union used to smuggle radioactive substances into the U. S. Embassy in Moscow, supposedly to kill American V. I. P. s softly.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there had been well - documented incidents where radioactive substances are used for murder. Near the end of 1993, Russian “Mafia” assassins allegedly planted gamma-ray-emitting pellets in the secluded workspace of a businessman in Moscow. He died within a few months of exposure. There have been more than half a dozen similar cases that’s been reported in Russia since then.

Is polonium going to be the active ingredient of those “dirty bombs” that “terrorists” are supposedly planning to deploy? That will be tough because most experts will point out that polonium has a half-life of about 139 days, which means it has a nasty habit of vanishing over time. Even though that only minute amounts of polonium are needed to kill an individual, most of what is produced commercially only amounts to a few grams per batch of production. And that’s enough to satisfy most legitimate uses of the element throughout the entire industrialized world. So if you want to procure substantial quantities of polonium for your evil needs. Either you have your own nuclear reactor designed to produce radioisotopes or you regularly rub shoulders with the powers-that-be that regulate the nuclear industry that they would look the other way every time you would do an evil deed. Isn’t it sad that when the fruits of modern technology are misused, it’s always used to maintain an oppressive status - quo.

Schisms in Environmentalism, Part I

By: Vanessa Uy

As Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” gained blockbuster status, how relevant are environmental issues to today’s generation?

In the lazy afternoon of November 21,2006. After viewing the latest “James Bond” flick in our local mall. Greenpeace was opening a booth to recruit new members for their cause, or was it one of their to –let –the –people-know-we-exist campaigns. I’m one of those who always has a mystical view on how Greenpeace’s methods on solving environmental challenges. One of their representatives was entertaining me and my rifle instructor and we came out of the experience somewhat disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all into safeguarding our environment for future generations. But the nice young man’s utter lack of working knowledge of the human condition nurtured a worm of doubt about the legitimacy and future of this prestigious environmental movement. Since it is us humans that’s been fouling our planet, one must be a good student of the human condition. Studying Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, Sun Tsu’s “The Art of War”, and Friedrich Nietzsche’s “The Will To Power” would be a good start.

Most of what I learned from Greenpeace comes from my rifle instructor’s forays into the politics of the 1980’s. One incident that propelled Greenpeace to worldwide fame or notoriety was their protest against the French government’s testing of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific Island atoll of Muroroa. At this time, Greenpeace gained the sympathy of every eco-responsible person on earth when French secret agents allegedly sank “Rainbow Warrior” the venerable ship used by Greenpeace to gather evidence on the cruelty of industrial whaling. In the succeeding years, Greenpeace campaigned for the “responsible consumer” which means that ordinary people have the right to boycott products of corporations who don’t run their plants in an environmentally responsible manner.

Here in our country, Greenpeace got the “Think globally act locally” dictum of environmentalism right by protesting against several strip mining concerns that are ecological disasters waiting to happen. They should remember that as “these problems” are caused by us, their suggested solutions should mesh seamlessly with our day to day lives. Here is where a good working knowledge of the human condition comes into play. Like the characters in Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, when someone’s in a position of power he or she can impose their will with legitimacy. And politicians are no more than distinguished beggars. This idea is no different from the ones extolled by Sun Tsu or Friedrich Nietzsche. Enlightened self-interest works no matter how you put it. Just like in the movie “Wall Street” when Michael Douglas’ character elaborated on the goodness of greed. If Greenpeace has the acumen to convince the corporate world that a pristine environment or ecosystem has value like precious metals, crude oil, and real estate, then they would have achieved their raison d’être.

Ecological Technology

By: Ringo Bones and Vanessa Uy

Can we solve our current energy crisis in an ecologically friendly manner? Can we gain better understanding on ecological systems when viewed from a technological perspective? The answer is a big yes but only if our intellect is up to the challenge.

Ecology, the branch of science that deals with the interactions of living organisms and their environment, a term derived from two Greek words which mean ”the study of the home” while technology is the totality of the means employed to provide objects necessary for human sustenance and comfort.

Since humans are the dominant “life form” on this planet, and are viewed as the cause célèbre for all of our ecological problems. Paradoxically, it is us that can only solve the problems that we create in the first place. One of the problems that we face today is our increasing demand for energy generation that is not necessarily environmentally friendly to begin with. How we go about solving this must go hand in hand on how we will protect our environment just to keep our planet habitable in the future. All the energy that mankind utilizes, whether renewable or not, all come from nature. Only a handful of scientists like R. Buckminster Fuller view ecosystems as an interrelationship between matter and energy or more aptly living organisms and energy.

All ecosystems are governed by: “The Laws of Thermodynamics”, this is the relationship between matter and energy in a system. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that “the sum total energy in a system is constant” i.e. energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that there is a tendency toward entropy or maximum disorganization of a structure and the loss of usable energy. These laws prevent us from formulating an easy solution to our energy problem in an ecologically friendly manner. But first, let’s check out how nature manages energy to sustain an ecosystem.

In autotrophic based ecosystems, the energy that is stored through net primary production by photosynthetic organisms is used to support higher trophic levels. Energy flows only one way through these levels with decreasing amount at each level. The energy that is captured by the autotrophs (photosynthetic plants) does not revert back to the sun. And also; what energy that flows to the herbivore does not flow back to the photosynthetic plants, and so on, as it moves through the various trophic levels, energy is no longer available to the previous level. The important implication of this unidirectional flow of energy in an ecosystem is that the system would collapse if the primary source of energy, like the sun is cut off.

The next major fact to be noted is the progressive decrease in energy at each trophic level. This fact can be explained by the energy lost as heat in metabolic activity and manifests here as respiration. This particular ecosystem also has a large amount of unutilized energy. Even if more of this “unutilized energy” is being used in a more efficient system, there would still be considerable loss due to respiration. Thus, even with more efficient energy utilization, considerable energy would still be required to maintain the system.

These factors-Unidirectional energy flow and inefficient energy utilization-account for the requirement of a steady stream of energy to avoid the collapse of an ecosystem. An ecosystem simply cannot itself when deprived of a source of energy input for an extended period of time.

To know more about this energy flow or how “Mother Nature” does energy management on ecosystems, Vanessa and I studied R. Buckminster Fuller’s thesis about “energy and wealth.” At first we thought that we came to a wrong conclusion. At present, most college physics students are taught the idea that the energy of a closed system remains constant, but as time goes on its entropy always increases. That is, natural processes always tend toward states of increased disorder. Based on what they’re taught, those college students could conclude that what humanity’s been doing is using up our available sources of energy at a rate greater than the ability of our technology to make new sources available. Until solar energy is in use on an everyday basis, humanity had better hang on to our oil, coal, natural gas, and wood.

The more we studied R. Buckminster Fuller’s thesis, the more uncomfortable we felt on his rejection on the second law of thermodynamics as a universal principle. This rejection is based on his own axiom that there are no closed systems-that closed systems; like straight lines or bodies at rest, are like obsolete Aristotelian concepts that hinder, rather than help, our understanding of the universe.

Fuller’s synergetic-energetic geometry is still debatable, of course, and it will probably take another generation of experiments and research before his position on the second law of thermodynamics is truly confirmed or refuted. However, a modification of that law has become generally accepted-and if “most college physics students” does not know about this, most graduate physics students do (like Ringo), this concept was only known to graduate physics students because it is a relatively recent finding. Only college physics students who go out of their way and follow closely the latest trends in the advancement of thermodynamic research can know about this. This refers to the development of general systems theory, which redefines both closed and open systems. While closed systems follow the second law precisely, and entropy increases within them, making less energy usable, open systems operate without this restriction, so that negative entropy (negentropy) may increase, making energy more usable.

As L. Brillouin wrote in American Scientist in 1949:

The second­ [law] means death by confinement…Many textbooks, even the best of them, are none too cautious when they describe the increase of entropy…The theory of relativity, and all the cosmological, quantum mechanical theories that followed…involve a bold revision and drastic modification of the laws of thermodynamics…The earth is not a closed system…The sentence to “death by confinement” is avoided by living in a world that is not a confined and closed system.

Of course, this does not deny the existence of an ecological problem. It’s because the scientists concerned wish that this problem should be understood correctly, as a misuse of technology, like the increase of “greenhouse gasses” in our atmosphere, rather than a consequence of an inescapable human law. This law is a product of our current understanding of the universe, that Fuller and others have emphasized so urgently that there is nothing in thermodynamics that makes the growing ecological disaster inevitable.

So what does all of this suppose to mean? First the ecological structure of our planet is quite complex that it is very easy for the powers- that- be like industrialist and politicians with the help of scientists in their payroll to refute the existence of global warming. They do this by stating that our current knowledge of the planet’s ecosystem is insufficient or flawed and to contradict to this would take research and experiments that would take so much time and money as to be an anathema to the shaky relations between science and politics. Second, we cannot stop technological progress. The Genie is out of the bottle so we have to deal with it rationally. One viable solution to this problem is to move our less ecologically friendly industries out into space, thus the urgent need for “green energy” to escape the earth’s “gravity well.” This in turn will make it easier for us to turn the entire planet as a nature preserve with us humans as an integral part of it.

Cold Fusion, An Alternative Energy Crank

By: Ringo Bones

Had it worked, cold fusion could have been the magic bullet mankind’s been looking for to solve our energy and environmental crisis.

Generating energy via nuclear fusion is a piece of cake-provided you can build a reactor that can generate temperatures hotter than the sun’s interior without destroying itself in the process. If somehow you could do fusion at room temperature, you could say hello to unlimited clean energy and goodbye to greenhouse gasses and radioactive wastes for good.

1989 was a very exciting year for those of us who grew up under the shadow of the “Cold War.” Détente was declared between the United States and the then Soviet Union, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and had it been true, the discovery of cold fusion.

Back then, B. Stanley Pons, professor of chemistry at the University of Utah, and his colleague, Martin Fleischmann of the University of Southampton in England, were credited for supposedly discovering cold fusion. They touched off a furor by announcing with great fanfare that in March of 1989 in Salt Lake City that they had achieved nuclear fusion-a process that would have required multimillion degree temperatures-in a set up consisting of a jar of water at room temperature. As they claimed, this so called cold fusion manifested itself when an electric current was passed through a palladium electrode immersed in “heavy water” i.e. water whose hydrogen atoms are made up of deuterium, a heavier isotope of hydrogen that’s commonly found on water. The Utah team of scientists noted that the palladium absorbs deuterium atoms, which at an atomic level are forced to fuse together, producing heat and neutrons. The hope for an unlimited source of cheap and clean energy was at stake, but there was one big conundrum.

One of the precepts that the “scientific method” prides itself in is that experimental. procedures can be duplicated by evaluating scientists and the resulting data is reproducible i.e. the data obtained should be the same and should deviate only within a prescribed limit. But Pons and Fleischmann were vague about how their “cold fusion reactor” worked. And when other scientists tried to duplicate the pair’s results, all they got was mostly cold water for their troubles. As a result profound skepticism among physicists was growing. As time went on, there was an intensive cold fusion research effort involving more than a thousand scientists and an estimated daily expenditure of US$1million.

The patent holder of the cold fusion process, the University of Utah, allowed it to lapse as cold fusion fell from view. Until this day B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann still continues their work on cold fusion albeit separately and quietly.

Last time cold fusion got major media exposure in the 20th Century was on the movie “The Saint.” Even in the new millenium, news coverage suddenly emerges from time to time that most people now has formulated a stereotype on someone will likely discover cold fusion; Usually a young disadvantaged scientist in bad need of legitimacy and political support. Who is under-30 with a lab set up in a barn somewhere in the “grain belt” of the United States. We live in hope that the next time we hear about “cold fusion” on the news, it will be the real thing.

A Schism in Environmentalism, Part II

By: Vanessa Uy and Ringo Bones

As a cause, is environmentalism only as good as their supporters allow it to be, or is the truth so ugly that Western Civilization would come under indictment.

Sometimes, you can gain a unique insight on environmentalism from a unique vantage- point. A few weeks ago Ringo and I have recently read a book by Steve Weston titled “Woodrow Wilson and the Death of John Kennedy.” One of the most interesting part of the book is on why John F. Kennedy’s death was necessary to advance Kennedy’s own policy objectives. Even though Steve Weston’s detractors described him as paranoid and a textbook Bakunin disciple, the subject on his book about the death of John F. Kennedy illustrates a worryingly recurring theme throughout the history of Western Civilization. Do most of us by now ask ourselves; ”If Jesus Christ wasn’t crucified, would mankind be forever ignorant on the virtues of forgiveness and on the unconditional love of our fellowman?” Would Brazil’s hard stance against the destruction of the Amazon rain forest exist at all if environmentalist Chico Mendez, wasn’t murdered.

Ringo and I just hope that nobody does a Lee Harvey Oswald on Al Gore just to boost the legitimacy on extolling the dangers of climate change and of global warming. Al Gore is more interesting alive than dead.

How many lives does it take to raise environmentalism’s bar of legitimacy a notch? Environmentalism is not a cause or movement that’s been looking enough guilt to start its own religion. Environmentalism should also not be viewed as a fashion statement du jour just because Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” now enjoys runaway blockbuster success. The sooner we can escape from this idea that someone has to die for something so that something can be done, the brighter will our planet’s and civilization’s future will be.

Who Owns God?

By: Vanessa Uy

“Anything done out of love is beyond good and evil.”Thus spake Friedrich Nietzsche.In the ten years of my mortal existence I had always wondered what the phrase “God is Love” means.Currently one of the loudest voices- claiming- infalliability- though- short- in- correctnes today are the Evangelical Christians.Since their Talibanization in the late 1990’s for hyping the Y2k Bug, they have in my opinion,abandoned all rational thought,the only thing needed to establish a dialogue between the Christian West and Islam.But enough about the altruistically themed adverts circulating in the BBC and CNN.

First, some axes to grind.For the most part,Evangelical Christians have a fairly limited ambition.On a personal level,they want to gain this supposedly “Eternal Life” stuff and annoy anyone of us who doesn’t subscribe to their belief system (though not necessarily in that order);on a professional level, they want you to learn,albeit forcibly,about Jesus Christ.And usually that’s about as far as it goes.

Me,on the other hand ,wants more. Not the one content with the usual fire and brimstone rhetoric,I just want to pull a deeper resonance every time I am invited by my Buddhist , Jewish,and Muslim friends to join them in celebrating one of their various high holidays;I’m somewhat disinterested in the dogmatic good versus evil dichotomy that is so manipulated by the evangelical powers-that-be as to infringe upon our civil liberties like going to certain art exhibitions and listening to music.In short ,how can the Christian West respect the beliefs and customs of other civilizations if they don’t respect the civil liberties of their constituents?

It isn’t that left-leaning-feminist-liberals such as myself fail in their attempts to advance Western Civilization or humanities collective perception about God,or are even wrong for wanting to do so.Maybee I’m just avoiding being pigeonholed by a media perception of feminists as spoiled rotten rich kids, anglo liberal inside,whatever color outside.We do care about how the rest of humanity looks at the Holy Church or Western Civilization.A media perception that in the mid 1990’s we came very close to achieving our ambitions of a utopic society could be our battle cry or our collective raison d’etre at best.

But the fact of the matter is that almost all organized religions really doesn’t need reinventing.Moreover ,feminist- liberals as a lot still seems a little too brainy for our own good.Sure ,altruism,the kind practiced by the evangelical powers-that-be,is a very noble idea,but like the amoral,money hungry Corporate World,they are run by people,who are in general more interested in self gain (material wealth,a good afterlife).Evangelical Christianity isn’t exactly the sort of philosophy that thrives on introspective reflection i.e. free thinking.

Should feminist-liberals shoulder the burden in establishing a dialogue that will result into a fruitful outcome in improving relations between Islam and the West.If we succeed,we may well rewrite the book on how the media and humanity should perceive God.Until then,however,there’s this late 20th.century movement called “empty materialism” or shop ‘till you drop for the uninitiated,an idea that’s much easier to acquire.


By: Vanessa Uy

Paradoxes, life is full of them. One of these vexing thoughts that came upon me lately ”If dogs have a good sense of smell, why do they have poor hygene?”. Or why do we constantly prepare for war to keep the peace? Makes you think doesn’t it. But in our present “Talibanized Catholic Educational System, most of these things are never discussed or at best labeled as “loaded subjects.” I hope that someone out there would sympathize with me. Maybe the fate of our Western Civilization rests on the privilaged few who ponders on these questions. With your help we can forge a community of free thinkers who are not bound by the mediocrity of the failed ideals of “Slave Morality.”

Of Airsoft and Hi-Fi

By:Vanessa Uy

If there is one thing I’ve learned in involving myself in lunatic fringe hobbies like hi-fi and airsoft is that these hobbies require one thing in abundance:money. Yep a Php 28,000 CD player and an airsoft replica gun of similar cost have more in common other than snob factor. A good ( re : expensive ) CD player is supposed to emotionally involve us by replicating the sound of a musical performance -albeit classical , rock, jazz or Islamic qawali- faithfully in your listening room ( or a cramped bed room or whatever ).Imagine Avril Lavigne,Lunachicks or Jimmi Henrix in your room. Just close your eyes and reach out. Pretty scarry isn’t it? Pricey airsoft guns vie for our emotional involvement by looking eerily like the real thing. A friend of mine using an airsoft kalashnikov once chased away those Hezbollah-esque Fraternity types armed with a real 9 mm berreta. But remember, these imitation assault rifles can’t cause your human targets ribs to stick out their backs after firing short bursts at less than 15 feet away. Come to think of it , am I comparing like with like? Of course not . But one thing I can conclude on my hands on involvement in both hobbies is that hi-fi is a personal endevour ,an enjoy yourself kind of undertaking.While airsoft breeds commoroderie.Some players may prefer one type of gun to another even though they all use 6mm plastic BB pellets .In hi-fi one persons preferred tonal balance is another ones sonic poison. Also music preferrence come into play .My tastes are as diverse as the latest softcore- porn- teen- rock-chick genre to Islamic devotional music , something the evangelical powers-that –be are trying hard to wipe out!Hi-fi is a 99% Nietzschean self-absorption par excellence,while airsoft is about networking to older men about guns and politics. They’re the kind that don’t pigeonhole me as some anglo-saxon paedopelia craze. In my opinion these two hobbies don’t make sense because they are designed to make magic!Isn’t the Newtonian physics involved to run these things seem magical?Except hi-fi though. I think some obscure quantum-mechanical principles may be involved. Does Professors Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking own kick-ass audio systems?

No Women Allowed?

By: Vanessa Uy

Why women players are few and far between in airsoft clubs.

General Philip Sheridan once said “War is hell.”Isn’t it anyone,of his or her own free will,entitled to experience this “hell”regardless of race or gender?Maybee I live a charmed,sheltered life surrounded by high browed idealists (re:anglo-saxon folk).So I set out to a “networking” trip to a sport that prides itself on commoroderie;airsoft.It went alright compared to the other harebrained schemes I’ve been,but the few weeks I’ve spent playing only provided flack on my critique on the Philipine society in general.Lesbian/dykes stereotypes aside,the few women that I met in this clubs are quite normal.A wife or an engaged girlfriend of one of the members.So what is there to complain you say.

The problem manifests itself during breaktime conversations.It’s like being an extra for a t.v. pilot episode of”That Chauvanist Show”.Majority of the men’s perception of women and sexuality harks back to the time when Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire.Existential introspection is a loaded topic at most,never mind your personal views on abortion and capital punishment.Museum curators might have a field day in that setting,but to me some artifacts,like Marxist-Leninist Socialism or Christian Slave Morality are ment to rust and decay away.

I know that rules and regulations are there for the player’s and spectator’s safety,but for the club itself to become interesting and or fun, a dose of liberalism certainly won’t hurt.

An Off-The-Beaten-Track Music Review

By: Vanessa Uy and Bones

As a 10 year old girl living in an impoverished country. I am lucky to be able to play around with my aunt’s and my new best bud’s record and CD collection. There’s this older dude who’s been romantically involved with my teen-aged aunt. I could say I like him but that would only incur the wrath of Child Services with their SWAT style Elian Gonzales type intervention.

Bones owns maybe close to a thousand CDs all of them original. Some are Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs and Chesky CDs that retail between PhP2,500 to PhP5,000 each. My aunt has about 75 LPs and some rare 7inch singles (Avril Lavigne singing Greenday’s Basket Case). It would be a pity if civilization falls or this country goes to hell -whichever comes first that no one will be able to listen to them. As a principle, we don’t review music downloads because their sound quality is either highly suspect or not up to our standards for long term listening. Unless they are available in high data rate formats like 24 bit 96 Khz digital or better. Or of topical interest like the latest Al-Qaeda chatter. We have good ears and fortunate enough don’t yet live in a war zone like downtown Baghdad.

Lets start with Vanessa’s 10 favorite CDs.They are in no particular order of excellence.Bones may also form an opinion on the following:

1.American Thighs by Veruca Salt (released 1995)
2.Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos (released 1991)
3.Ritual de lo Habitual by Janes Addiction (released 1990)
4.Under My Skin by Avril Lavigne (released 2004)
5.Liz Phair eponymous (released 2003)
6.Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits by various artists (released 1995)
7.Piece of Mind by Iron Maiden (released 1983)
8.Nature Film by Scrawl (released 1998)
9.If I Were A Carpenter by various artists (released 1994)
10.Rust in Peace by Megadeth (released 1990)

Majority of these albums are released way before I was born and almost all of them are American. Which serves as a critique to the music industry and our local talent. Get off your lazy asses and read Nietzsche you bums!

+ Vanessa’s review on American Thighs:

If I were to select an album, which describes my overall personality, it might be Veruca Salt’s American Thighs album. This is one of those albums, which I listen to from start to finish without skips in my listening sessions. It’s one of the most musical sounding CDs I’ve ever encountered. When I mean musical its when I can turn up Bones’ PhP500,000 audio system to garage band sound pressure levels (110 dB S.P.L.) without hurting my ears. I hope that someday I can find a vinyl LP of this album.

+ Bones’ review on American Thighs:

It’s safe for me to say that for more than a decade this album still has the goods to occupy in my personal top 10.Musical, you bet ,pump up the volume and the drums become almost real. Nina Gordon and Louise Post are one of my favorite vocal pairings.

+ Vanessa’s review on Little Earthquakes:

Bones told me a very interesting story about how he used to listen to Tori Amos’ piano playing back in 1992 to compose creatively fresh and interesting power chord runs via a Les Paul /Marshall set up. I also do the same thing somewhat in reverse. When I was 5 and taking piano lessons. I do power chord runs on the piano from the heavy metal songs I've heard like Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law and it turned out “Tori Amosy sounding”!

To me this album is musically and lyrically transendent. If Friedrich Nietzsche were to have a musical influence other than Richard Wagner, it would be Tori Amos. My favorite track here is “Tear In Your Hand” which is also Bones’ favorite.

+ Bones’ review on Little Earthquakes:

Vanessa almost described this album the way I would have to a T. I thought she liked “Precious Things” , a song about Tori Amos’ critique on Christian Slave Morality.

+ Vanessa’s review on Ritual de lo Habitual:

The LP I’ve used in this review is from my grandpa. It’s only an ordinary pressing ,not those fancy Mobile Fidelity Soundlabs version. But it’s a hell a lot better than the CD.I can play this louder than the CD. My Aunt May and Bones used to play this LP on my grandpa’s refurbished Linn turntable, and it kept the impure thoughts and deeds of my aunt and Bones from manifesting. Those two look like a Norman Rockwell painting everytime they listen to a good LP. Musically and lyrically this album probably defined the alternative rock movement of the 1990’s. The songs are about addiction , dependence and those other things (feminism in the 1980’s?) that are anathema to anglo-saxon machismo. To me, Janes Addiction reinvented hard rock right then and there.

+ Bones’ review on Ritual de lo Habitual:

There’s something that I’m uncomfortable with Janes Addiction. It’s not that the CD, recorded and produced maybe in the late 1980’s still has some audio bugs that most CD’s recorded in the mid 1990’s to present already left behind. And majority of modern rock recordings on CD are good at emulating that good ol’ LP sound. It’s the way Janes Addiction structures their songs. Like the song “Then She Did…” it’s structure is more akin to a Jazz Fusion band studying at Juilliard School of Music than a Punk band at CBGB’s. Which goes against the trend most bands are going through in the start of the 1990’s. At this time, most hard rock and heavy metal groups were exploring Punk circa 1977. But thanks to my eclectic musical taste my love affair with this album lasts until this day. And the better my stereo gets the better this album will sound. This could be defined as a healthy addiction.

+ Vanessa’s review on Under My Skin:

Avril Lavigne, the voice of my generation. Well, that statement kinda makes me feel a bit, just a bit, uncomfortable. As a songwriter, she’s up there with the best. Some critics compare her to Joni Mitchell. I’ve listened to Joni Mitchell’s album “Blue” a little while ago. Joni was the supposedly voice of my granma’s generation (she grew up in the 1970’s). I suspect Avril’s claim to fame as a generational mouthpiece is an unintended byproduct of the music industry’s failure to adapt to 21st Century marketing. But that could be seen as a can of worms that no one should dare open. Believe me when I say she’s the best ( she looks like my aunt ipso facto she’s pretty). She writes some personal stuff that has universal appeal, which as I last checked, made Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain into “rock icons”. I just wish I haven’t heard this older chick called Liz Phair.

+ Bones’ review on Under My Skin:

I’ve read an article some time ago after the tech community declared victory against the Y2K Bug, which states that the future is a foreign country. I’ve became involved with Vanessa’s aunt about the same time when Avril Lavigne broke through the musical scene seemingly out of nowhere. Are young people today so different from us (both socially and culturally) folks who grew up during the time when Ronald Reagan was planning to use ray guns against an “Evil Empire”. Long story short, Vanessa’s aunt was into Star Trek and Friedrich Nietzsche thus another one odd pairing. Later she went to some air force/astronaut academy in the ‘States and I got stuck with some shrink punk kid. Avril Lavigne was labeled punk by the media for some time now which is kind of disconcerting for me. To me, whose been around when punk first came around, punk will always mean CBGB era Debbie Harry or Excene Cervenka of the band “X” or more contemporary ones like Lunachicks and 7Year Bitch. For me, Avril Lavigne is an excellent singer/songwriter. Another good thing she does is by donating a significant part of her earnings to ”Warchild” a humanitarian group which Vanessa and I may become involved when this country goes to hell. I just hope that before she turns 40, Avril will write a song similar to Lunachick’s “Spoilt” or “Fallopian Rhapsody”.

+ Vanessa’s review on Liz Phair’s eponymous album:

This album was released 2003 and only received the heavy radio and MTV rotation that it deserves around April or May 2004. The songs “Extraordinary” and “Why Can’t I ?” are used in famous movies, yet this album is unheard of in college-feminist-poseaur circles. You know, those types who don’t even know what the phrase “Three chords and the truth” means. Is this my favorite album of all time? Is the albums second track “Red Light Fever” an “Avril Killer”? Is “Red Light Fever” a song about Bones? To answer all those questions, give this album a spin, enlightenment never disappoints.

+ Bones’ review on Liz Phair’s eponymous album:

From the lady that brought us Exile In Guyville and Whipsmart (remember the song “Supernova”?). I’m showing my age here man. Liz Phair probably grew up worrying about the same things I do so I can’t help but relate to her songs. Most topics may be anathema to George W. Bush' America. But to me, great songs are like that. My favorite track here is “Red Light Fever”.Most guys aged 18 to 50 could relate to this song. It’s like looking into some Freudian mirror despite some smart ass 10 year old girl with a 219 IQ insistence to be my shrink. I may be a mensa type but I’m no “ubermensch”. I hope Vanessa doesn’t get this you’re-Tony Soprano-I’m-the-shrink-roleplay get over her head or spoil my listening enjoyment.

+ Vanessa’s review on Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits:

Bones grew up on this ritual of watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. From 8 to noon I reckon. Saturday Morning Cartoons, ain’t this some Politically Correct Catholic ritual? Where would Bones be today without these “cartoons”? A leader for the Aryan Nation or Neo-Nazi local chapter, or Osama Bin Laden’s second hand man, the possibilities are endless. So here’s an album that peers into Bones’ childhood. The versions remade here are way cooler than the originals. Like what they call “Perfect Yesteryears” which is one of the most cognitive disconnect ideas of all time. All of the songs are great that it’s hard to pick just one. My top 3 favorites are Liz Phair’s version of the Banana Splits theme song. Next is the garage-band-a-riffic sounding remake of the Josie and the Pussycats theme by Tanya Donnely (of the band Belly, one of Bones’ faves from the 1990’s) and Juliana Hatfield (she looks like Bones’ baby sister)
And the Popeye the Sailorman theme by the band “face to face” which contains one of the most frighteningly realistic sounding drum sounds ever recorded. I would have shared this album with my dad if he was ever around to raise me or to my mom if she would give a damn about Star Trek or Nietzsche.

+ Bones’ review on Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits:

Whoa, this album inspired some strong emotions from Vanessa. I’ve started to enjoy listening to this album maybe a year before she was born. After listening to this great album, watching those classic cartoons will never be the same again. This album passed my sound quality checklist with flying colors. Isn’t it ironic that most of the artists featured here have made albums of less than pristine sound quality.

+ Vanessa’s review on Piece of Mind:

Ahh, Iron Maiden. Why is it that most excellent metal bands are affiliated with Satan? To me, Satanism like Christian Slave Morality is an ideological crutch, it hinders rather than aids creativity. But in this album, Iron Maiden concentrates more on intellectual escapism (isn’t most of their songs about this idea?). Songs about science fiction adventures or great battles of the past are presented here with great musicianship. The Trooper is a good song for warming up my fingers, whether I’m playing guitar or cello.

+ Bones’ review on Piece of Mind:

Some people will say that The Trooper is the only redeeming song on this album. I began to seriously listen to this album back in 1995 using a Super Bit Mapped CD reissue. Even back then, this album held it’s own compared to post-Nirvana-grunge-wannabes. Good guitar musicianship and good songwriting can be found here in abundance. This is probably the best metal album of the 20th Century.

+ Vanessa’s review on Nature Film:

Scrawl is one of those obscure bands that I’ve immediately fell in love with. The album is filled with songs that Avril Lavigne might write when she turns 30. All of the songs were written from a time when America was the most technologically, morally, and socially advanced country in the world. Sadly the Clinton legacy hasn’t kept the course so to speak. My most favorite track here is “11:59(It’s January)”. I always thought this song is about the Y2K Bug, no, it’s one of those song that mirror Bones’ life.

+ Bones’ review on Nature Film:

Looks like someone want’s to play shrink as opposed to playing doctor. F.Y.I. , this country has a low opinion on shrinks. Like The Inquisition’s opinion on witches/feminists.

I first heard Scrawl back in 1993 from a radio program on NU107 called Not Radio. Despite numerous (?) media exposure and a Guitar World magazine interview, Scrawl seemed to have been denied the fame that they really deserved. In today’s George W. Bush’ America where even rational thought is considered a “left-leaning” view, the ideas presented in this album may seem anathema, even subversive. Is this album a beautiful swan song to a post-politically-apocalyptic America or a beautiful art form for it’s own sake? Only a good listen through can answer that. But I’ll promise you it would be one hell of a good listen.

+ Vanessa’s review on If I Where A Carpenter:

I’ve always thought that The Carpenters are my grandparent’s musical influence since they grew up listening to them. After listening to this grunge-ified ,garage band-ified versions of those songs, I’m sold. This is my favorite alt-rock albums of all time. Check out the Johnette Napolitano and Marc Moreland rework on the classic “Hurting Each Other” with its orchestral Les Paul and Marshall wall of sound.

+ Bones’ review on If I Where A Carpenter:

This is one of those very rare 1990’s alternative/grunge rock albums where the guitar playing musicianship is on par with the best heavy metal bands of the 1980’s. For some the albums musical aesthetic may be a not so easily acquired taste but it works for me.

+ Vanessa’s review on Rust in Peace:

The album’s title is about a utopian future where our stockpiled nuclear weapons lay idle. Megadeth is one of those bands pigeonholed for Satanism, thus leading me to ask “Why are those bands that are labeled Satanic are always very artistic?”. This is a guitar player’s dream album. I loved playing the guitar parts on the song “Tornado of Souls”. It provides a good workout routine for my fingers. Lately I made a bet with Bones that I’ll wear my ass as a hat if Avril Lavigne does what Dave Mustaine did on Tornado of Souls (i.e. great guitar playing) before she turns 30. Which leads me to wonder why bands today don’t do guitar playing like the one found on this album anymore?

+ Bones’ review on Rust in Peace:

Why is it that most artists, like painters and musicians, who are addicted to heroin are extremely talented? There’s one catch though, heroin addicts are extremely difficult to work with. As a certain MTV / VH1 documentary made 5 years ago and just shown recently in our local MTV channel, documents Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine’s struggle with heroin. He missed important sessions and cancelled some important performance dates almost cost this band’s career. How much did this addiction contribute to his talent may be a loaded question at best, and always open to debate. But who am I to argue with a good work of art. Although I prefer “Cryptic Writings” as the best Megadeth album, one of my all time favorite songs is “Tornado of Souls” on their Rust in Peace album.

That concludes our review of Vanessa’s top 10 albums. Next time we’ll examine Bones’ favorites, some Islamic Devotional Music picks, and an exploration of Southern Baptist music like Sonny Treadway’s Jesus Will Fix It, a form of Christian Gospel music that we like. See ya next time.