Some days the subject matter comes too fast. I could write two or three commentaries a day. Or more on good days like today. But people can only take so much of Joe Am before running screaming for the hills. I figure that is what happened to Paster Ernie, Proud Pinoy and Gabby D, who have not commented since the beginning of the year. I'm betting they resolved not to put up with so much s**t in 2012 and to take that notorious slinger JoeAm off the register.
But that is beside the point. I have two critical observations today, and will jam them both into this blog.
First of all, I thought U.S. President Obama's State of the Union Address was about the biggest bunch of muddled ideas ever put together by a smart man. The speech was pedantic in its delivery, preachy and contrived. It contained so much practicum that the key points got mixed in the muddle. And I detest when they cart regular citizens into the chamber to give them a moment of glory, and try to attach their own cause to the case of a citizen who undoubtedly deserves notice, but should not be used as a stepping stone to the President's success at relating to the rest of us denizens. I hated it when Bush did it, and I hate it now. I don't care about Warren Buffet's secretary. I guess we are supposed to feel "associative pride" for these common characters carted into the peanut gallery for the cameras to pan to on script.
But I will still take this good, earnest and intelligent man over any of the four remaining Republican candidates: (1) a rich, stiff opportunist who can't trust be trusted in what he says, (2) a radical and inarticulate libertarian who is so far down the correct path that he would jerk the pragmatic system into chaos as he pursues his idealism, (3) a fundamentalist conservative who would send the U.S. back to the religious dark ages where the Philippines now resides, and (4) a philandering, amoral snake-oil salesman with the values of worm.
My second criticism is local, to Biliran Island. My brother in law has extraordinary basketball skills, honed on the dirt playgrounds of Zambales and shown off locally several times a week at the local concrete court. I am sending him to college here where he is getting trained up as a seaman. I encouraged him to try out for the college basketball team. He said he had already explored it, but can't try out because he is not six feet tall. The school requires all its players to be at least six feet tall.
Now that sent my blood pressure on a rampage for sure. It is so consistent with thinking in the Philippines. The trees are more important than the forest. Capability doesn't matter. Artificial standards are what matters. And the standards are levied in an authoritarian manner which does not allow appeal.
That is the Philippines in a nutshell. Hire a cousin, not someone with skill. Recruit a tall, slow guy to play guard on the basketball team. Forget concepts like fair opportunity and make sure to block whatever talent DOES exist. Idiots. And this is a university that is teaching social values to young Filipinos.
The Philippine "shortness" problem exists at the positions of center and forward, and there is damn little the Philippines can do about that except increase cross-breeding with African or Nordic giants. A team of five guys between the height of 6'0" and 6'4" is rather like Princeton U., which floors (or used to) a team of geniuses of limited height who employ a slick, brilliant offense that only they understand . . . but they never make the NCAA finals because there are no giant geniuses in the U.S..
At least they can be proud that their players are smart. My guess is they are also taught values like opening opportunity up for people rather than shutting it down.