Gordian Knot

August 31, 2015

MOOCs and Universities are tricky.  On one hand you have practicality, on another you reputation.  There are a lot of opinions out there.  I do not pretend to know a lot but I try to read as much as I can.

Stephen Downes’ website (http://www.downes.ca) is quite a resource.  You can read his blog or subscribe to his daily online learning e-mail newsletter if this is something that piques your interest

This article is also readable:

http://er.educause.edu/articles/2015/8/data-technology-and-the-great-unbundling-of-higher-education

In a country with a developing economy such as the Philippines, Internet bandwidth’s a real issue.  That said, the abundance of mobile phones poses a “different” opportunity.

There’s much to ruminate on.

the onion

August 29, 2015

the Philippine economy is like a pyramid, instead of the onion it ideally should be:  there are few economically prosperous at the top.  A healthy middle-class, I think, should be our target for robustness.  Where more disposable income can ultimately lead to a conscious  decision  to spend more, I think growing economic inequality can stifle real growth.  That said, I think inequity is much more descriptive than inequality – discussions of equality are a much more slippery-slope and can be problematic.  Maintaining a minimum quality of life, like Maslow’s model, might be more achievable.

While it is a capitalist society and as anyone that played “going to market” can attest, the poor getting poorer, I believe, is not a sustainable model.  We need to allow for true social mobility.  While there is much more focus on getting to the “top”(which I don’t have any objections against), it might be more realistic to facilitate inclusion into the mythical middle-class.

They say the tide can raise all boats but I think specifics can make a huge difference.  I believe that the President’s salary can’t be flat but incentives-based:  their fortunes are directly tied with the country’s.  How the nation fares, so too does the leader’s fate.  I used to think that the key indicator was GDP but since “trickle-down economics” has clearly not worked in the Philippines, we need to explore a different model.   In the “Price of Inequality”. Stiglitz points out that incentives are sometimes counterproductive as evidenced by the recent GFC, that’s not to say that an alternative can’t be effective – I’m curious how Bhutan objectively measures Gross Domestic Happiness.

I’ve read parts of Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”.  It is food-for-thought but when we read we’ve got to be careful about cognitive bias:  there is a very real tendency to go for things which support your beliefs.  We need to hear the arguments from both sides in order to make an informed decision – we need to be able to temporarily but aside our own snap judgements.

I’m not an Economist by trade but a fan of Said’s amateurism.  I like how the root of amateur is love.  I’m very much aware of the old adage that a little information is a dangerous thing that is why I try to read as much as I can and consider other people’s opinion (when possible)

it took me sometime to format it and get a Creative Commons license for it.  I now think it’s ready to be posted.  I wrote this way back in 2007 for a masterclass and publication fell through.  I think it’s about time for a “sequel” of sorts.  I can use my blog to play with thoughts and help refine ideas through comments.

There’sNoPlaceThat’sHome cc-by-sa

the 5th element

January 28, 2015

the first 4 books of the Death Gate Cycle series is consistent with the Greek notion of the composition of the world: air, fire, earth, and water,  If one is ‘serious’ about the craft of writing, there’s no going beyond the classic reference of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style.  Sure, some may find the sections on grammar quite tedious, but these are necessary building blocks in attaining a level of proficiency.

the good book

January 22, 2015

there are several books that I think my son should read (that I’ve read in one form or another.)  Not just because I think it’s good for him academically, help him read more advanced texts. or help him understand his roots better but, ultimately, assist in making himself better.  This is by no means an exhaustive list or in any particular order:

a.) Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterisimo (the English versions, of course – I’m not that cruel)

b.) Nation for Our Children

c.) The Spirituality of Imperfection

d.) Social Things (this doesn’t read as a text book)

e.) The Forgetting Room (One of his names is partly inspired by the protagonist)

f.) The Death Gate Cycle series (it’s a total of 7 books – the first 4 are independent followed by a trilogy that relates the “worlds”)

While books in themselves, don’t have all the answers – they’re a tool that helps us think more about things.

 

better days

October 28, 2014

To paraphrase an expression from the cancer community, you can either be bitter or better. Not to be melodramatic but the same applies to living with a disability.   I’ve felt both – more of the latter lately. All of us with a “problem” can be overwhelmed – there’s no monopoly for this it’s just certain cases are “easier” for us to understand. I know logically that statistically speaking, there are no “bad” days but it sure sometimes feels that way – so does it really matter anyway. Perception is often considered more than reality. Having a shitty day affects our mood – it’s alright to feel this way as long as we keep this to a minimum and are fully aware of our resulting actions (at least that’s what I tell myself) . I’m Human after all and not an Econ. I can’t always be rationale (although generally I think I am). I’m not always logical or an automaton despite my computing background. I’m no paragon of how to behave but I think (hopefully) I’m gradually getting better at accepting it. Like an addict you’re never completely “cured” – every day’s a struggle.

Things won’t necessarily get better as the day progresses but my attitude and how I can handle things can certainly improve. It’s hard for me because my worldview is closer to Marc Maron than it is to Polyanna. Like Jim Jeffries in Legit, I should learn to just make the “best” out of “bad” situations. In short, I should try not to be so grumpy all the time.

I felt like this before I acquired my disability and I feel it now. Some of my views have changed but not all of them – surely in my case it’s just not solely out of life experiences but exposure to others’ thoughts. I’ve used exercise as an outlet lately but have to write sometimes even if it’s difficult. The former doesn’t allow me to express myself and have a “voice.”

enough

July 6, 2014

I’m not that smart or physically gifted but in the end this was a blessing.  It made me and makes me try harder.  While other people are much more talented, I feel I am able to achieve more due to their complacency.  They say “grit” is a better indicator for “success.”

I may not have had stellar marks at university but I felt I knew more than most of my batch mates.  I had other interests also occupy my time.  To have academics and IQ as the only measures of human potential is, to my mind, quite short-sighted.  Sure it is easier to manage what is tangible but it is not always the case that it is what is essential to the individual or to the organisation.

I used to enjoy playing basketball even if I was slow, short, and could not jump very high.  I used my brain to counteract my physical limitations.  We are so obsessed with winning that we often neglect that what is really important is we strive to better ourselves and we work toward realising our potential: it is about mastery and not success.  You say that is what a loser would say but we are so enamoured with being number one and top ten lists that we ignore the fact that certain things are beyond our control.  It is not an excuse not to try hard but whatever we attempt needs to be grounded in reality: the prayer for serenity is quite apropos.

My personal best is 33 straight shots made at the free throw line and 7 3-pointers.  But what I enjoyed most was passing the rock to help facilitate the scoring of others. My most creative pass was one that I dubbed ‘Not Necessarily Behind the Back’ which was called as travelling by the referee.  To this day I am still convinced that it was valid:  it was so new and different that it created confusion and understandably led to that call. In high school I was designated as a player-coach of a team that won the championship.   The clash of egos was our expected downfall but to everyone’s surprise we never dropped a game despite facing fierce competition. The players were so good that I had the luxury of doing a mass substitution:  replacing all 5 players on the court with the bench.  Juggling playing time was difficult but the secret of our “success” was that there was no pressure on a handful of players to always perform at peak efficiency. In contrast, my last 2 years were on a team that hardly won.  We were not supposed to perform as “well” being a bunch of “nerds.” We may have not been premiers but had heart and played to the best of our ability.  The point is to make the best of the cards you were dealt:  you may not always get what you want divert your focus instead to what is truly essential.

Do not get me wrong:  I endeavour to win every time I compete – it is just not my end all and be all. I still have fond memories of eventually winning a basketball game by 5 in spite of being down by 18 points with 5 minutes remaining on the game clock. That said, I remember distinctly losing 2 games: in both cases we were expected to lose.  In the first, there were only 5 of us (which we had trouble even achieving) but 12 3-pointers among us:  I think I made 3 of them.  We gave our opponents a good run but were defeated when 1 of our players fouled out towards the end of the game.   The other one was against a much stronger side. We slowed down the pace to an excruciating tempo.  They clearly wanted to run the ball and as a result were obviously frustrated with the speed of the game and made quite a few mistakes.  They eventually won but not with the huge margin they expected.

Society loves winners.  I am not saying you forego the rules and expectations:  you have to play the game if you want to get anywhere.  Just try to be conscious of the choices you make and be aware of the compromises and repercussions of your decisions.   I am not saying you should abandon idealism just learn to temper it with pragmatism.  Our desire to emulate certain people is an evolutionary imperative but it can be tricky given the culture of “celebrity” we find ourselves immersed in.  It is now difficult to be your own man more than ever.  I am not saying you should not be influenced by others; just be discerning.

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