December 30, 2016

At business school, I was taught about clusters and diamonds.  Given the “horrendous” traffic in the Philippines, I think we need to consider other models which may co-exist with these.  Sure, zoning is a definite constraint but we need to plant local opportunities:  where “quality” jobs are available nearby instead of the CBD (where people need only travel within or to directly adjacent municipalities or towns).

This might spell a boost in employee productivity and this will definitely improve the quality of life of people.  A ‘win-win” as it were: we need to move away from “zero-sum” thinking.

This may not be in line with “conventional” wisdom but we need to try something different.

universal (soldier)

December 7, 2016

As an alternative, I wanted to study architecture at university but instead I took computer science at another institution: both interested me and I’m not sure why I chose one over the other. Afterwards, I was invited to teach at my alma matter.  I have since experienced a revolving door between academe and industry and at times having both feet on “contentious” worlds (perhaps, this is why I strongly feel “faith without works” is not enough).

I’ve always admired “good” design. Usability has always fascinated me and acquiring a brain injury has made me more so.  I am not a big disciple of fate but it’s only natural that I find Universal Design appealing. It seems to be a confluence of interests and experiences that is beginning to define my path.  Admittedly, I still have a lot to learn but at least it’s an option for me.

I can understand why heritage or old buildings have their accessible entrances at the back but there is no excuse for “newer” stuff – we shouldn’t be considered as second-class citizens (even when it’s not intentional).  It disturbs me when toilet doors are too heavy or they swing towards (or the space is too cramped for) our mobility devices – even if they don’t have personal experience with this, they should be made aware and conscious of these constraints.  Don’t get me started on physical environs that do not a disability toilet (or lavatories that are accessible) – rails allow us to use the facilities independently.  Some even use it because it’s more “spacious” when they don’t really need to – never mind some people with disabilities find it hard to hold it.  Toilets generally “smell” because people prefer to use it when they have to do a No. 2 instead of the standard allocated cubicle.  Moreover, some non-disabled users have the audacity to be upset when you enter (because they don’t know how to lock it) or are surprised when they encounter you patiently waiting for them to finish. Having a child of my own, I understand when parents accompany their kids when family rooms are not present.  It’s people that feel they are more important than the rest and who shouldn’t be made to wait their turn that gets my goat.

Where I’m originally from (I’m not aware of the law now but I doubt, it’s changed), an elevator was only required if there were at least five floors (I’m told that’s why our school building was only built with four).  I can manage stairs if my hands can “reasonably” hold onto the rails (it just takes me awhile and some effort) – what about most?  Are they excluded from these?

Some ramps have a “steep” incline (assuming one is in a wheelchair being pushed) – what about those who choose to propel themselves or ambulate independently?  It can not be simply for compliance sake but the spirit of is just as important as the letter of the law.  It should be because of compassion not coercion by government or regulatory bodies.

I’m not a fan of people who take disabled parking spots (when they clearly don’t need it) for the sake of convenience or because it’s nearer to the entrance (I’ve even seen one parked perpendicular occupying two slots).  They don’t want to walk “that far” – screw (pardon my language) the patrons that can’t walk.  It’s this type of insensitivity that can lead to resentment.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but one informed by my own negative experiences. Some people are just ignorant or not sufficiently exposed to the “everyday” plight of persons living with disabilities.  Our purpose should not to shame or guilt (tempting as it is given the number of a**holes) but to educate the public.

I am not an activist, by nature, (I like to think of myself as more of an advocate) but I can understand why so many rail against the traditional view of the medical or deficit model of disability.  Where I’m from, many with impairments are not educated and are kept home-bound (to spare stigma to the rest of the family in the guise of providing comfort).  Not surprisingly, I am a supporter of the social model: after all, disability is a construct or consequence of a society.  This is more pronounced as we shift from being a highly industrialised to an information-based economy. While physically we may not be the ideal, there are other ways we can contribute  – accommodations are typical but how things are designed in the first place can maximise our value-adding potential.  Trite as it may sound but the focus should be on ability and not disability.  I wonder how Darwin would have documented this evolution of species.

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 put 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)