Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Everyday Heroes: Mrs. Reifler, Educator and Inspiration to Kids

"Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges
over which they invite their students to cross, then
having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse,
encouraging them to create bridges of their own."
                                      –Nikos Kazantzakis

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Morning Charm

TEAM means Together Everyone Achieves More!

Free Night in Miami Beach Hotel

Miami Pre and Post Cruise Package

World's Funniest & Most Adorable Airline Safety Videos & Demos

AAA 10% Off Beacon Hotel Miami Beach
Miami Beach Hotels

Funny and creative:

Florida Residents Rates. Save 10% + complimentary valet parking.

Sleep won't be a problem anymore inboard 
Thomson Airways, the UK-based world's largest charter airlines, because they guaranty you'll sleep like a baby.

History Channel DVD Pre-Orders

This Air New Zealand safety video titled "Crazy About Rugby" is for the rugged and fearless. interestingly, this video caused a stir in New Zealand and internationally when LGBT groups complained because of the seemingly homophobic part when the male flight attendant asked for a kiss and the guy gestured no. I don't think there's anything wrong with that part regardless if it was shown in comedic fashion. That said, the airline company removed and re-edited the part. READ HERE...  

Air New Zealand safety video no. 2 is the disco-inspired pre-flight demo with fitness guru Richard Simmons.

Miami Pre and Post Cruise Package

The most controversial and most preferred Air New Zealand safety video titled "Bare Essentials of Safety."

History Channel DVD Pre-Orders

This adorable Pegasus Airlines safety demo from the Turkish low-cost carrier is for the child at heart. Full horse power with wings. 

Charming and funny, this new Philippine Airlines (PAL) pre-flight safety video is a great departure from the old one and completely done in high taste.

History Channel Presidential Collection
Of course, I saved the best for last. This video is from Vendo Airlines launched on the 1st of April 2008. They only fly during April Fool's Day, so better catch it next time. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Person of the Week

My Dearest Oprah,
You’re the first Person of the Week because it’s the first time I’m doing it and because you're really the Queen of Daytime Talk. I'm wondering how come your queenship is limited to Daytime Talk? Oh, I guess people don’t want a chatter bug like you to tuck them to bed. But I still love the episode when you and Maya Angelou are in bed and in your pajamas. You know what I mean. How can I forget that thunderous and almost Greek god-like voice of Maya Angelou talking beside you in the same bed. I know you’re not a lesbian. I know. And I think it’s a big loss to the lesbian community (I’m not saying the whole LGBT community, okay.) for not having you. But anyway, that bed scene is classy. 
I watched so many of your shows throughout the years but I’m not what you can call a big fan or an “ultimate viewer” as you always say. I was there watching your very last episode and cried a bit when you walked off the stage and officially signed off. Oh, I love your dog Sadie’s reaction when she saw you. It was like “Is it the end now? Are we done with the final episode? How come no one woke me up? I was waiting for my cue.” Then you picked her up and the camera captured her puzzled look. Sadie’s face conveyed deep regret for having slept through the whole duration of the shoot of your final episode. Poor Sadie! But well, isn’t that what dogs do all day. 

Man vs Wild

Deal of the Day

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baby Storm: Toronto's "Genderless" Baby

Kathy Witherick (L) and David Stocker (R) with baby Storm in Toronto. Photo by Steve Russell of The Toronto Star

THERE'S A Storm brewing somewhere in Toronto right now and as of this writing, it has already spread to the newspapers, the World Wide Web, TV news reports, and different formal and informal forums. That Storm is the four-month old baby that has become the center of conversations and debates because baby Storm's parents are not telling anyone what Storm's gender is. For certain, there's no biological or medical anomaly with Storm's genitalia or reproductive organ but no one else knows Storm's gender except the two older brothers, the two midwives that helped deliver the baby, a close family friend, of course the parents Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, and the daily baby nappies (they should because they constantly have a close contact with Storm's "thingy" day in and day out). 

When Kathy Witterick and David Stocker decided not to announce or share their baby's gender about four months ago, many of their immediate relatives, in particular the two sets of grandparents, and close friends were shocked. It was unusual and it tickled and aroused intense curiosity among those that know them personally.

Via www.parentcentral.ca
"When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?” says Kathy Witterick.
“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” says David Stocker, the proud father of baby Storm.
Medical experts, journalists, and ordinary parents have all weighed in. Naturally, some find it very absurd, while some claim it's disastrous, and some label the parents irresponsible. However, there are also some people who find it very progressive and intellectually adventurous. After all, they live in Toronto, Canada where same-sex marriage is allowed and abortion has no legal restraints. If this happens let's say somewhere in the Deep South USA, the "storm" would no longer be a storm but a major "hurricane" that would involve more scrutiny or perhaps nastier and more offensive remarks against the parents.     

Baby Storm and one of her OR his (?) older brothers.
I applaud them. This "social experiment" of sorts would definitely elicit wild reactions from many naysayers but for sure deep inside thoughts of "Yeah, why not?" or "Yeah, what if?" would also be present. This is a very reality-TV-worthy material. Who knows, maybe a reality TV offer might come on their way one of these days. Of course, this is not an experiment in the views of the parents but a conscious and brave decision to do; not to mention very progressive, reforming, and pioneering. But the point in saying that this is an "experiment" is its clear assault to parenting norms and conventional child rearing practices.      

In Sociology, "femininities and masculinities are acquired social identities: as individuals become socialized they develop a gender identity, an understanding of what it means to be a “man” or a “woman” ( Laurie et al. 1999)." As individuals, we develop a grasp or comprehension of our gender identity based upon the context of how we are socialized (how we see ourselves from among and within a group) and in the context of existing societal gender norms (e.g. dolls are for girls and toy guns are for boys). As I've mentioned above, Storm's parents' social environment and other societal determining factors such as class, ethnicity, race, education, and country standards play a very significant role in making the choice of raising a genderless baby. The aforementioned societal determining factors would also influence Storm, as she/he grows up, on how she/he will perceive herself/himself and subscribe to a gender identity. What Storm's parents are doing is refusing to "prescribe" a gender identity on Storm, which, again, is totally against conventional parental direction.     
This case reminds me of an episode of Dr. Phil wherein he admonishes a mother to take a proactive step in telling her son not to play with Barbie and other dolls because in Dr. Phil's opinion, children should be directed, thusly:
“Direct your son in an unconfusing way. Don’t buy him Barbie dolls or girl’s clothes. You don’t want to do things that seem to support the confusion at this stage of the game. Take the girl things away, and buy him boy toys. Most importantly, support him in what he’s doing, but not in the girl things.”  Dr. Phil McGraw.
I actually squirmed in protest after reviewing the episode online and after reading the blog of one mother who is raising her little boy as a girl, not because she wants it but because her boy feels like it. (CHECK OUT: Raising My Rainbow Blog). The next day after the said Dr. Phil episode, on the fourth hour of NBC's "The Today Show," hosts Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee both disagreed with Dr. Phil while quite a few viewers sided with the doctor. 


Another example is the case of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and her seeming preference for boy's clothes according to her mother, Angelina. There have been several photographs of Shiloh dressed in boy's clothes with a tomboyish haircut. In an interview with the Stylist Magazine, Jolie said "It's not my choice. I have a very strong willed four-year-old girl who tells me what she wants to wear and I let her be who she is." In the same interview, she then added, "I think children should wear what they want and express themselves, so we give them different options of things."

In the examples I've mentioned above including that of Storm's genderless rearing, the bottom line issue is the gender identity construction. If we are to consider the conventional and stereotypical construction of gender identity, masculinity is equated with athleticism, strong physical capabilities, and fathers while femininity is equated with nurturer, emotional, and mothers. However, in the Sociological point of view, not all individuals fit within these prescribed norms.

SEX is acquired. It refers to biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs. GENDER by societal norms and practice is PRESCRIBED. Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine. With what Storm's parents have done, the construction of gender identity is now in the hands and choosing of Storm herself OR himself.

I support baby Storm's parents and their bold decision to liberate their children of stereotypes and to empower them by allowing the children themselves to form or construct whatever gender identity they deem fit. If your little boy likes pink, like in the situation of Kathy and the mother who writes the "Raising My Rainbow" blog, then let them have it. What's wrong with pink for boys? Nothing. Actually, did you know that the color pink is actually for infant or baby boys until the Second World War. Pink is a color of intermediate red and white. It's baby red much like baby blue. Red is too strong a color for babies and it goes without saying that red is for men and pink is for baby boys.

Writer's Market 2011

Moreover, allowing boys to play with dolls would teach them, among other important things, how to take care of a girl or a woman and acquaint them with girl parts like the vagina and breasts. Likewise, allowing a girl to play with swords, toy guns, and cars would teach them that strength and power are not in the weapons but with the bearer. 

Now, you as an adult may have complained of double standards in society, in the office or any other workplace, at home or within the family because you believe, in one way or the other, you can do what the other person can do but you are restrained by labels, stereotypes, and social stigma. Sure there are confident male heterosexual hairdressers and how about the street-smart and polite women taxi cab drivers in Europe especially in Germany.

Finally, I believe this is a good start and this story should be endorsed positively. I remain optimistic and hopeful of the outcome of Storm's parents' decision.

Deal of the Day

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Racist" Dove Ad: Intentional or Mistake?

Take a quick look and ask yourself if this ad is really racist. 

I DON'T. The message is clear to me. However, when I asked some friends they said it's racist. But after careful thought and repeated examination, they finally got the message. 

This Dove Ad has sparked controversy because of its utterly BAD and seemingly "intentional" layout. Who in their right mind would give a green light to this copy? Yes, I'm asking the ad company that put this out. I am dubious of the intention and strategy of the ad's creators and designers because I am pretty damn sure that they know with the way they put the ladies together and the text and graphics in the background they'll be confusing a lot minds and eyes therefore increasing publicity mileage. 

But then again, the ad is for Dove, a company that espouses beauty in diversity and the importance of inner beauty. Dove has a solid credibility and an impressive track record with its social/corporate responsibility endeavors. 

What do you think?      

Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama's Irish "My Humps" Moment

He may be the most powerful man in the world and the leader of the "free world" but President Obama and his mighty presidential car got defeated by an Irish speed bump.

Cue in Fergie and the rest of the Black Eyed Peas and their hit "My Humps!"

WWII in HD DVD Set- only $29.95 at the History Channel Store

Deadliest Catch - 468x60


A Mother's Forgiveness: Friendship Between the Mother of a 9/11 Victim and the Mother of One of the Terrorists
Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi have a powerful friendship born of unthinkable loss. Rodriguez' son was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001; el-Wafi's son Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted of a role in those attacks and is serving a life sentence. In hoping to find peace, these two moms have come to understand and respect one another.

Best Mum in the Village
She dresses like a regular mother in your neighborhood. She buys groceries in the supermarket and chitchats with friends on the street. She keeps her house nice and tidy at all times. She loves her children. 
This is the story of a mother whom social services claim has the mind of an eight-year old. She may not have the most posh child-proof house or apartment in the block but she makes great effort in ensuring her child's safety at all times. 
How do you fight for your children when you're a mother with learning disabilities and the social services and government agencies are keen on taking them away from you? 


Long-Weekend Round-Up

TODAY, Canada celebrates (with the exception of Quebec) Victoria Day, which is a federal Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the last Monday on or before the 24th of May in honor of both Queen Victoria's birthday and the current reigning Canadian sovereign's official birthday. 

FUN NOT-SO-FACT FACT. Speaking of royals, did you know that Princess Cinderella and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were originally lovers. In fact, they had an offspring who was named "MOZARELLA"! Amazing isn't it?   

BLACKHOLE Discovered. WARNING: Don't try this at home or anywhere ALONE!

HAND WASHING. In Amsterdam, Catholic officials including the head of the Salesian religious order have distanced themselves and condemned a Dutch Salesian priest's endorsement of pedophilia and his involvement with a group of pedophiles campaigning for the abolition of the Dutch Government's ban on adult-child sex. READ MORE...

BEST DRESSED FOR CHARITY. Remember this nice lady (pictured below) from the woods who was turned away by security and Royal Wedding officials at Westminster Abbey when she showed up with the best and most creative fascinator (according to the Fashion Police!) in the world? Well, she's back. She's now filing official complaint against eBay and the organizers of the auction of Princess Beatrice's antler-like hat when she lost the bidding, which she claimed was rigged from the very start.  

The newly-hired Lady Gaga costume creative consultant.  
OKAY, okay. In the more serious topic, Princess Beatrice's famous silk bow hat made history over the what-was-supposed-to-be-the-end-of-the-world weekend when it was auctioned off on eBay and reached a whopping $131,648 as the final and winning bid. As long as it's for charity and goodwill, BRING ON the craziness.  

HIV SCARE. In the Land Down Under, Australian Defence (Yes, that's how they spell it.) officials are worried that there may be an unknown number of Australian soldiers who might have been exposed to blood-borne diseases like hepatitis or HIV in what appears to be a breach of medical protocols at the Australian Military's main hospital unit in the Middle East. READ MORE...

END OF HISTORY. One of my favorite social thinkers and intellectuals, Francis Fukuyama has just launched a new book, "Origins of a Political Order."  I agree with him that "Americans are not very good in nation-building."


 In what seemed to be an incident that mirrored a horror movie, residents of an apartment complex drank and cooked with corpse-tainted yellowish and foamy water for days until officials discovered that the body of an Indonesian female worker was dumped in the building's water tank. READ MORE...

APOCALYPSE DELAYED. As much as I can, I'd like to stay away from making fun of the rapture believers who flushed their bank accounts, traveled to the West Coast from the East Coast, and many more bucket list to-do's gone awry. Why? Well, ask me later. Anyway, as usual, the now famous Taiwanese animators who did the Tiger Woods incident animation came up with their interpretation of the apocalypse not-so-scary scare. It's sickly funny and outrageously entertaining!     

WHAT'S IN THE NAME? What would you do if your town is named "Crap"? "Hi, I'm from Crap, New York." Or, "I'm going to Crap for the long weekend." Doesn't sound good, right? This is the story of a small town in Australia called "Speed." But wait, there's nothing wrong with speed, right? I think so too. However, the townfolks have gone increasingly worried of the many over speeding incidents in their town's rural roads. So, they've banded together with one unifying aim: change their Town's danger-inviting name. What do you think should be the new name? I suggest "Where Else." Where do you live? Where Else. Where are you going? Where Else.     

I want to leave your day on a high note. Watch this empowering video about heroines around the world.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Think Differently

Tale of Twin Cities

IT IS FASCINATING to know how people love and know their home city. Locals know the best places to go to. Some people have lived there long enough to know what the locals know but short enough to be called a local. Some people are passing by,  smitten, charmed, and enchanted by a city but don't see themselves living in it. 

New York is frenetic and bursting with energy night and day. Toronto is the tamed and POLITE New York. London is sophisticated and expensive. Bangkok is crazy beautiful and addicting. Manila is jam packed and confused in identity--but I still love it. Shanghai is a theme park. Tokyo is steep in culture, timid, and crowded. New Delhi is a constant assault to my senses (in a very beautiful way!) and sanity--I love it too. Berlin is too "cold" and high-strung (but it changed me as a person!). I could go on and on about tales of cities but one thing is sure: there's no place that I don't like because each is unique and requires an individualized understanding and love. 

How much do you love your city? Or, how well do you know your city? 

Watch this video and let the residents of the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis tell you what they think and feel about their cities:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Afternoon Tickler

PLANKING PRANK PROBLEM. On last Monday's Afternoon Tickler, I posted a video from an Australian news broadcast about the "planking" craze that has swept the Land Down Under. Now, Australian authorities are cautioning people especially teenagers to be careful and not to attempt crazy stunts that might harm or put them in great danger.

Legendary boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard has revealed that he was sexually molested by a coach in 1976. This guy is nothing short of remarkable and to have the courage to speak out about his dark past makes him the true man of the ring.

TERRIBLE JOKES.  In serious talk, Nazi and Hitler topics are almost always cautioned to the side of sensitivity and respect. I say "almost always" because when talking about Hitler, let's say within the walls of the academe or in the scholarly context, political and social scientists agree that Hitler was a "great" leader in respect to his political acumen. Hitler too was pure evil and the epitome of a misguided fool. 
That said, when Danish director Lars von Trier said that "I am a Nazi," while in jest and deadpan attitude, during the recent Cannes Film Festival press conference for his new film "Melancholia" starring Kirsten Dunst, people were abuzz and the incident resulted in Festival organizers declaring him persona non grata. Clearly, he didn't mean it and the language barrier (he delivered it in German) added to the confusion. More importantly, let's just stay away from making jokes about such serious matters that killed more than 6 million people and changed the course of world history.  

For a parting afternoon tickle, here's a photo of what seems to be a very direct advertising:

Note: This photo actually reminds me of someone whom I asked if he washed his hands after taking a leak in the washroom, his reply was: "I didn't pee on my hands!" Enough said.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Morning Juice: Wednesday Smiles

BEFORE you read on, watch this video first. Put your speakers on HIGH, sit back, and embrace positivity. Smile.

Okay, don't let that smile fade out yet.

OLD AND WISE. Brazilian great-great-grandmother, Maria Gomes Valentim is now officially the world's oldest and coolest living person.

LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY. Way too many people are misusing and/or abusing the word "literally."  Speaking of literally, take a look at this:

Light beer, anyone?

Or, how about this:

Keep your eye on the ball!

For more "literally" pictures, visit http://www.literal.ly/.

ANTHEMS. Philipp Sheppard of the UK has just recorded 200 national anthems for the 2012 London Summer Olympics. The guy clearly deserves a gold medal. Did you know that in Thailand, they play their national anthem in honor of their King before a movie starts playing in the movie house? If you don't stand, prison is your next destination. 

Oh HANG ON, why did you lose the smile. Here's something to bring it back. I know coffee is not everyone's cup of tea but still, this video will surely bring back the smile that would last till you start dreaming in your sleep tonight.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Patrick Schwarzenegger Loves Family & Stands by Dad

Here's what Arnold's son, Patrick, has to say about this morning's news that his father has finally admitted fathering a 10-year old child from a member of their house help:

some days you feel like shit, some days you want to quit and just be normal for a bit, yet i love my family till death do us apart. #familyless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

This is after the separation. Also, this 10-year old child was born even before Arnold ran for Governor of California.

Afternoon Tickler

AFTERNOON Booze is now replaced by Afternoon Tickler. Someone made a convincing point regarding booze in the afternoon. Thanks.

Moving on...

MR. & MRS. SMITH: Uninspired Choice. Oprah's final guests are finally revealed. I am not a big Oprah fan. I follow her book club. Since it's already down to the last 10 episodes or so, the Oprah Show producers revealed that Mr. and Mrs Smith will be their final guests. Really? Of course, it's her show and she will end it the way she wants it to end. But I was thinking how about getting OJ Simpson to confess or why not invite the newlywed royals or perhaps invite the other Mr. and Mrs. Smith instead and their United Colors of Benetton poster kids. It's a sure dud.    
Best friends forever. Photograph: Jon Kent/SWNS.com/SWNS.com
BEST FRIENDS FOREVER. Alison Slavin and Sam Davies have been the best of friends  for almost  20 years  now. Funnily, the two often joked in the past that they are sisters and as it turns out, they really are. 

SAY NO TO BULLYING. Say goodbye to Facebook bullies. France's Ministry of Education has stepped up its campaign against bullying in schools. The Ministry in partnership with Facebook announced that it will shutdown a pupil's Facebook account if proven that it was used to bully someone.  

I CAN'T WAIT TILL I GROW UP. Watch this PSA from across the pond and be riveted by its message. WARNING: THIS IS HIGHLY GRAPHIC IN NATURE. Shock value in FULL MODE.

BEWITCHED. BOTHERED. BEWILDERED. Finally, watch this video of spontaneous singing strangers promoting British theater.  

The History Channel presents Life After People on DVD

Bill Maher: How UnChristian Some Christians Are

Maher being Maher.
BILL MAHER has a knack for saying only the brilliant and striking points about religion. And yes, he's a comedian and political satirist. Maher is a staunch supporter of the legalization of marijuana and same sex-marriage. He also serves as board member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA.  
I had a Bill Maher-like university professor of Sociology of Religion (who was also my thesis adviser) during my intellectually tumultuous university days. This professor always relied on shock value and somehow in-your-face provocative approach that always made me laugh inside. Not that the class was barred from laughing but it was just that I think I was the only one who felt it was utterly comical and outrageous.
Back to Maher, last May 13 he wrote a scathing but spot-on piece on his blog criticizing Christians and their unbecoming acts. Here's a snippet:

Not to put too fine a point on it, but non-violence was kind 
of Jesus’ trademark. Kind of his big thing. 
To not follow that part of it is like joining Greenpeace 
and hating whales. I mean there’s interpreting 
and then there’s just ignoring. It’s just ignoring 
if you’re for torture. As are more evangelical 
Christians than any other religion.” READ MORE

This guy also serves as advisory board member of Project Reason, a not-for profit organization devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society.

NOTE: Make Google useful if you don't know the man or catch his show on HBO, "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Deal of the Day
Writer's Market 2011