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Science advice for government

That science has contributed to the advancement of society cannot be overemphasized. Much of the applications of science that has resulted in innovations (e.g. gadgets) or a better quality of life (e.g. reducing the child and maternal deaths, extending the human lifespan) were due to governments creating and adopting the right policies. These policies encouraged the application of science and technology to ensure the best quality of outcomes for society.
Government sets the environment that enables scientific research. It does this by directly funding research and rewarding innovation. Governments mainly do these through the research universities. While the business sector also contributes to innovation, government may provide tax incentives as policy to promote innovation.
Who sets the research priorities? In most democratic governments, the scientific community and the government through various forums do these. Most governments have a science ministry headed by a cabinet minister.…
Recent posts

The Confederacy and the Filipino

I always had an interest in the Confederate States of America (CSA). For one thing, it almost made it impossible what the United States claimed it stood for in the Philippines when they defeated our Republic in 1899 and ruled the country until July 4, 1946. But to understand our love-hate relationship with the USA, we need to look at the history of the CSA. President Duterte’s diplomatic rant about Bud-Dajo won’t have its bite without looking at what the CSA was all about. The fact is the agrarian slave based CSA lost the war to the industrial Yankee North. The fact is also, in Reconstruction, the CSA was rehabilitated and even with its incorporation with the USA, a lot of what the CSA stood for survived. Jim Crow, segregation, equal but separate remained in the Southern States. His Excellency Fidel V Ramos, President of the Philippines experienced this on a train ride to Georgia as a West Point Cadet in the early 1950s. This was something he recollected in a speech to cadets in the…

Postnormal science and the dengue vaccine controversy

While science can explain much about the natural world and has resulted in technological advances that makes life better, it has uncertainties. Any scientific and technological application in our daily lives has risks. The job of scientists, most especially statisticians, to is make sure these risks are at a manageable level. The medical and environmental sciences are two disciplines in which the conclusions of these sciences intimately affect our personal lives and that of our loved ones. The applications of these sciences in daily life, entail risks. A good medical doctor should be able to advise you of the risks of side effects of a drug. Likewise a good environmental scientist should be able to advise you of the risks of using environmentally damaging technologies. While environmental scientists and doctors of medicine can come up with the scientific theories of their disciplines, applying these in society is another matter. The application of these becomes more complex and si…

A continuity of 1896, Duterte's Revolution

The pundits have spoken. The Pinoy traditional political landscape has been completely refashioned. And who refashioned it? The mass of the electorate! The lettered elite is aghast and caught unawares but they shouldn’t be, only if they seriously read the history of the Philippine Revolution. The 1896 Katipunan revolution was a truly mass movement, consisting of the working class, pesantry, middle and professional classes and the landed and lettered elites. The participation of the pesantry and the working classes were not due to propaganda alone. Neither were they deceived by their folk Catholicism. They saw meaning in these expressions which saw in their definition of nationhood. For without these the revolution would have not been a force and immediately would have been crushed. The historian Rey Ileto notes that the folk Catholic “Pasyon” is the wellspring of Filipino ideologies of revolution. The meanings the peasants found in the Passion of Christ has counterparts in the jour…

Dutertismo? Simounismo? Revolution?

It is a good thing than in 2015 Anvil republished Dr Mila C Guerrero's 1977 doctoral thesis on "Luzon at War, Contradictions in Philippine Society, 1898-1902. Here we read her thesis that the Philippine Revolution of 1896 is now seen as a revolution that resulted in social levelling for social change but rather for regime change in the state and church e.g. replacing the Spanish leadership with the Filipino and on the religious side, replacing the friar with the Indio clergy.. And the Katipunan revolution never had a program of addressing social inequity but had one on legal inequity whilst preserving the privileges of the propertied class (who were to collaborate with the Americans later). The Katipunan was inspired by liberalism current in Spain then. This Rizal knew had its political limits and perhaps is the reason why he did not advocate revolution then. But Rizal in the El Filibusterismo knew that the romantic anarchism of Simoun may be a portent of what is needed and …

Anatomy of an enrolment disaster in UP Diliman

The public higher education system in the Philippines is capped by the University of the Philippines, which by virtue of its charter, is provided by the State with a high degree of autonomy in managing its own affairs and resources.

All of these is aimed in ensuring that the university is able to deliver services for its students, faculty and staff.  Students who attend the university enter into a contract with the university every time they matriculate, that they would be given all the opportunities to fulfill their course requirements as best the university can provide. And most basic of this is the provision of enough places in the courses the colleges provide.

The constituent colleges and departments of the UP at the start of the academic year try to estimate the demand for their courses. With the registration and admission processes of the university done exclusively online, data management for projecting next semester's outcomes should be simple. The maths do so are simple. …

Be ballistic please!

There has been much controversy generated by a single tweet, one by broadcast journo Maki Pulido and her perception of the lack of compassion among health service providers at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).
We’ve long known that social media easily gets the nerves of people. The problem is in a 21st century world devoid of wit and almost all of satire, these little microblog phrases do more than surgery. They do vivisection and expose the illness and its pathology if we may, and in the process killing the patient. In a more literate age, another physician did a similar thing. Dr Jose Rizal did not pen a tweet, but what made for tweets or blogs in 19th century Spanish Philippines are novels and essays. They killed Doctor Rizal who was essentially a messenger. But unlike Ms Pulido the journo, Dr Rizal had what we now call post-residency training. He was part of the medical fraternity. I never heard of an account that a physician went ballistic over Dr Rizal’s diagnosis. Perhaps i…

The Law of Unintended Consquences

China's claim to territories in the Sea of Southeast Asia [I refuse to call it what the Europeans named it as "South China Sea". THE SEA DOES NOT BELONG TO CHINA]  and its deployment of an oil rig to the Vietnamese territory of the Paracels has changed the military balance in Southeast Asia. (South Vietnam once occupied these islands but faced with imminent defeat from the Communists with no American support, lost these to the Chinese in a naval battle in 1974) Vietnam however challenged the intrusion to its sovereign territory by deploying coast guard ships which exchanged with Chinese ships water cannons.

While this could be one of those spats in a similar league to India and Pakistan's border guards doing their martial struts to the delight of a partisan tourist crowd, it is not. Vietnamese workers started burning factories owned by Taiwan, Singaporean and Chinese interests. China had no choice but to evacuate its nationals from Vietnam.

The Beijing's provoca…