Sunday, August 31, 2008

Time in a Bottle

by Jim Croce
(Download MP3)

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
Till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with....

This song is one of my favorite folk songs written and sung by Jim Croce (1943-1973). This song seems to be a romantic love song but this song was actually written by Croce for his son. The song became the number one hit in the music charts three months after Croce tragically died in a plane crash. The song is sentimental but also philosophical. It expresses the love of the singer but also his wishful thinking. It tells something about the evanescence of time. In some ways, the song seemed to have been a premonition of Croce's impending death.

YouTube Video

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Paul Potts Sings Opera

His name sounds more like the name of a former Cambodian dictator. No, he is not a genocidal Khemer Rouge leader. He is not even Cambodian. He is British. Far from being a megalomaniac tyrant, Paul Potts is a shy and unassuming man. He is a mobile phone salesman-turn-opera singer. His name might sounds like the name of the notorious PolPot but his voice sounds more like Pavarotti. He is the winner of the Britain's Got Talent t.v. show -- the British version of American Idol. Even the unapolegetic and quintessential snob, Simon the Cynical-Critic, was impressed by Paul's performance. Watch this video of his audition performance. The judges and audience were stunned by this unassuming man. Some even broke into tears upon hearing him sing Nessun Dorma.

Here is the video clip of Paul Potts audition:

YouTube Video:

The story of Paul Potts' success is a classic example of the "Do not judge the book by its cover" maxim. Many have underestimated Paul when he stood on the stage to audition. He looked nervous and not very confident. However, when he started to sing, the audience was simply blown away by the power of his voice.

Shopping for Halloween Costumes

When was the last time you saw Little Red Riding Hood dancing with the Big Bad Wolf? Have you ever seen Batman carrying a bag of candies knocking on every door? Do you find it odd to drink a glass of wine with a warlock and a demon? What will you do if you see elves, fairies, and leprechauns in your front yard? Well, perhaps you can call your neighborhood ghost busters. Hmm, wait a minute! Elves, fairies, and leprechauns are not ghosts! You are not dreaming or getting crazy. These are just costumes. It is just Halloween. Designing or buying your own Halloween costume is only limited by your imagination. The genres of costumes range from the macabre and traditional horror costumes to fairytale costumes.

Halloween costumes reflect the fantasy of the wearer. It is only during Halloween that you can ride the train or drive your car while portraying your alter ego without attracting too much attention. Halloween is not only for kids. It is also for adults. It is the only time of year that you can freely morph as an alien from outer space without alerting NASA, FBI, CIA or MIB. If you are an intergalactic visitor, Halloween is the only time of the year that you can safely prance around in your native costume.

Speaking about Halloween costume safety, it is also very important that you find the right store. You can either go to the nearest mall, wait in long queues for hours or you can simply shop online. You can conveniently shop for costumes for you and your kids by simply browsing the online catalogs. The vogue when it comes to grownup costumes is pirate motif. Pirate costumes are available for both male and female swashbucklers wannabes. They are also available as sexy outfits. On the other hand, when it comes to kid costumes, the animal costumes are now becoming more popular. For your costume needs, CostumeCauldron is an online store that offers the most impressive costumes at very affordable costs. Shopping for costumes was never this easy. Avoid the crowd. Shop online, right from the convenience of your home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Visit Costa Rica

There is no other Central American country that is more popular than Costa Rica. Joining any Costa Rica Forum will convince you that the said country is worthy to visit. If you are a US citizen, you are lucky because this tourist Mecca is just a few hours away by plane from the US mainland. Forums about the country are good avenues to interact with people who actually visited the place. They can give you useful tips, thereby making you more prepared. Reading forum comments is interactive. Comments are not purely propaganda. First-hand impressions about Costa Rica can be reliably gathered from forums. You will not regret your stay in Costa Rica if you are well-informed. Aside from your maps, tourist guide book, and forum interactions, reading Costa Rica Blogs is also helpful. This is true especially true if these blogs are written by tourists who actually visited the place. Costa Rica offers marvelous ecological tourists attractions.

Human Society and Consumerism

Human society is a very complex society. It is far more complex and intricate than anything that can be found in nature. It is more complicated than a beehive, an ant colony, coral reef, or a termite community. Unlike other animal societies, human society retains the individuality of its members. It is also a highly flexible society. Although it has highly specialized sectors, its members can easily change roles. Its individual members can even have multiple roles at the same time. Unlike other animal societies, human society is very dynamic. It evolves faster than its individual members. It has evolved to cater not only to mere survival of its members but also to artistic and scientific pursuits. It has become sophisticated enough to appreciate the beauty and grandeur of nature. It is capable of understanding the very fabric of the universe itself. It is capable of reflecting unto itself. It is the only society that has the concept of future. It is capable of learning and passing down its knowledge from one generation to the next.

On the other hand, sophisticated as it is, human society is far from being perfect. It is still striving to achieve utopian ideals. Despite of its wealth, many of its members are still not benefiting from its progress. Its distribution of resources is inefficient. It is ironic that in the midst of plenty, many are still hungry and are barely able to survive. Scarcity is not the problem but the way wealth and resources are distributed. It is a society that is based on consumerism. Only those who have the capacity to buy are the ones that benefit most from the products and services that it produces. Good quality of life is accessible only to a minority. There are even sectors of this society that do not even have access to basic survival needs.

Consumerism as an economic system of the human society is an unjust and inefficient system. It is a system that is not anymore based on actual needs but rather on artificial wants. These are wants created by the mass media. People are not anymore eating merely to satisfy their hunger. They eat to satisfy their palate. People are not anymore wearing clothes as protection against the weather. They are wearing clothes to show-off. The more expensive a piece of clothing, the more desirable it becomes even if it is not anymore practical to wear. Some people are building houses not anymore to serve as shelters. They build houses to showcase their success or exhibit their wealth. It is really hard to understand why the broom closets of some mansions need to be more expensive than the shacks along river banks occupied by at least six-member families each.

Consumerism is not based on needs but based on greed. It fuels the individual desires to have more possessions even if these possessions are not anymore necessary and only become burdens. Ironically, consumerism produced communication technologies but it has made communication gaps become wider. To some extent, computers, cellular phones, and the internet paradoxically isolated individuals rather than making them more cohesive. Some people have lost the capacity to communicate in an individual or personal level. Gadgets seemed to have made some people numb about other people.

On the other hand, consumerism has impact not only on the social behaviors of people but also on the biosphere itself. Consumerism is taking too much from natural resources and converting these raw materials into unnecessary but coveted products. Hence, natural resources are depleted much faster than it is being replenished. Some resources are not even renewable. Consumerism is taking too much from nature without replenishing it. At the same time, it is also dumping waste in the process. Unlike other systems, such as a forest or a coral reef, the resources are not effectively used and recycled by the human society. Balance is therefore not preserved. Consumerism is the complete opposite of the natural order.

Take for instance the case of the automobile industry. It is an industry being sustained by the mining the earth of petroleum and metal. Petroleum products end up polluting the air as they are converted to greenhouse gases. On the other hand, the metal parts of the automobiles end up rusting in junkyards. Although some of these metals are recycled, large bulk of these materials are lost to oxidation. Just imagine how many tons of rocks and soil have to be removed just to produce the metals needed for car production. Just imagine how much river, lake, or ocean siltation it causes. On the other hand, some of the materials used in cars are not recyclable. Materials such as polymers and fiber glass end up in some landfills, waiting millennia to be decomposed.

Consumerism resulted to the mass production of surplus products that eventually end up as garbage. Every time you shop, you contribute to the piling up of garbage. The irony of this is that most of these products benefit only very few people in spite of their abundance. Significant amount of these products are only wasted. To prove this concept, just visit the food court of a nearby mall. Observe how much food end up in the garbage bin.

Human society is a sophisticated society. However, it is not sophisticated enough to provide for all its members. It is not sophisticated enough to be capable of optimizing resources without too much non-recyclable waste. When it comes to this aspect, an ant colony can be considered to be a far more efficient and just society.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Stored Sunlight

(NOTE: Republished from YPEC blogsite)

For about 100,000 years of existence of Homo sapien sapien as a species, it only reached its one billion population mark in the last 200 years. For many millennia, human population has stayed below one billion. Since the 1800’s, human population has been steadily increasing in an exponential rate. It is not a mere coincidence that this population growth has reached its sudden explosion alongside with the Industrial Revolution. When humans learned a new way of producing goods in a massive scale, it resulted in product surpluses. Efficient food production and better medicine meant longer lifespan and better opportunity to reproduce. The Industrial Revolution also brought fort the rapid development and expansions of cities.

Greater bulk of products available meant greater population can be supported. On the other hand, the rapidly increasing population meant greater demand for goods. This has become a vicious cycle that resulted to unsustainable growth. Mass production supported the ever increasing population while the population created insatiable demands for products. Although it brought prosperity and comfort, it also resulted in many problems that we are facing today. Mass production and large population require tremendous amount of energy. Somewhere along the process, too much bulk of wastes is produced. Nonrenewable sources of energy are continually being depleted just to maintain this process.

In ancient times, long before the invention of the steam engine and petroleum-powered machines, human population is supported by renewable energy. The radiant energy of the sun is the main source of this renewable energy. Humans were dependent on the daily energy coming from the sun. Humans were not yet capable of exceeding the daily energy quota provided by the sun. For instance, a hectare of wheat field can only produce certain amount of grain based on the sunlight it receives throughout the year. This biomass of wheat grain can only be converted into certain amount of human biomass. The level of production was still within the subsistence level. Surplus products were rare.

However, when civilization learned how to utilize fossil fuel, the efficiency of production dramatically increased. The distribution of these products was also made convenient by the invention of engine-powered vehicles. Hence, products became easily available to the masses. The use of fossil fuel made it possible to produce more food, improve health care, and increase mobility. These paved the way to the creation of cities. All of these resulted in the sudden increase in population. Humans became free from the bondage of daily energy quota of the sun. Humans learned how to utilize ancient stored sunlight.

This stored sunlight is in the form of fossil fuel. The sunlight energy stored by primeval forests, sea creatures, and land fauna became the fossil fuel. Ancient biomass was compacted under tremendous pressure and temperature for millions of years. This biomass turned into hydrocarbons as a result. The sunlight energy stored in this fossil fuel is now sustaining factories, power plants, and automobiles. Every time you turn the ignition key of your car, you are actually burning remnants of extinct biodiversity. The remains of prehistoric forests and fauna are literally being burned. It took millions of years for the fossil fuel to be formed but it only takes a few seconds for it to be burned.

Fossil fuel provided energy surplus to support the exponential population growth. But this energy is not sustainable. Fossil fuel is predicted to be totally depleted within a century. If this happens a sudden crash in the economic and political systems is expected. The world is facing yet another global war. Since industries are dependent on fossil fuel, economic tension will become worse as the supply of fossil fuel continues to be depleted. Petroleum will steadily become a coveted and rare commodity. As fossil fuel becomes rarer, world instability will increase.