Monday, August 27, 2007

2 raised to the power 10

Because I am a die-hard geek, I dedicate this post to 210, otherwise known as 1,024.

And, of course, this post happens to be my 1,024th.

From the Wikipedia, a description of 1024, as used in computers:

In binary notation, 1024 is represented as 10000000000, making it a simple "round number" occurring frequently in computer applications.

1024 is the maximum number of computer memory addresses that can be referenced with ten binary switches. This is the origin of the organization of computer memory into 1024-byte chunks.


Thanks to Roy for the idea.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lolita

To the thumping beat of techno music they prance onstage in high heels, gyrating their hips, jiggling their breasts, mouths agape in exaggerated ecstasy, their skimpy clothes barely able to contain their assets. The audience claps and cheers and stamps in tune to the music.

A scene from a nightclub? Hardly. It's the height of noon, and this is what passes for lunchtime entertainment in the Philippines.

They go by different names: Sex Bomb Girls, Wowowee Girls, EB Babes, ASF Dancers, etc. But they're all cut from the same mold. Their songs sound the same and their moves look the same. They're indistinguishable from each other except for the channel they're on and the hosts they're with.

Among these dancers, short skirts and pigtails or ponytails are de rigeur. During moments of suspense, they bring their hands to their faces and squeal in high-pitched glee. Their signature songs, though loaded with innuendo, are sung in schoolgirl chorus fashion.

If the noontime show is a reflection of pervading tastes, then perhaps these girlie groups are a reflection of a persistent and prevalent Filipino sexual fantasy: young and nubile, teasingly shy, inexperienced yet willing, ever ready to please, malleable to every whim and wish, their innocence waiting to be plucked.

Elsewhere, makeup artists apply lipstick and eyeshadow and rouge to round bubbly faces; couturers doll them up in miniskirts and miniature heels; choreographers twirl them to innuendo-laden songs; And all the while, their mothers and aunts cheer, hopeful of their daughters' chances in the "Little Miss...." pageant.

In 2006, the National Statistical Coordination Board released the following figures: there were 6,355 child sexual abuse cases reported to the Department of Social Welfare Development over a two-year period. Of these, 6,239 (98%) pertained to girls while only 116 (2%) pertained to boys. (Source: )

Contrast this to the World Health Organization's worldwide estimates of 150 million girls (67%) and 73 million boys (23%) who suffered sexual abuse in 2002. (Source: "Global Estimates of Health Consequences Due to Violence Against Children", WHO)

But little girls do not stay little girls forever. Sooner or later, they grow up to be women. What happens when the fantasy comes crashing against reality? The same NSCB document reports over 11,600 cases of violence against women in the same two-year period. The largest proportion? 5,800 cases (50%) of physical injuries and wife battering.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"RP Battles with Dandruff"

This, believe it or not, is the front page to today's issue of Manila Bulletin.
On the whole, I have never had much respect for the Manila Bulletin. It seemed to me that it was only good for classifieds ads and fish wrapper. But even this was a new low.
As it turns out, it was only a promotional wraparound for the real front page. Nevertheless, it was a mighty cheap advertising stunt to pull.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The 31 Functions of a Folk Tale

Last week, I featured the 36 dramatic situations. Now, let's dig in a little deeper and look at how such stories may be structured. Everyone already knows about the Hero's Journey, based on Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces so here's something which actually preceded it: Vladimir Propp's 31 functions of a folk tale.

Propp studied Russian folk tales and broke them down into their smallest narrative units, known as narratemes. Using this technique, he concluded that there were 31 generic themes that occured in sequence (though they don't always have to appear and there may be variations).

These are:

  1. A member of a family leaves home (the hero is introduced);
  2. An interdiction is addressed to the hero ('don't go there', 'go to this place');
  3. The interdiction is violated (villain enters the tale);
  4. The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance (either villain tries to find the children/jewels etc; or intended victim questions the villain);
  5. The villain gains information about the victim;
  6. The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take possession of victim or victim's belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim);
  7. Victim taken in by deception, unwittingly helping the enemy;
  8. Villain causes harm/injury to family member (by abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance, expels someone, casts spell on someone, substitutes child etc, comits murder, imprisons/detains someone, threatens forced marriage, provides nightly torments); Alternatively, a member of family lacks something or desires something (magical potion etc);
  9. Misfortune or lack is made known, (hero is dispatched, hears call for help etc/ alternative is that victimised hero is sent away, freed from imprisonment);
  10. Seeker agrees to, or decides upon counter-action;
  11. Hero leaves home;
  12. Hero is tested, interrogated, attacked etc, preparing the way for his/her receiving magical agent or helper (donor);
  13. Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service, uses adversary's powers against him);
  14. Hero acquires use of a magical agent (directly transferred, located, purchased, prepared, spontaneously appears, eaten/drunk, help offered by other characters);
  15. Hero is transferred, delivered or led to whereabouts of an object of the search;
  16. Hero and villain join in direct combat;
  17. Hero is branded (wounded/marked, receives ring or scarf);
  18. Villain is defeated (killed in combat, defeated in contest, killed while asleep, banished);
  19. Initial misfortune or lack is resolved (object of search distributed, spell broken, slain person revivied, captive freed);
  20. Hero returns;
  21. Hero is pursued (pursuer tries to kill, eat, undermine the hero);
  22. Hero is rescued from pursuit (obstacles delay pursuer, hero hides or is hidden, hero transforms unrecognisably, hero saved from attempt on his/her life);
  23. Hero unrecognised, arrives home or in another country;
  24. False hero presents unfounded claims;
  25. Difficult task proposed to the hero (trial by ordeal, riddles, test of strength/endurance, other tasks);
  26. Task is resolved;
  27. Hero is recognised (by mark, brand, or thing given to him/her);
  28. False hero or villain is exposed;
  29. Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments etc);
  30. Villain is punished;
  31. Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted).