Archive for nerdy

Interesting Stumbles

Yesterday, I rediscovered the joy of stumbling. Ü

Since the wifi connection in my room is pretty stable, and since I was again procrastinating, I revisited stumbleupon.com and I rediscovered why I was hooked with it for some time before. Here are some of the interesting stumbles that I found.

Doodles, etc.


Scribbler – First, you have to draw lines (random or not), and then, let the program scribble on your drawing. The result is an interesting art. Ü


Picasso – With this site, you can create your own Picasso.

Paint – Just move the pointer of the mouse over the page and you can create doodles – beautiful paintbrush strokes the size and color of which you can vary, and it even blots.


Typorganism – Ever wonder how people create images out of keyboard characters, this site will help you create one.

On Drugs And Other Addictions

Mouse – See how common addictive drugs affect our system illustrated through mice.

Spider – See how a spider weaves its web when it is high.

Shoelace – Tired of your shoelace, here’s 30 patterns from which you can choose from if ever you decide to change how you tie your shoelace.

Rotor House – An innovative design for a bachelor pad.

Writer’s Block – You’ll never have a writer’s block again with the help of this site

Quotes – Get quotes about friendship, life, success, and other topics here.

Music – An interesting music created by mixing pretty ordinary sounds.

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U.P. In the Minds Of Its Past Presidents

I already have my UP Centennial Planner.  A month after placing my order, I went back to the USC office to claim two copies of the planner (the other one is for my dad).  I originally didn’t plan on buying one (kasi USC ang nagbebenta, gagamitin na naman sa rally-rally :p peace Kareen), but I realized that this would make a good collector’s item so I bought one.It is more than just a planner.  It contains a lot of UP-related facts and trivia, and even has notes on dates of special events in the history of the University.  It also has reminders on the year-long schedules of events that are part of the centennial celebration.

But what’s rather interesting are snippets (from speeches or editorials, I guess) regarding the takes of former Presidents of the University on the essence and importance of the University.  One pretty intriguing point however, is that only the quote from present President Roman differs in that it’s about her being the first woman President of the University (her being so is more important to the editors, I think).  Also, the editors must have overlooked that President Virata (1956-1958) was not included.

Anyway, these are the quotes from the past UP Presidents:

It is therefore well understood that a university remains the center of education of various branches of human knowledge and its main purpose is substantially to preserve the life and promote the progress of nations.     UP President Ignacio Villamor (1915-1921)

Academic freedom is not an inherent right of a man working in a university, but a constitutional or man-given right intended to give him the widest opportunity to discover truth and teach truth…  Academic freedom is never meant to be a license for making irresponsible statements, for indulging in destructive criticism and for mixing in partisan politics.  In short, academic freedom, or freedom of any kind in a free society, is inseparably associated with responsibility and is never absolute.     UP President Vidal Tan (1951-1956)

The University must hold the balance between the force of universalism, which is inherent in its nature, and the force of nationalism, which is inherent in its purpose.  It must be hospitable to all ideologies and philosophies.  Instead of closing windows that are already open, we should open windows that are still closed.  The intellectual life of the University would thus be a creative blend of that which exists in the country and in the world as a whole.  This is the kind of university to which the University is ineluctably committed.    UP President Salvador Lopez (1969-1975)

The UP will be a superfluous adornment to the country if it exists simply for the selfish benefit of those who enjoy its advantages.  It will fail utterly unless it stimulates an effective and well-distributed social service; unless it raises the standard of living for all the people; unless it promotes the general comfort and happiness without making a privileged class who enjoys a monopoly of the so-called “good things in life;” unless it idealized the home as the chief cornerstone of civilization.    UP President Guy Potter Benton (1921-1925)

Our students must stand out not only for clear, objective and critical thinking, not alone for intellectual ability and leadership in their chosen fields, but also for their nationalism and genuine caring for our people.  To be form UP is to accept a sacred trust of leadership and service to the people.    UP President Emil Javier (1993-1999)

It is eminently fitting and wise that institutions of higher learning of the various nations should now and then gather in common counsel to affirm their inherent character as sanctuaries of truth which is untinged and unswayed by race or opinion.    UP President Jorge Bocobo (1934-1939)

It would seem that our educational program should not stop at emphasizing and cultivating love for work.  It should also penalize distaste for labor.  It should discourage superficiality and reward thoroughness.    UP President Bienvenido Gonzalez (0939-1943, 1945-1951)

The University must move with the times – to carry out fully its mission in its country and thus aid in solving our national problems.  It is our bounden duty to help the State in the solution of its manifold problems especially in a country “still in the springside of life, as in the Philippines.”  Thus the University should be willing and ready at all times to answer all questions to unveil the past, to counsel the present, and to predict the future.    UP President Rafael Palma (1925-1933)

If the University should engage in the politics of ideas, it should lend itself to the expression of viewpoints other than the conventional and established orthodoxies, so that it be neither advocate nor adversary, but a catalyst and an enriching agent.    UP President Onofre Corpuz (1975-1979)

One of the most cherished aims of higher education is the greater self-awareness that results from it, a sense of one’s capacity and worth as an individual in a society of free and fully functioning individuals.  To my mind, what is this but self-identification which, carried to its most exalted purpose, becomes nationalism?  With this clear before us, it is evident that nationalism becomes consistent with the idea of a university.  Indeed, it becomes a necessary component, for no one has ever achieved universality without the integrity that comes from the realization of one’s unique position in the cosmos.    UP President Carlos P. Romulo (1962-1968)

Our expertise is the reduction of social outrage to reasoned critique, of impassioned demand to coherent program.  The clarification of issue, the discovery of facts the exposure of distortion and lies, and the presentation of reasoned alternatives… they are the best contributions we can make to the causes we choose to support.  They define the role of the University in a society like ours.    UP President Edgardo Angara (1981-1987)

We do not forget that our present is built in our past, and that the dynamism of heart and mind that we experience today belongs to a great tradition.  We are reaping today what others before us have sown.  And those who come after us will in turn gather the harvest of our dreams.    UP President Emanuel Soriano (1979-1981)

You are living the University of the Philippines during one of the most critical times in the history of our country…  The tasks attendant upon every citizen of a world passing through the painful stages of a historical transition leave no room for idle drifting.  Work should be the keynote of our people, now and always.    UP President Antonio Sison (1943-1945)

The pursuit of academic excellence is the avowed mission of every university.  But often, this is just a meaningless cliché.  To be meaningful, this mission has been translated into concrete goals, given the resources available to the University and the needs of our country at the turn of the century.    UP President Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. (1999-2005)

This university should not be a reproduction of the American University.  If it is to blossom into real fruit, it must grow on Philippine soil.  It must not be transplanted from foreign shores.  It can serve the world best by serving best the Filipinos.    UP President Murray Bartlett (1911-1915)

The University is a partner of government rather that a collaborator.  It keeps a critical detachment from its policies and official acts, but is never aloof.  It is grateful for its share in the national budget, but keeps its autonomy.  It is by nature constructively critical, and zealous of its freedom; but inspired by the moral integrity and selfless dedication of public servants; it commits itself wholeheartedly through its teaching and research to the support of national goals and the realization of our people’s aspiration.    UP President Jose Abueva (1987-1993)

There is but one cause which can effectively write finis to UP’s existence.  And that is when it can no longer advance the frontiers of human knowledge; when it ceases to be an instrument of intellectual freedom; when students and professors in their classrooms and laboratories grovel in abject obedience to authority; when it submits its judgment to outside directives.    UP President Vicente Sinco (1958-1962)

While the idea of being UP’s first woman President sounds exciting, I know very well that in the end, people will judge me not on the basis of my being a woman, but on the basis of my performance and accomplishments.  However, during quiet solitary moments, I catch myself in the act of thinking, “You had better do a good job so people will conclude that women do indeed make better presidents than men!”    UP President Emerlinda Roman (2005-present)

Of Greeks and Lobsters

I was scanning howstuffworks.com and found the following interesting facts.

>> Nike is actually the Greek goddess of victory. All this while, I only knew it as a sports apparel brand (hehe. pardon my ignorance towards Greek mythology).

>> Lobsters are interesting creatures. They on some 100 types of animals and, occasionally, plants. Their teeth are located in their stomachs. They eat their molted shells (full of calcium) and can shed appendages if attacked, wounded or surprised, only to regenerate them later. Lobsters live in a hierarchy and it’s the females who do the courting.­ Finally, lobsters show no apparent signs of aging! Click here for the scientific facts.

Green Minded Me: Biodegradable SM Plastic Bags

My mom asked me to buy something for my cousin, Patrick.  He lives in Bohol, and since we are going there tomorrow, my mom decided to give him a little something.

Since I needed to go to SM Megamall today for my thesis, I then decided to just pass by their department store to buy Patrick his gift.

So I went around the department store, rummaging about every stall in the Men’s Wear department, and, after finding the perfect (I hope) tee for Patrick, I paid at the counter.  And then, something caught my attention.  A biodegradable plastic bag from SM.  Cool (in a geeky way).

Finally, SM thought of this very brilliant idea.  Just to give you a little idea how SM impacts our environment, my Environmental Engineering prof said that in every major landfill in the country she visited so far, one could really see that majority of the plastic wastes are either colored yellow or blue.  Yellow for SM supermarket plastic bags, and blue for SM department store plastic bags.

Imagine the environmental implication of SM’s move to use “green” plastic bags for their department store!  I hope they’d continue on and use “green” plastic bags for their supermarket as well!

Five green stars to SM for this!

Where Did The Greeks Get Their Ideas?

Did the ancient Greeks get their ideas from the Africans?

(lifted from howstuffworks.com)

The sitcoms you watch on TV have their roots in classical Greek comedy. The algorithms that fuel the Internet infrastructure you use are based on Greek mathematics. The doctors that save lives every day first take an oath based on a treatise written by the Greek physician Hippocrates. Even the scientific method dates back to ancient Greece.

We here in the modern world owe much to the advancements of the classical Greeks, that much is clear. But have you ever wondered where the Greeks got their ideas?

From 1900 to 1100 B.C., a great civilization reigned over what is now present-day Greece. The Mycenaens created works of art, established trade with other nations and lived in great cities. And then suddenly, mysteriously, the Mycenaean culture collapsed. Greece fell into darkness.

Nomadic tribes came from the North to where a bustling, urbane civilization once stood. Trade ceased, and Greece turned inward. For 500 years Greece stood silent, in what historians now call the Greek Dark Ages. And then, almost overnight in historical terms, a new dawn broke over Greece. Homer created his epic poems the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey,” emphasizing honor and virtue to his new countrymen. Trade resumed, once separate city-states united into a democratic republic. Classical Greece was born.

Where did this meteoric rise to prominence come from? Scholars attribute much of Greece’s development to its internalization. For 500 years it was peacefully allowed to redevelop itself, astoundingly without any outside threats. But the loftiest of the pursuits of the Greeks would not have been possible were it not for another nearby civilization, one that was established millennia before even Mycenae was founded. The culture was called Kemet. You know it as Egypt.

The civilization that built the Sphinx, raised the pyramids and built the world’s first library also produced the world’s first physician, created geometry and astronomy and were among the first to explore the nature of our existence. And they passed their knowledge along to the Greeks. Modern people, in turn, have benefited greatly from this early education.

The Kemetic Mystery System

It’s well-documented that classical Greek thinkers traveled to what we now call Egypt to expand their knowledge. When the Greek scholars Thales, Hippocrates, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and others traveled to Kemet,, they studied at the temple-universities Waset and Ipet Isut. Here, the Greeks were inducted into a wide curriculum that encompassed both the esoteric as well as the practical.

Thales was the first to go to Kemet. He was introduced to the Kemetic Mystery System — the knowledge that formed the basis of the Kemites’ understanding of the world, which had been developed over the previous 4,500 years. After he returned, Thales made a name for himself by accurately predicting a solar eclipse and demonstrating how to measure the distance of a ship at sea. He encouraged others to make their way to Kemet to study.

In Kemet, Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” learned of disease from the previous explorations of Imhotep, who established diagnostic medicine 2,500 years earlier. This early renaissance man — priest, astronomer and physician — was described as “the first figure of a physician to stand out clearly in the mists of antiquity” by the British medical trailblazer William Osler. In Kemet, Pythagoras, the “father of mathematics,” learned calculus and geometry from the Kemetic priests based on a millennia-old papyrus.

None of this is to say that the Greeks were without their own ideas. On the contrary, the Greeks appeared to have formed their own interpretations of what they learned in Kemet. Nor did the Greeks ever deny the credit due the Kemites for their education. “Egypt was the cradle of mathematics,” Aristotle wrote. But one could make the case that the Greeks also felt that they were destined to build upon what they’d learned from the Kemites.

The Kemetic education was meant to last 40 years, although no Greek thinker is known to have made it through the entire process. Pythagoras is believed to have made it the furthest, having studied in Kemet for 23 year. The Greeks seem to have put their own spin on what knowledge they’d learned.

Plato’s education may have expressed it best: The Kemetic Mystery System was based upon a wide array of human knowledge. It encompassed math, writing, physical science, religion and the supernatural, requiring tutors to be both priests and scholars. Perhaps the aspect of the system that best represents this merger of religion and science is Ma’at.

Ma’at (/mi ‘yat/) was a goddess who embodied the concept of the rational order to the universe. “This idea that the universe is rational … passed from the Egyptians to the Greeks,” writes historian Richard Hooker. The Greeks’ name for this concept was logos.

In his “Republic,” Plato describes a dichotomy between a higher and lower self. The higher self (reason) pursues knowledge, reason and discipline. The lower self — the more prominent of the two — is base, concerned with more crude aspects like sex, addiction and other self-serving pursuits. Reason must ultimately win over emotion for a life to be worthwhile. Thus the emphasis of reason over all else was born. And the concepts of spirituality and reason began to diverge.

It is the survival of the Greek interpretation of Ma’at over the Kemites’ that may explain why schoolchildren learn that the Greeks provided the basis for our modern world.

Western History Without the Kemites

When we learn of the ancient Kemites in school, we learn of their earliest exploits — the Sphinx, the pyramids and plant cultivation. The Kemites and their achievements are relegated to the remotest past, as if their civilization had ended long before before the rise of the Greeks. But Kemet, or Egypt, along with civilizations like China and Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq, Syria and Turkey), is one of the longest-lived cultures in the world. Having been established at least as far back as 5000 B.C., it continues to this day, despite conquests from the Persians, Greeks, and, more recently, the British.

We know much of this culture — thanks to the myriad documents the Kemites left and our ability to translate them using the Rosetta Stone — including that the great Greek scholars studied at the temple-universities there. For their part, the Greeks never attempted to hide where they’d learned about mathematics, astronomy and architecture. So why don’t we learn about the contributions the Kemites made to the modern world in school today?

One explanation is that while the Greeks’ view of the world was based on Kemetic teachings, their stress on reason ultimately led to the Age of Enlightenment, from which we draw our worldview today. To the Kemites, the physical and the spiritual were intertwined. The concept of Ma’at was as important as geometry. But after the Greeks formed their interpretation, reason eventually edged out spirituality and this view of existence was passed down. Plato, who was among the first to extol the advantages of reason over emotion in his Republic, inspired the 17th-century philosopher Rene Descartes. Descartes’ observations concerning reason inspired the modern scientific method, which has fueled a strictly rational inquiry of our existence.

In other words, since the Greeks were the ones who framed our worldview of using reason to investigate our world, we may feel we have no need to credit the Kemites with bestowing upon the Greeks their original education. And since the Kemites’ view of the universe included a mixture of science and religion, some people today may find this philosophical mixture hokey and primitive. This is ironic, since the Kemites originated the notion of rational thought.

Another explanation for editing out the Kemites’ contribution to history is much more sinister. While Europe and the rest of the West readily credit Greece as its foundation, this credit isn’t extended to Africa. “During the 19th century, many European writers, limited by ethnocentrism and racism, decided that black Africa could have had nothing to do with Europe’s rise to greatness,” writes Gloria Dickenson, professor of African-American Studies at The College of New Jersey.

At a time when Western society was building itself on the labor of black African slaves, white Europeans were hardly in a position to credit their slaves’ ancestors with providing the foundation of that very same society.

Despite proof of their sophistication, the Kemites’ contributions to world culture are still perceived to be less than those of the Greeks. In an online biography of Thales, the Greek scholar’s travel to Kemet to study is mentioned, although marginalized. “Thales had traveled to Egypt to study the science of geometry. Somehow he must have refined the Egyptian methods, because when he came back to Miletus [Greece] he surprised his contemporaries with his unusual mathematical abilities”.

Since the Kemites have been all but excluded from history, one can’t help but wonder if another culture has been kept even more in the dark. A tantalizing question emerges: Did the Kemites, like the Greeks, draw their knowledge from another source as well?