Tuesday, January 22, 2008

happy humbug

I'm an atheist, but I have no problem wishing people "Merry Christmas". I enjoy Christmas. This is largely because I get on well with my family and the gathering, eating, drinking and merriment are fun. I'm happy to enjoy the cultural aspects without ascribing religion to the occasion. Maybe this is hypocritical -- I have no idea.

I have to say, though, that the American "Happy Holidays" grates on me. Some political correctness has its merits and should not be tarred with the condesencion that the term "politically correct" has come to imply. Some political correctness seems patrician and worse than the "crime" it's trying to counter.

This was reinforced as I boarded the plane to fly back to the Philippines from Bangladesh last December. The airline staff -- who were almost certainly Muslim -- wished me a Merry Christmas. I know Christ was a prophet of Islam, but as far as I know, "Merry Christmas" isn't a typical Muslim greeting (though I may be wrong). If members of a devoutly Islamic country are OK with "Merry Christmas", surely the majority of Americans can handle it?

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

coffee and mountains

SW is BACK. So relaaaaaaaaax.

First, marketing. I understand the need to market a product. But I'm not the only person to feel that companies sometimes go a teensy-weensy bit over the top. Below is the text from the side of a bag of Figaro Classico coffee beans. Figaro is a Philippine coffee chain -- a la Starbucks etc, but in my opinion preferable if chains are the only available option (often the case in the Philippines). The main reason I think it's preferable is 1) it doesn't seem as evil as Starbucks (I realise that I haven't qualified that, but see here for PROOF that Starbucks is indeed evil); 2) While I'm living here, all things being equal, I 'd rather support a Philippine business over a US/multinational; and 3) I like the coffee better.

Anyway, here's the text:
An aromatic brew with a wisp of calm authority, this blend of the finest Philippine-grown coffee, hand-picked from the lush tropical mountains, was created by the country's top coffee connoisseurs. Conceived to exude quintessential civility, Figaro Classico was specially designed to provide coffee lovers with a brew so full-bodied that it wraps one's senses in a cloak of power, yet so smooth that one can happily enjoy cup after cup after cup.

Brave yet genteel,
Commanding yet so smooth...
welcome to the pleasure of
Figaro Classico

I don't know, but I tend to think if it was really all that, it would sell for more than $5 for 200 grams. And be illegal. And underscore a multi-trillion-dollar global drug industry. Shit, I REALLY like coffee. I need my coffee in the morning. I think coffee's important. But I'm yet to find a coffee that both exudes quintessential civility AND wraps my senses in a cloak of power.

Enough of that -- it's PHOTO TIME!!!*

SW and D, along with MG and KP, spent the Christmas/New Year break in the Philippine Cordillera -- a mountainous region in the north of Luzon, which is the big northern island that's also home to Manila and Los Baños, where D and I work. Here are a few shots; I'll post about the trip soon.

*Big thanks to MG for sorting a camera for me after I generously donated my previous one, plus my mobile phone, to a Manila taxi driver on the night of my birthday last November.

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