Where We Are in the Downward Spiral

People would give a lot not to find out what’s in the news already. A break from the nitty gritty of citizenry in this country is the mode nowadays. It’s the only thing that a lot of people, at least those around me everyday as I walk streets, commute and go about as a bare iota in the urban landscape, dream of. Some of whom do so for good.

While the same collective won’t bother to do so, some actually do and in the case of a Foreign Policy report on the Failed States Index, have actually identified crucial issues that contribute to the deterioration of certain societies. Such issues are broadly classified among “12 social, economic, political and military indicators.” Further Information on the study can be found in the FAQ and Methodology page and Fund for Peace’s Failed States Index 2007 page.

This year the five most critical states are Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Chad and Iraq out of a total of 177 countries. As for the Philippines, it ranked 59th as 5 indicators which turned out to matter most were given as:

  1. Delegitimization of the State
  2. Factionalized Elites
  3. Uneven Development
  4. Security Apparatus
  5. Human Flight

There’s a slight improvement really as the Philippines ranked 56 among the failed states last year.

So while there are people busying themselves trying to get off the sinking ship to try to board elsewhere or fighting off domestic adversities along the social, cultural, economic and political spectrum, someone actually bothered to try and define the issues. For the cacophony associated with citizenry here, I find the ranking of the indicators worth another look, (though I’m undecided on the presence of the second one there.) I find the fact that all other 4 indicators there weighing that much over all other indicators in the model plausible though. The model’s relevance is another matter for me though as I’ve still got tons of to-do’s to strike out and a handful of other stuff to start on while the world goes on with its business.

Finally you gotta credit the work put into that Rankings page though especially the sortable columns. In the same vein as the most influential intellectual results were shown previously, the presentation of the portions of the report are again just as effective. Sorry had to let that one out as it’s really hard not to notice for an IT guy who’s had a decent share of web development.

A Slice of Diversity

For the longest time I’ve known, I’ve never been stuck with a single topic alone when it comes to having my interest in the internet. For more than a decade now, I’ve been one of the netizens watching along the sidelines for what would be significant for a lot more years to come.

Perhaps one of the things that has captured the imagination of internet users is that the internet presents the perfect universe for diversity. Its birth was brought about by the need to exchange scientific information. Its growth was fueled by the potential businesses saw in it. At present the networks and servers spanning the internet’s entirety has gone beyong business, science and the academe to accomodate a wide range of audience for just as wide as a myriad of purposes. Social networks, blogs and different forums are just some which come to mind in one of the venues defining the age of information.

It’s that vastness and variety of information that has me watching time and again. I guess its those qualities of the internet’s currency which sustains itself in an time which puts a premium on information. It is indeed an age where the idiom “information-at-your-fingertips” has long been relegated to the cliche backyard, to say the least.

More importantly for me, such heterogeneity and massiveness causes me to re-visit sites time and again. Once I found it in highfiber and linkswarm. During the time when I had been a resident linksman in the former, I found a lot of postworthy stuff from the latter. With the former gone however, I find myself visiting the latter more.

Having written at least two entries from finds stuffed up there,* here are just some reads and material worth the time going through them for at least those who don’t mind spending their time idly peeking through other corners of cyberspace:

Yup, it’s as varied as that. As a wonderful bonus too, the NSFW marker’s too conspicuous to miss out in the workplace. 😀

*Such entries include a feature on war insights, the latest kid-related entry and a look at another shot at the search engine.

Which Yardstick?

I first encountered the Asian Development Bank study entitled “Philippines: Critical Development Constraints” over the weekend at Ellen Tordesilla’s blog entry, (thanks to leelock.) Despite the much hyped 7.3% growth in terms of GDP by the Arroyo administration, (which the report acknowledged,) the study notes that “both public and private investment remain sluggish and their share in gross domestic product has continued to decline.”

An article at Inquirer.net yesterday on the same report summarized the “‘constraints to private investment and growth’ in the Philippines” which included:

  • Tight fiscal situation due largely to weak revenue generation.
  • Inadequate infrastructure, particularly in electricity and transport.
  • Weak investor confidence due to governance concerns, particularly, corruption and political instability.
  • Inability to address market failures leading to a small and narrow industrial base.

The article is actually the second on the same report released last week. The other one focused on the exodus of skilled workers looking for greener pasteurs. The phenomenon raises doubts on the sustainability of the economic growth last year harped on by the current administration as the country is losing “not only human capital but it is also losing a lot.”

Curiously the timing of the statement of the US State Department as quoted by Philippine ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa couldn’t have been more perfect. According to the article mentioning the post on the Philippine embassy’s website:

Gaa thanked the State Department for expressing its continued confidence on the Philippine economy and democracy in its recently released US State Department 2009 Congressional Budget Justification Report.

So which is it really? Sans the numbers and technocratic jargons, my guess is that it’s the one a lot of us knew all along. The presence of the former just stresses the latter, (just as it should.)

More Tech Trends

All PDI InfoTech articles for the week under way:

Low-Cost Laptops for Big Returns in Education

I first wrote about XO in this blog entry after having heard about it early this year. Apparently the laptop bannered as a serious economical alternative for students especially for those in third world countries will hit the U.S. and Canadian markets from November 12 to 26. For $399 the buyer gets one machine while the other one will go to a less-fortunate beneficiary to be determined by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

The cost of a laptop’s therefore still pegged at nearly $200. Though still far from the $150 reported early this year, OLPC hopes though to bring the price down at $100 after about a year.

The Philipine Broadband Scene

One of the signs of rapid technological advances I guess. As broadband usage popularity grows in the Philippines, the country is now projected among countries such as “Greece, Indonesia, India, Ukraine, Ireland, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia and Turkey” to be among the 10 fastest growing broadband markets. The PDI article citing the telecom industry analyst Ovum sees the growth of broadband usage in the country from “three million to less than 10 million” by 2011.”

ZTE

And speaking of broadband growth, a hot current events topic these days is the National Broadband Network, (NBN) the government dealt to Chinese corporation, ZTE Corp. Though it’s been a pretty dated topic, the recent Senate interrogations with those involved in the deal have been sour to say the least as flashes of personal attacks and tirades have all been there. And when bloggers had their say on the matter, you just know that the topic won’t go away soon.

Personally I am very skeptical with the deal and shares a sentiment much like what Senator Francis Escudero has to say in the PDI article on that bloggers’ take.

I can’t believe that the ZTE is the best deal we could get now. True, we live in an archipelagic country and this may be a major factor in the huge bill for a national broadband network, but since technology is getting faster and cheaper at the same time, we might as well look for the truly best deal. There must be other options that are more favorable to the Philippines and that should be protected from the government officials and their relatives who salivate for more money at our expense

One of the early criticisms on the project was from Raul Fabella and Emmanuel de Dios. One thing that captured my attention immediately was the government’s failure to provide a feasibility study before determining just how much the project should reasonablycost. For someone who’s been into several IT projects for a number of years already, the lack of a feasibility study to determine the minimum requirements of such a large-scale project is already glaring. Not only does that leave a wide-open window for corruption, it also presents the possibility of having the client, (in this case the Philippine government,) at the mercy of ZTE’s discretion. Read all of the contents of Fabella and de Dios’ paper, (in PDF format,) here.

Modern-day Trends

IT Anyone?

While the IT-sector of the Philippine economy has undoubtedly grown, I never thought the figure’s currently pegged at 400,000 related jobs from 8,000 last 2000. That is if co-Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, Cesar B. Bautista is to be believed.

In an Infotech article written at PDI today, he spoke of a positive outlook for the country’s BPO services sector as something “to overtake India” in the near future. This as he cites a Frontier Strategy Group report released early this month as the reason for the optimism.

I hoping that the present crop of IT workforce could stand up to the challenge-if ever there really is going to be one.

What was that again?

A PC World article featured at Yahoo news tells of the effect of frequent mobile phone usage that is brain slowdown. The result of a study on 300 persons for nearly two and a half years indicated that the slowdown was still considered normal though.

However plans on expanding the study this time for a longer period of study on 17,000 people, is already on the drawing board.

Now that’s something definitely worth looking into as mobile phone usage has made it to the just about any common man’s routine. That and the fact that society adapted to it so quickly that just a decade ago, only the most affluent in this third world country could be seen flipping their phones in public, all point to a possible health hazard to a mobile generation of humans.

The Long Way Home

So the average L.A. driver gets to spend the longest time in traffic according to a Reuters report on the 10 worst metropolitan traffic in the U.S. In particular, those in L.A. waste 72 hours annually in traffic, (that’s 3 whole days of a year spent in traffic alone.) Runner-ups include (unfortunately) San Francisco, Washington D.C., Atlanta, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arllington area, San Diego, Houston, Detroit, San Jose and Orlando in that order. Read the rest of the whole article here.

I’d like to see an independent study come up with something on Metro Manila traffic to give L.A. a run for its money though. :))

I Want My Money Back

One of the reasons why I keep few personal stuff besides not wanting to spend for something I won’t use often is that protection for consumer rights here in the Philippines still has to go a very long way. How many times has the mediocrity of products and services been read or heard?

Sadly I’ve had my share of things such as the shrug of the shoulder, inefficient support and downright defective products and service. The thing is protection for small-time public consumers is still practically non-existent here even if service providers are given the green light to clamp you down with an exclusive contract for a good number of months.

In a society whose government does strive to protect the voter’s interest, some steps on complaining do get results. Looking at that article, it’s not hard to see how much consumer protection in this country still has to improve on.