MY NEW BLOG: The Ciudadista: Life in the City

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The New York Times > International > Europe > Milton Journal: No Telly in the House? Expect an Official Warning

The New York Times > International > Europe > Milton Journal: No Telly in the House? Expect an Official Warning

In the United Kingdom anyone with a coloured television has to pay a license worth GBP 129 or roughly PHP 12,900. The fee is used to fund the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). I believe this fee is in exchange for commercial free and "quality" BBC television. Caught without a television license will lead to a fine of GBP 1,000 or a jail term.

I think the fee is absurd. I've heard of pay-per-view or pay-tv but this is extreme. Why must a population be forced to pay a fee to fund a service that is not utilised or enjoyed every single day or every time? Since the end of the BBC's monopoly in UK television similar programming are now availbale through "free-to-air" private commerical tv stations and paid services like satellite television.

If someone does not want to watch the news from BBC One he or she can watch it on any ITV channel or Sky News. If you are more of a Coronation Street (ITV) fan than an East Enders (BBC) viewer you are just paying something that you do not enjoy.

According to the hyperlinked article above the BBC will have a charter review by 2006. By then we will know the future of TV licensing in the UK.

I could not imagine a similar system to be used in the Philippines (Thank God!)

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Christmas Day meal table just after a few minutes Posted by Hello

Ube Halaya

Filipino Ube (Purple Yam) Dessert just after a few minutes.

This dessert was done using purple yam sold by Asian stores in New Zealand (frozen) and made the traditional way.Posted by Hello

Chrismas Ham

Christmas Ham for the eve celebration

This was a 6 kilogram ham. It was glaced with home made pineapple syrup.Posted by Hello

Monday, December 20, 2004

Bias - Today's editorial

Bias -

The editorial is a reaction regarding ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs' alleged bias against Fernando Poe Jr.'s presidential campaign. The allegation was made by the candidate's wife, Susan Roces during a live TV interview.

This is my favourite paragraph:

And thus we come to the blind side of perceptual thinking: we only see what we want or are conditioned to see. We do not remember our neighbor's hundred acts of kindness; we only notice the one unfortunate exchange of words. We do not notice the thousands of policemen doing their duty; we only see the cops who take bribes. That, sadly, is the reality.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Which new words would you add to dictionary?

BBC NEWS | Have Your Say | Which new words would you add to dictionary?

My favourite among the suggestions is "Ski" Spending the Kids Inheritance.

Disney's National Treasure is cheesy

Just a few hours ago I watched National Treasure at local cinemaplex.

The movie is about the hunt for the hidden treasure of the Knights Templar.

What I hated were the cheesy clich├ęs and its predictability.

Overall the movie is entertaining.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Poison: the weapon of choice

BBC News: Yushchenko thanks medics for care

In Ukraine it seems that poisoning is the weapon of choice for destroying political opponents.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

House sitting

I've started to house sit for a friend. It is only for three weeks.

I have been requested to do this favour last November. I welcomed this task as it breaks the monotony of my daily routine.

Right now I am using the house's computer operating Linux Mandrake.

The fuzzy-wuzzy-cutie cat here is rubbing its face on my pants. I think its marking me as part of its territory.


Two days ago I receive the Clear Horizon - The Best of Basia CD which I bought from eBay. It was cheap, only USD 9.00 and delivered to my New Zealand address. [I would not be compelled to buy from eBay if there were Basia CDs on music stores here or at least the public library.] Although the CD is used it still looks new and almost no scratches.

Since the CD arrived I've been listening to it since it arrived. I'm still listening to it right now.

I've known Basia Trzetrzelewska since I was young since my father always listen to City Lite 88.3 (a jazz FM radio station now off the air in the Philippines). I think he even owned two albums of her. Since then I have liked her songs and voice. It was not until last month when my interest in her music had a revival.

Basia is a Polish jazz singer. She was the vocalist of the British jazz group "Matt Bianco." Since the late 1980s she started a solo career with the help of Danny White.

She's been gone from the musical limelight since I think the later half of the 90s. Yesterday I saw her on a video about Matt Bianco. I believe the group is back again and planning some tours in 2005. (Source: Matt Bianco News)

BASIA lyrics

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

franchise tax or per 6 second billing

ABS-CBN News: Telco franchise tax nixed, VAT hike eyed

On the hyperlinked news report above from ABS-CBN News Palawan Congressman Abraham Mitra of the Liberal Party challenged the mobile phone companies in the Philippines to accept per pulse (every 6 second) billing if they do not want to accept the proposed franchise tax.

Mr. Mitra said that the franchise tax measure was an indirect method to recover the billions of pesos earned by cellphone companies from their per minute charging. You see when your voice call over a mobile phone in the Philippines lasts for only one minute and one second you will be charged for the the second minute that you have not completely used. [Last year Vodafone New Zealand and Telecom Mobile changed its tariff system so now a caller will only have to pay for the first whole minute and then charged per second.]

It would be recalled that the cash strapped Philippine central government is urging the passage of additional tax measures to generate more funds. One of these measures is a proposed franchise tax to telcos which the industry strongly refuse.

Moreover, the government of Mrs. Arroyo is thinking of increasing the Value Added Tax from 10 to 11 percent.

When asked about the planned increase in taxes my mother always say that she would not mind paying a little more. She believes that so long as the tax will not end up under private bank accounts of public officials it is a little sacrifice for the public good.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Another reason to stay with Yahoo

Posted by Hello
This is Yahoo (tm) LAUNCHcast Radio (tm) as it appears on my computer screen. This is an innovative service from Yahoo. It is a customisable radio station.

When you sign up you select your favourite singers or music groups and genres from classical to stand-up comedy. This builds up your playlist. When you start your player such as the one above you will begin to listen to songs from your fave singers or songs in the genres you prefer to listen. You can pause and also skip songs.

To further customise your playlist you need to rate genres, artists, songs and album. Those you rate four or five stars shall be heard more often than those from three to one star. You can also select never play again, I guess this is self explanatory. The more artists, genres, songs and albums you rate the better your playlist gets.

There are two types of services, free and plus. The free service offers the customisable radio but has adverisements, up to medium audio quality and an 800 song skip limit. The song skip limit means when you cannot press forward or skip. The plus service offers unlimited skipping, up to high quality audio, access to premium stations (like hits from 10-30 years ago) and customisable moods. Launchcast plus costs from around USD 3.00 - 4.00 per month.

LAUNCHcast also allows you to listen to the radio stations of other Yahoo users.

The LAUNCHcast website allows you to know more about the artists and their discography. It has links to where you can buy albums.


(This post is solely based on my observations and limited research.)

There is a wide gap between European white, Maori and Polynesian peoples in New Zealand. These three groups are the largest racial groupings here. The gap is economic, educational and in health. European whites tend to have more money, more educated and more healthy than the other two.

Because of this problem the government has been doing a lot of affirmative action like programs to close the gaps between the the three groups.

There is a big push to close the education gaps especially for Maori, the Tangata Whenua (people of the land). There is Te Mana, an initiative of the state to encourage more people of Maori heritage to enter and finish tertiary education. Te Mana is sending a message that Maori can and do acheive. The programme includes television advertisements of successful Maori men and women who finished a tertiary qualification and are now enjoying a better life. (My favourite success story of all is that of Annabelle Whaanga cleaner turned corporate communications advisor. Before she can only buy one toilet paper roll at a time now who knows what she can buy?) There are also various scholarship granting agencies funded by the government specifically for Maori.

For Pacifica peoples they are also given some preference in entering universities and polytechs. They also have access to scholarship and bursary schemes but they are not as prominent (advertised) as the Maori programmes but also funded by the government.

Critics of the programmes say that the government is giving too much to these people. Non-Maori or Pacific Islander residents and citizens of New Zealand have to take out a tuition fee and living cost loan (yes, borrowing to live).

As they say, the jury is still out on the overall success of these education schemes.

Next time I shall tell about the initiatives to close gaps in health.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Cannabis raises risk of psychosis

BBC NEWS | Health | Cannabis raises risk of psychosis

Teens and young adults who are hooked to cannabis is at risk of developing psychosis says this BBC News report.

The New Zealand Green Party and Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party has a long running campaign to decriminalise and allow adults to use cannabis.

Although the Greens plan to decriminalise adult usage how will it prevent young adults or children in using the substance?

How much the pro-cannabis lobbyists in New Zealand push for the decriminalisation I am convinced that it will lead to more harm. I know of a 16-year-old teen here who had developed a mental disorder because the mother smoked cannabis while pregnant and while the child was growing. Decriminalisation may lead to more unfortunate consequences like this.

On Sun Cellular's international text messaging service

Sun Cellular is the newest GSM mobile phone network in the Philippines. It boasts of affordable rates and the newest network in the islands.

Out of over 572 mobile phone networks overseas only about 110 networks will allow Sun subscribers to send and receive text messages. What I mean about receive messages here is that the overseas mobile phone user can initiate a text message even without replying to a Sun subscribers message.

What I am not happy about the 110 networks is that these are scattered over countries and territories that are probably fewer than a thousand Filipinos. These networks include some in Ukraine, a network in Romania, Aruba, Bermuda, Botswana, Cayman Islands and Congo, just to name a few. In Australia, out of the six networks only one is capable of full send and receive.

There are about 400 networks which Sun subscribers can text but the receipients overseas need to save or reply to the Sun SMS message in order so send a message back to Sun Cellular. This is a hastle because the overseas user cannot initiate a text message. Maria in Acapulco cannot send a text message greeting happy birthday to her favourite niece in Cebu while on her coffee break. New Zealand networks and most of the networks in popular countries like the United States, Canada, Britain and so on are under this category.

Last and the least are the 62 networks which Sun subcribers can only send a message and can never receive a reply. Networks like Vodafone in the UK, Etisalat in the UAE and Telenor in Norway to name a few.

Still the best networks for international text messaging in the Philippines are Globe Telecom and Smart Communications. Sun Cellular has a long way to go.

Sun Cellular: International Text Messaging

Friday, December 03, 2004

Unique NZ accident compensation scheme

ACC: The accident compensation scheme

In return for the right to sue for accident compensation the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) of New Zealand provides accident cover for all New Zealand residents and temporary visitors. This unique system is celebrating its 30th year anniversary.

This system covers all injury no matter who is at fault.

It even covers mistakes made by registered medical practicioners and organisations such as doctors, nurses and hospitals. ACC calls this "medical misadventure."

The aim of this system is to prevent costly and long hours in court proceedings for accidents in the work place or from anyone.

The ACC is funded by employer and employee contributions and direct funding from the central government, just to name a few.

Secret history of the credit card

frontline: secret history of the credit card | PBS

The PBS special tells about the secrets and history of the credit card industry in the United States.

This is a must see and read for all of us with credit cards.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

When your grandparents are rockers

Mature fans enjoy a new musical youth
By Michael Osborn (BBC News)

Mature music stars such as Tom Jones and David Bowie are encouraging seniors to follow their beat.