Sunday, November 24, 2013

Books bought from CSMSv2: Code of Canon Law and The Exorcist: Spiritual Battle Lines

The Code of Canon Law and Exorcist v. 2
I attended the Catholic Social Media Summit today at San Juan de Letran.  I bought two books: The Code of Canon Law (in English Translation) and Exorcist: Spiritual Battle Lines (vol. 2). The Exorcist book is by Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia, Director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism.

The Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition is the law that governs the whole Catholic Church.  Here's an excerpt which I shall expound later in Monk's Hobbit:
Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition
Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Edition

Can. 808. No University, even if it is in fact catholic, may bear the title 'catholic university except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.
Can 810. Art. 1. In catholic universities it is the duty of the competent statutory authority to ensure that there be appointed teachers who are not only qualified in scientific and pedagogical expertise, but are also outstanding in their integrity of doctrine and uprightness of life.  If these requirements are found to be lacking, it is also that authority's durty to see to it that these teachers are removed from office, in accordance with the procedure determined by the statutes. 
On the other hand, the Exorcist: Spiritual Battle Lines is a continuation of the former Philippine best-selling book, Exorcism - Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult (no image available).  Sorry, but this is very expensive in Amazon at USD 77.  Perhaps because it is already nearly out of print and it comes from the Philippines--may be tough to ship on time.  Please check if you can find this book in National Bookstore.  I bought the two books above for about USD 8 apiece from the Paulines Bookstore.  Here are some excerpts from the book:
An Exorcist Tells His Story
An Exorcist Tells His Story
Here in our country, people are now more aware that the Church is able to respond to issues concerning paranormal and preternatural  problems, and so the floodgates have been opened.  People with spiritual difficulties now seek help from her, together with the desire to learn what the Church really teaches regarding these phenomena.  Catholics are now turning to the Church for answers and resolutions, where before, they would seek them either from the New Age Movement or from our pagan and occult roots. (p. 15)

Wicked Witch of the West book and the Musical in Manila on January 2014

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)
I finally got a copy of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years).  I passed by de la Costa Hall yesterday.  Between the entrance to the building and the bronze statue of my favorite writer, Fr. Horacio de la Costa, the writer who can make me drool while reading his prose, is the book sale.  The saleslady there told me that they import boxes of used books without knowing what is inside.  If they find something good, then they put it in the shelf.  She said organization usually contact her company so that they set up their book shop outside the building.  Proceeds from the sales are divided between the company and the student organization.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)
 Why do I want to read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)?  I read many excellent reviews of this book. I also heard that the musical is really good.  Well, the Wicked musical coming to Manila this January 2014! The tickets though are expensive, ranging from Php 1750 to Php 7,000 (see Ticketworld).  The cheapest ticket costs like a one-way plane trip to Bacolod.  The most expensive ticket costs like a roundtrip ticket for Bacolod for two.  If I wish to see this (I really wish to see this!), I must save money during Christmas.

I scanned through the pages and I think the prose and storytelling is good.  There are some references to an Unknown God.  The story of the Wicked Witch of the West is a story about morality, for no one is born evil: we are defined by the choices we make. I think I will love this book.  I'll dissect this book later.  If you plan to watch the musical this January to enjoy the singing, the dancing, and the flying(!), you must read the book first: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years).  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Philippine Disasters Archive: A proposal for open-access and open-submission in the model

Cultures of Disaster: Society and Natural Hazard in the Philippines
Cultures of Disaster: Society and Natural Hazard in the Philippines
The Philippines is the most disaster-prone area in the world with typhoons, earthquakes, volcanoes, fish kills, epidemics, storm surges, oil spills, etc. becoming almost a part of daily life.  What we need right now is a journal that would document all the case studies and researches from all disciplines: mathematical, physical, biological, social, psychological, and historical sciences. And even researches from government, business, industries, and the church.  What we want is a journal that shall document experiences, failed policies, best practices, legislations, because only in documenting things can Philippines learn from the mistakes of the past disasters and become more pro-active and efficient in disaster preparation, response, and post-disaster rehabilitation.

In this regard, I propose that the Philippine government creates a Philippine Disasters Archive.  It's an open-access online journal and works like the model.  Registered authors may submit articles and moderators simply classify papers according to proper areas This means there is no strict peer-review system:

Open Access (MIT Press Essential Knowledge)
Open Access (MIT Press Essential Knowledge)

Although the arXiv is not peer reviewed, a collection of moderators for each area review the submissions and may recategorize any that are deemed off-topic. The lists of moderators for many sections of the arXiv are publicly available[11] but moderators for most of the physics sections remain unlisted. 
Additionally, an "endorsement" system was introduced in January 2004 as part of an effort to ensure content that is relevant and of interest to current research in the specified disciplines. The new system has attracted its own share of criticism for allegedly restricting inquiry. Under the system, an author must first get endorsed. Endorsement comes from either another arXiv author who is an endorser or is automatic, depending on various evolving criteria, which are not publicly spelled out. Endorsers are not asked to review the paper for errors, but to check if the paper is appropriate for the intended subject area. New authors from recognized academic institutions generally receive automatic endorsement, which in practice means that they do not need to deal with the endorsement system at all. (Wikipedia)
Researches on disasters that received government funding will be required to be uploaded on the Archive. But what we wish to happen is not to compel people to submit their works to the Archive, but rather to convince them that submission to the Archive gives their works greater audience and may, in fact, influence government, business, and educational policies.

Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet
Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet
Alternatively, if the government does not wish to take the initiative in the creation of the Philippine Disasters Archive, a consortium of Philippine Universities led perhaps by Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines, and De La Salle University can take the initiative using the Cornell University model:
The operation of arXiv is currently funded by Cornell University Library. In 2010, Cornell has sought to broaden the financial funding of the project by asking institutions to make annual voluntary contributions based on the amount of downloading utilization by each institution. Annual donations will vary in size between $2,300 to $4,000, based on each institution’s usage. As of 16 February 2010, 27 institutions have pledged support on this basis.[8] The annual budget for arXiv is $400,000 for 2010.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Typhoon Yolanda disaster relief masterplan: a proposal using optimization algorithms

I don't know how Pres. Aquino and NDRRMC prepares for disaster and I also don't know how they coordinate relief efforts after each disaster, such as what happened in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.  What I'll present below is a possible master plan for handling a crisis like this. Maybe many ideas here were already implemented. Or maybe not. Nevertheless, I'll just write them all down for the record because my mind could not rest unless I can put my thoughts down into words.  As you will see, the system that I propose involves six components:
  • Call Center
  • Transportation Database
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Linear Programming
  • Wiki Website
Each component is important for the whole system to work; remove one of these components and the whole system becomes crippled.  But if these six components work well as designed, then no one can anymore say that Philippine government is uncoordinated or unprepared for disasters.

Call Center Management on Fast Forward: Succeeding in the New Era of Customer Relationships (3rd Edition)
Call Center Management on Fast Forward: Succeeding in the New Era of Customer Relationships (3rd Edition)
A. Call Center

1.  Hire a call-center company and an army of call center agents
2. Make a number that is easy to recall (e.g. 911) and tell people to call this number
3. Log each call. Information supplied by the caller will be logged on to different fields: name, age, location, food, water, electricity housing, disease, medicines, others.  The different information fields go to a central database
5. Contact local officials.  If they cannot be contacted or their representatives, their barangay, city, or province must be placed as a calamity area.
6. Receive calls from donors: name, age, location, type of donation--food, water, electricity, housing, medicines, etc.
7. Receive information from a webpage. The call center can have a website where all the different information fields supplied by the user.  But an agent must be assigned to check the info provided, at least, if the fields were answered properly.
8. Put all information in a central database

Designing Geodatabases for Transportation
Designing Geodatabases for Transportation
B. Transportation Database

1. Construct a database for land, water, and air transport that are available for relief operations.  The important information fields per vehicle are carrying capacity (kgs or tons), fuel per kilometer at full load capacity, maximum running time before refueling, regular speed at full load capacity, present location, departure schedule, destination, schedule of arrival.
3. Construct a database for available roads, ports, and airports.  The important parameters are tonnage capacity, maximum number of vehicles at a given time, cargo loading time, cargo unloading time, and rest time.

Understanding GIS: An ArcGIS Project Workbook
Understanding GIS: An ArcGIS Project Workbook
C. Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

1.  Use the data from the Call Center and Transportation databases to make maps of the different information fields.
2.  Extract new information fields that can be derived from the call center/BPO data.  These new data fields can be total population, percentages of people affected (food, water, housing, medicines, etc.)), donations promised specifically to the population affected (donor, type of donation), actual aid received, usage rate of particular relief goods.
3. Make maps of the road networks and transportation paths.
4. Make some infographics.

Linear Programming and Network Flows
Linear Programming and Network Flows
D.  Linear Programming

1. Draw a network of paths from donors (green) to intermediate stop points (yellow) to disaster areas (red), and relief centers (blue).  These points are the node (or vertex) points.
2. Arrange the node points by region, province, barangay.
3. Construct a matrix with the arranged node points as rows and also as columns.  The elements of the matrix are the distances between the node points.We shall call this the path matrix.
4. Use the path matrix to construct an algorithm that shall find the method that shall deliver the most number of relief good type (food or water or others) per capita to disaster areas in the shortest time at the shortest cost.
5. Choose the best optimized method of relief operation.
6. Make a simulation of the relief operations with visualizations of the vehicles traversing the islands
7. Make a simulation of human consumption of relief goods (food and water, etc), so that the relief delivered gets depleted as the days go by.
8. Update the initial conditions using new data.

Professional Wikis
Professional Wikis
E. Wiki Website

1. Make a Wiki website for all Philippine natural disasters similar to wikipedia.
2. Make a list of natural disasters for the main page
3. Make a separate wiki page per disaster that is linked to the main page. List here all typhoons or all earthquakes or all landslides etc. arranged according to date
5. Make a wiki page per specific disaster with a link to the disaster type where it belongs and the places where it happened.
6. Make a wiki page per location: donor locations, intermediate stop points, hospitals, evacuation centers, disaster areas.

Disaster Management: International Lessons in Risk Reduction, Response and Recovery
Disaster Management: International Lessons in Risk Reduction, Response and Recovery

1. Adopt one of the optimized disaster relief operation method.
2. Provide a forecast of delivery times and number or goods delivered at each disaster area.
3. Inform the Call Center, the GIS, and the Wiki Website about the new forecasts and actual deliveries.
4. Coordinate with all the concerned parties on the schedule of loading and unloading of relief goods.
5. Receive feedback on the actual loading and unloading schedules from transportation groups and node points.
6. Sends feedback to Transportation Database.  The Linear Programmers makes a new simulation and NDRRMC makes a new forecast of delivery of goods.

The most important thing is the government must keep people informed.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Typhoon Yolanda, Lucy Westenra, and the worst storm in Bram Stoker's Dracula

Typhoon Yolanda (International name Haiyan) passed through Central Philippines yesterday and left a trail of destruction, uprooting large trees, pulling out house roofs, and flooding the coastal cities.  It was the world's strongest typhoon with winds of 295 kph, above the 252 kph threshold for a Category 5 typhoon in the Saffir-Simpson scale (c.f. CNN).  The images and videos of the typhoon, such as ABS-CBN's Atom Araullo's coverage in Tacloban City, Leyte as shown above, reminds me of the sudden storm in Bram Stoker's Dracula:
Bram Stoker's Death Ship
Bram Stoker's Death Ship
Then without warning the tempest broke.  With  a rapidity which, at the time, seemed incredible, and even afterwards is impossible to realize, the whole aspect of nature at once became convulsed.  The waves rose in growing fury, each overtopping its fellow, till in a very few minutes the lately glassy sea was like a roaring and devouring monster.  White-crested waves beat madly on the level sands and rushed up the shelving cliffs; others broke over the piers, and with their spume swept the lanterns of the lighthouses which rise from the end of either pier of Whitby Harbour. The wind roared like thunder, and blew with such force that it was with difficulty that even strong men kept their feet, or clung with grim clasp to the iron stanchions.  It was found necessary to clear the entire piers from the mas of onlookers, or else the fatalities of the night would have been increased manifold. To add to the difficulties and dangers of the time, masses of sea-fog came drifting inland--white, wet clouds, which swept by in ghostly fashion, so dank and damp and cold that it needed but little effort of imagination to think that the spirits of those lost at sea were touching their living brethren with the clammy hands of death, and many a one shuddered as the wreaths of sea-mist swept by. At times the mist cleared, and the sea for some distance could be seen in the glare of the lightning, which now came thick and and fast, followed by such sudden peals of thunder that the whole sky overhead seemed trembling under the shock of the footsteps of the storm.  (p. 97)
This paragraph is a prefiguration of some of the scenes in novel.

Yolanda is a woman's name, e.g. Blessed Yolanda of Poland.  In the Bram Stoker's Dracula, there is also another woman: her name is Lucy.  Lucy is a lovely woman who sleep-walks at night in her dressing gown, walking like a White Lady in Filipino folklore, the ghost of lady walking in her burial dress. This corresponds to the phrase: ''white, wet clouds, which swept by in ghostly fashion.''  Actually, her sleep-walking was induced by the hypnotic commands of Count Dracula, who later sucked blood from her neck.  The loss of blood was so great that three men, including Van Helsing, has to donate blood to her through blood transfusion.  Lucy died and was buried, and became an undead who sucked the blood of little children astray in the the night:
Dracula The Graphic Novel: Original Text (Classical Comics)
There was a long spell of silence, a big, aching void, and then from the Professor a keen 'S-s-s-s !' He pointed; and far down the avenue of yews we saw a white figure advance--a dim white figure, which held something dark at its breast.  The figure stopped, and at the moment a ray of moonlight fell between the masses of driving clouds and showed in startling prominence a dark-haired woman, dressed in the cerements of the grave.  We could not see the face, for it was bent down over what we saw to be a fair-haired child. (p. 252)
During the day, Lucy sleeps in her coffin like the dead in peace.  She can pass through any small openings like a fog and only garlic, the Blessed Host, and Catholic sacramentals (Blessed Crucifix) can prevent her.  And just as the still sea suddenly turns into a storm-tossed waves, so does Lucy transform from a lovely woman to a devouring monster:
Lucy Westenra, but yet how changed.  The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness... we could see that the lips were crimson with fresh blood, and that the stream had trickled over her chin and stained the purity of her lawn death-robe....Lucy's eyes in form and colour; but Lucy's unclean and full of hell-fire, instead of the pure, gentle orbs we knew....As she looked, her eyes blazed with unholy light, and the face became wreathed with a voluptuous simile....There was something diabolically sweet in her tones--something of the tingling of glass when struck--which rang through the brains even of us who heard the words addressed to another...Never did I see such baffled malice on a face; and never, I trust, shall such ever be seen again by mortal eyes.  The beautiful colour became livid, the eyes seemed to throw out sparkes of hell-fire, the brows were wrinkled as though the folds of the flesh were the coils of Medusa's snakes, and the lovely, blood-stained mouth grew to an open square, as in the passion masks of the Greeks and the Japanese.  If ever a face meant death--if looks could kill--we saw it at that moment. (pp. 253-254)
Lucy was only killed when a wooden stake pierced her heart, her head sawed, and her mouth stuffed with garlic.  And finally she rested in peace.  As Dr. Seward recounted:
Complete Works of Bram Stoker (Illustrated)
Complete Works of Bram Stoker (Illustrated)
There in coffin lay no longer the foul Thing that we had so dreaded and grown to hate that the work of her destruction was yielded as a privilege to the one best entitled to it, but Lucy as we had seen her in her life, with her face of unequalled sweetness and purity.  True that there were there, as we had seen them in life, the traces of care and pain and waste;  but these were all dear to us, for they marked her truth to what we knew One and all we felt that the holy calm that lay like sunshine over the wasted face and form was only an earthly token and symbol of the calm that was to reign for ever. (pp. 259-260)