A literary examination of “The ‘Nam”

The ‘Nam is a Marvel comic series from 1986 that gives a fictionalized portrayal events of the Viet Nam from the American soldier’s point of view. It’s an excellent work that blends cartoonish art with gritty realism.

I remember this series from my comic collecting days and I still have a physical copy of issue #2 in my stash somewhere. I never did get further than that before because of logistics issues, but now that I have a Marvel Unlimited subscription, I am able to catch up with all twenty issues. Currently I’ve read up to issue 8.

Trawling through the Internet for other info on the series, I found this thesis: Doug Murray’s The ‘Nam: A Literary examination of the Traumatic Effects of War Told through Visual Literature.

The Church on Social Media

December 12, 2012. A message from Pope Benedict XVI: “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.” While not exactly an early adopter or a trendsetter, the Catholic Church can be surprisingly agile when it comes to using technology.

For the Church, technology is just a means, and when it comes to this subject, the nexus is still on human dignity. Early on, the Church was already cautiously cognizant of the far-ranging effects of social media. In his address to the Pontifical Council for Culture in February 2017, Pope Benedict said of social media: “…the new means of communication that encourage and at times give rise to continuous and rapid changes in mindset, morality and behaviour.”

Continue reading The Church on Social Media

Currently reading: Habagatanon

Finally done with In My Father’s Court and now it’s time for another book. I have my eye on Langston Hughes’s The Big Sea but I should probably give memoirs a break. Instead I’m going to take on Ric de Ungria’s Habagatanon, his book of interviews with six contemporary Davao writers. These just happen to be people I know and am on first name basis with (and I am also in the book, believe it or not.)

This dovetails with a project I’m currently embarking on, a set of interviews with young Davao writers, the first of which is with Genevieve Mae Aquino.

The Project

By now it should be clear that I have a little project running with regard to this column. Instead of random topics, I’ve been sticking to one theme across these past few weeks. That theme just happens to be the dangers of social media.

I started with my experiences in shedding my social media accounts and the resulting mental freedom that the decision afforded me. Then I covered how some tech executives who were instrumental in the success of these social media companies were beginning to have serious second thoughts about what they had created. This was followed by the effects of overexposure to technology on children. I rounded it out with a piece on the physical effects of our gadgets and suggestions on how, based on my own experiences, to detoxify from social media.

Continue reading The Project

Blue Light Menace

I don’t think I’ll ever be truly able to escape the clutches of my smartphone. Even after divesting myself of social media and games, there’s still a huge chunk of my day-to-day activities that’s tied to the system, not counting the actual phone calls and text messages. For one thing, I do my daily expense recording on my phone. For another, that’s also where I do my language learning — currently French and Mandarin — especially handy to have during the down times. And finally, my podcasts and audiobooks. I tried switching to a dumb phone but it didn’t take.

Still, I have made some changes with my relationship. I don’t keep my phone by my bedside anymore. Before I turn in, I leave it in the living room to charge, right beside my tablet. Now it’s no longer the last thing I see at night nor the first thing I see in the morning.

The benefits were readily apparent. I’m able to sleep quickly at night, and soundly, too. When I wake up in the morning, I am more reflective and calm. There’s that feeling of peace when you’re all alone with your thoughts, nothing nagging and persisting for your attention.

Continue reading Blue Light Menace

Currently reading: In My Father’s Court

Now that I’ve extricated myself from my social media addiction, I’m slowly regaining the pleasures of reading.  My nightly ritual involves taking in a couple of chapters of In My Father’s Court by Nobel Prize-winner Isaac Bashevis Singer before turning into bed.  The book has been on my backlog for quite some time.  I got it from Book Sale at P60 last year and I went through the first few chapters before putting it away.  Now I’m hooked and I have something to look forward to at the end of the day.

In My Father’s Court is Singer’s memoir of his childhood in the Warsaw ghetto.  The title refers to his father’s occupation as a rabbi often called to mediate in disputes, what is called the din torah.  The stories are episodic, not always with any concrete resolution, very Chekhovian in flavor.  That put me off at first, but then the simplicity of style in which the character of the people come forth really won me over.  This is a book I’ll be keeping and rereading for a long while.

Currently reading: Westward the Tide

On a lark I picked up an audiobook copy of Westward the Tide Louis L’Amour. I’m still in the first two chapters but I have to appreciate the deftness with which L’Amour tells a story. He easily shifts between points of view and you hardly notice when he does. I thought he’d be all rip-roaring black-and-white action but there’s a fair bit of social commentary, too. Let’s see if I can see this book to the end.

Digital Detox

Now that we’ve started in the season of Lent, perhaps now is a good time to think about a digital detox: to reduce or even give up altogether our social media addictions.

First, we need to ask if this is really an addiction. Only you and those around you can really answer that question. Has social media become something you think you can live without? Is your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or what-have-you the first thing you check when you wake up in the morning? Is the glow of your phone or tablet the last light you see before you sleep at night? How many times in an hour do you check your timeline? It doesn’t matter what reason you concoct — even if you claim that you’re checking for orders or inquiries (have you ever worked this hard in your life, that you have to constantly check for orders on your phone?) — if your life is tied to your social media account, then you’re an addict. Only ruthless self-examination can reveal the truth to yourself.

Continue reading Digital Detox

My first 3D printer

Tronxy X1 3D printer
Tronxy X1

I have made it a point to avoid posting pictures on this new blog but for this I am making an exception. Presenting my first 3D printer, the Tronxy X1!

This has been on my bucket list for a while. After holding off for so long I finally took the plunge. My work colleague had some experience with these from school and the prices from China factories had dropped to under P10,000.

The final hurdle was the perceived risk. Would the merchant deliver? Would customs slap me with outrageous tariffs? Would the product work?

I ordered the printer on January 26. It arrived on February 9. Two weeks! Not bad, not bad at all. Customs just charged me their usual holding fee of P112 (total of P224, though, because the printer and the filament came separate.)

Does it work? Yes! We assembled it today, and it took about 6 hours, my friend doing most of the work. All the parts were present, the only hitch being ill fitting corner posts (fixed with washers from the neighborhood hardware store.) We did our first print right after, a sample pillar.

More to come Monday!