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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Inside the Philippines Coup Plot
A TIME reporter witnesses a meeting of opponents of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

BY Bryan Walsh

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declares a state of emergency during a television address

Friday, Feb. 24, 2006
Twenty years ago tomorrow, Filipinos took to the streets and brought down a president. Could it happen again? Capping a week of tension and coup rumors, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo proclaimed a state of national emergency late Friday morning, announcing on television that she had crushed a coup attempt by several prominent military officers. Arroyo appealed for calm, even as security was tightened further at the presidential palace and at military bases around Manila. Earlier in the day, the army detained three high-level officers—Brigadier General Danilo Lim, the commander of the élite Scout Rangers, Marine brigade commander Ariel Querubin and police superintendent Narzalino Franco—for allegedly conspiring against Arroyo. Presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor told reporters that at least eight military and civilian figures were still being sought for involvement in the plot.

No official details have been released about the nature of the alleged coup, but on Thursday evening a TIME reporter witnessed a meeting held at the home of Jose Cojuangco, brother of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, where plans were being hatched for what one of the ringleaders called a "withdrawal of support" from President Arroyo. More than a dozen middle-level officials and businessmen were at the meeting, which went well past one in the morning. While Cojuangco's daughter Mikee kept the buffet table piled high with chicken sandwiches, macaroni salad, corn and cookies, Pastor Saycon, a businessman and longtime Arroyo critic, planned for a new government. As the others listened, Saycon spoke over the phone to a person he identified as an American official in Washington, assuring him that the post-coup regime would still be friendly to the U.S. "You will still be our friend, not China," he said. Then, Saycon phoned a man whom he addressed as "Delta" and identified as General Lim. Over the speaker phone, Lim confirmed that it was "all systems go" for the planned movement against Arroyo. According to Saycon, a military component was to march on Friday morning to the EDSA Shrine in Manila, where the 20th anniversary of the People Power revolution was to be celebrated. At the shrine they would be met by a contingent of Catholic bishops, and a Marine general would read a statement withdrawing support from Arroyo's government. The bishops, according to Saycon, had one request: that the coup be bloodless.

General Lim, however, was arrested by the army early Friday morning, and the planned coup appears aborted for the moment. (Neither Saycon nor anyone else at the meeting had been arrested as of Friday afternoon.) Though massive protests had been planned for Friday, including one led by former President Aquino, the police have banned all street rallies and are out in force throughout Manila. Defying the ban, 5,000 protesters marched to the EDSA shrine Friday afternoon, where they were dispersed with water cannons by riot police. But the real hinge remains the military—Arroyo cannot remain in power without their support. Though top army leaders have repeatedly pledged their allegiance to Arroyo's administration, the military announced on Wednesday that 14 junior officers had been briefly detained for allegedly plotting a separate coup, and rumors of unrest among the armed forces have become common. In her televised address this morning, Arroyo told the nation: "As commander-in-chief, I control the situation." That remains to be seen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Do All for His Glory
Greg Laurie

One of my favorite movies of all time is Chariots of Fire, the wonderful story of a heroic, committed Christian from Scotland named Eric Liddell, who competed in the 1924 Olympics. Refusing to compromise his principles, Liddell would not run on Sunday, forfeiting his event of choice, the 100-meter race.

During one scene, Eric's sister, a dedicated believer, was upset that her brother was running competitively. She thought he was wasting a lot of time and should get into the ministry immediately. She reminded Eric that God made him for Himself.

But Eric replied, “Aye, Jenny, I know. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

What a great statement. Just because he wasn't in the ministry didn't mean that he couldn't glorify God. As the story unfolds, he does glorify God at the Olympics because of the stand he made. He won a gold medal and a bronze medal in the 400 and 200-meter events, respectively. Then he entered the ministry the following year, becoming a missionary to China.

Sometimes we think the most dedicated Christians are pastors or missionaries. And they are dedicated. But like Eric Liddell, you can serve God and glorify Him wherever He has called you. You can glorify Him as a construction worker. You can glorify Him working in the medical field. You can glorify Him as a professional athlete. You can glorify Him as a graphic designer. Whatever field it may be, you can bring glory to Him.

Everyone has certain abilities that have been given to them by God. Let's say that you were having some problems with your car. Who would you want to talk to-Greg, a pastor by the will of God? No, what you really need is George, an honest Christian mechanic by the will of God, because you have no idea what is going on underneath that hood. But when George takes a look, shakes a couple of hoses, pulls out his tools, and starts working away, the next thing you know, your mechanical problem is solved. You find yourself thanking God for George, because he did what he could do.

But can George really glorify God as a mechanic? For starters, George can dedicate his ability to the Lord. He can help people, maybe even someone who is unable to repair his or her car. George can do his work as unto the Lord.

There are a lot of ways in which we can glorify God with the various abilities that He gives us. In fact, I think that if you are a hardworking, honest person who has integrity, then you are a rarity in today's culture. People will stand up and take notice. I believe that if you do work hard, and if you are diligent, then you will get promoted. You will receive greater opportunities. People will want to know what motivates you and where you find your joy, even on Monday mornings. What a great thing to be able to say, “I do it for the glory of God,” to say, “I repair this car like Jesus was going to drive it,” or “I make this meal like the Lord was going to eat it,” or “I framed this house as though Christ were going to live in it.” You can take your work or vocation and do it for His glory. Whatever you do, you can do it for the glory of God. Your work can be an act of worship.

We are encouraged in 1 Corinthians, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (10:31 NKJV), and “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's” (6:19 NKJV).

When we seek to fulfill the purpose for which God has created us, to glorify Him, to honor Him, and to bring Him pleasure, then we will find happiness-not from seeking it, but from seeking Him. Our life is found in proper balance. As the Scripture says, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15 NKJV). We must never lose sight of the simple truth that we were created primarily to glorify God-not simply to pursue our own aims, goals, and desires. Rather, we were created to glorify God.

From the Study: The Deep Desire to Be Known
Michael Card

We first meet her in Genesis 16, she is an Egyptian servant in Abraham’s well-off world. We will see her used and abused by Sarai, her mistress. She will always end up either running away or being driven off into the wilderness. Her name is Hagar and she carries deep inside her heart a hunger we all secretly share.

When her baby, Ishmael, is finally known to be on the way, the reward for her submission to Sarai’s manipulative and faithless behavior is abuse (16:6b). And so Hagar does what we see her constantly doing in Genesis, what you and I also constantly are doing, she runs away. She carries within her all that she really owns, her unborn baby, Ishmael. She wanders out into the desert on the road to Shur.

But she is not really alone, even as we can never really be. The angel of the Lord meets her near an as yet nameless spring and asks, “Where have you come from and where are you going?” It is a basic question we should still be constantly asking ourselves. She honestly opens her heart to the angel, “I’m running away…” she defiantly whispers through her tears.

The angel tells the frightened girl to do the last thing in the world she wants to do, return to the abuse from which she has fled. In the language of poetry, he promises her that there is more going on than she can see, more than she can possibly know. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful picture, the angel singing a song of hope in the desert to a hopeless pregnant girl.

As the angel finishes his song (vvs. 11-12), Hagar abruptly responds to the angel who knew her name. She speaks to God a new name, “Lahai Roi,” “The One who sees me.” In her fear, hopelessness and despair, God met her in the wilderness with His perfect provision. It was all she really needed or wanted. She wanted simply to be seen, and the God who sees, saw her and sang to her a song of hope.

After a six-year pursuit, my wife Susan finally responded to my courtship by telling me that she felt I was the first person to really see her. It was only then that I realized inside myself how much I needed her to really see me too. Twice, the gospels tell us, Peter is “intensely gazed at” by Jesus. (John 1:42, Luke 22:61) That is, Simon Peter becomes aware that Jesus can see to the heart of who he really is, a man so fatally flawed, and yet still love and even die for him. It must have been the first time for Simon to sense that he was so completely known. Later in Acts, Peter really sees the need of a crippled beggar. It is not healing he needs so much as Jesus. And so the “seen” disciple, who has learned to really see the heart, gives to the beggar both healing and Jesus.

“Where have you come from and where are you going?” the angel asks us all. Have you come from a world that has shown you only abuse and blindness to who you are? And are you now in headlong flight from intimacy and genuine relationship, having tried to give up on the hope of ever being truly known? Then what hope could you possibly have had? And where are you going? Back into that same sightless, heartless world? What hope could you possibly look forward to in such a world? We constantly ask for provision when what we need is the clear-sighted Presence of Jesus. We sense His gaze on our lives, and we reflexively turn away from being so lovingly seen, our souls so leprous and untouchable. But His gaze is relentless.

The things we ask for in prayer are almost certainly not what we really need. We need most to be seen, to be understood for better or for worse for who we are. This deep desire is one of the evidences for our being created for relationship with God. Would He give us this profound longing and not perfectly fulfill it by loving us so unconditionally in Christ?

Ask for the grace to look into your deepest longing. You may be in the desert. You may have given up on ever being seen at all. But let me tell you, as one who has been found again and again in the wilderness, there is an Angel of the Lord who is prepared to sing you a song. He asks where you have been and where you are going, already knowing the answers to both questions. It is almost as if He wants to give you the sacred space to respond to the question He already knows. It is as if you need to hear yourself say how bad it was where you’ve been and how hopeless it is where you are going. Only then will you be ready to hear His song of hope sung to you. Only then will you be ready to drink from the Living Spring of the One who sees you. For, after all, there is a Savior who sees all that is unlovable and yet still loves perfectly, completely, sacrificially. And there is a God who knows you and me more than we know ourselves.

10 Craziest Oscar Moments
Forget the prestige, the glamour... here are 10 reasons why we really watch the Academy Awards
By Kim Morgan
Special to MSN Movies

The Academy Awards -- one of cinema's most supreme accolades. So prestigious that, as many filmmakers and actors claim, it's an "honor" simply to be nominated. A gift from your peers, a historic milestone, a career changer, a ... oh, let's just say it: "Oprah, Uma. Uma, Oprah!"

Yes, of course we movie fans enjoy watching our favorites win the famous golden boy (if any of our favorites are nominated). We'll also admit to getting giddy over especially happy acceptance speeches or weepy when the sad "In Memoriam" is rolled out. But be honest: Do you really remember the Oscars for the tasteful moments and serious cinematic remarks? Or do you watch in hopes of catching a wardrobe malfunction or babblings to rival Sally Field's "You like me!" moment? Yeah, we thought so.

Oscar is at his best when he goes a bit batty. Cher's see-through dresses? Angelina Jolie's "love" for her brother? Rod Steiger thanking the Maharishi? Adrien Brody tongue-wrestling Halle Berry? Now there is a show! So with this year's Oscars in sight (and we're betting host Jon Stewart will offer just enough intelligently nutty tonic), we're counting off our top 10 favorite crazy moments in Oscar history. And who knows, maybe we'll inspire current nominees to amp things up. Heath Ledger tongue-wrestling Jake Gyllenhaal? It could happen.

10. Sean Penn Defends Jude Law (2005)
Since I covered the ceremony last year, I know that some of you thought host Chris Rock's jokes were a bit rude -- especially concerning Jude Law. But come on! These are actors, and actors (most actors) have skin as thick as a rhinoceros. Don't get us wrong: We find Law supremely gifted. But Rock made us laugh -- especially when he echoed the very populist query, "Who is Jude Law? Why is he in every movie I have seen in the last four years? Even if he's not acting in it, if you look at the credits he makes the cupcakes or something." Funny. Not so to Sean Penn. Striding on stage with a sour I'm-taking-this-all-too-seriously face, Penn said, "Forgive my lack of humor ... Jude Law is one of our most talented actors." Sean, please. Y'all aren't winning Nobel Peace Prizes. To quote the venerable Warren Oates in "Stripes": "Lighten up, Francis."

9. Joan vs. Bette (1963)
Furious when her "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" co-star Bette Davis was nominated for Best Actress and she wasn't, Joan Crawford got supremely crafty in the ongoing grudge match. Joan wrote each of the other nominees and offered her services to accept on their behalf should one of them be unable to attend the ceremony. And wouldn't you know it? Anne Bancroft, who couldn't attend, wins for "The Miracle Worker." Sweeping on stage and pawing that golden boy like a jungle cat snatching a fat water buffalo, Joan basked in the limelight while Ms. Davis steamed in her seat. Joan, we love ya, but the word we are thinking of rhymes with "witch."

8. Vanessa Redgrave's Pro-Palestine Speech (1978)
Wow. Just ... wow. Oscars are noted for winners espousing political statements (Michael Moore is the most recent example), but no actor got into the thick of things like Vanessa Redgrave. Redgrave, an outspoken supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was being picketed by members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) for her involvement in the documentary "The Palestinians" before she even took the stage. When she won Best Supporting Actress for "Julia," Redgrave delivered a jeremiad supporting Palestinian rights and applauding Hollywood for standing "firm" and refusing "to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and to their great and heroic record against fascism and oppression." But Hollywood wasn't on the same page. Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky took the stage shortly thereafter and chastised Redgrave to thunderous applause, saying, "Before I get on to the writing awards, there's a little matter I'd like to tidy up -- at least if I expect to live with myself tomorrow morning. I would like to say ... that I'm sick and tired of people exploiting the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own personal propaganda. I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation, and a simple 'thank you' would have sufficed."

7. David Letterman Plays Word Games (1995)
Though there is a cult of Letterman fans who'll adamantly defend the late-night talk-show titan's 1995 Oscar hosting duties as borderline brilliant, he's mostly renowned as the worst host in Oscar history. While we just can't get on board with "the worst" judgment (come on, he asked Tom Hanks to help him with a mechanical dog), he did deliver some thuds so resounding they've become notorious. Particularly when introducing Oprah Winfrey to Uma Thurman (both seated in the audience looking confused) with the now famous "Uma... Oprah! Oprah... Uma!" Then it was dismal; now it's actually very funny -- a catchphrase almost. What was it that Alan Alda said in "Crimes and Misdemeanors"? Oh yes, "Comedy is tragedy plus time." We think this applies to Dave.

6. Frank Capra Pulls a Derek Zoolander (1934)
This reads like something that would happen in, well, a movie. But it did happen. Director Frank Capra was just plain confused when presenter Will Rogers opened up the Best Picture envelope with this: "Come on up and get it, Frank!" Capra, assuming he was the only Frank who'd deserve the accolade (for "Lady for a Day") bounded on stage only to realize... oops ... Frank Lloyd was the winner for "Cavalcade." Capra must have thanked the Lord there was no such thing as a televised Oscar broadcast in 1934. That long walk back into the audience must have been torturous.

5. Roberto Benigni ... Roberto Benigni (1999)
Either you were charmed or seriously annoyed by Italian actor Roberto Benigni when he picked up his Best Actor award for "Life is Beautiful." Upon announcement, the excitable Benigni began applauding himself, walking over the chairs, over people and over, uh, Steven Spielberg (who looked like he was pretending to be amused; Benigni did best Tom Hanks' turn in "Saving Private Ryan") before spasmodically jumping on stage. In a fit of laughter and excitement befitting a kid jonesing for Ritalin, the winner shouted all kinds of sentiment in broken English: "I am not able to express all my gratitude because now, my body is in tumult because it is a colossal moment of joy ... I would like to be Jupiter and kidnap everybody and lie down making love to everybody because I don't know how to express -- it's a question of love." Kidnapping? Wanting to be Jupiter? Making love to the entire audience? This is so much better than thanking your agent.

4. Jack Palance Don't Need No Stinkin' Geritol (1992)
Was this crazy or a star-studded brand of my-grandpa-can-kick-your-grandpa's-ass beauty? Maybe a bit of both when "City Slickers" star Jack Palance picked up his Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Not content with the requisite "thank you's" delivered by scroll (and Palance has been around -- he'd have a lot of shout-outs), the actor dropped to the floor and performed an impressive set of one-handed push-ups. Not bad for a 72-year-old. His amused "City Slickers" co-star and Oscar host Billy Crystal used Jack as the running gag for the rest of the evening with zingers like: "Jack Palance has just bungee-jumped off the Hollywood sign." Or after a musical number performed by a host of kids, Crystal announced all of the children had, in fact, been seeded by the virile tough guy. No matter how much Palance may have deserved an award for better films in his canon like "Shane" or "The Big Knife" or "Sudden Fear," there's no doubt that he flat-out ruled that night. And yes, he probably could beat up your grandpa.

3. Rob Lowe Sings! (1989)
Remember Alan Carr? No? He was the famed producer of both the highly successful, much-beloved "Grease" and the uniformly despised turkey "Can't Stop the Music." We like to call him the guy who destroyed disco. We could almost call him the guy who destroyed the Oscars, had anyone let him within 10 feet of the ceremonies ever again. As producer for the 1989 ceremony, he created the most shockingly bad opening act in Oscar history. How bad? Try a 15-minute musical number in which Snow White skipped down the aisles embarrassing nominees singing "We Only Have Stars for You" (to the tune of "I Only Have Eyes for You"). Things got even uglier when Rob Lowe inexplicably came out of nowhere to duet with Ms. White (in reality actress Eileen Bowman) for the head-scratching choice of "Proud Mary." Oh, wait, it gets worse. Walt Disney later threatened to sue the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for copyright infringement when they learned Bowman's costume wasn't cleared by Disney. The suit was dropped, but the memory, oh, the horrible memory still stings. Ever the trouper for all that is unholy, Carr nevertheless defended the number as "magical."

2. Marlon Brando and Sacheen Littlefeather (1973)
Oscar acceptance speeches have never been quite as elaborate as Marlon Brando's (non) acceptance speech in 1973. Winning Best Actor for "The Godfather," the eccentric thespian not only rejected his well-deserved award, but he appointed a woman dressed as an Apache Indian to refuse it for him. Sacheen Littlefeather, a B actress, appeared on stage and solemnly stated: "Marlon Brando ... very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award ... the reason for this being ... the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry ... excuse me... and on television in movie re-runs, and also the recent happenings at Wounded Knee." Few applauded. Most jeered. The rest of the evening provided grist for presenters, including the usually staid Clint Eastwood, who wondered if the Best Picture award should be accepted "on behalf of all the cowboys shot in John Ford Westerns over the years." It was scandalous then, but through time, it's become a terrifically entertaining bit of Oscar history. We only wish actors less deserving than a genius like Brando would get all cause-y and decline their awards. Mira Sorvino? Weren't you passionate about something at one time?

1. David Niven and the Streaker (1974)
We here at MSN Movies adore David Niven. How can you not? But David Niven plus Oscars plus a streaker? In that case, we worship David Niven. Shaking up the normally demure affair in 1974 was one naked Robert Opel, a guy who'd managed to sneak onstage and streak past Niven while flashing the peace sign. Debonair Niven craftily upstaged the nude marauder, however, by handling the potentially embarrassing situation with amused aplomb. Not missing a comedic beat, the quick-witted Brit quipped, "The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping and showing off his shortcomings." One of the most memorable Oscar moments, it's also a sterling example of how to manage a sticky situation -- something many presenters should learn from. In case of emergency, break glass and resurrect David Niven.

Monday, February 20, 2006

20 Things You Didn't Know About U.S. Presidents

Not only were these men leaders of the United States, they were multitalented, unique, and sometimes even downright quirky. We've heard a lot about their contribution to United States history. But would you have guessed the following?

1. In warm weather, 6th president of the United States John Quincy Adams customarily went skinny-dipping in the Potomac River before dawn.

2. 9th U.S. president William Henry Harrison was inaugurated on a bitterly cold day and gave the longest inauguration speech ever. The new president promptly caught a cold that soon developed into pneumonia. Harrison died exactly one month into his presidential term, the shortest in U.S. history.

3. John Tyler, 10th U.S. president, fathered 15 children (more than any other president)--8 by his first wife, and 7 by his second wife. Tyler was past his seventieth birthday when his 15th child was born.

4. Sedated only by brandy, 11th president of the United States James Polk survived gall bladder surgery at the age of 17.

5. 15th U.S. president James Buchanan is the only unmarried man ever to be elected president. Buchanan was engaged to be married once; however, his fiancée died suddenly after breaking off the engagement, and he remained a bachelor all his life.

6. Often depicted wearing a tall black stovepipe hat, 16th president of the United States Abraham Lincoln carried letters, bills, and notes in his hat.

7. 17th U.S. president Andrew Johnson never attended school. His future wife, Eliza McCardle, taught him to write at the age of 17. (Bonus fact about Andrew Johnson: He only wore suits that he custom-tailored himself.)

8. Ulysses S. Grant, 18th president of the United States, died of throat cancer. During his life, Grant had smoked about 20 cigars per day.

9. Both ambidextrous and multilingual, 20th president of the United States James Garfield could write Greek with one hand while writing Latin with the other.

10. Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th president of the United States, underwent a secret operation aboard a yacht to remove his cancerous upper jaw in 1893.

11. The teddy bear derived from 26th U.S. president Theodore ("Teddy") Roosevelt's refusal to shoot a bear with her cub while on a hunting trip in Mississippi.

12. William Taft, 27th president of the United States, weighed more than 300 pounds and had a special oversized bathtub installed in the White House.

13. Warren Harding, 29th U.S. president, played poker at least twice a week, and once gambled away an entire set of White House china. His advisors were nicknamed the "Poker Cabinet" because they joined the president in his poker games.

14. Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, had chronic stomach pain and required 10 to 11 hours of sleep and an afternoon nap every day.

15. Herbert Hoover, 31st U.S. president, published more than 16 books, including one called Fishing for Fun-And to Wash Your Soul.

16. 32nd president of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt was related, either by blood or by marriage, to 11 former presidents.

17. The letter "S" comprises the full middle name of the 33rd president, Harry S. Truman. It represents two of his grandfathers, whose names both had "S" in them.

18. Military leader and 34th president of the U.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower loved to cook; he developed a recipe for vegetable soup that is 894 words long and includes the stems of nasturtium flowers as one of the ingredients.

19. 40th president of the United States Ronald Reagan broke the so-called "20-year curse," in which every president elected in a year ending in 0 died in office.

20. George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States, and his wife Laura got married just three months after meeting each other.

Five Attention-Getting Ways to Start Your Cover Letter
By Lori Cates Hand, Jist Publishing

"Enclosed please find my résumé for the advertised position." How many cover letters have you written that started like that? How many other people do you think have done the same? Now imagine that it's your job to read résumés and cover letters all day, looking for people to hire.

"Employers sift through more cover letters with attached résumés than is humanly possible every day," says Romona Camarata, Regional Director for R.L. Stevens & Associates, a national career management and outplacement firm.

"My colleague, who has been a recruiter for 20 years, receives an average of 400 cover letters and résumés weekly."

As a result, you have only a very short time to get the employer's attention.

"Employers may spend between two and four seconds scanning the cover letter. If it doesn't match what they need, it is overlooked," Camarata says.

So how do you break out of the pack and write an opening that really wakes up the HR person -- and gets them to read your résumé?

"I don't suggest that you get too gimmicky," says professional résumé writer Louise Kursmark, co-author of "15-Minute Cover Letter" (JIST Publishing).

"But do avoid dry, overused introductions. Instead, write something that will make your reader want to know more about you."

Kursmark offers five ways to open your cover letters with impact:

1. Refer to a prior conversation with the hiring manager.
Of course, you won't be able to do this if you've never spoken with the manager. But if you have, you're at a distinct advantage. Open by mentioning your prior contact with him or her.

Example: "Thanks for taking my call last Thursday and discussing your available mechanic position. I am very interested."

2."Drop" the name of the person who referred you.
People are more likely to read cover letters that mention the name of a trusted colleague or friend.

Example: "At the suggestion of Dana Whitman, I am contacting you to express my interest in the open position of principal pianist with the Omaha Pops."

3. Lead with one of your most startling and relevant successes.
State your astounding achievement and show how you can do something similar for your potential new employer.

Example: "Under my leadership as sales and marketing vice president of MoneyMakers, market share grew from 10 percent to 24 percent on a shoestring budget. I'd like to speak with you about opportunities where I can deliver this level of sales results for Acme Funds."

4. Quote your contact directly.
If your contact has been interviewed in the media or has posted anything business-related to the Internet, quote it and show how your philosophy meshes with theirs -- and makes you an ideal person to hire.

Example: "In your recent interview in the Chicago Tribune you said, 'Companies succeed by hiring the right people -- people who want to make a difference, not just do a job.' When I read this I knew that General Widget was a great fit for my energy and passion as well as my skills as a machinist."

5. Quote a recent industry statistic or relevant article.
Doing this shows that you've done your homework and are in tune with the latest developments at your target company or the industry in general.

Example: "I was interested to read in Business Monthly that San Marcos Manufacturing plans to expand its Asian operations to Vietnam and China. With seven years of experience launching production (both plant start-up and supplier development) in both of these countries, I can help make this important venture successful for you."

Your first paragraph should also make it clear why you are writing. Are you confirming a scheduled meeting, applying in response to an advertisement, or being referred by a mutual acquaintance?

"Don't be mysterious! Share this information up front so that your reader can place your letter in the proper context," Kursmark says.

Follow these tips and your next letter might go from making the hiring manager yawn to making him or her pick up the phone and ask you to come in for an interview.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Note to Berke Breathed: Stop Opus Now. Please.
By Matt Hutaff

Note to Berke Breathed: stop Opus now. Please.

Ever since the latest resurrection of your eponymous penguin in the Sunday comics, I've waited, hoped and prayed that you'd recapture the madcap genius of Bloom County. My efforts have been in vain – Opus is a meandering mess, an effort that further dilutes the power of your previous works in a way not even Outland could.

I will say, though, that the artwork is more beautiful than ever. I wish you'd been able to devote this level of attention to detail to the things you did 20 years ago; gone are the color palettes only an EGA monitor could love, replaced with a wild visual flow that fans will appreciate.

But the art is the only thing to appreciate, as Opus is staggeringly unfunny. Reading it is like viewing a parallel universe where Bloom County struggled along with humor that makes Drabble and Marmaduke seem sophisticated.

And that is a great shame. Bloom County remains my favorite comic strip to this day. During its long and successful run, the cast of characters – cynical Milo, optimist Binkley, drug-addled politico Bill the Cat, insane genius Oliver, womanizer Steve Dallas and a host of others – were only outdone by a never-ending supply of manic storylines. Taking on the "war on drugs" by making Bill's sweat the source of an illegal hair rejuvenation tonic? Inspired. Pitting Opus against Mary Kay by infiltrating a cosmetics lab full of Thumper-esque bunny rabbits blinded by Drain-O and Right Guard? A brilliance topped only by introducing a drunken and very feminine Spuds McKenzie as the possible father of Benjy's litter.

These were the carefully illustrated ramblings of a madman, and they were a gift to every man, woman and child who enjoy politics with a dash of the macabre. When the strip shut down in 1991 in a poignant yet deeply satirical storyline about change (Donald Trump buys the strip to build a new casino, forcing the characters to find work in other successful comics), Breathed left at the peak of his career.

And he should have stayed gone. His triumphant "return" with Outland continued the adventures of Opus and a new cast of characters – characters that unfortunately were not engaging or intriguing in the least. Worst of all, without his rogue's gallery, Opus was exposed as the painfully dull character he was, a revelation that made me revisit Bloom County to find that he was never funny.

Why base a strip around him? Because of the plush doll sales? Or is he simply Berke's favorite character to write for?

I admire Breathed for his desire to move in a different direction, but it did not work and he realized that. Old characters quickly returned with no explanation, neutering any forward momentum they had when Bloom County left us. Outland became Bloom County Redux, without the wit, charm or dementia of the original. Some would say that Breathed's politics had changed during the transition years, and that's fine. But the primary goal of someone creating a comic strip is to be comical. When you cease to be funny, you start to be Cathy – and no one wants that.

Outland's inevitable demise came as a mercy kill. So many things that had made Bloom County great were undone during its tenure (the only truly great moment was Steve Dallas's outing, a moment so out there yet undeniably true to the character) that I'd wished it'd never happened.

But Opus makes Outland look like the Second Coming. Steve Dallas is back – except he's been robbed of his homosexuality and misogynistic brand of humor. Bill the Cat is also there for some reason; a new addition is Steve's illegitimate son who is nothing more than Milo and Binkley merged a la some horrific Langelaan-ian accident. It's a combination so sad you want to cry at the Bell Curve of life thrown at this once glorious pantheon of insanity.

I have been waiting a year and a half for the comic to take shape; as a weekly, Opus's voice would rightly take some time. And those first two months chronicling Opus's journey from the Antarctic to Bloom County were definite growing pains. Since then, there have been mini-arcs that make Prince Valiant seem easy to follow, but for the most part stand alone episodes define Breathed's routine.

Every once in a while an attempt is made to show that Breathed still follows the world around him. They fail. I don't know how someone could be so naturally gifted in drawing hilarious daily strips for years and yet now not be able to string together a coherent story for seven panels once a week. I can only assume that the artwork and coloring sucks up most of his time, because the humor factor certainly doesn't enter the equation.

Berke's complaints with daily strips are legion – no room for creativity, too hard to read, etc. But it's time to rethink the "creativity" freeform Sunday strips he and Bill Watterson fought so hard for, too. All splash and no substance doesn't equal fun. Beautiful to look at? Absolutely; some of the work done since panel restrictions were eased harken back to the Golden Era of comics. Enjoyable to read? Not in the slightest.

So I'm asking the publisher and Berke Breathed to euthanize this addition to the Bloom County "franchise." It was practically stillborn as it is, but investing time and energy into something so devoid of the greatness its creator once had is pointless. Opus, in fact, only does one thing for me – it makes me reach for collections of Breathed's earlier works to remember a time when he was relevant... and a sagacious wit.

Please, confine Opus to Antarctica or the occasional hardcover book. Haven't you learned by now that penguins don't fly?

Note to Berke Breathed: Stop Opus Now. Please.

RP taken off US intellectual property priority watch list
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, Erwin Lemuel Oliva

(UPDATE) THE United States has removed the Philippines from the "priority watch list" of countries that do not properly enforce intellectual property rights (IPR).

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made the announcement in a televised roundtable discussion Thursday, saying this showed her government's progress in curbing piracy of music, movies and computer software.

"They used to say we were too lenient in allowing the sale of fakes and counterfeits. Here in the Philippines, the worst piracy was the piracy of video and compact discs," she said.

By cracking down on counterfeiters, the Philippines had been removed from the US blacklist, Arroyo said, adding that this would encourage firms especially software developers to invest in the Philippines.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) had upgraded the Philippines from the “priority watch list” to "ordinary watch list" under the Special 301 Review, which “examines in detail the adequacy and effectiveness” of IPR protection, the agency said on its website.

The agency said that this decision was made after an "Out-of-Cycle Review" (OCR) on the Philippines announced in the April 2005 Special 301 Report.

It noted that in 2005, "the Philippines bolstered implementation of its special legislation," against pirated audio and video discs. This included "numerous raids on retail stores selling pirated and counterfeit goods."

"However, the OCR also concluded that sustained effort and continued progress on key IPR issues will be essential to avoid a future return to the priority watch list. The United States will be monitoring closely efforts by the Philippines government to further improve its IPR enforcement regime," the agency said.

Being on the watch list exposed the Philippines to possible sanctions and hurt its international reputation, scaring off potential foreign investors who would be afraid of their products being pirated, Arroyo said.

John Lesaca, IP Coalition chairman, told that he was "pleased" the Philippines has been removed from the priority watch list.

"The IP Coalition stands firm in its commitment to help the country in the new challenge of promoting the protection of IPR," Lesaca said, adding that being taken out of the list would mean more "responsibility" for all stakeholders to intensify efforts in curbing piracy.

"If we don't watch out, we will be put back with a vengeance," he said.

The IP Coalition, which lobbied for the country’s removal from the USTR, had said that the Philippines created a doable, sensible and reasonable strategy aimed to provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement to its trading partners.

"There is no doubt that the Philippine Action Plan has worked and is working and bearing fruit," the IP Coalition said in a statement sent to the USTR that recommended the country's removal from the priority watch list.

The Philippines has been consistent in implementing IPR protection initiatives over the past few years, noting that government has already seized a total 1 billion pesos-worth of pirated goods since September 2005.

The IP Coalition said that the lack of funds has not deterred the Philippines from fighting piracy and counterfeiting.

"Notwithstanding the economic and material shortcomings that the Philippines have suffered from, it is noteworthy that the Philippines has nurtured a robust jurisprudence on the protection of intellectual property rights. The Supreme Court has continuously studied ways and means to correct the situation," the IP Coalition said in an earlier issued statement.

The Philippine Supreme Court has improved the rules on search and seizure in civil actions for infringement of intellectual property rights, streamlined pre-trial proceedings, and created special courts to handle intellectual property-related cases.

The USTR says it identifies countries that deny adequate and effective protection for IPR or deny fair and equitable market access for persons that rely on intellectual property protection.

It said that being placed under a "Priority Watch List" and a "Watch List" under the Special 301 indicates that particular problems exist in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property.

Countries placed on the Priority Watch List are the focus of increased bilateral attention concerning the problem areas, the USTR said.

Food tripping with ‘balikbayan’ friends
By Micky Fenix

WE had more than 30 balikbayan classmates at our homecoming, a record of sorts. Every lunch and dinner, we “locals” ate with them featured Filipino food.

Pancit was always present, volume food that was nevertheless appreciated. Lumpia was sometimes fried and other times fresh, mainly composed of ubod or the pith of the coconut tree. Every buffet had fiesta food because we were in a fiesta mood.

There were mock complaints from the balikbayan that all they did was eat through the two weeks of our get-together. We were women “of a certain age” who needed to watch what and how much we ate. No one did.

Cholesterol, uric acid and sugar content were mentioned but did not figure in the eating. One of our classmates said it for the immigrants—if they didn’t eat everything, they would regret what they missed when they went back to the United States, Canada and Australia where most of them had settled.

Everyone’s a critic

It was rather disconcerting that, because my classmates knew I was a food writer, they would invariably look to me for an assessment of the menu or ask me outright if I approved of the cooking. My reply would always be a smile. Everyone, after all, is a food critic. Everyone can assess if the food is to her liking or not.

I did get to lecture rather informally about some things they were not aware of. Many have been away for decades and new dishes have since been added to the Filipino menu. The husband of a classmate from Davao City made sinuglaw, a mix of sinugba and kinilaw, roasted pork with raw fish and shrimp “cooked” in vinegar, and then all finished with coconut milk. Ginumis was another, a halo-halo-like mix of sago, gulaman, pinipig, coconut milk and a sweetener of liquid panocha.

The ginumis was suggested to a classmate who hosted a merienda cena. She wanted something different from the pandan desserts served at most of the buffets—the buko salad, the green gulaman bathed in coconut milk. At the school lunch, the lumpia wrapper was partly green encasing a transparent cube of buko gulaman, a rather creative ender.

Naughty name

I told them the green color came from the pandan, a bush with leaves used for the coloring and the good aroma it brings to rice or chicken. Just in case they had heard the English name, I said pandan was screw pine.
Their faces registered negative recall but they all liked the name, the way we relished words that sounded naughty in high school.

Our high school curriculum included the finer arts of homemaking. Cooking was one of them. At the old campus, we saw how our kitchen had been turned into a hospital ward for nursing students.

Looking at the place, we laughed as we remembered how most of us would rather wash the dishes or set the table than do the cooking. And it was only one dessert we particularly loved, the picoroon, something like a macaroon made of dessicated coconut with egg white and some nuts, if my memory serves me right.

Most nuns were known for their cooking and our German sisters were remembered for the large gingerbread house displayed during the Christmas season and the German bread. (I suppose the “German” word was always attached to many things the nuns brought over from their old country such as two of our games, German war ball and German soccer.)

German bread was really raisin bread that was always huge—about eight inches high and a foot long. My mother, who went to the same school, was a media interna, a partial intern. That meant she ate lunch at the dining room but didn’t sleep at the dorm.

She recalled that their dessert was two slices of German bread sandwiching a whole bar of chocolate. She would slip the chocolate bar into her pocket to be consumed later, and just ate the breads.

At our last homecoming, there was no German bread to buy. Until about 10 years ago, there were still some for sale although those were not as huge. The good sisters said they could no longer get the kind of flour needed for the original recipe. They must have given up.

Forbidden fruits

Our fondest food memories, however, were of those found outside the school. What baby boom colegiala has not been warned of the dangers of buying food sold by sidewalk vendors? But how could one resist the non-Magnolia ice cream, the one we all called “dirty ice cream,” with favorite flavors like langka, mangga and keso?

And what about the green mangoes, sold just at the right stage, manibalang, not quite ripe and not too green? Those were always perfectly pared, the rind ending up like petals, each cheek cut just until near the bottom so it didn’t separate from the fruit, stuffed with the reddest bagoong alamang?

Then during the santol season, we watched how the vendor expertly removed the skin, made small cuts on the pared rind, slipped the fruit into a paper bag with little packets of salt. Perhaps those items sold outside school weren’t particularly good but going against the good advice of the nuns made them wickedly delicious.
We were at the tail end of the reunion. Before leaving, many of the balikbayans wanted to know what cookbook to buy. But no one asked me to recommend what goodies they should bring home. They all knew where and what to buy—the particular pastillas, the kind of polvoron, the favorite hopia. All those reminded them of their home country and the goodness they’d miss before the next reunion.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Good Taste: Top 5 Foods to Prevent Bad Breath
by Marin Gazzaniga for MSN Health & Fitness

Bad breath results from two key issues: oral hygiene and gastrointestinal health. Basically this means that breath odors originate not just inside the mouth but also from your digestive tract. The culprit in both cases is largely bacteria. Doctors will tell you that if you have bad breath, you should first make sure you are eating right (getting a balanced diet of protein, carbs, lots of fruits and veggies and plenty of fluids to keep the GI tract healthy) and brushing and flossing after every meal. But that still doesn’t mean you might not be offending your friends and co-workers after lunch at the new Italian place. Here are some things you can ingest (or chew) that can help.

1. Chew on this. Move over parsley, there are some new halitosis-fighting herbs in town. “Coriander, spearmint, tarragon, eucalyptus, rosemary and cardamom are all good for fighting bad breath,” says Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, who has lectured on oral health. You can chew on fresh herbs or make tonics by steeping them in hot water (as a tea). These herbs make an excellent digestive as well—doubling the benefits of ending a meal this way.

2. Get some active culture. No, not Cirque de Soleil, but yogurt. A recent study found that a serving of yogurt each day reduces the level of odor-causing hydrogen sulfide in the mouth. Apparently it also cuts back on bacteria in the mouth—plaque and gum disease were reduced in the study’s yogurt eaters as well. Plus, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends getting enough vitamin D from yogurt, cheese and milk if you’re worried about halitosis because this vitamin creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria growth. Be sure to get the kind of yogurt with active cultures—not overly processed or sugar-added varieties.

3. Crunchy types. Apples, carrots, celery—basically any fiber-rich fruit or vegetable is your friend when it comes to fighting halitosis. “Inside your mouth, plaque build-up causes odors,” explains Cynthia Sass, ADA spokeswoman and registered dietician. “Eating foods that increase saliva production keep the mouth moist—and rinsed out. Also, many carbs and proteins can get stuck in your teeth—even healthy foods like whole grain cereal or chicken breast.” So follow a meal with a Granny Smith (feel the saliva kick in at the mention of it?) to cleanse the mouth.

4. Masking techniques. Sugarless gum shouldn’t replace brushing your teeth after a meal, but in a pinch it can freshen breath (masking odors) and is another way to increase saliva production to rinse away plaque and bacteria. Mints can mask as well, but only briefly—and go for sugarless. Sugar creates plaque, and no one wants a mint that makes breath worse.

5. High C’s. Eating berries, citrus fruits, melons and other vitamin C-rich foods create an inhospitable environment for bacteria growth. A diet rich in vitamin C is also is important for preventing gum disease and gingivitis—both major causes of halitosis. Get your C in foods, not supplements, which can cause gastrointestinal upset in some, according to Sass, and exacerbate bad breath.

Co-Workers Behaving Badly
Coping With Jerks at Work

By Kate Lorenz, Editor

According to an article in American Way, 42 percent of U.S. workers reported incidents of yelling and verbal abuse in their workplaces. What's more, 30 percent of workers say they've yelled at their co-workers themselves!

Of course that doesn't make all who admitted ranting at their colleagues full-time jerks. Gloria Elliott, an organizational development consultant who helps companies deal with insufferable employees through her "Jerk Training" seminars, estimates that just 10 percent of the workforce is comprised of evil, conniving weasels; the rest are redeemable individuals who just have bad moments.

For example, that guy in the next cube who deletes your jobs on the shared printer so that his pages get printed first may simply be clueless or under extreme pressure from the higher-ups.

On the other hand, the woman who acts nice when you're in private, but continually puts you or your ideas down in meetings and in front of the higher-ups probably has more insidious motives.

In either case, don't take what they do to heart.

"Most of us think 99 percent of what other people do or say has to do with us personally," says Dr. John Schinnerer, a University of California, Berkeley psychologist who lectures and writes about creating and maintaining a healthy and efficient workplace.

"The reality is that only about 1 percent [of others' behavior] has anything to do with us. Understand that difficult people are in a different place from you; don't let bad behavior get in your way or hold you hostage from achieving success.

"Take some deep breaths and shrug off their obnoxious behavior, knowing that some day (hopefully soon) they will get their comeuppance."

However if someone is spreading rumors about you, back-stabbing or routinely verbally abusing you, most experts agree it's best to confront him or her calmly, privately and briefly.

Make it clear you will not tolerate their behavior. It can be as simple as looking them in the eye and saying, "You presented my idea as your own. Don't ever do that again." Or, "You insulted me in front of the entire staff. I don't appreciate being treated that way."

Then, stay away -- you may even want to start documenting things the jerk says or does.

Avoid cutthroat individuals like the plague, Elliott advises. "They feel no guilt and don't care whom they trample over in their race to get ahead. If you play their way you will lose the game, your mental health or both."

What about reporting the behavior to the boss? Experts say this can be tricky and that people often don't come forward because they fear how they'll be characterized in the process.

Whether you can comfortably and effectively report workplace bullying depends on the culture of the company.

"Some organizations such as Proctor and Gamble, Southwest Airlines, Men's Wearhouse and GE articulate the value of mutual respect from the top and make it clear bad behavior will not be tolerated," says Robert Sutton, professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. "Others turn a blind eye to abuse if they're happy with the results the bully is producing."

If you're in a toxic work environment, experts recommend you get out as soon as possible. "Bad behavior not only damages your soul, it can be contagious. I always tell people if you're with a company and don't like the way people there act, watch out, because you will become like that," Sutton says.

What if you can't quit and your attempts to ignore, confront or report have failed? Carole, an administrative assistant, joined forces with her fellow workers to take matters in their own hands.

"A certain law associate would constantly yell and berate members of the support staff for being slow, stupid or lazy... basically making our days torture," she recalls.

"Our complaints to management went ignored. But we decided as a group that we would no longer tolerate his abusive behavior. We began 'accidentally' losing his paycheck, giving him messages with wrong numbers and scheduling appointments incorrectly.

"Passive aggressive? Maybe. But it was effective: Within two weeks his tirades stopped and he was reformed."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Matter of Taste
by Matthew Sutherland

I have now been in this country for over six years, and consider myself in most respects well assimilated. However, there is one key step on the road to full assimilation, which I have yet to take, and that's to eat BALUT. The day any of you sees me eating balut, please call immigration and ask them to issue me a Filipino passport. Because at that point there will be no turning back. BALUT, for those still blissfully ignorant non-Pinoys out there, is a fertilized duck egg.

It is commonly sold with salt in a piece of newspaper, much like English fish and chips, by street vendors usually after dark, presumably so you can't see how gross it is. It's meant to be an aphrodisiac, although I can't imagine anything more likely to dispel sexual desire than crunching on a partially formed baby duck swimming in noxious fluid. The embryo in the egg comes in varying stages of development, but basically it is not considered macho to eat one without fully discernable feathers, beak, and claws. Some say these crunchy bits are the best. Others prefer just to drink the so-called 'soup', the vile, pungent liquid that surrounds the aforementioned feathery fetus...excuse me; I have to go and throw up now. I'll be back in a minute.

Food dominates the life of the Filipino. People here just love to eat. They eat at least eight times a day. These eight official meals are called, in order: breakfast, snacks, lunch, merienda, pica-pica, pulutan, dinner, and no-one-saw-me-take-that-cookie-from-the-fridge-so-it-doesn't-count. The short gaps in between these mealtimes are spent eating Sky Flakes from the open packet that sits on every desktop.

You're never far from food in the Philippines . If you doubt this, next time you're driving home from work, try this game. See how long you can drive without seeing food and I don't mean a distant restaurant, or a picture of food. I mean a man on the sidewalk frying fish balls, or a man walking through the traffic selling nuts or candy. I bet it's less than one minute.

Here are some other things I've noticed about food in the Philippines . Firstly, a meal is not a meal without rice - even breakfast. In the UK, I could go a whole year without eating rice. Second, it's impossible to drink without eating. A bottle of San Miguel just isn't the same without gambas or beef tapa. Third, no one ventures more than two paces from their house without baon and a container of something cold to drink. You might as well ask a Filipino to leave home without his pants on. And lastly, where I come from, you eat with a knife and fork. Here, you eat with a spoon and fork. You try eating rice swimming in fish sauce with a knife.

One really nice thing about Filipino food culture is that people always ask you to SHARE their food. In my office, if you catch anyone attacking their baon, they will always go, "Sir! KAIN TAYO!" ("Let's eat!"). This confused me, until I realized that they didn't actually expect me to sit down and start munching on their boneless bangus. In fact, the polite response is something like, "No thanks, I just ate."

But the principle is sound - if you have food on your plate, you are expected to share it, however hungry you are, with those who may be even hungrier. I think that's great. In fact, this is frequently even taken one step further. Many Filipinos use "Have you eaten yet?" ("KUMAIN KA NA?") as a general greeting, irrespective of time of day or location.

Some foreigners think Filipino food is fairly dull compared to other Asian cuisines. Actually lots of it is very good: Spicy dishes like Bicol Express (strange, a dish named after a train); anything cooked with coconut milk; anything KINILAW; and anything ADOBO. And it's hard to beat the sheer wanton, cholesterolic frenzy of a good old-fashioned LECHON de leche feast. Dig a pit, light a fire, add 50 pounds of animal fat on a stick, and cook until crisp. Mmm, mmm... you can actually feel your arteries constricting with each successive mouthful.

I also share one key Pinoy trait ---a sweet tooth. I am thus the only foreigner I know who does not complain about sweet bread, sweet burgers, sweet spaghetti, sweet banana ketchup, and so on. I am a man who likes to put jam on his pizza. Try it!

It's the weird food you want to avoid. In addition to duck fetus in the half-shell, items to avoid in the Philippines include pig's blood soup (DINUGUAN); bull's testicle soup, the strangely-named "SOUP NUMBER FIVE" (I dread to think what ! numbers one through four are); and the ubiquitous, stinky shrimp paste, BAGOONG, and it's equally stinky sister, PATIS. Filipinos are so addicted to these latter items that they will even risk arrest or deportation trying to smuggle them into countries like Australia and the USA , which wisely ban the importation of items you can smell from more than 100 paces.

Then there's the small matter of the blue ice cream. I have never been able to get my brain around eating blue food; the ubiquitous UBE leaves me cold.

And lastly on the subject of weird food, beware: that KALDERETANG KAMBING (goat) could well be KALDERETANG ASO (dog)... The Filipino, of course, has a well-developed sense of food. Here's a typical Pinoy food joke: "I'm on a seafood diet. "What's a seafood diet?"

"When I see food, I eat it!"

Filipinos also eat strange bits of animals --- the feet, the head, the guts, etc., usually barbecued on a stick! . These have been given witty names, like "ADIDAS" (chicken's feet); "KURBATA" (either just chicken's neck, or "neck and thigh" as in "neck-tie"); "WALKMAN" (pigs ears); "PAL" (chicken wings); "HELMET" (chicken head); "IUD" (chicken intestines), and BETAMAX" (video-cassette-like blocks of animal blood). Yum, yum. Bon appetit.

"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches" -- (Proverbs 22:1)

WHEN I arrived in the Philippines from the UK six years ago, one of the first cultural differences to strike me was names. The subject has provided a continuing source of amazement and amusement ever since.

The first unusual thing, from an English perspective, is that everyone here has a nickname. In the staid and boring United Kingdom, we have nicknames in kindergarten, but when we move into adulthood we tend, I am glad to say, to lose them.

The second thing that struck me is that Philippine names for both girls and boys tend to be what we in the UK would regard as overbearingly cutesy for anyone over about five. Fifty-five-year-olds colleague put it. Where I come from, a boy with a nickname like Boy Blue or Honey Boy would be beaten to death at school by pre-adolescent bullies, and never make it to adulthood. So, probably, would girls with names like Babes, Lovely, Precious, Peachy or Apples. Yuk, ech ech.

Here, however, no one bats an eyelid. Then I noticed how many people have what I have come to call "door-bell names". These are nicknames that sound like -well, doorbells. There are millions of them. Bing, Bong, Ding, and Dong are some of the more common. They can be, and frequently are, used in even more door-bell-like combinations such as Bing-Bong, Ding-Dong, Ting-Ting, and so on. Even one of our senator has a doorbell named Ping.

None of these doorbell names exist where I come from, and hence sound unusually amusing to my untutored foreign ear. Someone once told me that one of the Bings, when asked why he was called Bing, replied, "because my brother is called Bong". Faultless logic. Dong, of course, is a particularly funny one for me, as where I come from "dong" is a slang word for well; perhaps "talong" is the best Tagalog equivalent.

Repeating names was another novelty to me, having never before encountered people with names like Len-Len, Let-Let, Mai-Mai, or Ning-Ning. The secretary I inherited on my arrival had an unusual one: Leck-Leck. Such names are then frequently further refined by using the "squared" symbol, as in Len2 or Mai2. This had me very confused for a while.

Then there is the trend for parents to stick to a theme when naming their children. This can be as simple as making them all begin with the same letter, as in Jun, Jimmy, Janice, and Joy.

More imaginative parents shoot for more sophisticated forms of assonance or rhyme, as in Biboy, Boboy, Buboy, Baboy (notice the names get worse the more kids there are-best to be born early or you could end up being a Baboy).

Even better, parents can create whole families of, say, desserts (Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Honey Pie) or flowers (Rose, Daffodil, Tulip). The main advantage of such combinations is that they look great painted across your trunk if you're a cab driver. That's another thing I'd never seen before coming to Manila -- taxis with the driver's kids' names on the trunk.

Another whole eye-opening field for the foreign visitor is the phenomenon of the "composite" name. This includes names like Jejomar (for Jesus, Joseph and Mary), and the remarkable Luzviminda (for Luzon , Visayas and Mindanao, believe it or not). That's a bit like me being called something like "Engscowani" (for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ). Between you and me, I'm glad I'm not.

And how could I forget to mention the fabulous concept of the randomly inserted letter 'h'. Quite what this device is supposed to achieve, I have not yet figured out, but I think it is designed to give a touch of class to an otherwise only averagely weird name. It results in creations like Jhun, Lhenn, Ghemma, and Jhimmy. Or how about Jhun-Jhun (Jhun2)?

How boring to come from a country like the UK full of people with names like John Smith. How wonderful to come from a country where imagination and exoticism rule the world of names.

Even the towns here have weird names; my favorite is the unbelievably named town of Sexmoan (ironically close to Olongapo and Angeles). Where else in the world could that really be true? Where else in the world could the head of the Church really be called Cardinal Sin? Where else but the Philippines!

Note: Philippines has a senator named Joker, and it is his legal name.


Nothing says love like matching nose jobs
Chinese couples celebrate Valentine's Day with his-and-her surgeries

A young couple discusses plastic surgery options with a surgeon at the ConBio Plastic Surgery Hospital in Shanghai on Feb. 13.

SHANGHAI, China - Nothing says I love you on Valentine's Day like a box of candy, a bouquet of roses — and matching noses.

China's obsession with plastic surgery is finding fresh demand from couples who are going under the knife to get their noses and even their eyes done as a sign of their love for one another, the official newspaper China Daily reported.

"I suggested it as a way of celebrating our relationship and bringing us closer together with a special kind of bond," Liu Yan, 24, was quoted as saying of the matching nose jobs for her and her 28-year-old boyfriend.

Liu said her boyfriend "loved the idea" and readily paid the 10,000 yuan ($1,200) for the surgery.

"We're very happy with the results," Liu added.

Business at Shanghai's plastic surgery clinics has risen by up to 30 percent since the beginning of the month, fueled by Valentine's Day and the recently concluded lunar New Year, when young people typically receive job bonuses and cash gifts from older relatives.

Some clinics advertise special Valentine's Day packages. ConBio Plastic and Laser Surgery Hospital, a China-U.S. joint venture, is offering a 20 percent discount from Feb. 14-17, said the clinic's manager, who identified himself only as Mr. Chen.

"You can also get some free roses," he said.

Unknown in China just a few years ago, plastic surgery is now a $2 billion business as newly prosperous Chinese seek shapelier noses, fuller breasts and other features.

Shanghai, China's wealthiest and most image-conscious city, is a center for the business which is celebrated in plastic surgery inspired beauty contests and television shows.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Britney, cover girl for Bad Parents magazine?
Spears' driving incident wasn't just dumb; it put her child at risk, too

By Craig Berman
MSNBC contributor

Britney Spears, driving with her infant son, Sean Preston, on her lap.
It wasn't just foolish; it put her son at risk — unnecessarily.

When my wife and I had our first child about 18 months ago, it was a moment filled with every positive emotion known to man — and a little bit of fear. I barely knew how to change a diaper. How was I possibly going to keep our baby safe from harm?

Fortunately, the hospital helped by making sure we were at least prepared to make that first trip home safely. We could not take the little guy with us until our car seat had been checked, double-checked and properly certified. The doctors had no idea whether we were bringing him home to a mansion or a shelter, or feeding him infant formula or cold pizza, but they made sure that he would be transported safely to wherever we were going.

There's a reason why that's emphasized so much: Car seats save lives. Of course, for them to be effective, you have to actually use them.

Which brings us to Britney Spears.

The former Mouseketeer put her cartoon-like reasoning skills on display by driving off from a Malibu Starbucks with her four-month-old in her lap and one hand on the wheel, a display frowned upon even in Hollywood.

That got her a visit from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, though it doesn't appear any charges are forthcoming since the deputies didn't actually witness any crimes taking place. Had she actually been pulled over, the cops would have had a laundry list of potential violations to choose from.

Celebrities and babies have always been an awkward combination. At best, they combine to fuel a cottage paparazzi industry of tabloid mother-and-child photos, or the baby-as-accessory spreads in sundry magazines. At worst, Michael Jackson dangles his infant son over a balcony railing for reasons nobody can fathom.

Obviously, nobody has ever confused Britney Spears with an expert in semiconductor physics (well, except these folks), but her latest misstep surges past the Vegas marriage and the whole Kevin Federline thing to become the dumbest thing she's ever done.

Spears claims she put her baby in her lap because she was freaked out after a disturbing encounter with the paparazzi. Even assuming that she's telling the truth rather than just playing the p-card, it was idiotic.

Let me get this straight: Britney Spears is worried about being followed and photographed by the paparazzi. Therefore, she races to her car, puts her child in a position where he's in danger … in front of a bunch of people with cameras whose missions in life are to take her picture doing dumb things? Unless she thought the photographers were actually planning to kidnap the child and hold him for ransom, it's a no-brainer to take the 90 seconds to safely buckle her son into the car seat.

Not to mention that if she's trying to do some fancy driving to elude pursuers, holding a wriggling infant isn't exactly a recipe for ruling the road. People can't seem to drive well when talking on the cell phone or drinking their lattes — she thinks she can escape from prying eyes with a four-month-old on her lap?

Basically, she put her child at risk for the sake of convenience, which is something always guaranteed to get a person on the news, and not in a good way. No scandal resonates like one involving a child, which means she'll be hearing about this one for a good long while.

Not just her life
She can do whatever she wants with her personal life — marry her childhood friend for 54 hours, kiss Madonna, get some tattoos or whatever tomorrow brings — and that's her business. People may think she does nutty things on occasion, but it's her life.

Putting her baby at risk, however, raises legitimate hackles. Has she not seen those old advertisements where a baby transforms into a sumo wrestler to illustrate how the force generated by a collision makes it nearly impossible to keep hold of a small child? Does she not know that if she bumps into another car and the airbag deploys, little Sean Preston Federline could suffocate?

On one level, it's easy to feel sorry for her. Sure, she's rich and famous, but look at her personal life. She married young, her husband is kind of a moron, and she's usually followed by crazy men with cameras who are trying to take her picture in a compromising position.

The thing is, though, that plenty of others in Hollywood share that sad story, and none have been photographed lately holding their babies up by the dashboard as they tootle down the road. Most people realize that babies aren't capable of protecting themselves very well, so it's up to the adults in their life to protect them.

In that, Spears let her child down.

'Jaws' Author Peter Benchley Dies at 65
Feb 13, 3:44 AM EST

Peter Benchley, whose novel "Jaws" made millions think twice about stepping into the water even as the author himself became an advocate for the conservation of sharks, has died at age 65, his widow said Sunday.

Wendy Benchley, married to the author for 41 years, said he died Saturday night at their home in Princeton, N.J. The cause of death, she said, was idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and fatal scarring of the lungs.

Thanks to Benchley's 1974 novel, and Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie of the same name, the simple pastime of ocean swimming became synonymous with fatal horror, of still water followed by ominous, pumping music, then teeth and blood and panic.

"Spielberg certainly made the most superb movie; Peter was very pleased," Wendy Benchley told The Associated Press.

"But Peter kept telling people the book was fiction, it was a novel, and that he no more took responsibility for the fear of sharks than Mario Puzo took responsibility for the Mafia."

Benchley, the grandson of humorist Robert Benchley and son of author Nathaniel Benchley, was born in New York City in 1940. He attended the elite Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, then graduated from Harvard University in 1961. He worked at The Washington Post and Newsweek and spent two years as a speechwriter for President Johnson, writing some "difficult" speeches about the Vietnam War, Wendy Benchley said.

A 1974 article in People magazine described Benchley as "Tall, slender and movie-star handsome, with eyes like the deep blue sea." The author's interest in sharks was lifelong, beginning with childhood visits to Nantucket Island in Massachusetts and heightening in the mid-1960s when he read about a fisherman catching a 4,550-pound great white shark off Long Island, the setting for his novel.

"I thought to myself, `What would happen if one of those came around and wouldn't go away?"' he recalled. Benchley didn't start the novel, for which he received a $7,500 advance, until 1971 because he was too busy with his day jobs.

"There was no particular influence.

My idea was to tell my first novel as a sort of long story ... just to see if I could do it. I had been a freelance writer since I was 16, and I sold things to various magazines and newspapers whenever I could."

The editor of "Jaws," Thomas Congdon, told The Associated Press on Sunday that he had been impressed by some articles Benchley wrote for National Geographic and arranged a lunch at a French restaurant in New York — "a second-class restaurant, not first class, since he was an unknown."

"The lunch didn't go very well," said Congdon, an editor at Doubleday at the time and now retired. "His nonfiction ideas did not seem very promising, but at the end of the meal, I said, `Have you ever thought of writing a novel?' And he said, `Well, I have an idea about a great white shark that marauds an Eastern coastal town and provokes a moral crisis in the community.'"

Congdon loved the idea, but said Benchley was reluctant to start the book because he couldn't afford time away from his journalistic work. So Congdon got him $1,000 as a down payment, in return for an initial submission of 100 pages.

"Ninety-five percent of it was jokey stuff, because he thought that was the way you do it," said Congdon, who dismissed a longtime publishing legend that the book was heavily edited and as much his triumph as Benchley's.

"But the first five pages were wonderful. There were no jokes. I wrote heavily in the margin: `NO JOKES.' He went out and did it again, and it generated whole industries — the movie, amusement park rides. It changed the way people looked at sharks."

While Peter Benchley co-wrote the screenplay for "Jaws," and authored several other novels, including "The Deep" and "The Island," Wendy Benchley said he was especially proud of his conservation work. He served on the national council of Environmental Defense, hosted numerous television wildlife programs, gave speeches around the world and wrote articles for National Geographic and other publications.

"He cared very much about sharks. He spent most of his life trying to explain to people that if you are in the ocean, you're in the shark's territory, so it behooves you to take precautions," Wendy Benchley said.

The author did not abide by the mayhem his book evoked. In fact, he was quite at ease around sharks, his widow said. She recalled a trip to Guadeloupe, Mexico last year for their 40th wedding anniversary, when the two went into the water in a special cage.

"They put bait in the water and sharks swim around and play games," she said.

"We went at a time when the females came in and the females were much larger than the males. And at times we would have 4 or 5 of the most gorgeous female torpedoes drifting by the cage. We were thrilled, excited. We'd been around sharks for so long."

Besides his wife, Peter Benchley is survived by three children and five grandchildren. A small family service will take place next week in Princeton, Wendy Benchley said.

'Star Wars' Uncle Phil Brown Dies at 89
Feb 13, 8:42 AM EST

Phil Brown, who played Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen in the 1977 hit film "Star Wars," has died.

Brown died of pneumonia Thursday at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, said his wife, Ginny. He was 89.

Though Brown worked in stage and film for more than 30 years, many remember him best for his brief role as the loving uncle who tries to give Skywalker a normal childhood and keep him from knowing he has Jedi roots. Uncle Owen and his wife Beru meet an early end at the hands of imperial storm troopers.

It was "a very small part by comparison to the roles I had previously played. To be quite frank, I never gave it a thought again," Brown told the Baltimore Sun.

Brown got the part through unusual circumstances.

He moved his family to London in the 1950s after being blacklisted during the communist scare in the United States. A longtime progressive, Brown always denied being a Communist.

In London, he found work on stage and in such films as "Tropic of Cancer" (1970) and "Twilight's Last Gleaming" (1977).

In the mid-1970s, George Lucas was filming interior scenes for "Star Wars" at a London sound stage and needed an actor with a strong American accent.

Brown got the role, then spent a month or so in Tunisia filming a handful of scenes.

He returned to California in the early 1990s, quickly discovering that the role had made him a celebrity. He became a popular figure at science fiction conventions.

The son of a doctor, Brown was born in Cambridge, Mass. and graduated from Stanford University.

He was accepted in the Group Theatre in New York in 1938, and first job on Broadway was as a dancer in the play "Everywhere I Roam."

The Group Theatre folded in 1941, and Brown moved to Los Angeles looking for work in the movies.

Along with other former Group Theatre members, he formed the Actor's Laboratory, which produced critically acclaimed works in Hollywood.

He directed plays by Arthur Miller, Nikolai Gogol and Arthur Laurent. In 1948, he moved to London and played opposite Helen Hayes in Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie."

Returning to Hollywood in 1949, Brown found work as a director.

Two years later finished his first feature film, "The Harlem Globetrotters," starring Dorothy Dandridge and members of the famous basketball team.

But that promising start ended with the "Red Scare" and the government focus on some members of the Actor's Lab. Brown and his wife left for London and stayed for 40 years.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years; a son, Kevin, of Hawaii; two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

An Olympic dream of a different kind for snowboard pioneer Burton
By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer

BARDONECCHIA, Italy (AP) -- Three decades ago, Jake Burton was working out of a station wagon, trying to persuade American ski shop owners that this new thing he had designed -- yes, the snowboard -- had a place on ski slopes.

On Sunday, instead of begging for business, Burton was a VIP at the 2006 Winter Games, watching world-famous halfpiper Shaun White delight the foot-stomping crowd with soaring spins. As expected, White won gold for the Americans -- who wore the Burton company label stitched on the sleeves of their white, pinstriped jackets.

"I couldn't be more proud or happy or just stoked to be here," Burton said, looking a fit and youthful 51, his dirty-blond hair poking out of the back of his hat. "It's been a humbling experience along the way."

Burton is big on humility, refusing to accept the "inventor" label bestowed by the likes of U.S. men's snowboarding coach Bud Keene.

"I wouldn't be sitting here right now and earning my living and raising my kids from snowboarding if it hadn't been for Jake inventing the thing and I'm grateful for that, big time, and psyched to know him," said Keene, who lives near Burton in Burlington, Vt.

Burton insists he did little more than push the development of a concept that was hardly revolutionary. He looked at snow-covered mountains and saw another medium for the thrills of surfing and skateboarding.

"I sort of helped discover and pioneer something that was there and was going to happen sooner or later," Burton said. "I don't put myself ahead or above the sport."

Which is why he has come around to embracing his sport's inclusion in the Olympics. When snowboarding first came to the Olympics at Nagano in 1998, many of the sport's top athletes shunned the games, saying they were too structured and run by people who did not understand what was in the best interest of their burgeoning, alternative sport.

Like skateboarding, snowboarding is a pastime that grew and thrived in a subculture that valued independent expression, alternative fashions and rejection of authority. It didn't help that when the International Olympic Committee added snowboarding to the games, it was under the auspices of the FIS (the International Ski Federation), rather than snowboarders' own International Snowboard Federation.

Though it rained at that first snowboard halfpipe in Nagano, subsequent Olympics have seen snowboarding get bigger and bigger. The FIS remains in charge, but has gained increasing credibility since some of the best young snowboarders showed up for the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 and American riders swept the medals.

"Nagano was kind of a nightmare ... but Park City was a huge turnaround," Burton said. "The level of riding was insane and the sweep was something pretty special."

This year, White, overwhelmingly considered the world's best halfpipe snowboarder, was in tears, with an American flag draped around his shoulders after he won his first Olympics title. And his toughest competition was also there, with American Danny Kass winning silver and Markku Koski of Finland taking bronze.

"These kids at the Olympic village wear all their (national team) stuff every day," Keene said. "They love it. They're trading pins. They're wearing their flags. They're wearing their uniforms. Right now there's only four guys from the U.S. who can do that and they're here doing it because they can."

And there in the background was Burton, enjoying his sport's ongoing flirtation with the mainstream.

"A lot of people sort of say, 'I miss the old days,' and I'm just not one of them," Burton said. "That equipment sucked (that) we used to ride, you couldn't go to all the mountains. There weren't as many women riding. As long as the (snowboarding) magazines don't start writing about the food at the resorts and stay focused on the riding, and if companies like us remember that and listen to the people that are ripping the hardest, I think we'll be all right."

Friday, February 10, 2006

The ‘Ilustrado’ as Filipino
By Bambi Harper

SOME OF Manila’s lesser-known delights -- and something to look forward to -- are launches of Alfredo Roces’ books. The size of his latest work, “Adios Patria Adorada: the Filipino as Ilustrado, the Ilustrado as Filipino,” is just about right, making it convenient to tote anywhere, unlike his previous one that’s so huge it lies entombed on the coffee table and has to be read standing up just like the Oxford Dictionary.

It is also a pleasure seeing friends you meet infrequently, beginning with the author himself and his muse, the lovely Irene, as he describes her. There is also the stellar cast of speakers like Frankie Jose whose self-deprecatory remarks about his baldpate resulted in focusing attention on sundry Roces kin’s shiny domes. But Frankie had a further interesting point to make with regard to the book that perhaps may intrigue you enough to read it. And this is whether the Ilustrados sincerely wanted independence for the good of the country or they wanted it so that they could take over the colonizer’s role. Did they collaborate first with the Spaniards, then with the Americans, then the Japanese and finally with the powers-that-be to fulfill this ambition? And is this the reason the country is in the mess it’s in now?

Roces’ premise is that it was the Ilustrados -- Rizal, Luna, Paterno, Mabini, Del Pilar, Sanciangco, et al. -- who “invented” the Filipino national identity. That this identity was born in the 19th century, forged out of painful experiences at home and flowered in Europe leading eventually to the 1996 Revolution. The quintessential Ilustrado is and remains to be Jose Rizal.

The author explains that he wanted to tell an unbiased story, to set the record straight to balance the versions of the post-World War II historians who present the Ilustrado as “villains” who “betrayed the masses” and who lacked “radical commitment and populist ideology.” Rather than viewing the Ilustrados and their world from a 20th-century “proletarian ideology and a rigid class struggle” interpretation, Roces tries to assess political dynamics through “traditional kinship politics.” His focus is on the conflict within the “principalia class” because, believe it or not, we were already quarreling among ourselves even then and whoever said heroes couldn’t be petty? The author calls it “that fatal inclination to create factions over personalities rather than ideas.” (Need we mention Estrada or Poe or any of our celebrities who ran for public office?)

The narrative moves from the end of the Galleon Trade that marked the beginning of economic self-reliance for this Spanish colony to a brief foray (one chapter) into the granting of our independence. The bulk of the book is devoted to the 19th century and the conditions that led to the formation of the Filipino. The word “Filipino” at first referred to Spaniards born in the Philippines. Later it included "mestizos" [mixed-blood Filipinos], both Chinese and European, and finally, it encompassed the poor Indio (metamorphosed into the “noble survivors of some lost Eden”) who then as now remains at the bottom of the pecking order.

There were then among members of the Propaganda Movement the mestizo-Indio nationalists and the "Creole" patriots (composed of assimilationist "hijos del pais" -- "sons of the country"). The former wanted something like a Philippines for Filipinos, while the latter were for equal rights as Spanish citizens. It was the separatists whose logic would influence those who would later claim that Bonifacio, and not Rizal, should be the National Hero because Rizal was “an elitist -- and a pacifist to boot who wrote in Spanish and openly expressed qualms about the success of a revolution by the Katipunan.” Yet, even among them there was no avoiding the usual crab mentality.

With regard to the major characters that peopled this 19th-century stage, Roces gives brief sketches of their backgrounds. For those unfamiliar with these historical players, the information is both interesting and useful. Roces is kinder in his assessments than Nick Joaquin and his disillusioned “A Question of Heroes.” While Luna and Hidalgo were the first to challenge and win against what was then perceived to be Spanish superiority in the visual arts, it was Rizal who proved that a masterful novel in Castilian could be written by a Filipino.

Events, human conflicts and their results are analyzed to highlight the development of a sense of nationhood and the creation of the Filipino. Behind the scenes analyses of the Propaganda Movement, La Liga Filipina, the problems with publications like La Solidaridad and España en Filipinas showcase the weakness of our psyche (always the particular never the whole; the personal rather than the general), the lack of unity, the petty intrigues and jealousies. Even without stating the similarity, the reader can conclude that present-day problems that bedevil the country have their roots in our incapacity to transcend the ego.

De La Salle Press officials claim that they generally sell only 500 copies of their publications. Considering their student body, this is a rather depressing figure. But even worse is the thought that so few would have a chance to understand the Ilustrado and his real contribution to this country.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Lord of the Stink
The tale of two feet

From HealthNews Magazine

IMAGINE Legolas or Arwen, two of the most beautiful creatures in Middle Earth. Depending on your gender preference, these “elvish” characters have been nightly visitors in many people’s bed-rooms (if only in your dreams), whether you admit it or not.

Think about being alone in a bedroom with Arwen, and for sure, you’ll forget the real world where you belong. For the girls, having Legolas in the house will be a cause for hysteria.

Caught up in the looks-good-enough-to-eat frenzy, you may have missed something about J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. These people exist in the Middle Ages. These people, especially the perpetually haggard looking king-in-waiting Aragorn, were so busy trying to destroy the ring that they were never shown taking a bath, or at least washing their feet. It was only after Frodo came back to Minas Tirith after throwing the ring into Mount Doom, did the fellowship appear clean faced with a fresh set of clothes.

That said sharpshooter-archer Legolas probably has the smelliest feet known to the elfin kind. At least Arwen is mostly shown wearing nothing down there (I mean, on her feet!). And so is the perpetually walking Frodo and his sidekick, Samwise.

Our preoccupation with this popular book-to-film trilogy brings us to the most common concern beyond Middle Earth: Foot odor!

There is no doubt that your feet are the most burdened part of your body. Though made up of bones, cartilage and skin, it is a puzzle why the feet sweat so much.

The culprit of course is bacteria, which thrives in moist areas in the human body like sweaty feet. People not accustomed to wearing socks or rarely changing them are the most susceptible to smelly feet. One can imagine the foot-soldiers and rebels in the mountains, who most probably wear one pair of shoes and socks for months. They have an excuse though as bullets keep them walking and running, but ordinary people like us have no reason to have smelly feet. It originates from sweaty feet, or what scientists call, bromohydrosis.

The good news is, unlike lung cancer, bromohydrosis is preventable.

One need not pay a doctor’s consultation fee in order to know more about foot odor. Our recent Google search revealed enough information.

We found out that foot bacteria usually cause odor, and the only way to really get rid of it, is, of course, to get rid of the bacteria. An even better strategy is to prevent the bacteria from growing in the first place.


Two of the most common sources of stench are corynebacteria and micrococci. Coryne-bacteria come from the same type of microorganisms that cause diphtheria. Micrococci belong to the family of spherical or elliptical, usually aerobic bacteria that produce yellow or red pigments, including toxin-producing forms. Successful treatment of foot odor depends on eradicating these organisms. This means that odor-fighting measures like activated-charcoal shoe inserts and foot powders don’t get to the root of the problem.

Practical solutions

Simple prevention tips include washing your feet thoroughly every day, with a good antibacterial soap. Scrub them hard with a washcloth or body brush to remove all of the dead skin cells. Take extra care to scrub the area between your toes.

Dry your feet immediately after bathing, especially between your toes. Some people use a hair dryer to make sure their feet are completely dry.

Change your socks frequently, especially when you are exercising.

Whenever possible, do not wear the same shoes two days in a row. Try to let your shoes dry out one or two days between “wearings.”

Sprinkle talcum powder or one of the commercial foot powders into the toes of your socks to help keep your feet dry and discourage the growth of bacteria. Some people like to use baking soda, but others say it feels gritty against their skin.

If you believe your feet perspire excessively, you can rub an underarm antiperspirant into your feet to help them stay dry. If it contains Aluminum Chlorohydrate it will be even more effective, but wash it off right away if it starts to irritate your feet.

If none of these things work, you can try applying a 5 percent or 10 percent solution of Benzoyl Peroxide gel to your feet, to decrease bacteria growth.

For more practical tips to prevent a “relapse,” you can soak your feet every day, in a solution of black tea and cool water. Some people believe the tannin in the tea has a deodorizing effect, and they believe it makes the sweat glands shut down temporarily.

Here’s how to do it: Brew two tea bags in two cups (one pint) of boiling water for 15 minutes. Add the tea to two quarts of cool water, and soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes.

Some people take zinc supplements to prevent foot odor, because they believe foot odor can be a sign of zinc deficiency. Get your doctor’s opinion before you try this, and ask for a dosage recommendation, so you don’t take a toxic amount.

Some people also drink diluted liquid chlorophyll to prevent foot odor, because chlorophyll deodorizes many parts of the body, inside and out. Check with your doctor before trying this, because chlorophyll can have side effects.

For severe problems

If you have a very serious sweating problem (called hyperhydrosis) or the serious foot-odor problem, bromohydrosis, your doctor may suggest that you try one of these medical treatments.

Apply Aluminum Chloride with Ethyl Alcohol, which is more commonly known by the brand name Drysol. It is very effective, but it can cause skin irritation. Most doctors will tell you to apply it at night and wash it off completely the following morning.

There are prescription antibiotics like 2-percent Erythromycin or 1-percent Clindamycin, applied each morning and at bedtime. These medications are effective in killing most odor-causing bacteria. Then again, avoid using antibiotics whenever possible. Frequent use can make them ineffective, because the bacteria will develop resistance to that particular antibiotic.

Glutaraldehyde is the main ingredient in many sun-free tanning products. It will stain your feet brown, but it can be effective in reducing excessive perspiration, when applied to the bottom of the feet in a 2 percent to 10-percent solution.

Acetic acid footbaths can be effective in drying up sweat glands, if treatments are given three times per day.

Iontophoresis is electrode therapy. The feet are immersed in a pan of water and 15 or 20 mA of electric current is applied. However, Iontophoresis is not a cure for excessive sweating, but it usually provides temporary relief, if used frequently. It works by “injecting” electronically charged ions into the skin, causing the sweat glands to shut down temporarily.

Injecting tiny amounts of botulism toxin into the sweat glands under the skin can sometimes dry up those glands for several months. Up to 20 injections may be needed, but the treatment will work for up to nine months. This treatment is similar to the botulism injections cosmetic surgeons use to minimize wrinkles.

Believe it or not, surgery is the solution of last resort, but for a very small minority, it is the only thing that works. The two most common procedures are (1) blocking the nerve that causes sweating, and (2) complete removal of the sweat glands. The nerves related to foot sweating are not all located near the feet, and nerve blocking surgery for excessive foot perspiration can have unexpected side effects.

In conclusion, the vast majority of foot perspiration and odor problems can be effectively treated with simple home remedies. If everything else fails, then just keep your shoes or socks on all the time and at home, be sure you’re all alone in the room when you remove your “cover.”

Just derive comfort in knowing that your favorite film heroes like Legolas, King Aragorn or Frodo may just have the same foot-problems as you.