Monday, November 30, 2009

Using boobs to promote shoes

Ingenious ad by Reebok uses talking boobs to promote its new running shoes...

They say sex sells :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Castrated for the love of music - the castrati

Castrati are male singers who have singing voices equivalent to sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, or contraltos (female voices essentially) due to castration (removal of the testicles) of the singer before puberty or have never reached sexual maturity by some reason.

It is obvious that castration prevents the necessary flow of hormones to stop a boy from reaching puberty, hence the vocal cords cannot enlarge and cause his voice to become lower. As a result, castrati had the high voice of a boy soprano but the lung power of a grown man. Castrati were treated like superstars in the 18th century due to the popularity of opera. They made a lot of money and had throngs of fans. Girls would even seduce them and have sex with them because they were sure they wouldn't get pregnant.

Their training regimen seems to be harder than present-day singers. Wikipedia recounts "The regime of one singing school in Rome (c. 1700) consisted of one hour of singing difficult and awkward pieces, one hour practising trills, one hour practising ornamented passaggi, one hour of singing exercises in their teacher's presence and in front of a mirror so as to avoid unnecessary movement of the body or facial grimaces, and one hour of literary study; all this, moreover, before lunch. After, half-an-hour would be devoted to musical theory, another to writing counterpoint, an hour copying down the same from dictation, and another hour of literary study. During the remainder of the day, the young castrati had to find time to practice their harpsichord playing, and to compose vocal music, either sacred or secular depending on their inclination. This demanding schedule meant that, if sufficiently talented, they were able to make a debut in their mid-teens with a perfect technique and a voice of a flexibility and power no woman or ordinary male singer could match."

Wondering how a castrati's voice sounds like? Listen to the clip below. Comments to that video seem to indicate that this is Alessandro beyond his prime, so his voice quality has already declined. He does not seem to be the best castrato either, but he does hold the distinction of being the only true castrato singer who was ever recorded.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How academics differs from business.

Spot on. Another amazing piece by XKCD that highlights the big difference between an academic career and a business career.

If you're interested, read up on Guy Kawasaki's blog on things that should be taught in school. He mentioned "Perhaps in school people have plenty of time and no money, so long papers, emails, and presentations are not a problem. However, people in the real world have plenty of money (or at least more money) and no time."

Friday, November 20, 2009

The most beautiful man in the world... this guy. Search for Nong Poy on Google.

Slideshare has a detailed presentation about his journey, plus some more of his pictures.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good afternoon, my name is Russell, and I am a wilderness explorer...

Does this kid look like Russell from Up or what?

This is the real Russell. Found by my brother on Facebook.

Anyway, cue Russell's lines: (thanks to

RUSSELL: Good afternoon. My name is Russell. And I am a wilderness explorer in tribe 54, Sweat lodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?


RUSSELL: I could help you cross the street


RUSSELL: I can help you cross your yard.


RUSSELL: I could help you cross your porch.


RUSSELL: Well, I gotta help you cross something.

CARL: No, I'm doing fine.

RUSSELL: Good afternoon. My name is Russell. And I am a wilderness explorer in tribe 54. Sweat Lodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today...(door slams).

Gotta love Twitter's scheduled maintenance image

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Raise your voice for Climate Change - support the Filipino voice

It's pretty rare to have unknown people raise their voice in a big way for climate change. That's exactly what my friends Paul Garilao and Ponching Orioste are doing right now, joining the COP15 Raise your Voice 2009 campaign. To vote for their entry just visit; click vote; search Philippines on the videos per country; and click the green thumbs up sign for the entry entitled: Raise Your Voice by Filipino environmental advocates.

Please vote for them! :)

I've been thinking myself about what steps can be taken to help the environment. Often we focus on big controversial problems (like the recent Ondoy/Ketsana storm) and use that as a springboard for discussion. But I think some more fundamental aspects of our city life can be changed to produce significant results for our environment. Here are my ideas:

1. Improve traffic conditions
Problem: 5.3 million cars as of 2006 and an increase at the rate of 5-6% per year means a lot of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere. Given the bad traffic situations in majority of the country, these cars spend more time than they need to on the road, burning even more fuel. Go to Wolfram alpha to get a feel of how much CO2 is thrown to the atmosphere. Apart from the greenhouse impact, bad transportation also results to anxiety and poor health in people and economic hits due to productivity loss, perishable meats, and more.

What the solution might look like:
Expand train network - The model is Hong Kong. A small place connected by a lot of trains. This reduces people's need for cars, so the carbon footprint per person is markedly reduced. The trains should be underground so we have more space on the ground.

Eradicate jeepneys and other public transport - consolidate public transport under the bus. This seats the most number of people and is most efficient (I think, I have no data). Keep taxis of course. Most valid for large cities.
Disallow parking along the streets - We can plant trees there instead. Requires a cultural shift and the creation of a strong parking industry.

What it will cost: A lot. Billions range obviously over the span of a few years, but the benefit will persevere for decades.
To the environment: lesser greenhouse emissions, fuel stock will last a longer time
To the country: productivity and value creation due to lesser time spent in transit, fuel importation might be decreased
To the people: less stress in travel
I hope a Philippine President addresses this soon.

Other ideas (I like to stress the first one, so I won't explain these.)
2. Modify educational framework to focus on the environment in the curriculum. Intensify the instruction of environmental science, and encourage experimentation/projects in this subject. Better start young.

3. Reward actions that help the environment. Reward citizens for helping the environment (activities, purchasing eco-friendly products) and companies via tax breaks. Reward entrepreneurs for eco-friendly businesses.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Big Bird is in today's Google doodle!

Today is the 40th day anniversary of Sesame Street!

But honestly, today's doodle made Google read like Googlle.