Monday, May 14, 2018

The bike, future of public transportation

Clive Thomson, writing for Wired.

What’s the shiniest, most exciting new technology for transportation? Well, there are plenty of candidates! We’ve got the self-­driving car and drones big enough to carry people. Elon Musk is getting ready to bore hyperloop tunnels. When it comes to moving humans around, the future looks to be merging with sci-fi.

But from where I stand, the most exciting form of transportation technology is more than 100 years old—and it’s probably sitting in your garage. It’s the bicycle. The future of transportation has two thin wheels and handlebars.

It sounds too good to be true. I hope this happens in the Philippines soon, but the environmental, health, and monetary benefits will have to be balanced with the fact that bike riders have to put up with the heat. Would office workers, for example, be willing to come to their jobs drenched in sweat? I would—if there are showers available.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Junk the quo warranto

An argument against the unlimited powers of the Supreme Court, as it should, above all, be fiercely loyal and adherent to the Constitution, begins with a hypothetical issue of adding another ray to the Philippine flag:

If a case were to reach the Court demanding that a ninth ray be added to the flag, and the constitutional provision was not amended and duly ratified, the Court would have to reject the case based on the hallowed tradition honoring the current flag that goes all the way back to 1898. Article XVI, Section 1 itself speaks of “consecration” by the people and “recognition” in law; but the point is, even if the proviso were not included, the Court would still be bound by this tradition. In other words, there are limits beyond which the Supreme Court cannot venture. Like King Canute of legend, who was reported to have commanded the tide of the sea to stop (and failed), the Court cannot hold back the tides of reason and history.

The Inquirer editorial goes further:

The wrong that the Supreme Court is poised to commit today is so clear, and so clearly unjust, that over a hundred law professors, led by deans and former deans of law schools in different parts of the country, published an advertisement calling on the Supreme Court to stop resisting the constitutional tide. “We, members of law faculties, express our deep concern at the move to unseat the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by means other than by impeachment.”

Melba Padilla Maggay's analysis is worth reading.

The quo warranto petition is a brazen violation of the Constitution, which states that the Chief Justice can only be removed through a trial in the Senate acting as an impeachment court. What propels the Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction over this case, in effect abandoning its constitutional duty to uphold the law and safeguard the integrity of the Charter as a legal frame for the conduct of our institutions?

What seems clear is that the Supreme Court is in grave danger of being irreversibly damaged, reduced to a choir singing a chorus of assent to the dictates of a potentate who sees an enemy in anyone who would not bend a knee, to be eliminated by weakened state instrumentalities.

If the justices lend credence to the quo warranto, they effectively put into the hands of unprincipled legal technicians an insidious weapon that would cow them into submission. It is a sword that will make their heads roll in the event that any one of them stands up to Calida’s boss.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The more, the merrier

I once said in a grad speech I delivered during med school that misery loves company. In this case, it involves Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which, in a research published, by scientists from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was shown to communicate distress signals to one another in order to evade antibiotics.

The reported behavior was caused by tobramycin, an antibiotic commonly used in clinical settings, and resulted in a dual signal response. As this antibiotic was applied to a colony of P. aeruginosa, the bacteria produced a signal to a localized area of the colony—a Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) that is known to occur—as well as a second, community-wide response, known as the alkyl hydroxyquinoline (AQNO).

The team mapped production of each response spatially, and determined that P. aeruginosa is capable of producing PQS in small pockets at significantly higher concentrations than previously recorded.

Pseudomonas is notorious, the cause of many hospital-acquired infections, its presence a harbinger of prolonged hospital stay and administration of strong IV antibiotics. To a young medical resident, it meant a longer patient list to do rounds on!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Dot org

On my blog's 14th year, I had a hard time renewing my domain name. My domain service provider—a Cebu-based company that used to give me nothing but excellent service—decided to go quiet when I mailed my billing statement. I was not alerted if the said company still exists to this day. I called the office number and sent countless emails to verify if my payment was received at all, but days have passed and I've been getting emails and messages from friends, worried that showed an error message when accessed—an impersonal white page instead of my carefully chosen fonts and my childish drawing of eyeglasses in the header. The news is that I am still alive and will keep on writing on my private little space in the web. I'm aware that this is the time when there are moves to veer away from social media, which used to be a democratic place where free exchange of ideas can happen but something that has evolved into a monstrosity, what with the political manipulation and censorship. While it has its uses (I've used Facebook to connect with high school classmates), it is considered by some people as tiresome, intrusive, and sometimes offensive—and there are moves now to go back to the good ol' blogs of the early 2000s. And to pen and paper diaries. I'm somewhere in the middle.

It's for now. It has a scholarly ring to it. An organization! I sound like I run an NGO. For the meantime, I hope the guys at my old domain name provider reply. I miss the dot com and will do everything to get it, even if it entails setting up the CNAMEs and other nitty-gritty details in the DNS all over again.

As always, thanks for reading.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Kasalang Bayan

Spotted this along the PGH corridor. Funny that, of all places, the notice should be placed near the Department of Medicine, teeming with single people. (Also, congratulations to Danes Guevara who tops this years's Internal Medicine speciality board exam!)


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Submit to necessary afflictions

April has ended, and we're now in May. How time flies. We begin the month with this Puritan prayer.

Let us take up his cross and follow him.
May the agency of thy grace prepare us
....for thy dispensations.
Make us willing that thou shouldest
...choose our inheritance and
...determine what we shall retain or lose,
....suffer or enjoy;
If blessed with prosperity may we be free
..from its snares,
..and use, not abuse, its advantages;
May we patiently and cheerfully submit those afflictions which are necessary.
When we are tempted to wander,
..hedge up our way,
..excite in us abhorrence of sin,
..wean us from the present evil world,
Assure us that we shall at last enter
....Immanuel’s land
......where none is ever sick,
......and the sun will always shine.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

How to be a perfect Christian

Babylon Bee is releasing a new book, "How to Be a Perfect Christian."

From the blurb:

By the time you finish the book, you will be talking the Christian talk, which is even better than walking the Christian walk.

I've linked to this website many times, and it's on my The Old Reader RSS feed. This brand of Christian satire is hilarious.

It goes without saying that I'm thankful for my intelligent readers, whose existence does not complel me to explain satire.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Basement Boys!

At Clint's wedding, I met Kuya Mike and Paul. Kuya Mike was my RA in Basement, Kalayaan Hall, where I lived during my freshman year of college. They did not age; if anything, they looked younger! Kuya Mike is now with the British Council, while Paul is based in New Zealand. During the program, Paul and I were "handpicked" to join a charade about films. We answered most questions and got a thousand pesos each as reward. Clint (not shown here) was my roommate in Yakal Dorm, and I hadn't seen him in years—until last night.

Three responses

Dr. Albert Mohler, a Christian teacher I'm thankful for, writes about evangelism in a post-Christian world.

In our culture, people who think themselves autonomous will claim the right to define all meaning for themselves. Any truth claim they reject or resist is simply ruled out of bounds by society at large. We will make our own world of meaning and dare anyone to violate our autonomy.

This is why evangelism is often perceived as insensitive or even threatening in our culture. Evangelism demands that we press the authority of Scripture and the claims of Christ on sinners as we invite them to the free gift of salvation provided through Christ’s atoning work.

In a post-Christian age, evangelism will be met with one of three responses. First, evangelism will be met with hostility. This will not necessarily take the form of overt action. But, at least in the immediate future, much of this hostility will look like cultural marginalization. Anyone caught inviting sinners to repent of their sin and turn to Christ will be seen as backward or even culturally subversive.

Second, evangelism will also often be met with befuddlement. In a world that has lost fundamental Christian presuppositions about the holiness of God and human accountability, the call of the gospel will more often perplex than infuriate. The plausibility structures of society are so different from our own that many people simply cannot understand us.

Finally, we will find that we will not only be met with hostility and befuddlement, but also indifference. Many in our society will not even care enough about our message to spend their energies either in hostility or befuddlement.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Stay humble, stay passionate, don't mind the grades

Dr. Leonard Pascual, my professor in neuroanatomy, delivered the keynote during the UP College of Medicine Students Convocation. An excerpt:

Lastly, we must always remember to be humble. It is easy to get carried away and think we know more and feel superior to other people, including colleagues and co-workers in the College of Medicine and in the Hospital. We do not know everything. The moment we think we know it all, we stop learning.

We were all once medical students. We all crawled our way from our first days in Anatomy. We all slaved away as clerks and interns in the hospital. Look at these grades. They do not make me feel small, nor do they define who I am. I display them proudly as I would any medal. This is where I came from. I would like to thank the Department of Anatomy for accepting me into their fold despite my not-so-stellar grades in Anatomy. It’s too late to kick me out now, I have a permanent appointment, I have tenure.

I did not look back on my transcript of records when I applied for residency in Adult Neurology. I knew what I could see myself doing in the future, dealing with life and death situations, solving difficult medical mysteries. If I could go on and be where I could be now, so can you. You will all surpass me in the future. I am comfortable knowing that I may sometimes be more up to date than those who are my senior, just as I appreciate and admire that my students know more than me. I am happy with that. It’s for the good of our patients.

Just remember to keep grounded. With all your achievements, remember to be humble, be compassionate as you pursue your passion, and know that being resilient will get you to wherever you may want to go.

For someone who did not get the highest grades in class and who had to take the finals in Anatomy, this speech resonates with me. Thank you, Sir Leonard.

Read the entire speech here.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Christian blogs a thing of the past?

Tim Challies remembers:

At one time, it seemed like almost every Christian had a blog. Back in the early days of blogging, just about everybody went to Blogger or WordPress, began a free account, and tapped out their first few articles. Some quickly realized it wasn’t for them, but many others stuck it out for months or years. Those were fun days! It was a joy to “meet” new people through their writing and to be challenged by ordinary believers who felt a burden to tap out their reflections on Christian doctrine and living. A movement was afoot and everyone wanted to be part of it. 

That seems a long time ago.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Missed a few days without an entry, but here's a quick note: I celebrated my 31st birthday. Praise be to God for His faithfulness. His mercies never fail.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


I'm delivering a brief report at a small conference today on colorectal cancer. While preparing, I kept wondering if I was pronouncing the words properly.

Capecitabine is pronounced as:

Oxaliplatin's is more confusing, but I like the sound of this version:

These two drugs form the combination, CapOx (or CapeOx), which is pronounced as "kayp-oks."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


A poem by Jim Culleny, dedicated for someone named "Danny." An excerpt:

So my mind was no help in knowing you.
Conveniently hobbled I excused myself
from the work of understanding.
Now I see you were in no way slow but
full of crushing frustration, confined by your moat
at the center of your island inarticulate
to the point of slamming your head with a palm
to jar loose what you could not say,
not tongue-tied but mind-tied,
kept by genetic leash from joining
our world of connection, striving to snap it
so that you might join in our jokes
………………,…join in our sadness
or have us join with you in yours

One feels the struggle of understanding another human being.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A mathematical model that explains the sounds created by knuckle cracking

V. Chandran Suja and A. I. Barakat, writing for Nature Scientific Reports:

The articular release of the metacarpophalangeal joint produces a typical cracking sound, resulting in what is commonly referred to as the cracking of knuckles. Despite over sixty years of research, the source of the knuckle cracking sound continues to be debated due to inconclusive experimental evidence as a result of limitations in the temporal resolution of non-invasive physiological imaging techniques. To support the available experimental data and shed light onto the source of the cracking sound, we have developed a mathematical model of the events leading to the generation of the sound. The model resolves the dynamics of a collapsing cavitation bubble in the synovial fluid inside a metacarpophalangeal joint during an articular release.

I understand less than half of the article, but I'm quite fascinated because: (1) I cannot make make this kind of sound, and (2) There are scientists who spend time and resources to think about these problems.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Rely on the sufficiency of God's every day grace

Scotty Smith prays:

Heavenly Father, it’d be awesome not to have to perpetually relearn the same lesson, especially this one: Your grace is all we need, and Christ’s power is most fully released through our weakness. This way of life is counterintuitive, paradoxical, and humbling. But it is also stress-relieving and peace-giving. The pressure is off. We can leave being awesome to you.

We all look forward to the Day when we’ll never again crave competency and control, self-sufficiency or self-anything. We know that Day is coming, Father, but well before then, please free us to boast in (not bemoan) our weaknesses. Grant us faith (and joy) to accept our limitations and quirks; our body pains and heart wounds; the story you gave us and the grace you offer us.

Though we’d rather be swaggering vessels of togetherness and impressiveness, giftedness and smartness, help us delight in being fragile jars of clay—releasing the aroma of grace, the wonders of your love, and the beauty of your heart. Free us from comparing ourselves to anybody, and from envying some other story than our own. May Jesus increasingly be our treasure, the gospel our delight, and grace our sufficiency.

Scotty Smith's blog is like the modern-day version of the Valley of Vision, one of the treasured gems of Christian literature.

This prayer resonates with me, now that I'm beginning to learn the ropes of chemotherapy and the many peculiarities of oncology.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Preach the gospel in the pulpit

Dr. Steve Lawson writes:

No preacher can afford to be wrong at this point, as though the gospel can ever be adapted. To be wrong about the gospel is to be wrong everywhere else that truly matters. To be wrong here is to stand in opposition to the saving mission and sin-bearing death of Jesus Christ. To be wrong here is to contradict the meaning of the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ. To be wrong here is to divert souls away from the only way that leads to God and to usher them onto the broad path that leads to destruction.

The very essence of the gospel itself demands that every pulpit guard its exclusivity. When the message of the cross is rightly defined, the singularity of the saving purposes of God is automatically established. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone—period, end of paragraph, end of discussion. To this truth, the Bible has a “zero tolerance” policy for any equivocation outside of its borders.

I'm blessed to be part of a church that doesn't shy away from talking Jesus as the only way to salvation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Why you should have an RSS reader

Brian Barrett, writing for Wired:

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Summary) and it was first stitched into the tapestry of the open web around the turn of the millennium. Its aim is straightforward: to make it easy to track updates to the content of a given website in a standardized format.

In practice, and for your purposes, that means it can give you a comprehensive, regularly updated look at all of the content your favorite sites publish throughout the day. Think of it as the ultimate aggregator; every morsel from every source you care about, fed directly to you. Or, more commonly, fed to you through an intermediary known as an RSS feed reader, software that helps you wrangle all of those disparate headlines into something remotely manageable.

After Google Reader was scrapped, I've since used The Old Reader, which I like for its simplicity, minimalism, and user-friendliness. The free account lets me subscribe to 100 websites and blogs, which is more than I can handle.

An RSS reader gives me the autonomy to curate the kinds of websites I only want to read. I check it once or twice a day, mostly after work, without the hassle of having to go through social media.  I hope you get to try it, too.

(You can subscribe to my blog by keying in "" in the search feature and clicking subscribe.)

Monday, April 9, 2018



Koji and Risa, dear friends from church, got married today. The wedding was just as it should be: short and sweet, with a dash of sentimentality. Koji teared up while reciting his vows; Risa was able to hold hers back.

I love Christian weddings in that the main focus is Jesus as the source of and the prime example of the love that husband and wife should follow. Who can top giving up one's self for others? That's precisely what Jesus showed.

The ceremony was small, beautiful, and intimate. It was liturgical but also familiar.

In the days before the ceremony, I saw common friends from church who arranged the program, facilitated the march, finalized the guest list--everyone was helping and showing their love to this would-be couple.

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Koji and Risa Bulahan! The best is yet to come.

(Photo: Ate Jen A.)

What she has read so far

Fiction writer Jessica Zafra writes:
Travel and reading are always linked in my mind. When I visit another country, I have to read a book by a local writer (or a novel set in that country). When I went to Budapest I discovered Magda Szabo and Antal Szerb—I love them so much, I wanted to change my spelling to Szafra. Paris is Patrick Modiano (and Eric Rohmer movies). In three trips to Japan I’ve amassed a dozen books which I have just started going through.

She lists the books she has read thus far. I'm glad to see Kazuo Ishiguro in her list.

First I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World. Yeah, he’s really British, but his folks are Japanese and the novel is set in Japan. And when he acknowledged a Tom Waits song in his Nobel Prize speech, I thought, “I am going to read every word you write, even if I didn’t like The Buried Giant.” Holy crap, An Artist of the Floating World is a great book. I think of it as a rehearsal for The Remains of the Day, which is perfect. Both are about fundamentally decent men who do not rise above the narrow confines of their lives. Both are very quiet and calm until the author breaks your heart with a sentence.

Sunday, April 8, 2018


Pinay scientists

The article, Six Filipino female scientists who are improving the way we live by Kit Singson (CNN Philippines), is a refreshing break from bad news.

Two of them were my mentors in molecular biology and residency training (Internal Medicine). I did a some research projects with them.

On Dr. Cynthia Saloma:

[She] is currently a professor of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and Principal Investigator at the Laboratory of Molecular and Cell Biology (LMCB) in the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in UP Diliman. She pursues research towards embryonic organ formation. She, together with three other women, established what is known today as the Philippine Genome Center.

Her proudest moment as a scientist is starting the DNA Sequence Core Facility where she, along with collaborators and students, successfully sequenced and analyzed hundreds of genomes of bacteria affecting shrimp health, soil quality of rice, and parasites affecting the Philippine carabao, among others. Having knowledge of these genome sequences can advance our understanding of animal diseases and plant development to help our fisheries and agriculture sectors using biomarkers and diagnostic tools.

On Dr. Regina Berba:

Her current work involves researches in tuberculosis, dengue, infection control, influenza, and HIV. She is writing a paper about a new dengue diagnostic test called dengue LAMP (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) invented by a group in the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in UP Manila NIH led by Dr. Raul Destura.

This test uses gene amplification to identify dengue early and at a low cost, with good accuracy measures. If dengue is diagnosed early, she says that “there is a better chance that complications are avoided, [there will be] less deaths and more lives saved.”

We should read more about scientists and artists.

Saturday, April 7, 2018


"Hanging out"

Uno Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City is one of my favorite places to hang out. By "hang out," I mean "spend time alone in a public space." It is quiet, devoid of noisy teenagers and large Filipino families whose habit is bringing their kids to cafés. The perfect spot is beside the windows, on the second floor that overlooks Amici restaurant, which is also empty at 4 pm. I order the flourless, moist chocolate cake that comes with cold cream. Taken with an americano, it makes for the ideal dessert for men in their early thirties.

I haven't dropped by for the past three months. On my last visit, the waiters, who by now already know me as the "young doctor" (they spotted me carrying a white coat a few years back), asked me how I was doing, inquired if I wanted another coffee refill, then left me to read David Sedaris's diary. Rarely does one see this familiarity--waiters recognizing customers and remembering what they had ordered the last time.



Friday, April 6, 2018


Roti, also called chapati, is a flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent made from stoneground wholemeal flour, traditionally known as atta, and water that is combined into a dough.


A quesadilla is a tortilla, usually a flour tortilla but also sometimes made with a corn tortilla, which is filled with cheese and then grilled.


They look the same from these angles.

Thursday, April 5, 2018


Dictionaries and national identity

The Merriam-Webster's dictionary and how words shape nationalism and politics.

“To diffuse an uniformity and purity of language in America, to destroy the provincial prejudices that originate in the trifling differences of dialect,” wrote Webster in the preface of the speller, “is the most ardent wish of the author.” By capturing language not as it was written in England but as it was spoken in the U.S., Webster hoped to lay the foundation for a uniform American speech that could supersede European linguistic traditions. Where other instructional texts might capture existing modes of speech, he sought to elevate a new way of speaking, and in some sections the speller reads more like a political treatise than a children’s schoolbook.

Webster’s motivations were in part commercial—the schoolteacher-turned-lexicographer needed cash—but they were also undeniably political. He longed to give the American public a language they could call their own. The spellings that Webster promoted have now become hallmarks of American English, including dropping the letter u in words like color, removing the k from mimic, and changing words like centre to center.

A memory: my high school classmate Willy L., fan of the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, referred to her as one of the smartest women to walk this earth, citing her greatest achievement--the "Miriam-Webster's" dictionary.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The risen Christ

Youth Camp 2018

Dr. Albert Mohler writes about the Resurrection.

The secular world has done its best to make a mess of Christmas, but it has largely ignored our celebration of the Resurrection. Where commercialism intrudes, it comes in the forms of eggs and chicks and rabbits–none of which claim any connection with the Resurrection. The fact is, the secular world will attempt to domesticate, commercialize, and tame the babe in the manger–but it will run at breakneck speed from the cross and the empty tomb.

That cross stands as condemnation on all human attempts at self-righteousness, and the fallen world will do all within its power to hide the cross from sight. The empty tomb is the seal and confirmation of the cross, and the world will shield its eyes.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead separates Christianity from all mere religion–whatever its form. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. “And if Christ is not risen,” said the Apostle Paul, “then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain” [1 Corinthians 15:14]. Furthermore, “You are still in your sins!” [v. 17b]. Paul could not have chosen stronger language. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” [v. 19]

Happy Easter Sunday! Christ is risen. Christ is risen, indeed.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

PhD existential problems

The freedom of choice, by Irini Topalidau.

A postdoc friend recently called me to discuss his career options. He didn't want to run his own lab, he said. Instead, he wanted to become a research scientist, mainly working at the bench—like me. I sensed that his mind was already made up, but he needed validation about pursuing a path that is not generally thought of as a professional success. Our conversation got me thinking about my own decision to become a research scientist—and about other career choices I made that went against the norm.

The article's conclusion:

My experiences over the next 5 years reinforced my decision not to pursue PI positions. I realized that I like being the person who not only thinks of scientific questions, but also performs the experiments. I don't want to miss the eureka moments at the lab bench, even if the discovery is as insignificant as a new transgenic worm. I need this daily feeling of personal accomplishment that I get from being an experimentalist.

But quite wrongly, research (or staff) scientist positions in academia are associated with lack of ambition or scientific drive. This view needs to change, and more positions need to be created for the increasing number of qualified scientists who are not interested in opening their own labs or who do not secure the few faculty positions available. And scientists like me, who are not interested in becoming PIs, should be confident in our decisions and advocate for the research scientist position to be recognized as a valid professional choice.

The short of it is--do something that matters to you.

Friday, March 30, 2018

, ,

Christians and Twitter

I'm on Twitter. I use it for news, like an RSS feed. It is slowly becoming a lot like Facebook, which I avoid. Since last year, hardly a day has passed when I didn't ask if I should engage in social media at all. I'm on the brink of quitting entirely, but Read Mercer Schuchardt's article makes me rethink my social media usage.

All digital media favor and reward reaction over reflection. This is why you can't offer your perfect Tweet any time but right now. Thus, the best way to Tweet is to ask, “If I were to Tweet right now the thing I wished I'd said tomorrow morning, what would it be?”

Neil Postman suggested we relieve ourselves of the need to have an opinion on everything. Goethe's Twitter advice? “Every day one should at least hear one little song, read one good poem, see one fine painting and—if at all possible—speak a few sensible words.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

In and out

Miniso traps you into believing that you need the things you didn't know existed. My brother and I, after doing errands at Greenhills, entered a Miniso store near the mall entrance (I don't know which). We went home carrying two coffee cups and saucers and one trash bin that resembles a Starbucks coffee mug. I was set on buying a notepad--it had cream-colored paper ideal for fountain pens--but I remembered I had bought a notebook from Muji three days ago, a store that feels a lot like Miniso but one that has more clothes. The Japanese think of everything.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018

I love PDFs

Ernie Smith writes about why the PDF is the world's most important file format.
It's not often, of course, that the PDF gets this level of notice. The PDFs origin story is a bit more boring than that of the MP3, which was built around the contours of Suzanne Vega’s unaccompanied voice on “Tom’s Diner,” and the ZIP file, which came to life in a brutal legal battle that was egged on by the whims of BBS users.

But the PDF still has a story, and that story is that of a format that promises to be even more valuable in the decades to come.

Why I don't like "batch names"

(Photo credit: PGH Internal Medicine Facebook page).

I've never referred to my Internal Medicine colleagues as IMAX, the batch name we were supposed to adopt. I consider batch names extraneous and juvenile—we are, after all, not taxonomists who need to follow a nomenclature for a phylum or class of organisms. Most of all, we are not high school students! But I have loved working with these men and women—brilliant, kind, hilarious, and so opinionated that they'll brush off my objections as nonsense in an instant.


Saturday, March 24, 2018

America's political style icon

Robert Mueller, the FBI director who leads the investigation regarding Russian collusion in the last presidential election in the US, is a fascinating figure for me. He is a figure beyond reproach. His loyalty is not determined by party lines. Interestingly, his clothes reflect this dignity.

Photo credit: Die, Workwear!

From Die Workwear!:

It’s hard not to notice Robert Mueller if you have an eye for clothing. In a town full of bad suits and ugly ties, Mueller is one of the only people in Washington who knows how to wear a coat-and-tie. His look is quintessentially American. Soft shouldered suits with naturally rounded sleeveheads, worn over white button-down collars and tastefully selected foulard ties. All the details are middle-of-the-road, but they’re so perfectly executed that they come together in a classic American way you rarely see anymore.

The analysis goes deeper into Mueller's watch.

Mueller does have some personal style quirks. For one, all his shirts look to be heavily starched, such that his collar occasionally bulges in unusual ways (Eric Twardzik recently wrote about this at Ivy Style). Mueller also favors dressier pinpoint oxfords, rather than the heavier, more textured variety. And lastly, he’s almost never pictured without a chunky Casio watch on his left wrist (always with the watch facing in). It looks to be some variation of the DW-290, a classic pre-G Shock model, which Tom Cruise wore in 1996 action spy film Mission Impossible.

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Troy Patterson at The New Yorker calls him a "style icon."

Here's a short mini-documentary by CNN.

Friday, March 23, 2018


The doctor as an abnormal human being

Dr. Richard Mark Boulay in The New Abnormal: How a Regular Person Becomes a Doctor:

Most of us choose the medical profession for a rewarding career of getting folks through the most difficult days of their lives. A desire to be helpful. A hope to be needed. A need to feel important. However, the individual experiences of this noble endeavor change physicians deeply. Our normal deviates markedly from most. The study of medical sciences quickly dehumanizes, as we discover that life is a series of biochemical reactions and the body, a physical construct subject only to the laws of physics. Clinical medicine reinvigorates our humanism, but similar to other first responders, reinforces that lifetimes play out as a series of dramatic and spectacular events loosely interconnected with humdrum. We just happen to be involved in managing everybody’s furor, so our personal lulls are hijacked. The simple discussion of “How was your day?” falls by the wayside.

We live abnormally.

Dr. Boulay's conclusion is spot on.

Yet we endure. We know no other life. The career we chose came with a lifestyle, generally left out of the algorithm when we adopted it. Yet, in every career there are tradeoffs. Balances. Life is imperfect. And despite its abnormalcy, the career that chose me suits me quite well. In fact, I love it. I cannot see myself doing anything else. It’s important to me to be important to someone, and it’s a privilege to care for a fellow human being on her worst day. And as for the family, well, they accommodate. I don’t truly believe they fully comprehend my battles. My choices. My eccentricities. But at least they see my patterns, and love me anyway.

(HT: Carlo de Guzman)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Another death

I receive news that Papa Eddie, my uncle from Tatay's side, has died. Colon cancer. He already had liver metastases when he was diagnosed just a few months back.

February 28 was the last time I saw him alive, in a hospital in General Santos, where he was confined because he felt weak. He wasn't eating and did not feel like it. Hours before my flight back to Manila, I told him to keep strong, to trust in the Lord, and to hold on so he could see me become a cancer specialist. I told him I'd be delighted to care for him when I'm done. Days later I would receive the news that his cancer had progressed, the nodes in the liver had enlarged, and a new chemotherapeutic regimen would be started. Papa refused any more treatment. Perhaps he just wanted to rest or be done with chemotherapy and all of its side effects once and for all. He knew what he was up against.

He used to get me notebooks for school. I will miss him.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


The biography of cancer

The Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer is written by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, an oncologist, researcher, and writer. The title refers to this work as "a biography"--of cancer as a disease, its mechanisms, its evolutionary strategies to evade any form of cure. It is also a biography of scientists, physicians, and politicians whose efforts have led to its greater understanding; of its victims and survivors, both patients and their families alike.

The book rekindled my love for medical history; it is as fascinating and intriguing as our present-day politics. Many issues tackled in this work--including, for example, the discovery of cigarettes as a leading cause of preventable cancers and the powerful, multi-million dollar efforts of tobacco companies to stifle public health efforts aimed against it--remain relevant today.

It is a narrative that illustrates the value of the scientific process, and how basic sciences--molecular biology, chemistry, and physics--form the backbone of medicine's understanding of this disease. The book excels in outlining the doubts and worries of the scientific community, a reminder that uncertainties lead to scientific questions; and with the questions come the answers--not as an inevitability but as a possibility. In a situation where death is impending, any possibility spells the hope of relief, if not an actual cure.

Dr. Mukherjee distills the central dogma of molecular biology and explains it in terms people can understand. He shows that the study and treatment of cancer is never static, always full of hopes and disappointments, but that the effort to fight it is well worth the time. He rejoices with the world upon the discovery of the genome; for the first time in history, we now have a centralized mechanism of carcinogenesis. A new age of oncology has dawned.

He writes about his experiences as an oncology fellow, drawing lessons from patients, exposing his frustrations, and telling us about his dreams: that someday, perhaps, we will be able to find a cure; and in this search, the patient--the human being with the disease--must remain central.

Weeks away from the start of my clinical fellowship in Oncology, I'm blessed to have read this work; it reaffirms my conviction that this is the field where I want (and need) to be. I will reread this to draw inspiration and hope.

Books change their readers for the better. This is one of those books.


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JI Packer on weakness

Weakness is the Way by J. I. Packer from Crossway on Vimeo.

JI Packer, who wrote the book, "Knowing God," talks about weakness in the Christian life. Christianity is an amazing movement in that it runs counter to many of the world's beliefs: salvation to non-Jews, salvation by grace alone through faith alone, respect and equality for women, love for others as love for self. Here, JI Packer argues for the different definition of strength in the Christian life and the acknowledgment that that true strength can never be had without an acknowledgment of one's weakness.

I like listening to old, godly men, especially if they happen to write with typewriters, as is the case here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


The apostle Paul got married at some point?

The apostle Paul is major figure in the New Testament. He argues that being married is not superior to being single. Theologian Denny Burk writes that at some point Paul was actually married.

I think this interpretation [of 1 Corinthians 7:8-9] is mistaken. It may be that Paul’s words have implications for all who are unmarried, but I think Paul’s reference to the unmarried refers to widowers specifically. There are a number of reasons for this. Not the least of which is the fact that the Greek word for “widower” was rarely used in ancient Greek and was never used in the Koine period (Fee).

For some reason, first century speakers did not use the word “widower.” My hunch is that they didn’t use it because of the negative social connotation attached to the term. In the first century, a widow was not only bereft of her husband, she was also often destitute. It was a patriarchal culture, and to be without a husband was to be in an extremely vulnerable position. That vulnerability is why the “widows” and “orphans” are often paired together in the Bible (e.g. James 1:27). In a patriarchal culture where there’s no social security safety net, widows and orphans are extremely socially disadvantaged.

(HT: Tim Challies)

Monday, March 19, 2018


Follow Mike at Walk and Eat

If you like eating out in Metro Manila, I invite you to follow Mike at Walk and Eat. He visits restaurants almost every day and writes about food, interior design, and service. As far as I know, his job allows him some flexibility to roam around town, and maybe this is why his blog is called such. How he chooses the restaurants amazes me. A self-confessed obsessive-compulsive and completist, he follows a list of best restaurants for this year or the other year and ticks off the place once he has visited it. He also chooses randomly. Some of his best pieces are those when he stumbles upon a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and finds out that the food is amazing. Unlike many professional food critics, he writes simply, devoid of any pretensions. If he likes the food, he writes that he'll be back. Otherwise, he just says that burger, for example, is bad without sounding condescending. It has become a habit to scroll through his archives, or do a quick search in his site, so I'd have an idea where to dine in. I visited Assad Café in Paco because Mike recommended it highly.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

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Yellow is the color of the tennis ball

week 28 (UP Medicine Tennis Court)

What color is a tennis ball? My answer is yellow. I learned recently that this is quite a divisive question.

The seemingly trivial question tore apart our usually congenial group. Lines were quickly and fiercely drawn, team green against team yellow, as my colleagues debated the very definition of color itself. Swords were brandished in the form of links to HTML color codes or the paint selection at Sherwin-Williams. Attempts to broker a cease-fire, to consider that maybe tennis balls are actually yellow-green—or green-yellow, or chartreuse—were brushed aside. At one point, I lashed out at a colleague who then reminded me we were on the same side.

The article offers a theory on color perception.

When we’re looking at a given object in different types of light, our brains make substantial color corrections that allow us to see the object in a stable color over most lighting conditions. Conway’s theory is that some people discount cool colors in their perception, while others discount warm colors, in order to view objects consistently as the light changes around them.

It goes even further: one's perception of the tennis ball color may shed light into one's lifestyle.

When we’re looking at a given object in different types of light, our brains make substantial color corrections that allow us to see the object in a stable color over most lighting conditions. Conway’s theory is that some people discount cool colors in their perception, while others discount warm colors, in order to view objects consistently as the light changes around them.

In my second year of residency in IM (sometime in mid-2016), I enrolled in a tennis class. The court was a few steps away from my dorm room. Never mind that the interns saw me sweat it all out.  Weng, my young instructor, said at one point that I had a good backhand. The last I heard about Weng was that he got married and moved to the province.

Saturday, March 17, 2018



I was moved by this: former President Obama surprises Vice President Joe Biden with the Medal of Freedom, a spectacular display of generosity of spirit and a humble heart.

From the NPR:

The two have enjoyed an unusually close working relationship over the past eight years, and Obama himself even joked at the outset of the ceremony that "this also gives the Internet one last chance to talk about our 'bromance.' "

Throughout the ceremony it was evident not just how close the two men were but how close their families and staffs had become, and Obama said his "family is honored to call ourselves honorary Bidens."

You don't have to be friends with the people you work with. But if you are friends with them—well, that makes the work easier, the hardships more bearable.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Coffee impacts biodiversity

Another good news for coffee drinkers and environmentalists:

The impact of coffee on biodiversity has been intensively studied, particularly in Latin America. The conclusion of most, but not all, of those studies is that biodiversity impacts increase as more intense farming techniques are used. Truly rustic coffee, where coffee plants are grown interspersed with forest trees and understory, has the least impact on vegetation and birds. Shade-grown monoculture is a slightly more intensive technique, farming larger densities of coffee plants underneath the forest canopy. This impacts biodiversity more than rustic coffee, but still far less than sun coffee, which involves clearing the forest like a traditional farm, removing epiphytic plants from the coffee plants, and applying chemical fertilizers.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


The patients' narrative

As I prepare for my clinical fellowship in Oncology, I'm reading Siddharta Mukherjee's masterpiece, The Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. As with any medical discipline, the patients remain central.

But the story of leukemia—the story of cancer—isn't the story of doctors who struggle and survive, moving from one institution to another. It is the story of the patients who struggle and survive, moving from one embankment of illness to another. Resilience, inventiveness, and survivorship—qualities often ascribed to great physicians—are reflected qualities, emanating first from those who struggle with illness and only then mirrored by those who treat them.

This book excites, challenges, and inspires me.



Dr. Jun Jorge, chair of the Department of Medicine at PGH, called me up at 9 PM, March 14. I passed the diplomate exam of the Philippine College of Physicians. I'm now a board-certified internist. I will remember this day with Sir Jun's sonorous tone as background. He was perhaps holding back his excitement that everyone in my batch made it, some with the highest scores.

My heart is bursting with joy at the past and the present and the future, all of my life bearing the indelible mark of God's faithfulness. If doubts assail me in the future, I will look back to this moment. This is yet another milestone in my life, a testimony of God's goodness and love.

Whenever I celebrate victories, King David's calming and humble prayer gives me the right perspective.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. — Psalm 115:1, New American Standard Bible


After the end of residency in December 2017, I spent the next two months at home in Marbel. My grandmother died, but I was able to squeeze in a few moments to read Harrison's, scribble a few notes, and manufacture mnemonics—the kind that I forgot after three days of having concocted them. People call that short-term memory loss, and I've been guilty of forgetfulness many times over. Interspersed with the flurry of activities, Netflix series, downloaded books in Kindle, and coffee sessions with high school classmates—many of them already married and with house-and-lots—I was able to work part-time as a physician in a coastal town in Sarangani and a company hospital where my parents had first met.

My family wasn't all that helpful. My father would drag me with him to the mall for his afternoon coffee or the farm for his morning appointment. My mother would volunteer my services to many of our close family friends. My brothers would question the validity of my studying: was I really remembering things when all I did was watch films and blog?


My go-to café was The Brew Project along Judge Alba Street. I almost always had the shop's excellent single-shot espresso which kicked my dwindling afternoon consciousness to activity. I took photos during some of these study sessions, yet another proof that cafés are the new libraries.

January 5. The baristas, who saw me enter the store between 2 to 3 PM, remembered what I always ordered.

January 21. My TWSBI Eco and Valiant columnar notebook.

January 22. Infectious Disease was the longest topic.

January 23. This reminded me of the Viennese kaffeehaus.

January 24. My kid brother Sean would join me.

February 2. I interrupted my break with a short visit to Manila, where I took an online exam. I was able to catch up with Carlos, Racquel, and Abby, all diplomates in IM now, too. Congratulations, guys.

February 10. At Bo's Cafe, SM General Santos. I later spilled the creamer.

February 22. Austin Kleon's calendar served as my short-term planner.

February 23. Another day at the cafe.


Thank you for all your prayers and words of encouragement. I haven't told my parents yet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Three brothers, train rides across India, a spiritual journey

Darjeeling Limited is the Wes Anderson film about three brothers who travel across India with the pretensions of the trip being a spiritual journey. After their father dies, they search for their mother who has become a nun in the subcontinent. The film is a brilliant display of color, culture, and brotherhood, and a lot of it resonates with me. My brothers still wrestle with me, or we still argue about which seat in the dining table we should occupy.

Don't get me started with the movie's soundtrack. I loved Les Champs-Élysées by Joe Dassin. This Time Tomorrow by The Kinks is also a favorite.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How it feels like to live in Antarctica

During tag-init in Manila, I dream about living in Antarctica, where there's ice in all of its material manifestations. I'd rather have gloomy skies than sunny weather, to be honest, but the sun is central, invasive, and critical in this equatorial life I've gotten used to. I'm not complaining, considering that people who stay in Antarctica likely feel "more isolated" than their counterparts in space stations.

Monday, March 12, 2018

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A case of publishing thirty-three papers from one study. From the Neuroskeptic:

“Salami slicing” refers to the practice of breaking scientific studies down into small chunks and publishing each part as a seperate paper.

Given that scientists are judged in large part by the number of peer-reviewed papers they produce, it’s easy to understand the temptation to engage in salami publication. It’s officialy discouraged, but it’s still very common to see researchers writing perhaps 3 or 4 papers based on a single project that could, realistically, have been one big paper.

But I’ve just come across a salami that’s been sliced up so thinly that it’s just absurd. The journal Archives of Iranian Medicine just published a set of 33 papers about one study. Here they are – this is a rather silly image, but it’s a silly situation.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Animate me with joy

Lord's Day Evening, from the Valley of Vision.

Animate me with joy that in heaven praise
will never cease,
that adoration will continue for ever,
that no flesh will grow weary,
no congregations disperse,
no affections flag,
no thoughts wander,
no will droop,
but all will be adoring love.

Guard my mind from making ordinances
my stay or trust,
from hewing out broken cisterns,
from resting on outward helps.

Wing me through earthly forms to thy immediate
May my feeble prayers show me the emptiness
and vanity of my sins;

Deepen in me the conviction that my most fervent
and most lowly confessions, need to be
repented of.
May my best services bring me nearer to the cross,
and prompt me to cry, ‘None but Jesus!’

Saturday, March 10, 2018


Thirsting for Jesus

From Scotty Smith's Heavenward:

Lord Jesus, the image of thirst is fresh in my mind, for after my 12-mile bike ride yesterday, I couldn’t screw off the top of my water bottle fast enough. Thirst is neither patient nor polite, and we’re usually quick to slake its unrelenting demand, one way or another. Thirst will not be denied.

Because this is true, we join the psalmist in crying out: Jesus, intensify our thirst for you. As a deer panting after streams of water, cause us to pant relentlessly after the unpolluted, un-distilled, never-ending brooks of your grace. Only the draft you draw, the potion you pour, the life-giving libation; only living water can satisfy this God-given thirst.

Friday, March 9, 2018


Starting April, I begin my life as a cancer specialist in training


I just learned that I qualified for fellowship training in Medical Oncology at the Cancer Institute, UP-Philippine General Hospital. Thanks for all your prayers during this moment of "uncertainty" that only crossroads of life can show us. Since med school, God has instilled in me the interest and joy in caring for patients with cancer. This was further fueled by my Internal Medicine residency experience which revealed an important aspect about myself: I am drawn to patients with malignancies. That I have two more years or so of learning the ropes of chemotherapy and knowing when to stop; of breaking the news of cancer repeatedly to the patients and their families, without making it sound like it's the end of the road for them; of cheering for the blessing of another added month, week, or day added to already fragile lives; of waging war against the mother of modern-day diseases—the task overwhelms me. So I'll need your prayers and encouragement even more. May God be gloried in all that I do, especially as I pursue this career as a cancer specialist.

For Coke drinkers out there

Coca-Cola will launch an alcoholic drink. From the Irish Times:

Coca-Cola is planning a break with 125 years to experiment with its first alcoholic drink as the world’s largest soft drinks company eyes Japan’s growing market for “Chu-Hi” alcopops.

The gambit, which a senior Coke executive described as “unique in our history”, will propel the US company into a competitive alcopop market dominated by Japanese brands such as Strong Zero, Highball Lemon and Slat.

The plans, which Coke’s Japan head said “make sense” given the strength of the Chu-Hi market, have come to light almost four months after a US-based analyst at Wells Fargo speculated in a report that Coke might shortly announce a move into alcoholic drinks.

I don't drink soda anymore, but I felt I had to, during the one hour-lunch break of the diplomate exam. The soda was Coke Zero. My friend Racquel scoffed at me.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

You cannot by any works merit eternal life

John Calvin quotes a prominent Catholic scholar, Bernard, Sermon I in Annunciation (1596):

I believe that the testimony of conscience, which Paul calls the rejoicing of the pious, consists in three things. For it is necessary to believe, first of all, that you cannot have remission of sins but through the mercy of God; secondly, that you cannot have any good work unless he bestow this also; lastly, that you cannot by any works merit eternal life, unless that also be freely given.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018



After the barrage of exams—the Internal Medicine Diplomate Exam and qualifying exam for fellowship—I figured I should take the day off for the next few days. I watched Flame of Recca on Youtube, preferring the version dubbed in Filipino, as it reminded me of childhood. I watched Red Sparrow, a movie about ballerina, spies, and Russia. I watched Little Men, a film about childhood friendships, a coming-of-age story that's pure and devoid of sex. I wish there were more films like that.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Making sense of awards

Gideon Lasco on the "Anatomy of an Award."

How do we make sense of such awards and their significance? Using the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, we can think of them as a form of “academic capital” that awardees can use to boost their status or legitimize their positions . . .

Meanwhile, for the award-giving institutions, academic capital can be exchanged for political capital (i.e., closer relationships with people in power), financial capital (i.e., getting a donation or higher budget), or even just symbolic capital (i.e., prestige of being associated with a famous person).

Always spot on, Dr. Lasco's column in the Inquirer offers a balanced analysis of things. I may disagree with him, but it's hard not to see reason in his arguments. (Also read: Why Filipinos have a sweet tooth and 'Doctors to the Barrios.')

Monday, March 5, 2018

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Stories from trash

Erica Cirino, writing for National Geographic, on plastic pollution: a message from nature, an opportunity for art.

On the beach I collected plastic for about an hour, focusing mostly on its tall cliffs. That’s where a lot of lighter trash blows—things like balloons and rope and plastic bottles. The beach was generally covered with household trash: lots of food wrappers and containers, lighters, pens and construction debris. When I finally got down to the wrack line, my backpack was bulging, but I wanted to see if I could find any unusual items that had recently washed ashore.

Immediately my eyes were drawn to something that wasn’t plastic: a decaying rose bouquet that had been tossed on the beach. Was it to memorialize someone? Was it to celebrate a Valentine? Was it from a wedding?

If I see trash along the shore, I think of the irresponsible people who once frolicked there. Erica Cirino's is an interesting perspective.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Growing old in Japan

Tokyo Times posted this photo collection of Japan's aging population.

A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death, written by Norimitsu Onishi, is one of the best pieces I've read in a long time.

She had been lonely every day for the past quarter of a century, she said, ever since her daughter and husband had died of cancer, three months apart. Mrs. Ito still had a stepdaughter, but they had grown apart over the decades, exchanging New Year’s cards or occasional greetings on holidays.

So Mrs. Ito asked a neighbor in the opposite building for a favor. Could she, once a day, look across the greenery separating their apartments and gaze up at Mrs. Ito’s window?

Every evening around 6 p.m., before retiring for the night, Mrs. Ito closed the paper screen in the window. Then in the morning, after her alarm woke her at 5:40 a.m., she slid the screen back open.

“If it’s closed,” Mrs. Ito told her neighbor, “it means I’ve died.”

These pieces resonate with me. My parents aren't getting younger, but I want them to live a joyful life. After all, isn't the best yet to come?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Media diet for Christmas 2016 up to February 2017

Short notes about things that have kept me entertained for the past months, inspired largely by Jason Kottke. Scores are largely subjective and absolutely not replicable. I watched most of them in Netflix at my parents' flat screen TV.

One of Us. Stirring account of a closed, secretive ultra-orthodox community told from the viewpoint of three ex-Hasidic Jews. One marvels at this community’s seclusion from the strong, secular influences of America. Left me wondering how we may share the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. (B+)

A Series of Unfortunate Events, season 1. Haven’t read Lemony Snicket’s book series, but I hear it’s great. Enjoyed Patrick Waarburton’s narration—full of cynicism and irony, delivered in a deep male voice. And I loved the kids, especially Sunny! (B+)

The Good Wife, season 1 (rewatched). One of the few TV series that bear re-watching. (A)

Mad Men, season 1 - 4. One of my favorites. Complicated characters, excellent writing. And I’m always interested in advertising. (A+)

Planet Earth, season 1. David Attenborough’s narration is the best! All scenes reminded me of God’s genius displayed in His creation. (A)

Whitney: Can I Be Me. Heartbreaking. I still wish Whitney were alive. (B+)

Dix pour cent. Call My Agent!, season 1 and 2. I enjoyed this very much. Juliette Binoche in the final episode was a thrill! (A-)

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, on-going. I enjoyed the episodes with former President Obama and George Clooney. (B)

Au service de la France. A Very Secret Service, season 1. Agents of the French secret service want to reassert France’s world domination. Crazy funny. Can’t wait for season 2. (A)

Kramer vs Kramer. Watched this with my parents. Saw my father get teary eyed. (A+)

The End of the F***ing World. A different kind of romance—two anti-social kids get involved in what seemed like a murder. (A)

The Meyerowritz Stories (New and Selected), rewatched. I like films with a lot of talking. (A)

The Same Sky, season 1. A spy story, in the background of the growing tensions between East and West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. (B+)

Black Mirror, season 4, USS Callister. I love watching Black Mirror. Each episode is like a short movie. Unfortunately, the themes are so rich and complex that that I can’t bear to watch everything all at once. (B+)

The Good Witch, season 3, on-going. Great feel-good series. I enjoy watching scenes of suburban America in perpetual fall season. (B+)

In-Lawfully Yours. I wonder if the pastor was ever disciplined for his behavior. (B-)

A Christmas Prince. Funny but pointless. (A)

Doctor Who, season 5 on-going. (B+)

Gaga: Five Foot Two. So much pain happens behind the persona. Moving. (A)

The Post. Great movie to watch in this age of disinformation. (A)

Lady Bird. Ambition, mothers, adolescence. Bravo. (A)

Productive months.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I like sports, so I read books

Barnabas Piper has listed books on sports, mostly biographies, available for Kindle.

I'm going to read Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution by Jonathan Adams.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis seems interesting, too.

I've been looking to read about basketball in order to understand it better. I imagine it would help me relate more to my athletic Bible study group during our Thursday meetings.

I like reading about sports and sportsmen. I treated myself to David Remnick's King of the World, which was about Muhammad Ali, right after my pre-residency in Internal Medicine. I didn't understand boxing—why not read about it? Tim Tebow's autobiography, Through My Eyes, was also a treat. To understand some of friends' fascination with surfing, I read William Finnegan's Barbarian Days, which was an intimate account of a man who drawn to the sea.

King of the World by David Remnick

Any books on sports you can recommend?

Monday, February 26, 2018

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The woman who sued McDonald's because of hot coffee

Context is key to correct understanding. This applies to Scripture, to medicine, and to news. We've heard about the American woman who sued McDonald's for millions of dollars because she got burned by the coffee she had ordered, but what really happened there? This New York Times mini-documentary is a revelation.

Sunday, February 25, 2018


The Lord's Day—a Puritan prayer

My father's farm.

From the Valley of Vision.

Give me in rich abundance
the blessings the Lord’s Day was designed
to impart;
May my heart be fast bound against worldly
thoughts or cares;
Flood my mind with peace
beyond understanding;
may my meditations be sweet,
my acts of worship life, liberty, joy,
my drink the streams that flow
from thy throne,
my food the precious Word,
my defence the shield of faith,
and may my heart be more knit to Jesus.

We'll celebrate the 25th anniversary of our local church here in Koronadal. I'm excited!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018


Reflections on Billy Graham, 99

Dr. Al Mohler

Billy Graham died yesterday at the age of 99. Graham was one of the titanic figures of American evangelicalism and his life spanned some of the interesting and tumultuous years of world history. We cannot even speak about 20th-century evangelicalism without referencing the impact of the ministry of Billy Graham and the movement he led. Born to a farmer in North Carolina in 1918, Graham lived a rather traditional childhood in rural America and he also experienced the tumult of adolescence, describing himself in retrospect as rebellious, though it was a rather quiet and uneventful rebellion.

He continues:

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of Graham’s life and most commendable is his sterling moral character. One of the things we must observe on the day after the death of Billy Graham, is that during his lifetime there was never even a hint of moral scandal in his ministry.

John Piper reflects on Billy Graham's life and death:

While only God can rightly assess the ripple effect of a person’s life in all the ways it has influence, my own judgment would be that Billy Graham’s greatest impact is the eternal difference he made in leading countless persons, from all over the world, out of destruction into everlasting joy and love. This was his primary mission. “Because God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Nine Things You Should Know About Billy Graham, via The Gospel Coalition. A sampling:

No other American has slept in the White House Lincoln Bedroom more than Graham, who was often referred to as the “pastor to the presidents.” Graham had a relationship or personal audience with every U.S. president from Truman to Obama. He was particularly close with Eisenhower, who asked for Graham while on his deathbed, and Nixon. He presided over the graveside services for president Lyndon Johnson in 1973 and spoke at the funeral of president Richard Nixon in 1994. The only president who didn’t like Graham, as the evangelist frequently noted, was Truman. Truman called Graham a “counterfeit” and said “he was never a friend of mine when I was President.”

Photo credit: Desiring God

A non-Christian before coffee


What can I say? I'd rather that people don't see me (especially my patients!) before I have coffee.

IRVINE, CA—According to sources close to local man Alan Carter, the believer in Christ exhibits absolutely no evidence of being saved, from the time he wakes up each morning until the moment he has his morning cup of coffee at his local coffee shop.

Observers claim the committed Christian is totally unrecognizable as a follower of Jesus throughout his morning routine and commute down the 405 freeway, right up until he begins sipping his favorite coffee beverage at the Starbucks near his work.

“He’s angry, bitter, impatient, unkind—he displays absolutely no fruit of the Spirit until he gets some caffeine in his system,” a co-worker told reporters. “He’s like a completely different person.”

More here.

The Babylon Bee gives me my dose of daily humor!

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Got this from Austin Kleon, who inspires me to bring a notebook all the time (download it here). He reasons that the best time to keep a resolution is on February, the shortest month. I figured I should at least study all the time. I've had intermittent breaks once or twice a week when I'd be immersed in a book or, better yet, in Netflix.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


To post or not to post

Jon Bloom writes:

Christians should be the most careful speakers in the world. We ought to be characterized by two kinds of trembling when it comes to words: we should tremble at the words God speaks and we should tremble at the words we speak.

I'm rebuked by this:

There really is a time to keep silent. And that time comes more often than most of us are conditioned to think.

We live in an age of unceasing talk. Never in human history has the noise of human communication been so constant. Even when we are quiet we are not silent, as we receive and dispense talk through our digital media. Our culture does not believe that “a fool multiplies words” (Ecclesiastes 10:14).

Then, he strikes a balance.

But Christians must not always keep silence. There is a time to speak and there are things we must say. Our God is a speaking God and we know he most definitely wants us to speak (Matthew 24:14; 28:19–20).

But when God speaks, he speaks very intentionally and, considering his omniscience, he speaks with tremendous restraint. And that’s the way he wants us to speak, as his exceedingly non-omniscient children and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20): intentionally and with restraint. He wants us to learn to speak like Jesus.

Read the rest here.

This blog may be older than many kids running around these days, but for me the struggle to choose which to post and not to post hasn't abated. Perpetual questions that (should) hover over my head: will this encourage others? Will this teach them something or make them smile or help them see the grace and sovereignty of God over their lives?

I'm thankful for this essay by Jon Bloom. If you haven't read his book, Not By Sight (read my thoughts on it here), then you may want to check it out.
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