radio mumbo jumbo

I will name no names in this post.

But let me start this post off with this, because maybe you’ll catch the drift of my irritation quickly:


I was hauling my tired self home from another shift in which I was running on too little sleep. (Thanks, Manila summers packed to the rafters with high temperatures and high humidity, ugh.) I was cranky, I was ticked off, I was thirsty (and I had already polished off half a liter of fruit juice), and I just wanted to go home — so I took a cab from one of the central transport hubs in Metro Manila.

Tail-end of one radio show on an inexplicably popular radio station: the hosts reading off a convoluted list of greetings and credits and sponsors. That led into a quick jingle and the opening spiel of the immediately succeeding program, which ought to have been useful, because it featured a lawyer and a prominent broadcaster who had joined forces to offer legal advice to people in bad relationships (family, spouse/significant other, et cetera).

(Some of you will already know what program I’m talking about.)

Anyway, the legal expert on the show was talking about how this particular episode would be a little shorter in duration because that radio station on which the show was being broadcast would be switching to sports programming in the late afternoon. In comes the prominent broadcaster, and I thought that would be the cue for them to start the show.

Instead, the prominent broadcaster decided to sit down and unburden herself of a homily on earthquakes, claiming that earthquakes were concrete proof of the existence of an all-seeing all-powerful deity.

First off: as Karen Owens neatly and succinctly put it,

Can omniscient God, who
Knows the future, find
The Omnipotence to
Change His future mind?

Which basically means, if a bog-standard god is capable of seeing everything all at once, how will it be able to make any one decision at all? The god knows every single consequence of every single action that it might ever undertake, good and bad and neutral and all — so how even can that god act at all?

So, first spurious claim, that earthquakes are a manifest sign of the divine presence.

The thing that bothers me, and ought to have bothered the program listeners, is this: either the divine presence is completely removed from morals and consequences (and boy, isn’t that a troubling thought, if this same deity is invoked over and over again to uphold some standard of “morality”), or that divine presence is an evil shit (because it sends earthquakes on a whim, heedless of the damage that an earthquake causes, heedless of the deaths and the injuries and the suffering that follows especially intense incidences).

Want to discuss that? Okay. Think of it this way, as the prominent broadcaster did: an earthquake is supposedly a sign of displeasure or warning from some divine presence. What is actually good about a deity that punishes its believers with the widespread fear/paranoia/death/destruction/PTSD that an earthquake can inflict? And what’s more, that punishment is for — what? For being human i. e. living and loving and all that? What is good about that kind of god?

And what kind of a warning is an earthquake? Warning against what? Obvious answer is obvious: far worse things. And earthquakes already cause panic and fear and nightmares. An earthquake, to prominent broadcaster, is just an amuse-gueule and a harbinger of far worse things. So, question, prominent broadcaster: are you looking forward to these far worse things? Or are you just sowing fear for your own amusement?

Second spurious claim: there is nothing, nothing that human beings can do in the face of an earthquake. Um, prominent broadcaster, the scientific community — and the local government agency that deals exclusively with the effects and consequences (and the causes, natch) of earthquakes and volcanic activity — wants a word with you. Let me repeat that: this prominent broadcaster effectively said that the local government agency tasked with dealing with seismic activity is without any function or benefit.

Third spurious claim — oh, and let me remind you that I was in a cab and that meant I was not going to be able to listen to the entirety of this idiotic speechifying effort because I would be getting home at some point — only the third spurious claim! Which was, all of the earthquakes happening all over the 7,000+++ islands of my poor archipelago of a country originated in one single fault system.

Facepalm! Facepalm! All the facepalms!

Okay, I will break this down as best as I can. I live in the Philippines. The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,000+++ islands. These islands are located along the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean. The entire rim of the Pacific Ocean — and that includes all the countries with coastlines on the Pacific Ocean — is known as the Ring of Fire. Why is this rim known as the Ring of Fire? Because beneath the Pacific Ocean, the crust or outermost terrestrial layer of the planet Earth is very prominently in motion. As in huge plates of crust moving and colliding and sliding — meaning, NOT STILL. The increase in geologic activity very logically begets seismic activity: and yes, we benefit from seismic activity when we see it in the form of — hot springs, and sources of geothermal energy.

But seismic activity also includes not-so-fun things like, well, I don’t know: how about earthquakes? How about volcanoes that can and do erupt?

The Philippines is literally crisscrossed with multiple fault lines, which is as can be expected of nearly all of the countries on the Ring of Fire. Yes, there are connections between those fault lines and their respective branches — but the idea of the country being ripped right down the middle by one single massive catastrophic chasm is pretty much illogical.

Which leads me to the thing that terrified me about that particular installment of that particular program: the sowing of fear and, worse, disinformation. That prominent broadcaster was spewing out a tale of woe and doomsday and death in the service of — what? Talking about the broadcaster’s preferred deity? Please refer to the comments on an evil shit of a deity. Worse, a fear-mongering one, all in the service of gathering in more prayers and worship and supplications!

How even can this fear-mongering, demanding deity be considered moral?

And how even can this prominent broadcaster have delivered such an impassioned and stupid tirade? That the earthquakes are happening: that’s undisputed. So is the broadcaster’s preferred cause of action in the face of such a situation to scare the shit out of people?

That’s a fucking waste of air time and a complete and utter failure of logic right there.

Fairly prominent radio program helmed by a prominent broadcaster: what is the task here? What should have been the imperative? Of course:  CORRECT AND USEFUL INFORMATION. Let me say that again: we’re already scared! We’re already nervous! DON’T RUN AROUND SCARING US SOME MORE! Do your fucking job: which is to give actual solutions and useful advice!

The more I think about this — and I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days now — the more I want to tell you outright who that prominent broadcaster is. I mean, you are probably going to come up with better statements to broadcast than I am. You are probably going to think of better presentations related to earthquakes and disaster preparedness than I could ever come up with. You are probably going to do a much better job than this so-called prominent broadcaster’s speechifying and evangelism!

I don’t need homilies and divine signs and harbingers and shit, if I’m faced with a perilous situation such as an earthquake. I need correct and current information and advice because I want to stay alive okay. I want to stay alive and more importantly I want other people to stay alive and survive such an eventGet away from me with this ignorant superstition and dumbshit moralizing.

And because I want to help: there’s this thing commonly called a bug-out bag, which contains essential tools and gear to help one person survive the 72 hours immediately following some kind of disaster (whether man-made or natural). I think it’s a good thing to keep in mind when talking about places as prone to weird shit happening as my country. So, let me present a sensible-sounding guide to packing a bug-out bag. And perhaps you might have your own ideas for things to add to this kind of survival preparations. That’s a better thing to think about, I think, not the least of which because it totally bypasses the shitty so-called logic being peddled by the prominent broadcaster I’ve been decrying all throughout this post.

This prominent broadcaster has just turned out to be one of the reasons why my poor country finds itself hip-deep in shit. Broken pedestal, anyone?