Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Apr 2021

Mar 2021

  • Weeknotes 2021-03-28

    It’s the last weekend of March. It feels like the month went by quickly. The world: Local covid response: The government introduced the concept of an “NCR Plus” bubble last Monday, restricting travel in and out of the NCR and adjacent provinces, in response to the rising cases. Still, the daily counts kept rising, hitting record highs of almost 10k cases daily. Even before the dust has settled on the bubble response, they decided to announce last night a reversion to the stricter ECQ.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-03-21

    The world: Over the past couple of days, our nationwide daily covid cases broke 7000+, the highest recorded so far. Have to be super careful when going out for errands. Not that I wasn’t being careful even before, mind you. Just now, government has announced we are still under GCQ (see my post about the PH quarantine levels), but with more restrictions, etc. Looks like they are still hesitant to provide a stronger lockdown which would require paying people to stay home so they don’t starve to death.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-03-14

    Happy Pi Day! The world: It’s the one year anniversary of the world’s longest lockdown. In some kind of sick anniversary celebration, local covid cases are on the rise. Yesterday, 5000 new cases were reported, the highest daily rate in 6 months or so. And now a Philippine variant has been detected. Now is not the time to be complacent, we all need to be more careful. The government seems unwilling to impose another widespread ECQ and are focusing on targetted, granular lockdowns.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-03-07

    March has begun. Did it ever really end? The world: Vaccination finally starts in the country, with initial donated batches of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccine arriving in the country. Just in time for the one year anniversary of the world’s longest lockdown. SinoVac isn’t the best choice, but many of my doctor friends say they’ll settle for it if that’s what’s available for them. I think QC is planning to use AstraZeneca for their citizens, but worrying is that AZ’s efficacy has been shown to be not so good against certain variants such as the South African one, which has already been detected in the country.

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Feb 2021

Jan 2021

  • Pinoy Drawing Memes

    Posted by under post at #philippines
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 0 / 273 words

Dec 2020

Aug 2020

  • These weeknotes are coming in late in the day because of reasons. (The reasons being laziness and procrastination.) Actually, I feel like I’ve been kind of phoning in the weeknotes over the past few weeks, they’ve mostly been “hey, I’ve been busy, so nothing of significance happened, but here are some things I watched/played.” Supposedly one of the side effects of writing regular updates is that you tend to look out for more interesting things to do so you have something to write about, even on an unconscious level.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-08-09

    Still kind of busy, although there’s a bunch of things I hope I can finally wrap up this week, so I can move on to the long list of other things I want to be doing. The world continues to be bleak, so I’m still hiding from it. My stuff: Forty-two. I thought about just merging these into a single post for the day, but nah, this seems better. Reworking the old charity side project still ongoing.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-08-02

    Kind of a busy week for me again, so the week kind of passed me by quickly. It’s August! In one month it will be (PH) Christmas season! It feels like July went by more quickly than other quarantine months. My stuff: A bit of consulting work. Reworking the old charity side project still ongoing. I was hoping to finish all the changes last week and next week would be testing and deployment, but stuff got in the way (and estimates may have been a bit off), but the spillover is small and we should still be fine for finishing everything next week.

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Jul 2020

Jun 2020

May 2020

  • Equal Protections

    A recent post on Cory Doctorow’s pluralistic blog had a really good take on the general worldview of “the right”, describing it as “mafia logic”. I’m going to quote a huge chunk of it here: This follows perfectly from the second definition. The purpose of the law is to protect the rightful rulers, so the law can’t – by definition – punish them. And it is “mafia logic.” Holbo was talking about Michael Gove – a UK Tory Minister – excusing his the Prime Minister’s advisor Dominick Cummings repeatedly breaking the quarantine rules that Cummings is responsible for creating and enforcing.

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    Posted by under post at #philippines #philosophy
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 0 / 913 words
  • ABS-CBN, Bias, and Press Freedom

    A bit of brouhaha a couple of weeks ago after the National Telecommunications Commission ordered the country’s biggest broadcaster ABS-CBN to cease operations because Congress had been remiss in renewing their franchise.. This despite the NTC earlier promising they can operate provisionally while the franchise renewal is being processed, a change of heart apparently due to a legal opinion by the SolGen. Some thoughts: “Bias” The speaker of the house says:

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    Posted by under post at #philippines #current events
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 1 / 1081 words

Mar 2020

Feb 2020

  • A Different Kind of Revolution

    I watched a little bit of the Senate hearing yesterday on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal issues. One of the senators, a known lackey of the president claimed that while the president was not vindictive, “kung masama ka sa kanya, masama din sya sa yo” (I’m not sure the senator understood what vindictive means). One of the ABS head honchos later made a statement that they were “sorry if they had offended the president” even though they were just following all the relevant laws, or something to that effect.

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    Posted by under post at #philippines
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 807 words

Dec 2019

  • Thanks for your reply, but I’m still not clear on the “employer-employee relationship part.

    For example, a contractual part-time service worker in a fast food chain, he is not considered a regular employee is this correct? Is he required to register as a business? (I assume no.) Is he deduced the 8% withholding tax or the regular income tax?

    How is this different from the scenario where you are a consultant working as a contractor for a local (PH) client (say, as a graphic designer or software developer)? Is the consultant considered an employee? Is he required to register as a business?

    Also, I’ve worked for a number of clients as a consultant under contract, and they always just withhold the 8% and when I ask if there’s anything else I need to do for tax purposes, they never advise me that I need a business permit. Should their accountant been telling them otherwise?

    > Recurring like, you expect to engage in that particular kind of transaction for more than 1 time

    -> does that mean if you are only doing this once, it is not considered recurring? i.e. a client asks me to build an application for them and I receive a one-time payment from them upon delivery and afterwards we no longer have a relationship, in this scenario you do not have to register as a business?

    Sorry for all the follow-ups, I just want to clearly understand the scenarios wherein I would or would not be required to register as a business, because honestly I would like to avoid the bureaucracy as much as possible, hence I prefer not to register as a business if it can be avoided. I understand our duty as citizens to pay the right taxes etc and I would like to make sure I comply with any requirements and I don’t mind the withholding tax being deducted from me. But I would prefer to know under what conditions I could structure freelance/consultant work without having to register as a business.

    BTW, I wanted to say I appreciate your answering these questions. I had been planning to look for an accountant to consult on related matters so this thread really helps.

    Posted by under notes at #Philippines
    Also on: reddit / 0
  • > 1. Should I register as a self-employed /business?
    Only if you are earning recurring income not earned under an employer-employee relationship.

    Please explain “recurring income” here? What if I am earning money not on a full-time basis, with no guarantee of recurring income? For example, a company consults with me and I get paid an hourly fee.

    Please also explain “employer-employee relationship”. I was previously working as a consultant with a company, and they were deducting the withholding tax from me (I think it was 8%). My understanding is I was not an actual employee here since I was a consultant, should I have been registered as a business in this instance? It’s just weird since this withholding tax was already reported to the BIR and it seems there was no issue.

    Posted by under notes at #Philippines
    Also on: reddit / 0

Nov 2019

  • The Costs of Corruption

    A quick follow-up to something I mentioned in yesterday’s post: It is a cultural problem too. Even we the citizens have little respect for rules and laws and try to skip around them when we can. This is why we have fixers, and connections, and patronage. We trade on favors to get us out of trouble. I’m not sure if needed to be said, but I wasn’t saying that literally every single person participates in fixing and patronage to get around the rules.

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    Posted by under post at #philippines #current events
    Also on: twitter / 1 0 / 582 words
  • Laws Not Men

    In yet another example of what is wrong with this country, the PNP are planning to arrest vape users after Duterte’s directive, despite there actually being yet no law or executive order banning vaping. Thus, the arrests are meaningless and merely another form of harassment. PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac explained that while violators would be apprehended, they would be released immediately after the incident is recorded in the police blotter.

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    Posted by under post at #philippines #current events
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 524 words
  • Grab Overpricing

    So the Philippine Competition Commission recently fined rideshare provider Grab P23M for overcharging their customers. Apparently only P5M of that is meant to go back to the affected riders, which seems like a piddly amount considering the number of riders in the Philippines. We’ll see how of that I actually get credited back, if any. Grab pricing has been steadily increasing since Uber exited the market early last year. The other day Grab wanted to charge me a bit over P400 for a 13km ride to a commercial area, which seemed insane.

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  • Tales from a P2P Bus

    It’s a lot more uncommon for me to go to places like Ortigas or Makati nowadays, but when I do I almost always take the P2P bus. The P2P (Point-to-Point) buses were introduced in Metro Manila I think around late 2015/early 2016, as a pricier alternative to the usual city buses. The fares are more expensive, but the buses are also much more comfortable and they don’t make stops along their route, only at the endpoints, so their travel time is faster compared to the usual city buses.

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    Posted by under post at #philippines
    Also on: twitter / 3 0 / 718 words
  • Four Days in Bicol

    Posted by under post at #travels #philippines
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 2425 words

Oct 2019

Jul 2019

Jun 2019

May 2019

  • We had a NES, my parents bought it when my mom’s work sponsored a US trip for them. IDK what the price was. Problematic lang was that NES games were harder and more expensive to buy locally, and all your friends had Famicoms so mahirap ang gamesharing. Yung mga bootleg collections pati na “1000 in 1” etc available only as Famicom cartridges. Luckily, nagkaron ng binebenta na “Honeybee” adapter that let you use Famicom cartridges in a NES. I played a lot of the NES classics, all the legit Marios (there some random BS bootleg “Super Mario 4” that sometimes appeared), Castlevanias, Legend of Zelda (I had to borrow a NES original for this one, mahirap maghanap ng original Famicom cartridge kasi the cart needed its own battery for saving), Contra 1 and 2, Adventure Island etc etc. Kahit yung mga small games na nasa mga 16-in-1/100-in-1/etc like Popeye, Baseball, etc naging expert din ako lol. Pag bata ka madami kang time e

    Posted by under notes at #Philippines
    Also on: reddit / 0
  • I remember when playing the original version of Civilization back in the day, the “most advanced” form of government was Democracy, with the only downside of it being you can’t declare war (because you had a senate that would stop you.) The other available forms of government were typically not very useful, but Democracy massively increased your trade output, so most often I would build the Pyramids (a wonder which allowed switching to any government immediately and without penalty), and spend the rest of the game toggling between Democracy and Despotism (for when I wanted to go to war).

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  • Let’s not forget who controls the police and military back then.. wasn’t it Fidel Marcos and JPE?

    Actually, Fabian Ver was in charge of the military. From wikipedia: " As Marcos disregarded the authority of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile in the 1980s, he changed the military chain of command. Under the new chain of command, the authority would evolve from Marcos as president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces up to Ver, the chief of staff of the armed forces. "

    Re: Marcoses, do you mean that you don’t think they are corrupt? You don’t think that Imee Marcos had Archimedes Trajano killed for speaking up against her? (There is already a court judgment on this)

    > People get fired and cases were filed iirc. Do you have anyone in mind? I have some means to get information.

    Yung example ko above were the Tulfos? Is there any case against them now? I think the former sec of justice was also removed for some shenanigans, I forget his name, yung may wig? Ano nangyari sa kanya? Yan lang mga examples. Meron pa mga iba na tatanggalin nya for issues supposedly tapos irerecycle lang sa ibang position, like Faeldon or La Vina.

    > They don’t offer alternative solution. And if they did, I didn’t hear about it.

    Si Chel Diokno primarily judicial reform ang focus nya, since he is a lawyer. It is easy to search for it, here’s the first article I found:

    “From his diagnostics, Chel has offered a coherent set of policy and institutional reforms. The reforms he champions include the following:

    • The insulation of justices, judges, and prosecutors from partisan politics;

    • The filling up of vacancies in the trial courts and prosecution agency by recruiting the most competent lawyers who possess integrity;

    • The simplification of the rules on evidence and procedure;

    • The reorientation of performance standard for the police and prosecution toward achieving high conviction rates;

    • The creation of transparent information and monitoring system to track cases and convictions;

    • The transfer of police’s disciplinary jurisdiction to the Civil Service Commission;

    • The expansion of the Ombudsman’s scope to investigate justices and judges;

    • The strengthening of the law on witness protection by allowing the perpetuation of testimonies of whistleblowers.”

    I largely agree with this because I believe problems with the judicial system are one of the primary systemic problems in the country, facilitating corruption and delaying or outright denying justice especially to those with fewer resources. My impression is that this admin has shown little interest in improving judicial processes at all (despite the President being a former prosecutor who supposedly knows all the problems in the processes). Imagine if the so-called “intelligence fund” and/or political will was applied not just to identifying supposed drug users but instead to identifying corrupt judges, prosecutors, law enforcers, etc.

    First, I would suggest that you watch the full speech for all the instances the president expressed support for all the topics listed above. Again, half truths are the best lies.

    Pinapanood ko naman lahat. Are you saying hindi naman yun sinasabi nung president? Also, I’m not clear whether you are saying the media is engaged in half truths/lies or the president is?

    Don’t trust the media too much.

    In the same vein, I think we should not trust any politician too much, whether we supported them or not. Discernment should apply to all sources, and even in cases where you trust someone, “Trust, but verify” should apply.

    Thank you for responding!

    Posted by under notes at #Philippines
    Also on: reddit / 0
  • Hello! Thank you for responding!

    Re: China, I don’t think there are only two options where it is either war or bilateral relations. We can maintain bilateral relations while at the same time asserting our rights. I believe Indonesia has blown up Chinese fishing boats they have caught illegally fishing in their claimed territories, yet there is no talk of war being declared there. China will not go into a war with us over the WPS, this is an unfounded fear; they have not even started any hostilities over Taiwan despite decades of saber-rattling. I think the main reason this admin is afraid to piss off China is that their programs have become dependent on Chinese loans since Duterte dislikes loans from western countries that come with silly conditions like needing to abide by human rights etc

    Re: Rappler, I agree they have a particular style of journalism, but I think this is more of the nature of people online being more attracted to clickbait-y articles than any actual bias against Duterte specifically. Even during the time of PNoy, they would have various articles criticizing him. It is the nature of the press to highlight problems and scandals, since this acts as a check on power. I think also the admin supporters have some level of selective bias as well in that they only see or remember those articles critical of the administration. The top article on the frontpage right now is “Philippines recalls envoys after Canada misses deadline for garbage shipment” which is surely positive for the admin. I think you would also agree that compared to the past admin, the current admin also tends to say more controversial things/statements which are more likely to make the news cycle, which furthers the sense of ‘bias’.

    Thank you again for the discussion. What I generally see is that there is some sort of divide over idealistic/morally-driven views vs more pragmatic/“we need to get things done” views. Ultima

    Posted by under notes at #Philippines
    Also on: reddit / 0
  • How do you feel about the liberal party? If you hate them, why? I personally feel they are no more worse than other poltical parties like the NPC, Lakas-CMD, PDP-LABAN etc

    In what timeline of the liberal party’s existence are you referring to?

    Sorry, I missed this one. I mean more like moving forward. Would you automatically reject any candidate backed by the liberal party or something like that? Is it mainly because of what you perceive as involvement with “the Reds” as you say

    Posted by under notes at #Philippines
    Also on: reddit / 0
  • Thank you for replying! Some follow-ups, if I may:

    Three words. Geopolitical Power Play

    Should I take this to mean you are okay with his tolerance of China’s taking over our islands?

    Why the hell would I convince you to support him? I can only present from my own perspective and that’s about it. It’s you who should decide whether you support him or not.

    I’m not expecting you to be able to convince me. For me, the purpose of this exercise is to foster more understanding across divides; maybe you have something you can say that would be able to convince the skeptics to support the president or at least improve their appreciation of him. It’s okay if you don’t have any such statement. But would you not think it’s important for Filipinos to have a better understanding of where our fellow citizens are coming from? Or convincing other people to understand your perspective better is not a priority for you? This part is not a criticism - you have certainly been generous with your replies; but I have observed that few people are willing to reach out to those they tag as “dilawan” etc to explain their POV, so I wonder if people just don’t care about that kind of thing.

    > What would be a dealbreaker for you

    Would you have a response for this part?

    > Ugh. As I said. Everyone is in cahoots for political favors. It always has been.

    Given this and some other things in your response, my main takeaway is that you believe that Duterte is just being honest with how things are in reality, and that the issues people have with him are issues that would be true regardless of whoever is in power. Would this be accurate?

    If the above is accurate, do you think we (as a country) deserve better? Would it be better to have leadership that does not use rhetoric to glorify the bad things about our reality?

    Posted by under notes at #Philippines
    Also on: reddit / 0