2023: 346 days to go

Column box-John Mangun-Outside the Box

The Miss Universe pageant—the term first used by the International Pageant of Pulchritude in 1926—was to showcase the beauty and talents of women. Competitions based on physical appearance were held in ancient Greece with “Euandria,” a “contest of physique” for men only.

The festival of Callisteia was held by the women of Lesbos in the sanctuary of Hera, and the most attractive received the “Prize of Beauty.”

“Miss Universe” was designed as a competition among women, those humans born with the anatomical structure to give birth through a “birth canal” or vagina. However, the definition of “woman” has been altered to include a human who through creative surgery has an “artificial” vagina.

I do not have any concern or even give a thought as to how an individual gains sexual pleasure as long as it is between consenting adults (capable of making informed decisions) preferably of the same species. Likewise, I care nothing about how people describe or call themselves. Describing a ham-and-cheese sandwich, the baker says the bread is the most important component, the meatpacker highlights the ham, and the dairy farmer knows the cheese is what makes the sandwich good. So what.

But when definitions change arbitrarily against previously accepted norms, problems can arise. China claims virtually all the South China Sea, almost even areas where the waves lap on another nation’s dirt, by virtue of a Chinese ship’s captain having explored the region as early as the 2nd century AD and “the first to have discovered, named, explored, and exploited the SCS and its islands.”

The problem arises with the question—can a culture rather than a nation-state establish sovereignty over territory? Does a manufactured vagina have the same “legal” standing as a natural vagina?

Sir Alec Issigonis, British automotive designer of the Morris Minor and Austin Mini, said: “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” The proposed Philippine sovereign wealth fund appears to have been birthed the same way. A more sensible solution might have been a new government corporation and a doable P200-billion stock market Initial Public Offering to provide funding and subsequent liquidity for existing government entities like the GSIS and SSS. The Philippine economy would also benefit through the public ownership of shares.

But this is a time when a costume designed to highlight the cultural heritage of a country is a stylized comic superhero bikini. Then there is “The War.” The US has a mixed record in fighting proxy wars, as in South Korea and Vietnam. The US triumphed in the battle against the USSR over Afghanistan, but Osama bin Laden and now the Taliban won the war.

NY Post November 18, 2022: “The Defense Department spent more than $2.6 billion between May and October of this year replenishing stocks of key weaponry and equipment dispatched to Ukraine to support its ongoing fight against Russia—but it will still take “multiple years” for the US to be fully resupplied.”

China reported Q4 GDP up 2.9 percent year-on-year as zero Covid policies hammered growth for most of Q4 but smashing the estimate of plus 1.6 percent. However, China’s total population fell by 850,000 in 2022, a drop for the first time since 1961, the final year of the Great Famine under former leader Mao Zedong.

“This is a truly historic turning point, an onset of a long-term and irreversible population decline,” said Wang Feng, an expert on Chinese demographic change at the University of California, Irvine.

China always said it needed to get rich before it grew old. They did not. “Abundant labor has been the fuel that has driven China’s rapid growth for more than four decades and now China is flying at high speed without enough fuel.” Automation will help. But 120 million Chinese officially are “hungry,” suffering from daily malnutrition.

These are just a few of my examples of what 2023 looks like so far. And we have 346 more days to go.

E-mail me at mangun@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis provided by AAA Southeast Equities Inc.

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