Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Wait til he reads Heinlein

I ran across a comment about this item that claims modern "young adult" novels (and films?) promote right wing ideas.

YA dystopias teach children to submit to the free market, not fight authority
The Hunger Games, The Giver and Divergent all depict rebellions against the state, and promote a tacit right-wing libertarianism. 
and lower down it notes:
What marks these dystopias out from previous ones is that, almost without exception, the bad guys are not the corporations but the state and those well-meaning liberal leftists who want to make the world a better place. Books such as The Giver, Divergent and the Hunger Games trilogy are, whether intentionally or not, substantial attacks on many of the foundational projects and aims of the left: big government, the welfare state, progress, social planning and equality. They support one of the key ideologies that the left has been battling against for a century: the idea that human nature, rather than nurture, determines how we act and live. These books propose a laissez-faire existence, with heroic individuals who are guided by the innate forces of human nature against evil social planners.
 Yeah. It complains it's not like the "good old days" when HGWells supported Stalin, and influenced the SciFi writers to posit left wing ideas and take over the sci fi establishment.

Hoyt has a lot of complaints about the difficulty of publishing such sci fi on her blog and how the trade associations dislike those who oppose their line of thought. 

She is an immigrant from Europe and recognizes this as a way that the experts control their population: How dare they criticize the experts!

They’ve – by which I mean the cultural establishment – tried to bring the same here.  I’ve railed here before about how cozies were – in effect – blacklisted by the publishing establishment because “amateurs can’t be better than the professionals.”  And how my books couldn’t have funny policemen because “Policemen are professionals and must be respected.”  And I’ve talked about how shocked I was when a bunch of high school kids came to beat me on my blogbecause I’d criticized their teacher (I actually hadn’t.  I’d criticized the curriculum which is is not teacher set, but they lacked the semantic ability to distinguish these) and how dare I?  She’s a TEACHER.  I’m supposed to respect her.  (She also was considerably less educated than I, much younger and I have reason to believe she sent the kids over to harass me – the harassment stopped when I threatened to scan in some of her (outrageous) grading handiwork and post it. – which leaves me in doubt of her moral character.)
While these things annoy me and shock me, as does anyone preventing my questioning him by saying “I’m the expert” – it is still new here.
and how does one learnabout American culture? She says by reading Heinlein.
Yeah. I'm waiting until they make a film of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (about a rebellion)...or even Friday (which has wars between corporations and political states, polygamy, racism, lesbianism, thinking computers, and surrogate parenting, but whose theme is essentially about Friday finding a home with those who love her and becoming a domestic goddess).

And of course, Tolkien is about not just about the importance of fighting Sauron, but about rejecting Saruman's utopia, (the book...this part was left out of the movie). 

The importance of fighting for western civilization came at a time when multiculalism got a set back when the Towers fell...and I wonder if the Hobbit will similarly strike a cord that individuals and cultures think differently, but they have enough in common that they can recognize that there are bad guys out there who are out to kill them, and that they need to cooperate. And of course, Bilbo unites them by "thinking outside the box"

FYI: the PB link is because I was looking for the Giver, which we haven't found yet at the book store. But Ruby actually bought the Divergent and Hunger Games series...and we will probably buy The Giver when we go to the mall on Friday when I usually buy Lolo's medicines there... so I'm not pirating itbut previewing it. But as for Heinlein, I brought a lot of ny Heinlein collection with me to the Philippines...and no, I won't let Ruby read Friday (yet) but I did lend her my "podkayne of Mars" book...

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Lines of trust

one thing you have to realize when living overseas is that people simply do not think the same way as you do.

Francis Fukuyama's book Trust, which explores how trustfulness allows business to flourish, discusses how the protestantization of societies in South America allow the lines of trust to now be given to non family members; in contrast, in Asia,  you only trust your relatives, compadres and extended family.

Which is why I can't figure out local politics, because I don't know who is related to whom here. And, alas, it explains why outsiders like ourselves have trouble running businesses.

Wreched comments on his own blogpost on the Pinoy escape from the terrorist insurgents in Syria by explaining how this works here.

Courage is a utilitarian concept, something you need for something. The Filipino would like nothing better than not to be in danger. But the dysfunctional aspects of his culture keep landing him in a fix and courage is the adaptation he needs to wriggle out. He gets courage unwilllingly....
"Following orders" in the abstract is also an alien concept. No Filipino trusts authority, most especially his own government. Legality is a fiction. The really binding relationship is personal. Catapang saved those people because they were "his boys" and not for some overarching loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines, which truth be told, nobody cares anything about. The loyalty is to the "countryman". If you ask a Filipino in America to do something for the Philippine government he'll probably call the FBI. If you explain the request is for a "kababayan", he might listen. 
So if Catapang had let the troops get kidnapped he couldn't say "but they were ordered". An abstract order from a UN general don't mean a thing. They were your "kababayans", how could you let this happen? will be the reaction. It is the whole network of personal loyalties and obligations that matter

and he notes what I complain about here: That Obama's position of following international law and letting China manipulate international law to steal the Philippines off shore fishing grounds (and natural gas) is seen as tanga, and is breaking a line of trust that goes back to MacArthur's promise he'd return.

Lastly I will add that Obama has probably caused a great deal of damage to Filipino American psychological relations. Filipinos expect America to act like the America they knew from the Greatest Generation. It's an irrational, psychological bond. It is an expectation, it is an heirloom myth. The abstract laws and legalities are unimportant 

the irony is that Obama grew up in Indonesia and his mom was an anthropologist.and should be aware of such things, but he seems completly lost when it comes to anthropological subtleties not only when it comes to the Philippines, but when it comes to ordinary Americans

Stuff around the net

The Filippine soldiers/UN Peacekeepers who fought back and then escaped the terrorists attacking their post on the Golan heights had been told by the UN to surrender.

FilAm BELMONTCLUB has the analysis which explains that the Fijian soldiers, who have a reputation for being good fighters, surrendered, and then the UN decided to make the Pinoys the next ones sacrificed under the guise that this was needed to protect those already captured.

Singha may have been told that unless he told the Filipinos to surrender, the Fijians might be compromised. But Catapang did not play along. “The escape was executed without the approval of UNDOF.” In fairness to Singha, he was caught between the New York Headquarters rock and a hard place. By asserting his sovereign override, Catapang essentially took responsibility for resisting al-Nusra. Singh is off the hook and Catapang got his men out of a jam.

The cultural difference is explained here:

The UN has a history of folding that goes back to Rwanda and Kosovo.  In the past the UN apparatchiks have relied on the faithfulness of their subordinate commanders to take a bullet for the team.  ”Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.” But Tennyson had never been to the Philippines where the word for blindly following orders is tanga...

tanga...AKA sap, sucker, crazy

the real question is not the order to sacrifice the Pinoys to save the Fijians, but who told the Fijians to surrender in the first place, and why?

Pro Islamic terror supporter in the UN, or just a simpleton? Or maybe they gave him a gift, such as all the bribes paid by Saddam Hussein to try to stop the various Gulf Wars?


When I heard about a case of a child with cancer kidnapped from a UK hospital, I assumed the parents did so because they didn't want modern therapy and wanted to try "green" treatment.

But the story is more complicated.

Mr King said in an earlier video posted that the family wanted to seek proton beam therapy for Ashya - a cancer treatment that the NHS would not provide.
It is understood they travelled to Spain, where they have a holiday home, to sell the property and release funds to pay for the treatment.


The BBC magazine has a nice story about the last Armenians in Burma, and their attempt to keep the local Armenian Orthodox church open.

includes this factoid:

In the early 17th Century, large numbers of Armenians fled the Ottoman Empire and settled in Isfahan in what's now Iran. From there, many travelled on in later years to form a commercial network which stretched from Amsterdam to Manila.
Their influence in the British Raj reached its peak in the late 19th Century, when census records suggest that about 1,300 Armenians were living principally in Calcutta, Dhaka and Rangoon.
One of these days, someone will write about all the persecutions of Christian minorities in the Ottoman empire. The two history books I have about the empire tend to ignore the subject as unimportant, and western history books see the Crimean war from the British point of view, to stop "russian" expansion,  whereas Russians saw it as their holy goal to help their fellow orthodox who were persecuted.

Professor bob is giving a series on the crimean war, but I haven't had time to listen to them yet.


related item: StrategyPage on Russia's newest moves.
So, having the Ukraine give up the Soviet A Bombs turns out to be a not so good idea?

and SP also has the story of the Chinese crackdown on religion in that country...mostly about the FalunGong, but also mentioning that they are starting to arrest Christian leaders. Christians are officially five percent of the population. NYTimes story about that last item here.

 no mention that the Chinese dissed Pope Francis on the local Catholic churches there (one state run, one under the Pope and illegal).


there were some stories a few weeks back that American kids no longer write "cursive".

Well, it's not just an American problem: BBC story on Chinese kids no longer learning to write their traditional symbolic script.

All over the country, Chinese people are forgetting how to write their own language without computerised help.
Software on smart phones and computers allows users to type in the basic sound of the word using the Latin alphabet. The correct character is chosen from a list.
The result? It's possible to recognise characters without remembering how to write them.
Well, they are only 3000 years behind the west and middle east. Once the Phonecians developed the alphabet, and the Greeks added vowels, writing no longer required scribes who studies for years to learn to read and write, and literature and keeping track of business became democratized.



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pinoy peacekeepers safe

Golan heights story ignored

Is the msm noticing that syrian rebels are attacking UN peacekeepers in the Golan heights?

Some peacekèers from fiji were ordered to surrender their àrms and taken captive, but a second group of pinoys fought back.

They are there to keep the area demilitarized since you can bombard all of galilee feom the area.

Science stuff around the web

The Nose knows the bee's knees...

using nose cartilege stem cells to fix knees.


anti depressants for post op pain?

I used them for chronic pain, telling my patients who insisted they weren't depressed that it might not stop the pain but it increased their pain threshold.

Of course, now they can smoke pot and not care that they are hurting. But the long halflife and sedative side effects suggest prozac might be a better way to go.

TYWKIDBI reports Professor Feynman's lectures are on line.

it seems to be the text version: some of his lectures are on youtube however. try here or google his name for more.

Feynman's search for TUVA was a pbs special that first alerted me to his ability to communicate; later I read his autobiography and even later he became famous for showing reporters in two seconds why the "o rings" of the spaceshuttle failed.

and the Tuvan people are genetically linked to the Navajo and other dene peoples.


and via TYWKIWDBI:

Bug photo of the day

Image (credit June Aubrey Young) via the QI elves'Twitter feed.

Dog item of the day

Dog turns on stove, causes house fire

article includes this link:

This site offers nine steps to prevent pets from igniting your stove, including removing the stove knobs

Family news

Lolo is feeling better. Joy and Chano are doing well. I finally got my new ID card, after six visits by Joy and one by me, so I now have proof I live here legally. (I'm a permanent resident).

We're still waiting for the check for our big Christmas order last year. Last month it was because they should have paid last year, and it wasn't on this year's budget. Now it is because the person who has to sign the check is "on vacation".

And then the Philippines wonders why they are losing business to other nearby countries.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rewrite the history books

Smithsonian suggests: The Kennewick man is probably related to Japan's "hairy" Ainu ethnic group.

headsup Instapundit

And the Navajo and Tinglit languages suggests that they have connections with a language in central Siberia.

Their migration to New Mexico was later than other native American tribal groups, and the Tinglit are not related to the Inuit.

and are the Hopi related to those living in Tibet?

Although both groups are mystical, I suspect this observation might be related to the New Age fascination with hopi/mayan/tibet being "spiritual" like them, never mind that Tibet is Buddhist, and most Pueblo are Catholic, and many Mayans are born again Christians, thanks to their rejection of "liberation theology" that got a lot of them killed...

this is similar to claims of early settlers that Native American tribes understood Welsh, or Hebrew.

The irony of all of this is that it misses the real story. Read the book 1491, or books about the real history of the Americas. For all the talk of Incans, and Aztecs being highly civilized, the dirty little secret is that both groups were late comers who conquered earlier empires (which is why it was so easy for the Spanish to conquer them: Lots of locals didn't like the usurpers. Indeed, if it wasn't for smallpox//hepatitis/influenza and other diseases accidentally introduced into the Americas, probably the locals would have thrown out the Europeans too.

And I say accidental, because the Spanish conquistadors were too dumb to spread germ warfare. The "smallpox blankets" were a much later, British idea...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Parking, take two

via DaveBarry

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as an Eagle Cam


it's an ongoing joke in the film "moms' night out", where everyone from the church ladies to the tatoo parlor bikers watch it...

Cat item of the day


via Incrediblethings

Bug beauty

TYWKIWDBI has a photo of the prettiest beetle you ever saw

"The beetle family Phengodidae, known also as glowworm beetles."

From Project Noah, via A London Salmagundi.

Stuff around the web

John Paul Rubens: Painter and spy.

tea at trianon blog links to a review of the new book.

And notes one difference between the past and today:

Artists, historically, were viewed as craftsmen, who were given their talents by God to bring beauty and light into the world, to raise man up to God, by the medium of art. It is in the Netherlands that oil painting first became the supreme art by the genius of Jan van Eyck. It is in the Netherlands that an artist obtained nobility, fame, and wealth by respectability virtue and above all his devotion to the Catholic faith. That artist was Peter Paul Rubens....Like Raphael or Michaelangelo in the 16th century, for Rubens, classical and mythological themes were often used as an expression of Christian virtue, and they saw no particular contradiction in it.


related item: Tolkien and Beowulf

“What are we to think of the nobility and heroism of the heathen past?  Was it all just evil, damned?” This question defined a serious controversy in the newly-Christian England of antiquity, and the consensus of Old English scholarship is that the Beowulf poem is, in part, a response to them. As Tolkien observes, the poem implicitly takes a side: “[T]he mere fact that the poet wrote a poem about the pagan past shows in general that he did not belong to the party that consigned the heroes (northern or classical) to perdition.”  Like Dante—who acknowledged Virgil as his guide and portrayed the pre-Christian Emperor Trajan in Paradise—the Beowulf poet recognizes that heathen expressions of truth, goodness, and beauty do have their place in the life of the Church.

I should note the subtle difference between this and today's multiculturalism: Multiculturalism denies anything can be good or bad (note that some were upset at ISIL being called "evil"). Catholic tradition sees all good things as a partial understanding of the real truth, and therefore to be encouraged or baptized into the faith, something that the Beowulf poet has done.


Freakonomics: discusses the high cost of "free" parking.

 Increasingly I think we’re paying for it in terms of the environmental harm that it causes. I did use data to estimate that parking subsidies in the United States are somewhere between 1 and 4 percent of the total GNP, which is about in the range of what we spend for Medicare or national defense. So that’s the cost of parking not paid for by drivers.


 from Improbable research: the paper claiming people got less upset if hurricanes had female names has been rebuked.

actually, here in the Philippines, we usually rename our typhoons to something easier than the "international" name, so they are easier to pronounce and remember.


Ebola has killed over 120 health workers in Africa.

yes, but the real death toll will be those dying of treatable diseases such as diarrhea and malaria, not to mention those dying in childbirth who won't deliver in a hospital for fear of catching ebola.

for later reading/watching:

One of our cities is missing.


also for later reading: Uncle Orson discusses the common core controversy.

Summary: It is a good idea, but the bad news is that it was devised by the same idiots who gave us modern math and reading fads that didn't work, and also it will be coopted by the politically correct.

he also discusses Plato, General Sherman (he had Mistresses? Don't tell General Petreus!) and King Lear.


a thoughful essay comparing Fergueson to Staten Island.

the social cohesiveness and trust was missing in Fergueson...


if you think that the birthcontrol/abortion pill mandate will stop here, you might want to see that California demands Catholic universities pay for health insurance that cover all abortions.


Wired discusses bees. and not just any bees, but BLUE BEES.

Bees in the genusThyreus are gasp-out-loud delightful with their shiny blues and teals.
Their beauty hides a deadly secret: the females are kleptoparasitic, a fancy way of saying they steal food and shelter from other bees. Thyreus bees don’t collect any pollen to store as food, and they don’t build nests. Instead of visiting flowers, they cruise around looking for underground nest openings of other bee species.

Includes a slideshow for later viewing.


Instapundit reports insect farming is the future.

I am always sceptical, because although many cultures eat bugs (Pinoys eat crickets, The Shona eat flying ants, and out west the pioneers ate locusts) the dirty little secret is that these things are not every day food.

And the "yuck" factor is big.

The Shona eat flying ants, but shrimp and crustacean foods are taboo: Sister Euphrasia almost starved when she boarded with Italian nuns while studying for her master's degree, because the nuns were vegetarian and ate lots of cheap fish and shell fish and shrimp. It got so bad that she moved to an American convent where beef and chicken were on the menu.

although I believe Locusts are halal for some Muslims, most insects are not.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stuff around the web

If you want a nice quiet movie to watch, try renting Belle

from wikipedia

real story here. and HERE.

heh. The missing emails are found: It's just too much trouble to dig them out of the archives.


a non pc evaluation of the Fergueson case.

I figure it's about getting out the vote in the next election.

Any kid murdered for any reason is a tragedy, but when the CDC statistics and the gang murders of the inner city are ignored by the media, and this one murder promoted 24/7, one has to wonder if this is being pushed by a political agenda.

the problem with the cliches being pushed in the media is that too many folks watch CSI, and the evidence suggest it might be a case of self defense...Most ER docs see Orbital blowout fractures in domestic violence cases,
Being caught on surveillance tape threatening a small South Asian clerk doesn't help confirm white racism either.

"In the absence of a motor vehicle accident history...   Orbital fracture, an eye injury which is a break in the skull bone of the eye socket, is an injury that results when a great deal of force is applied to the victim's face or eye. "You can't get it with casual contact," said Goldberg. "The contact must be with a fist or something hard like a ball or a dashboard."