Thursday, May 25, 2017

Yemen: bad guys vs worse guys

President Obama was trying his best to be a friend to Iran, but one thing he did that infuriated his "friends" in the knee jerk European left was to back the Saudis and approve of airstrikes against the Yemeni Houthi rebels.

Here is the PC meme from DW:
Instead, Trump chose to feed the Saudis' exaggerated fears about Iran's influence in the region. He explicitly gave his approval for Saudi Arabia's murderous military intervention in Yemen as an important part in the war on terror. If he is really serious about wanting "Muslim boys and girls to grow up free from fear and safe from violence" then he should have asked his hosts to end the Yemen conflict.
Reality check: The Persian/Arab wars predate Islam... and while Iranian backed Assad regime is bad, it has pretty well been realized that the ISIS takeover of the rebels in Syria would be a lot worse.

In contrast, the Houthi, who are helped by Iran, are in some ways as bad as ISIS... maybe worse, because there isn't a lot of reports coming from there, and the westeern press swallows the Iranian anti Saudi/anti western agiprop without bothering to check what is reported by people who actually have people working there.

the UNFPA page has lots of article about how women are suffering and how rights for women have gotten worse especially in Houthi areas.

more here

why does this count? Because the social media can be manpupated with photo ops of "drone/bomb" strikes, but when women die in childbirth or children die of malnutrition, they die quietly.

This Human Rights Watch report starts with the evil saudi part (summary: Bombing the bad guys and killing nearby civilians accidentally is evil), but if you read down you find they didn't start the atrocities: The Houthi atrocities were up front and personal.

Child soldiers? Check. Terror attacks against civilians? Check. Stopping protests? Check. Jailing political enemies? Check. Using landmines in civilian areas? Check

more here.

and most importantly: The lack of civil rights for women. 

In 2011, Yemeni women took the streets to participate in the revolution. Many of them were subjected to defamatory campaigns, which culminated in Saleh's April 2011 speech in which he banned gender-mixing in the demonstration arenas....
Although Islah seems to have been harsh about women’s issues, Houthis are much worse. They are not obsessed with imposing gender segregation, but they obstruct female movement by forcing women to return to their homes before the sunset. All Yemeni political forces are similar in their targeting of women. The victims of Islah are now suffering the same fate at the hands of the Houthis, but with greater harassment and fear given the absence of any accountability for such acts.

Read more:

2014 Reuters article on Houthi oppression against women.

Strategypage on the history and culture of that ancient culture.
this article is about the problem in getting in food to feed their civilian population. Corruption is a big problem.

The rebels are accused of expelling UN personnel needed to inspect aid shipments and the government claims the rebels have been seizing aid shipments and preventing UN personnel from verifying that the aid is going to civilians...

This article notes the Iranian connection, and how they manipulate the press:

summary: President Obama was called a murderer by the "anti war" left for helping the Saudis by using drones (which are more accurate than regular bombings, i.e. fewer nearby casualties).

But now everyone is waiting to see what the new president does.

Trump's visit making nice with the Saudis mean two things; One, the Saudi side (the less bad side) will probably win.

And two: The anti war left will, with Iran's help, be able to smear Trump as a baby killer for doing the same thing as President Obama, but now will actually get lots of press coverage for this in the anti Trump press.

T Rex Quote of the day

Appearing from Riyadh on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace this morning, Secretary Tillerson fielded a slightly offbeat question...
 Wallace commented, “you looked pretty good while you were doing it – frankly, more comfortable than the President or Commerce Secretary Ross. Had you been practicing, sir?”
Tillerson responded: “Well, I hadn’t been practicing, Chris, but it was not my first sword dance.”

from Powerline:

Wikipedia on the dance:

The term 'ardah' is thought to derive from the Arabic verb ard meaning 'to show' or 'to parade'. It was so named because its purpose was to publicly display the fighting strength of a tribe and boost morale before an armed engagement.

and this article notes that Prince Charles also participated in the ceremony on one of his visits.

Toxic facebook

According the the UKGuardian, 54 thousand cases of revenge porn/extortion were removed in one month.

a discussion of how they monitor censor stuff there.

The real problem is riducule/harassment.

My sister in law won't go there after her daughter and the daughter's high school skating teem was harassed. And Ruby gets teased all the time for being a Christian.

Some teenagers are on it all the time, and they are vulnerable to bullies.

and there is no way to stop that.

Teenagers are sensitive to these things, and it may be one of the reasons that teenaged suicide is up.

and yes I use facebbook to check on my relatives, but I only check it once or twice a day.

In contrast, the kids are on their cellphones texting to various sites all the time...

Family news

Ruby and Joy and the cousins are in Korea enjoying the sites. They are staying with Robin's son who just moved there. They intend to shop and to visit the K-Drama studios. The Korean dramas (serials or what we used to all soap operas) are big in Asia, and most of them are G or PG rated.

Here at home, things are quiet: The puppies are starting to wander all over the place, so you have to watch your step.

They "accidentally" took my Samsung recharger with them to Korea for their cellphones so I can't use my tablet:  I am stuck reading the books I brought with me or surfing on my large clunky computer.

For later reading

For later reading: Futurist Jerry Pournelle (libertarian) discusses the long career of James Comey.

The Pope reportedly gave Trumpieboy a copy of the green encyclical.

He gave Trump three bound papal documents that he has written that to some degree define his papacy and priorities. One focuses on the environment, demanding an end to a “structurally perverse” economic system that has turned Earth into an “immense pile of filth.” 
so let's go back to famines and living a green lifestyle in huts?

Maybe Trumpie boy should have given the pope a copy of the encyclical Centesimus Annus, about capitalism and freedom...

no, I am anti pollution, and one of the problems of prosperity is the loss of local valuable farm lands to industrial growth.

In Nueva Ecija, about 25 percent of rice and vegetable farms had been turned into commercial areas, depriving farmers of means of livelihood.

-but it ignores that many many locals have left the area to find jobs in Manila or as OFW due to lack of jobs here, and because farming means staying poor...

a lot of rice is lost due to primitive farming techniques... even our rice crop profit was harmed again this year because our rice drier went on the blink again and it's too wet to dry it the usual way (spread it on the ground in the hot sun).

and I won't even list the numerous scams that divert help for farmers into the pockets of the politicians. link..

and last time I looked, there was a lot of stuff in the Bible about people who defraud the poor.Maybe the Pope whould tweet about that a bit more.

A lot of the corrupt politicians in the Philippines are good Catholics (/s).

also for later reading:
NYtimes on the health care kerfuffle.

No matter how good the plan, we will read how Republicans hate poor people and want to kill them.

As for paying I don't have an opinion. I worked for the IHS, so am leery of single payer plans, but hey, they are better than profit oriented HMO's or having people go to the ER for free care because that is the only place that can't legally turn them away if they aren't insured.

The problem is the paperwork, (lots of money going to non caregivers inflate the cost of medicine) and the second problem is making guidelines replace clinical judgement. (you spend so much time documenting negative trivia that you don't have time to talk to the patient).

The fake news of Trumpie's trip include complaints his wife didn't wear a veil in Saudi, but did wear a mantilla when she saw the pope.

NPR discusses the nuances of head coverings here.

Summary: It's complicated.

Actually, as a doc, I think she should have worn a hat in Saudi for sun protection, not for political reasons, a

And the Pope blessed her rosary says one story. Huh? Yes, she is a Roman Catholic according to Wikipedia, but of course she is married and attends the local Episcopal church with her husband.

That should make the trad/catholics go into a hissy fit.

Philippines in the news: oh Duterte is winning, so expect the story to fade.

Philippine city back in government control.

and the gov't is claiming that the usual idiots used the social media to spread lies:

“The news being circulated by these terrorists and their sympathizers are spurious and are meant to spread lies and disinformation,” Arevalo said. “It is propaganda to attract foreign terrorists’ support and recognition,” he added Arevalo also said that the reported ‘eyewitness account’ that Amai Pakpak Hospital has been occupied and the people there were held hostage is also untrue. The Marawi City Hall, he said, was also not occupied as was earlier reported.
the main scandal here is not the attack, but that the government wasn't aware of their plans. The backstory: The MILF and others trying to make peace are now in trouble for keeping quiet (although one must add that they probably have relatives in the group, so family trumps politics).

This is in contrast to the attack in London, or some of the attacks in the USA, where friends and/or family members had reported the bozos as dangerous, but they were cleared because of pressure of political correctness.

I was watching TV, and even the usual opposition people are muted in their replies. LINK

thisis because some of these groups have imported bomb makers...and they could attack Manila.

We live with this: but actually we are more in danger from political feuds and drug addled criminals. The NPA is around, but quiet, except for when some of them morph to kidnap, kill or steal to get money. (for example, the hit on our nephew was ordered via the ex mayor, but the hit men were ex NPA).

part of the fall out: Pressure on the communists/NPA, who could be caught in the middle where martial law is declared.

They are fading out, and are in negotiations with the president, but this could be their death knell if more jobs and less corruption result.

But their "leaders" living in luxury in Europe are calling for war.

“The necessity of waging revolutionary armed struggle becomes ever clearer. Thus, the New People’s Army (NPA) must be ready to accelerate the recruitment of new Red fighters as Duterte’s martial law convinces more and more people to take up arms against the rotten system,” the CPP statement read.

sounds like they are reading the MSM instead of asking the opinion of the locals. And as the article points out, they don't exactly control the "boots on the ground"...

StragegyPage take on what's going on here:

 The security forces had been receiving a lot more tips about Abu Sayyaf activity this year and several them led to a building in Marawi City where the wounded (in a recent battle) Hapilon was recuperating. The military underestimated the number of gunmen (not all of them Abu Sayyaf) available in the city to protect Hapilon. The mid-day raid soon escalated to a larger battle involving hundreds of troops and at least fifty gunmen trying to protect Hapilon. They did this by calling in more gunmen and attacking multiple targets in the city, including city hall, a Catholic church (that was burned down) and a university campus. By nightfall the electricity was cut to most of the city and the Islamic terrorists had taken over a dozen civilians hostage. This appears to be a typical ISIL suicidal last stand. Abu Sayyaf and the other Islamic terror groups have taken heavy losses over the last year, both in terms of manpower, public support and, most importantly cash flow. Even religious fanatics have expenses and these have increased for Abu Sayyaf while income declined. It was time for a bold and desperate move.

And, yes, there is a connection between this and the drug war here:

President Duterte ran Davao City for two decades so he is familiar with the region. Mindanao is also where most of the Moslems live and long a center of criminal activity like the drug trade and smuggling.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Holy Underware

I was watching Braveheart yesterday (one of the dvd's I brought with me but hadn't watched for awhile)

And yes, they showed what was worn underneath the kilt when at one point they "mooned" the British.

but Jamie wears a long shirt under his quilt

ah but what about Clare?

if you remember, she was wearing a 1947 dress, but the locals thought she was only in a shift.

and there is a scene where she puts on the shift and bustle and corset under her costume.

Lots of stuff went undernearth the dress, and this is how you would have to make them.


more about18th century "unmentionables" at East of the sun Blog, via Tea at Trianon.

one of the things that is not well known is that pockets were not part of the skirt/dress back then, but were separate, which of course allowed them to be much larger than the small ones we see now.

3. Pockets A pocket (or a pair of them) was tied around the waist since actual pockets stitched to the garments didn’t happen until the 19th century. They could be of plain linen or be beautifully embroidered (even though no one would see them) and have a rather big size since they should hold all the necessities of a woman (think about all a girl would carry in her purse nowadays).

Another Loser attack in Mindanao

Dilbert says Trump has relabeled ISIS as "Loser" or "evil loser" and suggests that this was a smart move, since putting that label in to the headlines will discourage the lost boys who want to see themselves as valiant warriors that terrify people will now get the "you evil loser" meme reinforced.

So now the loser group that bombed the innocent folks at the Davao market have been losing to the Philippine military, so decided to try to take over a local city run by Muslims under modified sharia law.

I should note that usually the evil losers only hit Christian villages, or majority Christian cities like Zamboanga,but the press outside the Philippines usually assumes everyone in Mindanao is a Muslim, so misses the religious angle, and the government is loathe to correct the impression, for fear that local militias might start fighting back, as they did when populist Erap was president... which led to a lot of payback murders (similar to the private vigilante payback murders of druggies and drug pushers that is blamed on Duterte now).

The story of what is actually going on can be found in this Inquirer story which notes that this was a response to a raid on their headquarters that wounded their bigshot head. So the bad guys decided hey, let's do an offensive, but instead of attacking Christian enclaves or majority cities like their compadres did in the past, they decided to hit one of their own cities, presumably where they won't get a lot of opposition.

The Maute group is one of less than a dozen new armed Muslim groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and formed a loose alliance in the southern Philippines in recent years. 
Hapilon was reportedly designated the leader of the alliance. The Maute has been blamed for a bomb attack that killed 15 people in southern Davao city, Duterte’s hometown, last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offences.

this is in contrast to the AP/UKMail breathless report.  Yes, it points out that they are bad guys, but hey, they are written up in most US news papers as glamourous bad guys, and the attack is in response to the fact that they are getting their asses kicked in recent months, so they need a nice glamours healine

. The local autonomous (Muslim) governments are being asked to intervene for peace here... 

Senior members of the ARMM’s peace and order council are now consolidating plans, via an online teleconference system, on how to respond to the situation in Marawi City.
“These acts of terror are happening in a historic predominantly Muslim city. People sowing terror and says it is being done in the name of Islam should be ashamed of what they are doing,” Hataman said

so will locals get tired of these thugs, who have now turned on their own? No water, no electricity, in hot season? Developing...

the government is denying a full takeover so far (of course, no one trusts these reports either) but we heard Duterte is declaring martial law in the area, and hopefully this won't result in the fragmented and chaotic response that the gentle PNoy put up with when Zamboanga was attacked.

Duterte is flying back from Russia, where he was making nice with Putin, asking for aid and jobs, figuring that it won't have "human rights" strings attached to it... not just the drug killings: in the past US and EU aid came with strings that insisted on changing our laws to allow divorce and abortion to get aid, and now insisting we stop raiding drug cartel outposts and stop the vigilante killings.

For what it's worth, the congress here just passed a one year moratorium against impeachment proceedings against Duterte: Impeachment under the last two presidents was a game to get you face on TV and not really a serious game, but in Duterte's case, there was a suspicion of outside backers to the kerfufle, and the people are saying: Stop.

The gov't is discouraging social network posts by locals, knowing that these will be used as propaganda., both to glamourize the evil losers and to cry "HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS" against Duterte and the military.

Duterte was talking to Putin, asking for modern weapons. Didn't the US give him modern weapons under Obama? Well, Obama and a Hillary ally threatened Duterte last year, cutting aid, including military aid, in protest to drug killings that were exaggerated in the press (the same press that ignores the many more drug cartel related murders in Mexico), so he is not taking his chances with the PC in the US State Department.

oh yes: An d incase you are wondering why the increase in attacks all over the world, well, it's because Ramadan starts on May 26.

Here it means schools and banks are closed.... unlike the US, we don't have bigots objecting to religious holidays like Christma,s Easter, Ramadan and Eid...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rubber Duckie post of the day

A British village is protesting the failure to repair potholes by using rubber duckies.

HELEN WRIGHT More than hundred ducks floating in potholes in Oxfordshire village Steeple Aston.

or if that doesn't work try one of these rubber Duckies

Family ties, business ties, and Trump's business connections

The LATimes has a story about Trump's son in law and his friendship/business relationship with a Saudi prince.

Starting last winter, even before Trump took office, the two trusted family advisors quietly joined forces to mend U.S.-Saudi relations strained by President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, which the Saudi rulers opposed, and his moralizing on human rights. which they disdained. The results were clear Saturday as President Trump arrived in Riyadh — the first stop in his first trip abroad. Kushner and Prince Mohammed kept a close eye on the president and the king during a long day of ceremonial and substantive events, including a roaring military flyover in an azure sky, a tribal war dance by men wearing flowing white thobes and waving huge silver swords, and the signing of a $110-billion arms deal, parts of which began under Obama.

A lot of the press sees Trumpie boy through the eyes of politics: they don't get his sarcasm and hyperbole (used to make a deal: as in bargaining at the Palenke for a better price, which is how business works here ) and isn't recognizing that he is working as a businessperson.

This is, of course, how business works in the Philippines: not just loud bargaining (no quiet negotiations) but conducting business via personal ties.

See Fukuyama's book Trust, which describes how capitalism requires trust, and describes two versions of it: Trust of family, or trust of those you know through intermediate institutions.

The first, seen in Asia/Arab coutries and most of the world, is that you trust only your relatives/ clan members or "compadres" (close friends). This is how Lolo thought. He only trusted family, or the family members of those who traditionally worked for our family as farmers, maids etc. who are considered part of the family here.

you can see the problem: how do you find a job when you don't know anyone? (Another problem: Petty theft. Since they are part of the family, often things they need and you don't seem to need disappears. Sigh.)

Here in the Philippines, it makes it harder for outsiders to get a business opportunity if you aren't part of the elite families, or aren't Chinese. (which is why our family went into medicine instead of business or politics).

the second way of influence: where intermediate institutions allow you to make connections.

This is what we see in the USA, but are starting to see here in the Evangelical churches, who help their members get jobs and where businessmen are able to have outside ties with other businessmen. You also see this in the Rotary Club, the Masons, the Knights of Columbus, etc.

The problem with either form of Trust, that it can lead to corruption, where you give "the good guy"a pass on a minor thing like taking bribes, because everyone does it and hey, he's a ____ (fill in the blanks: a fellow Mason/ member of my church, husband of my cousin, etc.)

This second line of trust, via institutions, has one advantage over family based trust: it allows outsiders to join the club.

But you still have outsiders, so there is a push to get ways for outsiders to have their own clubs etc. or deliberaatly encourage them in ways for them to make these valuable contacts.

That is what the various NGO's and UN's initiative for women (such as the World Bank's initiative for women entrepeneurs incorrectly called Ivanka's fund in recent news reports) is about: Getting business women into the loop. (and a lot of third world women a re in business, but at a low level e.g. street vendors).

Neither of these systems are "good or bad": Both are open to corruption, so government oversight is needed. However, this allows the unelected bureaucrats power, and soon regulations become a more important than reality.

But of course, in places like the Philippines, people don't pay attention to the law. A small "gift" will make the law go away. Which is a problem.

I knew things were improving in Colombia when a civil clerk refused my "gift" and lectured me about it.

In the Philippines we are, of course, in transition in all of this, but personal ties do matter,as we saw when a friend of Hillary who arranged for the UN to protest a graft case against a lovely ex president who was a classmate of Bill's.

So its nice to know that one of Duterte's friends is a friend of Eric.

In other words, personal ties matter in business, and in diplomacy.

I suspect a similar personal ties to the Arab world via Trump's and TRex's business connections. And he is using these connections to get things done.

This enables you to bypass the red tape and get on the phone to settle things.

Peace in our time? I'm not holding my breath, but at least they are talking.

On the other hand, this business way of doing things can backfire.

So when Trump notes to Comey that Flynn is a good guy (presumably Trump was hinting that a lot of the charges are an attempt by his enemies because he openly opposed their helping ISIS), it was just doing business as usual...  But taken out of context, it can be spun to seem otherwise.

On the other hand, no one except the dittoheads got upset when Bill Clinton talked about grandchildren with Loretta Lynch, and voila Hillary's corruption problems disappeared, hey no problem. She's a good guy who didn't mean to break the law, so give her a break.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Pirates hit Pirated windows users

StrategyPage discusses the latest cyber attack.

they note that evidence suggests the source was North Korea, but also note what I noted in an earlier post:
it hit China (and Russia) the hardest because lots of folks there use illegal Microsoft Windows programs.

 It did not make any sense for North Korea to unleash Wannacry because most of the victims were in the few countries (China and Russia) that still supported North Korea. These two countries were hard hit because both depend heavily on illegal copies of Windows and other software. Most users of the illegal Windows software don’t bother to pay for security and other software updates provided by other hackers who supply these updates for a fee. Microsoft will not upgrade illegal copies of its software. Worse, even though Microsoft regularly releases free updates via the Internet many users do not immediately apply those updates (because updates sometimes break something else).

you also can listen to the podcast here.

Factoid of the week

Not only does screen legend Leslie Caron play the reclusive countess in the British TV series The Durrells, but the show is a family affair:

Speaking to What’s on TV, Leslie explained why she loved the fact three generations of her family worked together on ITV’s hit Sunday night drama: “I’m absolutely thrilled. It was just so comfortable and pleasant to do scenes where my grandson (Ben Hall, who plays lovesick Donald) was acting… And my son (Christopher Hall) was the producer so I knew I couldn’t ask for any favouritism, and I didn’t! 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

human trafficking

The press reported Trump's speech to the Coast Guard raduates as a "pity party" but if you actually watched it, it was a good speech, and the whining was only one line in a long speech.

. video here.

and,  you might have missed this part of the speech to the Coast Guard:

Just days from now, you will put this vital skill into the service of your ships, your sectors, and your country.  You’ll serve as deck watch officers on our amazing Coast Guard cutters. You’ll bring law and order to the dangerous waters as boating officers.  You will block illegal shipments of cash, weapons and drugs.  You will battle the scourge of human trafficking -- something that people haven’t been talking about.  One of the big, big plagues of the world.  Not our country only -- the world.  Human trafficking.  
luckily, Trumpie boy  tweeted about this. or we might have missed it completely.

and it's not just talk: Ivanka is on it (ignore the sneers and innuendos here too).

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers joined Trump, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Heidi Heitkamp, as well as anti-human trafficking experts and leaders. Next week is "Combating Trafficking and Child Protection Week" in Congress, Trump said, and nine pieces of legislation will directly address the issue.

in between the snide remarks here, NYMagazine admits:

Unlike other issues she’s grappling with, such as promoting women in the workplace and designing a family-leave policy, the First Daughter appeared to have an actionable plan to introduce legislation that will address human trafficking. “We have been conducting interagency meetings to understand the scope of the issue, as well as gathering recommendations from the academic, public and private sector,” she said during the approximately three minutes that the press was allowed in the room. “Today, we bring an additional and critical group to the table, legislative leaders, to discuss concrete steps through legislation.”

I have read about a lot of small raids in the US in recent weeks (a big sting? A new priority? or ust putting the raids into the news, whereas no one noticed it before).

Ah, but there was a big raid on a horrid internet child porn den here last week. The Austrailians were behind the raid, cooperating with local cops.

Why is this significant? Becauses criminals here in the Philippines traditionally pay off the cops. Now with Duterte, not so much.

Both thse guys are not good politicians, but both are pragmatic leaders who get things done.

so why does every news article include self righteous press negative opinions using memes taken out of contest that have nothing to do with the story being reported? Or memes that ignore the real story (e.g.  the "Russia stole the lection for trump" meme ignores that Wikileaks was about Hillary's dirty tricks and corruption, including stealing the primaries from Bernie...I'm old enouh to remember when reporters won pulitzer prizes for these types of stories.)

Question: Why did Seth Rich go to Wikileaks about the dirty tricks instead of the WaPost? Anyone? Anyone?

But the press takes one remark (or sometimes one paraphrase of a remark out of context) and uses it to smear them.

reading te press, one would think Trumpie has been sitting around whining.
But Dilbert has a list of what he actually has done:

Things That Are Positive The economy Trade deals China relations Russia (our frenemy) is working with the U.S. on Syria, North Korea China is putting pressure on North Korea Jobs Healthcare progress (more to do) Supreme Court nominee confirmed Tax reform maybe Optimism for an Israeli-Palestinian “deal” Safe Zones coming along for Syrian refugees Illegal immigration down over 70% because of Trump’s persuasion alone. Business confidence high.
he's done a lot for a man we keep hearing is "unfit to be president".

Just saying...

Do You speak dog?

LATimes story says a lot of owners do understand what their dogs are trying to say

Yes humans really do understand their dogs — at least some of the time. Pet owners and women were particularly good at interpreting growls, a new study finds. (Steven Senne / AP) 
 my vet has this poster on her wall:

or maybe not:

Stories below the fold

C SPAN hwill be remembering Army nurses.



Evidence shows humans were in Australia 42 thousand years ago.


Dan Carlin's R rated "Hard core" history podcasts can now be found on youtube.

This one is about Xerxes, the bad guy of 300 fame, plus a lot more.


Chibok irls reunited with their families.

but alas a lot more children remain in captivity.


King John and the Magna Carta

and this article is about his mom, Queen Eleanor.


China's new silk road propaganda machine is running full tilt.


the next fossile fuel: Methane ice?

uh oh:

The potential threat is that methane can escape, which would have serious consequences for global warming. It is a gas that has a much higher potential to impact climate change than carbon dioxide.
So the trick is to extract the gas without any of it slipping out.

reversing net neutrality rules.

I don't know enough about this to have an opinion.


Podcast of the week

Secret fire podcast: An evangelical take on Tolkien and other geeky subjects.

Older podcasts at internet archives. (there is a torrent link there for easy download).

Musical interlude of the day

one of my favorites: I have the CD of this:

Heartwarming story of the day

from Plough.

caring for a special needs child

Every morning, we were simply thankful that he was alive. Without an intuition that Matthew’s precious life had a spiritual purpose, the daily letting go of the boy I had come to know and love might have seemed impossible. Through Matthew, surrender to the natural ebb and flow of life was written into our hearts. We felt privileged to be the ones closest to him because he transformed us from people who were merely living to people who were living with purpose.

Someone recently asked me, “Why did you waste a year and a half fostering that boy when you could have been making a difference by fostering a healthy child?” Although a well-meaning question coming from an individual with a deep love for God, it stung me profoundly. Have we forgotten that we, as human beings, are called to do more than just live healthy and successful lives? Have we forgotten that we are called to do more than simply nourish our bodies? Have we forgotten that we are called to give, that we are called to community? Have we, as a culture, given up on the intrinsic value of each human life?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Stories below the fold

Slaves in the US? Yes, the Filipina maid who isn't paid.

as Freepers comment: No, this is alas common, in Saudi, Dubai and Hong Kong. And it wasn't uncommon in the US in the past. The reason? Poverty.

As my husband remarked: You are not poor as long as you have enough rice to eat.

lots of stuff about the mistreatment of foreign workers at Migrant


The hype about Trump "colluding with the Russians" is over the top...

 wasn't the "hacking of the election" the release of information about Hillary's corruption and her dirty tricks used to steal the primaries from Bernie? 

and if Wikileaks is Russian and a threat, then why was Pvt Manning released from jail, (oh look at her new hairstyle, poor dear!) and why are the charges against Julian Assange getting dropped?

Spengler calls it a bloodless coup.

and other people are even more blunt.

I mean, when you lose "TeaAtTrianon", you have a problem. Of course, MariaElenaVidal wrote a biography of Marie Antoinette and how the revolutionaries smeared the queen to overthrow the government. And we all know how that revolution turned out...

 "Oh NO All the Trumpies are Russian Spies converting to the Russian Orthodox church 

apparently none of those fact checkers at Time Magazine recognize St Basil's cathedral.


Suicide on the Indian Reservaation.

Sigh. Yes. A good post of that terrible problem.

IHS page on prevention of suicide on Indian reservations.

Despite the strengths of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) families and communities, suicide remains a devastating and all too frequent event. Complex, interrelated factors contribute to an increased suicide risk among AI/AN people and include mental health disorders, substance abuse, intergenerational trauma, and community-wide issues. Factors that protect AI/AN youth and young adults against suicidal behavior are a sense of belonging to one's culture, a strong tribal/spiritual bond, the opportunity to discuss problems with family or friends...

this article discusses the problem in Canada.


Inter racial marriage statistics: One in six couples married today, and one in ten of total marriages in the USA.

Yup. Been there, done that.

(headsup Instapundit)


there is a kerfuffle about some beauty queen who said no, health care is not a right.

Actually, that is a fake argument Health care is a responsibility of the family to help out, and if one is poor, then the responsibility falls to local churches/charities and the local community to provide it.

Before efficient HMO's took over, we docs just wrote off a lot of our unpaid bills, and often we supplied medicines (samples or meds we bought to stock our office) for our patients.

Yes I believe the government should supply free medicine for those who can't afford it, which is why I worked for the IHS...but the serious problem of medical rationing is never quite addressed.


and the art article of the day:: artists makes Rambrant SMILE
familOlly Gibbs, 27, from London, decided to use an app on his phone to change the expressions on 'miserable' Dutch portraits and make them happier (pictured, Rembrandt's self portrait before and after its transformation) 


Friday, May 19, 2017

Important stories below the fold

Why is there a global shortage of Penicillin?

AlJ has a very long and fact filled article that discusses not only the diseases affected, but the problems in modern day pharmacutical businesses

They are actually talking about the long acting shot here:  you can give the long acting shot in the third world (which means you don't have to worry if they take all their pills).

It is commonly used to treat syphilis (including congenital syphilis), strep throat (with it's complication of Rheumatic fever.

Problem: it's on "old" drug so not a lot of profit, and there has been a problem with some Chinese companies who make it... and India is underpriced by the Chinese companies so isn't making a lot of the drug.

The article also discusses the failure of drug companies to develop newer antibiotics.


Also from AlJ: The Ebola outbreak in the Congo


from PhysOrg: Can CRISPR save the world?

Only if you allow it to. It is a way to edit genes, as in GM food...

and the aim is to make plants resistant to fungus and other pests. They discuss wheat, and potatoes.

 but actually the big problem right now is Bananas: All bananas have a narrow genone: they don't produce seeds, you have to grow them from another plant...
and much of those produced for export are monoculture.

. In the first world, they are a fruit, no problem, but in parts of Africa and Asia they are a major source of calories.


I'll have to read up on the latest cyberattack, but I find this interesting:from GlobalVoices: China's computers are involved: half of the affected computers are in China.

Part of the blame is that  students are playing games on the university computers.

but there is also this: A lot of computers there (and in the Philippines for that matter) use pirated versions of windows. Here, you have to watch it when you buy a computer: Often the Windows or other programs you bought look fine, but then you find you can't load upgrades, or you get a notice that you have to buy a real version of the software, which of course is often ignored by people.