Thursday, June 29, 2017

A kinder, gentler StarTrek

Happy Astreoid Day (June 30)

David Reneke notes that June 30 is Asteroid day

and the guy who is behind the celebration is a rock star (literally).

A celebration of asteroids in space Friday, June 30th has a rock star behind the international awareness that one day the sky will be falling with Solar System interlopers promising, “We will rock you!” Asteroid Day is a United Nations sanctioned event world-wide that had its start in 2014 with the help of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Brian May of the British group Queen. Guitarist May, 69, is an astrophysicist with a PhD from Imperial College, London, completed during 30 years of studying the dust in our Solar System we can see as zodiacal light.
Dr Brian May, CBE, PhD FRAS, is a founding member of Queen, a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, producer and performer, also a Doctor of Astrophysics

why June 30? It is the anniversary of the Tunguska event. which could have been from a rock meteor air burst or a comet fragment.

This post shows a comet, not a falling star/meteorite, but aside from that it is true:

Happy story of the day

From the UKTelegraph:

Babies get a "graduation ceremony when they leave the Intensive care nursery.

The graduation ceremonies were organised by kind-hearted staff at the CaroMont Regional Medical Centre’s Birthplace facility. (located at Gastonia S.C.)


Important Stories below the fold

The price of solar energy is falling, meaning that it might be a meaningful solution to generate electricity for poor countries like India. Of course, one reason for the low prices are this:

The secret to these low prices? It turns out that a great way to reduce your soft costs is to pay your labor force and engineers next to nothing. (Markets with low-cost labor are more likely to use fixed-tilt systems, lowering turnkey system prices even more.) As the report points out, even in China soft costs are 11 cents per watt higher than in India.

headsup Instpundit.

wikipedia article on Electricity in the Philippines, but it seems to be a bit out of date (2014 data) and says 43 percent come from coal burning plants...and says we only get ten percent from hydroelectric power: then why do we get so many brownouts in the dry season?

Or maybe it's just here in north central Luzon...

I wonder if the article includes the energy produced by personal generators that most larger businesses and many middle class folks have.


also via Instapundit: Kurzweil on linking our brain to the cloud...

again, this implies that we are our brain and that if we upload our brain information to the cloud we live forever.  Ah, but is that true?

because "you" would be dead, but the "you" in the computer essentially would be your twin, not you.
(ancients insisted we were composed of spirit, mind and body... Descarte started the "ghost in the machine" duality).

Lady Panc Ashash Call your office...

"is the Pope Catholic" post of the day:

First he muddied up the 2000 year old rules on marriage, now he is muddying up the 3600 year old rules against killing the vulnerable and the 1800 year old rurules that forbid abortion.

What could go wrong? Crux explains

Whatever the admirable intentions of the leadership of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the real-world effect of appointing a pro-choice member is the same as if they had appointed a pro-slavery advocate: The appearance in the public eye that the Church does not take its teaching against abortion as seriously as it once did. This has a direct impact upon pro-life advocates on the ground, who stand exposed to the accusation of being "more Catholic" than the Vatican.

(and  you should read what the more orthodox Catholic sites are saying...).

how bad is it? Well, one MSM source insisted that the Pope was giving his new cardinals a beretta...
(catholic pun, explained at link).


forget the Demogorgon:

Gorgon Stare is watching you...


and the "say again" item of the day:

headsup Dustbury..

Movie of the week

the Last Princess of Korea is forced to live in Japan after the Japanese annex her country.

try not to cry.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Drugs and terrorism take two

Austin Bay article on the drug terrorist links, mainly about the Mexican cartel and South America.

Iran has used its network to conduct terror attacks. The "covert presence" of Iranian agents "eventually led to Hezbollah's terrorist attacks against the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1992 and the AMIA Jewish Community Center in the same city two years later."
that bombing was 20 years ago, and families still await justice, and there was probably a government cover up by the lady who later became president. Not surprisingly, the investigator died before anything was done. more HERE.

the Pope, who openly condemned the bombing many times,was bishop there back then... more HERE

Jihadis, drugs and terrorist family values:: The stuff you might not read in the headlines

StrategyPage has an article on jihadis killing Muslims.

and this might surprise you:

June 27, 2017: One type of victim that is not carefully counted in the current outbreak of Islamic terrorism are Islamic clerics (including scholars) who are murdered by the terrorists for preaching against misuse of Islam to justify the violence.

like the priests and ministers killed in Mexico (and in Colombia) for opposing the violent drug gangs, these martyrs are invisible to the press. And publicizing their deaths might show the lie behind the Islamophobes who commonly ask why "no one" (i.e. no Muslim leader) opposes the jihadis .

read the whole thing.

And speaking of murderous radicals: There is an article about the Argentina/Mexican cartel smuggling of cocaine on that site too. Drug smuggling and terrorism are connected (terrorists need money, and smuggling drugs is one way to get rich quick).

Which is why here in the Philippines, the "war on drugs" is connected closely with corruption in politics and business, and with terrorism.

but this was not noticed or denied by the usual suspects (the left leaning Catholic church here, the "human rights" organizations and of course the MSM who have written cookie cutter similar articles all of which seem to relate a similar story about some poor innocent tricycle driver who was killed, ignoring the fact he was caught in the crossfire when they raided a drug den, or was found carrying drugs for the cartels but never mind).

Ignore all that stuff on our "reign of terror". It's propaganda. And ignore the meme about how the "war on drugs" resulted in the terrorists being able to attack in the south, the "meme" being that all the cops were busy fighting all those innocent druggies... nonsense of course.

Here, the terrorists get money by robbery, kidnapping, and drugs.

and the reason for the fight in the south is because the military found one of the big shots was in that city wounded and went to get him. So they decided to make a last stand there (and use "innocent deaths" to pressure the government to stop). This is the only majority Islamic city in the Philippines, which of course means they are harming their own people (along with burning down churches etc.)

first  hand report here from the star on line.

Before my trip to the Philippines, I thought that the Marawi City siege was only related to IS. It is actually a combination of several factors such as the Islamic State influence and narco politics – a defeated Marawi City politician who is allegedly a drug lord with connections with the Maute family.
 Rappler article here (they tend to be anti duterte but also anti corruption). They trace a lot of the backstory (who is related to whom).

The Maute brothers are the first cousins of Azisa Romato, the wife of the late MILF vice chairman for military affairs Abdulaziz Mimbantas. Mohammad Khayyam is also married to a Mimbantas daughter – it was in their house where Sanusi was killed, according to an intelligence report.
In Marawi, son Abdullah Maute is married to a sister of former mayor Pre Salic. Salic and his brother Omar "Solitario" Ali, also a former mayor, are among the politicians the government singled out for helping the Maute Brothers. They are facing charges of rebellion.
The links to influential families grew through marriages with families not only in Butig and Marawi but also in nearby Masiu, where Farhana sought refuge and was arrested at the height of the clashes.
These relations have triggered suspicions against the MILF despite the rebel group having cooperated with the military in its offensives.

To understand the Philippines, you have to realize that clan ties outweigh other stuff... which is why the government is worried about the MILF connection.

alas, most of the headlines in the western press are glamourizing the terrorists, of course.

and if we didn't have enough trouble: OH NO! 

Jazzar Pasha 1, Napoleon 0

a follow up on the Black count and Napoleon's invasion of Egypt.

Historians tend to view Napoleon with a friendly eye, despite the millions killed or died as a result of his wars.

that wikipedia article doesn't mention the casualties in Egypt...and most of the articles that mention deaths only count the military mortality, not those of the Bedouin guerillas or the civilians in Cairo who rioted against the French.

trying to find the civilian mortality is alas hard to find: And as this article notes, there had been plagues and famines before the invasion,  and clashes between the local Mamluk and the Ottoman empire..

The invasion should have been welcomed, but they treated the locals like dirt, so the power vacuum was filled by the local religious leaders.

and then there was the British navy destroying their supplies.

 On August 1, 1798, the British fleet under Lord Nelson annihilated the French ships as they lay at anchor at Abu Qir, thus isolating Napoleon's forces in Egypt. On September 11, Sultan Selim III declared war on France. On October 21, the people of Cairo rioted against the French, whom they regarded as occupying strangers, not as liberators. The rebellion had a religious as well as a national character and centered around Al Azhar mosque. Its leaders were the ulama, religiously trained scholars, whom Napoleon had tried to woo to the French side. During this period, the populace began to regard the ulama not only as moral but also as political leaders. To forestall an Ottoman invasion, Napoleon invaded Syria, but, unable to take Acre in Palestine, his forces retreated on May 20, 1799.

so where does Pasha come in? Long complicated article about his life here on his wikipedia page.

The Ottomans had been shocked by Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt,[32] and were "spared further military embarrassment" by al-Jazzar's successful defense of Acre, according to historian Bruce Masters.[55] His Muslim and Christian contemporaries both regarded his victory over the French Army as his greatest achievement.[57] Al-Jazzar's victory significantly boosted his prestige.[58] Mass celebrations in Damascus and Aleppo followed his victory,[55] and al-Jazzar became "the defender of the faith" in Muslim public opinion, while being credited by European observers as among the few to have defeated Bonaparte.[59]

there was also a Russian Turkish war going on in the early 1800's that sort of gets overlooked in the "Napoleon only" histories of the time.

that war was settled in time for the Russians to use their army to defeat Napoleon.

 This year (2012) is the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s fateful invasion of Russia. No doubt much will be written about the 1812 campaign this year with vivid pictures of the terrible retreat from Moscow etc. 1812 is also the 200th anniversary of the Treaty of Bucharest that ended the Russo-Turkish War that had been raging intermittently since 1806. This treaty meant that Russian troops were free to join the main Russian armies facing Napoleon. Perhaps equally important they gained the services of Mikhail Kutuzov who was the Russian commander in the south.
 and the Russian/Ottoman wars (except for the Crimean war) are usually overlooked in the history books written by western Europeans, but are remembered by those in Eastern Europe... the hated Ottoman occupation of those countries are part of the backstory of why some Eastern European countries won't take Muslim "refugees", why Russia is helping out Syria, and of course, why the Serbs hated the Bosnians during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia.

 these links are for my further reading, since I know little about this area.

LINK1 is a paraphrase of Professor Bulliet's history of the Ottoman/Middle East at that time, and one of his lectures is here:

link2 lecture on the Great Game...

when you read about the mess in Syria and the Middle East, remember that it's not new: Indeed, the mess goes back to the Bronze age (battle of Meggido anyone?)

Who Wudda thot?

The Count of Monte Cristo was black? LINK

Gen. Alexandre Dumas, the son of a black slave who led more than 50,000 men at the height of the French Revolution and then stood up to the megalomaniacal Corsican in the deserts of Egypt. (The "famous" Alexandre Dumas is the general's son – the author of The Three Musketeers.) Letters and eyewitness accounts show that Napoleon came to hate Dumas not only for his stubborn defense of principle but for his swagger and stature – over six feet tall and handsome as a matinee idol – and for the fact that he was a black man idolized by the white French army. (I found that Napoleon's destruction of Dumas coincided with his destruction of one of the greatest accomplishments of the French Revolution – racial equality – a legacy he also did his best to bury.)

wikipedia link

Napoleon's invasion of Egypt is often praised for opening the archeology (and looting) of that country, but I it seems the locals opposed him, Nelson destroyed his fleet, and when he skedaddled back to Europe, he arranged the sick left behind to be killed by their doctors.

But I don't remember anyone mentioning General Dumas, who clashed with Napoleon and went home (and was shipwrecked, ending up in a dungeon for two years, hence inspiring the Count of Monte Cristo).

and one of his first assignments was to the uprising in the Vendee.. a little covered genocide of those who revolted against the persecution/takeover of the Catholic faith (hence the massacres are ignored...the Wikipedia article insists they were too ignorant to understand the wonderfulness of the revolution of reason)... the podcast insists he tried to stop the over killing of the innocent (i.e. those not really soldiers) and given his stubbornness and willingness to oppose authorities this is probably true, although he was arrested for refusing to do risky military maneuvers not for defending civilians, one suspects that his dislike of murdering civilians might be one reason that his military judgement was interpreted as "treason", not a difference of opinion.

more HERE

he clashed with Napolean's megalomania, which is why  he left Egypt, only to be captured by anti French groups in Italy when they were shipwrecked.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

McGyver tip of the day

How to fix a bike tire with a one of the newfangled British five pound notes as a patch.

it is made of a strong polymer, so the flimsy 100 peso note won't work, alas.

  Headsup Improbable research.


Tea at Trianon links to an article on Salt making in the Adriatic sea.

The Adriatic, having a higher salinity due to its shallow depth, had more productive solar ponds compared with those of the Tyrrhenian Sea, much closer to Rome

alas the article isn't at the link, but the site is very interesting for history buffs.

if you are interested in salt, try listening to this excellent book:

 If you want a preview of what's in the book, check out the discussion on CSPAN's book tv:

Monday, June 26, 2017

women soldier: Catalina was there (and she wasn't very nice

I always note the presence of women soldiers or women accompanying armies that often are overlooked, from the Amazon princess killed by Achilles (not in the Iliad but in another lost epic) to how Xenophon's men marched to the sea trying to protect his camp followers, to Peter the Great's wife (later Czarina) who accompanied him to the wars.

When the Spanish trying to conquer the Aztecs were  attacked, one of the European woman got a sword out and scared a lot of the attackers, who thought she was the Virgin Mary.

But apparently this wasn't the only lady among the Conquistadors: SP reviews a new book that notes the histories written by South American soldiers, whose writings are often overlooked by historians, and they include her there:

... Catalina de Erauso (1592-1650), a former nun who wrote an autobiography of her years soldiering for the Crown, initially disguised as a man and later openly as a woman..

well, actually she wasn't a nun, but one of those girls placed into a convent as a small kid by her parents and who escaped at age 15 without taking vows, (i.e. a "novice") but never mind. After her escape, she dressed as a man and had many adventures, which she related in her autobiography...or what was reported to be her autobiography, since although she existed a lot of the facts seem to be exaggerated.

Wikipedia article here

and a racier version is found on the rejectedprincesses site, which admits: She was not a very nice person.

In fact, it was through her usage of the church as a “get out of jail free” card that her secret came out. After killing several more cops (at this point it’s hard to even keep track of why) and taking sanctuary again, she realized she was in deep trouble this time. So she confessed to the bishop that she was actually a woman, and gave him a somewhat sanitized account of her life. Somewhat skeptical, the bishop called in some old women to, uh, verify her claims. Not only did they do so – but they reported back that she was still a virgin.
This was, evidently, a big deal. Erauso’s intact hymen somehow wiped clean the previous two decades of murder, and the 35-year-old was declared a blessed individual, provided she devote herself to god. She did so, eventually even making her way to Pope Urban VIII, who gave her special leave to pursue her life in mens’ clothing. He did, however, chide her to not harm anyone else, taking special time to remind her of the Do Not Kill commandment.

Whether she was transgender or merely a lesbian is another question.

since she is reported as ugly and large, one wonders if she had PCO or another medical cause of hyperandrogenism, either from the ovary or her adrenal gland.

Cellphones are changing the world

Strategypage has a post on the cellphone revolution: read the whole thing. A lot of it is about why cellphones are everywhere, and then they go on to note how this has changed war by changing the way you gather information. (i.e. pissed off civilians can now report where the bad guys are hiding).

of course, it also allows the bad guys to post misinformation, and I won't even go into Trumpie's twets, which are taken literally by the press who hyperventillates, but we ordinary folks recognize he is trolling the press, and just laugh.

well, anyway, SP notes that 5 billion people now have a cellphone, and modern cellphones are in effect mini computers. Landlines are expensive, but put up a tower and voila, instant coverage... and texting is cheap even for the poor (here, you can buy a "load" for 25 pesos, i.e. fifty cents, and do a lot of texting to your friends and family)..

I got my first cellphone in 1988, and was amazed when I visited the Philippines in 1991 and saw a sign in the village near our farm: Cellphone here: Calls to Saudi available.

And my friend in Africa has had one for about six years, so I can now send her money via Western Union and she can pick it up quickly instead of waiting three weeks for the snailmail for the number so she can pick it up.

and of course, cellphones are mini banks and let rural people buy stuff on line (which is why Jack Ma and AliBaba is so rich: he has revolutionized how rural Chinese buy stuff).

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Musical Interlude of the day

with ukeleles:

Prayer for the day

Laughing gas

see earlier post about a blogger who was killed when her nitrous oxide whipped cream dispenser exploded

I knew they used laughing gas for whipped cream, but it also has other uses.

Snowmobiles use nitrous oxide to get a boost in horsepower.

At approximately 565 degrees F, nitrous oxide separates into two parts oxygen and one part nitrogen. This added oxygen speeds up the combustion process. If extra fuel is added during nitrous injection, the result is similar to a supercharger. Extra fuel is needed, otherwise disastrous, damaging results will happen to an engine.
Nitrous oxide has this effect because a cubic foot of it contains 2.3 times as much oxygen as a cubic foot of air. By substituting nitrous oxide for the air going into the engine, more horsepower is created. We installed a BoonDocker kit on our 2005 Ski-Doo Mach Z demo snowmobile.

What are the principal applications of nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide finds beneficial use in a number of legitimate applications such as:
  • Medical/dental anesthesia and analgesia
  • Food processing propellant
  • Semiconductor manufacturing
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Auto racing engine injection

the danger is of course that it will be inhaled for a "high", and if you read the entire article it discusses the problem of theft and diversion of the gas.

We sometimes use it to help pain relief during labor etc, without putting the lady to sleep, but when abused, often the person doesn't realize it doesn't contain oxygen so they can pass out and die...

There were a few deaths years ago in a hospital where someone mixed up the N2O outlet with the O2 outlet.... usually this didn't matter, since most masks or nose prongs are not completely sealed and mix oxygen with room air, but it did alas kill some people who had low oxygen levels to begin with before they noticed.


As for the abuse: UKGuardian discusses it's use as a club drug.

the CDC puts it in the list of "inhalant" abuse LINK

sigh. we often saw "huffers" of gasoline or other inhalants by young teens.

Although the medical problems are real, the real problem is some of these kids don't use it just a couple times as experimentation, but end up using it and other drugs to get high and they never grow up... in the worst case scenario, they kill themselves by overdosing or in a car wreck, or maybe they end up in jail for stealing to buy the drugs.

But even in the best case scenario, you get PeterPan, like the guy in "Knocked up", or the unambitious guy in that is linked to in this annalthouse blogpost:

Of course this is nothing new: Lotus Land seduced sailors in the Bronze age too.

Happy Interlude

VIA Dark Roasted Blend... Japanese commercials:

not everything is crazy in Japan: here is a lovely BBC program on Japanese art


and then there are local commercialls or these:..

try not to cry:

and here is a short film on our local town and industries: sandals and rice growing.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Giraffe story of the day

Do giraffes get struck by lightning more than other animals?


but sometimes they get hit by "side" lightning strikes, after a nearby tree is struck.

Gomes, International Journal of Biometeorology

Friday, June 23, 2017

Strange news stories below the fold

I often remark that the Catholics here are into leftist memes and ecology, but the hard working middle class convert to Protestantism with it's idea to live clean and work hard... and are seen as less likely to be corrupt...

Well, looks like the same thing is happening in Brazil, where in contrast to the huge scandals at the federal level, and a lot of debt and financial problems, the city of Rio elected a protestant mayor. and Voila:

Rio Carnival comes under threat after swingeing budget cuts from new Evangelical mayor
he has since halved public funding for each of Rio’s 13 leading samba schools, who now say the budget cuts make it financially unviable to organise next year’s parades....
Mr Crivella has said he will use the money saved - one million reais (about £250,000) for each school - to fund meals for children at public daycare centres.

of course, these "schools" could probably raise money on their own, as do the Mummers or the Mardi Gras clubs, but never mind.

One of course wonders if the reason might be because the government money given to the clubs was diverted into pockets...  the school lunch program is helping a lot of folks, but on the other hand, will the money being given for school meals be diverted into pockets  too?


and then there is this strange headline:

Lifestyle blogger killed by exploding (whipped) cream dispenser.

no, not the pre packaged whipped cream dispenser (which a lot of kids use to get high), but a reusable one. where a bad gas cartridge could cause it to rocket into you.

In Burger’s case, however, the dispenser seems to have malfunctioned and exploded, sending one of these cartridges into her thorax, or chest (according to the description posted by her family). Pressurizing an air-tight container can turn it into a rocket, since the condensed gas inside will rapidly spill out of any available opening.
FAQ on the the product. They use N2O, aka "laughing gas" for the whipped cream because it stablizes the cream bubbles... CO2 is used for selzer water...


40 disabled protesters removed, many from their wheel chairs for protesting Republican health care bill. that would cut Medicaid funding that allows them to live independently at home.

hello! it is cheaper than putting them in nursing homes...


Electric vehicles are not really "Green"....
more HERE. it allows manufacturers to 'even out" their carbon footprint so they can manufacture the larger cars that people actually want to buy instead of these expensive cars that are mainly bought by the rich.

and this doesn't even go into the pollution of the battery manufacturing or that it means more electric plants to generate more electricity for them... and a lot of these plants use coal.

this green article claims don't worry: The discarded batteries won't be put in landfills because the car companies will take them to "recycle"...

ah, but this will be a problem. Lots of articles in green sites happily explain they will be recycled by the manufacturers, but since it isn't cost effective, it make me wonder why none of the articles seem to explain how and where this will be done. The last article in the NYTimes that worried about this is dated 2011...

Where are they "recycled" and are they merely going to be discarded in some poor country? Wikipedia article on electronic waste may not be accurate. but if it is this bad for used cellphones and computers, imagine what will happen when the e-car gets old. 

 Informal processing of e-waste in developing countriescan lead to adverse human health effects and environmental pollution.
Electronic scrap components, such as CPUs, contain potentially harmful components such as leadcadmiumberyllium, or brominated flame retardantsRecycling and disposal of e-wastemay involve significant risk to health of workers and communities in developed countries[1] and great care must be taken to avoid unsafe exposure in recycling operations and leaking of materials such as heavy metals from landfills and incinerator ashes.[2]

More here....(athough this is about computer/cellphone etc electronic waste)

Although it is legal to export discarded goods to poor countries if they can be reused or refurbished, much is being sent to Africa or Asia under false pretenses, says Interpol. “Much is falsely classified as ‘used goods’ although in reality it is non-functional. It is often diverted to the black market and disguised as used goods to avoid the costs associated with legitimate recycling,” said a spokesman. “A substantial proportion of e-waste exports go to countries outside Europe, including west African countries. Treatment in these countries usually occurs in the informal sector, causing significant environmental pollution and health risks for local populations,” he said.

dirty little secret: A small bribe will allow you to dump it into the local landfill instead of paying  locals to recycle it safely.

so what will happen with the huge electric car batteries? Will they really be "recycled"?


YUM! Scones

CSM has recipes here.

sort of a sweet them with strong British tea...

Resettle the refugees!

StrategyPage has an article on Colombia: FARC is disbanding, meaning their hard core will just go direectly into narcogangs and the military can go after ELF and the Narco gang criminals.

But in the meanwhile, there is a major refugee crisis there, with folks fleeing Venezuela.

Unofficially it is believed nearly a million Venezuelan refugees are now in Colombia. Since late 2016 most of them were not looking to resume careers but to escape death from hunger, disease and a growing number of other problems. While many go to Brazil or North America over 90 percent now head for Colombia because it is all they can afford.
 How bad is it? Even Russia and China are pulling out...

I have a son in Colombia, but not in this area. His main danger is from the nearby volcano, which has been quiet for the last ten years.