Saturday, September 23, 2017

Philippine news

I am catching up with posts on local news. Thanks to brown outs, these posts never got fully written or posted.

(they are fixing the electric wires, replacing the small wires with larger single ones, and the wooden poles with higher concrete ones. Some of the wires were sagging down enough to get caught in the rice trucks, which nowadays often have to detour on the side streets. We now have one way traffic on the main street two blocks down, so the trucks have to detour past our place).

I had started a post with links to a social media site that was saying that there was going to be a YUGE anti Duterte demonstration in Manila, and I was going to say well, wait a second: you students should clean up your own house first (we had another boy killed in a fraternity hazing incident at a local college, something that happens a couple times a year, alas).

so when the demonstration took place, I expected the usual notices on TV about rerouting traffic, but nada... then I read that only 5000 people turned up, and they were outnumbered by a counter demonstration.

Only 5000?

This is the Philippines: You can hire a demonstrator for 500 pesos ($10 USD) plus food and water.

The trouble is, like vote buying, the locals are independent: they won't vote for you if they don't like you.  The money comes in because often there are a lot of different candidates paying out money, and often the voters figure since they are all crooks (as Lolo used to say) they would take the highest bidder. But if they didn't agree with you, they would vote how they wanted to vote anyway.

so apparantly, the anti Duterte drug war demonstrators either were too cheap to pay locals to help them get lots of bodies in the demonstration, or the locals (and the grass roots leftist groups who actually are run by ordinary non SJW types) refused to demonstrate with them.

and the dirty little secret is that the drug war remains popular among ordinary folks.

Manila Bulletin has this Bloomberg news report:

More than three-quarters of Filipinos support President Duterte’s drug war, despite thousands of deaths and international condemnation over alleged rights abuses, a Pew Research Center poll has found. Some 78 percent of Filipinos approve of Duterte’s handling of the illegal drugs issue, with 62 percent believing the government’s campaign was making progress, according to Pew’s face-to-face surveys of 1,000 adults.
The president also remained extremely popular a year after his election, with 86 percent saying they had a favorable view of him, a result in line with domestic surveys. The poll had a margin of error of 4.3 percent.

StrategyPage has a long essay on what is going on here.and says the same thing:

President Duterte’s year old war on drugs is still controversial (more so outside the Philippines) but so far most Filipinos back the violent, deadly and unorthodox approach to dealing with illegal drugs, the drug gangs, corrupt politicians and all that. A recent anti-Duterte demonstration attracted some 5,000 protestors. But at the same time three times as many Duterte supporters took to the streets.

the rest of the SP is about military stuff, including the war against the Abus etc in the south, but also noting clashes with the NPA again.

in the meanwhile our local worries continue to be about bird flu, but apparantly the problem is now over, because I can't find any reports in the news about it for the last two weeks.

Right now, we have steady rain: hopefully it will not continue too long, since the rice is almost ready to harvest, and you need dry weather and sunshine to cut and ry the grain.

but the good news here is that the roof has been fixed, so I don't have to have buckets and towels all over my bedroom to stay dry.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Behold the power of... bloggers

Those of us with kids know how one kid will come to us and whine "mom he's LOOKING at me... have him stop". Presumably a sibling's smirk is so evil that they need to be punished severely.

Well, now the PC in the Catholic church are whining: "mom,  he's blogging about me and said something mean".

and who is daring to do this? Father Z is blamed.

but of course he can defend himself... Behold the power of wordpress!

But you know, there is a pattern here that started against the "dubia" bishops, who questioned some "ambiguous" passages in the Pope's letter "the Joy of Sex", and then we saw articles blasting those nasty "converts" knew the bible well enough to quote the Bible to the Pope, saying: isn't there something in the Bible about not receiving the sacrament when you are living in sin?

You know how it goes:

from Catholic culture editor, Phillip Lawler:

See if you recognize this rhetorical strategy: Say that the people who disagree with you are motivated by hatred.
Say that they’re dangerous extremists, a threat to civil society.
Say that you are interested in genuine debate, but your opponents won’t allow it.
Compare your opponents to Nazis. Insist that responsible people must disavow any connection with your opponents.
And then… Say that your opponents are intolerant. It’s a clever technique: a campaign of intolerance, camouflaged as a plea for tolerance. And it’s picking up steam in the Catholic media.

So who stands in their way, when the cautious bishops and theologians don't want to stand with those deplorable  and "rigid" uber-catholics?

 check out Father L....  he notes that a certain unpopular (in the Vatican) Pottawatomie bishop is on the warpath, as is a certain African  Cardinal...

Indeed, both of them dare to write books about not being ashamed to proclaim the gospel in a post Christian world, but with nuances and reason that make their arguments hard to ignore.

and then there are secular reporters who blog about the shenanigans in Rome, such as
Sandro Magister.

Today's headline?
So Long, Wojtyla and Caffarra. Here Comes the Francis Family

Those in the Vatican think tank about the family have been fired, and will be replaced, and they will include "caring for creation" in their mandate.

what could go wrong?

St Athanasius, call your office.

Brownout again

they are fixing electric lines.. replacing the sagging lines that get pulled down by passing rice trucks, and also replacing the tangles of electric etc. lines with single larger cables. Also they have been replacing the electric poles with concrete ones.

One result is that we are running the generator.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

those kids Sitting in the basement playing video games may save your life someday

When I was in the NatGuard, we learned that one skill that Americans had (but not all their enemies) was the ability to drive a car. In the USSR, this was not true, so if one of their drivers got hurt, often no one could drive, but for Yanks, no problem... especially since the trucks had automatic gears and so you didn't need to learn how to shift.

And now, with the computerized battlefield, another "common" recreational skill has been found valuable on the modern battlefield: Video game expertise.

From StrategyPage:

By 2005 the army went even further when they discovered, much to the dismay of parents everywhere that experience with video games was, more and more, proving to be a lifesaving skill on the battlefield. By then many crucial military systems used video game type controllers. Troops with thousands of "wasted" hours playing video games quickly become expert at using the military gear.

the article goes on to explain the technical details of what is used, if you are interested.

and for docs, it includes this factoid:

Research confirmed that eye-hand coordination was enhanced in proportion to the hours spent playing video games. This helped with everything from operating a fire control system in a tank, ship or aircraft, to using remote control surgery gear. Yes, even surgeons who found time to play video games have an easier time using the growing number of automated gear they use.

CBS article on robots in war... and at the end of the aticle it goes into a surgeon using robots for micro surgery.

BBC article on remote control surgery and how it couldd change the future.

Australian article (Sydney Morning Herald) about how Robo Surgeons can save lives not just in Iraq but in remote areas of that country.

AlJ video here about a surgeon in Lebanon operating on a kid in Gaza.

food news

Jolibee is planning to take over a UK sandwich shop and set up in London.

and hre is Anthony Bourdain's verdict:

the snowflakes who criticize folks appropriating other People's culture make of this? Spaghetti (Italian) with hot dogs (American) but with it's own sweet flavour.

and their commercials usually celebrate local culture


more HERE.

Headsup DaveBarry

In our prayers

Mexican earthquake... in our prayers.

here, Manila is worried what will happen when one of these happens.

Also in our prayers: Puerto Rico and the other islands in danger from a hurricane.

It reminds me of the previous hurricane cycles, where one hurricane came after the previous one.

or when we were hit by a typhoon two weeks before the big one hit the Visayas ...

Trumpie boy speaks truth to power at the UN: Rocket man and loser regimes:

Another buzz arose when he warned that parts of the world “are going to hell.” He also vowed to “crush loser terrorists” and condemned a “small group of rogue regimes,” including Iran, for threatening global stability. “Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists, but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity,” he said.

But Trump also praised U.N. humanitarian aid and development programs that have fought famines and disease, helped victims after wars and disasters, sheltered millions of refugees and educated women and girls.

and we are remembered too:

Without mentioning Russia or China by name, he said that “we must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.”

that should calm down Duterte, who was complaining last week about how Obama sat back and watched while China destroyed our fishing grounds to build artificial islands off our coast.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Nice people (behnd the veil )

The previous essay included a politicized shout fest about Saudi, but Jean Sasson has been on CSPAN book tv several times. LINK

they have several streaming videos to watch on line, plus transcripts.

Here she describes Mrs. Osama ben Laden as a nice lady. who stayed with him because he would let her have her kids with her.

Pssst: the real Handmaids live in Saudi

I have criticized Atwood's book the Poisonwood Bible, on Africa for making caricatures of actual Africans (she based the book on Marxist analysis of colonialism rather than what she actually observed as a child when her family lived there for a few years).

Though very few people acually have read or seen The Handmaid's Tale, but I wonder if they realize that it has parallels in today's world; No, not Trumpie boy and those terrible Christiancists ( a straw man fallacy)

but it closely resembles reality of today's elderly feminists in America who outsource motherhood, sex, and childbearing to the help.

I am talking about surrogate "motherhood", which like "buying organs" sounds fine to the rich and powerful but is actually exploitation of the poor.

NPR report here. The middle men get the largest cut, of course...

Yes, poor moms are exploited and many regret doing it and mourn for their lost children.

and I won't even mention upper class white yuppies who outsource child care to underpaid "day care" workers and/or overwork their maids and Yayas (under the threat of deporting them to "la Migra").

But of course, the dirty little secret is that the real "Handmaid's tale" has close parallels to the sexual abuses against maids and caregivers in some Muslim countries (illegal, but overlooked).

Asian news article on the mistreatment of Filipina OFW in Saudi.

Also LINK:  (CarbonatedTV)

A 2009 study conducted by John Leonard Monterona had revealed how a large number of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia are "victims of sexual abuses, maltreatment, unpaid salaries and other labor malpractices."
If their local sponsor/agent doesn't double as a human trafficker, then the job assigned to them is long, arduous and thankless to the point of slavery. But the thing that takes the cake is the way many are treated by their employers. 

a more readable feminist approach to women in Saudi can be found in Jean Sasson's Princess series of books, told from the point of view of a Saudi woman: including the good parts of that society but also the need to reform to protect vulnerable women, which is one of the passions of the Princess who is the heroine of the story... (and includes many anecdotes about these problems women face).

here is an interview which alas is full of shouting and interuptions.

I have several of these books with me here, but they also can be found at Scribd...

update: I should add that although many Filipinas work as caregivers in the Middle East because of poverty, a lot of them sign up again after their contract is up because they feel part of the family and are comfortable with the family oriented culture of the Middle East.

Like the Philippines, the maids are considered part of the family and cared for, and like the Philippines, they  work for extended families, and are religious. So the maids feel at home.

Cats are Liquid

The 2017 Ignoble prizes are here, and it includes this:

For this, he was awarded this year’s physics prize. "Cats are proving to be a rich model system for rheological research (the study of the flow of matter)," Fardin said, as cited by The Smithsonian Magazine. “[It] raised some interesting questions about what it means to be a fluid."
the full ceremony is here

also winning an award: Spanish researchers find that babies at 14 weeks gestation can respond ("dance") to music.

Podcasts and stuff

John Bachelor has podcasts about the Ebola crisis


if you wonder why the Ukraine hates Russia so much, maybe it's because of the deliberate starvation of that country by Stalin.

History Extra podcast here.


Game of Thrones is based on the war of the Roses, but those who think Chinese history was peaceful, try listening to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, about China's warring states time.

most Americans know about the French revolution, but what about the Revolutions of 1848? Mike Duncan (of History of Rome podcasts) is now discussing that critical period of European history.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Philippine news: Yes, we are part of the war on terror

Good news: 

Indian priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted in Yemen more than a year ago, was freed with the help of diplomatic assistance from the Sultanate of Oman.
 he was kidnapped when terrorists invaded a home for the eolderly run by the Sisters of Charity, and they killed 16 people, including several of the sisters during the raid. Why was he kidnapped? I suspect for ransom, but no one wants to admit that.

More good news: Fr Suganob, kidnapped in the Marawi city takeover, has been rescued by the Philippine military.

Suganob together with Lordvin Ocopio, a teacher of the Dansalan College, were reported to have escaped the Maute group on Saturday, when their captors were engaged in a firefight with military forces in Marawi City. Suganob was among the 20 people abducted by Maute group at the St. Mary’s Cathedral on May 23, 2017.
The battle goes on there, so keep our soldiers in your prayers.

the military is keeping mum on details for obvious reasons (e.g. the terrorists have cellphones and can learn where the army is).

There is also propaganda problems, similar to that seen in the Iraq and Syrian wars: since it is urban fighting, it means the SJW can go in and lament all those innocents killed in the crossfire, never mind that some are terrorists who changed clothing to blend in with civilians, and other casulaties are human hostages of the terrorists, something that is a war crime.

It is urban house to house fighting, with lots of booby traps and ambushes... one reason for the slowness of the liberation is that local troops are experts in jungle fighting, but not in urban warfare. So yes, the US is quietly helping retrain them here.

as for other Philippine news: The big news here continues to bebirdlfu
the chekpoints are checking for poultry, dead birds, and of course suspicious characters carrying drugs..

Sunday, September 17, 2017

English as she is spoke

Why don't we speak the same language?

includes this factoid:

The biggest boost, perhaps not surprisingly, went to those learning English. There are still plenty of places where English won’t do you much good. But at something like 1.5 billion speakers, it has certainly become what John McWhorter calls a “big, fat language” — which is even more striking when you consider that only about 400 million of them are native speakers.

Another factoid not in the article: if you visit Baguio, you run into lots of Korean students who go there to learn English, and a lot of English Language teachers in Korea are Filipinas.

Even in English, there are dialects, which are slowly fading as TV takes over.

One of those in the podcast is John McWhorter, a linguest who argued that some inner city black students needed to be taught in their dialect until they mastered English. I thought he was a radical, since I had not run into the problem in our neighborhood when I was growing up, but in more isolated neighborhoods with mostly kids from the south, this is apparently not true

when I worked in Liberia I needed a translator for the first three months because I didn't understand the dialect.

Kids pick up the language easily, however... Spanglish anyone? it works both ways.

one of the problems of English being everywhere is that English words replace the local word... here it is called "Taglish"...

Most educated folks here speak some English... and you can also find classes for Mandarin and Korean for those seeking jobs.

replacing English with the local language is discussed in the podcast, and how it can lead to tribalism in languages that didn't get chosen. we are Tagalog but two dialects and one separate language are spoken a short distance away, and this doesn't include those living here from the Visayas or Muslims from Mindanao...

One thing pushing English is that textbooks are easy to find in English, in the same way Latin was used in the past as the educated language.

Chinese? well, kids have to learn standard Mandarin in China, and when even Chinese have trouble learning  at least 3000 symbols to read the language, you can see the problem. This might be okay for kids in school in China, but learning it as an adult has problems (not to mention the tonal aspect, which is hard for outsiders to "hear" if their native language is not tonal).

Pinyin anyone?
Ah, but Pinyin means first you have to learn the official dialect... more HERE.

English as she is spoke is a famous book about how to speak English

  Wikipedia article on the book.

Mark Twain said of English As She Is Spoke that "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect."[4]

Saturday, September 16, 2017

St Kateri and others who chose the best of both worlds

When two cultures meet, the result is not assimilation as much as keeping our own culture alive but taking the best part of the second culture and making it our own.

Filipinos are famous for doing that (Jolibee, anyone?) but before the snowflakes started getting hysterical, we saw this with the welcoming of Immigrants. Everyone won.

 we also see how immigrants in the US are keeping the often bland and boring Catholic churches alive and vibrant, from Vietnamese priests to Spanish language masses.

so my remark in the previous essay about Kateri combining Native American spirituality with Catholicism was showing that taking the good things from one culture to enrich your own (NOT replace it) is a good thing.

Our Catholic church in Pawhuska has a Kateri Shrine in the garden. They were still  building it when we moved here to the Philippines, but here is the statue of Kateri and a story about the shrine in the Osage news in 2012.

According to the Tulsa World, the Kateri shrine is inspired by the late Opal Delos Rector, an Osage who said she survived 24 years with breast cancer after praying to Kateri. In a 2001World article, Rector said: “I want the people of Pawhuska, and especially the Indian people, to know that God loves them and that he has given them a strong advocate

more photos HERE.

the church was built with Tribal money, so when the post Vatican II renovators tried to simplify (read destroy the fancy stuff) the place, the local tribal folks went to the priest and mentioned if he destroyed any more of their beautiful church they'd ask for their money back.

the Stained glass windows are beautiful... this one got mentioned in 405 magazine:

The Idea Was Conceived In Pawhuska And Brought To Life In Munich. But It Took A Ruling By The Holy See In Rome To Make The Osage Window A Reality. Towering at 36 feet, the window in Immaculate Conception Church memorializes the Jesuit priest John Schoenmakers. He lived and worked at the Osage Mission in Kansas for 36 years, from his arrival in 1847 until his death, bringing Catholicism, enthusiasm and supplies. Unlike previous missionaries, he encouraged the tribal members to adopt a blend of Christianity and traditional Osage culture. They coined the term “shouminka,” an affectionate version of his name, as the new Osage word for priest....
the Vatican had to give permission for the artists to portray living persons in stained glass windows.
For the landmark window, photographs of current tribal members in traditional Osage dress were mailed to Germany, where artists of the Bavarian Art Glass Company rendered their likenesses... Installed in the north transept, the Osage Window honors Schoenmakers with a perpetually attentive audience modeled after prominent tribal members of the time, including Chief Baconrind, Chief Saucy Calf and Arthur and Angie Bonnecastle. portraying living persons in a stain glass window is not allowed in Catholic churches.

The Osage are famous, of course, for their oil. But it didn't stop there.

The Osage are also famous for their ballerinas (e.g. Maria Tallchief) who grew up in nearby Fairfax

and they continue the tradition:

Wind River? No: Red River

There is a new movie out "Wind River", about the murder of Native American women on a reservation (Wind River is in Wyoming, and no, I never worked there. )

I haven't seen the movie (will have to wait until it hits HBO since I doubt it will be shown in our theaters) so I don't know if it is accurate. Wikipedia states the movie notes this:

A title card states that the FBI does not keep statistics on missing Native American women, whose numbers remain unknown.

I suspect the movie was inspired by the Red River women in Canada. This is a BBC article on those women. Here is one of the "faceless" victims:

Tina Fontaine

Her murder was the latest in a seemingly never-ending stream of violent attacks against Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. Between 1980 and 2012, nearly 1,200 Aboriginal women and girls were murdered or went missing, according to a report released last year by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

We did not have a lot of murders when I worked in the IHS, but we did have a lot of people die of exposure or accidents....

but of course, I only am familiar with a couple of areas, and I suspect many of these murders were "off res", committed off the reservations, e.g. those drinking at nearby bars (often reservations ban alcohol), runaways, homeless women, etc... so I would only know about them because I treated the kids.

I should note also that, although we did have a lot of rapes, most were never reported, especially if it was an AmerIndian woman raped by a white guy when she was intoxicated: why bother to report it? And the sociopaths of all colours knew that, so the women were at risk.


The dirty little secret: It is not unusual for people to die in wintertime after drinking.

I had a patient who froze to death when he decided to leave a party to sleep in a barn 100 yards away, and got lost in a blizzard in the dark.

And we almost lost one young girl who arrived home after a party, found the door locked, and went to sleep on the front porch...luckily a neighbor found her and saved her life.

Indeed, one argument for allowing alcohol on reservations is that too many people die of exposure trying to hitchhike back home after a party. Here is an LATimes article from 2015 about 17 such deaths near Gallup NM... read the whole thing, which goes into how locals are trying to help the problem.

and note that part about expecting the number to go up in the spring? When I worked in Minnesota, we often didn't find the missing until the thaw melted the snow...

Those most vulnerable are those who are caught between two culture. I don't know the answer for this: Not assimilating means living in poverty (The do gooders who think this is the answer should try it)... but assimilation means losing one's cultural heritage.

One big problem is lost children: a lot of older people are raising the grandkids (or other relatives or even children someone dropped off to a babysitter and never picked the kid back up). The usual cause is because mom is addicted to alcohol/drugs.

This is not something limited to one ethnic group in the USA, of course.... and I get angry at the "drugs should be legal" propaganda: Those who think drug use is okay, and push for legalizing all drugs need to notice all those kids brought up by relatives.

but of course, alcohol is also a drug, and banning that lowered the rate of alcoholism, but cause an increase of crime.

Often our rehab centers included traditional ceremonies to help our folks remember their roots.

The problem being that some of those teaching this were new age people, not those who actually were local healers...

so what is the difference? Well, new agers are into ascending to a higher power via feel good mysticism.

Native American ceremonies is about healing a person's soul and making him at peace with his family and clan. Even a Lakota "vision quest" is to find your place on how you can help your community...

Although I should note that each tribe differs: there is no one spiritual belief system you know.

Catholics and Anglicans tend to assimilate what is good in the various spiritualities in Native American communities. I once heard an Anglo criticize Saint Kateri for her prayer/fasting and penitential exercizes for imitating what was worse among hysterical French Catholicism, but the guy was clueless that her actions had a lot of similarity to tribal religious customs.

and my son, at a Catholic high school, had to read Black Elk Speaks, and his young hip teacher there was praising BlackElk's mysticism as opposed to Catholicism... I told my son to tell the teacher that Black Elk later became a Catholic, and a catechist... he said it was because Catholic beliefs gave him a deeper understanding of the God he already believed in.

The answer? maybe the churches could start preaching about drug use instead of global warming.

Shimmering Saturn

Cassini is taking photos of Sarturn, and NASA has them.

so, who is Cassini and why was this spaceprobe named for him? Wikipedia page

Giovanni[a] Domenico Cassini (8 June 1625 – 14 September 1712) was an Italian (naturalised French)[1] mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and engineer. Cassini is known for his work in the fields of astronomy and engineering...

Cassini discovered four satellites of the planet Saturn and noted the division of the rings of Saturn; the Cassini Division was named after him.