Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Factoid of the day: Pingo!

Those holes in Siberia are not a mystery.

They are Pingos

more HERE.

The Gratuitous Lady Gaga post of the week

She's BAAACKK...

An idea whose time has come

burger selfies


Job opportunity of the week

Become a crab walker.

via davebarry

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tolkien stuff

So finally I saw the latest teaser trailer for the hobbit 3 (and also the new Mockingjay trailer).

Both seem good.

And if you want to hear a really interesting and funny talk about Tolkien and trees, try this old one by Tom Shippey:

"Trees, Chainsaws, and the Visions of Paradise in J.R.R. Tolkien" by Tom Shippey from ASU English on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Heh. A nebula named for us crabby old ladies

cosmic crab nebula

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.


StrategyPage has a long article on NGO's.

The red cross is the "oldest" NGO, but they note:

 Actually, the Catholic Church could be considered one of the first major NGOs, as it organized large scale charity efforts over a thousand years ago.
 ah but the problem?

 Several decades ago, the main thing these outsiders brought with them was food and medical care. The people on the receiving end were pretty desperate, and grateful for the help. But NGOs have branched out into development and social programs.
These new activities caused unexpected problems with the local leadership. Development programs disrupt the existing economic, and political, relations. This is especially the case if the NGOs try to change the way things are done. The local leaders are often not happy with this, as the NGOs are not always willing to work closely with the existing power structure. While the local worthies may be exploitative, and even corrupt, they are local, and they do know more about popular attitudes and ideals than the foreigners
so although one sees a lot of criticism of churches that push religion with aid, a lot of NGO's push western ideas with aid instead.

. NGOs are no longer seen as just charitable foreigners come to help. The local leadership often sees the NGOs as a potential threat. While the material aid the NGOs bring is appreciated, the different ideas are not. And there are more NGOs showing up with more agenda than physical aid

Pushing birth control as part of the agenda is a big thing: I had to laugh when the flooding in Manila left many taking shelter in schools, and the UN came and gave out condoms...the locals were insulted, because it implied our women were sex crazed and couldn't refrain themselves. Then the UN defended this by saying it was because of rape, which locals got even more upset, since it implied Filipino men were sexually crazed rapists.

of course, if the aid is given to local politicians etc. a lot of it ends up in their pockets.

Yet paying huge salaries to western aid workers increases the overhead cost too.

 Often more than a third of it disappears into the pockets of government officials, their kin and friends. But letting the donors, and NGOs (Non-governmental organizations, like the Red Cross), handle the money also sees about the same portion lost. (italics mine)

This is because these donations often come with requirements that much of the money be spent on goods and services from the donor nation. This particularly bothers the locals as it means a lot of highly (especially by local standards) paid Western aid workers are supervising whatever is done in in the aid receiving nation. The higher NGO pay standards are very visible because the Westerners tend to live much better than locals.

StrategyPage is observing, not criticizing. Without the NGO's and church charities, the place would be worse, especially in times of disaster.

well, that's a surprise

after ten years and a million page views, google adsense will send me my first check.

Will wonders never cease.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lecture of the week

from the Kansas City Library:

Family news

Chano and Joy are busy with deliveries etc.

My cracked rib was getting better but yesterday I moved wrong and ended up having to rest again, so Ruby picked up Lolo's medicines at the drug store.

The black cats have started coming through the window to sleep in the bed with Lolo. Papa dog chased them, and they jumped up on the chest of drawers, and knocked down a statue of Mama belonged to Lolo's mother, so we're upset about it.

I have started pasting the pieces together, but a lot of them are so small that I doubt it will work: I'll buy a new one at church Sunday.

The cats also knocked over the lamp...of course, it's a newfangled lamp, meaning mercury contamination. The next lightbulb up there will be old fashioned or LED, just in case.

Cat item of the day


It's a geek geek world

Did you know that Cheezburger has it's own section on the SanDiego Comic Con?

includes some of the discussion videos.

heh: Smaug vs Linux

Good news story of the day

An Ethiopian Orthodox Christian who was sentenced to death for "converting", even though she was brought up Christian by her mother... has been rescued from the Sudan thanks to the Italians and the Pope. more HERE.

 Photograph: AP

She was born in South Sudan, and her husband is a US citizen. But never mind.
The rule was that her father was Muslim so she is considered Muslim even though he deserted her mom when Meriam was young. And out of the woodwork, her father's other a lot of the Pakistani "blasphemy" stories, this was about this family being able to get her land if she had been executed.

It's a wonderful future post of the week

How do we terraform Venus?
Venus is so darned hot because of this thick CO2 atmosphere, the first thing we need to is cool the planet down. If you set up a huge space-based shade and block all sunlight from hitting the atmosphere, the temperature would drop, and I mean *drop*. It would cool hundreds of degrees until it was so cold the CO2 would freeze out of the atmosphere, and pile up in drifts on the ground. Then you could scoop up the carbon, bury it or shoot it off into space.
Another, equally mad idea would be to build floating cities high up in the atmosphere of Venus. They would need to contain factories which sucked carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and split it into carbon and oxygen. The carbon would be made into graphene structures, and the oxygen would become the lifting gas to keep the cities afloat. With more cities, it would block the sunlight and help cool the planet down.
Unfortunately, the slow rotation of the planet is still a big problem. A solar day on Venus is 116 Earth days in length. You could speed its rotation by close asteroid flybys, or use that crazy space shade contraption to create an artificial day/night cycle.

Read more at:

Headline of the day

Lust in space: Russians lose control of gecko sex satellite

headsup From Davebarry:

Friday, July 25, 2014

stuff around the net

The back story of Amazing Grace. Yeah, he was quite a bad troublemaker as a kid.


It's the anniversary of Apollo 11's flight to the moon.


want to stop crime? Plant flowers.

a variation of the "broken windows" theory of crime.


from CNN viaDaveBarry:

World's largest aquatic insect specimen found in China


Various stories you may have missed

a solar flare 2 years ago was a near miss...if it had hit it could have wiped out civilization.


The left insists Israel is evil: just ignore the 100 thousand refugees from Syria and the genocide of Christians in Iraq.

But that isn't to say the photos of these atrocities don't make the front page: They do, but they are labeled as Israeli casualties. Photoshop anyone?

Heh. even the WAPO notes that Hamas atrocities are ignored. A thousand missiles aimed at Israel, no problem. Aid money spent on smuggling tunnels, no problem.

The resources devoted by Hamas to this project are staggering, particularly in view of Gaza’s extreme poverty. By one Israeli account, the typical tunnel cost $1 million to build over the course of several years, using tons of concrete desperately needed for civilian housing. By design, many of the tunnels have entrances in the heavily populated Shijaiyah district, where the Israeli offensive has been concentrated. One was found underneath al-Wafa hospital, where Hamas also located a command post and stored weapons, according to Israeli officials.
The depravity of Hamas’s strategy seems lost on much of the outside world, which — following the terrorists’ script — blames Israel for the civilian casualties it inflicts while attempting to destroy the tunnels. While children die in strikes against the military infrastructure that Hamas’s leaders deliberately placed in and among homes, those leaders remain safe in their own tunnels. There they continue to reject cease-fire proposals, instead outlining a long list of unacceptable demands.

all of this reminds me of the left in the past, who believed all the lies put out by communists, ignored the starvation of China's great leap forward, ignored the atrocities of the VietCong, blamed the Cambodian holocaust on the US, and looked the other way when the boat people fled the ethnic cleansing of their Chinese community or even when Vietnam went to war with China.

Yes, I have read Chomsky et al, but you know, I believe what I observe, not what someone in a university theorizes, and he is wrong. Of course, I don't talk to the small elite pro communist community, but tend to live in the trenches.

And I remember when the left cheered on the communists as the only alternative to Marcos...and then Cory found a third way. Heh. imagine that.


the "MCDONALDS" meat scandal on Drudge is actually just another case of Chinese corruption; The meat supplier figured a way to increase profits by selling shoddy meat.

KFC and Pizza Hut parent Yum, McDonald's and coffee chain Starbucks Corp are among the global brands that pulled products from their outlets after the news broke that Shanghai Husi supplied expired meat to clients in China as well as in Japan, in the latest in a series of food scandals in the country.
Earlier, the official Xinhua news agency cited the Shanghai food and drug watchdog as saying that food-safety violations at Shanghai Husi were company-led rather than the acts of individuals.
In its statement, Yum said: "It is difficult to believe and completely unacceptable that the management of Shanghai Husi ... would oversee and organize illegal and dishonest operations."

And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I plan to sell you.

A similar scandal happened two years ago with tainted milk, and of course the heparin scandal where suppliers to American drug companies supplied a fake ingredient that tested the same as the real thing. Then there was the fake protein in the dog/cat food, and the cadmium in the toys and jewelry.

Here in Asia, people know Chinese goods are often shoddy and will fall apart quickly. so they will pay more for a product labeled  "Made in USA/Korea/Japan/Taiwan.

as for drugs: beware generics. Fake/counterfeit/underpowered drugs kill a million people a year, and most of them are made in China or India...

StrategyPage has an article on China's sealane grab and internal corruption problems.

oh yes: Did you know that there is an outbreak of Black plague in China?

and the Chinese aggression in the east Philippine sea includes stealing VietNam's oil and the VietNamese are more aggressive at push back


No, I hate Vampire movies/Tv shows, but when they turn political, I think they go too far:

On his personal Facebook page, Cruz said he never expected to turn up on the “misogynist and profanity-ridden” show. “I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote,” Cruz wrote, “but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends.”

Jordan's army is good, partly because a lot of them are Bedouin.


when you ethnically cleanse an area and settle outsiders, expect some pushback..

Yes, that's what happened in Ireland, and only in recent years has that war calmed down. Again, the backstory at Strategypage.


ALS is a scary disease, more common in those who served in the military and those who went to college? or is this selection bias?


Tylenol doesn't work any better than placebo.

Yes, I know.

But what isn't said here is that the only pain medicijne that works a lot better than placebo for severe pain is....Mophine. and even that has a large placebo effect


another sign that the end of the world is nigh:

Americans like Jar Jar Binks more than Congress

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Podcast of the month

If you are tired of book podcasts that concentrate on "belly button gazing" type books, then try New Books in History podcast LINK

this week's episode is about the forced resettlement of thousands of Germans after World War II,

when the Palestinians cry they lost their land, remember they aren't the only ones: it's just that they are propagandized to hate and want their land back so that local Arab dictators can focus the hatred of their own people to an outside enemy.

 and there are other podcasts, such as this on on the pirates of the East Philippine Sea, that give the background of China's sealane grab of our offshore areas.

speaking of China: Drudge has some links about bad meat in Chinese McDonalds etc.
Sounds like the milk scandal of two years ago: The company deliberately delivered sub-quality meat to make a profit.
Here in the Philippines, much of the "cheap" things we buy fall apart quickly, so you have to be careful. If you can afford things labled "Korean made" or American made, they cost more but are worth it...the problem? You don't know if the company is accidentally or deliberatly selling counterfeit (falsely labeled) items.

oh yes: Bellybutton gazing books are reviewed HERE, although I should note that some of their non fiction books don't fit that description.
Shakespeare does starwars, anyone?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

bad english Headline of the day

Dr. Albert J. Stunkard, Destigmatizer of Fat, Dies at 92

Dr. Stunkard made many discoveries in his career: He was the first to identify binge eating as a medical disorder, one of the first to link obesity to socioeconomic factors, and the first scientist to show why so many obese people have about as much control over their body weight as they do over their parentage.

italics mine.

Someone tell MIchele Obama

Lester Nygaard does get around


We should be getting Fargo the TV series on one of our tv stations here one of these days.

although why they moved the action from Brainard to Bemidji I'll never know: it's another hour away from Minneapolis, and the East/west road goes to Grand Forks not Fargo.

Family news

My old computer won't start (it's a problem with a bum battery and electrical connection) so I borrowed my new one back from Ruby. I bought it on sale and found out why it was so cheap: To little memory. Now that I have had it six months, and don't care about the warranty, I took it to upgrade the memory from 2 to 8 gb, and it works great.

Yes, I should have done that awhile back, but I try to budget my large buys, and there are a lot of things we need. This month I got a quarterly payment from my IRA so used it for "luxuries" like a new chain for my medal (which keeps breaking), and now the computer. I planned to spend the extra money on clothing but couldn't find any "unmentionables" that fit me, even in Manila. Guess they don't have many "full figured gals" (as Jane Russell used to say) in the Philippines.

It's been raining due to typhoon Henry, which luckily is north of here, so no winds. That means it's cooler too.
Chano and Joy are busy doing their thing.

My cracked rib is feeling better unless I lift something or move the wrong way, and I am eating okay now too.

Lolo is fine and in good shape. I've been neglecting him due to the cracked rib, which is why we went to the restaurant last week (see earlier post).