Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Road goes ever on and on, but Bilbo stays behind

WisdomFrom LOTR Blog discusses the hobbits going home from Rivendale:

Bilbo sends them off with sadness and also some ceremony and then he starts to chant.
The Road goes ever on and on, Out from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, Let others follow it who can! Let them a journey now begin, But I at last with wearyfeet, Will turn towards the lighted inn, My evening-rest and sleep to meet.” ..
.I am reminded of a prayer by John Henry Newman, founder of the Birmingham Oratory, whose priests undertook the responsibility of guardianship to Tolkien after the death of his mother. “Support us all the day long of this troublous life until the shades lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at the last.”

 I do not think it too fanciful to think that this prayer was in Tolkien’s mind when he wrote this final version of Bilbo’s poem. 

a comfort for us old folks who are busy visiting kids and grandkids (and great grandkids)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Family news

I am in Florida on vacation. Blogging will resume in a week or so.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Election day Pinoy style (leave the gun at home)

local elections being held: pray for the safety of the voters and the candidates here.

because the elections are local, people care who wins: The local officials get in charge of local money: meaning if you are corrupt you can get rich, and if you are honest, you still could be accused of being corrupt if your actions make someone mad.

most of the violence is in the south, but we are a local hotspot here too. NEJ has a list of recent ambushes here. I don't follow politics to know the reason behind these, but locals usually know who did what.

Often the hit men were or still are part of "militant" organizations, e.g. the Muslim groups, or in our area, the NPA, but sometimes they are military or police background (some active, others who had been fired or retired).

The cops and military are out to keep the area safe. The ManilaBulletin reports:
Police and Comelec officials acknowledged that barangay elections are usually the bloodiest since the rivalry is among the neighbors in a particular community wherein some of the issues sometimes turn personal. Based on the PNP data, more than 24 people were already killed since the start of the election period on April 14.
Most of the casualties are incumbent and candidates for barangay elections and their supporters.

the cops have roadblocks to check for guns (and illegal guns). 

There is gun control here, of course, ever since Marcos confiscated all weapons... but you can get a permit to carry.

 but the dirty little secret is that there are thousands of guns hidden for protection. And most important folks have body guards, and some even "private armies".

Today is also Palenke day, but the banks and gov't offices are closed as a "non working" holiday.

And the polls here are run by local teachers, who also count the ballots. Why teachers? Again, because they are known and trusted.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

happy mother's day

When did that happen>

BBC Headline: Iraqi's vote in first election after ISIS defeat.

the Shia-led government has won praise for the fight against IS militants, and security has vastly improved across the country.
the rest of the article is about people complaining about corruption etc. The usual stuff.

But ISIS was defeated (in Iraq)? When did that happen?

Last October the BBC noted that when Raqqa fell, it showed Isis was doomed.

long article with details, including noting that ISIS was Sadam's Baathist party trying to take back power. And notes how the Americans sort of became partners (i.e. airstrikes and drone spying) with local militias backed by Iran.

so the real winner is Iran, according to the article.

actually the war isn't over: but as Churchill said, it is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the begining.

Sunni terrorists are down but not out, but the Shiite terrorists and their proxies are still being funded by Iran.

SP on Iraq (April article)
and on Iran (May article)

Facebook: uggh

I mainly read facebook to see what my grandchildren and cousins all around the world are doing.

I ignore the news and ads, and I suspect a lot of people do. So a Russian ad caused the election to change? I don't think so.

But Facebook did: because I got harassed off of facebook because a "friend" posted daily the latest outrage by whoever. Usually they found their strawman "christian" in the news, and then the commentary was filled with anti Christian hate against any and all believers, all 1.5 billion of them.

The comments were worse than those I usually avoid reading on the British papers or the NYTimes.

but I guess it works both ways, because my Pinoy relatives are always posting "honk if you love Jesus" stuff there too.

The problem with facebook is not the Russian news, or that they now have decided to censor "fake news" (aka conservative sites).

The problem is that it is a platform for those who like to ridicule.

And for teenagers it is worse. My sister in law had long forbidden her daughter to go on facebook. Why? She was in an iceskating group that won awards, so the haters were busy ridiculing her for everything (because of jealousy, of course).

Yup. I put up with this in high school and college for being smart. It's a horror, but I managed to ignore it (because as a science major I had lots of guys to hang around with, and you know, if a guy harasses you, you just fight back twice as hard and cut the venom off with a joke, and voila, you are friends and they stop, whereas girls keep the hatred in their heart and go on to do worse things).

so I suspect much of the harassment suffered is by girls and perpetuated by girls or boys who think like girls, because I doubt an engineer is going to be that snarky, and luckily my relatives are divided among engineers, nurses/doctors, and a few artistic types for good luck.

Well, anyway, I avoid facebook but do use their messanger to talk to my granddaugher and other relatives. I have the app on my phone, and my Opera browser had an extension so I didn't have to open facebook and read all the facebook crap to text them.

So this morning, I open my browser and find: WTF? The Facbook extention is now for "telegram", which is now competing with "WhatsApp".


 How old is Telegram?
Telegram for iOS was launched on August 14, 2013. The alpha version of Telegram for Android officially launched on October 20, 2013. More and more Telegram clients appear, built by independent developers using Telegram's open platform.Q: Which devices can I use?
You can use Telegram on smartphones, tablets, and even computers. We have apps for iOS (6 and above), Android(4.1 and up) and Windows Phone. You can also use Telegram's web version or install one of our desktop apps for Windows, OSX, and Linux.
You can log in to Telegram from as many of your devices as you like — all at the same time. Just use your main mobile phone number to log in everywhere.
Our API is open for developers, should you want to build your own applications for other platforms.Q: Who are the people behind Telegram?
Telegram is supported by Pavel and Nikolai Durov. Pavel supports Telegram financially and ideologically while Nikolai's input is technological. To make Telegram possible, Nikolai developed a unique custom data protocol, which is open, secure and optimized for work with multiple data-centers. As a result, Telegram combines security, reliability and speed on any network.

the Russians are coming! the Russians are coming! or maybe the Arabs:

Q: Where is Telegram based?
The Telegram development team is based in Dubai.
Most of the developers behind Telegram originally come from St. Petersburg, the city famous for its unprecedented number of highly skilled engineers. The Telegram team had to leave Russia due to local IT regulations and has tried a number of locations as its base, including Berlin, London and Singapore. We’re currently happy with Dubai, although are ready to relocate again if local regulations change.

Take that Mark Zuckerburg!

on the other hand, none of my extended family uses it, so I am still stuck with facebook to find photos and news of my worldwide Pinoy family.

And yes, I mainly post my rants here (or the really hateful ones on my private blog) to let off steam in between posting stuff about kittens or the Bronze age collapse.

So if you are reading this, don't take me seriously: I usually post before I have had my first cup of coffee, and tend to get mellow as the day goes on.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

If you are reading this, thank an engineer

No, engineers didn't invent writing (bureaucrats and businessmen did). But they did invent ways to use electricity, computer chips, and the internet.

Radicals on the universities are complaining that engineering is a white patriarchal bias

 academic theorists crusade to purge whiteness from STEM courses, because critical thinking and research are regarded as tools of “white hegemony.” Engineering students at Purdue must contend with the school’s indictment of “racist and colonialist projects in science,” while a UC-Irvine professor condemns even “technical prowess” as a white male construct.

Uh, maybe you need to read the history of engineering/applied science.

Podcast at FLP:Simon Winchester | The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

or maybe read this oldie but goodie from L SpragueDeCamp on the Ancient Engineers: available at Scribd (requires paid subscription) and on Internet Archives (free registration).

or you can read Braudel's series of books on how technology interacted with societies.

Civilization usually began when there was a need to regulate water for irrigation, and then spread. Yes, there are plenty of cultures in places without irrigation (ancient Greece?) but even the ancient Greeks admitted a lot of their technology originally came from Egypt, and then they improved it and went on from there to invent stuff.

and Fagan's book Elixir, about water (and irrigation) begins with describing the ancient irrigation systems of south and east Africa. LINK2

but of course, the snowflakes probably would just say these ancient Africans, Egyptians, Cushites, Semites, Indians, Chinese, etc. are just honorary whites.

Lecture of the week

more from this series at the link.

Space X (and China) taking over the satellite launch business

I sort of keep an eye on SpaceX's private launcher, but there is one aspect I hadn't heard about: It is stealing business from Russia.

From StrategyPage:

After 2013 Russia faced growing competition from cheaper, more reliable Chinese satellite launch services. But what really accelerated the Russian decline was the surprising emergence of new American launch technology, mainly the SpaceX reusable launchers (that can regularly return and land intact).................

lots more there about China and their success in launching commercial satellites.

not in the article: How Bill Clinton was bribed by companies to send missile launching techology to China (by calling it "commercial" information and putting it under the Commerce Dept instead of the Defense dept).

NYTimes article in 1998 gives details.

Think of ''the China connection'' as two-tracked. One track is the purchase of White House influence by U.S. aerospace corporations eager to sell advanced missile technology to China. The second is the plan by China to affect Clinton policy by directing money through various fronts into the Clinton-Gore campaign.
 (Place Ron Brown conspiracy theory here.)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Yum: Cobra blood and gunships: The Balikatan exercizes are back

we got "buzzed" by a very slow and very low 4 engine turboprop plane when we went to walk the dog in the city square down the street. It sort of upset the cook, but I just laughed because I have been hearing a plane go over us at a low level once or twice a day in the late afternoon and once or twice in the evening after dark.

and I've heard/seen that plane buzz us before:

Yup. The Balikatan exercizes are going on in nearby Ft Magsaysay, and I presume the city square is used for low level navigation.

Stars and Stripes article HERE.

the PhilSunStar article has more details here.

usually when they are in training, we see these gunships going over,  or larger planes (for parachute practice) at a higher level, and once we saw a parade of helicopters in formation at a low level.

no, this is not about threatening China, who just put missiles etc. in their artificial islands in the Philippine area of the West Philippine sea: this has been going on every year since I moved here 12 years ago.

The training comes in handy, since the US often helps our military with the periodic typhoons/landslide/ etc. that happen here, and of course, and the training makes cooperation easier and allows both sides to teach each other their skills.

 here is the Rappler article, complaining (as usual) that there has not been a lot of press coverage of the military exercize.

The media was initially invited to two field exercises – the amphibious landing exercise in Zambales and live fire exercises at Crow Valley in Tarlac. These two are the staple for media every year. Jungle warfare exercises at the Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija was the third activity traditionally open to the media but was not offered this year.
well it can't be too "secret": they have their own facebook page, with photos. But no photos of our area, so the planes are either buzzing us from Clark or the Ft Magsaysay part hasn't hit the news yet.

Ft Magsaysay is where thethe Philippine special forces teach theUS troops (usually newbies or National Guard types) how to live off the land (usually including teaching them about drinking cobra blood to survive, just to impress them).  Here's a photo from that 2015 Rappler article:

JUNGLE SURVIVAL. Filipinos show US troops how to trap and eat a king cobra for survival. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samantha Van Winkle/Released

Israel 1: Iran's Qud 0

For later reading: StrategyPage on the Israeli strike on the Iranians in Syria, in retaliation for their attack on Israel, while the Arab countries quietly cheer them on.

If Iran gets the bomb, the Saudis will buy one too, and then you will see a real danger. How does that Arab saying go: The enemy of my enemy is my friend?

Long and complicated, to read after a cup or two of coffee.

Iran is resettling people from other countries into Syria so they have a friendly population there: Hmm...

Iran is financing a resettlement operation in Syria that brings in Shia families from Lebanon, Afghanistan and elsewhere to replace the third of the Syrian population that fled the country during the civil war. Nearly all these refugees were Sunni Arabs and the Assads (who are Shia) don’t want them back

a lot of Afghans fled to Iran when the Taliban ran the place, and although most returned after the northern tribes with US help threw them out, some stayed, and are a problem (i.e.drug runing and crime). And Iran has hired a lot of them to fight in Syria...

and I ran across this at GP from an anti Iran site, so it might be fake news: Iran is sending boxes of 100 dollar bills to their proxy militias to hire thugs to cause trouble in Iraq. Hmm... where could they have gotten all that cash? (update: Nah, Obama said he got around sancgions by using non American currancy. So probably from banks looted during the various Iraq wars.... Ironically,right not, the Iranian currancy is tanking and people are buying US dollars for safety, so they are in short supply there.

The forgotten refuge crisis

One million people enter Colombia amid the Venezuela crisis.

While the group is diverse, with some only looking to work in Colombia for a short period before returning home, most are on the move because they cannot meet their basic needs in Venezuela, Capobianco explained. He described the situation as a "humanitarian crisis that needs to be better assessed," including from a public health standpoint amid rising cases of malaria, diphtheria and other serious ailments affecting those migrating.
And yes, the celbrities are holding concerts to raise money to help them---NOT.

They celebrated Chavez takeover of the economy but seem silent on his family's sudden wealth and the economic collapse there.

CNN article from last year about why that economy collapse. 

the same reason that 10 percent of Zimbabwe's population fled: Socialism that was hailed by the leftists of the world, because they gifted programs to help the poor, but which was hostile to foreign investments, local entrepeneurs, and the rich... while, of course, allowing those in charge to loot the country of millions.

sort of like here, where the politicians give out food, small amounts of money and teeshirts to get elected, so they can loot the funding that might really help the poor (and sometimes shooting the guy running against him).

Except that here, you don't have celebrities touting these crooked politicians...  or maybe you do. The left doesn't care if you get rich on drug money or schtupp the help if you spout their PC causes.

Mr. Schneidermann, call your office. Old BlueEyes' kid is on the line....

It's bad when Piers Morgan has to correct the PC Cardinal

The Met did an exhibition about the beauty of Catholic (and Orthodox) costume design.

here is a short video on the actual museum exhibition:

but then the celebrities came to the party ("gala") at the opening, and made sure they mocked and insulted Catholics, just for fun, of course. Sooo trendy to mock Catholics and get applause and your photo in the news paper!

There is a lot of anger in the "rigid" (i.e. the word Francis uses to ridicule pious Christian believers) catholic  blogosphere about this.

They are only doing what Fellini did in the past, the more PC Francis-blogosphere points point out.

But Fellini didn't have a Catholic church leader there cheering him on, as they did at the Met's gala, where Cardinal Dolan cheered on the fun.

Why be upset?

From MarkMallet via Tea At Trianon (a blog about history and fashion):

The vestments of the Catholic Church have an ancient origin from Old Testament times.They are a reflection of the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ...
To sexualize the vestments, then, is blasphemy, really, an abomination. Truth, beauty, and goodness are a reflection of the Creator, not the fallen angel. It's fairly obvious whose reflection is being glorified here....

And not just the pious Catholics who are upset:

Piers Morgan, a British Gadfly, is mad and has expressed what a lot of us ordinary folks think:

If the Met Gala was Islam or Jewish-themed, all hell would break loose – so why was it OK for a bunch of flesh-flashing celebrities to disrespect MY religion?
Read the whole thing. And check out the photos.

Sigh. In our prayers (catholics, when confronted with blasphemy, say prayers in reparation and for the conversion of those who perform these acts).--


update: When thinking of why someone prefers to look "with it" when they see such ridicule of the holy, this phrase (by another pious blogger) kept coming into my to mind: Because they really don't believe in that stuff.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Zapping lettuce

The news notes an EColi epidemic from Arizona lettuce. They aren't sure if it is from dirty hands, dirty packaging, or dirty water.

In the past, we grew organic lettuce in greenhouses and washed the individual leaves with chlorox water then rinsed them with water and let them in the open to dry before we packed them as salads.

But that doesn't always work, obviously, because the germ can hide inside.

There is a way to sterilize lettuce (and meat etc): Zap them with gamma rays.

2011 article from AP:

The Food and Drug Administration approved irradiation for raw spinach and lettuce three years ago, saying it safely killed germs and lengthened shelf life 

Zapping salad fixings with just a bit of radiation can kill dangerous E. coli and other bacteria — and food safety experts say Europe's massive outbreak shows wary consumers should give the long-approved step a chance... 
(it can be done) without harming texture, taste or nutrients. But it didn't catch on, and the grocery producers group, which wants more salad ingredients OK'd for irradiation, blames both consumer wariness and a technical issue. 

yes, even though the radiation goes right thru the food and doesn't make it radioactive, the clueless are wary. And of course I am sure the anti tech "Greens" will make a fuss and then start blaming the radiation on lettuce for causing neurotic women to have symptoms.

(an observation, not a criticism: I have all sorts of aches and pains and nervousness and allergies made worse with certain foods and preservatives, but big deal: take an anti histamine and voila no problem. But then I was trained into the stiff upper lip mindset by my German mother).

Of course, the hysteria will only come if they publicize it.

It's sort of like a town that announced they were adding Fluoride to their water, and after a month was bombarded with all sorts of complaints.... and then the town announced that the Flouride hadn't been added yet due to technical difficulties...

So if you want to get hysterical and decide all your problems are due to radiated lettuce, you are a little late:

Irradiated meat has been around for years, particularly ground beef that is a favorite hiding spot for E. coli. About 15 million to 18 million pounds of U.S. ground beef are irradiated every year, say

Speaking of food poisoning: Factoid of the day:

there was once a bioterror attack against humans in the USA: when an Oregon cult tried to poison lettuce so people would be too sick to vote against their candidate.

well, at least Hanoi is mad

According to this article in the Inquirer, Hanoi is mad that China is putting (anti air and anti ship) missiles on the Philippine claimed shoals that they have dug up and made into artificial islands

But excuse me for laughing (ironically) at this:

Vietnam has requested China to withdraw its weapons from disputed territory in the South China Sea, while security experts have urged the Philippine government to upgrade the country’s defenses in the Spratly archipelago in response to China’s militarization of the strategic waterway.

Right. The Philippine and whose army?

That was what the Philippines with the backing of the US should have done, but PNoy was pressured by Obama to ignore what was going on and take it to court. We won. Big deal. No one will enforce the ruling.

and so Duterte is "Making nice" with China to get lots of stuff to help the Philippines while being leery about the US moving back here (but the public dislikes China, while except for the leftists they like the US).

The Philippines ignores that there have been items in the Chinese news hinting that they once owned Luzon so might want to take it back, mainly because the last time they tried that, we threw the Chinese pirates out with the help of Spain.

But VietNam, which was once a Chinese colony, has gone to war with China over their northern border and over these islands in the last 40 years because they remember their past.

And that is of course the backstory on why the communists threw out the Chinese ethnics after they won the Vietnam war.

Myself: I am wondering: The missiles would allow China to block the shipping routes from the Middle East to Japan and Korea, but except for minor gifts they seem to be ignoring the potential problem here.

You would think that after WWII the Filipinos would hate the Japanese more than the Chinese, but the Chinese intermarried with the great families and run the oligarchy, wherease the Japanese just move to Baguio to retire or study English.