Saturday, February 25, 2017

Why was Scorsese's movie overlooked at the Oscars

asks First Things.

I haven't watched it.

But I have a few observations:

The movie stresses a failed priest who apostasizes. The "heartland" christians will ignore it as anti Christian propaganda from Hollywood, interpreting Christianity as a minor thing not worth dying for (ah, but what about all those Japanese who disagreed and died?)

One blog complained that the film was "Too religious" and they disliked this theme being thrown in their face. So the country club liberals and "no religion" types might see it as showing that yes, some people would die for their beliefs, and that just might suggest some uncomfortable ideas into their easy life, such as the possibility that God might exist and people might die for such a belief

A third reason is more subtle.

Maybe the modern day analogues are too uncomfortable for the movie going public.

Yes, the Christians and Shiites killed by ISIS are usually ignored, and this movie might ask a question: Why did Obama allow so few non Sunni "refugees" to enter the USA?

Or it might even come closer to prick the conscience of the clergy: Yes, we now see the Pope and a few bishops openly condemning Trumpie for his immigration policies. But how many condemned the three million deported by Obama? (a few, who didn't get a lot of publicity for it).

And how many bishops openly name (mainly Democratic) politicians for supporting abortion and Euthanasia, which under Obamacare was being pushed into Catholic hospitals and hospices? How many protested the pro abortion cheers at the Dcmocratic convention? How many helped the Little Sisters of the poor in their lawsuit against Obamacare's mandates to supply constraception/abortion pills? Again, a very quiet few, who usually did this using vauge language.

What is the difference between a priest who apostasizes to stop the torture of others, and a bishop who remains silent to keep the church's tax exempt status, (so they can use the money to "help the poor")?

Or, in Asia, the question might disturb the present Pope, who is willing to let China run the church (a la Henry VIII) for geopolitical reasons, while the "underground" church is being persecuted? Remember: China has a forced abortion policy.

And here in the Philippines, how many bishops who gladly go out and demonstrate against the "EJK" of drug dealers remained silent about the corrupt politicians who stole the money supposed to go to help the poor, or who took kickbacks from drug dealers? Yes, they did this because the same politicians donate money to the church to use for the poor.

Yes, they compromised for a good reason.

Rewrite the history books

The "meme" was that Greenland's Vikings died out because they were too stupid to adjust their way of life when the climate changed, and refused to learn how to live from hunting seals as did the local Eskimos.

Well, not really.

Smithsonian magazine reports on more recent findings.

In the earliest days of the settlements, Smiarowski says, the study found that marine animals made up 30 to 40 percent of the Norse diet. The percentage steadily climbed, until, by the end of the settlement period, 80 percent of the Norse diet came from the sea. Beef eventually became a luxury, most likely because the volcano-induced climate change made it vastly more difficult to raise cattle in Greenland.

what happened was that the ivory trade, which was their way of buying necessities, collapsed due to migration pattern change due to global cooling, the economic collapse following the Black death in Europe (although it probably didn't reach Greenland), and opening of African ivory trade. In other words, globalization.

So did they emigrate? Did they get killed by storms when they hunted/fished, or tried to migrate? Or just die off? or all three?

One clue: The dead were buried, not found in abandoned farms, and the empty houses didn't show objects of value left behind, suggesting they took stuff with them.

more HERE.

"During the same time period, a lot of Norse settlements in Iceland and northern Norway were being abandoned, but nobody writes big books about that," Lynnerup says. "I'm not sure that the Norse saw Greenland as being very different from the fjords they came from in Norway, and leaving it was no more stressful than abandoning a hamlet in Norway." His theory: In the 1300s and 1400s, Greenland's youths voted with their feet, leaving until the colony could no longer support itself. The last few left.

but like the Easter Island "they died off because they were stupid" meme, it is a bit more complicated when you look at the evidence.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Let's hear it for escapism

escapism? Yes.

 but as Tolkien pointed out: those being critical of fantasy are confusing the desertion of the coward with the escape of a prisoner.

“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which 'Escape' is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”

Immigrants coming and going

Article on Child soldiers are usually written by bleeding heart types that see these poor dears as victims.

Yes, they are: But they are brainwashed killers. And if the war ends, they will become criminals if not "deprogramed"...

My friend in Zimbabwe, a teacher, worked with the government to rehabilitate the insurgents after that civil war ended. Essentially they had to learn they couldn't just point a gun to get what they wanted, and they were also trained to get a job in the civilian sector.

StrategyPage has an article on the problem (mainly in Somalia, but relates to other groups in Africa) and why so many "bad guys" recruit children.

Unable to entice enough men to join they have convinced (or coerced) some clan elders to allow kids (large enough to handle an AK-47) to join the fight.
The kids have been eager for the opportunity to have an AK-47 of their very own, and people to shoot at. This is a big deal for Somali teenagers....
The teenagers are not the best fighters. Most are impulsive and inexperienced so they do not last long if there is a lot of fighting and even then they require more supervision than adult fighters. But given the choice between disappearing because of heavy casualties or recruiting more and more kids, many African irregular groups (bandits, rebels, Islamic terrorists) will resort to the use of kids.
This is not a new phenomenon but it did not become as affordable and widespread until the 1990s. That’s because after several million cheap Cold War surplus AK-47s began showing up in Africa in the 1990s, the "child soldier" became a more practical solution to heavy personnel losses

so what is the result of the trade in cheap, light weapons?

These armies of child killers made insurrection and anarchy more common. Tens of millions of Africans fled their homes to avoid these tiny terrors, and many of those refugees died of starvation or disease. These victims were just as dead, even if the bullets didn't get them. In fact, few AK-47 victims died from bullets. It was the massive fear, and breakdown of society, and the economy, that killed most people confronted by all these cheap AK-47s. The kids weren't very good shots, but if they got close enough to you, they were capable of unimaginable horrors. Al Shabaab is continuing this vile tradition, although in the name of God.
this explains the huge death numbers in quite a few of the civil wars in Africa. (related item about the Congo's neverending civil wars)

But there is some good news: If you read down in the article, Somalia has a new President who could help rebuild that land of chaos. He immigrated to America as a refugee, and now after being successful in the USA, he has returned to help his country.

One little covered story is how immigrants or the children of immigrants from America have rejuvenated their ancestral lands, from Golda Maier to Winston Churchill (whose mom was American) to Eamon De Valera to the Vietnamese who went back and made their country a tech center.

Rhere is a double story: People came to the US for the freedom and opportunity to succeed as they could not do in their home country.

But some who learned these ideas went back and reformed their own country.

For example, a less covered story is about the Mexicans who left because of Obama's policies (often voluntarily because they lost their jobs when businesses were fined if they didn't check on the immigration status of their employees). Others were merely deported (he deported 3 million illegal immigrants during his 8 years) .

WaPost article ((2012) about the returnees boosting Mexico's middle class.

Most people know Trumpie's propaganda about all that money sent back by illegal immigrants that keep the Mexican economy afloat (sort of like the Philippines), but the picture is a bit more complicated than that.

Alas, corruption and drug cartel anarchy are a major problem in Mexico, so sending back a couple million of their citizens could destabilize the place.

for later listening:
Strategypage podcast on Mexico's troubles.


update: AlJ reports on an anti immigrant rally in South Africa: violence is expected alas... and the cause is locals blame high unemployment and crime on immigrants.

INTERACTIVE: Xenophobia in South Africa - Causes, attacks and historyMany locals have alleged that the targets were brothels and drug dens being run by migrants from elsewhere in Africa, including Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

I have friends in Zimbabwe: about ten percent of the country, mainly the educated and young, have immigrated due to that country's economic collapse, due to corruption/ socialist policies and western sanctions.

And, I have pointed out in the past, the film "District 9", about ET prawns who migrated to earth but didn't assimilate, was based on this short film that ridiculed the anti immigrant feelings there.

Demonic activity? Headline deception

I laughed when I scanned the headline that a fundamentalist preacher found "demonic activity" at a Trump rally

scary maybe. Stupid probably... but "demonic"? Give me a break. Is this Art Bell/National Inquirer time for the WaPost that they find one report on facebook and make it a headline?

But GetReligion, a blog that discusses how the press doesn't understand religion, read the entire facebook story and summarizes it thus:

Here is my question: My reading of this lengthy Facebook post is that the pastor is saying (a) that he found the religious overtones of the rally overblown and even disturbing (I say, "Amen, brother") and (b) that he felt the presence of evil in the bitter emotions unleashed during the clash between anti-Trump demonstrators and some, but not all, pro-Trump people.
That sounds about right. anger and hatred are demonic.

Pep rallies with enthusiasm can be a civil type of religion, but usually ordinary people know the difference.

Pep rallies and political rallies could remind pentecostal types of "worship" because they equate "worship" to emotions. (not so much for Catholics, since our "worship" is the mass and faith is a choice and worship is not based on our emotions... luckily for Catholics since often the mass is...emotionally boring).

so enthusiastic rallies can be seen as worship, be they political or for the local sports team.

As for "civic religion": That is an old American idea that was inherited from the British: and one reason there was a first amendment, since Catholics and other were discriminated against in the UK and colonies in colonial times.

So why the headline? Because it lets those who don't read the details to say: See Trumpites are evil.


compare and contrast: Democrats enthusiastically applaud a woman who brags she aborted her baby so she could be successful.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

For later reading

StrategyPage has a long article on Iran, and the nuances of Sunni/Shia, Iran/Russia/Turkey (aka Persian empire/Russian Empire/Ottoman empire) in the middle east.

Iran is threatening the gulf states and Syria in the same way China is threatening the Philippines: Using the idea that they are entitled to take over any place they once ran because...

Sort of like saying Sweden has the right to annex Delaware or Iceland has the right to annex Labrador.

Bookmarked for later reading.

Video of the week

enough with angst. Enjoy...

Ancient literature

Gilgamesh, Genesis, Hesiod and now the Iliad.

an ongoing course on line from Texas A&M

Pro life? Duh

taking it to the Philippines: The Catholics held a small (20 thousand folks is small here in the Philippines) which was "for life": against abortion and against the drug war killings.
((half of which are rogue killings, payback killings, or done by drug lords killing those spilling the beans, )

The foreign press made it merely against Duterte, ignoring the anti abortion part.

but the group sponsoring it are prolife on many levels: They are also trying to get justice for the massacre of farmers by the previous administration.

nah, that didn't get publicity, any more than the numerous cases of corruption that slowly wend their way through the court system and then voila, are thrown out of court years later. I mean, a certain lovely expresident stole everything in sight, sat in house arrest for years, and then got free after Hillary's connections got the UN to intervene and then the courts let her go. Another not so lovely but popular ex president was removed from office and similarly held in custody for years, got a pardon, and now is holding a major office and clamping down on traffic cops who take small gifts to look the other way.

As Lolo used to say: They're all crooks.

Myself? I'd be happier if the bishops started preaching against corruption and naming names. The only one who did this was when that good leftie Archbishop Cruz named names when businesses "offered" their staff to work a big shot's husbands birthday party. He was then sued by the lovely women who insisted he called them whores (he did not) and ended up being fined a couple thousand pesos. Since then he only hinted at names.

The strong libel law here keeps the real story of corruption under wraps. It means the press has to find someone to quote (which of course might mean it is fake news, alas, and we outsiders can't judge). and of course, the high rate of reporters who were killed for spilling the beans is an open secret. Those numbers are down, but never mind.

So the bishops can spout on the PC stuff but not name names when it comes to corruption.

I mean, this march was partly sponsored by the "Knights of Columbus": the guys who formed an honor guard at the funeral of  our ex mayor, who ordered the hit on his rival that killed our nephew.

Of course, the Catholics under this pope are more interested in political correctness than in reality. Condemn extra judicial killings, fine, but clean up your own house first.

I am not the only Catholic who is annoyed at the self righteous bishops who bash Trumpie boy for deporting criminals but then waved a wand and expected us to forget how in the past they agreed with Milo and quite a few liberal icons
LINK LINK2 that it was okay for gay priests men to schtump post puberty teenagers because it was consensual... .. as in the priest who molested Milo or the ones who molested an underaged Mr Takai? Did either of these guys get arrested?

the priests finally got outed because hey the liberals hate Catholic more than they love Gays (except for Weakland, who despite paying off his ex lover for abuse and getting thrown out when this came to light was still was allowed to discuss the need for "church reform" in the NYTimes)

and here in the Philippines, if the bishops push too hard, Duterte probably has the goods on this to push back. link2

and yes, I am a Catholic, because of the local parish and sacraments.

But we tend to ignore or even condemn it when the pope or bishops push their political agenda on us while ignoring their own sins. beam/mote anyone?

Dante call your office.



so who was the priest who raped an underage Milo, and brainwashed him into thinking it was okay and that he was the aggressor in this case?

sociopaths who molest children groom them carefully, often persuade the victim they were the aggressor, so they should keep quite about what is going on. I've seen this type of manipulation against girls I saw for being sexually abused when I was a doc in the USA... 14 year olds with a 16 year old boyfriend? no problem. But then there were those who were molested by their fathers/ mom's boyfriend/ teacher... 

Here in the Philippines,one danger is when the staff are seduced by their employer, (using flattery and gifts, but if that doesn't work, using alcohol and then forcing sex on the drunken victim)...the wife blames the staff and fires them... usually this is the maids, but it also occurs with male staff. No, it's not "love" when the perpetrator does it over and over again....

ah but who would dare to take it to court?

Remember this the next time you hear about payback murders.

The vulnerable don't just include children, but also for underaged but physically mature teenagers, who lack the experience to know they are being seduced by a sociopath. Natasha in War and Peace is a benign example of this type of behavior; Lolita is a more open story of how the antagonist framed the story to make her the aggressor to justify his deeds.

The story in the lastest Milo vidoe now says that he was 17, but earlier versions admit he was only 14:

“It was perfectly consensual. When I was the 14, I was the predator,” Mr Yiannopoulos said, refusing to identity the clergy member during the September 2015 interview.
uh, this is called grooming.

is it his New York accent?

If Trumpie boy had an Oxford accent,  would he be respected more?

 headsup from a comment on Ann Althouse...

Somewhat early on during the primary, I saw a video where a British voice was dubbed in for what Trump was saying. Here's a different one but, oh my gosh, it is amazing what a difference it makes. 

alhouse has a long discussion on: 

Imagine a President Trump whose policies all accord with your own. Substantively, he's like, perhaps, Barack Obama. He'll appoint the Supreme Court Justice who will give the liberal faction a decisive 5-person majority. He's very accepting of undocumented immigrants, committed to Obamacare, etc. etc. — whatever it is that you like. But he has all the personal characteristics of Donald Trump. He entered politics from a successful business career, funded his own campaign using his private wealth, and figured out how to do politics on the fly, making mistakes and correcting his course. He got knocked around in the press and by party insiders who wanted to stop him, but he kept going, overcoming 16 opponents. He had his own way of talking and he took it straight to the people, with hundreds of rallies, and he especially connected with working class people. They just loved him, as the elite shook their heads, because he didn't have the diplomacy and elegance they'd come to expect from a President. Be honest now. How would you like this man? How would you speak about his personal style? 

heh. that would be Bernie Saunders of course. But he had the primaries stolen from him by the Democratic operatives at the top.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Family news

My granddaughter and her mom are still depressed about her father refusing to let her take the scholarship to a pretegious school in Canada.

The hot season is arriving so I spend most of the days indoors due to the heat.

So far the internet is working okay...tends to get iffy in the heat.

The small dog still has two puppies and they are doing well (one died).

The cat is still pregnant and getting larger. Oi Veh. we don't need new cats.

Our houseboy/night watchman came home drunk after a party last night with a half grown friendly dog. I took it for a rabies shot today. We'll have to try to find who it belongs to, but like in the USA, often dogs run away from home or are dropped off in the street when their owners decide they don't want them. Stray dogs are prone to rabies, so we usually don't try to save them, and often strays are just rounded up and killed, if they don't starve to death or get killed by locals first. Sigh.

Cats are worse: stray cats all over. Some come here to eat: We just got another black one with mangey ears who came in.... they eat the dog food we leave out for the dogs at night when the dogs are asleep. And stray kittens are just dumped in the local vacant lots: I try to save them, but usually they are too small and die on me, or else they do fine, until they hit half grown when the dogs get them because they are not "street smart" like the feral cats.

Sigh. Don't be an animal lover here in the Philippines.

Of course, there is also a problem of stray people and stray kids. Sigh.

Most of the kids have homes but are not always in school no one  checks on them. It's not as bad here as in Manila because everyone is related to everyone the kids are not abandoned but known to the neighbors.

Stuff below the fold

How did tower building termites migrate to isolated Australia?

They floated there on debris... from South America or Asia. And then evolved to eat grass instead of wood

Chaco Canyon DNA studies

for later reading


It's more than just climate change... population control needed

again for later reading.


St Pat's cathedral will now use geothermal energy... ten well dug 2000 feet deep to do this. Can't find what it cost them or who paid for it.

Article on NYC geothermal stuff. as in heat pumps. This article suggests the wells are heat pumps.

One item that won't be completed by the pope's visit is a geothermal heating and air-conditioning system. Workers installing it are using a huge drill to bore 2,000 feet into ground beneath the cathedral, Ritchie said.

Heat pumps are simply running water underground to change the water temperature. This lets you heat or cool your building a lot cheaper, since underground is cooler than summer temperature and warmer than wintertime. We had one of these in our office in Idaho 30 years ago.

so theoretically they are "geothermal" energy, but I suspect that they are using this term because it is a lot trendier than saying heat pump.

Usually, the term  Geothermal energy means using the steam/hot water from underground to run turbans to produce electricity.

Here in the Philippines we get a lot of our energy from geothermal plant
NYC has a concrete base, but also a fault line. I don't know enough about the geology of the area to comment why they needed to dig that deep.


Aslan, call your office:

Galaxies sing when forming stars

Good News of the day

Milo is getting fired and ostracized because his discussions defending the common gay practice of seeing post puberty but underaged boys were edited to make it sound like he defended pedophilia.

 No, he never defended pedophilia, but as I wrote in my previous post, he spilled the beans on why so many gay groups and Freudian trained psychiatrists wanted to lower the age of consent to 14. ( For both sexes) back in the 1970's and some even now.

But of course, there has been blowback on his critics: 

Ann Althouse discusses more celebrities and politicians who defend sex with underaged teens. Including the Vagina Monologues (before they censored it).

 Like Clinton's Health advisor who said give your 15 year old daughters a condom before they went out on a date... dirty little secret is that immature teens don't use them. (survey says 30% don't use them...)So they end up having a baby or an abortion....But of course, if they get chlamydia or GC, they could end up infertile.

Best Selling Musician of the century

Weird Al Yankovic?

the WaPo points out:

Yankovic has sold millions of albums, played 1,616 shows and outlasted so many of the stars he once spoofed. 
Well, it is because he poked innocent fun at the pretentious songs and singers.

In contrast, most modern "comics" just ridicule and bully people for a laugh.


here is an example of one of his "topical" songs:

a lot of his songs are about food:This is an oldie but only the song: copyright issues won't allow the original to be linked.

headsup Instapundit

Controversial question of the day

Is LaLaLand the most boring movie of 2016?

Except for the opening dance, of course.

The plot is lame, the characters are "belly button gazers" who think only of themselves and not very sympathetic, and the music is forgetable.

But it's about Hollywood, and they tend to vote for their own.

As for Oscars, I admit I haven't seen many of the films (they don't tend to get sent here except for Marvel universe etc). The best films I've seen in the last year are Hidden Figures and Kubo and the Two Strings. But that's just me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Christianity in ancient China

This week's China History podcast discusses how Christianity came down the silk road into ancient China.

PennMuseum's silk road symposium discusses. Other lectures discuss Zorastrian and Buddhist religions along the silk road

Stories below the fold: Milo spills the beans

Milo implodes: defending pederasts who like young teenagers who are post puberty, claiming that a relationship with a young post puberty teen is okay, and can even help the kid by giving him emotional support and a role model.

No: he does not defend pedophiles who hit kids before puberty. No, he dislikes child abusers and has even "outed" a few.

Yup. Only Milo could openly admit that this idea is popular among a lot of gay men who would never think of hurting a child but who see an immature mixed up 14 year old as mature enough to consent to a "relationships", and have no insight into the emotional harm they are causing.

the reason for "statutory rape" laws and "age of consent" laws is that ordinary people know young teenagers, especially in today's world when puberty can start at age 10, often have physical changes and sexual impulses, but they simply lack the emotional and intellectual maturity to make a wise decision in such things. And often this immaturity leads them to sexual exploitation, a distorted view of sexuality, and physical dangers.

but of course, it's not PC to admit that a lot (not all) gays like good looking young men, and that some of them think the age of consent should be lower than age 16 or 18....

On the other hand, I am old enough to remember we were taught that nonsense that Milo spouted about teenaged sex in our psychiatric rotation in medical school back in the 1960's. I thought it was nonsense then too, but who dared to oppose the professors.

What has changed is that the kids grew up and some of them, instead of turning their self hatred and anger inward and self treating themselves with drugs or alcohol or sometimes committing suicide, recognized they were the victim of a self serving sociopath. They turned the anger outward. And then some of them got lawyers.

This, not celibacy, is what was behind the "pedophile crisis" in the Catholic church, and behind the "Indigenous boarding school" abuse epidemic in Canada.

The charming and friendly guy often was forgiven over and over again by those who should have known better (psychiatrists, bishops, the local justice system, their wives, etc)....and then SNAP! they finally met someone who told them they weren't the only one, and that they were a victim, not a sinner...

And Voila: Lawsuits.

Catholic author Michael O'Brien has testified about the culture of abuse in these boarding schools, and how the church later welcomed his repentant attempted abuser with open arms.

Although he escaped sexual abuse, O’Brien has testified to the years of and cruelty, including psychological and physical violence, he and other students endured at the residential school under the supervision of Martin Houston. The supervisor was convicted of multiple accounts of sexual abuse, but released early from prison and later ordained as a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of St. Boniface in Manitoba.
what a lot of abusers have in common is the lack of insight of the harm they are doing.... be it the senior in high school who seduces the freshmen girls, the older guy who wines and dines the immature teenagers of either sex, or the employer who has sex with a young  employee but doesn't recognize the threat of a job loss might mean consent is not genuine.

 CDC report shows 8%, of boys and 3% of girls have "had sexual intercourse" below age 13...

and a lot of them end up addicted to drugs and alcohol etc. because of the emotional trauma.

addendum: The argument could be made a lot of abuse victims do indeed get over it.

Yes, but the problem is that just because people can manage to survive anything, from famine to war to abuse to genocide, and pick up the thread of their lives is not a very good argument for justifying famine, war, abuse or genocide...

Mooke and Fylth

TeaAtTrianon, a history blog, links to an essay at about sanitation in the good old days of the Tudors

The average householder lived on a narrow street crowded with people and animals: horse-drawn carts blocked the way, flocks of geese were herded to market, sheep and cattle were driven to be sold or slaughtered, hens pecked in the yards, dogs and cats scavenged, and then there were the rats, mice and pigeons…
Together, they produced a mountain of “mooke and fylthe”: entrails, bones and scales, fur and feathers, which mingled with rotting vegetation, food scraps, general household rubbish, dust, mud, ashes, the sweepings from workshop floors and “other vyle things”.

they had "scavengers" collect filth early in the morning, and others who cleaned horse/pig/cattle manure from the streets (if you were lucky).

Garbage collecting is something the elites who felt so self righteous protesting the Pipe line in North Dakota seemed to overlook: they worry a theoretical pipeline lead cold contaminate the river, but apparently don't worry about pollution fro human waste, rotting garbage, or deteriorating plastic bags getting washed into the river with the spring thaw.

Local and federal officials estimate there's enough trash and debris in the camp to fill about 2,500 pickup trucks. Garbage ranges from trash to building debris to human waste, according to Morton County Emergency Manager Tom Doering.

The protests there were an "in" type protest: not just Indian activists but lots of elites and Hollywood types looking for publicity. For these latter, cleaning and disposal of waste is not part of their lifestyle: after all a "dirty job" (to use Mike Rowe's term) done by people they rarely are aware of. I guess they think this job is done by magic garbage elves: they learned to separate stuff to recycle of course but probably don't know the details of what happens next.

History of Plumbing here.

Roman Military logistics, including waste disposal

US Army Field Manual 21-10 Field hygiene and sanitation.

If you live a good comfortable life, thank your local garbage man/sanitation worker.

Here in our town, we had open air ditches to drain waste. Our compound has two septic tanks (one for the house, one for the business are) that we clean out every few years. But the jail next door just drains into the ditch.

During the last mayor's race (when the murderous ex mayor's daughter was running against her family's rival, who they tried to kill), we actually had men make some of the ditches larger and cover them. Of course, in usual Pinoy fashion, all civic improvements which were ignored for years are started a few months before the election.

The Mayora lost, and the new mayor has actually continued the work: The narrow open ditch near the old city hall is now being made larger so it drains (it is full of water thanks to plastic bags etc. discarded there).

The old mayor also put open plastic bins for people to put out garbage. Sometimes the trash men even collected the stuff. We were tipping the local guy to collect our garbage daily, until Kuya said no, he is being paid, and we need to add our side's garbage to the larger stash outside the business entrance. So now, if the garbage overflows, I just pay a taxi driver to dump it in the nearby dump where the streetcleaners dump the garbage. Kuya is trying to get the staff to properly separate the garbage from the trash and make a nice compost heap: the staff does it sometime, but hey, it is extra work, and only done when they are pushed to do it.

UP to a year or two ago, a lot of people also dump in the nearby vacant lots, where the dogs and cats eat what can be eaten and the kids and beggars scavage for stuff to recycle. And if it gets too high, someone would start a fire and burn what was left.

In recent years, this has improved thanks to the garbage collectors usually removing the trash.

Since dogs often are left out at night to do their thing, and feral cats are all over, often the bins are tipped over and make a mess for the locals to clean up in the morning.

Presumably recycling would work, but no one is trained in it, although beggars and kids sometimes do scavenge to recycle for extra cash. With the increase of city workers doing this, however, even the vacant lots are fairly clean, allowing the local sheep and goats to graze without the worry they will die from eating the wrong thing.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Music item of the day

Cat item of the day

The WAGD post of the day

China is fighting a possible bird flu epidemic, says the NYTimes

As of Friday, health officials confirmed eight deaths and 77 diagnosed cases just in February, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. Last month, 192 people in China learned they had the virus, and 79 of them died, according to official numbers released on Tuesday. The strain, H7N9, is an avian influenza virus that can infemt people who come in close contact with infected live or newly killed birds.

like previous outbreaks, it is confined to people who caught the disease from handling chickens.

The real danger starts if the virus mutates another step to spread person to person... some suspect this caused the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, that killed more people than World War I....

but the various birdflu viruses can decimate the poultry farms, and there have been outbreaks all over the world. The virus is spread via migrating birds and luckily for us the Philippines does not have a lot of migrating bird.

The big worry is that someone will kill and export the infected chickens and spread the disease to people.

NYT2015 article on the potential threat of Bird flu to the poultry industry... discussing how it has hurt chicken and poultry raising farmers in the USA.

Iraq has been deeply hit last year with the problem, for example, as have other countries.

one reason may be that if a chicken farm is infected, the entire flock will get it. And chicken farms are alas monoculture chickens, limited to a few breeds. One way to protect chickens is keep the chickens indoors and use ventillation fans.

and the bad news for all those yuppies who love their back yard chickens: Beware of bird flu if migrating birds mingle with your chickens... this is why Jakarta banned chickens (actually fighting cocks) inside city limits a couple years ago.

there also has been some work to find chickens resistant to influenza: this would include cross breeding with traditional breeds, and also GMO chickens.

Chickens and eggs are a cheap source of protein, and the chicken farming business has spread all over the world.

Here is Eng. Hamid with an example of how to raise chickens... he runs a teaching farm in Iran...


this is not the only agricultural business hit by disease:

and recently there has been anoutbreak of footandmouth disease in Korea, that affects cattle LINK

during the last asian outbreak, we had to walk on a specialized mat in the airport just in case our shoes had the virus riding on the soles.

Comic Con... in Saudi?

AlJ reports:

AP:Visitors wear face masks and dress up as their favorite comic book characters:
Separate Male and Female sections presumably means the face veil can be dropped once you are inside the female section...

no reports of anyone wearing the Leia slave costume...

ALJ article on the rise of the comic book in the Middle East

a modern version of bards telling the stories of heroes: e.g. Aladdin and Sinbad...

Make sure the product works

StrategyPage has a report on why the AirForce switched to a foreign company to make motors for small rockets etc.

The problem here was that when the rocket motors were exposed to very cold conditions (as would happen when an aircraft is flying at a high altitude) they become unreliable. This should have been quickly fixed by the manufacturer but that did not happen and things went downhill from there.

 so what was behind the problem?

It was caused by a changes in the formula for the rocket propellant to comply with environmental regulations.
and then there is this, that explains why the manufacturers figured it was cheaper to fix Congress than to fix the problem:

The military accuses the manufacturers of having a bad attitude, feeling that if there are problems it's easier to cozy up to members of Congress than it is to fix the technical problems. So far, that seems to be working, while the weapons and equipment don't. U.S. manufacturers tried to get a law passed to keep Nammo out, but that failed.

this is nothing new: Arthur Miller wrote a thinly fictionalized play about the B24 scandal that made Harry Truman a household name.

There have been a lot of unreported problems when US manufactuers switched to cheaper brands (usually chinese) to save money, and ignored there were
"minor" differences in the metal that lead to catastrophes. Fake/inadequate and inferior spare parts is a major problem all over the world (here in the Philippines, cheap stuff works then fails quickly: be it spigots or brakes).

Autoblog discusses here.

 Heck, even a recent CSI plot was based on this problem that caused a bus to crash.

As for "environmental" regulations: they too can ignore the nuances, because those worried about the environment simply might not see their "equivalent bio friendly" stuff is not the same.

The most absurd example of this is the Cat litter that almost caused a nuclear accident: Because non flammable clay cat litter that was supposed to absorb liquids in nuclear wast storage was replaced with Flammable "green" cat litter.

Trump wants to have the US manufacturing again, but there needs to be a strict work ethic and zeal for being exact, not to mention companies that really want to produce good products, not just a profit.

To do this you have to rebuild the infrastructure, including retraining and pride in blue collar jobs, basic morality (no cheating), faithfulness in your jobs (work ethic: honest days work for an honest day pay and no stealing), attention to details, respect for truth, (instead of pretending the PC meme is true and imposing quotas).

Alas, this is for churches, not the government, to do, but instead they are busy pushing the PC memes.

But that is another story for another day.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Stories below the fold

Could the US Marines overcome the Empire of Rome? This was posted on a discussion page awhile back and now is a movie.

Hmm...logistic, logistics, logistics. The historian in the article suggests they do the Hannibal strategy, (i.e. despoil the countryside and encourage the opposition to rise up). but the reason Hannibal couldn't conquer Rome is that they cut off his supplies, and much later they attacked Carthage so he had to go home to defend his own city.

However, Mraines are known for their ability to improvise: What about biodiesel, alcohol for gasoline, and collecting saltpetre/urine to make gunpowder? How about the longbow/crossbow with it's longer range? (according to AICN, this is the magic weapon that Matt Damon  uses in the Wall movie: his English longbow). And of course, they might also try diplomatic strategy and get the hoi polloi in the Roman legions to join them to take over Rome...


 PMech article on liquifaction...

Desmond Bagley's book Landslide has liquifaction as part of the plot. One of the books I have with me. But in that case, the blame goes to heavy rain destablizing the mud...

owever, in earthquakes, shaking will cause liquifaction, and this article describes how that happened in the 1964 Alaska's earthquake.

Which is why I worry that our house is build on soil, not rock.

both article headsup via Instapundit: as is this one: Who runs the USA?

We know who runs the Philippines: The oligarchy of rich families. And when Duterte tries to drain the swamp, they go to the compliant press to moan about murders etc.

BBC says they indicted the lovely vixen who was schtupping her driver (and gave him an expensive house as a reward)... hmm wonder if he turned states evidence since the rumor was that he was her go between with the drug dealers.


bbc magazine says get rid of "large bills", and says to get rid of $50 and $100 dollar bills and "masybe $20's"....

uh, 20 dollar blls are not "Large bills".

 he uses the fact we see movies showing criminals using 100 dollar bills as proof that "normal" people don't use large bills.

I don't know: Lolo used 100 dollar bills all the time, while I paid for groceries using 20 dollar bills or my credit card.


ll Gates hyperventillates and worries an epidemic might kill 30 million people. He cites Ebola as an example.

and Archeology Magazine now says some scientists say the 1545 epidemic might have been a varient Salmonella, and yes probably came over from Europe.

Acuna-Soto R1, Stahle DW, Cleaveland MK, Therrell MD. - Emerging Infectious Diseases, April 2002; vol 8 (number 4), pages 360-2

looks scary, but it doesn't take into consideration the recovery aspect: i.e. population increases, i.e. people have babies

The post got too long, so I moved a long discussion about vaccines and epidemics to my medical blog.


how to breed a wooly mammoth.

make a hybrid mammoth/elephant embryo and grow it in an artificial womb so the animal rights folks don't get upset that you are hurting a mama elephant.

and factoid: Asian elephants are the closest living relatives to mammoths.

Catholics and the work ethic

Michael Novak has died. The economist who wrote the book defending capitalism and inspired Pope John Paul II to write an encyclical defending capitalism.

The backstory of this is that the professional do gooder/leftists who infiltrate the middle management of the Catholic church in Europe and in the US tend to be socialists, and some encyclicals hint that this way will reform the world. This was a normal reaction to a church who before modern times in Europe was run by the younger sons of nobility, who looked down on getting one's hands dirty in business.

But Novak's book  Business as a calling points out that a virtuous businessman no only uses his god given talents, but enriches those around him by giving them work. This philosophy would be well known to Protestants thanks to Calvin, and to the LDS businessmen or even to those with Confucian background, but for Catholics it was now made official. Of course, the present pope probably disagrees, but he is stuck in the past with liberation theology nonsense, i.e. the economics of Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

 I have the book with me. This is from the Amazon blurb:

Why do we work so hard at our jobs, day after day? Why is a job well done important to us? We know there is more to a career than money and prestige, but what exactly do we mean by "fulfillment"?
These are old but important questions. They belong with some newly discovered ones: Why are people in business more religious than the population as a whole? What do people of business know, and what do they do, that anchors their faith?...
...Work should be more than just a job -- it should be a calling...
Business is a profession worthy of a person's highest ideals and aspirations, fraught with moral possibilities both of great good and of great evil. Novak takes on agonizing problems, such as downsizing, the tradeoffs that must sometimes be faced between profits and human rights, and the pitfalls of philanthropy. He also examines the daily questions of how an honest day's work contributes to the good of many people, both close at hand and far away.
our work connects us with one another. It also makes possible the universal advance out of poverty, and it is an essential prerequisite of democracy and the institutions of civil society. This book is a spiritual feast, for everyone who wants to examine how to make a life through making a living.

FirstThings points out to this essay of his to read: I book mark it for later reading.