Sunday, March 31, 2013

Stuff below the fold

Snide FARK remark of the day:


Bill Gates pledges to re-invent the condom. Because Bill Gates has such a great track record preventing viruses with his products.
(Linked to this.)

via  Dustbury

----------------------------------------------------The Endangered Easter Egg

increased demand and plant disease means more expensive chocolate. The Bill Gates foundation blame the lack of a decent condom to protect the plants from disease.
whoops wrong story: Bill Gates blames it on global warming.

TaDA:...GM Chocolate to the rescue..

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DIY project of the week: Turn your hard drive into a cotton candy machine.

via Gizmodo  

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and it sounds like scientists are running out of names:

Behold the Hamburger Galaxy:
Bob and Janice Fera captured this image of NGC 3628, also known as the Hamburger Galaxy, on March 10-11, 2013, from Eagle Ridge Observatory in Foresthill, Calif. CREDIT: Bob and Janice Fera


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Scientists have discovered a new super antibody that will kill lots of different cancers(?)

Pubmed has this summery.

Stanford has this summary.

Summary: They transplanted human cancer into mice, and this anti body killed the human cancer in mice.
\
This article explains it nicely in ordinary English:  it destroys cancer's "cloaking device", so the immune system can destroy the cancer.
This new treatment hinges on a protein found in our body’s cells, called CD47. This is otherwise known as the “do not eat” protein, simply because it tells the immune system not to attack. So it’s certainly something you’d want your healthy cells to carry in large quantities.
On the flip side, you certainly wouldn’t want cancer cells bulletproofing themselves in the same way. But unfortunately, researchers have discovered that’s exactly what they do.
The realization actually happened 10 years ago, when Irving Weissman, a biologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, discovered that CD47 resided in leukemia cells. This essentially allows the malignant cells to hide in plain sight, as the immune system doesn’t recognize a threat.
The study is very preliminary, but human trials could start in one to two years.


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They should come with safety warnings


Guess who's back?

Happy Easter....

which in the Philippines means time to go to mass and follow it with a party.

painting by Joey Velasco...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Musical interlude take two

Shadowlands.



Cat item of the day


Download of the week

I am always bemused at survivalists who see high tech ways to survive.

Actually, those living in isolated rural areas and who remember how their grandparents did it would be a better way to go

In the 1970's, some high school students did an oral history project in Appalachia, called Fox fire (after the glowing fungus, not after the red fox or the web browser)
photo from the Wikipedia commons.


UNC press still sells it (or you can find them at used book stores, which is where I got my copies in the old days).

Volume 1 can be downloaded HERE.

the main webpage said it was removed for copyright violations, but they only removed the link, not from their computer, so the actual pdf can be download one by one by changing the number of the volume.

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Lolo assured me that if I moved here with him, I would always have rice to eat. He would know: Because the economy collapsed, the black market throve, and there was hunger here during the Japanese occupation of the second world war...So survival means something different in rural areas of foreign countries.

I wish they would so a similar "oral history" here: Yes, the professional "anthropologists" do it, but often people tell them what they think they want to hear, not the truth.

If you are interested in general survival, you can download the US Army Survival book from HERE.


Of course, the US sends their soldiers here to learn jungle survival from the AFP special forces.
And if you too want to learn that, you can take a course at the Subic freeport zone.
 


So, you want to be John Rambo? Why not give yourself a little more validity with an overnight survival training class brought to you by the same indigenous people who helped train the U.S. Navy Seals and Special Forces Units how to survive in the Jungle? The United States Military troops learned many survival and warfare tactics from the indigenous Aetas people in these same forests during the Vietnam war. You can now avail yourself of these same techniques and be the talk of your town.
When the U.S. Navy left Subic Bay in 1992 Jungle Environmental Survival Training Camp (JEST) was created to help the Aetas transfer their attention to the civilian population. The U.S. Military camp was converted by SBMA/FSC to an the new JEST Camp, where regular people like you and I can learn survival tactics just like the military tough guys.
 Travel and Leisure magazine has an article about the course HERE.

Stories that suggest that the end of the world is nigh (or should be)

All your Facebook belong to us.

There are many "silent listeners" in social networks that collect people's "Likes" and other online behaviors so that the information can be sold discretely to third parties. Facebook, Google, and all other social networks, also collect such behavioral information.
While the companies say that their behavioral Big Data is stripped of users' names, it is possible to use other databases such as electoral records, demographic information, and location data, to identify individuals by name.
It's essentially a secret dossier on more than a 1 billion social network users. 

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the "kids these days are not like we were" factoid of the day:

Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, two of the eighteenth century's most radical and prominent thinkers, married on this day in 1797. Many contemporaries reacted to news of the event with a raised eyebrow or smile, given that both bride and groom had been famously outspoken against contemporary marriage habits and laws....Wollstonecraft was five months pregnant at her marriage, and she died just ten days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary, whom Godwin would disown when she attempted, at age sixteen, to use her parents' principles to justify entering into a free-love relationship with Shelley


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. Dave barry links to a story about Autonomous robot jellyfish being developed for military surveillance ---------------------------------

 Dave Barry also reminds you: Happy National Cleavage Day. And the photo of the winner is here.


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first there were Kosher Easter Eggs, and now there are Halal Easter eggs.

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Musical interlude of the day

LINK


Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

your email of the day from Col Updraft

The Ottoman links

Lots of political spin in the US press about President Obama's trip to Israel, but StrategyPage notes that the real success of the trip was about Israel and Turkey making nice:

Syria's tragedy, however, spurred restitution and resolution. Israel and Turkey both border on Syria, and they face a common threat: a Pandora's box of terrorists would exploit a fragmented Syria. They both fight shadow wars with Iran, which backs Syria's Assad dictatorship. The Assad regime wages perpetual war with Israel. Since early 2011, when Syria's rebellion erupted, for all practical purposes the regime has been at war with Turkey.
And then there was Kurdish connection

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stuff around the net

I wrote about the chanting of the Pasyon and Easter in the Philippines but it got too long so I moved it to BNN...

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 Lost worlds links to an article on the Taino traders. the "mayan" links in Georgia may have been via these traders, who lived in Venezuela and shipped goods around the Mediterranean.

Smithsonian has more on the Taino.

they are rewriting the history of South America, but a lot of the history is tainted by fuzzy age ideas (like the second link) or the Black legend, as in the last link.

The Penn Museum has a couple lectures on the Maya, and BBC has a series on the lost kingdoms of South America.

but my take is always from below: the stories of these "great civilizations", be it the Maya or the Egyptians,  often ignore that it meant to ordinary folks:

 the conquerers killed a lot of people, and these great civilizations built all those nice monuments by keeping serfs and workers who didn't have much say in the matter. The dirty little secret of the Conquistadors is that the local people helped them get rid of the big shots (and replaced the devil they knew with the devil they didn't know).

And a lot of the new age love of the peaceful Mayan (or Minoan or place favorite ancient kingdom of goodness and light in the blank): a lot of this is "projection". Newer archeology shows the Mayans were pretty bloody to their neighbors and didn't especially protect the environment..
.
=================
the book 1491 and other modern archeology studies of pre colombus Americas point out that it was not a pristine wilderness, but one shaped by locals.

Now there is a podcast from Australia saying that the aborigenes did the same thing there.
Big Ideas explores the myth that pre-European settlement Australia was an untamed wilderness. It's a landscape actively shaped by fire. Historian Bill Gammage explains how to reread not only the land itself, but also maps, place names and historic documents. He is in conversation with Radio National’s Kate Evans.

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Egypt goes kaput. Spengler pointed this out awhile back, but now TPMBarnett is noticing the problem.

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for later reading;
how to be a lady in the 21st century.




Bad Robot Post of the day

from Dilbert.

related items; Shortage of IT health care workers.
The study, based on a 2012 survey of health care chief executives and interviews with IT and human resource professionals, found that demand has grown among not only health care organizations but also insurers and big pharmaceutical companies that need staff to analyze and integrate data sources. Some are meeting their needs by hiring new employees, and others are doing so by buying up technology companies, which the report said reduces the pool of IT talent into which health care organizations can tap.

Related item number two: Physicians are demoralized.

the problem? Forced to see too many patients with more problems and a lot more paperwork in a shorter amount of time...
the problem is made worse because the powers that be, such as those writing the report, see it as a technological problem, to be solved by technological means.

The Leape Institute report recommends that health care organizations commit to creating a culture that values civility and transparency. That includes using evidence-based management skills that improve an organization's reliability, communication and teamwork; offering wellness and peer-support programs; and sharing quality and safety data to encourage problem-solving instead of finger-pointing.

 but the only real world doc quoted in the article gets it right:
Health care organizations hoping to prevent disruptive behavior, reduce physician stress and improve care quality should target heavy workloads and time-constrained care, said Alan H. Rosenstein, MD, who was not involved in the Leape Institute report.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Factoid of the day

Cute Overload has this photo of a nudibranch, a tiny sea slug:



so what is a nudibranch? a soft naked sea slug. From Wikipedia:

A nudibranch /ˈnjdɨbræŋk/[1] is a member of Nudibranchia, a group of soft-bodied, marine gastropod mollusks which shed their shell after their larval stage.[2] They are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms. There are more than 3,000 described species of nudibranchs.[3]
The word "nudibranch" comes from the Latin nudus, naked, and the Greek βραγχια, brankhia, gills.
Nudibranchs are often casually called sea slugs, but many sea slugs belong to several taxonomic groups which are not closely related to nudibranchs

 NatGeo has a photo gallery here


Photograph by Jennifer Hayes
Built to feed exclusively on corals like this spindly gorgonian, a translucent 1.7-inch-long Phyllodesmium iriomotense houses its branching digestive gland within tentacle-like cerata—outgrowths the animal can shed if under attack. This species is one of the few colorless nudibranchs.

and this one looks like Smaug:

 


Flabellina exoptata
Size: 1.2 in (3 cm)






and if you google "Philippine nudibranch" you can find where you can view them, plus lots more photos.

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update: Sea Slug forum has lots of information and links.

And I can't find recipes; Some excrete a poisonous mucus which can cause problems if you get one in your saltwater fish tank. But this site says that the Orange Peel seaslug can be eaten.

Stories around the web

The Zombies among us....
Blame the cat:


  For example, there is a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which is found in domestic cats, and is estimated to infect 350,000 people a year in Britain. Its effect on humans became the obsession of Jaroslav Flegr, professor of evolutionary biology at Charles University in Prague, who linked it with disturbed behaviours such as reckless driving and a greater risk of suicide.

related item: zombie botnets in your laser printer may be spying on you.
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UKTelegraph says that although fewer folks go to church, the younger ones pray more than those over 50 years of age...


Related item: NASA's advice on what to do if an asteroid will hit the earth: PRAY.

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StrategyPage discusses drone use in the war on terror.

and there is no Israeli blockade of Gaza:

Hundreds of trucks full of goods enter Gaza from Israel each day but it is Hamas that refuses to allow more. Many more trucks enter via the one legal route from Egypt and Hamas restricts the number coming here as well. All this is to enable Hamas to collect more taxes (from goods smuggled through the tunnels) and get weapons and wanted criminals (as in Islamic terrorists) into Gaza. The tunnels also allow Hamas to move whatever they want in or out of Gaza without any government interference or observation.

Hamas will even give you permission to dig a smuggling tunnel for only $2500

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Watch the Sky: The Space Hedgehog is missing.
Reg readers in the Leamington Spa area are asked to keep an eye out for a knitted hedgehog which may have fallen from the skies thereabouts, and is currently the focus of a frantic search and rescue operation.
CASSiE (Cosmic Ambassador for Space Science and Engineering), aka the Cosmic Hedgehog, was sent aloft last Friday on a balloon mission, accompanying 70 student scientific projects into the stratosphere.
Unfortunately, mission control lost contact with the payload on its descent, and is now calling on the public for assistance:
The space hedgehog missing poster

The "WAGD" post of the day

Earthquake surge in Hierro volcano in the Canary Islands suggests that volcano might blow.

Hello megatsunami?

That the Canaries constitute a danger was shown 300 000 years ago when a part of the island El Hierro slid into the sea, triggering a mega-tsunami which carried rocks as high as a house for many hundreds of metres into the interior of the east coast of what is today the USA.

but the real worry is Las Palmas, not Hierro...

and factoid of the day:
The Greek historian Thucydides suggested in his late 5th century BC, History of the Peloponnesian War, that tsunamis were related to submarine earthquakes,[5][6] 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Celebrating Passover

Passover week started on March 25th...


Ukrainian Easter Eggs

video here



more information HERE

and it includes the factoid of the day:

Tradition relates that in Italy Mary Magdalene visited Emperor Tiberius and proclaimed to him Christ’s Resurrection. She gave him a red egg as a symbol of the Resurrection, a symbol of new life with the words: “Christ is Risen!”  Thanks to Mary Magdalene the custom to give each other paschal eggs on the day of the Radiant Resurrection of Christ spread among Christians over all the world. [source]


oh yes: Russian easter is celebrated on a different day.

Just for cute


Creative aliens post of the day

Right now, the UK is covered with snow.
So what are the crop circle drawing aliens going to do when there is no grass to trample?

Voila: Pond Circles.

FromSenseOfEvents:

related item:

How to fake a UFO crash.

and welcome to the brave new world of science reporting, where the HuffPo's science writer is a "paranormal" expert who used to have his own NBC radio program...he now is discussing big foot on C2Cam

and the scientists think that the conservative christians are "anti science"?

Insomnia downloads of the week

two audiobooks for Conan fans:


Jewels of Gwahlur by Howard, Robert E

Hour of the Dragon, The by Howard, Robert E.

and for nature lovers:


On The Seashore by Smith, R. Cadwallader

if you really have trouble sleeping, try Herodotus:

  1. Herodotus of Halicarnassus. "Herodotus' Histories Vol 1" · (readers)
  2. Herodotus of Halicarnassus. "Herodotus' Histories Vol 2" · (readers)
  3. Herodotus of Halicarnassus. "Herodotus' Histories Vol 3" · (readers)
but I also found a version on youtube




If you loved 300, well they stole the story from him.

That isn't on line, but this non fictional version is:

and This series of lectures gives a summary (at least until the copyright cops find it's there)

as I told Ruby yesterday, most of the "history' of ancient empires is told by the big shots and they only print the good parts. Only the Greeks and the Bible tell a more complicated story of what happened, including the bad stuff about their big shots, be it King David or Agamemnon...

Herodotus went one step furthur, and tried to tell both sides after talking to both sides.

Something to remember when you read today's papers.

Nearly all the papers are saying: The Iraq war was a mistake. Yet not one bothers to ask: What would have happened if the sanctions had been lifted (as looks likely since Saddam was bribing the French gov't to get the US to do this).

TPM Barnett discusses this on his blog today.
and adds:



And then the White House, chastened finally by the 2006 midterms, relabeled the conflict and rebranded the mission - and then we succeeded again.
But by then the public narrative had already been cast (Bush lied, too many deaths, too much cost).
in other words, the press, hating Bush because Gore was supposed to have won, promoted the anti war lies and ignored the reality. Since then, a similar propaganda deluge led to Obama.

read the whole thing: one of the few American analysts who tend to get things right (although I think he underestimates the reaction of locals to China's land and sea grab).

One ongoing theme at StrategyPage is that the press is easily manipulated.
LINK  LINK
 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Family news

very hot today, and the internet connection went off (which it tends to do when it gets hot).

Then we had a brownout.

It's Joy's birthday so she is having a small party with pansit for the staff.

Lolo is fine, but it is so hot he stays in the bedroom watching TV with the aircon on all afternnon.

Factoid of the day take two



Quote of the day: From the Dixie Book of Days (today's Librivox offering)


STONEWALL JACKSON’S MEN HELP THEMSELVES TO POPE’S SUPPLIES, 1862
Weak and haggard from their diet of green corn and apples, one can well imagine with what surprise their eyes opened upon the contents of the sutler’s stores, containing an amount and variety of property such as they had never conceived. Then came a storming charge of men rushing in a tumultuous mob over each other’s heads, under each other’s feet, anywhere, everywhere to satisfy a craving stronger than a yearning for fame. There were no laggards in that charge.... Men ragged and famished clutched tenaciously at whatever came in their way, and whether of clothing or food, of luxury or necessity. A long yellow-haired, bare-footed son of the South claimed as prizes a tooth-brush, a box of candles, a barrel of coffee. From piles of new clothing the Southerners arrayed themselves in the blue uniforms of the Federals. The naked were clad, the barefooted were shod, and the sick provided with luxuries to which they had long been strangers.
From Wikipedia:Sutler's stores was the generic name for entrepeneurs who followed the armies in various American wars to sell them needed supplies. Sometimes they also supplied other ways for soldiers to enjoy their R&R

Factoid of the day

from English history podcast:
For a long time we have been having a ball, economy wise - the medieval warm period, towns springing up all over the place, prices gently rising, population growing. So the Great Famine of 1315-1317 came as a terrible shock. Over 500-750,000 people died, as years of bad weather destroyed the feeling of economic well being. The question is whether or not this was a blip or part of a wider trend?
Supposedly southern Europe wasn't hit as hard. So was it from too much rain or from a volcano causing local coldsnap?

If it was a local famine, then the king is rightly blamed for not arranging imports of food from other areas of Europe.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stuff around the net

Speculation about the upcoming book on the Fall of Arthur. 

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Penn Museum has a lecture about the archeology of Arthur HERE. Sounds like the arguments about the Saxon invasion are still going on... the others in the series are also interesting. ------------------------------------

 book about design looks interesting.

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 It's Holy week, and the Philippines will shut down later this week as folks travel to their home provinces for family reunions. The Coast Guard is checking ferries for safety and against terrorist bombs, and bus owners are warned: No x rated videos to be shown during the long trips.

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Debating the existence of....nothing...
or how about debating the existence of everthing.

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The Time Square Hum....gone but not forgotten.

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Spiked asks the question no one else days ask:

Adopt a polar bear? Have you seen what they do?

well, since Hollywood can make dinosaurs and vampires cute and cuddly, so what else is new? 

Invention of the century

Non Stick ketchup bottles, so you don't have to pound the bottle to get the ketchup to pour.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

The good news of the day

from the UK Telegraph:

Third world poverty is disappearing.


 In a study published this month, covering 22 developing countries with two billion people, the university’s Poverty and Human Development Initiative concludes that half – including Bangladesh, Nepal and Rwanda – will have “eradicated” destitution within two decades if they “continue reducing poverty steadily at the current absolute rate”. Another seven, including India, will achieve it “within 41 years”.

 And this is just one indication among many that the poor may not, after all, always be with us, in what is one of the great under-reported developments of our time. Last week the UN’s blue-chip Human Development Report confirmed that governments have surpassed their target, three years early, of halving the share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty between 1990 and 2015.

 “Never in history,” it concludes, “have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.”

Stuff below the fold


 Sir Thomas More  not only defended Henry's first wife but thought enough about his daughters to educate them. 

The article mentions Margaret recovered from the "sweating sickness", as did Anne Boleyn. More about the various epidemics HERE. and HERE. and HERE. wikipedia HERE.
No, it was not plague, but could kill quickly, usually broke out in the summer, the length of the epidemic was short, it was worse in rural areas, and killed the upper classes more than the lower classes, making many think it was borne by a bug rather than spread person to person like influenza.

It also affected northern Germany.

Lots of guesses here, but since diseases evolve over time, it's pretty hard to guess.
Perhaps one day they will do a DNA evaluation, as they did to find out that typhoid caused the Plague of Athens.

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Why is the Pope wearing a yellow rubber band? Father Z says it is to remind people that it is the "year of faith".

Well, why not? Lance Armstrong isn't selling yellow bracelets anymore.

Awareness color bracelets come in dozens of colors, depending on what cause you want to show your support for.

And if you aren't sure which one to support, well, this company also sells Mosquito repellant bracelets.

Show your support and prevent Dengue fever!

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China is moving to take over the West Philippine sea...meaning they could block these important sea lanes.
while of course stealing natural resources from VietNam and the Philippines...

and China's pollution problem is a result of central planning,
Will ecology activists and democracy help fix it?

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The AncientStardard website has an article about getting high in ancient Egypt: Blue Lotus


 Oh, those Egyptians. They have so many beautiful tomb paintings, papyrus scrolls full of art, and sculptures, and look at all those lovely people holding beautiful white  and blue flowers… they must really love their flowers. Who wouldn’t, right?
But, wait… why are they all holding the flowers to their noses and mouths? Surely everyone wasn’t sniffing their flowers all the time, were they?
Actually, maybe they were, but probably not for the reason you think. Rather, they were likely, uh… getting high.

wikipedia says it is mildly psychoactive but mainly used for aromatherapy

and may be behind the "lotus eaters" story in the Odessey.

more about sacred weeds HERE.
or check video:



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Professor P muses on why the rich give less to charity: Maybe because they have little contact with the poor?

Yes. And it's probably worse here in the Philippine, where gated communities even for the middle class are common (mainly for security).

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There was a short but major climate change 4000 years ago, and now the NYTimes says it may have been the cause of the demise of the Indus valley civilization.

Some think it caused the demise of the early kingdom of Egypt, and affected China too
Article on the solar cycle and climate change.
The 4,000 BP Event was perhaps the most influential little ice age in recorded history. Global cooling started as early as 4,400 BP and ended some 600 years later. Archaeological evidence (33) indicates that the years 4,200–3,900 BP were coldest and most arid in western Asia. The cooling signifies the change from the early Holocene Climatic Optimum to late Holocene alternations of little climatic optimums and little ice ages (9). Varves from Swiss lakes indicate that the alpine glaciers became widespread during this first of the historical little ice ages. An important historical consequence of the 4,000 BP Event was the migration of the Indo-European peoples from northern Europe, to Greece, to southern Russia, to Anatolia, to Persia, to India, and to Xinjiang in northwest China (9).

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The kerfuffle about Cyprus is really about all that lovely money deposited in the banks there by Russian millionaires.
 GetReligion has more on that story:
here is a piece of a CNN Money story about the showdown, under the headline, “Why Russia is irate about the Cyprus bank tax.”
It’s easy to see why some in Russia are unhappy with a new proposal from the European Union to levy a one-off tax on Cyprus bank deposits of up to 9.9% in exchange for €10 billion in bailout money to help the government pay its bills. If most of Russia’s deposits get hit with the top tax rate, which applies to accounts holding €100,000 or more, the country’s citizens stand to lose more than $3 billion.
And GR adds some background behind the Russian ties with Cyprus:
That “rocky history with the Turks” has a lot to do with blood and faith, as well as culture and money.
 This "backstory" also explains a lot about Russia's intervention in Syria and in the Yugoslavian civil war.

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The "good night, sleep tight, and don't let the bedbugs bite" story of the day:
FromForWhatTheyWere blog:

Most readers are probably at least somewhat familiar with the many, often impressive and revealing, South African sites but, besides the already mentioned Katanda harpoons, what really impressed me a lot was the finding in Sibudu, Northern Mozambique, near Lake Malawi, of fragments of ancient fossilized mattresses made up of vegetation that has bug-repealing properties (→ news article at El Mundo[es]). Apparently the owners, some 73,000 years ago, burnt them now and then in order to destroy parasites. Since c. 58,000 BP the number of mattresses, fires and ashes grew, surely indicating greater population densities, at least locally.

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Gulf war syndrome: a sophisticated new scanner shows brain damage.

. About a third of Gulf war veterans – possibly as many as 250,000 – returned with a similar set of symptoms.

Now an imaging study has found that these veterans have what appear to be unique structural changes in the wiring of their brains.....

Earlier this month, Steven Coughlin, a former senior epidemiologist at the VA, testified to a Congressional panel that the VA had suppressed and manipulated research data so as to suggest that the disorder was psychosomatic.

This is a major scandal, but gets little publicity.
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uh oh: Slumbering sun should wake up this year...

there goes you computers and smart phones...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lizardbot

LIZARDbot scampers over sand.........

Just when you thought it was okay to get into the water


The Good News of the day

Apostrophes are now legal in Devon

Stuff below the fold

 Habemus Papem:


 Via Father Z:
from the Shower of Roses blog

related item: The Peepal conclave
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Factoid of the day:

In case you were wondering how FIGWIT got his name, and what is his real name: one of the comments on this Michael Martinez article on Glorfindel notes:
March 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm
Regarding Lindir…in the original LotR films, the character was actually not intended to be Lindir (or at least it wasn’t billed as Lindir, at least not initially), until the internet fans came around and started calling him FIGWIT (Frodo Is Great Who Is That?). It became something of a joke amongst fans, and so Peter Jackson brought the character back in The Hobbit as a nod and a wink to the fans. I don’t think he ever intended for the character to get that much attention.
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Historical writer MariaElena has a couple of interesting links on her blog today:

Why did the Dutchess of Luxemburg wear white while visiting the Pope, when women usually are told to wear black? it's called thePrivilège du blanc

She also has links to articles about the smear campaign against Anne Bolyne (link), and the Argentinian president's smear campaign against the new Pope (link) for daring to oppose her policies.A longer discussion of this can be found on AndrewCusack.

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I was listening to C2Cam and they were mentioning the Trinity church sycamore tree:

and yes, it is true: check this:

 The sycamore in question is known as “the tree that saved St. Paul’s Chapel,” because it took the brunt of damage from debris falling from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and the chapel remained relatively unscathed.



Interesting.
 
Yes, this is the church from National Treasure and the sycamore discussed in the harbinger.

on the other hand, National treasure named the only founding father who could not have been a Mason for it's masonic conspiracy, and the American sycamore is unrelated to the sycamore of the Middle east, so I guess I can rest easy.

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Pope Francis and mate, the drink of friendship.

and yes, there is an "our lady of the good mate"


and no, I've never drank it (I have only visited Central America and Colombia/Ecuador). An article on yerba mate here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The spit of the beast

Worried that in the future you will have your hand or forehead marked with the Mark of the Beast?

Dustbury writes the future of biometric identification is...saliva.
Fingerprinting? Too much trouble. Retinal scan? Get that thing away from my face. Here’s the, or at least a, future of Positive ID:
Humans being the way we are, some people find this amusing, some people think it’s unsanitary, gross, and offensive, some people consider anything involving DNA a violation of their privacy, but about 80% of the people are just like, “Alright, whatever.”
Which is probably enough to get the other 20 percent in line, don’t you think?

Well, I can think of a way to get someone else's DNA into your saliva, but since this is a family blog, I will refrain from the details.

Backstories to today's headlines

AustinBay notes that President Obama has just decided Reagan was right: about StarWars being needed.
Chuck Hagel quietly announced that the Obama administration would deploy an additional 14 Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs) long-range anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs). GBIs are the "long arrow" in the prophetic U.S. Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) very limited ABM system.
However, elsewhere Strategypage discusses the nuance of the French Mali intervention, and notices the "blowback" may be French speaking Arabs who learned terrorism there might return to France. And they print another article noting the MSM's failure to see the malignancy of Palestinian hate speech that is the real barrier against Middle East peace.

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Bookmarked for later reading:

 Spengler has an essay saying why the Russians think President Obama is crazy and why they think he is deliberately wrecking the world. more from his AsianTimes column.

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TPMBarnett discusses how America really changed the world for the better.
During WWII, the US made the conscious decision to seek to remake the world in its rule-set image, and it succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in the phenomenon we now label globalization.  That process was most definitely undergirded by a US security guarantee, which we generally provided to a wonderful degree with definite lapses in execution and - almost as importantly - explanation...

But notice how the world now enjoys more wealth-creation and order and peace than ever before in history. This is no coincidence.  People will claim all sorts of meaningless variables (like the UN - a true laugher if ever there was one), but the reality remains:  the US showed up, took charge, and we got this world.
He has another column saying that the future in this includes the help of China and India.

This goes along with my observations: That the left/green/Chomsky people all fervently quote talking points about evil America,(often citing imaginary problem or exaggerating real problems without putting them in context) but they ignore that poor people are now getting richer, and it's America's fault.

Why do they see problems where I don't? Maybe because I have lived for prolonged periods in some of these places....and maybe because I'm a physician: Someone once quoted the cops see the worst side of men, the clergy expect to see the best in men, but physicians see people as they are.

The dirty little secret is that American culture (coca cola and mickey mouse) has been changing cultures for years.
When Sister Euphrasia's convent now has a cellphone and she can access us via the internet cafes, (despite Mugabe and Tony Blair's destruction of the local economy), then one can say things are improving even in Africa. ,
The press doesn't see the importance of the cellphone revolution, which is a grass roots thing put in there by big business, any more than they can see how LPG cooking stoves and cheap Chinese made generators run by local entrepreneurs do a lot more to lessen the burdens of women and help education than a lot of the more widely touted "green" projects do...

As for coca cola: our African nurses used to call it "American poison", yet everyone bought one to drink on market day...and like McDonalds, if they want to sell their product, it means developing the infrastructure...China does the same thing when the expand into these countries...

As for soft drinks: One of my medical history podcast lectures discussed how drinking tea lowered the mortality in both England and Japan, but alas I can't link because I can't remember which one did that.

In the modern world, it is not tea but cocacola...and not only could I buy it in mountain towns of South and Central America and in Africa, but the local bottling plants can be found there too, providing jobs and safe drinks for the masses.

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Testing anthrax vaccine on children: what could go wrong?

Rant moved to my Xanga blog.

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Dr. Livingstone is called a "missionary" rather than an explorer, but he only made one "convert" (who quickly fell away from Christianity because he reverted to polygamy).

The BBC however, notes that just because he loved four wives didn't make him love Jesus less:

The first British missionaries who arrived to work with the Zulu Ndebele tribe in what is now Zimbabwe in 1859 were staggered to find that they already had regular Christian prayers. Sechele had beaten them to it.
Sechele had decided to lead church services for his own people after Livingstone left. He taught reading, the Bible became popular, and slowly the Bakwena became Christian....
In the estimation of Neil Parsons, of the University of Botswana, Sechele "did more to propagate Christianity in nineteenth-century southern Africa than virtually any single European missionary".
Many of these indigenous churches mix African customs with Christianity...our main problem with them is that some only believe in faith healing, and so a lot of their kids died in these groups.

I moved a longer discussion of this to my bitching boinkie blog.

As for polygamy: It remains a problem in Africa. If you require the man to "give up" his wives, these wives and their children often end up in poverty. When I worked in Africa, the priests encouraged them to attend church and raise the children Catholic, because the fruits of divorce were worse than the fruits of polygamy: and we figured the grace of God would bring them home (and often they were "baptized" or received last rites on their deathbeds to square their lives with the rules).

A similar scenario is seen in the USA, where some churches "hold the rules" strictly, some, like Catholics, hold the rules but don't enforce them strictly,  and others mix Christianity with the local customs (the Episcopal church comes to mind).

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Your tax dollars at work: US and UK NGO's place condom ads on Kenyan TV, but the local clergy complain because the ad implies adultery is okay if you use protection...

No, don't blame this on the Pope: The Anglican bishops and the Imans are up in arms too.

The real problem: by promoting value-free sex, it works against local morals, and by touting condoms on TV, it implies that the west thinks all Africans are incapable of self control in sexual matters. (i.e.a  racist insult).

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Australia is "apologizing" for policies that made young teenagers give up their children for adoption?

Reality check: The children were a lot better off, but never mind.
 
The really dirty secret is that if adoption is seen as a good thing, it works against the pro abortion agenda by giving moms a loving alternative.

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 Obama and Israel oppose Iran's bomb...but most Iranians see it as a good thing because of nationalism.

reality check: The real problem is that no one really thinks they will attack Israel (the Mullahs can't steal everything in sight if they attack Tel Aviv and get Tehran nuked in retaliation: they may be crazy but their not stupid).

However if they get the bomb, Saudi will too, and the possibility of another Arab/Persian war is a very big danger.

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Tea at Trianon links to a WSJ article about the left wing president of Argentina's campaign to smear Pope Francis.

And Get Religion says the NYTimes is carrying the ball for them.
The New York Times has run, at last count, 10 pieces in the past six days bringing up the allegations that the new Pope assisted the old Argentine junta in the “Dirty War” period. Which is quite a lot for a story based on hearsay and supposition as opposed to evidence, no?

Sigh. Guess the NYTimes found out that Francis is a (shudder shudder) Catholic

Happy Nowruz

It's the Persian New year.
Time for tulips and Goldfish.


The festival predates Islam, and is celebrated in many of the local countries including Afghanistan, and in places where the Iranian diaspora lives, such as Los Angeles.

TehranLive has photos of the clown/dancers who usher in the festival:

Hājji Firuz or Hajji Piruz, (Persian: حاجی فیروز) is the traditional herald of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. He oversees celebrations for the new year perhaps as a remnant of the ancient Zoroastrian fire-keeper. His face is covered in soot and he is clad in bright red clothes and a felt hat. While ushering in Nowruz, Hajji Firuz plays a tambourine and sings “Hāji Firuz-e, sal-i-ye ruz-e” (It is Hāji Firuz time, It happens one day in a year). People of all ages gather around him and his troupe of musicians and listen to them play the drum, saz or kamancheh, and dance through the streets with tambourines and trumpets spreading good cheer and the news of the coming New Year.
Read more about Haji Firuz Here.

One of the few festivals we don't celebrate here, but yes, there are actually a lot of Persian students studying here because of our excellent English Language schools.

In Iran the Mullahs tried to outlaw it, but the people ignored them.




Religion post of the day

Lessons for life
found in church bulletins:

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals...
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The sermon this morning: Jesus Walks on the Water.
The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus.
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Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house.
Bring your husbands.
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Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell'
to someone who doesn't care much about you...
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Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
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Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
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For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
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Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
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Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in
their school days.
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A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow...
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At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.
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Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of
some older ones.
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Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
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The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
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Potluck supper Sunday at 5pm - prayer and medication to follow.
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The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
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This evening at 7pm there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come
prepared to sin.
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Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10am. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall
after the B. S. Is done.
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The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
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Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7pm. Please use the back door.
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The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7pm. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
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Weight Watchers will meet at 7pm at the First Presbyterian Church.
Please use large double door at the side entrance.
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The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday:
"I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours".

-
from an email from Tiamaria

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New TV

well, I set up the tv but it wouldn't recognize the cable (although it would play our dvd player).

After an hour of various frustrating things, I hit something and it said search for channels, and voila, it now reads our cable Tv.

Don't know what I did, but Lolo's happy (he can watch Fashion TV in HD!)

Pencil Carvings


more at toxel

Cat item of the day


Family news

Ruby's graduation ceremony is today, so the family went again to Manila, but Lolo and I stayed home.

Emie is here from the US to retire, and gave Lolo a big Samsung LCD TV. Now he can sit in his new recliner and watch the new TV.


Stuff below the fold

Good news: Zimbabwe approves of a new constitution.


bad news: Mugabe's thugs arrest the PM's aides.

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From BoingBoing: EEF one, FBI zero.

for later reading.

Related item: US wants warantless snooping of your car's GPS system.

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Malala returns to school

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the "WAGD" article of the day: Pandemic drug resistant swine flu.

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Read it and weep.

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Hillary's been hacked, and even if the US MSM ignores it, the Russians won't.
According to the Blumenthal memos, though, even the US secretary of state was being fed disinformation directly after the attack. In the email dated Sept. 12, Sec. Clinton is told that the anti-Islamic film was likely the catalyst for the assault.

Obama was giving fake information to Hillary? Why would he do that?

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I hate to tell my relatives, but the mayor has decided the "I stand with Bailey" types are not protected by the first amendment.

presumably all those Asians complaining of reoccuring assaults have now been reeducated...

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Playing the religion card.

As Mark Twain once wrote: The more they spoke of God, the more I checked my wallet.

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Medical news you can use:

Hairy legs can keep bedbugs away.