Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Philippine Stories below the fold

AirAsia plane asked to change course but was refused.


Are the "gifts of the spirit" the same as psychic powers?

No. Psychic powers are innate, in about 5% of the population, not counting the mentally ill who think they have them.
Biblically one may have them but one is not supposed to seek to try to use them or to increase their strength.

They can be enhanced by practice and psychic exercizes, but most religions won't teach these exercizes to laypeople and wise teachers/gurus only teach them carefully, because they recognize that when the door opens, it also opens to diabolic activity.

In psychological terms, it opens you to delusion, psychological problems, and the "demons of the id".

The modern day emphasis on pentecostal/charismatic gifts is common in third world christian churches, but I'm not sure that this is a good idea. On the other hand, if you are a catholic in Brazil and bored with the liberation theology that fills them, it might be healthier to join the local pentecostal church than to join the openly demonic "folk religions" that are very popular there, or for the elite, get enthusiastic about new age egotism (which is popular among the Manila elite here...just ignore the street kids while you evolve to a higher power, better health, and wealth).

But either way, the danger is rejection of reason and replacing it with magical thinking. In Catholicism, from the earliest church fathers, logic was considered an attribute of God, (the platonian concept of Logos) and compatible with faith. Magic and miracles so beloved by poor people was tolerated, but theologically suspect when it went too far.

And no, religion and magic is not the same thing. Professor Raia of  UCLA has a good course on this at youtube. LINK

and yes, the Pope seems to think that the death and typhoon damage here was due to "global warming". It wasn't. It was due to poverty and corruption. 

Yes, and photo ops with charity are more popular than actually preventing deaths by evacuation etc.

Now if he will only tell the good "catholic" politicians here to stop shooting their rivals and stealing funds maybe I'll be impressed.

Ah, but the Manila elites love "global warming" and "green" issues, so will promote the pope's new "green" agenda.

It's nicer to blame "global warming" than to admit taking bribes to let people illegally log/build in dangerous areas, or that they are diverting money meant to repair the irrigation dams/ build adequate sewer drainage.

And the elites will feel self righteous when they stop GM food being grown here. Of course, this will allow them to make money importing rice etc. or taking bribes to smuggle in onions etc. The imports will be chemical filled and/or GM, but again a small bribe will stop any problem.
and when those "evil"western countries send reparations to make up for their damage, why that's just justice (and another scam to fill their pockets).

Ordinary folk, in the meanwhile, will continue to become protestants, where Jesus, not green politics, is promoted, along with honesty and morality that enables them to lift themselves out of poverty.



UN Going Bananas.

One problem is that all bananas are genetically related, so that the threat of disease causing a die-off is big.

Bananas help feed people, but are rarely the only source of calories, but if they are destroyed  by disease, the danger is malnutrition. But in places with monoculture, like the banana plantations in Mindanao that export bananas, the danger  is economic, to the owners and those who work there.


Today is Rizal day, so a holiday.

Banks won't reopen until Friday. Long line at the bank yesterday: Luckily I am over 65 and they have a senior citizen preference, so I jumped the line after only 30 minute wait.


Tropical storm hits the Visayas again. South of here, we aren't affected.


the global warming meme headline says "rising seas" will destroy 7000 homes, but a look inside the story admits it is coastal erosion and storms which are not quite the same thing.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Family News

It's been quiet here.

I still am getting the dining room fixed: The doors are rusted at the bottom so that metal frame is being replaced. The spigot in the sink is dripping just a little, but I will replace it now rather than wait til it leaks all over the place.

Lolo is fairly good: He is strong enough to go outside in the late afternoon with me, either to sit in the garden or sitting outside our door to watch the traffic go by.

We got a Christmas card and letter from Dane, and a photo of him in uniform. He is US Navy now and studying at Virginia Beach.  Dane looks like Lolo but thinks like his father, who is also USNavy: well organized. He should do well.

Friday, December 26, 2014


Headsup Blackfive

Family news

Chano, Joy and Ruby went to Manila for rice delivery and a family gathering at Joy's sister's place.

Her sister is very sick with cancer: Keep her in your prayers.

Chano gave us a lot of pesos for the Christmas "visitors", which is everyone, mainly kids (not just the poor, but friends and relatives) who come for a "gift". Lolo usually sits there and does the greeting since he loves to give the kids a couple of pesos and make them happy, but he wasn't up to it this year, so our cook sat by the door and after she ran out of money, she chased folks away saying no one was home.

We went to Angie's for supper. BBQ, talapia, and various local dishes. Mainly family but also the hospital is across the street so the nurses etc. came over to eat on their breaks, and lots of kids, half of whom I don't know. Yes, Lolo went and enjoyed himself. One reason I kept him in bed most of the day was so he would have energy for the supper.

No church for me: I faint in hot crowded churches, but also because no one was at home except us and the cook, and we can't leave the place unattended.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Factoid of the day

I'm listening to a mp3 of a BBC program on the terra cotta warriors. (no link: I download, rip and listen to these things at my leisure, like now, waiting for Lolo to finish his shower so we can eat breakfast).

The program note that the first Chinese emperor, who probably died of mercury poisoning from drinking elixirs meant to give him eternal life, was an SOB and after he died, the peasants overthrew his son...by getting weapons buried with the terracotta warriors.

So much for keeping the common people unarmed.

no, this has nothing to do with Christmas, except to note that a lot of written history is about praising similar powerful SOB's, and historians often ignore that they harmed normal people. Even their explanations often make one roll up the eyes at their absurd claims. Sure, Genghis Khan killed a couple million folks, but hey, by doing so he let a lot of irrigated farm land go back to nature so he's a "green" hero. Sure, the pyramids weren't built by slaves, but by out of work farmers who had nothing else to do when the Nile was in flood. Uh, maybe they would have preferred to sit home, drink beer with their friends and make love to their wives instead of pushing 2 ton blocks of stone up a pyramid? Place anecdote of your favorite dictator here: Caesar (killed a couple hundred thousand Celts and plunged Rome into a devestating civil war), Napoleon's wars killed 3.5 million, probably twice that if you include civilians. The great Shogun who united Japan also killed a couple million Koreans. And those who insist the west if the main murderer ignore the much large communist genocides, or the post colonial wars such as the present day tribal wars in central Africa, or even the million killed in the partition of India.

In the bible, Christ turned down an offer of the devil to have power over the entire world, and came, not as a prince to order people to be good, but as a prophet who instructed people to open their hearts to God.

And he came, not as a prince, but as a baby born in the stable because the regular house/inn didn't have any room for him.

THEY all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high;
Thou cam'st, a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.
                 George MacDonald

Happy Christmas

The Philippines is shut down for the weekend. Everyone goes to their home villages to celebrate with families, and even the shops will shut down this evening.

It is overcast and light rain. which means it is cool.

Lolo is feeling better.

We go to Emie's tonite for supper before the late night mass. I doubt we will go: too crowded and Lolo is not strong enough.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Water water everywhere

I finally got around to listening to an Astronomy cast discussed that scientists are finding water all over the solar system.

Related item: Astronomy picture of the day  of the subsurface of Mars.
Illustration Credit: Methane Workshop, Frascati Italy, Villanueva et al. 2009ESA Medialab, NASA

Recent measurements from the robotic Curiosity rover currently rolling across Mars indicate a surprising 10-fold increase in atmospheric methane between measurements only months apart. Life is a major producer of methane on Earth, and so speculation is rampant that some sort of life -- possibly microbial life -- is creating methane beneath the surface of Mars. Other possibilities do exist, though, with a leading model being the sudden release of methane produced by the mixing of specific soil chemicals with underground water.

Family news

The Palenke is full, and we have trouble keeping people from parking in front of our garage (since we are only 2 blocks from there).

It's very crowded...I hate to shop for anything that can't wait another week or two....and am avoiding the mall altogether.

Lolo is okay.

Chano was out til 3 am partying.

Joy is at the farm helping them use the rice miller for the harvest from her parent's farm.

Our kitchen/dining room cabinets are finished. The next step: Fix the ceiling. But it will have to wait until the metal doors are fixed. The "steel" on the bottoms is already rusted out and has to be removed and new steel welded into place.

I also will arrange to have the Samsung refrigerator's rush spots re-painted. because it is rusting near the handle after only three years. They must have only used one coat, or else it's a "second". It works fine, however, and is frost free which is a help.

One of the feral kittens got killed by George today. It must have gotten out during the night (Mom made a next in the spare bedroom under the bed). Sigh. This is the danger age for kittens, when they wander but haven't learned about danger.
We feed the cat, but they don't come close to us, although mom will come in and meow if very hungry. She also feeds herself: I found her eating a parakeet today. Wonder where she got it.

Factoid of the day

The line in the song Yankee Doodle goes:

Stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni

It was sung to ridicule the rag tag rebels in the colonies.

Have you ever wondered where that came from?

TYWKIWDBI has the answer: it means an overdressed fop.

The Macaroni wig was an extreme fashion in the 1770s and became contemporary slang for foppishness. The Macaronis were young English men who adopted feminine mannerisms and highly extravagant attire, and were deemed effeminate. They were members of the Macaroni Club in London at the height of the fashion for dandyism, so called because they wore striped silks upon their return from the Grand Tour - and a feather in their hats.

and check out the Wikipedia page on macaroni

The biggest story you never read

Russia is going Broke

due to falling gas prices (blame Bush the frackers and the Saudis)

And due to sanctions after they tried to take their traditional land in the Crimea back from the Ukraine.

That last part could be considered an act of war, perpetrated by the EU and the US and a lot of multinational companies.

Bankrupt a country? No publicity.


and if you read that article, the suggestion is that it may have been outsourced to leftist Asian hackers..

Stuff below the fold

And a happy Christmas to you.

Headlines are just rehashes of old stories that are now getting a push back.

The working class whites, ethnics, and immigrants in NYCity have had enough, and even the BBC notices.

Obama encouraging anti police demonstrations are to use the police as a proxy to bash working class "white people"....

and no one has noticed the irony that their rhetoric has resulted in the death of a Hispanic and Chinese American policeman.

NYCity is multiethnic. From Wikipedia: 53 percent of NYCity's finest are "people of color"...


The Pope has gone after the power hungry bureaucrats in the Vatican.

and finding they have spirited away a lot of money.

Heh. not much has changed in 2000 years (a similar charge was made against Judas)

FYI: The book of the week podcast is about the Uyghars.


Here, NocheBuena is the family feast after the "midnight mass" at church.

Family members dine together (after church) at around midnight on traditional yuletide fare, which includes: queso de bola (Filipino Spanish for "ball of cheese", which is made of edam sealed in red paraffin wax); tsokoláte, noodles and pasta, fruit salad, pandesal, relleno and hamón (Christmas ham). Some families would also open presents at this time. 

In the US, however, customs vary according to your ethnicity, and even your religion, and Epilog notes some of the customs...including this comment:

Like Adina (and most other Jews), my family also goes the Chinese food route for Christmas

The MSM is again pushing against Hillary, who is the best qualified candidate for 2016, and pushing for Elizabeth Warren, a liberal who worked for big business and who got a job under minority preference because no one bothered to check her CDIB card.

But Mom Jones notes the dark horse Jim Webb is stalking in the background, and laments he is not supporting their climate change agenda.
Hmm...a preemptive strike by the left against the centrist yellow dog/clinton side of the democratic party?


The latest sin: men are told not to sit comfortably so that the feminists don't experience social anxiety.

hmm...maybe we should go back to codpieces to protect the family jewels when sitting in crowded subways...

Related item: One of the orcs in BOTF has a skull codpiece...
Related item two: Ten best codpieces in art.


Aussie humor: the waddle squad goes to war:

The two oldest brothers are also obese, tipping the scales at more than 140 kilograms each, according to family friend and Muslim community leader Dr Jamal Rifi … “The mother, she’s questioning why would they go there? Two of them barely can walk, they’re very unfit, and obese.”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Stuff around the web

Fox news complains that the CDC is no longer reporting cases of Ebola, but says they are monitoring 1400 contacts.

Guess she didn't check closely enough

Actually, they have reported the number of cases, but you have to check the footnotes of the MMWR weekly report.
There were no cases of viral hemorrhagic fever reported during the current week. In addition to the 4 cases of Ebola diagnosed in the United States to date in 2014, six residents of the
US have been medically evacuated to the US for care after developing Ebola in West Africa. Ten of the 11 VHF cases reported for 2014 are confirmed as Ebola and one as Lassa Fever. See Table II for dengue hemorrhagic fever.

GrowingteenagerinMalaysia is back from London, where he posted lots of lovely photos of the UK, and has his new blog up, and is foodblogging


One of the problems of encouraging bad behavior is that those who have the impulse will act on it when they see the press (or a pastor, or a teacher, or a psychologist) giving them permission for their anger, and they take this as justifying them to act upon their anger with violence..

. It's a big problem, mainly with suicide but also with encouraging "copycat crimes". This is why the Philippines doesn't publicize minor terrorist incidents, since a lot of the bombings are to get publicity and instill fear, and by downplaying them they lose this as a weapon.

So the left's decision to demonize cops as part of the Obama administrations "all you white Republicans are racist" theme has resulted in the murder of two cops: One Chinese American, one Hispanic.

Sigh. Our prayers with their families.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Family news

Lolo was wheezing all night. He has a chest cold. I didn't get much sleep either, but by morning he was improved.

Mass at 530 was half empty since all the younger folks went to the Simbang gabi mass at 4 am (we met them leaving church and going to the town square to buy snacks and socialize). Usually it is packed with those who have to go to work early.

I doubt Lolo will be strong enough to get to church for Christmas.

Emie is holding supper on Christmas eve before Noche Buena mass, and Angi will hold supper on Christmas evening. I'm not sure what we will do for presents.

Ruby has a big dance at her church youth group today.

Joy twisted her knee.

Her sister has finished her first course of experimental biological therapy for cancer, and it's not working so far. She started a new problem, becoming short of breath so I suggested she be checked for pleural effusion. Keep her and her family in your prayers.

Chano was out all night partying. Sigh.

The small cat who sleeps on our bed seems to be expecting kittens.

The pastor who holds a youth church in our meeting room gave us a nice fleece blanket for Christmas. It does get a bit chilly here in winter (january to march).


I am listening to the Tolkien professor who notes the tunnel digging wereworms are a creature mentioned in the hobbit


Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's us versus them? Ah, but there is a third way

The two minute hate on Facebook today is some pristine white upper middle class female college basket ball players dissing cops by a slogan on their uniforms. Yes, cop hating is the new "in" movement among the elite. Seems like this happened before, in the 1970's...

Sorry, but when I see the upper class elite students who never faced a disaster worse than a broken iphone or a bad hair day dissing working class cops who keep them safe I get angry. These elite students, like their parents in the 1960's, find it easy to ridicule cops, since few of them know anyone outside their set, such as people who are so gauche to join the police force (or fire department, or be a construction worker, or join the US Army out of patriotism).

And one doubts that any of them had ever worked the weekend inside inner city emergency rooms that resemble the hospitals of Baghdad due to the inner city gang wars.

So now a lot of us see the press join the bandwagon and guess who is the "enemy"? Yup. The hard working whites and immigrants who are most at risk in these artificially staged riots.

 Play by the rules Percy? You're soooo screwed, as Annabeth would say.

Or maybe I should say: Mr Patel 

A convenience store clerk, often a Patel or someone of Indian-origin, is killed in a robbery every few months somewhere in America. In fact, according to the Center for Problem-oriented Policing, convenience store employees in the US suffer from high rates of workplace homicide, second only to taxicab drivers, where too large numbers of Indian-origin people are employed

This article in the NYTimes magazine is a better background to the problems involved
over the past 20 years, violent crime in New York City has fallen by 80 percent, twice the rate of decline of the nation as a whole. According to the New York police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one way the department has driven crime down is by stopping and questioning (and sometimes frisking) large numbers of people in high-crime areas, thus deterring people from carrying weapons. In 2012, the New York Police Department conducted almost as many stops of black youths as there are black youths in the city, recovering 729 guns in the process.
Nearly 60 percent of white New Yorkers approve of the tactic. Less than a quarter of black New Yorkers share that opinion. Many perceive it as racial profiling, an interpretation bolstered by recent police testimony in a lawsuit filed against the city over the practice
So if racial profiling stops black murders, wouldn't a better way to stop community hostility be by calming things down and getting local folks involved in stopping those who terrorize good people?

If you read the entire article, that's what is being done in Watts, LA.

 Many police officers were skeptical, perhaps because so many gang-intervention workers were themselves ex-gang members. Some hadn’t really left the gangs. But during his time at Harbor division, Gannon saw firsthand how gang interventionists could shut gang feuds down. ...
The first meeting was a grievance session. The second meeting, the same. At the third, Gannon finally spoke up. “We’ve had eight homicides in two weeks, four on the L.A. side, four in the city of Inglewood,” he said. “I just had a double murder the day before yesterday. I need help in stopping that. I have to stop that feud. Can you help me with this particular problem?”
Discussion ensued. The gang-intervention workers said there were people with whom they might talk. “That day it stopped,” Gannon says. “Not slowed down; it stopped.”
Read the whole thing. A similar program was promoted when we lived in Boston, and lowered crime rates there too.

Maybe the President will bring it up and publicize it with his newly formed "task force" on policing problems.


Related item: How do you stop terrorists?

Maybe by talking about Islam. says the UKTelegraph.

We are petrified of speaking obvious truths. When a lord recently dared to invite Muslim leaders to address the violence in the Koran, he was condemned.This groupthink has to stop....Here is what we can’t ignore any longer: religious reform is essential if Islam is to overcome what the great Muslim scholar Bassam Tibi calls its "predicament with modernity".Until we admit that Islam has such a predicament, admit that the Islamists exploit that predicament to radicalise, and admit that when they do they can point to canonical sources (even if it is also true that moderates can point to other sources, and more of them) then we are not going to win.
The article discusses the need to re emphasize the Islam of peace, using their own religion to stop the hateful strain spread by Saudi money that morphed into much of today's terrorist creed.

This has actually been done in trying to deprogram former terrorists, including a program in an American military run Iraqi prison where one of our relatives worked. Pushed in the right way, this could lead to the much needed Islamic reformation.

Though each story was unique, it became clear to me that "deradicalisation" was the difficult process of casting off an acquired Political Islamist conception of Islam, a politicised piety of breast-beating and resentments, and embracing in its place some version of the Islamic concept and practice of "sakinah".Sakinah means tranquillity, or peaceable (co)habitation, and is drawn from the Quran: "He who sent down tranquillity (sakinah) into the hearts of the believers, so that their faith may grow stronger" (48:4). The term is associated with stillness, contentment, and mercy, and with the notion that Muslims should be a just and moderate "middle community". In Sufism the word carries the sense of internal illumination, or "seeing the light".
Will it work? Yes, for many.

But it took Europe awhile to settle down their religious wars, and the real danger is a major Sunni/Shiite nuclear war before things settle down.

On the other hand, even the Germans/Picts/Scots/Irish/and Vikings settled down a bit after they became Christians.

Headsup for parachuting Beavers


Geronimo the Beaver let the scientists figure out how to parachute beavers into the Idaho backcountry 66 years ago.

With Geronimo’s help, Fish and Game learned that the best launch height was between 500 and 800 feet because it allowed the chute to open properly and still maintain some accuracy in placement of the bewildered beavers in the selected meadow.
In 1948, Fish and Game dropped 76 beavers in the backcountry. There was only one fatality, a beaver that “jumped or fell” from his box at about 75 feet.

headsup DaveBarry

When your food stares back at you

Stargazy pie via Answers.com
More about the history of the pie here:

The history of Stargazy Pie would make a great action movie. It is said to have been created in Mousehole, Cornwall (pronounced mow-zul) in honour of a brave fisherman called Tom Bawcock. Legend has it that Tom sailed out into a violent stormy sea to fish when the village was facing starvation. He returned with seven types of fish which were made into a pie and shared among the townsfolk, thus saving them from famine - hurrah! To this day his heroic deeds are celebrated every 23rd December in the town.

there are several recipes on the internet. Here is one from Food network,
that uses ordinary ingredients like onions and fish.

or a gourmet ingredient version from the BBC.

Headsup Answers.com via DaveBarry

Here, fishheads are left on the fish when they are fried or boiled: Lolo and others suck the heads dry of their goodness, but I just give mine to the cats or dogs.
Photo: Kitoi's ancestralKitchen
who has the entire receipe for fish head soup recipe HERE.

heh. Chowstalker says is now "in" as Paleo food.

Peter and the wolf

Brian Sibley discusses Peter and the Wolf, and it's links to Disney.

The journey from score to screen had begun in 1938: Prokofiev was touring the USA and, having seen and been captivated by Disney's recently released debut feature length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, went to visit "le papa de Mickey Mouse". It is likely that the use of music inSnow White (and in the earlier 'Silly Symphony' cartoons) suggested to Prokofiev that Peter and the Wolf might be a suitable subject for Disney's animated treatment.

Allan Sherman and the Boston Pops did this "updated" version of the story, which is now out of date, yet is not, since Sherman was using the commisars as a way to criticize the Hollywood money makers who reject anything original, something that continues to this day.

Black holes in space, and in society

I haven't seen the film, but Space.com has two articles on the science behind "Interstellar".
LINK KipThorn and black holes

LINK a sci fi film with plenty of "ifs"

The black hole in society is the inability for the elites to see what they don't know they don't know, and who censor those who think differently. It goes way beyond charges of homophobia against believers,  to the very meaning of life itself.

The acid tongued Spengler notes the degeneration of gender studies into Monty Python territory. It's a confusing article, but he does quote Chesterton about how elites who are insisting they should be obeyed ignore the lessons of the past:

When we abhor tradition, we become ridiculous, because we lack the qualifications to replace what generation upon generation of our ancestors built on a belief in revelation and centuries of trial and error. G.K. Chesterton said it well: “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

and he then posits what happens to a society that fragments in this way.
  Even worse, as I argued some years ago in an essay entitled “Why you won’t find the meaning of life”:
....If self-invention is the path to the meaning of life, it makes the messy job of bearing and raising children a superfluous burden, for we can raise our children by no other means than to teach them contempt for us, both by instruction, and by the example of set in showing contempt to our own parents.
That is why humanity has found no other way to perpetuate itself than by the continuity of tradition. A life that is worthwhile is one that is worthwhile in all its phases, from youth to old age. Of what use are the elderly? In a viable culture they are the transmitters of the accumulated wisdom of the generations. We will take the trouble to have children of our own only when we anticipate that they will respect us in our declining years, not merely because they tolerate us, but because we will have something yet to offer to the young. 

If you think he is overstating the case remember the physician behind Obamacare says he wants to die at 75, presumably because he might become a physical burden to society, hinting to the idea that the elderly and handicapped are useless eaters who need to be eliminated, not wise elders who need to be respected and cared for.

Yet NPR celebrates the fact that even in China, Confucian values are fading in the face of "economics" (?) and their "duty" to socialist work.
Huang admits he's struggling to reconcile his obligations to his mother versus those to society.
"I come here every day, but I have to take time out from work for it," he says. "When I come here to sit by her bedside and look after her every day that means that I haven't contributed to society in any other way, right?"

and they even found happy little old ladies to say it's okay to neglect their parents so they can make money.

Yet they don't notice it is religion that takes up the slack for these abandoned elderly: Buddhists in their story, Christians in this one.

It is easy to see how the universalistic ethic of Christianity might lead some believers to care for other people's parents.  But would a Confucian feel a similar obligation to care for others?  I think the answer to that could be "yes," since Confucius tells us to care for elders more generally.  So, I guess the question is whether China now is sufficiently "Confucian" to encourage and promote the care of elders?
The communist Chinese gov'ts on and off support for Confucian ethics is a long story, and many would say their forced replacement of tradition with superficial marxism is one reason for the explosion of Christian house churches in urban areas there today, with people searching for a higher meaning of life than making a government work quota.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Philippine madonna

I believe this is by Joey Valasco.

It's Christmas, and all the happy photos of the Nativity scene ignore that Mary lived in a small third world town.

And if you think giving birth in a stable is bad, check this out. LINK

and remember the refugees, the homeless living under the bypasses, and those homeless because of the latest typhoon....

tits and ash


This Adorable Bird Is Apparently a Vicious Brain-Eating Zombie in Disguise

The Great tit might seem like just a cute little bird, but don’t let its appearance fool you for. In reality, it is one of the most vicious creatures in the world. Also known as ‘The Zombie tit’, this chirping ball of feathers is a killing machine with an insatiable hunger for brains.
Scientists generally agree that modern birds are direct descendants of fierce dinosaurs like the T-Rex and Velociraptor. Of course, most of them are so small and their feathers so pretty that it’s hard for people to actually associate them with the monstrous creatures depicted in films like Jurassic Park. However, their predatory instincts have definitely passed the test of time, and this holds true for the tiny Great tit, as well. So what’s so scary about this seemingly harmless bird? Well, just that it is known to routinely seek out other birds and bats, crush their heads and feast on their brains!
more info at wikipedia
via DaveBarry 

Why is Roman concrete so durable?

Volcanic ash, of course.

and what is even better, it's "green":

 “If we can find ways to incorporate a substantial volumetric component of volcanic rock in the production of specialty concretes, we could greatly reduce the carbon emissions associated with their production and also improve their durability and mechanical resistance over time,” explained Marie Jackson of the University of California, Berkeley. 

Insomnia downloads of the week

For blind pilots: no need to try to read regulations. You can just listen to the entire 2004 FAA Handbook on airplane flying

 This handbook is developed to assist student pilots learning to fly airplanes. It is also beneficial to pilots who wish to improve their flying proficiency and aeronautical knowledge, those pilots preparing for additional certificates or ratings, and flight instructors engaged in the instruction of both student and certificated pilots. It introduces the future pilot to the realm of flight and provides information and guidance in the performance of procedures and maneuvers required for pilot certification." 

the pdf of this 2004 manual can be found here


and you poor guys who live in the US and have four feet of snow on the ground: It's not too early to plan your garden.

ABC of vegetable gardening

The Family Kitchen Gardener

The Flower Garden: A Handbook of Practical Garden Lore LINK

Gardening Without Irrigation: or without much, anyway link

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It was a COMEDY?!

I haven't been paying much attention to the Sony hacks but was aware that they came from North Korea in protest of a film being made about that communist state.
Well, AICN has a review of the film HERE (about half way down the page) and Nordling writes

All the issues going with Sony right now notwithstanding, I’d even go so far to call THE INTERVIEW a brave movie.  Sure, it’s a comedy full of....jokes, and Kim Jong Un (the tremendously great Randall Park) doesn’t get treated very well, but I loved that the real hero of THE INTERVIEW is real honest-to-goodness journalism.  It’s a stark reminder that in this world of celebrity news and fluff, we have to ask the tough questions of power, even if we agree with them or now. 
The whole kerfuffle essentially was a cyberwar that Hollywood lost (actually they surrendered), including that someone cancelled the proposed Steve Carrell film about that country.

So a twofer.

One wonders why Hollywood didn't just give some hackers money to mess up North Korea, or figure out a way to steal the money those guys have stolen and stashed in Asian bank accounts in Hong Kong etc.

NK has also attacked South Korea a few times in the past, but it got little publicity in the west.

Family news

Joy and Ruby were in Manila for deliveries and a school party.
Keep Joy's sister in your prayers: the chemo hasn't worked yet. Sigh.

Lolo is tired all the time, and is wheezing (I keep the aircon on fan to filter out the dirt and pollen at night). But his appetite is okay. Keep him in your prayers.

Chano is busy partying, so keep him in your prayers.

The carpenter is almost finished refinishing the cabinets in the dining room. (the leaks last year caused the veneer to separate)(the roof leaked last year and damaged the ceiling).. The cook said the ceiling needs to be fixed next, before it falls down.  I have the money for this, and the carpenter needs money for his father in law's illness so he wants to work close to home...instead of working for better pay in Manila.

Hobbit BOTFA review

Four out of five stars.

They warned that there would be lots of fighting, but actually what is filmed is the story of various characters caught in the battle, and how it affects them. Not a mindless chase like the first movie in the goblin caves. So Bard and son kill the dragon then rejoice to find that Tauriel rescued their daughters, and later he takes over and decides how to help the refugees.

The Dwaves left in Laketown immediately go to the mountain to check if their relatives are dead or not.
The elves come with aid, and also an army to plunder the mountain, and almost start a war when Thorin gets the dragon sickness and builds walls to keep the gold.

The best "non Tolkien" scene here is Thorin, finding Bilbo looking at something then trying to hide it from him, demands to see it (suspecting correctly that he might have pinched the arkenstone). But Bilbo pulls out an acorn that he found at Beorn's house, and explains that when he gets home, he will plant a tree and watch it grow to remember his friends.  This phrase was in the trailer, but in a different place, as usual.

Dain arrives with the Iron Hill dwarves, and is a foul mouth Scotsman with the most creative vocabulary since Eddie Murphy hit Beverly Hills, albeit British, not American, obscenity. Luckily, Ruby didn't catch the meaning of the words, since she only knows American English.

And the dwarves brought pigs and rams, while the orcs brought bats, Thranduil brought an aggressive Irish War Elk, and Radagast and Beorn brought the eagles. For better or worse, Hollywood ordered a shorter movies, so most of the generic fighting seems to have been cut out, leaving only the fighting involving the main characters.

The ending is quite abrupt, probably again due to the studio orders. Bilbo quickly goes home afterward, not even staying for the funerals. We are left with the idea they will be happy, but no details. Unless you are a geek, you don't know what happens to them.

Lots of small items for geeks to notice and compare and contrast with the book and the appendices (Durin gets back his sword, Bard's son takes after his father, suggesting why he ended up the next leader of Dale, Bilbo fights more than in the book, but gets knocked out which saves his life so he can reconcile with Thorin). This one is Thorin's film.

Oh yes: Galadriel kicks ass...but not with a sword but like the fights in the Simarillion, with power alone.  Don't mess with the elf lady folks.

Global warming alert of the day

AGGH!! Global warming!

You probably know that Cow flatulence causes global warming.

but did you know that yak dung also contributes to mother gaia's demise? The local poor folks in Tibet burn it for fuel.

And then there is the lowly squirrel who is trying to destroy the world.

They might be fluffy faced, buck-toothed little creatures, but two species of rodent have been identified the latest culprits to be contributing to climate change.Researchers have found that the arctic ground squirrel and the beaver may be playing a far greater role in global warming than had previously been realised.It means that scientists will in the future have to alter their theories around anthropogenic climate change to take account of 'rodentopogenic' influences.
Menace: Ground squirrels live in shallow burrows around the Arctic Circle but their incessant digging mixes the normally frozen soil, introducing oxygen and leading to the release of methane gas

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2877313/Scientists-ground-squirrels-beavers-contributing-global-warming-previously-released.html#ixzz3MCOWaC7n
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

But that's not all:

Losing weight causes global warming

From Science DailyVia SenseOfEventBlog:

In their paper, published in the British Medical Journal today, the authors show that losing 10 kilograms of fat requires 29 kilograms of oxygen to be inhaled and that this metabolic process produces 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide and 11 kilograms of water.

one is reminded of the Allan Sherman song, about "why I am fat" that ends:

Hail to thee fat person, you kept us out of war 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stuff around the web

RogerSimon discusses the Hollywood hack
the emails aren't pc...they only pretend to be pc so they can hate others. But not so PC that they might look modern day terrorism in the eye and put it in their movies.

and this factoid from one of the comments about a very  non PC comic:

While I certainly sympathize in the general Schadenfreude, I've got to wonder Mel Brooks and Cleavon Little might not have made similar jokes at one time.
5 hours ago  Like (0) Link To Comment
Few people remember it nowadays, but Mel Brooks served in the US Army during World War II, in an engineering unit that specialized in clearing landmines. I don't think much has frightened him since.
4 hours ago  Like (1) Link To Comment
You know that "French Mistake" song that he loves playing in his movies?
He does that because back in WWII, he wired up a giant propaganda sound system to blare that at the Nazis.
3 hours ago  Like (0) Link To Comment

The Sydney "hostage" crisis turns out to be an Iranian (shiite? why the ISIL flag?) who was out on bail after molesting 50 people
and suspicion he was behind the murder of his ex wife.

His lawyer says he was a "victim" for being mistreated in jail after a previous arrest, so he did this because his feelings were hurt.

But why was he out on bail in the first place?

another danger to the west is the failure to notice how bioethicists are pushing the envelope. First abortion, then starving the brain damaged, now infanticide is now being "debated".

these ideas go back to the 1970's, and many of the same ethical ideas are associated with death panels medical rationing for the elderly and handicapped who don't meet their criteria for meaningful life.

and the next time someone tells you that this is needed because "modern medicine" keeps these people alive too long, tell them that Plato said the same thing (400 bc). That is nonsense, because in the past (or here in the third world) we have plenty of middle aged people who are crippled, are arthritic, have strokes, etc. Modern medicine only moves the bar of disability to an older age.

David Warren's essay tries to explain the difference between sinners who manipulate to get a free pass for their sin, and true repentance.
For they are helping people to compound their sins — they are doing their bit to ice the slide to Hell for these people. That is not merciful. That is flat-out Evil.Perhaps the most contemptible — among those who happen to rise like scum in the hierarchy — said, he wouldn’t use Communion “as a weapon,” compounding this with the lie that the Church had never done so. You bet Communion is a weapon, Cardinal Wuerl: the weapon with which we fight our way to Heaven. For it is the very flesh and blood of Christ, the ultimate weapon against the Gates of Hell
Ah yes: Cardinal Wuerl, who never bothered to stop the local priests (including those from our nearby diocese) openly cruising the local gay bars, and who ordered the local schools to give a sex ed class over the objections of many parents. More rumors HERE.

yes, right no I am feeling very homophobic, but never mind the reason. 

Related item:

eichman's not so banal evil

I always thought the banal part was that to other folks around him he seemed like an average guy, not that he was an average guy.

Of course, sociopaths manipulate the message, providing a smoke screen so you can't see they are evil.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Family news

Flat in bed with stomach flu.

Lolo's okay.

Chano took the weekend off.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stuff around the web

I think awhile back I linked to an article about how "zero" was first used in Cambodia.

Smithsonian magazine has a long article about it  HERE.


The UKMail has an article with lots of photos on Thorne's miniature models of rooms from all over the world.


YUM! Eels!

Tastes during the Middle Ages varied greatly from today’s tastes. Typical of what was pleasing to the medieval palate were: lamprey, eel, peacock, swan, partridge and other assorted small songbirds. Apart from perhaps eel, none of the above items feature in today’s culinary offerings. Dairy products were often perceived as the province of the peasant class. Sausages were seldom found on the tables of the wealthy. The reason for this? Sausages were preserved. Since the wealthy had ample access to fresh meats, they saw no need in eating something that was preserved. Although household account books indicate that fruits were consumed, they do not feature prominently in the cookbooks of the time.


Blame Global warming?

Floods in Rome and the plague in 589

Severe weather during Charlemagne's time. (800AD)


Musical interlude of the day

Plough discusses the story of Pau Casals and includes the lyrics of the Catalan carol:

A star rose in the sky
and glory from on high
did fill the night with splendor.
Came birds with joyful voice
to carol and rejoice with
songs so sweet and tender.
The eagle then did rise,
went flying through the skies,
to tell the wondrous story,
sang: Jesus, born is he,
who comes to set us free,
he brings us joy and glory.
The sparrow with delight
said: This is Christmas night,
our happiness revealing.
The sky with praises rang,
as finch and robin sang
their songs of glad rejoicing.
The lark upon the wing
said: Now it seems like spring,
no more is winter pressing;
for now a flower is born
whose fragrance on this morn
to earth brings heaven’s blessing.
Sang magpie, thrush, and jay,
It seems the month of May
in answer to our yearning.
The trees again are green
and blossoms now are seen,
it is the spring returning!
The cuckoo sang: Come, come,
And celebrate the dawn
this glorious aurora.
The raven from his throat
then trilled a festive note
to the unexcelled Señora.
The partridge then confessed,
I want to build my nest
beneath that very gable
where I may see the Child
and watch whene’er he smiles
with Mary in that stable.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Craft item of the day

How to make a Philippine Christmas star can be found at Instructables.

Or you could make one from plastic bottles.

Family news

Again went shopping: a little more Christmas decorations. I would like a Parol, a Christmas star, but the price was too high so I bought a wreath and a small star...the star was made of lights, and needless to say after one day half the string went out. Oh well.

I am having the cabinets in the dining room refurbished. I paid for supplies and our handy man to do it, but he disappeared for two weeks. His step father has cancer, so he was busy with his family visiting etc.


But now they are being covered with new veneer, and by next week the dining room should look a bit better.
Now all we have to do is arrange for someone to put tiles on the concrete floor where the outdoor kitchen is, so it is easier to keep clean.

In the meanwhile, Chano has hired some kids to weed the garden. We already hired an older lady, a friend of our cook, to do this so they are helping. Also they trimmed the loose branches of the palm trees so they don't fall on anyone. Usually someone comes and offers to take down the ripe coconuts for us in exchange for keeping half to sell as buko juice.

In other words, the place, which has not been repaired for the last year because we were pinching pennies, might actually look half decent by Christmas.

Rant of the day: Would Jesus defend himself?

Do reporters ignore the truth and slant stories to fit the narrative?


It’s absolutely true that we don’t have a wave of outright fabrication-out-of-whole-cloth. But what we have is much worse. We have a tsunami of inaccuracy that is generally tolerated, embraced and even celebrated so long as it serves the right political and cultural goals.

The meme this year is the war on women, so you search out a story that fits the narrative, and bump into a hysterical woman who is exaggerating to get attention. Duh. Ironically, the story was debunked by the local staff of the WaPost (not the national staff). In other words, if the enterprising reporter had picked on the Univ Alabama etc. she would have gotten away with it because no one would have read the investigation in the small local papers.

Presumably the next meme will be "torture".


If you didn't know this was going on, you live in Cloud Cuckoo land. It keeps you safe, but it's not PC to say this. Now that the threats are being ignored in the news, it is open season on the ones who bent the law to keep you safe.

Expect this report to be used to bash Republicans (without noting that President Obama doesn't allow the capture and torture of suspected terrorists: he merely kills the bad guys with drones instead). True pacifists know this, and complain.

How can you tell a true pacifist from a fake one? If they only bash the US and the west, they are fake.

War is hell, as one General said, and the dirty little secret is that often trying to make wars more humane merely leads to the next war because you didn't kill enough bad guys, so they regroup and attack again.

Threats continue even when they aren't in the news.

We are expecting the Pope to visit, meaning that Manila will shut down. It will be more of a crowd problem than the annual "Black Nazarene" procession or the frequent Iglesia NiCristo or ElShaddai rallies which attract one million plus members.

So will the terrorists strike?

So what does this have to do with torture?

Well, When JP2 visited the Philippines in the early 1990's, a hotplate blew up and caused a fire, and the local firemen and cops noted bomb making equipment. The main guy escaped, but one of his minions was caught and interrogated, and revealed two plans: One, to bomb the Pope when he traveled through the crowded Manila streets, and Two: early plans to hijack several airplanes and use them as bombs.

As a result of the "enhanced interrogation", the Pope was helicoptered to the venue to say mass, and he remained safe. The US however ignored the second "headsup" because it was obtained by torture and sounded too crazy to be true.

No, as a Christian, I don't support enhanced interrogation, but know that if I knew lives were at stake, I might do it.

 It's nice to claim one is a pacifist while living in a safe suburban enclave in the US, has never faced war or violence at first hand, so you can feel self righteous without facing the cost or seeing the casualties of your righteousness.

So go ahead and feel self righteous blocking traffic with your "die ins", but could I ask you, where are you on Friday night when the casualties of these thugs (both innocent and not so innocent) are brought into the emergency rooms?

The dirty little secret is that bad guys exist. And the latest meme by Obama's minions to destroy police morale by painting police as evil racists will lead to police being less willing to put their lives on the line protecting you, and thus more innocent people killed in the gang wars... and more ordinary Americans buying guns to defend themselves because the police will be seen as too timid and ineffective to do so.

What would Jesus do?

No, Jesus didn't have a weapon, but Peter did, a sword, presumably for safety when they traveled on the isolated parts of the Jericho road. And Peter obviously knew how to use it, taking off the ear of one who came to arrest Jesus, (who then said put it away because those arresting were authorities, not bandits).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Busy Busy

It finally stopped raining.

Went to the mall to buy Lolo's medicine and some other supplies this morning, and to the local supermarket to get juice and instant coffee.

Lolo is okay...got his hair cut yesterday (here) but didn't have enough energy to go to the mall. One of these days I'll have to get him there for new glasses...his are okay but scratched badly.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

rain rain rain rain

the slow moving typhoon is south of here, and it's been cool and rainy all night.

I have a bad cold and am in a bad mood from sleeping badly. To make things worse, I had to turn away one of the regular beggars because I don't have any change left, and that always makes me feel bad, even though I know a lot of the money she gets ends up taken by her husband to buy beer and gamble. Sigh.

Lolo is well.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Kristin Lavransdatter

David Warren has an essay about Kristin Lavrensdatter, the novel of being a woman in medieval Norway and one of my favorite books.

Although he pans the Nunnally translation, if you are easily put off by formal prose, I would read it first, because the book is long and this translation is easier to read.

but like him, I prefer the older version, since I read that one first.

He brings up the fact that, unlike more modern novels, it stresses motherhood and marriage, not making the women into the feminist type we see in so many novels, who are really pseudomen in their thinking and rarely have children they worry about.

But I enjoyed the novel because Kristin is NOT a modern woman: too often, historical novels have women thinking and acting like a 20th century elite American  or European woman, with a good education, who was independent and wealthy, and who rarely worries about getting pregnant every year and facing death in childbirth...no Jane Austin women in modern novels, whose lives depend on finding the right man to be happy.

Well, having lived in many countries, I know from experience that people simply don't think or act the same. And the past is another country. Modern American fiction often has lost it's moral and intellectual vocabulary to even realize this, despite all the talk of "multiculturalism" (which is usually a keyword to push nihilism and to deny that right and wrong exist).

Kristin doesn't act like a modern woman, not because the author was not a modern woman and a feminist,(she was) but because she was well aware of medieval culture. So people eat porridge, sleep in cupboards, draw up baths, face hunger when the crops go bad, and get sick: the medical aspects are explained in detail, from childbirth to fevers to the black plague. Kristin is taught herbs by Erland's aunt, who is in exile for the suspected murder of her husband but wasn't executed because she was of high rank...and she is a good herbalist, who teaches this to Kristin, including a lot of things that were frowned upon by the church.

And like her, Kristin is not above using witchcraft to cure when ordinary herbs won't do. At the end of the book, Kristin saves a child from being sacrificed to stop the plague because she recognized what an overheard comment about Hel meant...

People in those days died of infected wounds, accidents, scarlet fever, childbirth, etc. and these illnesses/accidents are part of the plot.  Indeed, the long labor of Kristin's first child was used in a medical book for students to understand how to think about the societal aspects of illness.

One more thing: Don't see the movie. The movie is boring and the cinematography is ugly, but the main problem is that Kristin and others are made out to be full of sexual hangups (she isn't: she later felt guilt for losing her honor, shaming her family, and helping to kill her husband's paramour in order to marry the one she loved).

And the casting is bad: The sexy, charming and clintonesque Erland is played by a plain looking and nerdy guy, where the loving, faithful but fat country bumpkin suitor that Kristin rejects is played by a handsome young man. Her father is shown to be a troll, not a man beloved by everyone for his hard work and bravery, and Erland's Aunt, who is described as still lovely as an old lady, is played by a plain looking woman.

I'd love to see someone make a miniseries of the book, or a movie trilogy that is faithful to the non modern point of views and the characters.

finally, for those interested in how daily life was lived in those days, this could be an eyeopener. As Warren points out:

Undset was a formidable mediaevalist. Her father was a reputable archaeologist, and both her parents historically learned. From childhood she had heard this peculiar aesthetic call, and succumbed to the true historian’s fascination with what lies under things. In that field and from her eventual home of Bjerkebæk at Lillehammer — living surrounded by the landscape in which Kristin Lavransdatter is set, described with such a crisp poetical exactness — she was entirely on her own turf. Scholars to this day acknowledge her as genuinely expert: there are details in her XIVth-century reconstructions that were speculative, at the time she was writing, but have since borne out. She knew, as it were, where the old, pre-Reformation Norway was buried. For this alone, the trilogy — and the tetralogy that followed it, called The Master of Hestviken — is a pleasurable education.

Art post of the week

Picturing Mary...an exhibit

Lippi's madonna

short films on other masterpieces HERE

Stuff around the web

No links: I am lazy (with a cold) and the internet is on and off (From the typhoon).

Attention survivalists: Brown rice goes bad faster than white rice. LINK...although we know this, and have to constantly keep an eye on our rice in stores so it is removed after a certain date (also because tiny bug eggs that get through the packing process start to hatch. Packing process: Sift over a screen, and quickly touch the rice with a blowtorch).

I had always read about Vitamin B deficiency from white rice, so that many countries made it too expensive to force the poor to eat the brown, less milled, version. But there is oil in the bran and kernel that goes rancid if stored too long, so the shelf life is shorter.

so if you are a survivalist, keep white rice only, or buy Uncle Bens or other rice that is processed to keep the vitamins in.

Or add soba noodles, made from buckwheat, into your diet. (see post below).

Cardinal Pell was put in charge of Vatican finances and found a lot of the offices had money hidden in secret accounts. These were slush funds that could be used without all that paper work, for good causes, of course (/s).

Maybe I shouldn't be sarcastic: "black hole" money like this, along with money from the CIA and American unions, might have brought down the Soviet Union by keeping the solidarity union alive LINK

And two bankers of the Vatican Bank are being prosecuted for shady real estate deals.

This is going on all over, of course: I think the "dead banker" list is up to 36. And China's corruption, including their bank and real estate shennanigans, is a big "if" for the New World Order.

But there is a real danger to the Pope here if he allows a clean up. As for the bad guys in the Vatican Bureaucracy: this time they won't find a dumb bishop from Chicago to be the fall guy (which was Anderew Greeleys' take on a bishop blamed for an earlier scandal).


Israel bombed Damascus?

rumors were that Syria was sending weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, to terrorize Israel in the near future.

The Ebola czar just quit.

Guess it's not in the headlines anymore, since only black Africans are dying.


Throw away people: Unclaimed bodies in California.

I've heard of electric eels, but electric bacteria?

With one end buried in the sulphur-rich sediment and the other towards the surface of the mud, the bacteria is able to make a connection between its hydrogen sulfide food source found in the sediment and the oxygen it needs to survive - found on the surface of the mud.
"Instead of waiting for the hydrogen sulfide to meet the oxygen, they actually move electrons which is what we do in our body except on a much shorter scale," he said. "This provides them with their energy."