Monday, November 30, 2015

Headlines below the fold

I am ignoring the climate stuff, since the rigidity on both sides is closer to religious fundamentalism than reality and it is an upper class thing (yes, the elites marched in Manila, but one suspects that the ordinary folks didn't, except for those paid 100 pesos a head to join the march).

Fine: regulate pollution, encourage green technology, but don't destroy the economies doing it.

A lot of stuff about the Philippines being the poster child for global warming. Uh, no. It is the poster child for corruption.

Flooding because bribes allowed the building in "no build" zones, mudslides because bribing officials left illegal loggers and illegal miners to destroy the forested slopes, and many dying because they weren't warned, or because they refused to leave their homes because of fear they would be looted.

And I laugh at them blaming global warming for "typhoons and droughts". Which one is it? Typhoons bring too much water, and the "drought" we have right now is the cyclical ElNino, making the dry season worse than usual.

We are short of water now because we had to let the water out (and flood the town) because the typhoon's rains threatened a dam collapse, and now we have a drought because we don't have that water anymore... wouldn't a better dam help both these things? Or a lake diversion to store the flood water? (and I won't mention the dam that broke a few years ago and flooded the town).

more HERE at the Inquirer:

Daep points to Apsemo’s institutionalization as the key factor that helped Albay implement its “zero casualty” policy for many years and, in the process, gain worldwide recognition in DRRM for its successful programs. “The core reason behind Albay’s [preparedness] is the institutionalization. There is a clear institution to handle the situation and a clearly identified point person who will stay even if there is a change of governor,” Daep said. - See more at:

It is like the Pope blaming capitalism for the lack of clean water in slums in Kenya.-

No, the lack of clean water is due to lack of money, the lack of technical ability or maybe just the laziness of the local government, or maybe it is because corruption diverted the funds to put in pipes into someone's pocket.

The slums were caused because people preferred living there than living in mud and wattle thatched huts growing corn and starving periodically in rural areas like their ancestors.

this "all or nothing" is nonsense. Capitalism causes problems and horrible living conditions (read Dickens) and corporations themselves are corrupt, but the church should preach honesty, temperence and self control, not just condemn the evils of capitalism that has brought millions our of poverty, especially in Asia and now, thanks to China, in Africa.

related item: the Pope has visited a war zone in Africa.

But the "Christian/Muslim" part is not quite true: actually the fight between the non Bantu tribal herders of the Sahel vs the Christian and animist black Bantu farmers. It predates religion.


Related item: Imelda's jewelry and paintings are missing.

The commission has been tasked with recovering the ill-gotten wealth amassed by the family of Ferdinand Marcos, the country’s late dictator, after billions of dollars were looted from the state. His widow became known for her excesses, symbolised by her huge shoe and jewellery collections.Yesterday experts were concluding an appraisal of jewellery seized after the family fled to Hawaii in 1986 after the popular revolt that ended Marcos’s two-decade rule. The pieces include a barrel-shaped diamond worth at least $5m (£3.3m) and a Cartier diamond tiara estimated to be worth more than $100,000.
all of this stolen from the poor in the Philippines (unless you believe the urban legend that Marcos found Yamashita's gold).

related item: Zimbabwe's economic crash.
Uh, this happened years ago but one is happy that Slate finally noticed.

And no, it wasn't just the sanctions: most of the educated left to work in the UK or South Africa because of the government policies, including the harassment of political opposition. As for HIV: Did I tell you about the time Sister Patricia's HIV clinic was destroyed when Mugabe "cleaned up the trash" by demolishing a middle class suburb that dared to vote against him?


the drones started as ways to spy, then as ways to zap bad guys but now:


and Jeremy Clarkson has a new job (and hopefully has attended anger management classes)


the Martian made 50 million in China last weekend.

Hasn't hit here yet, although Hunger Games 4 is here and we will probably watch it tomorrow at the mall.


The Dragon is coming

One backstory that does't get a lot of publicity is that President Obama is outsourcing space travel (NASA is still aiming to go to Mars, but that is another story).

From DavidReneke's blog:

NASA has officially ordered its first commercial crew mission from private spaceflight company SpaceX. That means SpaceX has NASA’s authority to proceed with the first crewed launch of the company’s Crew Dragon capsule. This is their capsule which can carry up to seven people in lower Earth orbit. The mission is slated for sometime in late 2017, but the exact date has not yet been determined. 
SpaceX and Boeing hold contracts with NASA through the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The initiative tasks the two companies with creating and operating spacecraft that can ferry NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Currently, NASA is without a primary space vehicle and must rely on the Russian Soyuz rocket, which costs $80 million to get just one US astronaut into lower Earth orbit. Commercial Crew will allow American astronauts to get to the ISS on American-made vehicles once again, and for much lower costs.
more space news here.

spacex news HERE

Yes, often the government funds basic research, but the difference is that it is when someone finds a way to make money out of it that it actually gets into the public square.

For example, as EdDriscoll at instapundit points out: The internet may have started as a miliatary tool, but it only became "THE INTERNET" when it went public.

an alternative viewpoint: Industrial spying allowed ambitious entrepeneurs to improve and spread technology.


Professor Leon Podles, who has a very scholarly book on the Catholic church abuse scandal, reviews the new film "Spotlight".

The film (and his book) are not for the faint of heart.

I agree with the professor that the church there was like a club rather than a religion.

As for abuse: As a doctor, I mainly worked with girls, some of them incest by dads or step dads. I'll write up some more of the details on my boinkie blog when I get around to it, since it concerns cases I know about, including an abusers in my extended family.

But I also should note that in the late 1960's, when I was in medical school, that our professors said that once the Victorian sexual prohibitions were lifted, that schizophrenia and mental illness would disappear...(Freudian ideas were behind these ideas)

Many wrote back then about it would be good for loving adults to have sex with children so the children would lose their inhibitions. I remember Newsweek, in the "incest" kerfuffle that if a counselor came across the problem, that they should not report it to the cops, since it would "break up the family". And then there was the decision of California to treat "non violent" sex offenders by counseling, and the papers rejoiced because these "non violent" types would be abused in jail.

So it's not just the Catholic church, of course.

When I worked on one Indian reservation, one of my nurses said that many of the men in her AA (alcoholics anonymous) group had been abused. The boarding school abuse was big in Canada, (Michael O'Brien has testified about this on his blog) but abuse in family also occurred, alas.

And it is continuing. The "rape" kerfuffle in universities that I am reading about on some blogs is because right now there is no sexual morality at all in universities, and this is pay back for all the "date rapes" where the woman sobers up and finds out she was taken advantage of. And the internet has made many think such things are normal, so people now are acting on their impulses.

Freud would be proud.

So I agree with the professor:

I am no prophet, but I detect the hand of Providence in all this to purify a church which had grown corrupt.

Hopefully it will awaken a public conversation about preying on teenagers and pre teens to use them for sex.

however, here in the Philippines, the newfangled bishops are more worried about the environment (marching last weekend) and in stopping the pill from being given to our multipara moms than the sexual abuse of street kids.

As the professor noted: poor countries have more to worry about than if their young girls and boys find a rich friend and can milk them for money so the family can eat.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

family news

Joy and Ruby back from Manila where Ruby did a homeschool event.

Chano is trying to get the plowing done for the winter crop of rice, but the handplows keep breaking down. There hasn't been much rain (El Nino cycle) so it will cost more to plant since you need irrigation water fees. I'm not sure he will plant all our fields.

I am tired so will refrain from blogging.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

For later reading

Raspberry Pi

I kept running into the word on blogs so later I'll have to read up on it.

Freeze dried turkey?

although, unlike Mark Watley, one suspects they didn't have genuine ordinary live potatoes to cook (or in his case, to grow).  And  no, the film hasn't hit the local theatre yet.


LesFemmes reminds you: Don't throw away the carcass:

Make soup.

A lot of recipes on the web.

essentially you stick all the bones with their scraps of meat into water and boil a couple hours.

Most of the recipes insist you add veggies and then take it out and then add them again. We used onion salt and poultry spice and lemon/pepper mix, and later just took out the carcass, let it cool while we boiled the veggies and noodles, then added the scraps of meat.

And no, we didn't have turkey for Thanksgiving, because we didn't celebrate it this year.

But the way you "buy" turkey here is to get a live turkey and kill it the day you cook it.

We once bought two turkeys for a party, and they kept escaping over the wall, so we'd have to go out and recapture them. The third time this happened, we only found one.

We figure some poor person decided to liberate the other turkey for their family's dinner.

What I'm reading

Audiobook of the week:

Later parts of the book can be found HERE

What is interesting is that she SEES and remembers small things around her, and then can describe them. But the emphasis is on those around her: in a superficial but pleasant way, with anecdotes.

Another thing was that she assumed she'd have servants but insists she was not "rich"... of course, the book starts in the days before WWI...

And she was a nurse/nursing assistant in that war, and later upgraded to help the pharmacist, hence her knowledge of poison which went into her books.

Her writings were not "her life": She mentions them mainly as a afterthought, comparing them to housewives who do embroidery etc. And she admits she was not a great writer, but just someone who wrote because she could do it and enjoyed doing it, and only later did she find it gave her an income.

The irony is that a lot of her life was dramatic: but her travels around the world are less dramatic then her descriptions of finding a house...

and no, the famous "disappearance" was glossed over, but the hints were that she was already forgetting things and confused due to stress from her mother's death etc. before her first husband told her he was getting a divorce.

I've only reached the point where she marries her second husband, meeting him while on a vacation in Baghdad, visiting Wooley at Ur at the recommendation of some friends.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Musical interlude of the day

John Williams conducting the Boston Pops.

Factoid of the day

via Presurfer:

 Carl Scheele managed to keep his name attached to Scheele’s green. Mix sodium carbonate and arsenic oxide together in a solution and you get sodium arsenic—a combination of sodium, arsenic, and oxygen. That gets mixed in with copper sulfate to produce a copper arsenite precipitate which can cheaply and easily dye material green....In 1982, British chemist David Jones famously speculated that the green wallpaper hung in Napoleon’s residence in St. Helena poisoned him with arsenic and led to his death. The theory is much-disputed, but also very popular.
Wikipedia has a list of people who may have suffered from lead poisoning.

Clare Booth Luce's erratic behavior as Ambassador to Italy was eventually blamed on Arsenic from her wall paper. More about Luce HERE.


The UK Telegraph says there is a new Barbie who spies on you.

Hello Barbie comes equipped with speech recognition technology and Wi-Fi, and manufacturer Mattel says the toy “listens and remembers the user's likes and dislikes, giving everyone their own unique experience.”
Some are concerned about the potential risks involved in giving a child a toy that can record what they’re saying and send the audio over the internet for processing.
NBC spoke to security professional Matt Jakubowski, who managed to hack the Hello Barbie operating system. He said he was able to extract information including Wi-Fi network names, account IDs and MP3 files.
He warned that the information he was able to retreive could be used to find someone’s house or business, and to access their home network and everything that the Barbie had recorded. He added: “It’s just a matter of time until we are able to replace their servers with ours and have her say anything we want.”

Google knows EVERYTHING

So checking my email I found this
New sign-in from Opera on Windows
Hi Nancy,
Your Google Account xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx was just used to sign in from Opera on Windows.
Nancy Reyes
Thursday, November 26, 2015 1:23 PM (Philippine Standard Time)
Don't recognize this activity?
Review your recently used devices now.

Why are we sending this? We take security very seriously and we want to keep you in the loop on important actions in your account.
We were unable to determine whether you have used this browser or device with your account before. This can happen when you sign in for the first time on a new computer, phone or browser, when you use your browser's incognito or private browsing mode or clear your cookies, or when somebody else is accessing your account.

so Google knows I use Opera, and where I live.

Family News

Joy should arrive late tonite.

Ruby was with her youth group meeting all day.

No Thanksgiving in the Philippines. So I spent the day downloading my Windows 10 update.

Seems to work OK.

I am still using my Windows 7 screen, since I dislike the "APP" stuff since I don't use these Windows apps, but other programs.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

For later reading

Catching up on the news. CNN etc. is full of "headlines" that obscure the real news, like Obama destroying American industry by approving of the climate treaty or exporting jobs by the acific trade agreement.

Heh. Just ignore all that rice-paddy methane...

Strategy Page has the (good?) news on Iraq (and Yemen), and what is going on when Turkey takes down a Russian plane.

but they also note the dirty little secret about those refugees: They come from a culture where women and children are abused.


CWR: The right wing fundamentalist Christians are coming? the Catholics are coming! at least in France, there is an upsurge in piety among the younger generation (often called the John Paul II generation of Catholics)

In recent years, we’re heard much about the Church as a field-hospital. It’s true that the French Church finds itself providing much help to the many people damaged by the culture of cynicism, economic statism, self-loathing, and hedonism bequeathed by France’s May 1968 generation. The new Catholics, however, also recognize that no-one is supposed to remain perpetually in a field-hospital. Nor are they interested in affirming mediocrity. Instead they have chosen to live out what Benedict XVI suggested would be Western European Catholics’ role for the foreseeable future: a creative minority—one that imaginatively engages culture from an orthodox Catholic standpoint in order to draw society closer to the truth, instead of meekly relegating Catholics to the role of bit-players in various secular-progressive agendas.
heasup FatherZ

Instapundit links to Stuart Taylor's not politically correct article on why politically correct minorities feel frustrated at universities. They aren't qualified and feel frustrated at the competition.

Compare and contrast: the academic success of the new African immigrants.

again, a success story no one is noting.

Safety Tip of the day

via Instapundit: Frying Turkey must be a Southern thing since you can't do that outside in the snow.

And no, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in the Philippines.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Family news

Joy still at a conference, and Ruby still attending their youth group meetings/conference.

The internet was off, and now it's back on.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Family news

Joy is attending a business conference for organic farming...since she is a member of the local organization she has all expenses paid.

Ruby and friends sold out all their juice so she is bottling some more to sell. Profits go to the church youth group.

Three of the four kittens are starting to wander (leaving me with only one small one). So what happens? One of the maids brought three yellow/white kittens for me to raise. Luckily they can eat by themself.

I bought cat litter, to keep down the odor...hopefully the older cats will now start to wander off.

Ruby says I am becoming a "cat lady". Actually I prefer dogs, but never mind.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Family News

Ruby and friends from her church youth group were here last evening making and bottling juice drinks to sell at a sports meet.

Dita had some left over fried chicken from lunch, but having raised teenaged boys myself, I knew that the amount (enough for four persons when eaten as a meal) would feed maybe one kid, so I sent our help out to buy some lechon manok (rotisserie chicken) and pandesal (small rolls). We had plenty of rice for them: we always have a pot of cold rice sitting on the stove, since Dita cooks a huge container and then reheats it for breakfast, and if it's not eaten, serves it to the dogs and cats.

Their small Pentecostal church had missionaries from Chicago give a talk and afterwards taught them some new dance steps.

The growing middle class of Americanized kids are up to date on everything via the media, and all have cellphones, of course.

Even Cardinal Tagle is sponsoring a "green" march....the elites of the catholic church used to be liberation theology, but now they are into green ideology.

The poor, however, are still busy with fiestas etc. And Sunday was the "Cecelian": The feast of St Cecilia means that the local musicians perform for us. I sent a donation to cover some of the expenses.

PDF description here of how fiestas etc started.

Culturally politically correct food take two

Does the PC police approve of a Philippine corporation having their restaurant in China, serving Southern Fried Chicken, hamburgers and french fries? with a side of rice, of course...

How about if they serve American style Italian Spaghetti in Dubai?

and check A growing teenager's diary in Malaysia, which include many food and restaurant posts.

Latest PC sin: Culturally appropriate food

The latest PC craze is "appropriating culture" one Canadian university won't allow Yoga since the American form leaves out the Hindu roots.

and heaven help you if you eat a taco etc.

 (PortugueseAmerican Immigrant and SciFi writer) Sarah Hoyt posted this link at Instapundit.

E ALL LIVE IN AN ONION WORLD: The Feminist Guide to Being a Foodie Without Being Culturally Appropriative. And if you don’t want to give hits to crazy people, the gist of the article is that if you enjoy the authentic cuisine of other traditions this means you’re “culturally appropriative” which is bad, because, you know, we’re all born with our cuisine engraved in our DNA, just like our language and our religion.  (Removes tongue from cheek before it pokes through.)  FORTUNATELY I’m an American.  Being culturally appropriative IS our culture.  We take other people’s food, clothing and entertainment traditions and we make it bigger, better and more amazing than the original culture could try.  And the feminist guide can put that in its pipe and smoke it!

Related headline from the LATIMES:

Why Shanghai's first American Chinese restaurant is taking off
Quick! Which of these menu items can be included in a typical Chinese meal?
  • Egg Foo Young?
  • Chicken Chow Mein?
  • Hot and Sour Soup?
  • None of the above.
Your answer will probably depend on where you live in the world. Those inside China would probably argue that none of those dishes resemble anything from a traditional Chinese menu.
But others might disagree.
For them, the idea of "western Chinese food" isn't an oxymoron, it's a genuine style of cuisine primarily developed by generations of Chinese immigrants to the United States.
well,I'm old enough to remember this song:

 Of course, this is Hollywood: Any good Asian would tell you that some of these actors playing Chinese immigrants are....Japanese.

Headlines below the fold

Remember that hospital in Afghanistan hit by the US bomb? Well, turns out not only was it not marked but it had lots of terrorists being treated inside, so the local Afghans called in the strike.

This StrategyPage article continues as a long informative article on NGO's.

 the Catholic Church could be considered one of the first major NGOs, as it organized large scale charity efforts over a thousand years ago. But in the late 20th century, the number of NGOs grew explosively. Now there are thousands of them, providing work for hundreds of thousands of people. 

and these NGO's often branch into their own style of preaching western values to folks who don't appreciate it, or mainly "holding seminars" instead of actually helping people.


Also from StrategyPage: Colombia is trying to make peace, but the locals have had it with these bozos

Face it, if you start a rebellion that goes on for half a century and leaves over 200,000 dead and millions homeless, unemployed or otherwise harmed, there is going to be a lot of bad feelings and mistrust. The FARC leadership is trying to get all their followers to accept that and follow orders. Both FARC leaders and government officials admit (at least in private) that there will be some FARC “fringe groups” that will have to be declared outlaws for not observing the terms of the peace deal. These groups will have to be taken down violently.

yeah, like the bozos who used to be NPA who became the hired hit men who killed our nephew after they were hired by the mayor to kill his opponent.

Colombia, like the Philippines, has had a lot of previous "amnesties". But the dirty little secret is that often these guys, even if they don't revert into drugs or criminal activities, get "offed" by hit squads, often military guys who have had it and seek revenge.

One guy in our extended family in Colombia came out of the cold during a previous amnesty, but later was killed in a "bar fight". Presumably it was a hit by a death squad. Same thing happens in the Philippines.

the article also has a lot about Venzuela, which shows what Colombia would be if the Marxists had won. Except that when the Marxists win in wars instead of elections, they massacre their opposition.

Heck, why look at Venezuela: Zimbabwe is another example: bring in the North Koreans to massacre the opposition villages, then take a vibrant economy and crashing it, confiscating farms and business to give to your friends, terrorizing the opposition and burning down houses and HIV clinics in these areas to punish neighborhoods who voted against you.

I thought it laughable when the film "blood diamonds" had a white Zimbabwean as the enemy. guess they don't know about the "Conflict diamond" kerfuffle in Zimbabwe (not to mention the scams and kickbacks in the Congo where Zim had peacekeepers)


The left changes it's mind. Links at Instapundit.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hell Freezes over news stories of the day

The Pope tells the German bishops that their church is a mess, and that the remedy is for priests to reform, and advises them to confess their sins and receive the Eucharist, and then encourage the lay folks to do the same.....reports Father Z.


The NYTimes finally notices that Saudi has Sharia law.

The West’s denial regarding Saudi Arabia is striking: It salutes the theocracy as its ally but pretends not to notice that it is the world’s chief ideological sponsor of Islamist culture. The younger generations of radicals in the so-called Arab world were not born jihadists. They were suckled in the bosom of Fatwa Valley, a kind of Islamist Vatican with a vast industry that produces theologians, religious laws, books, and aggressive editorial policies and media campaigns.
note the anti Catholic dig. Well this is the NYTimes after all...
and of course it blames Bush for invading Iraq....but ignores that ISIS is Saddam Hussein's shock troops reborn, and that before Bush invaded Iraq, that Saddam's tyranny was just as murderous, but behind closed doors, and not reported because the western press declined to notice.
And the NYTimes doesn't notice the "invisible man" in the Middle East: Their overseas workers who have few rights, including a million Catholics who are denied having a church.
and then there is THIS. Yup. Funding terrorists.

Astronaut takes picture of a UFO. and the UFO coverup community is abuzz.

or maybe not. Probably space junk.


Bill Maher supports the NRA? Well not quite...

Surprised by Newsom’s willingness to accept the paradigm of citizens remaining unarmed in such a setting, Maher responded, “Really? So if you were in a restaurant and a crazy gunman came in, you wouldn’t want to have a gun? You’d rather just be shot?”

Anonymous declares war on terrorists, German press ridicules them.
Anonymous takes German media sites off line.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

English as she is spoke

The title I put is a joke, of course. but there is an actual book is English as She is Spoke...

But Professor John McWhorter explains why English is so different than other IndoEuropean languages. (headups FirstThoughts)

No genders for example, and the verb endings are few.
Why? Blame the Vikings.

Old English had the crazy genders we would expect of a good European language – but the Scandies didn’t bother with those, and so now we have none. Chalk up one of English’s weirdnesses. What’s more, the Vikings mastered only that one shred of a once-lovely conjugation system: hence the lonely third‑person singular –s, hanging on like a dead bug on a windshield. Here and in other ways, they smoothed out the hard stuff.
plus spelling based on the way things used to be said, not how they are said nowadays, and of course, a vocabulary from many languages, so often we have the same equivalent word coming from French/Latin and AngloSaxon/Norse.

Especially noteworthy here are the culinary transformations: we kill a cow or a pig (English) to yield beef or pork (French). Why? Well, generally in Norman England, English-speaking labourers did the slaughtering for moneyed French speakers at table. The different ways of referring to meat depended on one’s place in the scheme of things, and those class distinctions have carried down to us in discreet form today.
BOOK TV interview HERE

he has a series on lingusitics on the Teaching was on Youtube but the copyright cops must of found it because I can't find it now, so you will either have to spend a lot of money or get it via your local library.

And for geeks, there is this:


another excellent podcast about language is Kevin Stroud's the History of English podcast.

Peter Rabbit

Miss Potter: Bunnies and Conservation

TeaAtTrianon links to a Victoria magazine article about Beatrice Potter, who is famous for her children's books, and also was active in preserving the scenic Lake District.

Great Photos at link
Victoria Magazine

and if you can, watch the film MissPotter, about her life.
Alas, on youtube it is only available in Spanish and German.

and if you aren't familiar with her work, Project Gutenberg has them on line: Link for Peter Rabbit

although this version doesn't have Potter's charming artwork for some reason... most of the tales with her artwork you have to buy...
but Jemima PuddleDuck does use Beatrice Potter's illustrations.
 the fox tried to get Jemima to lay her eggs in his turf house...

"But as to a nest—there is no difficulty: I have a sackful of feathers in my wood-shed. No, my dear madam, you will be in nobody's way. You may sit there as long as you like," said the bushy long-tailed gentleman.
He led the way to a very retired, dismal-looking house amongst the fox-gloves.
It was built of faggots and turf, and there were two broken pails, one on top of another, by way of a chimney.

This webpage has links to free ebooks and where to buy etc.

Another website has lots about Peter and friends, including PeterRabbit and Jemima Puddle Duck wallpaper

Hobbit Holes, Turf homes, and the Little House on the Prarie

Medievalnet links to a Dutch museum video and photos about a reconstructed a turf farm house.

I'll have to check it out later

but it reminds me of back in the 1970's, when Jimmy Carter whined about the energy crisis, and there was a flourish of earth protected underground homes: The locals in South Dakota just laughed and said: Well that's how our ancestors lived, so what's the big deal. Like Iceland, there were few decent trees on the South Dakota praries....

 Wikipedia on sod houses has lots of links
wikipedia commons: Sod house on American prarie

Which makes me wonder: Where did their ancestors learn to use the thick turf to make a house?

Many early viking houses were partly underground too. Was this because of the lack of wood in Iceland, or was this used in Norway? In Kristin Lavransdattir, the houses are all made of wood. But what about the poor? Would sod be warmer?

Icelandic turf home article.

In Iceland, the cows were often kept in the house, which not only kept them safe but their body heat helped keep the house warm. I read somewhere that due to lack of exercize they had to carry them out in the spring, but don't quote me here.

as for Hobbit Holes: Note that they would be in hills, making them warm and less damp then these houses.

Something to look up later when I am bored

Friday, November 20, 2015

A tale of two cab rides (Caution: Religious ghosts not noticed)

Ace of Spades links to a nihilistic fantasy written by Tom Friedman (who years ago lived in civil war torn Lebanon). And he sees the modern multinational economyHe writes on the economy a lot. But the world is more than the market.

Compare and contrast: Christian musician MarkMallet's real encounter with a Muslim taxi driver, and changes the subject of the conversation to Mama Mary, who is beloved by most Muslims and Christians (see earlier post on NatGeo's program on Mary). Long religious discussion of various influences "below the fold"...

Reuters article notes many Muslims were killed in the Paris

Elif Dogan, adult daughter of a Turkish shopowner in Belgium, stayed behind when the family returned to Turkey and moved to Paris four months ago. “Terrorism has visited us,” her father Kemal Dogan told Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper. “While we worried something like this could happen in Turkey, we lost our daughter in one of the leading cities of the world.” Lassana Diarra, a French international footballer of Malian origin who was playing at the Stade de France when the attacks started there, announced on his Facebook page that his cousin Asta Diakite was killed in an attack in the city. He asked his French supporters to “stay united in the face of a horror that knows neither color nor religion

StrategyPage discusses multiculturalism and the failed state. again with nuances. and they discuss the problem of "Democracy", and why it might onot work: because of the culture of paranoia when things are bad, scapegoating others, i.e. blaming others for all their problems including what they cause themselves. Also corruption and tribalism.

Jane Austen Alert!

BBC podcast InOurTime this week discusses Jane Austin's book Emma.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Garrison Kiellor to retire

 after 2016, Lake Wobegon will now be only in reruns.

Book stuff

I bought Ruby the latest Rick Riordan book about Magnus Chase, (Annabeth's cousin) who gets involved with the Norse mythological parallel world in Boston.

It's not as good as the Percy series, because Percy is more of a klutz for kids to identify with, and Magnus is 16... It took 19 chapters of boring back-story to understand the world of mythology, whereas the Percy books happen in earth, not Valhalla etc.

But once you get all the characters backgrounds and the lay of the land, it perks up. (Start at chapter 20 if you get bored).

And yes, there is a female "Valkarie", who wears a hijab. Her Iraqi mother had her by the (evil) god Loki but she is actually a good character. Why Iraq? well, one of the best descriptions about the Viking as traders was written by an Iraqi trader...this was one of the subplots in the book/move the Thirteenth Warrior.

 In the book, Loki and Thor are closer to the Norse myths (Thor is a dumb klutz, and Locki is charming but evil and manipulative).

I am also into the Outlander series. There is one horrifying scene where they burn a witch... in the book, she had killed her husband, so it was probably justified. But in the later books they run into her again, and she is even more evil and has killed more people to obtain "magical" power (e.g. to move through time).

A lot of the witch stuff is exaggerated but there were outbreaks of hysteria against witches that need to be condemned, but one has to remember that there were people who knew herbs and did poison people...

here is a thing to ponder: some early alchemists were indeed the descendents of modern scientists, but many went into to obtain power over others or get rich... the problem of creativity/science and manipulating the environment is one of the theme of Tolkien: not just anti materialism/anti science per se, but that those who create are often tempted into the temptation of power.

The elves use their powers to create beauty, for example, but the tradgedy of Feanor is that it made him proud and not care about those whose lives he wrecked when he sought revenge. and Saruman was again tempted into the 'dark side"...but like Sauron was originally good.

The ultimate temptation for men, of course, is not only to rule others, but to be deathless, which is why the rings of men destroyed the kings who wielded them, making them into wraiths.

Can you say "Transhumanism" people?

I am also rereading "Hungry Ghosts" about the terrible man made famines in Mao's Great Leap forward. Lots of westerners preferred not to see what was going on, or said it was exaggerated, pointing to McCarthy...


Cat Item of the day

Obama uses APEC summit to demonize Republicans

I was trying to find details about the APEC summit here in Manila, and the WAPO article wasn't about Asia, but Obama playing politics by ridiculing Republicans who don't want to accept Syrian "refugees"..


A quick glance will show that I think the US could accept more refugees, but I have no problem with screening them first, both for safety sake and for fake "refugees" from other countries who just want to slip in to get rich.

But in a case when a lot of ordinary folks are nervous, why isn't he trying to unite people and reassure them that the refugees would not cause a problem...or at least point out that we managed to settle huge numbers of refugees in the past without a major problem (after the fall of VietNam, and the Mariel boat lift).

To use an international forum to do this is even worse. I mean, it's like telling all the FilAms: Well, I gave you two boats to defend yourself against hundreds of Chicom ships, so you better vote correctly or I will go  back to ignoring the problem (which he has done for a couple years, allowing China to destroy the reef and pollute our fishing areas to build islands without doing a damn thing).

I guess he doesn't want to discuss the very real questions if the new Pacific trade treaty will destroy/export more jobs from his union/Democratic base.



Follow up: AnneAlthouse links to one of the Republicans who objected to using an overseas forum to play politics too.

Family News

Joy has been going to various business meetings, and they will pick her up with the car this morning.

It has been quiet all week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

hashtag #APEChottie

President Obama arrived for the APEC summit.

Heh. I hadn't watched the news and didn't know this until our maid told me he is arriving.

No, I won't see him, but I'll wave at his plane when it wings over our area at 30000 feet (we are on the flight path of Manila to Tokyo planes).

But he's been upstaged. No, not by the usual idiots/demonstrators.

By the Mexican president:

this article says that Enrique Pena Nieto is a hunk... and the writer is trying to match him up with Pnoy's Sister, who is a beautiful actress.

His main rival? Baby Trudeau, who also is attending.

The debate is centred around the hashtag #APEChottie, which first took off on Twitter in the Philippines Tuesday morning, though it has now spread globally. Many Twitter users are billing Trudeau as an endearing "Canadian bae", while Pena Nieto is being pegged as the Mexican papi, or father.

and HERE is a playlist for your listening pleasure while you sit in traffic. (the streets are blocked off in some areas so traffic, which is usually terrible, is worse than usual).

We even have our own hashtag #Carmageddon


Gizmodo also has a link to a scholarly article on how ancient people "saved" the pumpkin.

The earliest variations were domesticated in Mexico, and bitter, but they ate the seeds and later manipulated the plants to be less bitter.


But what about North America? archeologist have found gourds (from Africa?) and squash (independently domesticated or from Africa) were used by the early Amerindians in North America...the gourds were important for storage in the days before pottery was developed.

more on the Eastern agricultural complex HERE.

lecture course link

Plastic surgery history

Gizmodo has an article on the pilots who had plastic surgery to reconstruct their burned faces in World War II. Mr.McIndoe is the surgeon who pioneered aggressive facial reconstruction.

It was one of the first efforts to focus on both the physical and the psychological recovery of patients. Before then, people with disfiguring injuries or disabilities were often hidden from sight. Instead of casting the burned pilots and crew as unfortunate young men with their lives cut short, McIndoe presented them as heroes to be lauded for their courage. If a play was opening or a movie premiering in town, McIndoe got his patients invited as guests of honor.
And it worked. Grinstead, where the hospital was based, became known as “the town that did not stare.” A number of the club members married women they met in the town while recuperating.
Years ago, I met an American pilot with a terribly scarred face whose scars were not noticed two minutes after you started talking to him. The rehab that encouraged normalization was as important as the surgery itself.

read the whole thing.

includes photos that look grotesque, but actually taking tubes of skin from the arm etc. to repair the face is an ancient practice.

You should know that in the UK, surgeons used to be called "Mister"'s an old custom because in the good old days, unlike physicians, who studied at universities , surgeons were (lower class) barber-surgeons, and to become a surgeon you did an apprenticeship, not university training, hence the "mister".

Richard Hillary was one of the pilots whose face was reconstructed by McIndoe, and his autobiography is a classic story of young men (should I say spoiled young men from Oxford?) who went to war and how the war changed them.

The most frightening part of this to me was not the war, or the surgery: It was that the wounds got infected, and there was no penicillin in those day. A reminder of what could happen as the world faces MRSA and VRSA, Staph Aureus resistant to antibiotics.

I had a hard copy of the book, but lent it to my son in law John, a helicopter pilot, who asked to "borrow" it. Never mind. The ebook is on line:

It can be found at ProjectGutenberg Australia LINK

Jackson vs Tolkien

KRu points out what Jackson got right in the film.

Jackson "fleshed out" the characters, made the motive of using a burglar more credible, showed how Bilbo and Thorin's friendship led to both of them learning from each other, and made the dwarves into full blown characters (The Hobbit after all was a simple bedtime story, not a novel).

No, the Kili/Tauriel love interest is not an improvement.

I liked it, but it needed more background and interaction to explain why they were both outsiders with a lot in common and might fall in love...And only geeks know that Elves love only once in their lives, so once Tauriel chooses Kili, Legolas has no chance to win her heart, even after Kili dies.

Similarly, the story of Legolas' conflict with his father is hinted at but not given detail (uh, maybe Jackson should write appendices with this, as did Tolkien. A lot of the added stuff of the Hobbit film is in the Appendices of LOTR).

I should add that the Elf king was done well: consistent with both the books and the haughty elves of the Simarillion....


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Don't give up the ship (or something like that)

Professor Podles has been blogging about his illustrious extended family in various posts, and today he posts about one of his family connections who made famous the words "Don't give up the ship".

Read the whole thing.

this happened in a battle where the USS Chesapeake was lost to the British in the War of 1812.

One is reminded of the phrase: When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

oh well, in both the film where that was quoted and in the story of Captain James Lawrence, the men involved had did something brave and risked their lives (Lawrence lost his) even though the legend sort of embroidered the whole thing.

But before his fatal encounter on the Chesapeake, it mentions he also had served on the USS Enterprise.

The Enterprise? the 1799 ship bearing that name fought the Tripoli pirates and the French corsairs.

and Wikipedia list has the history of many ships bearing that honored name.


One of my relatives in the US owns a gift shop, and posted on facebook that she was looking for someone to supply long pine needle brances for Christmas decorations.

So I posted back: No pines here, but we have lots of Banana trees if you need leaves.

Just joking....

Here, we use banana leaves as plates: on the table beneath the lechon, or on top of rattan plates for eating or serving. We also use the leaves to wrap suman and other items.

from Wikipedia:

Banana leaves are the traditional method of serving food in Philippine cuisine, with rice and other dishes laid out on large banana leaves (asalo-salo, reminiscent of a buffet) and everyone partaking using their bare hands (kamayan).[6][7] Another traditional method of serving food is by placing it on a banana-leaf liner placed over a woven bilao (awinnowing basket made of bamboo). The bilao is normally a farm implement used for removing chaff from grains, although there are now smaller woven trays or carved wooden plates of the same kind in Filipino restaurants used specifically for serving food.[8][8] Banana leaves are also commonly used in wrapping food (binalot), and are valued for the aroma they impart to the food.[9] Specific Philippine dishes that use banana leaves include suman and bibingka.[10][11]

and our staff will grab a leaf to iron our "delicate" clothing, (in the US, you use a damp cheescloth or a steam iron on low)...

Author: Marian Szengel wikipedia commons

we have several, including some that are 20 feet high. The bananas grow quickly from the base, and no, you can't grow them from a seed. And each plant only has one bunch (they die after harvest but regrow new shoots from the base).  More HERE.

we used to have two at the front door near the street, but the new sprouts kept getting eaten by the neighbor's goats. Chano replaced them with palm tree variants, but they all died, maybe because it is the start of the dry season here and they get direct sunlight and dry out.

I had to laugh at the illustration on Wikipedia that said "Making of Banana Leaf Plates which Replace Plastic as a Climate Solution"

Uh, no, not really: They need to be used fresh off the tree.

But Alibaba sells ceramic banana leaf plates if you are nostalgic.

Just for nice

A growing teenager blog has photos of a Lego exhibit at one of the local malls in Malaysia.

The Bad news and the good news

The press is going nuts about the Paris attack.

But some people are equating a minor terror attack to the end of the world

Chill, Francis.

Yes, I said minor: it was three attacks and one didn't succeed, and the one at the rock concert succeeded because of lack of security. Russia and the US have had worse attacks, not to mention the Philippines India and China.

And to those who blame all Muslims for the attack: Well, that would like blaming me for the IRA attack on Maggie Thatcher. (Jimmy Breslin went to Ireland and quipped: It's the catholic atheists and the protestant atheists killing each other).

But there is one difference between the IRA and these bozos: join the IRA and you were excommunicated by the church. But there are many immans and mullahs who support the Muslim extremists trying to revive an Islamic utopia that never existed.

If there is one little piece of good news here it is that "Anonymous" will stop attacking America as the evil one and go after the real bad guys.

Yes, US spying on the internet is dangerous to your safety if a dictator takes over, but some folks noted that the information that Snowden released alerted these latest bozos how to plan the attack unnoticed.

Snowden's minions hyperventillated over US spying: but a small story last week revealed Germany's spying was just as bad, but didn't get the two minute hate in the left wing echochamber (and this was against their darling President Obama: Imagine if President Bush/Cruz/Trump/whoever is in charge).

As for Islam: All religions have extremists, but most of the time it is about utopians trying to make a paradise, be it the Roundheads of Cromwell, the legions of Rome, the utopians of the French revolution, or the legions of Mao/Lenin/PolPot.

The good news is that most Muslims seek a personal relationship to God.

The bad news is that Mohammed,when confronted with infidels who opposed him,  decided that war was okay against the infidels. And like Cromwell, these bozos arise, quote the koran, and try to destroy those less pious in the name of religion.

the UKTelegraph editorial notes:

Revenge, rather than willingness to compromise or submit to the victors, is the traditional response of Islamist Muslims to the defeat of Muslim armies. And for them, this battle has no front line and is not limited to a few years or even decades. They think in terms of conflict spread over generations...

And the dirty little secret is that there are some Muslim states (who shall be nameless) who are pushing these ideas (not out of piety but so they can keep power and control all that lovely money).

again, from the UKTelegraph editorial:
The fundamentalist interpretation of Islam is not a common mode of thinking for most Muslims, especially in recent times. But it is clearly driving the political agenda in Muslim countries
My own take: Uh, you might use the internet and modern weapons, but who is going to run the place for you? (dirty little secret: the Middle East etc. requires outsiders to run their hospitals and oil fields etc. Get rid of the Pinoys and Indians and who will keep the oil fields running, not to mention clean your house and take care of your kids?).

and notice: They managed to kill unarmed civilians at a rock concert, but even they didn't manage to get into the stadium because a security guard stopped them.

and maybe the Pope is hyperventillating because the church remembers the many, many times that Islam aimed at destroying Rome as they did Constantinople. Lepanto anyone?

so what is the answer?

well, it is NOT to give them a hug and put a French flag on facebook.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The WAGD of the week

I haven't listened to the video yet (about the Mandan tribe which was wiped out by smallpox).

I brought her book PoxAmericana with me for my library here in the Philippines...the book traces the epidemic along trade routes to the upper part of North America. And it notes how small pox changed history: Canada stayed Canadian because smallpox wiped out the American invaders, but Washington innoculated his army to protect it...but the blacks who joined the British hoping to gain their freedom were not innoculated (out of ignorance) so many of them died in the camps before they could be used as soldiers.

and at Scribd, I am busy reading this book about epidemic disease in the Philippines in the late 1800's/ early1900's, and how the displacements of war and revolution made things a lot worse.

In disasters and war, people flee, and need shelter, clothing, and food. The weak die, and epidemics from bad water etc. can kill thousands (much of the mortality of the wars of Central Africa is from disease, not guns).

Which is why the 4 horsemen are famine, disease, war, and anarchy.

Someone on one of the midnight conspiracy talk shows mentioned that if an EMP or solar flare wiped out the power grid could kill 90 percent of the American population...I won't link to the prepper sites, but a solar flare could do a lot of damage too....

But although ebola gets a lot of publicity, at least that disease can be stopped by washing and strict isolation: the real danger would be an air release of smallpox or a similar air borne virus into a population (like younger Americans) who have not been vaccinated. And if bird flu evolves we could see another "spanish flu" epidemic similar to that of 1918...

There was a lot of worry about smallpox after 911, and our federal clinic was even sent a memo on how to vaccinate everyone and isolate cases (using schools, churches etc). A bioterrorism wargame on this back in the late 1990's was called DarkWinter.

the National Guard, along with the military and the USPHS commissioned corps would be tasked for the policing, for setting up clinics, for providing clean water and electricity, and for cleanup.

the "good" news is that the Mullahs of Iran are corrupt, and wouldn't want to destroy the earth for fear of losing their filthy lucre (/s). Russia realizes this, which is why they are backing Iran in the fight.

The "bad" news is that ISIS etc. are crazy enough to do such things.

But the "good" news is that they don't have the expertise to do too much damage so far. That is the reason for all those drone strikes that the pacifist bemoan: They are trying to get rid of the smart guys who make the complicated bombs etc.

So they killed a lot of folks with guns in Paris at a rock concert with poor security, but they didn't get into the stadium to kill people because they were stopped by a security guard...

so for all the hysteria against refugees, it might be smarter to arrest the Saudi trained imans preaching jihad in Saudi funded mosques and those funding the hate media, instead of stopping refugees. And maybe healthy young men who claim to be refugees should get at the back of the line, and let the lower risk older men, women, and children in first.


Here in the Philippines, there were quite a few bombings by various bad guys (Some Islamoterrorists but also ordinary Islamic "militants", theNPA, or simply gangsters taking revenge on those who didn't give them bribes.)

Churches, stores, ferries, and even a mall have been bombed, so now if you go into a mall, you get frisked, wanded, and your bag searched. When reports are up, we even see the military around (although they are usually chasing the NPA). However election year is coming, so there is a "headsup" for political killings in our area.

Hmm.. wonder if the bishop will have all those running for office sign a "no aggression" pack like they did a couple years ago?


sort of related item: The Oct31 edition of the NEJournal is up and has lots of photos of the flooding in our province.

who needs a terrorist threat when a lot of the mudslides and excessive water run off is from illegal logging which is enabled by corruption?

Science stories

(from ABC Aus)
Answering the question a lot of us were wondering:

Why not just use the Hubble telescope to examine Pluto?

"It comes down to the simple fact that even though galaxies are much further away than Pluto, they're also hundreds of trillions of times bigger, so despite their greater distance, they still wind up covering much more of the sky," Dr Lidman said.

------------------- has the best stories of the week.


Freakonomics podcast on the science of food.


Don't let your dogs use sugarless gum: the xylitol is danger to them.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stories below the fold

Forget Paleo: The Victorian diet is the way to go

Stone-ground wholemeal bread made with lots of yeast, which is beneficial to the immune systemVegetables including watercress onions, cabbages, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot Fruits including apples, cherries and plumsCheap joints of meat, cooked on the bonesFish such as herring, mackerel and herring and cod roesPotatoes and large cuts of meat were more expensive and so were consumed less commonlySugar was a luxury eaten by the wealthy classesWorking class Victorians did not smoke or drink alcohol other than weak, yeast-rich beer 

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

The UKMail also has an article on the surrogate mothers in Mexico.  

the flip side of abortion/contraception, and is forbidden by the Catholic church since it separates sex from babies and makes babies a commodity (and in this case, exploiting desperately poor women).
 Luckily most of these kids are loved by their parents


DavidReneke has two articles on Einstein.

One about his opinion on God, another about spooky actions at a distance in quantum theory.


from Presurfer: Five meals that changed history

a bit of an exaggeration, but interesting


one of the uncovered stories of the last 20 years: CDC story: Measles eradication saving lives.

New measles vaccination coverage and case data for all countries during 2000–2014 led to a new series of mortality estimates. During this period, estimated measles deaths decreased 79%, from 546,800 to 114,900, and all regions had substantial reductions in estimated measles mortality (Tables 1 and 2). Compared with no measles vaccination, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 17.1 million deaths during 2000–2014


Vacation suggestion for Thor lovers comes from Atlas Obscura: the Festival of exploding hammers.

actually it celebrates a local saint, a priest who fought the rich landowners to help the poor...
 the weapon of choice for revelers is still explosive hammers, thrown about by live human beings. Breaking down this tradition further, it looks more like legitimately homemade firecrackers are strapped to the end of a sledgehammer, whereupon a young male will slam their slapdash thunder-stick onto a sheet of metal, detonating the package to the delight of everyone (while sometimes sending the brave young lad flying like a rag doll). Man after man steps up to throw down for the Bomb Hammer Party from late morning until suppertime… or until something truly catastrophic happens to the crowd.
This hiccup is what has designated the Feast of San Juan de la Vega among the most dangerous festivals in the world