Thursday, January 18, 2018

First they came for the cars

Then they came for our airconditioners,

and now: OH NO: Not my microwave! from

Microwaves usage across the EU alone emits as much carbon dioxide as nearly seven million cars according to a new study by The University of Manchester...
The study found: Microwaves emit 7.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year in the EU. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 6.8 million cars.

but then they will come for your meat and eggs: because cattle produce methane, a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2..

so what should you eat? Go Vegan: eat organically grown brown rice.

Uh OH: rice paddies produce CO2 and methane too. (and will be worse from that nasty global warming.

More HERE: and the methane emissions can be cut by dry cultivation, but the dirty little secret is that to get a good crop you end up using herbicides instead of using water to keep the weeds down.

Economics lesson for today: Why do CEO's get paid so much?

From Freakonomics:

They’re paid a fortune — but for what, exactly? What makes a good C.E.O. — and how can you even tell? Is “leadership science” a real thing — or just airport-bookstore mumbo jumbo? We put these questions to Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Indra Nooyi, Satya Nadella, Jack Welch, Ray Dalio, Carol Bartz, David Rubenstein, and Ellen Pao. (Part 1 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

The Great Escape

audiobook on line:

audiobook behind the classic film. and no, the famous Steve McQueen motorcycle chase never happened: They made it up for the movie... but much of the rest of the movie was true.

Move over Chuck Norris

Leng Feng to the rescue.

and yes it has some political commentary: the reason he is in Africa? It starts with a real estate company tearing down his house in China after he got back from Wolf Warrior I. He fought them, and ended up in jail so now he is working in the private sector.

In China, one reason for rioting (that the western media doesn't notice) is because people's ancestral land or houses are confiscated by bullies/corrupt businessmen who bribe local officials, to build new stuff. (one reason why Avatar was banned in China).

But the rest of it is pure one man against the world, as in Rambo or in DieHard.

the story is rescuing Chinese civilians from a civil war in Africa.

Yes, another story ignored by the US MSM: The presence of Chinese in Africa.

no, not "do gooders keeping people in their (primitive) traditional ways" (no GM food for you guys: Starve;. And no decent factories either: hoe the maize like your ancestors, instead of learning about computers and cellphones) or do gooders who protect the environment (what do you mean the elephants were ruining the crops and the lions killed your kids? That's no reason to kill the poor animals so beloved of western yuppies).

it's a lot easier to join the trolls against Trump for calling these places hell holes than recognizing that they are, and one reason is because of corruption: Local politicians steal everything in site.

As for the piracy:in the film it is off the east coast of Africa, (think Somalia) but nowadays there is also a lot of piracy off the coast of Nigeria: not only our Filipino sailers on oil tankers or supply ships are the victims, but there has been Chinese kidnapped there too, and China is friendly with Nigeria, because of all that oil there.


For better or for worse, they are there and building a new Africa, whereas American films tend to be about animal, or about poverty, without seeing how Africa, like Asia, is changing.

Many African countries are thriving; other not so much... and as for "hellholes": It's the corruption, stupid.

that was a 2006 article, but this 2016 article at the Guardian shows not much has changed.

The sums are not small: recently a former Nigerian state governor pleaded guilty to a £50m fraud. In 2001, it emerged that a former Nigerian dictator laundered $1.3bn through London banks. Nigeria ranks 136 out of 167 in Transparency International’s corruption index. Its current president asked Britain to return assets held by dishonest Nigerians, shrugging off David Cameron’s suggestion that his nation was “fantastically corrupt”.
Not just from Nigeria, of course: Zimbabwe similarly has been looted by their corrupt political leaders... and all this is done with the help of multinational banks, of course.(2005 article). More recent article here:Africa's wealth floods offshore as corrupt leaders, corporations use banks to hide fortunes (2015)

China, of course, is also very corrupt, but is used to working with corrupt politicians. The danger? If they prop up the corrupt governments they might end up being thrown out.

Or if a "nationalist" government takes over, they could be deported and their businesses confiscated.

Lecture series of the week

The lessons of history. From the Durant's book:

check it out before the copyright trolls find it is there.

stories behind the news

Austin Bay analyzes the problems that caused the Hawaii alert, including the complicated drop down computer program that was probably the cause, and then goes on to discuss missile and defense issues.

Point 3: the incident demonstrates computer and digital device vulnerability to cyber warfare attacks, especially computers linked to alert networks.
it's not just missile attacks, of course: Also tornadoes, typhoons, flood warnings, and tsunamis. We have these alerts for cellphones in Manila, for example, and here everyone has cellphones, even the tricycle drivers and the maids. But since we live outside of Manila, the warnings are not always about our area, alas.

In the past, "weather radios", or local sirens  would alert us of tornadoes in Oklahoma (but since we were off the grid, usually the warnings came after the tornadoes went by. Which is why Okies stand OUTSIDE when there are storms, while sending the kids into the shelter).

the danger of what happened in Hawaii is that the next time, folks will ignore the alert.

and for the military it points out an even more ominous danger:

Point 3, hackers have grown more sophisticated in techniques and technology. The Pentagon is worried about the cyber attacks on U.S. sensor systems (like those detecting missile launches) and on some offensive weapons (to include nuclear weapons). The Hawaii fiasco shows how much chaos an enemy hacker can create by generating a false attack alert. The enemy then follows the cyber fake with a genuine ICBM attack.


Dr Deming's quality control theories are supposed to be used by the US Navy, and this article discusses how they should have been implemented so that recent ship accidents would have been avoided.

For later reading. But here is a short video of Dr. Deming himself:


David Reneke asks and tries to answer the questions you really want to know about outer space, such as: What's on the other side of a black hole.

includes this factoid: No, you can't see the Great Wall of China from the space station, but you can see the pyramids of Giza.


a meteor almost took out Detroit. 

the meteor broke up before it hit the earth, but reminds one that missiles aren't the only danger coming out of the sky.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Duterte vs the press ( or is it vs the CIA?)

the WSJ article says Duterte shut down Rappler for being critical of him.

Not Duterte, of course, but the government office that regulates the press.

The nation’s Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement published on its website Monday that it had found Rappler Inc. liable for violating constitutional requirements on foreign-ownership limits and revoked the company’s certificate of incorporation.
the Philippines doesn't like foreigners to own businesses or properties here. I can't even own my own house or inherit my husband's rice farm.

the real question: Is Rappler owned illegally by non citizens? And behind that question is this one: did those foreign investors influence the stories covered by Rappler? Did they want to manipulate the news for their own nefarious purposes. (/s)

Rappler, which is run under respected journalist Maria Ressa is well known for their in depth exposes of problems in the Philippines. One doesn't need a bribe to investigate corruption, be it Duterte's murderous wars or the severe problems with corruption ignored by the previous president, who was seen by much of the MSM as being Mr Clean.

Rappler has been very critical on Duterte's "war on drugs" that has led to so many deaths directly (by cops in raids) or indirectly (i.e. vigilante/pay back murders that won't be prosecuted, and drug pushers killing snitches). But so has everyone else. So why shut only them down?

Because they are good at getting the details? Maybe.

but the story is a bit more complicated, as this Inquirer (a center left paper) editorial discusses. Because Rappler is not only accused of being funded by (illegal) foreign money, but there was a real question if foreign money influenced reporting.

Rappler denies both outside influence and outside funding for their site:

Rappler explained: “Our foreign investors, Omidyar Network and North Base do not own Rappler. They invest, but they don’t own. …
Read more: 

But it is interesting that the Inquirer headline is:   Does the CIA own Rappler? because that was the charge that really upset everyone.

here is the backstory:

As I have mentioned before, even Mariam noted that the last election was between the communist candidate (Duterte is sympathetic to them, both the local NPA and China) and the CIA Candidate aka the American girl.

And it didn't help that for the election, the US sent in an Ambassador who had been thrown out of Bolivia for interfering with their elections, and who, after the election was won by Duterte, left behind a blueprint to undermine Duterte.

The Manila Times October 2017 has a story on how this is done, and the similarities on how it was done by the same folks in the Ukraine a couple years ago.

The NED initially extended modest funds to Ukrainian opposition groups, and increased them substantially as the political crisis in that country broke out that led to the overthrow in 2014 of pro-Russia Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, to be replaced by pro-US leaders.
NED president Carl Gershman, who has been openly rabidly anti-Russian would boast after Yanukovych’s fall: “Ukraine is the biggest prize“. (Another US outfit that has funded NGOs in Ukraine that helped topple Yanukovych is Omidyar Network, owned by tycoon Pierre Omdiyar. It is one of the two foreign financiers of another anti-Duterte media outfit, Rappler.)

connect the dots... follow the money...

is it fake news, or is it just smoke and mirrors by Duterte's minions to destroy an honest press?

Hmm.. a lot of this story resembles the American fake news manipulations, such as Hillary's post election plan to undermine Trumpie boy with the Russia Russia RUSSIA claims, and now that that is fading, with bimbo eruption rumors. (This last won't dent Duterte's popularity: having bimbos on the side just makes him look macho, and Filipinos admire macho)..

Shutting down an opposition paper is not a good thing.

On the other hand, as the Inquirer editorial points out: the laws regulating foreign ownership need to be reformed, but until the law is fixed, Rappler's denials look more like smoke screens than the way an honest person would respond to charges.

Rappler quoted Mocha Uson claiming it “is allegedly funded by the (US Central Intelligence Agency),” then replied, “LOL!” Bashers spread memes of its GIS saying it does “property and investment development” and “SPO4 Pia Rañada-Robles.”
One hopes the spat continues to amuse using more accurate legal terminology. 

In summary, the errors in it's financial papers make Rappler suspect for foreign interference.

And the irony?

in a land where corruption/bribes and kickbacks are the way things work, they got caught.

Guess they didn't know enough to fix the books, or maybe they were just too honest and naive.

Heck, even in the US, it's easy to hide bribes/influence peddling by masking them as something else; for example, making contributions to the politician's charitable foundation.

How to get hacked

I don't know if this story will be found to be accurate, but the (right wing) Boston Herald reports: (updated link) that Hawaii was prepared for a possible missile attack last summer and had a big article about it, including photos of the personnel, that included their computers with the pass word on post-it notes in the background.

Gateway pundit has the screen captures.

But it's not like they made the password hard to guess:

The system password is “Password Warningpoint2”.

of course, this photo was from July 2017, so as one comment remarked, maybe it was changed since then, but one does wonder if  it was incompetence, or if there was a hack.

Burmese ethnic cleansing

I have written about the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingye in the past, even before their plight hit the headlines.

But now things are worse: There is an outbreak of both cholera and diphtheria in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.

NatGeo short film on the refugees

more about the UN and others working to fight this epidemic on my medical blog.

but while checking out articles for my medical blog, I found that they are not the only refugees from Burma who have fled to nearby countries: a lot of tribal ethnic minorities have fled also, mainly to Thailand:

Around 400,000 Karen people are without housing, and 128,000 are living in camps on the Thailand-Burma border. According to BMC, "79% of refugees living in these camps are Karen ethnicity."[31] 

So here in SEAsia, we not only have the problem of legal and non legal economic migrants, but have to cope with repeated episodes of huge number of refugees.

This article is about the Philippines accepting refugees from various wars over the last century.

and as this article points out, the tribal Burmese refugeesare the largest group of refugees being settled in the USA: and they now face another obstacle: An anti refugee president.

In Trump-speak, “refugee” is often used as a byword for conniving Muslims who might be sleeper agents of ISIS. But this indicates profound confusion — or deception — about the origins of US-bound refugees. The No. 1 group of modern refugees in America is neither Syrian nor Iraqi nor Muslim nor Arab. They’re Christians from Myanmar, also called Burma. In the past 10 years, roughly one in four US-bound refugees have come from Myanmar.

this sappy film is about these refugees,(many of whom settled in Iowa).

ok Trumpie boy: Who is my brother?

Podcast of the week

Mythgard movie club podcast this week is the Last Jedi.

MP3 link.

Superheroes 2.0

So the Marvel universe is making a movie about the Black Panther, and AICN comments:

First of all: HOLY HECK, FOREST WHITAKER! Looking pretty cool! Second, it looks like one of the locations this movie is taking place in is South Korea, I wonder what will bring our hero there? Haven’t read the comics, maybe one of you geeks out there know something about that in the comics? But don’t post any spoilers! Not knowing much about Black Panther other than his role in “Captain America: Civil War” leaves this movie in so much mystery for me, and it’s great! I’m excited to learn more about the hero and Wakanda. I love the idea of advanced technology in a country on Earth that isn’t the United States, not that I’m anti-US, but it changes things up from what we’ve seen before more often than not in movies.

I'm not into the Marvel universe (too much action, too little plot).

But Marvel is not the only one with a superhero: Here, we have Captain Barbell:

Captain Barbell is a fictional Filipino comics superhero, similar to, the American SupermanCaptain Marvel or Shazam, and Thor created by writer, Mars Ravelo and artist Jim Fernandez. He first appeared in Pinoy Komiks #5 (May 23, 1963). Like Darna, he also had an alter-ego named Tengteng, a thin, weakling and asthmatic person whose only dream was to become strong and muscular. He also appeared in Kampeon Komiks (Champion Comics).[1]

 and he even has his own TV show:

and forget Wonder Woman: We have Darna:

Darna is a fictional superhero appearing in Filipino comics. The character was created for Pilipino Komiks by writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo in 1950. She first appeared in Pilipino Komiks (Ace Publications, Inc.) #77 (May 13, 1950).

Pencil 2.0

The NYTimes had a photo essay last week about the last pencil factory in the USA.

A pencil is a little wonder-wand: a stick of wood that traces the tiniest motions of your hand as it moves across a surface. I am using one now, making weird little loops and slashes to write these words. As a tool, it is admirably sensitive. The lines it makes can be fat or thin, screams or whispers, blocks of concrete or blades of grass, all depending on changes of pressure so subtle that we would hardly notice them in any other context. (The difference in force between a bold line and nothing at all would hardly tip a domino.) And while a pencil is sophisticated enough to track every gradation of the human hand, it is also simple enough for a toddler to use. 

archeoblog links to that article and notes:

I believe I may have written before on this topic in the context of this book by Henry Petroski:
 Petroski ranges widely in time, discussing the writing technologies of antiquity. But his story really begins in the early modern period, when, in 1565, a Swiss naturalist first described the properties of the mineral that became known as graphite. Petroski traces the evolution of the pencil through the Industrial Revolution, when machine manufacture replaced earlier handwork. Along the way, he looks at some of pencil making’s great innovators–including Henry David Thoreau, the famed writer, who worked in his father’s pencil factory, inventing techniques for grinding graphite and experimenting with blends of lead, clay, and other ingredients to yield pencils of varying hardness and darkness. Petroski closes with a look at how pencils are made today–a still-imperfect technology that may yet evolve with new advances in materials and design.

so who invented the pencil?

Although the exact inventor of the pencil is unknown, Conrad Gesner is often credited with the invention. In 1565, Gesner was the first to document the use of graphite placed in a wooden shaft, which was the predecessor to modern pencils

or maybe not: the pencil as we know it came later:

Pencils were invented in 1795 by a French scientist named Nicolas-Jacques Conte. He used a mixture of graphite, clay and water baked in a kiln to create the "lead" of the pencil. He then housed this mixture in a wooden frame for writing
another reference to the evolution of pencils LINK includes this information on the eraser:

In 1770, the noted scientist Sir Joseph Priestley (discoverer of oxygen) recorded the following, "I have seen a substance excellently adapted to the purpose of wiping from paper the mark of black lead pencil." ...
English engineer, Edward Naime is also credited with the creation of the first eraser in 1770. Before rubber, breadcrumbs had been used to erase pencil marks. Naime claims he accidentally picked up a piece of rubber instead of his lump of bread and discovered the possibilities. He went on to sell the new rubbing out devices or rubbers.
and then there was the pencil sharpener: Wikipedia notes:

Before the development of dedicated pencil sharpeners, a pencil was sharpened by whittling it with a knife...French mathematician Bernard Lassimonne applied for the first patent (French patent #2444) on pencil sharpeners in 1828, but it was not until 1847 that the pencil sharpener in its recognizable modern form was invented by fellow Frenchman Thierry Des Estivaux

There is an old urban legend that NASA spent thousands of dollars designing a space pen that worked in zero gravity, while the Russians just used a cheap pencil.

That joke was meant to show how inefficient the government was.

However, as Scientific American pointed out:

Pencils may not have been the best choice anyway. The tips could flake or break off, drifting in microgravity where they might harm an astronaut or equipment. And pencils are flammable—a characteristic NASA wanted to avoid in onboard objects after the Apollo 1 fire.

Why the lights are still out in PuertoRico

from the Intercept:


without the parts, the linemen were unable to fix things. So who was hiding the parts, who paid for them, and who benefits from this?

sounds familiar. We saw this  after the typhoons, when relief supplies were put in the wrong places and didn't get to where they were needed. Of course, here some of it went missing because politicians diverted funds, food, and construction material to sell for private profit on the side, and others hoarded/hid needed supplies so they could release them in photo ops before the elections.

Or maybe it's just Mismanagement. On a huge scale. By a local utility. Who just didn't know what was stored there, where it was stored, or what the equipment was supposed to be used for.

as the saying goes: Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.

Mismanagement is not a new phenomenon for PREPA, which for decades has been Puerto Rico’s sole power provider. For most of that time, it had been self-regulated, with a board comprised largely of political appointees with little to no background in the electricity sector. The lack of oversight created conditions for corruption and disinvestment, with its generation and transmission capacity falling into severe disrepair over many years.

lots of questionable stuff going on.

How bad is it? well, some mayors used local funding and local talent to fix their electric grid. So there are competent people trying to fix things.

headsup Instapundit.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Foul mouthed president

No, not Trumpieboy, but our beloved Rody:

“My mouth is really foul especially when you piss me off,” he added.
Mr. Duterte said he was never a statesman because “the mind-set that I have, that of a mayor, I brought it to the presidency.”
“And I realized that being President, you cannot say ‘son of a whore,’” he said.
Mr. Duterte said the people should just accept him for what he was as it was “too late” for him to change.

Read more: 

and in the comments, the trolls are out in full force: namecalling and echoing the memes, not posting anything thoughtful.

But he remains popular with working folks who are too busy to troll political sites, which is why even without facebook and twitter and google censorship, such trolls are already censoring "public opinion" by driving some of us off the "social media"...


update: Instapundit:
AN IDEA SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK: Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power of Civility at Work and in Life.

Reality vs hysteria

The hysteria over Trumpie boy's blunt obscenity pointing out people in poor countries continue to see America as a place of hope, is destroying DACA.

In other words, the Democrats prefer to play the politics of hatred instead of the art of the deal. Duh.

Instead of pointing out that our ancestors came from similar circumstances, including Trumpieboy's mom, and that the reason immigrants find work is that they are willing to work.

The problem: when they are illegal, their illegal status makes them vulnerable to being exploited by their employers, and so they work for low wages often without benefits.

So yes, a wall is needed, and control of illegal immigration is the first step.

And no one is going to throw out a couple million people already in the USA: didn't anyone bother to read "the art of the deal"?

...and stop acting as if deporting those guilty of felonies is wrong. Every time you do this, you get ordinary people who play by the rules rolling up their eyes, agreeing with you in the opinion polls because they fear ostracism, but voting differently when they are in the polling booth that counts.

so one can see how a compromise could be reached here.

But no, instead of discussing reality, the Democrats and the MSM prefer to get the vapors and faint like a Victorian lady.

Reality check:

The up and coming construction industry for new housing will need a lot of people wanting to do "dirty jobs": and if the effete yuppies with degrees in Art History or gender studies don't want to get their hands dirty, well, a lot of immigrants will do it for them.

and a lot of the despair leading to the drug problem among proud workers who can't find jobs will decrease too... a lot of these guys (and gals) will promptly sober up and get a job, if they aren't physically addicted, so expect the Overdose deaths from Chinese fentanyl via Mexico to go down in the future.

Instead, the media is on the "legalize marijuana" bandwagon. Uh, long halflife will result in a lot of accidents and shoddy work, but again no one is discussing this problem, nor the problem that this is a gateway drug into using something stronger...

FYI: The problem of economic migrants is not an American or even a European one. We see it here in Asia: both as people migrating here for jobs and our people migrating to work elsewhere.

The middle east is run by such willing migrant workers, often Pakistani, Indian, Indonesian, Filipino, and in more recent years, African. You know: from countries that are hellholes, and where family members are willing to migrate and work hard, dirty jobs to pull their families out of poverty.

Our family is in half a dozen countries, either as legal immigrants (US, Australia, Canada, UK, Italy) or as temporary workers (Saudi, Kuwait).

MigrantRights blog has lots of stories from Asian and the Middle East about illegal migrants: about how they are often exploited, or how they found jobs and overstayed their visas illegally, or how countries are finding them and sending them home.

One way to discourage this is to make immigration safe and legal, and then enforce the laws.

but hysteria to get votes and to feel self righteous is more satisfying than actually working something out.

a pox on both their houses.


Speaking of exploiting the poor: I ran across this review of a new film about sex trafficking:

I stumbled into this film knowing nothing about it upfront, but bought a ticket because it was playing "next" when I walked up to the theater. I was only able to sit through the first half of the film before I walked out. I could not stomach the sick nature that some of the characters did a great job of portraying. It's hard to imagine that people can be so sickening in real life, but apparently that is what this movie is based on. I lost sleep over it last night after watching it.

why, yes. Reality sucks.

cops know these things, as do we docs who work in the ****holes of America... but too often films and TV shows make the exploiters the heroes and the girls as happy hookers. So why is anyone surprised that these Putanginas in Hollywood etc. actually don't think it's wrong to exploit actresses (or boys)?

Ditto for how Hollywood portrays the drug world, as if drugs were fun and didn't destroy lives. In the USA, a million kids are in foster care or are cared for by their relatives because mom is too high to care for them...

Family news

Joy arrived back from Canada yesterday.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Musical interlude of the day

Is the Pope Catholic?

This could be serious: Catholicism is in a slow schism and things are getting worse:

Language lesson for today

Trumpieboy is not the first president to use salty language:

There is a story that when Harry Truman was speaking at a Grange convention in Kansas City, Mrs. Truman and a friend were in the audience. 
Truman in his speech said, “I grew up on a farm and one thing I know—farming means manure, manure, manure, and more manure.”
At this, Mrs. Truman’s friend whispered to her, “Bess, why on earth don’t you get Harry to say fertilizer?”
“Good Lord, Helen,” replied Mrs. Truman, “You have no idea how many years it has taken me to get him to say manure.”
Bits and Pieces, April, 1991


And Harry also threatened a member of the press with physical harm (for criticizing his daughter).

Mr. Hume:
I've just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert...
It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful...
Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!

13th century LOLCats

the British Library has an article on the LOL cats in medieval times.

Detail of miniatures of cats catching mice, mice stealing eucharistic wafers, and (below), an ancestor of Keyboard Cat: a later marginal doodle of a cat playing a stringed instrument; from a bestiary, England (Salisbury?), 2nd quarter of the 13th century, Harley MS 4751, f. 30v.

The internet is considered by many to be a delivery-system for pictures of cats, and it should be no surprise, therefore, to learn the identity of today's bestiary animal. ..
...cats were often shown in manuscript illumination with mice they have caught, and below, we can even see a Tom-and-Jerry style depiction of a mouse caught by a cat, caught in turn by a dog.  No word on the current disposition of the house that Jack built.

so much for the modern anti Catholic meme among animal loving bigots that medieval people saw cats as evil and killed so many that the black plague was the result. (ignoring that Muslims and Hindus and good Chinese Buddhists also died of the black plague epidemic of course).

Even anchoresses were allowed to have cats:

Detail of a miniature of a nun spinning thread, as her pet cat plays with the spindle; from the Maastricht Hours, the Netherlands (Liège), 1st quarter of the 14th century, Stowe MS 17, f. 34r; for more on the Maastricht Hours, see ourrecent post on the manuscript.
 Cats could be companion animals as well.  One guidebook on appropriate behaviour and conduct for anchoresses (female hermits), famously advises that, while the anchoress was forbidden most luxuries, she was allowed a pet cat.  

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Pinoy commercial of the week


Cat Item of the day


A new BBC programme has revealed the little known world of the smallest cat on the planet, in footage captured while filming a documentary about its much larger relatives.
The rusty spotted cat, which weighs just over one kilogram and could fit in the palm of your hand when it is fully grown... is found only in the forests of Sri Lanka and India and is 200 times lighter than a lion - but is equally predatory when it comes to the search for food.

How Democrats can win

Freakonomics has a podcast interview with the governor of Rhode Island.

she discusses the pension problem and the need for jobs.

DUBNER: So, you’re a relatively anomalous Democratic governor in that you’ve got a business background, in venture capital and so on, and in bringing along small businesses. Do you think that that is a kind of — the sort of component that’s necessary for modern Democrats to get elected?
RAIMONDO: I don’t know if you have to have come from business, but you have to understand, value, and respect businesses, and small business in particular. And understand the fact that, really, what most people crave and deserve is a decent job with economic security.
So in other words, if you’re afraid to talk about business or to appear too close to business, it’s hard to actually tap into people’s real and legitimate anxiety about the economy, because folks just want a job. That’s what I want for my kid. I don’t know if you have kids, but what do you want for your kids? You want them to be happy and to have a steady job.

read the whole thing.

Snow Snow beautiful snow

Friday, January 12, 2018

Before the Hitchhiker's guide

Article about Douglas Adams.

he started on Monty Python and went on to Dr Who...

Right now, NetFlix is showing Dirk Gently.

but his real claim to fame is the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I first heard this on the old fashioned shortwave radio in the late 1970s: the BBC series. 

there was also a BBC TV series in the early 1980's.

fuzzy movie version Here.

and a podcast series discussing the book is on Mythgard.


High Heels

Improbable research links to articles trying to answer the most important question of the day: Why wear high heels?

 a new (experimentally-tested) hypothesis by David M. G. Lewis, Eric M. Russell, Laith Al-Shawaf, Vivian Ta, Zeynep Senveli, William Ickes and David M. Buss, presented in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, Nov. 2017.
“[…] we hypothesized that high heels influence women’s attractiveness via effects on their lumbar curvature. Independent studies that employed distinct methods, eliminated multiple confounds, and ruled out alternative explanations showed that when women wear high heels, their lumbar curvature increased and they were perceived as more attractive. Closer analysis revealed an even more precise pattern aligning with human evolved psychology: high-heeled footwear increased women’s attractiveness only when wearing heels altered their lumbar curvature to be closer to an evolutionarily optimal angle.”
See: Why Women Wear High Heels: Evolution, Lumbar Curvature, and Attractiveness

the website TheHistoryOfHighHeels notes that wearing high heels goes back to at least 5000 years ago.

more at Nimma'sFashionsourcebook. that has a photo of heels used in ancient Egypt.

although many of the "high heels" seem to be clogs: Raised on platforms, presumably so you didn't step into mud or animal droppings.

And of course, high heels were worn by men: maybe to look tall, but even today, cowboy boots have heels to better hold the stirrups when you are on a horse.

and if you like Fashion history, try to find this film:

the Telescope that changed the way we see the universe

and NASA has a free ebook /pdf for you

It is named for astronomer Edwin Hubble.

Hubble's revolutionary work includes finding a constant relationship between galaxies' redshift and distance, which helped to eventually prove that the universe is expanding. Additionally, a classification system that he created for galaxies has been used by other researchers for decades, now known as the Hubble sequence.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The story you probably missed at the Golden Globes

DelToro, at the Golden Globes, while accepting an award for the Shape of Water, refused to be silenced into a short speech and was the indirect victim of a pointed attack about the lack of female directors.

photo credit: Reuters

As if it was his fault.

But Hollywood is busy making every awkward flirtation as a crime, and the females there are reveling in their victimhood. so every man is the enemy (while still showing their cleavage of course, because it's all a show).

but if you go past the "me too" verbiage of the report and read what is written further down, you will find a really poignant story:

During his Globes speech, del Toro credited the film, along with two of his others - 2006's Pan's Labyrinth and 2001's Devil's Backbone - with "saving his life".
"This movie's ultimately a biography, and out of this really dark turmoil, you find a little bit of light. And that has happened to be several times in 25 years of storytelling," he tells the BBC.
"It happened certainly on The Devil's Backbone. I was at the end of my rope after having done only two movies, one of them - Mimic - was with Miramax Dimension, that was such a bad experience, such a harrowing experience, and then there was the kidnapping of my father shortly thereafter.
after that, Devil's Backbone picked me up and healed me. "And in a different set of circumstances, that happened with Pan's Labyrinth. These movies come out of that very dark night of the soul."
Here is the story of that incident:

His father was kidnapped for ransom (in Guadalahara).

...director Guillermo del Toro shared a powerful and personal tale following the kidnapping of his father two decades ago.
“What terror seeks is to provoke hatred- and thus, they will recruit the hated ones, the marginal, the desperate into their ranks,” the filmmaker began on Twitter, calling the short anecdote “A memory in 8 tweets.”
Del Toro went on to recount the aftermath of the kidnapping of his father, Federico del Toro, by criminals in Guadalajara. After a ransom of $1 million was paid by del Toro’s friend James Cameron, Federico was freed following 72 days in captivity.

and the cops offered him a chance to revenge on the kidnappers, which he refused:

We said no. Absolutely no to both. We felt hatred and pain but could not be a part of the cycle of violence.”

Behind the hype: War on terror stuff

Most of the news is the usual "Trump/Russia/men are pigs/me too" etc.

But a summary of the real news, and how the "war on terror" is morphing in recent years can be found at StrategyPage.

Update your memes.

Colombia is peaceful and the economy there is booming...

it's often overlooked that up to the 1990's, the major terrrorist threats were Marxist types, not radical Islam inspired crazies.

Here is what happened in Colombia:

Eventually referred to as "La Violencia" (The Violence) the seemingly endless fighting went on to leave over half a million dead, and millions injured or displaced. Millions more simply fled the country, either into neighboring states, or distant destinations like the U.S. or Europe. La Violencia kept going for many reasons and was ultimately a bloody struggle between leftists and conservatives...
This history has pretty well be erased from the books, since most of those writing the books were 1980's anti war leftists who had a romantic view of these "insurgents" of central and south America that wasn't disturbed by reality, since few of them actually had families there.

(Often the leftist "anti war" types were organized to demonstrate and spread America is evil type propaganda when the US/CIA tried to stop them. Which is why in the US, the US intervention in VietNam or Central America is seen as evil, while the 10 million who fled Viet Nam after that government fell, the millions killed by PolPot, or the millions who fled communist inspired violence in Colombia/ Central America were ignored.)

(this left wing trend included many of those in the middle management of Catholicism that was busy replacing morality and Jesus with marxism/leftist causes since the 1970's, and is now including the Pope as their main cheerleader. What has not been noticed is that this has resulted in a boom for Christian churches in Latin American and here in the Philippines).

this is partially the story behind DACA and the ElSalvador refugees: The communists have evolved into drug gangs and thugs, so who wants to go home? Even in nearby Mexico, whose economy is booming,  the murder rate is high due to the drug cartels, (so high that the bishops had an exorcism of the entire country... but of course only a few named names of the crooked politicans who let the violence go on)

I should note: a relative who had joined the FARC to stop oppression by the rich, and eventually left with an amnesty, since back then FARC was morphing into drug stuff. Alas, he was later killed by unknown persons after leaving a bar: either a revenge killing by a right wing hit squad, or maybe as a warning to other recruits that they shouldn't leave the revolution behind.

So yes things are complicated.


And then there is the lowly Philippines:

After decades of effort the Philippines has finally made decisive progress in dealing with its endemic corruption, communist rebels and violence by Moslem separatists and bandits....
Moslems are only eight percent of all Filipinos, and represent an even smaller proportion of the economic activity. MILF wanted control of more of the economy, which meant control of "ancestral Moslem areas" in the south that are now populated by Christians....
This issue is still a big deal for many Moslems and could still turn into an armed rebellion against MILF and the collapse of the plan for an autonomous Moslem area in the south. But in 2017 that was attempted and failed as over a thousand Filipino ISIL adherents tried to take over a southern city and lost. Most of the Islamic terrorists died, as did nearly all their senior leaders.
After this mid-year defeat Islamic terrorist activity in the south declined considerably. So did piracy, kidnapping and drug smuggling.

yes, but the western press still only lament the drug war and take Rody's remarks literally (when he is joking or exaggerating).
Meanwhile the new government has demanded that China pay more for Filipino cooperation in the South China Sea. China and the Philippines do not trust each other, which is about as healthy as such a relationship can get.
I link to those countries because SP gets it right in countries where I have links for what is going on.

But they have a lot about the various Wars on Muslim extremism, including Pakistani trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the USA, which is the backstory of Trumpie boy's removal of their aid package.

Hillary isn't the only one who had top secret information on her private server:

. Since 2011 the Pakistani military has fewer secrets. That’s because of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout and left with the bin Laden corpse and massive amounts of documents, many of them detailing how the Pakistani military had lied to the world about secret support for al Qaeda and many other Islamic terror groups.

after confronted, they did go against a few groups, which helped, but not completely, so Trumpieboy is cutting aid, and Russia and China are not going to completely replace all that lovely money that can be diverted into one's private pockets.

lots of other stuff there about small but important changes in the Middle East.

Will peace break out? Who knows...

and remember: they have been fighting each other for 4000 years, so don't blame religion.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Far Pavilions

I have been reading the biographies and books of M M Kaye on Scribd. So nice to read a story of a happy childhood, albeit as British children of the Raj... (they had good parents, and didn't get shipped off to UK schools at age 8 like a lot of those kids). The second volume has descriptions of pre war China, along with the isolated life of the Anglo community in both countries.

I have been trying to find the miniseries The Far Pavilions on the internet... there is a fuzzy post of it on the Daily Motion.

I did read that there will be a remake of the story, a UK/Bollywood remake of the film, in the near future.

heh. You mean an Indian princess might not be played by a Jewish American princess? That would be different.

but of course, it is a romance, not a political story (although politics are in the background).

In her autobiographies, Kaye says she learned lots of stories of those days, both from her father and her father's Anglo friends, and from their Indian friends. And as children, she often overheard NSFW stories told by the servants about the many wars of India...

(the sins of colonialism are great, but some remind one not to remember the wars of the Mogul conquerers... which is still remembered... and is the backstory of today's revival of Hinduism in that country...)

update: StrategyTalk on the Pakistan/India relationship which discusses a lot of the modern historical background.

Foreigners living overseas are often clannish and socialize among themselves, although in post colonial days probably not as much.

I was always on the edge: In Zimbabwe, most of my socializing was with the other (mainly European, but some of the sisters were African) missionaries, but when I was in Liberia, the hospital was entirely run by locals, and I was the only white person there, aside from the head doctor's spouse, so I socialized with the other employees: mainly dancing at local discos.

and of course, here I live with my Filipino extended family: there are a few Anglo (and black) expats in this rural area, mainly men married to Filipina women, and some who run businesses. But I don't socialize with any of them...

Who do you believe: :The meme or your lying eyes?

That is Spengler, discussing Wolfe, Bannon, and the latest anti Trumpie boy kerfuffle.

I rarely agree with Spengler, but he usually has good points in his essays.

The news is full of the anti trumpieboy talking points, so I will post to a few "well, what about this" type articles: why? Because I hate talking points and memes.

then there is AnneAlthouse, who mentions to Rosanne Barr's discussion of why her new sitcom character will be pro Trump. Fair enough. But then she quotes Rosanne:

“I’m not a Trump apologist. There are a lot of things he’s said and done that I don’t agree with.” And: "It’s always a lesser of two evils," but she "could not vote for Hillary Clinton is because of Haiti."

heh. Someone else noticed the Haiti rebuilding debacle. Here is the BBC report on what she is talking about.


and here is Dilbert's take.

The Small Business Optimism Index hit an all-time high. That’s the new Presidential Approval Poll...I contend that business optimism — and small business optimism in particular — are the new standard for presidential approval because “economics” captures most of what a president influences.


Trumpie boy is now musing if he should start bribing giving pork barrel money for local projects to congressmen to get things passed in congress.

well, I hate to remind you: That is how LBJ worked in the good old days, and he got the Civil Rights bill passed. Check out Stephen King's alternative history of the US if that bill hadn't been passed.

and of course, greasing palms is not unknown in business.

from "BackToSchool"

Thornton Melon : Oh, you left out a bunch of stuff. 
Dr. Phillip Barbay : Oh really? Like what for instance?
Thornton Melon : First of all you're going to have to grease the local politicians for the sudden zoning problems that always come up. Then there's the kickbacks to the carpenters, and if you plan on using any cement in this building I'm sure the teamsters would like to have a little chat with ya, and that'll cost ya. Oh and don't forget a little something for the building inspectors. Then there's long term costs such as waste disposal. I don't know if you're familiar with who runs that business but I assure you it's not the boyscouts.

For all the talk about Oprah as president, they forget that she ran only a business in Hollywood, while pushing touchy feely and magical thinking as opposed to logical thinking.

True, her "book club" got a lot of women reading classics (well, duh). But she also pushed The Secret, a book that blamed the poor for being poor, because if they started magical thinking they too could be rich.

While Trumpieboy had to check on the workers (meaning he talked to ordinary people), check he wasn't being overcharged or cheated (hands on stuff with smart and sometimes sleezy operators), while managing the day to day financial stuff. True, he went bankrupt, showing his business acumen was lacking, but he also remade his money.

In other words, Oprah lives in a crazy egotistical bubble where your thought will magically change the world.

Trumpie boy lives in a reality based pragmatic world, and talks crazy while changing things for the better. David Brooks comments:

Imagine if Trump didn’t tweet. The craziness of the past weeks would be out of the way, and we’d see a White House that is briskly pursuing its goals: the shift in our Pakistan policy, the shift in our offshore drilling policy, the fruition of our ISIS policy, the nomination for judgeships and the formation of policies on infrastructure, DACA, North Korea and trade.
It’s almost as if there are two White Houses. There’s the Potemkin White House, which we tend to focus on: Trump berserk in front of the TV, the lawyers working the Russian investigation and the press operation. Then there is the Invisible White House that you never hear about, which is getting more effective at managing around the distracted boss.
Why, yes....

uh, maybe he is tweeting to keep his enemies off balance, because if they noticed what he was doing, they'd really go bonkers and stop it?

I believe the saying is: Crazy like a fox.


oh by the way: Anyone notice that North Korea is talking to South Korea? True, it's about the Olympics but they also are accepting aid from SoKo businessmen...and this is a few days after the SoKo stopped a ship bringing them illegal petrol....hmm...

and StrategyPage has this on China's part in the NoKo problem. For later reading.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The TSA: Everyday Heroes

The horror film Get Out didn't get awards at the GG last night, but an old NYT article notes that it was a breakthrough film in one way:

“This is the first time in the history of cinema that a T.S.A. agent is the hero,” Mr. Howery said in a phone interview the morning after “Get Out” opened at No. 1 at the box office....
“They are usually shown doing too much or being mean. It makes you think about their job in a different light. They really are the ones catching terrorists.”

well, fact checkers say they really didn't catch terrorists

. The TSA was unable to provide any comprehensive data covering all nine years of its existence on short notice, but it does publicize incidents on a weekly basis: From Nov. 8 to Nov. 14, for example, agents found six "artfully concealed prohibited items" and 11 firearms at checkpoints, and they arrested six passengers after investigations of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents. (Those figures are close to the weekly average.) It's not clear, however, whether any of these incidents represent attempted acts of terrorism or whether they were honest accidents. (Whoops, forgot I had that meat cleaver on me! Or, I had no idea flares weren't allowed!)

but the dirty little secret is that they discourage terrorism.

airport shootings are not unknown LIST HERE.

But most attacks that killed a lot of people were overseas.

Absurdity of the week

Fox is now a dirty word...


McDormand won the award Sunday night for best actress in a drama film for her role in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."
She was bleeped as she thanked her studio, Fox Searchlight, and then again when she said the word "shift."
She was speaking about how she keeps her politics private "but it was really great to be in this room tonight and to be part of the tectonic shift in our industry's power structure."
however, ordinary swear words are okay:

However, there was no bleep to be found when she later used a slang term for excrement.

I like MacDormond: She is "normal looking".

Yes, I know Three Billboards is a crime drama, but since I haven't seen it I can't say if it is a cliche or not. But casting a middle aged actress who appears like a middle aged mother is a refreshing idea.

But anyway: I am probably the only one on earth that doesn't like Hallmark films and the Hollywood "romance" chick flicks, where beautiful women seek men, who have to be similarly beautiful and sympathetic to women's feelings and have stayed single somehow long enough to be a love interest in a 30s something feminist.

Reality check: Can you really tell these folks apart?

Guess I've been living in Asia so long that all white folks in films look alike.

Exception is black comedies: Get Out for example.

Well, anyway, McDomand got blasted for wearing a modest dress...

apparently all those virtue signaling ladies there preferred to wear black, but it didn't stop them from having dresses cut open to show their cleavage.

Photograph: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Hmm... isn't wearing sexually explicit dresses considered sexual harassment of men?

or do only pious folks and Muslims think this way?

Monday, January 08, 2018

Space flight vision problems

David Reneke has an article on Space Flight-Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome

Scott Kelly, the first American to spend a continuous year in space, wrote in his book, “Endurance,” about the vision changes he experienced on many of his spaceflights. His vision would get blurry about 10 to 12 feet in front of him, he wrote, but eventually returned to normal back on Earth. After his first long-duration flight, which lasted 159 days, Kelly wrote that doctors found swelling of his optic nerve as well as choroidal folds, similar to stretch marks, on his eye. NASA researchers have identified these and other eye problems, such as the flattening of eye shape, in many male astronauts on long-duration space missions.

Love is all you need (take two)

Love is all you need post of the day


     I intended
Never to grow old, --
     But the temple bell sounds!

Jokun (translated by R. H. Blyth)

headsup FirstKnownWhenLost.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

The future of pleasure: Under Old Earth

a lot of the questions of genetic engineering (with underpeople/slaves made from animals and body parts grown on condemned prisoners  or pondering the question: If your personality is put into a computer, are you you?) are found in Cordwainer Smith's haunting science fiction, but until now I hadn't found this story on line: from Project Gutenberg Canada: what happens to your soul if you live forever in happiness?

Under Old Earth:

There was the Instrumentality, with its unceasing labor to keep man man. And there were the citizens who walked in the boulevards before the Rediscovery of Man.
The citizens were happy. They had to be happy. If they were found sad, they were calmed and drugged and changed until they were happy again.
This story concerns three of them: the gambler who took the name Sun-boy, who dared to go down to the Gebiet, who confronted himself before he died; the girl Santuna, who was fulfilled in a thousand ways before she died; and the Lord Sto Odin, a most ancient of days, who knew it all and never dreamed of preventing any of it.
Music runs through this story. The soft sweet music of the Earth Government and the Instrumentality, bland as honey and sickening in the end. The wild illegal pulsations of the Gebiet, where most men were forbidden to enter. Worst of all, the crazy fugues and improper melodies of the Bezirk, closed to men for fifty-seven centuries—opened by accident, found, trespassed in! And with it our story begins.

more of his stories HERE.

a few of the stories were made into audiodramas:

Winnie the Pooh (the real story?)

There is a new film out, Goodbye Christopher Robin, which is the backstory of the famous character of Pooh and a tome about exploitation of children by the media.

Brian Sibley who has met some of the characters and written radio plays and a book based on the characters, has his take HERE

and links to books about human family behind Pooh.

Archives has the Pooh book here,  in case you lost your childhood copy and there is more if you sign up for their lending library.

my take on the film?

much of it is beautiful, but there are too many "oh I have PTSS/shell shock so I have to go bonkers when a balloon pops"...

he loves his son but is so self absorbed he doesn't see the harm to the kid... made worse when he sends him to boarding schools where the kid is bullied unmercifully.

and the wife character stinks. (I kept seeing her as Harley Quinn: see her "dream" of suburban life in Suicide Squad).

But the Nanny is wonderful, and her voice sounded familiar, maybe because She was played by the same actress who provided the voice for the mother in the film "Brave".

and the climax is when the son comes home from World War II, unexpectedly since they thought he was killed (presumably no letters via the Red Cross when he was a POW)...

And the son tells the father of how, when his unit was under fire, they started to sing a song from Pooh, (with different X rated words), and he recognized how it comforted them, giving them hope...

which is, of course, what artists do, or are supposed to do: retell the story of reality to show beauty and give hope.

 (not modern artists, who think being ugly and uberpolitical is the way to do).

Political Gossip

the more things change, the more things stay the same.

It says a lot that our opinion on ancient Rome is based on the Roman scandal sheets, AKA Fake news?


update: Will the new "wolfie" book on Trumpie boy implode over the "gorilla channel" hoax, as the "peegate" claim made the Steele dossier collapse?