Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Family News: rain, covid, and it's time to plant the rice.

My daughter in law, Joy, is over her "bronchitis". Everyone here had it except me: The cook had a mild case, as did Ruby, my granddaughter. But both Joy and our maid ran a fever and had a bad cough for five days. 

No, Joy didn't get a covid test: she had one shot of the AstroZeneca vaccine and figures she is immune. Besides, she gets a covid test every time they have to go to Manila to deliver rice and always tests negative, and it is expensive (100 dollars of the most accurate test for those delivering food etc. to Manila, and it has to be done within 72 hours of the trip).

Ruby had the full Moderna vaccine in the USA but still had to go into quarantine to enter the Philippines for summer break. But she needed one to visit her cousin in Manila...but since they are in shutdown they just sat around and gossiped and watched TV since most of the indoor stuff is limited or closed.

And now news from Manila is panic at the Delta variant: after starting to open up in the last few weeks, we now learn that Manila will go into full shut down on Friday.

and although there are no major demonstrations or refusing to follow the law, as in Europe and the USA, there are more complaints about it in the social media.

there are proposals to let certain areas with high vaccination rates to move about in their area, but so far no official decision.

and the gov't is worried because a lot of people who are out of work are fleeing back to their rural homes.

I had to laugh at one British news paper who said they are fleeing the floods: Because flooding of the streets in Manila goes on all the time, but the poor are going "home" to their families because they fear being stuck in isolation again. No work for them and money is running out. But in the provinces, hey the family has to take care of their own...and maybe they can work to help in their family's rice fields.

so our province will have border checks on folks going in and out.

Rice planting has been delayed due to the heavy rains, the rains are still daily but not severe, so Kuya told them to start planting rice, figuring if there is a major storm it is early in the season to destroy the crop he can just plant again later.

the Manila shutdown means more money to deliver rice (we have to test our drivers for each delivery, 100 dollars for a test that is only good for 72 hours).

and now, we probably won't be getting any rent from our property there.

In the USA, the law preventing landlords from throwing out their renters is now stopped since jobs are back. But I had to laugh. You see, when I rented my house after moving east, there was a law that you could not throw out a renter during the winter. This was to stop frozen pipes, electrical fires etc. in empty houses. So every year, the renters would stop paying rent in October and move out in May after living free for six months. Yes, we could sue them, but heck: they didn't have money and they might just go back and burn the house down in revenge, so we just shrugged and hoped the next renter was more honest.

Here, we rent out a double home (the front 2 story home is a shop,  the back smaller home is for the renter to live in or for storage). And we haven't been paid for over a year, since their business is not making much money. So two months ago, things had improved and they sent a check that didn't bounce. Alas, now Manila is closed again, so I guess we'll be minus that income for another couple months. The alternative? An empty house/shop which will be looted and destroyed. And the renters were good until Covid hit.


here we have been partly open. True, you have to mask and for some shops/banks etc. you also need a face shield.

They take your name and address for contact tracing when you go inside the bank etc... so last week I went to the bank and it was closed, because someone who had been there tested positive. So now they have to clean up the place and keep the employees in quarantine for 14 days.

No problem: There is another branch of the bank nearby. Except that branch won't process my US check that transfers my pension here. And now with Manila shut down there again will be problems with courier service that moves the paper checks etc. to Manila to process.

Last year the same thing happened, but not for two weeks but for three months. But I did arrange to have money wired here then, and will probably arrange the same thing if the bank is still unable to do it next week.

Now with people fleeing back home, more local cases are expected...statistics sound terrible, until you realize that 

1) there are ten million people who live in the Manila area


2) a lot of people with mild cases will never be tested, and the elders might just die at home without being listed as a covid death.

Statistics: from the Inquirer: 

Case update
The DOH on Wednesday (May 26) recorded 5,310 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total active coronavirus cases in the country to 46,037.

and statistics since the start of the epidemic: 

The country’s total caseload is now 1,193,967. Of the tally, 1,127,770 patients survived while 20,169 died.

so how many were tested? 

...the DOH said at least 36,630 individuals had been tested on May 24 of which 13.5 percent was positive for SARS Cov2.

and what about the shots? 

Vaccination drive Data from the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 showed that as of May 25, out of the 8,279,050 available vaccine doses in the country, a total of 4,495,375 had already been administered nationwide. Of the the, 3,466,341 were first shots, while 1,029,061 were for second ones. Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1437853/as-cases-decline-in-ncr-covid-19-takes-a-detour-to-provinces#ixzz72PlsMwHW 
Total population of the Philippines is 110 million so there is a long way to go to get everyone vaccinated. But the vaccines were mainly given to high risk folks (elderly, diabetes, caregivers, shop keepers). and the population here is young.

The real question is if herd immunity will kick in and slow the spread. Not a lot of information or statistics about herd immunity: yet with breakthrough cases despite being given the vaccine, one does wonder about the immune status of those who have recovered especially from minor cases that had never been officially diagnosed.

oh well: It's God's will. 

We have to shut down, and Duterte got rid of a lot of bad cops which means ordinary folks can't bribe them to look the other way when you break the law. But when I read the low numbers of hospitalized, I wonder how long until someone says: Hey, more people are dying of dengue fever or untreated cancer than covid.

(we just buried two young people with cancer The bank manager and the cousin of our maid). Sigh.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

miscellaneous stuff

I am a blue dog Democrat, but sometimes I snoop on right wing sites to find out what is going on

The New York TImes reporter who called trump supporters enemies of the state worked for the Chinese media in the past.
LINK: Conservative Tree House.

yes she has since removed it. But she felt comfortable doing so on the website of America's most esteemed newspaper. Huh?

Then we have this from LifeSiteNews:

Big tech sharing data with counterterrorism organizations.

hmmm... what could go wrong?

And then there are the hearings about the Washington riots. When the hearings are one sided and are being done to push a single line of questioning, it resembles propaganda. This will only convince those who are true believers. I always wondered: So where were the cops?  And who opened the door? 

and is this 1930s novel a prophecy?

Dilbert notes that the covid test can't tell the difference between covid and influenza, which might explain why there were so few flu cases last winter

so now we have the delta variant means more cases and can infect the vaccinated. So get hysterical? A lot of people are skeptical.

The real missing discussion is the few deaths. And questions on herd immunity. And on immunity on those who had the virus.

Here alas there is vaccine skepticism especially for  the Chinese vaccine, sinovax...Luckily other vaccines are now available....and most people are going along with masks,.. and contact tracing. Right now our bank is closed for ten days. And Dr. Angie has had to quarantine twice for being exposed, even though she is fully vaccinated and has no symptoms.

 But now with reports of the delta variant,  the govt says they might keep the capital region shut down, and now I am seeing objections in the comments... people want to go back to work and are out of money.

as for farmers, the heavy rain over the last two weeks mean they are waiting to plant rice seedlings.

And with higher fertilizer and diesel prices, plus too much rain, will we see food prices go up? 

I was in Liberia when an increase in the price of rice led to a coup.

Finally, all the civil liberty types are correctly upset that someone snooped on a gay hookup app on a bigshot priest in Washington... Too bad they aren't upset that china hacked my opm file or that big data is not only tracking trump supporters but selling our data to all and sundry.

But China had the dating app data and the social media data too, making some wonder if this helped them blackmail the Vatican to let them take over the church there.
Personally I doubt it...the rumor is that money changed hands.



 the delta varient is less lethal. And vaccinated people who get the infection don't get as sick.

we are due for our second shot next week.

And the single shot Johnson and Johnson shot is now being given out in our town.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Weightlifting Fairy: in real life she's a Pinay

 Duterte gave his state of the nation address yesterday, but no one was watching or cared. Because everyone was watching Hidilyn Diaz win the gold medal in weight lifting at the Olympids.


She is from a working class family and had to scrounge to get equipment to practice lifting. Her cousin got her interested in the sport.

her biography says she is 30 years old and at present is in the Air Force

....this 2016 article has photos and information on Hidilyn and her family.

the phrase "weightlifting fairy" refers to a popular coming of age K Drama named "weightlifting fairy",  about a girl who learned weightlifting from her father. Wikipedia article.

Miss Diaz is a K drama fan, according to her facebook page... and  although the weightlifting fairy drama came after she was involved in weightlifting, my granddaughter tells me that Diaz did get some tips on training from the series.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

march of the toads

Mysterious toad march to top of Mt. Homanzan

Whatever motivates bufo toads to undertake a seemingly desperate and perilous annual march to the summit of 829-meter Mount Homanzan here, even at risk to their lives, reached its climax in early July. The toads spend several years on the peak of the sacred mountain before making their descent. They take more than 50 days to reach the summit and encounter numerous hazards along the way, mainly from predators....

Family news

So we have been having heavy rain all week. No major flooding here in town but it is delaying the plating of rice seedlings.

we felt an earthquake yesterday morning, only a rumble since it was far south of here. Actually I was asleep but the dogs got upset and work me up, so all I felt was a rumble and thought it was a rice truck going by (at 4 am).

Ruby is taking driver ed training to get her license. She has no car in the USA but can probably use her license to get one there.

Joy's mother has Parkinsons'disease and has stopped eating. She is now a bit better and eating, but Joy has been visiting there frequently.

The cook, the maid, Joy, and Ruby have been sick with a flu like syndrome. Covid? No tests done, but no high fever so probably not. I have been well so far.

The dogs are all sleeping in my room now: so much for protection. But they do wake up and bark if someone goes by the door, even when the help turns off the lights at 5am.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

the gain of function kerfuffle: The facts

Someone posted a snippet of this on twitter: 

Ah: Fauci lied. He knew that gain of function research was dangerous> but what is being overlooked is that this basic rexearch is needed to understand dangerous viruses so scientists can figure out how to protect people.

the snip on facebook was taken out of this longer video which is a long discussion about the risks and benefits of doing gain of function research. from Dec 2012... and it was about bird flu, not SARS.

Dr. Rand Paul was right: by funding Wuhan, it gave money to that lab to do gain of function research.

why send the money to China to do the research? the problem is that the US labs had had accident problems so it was banned in the US....but a loophole let the funding be sent to Chinese labs to do the research... ignoring of course that lab accidents happen in China too...where corruption is widespread and covering up mistakes is the norm.

and it didn't even bother to discuss "dual use" of the research: I.e. it could be used for biowarfare.

But Dr Fauci made things worse by denial to Dr. Paul: instead of giving a nuanced answer, he simply denied the fact that is well documented.

In both of their defences, I should add the MSM and the right wing counterculture news would probably distort their answers.

Which brings us to epidemic threats in the modern world.

The lecture is about bird flu, which had infected a few hundred people mainly in Asia, but had a very high mortality.

Bird flu jumped the species and infected humans, but it did not mutate to the next step, which was to enable human to human transmission. And it is simply a matter of time until this happens.

So a lot of the research was about bird flu, and a lot of the adenovirus and mRNA research for vaccine was being done so that there would be a fast development of vaccine for bird flu.

The adenovirus technology was used for Ebola, and is one reason that, despite the chaos/war/refugees etc. in central Africa, that the public health authorities managed to keep that epidemic under control.

as for the conspiracy types who see the covid epidemic as an evil plot to kill off excess population: 

Well, if that was the plan, they chose a weak virus to do their dirty work. (indeed, the shutdowns probably killed more people than the virus. The problems of the supply chain the increase in prices of commodities, and as my earlier post on increase in fertilizer prices suggest, the possibility of famine related deaths, not to mention riots and uprisings when food becomes too expensive for people, will be a threat for the next few years).

I have to wonder about conspiracy theorists who see this as a bio attack by China, or by the NWO. (it was probably an accidental release, covered up to save face, similar to how the Chernobyl disaster coverup attempt).

Sorry, guys, it just isn't that lethal.

Bird flu would be a better way to kill off the population. Half of the patients died.

the threat of bird flu was so scary that the US prepared plans on how to stop or minimize the epidemic: LINK

The conspiracy theorists see the Johns Hopkins meetings about a Sars like outbreak before Covid appeared as a NWO plan to give the world a dangerous disease: but like hospital disaster drills, city EMS disaster drills, or like war games, the meeting was about figuring out what one should do if something happened.

for example, the Dark Winter exercize ( June 2001) posited a terrorist attack with small pox. After 911, this became a big worry, and our public clinic was sent the plan of how we should set up ring vaccinations and isolation of patients outside of hospitals. I was put in charge of reading and teaching our clinic how to do this. Luckily, Saddam's small pox was not released on the USA, (destroyed or maybe just never existed) only a weak type of anthrax was released, the same strain one finds in barnyards and is used to make vaccines.

as for vaccines: 

Anti Vax is not limited to the right: it was a big push by KGB disinformation in the third world in the past, and in the US and UK it was pushed by celebrities not scientists.

The pseudo science against the vaccines just say vaccine, nothing specific. But the Sinovax (Chinese) uses an old fashioned technique that goes back 100 years. 

And the Astrozeneca and Sputnik use an adenovirus template, which is new, only a decade of so old. But adenovirus based vaccines have stopped recent epidemic of Ebola in central Africa.

As for the mRNA: this is more experimental, but the science suggests it is working and will be an easy and fast way to make vaccines in case of a really scary epidemic. 

So if you don't want to contaminate your body with newfangled vaccines, hey, ask for Sinovax. And if you are a radical prolife catholic who shouts about using vaccines that use fetal cell lines that came from fetuses aborted many years ago, then find, use Sinovax.

This group is more catholic than the pope ( yes, I know: Some of them don't consider Francis Catholic, but several previous popes said  it was okay to use rubella vaccine derived from fetal tissue from long ago aborted fetuses, as long as the fetus was not aborted to make the vaccine, but aborted for other reasons.) 

and if you are young and healthy, then fine. Get the disease. no problem.

one of these days the experts will say you should be checked for immunity instead of being checked if you had the vaccine, especially when there have been break through cases.

but for the vaccine, it comes down to risk/benefit ratio;



related item:


inflation in the rice fields

 we mainly use organic fertilizer for our organic rice, but do grow non organic rice on some of our fields.

So Kuya complained last night that the price of fertilizer has increased greatly in the last year, which means less profit for our farmers.

From the Inquirer:

The sharp increase in fertilizer prices has prompted several farmer groups to renew their call on the Department of Agriculture (DA) for a onetime production subsidy of P15,000 for small-scale farmers who each own less than three hectares. In a statement, the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, Bantay Bigas and Anakpawis Partylist noted that prices of urea—the most basic type of fertilizer used in planting rice—surged by between 49 and 53 percent this month in the major rice-producing provinces of Nueva Ecija and Isabela against quotations between December last year and April this year. 

italics mine. 

why has this happened? This article blames the lockdowns.

Due to the shortage of labor and the shutdown of fertilizer plants located in the integrated chemical complexes, shipments were affected in the initial lockdown process.

countries with natural gas resources can make their own urea fertilizer but many need to import it.

It seems to be a widespread problem: I checked out various trade publications, but they all seem to say the price has been going up for awhile. Much of this is not my area of expertise, so I am mainly noting the problem.

intensive cultivation (2 or three crops a year) mean you need fertilizer. 


and right now we have heavy daily monsoon rains made worse by Typhoon Fabian nearby, which mean it is hard to decide when we should start plating the rice.

and Manila streets are flooded: this is common, alas, due to the low lying land and because the sewers don't drain the water: not enough drainage and clogging of drainage by litter etc.

Chinese aggression, unchecked

 Austin Bay has an essay summarizing Chinese aggression against the Philippines (and VietNam and Malaysia) in the west Philippine sea, and ignoring international law to do so.

China used its "sea militia" to invade Filipino territory. Here's how that worked and continues to work in the EEZs of several Southeast Asian nations. Hundreds of Chinese fishing boats enter the smaller nation's EEZ. Acting as a gray-zone warfare armada, they drive off local fishermen. China Coast Guard vessels arrive to protect the Chinese boats.
China's response to the Court's censure vacillates. It attempts to ignore it; it flaunts new violations. Chinese diplomats have criticized the ruling so fiercely their vehemence suggests someone in Beijing fears the decision. China has a face culture. Did the ruling deal the CCP and its president, Xi Jinping, a severe loss of face? The ruling did not halt Chinese expansion and aggression strategy.

they have sent large flotillas of fishing boats which has resulted in overfishing the area, and their dredging has harmed the ecology of the area. Longer report here:

The fisheries and fishers of the South China Sea warrant much more attention. The disputes over the islands, reefs, and waters in the area have made effective fisheries management impossible even as a calamitous stock collapse threatens livelihoods around the region.

translation: no one dares to stop Chinese overfishing or destroying the ecology by dredging for giant clams or dredging to build their so called islands. 

Tools like VIIRS and SAR show that the number of fishing vessels operating in the disputed Spratly Islands is exponentially higher than AIS transmissions suggest. Improving the monitoring of these fleets will be critical if the claimants hope to save the South China Sea fisheries and reduce the frequency of unlooked-for incidents between vessels.

translation: Chinese ships have been threatening local Filipino fishermen, and now this has expanded to collisions with Filipino small fishing boats. And there have been incidents against larger boats transversing international waters: so far nothing major but it is only a matter of time. The essay uses the phrase "unlooked for incidents".... duh. 

Meanwhile, a different kind of fishing fleet, one engaged in paramilitary work on behalf of the state rather than the commercial enterprise of fishing, has emerged as the largest force in the Spratlys. The numbers of militia vessels operating in the area on behalf of China is much larger and more persistent than is generally understood. Experts and policymakers focused on the South China Sea will need to devote a proportionate amount of their attention to these actors and the role they play in the area.
Translation: Today the small Filipino fishing boats, tomorrow the commercial shipping.

deep in the report they notice that a lot of these "fishing vessels" could not actually fish, meaning they are quasi military force who have been chasing out Filipino fishermen... and maybe doing more things: a quiet threat to the sea lanes to other east Asian countries comes to mind, but also their long term plans to steal the petroleum and natural gas resources in the area.

PhilInquirer has the story of what is going on there.

not only are they destroying the fishing ecology but it appears they are planning to check out if oil is there, and most suspect their long term plan is to steal oil resources.

Zarate said that during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, China used the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking to explore the country’s territory to their advantage, but with the absence of the agreement now, “it seems that they are doing so on the sly.”

It was suspected GMA was bribed by the ZTE deal.

But now Duterte, has been harassed by "human rights" activists from the USA because of his drug war (a war that kept the Philippines from becoming a narco state, but never mind. My neighbors killed by druggies robbing them don't count as drug war murders). President Obama didn't help the Philippines stop China when they started grabbing the area, and now it's too late, especially with Biden in the WH. So Duterte is trying to make nice with China, but alas China keeps screwing him and not keeping their promises. Sigh.

from the Inquirer article:

In October 2020, President Duterte lifted the moratorium on oil exploration in the WPS, a move closer to implementing a joint exploration deal with China.
Fishermen from Infanta, Pangasinan, recently found a device reportedly used for oil exploration, which was later confirmed by an expert to be an ocean bottom seismometer or OBS, north of Scarborough Shoal. The device had been turned over to the Philippine Navy. Zarate said MalacaƱang should not dismiss the issue and “once again protect China’s imperial interests.”



related article on "Blood Cobalt": StrategyPage on the mess in Central Africa, including China's grab of their mineral resources, especially cobalt to be used for electric car batteries.

Amnesty international report on child labor in cobalt mining.

and the irony is that many greens will celebrate the increase in China using electric cars, but they won't notice that they use electricity from (high sulfur) coal burning electric plants nearby. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

And now they are coming for ancient history

 I link to a lot of lectures on ancient history and antiquity.

Pretty apolitical right?

Then I ran across this:


more here:

On Facebook, History Can Violate Community Standards https://www.forbes.com/sites/petersuc...

notice that the excuse is that facebook is stopping "anti government extremists". whatever that means. 

I presume it means Republicans and blue dog democrats like myself who are not members of the extreme left. 

on the other hand, I stopped going to facebook because liberal friends kept posting rabid anti Catholic and anti Christian posts there: usually strawman arguments, often exaggerated, and usually condemning all believers as evil bigots who need to be censored or harassed, especially if you belong to a Christian church, even if you are African, Hispanic, or Asian.

What comes to my mind is when JFK said those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.