Monday, August 10, 2020

Fake news or Chinese disinformation?

Global voices, a site that publishes independent bloggers, has republished an article by a Hong Kong professor about China's misinformation/propaganda campaign to cover up the covid virus and blame it on everyone (read, the USA).

This censorship started as early as December, when a local social media outlet (Weibo) started discussing those cases of pneumonia that were popping up:

On the afternoon of December 31, 2019, a Weibo post read, “Wuhan pneumonia cannot be judged to be SARS. Wuhan has the only virus laboratory in the country and is also a world-class virology laboratory. There are ways to deal with the virus. If Wuhan can’t figure it out, no one can handle it.” It was swiftly censored within an hour.
The post mentioned both the SARS-like nature of the virus, suggesting its high infection rate, and the Wuhan laboratory, signaling the origin of the virus.
Based on our knowledge of the government’s censorship system, both of these characteristics seem to be attributable to the decision to remove the post from the social platform.
At the time, social media was already seeing speculations that a new kind of pneumonia was linked to a SARS-like disease, according to Weiboscope data. Ophthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang, who learned about the then-mysterious illness in a hospital, had sent a message in the popular Chinese private messaging app WeChat warning other medical doctors about the unnamed disease. Wenliang was then accused, along with another six people, of disturbance of public order by local authorities. He later died of the disease that would be known as COVID-19.
On December 31, 2019, the same day that post was removed from Weibo, and shortly after Wenliang’s warning, the Chinese government claimed that the “viral pneumonia cases” had “no apparent pattern of human-to-human transmission” and were “preventable and controllable.” It also informed the World Health Organization and the United States of those conclusions.
The article goes on about Chinese censorship of the story, and gives the background of China's censorship of information in general, their extensive surveillence of ordinary citizens, their propaganda war, etc.

Breitbart article notes how the WHO is busy pushing Chinese disinformation.

however, before you get feeling superior, just remember that in the US, the censorship is done by several huge internet companies.

bias? Moi?

Global Voices also has an article on China's search for six Hong Kong activists. all of whom are living overseas now, and notes that several western countries have stopped their extradition treaties to Hong Kong because of this and other worries.

and the BBC has an article on the problem with Hong Kong's elections: They gov't controls who runs. 

finally, one of the side effects of China's aggression on many fronts against the Philippines and other ASEAN countries is that the Philippines, who could use money for other things, is now busy spending money to buy ships for defense. Yes, I know: Pacifists would probably say how bad, but you know, China is stealing not only the resources of fish, petroleum, etc. and destroying the fragile ecosystem in the West Philippine sea, but they are also holding military drills in the area (an open threat to say they can close the busy sea lanes here so nyah nyah nyah).

and another story not noticed in the US: Chinese pressure to infiltrate Australian institutions. No links: I'm waiting for a summary.  But GV has an article on how China pressured an Australian university to censor a student who criticized China.

heh. That could never happen in the US, where Universities only are busy censoring those who oppose the fads of trans rights or (shudder shudder) whisper they might vote for Trumpieboy.

Sigh.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

psst: it could be worse




you think you have it bad?

It could be worse: You could be living in 536AD, the worst year in human history according to many historians.



From Medium:

The year began with an inexplicable, dense fog that stretched across the world which plunged Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia into darkness 24 hours a day, for nearly 2 years. Consequently, global temperatures plummeted which resulted in the coldest decade in over 2,000 years.
Famine was rampant and crops failed all across Europe, Africa and Asia. Unfortunately, 536 AD seemed to only be a prelude to further misery. This period of extreme cold and starvation caused economic disaster in Europe and in 541 A.D. an outbreak of bubonic plague further led to the death of nearly 100 million people and almost half of the Byzantine Empire. ...
Recently, researchers led by McCormick and glaciologist Paul Mayewski, have discovered that a volcanic eruption in Iceland in early 536 led to incredibly large quantities of ash being spread across much of the globe, creating the fog that cast the world into darkness. This eruption was so immense that it altered the global climate and adversely affected weather patterns and crop cultivation for years to come
(headsup TeaAtTrianon)

conspiracy theories? Uh, read history

I had a bit of a rant yesterday about the culture of globalization that bases it's ideas on the enlightenment that inspires the international elites who are trying to make the world better,  by reforming the economy so that all those living had a good life.

the problem? the details of what is being planned.

in the past, it was openly genocidal (i.e. making colonies that put the conquering country's interests over those of the locals, or reforms to make things better for locals that killed a lot of innocent folks who got in the way because hey you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, as the saying goes)... and alas that is why these deliberate policies originally meant to make things better often led to horrors.

this idea goes back to Malthus of course: Don't feed the poor because it only encourages them to have more kids, a bloody philosophy which encouraged too many movers and shakers who at heart were probably good and honest men to support policies not to feed the Irish during the potato famine

or sometimes it was a geopolitical decision, such as the one that led to the artificial famine of India during World War II (Churchill thought it was worth it for the war effort, but India is now saying: wait a second it was us that you let die).


I won't even go into the artificial famines of the Holdomor or of Mao's "Great Leap forward", or more recently, the millions of civilians who died in various wars or famines in Africa, or even of the famine of North Korea in the 1990s that no one has seemed to notice.


Although disease, epidemics and famines have killed periodically throughout history, in modern times, the famines, genocides and refugees forced to flee their homes by wars or decisions made in the offices of those trying to remake the world are usually left out of history books, forgotten except for those whose ancestors survived.

Heck, closer to home who remembers the Philippine American war back in 1900, when probably 200 thousand civilians died, not of atrocities but by displacement of families from their farms, resulting in malnutrition related deaths and epidemics,  or that Mark Twain was one of the few who opposed it?

Well, anyway, one need not to be a conspiracy theorist to notice such things: RJ Rummel's site at the Univ of Hawaii has all those disturbing statistics for you to peruse, about death by government.

one of the books that describes a history of political manipulations by those who wanted to make a better worldt (/s) is of course the classic book Tragedy and Hope, by Carroll Quigley of Georgetown University. If you can't get thru the book, John Lothe is gradually reading it to youtube so you can listen to it in your car while driving to work, or at night (I use this and similar books to put me to sleep. /sarcasm).



Sigh. Not much I can do about all of this of course.

But the idea that elites could decide who to live and who should die (or ignore when their policies cause folks to die) isn't limited to the geopolitical sphere. 

It's now the scientists doing their thing by remaking man, and the bioethicists doing their thing by instructing you why it's okay to get rid of your burden, be it an unexpected pregnancy or (nowadays this is big) persuading Grandmom she needs to off herself so you don't have to care for her. (and caring for her costs too much).

all done in a way that no one is to blame, of course.

is this why we see policies to send the Covid positive recovering patients to nursing homes, where the huge majority of covid deaths have occurred?

Actually, this murderous policy was more because of a bureaucratic mindset made regulations more important than reality:  because hey, the regulations say it's okay: all you need is well trained staff who have plenty of time to care for patients and enough PPE to stop the spread...just ignore reality that nursing homes often are staffed by semi trained and overworked caregivers, who lacked PPE equipment.

So blame the stupidity of bureaucrats, not malice, for a lot of the covid deaths. Or maybe not: notice the Pennsylvania doc behind this policy took her mom out of the nursing home and put her into a hotel? Ya think he didn't notice that it was dangerous?

well, anyway, what got me started on the rant was a podcast of John Bachelor discussing a new book on Eugenics in the USA: 

pushed as quite the thing way 100 years ago before the reality of Hitler actually implementing the policy showed how far that mindset could go.


Imbeciles is the shocking story of Buck v. Bell, a legal case that challenges our faith in American justice. A gripping courtroom drama, it pits a helpless young woman against powerful scientists, lawyers, and judges who believed that eugenic measures were necessary to save the nation from being “swamped with incompetence.”... 
Buck v. Bell unfolded against the backdrop of a nation in the thrall of eugenics, which many Americans thought would uplift the human race. Congress embraced this fervor, enacting the first laws designed to prevent immigration by Italians, Jews, and other groups charged with being genetically inferior...
......






Eugenics, under a different name, is now rearing it's ugly head, and not just America LINK LINK

you ain't seen nothing yet.



and who actually is opposing these ideas in the modern world?

before Pope Francis decided to destroy the church by embracing trendy ecology over ethics, the Catholic church was led by John Paul II. He saw all of this coming, and issued a pointed warning to anyone who bothered to notice (and few did, alas). Quote:


This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable 'culture of death.' This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency.
 italics mine. 

ah yes: Efficiency is the goal, not compassion.

as in QALY (Ann Altnouse discusses, and her first comment says wryly: Death panels).


Again nothing new here: go back to Plato, who criticized doctors who helped cripples to live.

this is all trendy, of course: and the opposition is mute because the moral leaders are asleep at the wheel, or maybe too busy fighting the trendy chimera of global warming etc. to notice.

But 50 million caregivers in the USA and millions more all over the world might have a different opinion: 

Authors Pearl Buck wrote this about her daughter, mentally handicapped from PKU: 



My child’s life has not been meaningless... without her I would not have had the means of learning how to accept the inevitable sorrow, and how to make that acceptance useful to others.
Would I be so heartless as to say that it has been worthwhile for my child to be born retarded? Certainly not, but I am saying that even though gravely retarded it has been worthwhile for her to have lived.
It can be summed up, perhaps, by saying that in this world, where cruelty prevails in so many aspects of our life I would not add the weight of choice to kill rather than to let live.
A retarded child, a handicapped person, brings its own gift to life, even to the life of normal human beings. That gift is comprehended in the lessons of patience, understanding, and mercy, lessons which we all need to receive and to practice with one another, whatever we are.
For this gift bestowed upon me by a helpless child, I give my thanks.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Jefferson's chef

Thomas Jefferson may or may not have made his wife's half sister his mistress even though she was underage slave.

But that is not the only one in the Hemming family who he treated badly.

When Jefferson went to France, he not only took young Sally but also her brother, a cook. Both of them could have claimed freedom but they went back with Jefferson, maybe because he promised they would eventually be freed with their entire family.

Atlas Obscura has the story of James Hemming, Jefferson's cook.

 It’s hard to overstate how unusual Hemings was, in terms of both his gifts and his influence, says Michael Twitty, a food historian and the author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South....
He was a fastidious note-taker, with a strong sense of what Twitty describes as “proprietary knowledge” over his own recipes. Even in France, he distinguished himself with his knowledge of French cuisine, helping Jefferson develop a local reputation as a good host who “lives well and keeps a good Table and excellent wines,” as one guest put it. By the time he was 21, Hemings was running the kitchen at the Hôtel de Langeac, Jefferson’s official residence on the Champs-Élysées. His menus suggest confidence and imagination, running the gamut from capon stuffed with Virginia ham and chestnut purée that was served with calvados sauce to boeuf à la mode.

more at the link.

And this video discusses the Hemmings family :

Friday, August 07, 2020

davos agenda

https://youtu.be/sb9jRqgDOJ8

For later watching.  Sort of a summary of conspiracy theories.

The virus supposed to do this actually was bird flu which about3 years ago was in danger of morphing into an epidemic with a higher mortality, because epidemics happen.

But the globalists plans have been around for decades...remember global cooing? The population bomb? Even the export of jobs was a plan to lift China etc out of poverty. (Robert Reich The Work of Nations and Barnett's book the Pentagon's NewMap predicted how globalization worked)

I tend to support globalism, and figure the big shots always plan how to run the world, so I just shrug. I am a doctor, not an economist, and despite it's flaws, globalism has lifted much of the world out of poverty.

But I do worry about the church discarding the gospel and the ten commandments to fit in with the plans. Pope JP2 cooperated with these groups to try to influence them, wheras Pope Francis seems to be letting these types into the Vatican bureaucracy to change the church.

Sigh. Lots of harsh pushback from beliving Catholics on this, but alas too often they are sowing strife and arguing with each other over changing externals rather than noticing the real problem...holiness.

I am working my way through Cardinal Sarah's book, and he lays out the problem in a more subtle way...the church is about telling people that life has an ultimate meaning, not just as doing good deeds....this article gives part of his argument

In the face of death, there is no human response that can hold. Only the hope of eternal life can surpass the scandal of death. But who is the man who will dare to preach hope? It takes the revealed word of God to dare to believe in a life without end. It takes a word of faith to dare to hope for oneself and one's family.
The Catholic Church is therefore called back to its primary responsibility. ...
But if that is so, the Church must change. She must stop being afraid of causing shock and of going against the tide. She must give up thinking of herself as a worldly institution. She must return to her only “raison d'être”: faith. The Church is there to announce that Jesus conquered death through His resurrection. This is at the heart of her message: “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith … and we are the most wretched of all men” (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). All the rest is only a consequence of this..
The crisis reveals that our societies, without knowing it, are suffering deeply from a spiritual evil: they do not know how to give meaning to suffering, finitude and death...
Knowing that God is not an vague force, but a being who loves us is something most folks used to know. And that means everything we do is a way to serve him. And when we confront evil, we know he is with us and ultimately he will make good come out of evil, if not in this world then in the next

And God works in the world by using those willing to cooperate...they are his hands.

and yes, God's hands are the health care workers helping those dying and risking their lives to do so. But they are also those who care for their loved ones at home, those cleaning the streets, those working on farms or in factories and even those who cannot work but can help the world through their prayers.

Every life has a meaning.

Face shield vs mask

Here in town, we are in partial shutdown thanks to two new covid cases; however, we are not yet in full shutdown like Manila.

Masks are mandatory, and they will stop and fine you if you don't wear them. However, the only time we got stopped is when our maid sat behind the driver of the tricycle (on the back of his motorcycle), which at the time was forbidden, although I think that ban has since been lifted.

Our  mayor is instituting cheap wifi for everyone: And although we are a poor town, most folks have access to cellphones or even smart phones.

So the mayor puts all of his announcements up on his facebook channel to keep folks informed, and often his meetings are on youtube also: and notice something? No masks.  they are wearing faceshields.



the masks are being resented by a lot of yanks for some reason, and it's so bad that the President's campaign sent out emails to his followers to please wear one.

I think a lot of the resentment is just being stubborn, because masks, they insist, unless you wear the advanced expensive ones, don't stop the virus: 

what this ignores is that ordinary cloth or paper masks do work to stop spittle and saliva being spewed out when you talk, cough or sneeze, which means they protect others. (or as one of my medical school instructors noted: All they do is stop you from spitting into the wound when you talk when doing surgery.. when we approach really sick folk, we have the more advanced masks of course).

CDC guidelines on masks say they shouldn't be worn by those with trouble breathing. 

So what about face shields:
 CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for masks. Some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected. If face shields are used without a mask, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin

AARP article about masks vs faceshields.


recent opinion piece in JAMA by Eli Perencevich, M.D., a professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and two of his colleagues pointed to such benefits of shields for infection prevention, and noted that “face shields appear to significantly reduce the amount of inhalation exposure to influenza virus, another droplet-spread respiratory virus. In a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96 percent when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough.” In an April 19 tweet Perencevich wrote, “Biggest benefit of face shields would be inside crowded office situations where air exchanges aren't ideal."


the AARP article even has a DIY instructions on how to make one from a plastic bottle (I have seen these used here too)



DIY face shield tips

There are many online videos showing how to make your own shield in a few minutes, with different variations: a Canadian DIYer uses plastic binding covers you find at office supply stores; others use plastic bottles. (Note that these are not medical-grade or approved by any official health agency.)
This is one how to make a shield from an empty soda bottle.
You'll need:
  • A 2-liter clear plastic bottle
  • Cutting tool or scissors
  • Small piece of weather stripping (others use packaging foam)
  • Hole puncher
  • String or ribbon
Directions:
  1. Cut off the end of the bottle a few inches from the bottom
  2. Cut off the top of the bottle, keeping a bit of the curvature, which will go under the chin
  3. Cut up the middle, so it becomes a somewhat flat piece of plastic
  4. Trim off sharp edges, and narrow a bit if necessary to fit the width of your face
  5. Peel off the backing of a piece of weather stripping and stick it to the top edge, which will go against your forehead
  6. Punch a hole at the top on either side, and thread a string or ribbon through
  7. Tie it around your head

here is a video to show you how;





a lighter faceshield can be made with thicker clear plastic too: this one is for those with glasses:



oh well: since I usually only wear a mask when walking the dog or going to the bank, I'll stick with my cloth mask.

but I suspect that such face shields will gradually replace masks for those who have to wear protection for longer periods, since masks get moist and make breathing difficult after a short amount of time, especially here where the humidity tends to be high.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Musical interlude of the week

family news

we have had heavy monsoon rains every afternoon/evening.
This means it's not too hot, but I stay in the room with the aircon on to dehumidify the bedroom: that keeps the mold etc down. We have fixed the roof three times, but it is still leaking a little in the bathroom and the dining room. Oh well.

All the puppies have left except for two, which will go to Joy's parent's farm in Bulacan. But right now, the lockdown is going back up so it's hard to travel, and Bulacan is closed. Joy's mom is ailing with Parkinson's disease, and we worry about her. Alas, it's hard for her not being able to travel there, but other family members live with the parents and do caregiving.

We just had two more cases in our town, so we are going back to partial lockdown, meaning you can only shop 3 days a week, and a big fine if you don't wear a mask.

there is a big discussion about reopening schools; the local schools have changed to a US type August to May schedule, and there is a question about safety of course, and what to do if there is a resurgence of cases. Rappler report here.

in other words, the country's policy on schools and other businesses reopening changes from day to day. We were reopening and now closing again as there is a resurge cases appear. Sigh.


Monday, August 03, 2020

The Great Chinese flood

while the US is busy watching white SJW burn Bibles, or rather not watching it because outside of RT it's being ignored, the floods continue in China (and India, and Japan, and Bangladesh).

so then you have this absurd article on how China's "natural" solutions have made the floods less than they were in 1998 (they planted trees to lower the flood waters.


Following the 1998 floods, the government convinced 2.4 million people to leave the Yangtze River floodplains, restoring 1,000 square miles.
and don't forget the dams:

China has invested billions into building dams on the Yangtze and its tributaries to help regulate floodwaters. Three Gorges Dam, completed in 2006, helped regulate water flow this year by over 30%, according to Chinese state media. The project was controversial partly because it required the forced relocation of 1.3 million people.
The article is touting the wonderfulness of all of this, as if it were new, and blames climate change for the floods.

But the dirty little secret is that China has been fighting flooding for thousands of years.

Sorry for the source, but this article by Glenn Beck is a good summary of 20th century floods in China, including what this means to the average Yank.

the history of Wuhan goes back 3500 years: Wikipedia article.

Indeed, whenever one reads anything about China, one has to remember their 3500 year history is part of the present day story: Even the attempt of Xi to reform and control China (including his moves against dangerous ideas and various religions) has happened before under previous emperors.

Wikipedia: The Great Flood which occurred about 5000 years ago:

Treated either historically or mythologically, the story of the Great Flood and the heroic attempts of the various human characters to control it and to abate the disaster is a narrative fundamental to Chinese culture. Among other things, the Great Flood of China is key to understanding the history of the founding of both the Xia dynasty and the Zhou dynasty, it is also one of the main flood motifs in Chinese mythology, and it is a major source of allusion in Classical Chinese poetry.
Flood mythology

wikipedia links to articles about floods in China.




The Water Kingdom is the history of China's irrigation system.

Water is a key that unlocks much of Chinese history and thought. The ubiquitous relationship that the Chinese people have had with water has made it an enduring metaphor for philosophical thought and artistic expression. From the Han emperors to Mao, the ability to manage the waters — to provide irrigation and defend against floods — became a barometer of political legitimacy, and attempts to do so have involved engineering works on a gigantic scale.
Scribd link.

a lot of this is just posting links for me to read later. 

But what brought up my interest in researching the history of China's flooding problems was a comment in the latest novel I read, the Ginger Tree, (miniseries HERE), which is mainly about Japan, but early on, the young Scots lady made a comment about being in danger of sudden death living in China, and her more experienced expat pointed out that a few years before she landed that there had been major floods in Wuhan that had killed a million people.

Sigh.

so when you read articles hyperventillating about the problems there, remember that for China, it's not a new problem, and the Xi government might very well rise or fall depending on their ability to help the locals affected by this natural disaster.



Sunday, August 02, 2020

Molokai: SJW: have you no shame?

on instapundit, they report that one judgemental Congresslady in the US who is famous for her pulchritude and radicalism is ridiculing the statue of Father Damian to represent the heroes of Hawaii in the Congressional hall, because... racism.

AOC EMBODIES “PRETTY PRIVILEGE” — IF SHE WERE UNATTRACTIVE SHE WOULDN’T GET AWAY WITH SAYING SUCH DUMB STUFF: Father Damien ministered to native Hawaiians in a leper colony, now AOC calls him a ‘colonizer.’ “So according to AOC, you are a colonizer if you lay down your life for people you never met before, halfway across the globe. If you earn the plaudits of the local queen for your selfless heroism, you are a colonizer. But there’s even more to the story.”
,,,,

the link is to a summary of his story.

In the past, the story of how Hansen's disease decimated the natives of Hawaii, and were forcibly quarantined to prevent the spread was well known. 

They were given food, but no help in shelter, no protection to the weak, (so the strong could steal their food etc), a distant water supply, and very little medical care.

Father Damian, a Belgian, went as one of the priests who was sent by the bishop for a short visit and just stayed there because he saw the need: not just in preaching, but in more practical things like building shelters (he was a farm boy and knew how to do such things), helping get the water supply to the village, and of course basic medical care.

Due to the lack of water and his refusal to stay separate, he developed the disease and died of it; but by then many had heard about what was going on (i.e. the neglect of the patients and his many fights with the authorities to improve things), and indeed, shortly before he died,  Mother Cope and some other nursing Sisters from America came to set up a more professional hospital treatment.

John Farrow (Mia Farrows dad, a Hollywood director) actually wrote his biography after hearing about his story during his travels in the South Pacific, and Robert Louis Stevenson, who also heard about his story during his travels in the Pacific,  wrote in his defense when some of the "christians" in Honolulu tried to libel him as dirty, bigoted, and immoral (in those days, leprosy was considered by some as an STD, since there were some similarities with the skin/bone lesions of tertiary syphilis, and of course, because these "good" people assumed all the natives were immoral and they deserved to get the disease. /sarcasm).
link

the point of Stevenson's classic letter ridiculing these holier than thou hypocrites is that these effete types weren't getting their fingers dirty, so how dare they criticize one who did.

Hmm... sounds like my criticism about SJW who feel superior to ordinary folks but don't really get their hands dirty.

No, I didn't treat those with Hansen's disease during my two stints in Africa, because it is now easily treatable if found early, so they now treat people as outpatients. Indeed, one of my friends, an irish nun, ran such clinics, visiting villages periodically to examine the patients and give out a supply of medicine, when I worked in Liberia. She was funded by the Knights of Malta, one of their many charitable works.

Another nun I worked with, in Zimbabwe,  Sister Humberta, had worked with these patients in the 1940s. Once I had a patient with strange nodular lesions so I asked her if it looked like Hansen's disease, and she said no: It didn't smell as badly as her patients. (it turned out to be kaposi's sarcoma, probably from HIV, which at the time was not recognized as a disease).

something to remember when you read "romantic" stories about working as a medical person in third world countries, or in the USA for that matter, where some of the homeless have little access to hygiene and indeed are often too mentally ill to realize they need to wash.

oh yes: Father Damien is the patron saint of those with HIV/Aids, who like those with Hansen's disease were often ostracized out of fear and loathing, but now, thanks to President Bush, are often getting treatment in local clinics instead of dying a slow miserable death.

this movie about Father Damien is not bad (an Australian secular film, not a churchy one) if you want a better view of what he did.