Thursday, May 19, 2022

Propaganda? We haz it

 we watched a stupid video game inspired film called "uncharted", where apparently gold treaures weigh as much as styroform plastic, people falling 300 feet into the ocean never get hurt, and Tom Holland is doing Spidy type tricks without the ability to throw webs around.

The "Treasure" of Magellen was supposed to be found in Mindanao, but because of Covid, they filmed it in Spain and only added some background from the Philippines shot by the second crew.


But you know, although the marvel type movies are usually a hit here (Dr Strange is showing in our local theatre), it seems that Uncharted is being censored here:

Because the map includes China's nine dash line implying they own the entire West Philippine Sea/ East Vietnam sea/ aka south china sea which China is slowly trying to steal by building artificial islands there, in defiance of an international court decision that noted their claim to the area is bogus.

as the gov't here noted:

"The nine-dash claim is contrary to national interest, which has been settled in the 2016 Arbitral Award. The Arbitral Tribunal held that China’s nine-dash line has no legal basis as its accession to UNCLOS has extinguished any of its rights that it may have had in the maritime areas in the South China Sea," the DFA said. "China also never had historic rights in the waters within the nine-dash line," it added. Last March, Vietnam blocked "Uncharted" in its cinemas over the same map prior to its screening on March 18.

Yes, they included that piece of propaganda to please their Chinese masters.

and this is not the first time China's propaganda is being pushed by movie companies. As CNN notes:

Sony's Columbia Pictures Industries Inc was ordered to stop screening the film and has complied, the Foreign Ministry said. Sony Pictures did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. In 2019, the Philippines' Foreign Ministry requested DreamWorks to shut down cinema screenings of animated film "Abominable" after a scene showed the same Chinese nine-dash line.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Tuberculosis: Still a killer

Thirty years ago, I once checked an x ray on one of our patients in New Mexico, noticed her TB scars had changed, so I sent her for a bronchoscopy and indeed they found her tuberculosis had reactivated. The problem was missed by other doctors there, because most younger doctors had never seen a case, but I had: in Africa, but also in medical school where we saw coal miners whose damaged lungs made them vulnerable to the disease.

Thirty years ago, TB essentially was "cured" so many younger docs had never seen a case: but those of us who had trained overseas, and of course those of us who had worked in the IHS had seen cases, since Tuberculosis was a major killer of AmerIndians due to poverty (something to remember the next time you read hysteria about residential school mass graves). 

Ironically, I was not congratulated on my diagnostic ability: the nurses were annoyed because it mean we had to screen all staff and other patients who had been in contact with that patient, and that meant a lot of time and energy on our already overworked staff.


 Nowadays doctors are probably more likely to diagnose TB, because we see more of it:  HIVpostive patients are at risk as are recent migrants and refugees, especially those who didn't get pre immigration screening before entering the USA.

Screening is important to detect silent cases that can lead to clusters of disease. 

Usually if you test positive on a skin test, they check your x ray to see if you have active disease. If the CXR is okay, you are given several months of INH or similar medicine, which theoretically kills the last germ and cuts the rate of the disease being revived when your immune system gets sluggish from old age, diabetes, etc.

For example we started screening our AmerIndian patients and treating our diabetic patients if they had a history of a positive skin test because of the danger of reactivation. Those at risk we treated with a short course of an anti tuberculosis drug.

TB is a two step disease: You get infected and in rare cases, it spreads all over the body and kills you. But usually your body destroys the germ, or walls it off.

When walled off imperfectly, you get classical pulmonary tuberculosis, but most people sucessfully wall off the germ... but a skin test will show you have immune cells so had been infected in the past. But it also means that if your immune system gets sluggish, these germs can reactivate and cause the disease.

In the 1800s TB was a major cause of death: aka the White Plague. 

This is one of a series of lectures at Grescham college about the disease:

So what made me write this long boring essay?

This essay at Crimereadblog (Via TeaAtTrianon) which notes that Jane Austen died of Addison's disease and decides it was due to autoimmune problems. 

Auto immune disease is trendy today, of course, and since we have sensitive tests for these disease is easy to diagnose even mild cases.

But the article is missing the elephant in the living room: Tuberculosis.

When Thomas Addison described his patients with adrenal cortex insufficiency in 1855, all cases were due to destruction of the adrenal cortex by Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Addison's disease is when the adrenal gland doesn't put out enough cortisone.

The most common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency are chronic, or long-lasting, fatigue muscle weakness loss of appetite weight loss abdominal pain

Jane's symptoms are discussed in this medical article::

Jane Austen's letters describe a two-year deterioration into bed-ridden exhaustion, with unusual colouring, bilious attacks and rheumatic pains. In 1964, Zachary Cope postulated tubercular Addison's to explain her symptoms and her relatively pain-free illness. Literary scholars later countered this posthumous diagnosis on grounds that are not well substantiated, while medical authors supported his conclusion.

 Important symptoms reported by contemporary Addison's patients-mental confusion, generalised pain and suffering, weight loss and anorexia-are absent from Jane Austen's letters. Thus, by listening to the patient's perspective, we can conclude it is unlikely that Addison's disease caused Jane Austen's demise.

maybe, or maybe not. She might have had mild Addison's disease, and didn't go into crisis until another disease stressed her body, which is what happened to JFK (discussed below).

or maybe she had caught TB from food or milk? 

(however) Disseminated bovine tuberculosis would offer a coherent explanation for her symptoms, so that Cope's original suggestion of infective tuberculosis as the cause of her illness may have been correct.

 In other words, without an autopsy, it is unlikely to solve the mystery of Jane's early death.

this article is a case study showing that even today it is hard to diagnose Adrenal TB. 

And I answer: well, yes. 

Which is why we often just treat the patient who is suspected of having TB with medicines and see if they get better while waiting for the tests to come back. (in the case study at the link, it took two months to diagnose the poor patient, even though the doctors knew he had TB as a child).

the most famous modern person with TB is Orwell who died, alas, about the time Streptomycin became available to stop the disease.

Over 1.5 million people a year die of TB: 

So yes, TB is a treatable disease, even with the problem of drug resistance. The problem is that you have to take medicine for a long time and get check ups during that time, and alas that takes time, money, and trained personnel.

the covid epidemic made it worse for the same reason that we are seeing increased deaths from heart attacks/ high blood pressure/diabetes/ preventable diseases in kids: screening is not being done, cases are not diagnosed because people are not being screened and/or not presenting themselves to clinics for XRay when they develop a chronic cough, and public health resources are focusing on covid.



The most famous modern person with Addison's disease was JFK: and his was mild and only caused trouble when his adrenal glands failed to produce more cortisone under the stress of his back surgery. Luckily docs diagnosed it and gave him a new miracle drug called cortisone and saved his life, and wrote up his case in the medical literature to alert other docs about the problem of mild Addison's disease in times of stress. But when the press found out about it, the fact he took small replacement doses of cortisone spawned a thousand conspiracy theories.

as for the source of Jane's possible Addisone disease: staying in crowded boarding homes at spas or catching it from her clergyman father or Naval officer brothers (both occupations that would have contact with poor people with TB), I assumed she had ordinary tuberculosis.

But the article stating she may have caught bovine Tuberculosis does interest me: No, I have never seen a case of that...although about 2 percent of TB cases in Latin America are bovine in origin... 

The reason it is rare today, because cows are tested for TB.

Monday, May 16, 2022

the epidemic that weakened the Roman empire

 Did Malaria weaken the soldiers and the elites in Italy? 

headsup from Librivox has an old audiobook that quotes Roman sources about the problem: it was not a summer disease, but hit when the rains fell in the late summer and early fall. Falciparum malaria kills even adults, but the less virulent strains cause chronic tireness and require you to take time off when the fever hits (every three to four days, hence the term quartan fever).

A problem of empire...brought in by ships and infected passengers coming from malaria areas, and spread via local mosquitoes that breed in standing water.  that may have been made worse by collecting rain water in containers where mosquitoes could breed.

 More here.

it just didn't weaken adults, but caused miscarriages and killed children.

and is still a problem. 

WHO page states:

In 2020, there were an estimated 241 million cases of malaria worldwide. 
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable. 

The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 627 000 in 2020. 

The WHO African Region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2020, the region was home to 95% of malaria cases and 96% of malaria deaths. Children under 5 accounted for about 80% of all malaria deaths in the Region.

 the treatment is to kill the mosquitoes: Ah, but when they stopped using DDT (safe for humans but killed some birds) the death rate soared.

of course, it can be argued that the moquitoes became resistant to DDT, but the reason for stopping it was politics, not this problem.

Basic public health also helps: The phrase "drain the swamp" is about draining swampy areas that were the source of the disease. And critics who ridiculed Victorians etc. for keeping their windows closed at night as if this was a delusion forget that this also stopped the mosquitoes from coming into the house.

what has stopped malaria in most developed countries is mosquito control:

The Gates foundation is working on Malaria prevention on many levels: mosquito nets, local surveillence to eliminate outbreaks, injectable medicine for long term prevention, educating people on how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

by the way, much of the expertise to stop mosquitoes also works with the (different) mosquito that spreads Dengue fever.

And this report is about how China has eliminated malaria.

China is investing in Africa seeking food and mineral resources. African diseases can infect their workers there, and these workers can even bring home the disease on visits (something that happened when Angola had a yellow fever outbreak).

So can China's expertise in fighting malaria help African countries eliminate the disease? This article is about the Gates foundation working with China to do just that.

more information on malaria here.


Saturday, May 14, 2022

family news

 have you been reading all those happy happy elitist green essays on using natural resources to grow crops?

Well, the price of chicken Manure is up, and Kuya is trying to find if he can buy it cheaper than from his usual resource. Sigh. And of course diesel is up, meaning more money to prepare the fields for planting rice.

He is hoping to keep the rice organic, but if he can't get organic fertilizer, he might have to plant part of our fields with ordinary chemicals.

By the way: Under the land reform of many years ago, most of Lolo's family's ancestral land was "bought" for low prices by the tenant. There is a limit on how much a person can own, and foreigners cannot own anything here. So much of our rice comes from subcontracted farmers, who we help with finance and equipment and supervise they are actually growing organically (no cheating... at least no cheating that we can detect. This is the Philippines you know)...

Certified organic rice can command a higher price, but it is vulnerable to pests etc. Ducks help keep some of the insects down. Yum.... Balut (fertilized duck embryos)...

Joy is in Manila: The people who rented one of our properties there sort of went broke when everything shut down: They managed to stay afloat by doing e commerce, but this meant long trips to their customers, (with the high price of diesel, and during the epidemic the cost of numerous covid tests)...

Since most of their customers are in more affluent areas,so now that things are open, they plan to movecloser to the customers.

the bad news: The only reason they stayed in our property is that we left them stay rent free for the last year, with the agreement they would make up what they owed us with this year's rent... which now we won't get. 

Theoretically we could sue, but that would probably cost more money than the lost rent, and they probably don't have the money anyway.

So now we have new renters, and once they open we should again be getting a small income from that shop, but first we had to fix the roof, the ceiling, the wiring, the water pipes, and renovate the front for more room. And so more money from my small retirement savings, since although the shop is in Ruby's name, the agreement is that the income goes to my name (although most of it is actually being sent to pay her college expenses, so we are not mixing up the rice businesses finances and our private expenses).

In the meanwhile, I am feeling better... I was tiring and sleeping all the time with a lot of aches and pains but couldn't figure out why. But after reading how one can get slow covid after a mild case of Omicron, I wonder if this was the problem... I had a cold about a month before this started, but didn't get tested because I wasn't sick. I am double vaxxed, but no boosters because they have limited help in the new varients, although if a bad variant comes through I probably will get a third vax.

right now, there are only a few cases (under 100) in the country, which I suspect is because no one is being tested unless quite ill. The bad news is that a handful of cases of the newest omicron 2 varient has been diagnosed in Manila and among tourists. But this one supposedly is less dangerous and more infectious than previous variants.

Only half the country has been vaccinated, and we have been pretty well open for the last month (masks and distancing indoors). Kuya took me to the mall and they wouldn't let him in so he had to borrow my extra mask. But we don't need face shields now, and of course, the cynical take is that the quarantine regulations were lifted for the election campaign rallies, and cynically saying that the quarantine will be restarted after the election. We'll see.

People are tired of being indoors, and the deaths from lack of medicine and poverty are worse than the mild covid variants that are around now.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Musical Interlude of the day


remake of a fifty year old song from the Grateful Dead...

why the deplorables here voted for Marcos

 I pointed out in several earlier posts that the staff here (who include those with links to the NPA and Gabriela) backed Marcos.

I use the word "deplorables" in the headline because, like the invisible American blue collar workers (who in the past were called Reagan Democrats) who lost their jobs to immigrants or overseas, revolted and voted for Trumpieboy, to the horror of the NWO types.

which is why I wrote comments on Youtube, on several videos where a FilAm with an American accent was interviewed as an expert on Philippine politics and who (along with others from think tanks) couldn't figure out why Marcos won: I pointed out that maybe they needed to talk to the working class and poor here instead of just the pro American elites living inside the Washington beltway who parrot the talking points of the left such as the US Democratic party/CIA.

Well, the Manila Bulletin actually notes that Marcos won because he had the support of the poor. And like a good news paper, actually talked to a few of them in the Manila area.

Reminds me of when James Carville told Bill Clinton: it's the economy, stupid.

Sigh. Yes the big question is if he will keep his promises, and build up the Phillipine economy (like his father) or revert to stealing everthing in sight and arresting or killing his opponants (like his father).

I should note the MB is the newspaper of the business community. During the time of GMA, they usually had a photo and stories lauding her achievements several times a week... and GMA backed Marcos. 

Of course, she was suspected of corruption and President Ninoy Aquino tried to prosecute her, but she got a pass by Duterte.
Yet she did build a road to Pampanga, established an alternative international airport at the old Clark AFB, and put a lot of development funds in her local area (which, like here, was a bastion of communism and insurgency many years ago. Short historical note: this rebellion was quashed by letting the communist rebels essentially take over many areas, and then they become corrupt a la Animal farm... so the government then sent in honest military to defend the rights of the common folk against the corrupt, and got popular support...this anti insurgency tactic is still studied by the US military:  LINK LINK2

So who do you trust? A nice person who is incompetent and lets corruption go on all around him or her (like our beloved Tita Cory?), or a semi corrupt person who is able to attract jobs and economic development (like GMA)? 

Hmmm....things are more complicated than the partisans of either side would admit.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Who will silence that inconvenient bishop?

China has arrested human rights activist, Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong.

Catholic bishops: Pissing off tyranical Emperors who kill civilians since at least 390AD...
St. Ambrose call your office: the tyrants are at it again.

update: After international pressure, Cardinal Zen was released. LINK

Musical interlude of the day

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Amazon's Tolkien series: Maybe it will be good?

I've seen a lot of snide stuff on the internet worrying that Amazon will make their Tolkien backstory "woke" and R rated.

So Amazon reached out to the experts in the Tolkien community to counter this.

TheOneRingNet report here:

Several Ph.Ds, published authors, Tolkientubers and TikTokers have shared their first impressions of completed footage from Prime Video’s massive new Lord of the Rings TV series – The Rings of Power. 

read their entire report for more details and links and tweets and videos from many of the best known leaders of the Tolkien fan community. 

and most of the reviews seem to be positive.

and even the Tolkien professor enjoyed it: and  at the meeting learned how to use tictok.

Heh. I feel sympathetic: I don't do tiktok either, nor have I done group meetings like my relatives do all the time for business or school classes.

here is another postive report from a newer podcaster nerdoftherings:

I'm not sure I will be able to watch this, since although we have netflix, we haven't signed up for Amazon prime yet... 

and of course because the copyright law here in the Philippines is weak, many streaming services won't let us see their stuff (I canceled a K drama streaming service because they wouldn't let me watch my favorite K Dramas.... luckily I can download them with lots of ads and occassional virus infections from a Chinese site instead, or by using VPN for the youtube ones that won't let us watch them here).

But anyway, it does sound like maybe Amazon didn't completely ruin it. 

the Tolkien professor's video is called other minds and hands because Tolkien once envisioned that his mythology would be added to by other minds and hands. 

So although the crusty professor might dislike the Jackson treatment, and hate LOTR online games, in theory he would probably be sympathetic to these additions to his mythology.