Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Who Died and left you king?

 There were a few phrases that my mom would say to us to keep us in line when we were kids.

Sometimes when we complained, she'd say: Well, don't make a federal law out of it.

and when we tried to boss our siblings around, she'd stop us by saying: Who died and left you king? 

Well, nowadays, federal laws include having paid spies in your protest organization, or nowadays your credit card/ bank tell the FBI you might have attended a protest meetings (in the past, this was done for those protesting Viet nam or for environmental issues, but now it applies to attending conservative rallies).

Well, I remember the 1970s so no big deal.

But since when is it supposed to be a federal law to mandate there will be no privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms for women who are old fashioned enough to be modest? (never mind that perverts and Peeping Toms will use the law so they can spy on you a lot more than a gentle trans lady who comes in because she just wants to relieve herself).

And where is "freedom of speech" when  you can be fired for a ten year old tweet, "inappropriate" flirtatious remark, or an awkward comment taken out of context? (One wonders where the critics of Al Franken or Andrew Cuomo were in the 1970s, when such borish behavior was common and considered "cool" by the "in" crowd, while we prudes just considered them "dirty old men" to be slapped, have coffee dropped on them, or merely avoided.)

But it won't stop there, of course: now you might find yourself fired if you use the wrong pronoun (something Jordan Peterson predicted a couple years ago and was ridiculed for his warning).

But the worst thing is the censorship of culture: History, literature, religion and anything that appears to be of western culture.

One just has to wait and see who is the next victim, and heaven help you if you object.

So there goes Dr. Seuss.

Who died and let these people be king? Why is society obeying the twittersphere Red Guards who resemble middle school bullies who rule over their classmates and make their lives misearable?

And where are the grownups opposing this behavior? 

and now they are coming for books: Fahrenheit 451 is coming true.

In the past, it was the rabid right who complained about books, but now it seems that classics are verboten, as a way to attack western civilization. ("white men", presumably Homer, Moses, Pushkin, and Dumas are now white men, but never mind). 

and the next step: The attack on the STEM classes, with mathematics now being considered white culture, never mind that we use Arabic numerals (devised in India), and Algebra.

Science is under attack, partly because politicians of both the right and the left are claiming their opinions or computer simulation predictions are "science", which they are not. But it is common to cry "SCIENCE" to shut up critics, instead of actually using critical thinking.

But it is not just the politicians doing this: the cultural Marxism/modernism that is trying to destroy western civilization and history is now attacking the STEM classes because they can.

(italics mine).

and this denial of reality may not end well.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

the Plague! the Plague! or: When do we get the D... shot?

 I was just reading about the DRC (aka the Congo) on StrategyPage, to find out the latest news there. Yup. the usual. An attempted kidnapping that killed an Italian official. War. Mahem. A new railroad that might help matters in the long run. A few new cases of Ebola virus in North Kivu province mining town.

And then this:

February 19, 2021: In northeast Congo (Ituri province) Congolese health officials believe that over the past three months at least 31 have died from a bubonic plague outbreak. Over 520 cases have been confirmed...
The two variants are pneumonic (spread via air from a plague victim or has the plague in their lungs) and septicemic (catching plague from exposure to the blood of a plague patient). Before the mid-20th century Bubonic plague was still a major killer, but was one of the many diseases treatable with antibiotics, developed in Britain just before World War II.

the area has periodic cases, and indeed there were some cases there last year, but this is a new outbreak. 

For later reading: The Bubonic plague epidemics (Justinian Plague and the Black Death) that affected Europe also were a major cause of death in Africa. LINK

 Cases of the plague pop up now and then in a lot of places: I remember reading that China had a few cases last year. 

And although I never treated any cases, the docs in the IHS Navajo area see a couple cases a year, and they have an extensive prevention program. This old articleis about cases there in the recent past and the response of the IHS to control it...

Tony Hillerman's novel The First Eagle, describes the prevention program (accurate when I worked a short time near there in the 1970s, but it could be out of date by now). and this recent article discusses how a nearby prairie dog colony might stop the opening of a camp ground.

the real problem in the Navajo area is a big outbreak of Covid virus: Starting when a superspreader attended a church revival. The population is at risk, not just because of genetic variability but because of the high rate of diabetes and the fact that people live in multigenerational homes. The Navajo Times report that they are busy giving out the vaccine so hopefully things will settle down soon.

Speaking of vaccines:

For some reason, the Philippines, which has the largest number of cases in the area, has been the last one giving out the vaccine to it's own people. Officially that is (This AlJ article says that the big shots and military already got their shots, and that article notes that China gave 100 thousand of their citizens the vaccine illegally last year). Those doses had been smuggled in illegally, so hints that some people might also start smuggling in vaccine doses for their areas is probably already being done... and hey, the smugglers are quite efficient here. so why not.

Stories in January said that some mayors were already arranging to import vaccine for their areas ..,LINK2 but the news a few days ago just said they are still working on it.

 The Chinese vaccine (50 percent efficient) is now being given out in Manila to high risk and caregivers etc. 

why so slow? (The government official in charge just didn't get around to signing the paper work (liability protection?), so the Pfizer vaccine that the USA arranged to be sent to use in January couldn't be legally sent here, and for some reason the other vaccines haven't been bought either. On the other hand, the Sinovax company has been known to bribe people, but hey, bribery is illegal here in the Philippines.)

Here the social media is full of anti vax propaganda (after the Dengue vaccine scandal, that is not surprising, but one does wonder how many are Chinese bots who post such stuff all over the world)...

, so a lot of people say they will refuse the shot (but one doubts that, because poverty...why worry about a vaccine that might kill a few folks when your kids are hungry?_). On the other hand, the latest news says most Pinoys won't get the vaccine until next year.

I am not sure how those of us who are ex pats (US citizens living here, working, retirees or like myself with a local spouse) or Balikbayans (returning Filipinos with US citizenship like my late husband and his relatives) will be given the vaccine: Too early to tell. But one does wonder if the US government is worried about us. 

The q and a on the US Embassy in Egypt has more information about the problem.

Q: Given assurances by both President Trump and President-Elect Biden that access to the vaccine for all Americans will be their priority, why isn’t the State Department ensuring U.S. citizens abroad get vaccinated? Why are you vaccinating your own personnel but not private Americans? A: The Department of State does not provide direct medical care to private U.S. citizens abroad. We are committed to providing all possible consular assistance to U.S. citizens in need overseas, including by providing information on local medical resources when appropriate.

China ignored the law and gave all of their citizens working here their vaccine illegally late last year, but when I asked our local "Democrats Abroad" organization if the US government planned to do the same for us, I was told

 "according to information I have gathered from multilateral developmental banks and companies here, there's not much they can do until the high priority people like health care workers get vaccinated".

In other words, they are following the rules. 

One is tempted to say: Hey if China can vaccinate their own folks here, why can't the USA bribe China to give some vaccine to US citizens here by asking Duterte's government for a waiver? (an alternative would be a gift to the right official here, but hey, that wouldn't work because as we all know, Filipino officials never take bribes)...

So in the meanwhile, I guess I'll just have to stay inside for a couple more months.


Update....this article might explain why the Philippine government did not sign papers for Pfizer...

Yes it was about liability lawsuits, and the company insisting poor countries pledge their assets to cover the cost.

Heads up from the crazy Jeremiah, Ann Barnhardt, who is about as antivax as they come but does tend to dig up corruption in the church, big business, and the stock market.

Monday, March 01, 2021

The Many Facets of Middle Earth

 Renaissance man Brian Sibley had a blog post remembering his work on the 1981 BBC radio version of Lord of the Rings.

and, being the generous man with an interest in the arts, his blog post is not about himself, but about the artist Eric Frazer who did the art work on the cover of the BBC magazine RadioTimes, and how Sibley obtained some of the prints for his collection of graphic art.

The essay includes many example of Frazer's art work both for LOTR and his commercial work.

I am familiar with Sibley's 1981 radio version of LOTR because years ago, when it was re released, I bought the CD set of that radio version.

interesting factoid: The reason that Ian Holmes was cast by Peter Jackson as Bilbo was because he played Frodo in the BBC radio version many years before.

And last year, Mr. Sibley discussed the various interpretations/adaptions of Tolkien's works:

Yum. Ramen movie of the week

 An R rated movie about food? Where the quest for the perfect Ramen soup is the plot?

Yup. Tampopo is back, and will be re released soon. 

But you can find it on youtube.


most Yanks only know it as "spaghetti soup" aka ramen instant noodles. 

and it is only broth and noodles. You have to add the veggies etc. on your own.

here, the instant noodles come in different flavours, including hot and spicy, and a version that is "pancit noodles", i.e. not a lot of broth but with soy and oil to add after cooking. 

But when you eat it here, usually it has meat or wontons and is called  "mami soup", after the Chinese gentleman who introduced it in Manila.


And if you get NetFlix, you might want to check out the Midnight restaurant series, about a small restaurant in the RedLight district of Tokyo, and his customers.


someone posted one of the episodes on youtube. (Try not to cry). 


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

the pc war against Tolkien (Updated essay)

They are trying to "cancel" Tolkien, reports Vox Day, the rabid puppy in the "Sad Puppies" controversy (where PC stories that were poorly written and full of cliches would win over good writers who wrote imaginative stories. This, like the attacks on the video games, was about politics, as one can see on the Wikipedia page, where non PC obeying writers opposing the PC takeover were called "rabid right wing" types).

The Tolkien story takeover is about the rewrite by Amazon, where many fans worry that the Tolkien universe would be destroyed by the PC who would make it more "inclusive" to modern PC tastes while changing plots to mimic the amoral universe of the Game of Thrones, i.e. destroying Tolkien's moral world view which is so hated in today's world where Christianity and even moral paganism of Rome and Greek philosophy is shunned and ridiculed...

Of course, no one wants to admit the aim is to destroy any vestige of western civilization or traditional morality, so the critics will merely cry "Racism"...pretending the orcs are racist because Jackson's main orc in LOTR was played by a local Maori stuntman and looked dark skinned... but the original orcs were not dark skinned in the book, but never mind. 

And elves were blond (except in the book, this only applied to a subgroup of Noldor, but again never mind). And wait til they find that the Dwarves included Jewish influence (looking for a homeland, written before Israel was a nation, but mainly because the language was inspired by Hebrew grammar etc).

And of course, the Northern kingdom of the witch king was evil, the wainriders resembled the Goth barbarians, Gondor was based on Rome and Egypt, and Umbar's pirates were inspired by the Barbary pirate raids that took slaves from southern Europe.

But none of this matters to a culturally and historically illiterate "woke" community who can't figure out why a story based on Anglo Saxon and Norse mythology should not have their preferred minorities to prove virtue.

But of course, the dirty little secret is that it is not "racism" that they are objecting to: the real opposition is really about the moral universe of Tolkien, where good and evil are real and do not depend on the whims of the elite or the intellectual fads of the day:

Eomer said, 'How is a man to judge what to do in such times?' As he has ever judged,' said Aragorn. 'Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.

How deep does the cultural work rot go? Well, as Vox points out:  After Christopher Tolkien's death, the Tolkien society is asking for papers to discuss Tolkien's non PC attitude.

We are now calling for papers for the Tolkien Society Summer Seminar...The theme is Tolkien and Diversity...
While interest in the topic of diversity has steadily grown within Tolkien research, it is now receiving more critical attention than ever before.
Spurred by recent interpretations of Tolkien’s creations and the cast list of the upcoming Amazon show The Lord of the Rings, it is crucial we discuss the theme of diversity in relation to Tolkien. How do adaptations of Tolkien’s works (from film and art to music) open a discourse on diversity within Tolkien’s works and his place within modern society?

Italics mine. Translation: Amazon plans to make Tolkien "woke" so we need to discuss this. Or translation: How can we destroy Tolkien's nuances to fit into the "woke" culture of the politically correct?

The dirty little secret is that, unlike the "PC" culture, Tolkien's world is actually diverse. Tolkien's world includes the themes of how different races (elves, dwarves, and men, not to mention the sub groups of these races, i.e. Noldar and Silvan Elves, Dwarves from Moria and from the Blue Mountains, and of course, the different cultures of men: Gondor (Rome) vs LakeTown (rural Gemanic villages built on lakes) vs Rohan (Anglo Saxon culture plus horses of the Goths).

All of these different cultures act and think differently from each other, and have different ways of acting. Those of us who have actually lived in different cultures are aware of this, but in today's world, who dares to say such things?

In contrast to Tolkien's world, the "woke" culture that pretends it loves diversity is busy canceling anyone who doesn't go along with their way of thinking.

more HERE.

So the not only will the new series be "woke", but it will echo the amoral universe of the Game of Thrones.

Tolkien's stories are set in a moral universe, not the atheistic nihulism of George Martin.

And THAT is why he has been hated by elite opinion makers for the last 70 years.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Single patient carry

 I learned how to do single carry of a patient on the ground, by sitting him up and then lifting...but this is a different way to do it.

Bland stories that have horrific implications

 The BBC reports they are now doing non brain dead transplants. They pull the plug and wait for the person's heart to stop and then take the heart and other organs out... 

I support organ donation: it is life saving for many people. But to ignore that the need for organs is making elite ethicists to try to broaden the criteria of who is dead so they can get more organs is a dirty little secret.

This will not be the final step in broadening the way they "harvest" organs.

The "brain death" criteria in the UK is already broader than that used in the USA.

And if the "experts" are allowed to get their ideas into law, the criteria will be "cortical death" instead of whole brain death, meaning harvesting organs from those in "coma", or patients who are awake but in "persistant vegetative state" (which is frequently over diagnosed by "experts") will be considered "dead" so you can harvest their organs. So far, this has not been done legally in the USA... 

However, the BBC report about the increased use of "brain alive heart dead" criteria is just another way to muddy the discussion.

This is a very controversial practice, since for lay people, it confuses the difference between full brain death and what a lay person interprets as "Dead". There are already urban legends of people being declared brain dead and while arrangements were being done to remove their organs, the patients woke up... 

There are two reasons that these urban legends/fake news stories could be true: 

One: the diagnosis of brain death was not done properly

Two: The person had received sedation which confuses the diagnosis of brain death and then the sedation wears off.

But there is a need for organs, so what is a doctor to do?

But often you have someone who is profoundly brain damaged but does not meet the criteria for "brain death". So how can you harvest their organs?

You remove their machines and let the heart stop beating. Which is what the BBC article suggests they are doing.

Again often lay people get the impression that these people are brain dead (they are not). And again, there is that little problem of sedation, either by pain medicines, medicine given for seizures, etc. that can make a person look dead.

So there is confusion about what is going on.

As more cases of non brain dead people being taken off machines to get their organs, there will be more questioning of if doctors are killing people to get their organs. And this will have the unfortunate side effect of lowering the willingness of people to donate their organs when they die.

Twenty some years ago, when Dr Arthur Caplan, a famous bioethicist, moved to Pennsylvania where they had an option on the driver's license to check if they wanted their organs to be donated in case of death. When the clerk was instructing him how to fill out the forms for a drivers license, she warned him not to check this "or they will let you die".

I suspect the clerk was Afro American, since that community remembers the Tuskegee study and faces racism in hospitals and clinics, and of course, there is that matter of when a Pennsylvania governor needed a heart/liver transplant, he got it quickly... from a black donor who had died of a brain injury.

But most donors are not from the inner city minority community: in Western Pennsylvania, often brain damaged people from car wrecks (which were alas common on the winding dangerous back roads) were transferred to Pittsburgh, which is a big transplant center. The air ambulance guys would cynically call these transfers "body runs".

When I worked there, locals (mainly poor ethnic whites) still trusted the system, but this could change. And confusing brain death with stopping machines to kill the person so the donor's heart will stop so the docs can remove their organs is one way to increase the suspicion of the medical establishment, which is already losing it's trust due to the economic emphasis, with some of my relatives complaining that their doctor seems more interested in filling out the form on his computer than in actually listening to them.


In traditional brain death, if done properly, the entire brain and brain stem is dead, so the body is essentially brainless and will die the moment that you remove the machines. 

But if you stretch the criteria of whole brain death to "upper brain death", or worse, to people who are in a coma and will die when you take them off the machine, then you might be killing people who otherwise might survive... but with the pressure on the medical community to get organs for all those poor dying patients, you can see the problem of maybe being a bit lax in the diagnosis, or even helping the person along.

There was even a case where the patient didn't die fast enough for the doctor so he helped him along (but hey, the guy was mentally disabled to begin with so no the nice doc didn't get prosecuted).

and that is the dirty little secret that no one wants to discuss: If you are mentally handicapped, some people figure you are better off dead, and hey, if your death will help save another's life, why not?

(and this mind set isn't just seen in organ donation: There are too many disturbing stories of the mentally or physically handicapped who were denied full covid treatment because of their handicap, because hey, the hospital needed these resources for people who are not handicapped... except, as this NPR report reveals, there was no shortage of beds and equipment.)

The problem is even more complicated by the idea that all treatment, including food and water, should not be given to a person if they are "terminal" (where people often don't want to eat, just want to be pain free). 

In the UK, patients dying of painful diseases such as cancer were put on a "terminal sedation" aka Liverpool pathway that was originally devised to help control severe pain...except that this practice quickly started to be used for those who were not terminal, or in severe pain, just old and weak.

The UK has socialized medicine of course, so they have a "QALY" quality of life criteria that lets doctors decide if your quality of life is good enough for them to waste taxpayer's money by treating you... the organization that makes these decisions is called the N.I.C.E... an Orwellian name for a cold hearted bureaucracy.

Sarah Palin, whose son is both a minority (part Eskimo) and also has Down's syndrome, correctly labeled those using these criteria as a "death panel" and of course she was ridiculed. 

But the dirty little secret is that using "quality of life" criteria to decide if a person should get treated for an illness is a real danger, not just to the mentally and physically  handicapped, but the elderly, and minorities (including the poor whites and the AmerIndian communities, where I spent most of my time practicing medicine).

Minorities are also less likely to get transplants: We had an active "organ donor" drive at the local Indian festivals to encourage people to sign donor cards, because the need for transplants, especially kidney transplants because of genetic Kidney disease, auto immune renal failure and diabetes meant that kidney disease was a major problem for those of us working in the Indian Health Service.

But again, there is a need to trust the medical system.

and this is where the "slippery slope" to get sloppy in deciding who is not merely dead but really really dead comes in.

Brain death is accepted by most folks, but when the diagnosis is not done accurately, you confuse people.

You read of stories of prolonged life after "brain death"... this is especially true in children, whose brains are more able to regenerate. The Jahi McMath case is especially disturbing, not just because of her prolonged survival, (and possible regrowth of brain tissue that meant she no longer met the brain death criteria)...

but because her "death" was essentially due to a medical error, or rather a problem that happened that sometimes happens despite the best care, but could be considered malpractice in today's court system. A disabled child gets a much larger payment than a dead one, so the hospital involved had a monetary reason to declare her brain dead...

and the problem that Jahi's case revealed: That she actually had some brain recovery by the time she died of other complications.

So when you read the BBC article that they are making plans to use the "non brain dead" criteria for child donors, one does wonder how this can be done without people suspecting their donor child is not really dead, but you need her organs so you are lying.

And if you really want to be paranoid about doctors willing to kill children for organs: Well, here in the third world people actually sell organs to rich people. (Here it is illegal, but hey that never stopped anyone). And because it's common knowledge that people will buy organs, there is a persistent urban legend/ fake news story about gangs kidnapping street kids to remove their organs.


Trust is a delicate thing. The reason for the Hippocratic Oath was so people knew that their physician would not kill no matter what.

Since I graduated from medical school 50 years ago, much of that oath has been discarded by those who thought their newfangled ethics were wise than that old Greek guy. But I wonder...

Trust is a delicate thing, and when it's lost, it takes years to rebuild it.

And the BBC's happy story of saving lives by blurring the ethical line of who is dead and who is alive will have more negative influence on medicine in the future.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

A Balrog named Fred

 Michael Martinez has a long essay on balrogs, and if Aragorn and Boromir could have helped Gandalf fight Fred the Balrog on the bridge in Kazadum.


the essay is a long discussion of what is a Balrog, and how the concept of Balrog changed in the 50 years when Tolkien was writing his tales.

But essentially a Balrog is a fallen angel of the Maiar class who has taken a bodily presence in Middle Earth. And it is doubtful that human heroes, even one with elven/maiar ancestors like Aragorn, could have stood out long against Fred the Balrog of Moria.

Fred? Yes, that's what the fans named him  sort of a jest, in the same way that the Great White Shark in Jaws was named Bruce. (or in the modern world, Hitler was Herr Shickelgruber and Xi is Winnie the Pooh).

Because laughing at the devil really really makes him mad, 

and the warrior of legends of east and west jest as they fight evil, knowing that they will probably be defeated or at best win a battle that will only be a temporary victory in the long defeat of history.

But they chose to fight nevertheless...

Tolkien's theme of the long defeat is a variation of the Northern myths, where even the gods know that at the end of time, the Giants will destroy Asgard and the world, but they will oppose the evil anyway, joined with the warriors of Valhalla. 

But one difference between Tolkien's world view and the world view of the Northern myths: in his worldview there is hope that good will conquer in the end. 

Tolkien had two words for hope: One was the same as our idea (short term hope that things will go well). But the other term he uses is Estel: This is the long view of history, the hope that assures us that in the end God wins: that after the death on Good Friday comes the resurrection. And after Armageddon comes the New Jerusalem at world's end:

He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Thursday, February 18, 2021

did china block Taiwan from buying Pfizer vaccine?

That is what is hinted in this story, (Asia News is run by a Catholic group involved in development).

Over copyright issues, or maybe because Australia is researching anti trust issues against facebook and google.

And Australia was being bullied by china  (apparently the Aussies insulted China, who is now cutting their use of their agricultural products) but Australia has pushed back against them too. (don't want our wine and lobsters? Well, you don't need our iron and low sulfur coal either)

so what is behind the boycott? Australia insulted China by criticizing them over their bad human rights policies against Tibetans, Uighars, and the slow strangling of human rights (and the rule of law) in Hong Kong.

food products are the most vulnerable to these types of shennanigans since they have a limited shelf life. I remember when China decided to punish the Philippines for some reason a couple years ago so they stopped importing bananas from Mindanao... a lot of the bananas went rotten and it hurt a lot of the plantations there.

And clergy of all the religions there will be under the government and watched. 

There will be a national data base containing the names of the official clergy who were trained and recognised by the five State authorised religions. Their loyalty to the Party is assessed periodically by awarding social credit or by sanctions which may cause the loss of the registration in the State data base.

 Will Biden stand up for religious rights? Given the fact he just said the Uighar persecution is merely cultural differences, ("culturally there are differnt norms") one wonders.

But Xi said he was pleased that Biden is treating him with respect.