Thursday, December 13, 2018

hint: Blocking shipping lanes affects many folks

Here in the Philippines, we sat back while China stole the Philippine fishing grounds and area in our economic zone, because Obama pressured PNoy (president Aquino) not to be aggressive when China dug up the sea floor, destroyed the local ecology, stopped our fishermen from working in their traditional areas, and now have built islands with military equipment such as missiles that can take out airplanes and ships.

The back story is worse: China bribed Gloria with the ZTE deal money to give them rights to the area, but our press found it out and it was stopped. This 2011 GMA article shows how her 2004 bribe led to China's aggression:

The latest series of diplomatic protests lodged by the Philippines with China and submitted also to the United Nations have its roots to the controversial Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking entered into by the Arroyo government with China in 2004 which allowed China and later on Vietnam to explore not only the Philippine-occupied islands in the disputed mineral-rich Spratlys but areas that are clearly Philippine territory.
The JMSU was signed during Gloria Arroyo’s 2004 visit to China which paved the way for the signing of at least two graft-riddled deals: North Rail and national broadband network with ZTE agreements.

so anyway, while the MSM seems to be covering Hillary dancing with Kerry at a Bollywood like wedding in India, they are ignoring the real news, which can be found in the back pages: that Secretary Mattis is over there talking with India and that the Indian secretary visited not just the US but Hawaii, where the military headquarters for the "Indo Pacific" command" is located.

from Austin Bay:

Here's my translation: When it comes to China's aggressive behavior in the South China Sea and the Himalayas, India and the U.S. are on the same page. India, a nuclear-armed regional power, and the U.S., a global hyperpower, despite their political disagreements, oppose Communist Chinese imperialism. India will not be anyone's lackey. Hence Mattis' recognition of India's "strategic autonomy." But "strategic partnership" enhances India's and America's ability to deter a nuclear-armed global powerhouse (China).
there is a Philippine aspect to this: Shipping routes.

The main shipping route from the Middle East (and from India) to Korea and Japan pass through the West Philippine sea.|

and they continue to be aggressive, while promising (but not actually doing anything) help for the Philippines if Duterte keeps quiet about the theft.

More at StrategyPage.  (read the whole thing).

one result is that the Philippines has been visited by both  Japanese and the Indian Naval ships.

as for China: see Wikipedia article on "strong of Pearls" bases in the Indian Ocean.

Remember: China thinks long term, and the ground work is being laid to take over Central and South Asia. Having control of the sealanes is a threat to the economies of weaker nations in the area.

for example, China is extending their influence into Paksitan, building a port in their south. But not using local labor, but importing 50 thousand of Chinese to do the work. (and eventually they estimate half a million Chinese will work there, living in a gated community). (note: Pakistan, like the Philippines, exports hundreds of thousands of construction and industrial workers, especially to the Middle East, so it's not like they couldn't hire local people. So will there be push back? I have no idea.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Home town Christmas

to my puritanical American eyes, the new Ferris wheel and the Christmas decorations and the kiosks to sell street food seem a bit over the top.

But you know, what it means is that the city square is now full of local people, and the ferris wheel is a symbol of the town's prosperity (not to mention a lot of fun for the kids in the newly repaired city square).

Report here:

GAPAN CITY, Nueva Ecija -- A 100-foot Christmas tree, tunnel lights with over 50,000 bulbs and a 45-meter tall ferris wheel-cum-giant lantern, were among the main attractions of the city's grand Christmas festival dubbed “Masaya ang Pasko sa Gapan” that was formally launched here over the weekend.
Mayor Emerson Pascual said the PHP50-million ferris wheel that was built under the city government tourism program will be open to all the local residents free of charge and with "minimal fees" for local tourists.
Pascual said the Christmas bulbs were lit up Saturday night to treat the people to a colorful holiday and "let them feel the true spirit of Christmas." “A nativity scene was also blessed,” he said. The tunnel lights that span 700 meters and placed a few meters away from the national road, emphasized the fully-decorated town plaza that has become an attraction to both residents and visitors.
the Christmas festival launching program kicked off with the performance of popular singer-comedian Janno Gibbs. Pascual assured visitors that the city, with its improved peace and order condition, is ready to welcome tourists.

improved peace and order. Blame Duterte (and our mayor, who now is using city funds for things like this instead of diverting the money into his pocket).

and some of the locals vlog:

this vlog shows the square down the street from us. We are in the old section of town: Not the rich part, although some families are ex pats or have families overseas who send money to improve their homes. (the gated housing for the affluent is up near the mall and the new city hall, where the town is expanding).

in other words, middle and working class folk who can easily walk there or take a tricycle to the party.

this starts at the mall but quickly changes to downtown;
.------------this one is shorter>>>>>>>>>>>>>-----------

the city square also has been the place for jogging, where Lolo used to jog every morning, and for the past 5 years holds a morning exercize class (which is too vigourous for my old bones). Up to recently, however, it looked run down and shoddy: Now it looks pretty and clean.

Now, if only people would put all of their discarded plastic cups and bags into the trash bins. These predate the present mayor and are used, but often at night the dogs and cats spread the garbage around to look for left overs.

the former mayor also covered the ditches so the open air market wouldn't flood so much. Too bad that the cement used was substandard and is several places, the covers collapsed completely and had to be replaces.

The electric wires are also being replaced with cables instead of the numerous wires that got tangled and often sagged and got broken by passing rice trucks.

Next step: gradually replace all the broken water pipes.

Part of the problem is that with the increase in prosperity, the traffic is worse: So the trucks now go around our house since downtown the main street is one way. And the streets (and covers to the drainage ditches that go under the street or get parked on by trucks making deliveries) can't always take the heavy loads.

There are also more outreach programs for the sick: there is a clinic for sick kids behind the old city hall near the square, and more grants for the elderly indigent to get their blood pressure and diabetic medicines for free.

The vacant lot across the street has been cleaned up and now has a store to supply audiosystems for cars and tricycles, and also to paint cars etc.

This is bad news for the dogs.

when we moved here, south of the house was open land, but now it is full of new houses, some of which have small shops. So things are improving. But no more sleepy town with waterbuffalo grazing up the street in the vacant lots.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Grits are back. Yum. (and pass the Tortillas)

the NYTimes reports that Trumpieboy has rolled back the Obama school lunch rules:

 Under the new rules, only half of the grain products on the cafeteria’s weekly menu must be whole grain-rich....
The Trump administration asserts in the new rules that administrators have struggled to find food products that meet these standards while also pleasing students. Schools have been able to request exemptions from the rules if they demonstrate financial hardship, and the government has said the most popular requests have been for regional staples like grits in the South and tortillas in the Southwest.

yum! Grits!


and really yummie: Cheeze grits


as for Tortillas, my sons were Colombianos, and came from an area where they grew potatoes and did not eat tortilla or TexMex food until they moved to the USA.

However, my son's wife is Mexican American and when I visited, we had tortillas with every meal.


 actually I was in favor of the healthy food for kids in schools; The problem was that they overdid it.

 When we worked with our diabetics in the IHS, we didn't give them exotic foods: We gave out recipes on how to change the ingredients of commonly eaten food, to make the food lower in fat and simple carbohydrates, to be more healthy.

for example, one favorite food on the "res" was Indian tacos: Made with frybread (dough that is fried in lard. Yum).

FryBread is originally Navajo, but is a favorite all over: Our elders used to sell Indian Tacos using fry bread instead of tortillas once a week to raise money for the Elderly center.

first, you need a recipe on how to make healthier fry bread from NewsOk:

Substituting half the white flour with whole-wheat flour to increase the fiber content, because the fiber in whole grains helps reduce cholesterol in the body. Substituting fat-free milk for the water called for, to add calcium to the nutrition profile and to give extra flavor to the finished product. Using canola oil instead of lard in which to fry the bread. Canola oil is a mono unsaturated fat, while lard is a saturated fat that is not heart healthy.

Here is the "healthy" version of the recipe for the stuffing, using low fat cheese and lots of veggies.

The Belangiga Bells are back

The Belangiga bells have been returned from the USA to the Philippines, and the country is happy about it.

Photo credit Doy Marcosos:PhilInquirer

PhilInquirer relates why they were taken.

The bells were taken by American forces in September 1901 from a Catholic church in Balangiga, after Filipinos killed 48 out of 74 U.S. soldiers. As a retaliatory attack, U.S. forces razed the town which killed thousands of Filipinos, in what is known as Balangiga Massacre. The Americans took the bells as war trophies

Yes. The takeover of the Philippines from Spain to the US resulted in a lot of atrocities (on both sides: and the American retaliation was very barbaric. Then there were a lot of deaths from disease etc. A little remembered part of American history).

Ironically, Mark Twain was one of the most famous writers who opposed American policy, pointing out:

If it had been played according to the American rules, Dewey would have sailed away from Manila as soon as he had destroyed the Spanish fleet – after putting up a sign on shore guaranteeing foreign property and life against damage by the Filipinos, and warning the Powers that interference with the emancipated patriots would be regarded as an act unfriendly to the United States...
Dewey could have gone about his affairs elsewhere, and left the competent Filipino army to starve out the little Spanish garrison and send it home, and the Filipino citizens to set up the form of government they might prefer, and deal with the friars and their doubtful acquisitions according to Filipino ideas of fairness and justice – ideas which have since been tested and found to be of as high an order as any that prevail in Europe or America.



Pope vs evil conspirators

At least that is what the NYTimes would have you believe.

See my earlier post on Steve Bannon.

get Religion has the story and links:

The first story is a legitimate profile of Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, whose life has taken her from the heights of glitterati fame to where she is now — a Catholic philanthropist with very conservative Catholic beliefs and a willingness to work with the rich and the poor.
The second story is — brace yourself — about Stephen K. Bannon and his ongoing efforts to promote his own power and prestige, primarily by spinning conspiracy theories that make cultural progressives go nuts. (Click here for a GetReligion post about a previous chapter in this drama and here for another.)

this is part of a growing civil war by not just the radical trads but more mainstream believers who are worried about the Pope for spreading confusion in doctrinal matters, especially about sexual sin or the holiness of the Eucharist.

the most recent example of this is the Pope's comments about not letting active homosexuals into seminaries, while at the same time he promotes people like Cardinal McCarrick to important posts, even though McCarrick not only was a serial abuser but was also weak on pro life and other issues in his public office.

One hint on why this is: he was a great fund raiser.

 Follow the money also has to do with some people suspecting a conspiracy against Pope Benedict to force him to resign. the latest conspiracy theory was the the Vatican Bank scandal was used to force his resignation.

For a summary by a non crazy person, check out Dr. Taylor Marshall's video from last August, and remember: Things have gotten worse since then:

Don't ask me: I'm just a lowly Catholic who loves the sacraments and the Lord, and realize that the field of wheat has a lot of tares in it, but that doesn't mean you destroy the whole field.

as for here in the Philippines, even Rappler (who is feuding with Duterte) has an editorial saying that Duterte's criticism of the church in this matter is like the pot calling the kettle black: both need to clean up their act.

on the other hand, when priests get killed for defending the rights of the poor against the powerful (usually about land reform or stealing the local's land for mining etc that would pollute the area), it shows you can't paint the entire priesthood with the same brush.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Musical interlude of the day

for those of you who love Opera

Hogwarts vs the globalist pope

PJMedia writes:

Like something out of a Bond villain's backstory, Steve Bannon has won a bid to take over an Italian monastery in the mountains of Italy built by Pope Innocent III in 1204. He plans to turn it into an academy to defend Christendom and Western culture. The sprawling castle encompasses several buildings, with hundreds of rooms, a guest house built into a rock, and a library with 36,000 volumes. Nicholas Farrell of the Spectator visited it and came away feeling he had been in a storybook. "[I]t made me think of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Harry Potter books," he wrote.

Hogwarts saving the world. That's an interesting concept, although I would suggest the metaphor of Athanasius contra mundum would be a better way to put it.

and although the meme is that Bannon is alt/r and a fascist, the Spectator points out that he is closer to the left when he spouts populism.

For Bannon,...these things show that the Pope is on the side of the elite and not the little guy. His solution? Pope Francis needs to be more left wing:
‘His greatest failings outside the spiritual and theological are siding with the globalist elites against the citizens of the nations of the world. Memo to the Pope — if you want to cultivate a media image of working man’s champion, great; but you then actually have to stand up for the little guy, and not with the rich and powerful who drive the UN and the EU in favor of their own internationalist agendas at the little guy’s expense. 

it makes one wonder who is funding this? From the Spectator article:

 Its backers are private – mainly Americans and Brits, who are Catholics and Jews
more HERE. and HERE.

and the name of Cardinal Burke came up: if you read the Catholic sycophants, he is the most hated Cardinal. He sin? He dared to question the Pope (see the Dubia controversy). A modern Athanasius indeed.

As a result, the Vatican fired him twice and the word is out not to let him speak at your meetings.

and for good measure, he also has been (rhetorically) spat on by the Washington Post and several others in the MSM. OnePeterFive analyzes what was behind this coordinated attack, including his association with Bannon and his defense of traditional marriage.

From a non religious angle, this appears to be Bannon vs the elite, and he is trying to educate the Pope on his populist agenda.

because when the elites try to silence the worries of the little guy, by ignoring them or by ridiculing them, you don't really stop their worries or resentment.

as one Catholic leader put it:

Peaceful change is possible: In the USA, that was how you got Trump. Here in the Philippines, that is how we got Duterte. In the UK, that is how they got Brexit.

but there is an alternative: as the riots in France are showing in the headlines.

Sort of a Howard Beale moment, but with Facebook:  thousands of French people saying: I'm mad as hell and not going to take it any more. (reference is this 1976 film Network).

However, I have one comment about this from an Asian standpoint:
and I wonder if Bannon (or the Pope) has noticed:

The church is not the same as western civilization. The eastern church is more mystical than the western church, which pushes action over mysticism (hence western people have to turn to new age type gurus to find out about the inner search for God).

Indeed, the eastern churches were huge in the past before they were decimated by Islam and later communism. But never mind.

But both eastern and western Christianity has side effects: including pushing the dangerous idea that God is God and Caesar is Caesar, but that not even Caesar is above God's laws.

 That is a revolutionary thought to countries where Stalin/Hitler/Mao (or in today's China, Xi) or the European Union bosses are supposed to be the ultimate authority.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Cat items of the day (with music)

because things are getting too serious on the blog, I give you: Cats!

(with music)
   ------------ ------------------

Deep state conspiracy theories on the Vatican

I don't know how to make head nor tails about this, but the remark by the DNC chairman complaining that people listen to what they hear in church sermons made me wonder.

was Benedict XVI's resignation orchestrated by the deep state, including their minions in the Vatican, and the Obama administration, by manipulating the Vatican bank?

You see, the Democrats and their backers fund "catholic" groups to counteract the Catholic right (i.e. Catholic blue dog democrats who changed parties, since a generation ago few Catholics were Republicans).

more links here. I won't summarize them because I know nothing about economics or finance.

FT The scandal of the Vatican Bank (2013).

cut to conspiracy theory: Was Benedict Swifted? (original article in an Italian source HERE)

all of this is, of course, "coast to coast am" territory, and can easily descend into paranoia. But as I noted before: A lot of conspiracy theories are based on facts that are covered up, and then these facts are enlarged into explaining the entire problem (as opposed to being part of the problem that was covered up to protect someone's tush or to manipulate the public to gain power).

the problem? There have been so many doctrinal distortions that a lot of Catholics on the conservative blogosphere are wondering if schism is about to happen. (mainly about sexual sin but also on the essence of the Eucharist, and most recently, did Jesus get the Our Father wrong?)

One problem? the press hates anyone who questions the PC take on Francis. WaPost sees this as extreme right wing politics, although they do, in paragraph 10, note the questioning of "doctrinal ambiguities".

Uh, are they agreeing the Pope is a heretic?

the "catholic" press are smoothly backing the Pope, and the right wing blogosphere is full of ubertrads.

The problem is now things are so bad that Catholic blogs and sites that follow the faith instead of the memes are worrying.

And if you dare to report the controversies on faith and morals, you will have not only the press but the Pope's minions attack you, as EWTN news found out.

Milo, of all people, brings it up again: if you are part of the left wing cabal, all is forgiven.

(as opposed to those of us who support many of the left's issues, but not all of them, and prefer nuances to talking points).

the pope blames "clericalism", the right blames the homosexual lobby. But it comes down to saying "who am I to judge" when they see seeing something terrible done by someone they know and often like, or who is pushing their agenda.

it comes down to the same psychological mechanism that is seen in doctors who protect marginal or incompetent or addicted doctors, or cops protect bad cops who take bribes, drink on the job, or maybe overdo it when they arrest people : When people try to do their best, often against all odds, are attacked, the group tends to protect their own....

and it is worse when the sin is deeply embedded in the culture of the organization, be it bribery in the Philippines or pederasty and homosexual activity in the priesthood.


update: I haven't listened to the whole thing, but here is one investigative reporter about the subject, from a 2011 talk. He discusses Ratzinger at minute 28.

Sodom and Gomorrah and meteors, oh my

Did the Lord God a meteor really smite them with fire from the sky?

DavidReneke discusses

A meteor that exploded in the air near the Dead Sea 3,700 years ago may have wiped out communities, killed tens of thousands of people, and provided the kernel of truth to an old Bible story.

Archaeologists have been digging at the Tall el-Hamman site for 13 years, and have unearthed some pretty convincing evidence supporting the air-burst idea....
   The exploding meteor destroyed the ancient city of Tall el-Hamman in Jordan. Some scholars think that it is the city called Sodom in the Bible....

the timing might be wrong, the theory is not proven, but like other myths, there might be a core of truth in the story  a folk memory of a terrible disaster that happened in an area... and of course, the story tellers in all cultures often attribute disasters to the wrath of God for sin.

Big Brother updates

the internet is taking over the world, and Facebook is enabling the protests in France.

which is one reason why China is busy regulating their social media and bans facebook and many sites.

StrategyPage has an essay on various cyber war attacks.

John Bachelor has a discussion here: ---------------

Well, China has my federal OPM file already, but Facebook (and Gmail) also spy on you all the time, so no big deal.

Scanning stories that don't agree with the talking points

Dilbert says the left and right see different "movies" on what is going on: So I am ignoring the latest kerfuffle that is filling the airwaves about Trumpie boy, which seem to be important until you watch the other movie where they demolish the talking points with a reality check.

Since I live 10 thousand miles away, I tend to take it all with a grain of salt.

And wonder: Do these people notice what is happening in France? America got Trumpie boy as a revolt against being lorded over by the elite and trivial regulations, the UK got Brexit partly over the kettle tax, but in today's paper, it appears that France is having thousand of ordinary people protesting the government policies making their lives difficult.

I read somewhere that it started with a lady on the social media, 

heh. What hath Zuckerberg wrought?

Trumpieboy removed a lot of these pesky regulations, and rewriting the play book on foreign relations. Good or bad? I don't know. All I know is that Obama, in the search for peaceful solutions, pressured PNoy to let China steal our resources in the West Philippine sea, and that hasn't worked out well, has it?

as for the Muller investigation: What happened to Russia?

some hyperventilation on CNN about Trump's pay off lawyer (businessmen, like doctors, tend to pay off nuisance lawsuits instead of going to court).

but the "swamp" of lobbying and money is the real problem, and when the investigation only sees one side to prosecute (uh, Uranium one?), one does get a bit cynical.

but the dark side of the investigation is that many innocent people are being "punished" by making them go bankrupt to defend themselves. No, I don't feel sorry for Manafort, who has earned millions doing lobbying, but what about General Flynn?
(whose main sin was to oppose Obama's policies years before).

Instapundit has a lot of stuff there about the culture wars (libertarian site)

so after watching CNN, check out that site for links.\\

and remember: The head of the DNC is complaining that too many Americans are listening to what they hear in church. (uh, like pro immigration sermons Catholics hear all the time? Of course not.)

a lot of this is culture war redux, and Trump, who as a businessman, unlike Andrea Mitchell, has had to talk to ordinary people, and realized there was a problem, and decided he could fix the problem, which is ironic for a guy who went on Howard Stern's radio show all the time in the past.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

finger id scan


Vein patterns are typically read by sensors based on the red blood cells’ tendency to easily absorb near-infrared rays after transporting oxygen in the veins.
The technology has been adopted for ATM use, entry to facilities and other purposes. But it isn’t foolproof. Scientists at the institute say that photographing fingers from a distance with a digital camera can reveal the vein patterns. “Biometric information used for personal identification does not change throughout one’s life, so the risks will remain once it is stolen,” said Isao Echizen, a professor at the institute. “I want to establish a technology to prevent unintentional leaks of such information.”

uh: too late.

 I wonder about using finger vein identification

As a young girl, my hands would go cold when I was nervous. Wouldn't this affect the veins?

Ditto for Retinal scans: We would photograph the retinas of our diabetic patients to check for neovascularization from diabetic retinopathy. So those patients would fail, as would those who get retinal bleeds or other pathology.

Well, what about Iris scans? I wonder about that too. Would uveitis or corneal clouding confuse that type of identification?

and alas that is easy to spoof too:

and then there are facial scans.

and now your photo is being scanned and filed on Facebook


But it's not all bad:

it's nice to know that privacy still exists: government needs a warrant to spy on you:

uh oh...

Musical interlude of the day