Monday, December 31, 2012

Time tested Beauty Tips

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody. 

 Picture Joey Valasco

Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!

--Sam Levenson 

A lot of people think this was written by Audrey Hepburne, but although she often quoted it, it was actually written by American comedian Sam Levenson who wrote these in a letter to his grandchildren...

Photo of the day

From NASA:

Credits: NASA/CXC/Ohio State Univ./C.Grier et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI, ESO/WFI; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Spiral Galaxy NGC 3627:

The spiral galaxy NGC 3627 is located about 30 million light years from Earth. This composite image includes X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope (red), and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope (yellow). The inset shows the central region, which contains a bright X-ray source that is likely powered by material falling onto a supermassive black hole..Confirming previous Chandra results, this study finds the fraction of galaxies found to be hosting supermassive black holes is much higher than found with optical searches. This shows the ability of X-ray observations to find black holes in galaxies where relatively low-level black hole activity has either been hidden by obscuring material or washed out by the bright optical light of the galaxy.

Factoid of the day

Rocket J Squirrel is actually Rockette:

Science Headline of the day



History lessons for the day

StrategyPage puts the political struggles of present day China into the perspective or China's long history of being controlled by clans. The main "danger" to the Deng clan that controls China is the growing middle class.


Also from StrategyPage: the problem of unemployed in Arab countries that have millions of foreign workers (many of whom are Filipinos).

I may have linked to this previously, but the cross cultural problems of working with Afghanistan that you won't read about in the newspapers.

From the Diplomad: What it is really like to be in a country where the embassy people might be attacked.

put down coffee before reading: it's that funny.

Not so funny is his prediction that the Benghazi scandal will quickly be forgotten.

I am glad also to report that I won my bet with a former colleague on the Benghazi fiasco. I bet him that nobody would be forced to resign: that would be the price of the truce between Foggy Bottom and Chicago. "You don't fire us Foggy Bottom sorts, and we don't go public with how cretinous a foreign policy you Chicagoans have instituted. Deal? Deal."

The initial reports indicated I might have lost the bet, as supposedly four State officials either were forced to resign or dismissed . . . yeah, right. My colleague called to collect on his bet; I delayed paying as I was skeptical of the initial reports. Then  SUDDENLY the truth came out. Nobody had been axed! It was all a three card monte game with no money card on the table. 

These stories have a single thing in common: That what was going in the official reports had nothing to do with reality.


One is reminded of the over 100 thousand veterans from Gulf War I who have Gulf War Syndrome. Outside of veterans groups, who cares? Even when the NYTimes noted that the troops were really injured by American policies, and not neurotic, it only made page a20... even though their disability may have been  caused by exposure to nerve gas (either from SCUDS and/or from blowing up Saddam's WMD's, plus a suspicion that pills used to protect against nerve gas might have made things worse. Discussion HERE.). In other words, a coverup, even though similar symptoms were found in Kurdish populations who also had nervegas exposure.

Why is this important?

Because Syria has lots supplies of various poison gases, (maybe even some of Saddam's missing WMD) and the big  story of the collapse of Syria is: who will get their hands on them? A lot of terrorist types have "volunteered" to fight with the local rebels...

From StrategyPage:

The big fear in the West is that Assad may turn his chemical weapons (especially the nerve gas) over to Hezbollah or these weapons may be seized by rebel groups that are also Islamic terrorists intent on attacking the West and Israel. Hezbollah, as a creation of Iran (in the 1980s), could have gotten nerve gas from Iran at any time since then. But that stuff, if used, could be traced back to Iran with dire consequences for Iran. The Syrian stuff, created by a Syrian dictator recently removed from power, would be another matter. In any event, this is not a huge deal as nerve gas is vastly overrated as a terrorist (or military) weapon.

I suspect there is a scramble to get them by all, (even Russia, which worries about Chechnian suicide bombers might be helping) before they get diverted to kill westerners.

President Obama said if Syria used nerve gas against civilians, the US might intervene. So voila, instantly we read reports that Homs was bombed with nerve gas and...well, the US (and more importantly, Israel) said the reports were wrong.

Did Tom Clancy write a novel about this? How about 24 or Homeland?

as for us, when a bus is bombed, it might be terrorism or just that the bus company didn't pay a bribe to the terrorist organization, so the company is being warned.

Kill too many people, and you get killed. So the bombs are usually small, and that lets the headlines here be small too.

So what is today's big headline? Firecrackers....

Crackdown on ’crackers PNP ordered to arrest revelers exploding ‘bombs’
they'd like to ban them, but since ignoring laws is a major industry here, I doubt they'd bother.

party time

lolo giving out gifts to the kids at the party for the employees, subcontracting farmers, and various friends and family members.

I took more photos, but they are on my tablet computer and until I learn how to connect it to this one, I will have to post/send the photos email to put them on line. Yes, I have bluetooth, and it worked and now it doesn't.

Calling Luke...calling do I fix these things.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Family news

the friends of Ruby are still here. Later today we have a belated christmas party for the staff, friends, and the farmers who grow for our company.

Lolo went to church. Chano came down to tell us he would drive us, and I said come back in ten minutes because Lolo wasn't ready. Then I went out with the cook to try to figure out where to put the dogs during the party. So Lolo, not finding anyone but ready, went outside and hailed a tricycle (motorcycle with sidecab that is used here for short taxi rides). I managed to catch up with him before he left, but Chano was too late.

So five minutes after we arrived in church, Chano arrived in the car, and then the rest of the family and the visitors too.

Now we are relaxing. Usually Lolo reads the paper in the dining room, but it is hot and the dogs keep barking at the staff in the kitchen (who include a few from the farm who the dogs don't know). So we moved into the spare bedroom, that I fixed up as a living room with a sofa and a few chairs.

Usually we go to the bedroom, but it is hot and dark there, so it's nice to have an alternative.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Geek gift idea of the day

You, you there, you're only a few feet tall and your beard may need a few decades, but you will suffice!
Here, take this axe; wield it with all your strength. Protect the Ring bearer as he traverses treacherous territories and misty mountains. You may need a map to go through Moria because Gimli was the only one who really knew much about that place, but fear not! Trust in the power of The Fellowship and you shall not fail.

Product Specifications

For Ages 3 years and up

15" Battle Axe made of dwarven steel

Just kidding, it's kid-safe EVA foam molded plastic and works against Orcs (Orcs are allergic to EVA foam)

Musical interlude of the day


Nice Stuff below the fold

Coming soon: Quantum Computing.

Top Science stories of the year.

The best "discovery"?

9. The debunking of calorie-restricted diets for longevity

While previous studies have indicated that animals such as rats and roundworms had aged more slowly if they consumed fewer calories, a study conducted over 25 years comparing rhesus monkeys on a restricted-calorie diet to those on a normal diet found no difference. However, two factors did seem to make a difference: genetics and eating healthy food. And here are some others studies showing just what kind of food is healthy: not eating red meat, eating a Mediterranean diet or even avoiding fatty food.

Here in the Philippines, everyone has cellphones, but now Africa is catching up.

Strategypage's mainly depressing podcast on Africa points out how cellphones are making a difference (fast forward to 31 minutes). Honest banking!


David Warren tries to correct the distortion of medieval medical history and notes this factoid:

Innocent III... at the dawn of the 13th century launched a “crusade” to provide every little town throughout Christendom, no matter how remote, with its own medical hospital...

 Botox cures depression?!

Earlier articles noted that people getting botox also had "blunting" of emotions, but with small samples it might be coincidence.

What did Mr Sun think of the Mayan Apocolypse kerfuffle?

 Did the sun give a knowing wink a few minutes after the Mayan doomsday prophecy was proved wrong? NASA's SDO satellite captured this image on 22 Dec 2012. 
Picture: NASA/NOAA GOES Project / Rex Features




Friday, December 28, 2012

Musical interlude of the day



Vacation suggestion for Zombies: Visit the Aarhus Hjernesamlingen

In 1945, hoping to learn as much as possible from the brains of the mentally ill post-mortem, Denmark established a centralized institute to insure that standardized methods were followed and the findings properly documented.
The result is the brain collection at the Aarhus University Hospital Centre for Psychiatric Research, possibly the world's largest collection of brains from subjects who suffered with various mental illnesses. From 5,500 brains plagued by dementia, 1,500 with schizophrenia, 300 with depression, and 300 with bi-polar disorder...The actual collecting of brains stopped in 1982, when it was deemed unethical to remove the brains of deceased patients without first getting their consent or that of their families.The Aarhus Brain Collection is sadly not open to the public....

but make sure you pick the right Brain:

War and peace and rants

The Diplomad 2.0 remembers the Boxing Day Tsunami:
The USA, Australia, UK, and Canada led the pack in providing assistance to the battered Muslims of Sumatra....
The US and Australian military were absolutely superb in moving quickly and effectively to save thousands of lives in a massive relief operation. Let's give credit where credit is due: the Aussie C-130s were the first into Banda Aceh and did a great job throughout the relief effort.... The UN, despite receiving huge amounts of donations, was spectacularly ineffective, and had the people of Banda Aceh had to wait on the UN, tens-of-thousands more of them would have died.
The much-reviled George Bush and John Howard were the heroes of the day, leading the relief effort and challenging the UN and the rest of the world to meet the standard set by the US and Australia.
Yeah, it's Bush's (and Howard's) fault. But hey, let's ignore it because it doesn't fit the predetermined narrative of the MSM.

Sanctions can be deadly, and are rarely effective (thanks to smugglers, and also because they tend to hit the innocent parties, i.e. civilians, not the big shots) while letting the big shots use the suffering for propaganda purposes, both to manipulate their enemies to stop the sanctions, and to encourage the local opposition to support the hated government.

So AlNofi's CIC column reminds us:
During the First World War, an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 German civilians died of complications from malnutrition.
Same thing today, where Dr. E, a member of the moderate Islamic opposition, notes:

In particular, heart-wrenching reports of ordinary Iranians dying due to a widespread shortage of pharmaceutical drugs call for immediate cessation of hostilities toward the Iranian people, caused by the sanctions. 
Yeah. When I worked in (then) Rhodesia, thanks to sanctions, sometimes we got only 10 new sterile gloves and 1000 tablets of Aspirin each month for our 120 bed hospital. Luckily, as missionaries our German nuns did get their families to send us medicine and in those days before HIV, some docs in the US sent us used unsterile gloves (usually opened but not used) and syringes that helped.

and the peaceniks? They sent aid to the opposition, who bought weapons with the money. Their "heroes" shot 30 of my friends the last month I was there (why? Because unlike the Protestants, the Catholics didn't carry guns). and of course, instead of the compromise candidates,(Muzarewa and Nkomo) they looked the other way when the Marxist Mugabe took over and destroyed the country.

But hey: Why let reality stand in the way of the party line?

AlNofi also has this less serious factoid on his site today:

  • Apprehended in Confederate uniforms near an army camp in Virginia during the Civil War, two women plying a trade easily as old as soldiering told military authorities that they were merely doing their bit for the cause, and that if all the women of the South were as patriotic as they, the war would soon have been over.
related item: Remembering Theodora.

Theodora was the orphaned daughter of a bear-keeper in the Hippodrome, the vast stadium that was the entertainment center of Constantinople.  She gained notoriety as a comic actress, in an era when it was assumed that entertainers moonlighted as prostitutes.
She probably died of cervical cancer (as did Evita) which is an occupational hazard of their original profession. And when you think the world is a mess, just remember this:

When Justinian became emperor on 1 August 527, the empire was a mess.  The Vandals, who had sacked Rome in 455, occupied North Africa.  The Ostrogoths occupied most of Italy.    At home, the Byzantines were bitterly polarized by theological disputes over the nature of Christ, to the point that street battles broke out between opposing sects.   And in 532 massive rioting afflicted the imperial city, which was partially burned, threatening  to topple the regime, had not Theodora convinced her husband to slaughter the rioting factions and restore order.  Finally, the Sassanian Persians, long at peace with Constantinople, resumed conflict on the Syrian frontier.
 Although I should note that the mentioned riots was a fan riot over chariot racing, not a theological dispute.

Off the fiscal cliff? BBC tells the story with all the Democratic talking points.

and will some people pull the plug on grandmom to save money?

If todays' newspapers covered Jesus' birth

Go to link

Headsup Senseofevents.
A Classic from The People's Cube

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Factoid of the day

from a Reuters headline: Character actor, World War Two hero Charles Durning dies at 89

Durning was part of the U.S. force that landed at Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion in June 1944. A few days later he was shot in the hip - he said he carried the bullet in his body thereafter - and after six months of recovery was sent to the Battle of the Bulge.

Durning, who was wounded twice more, was captured and was one of the few survivors of the Malmedy massacre when German troops opened fire on dozens of American prisoners. In addition to three Purple Heart medals for his wounds, Durning was presented the Silver Star for valor. 

Cat item of the day


Family news

Ruby has her cousins and some friends from Manila visiting for a few days.

It rained all night (the typhoon passed south of here) but no floods.

Stuff around the net

TORN has an essay on Tolkien, and the Christian themes in the hobbit.
While a number of Christian elements can be found in The Hobbit, three of the most important are its Christian sense of purpose, its Christian sense of Providence, and its Christian sense of morality.
Tolkien’s contemporaries — writers such as Sartre, Beckett, and Camus — show us characters whose lives have no meaning or purpose other than what they themselves invent. By contrast, Bilbo is chosen for a specific purpose — one he did not create and even rejects at first....
If in The Hobbit we find a special sense of purpose Christians can identify with, we also find a Christian sense of Providence which also can be traced to Tolkien’s view of the world.

All those modern elites who proclaimed how brave and countercultural they were, are actually walking in lockstep with the other elites. What they have in common is that they hate the bourgeoisie and the virtues and pleasures of ordinary folk (and often wanted to eliminate them. Don't believe me? just check out the headlines that ridicule ordinary folks for going to church, or just for enjoying a Christmas feast because they figure that even Jesus enjoyed a good party.)
And Tolkien, like the Beowulf writer, sees no problem in mixing the good elements of northern myth with the Christian idea of hope...

so what does that have to do with Christmas? The GermanShepherd explains:

 God has appeared – as a child. It is in this guise that he pits himself against all violence and brings a message that is peace...(Saint)Francis loved the child Jesus, because for him it was in this childish estate that God’s humility shone forth. God became poor. His Son was born in the poverty of the stable. In the child Jesus, God made himself dependent, in need of human love, he put himself in the position of asking for human love – our love.

Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility...Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light...

Canadian paper sarcastically compares the Queen of England's greeting with the Pope's sermon.

apple and oranges, but they are too stupid to know the difference.

Includes this factoid: the queen spoke in 3D (!)

Queen:Her message was pretaped, but broadcast in 3D. She (presumably) used a teleprompter.

Pope:It was a live sermon, so he had to own any verbal stumbles. He read his sermon off actual paper, with the video posted to the Vatican’s YouTube channel – less than 500 views by 6:30 p.m. (ET) Tuesday.

Advantage:The Archbishops of Canterbury and York trumped them both by tweeting their sermons.

Holly Ordway's Christmas poem 


good news for the Philippines: Latest typhoon did little damage.

here, only rain. The good news? No floods. The bad news? The roof started to leak again.

Harbin's Ice festival


they have a computerized LED in the ice sculptures.

Rihanna gives over a million dollars to a hospital in her native Barbados to buy new equipment.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Space Photos



The Cassini spacecraft took this mosaic of the planet Saturn and its rings backlit against the Sun using infrared, red and violet spectral filters that were combined to create an enhanced-colour view. Also captured are two of Saturn's moons, Enceladus and Tethys. Both appear on the left side of the planet, below the rings.Picture: REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Stuff below the fold

Family news: Party last night at Angie's home. Slept in late this morning (got up at 7 am instead of 5 am)..


Another day another typhoon...due to south of here tonite.

Since the cities empty out and everyone goes home for Christmas, it means lots of stranded ferry and air passengers...they are getting stricter about ferries since the last disaster, when they okayed a ferry which was supposed to take a longer route, but then took a "short cut" into the eye of the storm to save money.

It should hit a bit further north than the previous typhoon last month, but the survivors of the last typhoon are still in need of help rebuilding.

Our cook found two beautiful white mice munching in our garbage can. I don't know if she'll sell them as pets or just feed them to the cats.

I've written about this before but the dirty little secret is that most gun crimes are gang related (by gangs or of gang members) and those who die are often poor or minorities so the press ignores them.

The WAPO article finally gets around to noting the problem.
Since Jan. 1, Chicago police have recorded 2,364 shooting incidents and 487 homicides, 87 percent of them gun-related. Shootings have increased 12 percent this year and homicides are up 19 percent...
Chicago has strict gun control laws: They just don't bother to enforce them.

Another "Lost Tribe" returns to Israel. wikipedia discussion

"lost Tribe" or just Christian converts who noted how their tribal customs were similar to those of ancient Judah and converted to Hinduism?

Unlike the BeneIsrael group in India, whose DNA shows Jewish ancestry, there is a question if the tribe is descended from the Jewish diaspora.
DNA discussion suggests more work needs to be done, but if a gentile converts, is he Jewish?

Recording of a family's Christmas dinner...110 years ago.

The 100 days of Philippine Christmas: it's about the family.

Martinez essay on the Hobbit: Film vs book.


Monday, December 24, 2012


Leon Podles posted a link to this lovely video of the old colonial Spanish churches in New Mexico

video link

I worked in New Mexico, but in the Southern mountains (ski Apache anyone?) and we attended the local church that was built with the help of the local Apaches (One of my patients told me the story of how her father helped to get the stone and cut it to bring to build the church). Video HERE. 
a good show of the church, but it is boring.

Father Braun was the founding pastor, long deceased when I was there, but when I asked why an Apache church had a monument to the Bataan death march, I found he (and two of the local Apaches) were veterans who had been there along with the NMNG.... Father Al's photo is at 9:21...

And no, they aren't letting pagan idols into the church. Even though the local resort is "The Inn of the Mountain Gods", the spirits shown in the pictures on the wall are the spirits of the ancestors that teach girls how to be women in the famous puberty ceremony on the mountain tops every year. And no, I didn't go to watch the ceremony: too busy running the ER at their very very understaffed IHS hospital.

Stuff around the web

they are again putting on the play A christmas carol, in Klingon.

China's point of view on their investing in a huge Navy: They need them to protect their shipping.

but then why do they ignore the Law of the Sea?


Father L; did you know so and so was Catholic? He's taking suggestions from you trivia fans...

What, he didn't list John Wayne, Bob Hope, Tennesee Williams,or the Governator?

Remember: non practicing catholics are the second largest religious groups in the USA.
Will Durant was born Catholic but became a non believer later in his life.

His books are fun to read albeit out of date but can be found at various places on the web:

various downloads at Link
PDF Caesar and Christ
PDF the reformation.

and since I dissed Gibbons in a previous post, I should add that he too is out of date but easy to read, or you can download his book to fall asleep to LINK


I am for gun control, especially getting guns out of the hands of criminals (which the "gun control" laws don't do). But if you want links and comments on the pro gun side, check out Instapundit, who is a lawyer with an expertise on gun law.

NYTimes decides we don't need to train doctors quite so much.

Uh, duh: I became a doc in Five years by cutting out college courses duplicated in medical school. But they want to cut out the graduate level training.

This is bad, because the dirty little secret is that you learn medicine by doing medicine, not by reading books, and a lot of the "duplication" in the 3rd and 4th year is just to hone one's experience in general medicine before you specialize in post graduation work.

Why not let them start medical school after two years, as was done in the good old days, instead?


Remembering the dead

The Battle of Stalingrad was 70 years ago this winter.

The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943[6][7][8][9] and was marked by constant close-quarters combat and lack of regard for military and civilian casualties. It is among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with the higher estimates of combined casualties amounting to nearly two million
This link of the twentieth century battles has various estimates of casualties, and suggests that maybe "only" 750 thousand died...and that doesn't include the deaths of the seige of Leningrad or other 20th century battles.
The unprecedented scale of the two world wars becomes apparent when we realize that even small pieces of them killed more than most of the other complete wars of the Century. Even more horrific, World War II's Russian Front produced 13 of the century's 15 bloodiest battles all by itself. (The siege of Leningrad alone could rank as the 20th Century's 12th worst atrocity once civilian deaths are added in.) In fact, part of why this list so long is that I wanted to get far enough down to show some other wars as well.
at least they note:
* Manila, Philippines (massacre of civilians by Japanese: Nov. 1944-Feb. 1945): 100 000
  • Gilbert, History of the Twentieth Century: 100,000 Filipinos k.
  • William Manchester, American Caesar (1978): "nearly 100,000 Filipinos were murdered by the Japanese"
  • PBS: "100,000 of its citizens died."
usually ignored by the American history books the Summer of 45, the Battle of Manila occured...although many civilians were killed by the departing Japanese, a lot were also killed in the bombardment of the city by the Americans. The city was supposed to be an "open city" but the local Japanese commander didn't follow orders.

But the Japanese atrocities during their retreat explains the atrocities against the Japanese soldiers who were not allowed to surrender but fled to northern Luzon, another unreported stories.

From Wikipedia:
On December 15, 1944, landings against minimal resistance were made on the southern beaches of the island of Mindoro, a key location in the planned Lingayen Gulf operations, in support of major landings scheduled on Luzon. On January 9, 1945, on the south shore of Lingayen Gulf on the western coast of Luzon, General Krueger's Sixth Army landed his first units. Almost 175,000 men followed across the twenty-mile (32 km) beachhead within a few days. With heavy air support, Army units pushed inland, taking Clark Field, 40 miles (64 km) northwest of Manila, in the last week of January.

A military history of those days can be found HERE.
another version HERE. PBS version HERE.

most of the criticism againt MacArthur seems to be that he should have just bypassed the Philippines and left their soldiers wander around killing folks instead of fighting for the islands, but his pride made him willing to fight to help the Filipine people instead of just isolating the Japanese here and getting on with the battle for Japan. And the intrepid PBS site faults MacArthur for hurrying to Manila and not giving Yamashita a way to escape. So they headed into the mountains.


 a Filipino side of the story here.

Video of the week

Moses, from the point of view of modern military historians.

well, why not?...if the generals can interpret Troy and Kaddesh, why not interpret Moses?

Gold Frankinsense and Myrrh and...Syphillis?

Salon article on the Frankinsese and myrrh.

however, he gets some obvious facts wrong, so I don't know how accurate it is.

Gold is used today for arthritis, and in ancient times they used heavy metals as medicine, but saying Gold could be used as eye ointment and medicine? Gold teeth, maybe....but non physicians/non alchemists wouldn't use gold coins as medicine. The Gold was given as gold to a king, not as a medicine.

He then mentions Frankinsense as a medicine. That's about right. to purify things.

But he claims Syphillis was a problem in ancient times? Nope. A variation of Yaws or bejel could cause similar bone problems, but the present day syphillis epidemic came over with Colombus.(and all three diseases have evolved over time and may have once been the same the 1500's epidemic, syphillis could be spread by kissing and was quickly fatal,and that is not true today. Did  the Amer-Indians take a variation with them from Asia 40000 years ago, or did Africans bring yaws to the Americas before the days of Colombus?( Ah there you will get a huge argument...but Mali traders might have visited back then.).

Then he claims Christians didn't use incense, so the trade collapsed. This is only true if you are talking about Baptists, or getting your facts from Wikipedia, which cites the now obsolete and anti Christian biased historian Gibson as a source. Even back then, western Europe was not the only place it was traded,  or probably even the major destination (Byzantium was "New Rome" at that time) so why would a local prohibition that didn't last very long in one area of christianity make the trade collapse.

And not all Christians stopped using frankincense.

Catholics still use it at every High Mass (in Apalachia, Father used it at the 10 am mass, and there was a warning in the Bulletin so that those with asthma and the coal miners with black lung would go to a different mass).

And it is widely used in the Orthodox/eastern Catholic churches in the Middle East, which would be the Christians in that area of the world. And lots of others used it too:

From the Oman shop's website:
Frankincense has been known as a medicine since ancient times, when it was used in barter and for one's well-being. It is used in a sacred context in the major religions of the world, in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, throughout the Islamic world, and among the Hindus. It is also effective against body odor, is used as a perfume and wards off insects.
During the 20th century the importance of frankincense decreased. Only in recent years has frankincense become more valuable
So it is less used nowadays, when chemical purfumes can be used in it's place.

As for Myrrh: it's an antibacterial, often mixed with oil. Keeps the skin nice and fresh, and probably the ancients noted that it helped their sores/scratches to heal. But again, it's intitial use was probably for the nice smell: Myrrh is still used as medicine in the Ayuvedic and Chinese medicine, and in modern mouth washes, but before soap was invented, they used it to purfume oil to keep the skin clean. It also grows in Yemen and Somali and parts of Ethiopia.

Myrrh was often used as a purfume, mixed with the olive oil to be used in the sacraments and anointings, although now other fragrances are often used with it.

During Great and Holy Week, Great Myrrh is consecrated on Holy Thursday.  In Orthodox Churches the consecration occurs in the context of the Liturgy of St. Basil.  Unlike the Holy Chrism of the Roman Church, which is consecrated on Holy Thursday each year in each episcopal see, the preparation and consecration of Holy Myrrhon in Orthodox Churches is canonically reserved to Patriarchial Churches with the full participation of the synod of bishops.

The image above is from this year's preparations for today's consecration in the Patriarchial Church of Romania.

The oil is called Myrrhon because myrrh is the foundational essential oil for the Myrrhon.  The original formula contains myrrh, cinnamon, aromatic cane, cassia, and olive oil and was give to Moses:

An article on making various scented oils here.

and a lot of the wealth of Mycenae (the Greek empire that raided Troy) was thought to be based on their trade of scented olive oil: one professor discussing this noted that olive oil had a bad smell, so there was a huge market for nice smelling olive oil to use to bathe...

In Ancient Mycenae, tablets suggest the Greeks mostly seemed to use rose and coriander and local ingredients although some may have included myrrh (myrrh as an ingredient is noted only in the tablets of Knossos).

Knossos is Crete, and since they can't read the Linear A tablets of Minoan civilization, it means the tablet must have been Linear B, which is after the Mycenean Greeks too over Crete. And if this island used myrr, it means that   the "spice road" trade may have existed over 3000 years ago.

Americans tend to see Arabs as backward people shouting hatred (at least that's how the media usually shows them). But they forget the ancient Arab traders to the East using the monsoon winds to sail, and the Spice trading to the Mediterranean has a long history, as do the Bedouin and Arab traders on the Saudi peninsula.
Wikipedia article HERE.

a modern film on the pan Arabia trading routes can be found HERE.

 and this sad headline of a ship disaster in the Gulf of Aden shows that the trade continues:
The agency said that the incident (55 presumed dead of a ship sinking) represents "the biggest loss of life" in the Gulf of Aden since February 2011 when 57 Somali refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa drowned while attempting to reach Yemen.
Andy Needham of UNHCR told Al Jazeera that many of the men were headed to Oman and Yemen to work in the frankincense trade...
This year, some 100,000 people have crossed the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, despite warnings about the risks such trips involve, the agency said.

and if I got facts wrong, please correct me in the comments: I'm still learning about these things.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hobbits take two

While watching this, I noticed that Bilbo is wearing his bathrobe.

I don't seem to remember this in the book, where the dwarves arrive for late afternoon tea, (but Ruby has my book, so I can't check it out). So is it Tolkien, or is it a joke by Jackson, making a reference to a similar movie about a clueless Nebbish caught up in a big adventure (in his bathrobe)? the full H2G2 can be found HERE.

Family photos


Musical Interlude of the day


Hobbit stuff

CWN film review of the hobbit film.

After watching The Hobbit a second time (yes, a second time), I realized that this story calls its characters to poverty and humility—which in the end prove to be greater than power or glory. This seems most apparent not only in Bilbo’s character, but also in Thorin. The dwarves have already lost their home and their wealth, and Bilbo must learn to abandon his own home and everything and everyone he loves. His apparent lack of stature and power also prove to be more useful than Thorin or any of the dwarves originally thought. As Gandalf explains to Galadriel, it is not great power that will conquer evil, but the small and ordinary things

Holly Ordway at Hieropraxis suggests giving the book with Tolkien's letters or with Flannery O'Connor's letters for Christmas.

I can't find Flannery, but you can find the Tolkien letters in a pdf book HERE on line (until the copyright cops find it).

related item: Galadriel as the power behind the scenes.

Family news

Yesterday, we went to the SanLorenzo chapel for a funeral of a neighbor. It was too hot so I stopped him from going to the cemetery. She was only 85.

Today we went to 7 am mass (when it is still cool). The church was only full, not overflowing, so I guess a lot of folks went to the Simbang gabi at 5 am...

Joy's protestant church has a party after the service, and we're invited, but I said no: They are pentecostal and friendly, but I dislike parties with strangers, especially strangers who want to save my soul.

I'm not sure if Chano went with them or not: He is exhausted from working 24/7 getting the gift packages of rice (and another order just for the bags, so the bags can be stuffed with non brown rice) which was ordered as part of a gift basket of food by one of the banks.

The custom is to give gifts to good customers: Usually tote bags, umbrellas or food baskets, nothing big. Often the gifts here are giving during the 12 days of Christmas, partly because everyone goes home for the holidays and might not be around to pick them up during Christmas week (not to mention the banks are closed much of the week)...

The eight puppies (two moms) have reached the stage where they are out of their boxes (large drawers) and puddling all over and getting into mischief. so last night one got stuck half way out of the drawer and woke me up crying, until I got him out completely. So much for a good night sleep.

 It is noisy outside (we hear the music and partying and firecrackers from the town square which is a block away) so often I keep the windows shut with the aircon on "fan", and run MP3 lectures from various podcasts or college when I woke up the professor giving a lecture on rhetoric was explaining how politicians like John Kerry could flip his accent from "Bahston" to regular English. Heh. When I went back to bed, I switched the lecture to the next one, about the Greenland settlements and how it was so cold during the "little ice age" that even the Inuits starved.

Sigh. Can't get away from "WAGD" even at night.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Trashing FDR?

When the usually conservative American Spectator defends FDR, you know that something must be really atrocious. They notes:
Supposedly the film is based on the diary and letters kept by FDR’s cousin and friend Margaret Suckley, which were found in 1991 after she died at age 99. But the filmmakers evidently were dissatisfied that none of the documents show Suckley as more than an attentive companion to both FDR and Eleanor.
As I commented earlier, the presence of Missy, his secretary, at Hyde Park made me wonder why she would put up with such things. And a lot of people question if Missy was his mistress... Presumably libel is permitted for public figures...

Who started the Nativity scenes?

Blame St Francis of Assisi

The really important news of the day

Forget the Iranian bomb, the starving North Koreans, the war that never ends in Central Africa, and the fact that thousands of new agers, 9including the nuns who dissed the pope0, have evolved to a higher power and plan to remake earth for the rest of us slobs.

The really big stories are these:

The "WAGD" post of the day: The danger of Brussel Sprouts

too much Vitamin K in them, so they interfere with blood thinners.
And no, they don't sell Brussel Sprouts in the Palenke here.

The "WTF" story of the day:

A Californian woman has been left with bones growing in her eyes after a botched facelift using stem cell injections.
Twelve letters that didn't make the alphabet.

1. Thorn

Have you ever seen a place that calls itself “ye olde whatever”? As it happens, that’s not a “y”, or, at least, it wasn’t supposed to be. Originally, it was an entirely different letter called thorn, which derived from the Old English runic alphabet, Futhark.

Read the full text here:
--brought to you by mental_floss!


UKTelegraph  Andrew Osokin's photos of snowflakes and ice crystal formations.

Andrew Osokin's macro photographs of snowflakes and ice formations. The Moscow-based photographer captures detailed photos of the intricate structures of individual snowflakes and ice crystals that are in the process of melting away.
Picture: Andrew Osokin/Rex Features
Happy Solstice day.
American digest has a nice esay on Newgrange mound, whose entrance is situated so that the solstice sun shines in...

Newgrange story

headsup SenseOfEvents.

and the GrowingTeenagerBlog wishes us all a Happy Dong Zhi Festival.

he writes:
the glutinuous rice balls was actually a symbol of reunion which is an important culture in the Chinese races.

Headline of the day

Warning: There will be no end of the world on 12-21-2012 at 11:11 GMT. Please stay calm and proceed with your lives as usual. After intense negotiations and a secret call to the Supreme Being the President of the Russian Feeration Vladimir Putin has made arrangements to move the date by 4.5 million years. Although the President did not say exactly when the end will occur we are asking you to please make no plans for the year 4,502,012 A.D. We will inform you of the exact date when it is made available....


Friday, December 21, 2012

Cat item of the day

Fleas Navidog!

Musical Interlude of the day

Simbang Gabi!

Simbang Gabi is nine days of early morning masses before Christmas day. The idea is that the mass is very early in the morning so the farmers and workers could attend mass.

Here, after mass, the young folks go to the center of town and buy food (from vendors or Jolibee) and it is a time for the young men to meet and flirt with girls.

So while the new ager types are meditating to evolve to a higher power to change the world, we Pinoys will be home having a good time: Here, religion is not about power but food and family.

Science nonsense being promoted as religion

The "creationists" who think the world was made in 6 days get scorned, but why do universities sponsor speakers saying things like this?

 The discovery of evolution implies a profound revolution in human
thinking and action. Ursula King, Professor Emerita of Theology and
Religious Studies, University of Bristol, explores the implications of
this new consciousness for religion, society, and consciousness. She
describes the work of the French paleontologist and religious thinker
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who sought a new spirituality for a world in

She is speaking about the latest religious fad in the elites: if you meditate the right way (tapes are now available for two payments of $259 or one payment of $497 from your credit card.) you too can join those leading the world into a new consciousness that will lead to utopia. WTF?  So when Hubbard tells the new age nuns that they are leaders of this evolution, you can understand why the Vatican got pissed.

DNA change?
Give me a break. If the DNA is changing, it will be done by transhumanists, not by flaky women who meditate. 
as for Chardin: 

 Stephen Gould's take: for someone involved in a huge "scientific discovery" (as it was assumed at the time) Chardin was curiously silent in his writings after 1920.

Did he "salt" the finds or help his friends salt the finds, or just keep quiet on spilling the beans for 30 years?

Musical interlude of the day

for the parents mourning this Christmas season, in the USA, in Mindanao, in Central Africa:

1. Lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, Thou little tiny Child.
By, by, lully, lullay.
2. O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.
3. Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young, to slay.
4. Then woe is me, poor Child, for Thee,
And ever mourn and say;
For Thy parting, nor say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

The Coventry carol is not about Jesus, but about the Holy Innocents, killed by Herod trying to kill the Christ child.

Stuff around the web, plus rants

ch'abej chik, Y'all...

The Good News: Well, the sun has come up and I'm still here.

The bad news: all those "new agers" including the new age nuns who were planning to evolve to a higher power today are still here too.


If you like words, you might want to check out a new feature on First Things by Andrew Esolen: Word of the day.
Today's word is the last name "Waters" (as in John Waters).
You’d expect that somebody named Waters used to live beside some waters, just as somebody named Rivers used to live beside a river. It ain’t so. Just pronounce the name Walters as if you were from Phiwadewphia: Waowters. The dark English “l” was swawwowed up in the fowwowing consonant: cf. “walk,” “calm.” So the name Waters is a variant of Walters, as Wat was the old diminutive for Walter...The name originally denoted the ruler of an army: cf. English “wield,” German “Gewalt,” German “Heer,” army. The underlying idea is the same as in the Greek name Polemarchus: war-ruler, army-ruler.
Hmmm...John Waters as an Army General. Now, that's a thought...

First Things often discusses religion in the public square, and today it notes how Christianity is partly behind Asia's economic prosperity, how a recent State Department memo on the state of the world ignores religion in their paper, and why they are wrong to do so:
...The report identifies an expansion of the middle class around the world as an important trend to watch. But the report misses the fact that the new middle-class strivers in places like China increasing identify with Christianity, which they see as the religion that has allowed the West, and especially America, to triumph. Apart from a quick reference to the fact that increased urbanization may help Christian (and Muslim) activists to “bolster religious cohesion,” the report doesn’t address this phenomenon.

Francis Fukuyama's book Trust noted this years ago.

When folks move from the villages (folk religion) they need a more intellectual and logical rule oriented religion. In Asia, two versions of this are Confucian ethics and Evangelical Protestantism. Even in the Philippines, the elite families often have Chinese ancestry, but the growing middle class tends to be Protestant. The other advantage of Protestantism (according to Fukuyama) is that it gives alternative lines of trust: If you need something in traditional society, you only trust your kin, so you go to the family or the rich guy your family has connections with. Now they go to a fellow church member, and know they won't be cheated.

This is also why some Muslims see Sharia law as a way to stop corruption and societal chaos.

Gun Control? They'll just hide the guns, like they do here.

 (No, we don't have a gun: Chano follows the rules. But until his stroke, Lolo had a submachine gun in his closet, and a handgun to carry, just in case. Now we have a machete and George, the killer lab).

Yet the real problem of child murder in the USA is rarely discussed, because those dying are minority children in the inner cities, and most of those shooting/shot are gang members. But no one wants to talk about ways of disarming gang members...(and no, most of these are not drug related killing)

As for the argument back and forth on gun control vs psychiatric treatment of the crazy:

HELLO. If you have a teenager who is getting violent or unstable, either put on gun locks that they can't remove, hide/get rid of the guns, or at least take out their firing pins.

(Been there, done that, sigh).

The headlines on the terrible murder allow folks to ignore the real crisis: the debt: via Instapundit:
ANN ALTHOUSE: “So I would honor the professionalism of the press corps in dragging our attention back to the fatiguing and sad occupation of attending to the federal budget.”
Freakonomics points to The Onion on what should be done. (put down coffee first then go to the link).

Related item:

Today both the AMA and the AAFP emails are bemoaning that the mandatory Medicare cut backs are still scheduled to kick in on Jan 1

Without congressional intervention, physicians face a 26.5 percent reduction in the Medicare physician payment rate on Jan. 1 as a result of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. The Budget Control Act's sequestration provision calls for an additional 2 percent cut on Jan. 2 unless Congress and the White House can reach an agreement to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

Uh, guys: you helped the President to devise the Obamacare bill over the objections of your members, and looked the other way when it was decided to fund Obamacare with Medicare cuts, so stop crying.

As for me: I am not on Medicare because it won't pay for health care here in the Philippines

Heirs of Durin links to an excellent article on Thorin as flawed hero.

Question: Am I the only one who thinks if LOTR resonated with those willing to defend western culture,

But what about the Hobbit? I wonder if Durin's anger and hatred in his quest to recover his lost homeland might resonate with the Palestinians?

Related item:

As Jonathan Tobin at Commentary reported, not only did the (Israeli) embassy (in Ireland) post a picture of Mary and Jesus and write that if these two Jews tried to walk around in Bethlehem today they'd be lynched, they posted a Latma video from two years ago where we attacked the anti-Israel propaganda that passes for Middle East coverage in the execrable Irish media.
Yes: like the hate expressed against the churches holding funerals for the victims of the CT massacre,  politically correct hatred is ignored or condoned...


And the disease of the week: Mexican beer dermatitis.