Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bipartisan bill to repeal death panels?

Going through my old email: Jan23
                                  Bipartisan bill to repeal IPAB introduced in House of RepresentativesA bipartisan bill introduced Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives would eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) before it has a chance to order cuts to Medicare physician payments.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Phil Roe, MD, (R-Tenn.), is supported by 83 co-sponsors from both political parties, including Democratic lead co-sponsor Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.). Current law requires the creation of the 15-member IPAB and invests it with the authority to impose across-the-board cuts to Medicare payments to physicians and other health care professionals.
"IPAB is a panel that would have too little accountability and the power to make indiscriminate cuts that adversely affect access to health care for patients," AMA President Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, said in a statement. "We must move away from these broken systems and focus on new payment and delivery models that give physicians the ability to improve patient care and reduce costs to stabilize Medicare for seniors now and in the future."

don't hold your breath: The AMA and AAFP helped to write the present health care bill over the objections of their members.

then they have this: Trying to be a semi trained office worker to let your patient get treated takes lots of doctor's time and costs a lot of money (That we can't bill for).

How much money?

Prior authorization cost the health system $728 million in 2012.

But the estimate might not be accurate because the docs in the study were too damn busy taking care of patients (and arguing with insurers) to watch the clock and document how long they spent on hold, arguing, or giving facts to the bureaucrat who made the decision.

Of course, sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct. For example, one lady not getting better with asthmatic bronchitis was admitted only after I said something was wrong, but I wasn't sure what. Turned out that she had a rare cancer, but at least we got her into the university hospital an hour or two before she ended up on a respirator.

It's hard to put "gut instinct" on the forms...

Blog update

Connections problem with the router, so light blogging.

I can only get on line from the office, until Ruby gets back and turns off and on the wireless router in her bedroom (which is locked).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Insomnia downloads of the day

United Kingdom House of Commons Speeches Collection, volume three

This is the third LibriVox collection of speeches given in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The collection comprises recordings of 10 historic speeches given to the UK House of Commons between 1601 and 1960. Readings are of speeches originally given by Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, and by parliamentarians Edmund Burke, Herbert Asquith, Winston Churchill, Barbara Castle, Margaret Thatcher and Michael Foot.  
If you enjoy it, try downloading vol one and two:
  1. Various. "United Kingdom House of Commons Speeches Collection" · (readers)
  2. Various. "United Kingdom House of Commons Speeches Collection, volume two" · (readers)
 more good stuff to bore you to sleep:

World as Will and Idea, The Volume 1 by Schopenhauer, Arth

or for reading the original version of the encyclopedia:
  1. Pliny the Elder. "Natural History Volume 1, The" · (readers)
  2. Pliny the Elder. "Natural History Volume 2, The" · (readers)
  3. Pliny the Elder. "Natural History Volume 3, The" · (readers)
I'm watching the new Sherlock on TV here, but aside from some similarities and character's names (Mycroft and Moriarty) and references, it has nothing to do with the original ones, nor are the characters very much similiar...well, anyway, you can download some of the original stories from  Librivox

  1. Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir. "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The" · (readers)
  2. Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir. "Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The (version 2)" · (readers)

And what part of "make no law interfering with the practice of religion" don't you understand.


And what part of "Congress shall make no laws" do you not understand?

Oh wait: If the "law" interfering with the practice of religion is made by the executive branch, especially if it is made by a "health care panel" in the HHS, does the first amendment apply?

This is a course on constitutional law at the university of Oklahoma. The Late Professor Rufus Fears (of teaching company fame) started it but it is being continued by others there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

combat barbie

an old photo of Iran's military forces on parade.

stuff update

Don't mind me. There is a new age talker coming to manila, and I was busy trying to chase down the"famous cancer specialist" who verified her cure.

nearest I can tell, he existed in 1998 but isn't around nowadays,( maybe he moved to Hong Kong and is working with telemedicine, which was his specialty, not cancer) where this bimbo got cured) or else he is a GP from Kentucky or an optometrist from USC.

Don't mind me: When someone advertises that you can buy their way to think yourself out of sickness ($75, Visa and Mastercard accepted), I seethe in anger.

People here die of high blood pressure because they can't afford 30 cents a day for Amlodipine. People die in accidents and die of dengue fever, but hey, our elite in Manila are busy going to new age seminars telling them if they think correctly they will be rich  I mean, why fell guilty for being rich when if those poor homeless and tricycle drivers had correct thinking, they'd be rich too, right?

And yes, we have the Catholic charismatic and protestant faith healers going through too, and lots of miraculous statues and shrines, but at least you don't have to put 75 bucks to visit Quiapo.


Nowadays, if they remade "Leap of Faith", about faithhealers bilking folks out of money, he'd be a new age "alternative medicine" guru, not a fundamentalist type.

And yes, the Steve Martin film is on youtube.

does this mean I don't believe in miracles? Well it means that most of the "miracles" I have seen as a doc have a scientific explanation. Catholics tend to see god working via science/human means, and figure miracles are rare: I mean, even Lourdes only has had 50 or so certified miracles.

Jonas: Look, I run a show here. It's a lot of smoke and noise and it's strictly for the suckers. I've been pulling one kind of scam or another since I was your age, and if there's one thing I know it's how to spot the genuine article because that's what you've got to watch out for. Not the cops, you can always get around the cops. But the one thing you can never, ever get around is the genuine article, and you, kid, are the genuine article.

I did see two nearly miraculous recoveries in Africa after we baptized the kids. Both had a very tiny chance of recovery, and turned around quickly after we held the prayer service. So a child with a bilirubin of 30 in a hepatic coma recovers the day after we hold the service? A three pound premature kid who stopped breathing ten times and after a prolonged CPR lost her pulse and circulation, so we baptized her figuring she was dead, and voila, she started breathing spontaneously and ended up going home?

Who knows?

So two very unusual recoveries, a couple dozen wonderful unexpected recoveries in 35 years of medicine: Not bad.

But of course, I'm a doctor, not a faith healer:

So when all those new age gurus start caring for cholera victims in Haiti or refugees in central Africa, maybe I'll respect them a bit more.

Stuff below the fold

A FilAm has his DNA analyzed and finds a male gene from China but a lot of other genes from "Taiwan" or "Europe". The "Chinese" part is because Chinese merchants came to the Philippines and married local gals to get around the law limiting outsiders owning businesses. The Spanish did the same. But the Taiwan part might puzzle some: It is because nowadays, many Han Chinese moved and took over the best land in Taiwan over the last milleneum, but the original Taiwanese were though to be the ancestors of much of the SEAsian/Polynesian island settlers.
The really controversial question is how much Denisovan genes are in the local population.

The EU is checking if the third and fourth Birth control pills are safe.

The original pill had a  lot of estrogen in it, which caused blood clots.
So they cut the estrogen, so fewer blood clots and lighter periods, but the high progesterone made women feel like they had PMS all the time.
So they came out with newer pills, which had more estrogen and a different progesterone. Alas, these (and the patches) also have more blood clots.

Not in the study: If the pill has something to do with the worldwide epidemic of obesity. If BPA in the environment may be inducing obesity and metabolic syndrome because of it's estrogenic side effect, is the estrogen (from the urine) of millions of women doing the same thing, including affecting men?

I read an article about one conspiracy nut complaining that juice in plastic boxes was causing an epidemic of homosexuality. Like most conspiracies this has a tiny truth in it:  that BPA and estrogens in the water supply might be affecting people.

As for gays: from what I understand giving estrogen to men merely slows them down (we used to treat prostate cancer with estrogen...stopped because it made the men drop dead of heart attacks). However, what about fetuses exposed to BPA or whose mom took the pill when they didn't know they were pregnant?

Yes, that conspiracy theory is on line too...

My take? Few women want six kids....which is the alternative.

Grandmom was right: Wash the fruit before you eat them.

But why does the NYTimes have to tell their sophisticated readers this?
The are worried about "chemicals", but the real danger is that the fruit picker might not have washed his or her hands and you might be exposed to salmonella, shigella, or other germs.

This last part is ignored in the article, of course.

As for "organic". Yes. We are starting to grow them under a government program so tend to eat organic.
No chemicals, but probably more germs. And just ignore those little worms in the fruits and veggies. Think of them as a protein source.

Eggs were the evil food awhile back, but now a study of 300 thousand folks show eating one egg a day is not dangerous. (although if you are a diabetic and eat 2 or three a day it might increase your cholesterol).

But I am happy the docs noted this obvious problem with the study (and with a lot of surveys: people don't always tell the truth).
The authors, writing online this month in the journal BMJ, acknowledge that self-reports regarding food consumption are not always reliable and that most of the studies had no information about the cooking methods, which could have affected the results.

Speaking of conspiracy theories: Why does homeland security need all those weapons, and why are they storing boxes of ammunition all over the country?

For later reading: The Hubris Nemesis Complex.

Headsup instapundit.


StrategyPage has a nice summary of the long history of Islam and terrorism into historical perspective:
One theory, long popular in the Moslem world and increasingly accepted in the West as well, is that the main cause of Islamic terrorism is Western attempts to destroy the Islamic terrorists who attack the West. This theory blames the West for not accepting Islam when first attacked by Moslem armies in the 7th century, and constantly fighting back against subsequent attacks. To Moslems, forcing non-believers (“kaffirs” or “infidels”) to convert to Islam is a duty and the ends justify the means. Fighting back is blasphemy. Most in the West, and a growing number of people in the Islamic world, consider this nonsense.
related item: The Sunni Shia wars reborn.

Not PC of course, but the site tends to get things right about countries where I have first hand knowledge (as opposed to reciting the talking points of the media), so it might be worth a read.


 CSMonitor has an article on prosecutors gone wild, and notes two recent cases might result in their being restrained in the future.
In the Swartz case, the young hacker and co-creator of the Reddit website faced 13 felony counts from Ms. Ortiz' office tied to his use of an MIT network to download millions of academic journal articles to his laptop computer. The problem, critics of the prosecution say, is that Swartz' actions constituted a breach of contract more than a felony crime.
 interesting: they quote an article by the law professor behind Instapundit.

this StrategyPage article includes this factoid:
The murder rate in the Western hemisphere (about 8 per 100,000 people a year) was much higher than in Europe, where it has long been between 3 and 4. Middle Eastern nations have likewise varied between 5 and 10. The United States is often regarded, at least by Europeans, as a wild, gun happy place. But the national murder rate has been declining for two decades and is currently about 4.8 per 100,000.
 a CDC report shows the American rate is clustered in certain areas/ages/ethnic groups,

In 2007, among males ages 10-24 years, the homicide rate was highest for Non-Hispanic Blacks with 60.3 deaths per 100,000 population.  Among females ages 10–24 years, the homicide rate also was highest for Non-Hispanic Blacks with 6.7 deaths per 100,000.  For comparison, the homicide rate for Non-Hispanic White males was 3.4 per 100,000 and the homicide rate for Non-Hispanic White females was 1.6 per 100,000.

UKMail article on twins born at 23 weeks.


In Our Prayers:
A terrible nightclub fire in Brazil brings up memories of a similar tragedy here in the Philippines.

But for Lady Gaga, it is merely a chance for more publicity. Shame.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Creeping fascism post of the day


From an economist's perspective, there would be less reason to grouse about unhealthy behaviors by smokers, obese people, motorcycle riders who eschew helmets and other health sinners if they agreed to pay the financial price for their choices.

That's the rationale for a provision in the Affordable Care Act - "Obamacare" to its detractors - that starting next year allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.

The new law doesn't allow insurers to charge more for people who are overweight, however. It's tricky to play the insurance game with overweight people, because science is still sorting things out. While obesity is clearly linked with serious health problems and early death, the evidence is not as clear about people who are just overweight.
or just come here to the Philippines, where even if they were dumb enough to pass such a law, a small gift would let them look the other way.

How to freeze a cat

giving a cat a bath is easier if you "deactivate" him first:

of course, when you are bathing the cat, it's hard to keep the clip on. I use my hand, with the second hand on the rump/backlegs while someone else does the bathing.

The cat equivalent to the Vulcan death grip, and of course is the area where male cats bite in order to make love.

Skulls and Hips and Cradleboards

The Aliens are coming! The Aliens are coming!

One of the amusement of studying ancient history is how all those sophisticated Yanks seem to think "primitive" people are stupid, so anything they don't understand is attributed to "Aliens". As Chesterton once quipped: Once people stop believing in religion, they start believing in anything.

So now a tabloid is claiming an alien like skull was found in New Mexico.

300 Meters from the village of Onavas, archaeologists discovered a site with 25 human burials, 13 of whom have cranial deformation. This image shows cranial deformation in one of the human skulls. Credit: Cristina Garcia / INAH


Reality check, please. A lot of Native America tribes practices skull shaping, including those in Meso America and those along the Pacific coast of Canada.

And Sci-Ence blog has this drawing to show how they did it...the first drawing, with the slanted board, would result in that type of skull.

 a longer version of this was posted at my bnn blog.

Happy statistics of the day

I was just checking up on caretaker statistics to print a comment on an "ain't it awful" screed elsewhere on the web.

(Yes, I know I can write "ain't it awful" screeds myself: And if you thing what I write is bad, you should see the ones I delete).

So here is the statistic that shows most people still care:

  • 65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.3
  • 52 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness.4
  • 43.5 million5 care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer's disease or other dementia.6
  • LGBT respondents are slightly more likely to have provided care to an adult friend or relative in the past six months: 21% vs. 17% non-LGBT.7
  • Caregivers of adults are now older, on average, than were their counterparts in 2004. Their average age now 49.2 years, compared to 46.4 in 2004.8
  • Caregiver services were valued at $450 billion per year in 2009—up from $375 billion in 20079—and unpaid family caregivers will likely continue to be the largest source of long-term care services in the U.S. The aging population 65+ will more than double between the years 2000-2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million in 2000.10

  • Depressing stuff behind the headlines

    StrategyPage, which is non political, has the backstory on Libya, including Hillary's (the state department's) failure to take responsibility for the deaths.

    January 23, 2013:  The U.S. Secretary of State testified about her role in the deaths the U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi last September. She refused to take responsibility or explain what led to the debacle. The State Department, after an independent study of the incident, said it had fired several lower ranking officials it considered responsible. It was later discovered that no one was fired they were just removed from their current jobs and were waiting for new assignments. None of the Islamic terrorists known to be responsible for the attack have been captured or killed. Some were arrested in Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, but were released by the police before they could be extradited to the United States. In Libya there is no strong police presence and witnesses to the attack on the American ambassador who talked to reporters last September now say they fear reprisals from Islamic radical groups and will not talk to American government investigators. 
    Maybe the families should sue them for malpractice.

    Paul Ryan points out that the President often uses the "straw man" argument to demonize his foes and stop debate, and that the press doesn't bother to question this.

    Uh, probably they never studied logic.

    From Wikipedia.
    A straw man or straw person, also known in the UK as an Aunt Sally,[1][2] is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[3] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and to refute it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.[3][4] This technique has been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly in arguments about highly charged, emotional issues.
    Yes, I  notice this all the time: especially in the war against religion, evolution, gay rights, marriage, abortion etc. They use the most ignorant person they can find to "knock down" the argument, and then voila, they win.

    What they don't do is actually discuss the matter, or even hint that what is being discussed might be based on a different primary proposition of philosophy, so the item is seen differently.

    Quick, when is creationism nuanced to discuss that they are actually discussing philosophy, not science: Yes, maybe there is no "scientific" proof of a deity, but they ignore that Scientism (the idea that only what we can measure with our scientific machines is true) is an unproven proposition  too.

    I hate to read my facebook because one of my friends often posts her left wing "Two minute hate" talking points, which are usually straw man arugments or false generalizations or comments taken out of context or pretending if you reject one item you reject every thing about that point of view.

    Here's a cheat sheet to read when you listen to politicians:


    Film trivia: It wasn't the "dirty dozen": It was the "Filthy Thirteen".

    and their leader, Jake McNiece, has just died.


    But the good news: The Philippines is now honest.

    a lot of these have been partly posted here: My take at bnn on a corruption free Philippines.

    another bnn post: Skulls and hips and cradleboards (or why no, that is not a star child skull)

    Bilbo’s Contract: Paper or parchment?

    Book Review: Notorious Nineteen

    Film Review: Les Miserables

    Cat problems

    First, the dog BadBrad snuck in when the cook was feeding the latest kittens (because we were at church and didn't eat breakfast) and killed them. Sigh.

    Then last night our black cat woke me up when he tried to go to sleep near my pillow: He had fallen into the open ditch that serves as our I had to give him a bath at 2 AM.

    And I got to sleep late since the neighbors were holding a birthday party, and had rented a kareoke machine for entertainment.


    update: Make that two cats covered with dirt. Ruby's cat just came in meowing for breakfast covered with the same slime/dirt. Ah, my favorite job: Giving cats a bath

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    Video download of the day

    quick before the copyright cops find it: Prince of theives.

    the problem is that once you watch Robin Hood Men in Tights you can't watch the serious one without laughing.
     the copyright cops took that one off of youtube, but here is a behind the scenes video (and yes, this Robin Hood had a REAL British accent).

    Big Brother is watching you


    Google isn't the only information collector around. Anybody who's willing to pay online information brokers — also known as people-search sites — can learn your phone number, address, criminal record and a lot more.
    Primary data brokers like Intelius collect information from public records. Secondary data brokers like Spokeo aggregate information from primary brokers and add data collected from social networks and other online sources.

    Damn Dams?

    David Warren writes about how Morsi in Egypt pulled a stunt to get power and will consolidate power despite the economic disaster that awaits him as the educated flee elsewhere and the 10 million Coptic Christian community is persecuted into either civil war or fleeing.

    The Nile Valley, since the Aswan dam, no longer benefits from the replenishment of soil; the great river now only washes it away. (That, & not global warming, accounts for the accelerating recession of the Mediterranean coast: the Nile Delta is gradually dissolving.)
    Someone must be blamed, & since Nasser, there have been no Jews left to kill. This leaves the Koran-denying Copts for the historical role of scapegoat. Lord have mercy on them.

    When the dam was constructed, I remember a lot of ecological questions about the wisdom of stopping the yearly Nile Floods.

    This 2002 article gives a pro and con  on the dam: And says the ecological worries of the west back then were purely "political" (read evil west, since Russia helped the Egyptians complete the dam and put their propaganda machine to work to stop complaints).

    He notes that the dam saved Egypt from several years of drought and one year of floods.
    Uh, yes. The Sahal has been drying up since 10 000 BC,... He also notes that the loss of the yearly fresh soil deposits now have to be replaced with fertilizers, although his estimate of 13000 tons sounds a bit low to me.

    But he does get around to mentioning the real problem: the delta.drying up, the salinization of the soil, and the fish catch from the Mediterranean failing.

    A lot of the problems may be exacerbated with the poorer upstream dams being built. Ethiopia's new dam  on the Blue Nile will provide both irrigation and electricity to help that country's people.

    I worked in an area of the American west where irrigation allowed the desert to bloom, and here in the Philippines, our rice lands are irrigated by a system of earthen dams that allow us two crops a year (and the gov't is doing surveys if we could get three crops a year as in the Mekong delta). We get our electricity from upstream dams.

    Yet I wonder why the tree huggers haven't put their three cents into the discussion of the Egyptian problems. Global warming has been a nice way to ignore other pressing problems, like pollution and natural climate cycles. A lot of these things are hinted at if you read ancient history ...

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

    Non hot Dwarves

    HeirsOfThorin blog has a nice article on the "non hot Dwarves", i.e. Dori, Nori, and Ori.

    Ori is best known for being the "pet" of the group, who are protective of him (although the book insists Fili and Kili are the youngest dwarves so he might not be the youngest in age). and is probably the only one you might notice in the movie... and of course, Ori was the writer of The Book of Mazarbul.

    Gift item of the day

    Like to walk barefoot? Don't like to get thorns or glass cuts in your feet?

    Here's the answer:

    Chain Mail Shoes.

    the good news?

    Only 198 Euros a pair.

    The bad news: It won't stop the dog poop from squooshing in.

    And you will probably set off metal detectors when you travel.

    headsup Toxel

    Factoid of the day

    RandomGoodStuff has some great photos of NYCity, from street food  (YUM! Pretzels and chilidogs!) to street views.

    But he included this photo, that I had never seen before.

    No, he is not "Tebowing" he is genuflecting, which is what Catholics do in front of the altar when we enter into the seats at church (the gesture was copied from the single knee kneel done in front of the emperor in ancient Rome). I always wondered where Tebow learned how to do it: presumably from the heathen Catholics who his family was trying to convert when they lived in the Philippines.

    Well, anyway, I just assumed that it was a 9-11 memorial, but I was wrong.

    From RandolfMase's blog:

     In front of the Emigrant Savings Bank building on 43rd Street, you’ll find a statue of a kneeling fireman.  But it’s not an ordinary statue.  
           In late 2000, the Firefighters Association of Missouri had commissioned Matthews International Corporation of Parma, Italy to build the statue.  The statue arrived at JFKAirport on September 9, 2011.  And we all know what happened 2 days later.  As a tribute to the many FDNY firefighters who lost their lives on that fateful day, the Missouri firefighters and the manufacturer donated the statue to New York City.  It had several homes over the next decade, and in September of last year, it was moved to its current location. 
           It’s very difficult to read the Firefighter’s Prayer in this photo, so I’ll repeat it here:
    When I am called to duty, God
    Wherever flames may rage, give me the strength
    To save some life whatever be its age. 
    Help me embrace a little child before it is too late,
    Or save some older person from the horror of that fate. 
    Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout,
    And quickly and efficiently to put the fire out. 
    I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me,
    To guard my every neighbor and protect his property. 
    And if I have to lose my life, according to our fate,
    Please bless with your protecting hand
    My children and my mate. 
           Many thanks to the generous manufacturer and the firefighters of Missouri.


    It's now official

    headline in the Manila Bulletin:

    Aquino: PH Corruption Over

    With the days of corruption and mismanagement of the past administration finally over, the Philippines has finally turned the corner and now enjoys a "virtuous cycle" of growth driven by good governance, President Benigno S. Aquino III declared yesterday.

    No more bribes "under the table, over the table, and with the table".

    Now you have to be discreet.

    Medical trvia

    Velazquez' famous painting of Les Mininas includes a dwarf (a woman with achondroplastic dwarfism).

    Nat Geo has an article on albinos in Tanzania. 

    we had two such women among our patients when I was in Africa. One had a baby, a normal beautiful boy. Since she was Christian (usually crippled women etc. could not support themselves and became second or third wives) I wondered who had married her (as a single wife) even though she was ugly and the albinism made it difficult for her to work in the fields to grow food. Turns out her husband was an ex miner blinded in an industrial accident who lived off of his pension. Both of them were very happy as far as I could tell.

    the main problem is that they sunburn easily, and as the NatGeo article points out, are prone to get skin cancer...

    Friday, January 25, 2013

    Food Factoids of the day

    From Archology magazine:

    The genome tests prove that the sweet potatoes in Polynesia originated in South America.

    Sweet potatoes were domesticated some 8,000 years ago in Peru, where Polynesian sailors may have encountered them on a voyage and then taken them home. The oldest carbonized sweet potatoes found in the Pacific are some 1,500 years old, and the word for “sweet potato” in many Polynesian languages resembles the Quechua word for the food

    and they have a related item about the chocolate trade:
    traces of theobromine and caffeine have been found in 1,200-year-old bowls from an archaeological site near Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. These are the oldest-known ingredients of chocolate to be found in North America, and their presence indicates that people living in the northern Southwest had access to cacao beans from Mesoamerica.
    If you went to school in the good old days, much of what you learned is wrong. Read 1491.
    lecture on vimeo.

    Video download of the day

    James Burke's series the day the universe changed is now on line at Youtube.

    Poetry corner

    New video of Kraken released.

    The immense creature, which has razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, has been the subject of fables and fairy tales since ancient times. The Norse legend of the sea monster and the Scylla from Greek mythology might have derived from the giant squid.

    Below the thunders of the upper deep,
    Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
    His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
    The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
    About his shadowy sides: above him swell
    Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
    And far away into the sickly light,
    From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
    Unnumbered and enormous polypi
    Winnow with giant fins the slumbering green.
    There hath he lain for ages and will lie
    Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
    Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
    Then once by men and angels to be seen,
    In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.


    American Scots can't eat haggis because it contains sheeplungs.

    While millions of people around the world will enjoy, or endure, a Burns Night helping on 25 January, those in the US who want to celebrate Scotland's national bard in the traditional manner are compelled to improvise.
    Some choose to stage offal-free Burns suppers, and for most people not raised in Scotland, the absence of the dish - comprising sheep's "pluck" (heart, liver and lungs) minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices, all soaked in stock and then boiled in either a sausage casing or a sheep's stomach - might be no great hardship.
    But for many expat Scots and Scots-Americans, the notion of Burns Supper without haggis is as unthinkable as Thanksgiving without turkey.
    According to custom, the haggis should be paraded into the room with a bagpiper before Burns' poem Address to a Haggis is recited and the dish is served as the main course.

    Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! Aboon them a' ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye wordy o'a grace As lang's my arm


    Fair is your honest happy face, Great chieftain of the pudding race! Above them all you take your place, Stomach, tripe or guts: Well are you worthy of a grace as long as my arm

    and how do you eat haggis?

    Recipes here.

    And NadiaArumugan discusses the dish, and includes this recipe gif.

    And no, I've never eaten Haggis.

    But here, the "pluck" of pigs or beef is made into Bopis. and the link includes photos. In Pampanga the dish is called Pulutok.

    Father Brown

    RedBoothnotes discusses Chesterton, Father Brown and Alec Guiness who played the dear priest in the 1950's movie series. There have been other series on that character, a naive looking priest who nevertheless knows the depth of depravity in the souls of men.
    If G.K. Chesterton has taught me anything, it is this: we never know how the realm of the commonplace might be rich in things of eternal moment. A kind word, or act, might bear with it the weight of a life changing experience—or a treasured memory.

    A snippet of the Guiness role as Father Brown is HERE

    The movies are public domain now but not yet fully on line.

    Guiness also played a spy in Smiley's people, Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, and the fictional version of Cardinal Minszenty. video

    There have been several series on Father Brown, mostly based on Chesterton's plots.

    However, the latest BBC series (which hasn't arrived here yet) says that " The series is based on the character of Father Brown created by G. K. Chesterton, using new stories written for the program."

    So one wonders if they will get it right.

    On the other hand, I had to laugh at the new Sherlock figuring out a serial killer was a taxi driver who got away with it because "no one notices a taxi driver".

    Uh, that plot was stolen from the plot of Chesterton's story "The Invisible Man".

    Women in combat?

    Yes, when you are in the front line and don't bathe for a month, and have your period, no problem.

    the real problem no one wants to talk about: rape. By fellow soldiers, and especially if captured (nearly all women soldier POW's are sexually assaulted, but no one wants to discuss the matter).

    The UKMail reports that one in three military commanders who were fired were removed for "zipper problems".
    For top officers, the numbers are startling.
    Eighteen generals and admirals- from one star to four stars- were fired in recent years, and 10 of them lost their jobs because of sex-related offenses; two others were done in by alcohol-related problems...
    So MacArthur would have been sacked because of "Dimples", and USGrant would never have been promoted because he got drunk a lot.
    ‘I think we're on the path. I think the last two defense secretaries have made this a very high priority and have very much held people accountable. But we've got a ways to go,’ said Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense under President Barack Obama.
    OF course, Flournoy is a policy wonk, without combat experience.

    But given the present day war against 8th century jihadi types: the real problem is a dirty little secret that the Israelis could tell you about: If these primitives find they are fighting against women, they are more likely to fight to the death rather than flee or give up because to do so would mean they are less powerful than women.

    But women already are serving with front line troops, so they can search Muslim women in their homes without having their menfolks horrified.

    StrategyPage comments on women's roles in the present day wars here.
    More women are in uniform now because there aren't enough qualified men, especially for many of the technical jobs armed forces now have to deal with.

    My take? Women are already "in" combat. It's now going to be official.

    Wikipedia on Combat Barbie:

    The real problem is that Obama is hated by the military, and he is trying to remake the military to be politically correct, replacing warriors with his ideological friends. Alas, in times of war, reality tends to get in the way.


    Related item: US Navy go kaput.

    Blame the beancounters for underfunding.
    A local kerfuffle shows that there is a problem: A "US minesweeper" is stuck on a reef near the Philippines and they are having trouble getting her off.

    and no, my only war experience was as a civilian doctor in a country with a civil war. We had two 22 rifles on the mission, mainly used to kill vermin or baboons raiding crops, and we only had four people who knew how to shoot: Brother Charles (who would shoot the baboons when locals requested his help), Father Erney, who had once been an officer in the Swiss Army, my mom, who was a sharpshooter in her high school gun club (she had five brothers), and old retired Sister Ambuya, who during World War I learned to shoot a shot gun to chase theives and kill vermin attacking her farm animals.

    And yes, I can shoot a rifle badly, but had a waiver in the National Guard not to carry a handgun.

    Sort of related item: Obama wants 100 thousand American students to study in China.

    yes, our grandson is studying Mandarin, but didn't get a grant to study there. Wonder why. Guess as a FilAm he didn't fit the profile.


    From the right:

    Belmont club blog on the US quiet policy change on Syria:
    Foukara gave two reasons for the about face. The first was the steadfast support of Russia and Iran for Assad. They were not backing down. The second was the realization stemming from Benghazi debacle. “The other concern is that the United States has for some weeks now been saying that jihadi groups, as it’s called them, are operating in Syria, having come from Iraq, affiliates of al-Qaida, and giving weapons to the Syrian opposition may end up in the wrong hands. So they will not do that.”..Obama has kept the true import of Benghazi from everyone but America’s foes: it was the moment when the Obama administration realized it had been duped into arming al-Qaeda.  The ship of Obama’s state is now beached on the shoals.
    From the left:

    America thinks it's in charge of all this, so when we decide the "decade of wars is over" (Obama), then by God, they're over - right?  No American troops, no headlines (that matter) and no wars (that count)....
    But Obama is the great peacemaker.  We know this because he has a medal to prove it.  He stops America's over-stretched ambitions on nation-building and replaces it with worldwide targeted assassinations, and we are pleased with his wisdom.  But his total lack of caring for what happens next in those places where the smoking holes are all we leave behind?

    he also talks critically about Obama's "pivot to Asia" which he says is not needed because China will either become a democracy or self implode.

    addendum: Obama will use the "unintended pregnancy" argument to push military hospitals to do abortions.

    This was attempted by Clinton who backed off when surveys showed the docs wouldn't obey.
    But given that the Obama administration is ordering chaplains to perform "same sex" ceremonies, one can see where this is going.


    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    Cat item of the day

    The "WAGD" headlines of the day

    Calling Captain Tripps:

    Bird Flu Research to Resume After Safety Debate
    . Some scientists warned that a deadly pandemic could break out if the mutant virus leaked out of the lab accidentally or if terrorists stole it or made it themselves, using articles in scientific journals for the recipe.
    They already have made an airborne form that transmits from ferret to ferret.
    Heh. Didn't know they used ferrets for research.

    In some ways, this would be worse than "dark Winter", since there might not be a vaccine to stop the spread.

    On the other hand, SARS was stopped by old fashioned quarantine methods, not by modern medicine...

    Pakistan coming apart at the seams?

    Yes, Mr Ten percent is in trouble, and a Canadian citizen from there is helping to destablize the place. Presumably this will let the army take over again.
    Professor C. Christine Fair, who teaches at Georgetown University and studies Pakistan, calls Qadri's sudden emergence on the national stage "theater,” and suspects the country’s powerful military helped to engineer the cleric’s return and organize his massive protest.
     The good news: The army, not the Taliban, will take over
    The bad news: The Pakistani army invented the Taliban and supports attacking India.

    PBS on Canada letting in terrorists under the guise of being politically persecuted folks.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013


    I ran across this while surfing Youtube.

    Tudor Costumes


    here is a wiki on costumes, comparing paintings to what was worn by the characters in the miniseries the Tudors.

    Thomas More and other noblemen and women (above picture) are seen with mixed fashions of the Elizabethan period and early Renaissance fashions from Germany, Italy, Spain and England. Thomas More's attire is that of English law practitioners, and while the style is great and mostly original, it differs by part of the fabric in the front and the color of the attire, which would in real life have a "lighter" color of black to the sleeves or another dark color to contrast with black color.
    But the good news: That Scalia didn't wear this Tudor era part of the costume. and that style was noted as far back as the days of Chaucer:

    Upon And mooreover, the wrecched
    Swollen membres that they shewe thurgh disgisynge,
    in departynge of hire hoses in whit and
    Reed, semeth that half hir shameful privee
    Membres weren flayne.

    Video of the week

    Quick, before the copyright cops find it:

    Cat item of the day

    Complicated Stuff below the fold

    Strategytalk podcast discusses the world in the future, but James Dunnigan downplays the Asian problem with China, and notes American weakiness means there will be no war here: the Chinese will probably win.
    and the webpage says what I pointed out below: Algeria preferred a couple dead foreigners than letting the bad guys get millions of dollars in ransom so they could hire more guns.

    Yeah. Which is why the Abus here kidnap rich locals, Italian priests and European tourists instead of Yanks. Here, the yanks (and the Philippines) pay for ratting out the bad buys a la "Ransom".

    Belmont Club points out that Algeria ignored humanitarian roadblocks that stop countries from winning over the bad guys and points to a different way that works better with fewer deaths in the long run. Think Goths vs Rome and you see the long term problem: they might not play nice.
    Whatever the long term efficacy of the “go to hell” model might be, these countries have shown one thing the administration and the West seem unwilling to do: fight their own corner. The Sri Lankans, Russians, Syrians, Algerians and Libyans — not to mention the Iranians — to name only a few, are the emerging members of the non-Julia world. They unabashedly want to win and if al-Qaeda hires axe-wielding dwarves they’ll hire some of their own.  The new barbarians have no respect for the Roman Senate. As for dead Europeans and Americans, what of them?
    They constitute the world that is right outside Europe and America’s PC gates.

    French gas is stinking up England.


    Attenboro says humans are a plague, and the UKTelegraph blogger gets snotty. My take? He has to use the "Ethiopian famine" to show us how we have too many people, yet overlooks that I am old enough to remember famines in China, India, and other Asian countries that now feed a larger population with few problems.

    No one in the NRA seems to be noticing that part of the way that civilization thrives is to let the government, not the individual, have the monopoly on the use of force.

     From Wikipedia.
    A monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force (sometimes referred to as the state's monopoly on violence) is the conception of the state expounded by sociologist Max Weber in his essay Politics as a Vocation (1919).
    According to Weber, the state is that entity which "upholds the claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order."[1] Weber's conception of the state as holding a monopoly on force has figured prominently in philosophy of law and political philosophy in the twentieth century.

    similarly, Hobbes in Leviathan argues  a strong government is needed to stop anarchy...and that man must give up some rights to the government to do this. The problem? What if the government is a kingdom of darkness?

    and Hobbes posits that government can tell the churches what to do (see previous post on Scalia's hat).

    OpenYale has a course in political philosophy that discusses such things.

    On the other hand, as Canadian David Warren laments:

    Reading the pundits, on the second Obama Inauguration — that imitation Coronation, performed out of church at fixed intervals — one might think that half of America was attracted, & half repulsed. That impression would be wrong.… But America was discussing his wife’s new hairdo. (Thumbs down.) Some were remarking on how his daughters had grown, since his last Coronation. (True.) There were various opinions on BeyoncĂ©’s rendition of the national anthem. (Mostly positive.) A few asked who James Taylor was. (An outpatient from the late ‘sixties.) And everybody loves a parade. (Well, almost everybody.)
    Uh, bread and circuses?

    Sending a message?

    What's with Justice Scalia's hat?

    EW called it the "cermonial headress from the Assasin's creed" and Senator Claire McCaskill called it "really weird", but Justice Scalia's hat was more correctly identified by many Catholic blogs and the lawblogger Althouse:


    full film here.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    Stuff below the fold

    Reuters article on Korea's changing times: Grandmothers no longer cared for in the extended family.

    sigh. Most of the elderly here are cared for by relatives, but when we have a funeral, usually  they have to postpone it until people come in from Manila or fly in from the US, Saudi etc.

    But we are starting to see some of them who live alone, and a few elderly end up destitute without help from their kids. Sigh.

    Turning trash into musical instruments.

    headsup uncleOrson.

    Call the midwife? UK faces lots of immigrants having babies and a lack of midwives to deliver them

    Immigration is one factor, with foreign-born mothers now having nearly a quarter of all babies in Britain, but the RCM report says midwives are also struggling to look after record numbers of older mothers, who are more prone to complications.
    Fides has a couple articles on the war in Mali, including on the ground reports, because the church is working with refugees.

    Related headlines here say six Pinoys were killed in that Algerian standoff and the UKTelegraph reports that the terrorists might have been led by Canadians using weapons given to Libyan insurgents against Ghadaffy.

    StrategyPage report HERE.

    DNA from 40thousand year old remains in a Chinese cave shows that they are related to locals...and Native Americans...and hints at Denisovan mixtures.

    As Drudge would say: Developing...

    Denisovan genome in Asians suggest interbreeding.

    and the UK Mail says scientists are seeking to clone a Neanderthal child and have someone give birth to him.

    Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago... Professor Church’s ambitious plan requires a human volunteer. He said his analysis of Neanderthal genetic code using samples from bones is complete enough to reconstruct their DNA. He said: ‘Now I need an adventurous female human....
    Hmmm...he sounds like the scientist  in the  Baskerville episode of Sherlock:  
    If you can think of something, they are probably doing it: Such things are immoral and illegal but those things can be gotten around.

    SmartPlanet has a review of genetic related news items.


    Moral judgement can be measured by measuring the length of your fingers?

    Cyberwarfare: Red October.

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    Latin Lesson for today

    Ignatiusblog notes that the Pope recently tweeted in Latin, to the consternation of the press that thinks it's a useless language.
    The Pope finally sent out his first tweet in Latin from his Twitter account @Pontifex_ln on Sunday, January 20, 2013: “Unitati christifidelium integre studentes quid iubet Dominus? Orare semper, iustitiam factitare, amare probitatem, humiles Secum ambulare.” ... He translated the Latin via his English language account @Pontifex this way: “What does the Lord ask of us as we work for Christian unity? To pray constantly, do justice, love goodness, and walk humbly with Him.” ... Indeed, I’m very happy with the Pope’s first Latin tweet, but I was in a bit of a sour mood because of the press coverage leading up to it.

    That coverage had me wishing for the impossible, that the Pope’s first Latin tweet would be a sarcastic: “ROMANES EUNT DOMUS”. If you don’t get the joke, then Google the phrase and watch Monty Python’s famous Latin lesson, in which a Roman soldier corrects the graffiti of an empire rebel.

    Stuff below the fold

    Everyone lies, so forgive Armstrong for lying says the LATimes


    yeah, but like most lies it didn't stop with a little deception: essentially he stole money from the ones who would have won if he hadn't cheated.

    the Algerian kidnap drama is getting a lot of press here because some of those killed were Filipinos.
    So you have non Algerians using Libyan weapons kidnapping Japanese and Filipinos in an Algerian site run by a Norwegian company to protest France's military trying to stop Nigerian and Egyptians from taking Mali over from the Tuareg.
    Yup. that makes sense.
    and if the Algerians didn't make nice" and pay ransoms under the table, as many European countries do here, well, maybe it's because Algeria has been at war with these extremists in the recent past

    the Diplomad has comments.
    In the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Israel or a handful of other civilized countries, that sort of result would have proven totally unacceptable. In most of the world, however, that is a success.

    on the other hand, knowing it won't work does tend to discourage future kidnappings.

    nat geo report on Africa's oil boom . ___________________________

    India is restricting the "rent a womb" program that endangers their women
    Yes, you can still do it, but now there are laws in place.
    China's aggression against the Philippines continues, but don't expect the US to help us.
    The Chinese strategy is to make it difficult for other nations to fish or search for oil and gas in the disputed waters. China will then offer to negotiate, and share the economic benefits. The other nations will probably be offered some fishing rights in waters of the EEZ of each nation neighboring the South China Sea, but China will keep all the oil and gas outside each nation’s territorial waters (22 kilometers from the coast).

    China is assuming that no nation, including the United States, will confront China with military force in these matters. China itself will use military force sparingly. "Illegal" oil exploration or fishing, for example, will encounter Chinese civilian ships, and a few small military ships, that "accidently" destroy fishing nets or disrupt oil exploration activities. This will, as it has in the past, involve "accidental" collisions with the offending ships. Any use of force against the offending Chinese civilian ships will be met with force by Chinese warplanes and warships. The Philippines is hoping that the United States will provide the military muscle to make China back off. The U.S. has been lukewarm in its response to this Filipino request.

    Insomnia download of the week

    Geography and Plays

    by Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)

    Geography and Plays is a 1922 collection of Gertrude Stein's "word portraits," or stream-of-consciousness writings. These stream-of-consciousness experiments, rhythmical essays or "portraits", were designed to evoke "the excitingness of pure being" and can be seen as literature's answer to Cubism, plasticity, and collage. Although the book has been described as "a marvellous and painstaking achievement in setting down approximately 80,000 words which mean nothing at all," it is considered to be one of Stein's seminal works. (summary by wildemoose and Wikipedia)

    Book Stuff around the net

    The Plough publishing house has a lot of their books free on line.
    From the Bruderhof, a pacifistic Christian community. Just listed to remind folks not all Christians "cling to guns and religion": Some are pacifists who help others and live chaste lives and care for their children without succumbing to the religion of progressive socialism and new age magic, like much of the Christian left seems to have done.


    Brian Sibley points out that January 18 was the 118th birthday of AA Milne. and discusses an old radio program he complied from Milne's work.


    Stainless steel droppings
    suggests watching a youtube satire Space Janitors.


    Baen books still has sci fi books, some free to download.


    Attention  Conspiracy theorists: Carroll Quigley's book Tragedy and Hope is now on line at Internet archives.

    The late professor Quigley taught Bill Clinton at Georgetown and some of the conspiracy types say his vision of a new world order is the blueprint behind today's world. In other words, he is a historian with ideas of how things should work.
    I don't know: Haven't been able to read it yet. His webpage is here.

    Project Gutenburg has a list of human and computer generated audiobooks.

    they also have sheetmusic...


    Hesperian has a lot of medical related books for free download, including the classic: where there is no doctor.

    UCpress has some of it's books to read free on line. much of them are in specialized fields.

    this one, about an outbreak of religious visions in Basque country in the early 1930's, for example, tries to put this phenomenum into a secular perpective. (and how the bishop's rejection made things even more confused). A reaction to modernity, or a warning of the coming civil war by the sensitive?

    and this one, on the midwife tasked by the French king in the mid 1700's to teach other midwives, gives us a different view of that time.

    only about one quarter are free to read, but include some on Asia or medical histor.

    Sunday, January 20, 2013

    Philippine history often overlooked

    Belmont club has a post that mentions stuff that you might not know:
    It’s a complex world. Below is a trailer a documentary describing how the Commonwealth of the Philippines saved thousands of Jews during World War 2. That is probably as little known as the fact that the Battle of Manila cost more civilian lives than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Ironically the thousands of Jews given refuge by the Philippines were caught up in the Pacific War. However, the Japanese didn’t know the difference between the German Jews and German non-Jews. They were all white guys to them. The Japanese treated them as citizens of country allied to Nippon. Interestingly enough many of the Spanish, Italian and German aliens fared worse than the American and allied prisoners because the camps at Cabanatuan, Sto. Tomas and Los Banos were liberated by US and Philippine forces practically without loss of life. Many Germans, Spanish and Italians, by contrast sought refuge in their embassies in Manila, where they were massacred by the Japanese for whom one white guy was identical to those in the First Cavalry bearing down on Manila.


    Yeah Santo Nino

    Manila bulletin on the Sto Nino fiesta.... the celebration is really big in Cebu LINK

    Here, the celebration is not city wide, but all the kids went up for a special blessing in church, taking their "Santo Nino" statues with them,(some wearing a crown and royal robe, others in shorts and straw hat) and they had a band playing for the crowd after mass.


    I wrote about the feast a couple years ago: LINK

    Science imitating British Comedy

    From the UKMail:

    The shirt you can't get dirty: Researchers create ultralight coating that canr repel alcohol, coffee, oil and even petrol Superomniphobic coating is 95% air - but can repel the broadest range of liquids ever seen Could be used to create stain resistant clothes, protect soldiers from chemical attacks, and even reduce drag on ships
    Hmmm....wasn't this already invented by Obi Wan Kenobi? 

    The Man In The White Suit by crazedigitalmovies

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

    Things no one ever thinks about

    Years ago, the USArmy did a survey on male vs female soldiers and found the main difference was...the girls knew how to do their own laundry. Yeah. One reason guys want to shack up with their girlfriends is probably so the girl can do it for them. So, in the USS Enterprise, who does Captain Kirk's laundry? And isn't that a waste of energy?

    Popular mechanics article on laundry problems in space.

    They still haven’t figured out how to do laundry in space. On the space station, they just throw away clothes and never see them again. You can’t do that on a 20-year mission or on a Mars base. What it comes down to are these very important questions of sustainability, using natural resources, recycling, use of energy and water, controlling pollutants.

    Related item from BoingBoing:
    how to clip your fingernails in space.