Saturday, August 31, 2013

Seamus Heaney, RIP

Ireland's poet Seamus Heaney, has died.

His works include the 1966 debut "Death of a Naturalist", "The Spirit Level", "District and Circle" and an acclaimed translation of the old English epic poem "Beowulf".

"For us, Seamus Heaney was the keeper of language, our codes, our essence as a people," Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said. "He belongs with Joyce, Yeats, Shaw and Beckett in the pantheon of our greatest literary exponents."

Heaney was a rarity among poets, having won acclaim from critics while producing best-sellers. Born on a farm in Mossbawn, County Londonderry in Northern Ireland in 1939, his poems nostalgically recall the sights and smells of a country childhood.

although ethnically a Northen Irishman, he moved to the Irish Republic...

His translation of Beowulf is on youtube (until the copyright police find it):

Link1  Link2

and his Nobel Lecture is here.

And then there is this:

watch the whole thing if you can.

Cat item of the day

the UKMail also has the story behind Grumpy cat and LilBub...

The Twins find a home

Originally the twins were separated and cared for by their grandmother and great aunt, both of whom were aging and worried they'd die before the girls were grown. So they asked Congressman Mullin and his wife, who were part of the extended family, if they would adopt them.

then Mrs Mullin pulled what her husband calls the 'trump card'. She asked him: 'Would you pray about it?'
'How do you pray about that?' said Congressman Mullin at a town meeting in Henryetta, Oklahoma, last week.

'I mean, really. "Hey Lord, would you please, please make her heart as selfish as mine"?'
So instead he prayed that God would change his own mind, 'And man did He ever,' he says.
The Congressman, who himself is the youngest of seven, told TheHill: 'Our family prayed for God's will and He opened our hearts to the idea of adoption.
'We were unsure about whether, at this time, we could handle the extra responsibility,' he added. 'But God's timing is always perfect.'
Now the congressman - who is part of the Cherokee nation, just like his twin girls - says Lynette and Ivy have taught him more than he ever expected.

the part about being part Cherokee is important, because of the Indian welfare act. In the past, often children in "bad situations" were placed with loving white families, but the cultural differences resulted in problems. So now the rule is to try to find someone in the extended family to care for children (even if old, or too poor to meet the usual criteria such as separate bedrooms for each kid), and if there are no family members, then another tribal member, then to let someone in another tribe adopt, and then to allow someone with tribal ties but not a member to adopt, and only then to let a non Indian adopt.

The law has sometimes been misued, but as a whole is a good idea...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Stuff around the net

Have archeologists found the meadhall of Hrothgar of Beowulf fame?

The best Beowulf lecture (about that meadhall) is Tom Shippey's, explaining why the oldest epic of England didn't mention England at all (hint: Hengst). Tolkien, of course, explained that what made the epic great was the story, not the details.

Best headline of the day: Milky way's giant Black hole spits out it's food.

New Sandra Bullock film Gravity is about stranded astronauts...sounds like a remake of Open Water....hopefully without the downer at the end.


Obesity is from gut  bacteria, not too much food and too little exercize.

Uh, metabolic syndrome anyone? There is a "gut-mind" obsession with a lot of recent experiments: color me sceptical... lots of this comes out of the new agey type mindset...

Lots of opportunity for looters to make money: first Iraq, then Egypt, now Syria.
I figure that those stealing the loot are the ancestors of those who were exploited/taxed to make it in the first it's sort of returning stolen good to their owners.

Article on Job's tears and detoxifying Asia's waste water (i.e. nitrogen run off).

We used to make rosaries and necklaces from these seed, but never managed to grow them. Apparantly they are used as a food, and medicinally in parts of Asia.

more HERE.


Cycling? Health alert

Aside from heat stroke (in the summer) and frostbite (in the winter) and being hit by a car, what can go wrong?


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Links around the net

BrotherAnthony, along with his Korean culture links,  has links to culture stuff, which he calls "Delight for idle hours".

For example,  the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  and the SilkRoad project

mainly bookmarked for later reading.


Nature vs Nurture: Why Cloning John Lennon will be useless.


WTF story of the day: Why Rumsfeld doesn't think a Syria Strike is justified...

Being shocking does not mean you are a great artist: and what is worse, it is getting boring: Miley Cyrus has made "shocking" in art soooo yesterday?

Dear Artists: You are the custodians of beauty...


WAGD....well, we're all going to go broke anyway.

Celtic Dwarves?

Are the dwarves Picts? Their language is based on Hebrew syntax, and their names come from the Edda, but Jackson's Dwarves have a Celtic influence.


When comparing the Celts to dwarves, it is important to focus on one of the northern tribes (in modern Scotland): the Picts. They were given their name by the Romans, who found the animal shapes and designs they painted on their bodies with blue woad to be curious pictures. The Celts were also in the habit of shaping their hair before battle – using a mixture of lime and urine as a sort of styling clay that caked white onto their tresses and made their hair stand on end. For a cinematic example of these ancient warriors, check out the trailer for Kevin MacDonald’s adaptation of The Eagle (2011).

more HERE on the Celtic influence on hobbits as Welshmen.


The Japanese English Language news on TV is against Obama's war on Syria, saying that the evidence is just not clear enough.

We are getting our news from NHK since right now the cable is shifting channels and the BBC is off line, and CNN International is full of Brits who sneer at the US, including the British queen caught with his pants down in Central Park, and the British twit who took over from Larry King... (the exception: Anderson Cooper: He's a professional and the best reporter on the network).

Military pundits on the net are divided: even those who say it was Assad who gassed his own people note that throwing a few smart bombs won't solve much this late in the game, and say if the 'rebels' win, the result might be sharia and religious persecution that makes Egypt look like a picnic (note earlier link about the Shiite mosques destroyed).

And the Diplomad remembers when it was an open secret that Saddam sent his WMD to Syria 

Russia defends the local Orthodox, and Iran will defend the local Shiites, if for no other reason than religious solidarity, meaning Obama is defending....uh, Alqaeda?

Luckily, we are in the Philippines, and with Obama looking like a "paper tiger" (to use a phrase from the cold war) we are alone trying to defend our coastlines, no matter how much the US talks, no one here believes they would do anything "rash", like defend us, and StrategyPage agrees.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Family news take two

I forgot to add that the city is now fixing the ditch on the side of our property that is near the old city hall. One of the walls was collapsing due to people parking on the side on the dirt.

Family news

Another day, another tropical storm, with stead rain on and off all night and this morning.

Luckily it means it stays cool: but when the humidity is high then clothes don't dry and are hung up in the spare bedroom.

Roof is still leaking, although not as bad as before, maybe because the rain is moderate and steady instead of heavy.

Lolo is doing well.

I am fine, but the internet is going off and on, so I am mainly watching downloaded films from youtube (lots on there) or listening to podcasts.

My webpage is acting crazy: doesn't load on my rss feed, and only shows three days when I bring up the home page. But never mind.

Video downloads of the day


you also can watch Prof Vaughn's lectures at Univ Houston HERE

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Logic? we haz that

The reason I read the UK press is that usually the UKGuardian gives the leftwing bias, and the UK Telegraph gives the mildly right wing bias.

Then I check Rush, Mother Jones, and Coast to coast to see what the fringes are hearing.

For Philippine news, I check the Manila Bulletin for the business community's opinion then the Inquirer for the educated progressive community's opinion...the press, like the country, is run by the elites: the opinion of the ordinary people can mainly be found here in the local language press or talk radio. Just find out what Erap or old lefty bishop Cruz are saying and you will get a good idea of real popular opinion.

One expects press bias: One does not expect the intelligencia to swallow obviously biased propaganda without thinking about it (although some wag once noted: There is nothing too absurd that an educated person won't believe it).

StrategyPage's Information warfare essay today is about propaganda: the history of propaganda back to ancient Rome, how governments manipulate the press, and how to spot propaganda and logical errors.

Ancient leaders understood propaganda and spin. Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great controlled what version of events was distributed as official, or even unofficial, news. And in ancient Egypt, where a permanent record of government achievements was painted or carved into the walls of government structures, archeologists have only recently discovered that many of those official records were subject to a lot of spin. Many of those ancient records, it turned out, were lies, told in order to influence public opinion
Yup. And one problem with "history" is that often the historical lies are believed. A lot of folks thought Ramses II won the battle of Kadesh before they deciphered the Hittite's version of the battle (and of course, now they believe the Hittites...uh, maybe they were spinning too?)

the article then goes on to say:

Here’s a list of the most common, and successful, techniques currently in use. If you spend any time at all consuming mass media, you will find these techniques familiar. That in itself is scary, but you decide.

go read the whole  thing: they list 22 ways on how to spin the news.

WMD? We haz that

 in the lead up to the Iraqi invasion, truckloads of unknown stuff was taken to Syria, but since Syria has long had their own WMD hidden away, when reports came about the use of nervegas to kill civilians seemed logical.

Yet there came a big question: was it Assad (who would be stupid to trigger a western response) or was it an Alqaeda use of nerve gas so they could blame Assad and his Iraqi allies, as the Russian press suggested?

No, I don't believe the propaganda in the US papers, because it was just too convenient. (I should note that I tend to read the British press because the US press is too politicized to know if anything is true).

However, now both the Israeli press, and the more believable StrategyPage says yes it was Assad, and explain why:

The key problem here was many Damascus residents supported the rebels. The chemical weapon attack was meant to show pro-rebel civilians that their disloyalty has a price and that mass murder was part of the punishment. Maher Assad is the guy to carry out this kind of operation as he has long called for more brutal treatment of rebels and has often practiced what he preached. Foreign medical personnel report treating hundreds of people for apparent nerve gas exposure since the reported nerve gas attack five days ago

the irony: If Assad really was afraid that Obama would attack, he would never have left his brother do this.

The bad news is that Iran and Russia are part of Assad's allies, and that the rebels have lots of terrorist volunteers who will kill religious minorities and impose Sharia on a secular country.

And those of you who are upset about the attack on the Coptic churches: Take note:

As more attacks occur against civilians the most frequent targets are mosques or churches. Nearly a thousand of these religious places (most of them mosques) have been heavily damaged or destroyed so far. Islamic radical rebels are the biggest offenders as they believe it is a religious duty to kill Shia Moslems and over ten percent of Syrians (including most government supporters) are Shia. 
They also discuss the huge refugee problem...

Another sign that the end of the world is nigh

Hello Kitty Airplane: Coming to a city near you.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, EVA Air has announced a new jet route which will bring a newly designed Boeing 777-300ER Hello Kitty plane to the US by way of Los Angeles. the new route begins September 18, 2013.

and yes, such a plane does exist: I've seen it parked at Japanese airports when I flew to the Philippines.

From HelloKittyHell

more at their webpage: including hellokitty wallpaper of their cabin crew for your computer.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Musical interlude of the day

from Father Vega's page in Pampanga: a mass for those affected by floods.

Headlines below the fold (plus rants)

FilAm novelist MariaElena links to groklaw blog, with links to laws covering privacy.

It's not about spying on you, it's about intimidating you, so you are afraid to express politically incorrect opinions, even in the privacy of your own home.


Excuse my cynicism on Bradley Manning announcing he is a woman, conveniently discovering this shortly after he was convicted. First he was dating a flamboyant transvestite, then he was gay, and now he's a woman? Sounds like he has gender issues, not transexual issues.

My take: maybe he prefers the women's brig at Miramar instead of Leavenworth, where he would probably be in solitary confinement for his own protection. On the other hand, GIJanes can be pretty rough too...

 StrategyPage. again lists how the Palestinian propaganda machine's Big Lie  resembles the indoctrination propaganda of Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany...and with the European left being more willing to swallow that lie, they have no reason to try to confront reality.

and if you really want to be confused, read about the Arab minority in Iran, along with a summary of the various feuds between Arabs and Iranians, Sunni and Shiites.

The feuds go back to Darius (remember the handwriting on the wall incident in the bible?) so like most "religious" conflicts, is has a lot more to do with ethnicity/history than religion.

Flooding in the street here was not severe but several poor people have come to the door asking for hell in buying medicine to treat infected cuts from waterlogged feet: I worry about leptospirosis cases starting in the area. We already have Dengue and Chikungunya epidemics here...


Report of the hit job attempt now is in the local on line NEJournal.

you also can find the reason behind a lot of local "political killings": Money/pork/corruption reports.

And note the part about onions. Here, lots of local farmers invested in onion crops, only to have legal/illegal imported onions underpricing them...

and now they found gold in FtMagsaysay.  Wonder who will get rich from that.

Big protest against Pork/corruption in Manila today.


Hollywood reporter rejoices over the pc film of the week, The Butler, ..but one has to wonder who are all the  "none of the above'  who seem to be attending the movie...
The Oscar hopeful is broadening out in terms of its appeal to white moviegoers, with Caucasians making up 55 percent of this weekend's audience, compared to 48 percent on opening weekend. The percentage of African-Americans dipped from 39 percent to 33 percent (still far higher than the norm).

The really good news is that the article breathlessly writes: isn't it wonderful that this film is doing better than the flop "precious".

Tulsa born Tracy Lett's play August Osage county, will now be released as a movie: but it has nothing to do with Osage County or even Oklahoma, of course. The name came from a poem, and the writer says his plagerism is okay because the poet was a friend.


teeshirt of the day:

headsup LesFemmes

via Toxel:
Knit your own here.
apparently they are not minidogs but full sized pooches:


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Science headline of the day

The hidden beauty dung fungus.

According to mycologist Bryce Kendrick’s book “The Fifth Kingdom”, P. tinctorius has been sometimes called “the ugliest fungus in the world”. I think that’s a bit unfair given its spectacular internal appearance and rather bland (although indisputably scatalogical) facade. I can think of several arguably more deserving fungi. He also notes that the puffballs can be used in “a hot-weather version of a snowball fight” . Which, in my opinion, may well be the nerdiest snowball fight in the world.

(headsup DaveBarry).

Family news

The rains have stopped (for now: it is monsoon season).

Ruby was in Manila at her homeschool base for a lecture/presentation, and came back late last night with her cousin, meaning that the young girls will be giggling and running around together.

Chano is at the farm.

I woke Lolo for church, but he wasn't feeling up to it so we stayed home (again). It's so hot and humid that I might not make it through mass without getting sick, so it's okay by me: Maybe we should switch to the 530 am mass, when it's still cool.

Dogs woke me up in the middle of the night again: the neighbor's dog was visiting Angel, who presumably will have his puppies. BadBrad and George the killer labrador were upset about this, but often Brad's puppies die (genetic problem?) and George is snipped and shooting blanks so it's okay.

My computer is dying: got the blue screen of death and had to fix windows, so maybe it's the memory again. But now it's working so my fingers are crossed.
It's not just that the computer is old, but the electricity goes on and off and we get a lot of thunderstorms...usually I turn off the computer in the afternoon, just in case.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Quotation of the day

“Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence…”
– Pope Francis, LUMEN FIDEI, Paragraph 57 page 78

stuff below the fold

why would the gov't give one million dollars to scientists to study spiderwebs?

How does the arachnid build a structure that’s simultaneously feather-light, incredibly strong, more elastic than nylon and moisture-proof?...The Office of Naval Research recently awarded USU USTAR-endowed professor Randy Lewis a two-year grant to study adhesive spider silk for naval applications.

-headsup Scienceblogs.

and then there is the spidersilk dress....