Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Joy Bullets?

StrategyPage has an article about people wounded from fireworks and from bullets falling to the ground after someone shot into the air to celebrate. This is a world wide problem, but they note that the gov't is trying to put a stop to it here in the Philippines:

New Year’s Eve is expected to be worse, as it usually is. With the economy improving and many people grateful to be alive after a major typhoon hit the islands in November many people don’t mind shooting off $5-10 worth of ammo to enhance holiday celebrations. An AK-47 will do that in a few seconds, but most people use hunting rifles or even some World War II era weapons that are still working. At the same time the Philippines recognized that fireworks actually cause more casualties, and fatalities than falling bullets. But firearms, while harder to obtain and much more expensive than fireworks are a danger year round, especially since so many of them are unregistered and illegal.

note that part about WWII era weapons? Lolo used to keep a submachine gun in his closet (until he had a stroke and his son destroyed it. we now keep a machete in our bedroom. That and all the dogs are what we use for protection).

And note that most of the guns are unregistered and illegal? Marcos confiscated guns years ago, which means people just hid them. Which means the criminals have guns, but people might not have any, or the guns are locked away and might not be available in case of emergency.

Nor is it only guns: After one local political murder, when the guy behind the hit visited the wake, one of the relatives threw a grenade at him. However, most grenades and dynamite here are actually used for (illegal) fishing.

In the US, people tend to follow the laws, but as the laws get more and more absurd, I suspect many will simply do what is done here in the third world: ignore them.

For later reading

It's New Year's eve and the room is full of dogs hiding under the bed because of firecrackers....and the internet keeps going on and off.

So bookmarked for later reading (via Tea At Trianon)

Camille Paglia on the battle of the sexes (or how upper class American feminists got it wrong). A lot of it is because the feminist leaders are elite and not only despise men but despise those who do "dirty jobs", or pretend they do not exist.

and the problem with atheism:

We are all sinners. On the streets the addicts, with their daily battles and proximity to death, have come to understand this viscerally. Many successful people don't. Their sense of entitlement and emotional distance has numbed their understanding of our fallibility.
Soon I saw my atheism for what it is: an intellectual belief most accessible to those who have done well.
I look back at my 16-year-old self and see Preacher Man and his listeners differently. I look at the fragile women praying and see a mother working a minimum wage custodial job, trying to raise three children alone. Her children's father off drunk somewhere. I look at the teenager fingering a small cross and see a young woman, abused by a father addicted to whatever, trying to find some moments of peace. I see Preacher Man himself, living in a beat up shack without electricity, desperate to stay clean, desperate to make sense of a world that has given him little.
They found hope where they could.
I want to go back to that 16-year-old self and tell him to shut up with the "see how clever I am attitude". I want to tell him to appreciate how easy he had it, with a path out. A path to riches.

Cat item of the day

How to tell if your cat is fully charged:

Shackleton photos found

 Some New Zealanders found 100 year old photos while fixing up a hut.
This incredible discovery was made by the Conservators of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust who are working to restore an old exploration hut. The 22 cellulose nitrate negatives were, the Trust believes, left there by Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, which became stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea during a blizzard.
As you can imagine, the negatives weren’t in the best of shape when they were found, but a Wellington photography conservator took the time to painstakingly process and restore them until they revealed their secrets... (you can see them all on the Trust’s website here)

this was not from the Endurance but from the group that was supposed to lay supplies down for his trek.

(Via the Presurfer)

Tolkien's world

 more links discussing if the Dwarves are Jewish LINK LINK2 LINK3 (and check this at TORN).

There is an idea common among some christians that the Jews, who longed for a homeland in their prayers, who would never regain their homeland until end times...(uh oh...that means we are in end times).

In the Hobbit, Tolkien mixed this idea of a people forever longing to regain their homeland with that of the dwarves of the Eddas (albeit he was more sympathetic to them than the traditional view that they were evil so it was okay to steal their gold).
The real parallel is that the Dwarvish language was based on the grammar/linguistic construction of the Semetic languages...

(Elvish Sindarin was based on Welsh and Quenya based on Finnish and Black speech was an agglutinan language based on the Turkish family of languages)

A good lecture on all of this can be found HERE.

Michael Drout's blog discusses a lot of linguistic themes, including some posts on Tolkien's languages: You can find it HERE.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Musical interlude of the day

From theOneRingNet:
Wojciech Kilar, who composed the sound track music for Dracula and many other films, has died.

The Requium for Father Kolbe from the Truman show

more HERE

Family news

Yesterday Lolo went to the farm and brought back the dog with severe mange and malnutrition. He's a bit shy, so I suspect that is why the other dogs got most of the food. The last dog this happened to died, so Lolo didn't want to leave him there.

So we are keeping him in the side garden and are feeding him, but not over feeding him. I got some medicine from the vet: She says the best treatment is a shot, but won't let me give it, and I didn't have the pickup truck to take him to the vet so we will try shampoo and local treatment. The mange is the type one sees in young dogs and will probably improve as the nutrition/immune system clears up.

I gave him a quick cleanup and put on the medicine this morning and Lolo stayed in that small garden all morning, mainly yelling at the boy to get it cleaned up. It hasn't been taken care of since the old man who we hired as a gardener and who mainly puttered around the garden went back to his home.

At lunch time, he got out of the garden by the broken gate and came into the house shyly...we fed him and put him back in the garden, fixing the gate again (the gate is closed with rope: It won't close because a mango tree is lying on top of it, after the typhoon...we were going to cut it down, but had other priorities, and now it has mangos and is doing fine)...

If the dog lives, he will be a nice dog for the main garden: the small male dog there died of heat stroke and since then the larger female dog won't stay in that garden alone. Yes, we have it fenced, but the door opens since the male bathroom is off that garden, and so it gets opened all the time.

Aside from Lolo yelling at everyone it's been quiet here. (no, he doesn't shout from anger: he's deaf and doesn't realize it. And then I have to yell back at him so he can hear me).

Ruby was at an overnight last night with her friends. She's homeschooled but now is in a church youth group, so she is getting a social life.

Chano and Joy are busy busy: most of the holiday orders have gone, and today they are cooking salted duck eggs to sell.  You soak the eggs in brine for a week or two then cook them: it gives them a nice flavor and a long shelf life.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mary Poppins and Mr. Banks

If you want a propaganda free, superhero free, nonsense free, special effects free, quiet film to watch this Christmas season, you might want to spend your money on the new film "Saving Mr. Banks".

The plot sound absolutely boring: PJ Travers goes to Hollywood and fights with just about everyone over Disney's plan to make a film about Mary Poppins.

Yet the film is surprisingly gentle toward it's characters, even though, as Travers later wrote to Brian Sibley, she was aghast at the make over of her plain spoken tart tongued nanny:
“The ways of film-makers are strange,” she wrote to me in 1968. “It is as though they took a sausage, threw away the contents but kept the skin and filled it with their own ideas very different from the original substance.” Chief among Travers’s catalogue of complaints was the way in which Mary Poppins “already beloved for what she was — plain, vain and incorruptible — was transmogrified into a soubrette”.

A lot of the success goes to Tom Hanks, playing Walt Disney, and the impeccable Emma Thompson as Travers.


If you want to know about Travers, check out the (above) link by Sibley, along with these from his blog: LINK and LINK about her work "The fox at the manger". A list of articles labled Disney is HERE. including this one on the Sherman brothers.

And another article on Traver's attitude toward the movie is found on his Disney blog, along with the story of the (never filmed) sequel.



The charity of Mr. Sibley is in contrast to the hit jobs on the UKMail and the UK Guardian.

The reason I say "hit jobs" is because the UKMail especially has lots of innuendo of sexual liasons etc. that would open them to libel if Travers was alive. I see a woman trying to cope, they see a slut.

Then they condemn her for adopting only one twin. 

Reality check: Separating tiwns or children of the same family was commonly done in those days, as was not telling the child he was adopted. Even today, my two adopted sons were from a family of six, who were taken in by five different families to raise.

Of course, the UK elite seem to have a bias against adoption per se, as I pointed out here.How can you justify you (or your girlfriend's) abortions if you can show adoption by loving parents is a decent alternative? Steve Jobs anyone?

And contrary to the UKGuardian author's innuendos, alcoholism has more to do with family genes than upbringing.

It is well that several folks commenting on the hit pieces knew Travers and defended her against these fleetstreetsnobs. One example:
I'll say this much for her:- I came to know P.L. Travers really rather well, albeit late in her life; and there is virtually nothing of the real person here to be recognized -- neither in the article, nor in all of the comments. All this here is no more than dreamsville, and worse still. And these few words I write out of respect for her memory.

How to read carbonized paparus and other stories below the fold

Long story on how it is being done on the BBC

also bbc: best space photos of the year

In November, Nasa released a spectacular picture of Saturn, from the Cassini probe. The image was produced as part of The Day The Earth Smiled Project, in which people around the world were asked to smile for this picture. Our planet is in view, but only as a pale blue dot in the bottom-right of the image
don't miss Dave Barry's review of the year 2013:  the year of the zombies

bureaucracy at work story of the week

Traditional Danish pastries threatened by EU cinnamon ban

apparantly, some cinnamon contains a coumadin like substance that could endanger some people's health.

A study for the UK's Food Standards Agency in 2010 found that the average dietary exposure to coumarin in Britain was 0.0018 mg per kilo of body weight, 55 times less that the EU "tolerable daily limit" of 0.1mg per kilo of body weight...

"An average person would have to eat so many Danish pastries in order to be effected, they would certainly die of obesity before being hurt by a low level of cinnamon," said Paul Nuttall, the deputy leader of Ukip.

recipe to make cinnamon rolls here

don't buy any stock in facebook: It is losing popularity with the young.

I hesitate to go there because a friend regularly posts "two minute hate" talking points

and I dislike their asking for personal information.

But it's good for posting photos for the family.

a bit late, but Uncle Orson mentioned that Elizabeth Peters, author of the Amelia Peabody mysteries, has died. Sigh.

Her real name was Barbara Mertz, and she also wrote non fiction books about her specialty of Egyptology that have been revised and re released in recent years.


Factoids of the week

BBC list on 100 things you didn't know

here are the first five:

1. It would have taken 2.5 million seagulls to lift James's giant peach into the air, not the 501 that Roald Dahl suggested.
Find out more (Guardian)
2. Hot drinks taste different according to the cup colour.
Find out more (Discovery News)
3. It's easier to pick wet things up with wrinkled fingers - suggesting an evolutionary reason for getting "prune fingers" in the bath.
Find out more
4. There are two firms in the world cloning polo ponies.
Find out more (Economist)
5. Two per cent of Europeans lack the genes for smelly armpits
Find out more (Scientific American)
and some more important factoids further down in the list:

10. The House of Lords has a rifle range.
Find out more (Daily Telegraph)

64. You need an 8ft-high table to ensure toast lands butter side up when dropped.
Find out more (Daily Mail)
65. Justin Bieber and Will.i.am used to live next door to each other.

87. There's only one sneeze in the bible.
Find out more (Daily Telegraph)

Pope Francis
90. The pope used to work as a bouncer.
Find out more (Catholic News)

yup. Don't mess with Francis.
Of course, the original "Francis" was once a soldier and a POW, not the milquetoast like he is usually portrayed.

Video download of the week

the BBC reports that Sister Wendy has a new program: on the Art of the Gospel.
Not on youtube yet, of course, but a lot of her older series are there LINK (and if you can afford the DVD, it would be worth watching in high definition).

update: IdleSpeculations points out that the link lets you watch it for free over the next seven days . 
But only if you live in the UK.
The rest of us will have to wait until it gets on Youtube.

the really important Stories below the fold

Heh. Colombia is no longer the top provider of Cocaine: That "honor" has passed to Peru.

I guess they never heard of Shakleton:

Tourist ship to Antarctica stuck in ice.


Court says snooping on everyone is okay.

 so much for that pesky constitution that the elites want to replace:

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

exactly what part of "probable cause" do they not understand?
Presumably my "LOL CAT" emails to the middle east make me a prime suspect.

Belmont club notes:

In Texas, Search Warrants Can Now Be Based on a “Prediction of a Future Crime”, writes the Dallas Observer. There is increasing interest in crime-predictive computer models in California.

and when you have to collect too much data, you end up missing the important things, like "headsup" from Russia that some Boston students were planning to bomb the place.

I've written about the same problem in medical records, where to get paid you have to document a lot of trivia, and are so busy inputting nonsense for the bureaucrats that you don't have time to talk to the patient and therefore miss the real problem.

and most of us know what a gigabyte is, thanks to "Back to the future", but here is a new term:Vottabyte: from Belmont club:

But a yottabyte is a thousand zettabytes.  Most of us think Big Data is a couple of terrabytes. The NSA thinks in Yottabtyes. From Wikipedia:
“As part of the Global Information Grid and Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative, the US National Security Agency (NSA) is building a $2 billion Utah Data Center facility to process (not store) yottabytes of information.
To store a yottabyte on terabyte-size hard drives would require ten billion city block size data-centers, as big as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island. If 64 GB microSDXC cards (the most compact data storage medium available to the public as of early 2013) were used instead, the total volume would be approximately 2500000 cubic meters, or the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza.”

and, of course, why worry about the NSA when facebook knows where you are and who are your friends, when businesses already are using the information.

From PJMedia:

Data brokers collect a huge volume of detailed data about consumers, from what illnesses they may have, to what car they own and what types of soap they buy. They use this information to create consumer profiles that categorize consumers, or “score” them, without their consent.
Data brokers also identify financially vulnerable consumers by putting them into categories like “rural and barely making it,” “ethnic second city strugglers,” and “credit-crunched: city families.”
A few days ago, Barbara Walters decided Obama was not the messiah. 

Barbara Walters recently told Piers Morgan that she was disappointed in Barack Obama. “We thought he was going to be the next messiah”, she said.  Both host and guest were presumably crestfallen...
And they thought he was going to be the Messiah? Why?

Nice of us to know this. Wonder why we didn't know it before the elections?

the latest joke on right wing blogs: Vote Republican, and let the press go  back to finding what is actually going on in the government.

asking the really tough questions on the Hobbit 2: 
  •  Is it ever sunny and dry in Bree?
  • Where does Beorn keep his pants post-skin change?
  • Does Tauriel secretly have an “I (heart) Hot Dwarves” t-shirt under her outfit? ( Legolas must be jealous.)
  • Gandalf appears to use the Patronus spell during his encounter with The Necromancer Saaauuurrron.  What form would it take?
  • How would Smaug have known the name ‘Oakenshield’, unless he leaves Erebor for the occasional pint at the Prancing Pony?
  • Did the dwarves REALLY think that a little molten gold would hurt a fire-breathing dragon with impenetrable scales, or did they just think a little bling would soothe his hurt feelings?

the answer to the molten gold one was that they didn't expect the hot gold to kill him, but to harden around Smaug to keep him imprisoned. Too bad they didn't harden it quickly with a little water.

The dwarves melted the gold using coal and the mold that grandfather Thrain had designed and was ready to cast (a fifty foot gold statue of himself? Sounds like he was indeed bonkers).

The real question is if the gold had hardened, would the methane flame of the dragon melt gold (presumably dragon fire is from belching methane in his stomach, and setting it on fire...). Long discussion on melting gold in the Game of Thrones suggests yes. more at Wikipedia...

The real question: how did Smaug manage to take off with all that extra weight?


Family news

One of the corporate gift items we supplied for businesses in Manila...designed by Chano and made by local artisans....

Lolo giving out money to the neighborhood kids saying "merry Christmas"...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Stories around the net

What really happened at Easter Island.

The rats, not people, destroyed the trees, but the people adjusted and started to eat rat stew...and the depopulation was from STD related infertility, caught from visiting sailors, not famine. And the real lesson is not catastrophic collapse but (oh the horror!) that people adjusted and did fine. And NPR thinks that lesson is terrible, since it means that their utopian pristine world order under global warming dictators might not be necessary...
To prevent an ecological crisis, we must become alarmed. That's when we'll act. The new Easter Island story suggests that humans may never hit the alarm.

Archeoblog has a report and links about the snowfall in Egypt.

Dustbury has a link to a story about the friends of elves preventing a road being built across a lava field in Iceland.

The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact — including the impact on elves — of the road project. The group has regularly brought hundreds of people out to block the bulldozers.

EnglishHistoricalAuthor website has an article on the 5000 year old mound at Newgrange, in Ireland, and how the sun shines deep into the structure on the solstice.

The unique “Solstice effect” is created by the precise alignment of the rising sun on the shortest day of the year with the back of the chamber and the window box over the entrance to the 19 metre passage which joins the chamber to the outside world. 

All the PC kerfuffle about St. Nicholas is nonsense, of course, but there is a new book out about him, reviewed at Medieval website. 
Most folks know he is the patron saint of children, but not why...
Click here to read a review by Charlotte Allen in the Wall Street Journal: “In one legend, Nicholas miraculously brings back to life three boys whom an evil innkeeper has murdered, chopped into pieces and thrown into a pickle barrel—hence Nicholas became the patron saint of children.”

and when I visited Yugoslavia, I found out he is the patron saint of sailors also.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Writing elsewhere

I have been writing on other blogs.

On my medical blog:

Vaccine deaths in China?


The really important medical headline of the day

Don't want a hangover? Eat mashed potato before that first drink


Diabetes risk from Neanderthal genes?

Abortion breast cancer link?

(probably not)

Answering the questions you need to know

via Improbable research:

Blowing out candles on a birthday cake spreads disease (pdf)

I also have a few on BNN:

Family news

We had a family Christmas.

Chano cooked...for "buena noche", we had pizza, soup and salad...and for christmas noon dinner we had macaroni Alfredo with salad.

We grow the lettuce on our organic farm...inside greenhouses of plastic wrap. So it's safe to eat.

Christmas morning, we went to early mass and then spent two hours giving out 5peso coins to all the neighboring kids who go door to door for gifts on Christmas. We also gave the moms 20 pesos. About 10 am we ran out of money and locked the door, except for the usual beggars and for staff who came to say Merry Christmas.

I should explain we have a few beggars whose "job" is begging...they are not destitute but poor and supplement the income. We also have a few old people who we help with their medicines. Medicines here are expensive: Amlodipine is 8 peso generic, for example, which isn't much but it does add up, especially for farmers who eat their own food and don't have much cash income...and artificial tears is 250 a bottle (for a distant relative with "dry eyes" and mild sjorgen's syndrome).  Some people come for free rice: we usually give the out of date rice, which is still good but is past the shelf life.

For Christmas supper, we went to Angie's: lots of shrimp, mussels, and barbecue...she also had ham...which is a tradition for Christmas.

The ham was fresh, not canned, and delicious, but since Ruby wasn't used to it (it didn't taste like the local "tocino") I ate hers too.

when I rant about helping the poor, it doesn't mean I am a puritan: balance is needed. I mean, Jesus' first miracle was to supply wine for a wedding feast.

There is a time for everything: a time to be born, a time to die, a time to laugh, a time to mourn...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas...

Spirituality as a "warm fuzzy" feeling? Bah humbug.

"Evolving to a higher power"? Bah Humbug

Christmas nativities as pristine babies in warm "manger" scenes"? Bah Humbug.

The reality is that when the God of the universe decided to save humanity from their pride, he chose to be born among the "least of these"...

No, our area in the Philippines was not destroyed by Yolanda, but we were badly hit by an ordinary typhoon two weeks earlier, which destroyed much of the almost ripe rice, so the next few months will be hunger months for many people in this area.

Silent Night Holy Night
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin Mother and child
Holy infant so pleasant and mild
Sleep in Heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace.




Monday, December 23, 2013

Audiobook of the day


Download, rip to mp3, and listen...and try not to laugh too hard.

and yes, I have the book...

Airport security? What airport security?

Another politician shot...right outside of the local terminal of NAIA in Manila.

Catching up on stories

 this one for further reading, about the Duck family, via Instapundit.

“The surprise should be how liberals dismissed the rise of Duck Dynasty until this fall, when it was too late to stem the show’s popularity. Once it became evident that this family held so much influence, the left suddenly realized they faced the first threat to their decades-long monopoly on popular culture.”

a bit cynical, don't ya think...I wasn't aware the show was a hit...

I've only watched short parts of it a few times (we often get programs months to years later...for example, Lady Mary just got married on Downton Abbey) so I don't have an opinion on the show: But I do appreciate all the honest, hardworking redneck reality shows on TV here, to counteract the sexual gyrations on MTV, not to mention all those shows and movies that make foreigners think all Americans are  lazy, rich, criminals or sluts... 


Freakonomics podcast on the Pope.

Sachs doesn’t always sound like an economist when he talks about how the economy should work:
SACHS: First let me say I am a believer in a market economy … and I would imagine Pope Francis, too, is a believer in a market economy, but what the Church has taught … is the idea that an economy needs a moral framework. This is a very, very basic idea that we have mostly discarded but that I believe in.

TYWKIWDBI on why drug testing people on welfare is not cost effective:

the problem of assuming all poor folks are druggies, (and of course there is also the problem of false positive tests).
Critics also say the policy is based on the false perception that large numbers of welfare recipients are using illegal drugs. A new analysis by the state Department of Human Services (DHS) found that participants in Minnesota’s welfare program for low-income families are actually far less likely to have felony drug convictions than the adult population as a whole...

someone once said that Harlem had the same crime/drug/murder/divorce rate as Hollywood; that was years ago, but I suspect it continues to be true.
But rich folks can cover it up...

Also from TYWKIWDBI: why facebook didn't pay any taxes.

it is a shell game.

And here I am worried that I will have to pay taxes because I cashed in on a little of my retirement savings to help with expenses here (after the typhoon wiped us out). Sigh.

FYI: Lawrence of Arabia was an anthropologist.


Celtic Christmas music links


Christmas Bentos on Pinterest

I'd post on facebook but they require you to let them know your friends and contacts.

Why worry about the NSA when Pinterest and Facebook and voter data bases know who you are?
 Sources with knowledge of the initiatives describe them to POLITICO as:
1. A 50-state voter file that will merge granular historical data for every registered voter in the country with social media and email information being collected by Ready for Hillary. While the super PAC intends to deploy the new database as early as January to mobilize supporters, its real utility would come in building and executing a model of voter coalitions and messages to win a presidential campaign.

Question of the day

How long until Duck Dynasty gets audited by the IRS?


Hold the presses!

Justin Bieber visits Philippine typhoon victims

you can go back to your life now...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The weird stuff around the net

A big kerfuffle about Pajamaboy.

EdDriscoll has this that about sums it up:

hmm...at age 26, I was the only doc at a 100 bed hospital in rural Africa.
So don't expect me to be sympathetic to a guy who won't get a job.

the entire Duck Dynasty kerfuffle is about  "reeducating" America:
He put it in terms of where do we draw the line--a question raised here before. Once we say, legally, that marriage is not defined as between a man and a woman, all bets are off on what arrangements are acceptable--and the courts, as predicted, have begun to reflect that

.. As Father Z points out, when the NYTimes eulogizes a pornographer, you know times have changed.

and to make things worse, the US State Dept and much of the UN is pushing this agenda on other countries... for example, the NYTimes laments that the survivors of Tacloban aren't getting condoms or morning after pills with their emergency relief supplies.


The Pope instructs the Curia: Stop gossiping.

StrategyPage discusses security related headlines of the year.

not only does Obama have a failed Middle East policy, but China is preparing to take over the west Philippine sea.

China wants to claim the earliest cat domestication (3300bc). But were they local cats, or traded in from the Middle East? DNA testing is pending...

The DNA of modern cats suggests the cats were already domesticated in Egypt by 3500 BC,
But recent genetic and archaeological discoveries indicate that cat domestication began in the Fertile Crescent, perhaps around 10,000 years ago, when agriculture was getting under way.

 and cats were buried with their owners in a Cyprus grave from 9500 BC...


Insomnia downloads of the day

Librivox has short Christmas short stories for your listening pleasure...
They also have the original stories in this collection: Check out Matthew and Luke. and more stuff here.

Catholics always believe Luke got the story from Jesus' mom, since twice he notes "she pondered these things in her heart": and she is about the only one who would know that.

and here in Asia, the word "christmas" is not taboo: even in the Buddhist Japan and the atheistic China they celebrate the secular holiday.

Here in the Philippines, it is a religious holiday, and everyone goes home to visit family...so the whole place essentially shuts down for a week.

Pseudo astronomy podcast debunks a lot of the fanciful explanations for the Christmas star.

Since the Magi were zorastrian astrologists from Persia, I suspect it was a planetary conjuction, not a  comet or supernova, and outside the expertise of scientific astronomy. One problem with the internet is that there is a lot of fake experts out there. Calling Professor Bulliet, the internet expert on Iran...

HistoryExtra has a podcast Christmas quiz. Haven't listened to it yet.

Family news

Busy time here.

Joy is still doing deliveries for special Christmas rice packages. Some of the specialty rices we sell were destroyed in the typhoon, so we had to import them from other organic farmers and pack them before delivery.

Did you know that there is black rice and red rice? The black rice is actually purplish and glutinous and often used for sweets. An example of a common dish is found here.

The red rice is popular for Chinese New year. We often mix a little to our regular rice to give it a nutty flavor...

And then we have the various types of ordinary organically grown brown rice. Yum...Basmati.

Yesterday afternoon was the Christmas party for staff...low key this year because we and everyone else is short of money: just pancit and cake, and a small Christmas bonus.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Family news

Joy is doing deliveries and meetings in Manila.

I am busy with shopping etc.

Lolo can't visit the dogs because the driver is in Manila with Joy...I hope he doesn't insist on going there in a tricycle because it is hot and humid. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stories below the fold

World experiences hottest November in 134 years – NOAA


HEAVY SNOW WARNING: Shock long range UK weather forecast for winter 2013

BRITAIN faces months of freezing winds and heavy snow as long-range forecasters predict a “horror winter” ahead.

November Was Cold, But the Climate Keeps Warming

The U.S. has seen more record cold days than record warm days this year. But globally, the climate is still changing—and it's not getting cooler.
The problem is pollution: But the "global warming" religion is a scam so the elite can make a one world order.

and if you question them, even in satire, they will sue you.

Related item: The Anchoress comment on a recent court case about the First Amendment vs Obamacare:

Dude! Judge Cogan apparently thinks the Constitution is, like, relevant, even in the age of Obamacare, where laws can just be changed, over and over again, on you know…whims and stuff!

Change the constitution so that bills can be passed easier.

But of course, the dirty little secret is that it will make it easier for the elite to take charge and ignore those horrible people like the tea party types.
Frankly, you guys terrify us, you and your damn fascist Tea Parties.  Is there anything more frightening than seas of grandmothers waving American flags and singing “patriotic” songs?
Yup...that's a pretty frightening photo.

And since the military took an oath to defend the constitution, if you change the constitution, the oaths are void.

uh oh: Irish Immigrants are coming... and lots of them are illegal.

Lots of illegal Pinoys in the US too...

but my son can't even get a visa to visit, because they know he will probably find a job and stay for awhile. 

Headlines below the fold

the WAGD report of the day: mystery Illness in Texas (via Drudge)

if it was west Texas, I'd say it was Hanta virus, (we had an outbreak in northern NM and one case in Carrizoso when I worked in the area) but east Texas has a wetter climate...

Tech company executives want to discuss NSA spying, but Obama discusses Obamacare.

Luckily it was the heads of the companies: if it was the designers, the nerds would have walked out on him.

and since this IS from the UKMail, the article mentions that Biden has wandering hands.


addicted to video games? A problem in Asia...but they are good at training soldiers to react faster in emergency situations.

and one suspects similar "games" will help docs in emergencies...I used to have a disc with CPR situations...if you made a mistake, everyone turned to you and said :You killed him. Better to make your mistakes on the computer than in the ER.


Bumper sticker of the day:
via Father Z.

a Pellagian is one who thinks men are born without any tendency to do evil, so they can make it into heaven by doing good deeds: sort of "I'm okay you're okay" with hormones.

the problem: it implies: "but the rest of you are schmucks who are beneath our contempt"....

Come to think of it, that sardonic jewish carpenter told a story making fun of these types.


The newest hero: Themistocles??

yesterday, at the movies, we saw a lot of previews of superhero movies, and then we saw the preview of the up and coming film 300, the rise of an empire. and there was Themistocles...who along with Gorgo, the Spartan queen, was opposing the dictatorship of the multi pierced thug Xerxes.

Ruby was mad because they also made a woman the "bad guy" (Artemesia), helping the evil Persians, but I had to tell her to blame Herodotus, since he wrote the story.

And, of course, the irony is that if Xerxes had followed her advice, Greece would have lost the war...

The PC are trying to eliminate "evil white men" 'and "western culture" from education, but between 300 (Herodotus), the Hobbit (Beowulf), Thor (the Icelandic sagas), and Percy Jackson (Greek and Roman mythology), they are finding out about it anyway.

Now, if they only could make a decent film about a heroic Christian...yes, there are a few such films (the Mission comes to mind) but most films with the label "Christian" have stiff acting and plots that out saccharine the films on the Hallmark channel...


The Hobbit

We finally got to see the Hobbit yesterday (twice before we arrived only to find they had changed the time of the show so we postponed seeing it).

My take? Faster and better than number one, that is if you like fast adventure movies (but as a Tolkien fan, I loved the songs)... But without a good ending, it left one feeling incomplete.

In other words, unlike number one (and unlike the Two Towers in LOTR triology, where Sam ties together the battles and the coming ones with the "window" speech) it doesn't really end, it gives one a "wait till the next episode" feeling...

but it was worth it, even in 2D

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

For later reading

Camille Paglia's scathing analysis of american feminism.

(headsup Father Z).

Headlines below the fold

A bus fell off the skyway here in the Philippines and 18 killed.

sigh. Bald tires and rain led to hydroplaning...so who is at fault: the driver who went too fast, the bus operator who didn't keep the buses in good repair, or the gov't for making inadequate railings to stop such things?


related item: I just bought some LPG gas to cook, and found the cost had skyrocketed. "there is a "shortage" (?) so the price is up even in the areas hit by the typhoon.
For this month, the price is around P900 per 11-kg. cylinder from the previous range of P680 to P760 per 11-kg. cylinder tank.

The alternative to LPG gas is wood: so more coughing kids, and home fires.

and since diesel/gasoline are also going up, it means higher tricycle fares/lower wages for tricycle drivers, and higher prices for fuel to use the handplow at the same time folks are planting the second crop of rice (and can't afford to pay because the last crop was destroyed by our typhoon, which hit two weeks earlier than the big one). They use "Hand plows" to till the fields before planting.

I suspect we'll be asked for a lot of "vale" (early payment of salaries) or loans when the "hunger season" starts, before the next harvest comes. Sigh.

However, it hasn't stopped shopping in the Palenke, which is full of shops and people yesterday, when the weekly market was running. This is good, since a lot of small kiosk owners lost their stock in the flooding and may finally break even.


The latest Colorado school shooter was not only a socialist, but was stopped by an armed guard at the school.


All your phone calls belongs to us? No, says a court.
 “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systemic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” he wrote.
and the White House is upset.

thanks to Snowdon we know about this. Too bad it wasn't discussed before the last election.

Come to think of it, a lot of things weren't discussed during the last election cycle...Benghazi, Obama care's regulations, plans to stop Iranian sanctions, the fact that many "regulations" that will affect Americans would be made and implemented after the election...and that these regulations would be made by bureaucrats, not congress...

Rightwing blogger Gateway pundit links to a story saying that Obama plans to divide Jerusalem and have the place run by the Saudis.

The exact composition of the international mandate is up for discussion, the sources said, but Kerry’s plan recommended a coalition that includes the Vatican, together with a group of Muslim countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Wonderful: The Saudis, who won't allow a single church for the 2 million Christians working in that country.
And if you think the Israelis will be mad, just wait until the Russian Orthodox church finds out that the Vatican is part of this. Putin won't stand for it...

for later reading:
StrategyPage on Iran

the Israelis and Arabs are angry at the "recklessness" of the Obama administration. And if you read the whole thing, you will find Iran is sending their fanatics to Assad, to counter the fanatics on the other side.

 The Brits are lamenting it is a catastrophe. Yeah. Welcome to the post American world that the European left wanted.

related item: Why the Arab spring was a failure. 

it's  the culture, stupid. Clans and corruption and people used to dictatorships taking over.
Yet despite this, Iraq so far has become a democracy...but true stability might need an ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis who support terrorism...


Monday, December 16, 2013

Family news

I just emptied my tablet (camera). So here are a few photos

our small generator that helped us get through the typhoon when the electricity was off for two weeks

 Ruby is growing up.

 Local handicrafts designed by Chano and sold as gifts for Christmas.

Lolo and Angi

my son Mike and my granddaughter Christina

For later reading

Monday tends to be busy...

So bookmarked for later reading

Never interview a dwarf

Headsup TORN


The (Jewish American) Diplomad says it's not a war against Christmas, it's a war against Joy.


The "What goes up must come down" article of the day is about what happens when China launches a missile... on StrategyPage


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Some people have too much time on their hands post of the day

Greengrocer fills mini with Brussel Sprouts.

A Slough greengrocer spent a day finding out how many Brussels sprouts it takes to fill a Mini....

And he can now reveal that the answer to the poser - for those that have always wanted to know - is that it takes 38,182 sprouts to fill a Mini.

Musical interlude take two


Factoid of the week

Every year, millions of Muslims make the Hajj to Mecca. Many in the southern Philippines get financial help from Muslim charities to do so.

So I was startled to read in WhispersInTheLoggia blog that the shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe has a lot more visitors (see earlier post about the pope and this shrine)

Wikipedia notes that 3.1 million made the pilgrimage in 2012.

so is this the pilgrimage site with the most visitors?

Not quite: From Travel and Leisure:

Number one is the Meiji shinto shrine in Japan.(30 million visitors a year)

Number two is Kashi Vishwanath Temple, a sacred site for Hindus in India.(21.9 Million)

Number three is the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico city (20 million)

I disagree with a lot of the sites mentioned in T/L: because a lot of them, like Notre Dame of Paris, are visited as museums, or visited by tourists who are visiting a lot of places, in contrast to these three, which are visited by those who go as an act of prayer.

and then there are repeat visits by locals: the shrine of Guadalupe for example estimates 10 million visitors per year. Well, this makes sense: A lot of us make repeated visits to shrines near our homes. I used to take my boys to the Fatima shrine in Gallitzen to say a rosary, and several times we went to the Lourdes grotto in Emmitsburg (where Mother Seton used to visit and pray) to hear mass.

And Lolo, like many OFW, made a yearly visit to our Lady of Good Voyage in Antipolo to thank her for his safety.

Musical interlude of the day


Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's more fun in the Philippines



Another sign that the end of the world is nigh

from HelloKittyHell...

Musical interlude of the day


Asking the really important question of the day

Wired asks: Should Dwarves stand up in floating barrels?

For a barrel that is partially submerged, I can find the center of mass of the submerged part (assuming straight walls). This would just be half way down from the water level to the bottom of the barrel. Since the the water level is at 0.77 meters above the bottom, the center of buoyancy would be at 0.385 meters.
This is bad. If the center of gravity is higher than the center of buoyancy (which is just barely) then the barrel can tip over.
But Thorin is standing in that barrel. Is he really that foolish? I don’t think so. What if Thorin’s barrel has 132 kg of gold instead of water? Since gold has a much higher density, the center of mass for this gold would be very close to the bottom of the barrel. This should be enough to bring the center of gravity lower than the center of buoyancy.
I bet Thorin stole that gold from the wood elves. No wonder they dislike him.

Well, at least Tolkien had the barrels sealed so they would float...

update: BoingBoing review notes that the coins in Smaug's lair were gold plated aluminum...

but aluminum is lighter than gold, so the Bilbo sliding around parts might or not be correct...

Health warning:

From the UKTelegraph:

Health warning: laughter could leave you in stitches

A review of the benefits of laughter in patients by Oxford University has found that far from being the best medicine, it can lead to heart ruptures, asthma attacks and incontinence

Craft item of the day

origami Dragons:


Dark dragon origami

Headlines below the fold

China ups the threat matrix by trying to stop a US ship returning from helping after the typhoon...in international waters.
original link since Gateway is a political blog.

Headline in the Manila Bulletin: Philippines signs defense deal with Japan
The article mentions the 200thousand Pinoys working there...most are caregivers or work on ships but some have married local men.

China is not just grabbing land: They are grabbing areas that affect the air lanes near Japan and the sea lanes in the West Philippine sea that are vital for shipping to Japan and Korea.

Hell might not be freezing over, but Jerusalem is expecting 20 inches of snow.

And this is causing power outages...sigh.

Drudge includes a headline that notes the pope is still Catholic. 
"...Mary’s embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity,” said the Pope.

the Mexican Madonna shows a woman who is metziso, and dressed in local costume. She is also pregnant...so is not only the patron of the Americas but the patron of pro life causes, because in contrast to the female Aztec deity who was given human sacrifice she is our loving mother.
 and notice the part about immigrants?

Update: Get Religion links to this WAPO editorial that notices
… Yglesias caveats his praise: “There’s a lot of stuff about Jesus in his thinking that I can’t really sign on to.”
Yes, that pesky Jesus stuff. But there’s just one problem: Without Jesus, there is no Pope Francis. If Francis’s embrace of the disabled, focus on the poor and mercy for the sinner sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because you’ve heard it before. From that Jesus guy. …
Francis is doing the work that Jesus not only modeled, but that has been practiced by countless Christians in his name for millennia. To Catholics, Francis may feel refreshing, but he isn’t surprising. We’ve seen his example at work in Catholic homeless shelters and hospitals, though the humble service of the priests, brothers and nuns who taught us, in the lives of anonymous heroes and canonized saints. It’s the Christianity we’ve learned in our CCD classes and read in classic spiritual texts. It’s the Christianity that’s inspired for 2,000 years.

Librivox book of the week: Dog Ghosts.


back to the future:
UKGovernment opposes universities segregating men and women for speeches, lectures, separate schools, or classes.
but private clubs are okay.
Well, I hope so.

The bank here just gave me an unrequested local credit card. Heh. Yes, the local Waltermart mall has large shops that take credit cards.

But what is this Bitcoin I keep talking about?
Wikipedia entry.

I though the trek was called off because of bad weather, but apparantly it was just postponed, because Prince Harry and his fellow vets have reached the south Pole.

Friday, December 13, 2013

FYI: Weather in Middle Earth

From Australia Broadcasting

Lunt took Tolkien's detailed maps of Middle Earth showing continents and mountains, and essentially "scanned" them into the supercomputer, the Guardian reported. Then he ran the numbers to get a 70-year model.
In a mock research paper published under the name Radagast the Brown, Lunt details climate details and weather predictions for Tolkien's fictional world. He compared the climate surrounding Mount Doom in the heart of Mordor to that of Los Angeles and western Texas. He argues that those areas have dry, hot climates with little vegetation and therefore match the conditions in fictional Mordor.

Contrarian stuff around the net

A couple of stories that go against the meme

were those terra cotta statues in China inspired by Greek sculptures?

this is Julia...this is Julia on Obamacare.

Mandela was a communist and therefore was embraced by China, right?
or maybe not, says the GraniteStudio.
He was a political prisoner, an activist, a party organizer, general rabble rouser, an outspoken champion of the disenfranchised, and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. If you are Chinese, these are not activities that get you a place on the CCP Christmas card list... Perhaps that’s why the Chinese state media is laying it on so thick. By trying to appear on the side of the angels, they are hoping people might forget that the government here has more in common with Mandela’s old opponents than it does with Mandela. -

 Chinese media: smog has at least five benefits

From Dave Barry who comments:


 and some bureaucrats either have stupid clients or too much time on their hands:

Don’t flush shoes down toilet, Tennessee water resources head advises staff

also from DaveBarry. 


The fake sign language interpreter at Mandela's funeral has an excuse: I was seeing angels.

not sure what you should give for Christmas?

The Amazing Crap-O-Matic Gift Generator.

headsup from Presurfer:

Merry Christmas from ABSCBN

Family news

Lolo visited his dogs at the farm yesterday.

I went to the bank and after a long wait got the money but forgot my passbook, so we had to go back and get it.

We went to Waltermart to get Lolo's medicines and goodies (the have siomai wrapped and with crab that tastes a bit like Sushi, for Lolo, and we got pizza: kiosk pizza with a thin  layer of tomatopaste and cheese....Chano said it was real cheeze, so it's not as bad as it sounds).

The Hobbit was opening, with a 2 pm show, so we went back at 2 to find the film had just arrived and since the movie theatre had just reopened after being renovated, they still had to prepare to show the film, so the film wouldn't start until after 4. Sigh. Ruby homeschools and her teacher comes at 5, so we probably will postpone seeing it until next week.

Since I had money with me and we were at the mall, we went to the department store and I bought Lolo some white teeshirts (his are getting holes) and a soft pair of black chino shorts (it's hot season and the jeans type shorts are hot).

This weekend starts the "Simbang Gabi", the nine days of early mass before Christmas. Lolo used to go, but now is too frail to do it. I never could get up at 3 am for a 4:30 mass... After the mass, the young folks go and hang out at the central plaza two blocks away...and get food from vendors or from Jolibee across the street.

Chano is still having back problems, but Joy reports most of the Christmas rice has been delivered and is okay...hopefully we'll have enough income to plant the next crop (the dry season crop) without breaking into Lolo's savings.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Headlines below the fold

China is under the delusion that any place ever owned by a government running China should be theirs. With Obama's projecting weakness, it means the green light is on. It's not certain if Japan will fill the power vacuum or not, which is why the newest landgrab of Japanese islands is ominous, sort of a "headsup" to that country.

discussion here.

How Assad is again winning in Syria.

Again, a lot of it is because Obama was too wishy washy to provide air power or support, and by the time he wanted to do so, the opposition had so many Alqaeda types that the US people said NO WAY.

Instapundit links to an article on the decline of dementia.

for later reading.

"Fake" sign language interpreter at Mandela's funeral?

the problem might be simply the British complaining of this don't speak ASL or the dialect used by the interpreter. And his lack of expression might be because the usual exaggerated expressions of a good "speaker" might be ridiculed by the clueless as making fun of the speech. Or maybe the guy was only incompetent.

Speaking truth to power: Third media slay in two weeks.

Killers still don't get swift trials...I mean the Manguindanao killers are still awaiting trial.

And the trial of the killers and the mayor who was behind the political hit that killed our nephew, a byastander, is still in limbo too...

Indeed, as soon as this guy's daughter was elected mayor there was a hit on the original victim's family, to threaten them to drop the case I guess (for some reason, WE can't ask for a trial, only the family of the targeted victim can't...since when is murder a crime that only is prosectued when the family objects to it?)

Ironically the second "hit" missed the intended victim but killed some innocent people nearby at a restaurant...and ironically the intended "victim" was at a funeral for one of our cousins, so the killers knew where he could be found... (the custom here is to eat out on the way home from a funeral, so the hit was at a public restaurant).

And even though our nephew was a US citizen, the embassy hasn't done didly squat to pressure the government to prosecute.


Lake Woebegon notes

The FreeLibrary podcast this week is with Garrison Kiellor.

and did you know his daily poetry reading and comments are also on line LINK

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Family news

Lolo is very worried about the dogs at the farm. We have two boys working there who are supposed to feed them, but haven't been giving the dogs enough food. (I suspect that is because the boys, i.e. young men, are eating most of the rice they cook so none is left over for the dogs...the dogs are supposed to supplement the diet with rats/rabbits etc for protein)...they are so thin he has our cook making lots of extra rice to mix with dogfood and sending it there when he visits. But it's a busy time right now: Preparing the farm for the next planting, and (here) using the farmers wives to help pack the holiday gift rice bags and handicrafts, along with keeping all the various orders straight.

So for the last three days, we have sent the food with staff, and Lolo hasn't been to the farm. This morning he got angry and insisted that one of his drivers come and take him there right away. But when the driver came, Joy had errands and so he drove us around to various banks, to pick up a fifty pound sack of dog food (it usually lasts a month, but not with two nursing dogs and sending food to the farm) and to the mall, for Ruby to pick up new teenage books while Joy and I ordered McDonalds stuff for everyone. Lolo was a bit mad at the delay, but forgave everyone when he saw the Big Mac and ice cream sundae.

So now it is finally quiet: Lolo left for the farm, and I am in our airconditioned bedroom to rest and relax.

When we try to talk to Lolo, it sounds like we are fighting: His hearing is very bad, and I have to shout. I am starting to use a pencil and paper to write everything now. He is not senile: The hearing loss is from taking streptomycin for his TB over fifty years ago, but in the past ten year has gone from 50 db to 120 db loss...sigh.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Musical Interlude of the day

Christmas is still "in"...at least in some places


or maybe you prefer this one:

or maybe Beyonce's song is more appropriate.

Print out your pizza

Toxel has a post on 3D printed food

Innovative 3D printer designed by Natural Machines can easily print fresh and delicious burgers, cookies, and pizza.

Simply place ingredients into the “Foodini 3D Food Printer” and watch it prepare your favorite meals. The food will be printed layer by layer.
Futuristic kitchen appliance combines technology, art, food, and design.

yeah, but by the time you fill the machine, and later have to clean out all the tubes and nozzles, you might as well cook it by hand. DUH.