Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Factoid of the day: Pingo!

Those holes in Siberia are not a mystery.

They are Pingos

more HERE.

The Gratuitous Lady Gaga post of the week

She's BAAACKK...

An idea whose time has come

burger selfies


Job opportunity of the week

Become a crab walker.

via davebarry

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tolkien stuff

So finally I saw the latest teaser trailer for the hobbit 3 (and also the new Mockingjay trailer).

Both seem good.

And if you want to hear a really interesting and funny talk about Tolkien and trees, try this old one by Tom Shippey:

"Trees, Chainsaws, and the Visions of Paradise in J.R.R. Tolkien" by Tom Shippey from ASU English on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Heh. A nebula named for us crabby old ladies

cosmic crab nebula

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.


StrategyPage has a long article on NGO's.

The red cross is the "oldest" NGO, but they note:

 Actually, the Catholic Church could be considered one of the first major NGOs, as it organized large scale charity efforts over a thousand years ago.
 ah but the problem?

 Several decades ago, the main thing these outsiders brought with them was food and medical care. The people on the receiving end were pretty desperate, and grateful for the help. But NGOs have branched out into development and social programs.
These new activities caused unexpected problems with the local leadership. Development programs disrupt the existing economic, and political, relations. This is especially the case if the NGOs try to change the way things are done. The local leaders are often not happy with this, as the NGOs are not always willing to work closely with the existing power structure. While the local worthies may be exploitative, and even corrupt, they are local, and they do know more about popular attitudes and ideals than the foreigners
so although one sees a lot of criticism of churches that push religion with aid, a lot of NGO's push western ideas with aid instead.

. NGOs are no longer seen as just charitable foreigners come to help. The local leadership often sees the NGOs as a potential threat. While the material aid the NGOs bring is appreciated, the different ideas are not. And there are more NGOs showing up with more agenda than physical aid

Pushing birth control as part of the agenda is a big thing: I had to laugh when the flooding in Manila left many taking shelter in schools, and the UN came and gave out condoms...the locals were insulted, because it implied our women were sex crazed and couldn't refrain themselves. Then the UN defended this by saying it was because of rape, which locals got even more upset, since it implied Filipino men were sexually crazed rapists.

of course, if the aid is given to local politicians etc. a lot of it ends up in their pockets.

Yet paying huge salaries to western aid workers increases the overhead cost too.

 Often more than a third of it disappears into the pockets of government officials, their kin and friends. But letting the donors, and NGOs (Non-governmental organizations, like the Red Cross), handle the money also sees about the same portion lost. (italics mine)

This is because these donations often come with requirements that much of the money be spent on goods and services from the donor nation. This particularly bothers the locals as it means a lot of highly (especially by local standards) paid Western aid workers are supervising whatever is done in in the aid receiving nation. The higher NGO pay standards are very visible because the Westerners tend to live much better than locals.

StrategyPage is observing, not criticizing. Without the NGO's and church charities, the place would be worse, especially in times of disaster.

well, that's a surprise

after ten years and a million page views, google adsense will send me my first check.

Will wonders never cease.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lecture of the week

from the Kansas City Library:

Family news

Chano and Joy are busy with deliveries etc.

My cracked rib was getting better but yesterday I moved wrong and ended up having to rest again, so Ruby picked up Lolo's medicines at the drug store.

The black cats have started coming through the window to sleep in the bed with Lolo. Papa dog chased them, and they jumped up on the chest of drawers, and knocked down a statue of Mama belonged to Lolo's mother, so we're upset about it.

I have started pasting the pieces together, but a lot of them are so small that I doubt it will work: I'll buy a new one at church Sunday.

The cats also knocked over the lamp...of course, it's a newfangled lamp, meaning mercury contamination. The next lightbulb up there will be old fashioned or LED, just in case.

Cat item of the day


It's a geek geek world

Did you know that Cheezburger has it's own section on the SanDiego Comic Con?

includes some of the discussion videos.

heh: Smaug vs Linux

Good news story of the day

An Ethiopian Orthodox Christian who was sentenced to death for "converting", even though she was brought up Christian by her mother... has been rescued from the Sudan thanks to the Italians and the Pope. more HERE.

 Photograph: AP

She was born in South Sudan, and her husband is a US citizen. But never mind.
The rule was that her father was Muslim so she is considered Muslim even though he deserted her mom when Meriam was young. And out of the woodwork, her father's other a lot of the Pakistani "blasphemy" stories, this was about this family being able to get her land if she had been executed.

It's a wonderful future post of the week

How do we terraform Venus?
Venus is so darned hot because of this thick CO2 atmosphere, the first thing we need to is cool the planet down. If you set up a huge space-based shade and block all sunlight from hitting the atmosphere, the temperature would drop, and I mean *drop*. It would cool hundreds of degrees until it was so cold the CO2 would freeze out of the atmosphere, and pile up in drifts on the ground. Then you could scoop up the carbon, bury it or shoot it off into space.
Another, equally mad idea would be to build floating cities high up in the atmosphere of Venus. They would need to contain factories which sucked carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and split it into carbon and oxygen. The carbon would be made into graphene structures, and the oxygen would become the lifting gas to keep the cities afloat. With more cities, it would block the sunlight and help cool the planet down.
Unfortunately, the slow rotation of the planet is still a big problem. A solar day on Venus is 116 Earth days in length. You could speed its rotation by close asteroid flybys, or use that crazy space shade contraption to create an artificial day/night cycle.

Read more at:

Headline of the day

Lust in space: Russians lose control of gecko sex satellite

headsup From Davebarry:

Friday, July 25, 2014

stuff around the net

The back story of Amazing Grace. Yeah, he was quite a bad troublemaker as a kid.


It's the anniversary of Apollo 11's flight to the moon.


want to stop crime? Plant flowers.

a variation of the "broken windows" theory of crime.


from CNN viaDaveBarry:

World's largest aquatic insect specimen found in China


Various stories you may have missed

a solar flare 2 years ago was a near miss...if it had hit it could have wiped out civilization.


The left insists Israel is evil: just ignore the 100 thousand refugees from Syria and the genocide of Christians in Iraq.

But that isn't to say the photos of these atrocities don't make the front page: They do, but they are labeled as Israeli casualties. Photoshop anyone?

Heh. even the WAPO notes that Hamas atrocities are ignored. A thousand missiles aimed at Israel, no problem. Aid money spent on smuggling tunnels, no problem.

The resources devoted by Hamas to this project are staggering, particularly in view of Gaza’s extreme poverty. By one Israeli account, the typical tunnel cost $1 million to build over the course of several years, using tons of concrete desperately needed for civilian housing. By design, many of the tunnels have entrances in the heavily populated Shijaiyah district, where the Israeli offensive has been concentrated. One was found underneath al-Wafa hospital, where Hamas also located a command post and stored weapons, according to Israeli officials.
The depravity of Hamas’s strategy seems lost on much of the outside world, which — following the terrorists’ script — blames Israel for the civilian casualties it inflicts while attempting to destroy the tunnels. While children die in strikes against the military infrastructure that Hamas’s leaders deliberately placed in and among homes, those leaders remain safe in their own tunnels. There they continue to reject cease-fire proposals, instead outlining a long list of unacceptable demands.

all of this reminds me of the left in the past, who believed all the lies put out by communists, ignored the starvation of China's great leap forward, ignored the atrocities of the VietCong, blamed the Cambodian holocaust on the US, and looked the other way when the boat people fled the ethnic cleansing of their Chinese community or even when Vietnam went to war with China.

Yes, I have read Chomsky et al, but you know, I believe what I observe, not what someone in a university theorizes, and he is wrong. Of course, I don't talk to the small elite pro communist community, but tend to live in the trenches.

And I remember when the left cheered on the communists as the only alternative to Marcos...and then Cory found a third way. Heh. imagine that.


the "MCDONALDS" meat scandal on Drudge is actually just another case of Chinese corruption; The meat supplier figured a way to increase profits by selling shoddy meat.

KFC and Pizza Hut parent Yum, McDonald's and coffee chain Starbucks Corp are among the global brands that pulled products from their outlets after the news broke that Shanghai Husi supplied expired meat to clients in China as well as in Japan, in the latest in a series of food scandals in the country.
Earlier, the official Xinhua news agency cited the Shanghai food and drug watchdog as saying that food-safety violations at Shanghai Husi were company-led rather than the acts of individuals.
In its statement, Yum said: "It is difficult to believe and completely unacceptable that the management of Shanghai Husi ... would oversee and organize illegal and dishonest operations."

And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I plan to sell you.

A similar scandal happened two years ago with tainted milk, and of course the heparin scandal where suppliers to American drug companies supplied a fake ingredient that tested the same as the real thing. Then there was the fake protein in the dog/cat food, and the cadmium in the toys and jewelry.

Here in Asia, people know Chinese goods are often shoddy and will fall apart quickly. so they will pay more for a product labeled  "Made in USA/Korea/Japan/Taiwan.

as for drugs: beware generics. Fake/counterfeit/underpowered drugs kill a million people a year, and most of them are made in China or India...

StrategyPage has an article on China's sealane grab and internal corruption problems.

oh yes: Did you know that there is an outbreak of Black plague in China?

and the Chinese aggression in the east Philippine sea includes stealing VietNam's oil and the VietNamese are more aggressive at push back


No, I hate Vampire movies/Tv shows, but when they turn political, I think they go too far:

On his personal Facebook page, Cruz said he never expected to turn up on the “misogynist and profanity-ridden” show. “I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote,” Cruz wrote, “but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends.”

Jordan's army is good, partly because a lot of them are Bedouin.


when you ethnically cleanse an area and settle outsiders, expect some pushback..

Yes, that's what happened in Ireland, and only in recent years has that war calmed down. Again, the backstory at Strategypage.


ALS is a scary disease, more common in those who served in the military and those who went to college? or is this selection bias?


Tylenol doesn't work any better than placebo.

Yes, I know.

But what isn't said here is that the only pain medicijne that works a lot better than placebo for severe pain is....Mophine. and even that has a large placebo effect


another sign that the end of the world is nigh:

Americans like Jar Jar Binks more than Congress

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Podcast of the month

If you are tired of book podcasts that concentrate on "belly button gazing" type books, then try New Books in History podcast LINK

this week's episode is about the forced resettlement of thousands of Germans after World War II,

when the Palestinians cry they lost their land, remember they aren't the only ones: it's just that they are propagandized to hate and want their land back so that local Arab dictators can focus the hatred of their own people to an outside enemy.

 and there are other podcasts, such as this on on the pirates of the East Philippine Sea, that give the background of China's sealane grab of our offshore areas.

speaking of China: Drudge has some links about bad meat in Chinese McDonalds etc.
Sounds like the milk scandal of two years ago: The company deliberately delivered sub-quality meat to make a profit.
Here in the Philippines, much of the "cheap" things we buy fall apart quickly, so you have to be careful. If you can afford things labled "Korean made" or American made, they cost more but are worth it...the problem? You don't know if the company is accidentally or deliberatly selling counterfeit (falsely labeled) items.

oh yes: Bellybutton gazing books are reviewed HERE, although I should note that some of their non fiction books don't fit that description.
Shakespeare does starwars, anyone?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

bad english Headline of the day

Dr. Albert J. Stunkard, Destigmatizer of Fat, Dies at 92

Dr. Stunkard made many discoveries in his career: He was the first to identify binge eating as a medical disorder, one of the first to link obesity to socioeconomic factors, and the first scientist to show why so many obese people have about as much control over their body weight as they do over their parentage.

italics mine.

Someone tell MIchele Obama

Lester Nygaard does get around


We should be getting Fargo the TV series on one of our tv stations here one of these days.

although why they moved the action from Brainard to Bemidji I'll never know: it's another hour away from Minneapolis, and the East/west road goes to Grand Forks not Fargo.

Family news

My old computer won't start (it's a problem with a bum battery and electrical connection) so I borrowed my new one back from Ruby. I bought it on sale and found out why it was so cheap: To little memory. Now that I have had it six months, and don't care about the warranty, I took it to upgrade the memory from 2 to 8 gb, and it works great.

Yes, I should have done that awhile back, but I try to budget my large buys, and there are a lot of things we need. This month I got a quarterly payment from my IRA so used it for "luxuries" like a new chain for my medal (which keeps breaking), and now the computer. I planned to spend the extra money on clothing but couldn't find any "unmentionables" that fit me, even in Manila. Guess they don't have many "full figured gals" (as Jane Russell used to say) in the Philippines.

It's been raining due to typhoon Henry, which luckily is north of here, so no winds. That means it's cooler too.
Chano and Joy are busy doing their thing.

My cracked rib is feeling better unless I lift something or move the wrong way, and I am eating okay now too.

Lolo is fine and in good shape. I've been neglecting him due to the cracked rib, which is why we went to the restaurant last week (see earlier post).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ah, the joys of eating natural foods

I love books on herbs and finding natural foods in the wild, but what few folks realize is that these things can be fatal (fatal herbal poisoning, usually accidental, were alas common when we worked in Africa and folks tended to self treat).

I ran into this one very funny one from the University of Bath:

Say it with poisonThu, 25 Apr 2013
In this lecture, Mr Russell Bowes, a freelance garden historian, will be sharing mysterious tales of how people have died in the garden, and how you can protect yourself against herbaceous murderers.
Download MP3 [20MB]

and, of course, the book "wicked plants" is another great book on the bad news of what grows around you innocently. Luckily I can read it at Scribd, but an interview by the author is here:

or this longer talk at googletalks:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gotta Dance!

Macro-photographer Irina Kozorog managed to capture the moment an ant performed a ballet pose. Taken inside her homemade studio in Moscow, Russia, the mother-of-three teases the bugs with an array of sweet treats including honey and sugar and waits patiently until they are in the perfect position.Picture: IRINA KOZOROG / CATERS NEWS

Musical interlude of the day

Tablets in the good old days

. Since vellum and linen paper were difficult to make, wax tablets were used for temporary writing in the Middle Ages. They were especially useful for students, who could use them to jot down notes quickly during their lectures, so we often hear about them in this context.

the author then goes on to write how to make one.

slate tablets and chalk are another way that was used when paper was expensive.

Family news

I was feeling better, and it is now cooler out. So about 5 pm Lolo decided to go to a restaurant just to get out of the house.

The problem? It was payday at the farm, so Chano and Joy were there until at least 7 pm, which meant a restaurant would mean waiting for them to shower etc.

So he was so eager to go I suggested a tricycle, and voila, we went to the nice restaurant about a mile outside of town...only to find it was closed for a wedding. So back into the tricycle and back into town to go to Luz restaurant, a local favorite with buffet and a la carte Filipino specialties that is four blocks from our house...DUH.

So he had karekare beef, and I had baked Bangus Belly with butter (milkfish) , plus veggies. And rice, of course.

We then bought halo halo to take home for dessert and the waiter said they had fresh NY style blueberry cheese cake, so I bought a piece of that too.

HaloHalo is shaved ice with sweetened coconut milk and various sweet fruit/beans/ubo/jelly etc. mixed with it. Luz has the best Halo halo in town, since a lot of places just mix jelly balls and pretend it's okay.

Then we came home and ate the halo halo, and gave the cheesecake and a second halo halo to Ruby, who came home from her church practice early and was waiting for her parents to arrive to eat.

For non Filipinos, the tricycle is a motorcycle with a small sidecar capsule who is the local taxi. Our cook Dita's late husband and several of her sons and relatives drive them, so she found a relative to be our taxi driver for the evening, and I made sure he was tipped quite well. Because of security reasons, we have to be careful if we travel around: The local kidnappers have been caught but every once in awhile there is a violent robbery or shooting, and although there are a few old white guys around, I'm the only white lady in town (read: $$$) so a target.

Of course, all night I had indigestion and my ribs started to hurt again, but aside from that it was a good "Date" with my snuggles.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Family news

My fever is down, and unless I do something stupid like try to chase the cat off the table, my broken rib doesn't hurt.

Chano and Joy did a quick delivery in Manila and brought back some Krispy Kreme donuts. I have started to keep things down, and yum: JELLY DONUT.

 the good news is that the next typhoon will probably miss us. but we might have heavy rains on tuesday.

right now, the run off of water from upstream is filling the rivers and the soil is saturated so if we get too much rain too quickly we will flood.


shirts for cat lovers:

Cat Shirts by Hiroko Kubota

Friday, July 18, 2014

Family news

about a week ago, I fell and cracked a rib. It didn't hurt at first, but I guess I didn't take it easy because it got very bad whenever I moved.

Now I'm okay...sometimes. So I continue taking it easy.

To make things worse, I got a fever and can't keep anything down but water/juice. Probably a UTI, and that's getting better too.

The good news is that the typhoon was south of here, so only moderate wind and heavy rain, no major flooding.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


We are up to signal two, but okay. Some on and off brownouts, and flooded streets.

I have been sick the last week, so am staying home anyway.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Guiness world record

Cow-suit wearers break world record at Cowaramup in WA's South West

(ABC News: Roxanne Taylor)
On Saturday a total of 1,352 people dressed in cow onesies to break the record at Cowaramup's Deja-Moo Country Fair.
The fair was held on the second anniversary of 32 cow statues being installed in the town's main street.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Miscellaneous stories

Living off the grid "like an 11th century farmer".

yeah. A beautiful essay, but  I'm always cynical about these stories, because in the past, it was the extended family that enabled people to survive.

You want reality? Come to the Philippines and live through a typhoon or two.


Mexico is in the midst of a war: 31thousand dead in the last six months.

and the criminal gangs have a new source of income:

  Criminal organizations engaged in human trafficking certainly tell parents that is the case. They then charge the parents lots of money to bring their children to the U.S.-Mexico border. 

In other words, the lower middle class is pooling their savings to send their kids up to get a green card. Too bad the Pinoys haven't figured out how to do it, or half our farmers would be sending their kids too...


Birth control wasn't in the Obamacare bill, but imposed by bureaucrats and it was justified by saying it would pay for itself, so the insurance companies would gladly pay for it if the "religious" employers objected.

Now the NYTimes admits: Maybe not.

And not mentioned: If you pay for the pill, you get generic. If Insurance pays for it, you ask for the modern Yasmin or other "high estrogen" pills that cost a lot more but have fewer progesterone related side effects.

(via Instapundit)


cafe AuLait spots, miliary TB and port wine stains. Yup. we learned this in medical school..
But what about maplesyrup urine disease?

another medical story: Bringing the dead back to live.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stuff on my other blogs:

Is the ebola outbreak caused by deforestation?link

Time to update your polio shot link

regrowing corneas


Trauma kills kids

New compound that could work for malaria

Entertainment stuff

The next Mythgard course is on Dune.

No, I probably won't listen: I read Dune as a teen and thought  it was boring and trying to say drug taking was okay/good for you. Since I was busy studying hard and working part time, I had little sympathy for the (rich kid) hippie culture it seemed to be glorifying (but presumably I missed something and should re read of these days).


Australian judge says incest is okay, since the only problem is malformed kids, and after all those kids could be aborted.

Presumably he missed the point that the guy involved in the case raped his sister at age 11. The incest taboo has more to do with interfamily trust than with malformed babies (although the Spanish Hapsburgs and the high rate of malformations in Saudis who marry cousins suggest that that too is a problem).
Indeed, pseudo incest, where mom's boyfriend hits on her daughter, is not unknown. Indeed, it is one reason I refuse to watch Woody Allen movies.

related item: Pedophilia chic is reemerging in British academia.
It has nothing to do with those pedophile politicians, of course.


Spengler writes: Sunny with light missile cover.

Joy received news of the latest missile strikes on Israel on her cellphone prayer alert, so someone is worried. Of course, these strikes have been going on for awhile, but the PC press will mainly "condemn" Israel when they go to take out those missiles.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cross cultural problem

via Sense of Events.

The "WAGD" posts of the day

From the LATimes:

--------Oops: Forgotten smallpox discovered in old storage room near D.C.

Family news

I went to Manila to try to straighten out my routine visa update, and now they say I needed to get a photo last January (we started the routine update last November). So maybe it will be ready last week.

It's routine, since as a spouse of a Filipino citizen I have a permenant visa.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Stuff around the net

BrianSibley posts a caricature of famous folks he made in the 70's. See if you can identify them
Except for Morley, I can't, but then I spent the 60's and 70's either in medical school/internship or in Africa, so I was sort of outside the culture at the time...


TeaAtTrianon links to a NewYorker article on Mary Poppins.

There are a couple of nicey nicey films about the subject on youtube, but the best one is the film "The Boys" about the Sherman brothers, which alas is NOT on youtube...

BrianSibley's DecidelyDisney blog has several articles on those involved: Scroll down the right margin for Mary Poppins, Travers, and Richard/Robert Sherman etc

Odysseus: Patron of the liberal arts.

For later reading, and there is a youtube link to the lecture (delivered with a shaky voice).


No link, but a recent "medical" article noted that "meditation" calmed people and let them handle stress.

True, but by limiting the "meditation" to transcendental meditation type stuff, they ignore that many of us do other things: B, ible reading with thoughful calm, praying the rosary, knitting, or listening to music. My mp3 player is full of "elevator music" as my sons called it.

ComeAwayWithMe Blog discusses an old Lutheran hymn and how it affected her heart.

more on the author HERE.

a recent medical article noted the "side effects" of meditation. Well, yes: Like psycho therapy, it removes the barriers to the id, and in people who only cope with lifeby making strong psychological barriers (often including rigid rule oriented behavior), the bad memories/thoughts/impulses can come up with revenge. Sometimes angry outbursts, sometimes suicide, but also sometimes psychotic breaks..

I once refused to teach simple self hypnosis for smoking cessation to one of our caregivers, because I sensed a hidden anger. Later I found he hated his father and was on anti depressants and therapy to settle the problem: and of course, his anti depressants also caused these feelings to surface (although he could control them). He asked me about this too, and I told him to tell his therapist, and his medicine was adjusted.

In an old Scifi movie, these were called the monsters of the id...


Instapundit quip of the day:
I AGREE WITH MEGAN MCARDLE THAT THIS SEEMS LIKE BAD PUBLIC RELATIONS STRATEGY: Little Sisters Of The Poor make National Organization For Women’s “Dirty 100″ List.

A lot of those ridiculing the HobbyLobby decision use the old claim that religions are anti science, and prove it because some Bible Christians frown on Evolution.

I hate to tell them, but it was the atheist Lucretius who said frogs evolved spontaneously in mud, but St Augustine who said that the theory of evolution, including the evolution of man's body (but not the soul) was compatible with Christianity. And that was 1500 years ago...
No body reads those old white men anymore in college (although some say Augustine had Berber roots)
Catholics just figure God was the orchestra leader behind evolutionary laws.

this comment on Instapundit has a quote about this phenomenum

John C. Wright summarized this phenomenon beautifully in his four-part series, "Restless Heart of Darkness," at
"Despair is the key. It explains nearly everything that is so puzzling about the madness of modern life, the pack of self-contradictory dogmas that make up the default assumptions of the Dark Ages in which we live.
They have nothing else. No wonder they are bitter. No wonder they are irrational. No wonder they lie like dogs. No wonder they boast. No wonder they are full of envy and malice. No wonder they kill babies in the womb and fete socialist dictators and mass murderers. No wonder they love death. No wonder they admire, protect and love Islamic terrorists. No wonder they admire, protect, and love sexual perversion.
It is because they have nothing else. They live in a world of darkness, without hope, with nothing but their seven great friends to sustain them: pride, which they call self esteem; envy, which they call social justice; wrath, which they call activism and protest; sloth, which they call enlightenment; gluttony, which they call health food and legalization of recreational drugs; greed, which they call fairness in taxation; lust, which they call sexual liberation. . . . 
Did not the sheer mind-boggling beauty of Mother Teresa of Calcutta attract more skeptics to our banners than did the sneering sarcastic ugliness of Christopher Hitches attract to his?
They are lost in the dark. "
about the Berbers: I just downloaded a book at ScribD Saharan Frontiers on the latest ideas of the Sahara as a sea, where people moved around it all the time. So the idea it was empty and no one crossed it is not quite true. It's a subscription book..


No, I haven't seen the latest Malificent (why do they put Disney's name on it, when it has nothing to do with him, and the studio has long since destroyed his legacy? But never mind)..

Wright'sWriting has an essay on the modern approach to villany as good guys.

Which leads to the question: When Disney inevitably makes the movie excusing actions of the evil king who was responsible for a young’ fairy’s wings being torn off…what is his excuse going to be? That Maleficent hurt him when he was young?
These are not movies of redemption. They are movies of victimology. They turn noble villains into saps, and noble heroes into cads and…yes, villains.
As Malificent would say—the real Malificent:
They are a disgrace to the forces of evil!


ten unsolved mysteries of science.

The main one is not there: Why is there anything instead of nothing?


My only comment about Obama telling Central Americans "y'all come now" is that if the Pinoys could figure out how to do it, there's be 100 thousand Filipinos there now.
But I am a bit annoyed because my oldest son can't get a visa to visit his brother in Florida.
Most of our relatives are in Chicago, or SanDiego, or Florida, or Alberta Canada, or Germany or Italy or the UK...
Nikki came to visit from London, where she is a citizen now, and has a lovely accent.


Monday, July 07, 2014

Family news

Nothing new here.

Lolo is okay. Joy and Chano are  busy doing their thing. Ruby is attending extracurricular classes (she homeschools but does outside classes).

Me? I'm bored but what else is new?

Housecleaning day today, so lite blogging

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Musical Interlude of the week

Mark your calenders

Davos is holding a yodel fest

more here
one of our Swiss Sisters in Africa could yodel, and sometimes the nurses would ask her to "make that sound" when they were singing in the car on the way to baby clinic.

Of course, the Swiss aren't the only ones who can yodel.

The "There'll always be an England" post of the day

The history of the Moustache

The moustache as fashion symbol really came into its own in England following the heavily bearded Elizabethan era. When King James I came to the British throne he was proud of his dapper moustache, which he had immortalised in art. His son, King Charles I, made the goatee and handlebar moustache iconic, and this was copied by every man of fashion when portraits by Sir Anthony Van Dyck went on display. Perhaps it was through sheer jealousy of the monarch’s magnificent moustaches that led the more frugally moustached Oliver Cromwell to lead a republican revolution. He not only executed the king, but also one of the king’s most loyal followers, Arthur Capel. In a miniature portrait by John Hoskins, Capel has a remarkable moustache: thick, lustrous and swept back and upwards like a pair of looped-up theatrical curtains.
so along with Charles and Byron, they post photos of Dali and...Tom Selleck?

Tom Selleck sported one of the most memorable moustaches of the 1980s in the television series Magnum, PI (Rex Features)

well, as SavageChickens shows, that is one powerful moustache...

The fruits of the one child policy

StrategyPage has a long post on China: it's clash with the SEAsian nations, it's plan to move into the silk road areas, and it's pressure on NoKorea.

But the interesting part is here:

Another source of Vietnamese anger at China is the growing Chinese recruiting of Vietnamese women to be prostitutes or brides in China. This problem began in the late 1970s when, to control population growth most Chinese couples were restricted to only one child. This has been widely enforced, to the point where the average number of children per couple has been 1.7. But many of those couples aborted a child if it was a female, because much more importance is attached to having a male heir. Thus there are 35 million more males than females in China, and the disparity is growing. These surplus males are coming of age, and the competition for wives is causing problems. Women are taking advantage of their scarcity, but men are also going to neighboring countries to buy, or even kidnap, young women to be wives. This is causing ill will with neighbors, especially Vietnam.  

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Musical interlude of the day

Remembering Louis Zamperini

The hero of the book 'Unbroken" has died after a long, eventful life.

Obituary here.

More at "getReligionBlog"

I had downloaded (but not yet listened to) the audiobook from youtube, but alas it seems to have been removed by the copyright cops.

Just for nice

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Caltech/P.Ogle et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA

This galactic fireworks display is taking place in NGC 4258, also known as M106, a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way. This galaxy is famous, however, for something that our galaxy doesn’t have – two extra spiral arms that glow in X-ray, optical and radio light. These features, or anomalous arms, are not aligned with the plane of the galaxy, but instead intersect with it.


Friday, July 04, 2014

Where is the garbage going

Plastic floating in our oceans seems to be disappearing.

eaten by fish, or degenerated into small pieces by bacteria?

one cause of local flooding here after storms is that the plastic bags discarded tend to clog up the drains. True, our open air sewers still drain (and the plastic stays in place until collected about twice a year) but when the neighbors have trash cans outside and they still discard plastic drink bags in the street, one does have to wonder.

The "hobby lobby" thing was about silencing those who don't agree

Stand to reason blog:

essentially it is about removing religion from any public arena, and about enforcing the secular religion over the traditional accommodation of all religious beliefs.

includes this link:
article, by Julian Sanchez, gets to what I fear is at the heart of the anger:
[T]he outraged reaction to the ruling ought to seem a bit puzzling. If what you are fundamentally concerned about is whether women have access to no-copay contraception, then there’s no obvious reason to invest such deep significance in the precise accounting details of the mechanism by which it is provided….
The outrage does make sense, of course, if what one fundamentally cares about—or at least, additionally cares about—is the symbolic speech act embedded in the compulsion itself. In other words, if the purpose of the mandate is not merely to achieve a certain practical result, but to declare the qualms of believers with religious objections so utterly underserving of respect that they may be forced to act against their convictions regardless of whether this makes any real difference to the outcome.
- See more at:

headsup via SenseOfEvents.

this forcing of agreement is not behind Hobby Lobby, but is the reason that the Little Sisters of the Poor won't sign a paper saying that the insurance company will have to pay for contraception because they oppose it (meaning of course that they will pay higher premiums to the insurance company so that the insurance company can provide them).

The Little Sisters know that this is a subterfuge to hide agreement and won't sign. (i.e. forcing them to cooperate with evil).

The Little Sisters are doing long term planning to keep their homes for the aged open without government funding, because they figure that in the future there will be pressure on them to kill their patients instead of caring for them. Paranoia? No, not if you read journals of medical ethics.

Wesley Smith points out the NEJM, which has been pushing euthanasia since 1989, implies the same thing.

The Court’s decision allows the beliefs of employers of various sizes and corporate forms to trump the beliefs and needs of their employees, potentially influencing the types of care that will be affordable and accessible to individuals and permitting employers to intrude on clinician–patient relationships.
It did no such thing.Employers offer salaries for work. Part of the “package,” as it is called, often includes health insurance.
Employers have always made decisions about whether to offer this benefit and the extent of the policies offered. And no one suggested–until now–that they were interfering with doctor-patient relationships in the decisions they made about the kind of insurance to offer as wages.
But once the government seized centralized control over these decisions–and used the cudgel of Obamacare regulations to impose the politically progressive moral view on everyone in the guise of regulating healthcare–it suddenly became a rightto have employers pay for certain procedures, even if the person who owns the business believes it would be sinful to so participate in the action.
That’s what happens with centralized control. Government power is used to impose a preferred moral view.
Then comes the NEJM hysteria:
Finally, in the wake of Hobby Lobby, we may anticipate challenges to other medical services that some religions find objectionable, such as vaccinations, infertility treatments, blood transfusions, certain psychiatric treatments, and even hospice care.
Good grief: What religions opposes hospice care? ...Bottom line in my book: The HHS mandate was intended to prepare the way for an eventual order for free abortion, free sex change surgery (already happening), free IVF, and perhaps, assisted suicide. One reason–beyond politics–for the rage is that the case throws a minor impediment in the way of using health care to transform the culture into the secular progressive image.

update 2: GetReligion blog says the Obama administration will continue to pressure Wheaton College and the Little Sisters in this. They quote an AP report.

The Associated Press editors take all of that complexity and condense it — in a set of unattributed factual statements — to the precise language used in White House talking points:
The issue in the lawsuits filed by Wheaton and other nonprofit groups is different because the administration already has allowed them to opt out of paying for the objectionable contraception by telling the government that doing so would violate their religious beliefs.
But they must fill out Form 700 that enables their insurers or third-party administrators to take on the responsibility of paying for the birth control. The employer does not have to arrange the coverage or pay for it. Insurers get reimbursed by the government through credits against fees owed under other provisions of the health care law.
The fight is over completing the form, which the nonprofits say violates their religious beliefs because it forces them to participate in a system to subsidize and distribute the contraception.
At this point it would be good to know what the leaders of these ministries say about this collection of unattributed statements. What are their arguments and how would they word them? What are their core beliefs? Do they even agree that these AP statements are an accurate summation of their case?
Well, it's called cooperation with evil.

The leaders of EWTN do not want to “encourage” in any way acts that — according to the doctrines that define the ministry — “grave sin.”
The big question: Will the high court now say that the government has the right to require ministries to help employees (and students, for example) commit acts that violate the doctrines and vows that define their work and common lives in these associations that they have voluntarily joined? Stay tuned. This is the next story.

Happy July 4th

Chano and Joy went to Manila for a meeting.

Ruby is here going to school for extracurricular classes in writing/composition. Joy's parents are here to keep an eye on her, and also because her father gets edema/achy with stormy weather.

Me, I'm keeping the Aircon on "dehumidify" most of the time: It's not that hot out, but it's been constant rain for the last day, so humidity is high.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Wars kill even when they are ignored by the PC Media

StrategyPage has a summary of wars all over the world (for later reading)

There are a lot of people dying from armed and organized (sort of) violence word-wide. But most of this violence involved one, or both sides operating as armed civilians.
they then go on to list these wars, country by country.
One of the bloodiest of these irregular conflicts is the one going on in Mexico, where drug gangs battle over who shall control the lucrative drug smuggling routes into the United States. Most of the killings are done by drug gang gunmen in civilian clothes. The death toll is over 80,000 since 2007. That's right up there with the wars that get a lot more media coverage (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan and Somalia).

yes, and they ignore that Colombia's drug war is essentially over, but moved to Venezuela and Peru

 After nearly half a century of violence, leftist rebels have rapidly lost support, recruits and territory in the last decade.  The drug gangs and leftist rebels have merged in many parts of the country, and the war in increasingly about money, not ideology. The leftist rebels are definitely fading, but all that drug money can keep some of them in the game for quite a while even though most of the cocaine production has moved to Peru. Many of the leftists are disillusioned and it is becoming harder to recruit new gunmen. In Venezuela the country moves closer to civil war and economic collapse. 

 and they mention the Philippines, the MILF peace deal, and note this:

 Most Filipinos are very concerned about endemic corruption and the resulting economic stagnation. There is also the Chinese threat, with more Chinese warships showing up in what had been, until recently, unquestionably Filipino coastal waters.

Debunking medieval myths

long article at Medieval net, with links

a lot of the myths were made up later to prove that modern intellectuals were smarter and better than their medieval primitives.

Virtually every medieval scholar believed the world was round. However, in the 19th century it was widely reported that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat, because it made for a good example of how backward the period was believed to be.
and yes, they took baths

more HERE

Another item not discussed in the Health Care kerfuffle

1) it was ignoring that the item (birth control by government fiat) wasn't part of the bill. It was decided by fiat by an unelected "health care panel".

2) Most people had health insurance to cover catastrophic care, not routine care without a deductible.

If one was worried about "the uninsured", why not just have passed a bill guaranteeing catastrophic care payments, i.e. if an uninsured person got cancer or broke a leg? Answer: They wanted to tell docs what to do.

3) the "takeover" of medical care was justified in pointing out that defensive medicine would lower the cost of treating disease.

Yet since the takeover of medicine by Obamacare, we are being told that mammograms aren't needed, pap smears/periodic exams are not needed, taking statins to stop heart attacks are not needed, etc. etc.

in the woodwork: refusing to pay for expensive drugs e.g. for cancer, if you don't meet "the criteria", and refusing routine care for the handicapped and the elderly and senile, under "quality of life criteria". Don't believe me? Callahan of the Hastings center wrote the criteria back in 1999....

4) birth control is now a vital part of women's medicine, we are told. And the government has an interest in giving it out. Fine. Give it out for free at government clinics.
So a gov't policy encourages promiscuity, and not having children.
Waiting in the wings: Abortion, euthanasia, infanticide. All by gov't fiat as part of "routine health care". And heaven help hospitals that won't go along with the agenda.



Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Sophie: a love story

The 100th anniversary of World War I is bringing attention to the lives of the original victims, whose assasination started the war.

 TeaAtTrianon links to several articles on Sophie, the wife who was killed.

more at the CrossOfLaekenblog:

Professor Bob has a couple of podcasts about the marriage and what happened to their kids. Check his archives.

What Happened to the Archduke's Kids -mp3
Length 6:45 Created: 06/29/14
Assassination at Sarajevo -mp3
Length 15:01 Created: 06/28/14
Morganatic Marriage -mp3
Length 7:50 Created: 06/28/14

And StrategyPage is planning podcasts on the war and it's effect on today's news:

The World War I Leftover Problem Called Iraq - 6/29/2014
Jim and Austin give us a critical view of the problems in Iraq tracing them back to World War I. And they have no good news for the future.
MP3 Download

Guess Who Is Coming To War: World War I Was A Family Affair? - 6/12/2014
Austin and Al set the table for the beginning of World War I by discussing the political actors and some of their strange entanglements.
MP3 Download

Deep Background On World War I - 2/23/2014
Al and Austin give us the background on the lead up to World War I.
MP3 Download

Professor Mgt MacMillian has a new book out on the start of WWII (I have her earlier excellent book on Versailles).

She gives a lecture on it HERE.

I should note that I haven't listened to all of these things.

Psst it wasn't in the bill

The "HobbyLobby" case has lots of smoke out there, but as a pro life doc, I wonder why no one is pointing out that paying for contraceptives and abortifactants wasn't in the Obamacare bill.

Indeed, one reason the US Bishops didn't support the bill in the end (albeit being for socialized medicine since 1911) was that Obama refused to put an clause forbidding abortion in the bill. However, he promised verbally to insert it as a regulation, and by doing so, got the "magesterium of nuns" (to use Father Z's phrase) to approve of the bill, and gave cover to the few pro life Democrats who were holding out with the bishops.

So what has changed? Aside from the fact that Obama misled folks, I mean?

Well, immediately, an unelected panel of "experts" decided to put it as a mandated item.

In other words, no matter what Congress voted for, (and no one read it: Pelosi said they were waiting for it to be passed to read it, remember?), it doesn't matter.

But this has a much larger implication that no one wants to discuss: That an unelected panel of experts added this by fiat, and in the future, they will tell us docs what we are allowed to do, again by fiat.

That's why you are hearing about we shouldn't have mammograms because they are not saving many lives, and PSA tests that pick up early cancer also aren't needed, since many cases won't kill the man anyway. (read they are not "cost effective").

I always think of Mitchner's story "The Milk Run", where a million dollars are spent rescuing a pilot, and at the end, the pilot says: Yes, but it was worth it if YOU were the pilot...and since Bush I was rescued in a similar way, maybe it was worth it for him too).

And never mind that in the contraception part, the "experts" were chosen from a pro abort field, and that the experts on what works that will mandate what you get are also biased because they are chosen from groups that want to limit medical spending.

This decision is based on religion, but note the real danger is letting unelected "experts" decide your care, often based on analyzing lots of reports, many of which are biased or flawed.

Color me cynical.

Makes me glad I'm retired.