Sunday, May 31, 2015

Zimbabwe's Jews

Al Jazeera has an article on Zimbabwe's Jewish tribe, who just built their first synagogue.

Where he is from, near Mutare, in the east of the country, locals refer to the Lemba as “mwenye Lemba” or “people from elsewhere.” Oral traditions recount how the Lemba left Judea around 2,500 years ago and made their way first to Yemen and later to Africa. They were said to be traders who lost their holy book while fleeing Arab persecution en route to southern Africa.
The Lemba maintained a number of practices in line with Jewish tradition. As a child, Maeresera, now 40, learned never to eat or drink anything served in a non-Lemba home, and only to eat meat slaughtered by a circumcised Lemba. Maeresera was circumcised at the age of eight as part of a larger initiation program that is conducted in the bush and includes the learning of songs and poems. Later, he took on the role of shochet, traditional Jewish slaughterer, at his school. It was a Roman Catholic boarding school and he was required to attend church service every Sunday. But the school also made sure Lemba students were served food prepared in the proper Lemba way. It was a strange duality, but one in which Lemba are well practiced.

and then there is the DNA evidence that suggest their might be some truth in their beliefs.

GetReligion blog has other links about the story, and notes:

The story of the Lemba is surprisingly similar to that of the Beta Israel, a tribe of Ethiopians who emigrated en masse to Israel centuries ago. That story, too, says the Ark came to Africa from Israel -- and the modern Ethiopian Orthodox Church even claims it still has the object. Both the Lemba and Beta Israel, in turn, are part of the intriguing field of once-hidden Jewish communities -- groups in several lands that seem to retain traces of Jewish blood or customs. Those include the Crypto-Jews of the Americas, the Igbo Jews of Nigeria, the Cochin Jews and Bene Israel of India, even descendants of medieval merchants in Kaifeng, China.
No, this was not the area of Zimbabwe where I worked many years ago, but in the eastern part of the country... but I have written in earlier blogposts about the terraces in eastern Zimbabwe and how BrianFagan's book "Elixir" mentions these as irrigation terraces similar to several other areas in African highlands.

His book can be found on Amazon HERE. But I am reading it on Scribd...

More on the terraces HERE.

BEFORE THE EUROPEAN came to Central Africa, the methods of agriculture were extremely primitive. Generally speaking, an area of woodland was cleared, the trees burnt, and a crop planted in the soil enriched by the ashes.
When, as soon happened, the fertility of the clearing ran out, the people moved on and repeated the whole process elsewhere.
And yet there is proof that there lived in the Inyanga Mountains a race of people with a relatively sophisticated farming system, who grew their crops on terraces, used irrigation, and practised some of the basic principles of soil conservation, a long time . . . perhaps five hundred years, ago.
At first, their walls of stone, their protected terraces, their pits and their strongpoints were thought to link them with the people who built the Zimbabwe type ruins elsewhere, but Mr. Roger Summers, Curator of the National Museum in
Bulawayo, believes that the Inyanga hill dwellers came from an entirely different culture.

and it was a trading area for gold, the Kingdom of Manica, in the 1600's...headquarters on the eastern side of the hills in Mozambique.

so did the gold trade date back before the Bantu expansion?
Just like Archeology is rewriting the story of the ancient Americas, there is a lot of work being done in Africa also.

For later reading: LINK

PBS link2
While the site was occupied in ancient times—iron was in use there by the third century A.D.—its rise to prominence, and the advent of the finest walls, occurred in the 14th and 15th centuries during a florescence in trade. Great Zimbabwe happened to lie right on the route between the region's gold-producing regions and ports such as Sofala on the Mozambique coast, where merchants traded African gold and ivory for beads, cloth, and other goods from Arabia and farther east. 

and the article goes on to discuss if the Mashona or the more ancient Lemba tribes built the Great Zimbabwe...

Nelson's blood and other tales of Napoleon

This article suggests that even if Napoleon had won Waterloo, that the approaching Austrian and Russian armies would have smashed what was left of his troops, so he would have lost anyway.

However, there were a lot of other "ifs" in his career, since Napoleon won many battles that he should have lost. And at least one assasination attempt.

Most of them question what would have happened if the Czar had fought Napolean instead of letting him take Moscow and face the enemy of a Russian winter.

the Sharpe's Rifles books are probably the easiest way to read about all the battles (no, I haven't read them: but the BBC series is on youtube...and yes, that is the guy from GameOfThrones)

CharlesBryant's lectures on the Napoleonic wars are found at internet archives.

Yet other battles were lost by Napoleon:: What if Nelson hadn't destroyed the French fleet in the battle of the Nile? Without supplies, Napoleon couldn't keep Egypt, for example.

and then there is the story of LadyHamilton

which brings us to the factoid of the day: why was the Royal Navy's rum ration sometimes called Nelson's blood? 


To join the ranks of legends: the Little Colonel.

BBC reports that to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Waterloo, there is a Lego exhibit of the battle:
more here

this battle has a true "eucatastrope", with the Prussians arriving in the nick of time to help the allies win.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

family news

another thunderstorm, another brownout.

Generator works okay, and it powers my room, including the airconditioner, but since someone borrowed the 50 foot extention cord, it means no electricity to the apartment.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Stuff around the net

In Our Time podcast this week is about glass.

While glass items have been made for at least 5,000 years, scientists are yet to explain, conclusively, what happens when the substance it's made from moves from a molten state to its hard, transparent phase.
you can also stream past podcasts on history, science, and philosophy...


Author Brian Sibley has a new book out on the author of Thomas the Tank Engine.

he also has books on the Hobbit and Pooh and Narnia...

But he is also known to geeks for rewriting books for BBC adaptation (his latest award is for Titus Groan).

And now, he has posted some of these on SoundCloud.


No link, but there is an article about an ancient medieval recipe would kill super-staph germs.The mixture was gall (a detergent) garlic (an anti oxidant) and copper (a heavy metal poison). Well, duh.
That would work if you smeared it on the wound, because the gall would disrupt the cell membrane and the copper would stop the germ (and the skin underneath) from dividing.

The problem with such articles is that it ignores the real problem: that the germs kill people by spreading infection inside the body, and drinking a concoction of garlic and gall is no better at killing germs than eating a pizza and having your own gall bladder supply the gall.
As for the copper, well, it can kill you before it kills the germ.

Related item: Medieval pest control


That last article includes this factoid:
  • Certain coins - all pennies in the U.S. made before 1982 contained copper
 I was aware that they stopped making silver coins years ago but wasn't aware they stopped using copper in pennies.


Question: Is My Penny a Copper, or a Zinc Cent?
Answer:If your Lincoln Memorial penny has a date before 1982, it is made of 95% copper. If the date is 1983 or later, it is made of 97.5% zinc and plated with a thin copper coating.
For pennies minted in 1982, when both copper and zinc cents were made, the safest and best way to tell their composition is to weigh them. Copper pennies weigh 3.11 grams, whereas the zinc pennies weigh only 2.5 grams.
or you can drop them. If they "ring" they are copper, if they "clunk" they are zinc.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bribery? We haz that

Here in the Philippines, the joke is that they take bribes "under the table, over the table, and with the table".

Spengler analyzes the Clinton Kleptocracy and how the culture of bribery/deceit has entered into the American mainstream.

I have been reading Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash with brief pauses to wipe the puke off the computer screen. For the past fifteen years, there has been no sewer too stinky for Bill and Hillary to bathe in. Most of Schweizer’s research has already made the mainstream media, but the sheer mass of it still amazes. It’s not one malfeasance or three, but an unbroken pattern of overtly corrupt behavior trading half-million-dollar speaking fees and multi-million-dollar payoffs to the Clintons’ foundation in return for billion-dollar mining concessions and corporate takeovers staged by the most revolting gangsters in the jungle of Third World governance. The English language needs a word like the Yiddish term “chutzpah” to describe them, but without the connotation of modesty and discretion.
What kind of people are we Americans, that we allow these kleptocrat’s hirelings to persist in public life? 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Factoid of the day

New England's darkest day: May 19, 1780

May 19th dawned as bright and clear as usual, except there appeared to be a haze to the southwest.The haze grew darker and soon the whole sky was covered with a thick cloud that was traveling northeast rapidly. It reached the canadian border by midmorning. Meanwhile, the eastern part of New York, Maine New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut were becoming darker. 

more from Williamstown magazine via  FR (NSFW). and there is a discussion if it was a forest fire or a volcano.

I'd say a forest fire, since no nearby volcanos.


It is hot, so I am staying inside. Usually it cools off in the late afternoon, after we have a thunderstorm.

I visited Lolo's grave early today, and they are 80 percent finished (putting benches and a little more flooring and decorations still to come). We went early because the murderous ex mayor is being buried nearby. When we tried to get to Lolo's grave, the roadway was decorated with flower wreaths that people had sent his family...most of the flowers on the wreaths were dead, (from the heat), I thought was appropriate.

Yesterday afternoon, Joy was holding a vacation type bible school for Ruby's youth group. She did this last week, so I thought that it was done, but apparently not. Happy happy singing as usual. She also visited her sister's grave in Manila a few days ago. Chano has hired a "supervisor" for the farm, so she is not spending a lot of time up there anymore. Long story. I figure we'll be bankrupt in a year.

The bad news: our half grown kitten Gimpy has died. The good news: the guest room is now clean. He was three legged cat who had a congenital malformation of no hip or leg in the back, which made him incontinent all over the place. He lost a fight with George, our killer Lab.

Sigh. He was sweet, and I hate losing kittens. However, there is a new kitten I rescued after he fell into the ditch nearby, and the mother cat is nursing him now. The bad news about her: She appears to be pregnant. I suspect one of the feral black cats is pregnant too, but they don't come close enough for me to check. I put food in the storage room for them to eat, and they are no problem except that once in awhile I have to clean out a half eaten mouse or bird.

the dogs are fine, but our killer Labrador George has discovered I will let him sleep in our room at night. That means no cats in the our pregnant cats will have to find a closet elsewhere to deliver their kittens in.

such an exciting life I live here....

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

History lesson for today

Professor Podles is doing a series of blogposts on his family's history...Today he discusses the founding of Tombstone Arizona, and about it's silver mines.

There are several versions of the origin of the name Tombstone:When fellow Army scout Al Sieber learned what Ed was up to, he told him, “The only rock you will find out there will be your own tombstone“. Another version is that Edward was told, “Better take your coffin with you; you will find your tombstone there...
Ed found what he thought was a vein of silver ore and he filed a claim, naming it Tombstone. He had some samples but there was no assay office in Tucson and everyone he showed the samples to thought they were worthless.  

they weren't, so the mine became a town.

There are many mining ghost towns spread around the Rockies, and it is ironic that a gunfight, not the silver, is the reason that town is still remembered.

Chappie part three

 since Descarte, a man has become a ghost (soul) in a machine (Body) but ancients saw a threefold part of a person: the body, the soul, and the psyche/personality.
In Chappie, the brain programming was transferred into a robot, but was it the soul or the psyche only?

which brings us to the question of Lady Panc Asash: if you move the personality into a machine, is it you? or does your soul go elsewhere, so you are elsewhere?

This is like arguing how many angels dance on the top of a pin...or is it?

From the UKTelegraph:
Humans will become god like cyborgs within 200 years

ironically, although this appears to be only a new technological fix to sickness and death, as Wesley Smith points out, it is actually a religious question, and notes how these transhumanists don't posit it as the healing work of compassion for the handicapped (which Christians would say as doing the work of God to help the suffering) but as a new religion that rejects god and sees man as now being a god like being in complete control of his life.

Indeed, as the UKTelegraph article admits: The rich and powerful will use modern technology to evolve into a "godlike" being, and ordinary folks will be considered inferior "and will die out".

Hmm....sounds familiar, doesn't it Adolf....

Monday, May 25, 2015

lady Panc Ashash

below in a post about Chappie, I mentioned Lady Panc Asash in the short story "the Dead Lady of Clown Town", by Cordwainer Smith.

I brought the book with me, but if you don't know this classic writer's stories, you can read it here.

it is the story of Joan of Arc (or maybe Gandhi) retold in the future, where animal "undermen" are slaves and humans live in luxury.

Warning: It is a four handkerchief story.

The part about transferring a personality to a machine:

"What I mean is," said Elaine, "are you a person or are you a machine?" "Depends," said the voice. "I'm a machine, but I used to be a person, long, long ago. A lady, in fact, and one of the Instrumentality. But my time came and they said to me, 'Would you mind if we made a machine print of your whole personality? It would be very helpful for the informationbooths.' So of course I said yes, and they made this copy, and I died, and they shot my body into space with all the usual honors, but here I was. It felt pretty odd inside this contraption, me looking at things and talking to people and giving good advice and staying busy, until they built the new city. So what do you say? Am I me or aren't I?"

Snowgoose to the rescue?

StrategyPage discusses the CQ 10 A, a drone that takes off with the help of a Hummer and uses a parafoil...

and it's newest version, the CQ 10 B a helicopter like drone,

both of which can be used to bring supplies to isolated areas.

more at the future of things website.

MMIST from future of things website

again, from StrategyPage:
The SnowGoose is basically rectangular box (on skids) with a 115 horsepower engine, fuel supply, parafoil controls, and six cargo compartments (carrying up to 45 kg/100 pounds each). The CA-10A ejects the cargo containers when it is low and within 30 meters (100 feet) of the GPS coordinates it was programmed with. The CQ-10B can land for unloading.
Since 2005 SOCOM has bought at least 75 CQ-10As (at about $500,000 each) for use in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. The CQ-10A has a range of 300 kilometers and a top speed of 61 kilometers an hour. The B version has a range of 600 kilometers and a top speed of 120 kilometers an hour. The CQ-10B costs $650,000 each and nearly $300 an hour to operate. The CQ-10B is seen as very useful for disaster relief operations and is being offered to organizations that handle emergency relief.

Right now they are used to supply small units, but when I remember how hard it is to get basic supplies to isolated civilians after typhoons/landslides/earthquakes/tsunamis, you can see the life saving spin off of these war drones. Six hundred pounds of supplies is not much, but it could keep folks alive until you can get in trucks or more supplies from large helicopter.

Indeed, smaller drones are already being used  (link2)to help after the Nepal earthquake, mostly to find where people are trapped (via thermal imaging) or as reconnisance to see if people need help.

Floods in Oklahoma


in our prayers

Chappie, how could you?

Wired reports that scientists worry about smart computers.

 “We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial,” the letter states. “Our AI systems must do what we want them to do.” Thousands of people have since signed the letter, including leading artificial intelligence researchers at Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other industry hubs along with top computer scientists, physicists and philosophers around the world.

yeah, signing a letter will stop sociopaths.


One reason I enjoy Niell Blomkamp's films is that he doesn't place the film in a fake feeling South LA like Hollywood, but in a third world slum that actually looks like a third world slum.

and although this makes the film seem like "robocop goes wrong" it is closer to "A.I. meets the crips".

And the ending makes one wonder if you could really transfer people's essence into a robot. Would it be the same as transferring a soul, or more like transferring the personality and memory to an artificial intelligence (as in the Dead Lady of Clown TownLady Panc Ashash)

Podcast of the week

Phil Am Blogger and author Maria Elena Vidal now has a podcast on Marie Antoinette's life and times  "Tea at Trianon Radio"

the first one is a defense of Marie Antoinette from accusations of adultery, "based on scholarship, old and new"...and she presents a lot of evidence MA was framed.

If you think the press is biased for political reasons now, well, maybe it is not something new.

Of course, Suetonias started the scandal sheet...

No, I haven't read her novels on MA, but did read her novel about the Cathars which is on Scribd...

wisdom from Andy Rooney

If you will take the time to read these. I promise you'll come away with an enlightened perspective. The subjects covered affect us all on a daily basis: They're written by the lateAndy Rooney (ex-60 Minutes USA), a man who had the gift of saying so much with so few words. Enjoy...... 
I've learned... That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
I've learned... That when you're in love, it shows.
I've learned... That just one person saying to me, 'You've made my day!' makes my day.
I've learned... That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I've learned... That being kind is more important than being right.
I've learned... That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I've learned... That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.
I've learned... That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I've learned... That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I've learned... That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
I've learned... That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I've learned... That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for. 
I've learned... That money doesn't buy class.
I've learned... That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I've learned... That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I've learned... That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I've learned... That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I've learned... That love, not time, heals all wounds.
I've learned... That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am
I've learned... That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile. 
I've learned... That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them. 
I've learned... That life is tough, but I'm tougher.
I've learned... That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I've learned... That when you harbour bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I've learned... That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.
I've learned... That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I've learned... That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks. 
I've learned... That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life
I've learned... That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.
I've learned... That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done. 

your email of the day from TiaMaria

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Yes there are good guys

Archbishop Romero has been beatified.

Blow Gabriel Blow

DavidReneke's spaceblog has an article about people hearing loud trumpets in the sky, and then explores both the cultural interpretations of this and the possible scientific explanations for this.

I'm sure that there is a scientific explanation for this (just like there is a scientific explanation for the January 1938 "Fatima" solar flare/aurora borealis ).Doesn't mean it isn't God trying to wake us up, but to paraphrase the tart tongued Jesus: if they don't bother to listen to the law and the prophets, why should they pay attention to solar phenomena?

Most of the reports about this are on "Coast to Coast" or other similar sites (here is one in the UKMail), right next to reports of BigFoot, UFO's, and the NWO conspiracies. All of these are explained better by Jung than science. But one can find ancient equivalents in tales, legends, and history. (Alien abductions=kidnapped by elves; UFOs=angels/gods in the sky; BigFoot=Grendel, Atlantis=Thera, and Psalm 46 and several other psalms describes earthquakes/volcanic eruptions or tidal waves that did occur in ancient times and were probably still remembered).

so what about the trumpets?

Have people heard such sounds in the past? If so, has it been associated with solar flares or earthquakes or volcanic activity etc. in the past?

Most of the images in the Apocalypse were remembrances of tsunamis/famines/wars/earthquakes/volcanic eruptions etc. So undoubtedly Gabriel's horn has been heard in the past too, if we search the literature. And if such things happened in the past, it might hint what is the real cause of this phenomenon.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Factoid of the day

the Chinese history podcast this week is about the Nushu script, written only by women.
no it was not for grocery lists, but for poetry.

and it writes syllables (similar to hieroglyphics or cuneiform writing).

More at Wikipedia.

Wikipedia on various Chinese scripts.


short note:
there is also a History of China podcast, which right now is discussing ancient Chinese history. I get it on my soundcloud app but there is also an itunes link.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Family news

the mayor behind the political hit that killed our nephew, a bystander, has died of complications of diabetes and his body is now in state in his home down the street.

The bad news? He never admitted his crime...
Hmm...wonder if he went to confession...and presumably he will have a huge Catholic funeral, and no one will blink twice...

Our laundress says his family paid 500thousand pesos for his coffin alone... that is 10thousand dollars.

funerals here are expensive, but that is a bit over the top.

Joy has us in a burial insurance policy that cut the cost of Lolo's coffin (the relatives were upset that it was too "cheap").

I didn't chose the plot, but the cemetery plot was 300thousand pesos and the "house"/gazebo another 300 thousand pesos, both of which I paid for because his savings were empty when I asked for the money. Luckily, I got a backpayment for my personal pension a couple months ago that covered it. Lolo didn't want a house over his grave, but since the plot is between two houses, not in the open area where he wanted to be buried, (where there were no plots) we have to cover the gravesite.

Lolo wanted to be buried with his mom and cousins, but after Rosa and Chairman Leo being buried in the plot, it was getting crowded. The new plot will hold six people, and of course we can always double up higher if too many die.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bill Murray sighting of the day


Family news

They were fixing the electric lines yesterday, so we had a brownout much of the day. I have a small generator for our room (I bought it two years ago to run the Aircon and TV to keep Lolo comfortable when he was weak and spending most of his time in bed). The big generator, and my older small generator went to the farm and are being used there.

The current went back on in the evening, but at 3 am it went off again and stayed off until 10 am. There was no way to send someone to get gasoline for the generator, so we did without....but it was very hot last evening, since the rains haven't arrived yet, so by 8 am I was sick and nauseated from  the heat. And the Aircon only helps a bit:The Airconditioner is sluggish: Probably due for a cleaning and refill.

I tend to get kidney infections when I get dehydrated..I had one when Lolo was so sick but took antibiotics and it improved, but I think that I have to go back on antibiotics...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Family news

Joy went to Manila for business. I believe Ruby has one of her religion vacation classes and is staying here.

Chano is busy at the farm. They should be done the harvest but have to dry and pack it.

And yesterday, PhilRice came with seedling of a new hybrid they want us to try. Our farm workers and our subcontracted farmers will attend classes by them on how to plant and grow it in field experiment.

Me? I am in a bad mood as usual. No maid (they all quit, and the maid who used to come in for day work was fired for some reason) so I am stuck answering the door bell, an average of five times in three hours until Dita gets back from the Palenke at 10 am and can answer the door.

Yesterday we not only had the afternoon teenage religion class from Ruby's church but a meeting of pastors in the morning, all singing praise to the Lord. They are good people but happy happy praise the Lord is not what one wants when one is in mourning.


So I went to the cemetary to check on Lolo's grave (the roof is up but the floor is only partly done...they are working on someone else's grave and since they got most of the money from us, well, there is no hurry to fix the last details. I left flowers and candles and said a prayer, as is the custom. Hell, Lolo even left flowers and candles on our dog's grave, to my amusement...

After going to the cemetary, we went to the Mall (to send money to one of my teachers, an African nun, whose niece died of HIV related complications at age 19. She was on chemo, but died of an infection, was a case of neonatal HIV from her parents, back in those days they didn't know about HIV and didn't have chemo that stops the transmission of the virus).


Factoids below the fold

SudAmericano 1 NorteAmericano 0


because they all look alike?

This Gun rights meme going around the internet is nice, but one small problem:

That isn't Tubman, But Stagecoach Mary Fields, the gun toting, hard drinking mail carrier of  Cascade Montana.


Professor Mary Beard visits Algeria to view the Roman ruins and notices some changes: More Hijabs and fewer children per woman (2) than in the past.


coming to a theatre near you: First came Mr Bean, then came Paddington Bear, and now:

Shaun the Sheep, the Movie.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Good news stories below the fold

South Sudan is a mess, but there is an unreported story in this: when roads turn to mud and there is nothing to plant, the UN and NGO's are actually helping via an airlift.

 Relief agencies are now supplying farmers with seeds and the agencies are having to ship the seeds by air. The seeds are usually distributed in “crop kits” which contain several different plant seeds. One common crop kit contains maize, sorghum and cowpea.

How Pakistan's fight against terror benefits from "realistic" training.

Most of the long report on that area is bad, but it notes  the various reasons  behind why Pakistan aren't sending troops into Yemen...(they are busy fighting their own war on terror, and bedsides the Gulf money is funding the mosques and schools that are recruiting many terrorists that attack their Shiite minority is mentioned, as is their ties with Iran.)
then there is this:

Eight months after Pakistani police arrested ten men involved in the attack on Malala Yousufzai in 2012 a court convicted all ten and sentenced them to life in prison
and Pakistan is going out of it's way to protect Chinese in that country with military help (one of the back stories on the 2005 Red Mosque attack was that the mosque had attacked some female Chinese prostitutes health workers, and China pressured them to retaliate).

Most of these Chinese will be involved with the $28 billion worth of infrastructure (roads, railroads and power stations) China is building. Thus Pakistan is organizing a special protection force of 12,000 men

The Iraqi president visited Iran, and this included talks about the two countries cooperation in ecological preservation.
We have provided technical and training assistance on environmental issues to Iraqi brothers before and we decided to continue. While it is well understood that peace and security are the prerequisite for any improvement of environmental conditions, both Presidents stressed that  Iran will continue to play an instrumental role in confronting terror and insecurity in Iraq along with the Iraqi people. 

Dr. E has photos. She is wearing a green scarf with her chador...a symbol she supported the reform president there.

she gets around...even the Freepers were happy with her when she shut down the feral dog killing program (to root out rabies) that was being done with excessive cruely and caught on video...

and TehranLive reports that the propaganda billboard were replaced (temporarily) with classic art work (for 10 days) in Tehran.
In a project which the city’s mayor hopes will encourage people to visit museums, the billboard ads have been replaced with artworks by renowned local and foreign artists. For 10 days, images by the likes of Pablo Picasso, RenĂ© Magritte and Henri Matisse are turning the capital into a giant urban art gallery. 

heh. Picasso anyone?


HollyOrdway has an essay on writers such as William Morris who influenced Tolkien.

For later reading.


Scientists now know why men exist: to improve the gene pool through competition.

A system where all offspring are produced without sex -- as in all-female asexual populations -- would be far more efficient at reproducing greater numbers of offspring, the scientists said. But in research published in the journal Nature on Monday, they found that sexual selection, in which males compete to be chose by females for reproduction, improves the gene pool and boosts population health, helping explain why males are important. 
heh. Men and females are different because of evolutionary advantages. And that doesn't even get into anthropology on how extended families improve survival because they provide the social support in times of trouble.

Tell that to Justice Ginsburg:
“Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female,” she explained. “That ended as a result of this court’s decision in 1982 when Louisiana’s Head and Master Rule was struck down … Would that be a choice that state should [still] be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?”
 ...this is, of course, the marxist/feminist interpretation of traditional marriage bonds as taught by the best scholars in academic feminism.

TheOtherMcCain has a running commentary on how this type of feminism that is being taught in universities today...he is controversial and anti woman because he dares to quote them. (to paraphrase his arguements: Rommel Feminists, I read your book)

I posted this on my facebook page because the haters there love to bash "uncharitable christians". working in the trenches. I recognize these things, but never mind. It's easier to see a noblesse oblige attitude toward the poor than to actually help them in a one to one situation.

AlJazerah reports on a protest in China...the article notes that despite the recent prosperity due to capitalistic reforms of the economy in China, there were 20 thousand protests last year in that country, mostly about corruption and favoritism or about pollution..

and yes, that fire that killed factory workers in Manila was also due to corruption: Grease the right palms and they will look the other way.

Someone tell Pope Francis that corruption, not capitalism, is the problem. And corruption is stealing, and there are lots of condemnations of it in the Bible (including Jesus throwing out the corrupt money lenders in the Temple, who were probably greasing palms themselves). Liberation theology just lets the socialists steal in the name of the people.

Monday, May 18, 2015

okay? okay.

A follow up to the previous rant.

a good book/film about when the church of happy slogans meets suffering is the cult classic, the Fault in our stars...

The protagonist finds truth in a book written by a grieving parent and goes on a quest to find truth only to find he is a narcissistic drunk, so involved in his own pain as to rebuff the narrator, who is herself dying of cancer. link

The quote missing from that list?

That's the thing about demands to be felt

Sorrow and joy and communion...rant

Librivox has Tolstoy's "Confessions" there for your sleep inducing listening pleasure.

If that doesn't put you to sleep, try Schopenhauer.

Tolstoy and other great writers kept faith alive during the days when religion was taboo but the old classics were still read on the sly. (there is a part in Soltzenitzen's  "Cancer ward" where the patients discuss one of Tolstoy's books for example.)

One longs for the days of the "Great books" discussions, which are now censored because they were white men, yet multiculturalism actually ignores the great books of other cultures in favor of a marxist nihilistic view of life.

 I mean, why not compare Musashi to Tolstoy? Shakespeare to the Genji? So one wonders where our children will find the great ideas still exist on the sly. Percy Jackson? LOTR? X Men?

One insteresting aside on the Librivox page about the Will to Power:

Schopenhauer squarely faces the fact that existence is fundamentally suffering, but it would be simplistic to label him (as is so often done) as nothing but a pessimist. His affirmation of Art and Love is a transforming principle, having a powerful influence on writers such as Tolstoy. In the end, he chooses the Way of Negation as the path toward peace; by denying our Will, by silencing the many outbreaks of Will in our lives, we can approach the ultimate peace of annihilation that is the theme of the great Vedic philosophy of India, to which Schopenhauer admits his profound debt.
hmm...annihilation as that the "vedic" Philosophy?
Don't ask me. But I wonder if he noticed how that part about "denying will" actually worked in reality: It translates as telling the poor and the untouchables to just suck it in and you'll find pie in the sky when you die...

which explains why so many in India and Afghanistan turned Muslim, which in it's south Asian form was Sufi, stressing the joy of being one with one's God, (as in the Gita) not the rigid rule oriented Islam that the Saudis are busy exporting. The Saudi exported version of Islam reminds me of Calvinism "converting" all those easy going papists to a rigid theocracy, while destroying all who stood in their way. What is needed in Islam is a counterreformation...
the president of Egypt is trying to do this (Cairo is a center for Islamic scholarship) but one does not know if he will succeed.


Related item: Get Religion and David Warren both comment on the touchy feely "god loves you" churches that then wonder why they don't keep their members.

GR quotes a conservativeblogger about this

This is the problem with Christianity in this country. Not just inside our church buildings, but everywhere. It often has no edge, no depth. No sense of its own ancient and epic history. There is no sacredness to it. No pain. No beauty. No reverence. Or I should say Christianity has all of those things, fundamentally and totally, but many modern Christians in every denomination have spent many years trying to blunt them or bury them under a thousand layers of icing and whipped cream and apathy.

it's not the joyful part that is the problem. It is the superficiality of it.

CanadianBloggerDavid Warren frequently post about the problem and today's lecture is about how the traditional liturgy is best when it sees the whole, and not just in a linear fashion.

“traditional” (i.e. genuine) Catholic worship, the Mass serves as a kind of moving eye, through the whole scriptural heritage, casting light into its parts through the turning seasons. ... it adds a specifically divine, extra-temporal dimension to that reading, through the use of time in a grand circuit: beginning where we end, and ending at the beginning, and unfolding from any point at all. The Lord who calls us is not confined to this arrow of time, calling us as much from past and future as from the present moment.
Ah, but is the Latin mass better for non European culture? That has yet to be proven. Maybe the real problem is lack of reverence in modern religion, and too often I am left feeling as an outsider hanging on my my fingernails in the midst of a touchy feely crowd who sing about their love for everyone else but never bother to actually get to know or to help their neighbors in a practical manner as the old fashioned Catholic/Baptist/Lutheran ladies usually did in the good old days.

so why go to church at all? To meet Jesus one to one by receiving him in communion...

One is reminded of Tolkien's reasons:

“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. . . . There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth...
Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your Communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children—from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn—open-necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to Communion with them (and pray for them).
"It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people.
"It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand—after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.”

My main complaint on the "modern" touchy feely churches is that they ignore the sacrament, so most "modern" catholics don't even recognize Jesus is met there.

which is one of the real problems of the much needed but too superficial charismatic types of worship that are spreading around the globe: it's about making people feel good, not about meeting Jesus in the trenches of life.

of course, it's easier to just have the kids sing and do liturgical dance like my Granddaughter does every weekend at her pentecostal church...and then have the kids do "outreach" to teach Jesus to those wise old Catholic ladies in the poor villages who smile at the youngsters and then go back to placing sampagita fronds on their Mama Mary statues. The old ladies see Jesus and Mary as part of their family. Mary lost a son, so she understands you when you mourn. And Jesus? Well, you learn about Jesus via stories (aka parables) and fiestas...

 but they can't quote scripture (usually out of context) to explain this logically, so they are considered pagans who need to be "converted" to the superficial get happy pentecostal churches where there is no place for sorrow, for deep joy, or even knowing that Jesus was a man like us and liked a SanMig once in awhile.


Yes, I'm feeling nasty again.

the good news? Pedialyte cures hangovers.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Uber? We haz that

I keep hearing about Uber on other blogs in the USA, but am not sure why it is supposed to be a big deal. But then, I've always lived in rural areas of the USA where often the only "taxi" is a housewife with a large car who has a city license to drive folks around as her sideline.

But GrowingTeenager in Malaysia has a report of taking one in Penang, where they have recently opened a franchise. He likes it.

And yes, they have a franchise in Manila.

Locally, we use a tricycle for short trips, a motorcycle with a side car. The nearest place to get one is a block away, or we can have our cook text one of her sons to drive us.

30 cents to church or the bank, double that to the mall or cemetery, more if there is more than one person, although I usually try to tip a bit.

Family News

Joy and Ruby are in Manila for deliveries and to check on Lolo's paperwork. They may stay overnight.

I did some of Lolo's paperwork finally today and sent it off. I probably mixed it up, since my IQ has seemed to drop in the last few months (caring for a sick husband and now mourning/depression).

The paperwork is supposed to be done in six weeks: it is seven weeks, so I hope no one gets upset And my handwriting is almost illegible. And to make it worse: When you write with a pen, there is no spell check.



 Professor Adam Crowley has a course on Zombies in literature on youtube. LINK

no,  I haven't listened to them (I am not into Zombies) but his previous talks on Sci Fi have been pretty good.


unrelated item: The Scottish Antiquities society now has their Rhind lectures on youtube, which is a big help since in the past I had to watch them streaming at their website.

Some are good, and some are too technical, but if you are into Scottish antiquity/myth you might want to check them out.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Death toll from factory fire in Manila now up to 72. In our prayers

Unimportant Stuff below the fold

the next course at Mythgard will be a discussion of the Princess bride.


MomJones discusses scientific ways to get your kids to eat veggies.

Well, my kids would eat broccoli if I put Cheezwhiz on it, or stir fried it with lots of soy sauce.

But healthier ways to pressure them are discussed at the link.


The next big prize fight: It's Romney vs Holyfield...

Instapundit quips: It can't be duller than Paquiao vs Mayweather...

actually they are raising money for a charity that does eye surgery in poor countries.
When I was in Africa, a similar charity flew out an eye surgeon twice a year, and hundreds came in. Many of them just needed glasses, which were given out for free, but the opthalmologist did about 20 cataract surgeries and her nurses did about 50 glaucoma surgeries, and she referred about three for corneal transplants to the big city. We took care of them pre and post op in our hospital, and they used our operating rooms and examining rooms for the clinic.

Here in the Philippines, there are regular free clinics, some funded and run by our OFW physicians. some from the FilAm military exercizes, and one from a Japanese foundation. And local docs like Dr Angie do a free clinic day each month.

The latest one I saw advertized was a "tuli" clinic. Here, boys get circumcized at puberty (I presume a left over from the Muslim times) and often they are done by untrained traditional folks (in the same way that Hilots deliver babies and do massage therapy). So right now, if you see 12 year old boys wearing hip hop type shorts that sag, you know why.


Also from Instapundit:

Ovid is now too upsetting to use in teaching at a college level. It apparently upsets some of the more delicate students.

Well, maybe they need to try Percy Jackson's Greek Gods. I gave it to Ruby since it's funnier than the Bullfinch's mythology that we were forced to read in highschool, and yes, she was shocked at the shennanigans of the gods, but I told her that it was only the PG version...she asked what was the R rated one, and I told her Ovid's Metamorphosis.

The interesting part of the Percy Jackson series is that you can enjoy the kids saving the world while learning about mythology and if you get through the entire series, you even learn about the differences between Greek and Roman culture (something I hadn't thought Camp HalfBlood, Percy keeps getting told one of his main faults is caring too much for his friends, whereas Jason keeps thinking for himself so doesn't quite fit with the Roman camp that stresses cooperation and self sacrifice for the end of the series, they switch camps...)

One interesting part of the series is that most of the kids might be half bloods, believe in the gods, etc. but the good kids THINK like someone brought up in an American form of Christian society as lived by mainline Christians and most Catholics...friendly to everyone, moderately honest, self sacrificing, and figuring one's actions are more important than what formula you spout... and yes, I include Nico in that thought...

still to come: the Thor version of the series. Presumably, like Tolkien or Augustine of Canterbury, these "gods" will fit in better to modern society, once you get rid of their bloodthirsty sides.


the animal lovers first insisted that cat mummies proved that Egyptians loved cats...but then they found millions of healthy young cats had been killed to mummify as gift offerings to the goddess...

but now the good news: Lots of them were fake.

The BBC reports, “some experts suggest animal mummies were being made to be sold to Egyptian pilgrims and so the ancient embalmers could make more profit by selling ‘fake’ mummies
so, like selling indulgences, religious fakery goes way back...

But that won't stop the true believers that animals were beloved in those days:

... others like (Dr) Lidija (McKnight) believe its evidence the ancient embalmers considered even the smallest parts of the animals to be sacred [and] went to just as much efforts to mummify them correctly.” 

yes, and if you believe that, I know a nice bridge in Brooklyn that is for sale.


the history of the Swastika.


Astrology in Tudor Times was part of ordinary medicine.

which is why even the Pope had an official astrologer in those days.

War on religion

With little fanfare, the Obama administration provided new rules demanding all insurers give out free birth control.

this is, of course, a direct reply to the Catholics and others who don't want to pay for birth control, and early abortion medicines, but never mind. It won't get a lot of press, and if it does, it will spin it as this story does in the WATimes, meaning that the opposition will be in paragraph 14, if you bother to read that much since most of the first 13 paragraphs are the pro Obama spin (and this is a conservative paper).
the problem?

The contraceptive mandate has been controversial from the start, though most of the attention has gone to the marathon court battle between the administration and employers who have religious objections to contraceptives, and who say forcing them to pay for employees’ coverage violates their own rights. The Supreme Court last year ruled closely held corporations do not have to insure types of birth control that violate their moral beliefs, and the Obama administration is expected to update its rules soon. Read more: Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

this expands the coverage.

David Warren's long essay covers a parallel problem that occured when James 1 demanded all take a loyalty oath:

There was a great controversy between them, over the Oath of Allegiance (1606) that King James put before those of his subjects still Catholic, and which in good conscience many found impossible to take. Published in the backwash from the “Gunpowder Plot,” it appeared to offer English Catholics tolerance and safety, on the condition that they would recognize the Protestant King’s high authority, and abjure violence, insurrection, or tumult. To more modern eyes, this seems a real deal: “Let us live and let live. … Swear that you won’t try to overthrow me, and I swear that I won’t try to kill you.”But it was not so simple as post-modern eyes see. In the course of the seven affirmations demanded of his subjects, King James was laying down the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings (since mutated into the Divine Right of Elected Politicians). No Catholic can accept that; many dissenting Protestants were uncomfortable with it, too; and the controversy over this English Oath of Allegiance was joined across Europe, for many years

hmm...wasn't the overthrow of the king a couple years later over that part about Divine Rights? Indeed, further down the article, he points out that this was one of the points taken by America's founding fathers.

But the same argument is found in today's world, and not just in places like China where the gov't wants to control the church.

That a King, or other secular ruler, has an authority or legitimacy that is in some sense divinely sanctioned, Catholics would have to agree. This is affirmed even within Christ’s “give unto Caesar,” when properly understood. But it is affirmed, throughout Catholic teaching — ancient, mediaeval, and modern — with a very important qualification. When the State claims an authority even over conscience; and more particularly, when it claims the right to form that conscience in defiance of Holy Church; and even more particularly, when it establishes an alternative religion (whether that be “Anglican” as then or, as today, “Secular Humanist”) — it has lost its legitimacy, its right to be obeyed. For the demand now is no longer “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” rather, “give unto Caesar what is God’s.” This becomes a martyrdom issue.
 That the US gov't will prosecute people of faith for not providing medicines that are contraceptive is only the start, for anyone reading the fine print of the thinkers in charge know that the next step is refusing to give medicine to prolong the life of the old/handicapped/inconvenient if it costs too much while offering self immolation as the alternative....and it will require cooperation by physicians, nurses and pharmacists...

And the "gay marriage" debate, which is usually phrased as letting Heather's two mommies a piece of paper to affirm they are a real family, will be used  as a bludgeon to emphasize these nice people only want to be given their rights, which sounds fine for those who really don't care about the issue (and prefer to ignore what is going on in the trenches of the gay lifestyle. I mean, when articles complain gay marriage will discourage "flashy" open perversions, you don't have to be a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing).

But once that "right" is entrenched, churches and individuals who don't agree will be pressured and sued to go along with it.

Alas, this is not the full issue: the real issue is the idea that to make men and women equal, women have to be the same as men in the workplace...and soon that idea, with all it's implications, will  become the norm. Yet biology says there is a difference, and the new Gallileos will have to conform to the new inquisitions, whispering "but it does move biologically it's not true" will be ostracized from universities and places of authority.

yet making laws based on utopian ideas, whether it be socialism's new man, or the sharia loving mullahs, doesn't work in the long run, but their overthrow can be quite bloody.

Nor is Warren the only one who is prophecizing that this might indeed become a "martyrdom issue".

Many Catholic s are quoting the late Cardinal George in this

"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history."
(the NCR clarifies the quote by printing the entire column HERE. )

this subtle war against believers might be why all the papers are trumpeting in headlines about the fall in the numbers of Christians. Given that "atheism" is now en vogue, and given the fact that good Catholics have been discouraged from being Catholic by their own bishops and leaders,  I am surprised it's not worse.
 but as the link at Getreligionblog notes: yes, 20 percent are "none" but you missed something:

It's crucial for journalists to realize that there is more to the 20-plus percent crowd that's strongly affiliated with faith than the evangelicals. There are daily and weekly Mass Catholics, and Orthodox Jews, and conservative mainliners, and Eastern Orthodox Christians and others. The Mormons are over there, too. So we can't really call them the "creedals," even if that's with a small "c." There are, of course, people who would want to jump straight to calling them "bigots," and that would fit well in a headline, but I don't think most journalists are ready to go that far – at this point.
So journalists out there, especially copy editors: What would be a good, punchy, headline-friendly term for this other key group that keeps showing up in the Pew numbers?