Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Good news from the Middle East

The Iraqi army has retaken Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.
When ISIS took it last year, it was headlines, especially since the Iraqi army fled. Now the Iraqis took it back, so don't expect this good news to be reported on your tv news.

StrategyPage has the details.

The Iraqi army the Islamic State confronted at Ramadi this month is much more lethal than the Iraqi army was in April. Yes, it is still green, but observers report that Iraqi combat engineers made good tactical use of U.S.-provided land mine-clearing equipment. Mine and lane clearing is very tricky business under enemy fire, and in urban combat, that is usually the case. Friendly infantry and tanks must provide engineers with covering fire. This requires coordination and good leadership.
Coalition special operations troops are no longer so covert. reported that 80 Australian special forces soldiers embedded in front-line Iraqi units and directed over 1,000 airstrikes. This is precisely what Washington should have done in mid-2014, when the Islamic State first invaded Iraq: provide embedded air control teams and combat advisers

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Back to the future

Word of the day:


  Wikipedia describes it as:

Velocipede (/vəˈlɒsəpd/;Latin for "fast foot") is ahuman-powered land vehiclewith one or more wheels. The most common type of velocipede today is thebicycle.
The term was coined by Frenchman Nicéphore Niépce in 1818 to describe his version of theLaufmaschine, which was invented by the German Karl Drais in 1817. The term "velocipede" is today, however, mainly used as a collective term for the different forerunners of themonowheel, the unicycle, the bicycle, the dicycle, thetricycle and the quadracycledeveloped between 1817 and 1880.

I ran into this while checking out an old Sears Catalog PDF but they differentiate the bicycle from the Velocipede, which they describe as a tricycle or a quadcycle.

and the word is also used to describe hand or foot powered carts that travel on rail lines.

UK site on the history of these carts HERE

A Velocipede is a simple 3 or 4 wheeled rail vehicle which the rider propels along the track using his arms and legs. It was invented by George Sheffield to get to work by unofficially riding on the tracks of the Michigan Central Railway in the hours of darkness. One evening he found a broken rail and by borrowing a lantern from a local farm, he stopped an approaching train and prevented a derailment and loss of life.

News of his nocturnal velocipeding was out but the railway company was grateful for his prompt action and allowed his use of their tracks, also asking him to build another velocipede for the Michigan Central.

His patent was issued on 11 March 1879 and according to the Scientific American of 3 November 1883, 4000 of these machines had been sold in America and Europe in just 4 years, a worldwide hit.

News of his nocturnal velocipeding was out but the railway company was grateful for his prompt action and allowed his use of their tracks, also asking him to build another velocipede for the Michigan Central.
His patent was issued on 11 March 1879 and according to the Scientific American of 3 November 1883, 4000 of these machines had been sold in America and Europe in just 4 years, a worldwide hit.
and will they make a comeback?
Treehugger has an article on the bicycle of the future.

Weird stories around the net

Activist Pam Geller is being sued by Muslims again...

For a photo of her wearing an itsy bitsy teeny weenie polka dot bikini....

Muslim prisoners in Michigan filed a lawsuit against Pamela Geller for “wearing a Poke a Dot Bikini In Front of our eyes. We are offended.” They demanded their freedom claiming their civil rights were violated. 
Photo at link.
And for those of you under age 50, it refers to this song.


Ann Althouse links to a NewYorker story that says Trump is not a fascist, but a "know nothing".

Not being one of the groups that these bigots targeted, she seems puzzled at the accusation, but I agree with this comment:

The Know Nothing label is appropriate. Instead of fearing Catholics, he and his followers fear Islam. Instead of the Pope ordering society, he stokes the fear of Sharia Law. Mexicans have replaced Irish and Southern and Eastern Europeans who want to take our jobs and lower our wages.
True. And that is why when NPR spouts stuff about "white people", those of us who are from ethnic minorities are puzzled and offended.

From Discovery news: The weirdest space stories of 2015.

via Instapundit: Windows 10: All your data belong to us. And the NSA can get it from them without a warrant.


DavidReneke lists the top NASA conspiracy theories.

"The truth is out there"....but that phrase comes from a fictional TV show...some folks can't tell truth from fiction.


there is an old phrase that goes: If you want friend in .....(Washington, Hollywood, fill in the blanks) get a dog.

Well, scientists now have verified that dogs do have empathy with those around them: not just humans but fellow dogs.

A study recently published in Royal Society Open Science provides evidence to suggest that dogs can mimic the emotional state of their owners as well as their canine friends, a process similar to empathy called emotional cognition. The research team recorded the behavior of animals at a dog park in Palermo, Italy and noticed that the animals copied the expressions as well as behaviors of other dogs at the park within as little as one second of meeting another animal.


Science vs religion post of the day

No, Eve wasn't formed from one of Adam's ribs...
It was a euphenism....

An astronaut called a wrong number...from the space station.

He blames microsoft spreadsheet...


good bye Robodog...

it was so noisy that it would give your position away...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


They blame Global warming...

BBC recipe suggests Blue cheese sauce topping. Makes sense: Cover them with something even more obnoxious tasting and you don't have to worry about how the sprouts taste.

The good news is that we don't have them here in the Philippines.

Fairy tales

Smithsonian channel has a series of videos about "American princesses", the rich American women who revived European aristocracy.

I laughed because of course, this was the story of Churchill's mother, and the backstory in "Downton Abbey" (although the real Lady Carnavon was actually a Rothchild heir from the wrong side of the blanket, not American).

But I forgot about this one:

yes, and the recent movie Grace has a lot of this as backstory...that movie was good (Kidman was luminous in the role) but had a boring ending so the movie fell flat.

Family News

Joy and Ruby are traveling with friends to Baguio to attend a wedding. They will stay overnight.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Philippine news

We are recovered from the rain from the last storm, but Joy reported a lot of fields were still under water last week south of here.LINK 

 And even further south, 80 thousand are still in evacuation centers. That didn't stop terrorist from murdering Christian farmers in the south, but here terrorist attacks are usually downplayed and not in the headlines.

however, there is good news: A Dengue fever vaccine has been approved.

Dengue vaccine initiative page says it is one of several in development.

this is a live attenuated vaccine, meaning that the shot gives you a weakened germ to give immunity.

Not a perfect vaccine, however since it is only 60 percent effective.

 Second, large-scale phase III study successfully meets primary endpoint with overall vaccine efficacy of 60.8 percent and shows efficacy against each of the four dengue serotypes - - Additional observation of the results shows a significant reduction of the risk of hospitalization by 80.3 percent confirming the potential public health impact of the vaccine - 

well, it is a start. We have screens but the poor use mosquito nets (maybe).

The disease is a major problem here, but since it often is mild, most cases don't get to the hospital. But severe cases can be fatal.

Family News

Since Joy and Ruby were with her family for the traditional Christmas eve mass and supper, Emie invited me over to join her family before the late evening mass.

Traditional food and ham (traditional for Christmas here).

I am still getting over the flu so didn't go to the long, crowded evening service, and opted to go to the dawn mass that I usually attend.

Arriving at 5:30, I found about 100 people, but no priest. One of the men went out and came back and said it had been canceled, come back at 7am. I went home and back to bed instead. (There is a printed schedule of Holy season masses posted somewhere outside but I hadn't bothered to read it).

Ruby and Joy came back, exhausted after being up half the night talking with family. Ruby also has a fever: Caught the flu from me I guess. We had planned to go out to a restaurant, but instead we ate what the cook prepared, and sent Nono out to buy a pizza.

For supper, Dr Angie had a party which we attended, catching up on the latest news.

So a busy day for all of us.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Have a happy and Holy Christmas

Factoid of the day

from WesternDigs:

Ring tab beer cans are now historical artifacts that will be used to date archeological sites.

“Once an artifact attains the 50-year threshold, it is eligible to be recorded as an archaeological site or an isolated find in most states,” Schroeder said.
As a result, these simple strips of aluminum can be used to determine whether a site is a half-century old or more — useful not only for dating a site, but also for providing evidence as to whether it’s old enough to receive protection as an official historic site.

related  item: ChadRyanThomas has put his Anthro course on PaleoIndians on Youtube.

Family News

I am almost over the flu, but now Ruby has it.

Joy and Ruby will go to the grandparents for Noche Buena family reunion.

I will stay here and watch the place.

I am not well enough for midnight mass, but I think I might make the early AM mass... or part of it, since I suspect it will be crowded and I'll leave early.

Your science lesson for today

Remember how happy everyone was when the DeathStar blew up in SW6?

UH OH. There go the Ewoks.

headsup from SciFi writer SarahHoyt at Instapundit.

Tolkien stuff on line

I am reading the book A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and a Great War, via ScribD, and it is an easy read.

Lecture by the author here.

CSL and Tolkien were both non PC.

related item: a discussion with the head of the Middle Earth network.

Again, part of the topic is noting that Tolkien's ideas were non PC, and that we too should not be ashamed to say what we think....

this is a fan site.

MiddleEarthNetwork here

Legendarium HERE.

Hmmm...Michael Martinez' Xenite page is back on line HERE.

Dave Barry reviews the news

For your reading pleasure: LINK



In Paris, two million people march in a solidarity rally following the horrific terrorist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Eyebrows are raised when not a single top U.S. official attends, but several days later, Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in France with James Taylor, who — this really happened — performs the song You’ve Got a Friend. This bold action strikes fear into the hearts of terrorists, who realize that Secretary Kerry is fully capable, if necessary, of unleashing Barry Manilow.

The Good News that isn't in your papers


Glenn Reynolds in USAToday notes:

Amid stories of terrorism, government incompetence and corruption, mass migration and economic stagnation, there’s actually some good news: Global poverty has fallen below 10% for the first time ever.
That’s right: A new study by the World Bankestimates that less than 10% of the world’s population is living in what it calls poverty — an income of less than $1.90 per day. Twenty-five years ago, over a third of the global population was living on less. The biggest changes have come in East Asia and around the Pacific, but even sub-Saharan Africa, the worst place in the world for incomes, has improved significantly, with poverty dropping from 56% to an estimated 35.2% since 1990.

Oh dear: Capitalism and free markets work?

Don't tell Pope Francis!

you know, if he actually told our good Catholic politicians here in the Philippines not to steal/ take bribes /divert money/take 20 percent of the profit off the top, instead of telling them to love the poor and don't spoil the environment, maybe we'd have less poverty here too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star wars: A myth

CWN article on StarWars as a myth...

As Fr. Robert J. Spitzer argues in his new book, The Soul’s Upward Yearning: Clues to Our Transcendent Nature from Experience and Reason (Ignatius Press, 2015), Star Wars is technically a myth.
Myths, due to the way they address the transcendent nature of human beings, are a unique form of story-telling.
“Though a myth is fictional, it is not fiction,” writes Spitzer. “The objective of myths is to express ultimate truth and meaning … and reveal the source of truth and meaning—that is, ultimate reality. Not only this, but myths must also reveal how and why ultimate reality connects with this world—and the people within it.”.
much of this was what Tolkien argued with CSLewis:
“But, said Lewis, myths are lies, even though lies breathed through silver. No, said Tolkien, they are not. ...just as speech is invention about objects and ideas, so myth is invention about truth.
We have come from God (continued Tolkien), and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God....
― Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
Catholics usually point to allegory and typology as one of several ways to interpret scripture. while seeing some of the the pagan mythologies as either allegory or as ways to seek the transcendant, and allowing those stories and customs that echoed truth.

which is why wise Catholics reject those literalists whose concrete interpretations of scripture ignore Christianity's ancient roots, and why they only shake their heads in disbelief of the ignorance of those modern bozos who think that Christianity "stole" these ideas from paganism.

they ignore that we have come from God, and although we might miss the mark, our stories, myths, and religious impulses come from the same source: The desire to seek God, which is genetically wired in the human brain, according to some modern scientists.

Or as St Augustine said:

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.


related article: A Catholic essay on Discworld.

The Trouble with revolutions

The meme about those heroic rebels destroying an evil empire is nice, but watch what you ask for....

so is the latest Star Wars an example of how revolutions can go wrong?

(Headsup Instapundit.)

and, of course, everyone knows that this would have happened in the Hunger games, if Katnis was a poorer shot...

this is not the story of the Arab Spring, but an inevitable result of history.

The fall of Rome and the dark ages, the massacres of the Vendee and the reign of terror, the Irish massacres after Englan's "glorious revolution", not to mention Stalin's gulag, Mao's secret famines and red guard destruction of culture, and of course, Cambodian holocaust are all the result of glorious rebellions gone bad.

The Rebels often win because the empire is not ruthless enough...or the empire is already weakened by fighting between factions, famine or disease.

another alternative is worse, as when both sides fight ruthlessly against each other, as happened with the little remembered Taiping Rebellion that ultimately failed, because of the bloodiest civil war in history...

Yes, a few turn out well, but often the "good guys" who win are not ruthless enough to stop the bad guys, and alas they remain bad.

Yes, there are exceptions to the rule: George Washington's honor allowed a chaotic American republic to time to stablize without chaos (although the country had earlier expelled a couple hundred thousand loyalists).Washington also left an example of not staying in power after his term of office was over, allowing others to rule. (which is why a lot of people wonder about Hillary and Jeb).

The best case scenerio could be Augustus Caesar, after his initial takeover, became a bland emperor allowing the Senate to "rule" (in name only, of course.). This worked for him, but now when later emperors became senile (Tiberius) or insane (Caligula, Nero). One wonders what would have happened if he had stepped down? Another civil war? Or a better Rome?

Finally, not all revolutions are bloody: I suspect few in the West realize that communism's fall in Russia and Eastern Europe was a true miracle that could have ended differently...

How to kill your dragon

From Atlas Obscura:

Hanging next to the cathedral's entrance are the “real” bones of Smok Waweleski, the local dragon. ... Before the city was founded Smok was said to live in a cave under one of Wawel's rolling hills. Smok was of the classic maiden-devouring ilk and the local people even had to put out a fresh young woman each month to quell his appetite.
According to legend he was finally killed by a local hero (or a local apprentice depending on the version), who fed Smok a lamb laced with sulfer. This made the beast so thirsty that he drank water from the river until he exploded.

more from Wikipedia.

a local archosaur is named for it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Love is all you need post of the day

your botany lesson for the day

Headlines below the fold

Busy catching up on headlines now that the internet is back and my updates have stopped slowing the connection to a crawl.

the most absurd story of the week:

From Instapundit:

gee...even rich SJW don't like healthy foods: they are protesting non fried General Tso's chicken as inauthentic.

No it's just called healthy eating. Recipe HERE.

and I wonder if these students realize that the dish is genuine Chines-American cuisine, invented in New York City...


also from Instapundit (SarahHoyt)

ah yes, but back then, Americans didn't have a president ashamed of the country, and didn't have an army that stressed being politically correct. Sigh.

And they were attacking Hessians who were drunk from celebrating at a Christmas party: ISIS doesn't use alcohol: they prefer to get hopped up on Tramadol and meth...and they don't party.

Sarah has also coined a word to describe the enemy: 
Danesh-bags. Works for me.


Report on what is being found by the Mars Rover.

Water? Silica?


astronmer DavidReneke has an article on the Christmas star.

This one makes a lot of sense, since the Magi were probably Zorastrian priest/astronomers, not "kings".

On 12 August, 3 BC, Jupiter and Venus appeared very close together just before sunrise, appearing as bright morning ‘stars.’
It would have been visible in the eastern dawn sky of the Middle East from about 3:45 to 5:20 a.m.
The crowning touch came ten months later, on 17 June 2BC, as Venus and Jupiter joined up again in the constellation Leo.
This time the two planets were so close that, without binoculars, they would have looked like one single brilliant star.
Jupiter was known as the “planet of Kings” and Saturn as the “Protector of the Jews”.   This could easily have been interpreted as a sign that the Jewish Messiah had been, or was about to be, born.  Also, Leo was thought to denote royalty and power.


Star War: The ten best Droids.

and yes, John Williams is doing the soundtrack...

KRu has an essay on the Kili-Tauriel relationship.

I think they overdid the relationship, which didn't quite work in the film: but I agree with KRU that not everything is deep romantic love. It may have been clutching at love on the rebound after the king put Legolas off limits for her.

 I doubt she had many suiters among the elves who admired a strong woman of an inferior race (green elf, not Noldor or Sindar),  So Kili's flirting was not harassment, but amused her, leading to (presumably) conversations with Kili that weren't in the film.

On the other hand, where would they have lived?

Can you see her living in the Blue Hills with Kili running their mines there? She would be of a different class, an outsider in a culture where outsiders are not welcome. She'd have to educate herself to fit in...

Sort of like Demelza?

Myself, I was amused when I found that the Demelza character in the latest Poldark had red hair, not the dark hair of the book. But I enjoyed the character in the new series better than the one in the original one, because in the old series she was a slut (and Graham hated how she was portrayed, since he based her character on his wife)

Remember this patriotic song?

yes, it's true.

caution: R rated.

Archbishop Cruz notes why Pinoys celebrate Christmas (and other holidays).

Why do Filipinos simply love Christmas?  Because they are by and large family-oriented and the  Christmas nativity scene is none other than the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph together.

Why do Filipinos observe the “Simbang Gabi”?  Because it was precisely in a “Silent Night, Holy Night” that Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph, and when the angels sung “Glory to God in the highest”.

Why do Filipinos usually hang in their homes and light a“Parol” in the form of a star?  Because they want to tell others that Jesus could be found in their homes, considering that it was a star that led the Wise Men to where Jesus was born.

Family news

Joy is preparing fruit salad for her church's Christmas party.

Ruby is busy with her friends cooking too.

I went to 5:30 mass, a bit late since it was raining and I wasn't going to go, but it stopped raining so I arrived at the gospel. We then went to Lolo's grave to light a candle.

We heard a lot of sirens, and saw an ambulance and also a police motorcycle with a siren. No, not an emergency: They were having a marathon and they were protecting the runners from traffi: even though they were running in the parallel side streets, there is traffic since everyone goes to the Palenke at dawn to buy food etc. and although locals usually use tricycles (motorcycles with side cars) some do use their trucks/cars/SUV's.

Lots of decorations up all over. I only put a few up, since we cleaned up all the junk after Lolo died, and we can't find where we stored the Christmas tree and decorations.

Well, this means we aren't decorated and I don't have to open the door and give money to the carolers (since I am here alone, I don't open the door at night unless I know the person.)

I still have one of the farmer's helpers sleeping in the living room with a machete. I don't know how long this will continue, but at least I am safe for the holidays.

The family Christmas party is Friday, but with the bad feelings from Lolo's funeral, certain people here are not invited, although I might sneak there with the cook after supper to say hi.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Family update

We still have a brownout here, and now the city water supply is out.

Chano has fixed the large generator, (except for a leaky radiator that needs constant refilling) and so we have internet and have turned on the deep well pump to get water.

Once we have water, we can do the wash and probably people will come to fill containers with water.

The men who are enlarging the drainage canal (now down the street from us) cut one of the city line so they didn't have to haul water...the tricycle drivers were opening it to wash their cycles, and I kept taping them shut. But yesterday, locals were going there to get buckets of water and now there is no water.

I should say we have a booster pump to get city water because our deep pump is noisy and slow, so we mainly use the traditional pump as backup.
 The booster pump is so we can pump it to our roof watertank to get pressure.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

family news

Heavy rain caused minor flooding in the low area of town but we were okay.

But a power pole collapsed and we have had a brownout for the last 36  hours. I have run the small generator on and off for lights etc. but Chano decided to turn on the large generator so we can pump water to the tank, and our modem is on the large generator, so I am on line for a few hours.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Musical Interlude of the day

Audiobook of the week

For geeks: The Princess Bride, part one
part two

Mythgard Institute (with the Tolkien professor) has a series of podcasts about this classic fantasy.

actually I never could watch the movie: I prefer either a straight telling of a tale (as pseudo history, as in Tolkien or Heinlein) or complete farce. This one was neither, but a lot of folks loved the film.

and for you StarWars fans who can't wait for the new film to come out: May the Farce be with you:

Stories below the fold

The Smoked Mummies of New Guinea.


Is someone buying cellphones to stage a car bombing in Missouri?

On the other hand, one can suggest it's not white teapartiers, who would know that you can't hide stuff in the woods in the fall, because it would be found during hunting season.


StrategyPage has (another longer) discussion on the reality of women in the military. Better than men in some jobs, worse in others. But the PC, who have never been in the military, want everyone to be interchangeable, and is not a reality based assessment.


hmm...ancient aliens debunked on C2C...
on the other hand, the other day, he was talking to a guy who claimed to be the reincarnation of Edgar Cayce, so it balances out. (I can hear snippets on USRadio streaming here because it's 12 hours difference).

I agree with Professor Cline: Real archeology is so interesting that we shouldn't need an alien fantasy to get people interested.

Other news: Someone is sniping at Art Bell, so he quit again. Paranoid? Or just maybe he lived in the Philippines too long and knows the local custom to intimidate snoopy reporters.


BBC: Sherlock is coming...and the next one will be in Victorian London.

Another day another typhoon...

It's dark and raining heavily here since we are on the edge (it is hitting south of here)

Locals are planting the winter rice crop, so this will save them some irrigation fees.

Also, the oil price war means cheaper diesel for handplows etc.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Books I am reading

I had linked to some new publications on line from the MetMuseum in a previous post, but today I actually started to read some that I downloaded.

They not only discuss the art (or the fashions/textiles) but they give the social/historical background of what is being shown. The one on 18th century costumes discusses the liberation of women, for example, and the one on the Manchu costumes discusses how they conquered China, and has a short section on how to make silk.

This is a lot better than the "here are important painting for you to see" stuff.

I don't know the Met (in NYC) but as a kid, we used to go to the Phila Art museum... not to see the paintings but to go to the Spanish cloister and the Teahouse, which were much more fun. Ditto for the furniture.

Oh, but now you have to watch or the PC police will shut you down, as they did when one Boston museum let people try on kimonos to see why one artist's picture of his wife in a kimono was so inspiring (such practice not only is a fun way to educate kids, but you can learn not only about Japanese culture, but how Japanese paintings inspired western artists).

Ah, but now that is called cultural appropriation: Taboo.

Guess the Irish need to apologize for growing potatoes.

but of course this works both ways: from the Manchu book mentioned above: Buddhist priests wore a costume inspired by the toga of the troops of Alexander the great inspired the Buddhists of northern India, who brought the fashion to China along with the religion in 220 AD.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Evangelical leaders don't like Trump

This is good news: some leading Evangelical leaders in the USA don't like Trump.

Get religion links to a Washington Post piece that ran under the headline, "Evangelical leaders are frantically looking for ways to defeat Donald Trump."

Dobson’s position characterizes the point of view of many evangelical leaders who are seeking ways to defeat Trump. Many dislike his involvement in gambling and are uncomfortable with his statements. For instance, some leaders cited his reported comments about his daughter’s figure, including: “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” The sense of urgency among many evangelical leaders to defeat Trump became clear this week after he proposed that Muslims be temporarily halted from immigrating to the United States.

Musical interlude of the day

Come Lord Jesus

Cat item of the day

From Toxel:

The Benefits of having a cat:

Philippine and family news

Ruby was getting into a cab in Manila ( for a Christmas party) when a man pulled off and stole her gold necklace and red crystal jewel. It was costume jewelry and she wan't hurt.

But I wear  real gold chain and religious medal because I am allergic to copper, so I guess I'd better watch out if I travel to Manila.

another day, another typhoon...will hit south of here. (we hope).


we are having an election for president in the near future, and the leading candidates seem to the elite's favorite Mar Roxas,  Duterte, whose tough talk and macho approach to being mayor makes Rudi Giuliani seem like a pussy, and Miriam, who is the fastest tweeter in town and the favorite of student and the tech set.

In our town, the present mayor is running against the guy who her father tried to assasinate two elections ago. (he was not where he was supposed to be, so they shot two of his sons, a couple of security guards, and our nephew who was a bystander).

We hope to get through the election cycle without more murders, but we are called the "wild west" of the Philippines, and most candidates travel with body guards.

We'll probably get international observers to check the election is counted fairly, as we have in the past.

Of course, since most people agree with my late husband that they are "all crooks" and it doesn't matter, they will vote for the highest bidder...

StrategyPage summary on local military/security news in the Philippines.


and the really important question in the local newspaper:

Where should Anthony Boudain dine?

He's in Manila. I doubt he'll come this far north, but if he visits here, he could try Luz' kitchen for home style food and Halohalo, but Rustica is the best one for gourmet type dinners.

Stories below the fold

Library of Congress has more lectures up:

 This one is on Isabella, the Warrior Queen. (which I haven't watched yet).

 although technically she was the King of her country, not a queen, which implies a consort...

500 years before Donald Trump, she forcibly expelled religious minorities who many felt threatened the peace of her land. A

Because of her bigotry, she is not really considered a role model for feminists.. this is in contrast to Elizabeth I, who only killed or exiled thousands of English, Scots, Welsh, and Irish Catholics, and not just those who actually fought against her.

related lecture: Sufi mysticism in medieval Egypt.

Think of it as a religion that stresses a personal relationship with the deity rather than religion as ritual or as following know, like the Charistmatics/PopeFrancis,  or as described in the Gita....

also one on community gardens. well, I'm old enough to remember when we still had a "victory garden", not just in our postage stamp sized back yard, but on public land nearby.

The problem, of course, is vandalism...


Did dinosaur farts cause global warming?

Scientists believe that, just as in cows, methane-producing bacteria aided the digestion of sauropods by fermenting their plant food. ''A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate,'' said study leader Dr Dave Wilkinson, from Liverpool John Moores University.
and old link but something to think about. HeadsupInstapundit

This is, alas, true: GlennReynolds at Instapundit writes:

Global Climate Change Pact Approved at COP 21 Conference in Paris. 

Alas, true.

or as one local wag put it: Here in the Philippines, bribes are given under the table, above the table, and with the table...


The BBC and WHO thinks this is good: Cuba forces you and your family to get preventive medical care.

Those delivering the message, overseeing, encouraging, inspiring healthy living, will be the local family doctor and nurse. And they'll be delivering it, in person, straight to the door.
the whole things smacks of propaganda. ... Happy doctors and happy patients, who always obey their betters.

Cuba has wonderful medical care for all of it's people! Socialism works!

or maybe not.

OK: That is a right wing site.

Read this article instead on AlJazeera.

The implication of this is that the US doesn't have such programs.

Except they do: They just might not have it as a single government program. And many of these things are done by family or friends, like checking your BP, reminding you of your doctor's appointment, or driving you to the clinic.

But high risk groups, as on Indian reservations (I worked for the IHS on and off for 10 years), where people are poor and isolated, we used home health aids to do these things: visit them at home and make sure they took the medicine,  take them to medical appointments in the city, and sometimes we even kept them in the hospital when outpatient treatment would work, to make sure they got proper treatment.(mostly patient with TB or with diabetic ulcers that wouldn't heal without good care).

Even then, sometimes the person "disappeared" and didn't keep the appointments or didn't take their medicines.

On the other hand, ordinary Americans can get home health care and free transportation, sometimes via friends or family, some programs through their churches, and for the handicapped and elderly, via Medicare/Medicaid/Insurance.

so what is wrong with Cuba? From the BBC article:
The difference? Government coercion.
And there's no getting out of it either.Compulsory health checks"My nurse knows where they live," Dr Quevas Hill jokes. "They can run, but they can't hide!"
I don't know how they punish you if you don't take your medicines, but most docs know that Cuba stopped their HIV epidemic by "quarantine". Think concentration camp.

From 2012:  NYTimes paints a cheerful picture here,but they do go into detail how patients can be coerced....NYDaily news paint a less cheery picture from a gay rights point of view.

one is reminded of CS Lewis's quip:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.
The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may
at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good
will torment us without end for they do so with the approval
of their own conscience."

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Banned music of the week



Pope Francis is not the first one to link love of God with love of our neighbor and care for our environment.

The idea of stewardship of the land as an echo of the stewardship of God for the earth is ancient, but the industrial revolution sort of put it on hold and replaced it with the idea of "exploitation of the land" in order to make money.

which brings us to Jerusalem the song:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariots of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight;
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

the hymn and other writings by Blake celebrate England's natural beauty, and his opposition to those destroying the land.

Blake's phrase resonates with a wider theme in his works, what he envisioned as a physically and spiritually repressive ideology based on a quantifiable reality. Blake saw the cotton mills andcollieries of the period as a mechanism for the enslavement of millions, but the concepts underpinning the works had a wider application:[12][13]

Of course, no one really believes it's reference to Jesus in Britain as a child. Most people realize that Blake was using a metaphor (wikipedia).

and the last stanza connects the beauty of heaven and the beauty of England, but only if we fight for it.

I will not cease from Mental Fight,Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:Till we have built Jerusalem,In England's green & pleasant Land

But this song, which praises England's pleasant pastures, is not considered PC in some Anglican churches there.


Yes, It has been banned in some churches, as the UKDaily Mail reports:

'The Dean of Southwark does not believe that it is to the glory of God and it is not therefore used in private memorial services.'
Various excuses have been used in recent years for banning Jerusalem.
Some clerics have objected on the grounds that Blake's poetry is insufficiently Christian.
Others have complained that bows, arrows, spears, swords, and chariots of fire are too military in tone.
St Margaret's once refused to allow the hymn to be used at a memorial service because its clergy considered that the contrast of dark satanic mills with England's green and pleasant land discriminated against city dwellers.
Vicars occasionally try to prevent the singing of Jerusalem on the grounds that it is 'too nationalistic' - a reason cited by a Manchester cleric who told a couple they could not have it at their wedding in 200 Read 

Probably the real problem that the elite have with the hymn is that, it has been picked up and sung by ordinary people at sporting events.

Faust, at daTechGuy adds:

In the 21st Century, Jerusalem has been banned as being too nationalistic. One key word jumps out: banned.
Which brings me back to my question, what about those “dark Satanic Mills”? Should the banning of Jerusalem, and similar acts of political correctness, be considered one of the “dark Satanic Mills” of our times?

You want to spy on Mosques? Watch what you wish for (you might get it)

There are some mosques who are a front for terrorist organizations, or who spread a rigid type of Islam that approves of violent jihad.

But if you say you want to monitor them, there could be a real problem.

the UKMail notes that, after some schools were accused of brainwashing children into radical Islam, that organizations will now be monitored.

Inspectors revealed they have shut three unregistered schools in Birmingham in the past month, with one using ‘anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic material’. 

 Ah, but what about that Baptist church down the street?

or those terrible homophobic Catholics?

For later reading (Stuff that will affect your life in 2025)

Weyl Fermion:

Proposed by the mathematician and physicist Hermann Weyl in 1929, Weyl fermions have long been regarded as possible building blocks of other subatomic particles. If applied to next-generation electronics, the fermions could allow for a nearly free and efficient flow of electricity and thus greater power. Hasan led an international team that reported their discovery...(of) the Weyl fermion in a synthetic metallic crystal called tantalum arsenide (TaAs)... 

more HERE.

No, I'll have to read up on it. I know about Tantulus, but wasn't aware there was an element called Tantalum...

and apparantly this metal is used in bone repair implants.


a futurist scientist on ArtBell the other day was mainly discussing multiverses, but he also mentioned the Brain initiative, saying that in the future, our brains will be connected by the internet. Alas, I was called away and didn't hear the rest.

Here is an article about Brain 2.0.

There is a lot of basic research going on, not only about how the brain is wired, but how it works and how you can read thoughts and how you can change memories and how you can manipulate how a person thinks.

I had heard the Brain initiative was exploring ways to treat PTSS in veterans, but don't  know much more.

Here is a technology Review paper from 2013 about it.
and an article originally on the Atlantic again in 2013 why some people think it's scary.

But the implications of the President's BRAIN project are a bit scarier than you might think. You can only go so far mapping the brain before you get into some ethically questionable territory.Esquire's Luke Dittrich did some early tea leaf reading to preview the project last month and noticed something questionable: In an academic journal article written by many of the BRAIN project scientists, Dittrich noticed one of the proposed technologies the team may use would essentially be able to remotely and wirelessly control the human brain, if developed. While the intentions of this technology when used by the BRAIN team would be wholesome and for the good of human science, it's not hard to see how that technology could go horribly wrong if it ended up in the wrong hands. Dittrich adds:
I'm not saying that the President's brain-mapping project is a bad idea. As he put it in his State of the Union address, it could help "unlock the answers to Alzheimer's," among other worthy goals. But I do think it's worth considering that this same project is also a DARPA-associated endeavor that could lead to the development of the first truly sci-fi caliber mind-control technology.
Which is probably why the President is also ordering an ethical study of any new developments the team comes up with throughout the ongoing work of the BRAIN team.
That part that he is ordering an ethical study doesn't comfort me, because, to paraphrase a sardonic Nat Hentoff, they tend to be apologists for death...and you can always hire an ethicist who will okay your project...

just to confuse matters, the Europeans have a "brain project" and Obama has a "brain initiative" and Japan has their own Brain/Minds study.

Kavli Foundation interviews here.

the WAPO has a happy article on Obama's project HERE

BBC future article on keeping brain memories alive after you die.

and this article discusses how mapping the brain and figuring out how to manipulate it  links to transhumanism.

The name “transhumanism” is the basic concept that tells it all. Its followers want to go beyond the present human condition. At its core it means to overcome the “natural” limitations inherent in human existence, which is to be born, live relatively short, half-conscious lives, and then die. The supporters of “human enhancement” and “transhumanism” intend to break through these current physical and cognitive (and perhaps even spiritual) barriers. In order to do that, they will pursue biotechnological upgrades to the human body and thus, conceivably, try to eliminate the negative effects of ageing and eventually (at least in their aspiration) even death.
more HERE

Screwtape takes a stand

Apparantly CSLewis didn't just give talks about Christianity on the BBC: He also taped some talks for the British spy/propaganda service for them to use to persuade Iceland not to give into the Nazi propaganda about Ein Volk... his talk discussed how he loved Norse/Icelandic literature and how their literature inspired many British writers.

Presumably, in these days when patriotism is considered evil by the PC, it is easy to forget that Hitler made ISIS look like a sissy, and that the Battle of the Atlantic was going on, and that Germany had just conquered Norway and Iceland was the key to the North Atlantic sea lanes. (for history review of what was going on back then, check out this Podcast on the Battle of the NorthAtlantic here.)

So why shouldn't Lewis cooperate to help his country?

He spoke on the subject “The Norse Spirit in English Literature.” Lewis provided a touchstone between the Norse people and the English, which Lewis made clear in his first recorded statement. He said that he did not know why he had been asked to address the people of Iceland, but that he agreed to do it in order to repay a great debt. He explained that his imaginative life had been awakened by Norse mythology when he was 14. He went on to explain how his love of Norse mythology only deepened when he began to learn the Icelandic language at Oxford.
Most Lewis/Tolkien fans are aware that he got to know Tolkien when he joined a group that used the sagas to learn the Icelandic literature.

As for this comment:

If Lewis felt so strongly about the Norse influence on the development of English literature, why did he never write on the subject later? We know that he felt strongly about the subject in his personal development, but why the great silence in his major critical works? 
well, maybe because his area of academic expertise was medieval and Renaissance British literature... but one might argue that the Icelandic sagas and mythology were a hobby that helped inspire his fantasy writings...

Tolkien might have been a more "logical" choice, but Tolkien was a deep scholar but lousy at lectures, whereas Lewis' lectures were famous for being easy to understand and for his enthusiasm.

in an unrelated item: Tolkien was approached to be a code breaker (he trained as a communications officer in WWI and had a background in this) but Tolkien had four kids and decided he couldn't afford to give up his job as a professor (i.e. that had tenure), and noted it was not his area of expertise.

headsup GetReligion

related item: Right now, on Scribd,  I'm listening to the audiobook of A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War.

about how the war affected Tolkien and Lewis.

It's an easier read than Garth's encyclopedic book on Tolkien in the war, and it also brings up how religion was used to see the war as a great crusade (Jenkins has a book on this that I have not read).

The first few chapters is for the average reader who knows little or nothing about the cultural background of that war. I've only hit Chapter 3, which notes the Battle of the Somme, and the similarity of the horror of the trenches to the Dead Marshes in LOTR.

So I haven't hit the later part of the war, when Lewis arrived.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Black Elk, catholic

I was aware of this, since I have worked with the Sioux, but the story of BlackElk.

Alas, too many who read it don't see it as the biography off a man or as the way to get insight into Lakota culture: Too often they are like one of my son's literature teachers in a Catholic high school, who promoted the book to show how lousy Catholics were in contrast to the wonderfulness of new age ideas .

My son was startled when I told him that many of our Indian patients took vision quests, and performed ceremonies like described in the book, or even had "out of body" experiences. But most of them tried to follow the road of the Creator, and that many, including Black Elk, saw being Christian as a way to get a deeper understanding of the Creator.


 Nicholas demonstrated a powerful gift for teaching, able to grasp complexities of theology and explain them to people on the reservation in a way that honored and incorporated, rather than eradicating and replacing, their cultural signs and symbols.  With humility nearly impossible to grasp, Nicholas Black Elk even allowed the Holy Spirit to show him a new understanding of his great vision, the thing that had been a central truth of his life since he was nine.Nicholas Black Elk
Nicholas Black Elk, daughter Lucy Black Elk and wife Anna Brings White, photographed in their home in Manderson, South Dakota, ca 1910
God is not a cultural oppressor, seeking to wipe out all human diversity and replacing it with a single, homogeneous thing, and the life of Nicholas Black Elk exemplifies this- an example of how the truth of Christianity is found in, and resonates with, every human life, and every human culture.

headsup TeaAtTrianon.

For later reading

SSFrom Spiked: Zombies are in...blame George Romero? Or a metaphor for surviving when everything is gone?


also from Spiked: Camille Paglia on Feminism's wrong turn

sex as Dionysus? Yes. Jung and all that. But Paglia forgets that sex is also Aphrodite and Hera. .. Hera not only nurtures families but destroys those who ignore or ridicule her...

related item: TheOtherMcCain wonders if the present fads of radical feminism and it's sister movements have become a cult for the troubled: a way to make sense of their lives by latching onto something big.  (see TheTrue Believer by Hoffer).

Oh well: Better Benny in a dress then deciding he should join ISIS and blow up his fellow workers.


Gizmodo: Now the green tyrants want to ban cars.

sounds like this lady never actually commuted. Or lived in Minnesota. Or had arthritis. Or had to tote around a toddler. Or carry groceries.

Nevertheless, she points to other cities who have supposedly done this:
 But she's pulling a fast one here: if you read the article a bit more closely, you find that  they don't ban cars from these cities, of course: they only block traffic from certain parts of the inner city. There is a big difference.

Get better transportation, fine. Keep the densely populated inner city free of cars except for taxis, fine. But banning all cars?

Oh yes, she also wants to force everyone to live in high rises.

What could go wrong with that?

ImprobableResearch Podcast: Yes, Kansas is flatter than a pancake.

and Freakonomics podcast: The Cheezburger diet.

Includes this Factoid: the hamburger might have been invented in several cities, but the Cheeseburger was invented in Louisville KY.

Nowadays, we docs tell people with a concussion to rest at home for a couple of days. But now studies suggest activity might be the way to go.

Get Religion comments on an article about Political Islam, which seeks to impose their interpretation of Islam on the world..and points to Saudi Arabia. Are we discussing religion or politics, or both?

Sigh. I'm old enough to remember when Catholics were shunned for trying to impose popish ideas on the USA (like no divorce, no abortions, letting clergy teach classes to their own members in schools). But there is a difference between arguing about such things in the public square, and having an elite group impose them by fiat from above. Such things could never happen in the USA...(/S)

StrageyPage has a discussion here.

CatholicWorldNews discussion here.


forgiving the unforgivable.

read the whole thing.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

All you need is love post of the day

A kindly ditty by Noel Coward from the days of WWII



 lyrics HERE


Let's be meek to themAnd turn the other cheek to themAnd try to arouse their latent sense of funLet's give them full air parityAnd treat the rats with charityBut don't let's be beastly to the Hun
Don't let's be beastly to the GermansYou can't deprive a gangster of his gunThough they've been a little naughtyTo the Czechs and Poles and DutchI can't believe those countriesReally minded very much
Let's be free with themAnd share the BBC with themWe mustn't prevent them basking in the sunLet's soften their defeat againAnd build their bloody fleet againBut don't let's be beastly to the Hun


update: Yes I'm being sarcastic. Marshall plan, and free markets, anyone?