Thursday, November 30, 2017

Curious stories below the fold

CWReport on the Third Secret of Fatima: are the conspiracy loons right? (answer: Probably not but there is a lot that the Catholic MSM in English doesn't publish, so the conspiracy types take that out of context and exaggerate it).

But, as the Pope starts  approving of divorce, making nice with "green" eugenics types, and marginalizing those who ask if he is changing 2000 years of Catholic teachings by having his minions, including those in the mainstream Catholic press, call them names, and even get them fired for defending traditional Catholic morality, it only lets the nut cases sound more credible that something is rotten in the Vatican.

actually bookmarked for later reading.

I doubt many non Catholics care about this, but it has many geopolitical implications.

The Catholic church is in danger of a major schism or worse (by worse, I mean bowing to the world and becoming trendier than thou social work type NGO (with a smattering of New Age feel good beliefs in the mix).

But like the USA in 2016 (or Wittenburg in 1517), just because you don't see the deplorables, doesn't mean they aren't there. Even Pope Benedict once predicted in the future the church would become small and weak, and have to rebuild itself from a remnant.

MalachyMartin, call your office.


There was some minor news about an explosion in China: Not terrorism, so it was mentioned and then disappeared in the western press.

But the explosion is being used for cleaning out slums of their migrant workers. (i.e. migrants from rural areas who are living there illegally). from a HongKong paper.

more HERE.

why do I put it here? Because this might be the tip of the iceburg of growing resentment by those "illegal" internal migrants being pushed back into rural poverty.

and remember: The news coming out is censored.

The percentage of posts deleted on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, has risen sharply in the wake of the controversies, according to Weiboscope, a University of Hong Kong project tracking censorship on the social media platform.
Keywords in posts most frequently deleted on Monday included “kindergarten”, “low-end”, “population” and “Beijing”.
in case  you are wondering why they are censoring "kindergarten", it is because of THIS.

either overblown hysteria or a Chinese Pizzagate complete with a Clinton link. (probably the former).


the big kerfufle in India is a historical drama about a heroic Hindu queen who killed herself after the battle against a Muslim invader was lost, and who preferred death rather than become enslaved.

wikipedia article on the film.

So what's the controversy? Is it anti Islam (the dirty little secret is that a lot of Hindus died in various wars caused by Muslim invaders).

No, actually the opposite:
Rumors say the script rewrote the story to make her have a romantic attachment with the Muslim prince who invaded her land, and the revived Hindu religion fundamentalists are up in arms.

the screenplay is based on a Muslim poem relating the battle, so the film's version must be true, right? (/sarcasm).

why do I include it here? Because this could inflame the "religious" resentments in that land (actually ethnic resentments, but don't get technical).


It's nice to be a queen

DeLima has opposed the drug war here on human rights grounds, and has been wined and dined by the international elites, and more recently been sent a rosary for her work by the Pope.

Isn't that the Pope who said: "Who am I to judge" about gay priests? Guess this includes those committing heterosexual fornication too.

But here she is a joke, since it is fairly well known she is corrupt as they come.

And if you think Trumpie boy is not politically correct in his quips, just check out Duterte's response:

“Yung isa, yung hambog bigyan pa ng rosary ni Pope (That braggart was given a rosary by the Pope),” the President said during an anti-corruption summit in Pasay City.
“Si Pope naman o… Hanapan mo nga ako ng video ng ano, pakita ko kay Pope. Baka magtingin pa si Pope, baka umalis pa sa pagka-Pope yan (Find me that video. Once the Pope sees it, he may leave the papacy,” he added. “P**** i** sobra na ‘to (son of a b***h). I am just human.”

the video was a photo shop of her and her driver having sex. Obviously fake, but like Hello Garci, it did summarize the public's impression that she was a crook playing a saint, so now she is a laughing stock here, except with the PC meme repeating SJW robots, who insist she is a heroine.

The real news is that she was indeed schtupping her driver and had built him an expensive house in the provinces. So why was he paid off? He was either the best gigolo in the Philippines, or else it was a "gift" to keep him quiet about the drug payoffs from drug lords in a local prison.

but the real question is where did DeLima get the money to give to him?

De Lima was not a multimillionaire when she was appointed justice secretary so she couldn’t have had the money to buy Dayan three houses.
READ: Sandra Cam: De Lima’s driver frequented Bilibid for drug money* * *

Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

You don't see headines like this in the NYTIMES (at least not yet).

DeLima screwing not only her driver but the nation.

and the joke is what was going on in the prison she was involved with:

local quip: (a parody of the slogan: It's more fun in the Philippines).

 Even Jail is more fun in the Philippines.

it's good to be the king

Lots of men found it was good to be the king, and the press finally noticed.

well, duh.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Factoid of the day (be very afraid)

From StrategyPage:

Brazil chose RBS-70 (anti aircraft system) as part of the security it was required to provide for the football (soccer) World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. 

hmmm.... someone in Brazil must have been watching oldies on TV:

(you can tell it's an old film: They use Arabs as terrorists. Nowaday you need to use only white supremicists, and even Jackie Chan films have to use the old fashioned IRA as the bad guys).

 but are US sports stadiums similarly protected from aircraft attacks?

Of course, the dirty little secret is that Brazil is behind the times: nowadays, all you need is drones.

and that has some folks worried.

but why does this make me uncomfortable?

With reports of increased drone activity around the host hotel and primary venue areas, Bertsch and his team made the decision to ban drones over the immediate airspace — the lone exception was NBC's authorized unmanned aerial vehicle. Eight hours into the race, the first male finisher was approaching when Bertsch got a call.
fine. That will prevent accidental injuries. But I hate to tell them, like guns, laws won't stop bad guys who ignore the law.

and the threat is international:

Indeed, drones have become a global phenomenon. A 2016 European Championship qualifying soccer match between Serbia and Albania ended abruptly last fall when a drone flying the Albanian flag started a fight between fans on the pitch, requiring action from hundreds of riot police. But cameras and banners aren't the biggest concerns now facing public safety professionals.

Wired has an article here on how to stop drone terrorism...

They spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours to keep you safe, yet they know that none of it can stop a 3-pound off-the-shelf drone from flying in and dropping something on the crowd. Maybe it’s a toxic mist. Maybe it’s a bomb. Whatever it is, you’ll never see it coming, and because there is currently no legal way to bring down a drone with any accuracy or reliability, there’s nothing anyone can do but wait for it....
except there is a way: but it's illegal.
Like almost every drone-­interdiction technology in development, frequency jammers run afoul of several US laws, most of which were passed when people hadn’t dreamed of owning their own unmanned aircraft. Romero and Lamm’s solution to the mock terror in the stadium—a solution that they have shown can reliably counter the threats drones pose to targets as varied as prisons, airports, and ­arenas—is illegal here.

You know,  I have seen drones sold as toys here in the rural Philippines (at the mall).

And it's not just sports events: here, religious meetings like the InC rallies, or the Black Nazarene procession have hundreds of thousands.

Hopefully, the local terrorists won't know how to use them, but with the foreign ISIS bomb makers (and the local Tagalogs who converted to Islam being recruited when working in Saudi) I am not optimistic.

On the other hand, I stay at home: My main threat here is being kidnapped for money (lower now that the EJK have decimated the gangs),  dying when a druggie decides to rob my home (again, fewer druggies now), or being shot in the crossfire when the mayor visits one of our family parties and is being targeted (again) by his political rival.

How to cook

Librivox on how to cook in the good old days

PDF here

(the non pdf version is poorly ripped and unreadable.)

quite a few other cookery books are there, with links to the PDF/text verions.

the Italian cook book

a guide to modern cookery.

culture and cooking

more here.

Death and taxes

I am not commenting on the so called "big story" of the day, the tax cuts for the rich. Why?


A. I know nothing about economics

B. Anyone rich enough and smart enough to make money probably hides their income in overseas tax shelters (legal or illegal) so they don't have to pay taxes anyway. Panama Papers anyone? Anyone?

C. Companies facing a high tax will move elsewhere to make a profit. Low tax states already know this in the US, But it also means maybe moving overseas.

I haven't read this being discussed anywhere, but then I haven't bothered to read the blather on the news anyway.

when we moved here, we filed taxes for years, until Lolo's IRA died so our income was just below the level to pay (we filed to get a refund of the automatic deductions).

Do you know a couple years ago, they passed a bill requiring us to pay taxes on our bank accounts here?

Luckily for Lolo, he reverted to Philippine citizenship when he moved here, so only paid local taxes on his savings. (I kept my money in the US so no problem.)

Now, if my husband did that to save double paying taxes, why do the blather mouths think that huge corporations with smart lawyers won't do the same thing?

just wondering...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Podcast of the week

WTF is going on in Saudi?

StrategyPage discusses.

Earlier podcast on Turkey.


In other news: General Flynn seems to be in trouble for an international scheme that included Russia, Saudi and the USA to build nuclear power plants in the Middle east that can't be diverted to make nuclear weapons.

apparently his only crime was not listing this on his resume: A major sin since  although he was working for an American company, Russia Russia RUSSIA was involved.

n June 2015, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn took a little-noticed trip to Egypt and Israel, paid for by a U.S. company he was advising. The company hoped to build more than two dozen nuclear plants in the region, in partnership with Russian interests.

not new news: Scribd has the proposal on line.

ACU Strategic Partners LLC 815 Connecticut Ave., NW 12 th Floor Washington, DC 20006 ACU / International Power Generators / X-Co Dynamics A U.S.-Based Project Providing Nuclear Power Plants, a Secure Fuel Cycle and a Shared Security Partnership for the Middle East Overview
Over 20 nuclear power projects are now under development in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan and the UAE, among others, are now constructing nuclear power plants or examining ways of establishing their nuclear power capabilities.
These development efforts present a number of major challenges involving the potential proliferation of nuclear weapons.
ACU, a U.S. company, has developed a practical strategy to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation in the Middle East that simultaneously reinforces shared interests of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and other Mid-East countries in security, stability, and shared prosperity.
ACU is developing International Power Generators (IPG), a partnership among the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE that is designed to own and operate 40 nuclear power reactors in the Middle East with a fully integrated secure in-and-out fuel service. Of these reactors, 18 will be in Saudi Arabia, a minimum of 10 are designated for Egypt and the remainder will be constructed in Kuwait, the UAE and Jordan. IPG is also establishing X-Co Dynamics, a new public/private partnership developed in concert with relevant U.S. government agencies and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, to protect the nuclear power plants, related infrastructure, and the surrounding region, in order to provide zones of security, stability and prosperity for at least the full life of the reactors, approximately 80 years. Together, the com ponents of the IPG project create a Middle East “Marshall Plan” funded by the Mid -East governments.
No U.S. government funding or guarantees are required to finance the IPG project as it will be funded entirely by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The two essential features of the IPG nuclear power project that distinguish it from the nuclear power plants already under construction and in the planning stage in the Mid-East are: 1) its extensive and pervasive shared security partnership; and 2) its secure in-and-out fuel cycle.
These features make the IPG project starkly different from the Mid-East nuclear plants currently under construction and proposed by Korea, Russia, France, and China, which provide neither a secure fuel cycle nor the type of advanced and broad security protections required to ensure the reliability of operation and the safety of the reactors from hostile elements such as ISIS ...
ACU profile on Bloomberg

a 2016 article on the proposal from an Alabama newspaper about ACU taking over a nuclear power plant there... and use the plant to train people to run similar plants in the middle east.

Above my head: I'm a doctor, not a nuclear engineer, and know even less about international finance.

On the other hand, as one who loves conspiracy theories, why do I think his prosecution is actually pay back for spilling the beans (and confirming the conspiracy theories going around back then) and telling people that yes, Obama made a mistake to pull out of Iraq, signing an agreement with Iran that lets them get the bomb, and yes, he spilled the beans: the CIA did fund ISIS.

  ALJ link the main problem is that Flynn can't answer a question without the interviewer interrupting him.

But lower in the interview, he discusses Russia's link in supplying nuclear power to the region, so if there is a scheme to make such plants that can't be diverted to weapons production, then Russia has to be involved.

Despite their oil, the Middle East and Iran have a great need for cheap power, and Nuclear is the way to go. Either the west helps them or Russia will.

a lot of what he says in the interview seems to be related to the recent Saudi moves. moves by Jarad Kutchner, stuff being done by TRex, etc.

Way Back machine: The Muppets


as an aside: Jim Henson died of Strep B sepsis.

The Strep germ is usually mild, but there have been outbreaks of the more serious form on and off. There were outbreaks in the 1940's, but then the disease became less serious, and penicillin was given all the time.

But then a new strain popped up in the 1980s, causing a couple of deaths, including Mr Henson.

one reason docs "overuse" antibiotics is because you see one case of this, and figure: Better safe than sorry. (Mr Henson didn't go for treatment early because he assumed it was the flu).

Review HERE.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Philippine dance

or in honor of our Spanish heritage, the Quadrille

this one I've actually seen: When I first came here with my husband, he used to dance at the Cotillion with his niece at Fiesta time.

the Orchestra was led by a Miss something or other who was, my husband reassured me, a happily married man with six kids who just was a woman when he worked.

Here, it's not a big thing...



StrategyPage reports on a new Robotank made by the Russians.

these are not new.

Here is a report on how Israel uses smaller robots to reinforce their fence.

and a report from India about how Modi checked it out, planning a similar barrier to keep out terrorists from Pakistan.

since Pakistan just released the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, sending the message that attacking India is fine with them, India knows they need to be vigilent.\

of course the US doesn't have terrorists across the border so we don't need a wall...

oh look: murderous drug cartels.

Conspiracy theory of the week

Did Muller, when head of the FBI, target the wrong man (and their harassment drive him to psychotic depression and suicide) over the anthrax letters? the LATimes makes it sound like when the first suspect sued them, they quickly chose a different scientist, who had conveniently committed suicide, as their scapegoat.

This is part of an LATimes article.

Lots of articles on line about the controversy among scientists over the FBI's conclusions, but the long Wikipedia article has the details of the technicalities, enough for you CSI fans to figure out.

But the problem is that Anthrax spores clump together, and have to be treated to be small enough to cause pulmonary problems: Larger particles either fall to the floor, or are filtered out by the nose and mouth.

That is why skin and Gastrointestinal anthrax is more common.

And as one of my patients told me: If they want anthrax, just come to my barnyard and dig (spores can survive in the ground for 50years).

Like a lot of scientists, I wonder why the case was made against a scientist with expertise in anthrax, but no expertise in the technical details of weaponizing spores.

The Wikipedia article has details.

but this was new to me:

An official of the U.S. administration said in March 2010 that President Barack Obama probably would veto legislation authorizing the next budget for U.S. intelligence agencies if it called for a new investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks, as such an investigation "would undermine public confidence" in an FBI probe.[158] In a letter to congressional leaders, Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget at the time, wrote that an investigation would be "duplicative", and expressed concern about the appearance and precedent involved when Congress commissions an agency Inspector General to replicate a criminal investigation,

yes: no criticism please. We are the FBI....

Wired article (2011) on the investigation.

Even agent Edward Montooth, who ran the FBI’s hunt for the anthrax killer, says that—while he’s still convinced Ivins was the mailer—he’s unsure of many things, from Ivins’ motivation to when he brewed up the lethal spores. “We still have a difficult time nailing down the time frame,” he says. “We don’t know when he made or dried the spores.” In other words, it’s been 10 years since the deadliest biological terror attack in US history launched a manhunt that ruined one scientist’s reputation and saw a second driven to suicide, yet nagging problems remain. Problems that add up to an unsettling reality: Despite the FBI’s assurances, it’s not at all certain that the government could have ever convicted Ivins of a crime.

and key point of the huge hole in the case:

This raises another significant problem with the case. USAMRIID veterans debate whether Ivins had access to the kind of gear required to dry and mill the spores. Even if he did, some argue, he wouldn’t have known how to use it. Ivins’ wet-spore experience didn’t translate to dry stuff, Heine and others say.

this wikipedia article has more details, including another problem: no liver transplant, no autopsy.

now, if you are really paranoid, follow the money: He did it to make money for the pharm company producing anthrax vaccine (he held a patent on one of the vaccines that the gov't pulled out from), or he did it to increase the budget for bioweapons prevention research.

and did he kill himself because they were going to arrest him for murder, or because he knew his kinky sex life would be revealed?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Musical interlude of the day

Conspiracy theory of the day

The conspiracy type pages have been worried about a lot of loud booms heard all over the world in recent months,

 but Spaceblogger DavidReneke notes even NASA hasn't figured out where they are coming from, but suspects they are either sonic booms from supersonic spacecraft or meteors.

That sounds about right: A lot of the "UFO" sightings in the 1950s and 1960s were experimental planes.

When I worked in Mescalero, not far from the White Sands proving grounds, our patients just would shrug and say they were told not to worry when they saw UFOs, because it was just the AirForce doing their thing.

Both Roswell and Trinity site (where the first Atomic bomb was tested) was nearby.

Alamogordo had a space museum with an IMAX that showed films, but the most amusing part of Alamogordo were signs in German welcoming the Wehrmacht, who trained there...even cable TV had a German station...

Gift suggestions

dave barry's gift guide

includes such lovely suggestions such as the Barry Manilou coloring book.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Trustee from the Toolroom

This classic Nevil Shute novel is available for free at Project Gutenberg Canada.


A skilled tool worker who writes about making miniature machines is entrusted with his niece until her more affluent parents can sail on their yacht to Vancouver and find a new home. This is in the days after World War II... when taking money out of the country was limited by English law.

But when their sailboat disappears on a deserted shoal, and their savings also cannot be found, he faces a dilemma: Where did they hide the money, and how can he get it back?

I always thought it would make a great movie, but as far as I know, no one has done it yet.

a lot of Nevil Shute's novels have been made into film: The classic one is a Town Like Alice, was made into both an old film and a lovely miniseries on BBC/PBS, or the older one Highway in the Sky, about a nerdish professor who predicts a plane will crash from metal fatigue.

but he is best known for his anti war film On The Beach....

rewrite the history books

I have the book, but part of it is actually on youtube for your listening pleasure:

Linkpart one



is the part about Thanksgiving


another good book from the Native American point of view is Facing East from Indian country, about how the early cooperation was sought by both sides, but then deteriorated.

CSPAN has a lecture by the author LINK

Happy thanksgiving

the real story of Thanksgiving (the Indian's point of view) 

Massasoit was the sachem, or political and military leader, of the Wampanoag confederation, a loose combination of villages in southeastern Massachusetts. About five years before the Pilgrims arrived, Massasoit’s people had been decimated by diseases brought by earlier European traders. Entire villages had been depopulated—including a Patuxet village that the newly arrived Pilgrims settled into and named New Plymouth.
As Mann explains, Massasoit was in a bind. The epidemic that had hit the Wampanoag hadn’t touched their longtime enemies to the west, the Narragansett. Massasoit feared his weakened people would be overrun, so he decided to gamble and let the Pilgrims stay. European traders had been visiting New England for at least a century, but Indian leaders always forbid them from establishing permanent settlements. The relationship was strictly transactional. Far from seeing the Europeans as superior, writes Mann, the Indians had good reason to take advantage of these strange newcomers.

via Instapundit.

and in today's world, this would probably be banned:


and my friend in Albuquerque posts that even McDonald's is serving traditional Native American food this week:

recipe here.

and because of the high rate of diabetes, the IHS used to encourage the healthy version of this delicious dish, using canola oil instead of lard, and whole wheat flour for the bread and more veggies in the stuffing:


Cooking tip of the day:pumpkin pie

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Hepatitis in LaLaLand

Yes, the lovely city of Los Angeles now has a problem with hepatitis.

 Back In 2012, the Los Angeles Community Action Network predicted that Skid Row was ripe for disease in a report similar to the one earlier this year. Then, just as now, restrooms often lacked soap, water, toilet paper and trash cans.
“The City of Los Angeles has failed miserably when it comes to providing accessible and clean public restrooms, thereby creating and maintaining the human rights violations cited in this report and others,” the report said. “It is an obvious fact that human beings simply must relieve themselves regularly. All residents face the need for public restrooms, it’s just that homeless residents are entirely reliant on public options.”
Maybe they should hire Claire Frazer to tell them how to fight the epidemic

Post Mugabe: will the economy revive?

Mugabe's so called reforms were, alas a mask for looting and corruption.

So will the economy revive? Or will it be a scramble for riches that ignores the locals?

About ten percent of their most productive citizens have fled, and could return if jobs were there and corruption was limited.

CNBC article discusses

BBC discusses.

the pro gov't Herald says the same thing while bashing the west.

All essentially say encourage foreign investors.


Related item: The FSI tapes of Shona, the local language, can be downloaded from

Happy Thanksgiving

No, we don't usually celebrate Thanksgiving here.

One year we bought two turkeys to cook for a family feast. We often buy poultry live when we have parties, because it is cheaper and because you can be sure it is fresh.

So we had two turkeys, but didn't realize they could jump over the fence... we found one but the other was probably liberated and eaten...

which is probably just as well, since we don' t have an oven (only a small toaster oven for sanwiches) and have to roast it over an open fire.

Justice delayed is justice denied

The guy behind the hit that killed our nephew in the crossfire died in his bed ten years later and was buried in a big Catholic funeral, complete with the Knights of Colombus body guard.

But that is not the only time a big shot politician is able to get away with murder.

The Inquirer notes that no one connected with the Manguindanao massacre has been convicted yet ten years later.

That was a hit to prevent a political rival from registering as a candidate: a lot of reporters went along to keep the wife doing the registration safe, so they killed them all.. 58 victims, including 34 reporters... most in the convoy but a few were merely nearby and killed anyway.

and this family has been suspected of killing another 50 people to stay in power.

Until you realize that there are areas (including where I live) where politicians literally can get away with murder, you don't understand why the average Filipino backs Duterte.

Murders were going on before Duterte but were ignored by the SJW unless they were big, such as this massacre.

And being an American didn't make you immune: The US Embassy, instead of pressuring the government to get the killer of our nephew, advised us to stay quiet and let the family of the one they aimed to kill take the case in court. You read it right: The family had to take it to court, and so the murder of our nephew wasn't even in the case.

it wasn't about politics, but about who controlled all that lovely city money... and there are unconfirmed rumors that the delay was because a certain person used city funds to bribe another person to keep delaying the case, and when PNoy took over, and he tried to clean things up, the arrest warrant was finally issued, but of course, the guy "disappeared" so they couldn't arrest him.

A final note: A lot of people suspect that those behind the massacre in Manguindanao thought they were above the law because they delivered votes to a certain lovely lady.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Move over Imelda: the untold story of Gucci Grace

Imelda Marcos is most famous for her shoe collection (now in a museum in Manila if you want to see them).

But Gucci Grace has her beat: From the UKGuardian:

The first lady (of Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe) is reported to have the sort of designer shoe collection that might be expected of a dictator’s wife and, notoriously, is said to have spent $75,000 (£56,000) on luxury goods on a single shopping spree in Paris.

Imelda always claimed their millions were not stolen, but were from Yamashita's gold.

No news where Gucci Grace got her wealth from. LINK (Aust news):

Mugabe owns the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Co., but the bulk of is reportedly squandered from the country’s wealth. Mugabe has repeatedly been accused of stealing from the country’s coffers and masses of land from white farmers during land seizures in 2000.
According to a 2001 US diplomatic cable, later released by the whistle-blowing organisation WikiLeaks, Mugabe has about $1.75 billion-worth of assets, mostly invested outside Zimbabwe.It said that while reliable information was difficult to find, there were rumours his assets “include everything from secret accounts in Switzerland, the Channel Islands and the Bahamas to castles in Scotland”.

A tyrant is gone and the people rejoice

BBC story on Mugabe's resignation.

It wasn't just potatoes

The IIrish history podcast has a series on the Great Famine in Ireland.

but the problem wasn't just the potato, nor were the deaths from hunger limited to Ireland, as Mike Duncan points out in his "Revolutions" series.


the problem? other crops failed too due to the weather, so the price of food went up too high for poor people.

Physorg has a post noting that this was also why many Germans fled to the Americas at that time.

"Overall, we found that climate indirectly explains up to 20-30% of  from Southwest Germany to North America in the 19th century," says RĂ¼diger Glaser, a professor at the University of Freiburg, Germany, and lead-author of the Climate of the Past study.
Read more at:

Catholic encyclopedia has a history of immigrant Germans: some came for religious freedom but others for political or economic reasons, but notes the huge flow starting with the German revolutions of 1848...

in other words, not climate change per se but periodic famines due to weather that exacerbated the revolutions at that time, and a lot of people said the hell with it let's leave.

Sound familiar?

By the way: All of Mike Duncan's series are worth your listening time. His past series on Rome was excellent, (some can be found on Internet archives) and he now has a book on the deterioration of the Roman republic that was the back ground for the fall of the Republic a century later: The Storm before the Storm. which I haven't read but if it's as good as his Rome podcasts should be good.

the "WAGD" post of the day:

NYtimes reports over a thousand cases of birdflu  in China, with some cases suspected of being spread person to person.

and there is some evidence it is evolving, plus evidence it has spread to ferrets.

and I''m old enough to remember how China covered up the SARS epidemic, so this might be worse than reported.

Ironically, the SARS epidemic was stopped the old fashioned way: Quarantine and isolation of patients. 

Everyone in airports were checked for fever before boarding, and stopped from flying, and local cases were isolated in hospitals.

but why worry about bird flu when the black death is becoming epidemic in Africa? This is especially dangerous because it is the pulmonary  variation, which is airborne and doesn't require fleas.

Yun! Eggplants

I once read a poll in the UK that said brussel sprouts and eggplants were their least favorite foods.

But here in Asia, we use the (less bitter) small Japanese variety, sometimes just fried in soy sauce, or more commonly in our stews.

Pakbet recipe

So how long have eggplants been around?

and remember this wonderful ditty:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Lotus eaters

from my medical blog.

Drugs and warfare: from Homer to ISIS.

Trmadol and a meth/caffiene like drug are the favorites of ISIS, but the use of drugs in war has a long history.

the Homer part comes from this article:

Ten top drugs used in the ancient world includes this part on the Blue Lotus.

 Homer had described in ‘The Odyssey’ that the Lotus had taken away our hero’s willpower as if he had become a slave of an unreal dream – “Once tasted, no desire felt he come with tidings back or seek his country more.”
But another passage relates how Helen learned about Egyptian drugs, and at a party, mixed some of them with the wine to ease the sadness of her husband and the visiting soldiers: I.e. as a treatment of PTSS.

[219] Then Helen, daughter of Zeus, took other counsel. Straightway she cast into the wine of which they were drinking a drug to quiet all pain and strife, and bring forgetfulness of every ill. Whoso should drink this down, when it is mingled in the bowl, would not in the course of that day let a tear fall down over his cheeks, no, not though his mother and father should lie there dead, or though before his face men should slay with the sword his brother or dear son, and his own eyes beheld it. Such cunning drugs had the daughter of Zeus, drugs of healing, which Polydamna, the wife of Thon, had given her, a woman of Egypt, for there the earth, the giver of grain, bears greatest store of drugs, many that are healing when mixed, and many that are baneful; there every man is a physician, wise above human kind; for they are of the race of Paeeon.

so again we see the double edged sword of medicine and alcohol that has been recognized since ancient times.



BBC reports an interstellar asteroid with a weird shape is coming.

The cosmic interloper was discovered by Rob Weryk, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Astronomy and a co-author of the new study, which is published in Nature journal. Weryk and fellow Institute for Astronomy researcher Marco Micheli realised it was going extremely fast (with enough speed to avoid being captured by the Sun's gravitational pull) and was on a very eccentric trajectory taking it out of our Solar System.
The asteroid's name, 'Oumuamua, means "a messenger from afar arriving first" in Hawaiian.

Monday, November 20, 2017


 No, Mugabe still refuses to step down despite Sunday's protests.

the locals worry tlat "Gucci Grace" will grab power... instead of the main opposition leader, Vice President Mnangagwa, aka the Crocodile who was fired so Grace could step in and steal his job.

The Mythmaker

BBC has a series on Ovid, the naughty poet of Roman times.

and if you want to listen to the audiobook of Metamorphosis: Librivox version.

and no, I won't link to his R rated love poems. This is a family blog. /s.

but Augustus used his R rated poetry as an excuse to banish him... at a time Augustus was promoting "Family values" (and had to banish his nypho daughter Julia for being naughty). So wasOvid banished for his R rated poetry, or for spilling the beans on Julia, or maybe for .... (fill in the blanks).

Thor in the Sagas

Saga thing has a podcast about Thor: The mighty (but dumb) god of the sagas, and his modern version.

mp3 link

no I haven't seen the latest film: I am not a marvel universe fan. But I will probably watch it when it hits HBO...

Green priorities in California

---- ban leaf blowers and lawn mowers -----

--- don't build toilets because it is their right to defecate on the streets and spread disease.

more at my medical blog.

sanitation was a big thing in the IHS and is part of military training.

the concept is not exactly new: Even Moses knew about the sanitation problems.

sanitation in the ancient world. 

and this clueless doc should be happy that it's just Hepatitis A, and not cholera....or typhoid...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Historial costumes

George Stuart's miniature historical figure blog has posted several examples of his work with explanations of the costumes and the personalities.

Marie Antoinette.

Marie Antoinette at Trianon (c. 1780) After a childless marriage of nearly eight years, she bore a daughter in 1778 followed by a son in 1781. Her husband, Louis XVI, gave her a private palace (Petit Trianon) and a farm. She and her friends withdrew to these getaways to escape both the duties of court and the public. The Queen was able to fulfill her idolized dream of living like a “simple peasant” especially at the farm, albeit a very expensive “simplicity.”
interior of Vesailles palace LINK

he gives talks about the characters, but I can't find any on the Versailles series.

more characters here.

he has a lot of older video lectures on youtube.  or link2

most are short and about English monarchy, but this one is a longer lecture on the Borgias.

there is also a series on Russia

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Winnie the Pooh's story

Writer Brian Sibley discusses the writer of Winnie the Pooh, his son, and the up and coming film about the family behind the classic children's book.

For me, watching the film was a curious experience, mainly because I know too much about the subject. I have a written books, radio plays and programmes touching on the movie's story-line, as well as having known the 'real life Christopher Robin' and corresponded with his mother, his nanny and the artist, Ernest H Shepard who drew the unforgettable illustrations. So, my judgement is probably tainted with both too much knowledge of How Things Actually Were

Thanksgiving day prayer

Friday, November 17, 2017

war and video games

It's not just robosoldiers in the future, but drones and self driving vehicles. We already have drone warfare of course. but what's next?

Feminist blow back

I think it's unfair to show an aging Judge Moore when they talk about his days as a Don Juan. For some reason, google won't let me find a photo to show me what he looked like 40 years ago, but his son is a hunk, so I suspect Moore back then was  too.

So he was young, handsome, and single, after all, and if he was on the prowl well, in the 1970's, that was the norm. But unlike ordinary Don Juans, he didn't make them pregnant, and often he asked their parents permission.

So why did the girls go along with this?

as one nice southern boy lamented to me years ago complaining that none of the girls at his church would date him: They preferred "bad boys". You see, the meme then was that they would marry the "bad boy" and he would change into a good husband, and they'd have the best of two worlds: A sexy guy who was, good in bed, and a good Christian husband.

A common woman's fantasy (nor is this idea limited to Christian gals: as the "shades of grey" series shows, the fantasy continues. Or read "Dona Flor and her two husbands"... ).

But what about all those girls who didn't "win the prize"?

And with the sexual revolution in the 1970's, we gals who said "no" were often ridiculed for being prudes or worse.

Billy Joel even has a song ridiculing a girl for saying no for being a  Catholic and saying no.

But now, every lady who had an unwelcome pass made at her is getting on twitter and blasting the guy who did it. And some of the bad boys were Democrats. (oh the horror).

 (and I suspect a lot of the guys don't even remember who she was).

The Don Juans of that era forgot one thing: as the African proverb goes: even a small snake has a tooth.

Or in this case, a twitter account.

and as the Klingon proverb reminds one: Revenge is a dish best served cold.

I have to laugh.

Even poor Uncle Joe Biden is being blasted for his "touchy feely" hugs. Shhesh.

I visited friends in California back then, and everyone and his brother were hugging me, which made me uncomfortable since I am from the more rigid eastern USA.

Or as my sainted old mother said, they were "copping a free feel".

and our older brothers taught us how to slow down the Romeos who came on to us in the car, not with a slap but with an elbow in the solar plexus (no, groin hits were not in the playbook back then).

the latest outrage is the Alabama Romeo had called his teenaged girlfriend out of her trigonometry class to go on a date.

Didn't we see this scene before? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

and of course, missing in the conversation: No one is noticing how women send signals out to seduce men.

any doctor can relate how they were stalked by patients. (usually female patients stalking male doctors, but also the variations of M/F, m/m and f/f).

the war of the sexes has been going on and pointing fingers since the snake flirted with Eve in the garden of Eden, and Adam blamed her for eating the apple.

So no, I don't have any good answers for this, since no matter how much the feminists would like to remake "toxic masculinity", it won't work unless the men are given estrogen to slow them down.

So what is the answer?

Uh, modesty for women, (Back to the hijab) ?


Zimbabwe: not quite a coup

The situation in Zimbabwe is vague: the army essentially took over, but denied a coup.

But the backstory seems to be that as the beloved tyrant President Mugabe deteriorated with age, his ambitious wife was planning to take his place.

But unlike Mugabe, who was a revolutionary leader, she was disliked and even has been heckled in public.

So the army, after talking it over with China, who has propped up the reime (after the west imposed sanctions) they okayed the takeover by the army, knowing that if the wife took over there could be civil war.

MOre at my Mugabe Blog.

I always thought the western sanctions were hypocritical. The "white" farms were confiscated, so the Brits got angry and posted sanctions. But I remember when tribal Africans were moved off the farm under the white regime, so that whites could settle in the good farming areas.

After Mugabe took over, many of the white farms abandoned in the war were given to locals under land reform.

But the problem started as the regime descended into corruption, and the remaining farms were confiscated and given to his cronies, who didn't know how to run them. then everything snowballed as foreign investors pulled out knowing they would have to give control of their businesses and mines to locals.

as the economy collapsed, the educated emigrated to other countries, especially South Africa, and Mugabe trained his "green bomber" youth groups to terrorize locals, while using "slum clearance" as an excuse to tear down the houses and businesses of townships that voted against him.
and China stepped in, with long term plans to grab the valuable farm lands and mining rights.

Since then,  (i.e. about the time I moved here to the Philippines) I haven't followed the story, but things did settle down.

The Mashona tend to be pacifistic, and this helps.

but as the local proverb reminds one: Even a small snake has a tooth.

So one hopes things will remain peaceful.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

headlines below the fold (that the press is ignoring)

Spengler discusses the "coup" in Saudi, and what it means.

The second big issue is Saudi Arabia, which competed with Iran for decades as the biggest funder of terrorists and religious extremists. After Trump's March 2017 trip to Saudi Arabia, where he read the riot act to assembled Arab leaders, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince has centralized control of the government and seized hundreds of billions of dollars of royal family assets.
The $800 billion of royal family wealth targeted is larger than the national reserves of the kingdom. As I wrote in Asia Times last week, Saudi Arabia has gotten its first real government, as opposed to the family regime that allowed every crazy cousin to write checks to terrorists.
Of course, the kingdom well might get its second, third and fourth real government in short order if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fails. But the de facto coup is a huge blow to Sunni jihadism and a victory for American policy.

most of the comments are anti Israel trolls, but the part about stopping money going to terrorists by rich Saudis is good news for the rest of the world. The problem? They donate to "charities" that do good deeds, including funding schools etc. but often these charities are fronts that support clergy and madrasses that are essentially terrorist recruiting schools.

related item: Austin Bay's take on what is going on. Iran is spinning their attack on Saudi via their minions in Yemen the same way that Iranian supported Hezbollah spins the news on Israel.

Here's the bottom line media ploy and political gambit: "I can shoot at you but you can't prove I did it so if you counter-attack you're the aggressor."
Childish? Welcome to the UN and the world of CNN.


and the good news for US Catholics? The bishops supported the Christian bishop, not the liberal one.

this has made the usual suspects cry that they are giving the finger to Pope Francis. Well, no. But they are saying that killing babies (and now in some areas, grandmom) is a bit more important than voting for Democrats and saving mother earth by turning off your air conditioning and walking a couple miles in six inches of snow to buy your organic food.

he quotes a First Things  article that noted: as the middle class slide into hedonism, the church will too.

well, maybe the despicables in the US have a couple of bishops who noticed they exist, so maybe this is indeed a "headsup" to the Pope. But don't hold your breath... the pope is busy appointing bishops from the "who am I to judge" part of the church, and the left control the bureaucracy...

and all we have is our rosaries to stop them. Sigh.


my son reports that Colombia has really improved in recent years.

SP report here notes the same, but also notes that FARC is now taking off their communist mask to reveal they are actually drug cartels supporters wanting money. And the ex leader of FARC will run for president, promising to turn Colombia into a communist paradise similar to Venezuela.

The bad news? Venezuela just defaulted on it's loans and even Russia and China are worried.
 lots of details on that country in the post.


Xi just became the new Emperor of China.

this report ordering Christians to replace pictures of Jesus with photos of Xi has ominous overtones.

the former archbishop of Hong Kong is worried that the Vatican is pushing to allow the Catholics there be under Xi's control (i.e. to forcibly merge the independent underground illegal church with the "official catholic" church there).

SP reports on Chinese corruption that is the back story of his power grab.


in the Philippines, President Obama's ban on rifles because Duterte was going after the drug gangs is a gift that keeps on giving for China.

The Manila Bulletin reports a Chinese rifle shot the head of the bad guys in the fight in the south, and now we signed 14 agreements for economic development with them.

true, Duterte has long been leery of America, ever since the CIA got a major criminal out of his jail in Davao, but Obama and his ambassador who had a reputation for political meddling didn't help.

and here is an article about a possible ASEAN trade deal with Russia.

but Trump made a lot of deals too.

 But don't try to find the details, since the press is too busy posting he took a drink of water during his press conference.


Army coup in Zimbabwe? Mugabe under house arrest? Developing...

as for US politics: Any man who ever made a move on one of his dates or who gave the "touchy feely" hug of the 1970s to a woman is now guilty of sexual harassment.

The return of Victorian Vapors.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

ChickFlick of the week

The classic story of Anne Boleyn:

Lectures of the week

  quick before the copyright cops find it's there... MichaelDrout is an excellent teacher.

You dirty rat

according to Physorg, the brown rat originated in SE Asia and spread theoughout the world via ships.

there are six lineages of black rat, however and they also probably came from Asia, and are most famous for being the rodent behind the spread of the black death:

“Black Rats are carriers of many different human diseases, including plague, typhus and leptospirosis,” says CSIRO mammal expert Dr Ken Aplin, lead author of the study.
Read more at:

some attribute the decrease in plague in Europe to the fact that they discplaced the plague carrying black rat... but Wikipedia isn't sure.

The original carrier for the plague-infected fleas thought to be responsible for the Black Death was the black rat, and it has been hypothesized that the displacement of black rats by brown rats led to the decline of bubonic plague.[85] This theory has, however, been deprecated, as the dates of these displacements do not match the increases and decreases in plague outbreaks.[86]

but you can catch other diseases from them: again, Wikipedia.

brown rats may carry a number of pathogens,[76] which can result in disease, including Weil's diseaserat bite fevercryptosporidiosisviral hemorrhagic feverQ fever and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome 

Weil's disease is also called leptospirosis, and is a major problem here in the Philippines after flooding. People wade through shallow water, but the spirochete can enter through wounds in the skin.

it is treatable with antibiotics, but often in times of major flooding, folks don't get around to getting treatment in time: so the gov't puts out reminders about seeing a clinic or doc if you get a fever.

Musical interlude of the day

LOTR prequel?

Amazon prime says they will release a LOTR prequel.

will draw on “previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s original writings,” set at some point or points preceding The Fellowship of the Ring. Whatever the product turns out to be — Young IsildurThe Good GandalfThis Is Eru — has already received a multiseason commitment with an option for a potential spinoff. The move is consistent with Amazon’s new and not very nuanced scripted strategy, which — as described in September by since-disgraced and -resigned Amazon Studios head Roy Price — consists of landing the next Game of Thrones, in accordance with Jeff Bezos’s belief that “it takes big shows to move the needle.” Amazon’s answer to Thrones, we now know, is the even more mega-famous fantasy series that preceded and partially inspired it.

The Tolkien estate apparently okayed it.

more HERE. 

and HERE. TORN cautions it might be the stories of what has already been sold to be films, such as in the appendix of the book, not the Simarillion or Lost Tales.

there are a couple fan film prequels on you tube that are not authorized and boring.

and some films based on Tolkien's life are supposed to be in the works too.

So one hopes this will be true to the Tolkien vision, but also interesting.

the bad news: No Amazon prime here, although they eventually wend their way onto Asian channels

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Family news

Joy is still at the ASEAN business summit in Manila (the politicians have moved to the Pampanga meeting). She is aiming for overseas orders. Because of the high price of labour here, we can't under sell other countries but we can sell high end organic rice, and are looking for exports.

I was outside yesterday and was talking to the neighbor who just bought a black labrador who lives down the street. They are trying to train her.

If they breed her, we might ask for a puppy.

While I was outside, someone took a shower in the spare bedroom, which is empty, and left the water on (this shower has hot water, unlike the shower in the staff bathroom). Or maybe someone had turned on the outside valve to water the plants, and didn't realize it was connected to the indoor water, and the shower had been left open which someone had turned on trying to shower, but when no water came, didn't bother to turn it off.

So after coming back, I found the hallway full of water: the room was flooded, and the water running full blast... debris had blocked the drain, flooded the hallway and even into my bedroom,

What a mess.

It is now dry, but the bathroom still has water in it: I will ask the maid to clean it up when she comes, and our handiman to clean out the drainpipe...

in our prayers

An earthquake along the Kurdistan/Iran border area has killed several hundred people in Iran. link2

More HERE. highlights another problem: it is winter, and it gets cold in these higher elevations.

and then there is this.

As aftershocks continue to rattle the country, Iran has shut down one of its main gas plants in the west for safety concerns. "This is another problem," said our correspondent. "This is an area that gets very, very cold at night, so that is going to have an impact on people's heating and their ability to cook food. So, a lot of misery is still to come."
this sounds like they use LPG to cook (as we do here in the Philippines: the alternative is wood, which produces smoke and causes deforestation).

But the problem with heating homes with gas has been an ongoing problem in Iran, which also imports a lot of gas from nearby countries. And is one reason that they are persuing nuclear power to generate electricity.