Tuesday, February 27, 2018

internet out

A rice truck hit  low electric wire down the street, pulling down all the wires for Electricity telephone and internet, plus the poll (the old one: They are replacing the wooden polls with concrete ones but this hadn't been done yet.

So no internet for two more weeks.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lecture of the week: Terror in history

Professor Teofilo Ruiz famous course is on line (until the copyright cops find it's there

Stuff below the fold

A podcast on genesis from a story point of view: do myths proclaim lies or a deeper truth?

a musician's story


KFC runs out of fresh chickens in the UK


question no one except Trumpie boy is asking: Why the heck didn't Obama pass gun control laws?

On the other hand, trying to hospitalize (or jail) a violent teenager or a violent schizophrenic is almost impossible in the USA. I have experience with this problem both as a doc and a parent.

so you give them drugs and counseling and cross your fingers instead of hospitalizing them, as you would have done 30 years ago.

three billboards wins the BAFTA awards.

heh. I didn't know the Brits made that film.

Plane crash last week in Russia, and now one in Iran.

in our prayers.


India just snubbed BabyTrudeau. Yeah, supporting violent independence movements has consequences, bub.

WTF is going on in Cuba, causing hearing and brain abnormalities? JAMA article summarized at link.

how to defeat a medieval army without fighting.


Gene therapy for a rare retinal degenerative disease.mp3

No, PeppaPig does not cause autism.


Blood Cobalt

StategyPage discusses the chronic civil war (and refugees and starvation and disease caused by the chaos of the war) in Central Africa, partly tribal and partly because President Kabila refuses to leave. The bishops devised a peaceplan there, but were ignored, so it appears it will continue.

The MSM ignores it (just another civil war, folks, just move on)..

But how many in the MSM will cover this: President Kabila plans to tax mining companies taking out cobalt (and copper).

February 10, 2018: Congo confirmed it intends to raise taxes on minerals as well as raise the royalty rate mining companies must pay the government. Parliament approved legislation to raise mining taxes as part of a new "mining code." ... Most of the mining companies affected are European, North American and Chinese. Cobalt will become more expensive and so will copper. Why? In 2016 the world produced an estimated 123,000 tons of cobalt and 57 percent came from Congo. ..
So what, you might say? Well this is why:
Cobalt has many uses, but it is critical in the production of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the type used to power mobile digital devices and electric vehicles...
 and who is buying all that cobalt?
China has been a major buyer of Congolese cobalt so that increase will hit Chinese manufacturers particularly hard. In the first nine months of 2017 China imported an estimated $1.2 billion worth of Congolese cobalt.

and then there is the corruption angle:
..Gecamines, the stare owned mining company, plays a key role in mismanagement and "diverting" mining revenues. Gecamines officials are beholden to the Kabila government. (Austin Bay)
WSJ article on China's growing monopoly on cobalt. that will let them be a leader in electronics.

and a few more articles on my Mugabeblog.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Space babies

David Reneke has a post saying the next astronaut on the moon may very well be a lady, because NASA has a commitment to equality.

the elephant in the room: Babies.

Some female astronauts have been committed single women or lesbians, so no problem. But what about if they want to come home and have a child?

this 2010 article from Time magazine notes that China's female astronauts will be chosen only from women who already had a child.

The reasoning behind the prerequisite, according to officials, is that spaceflight could potentially harm the women's fertility. "It's out of the consideration of being responsible for the female pilots," Xu Xianrong, director of the PLA's Clinical Aerospace Medicine Center in Beijing and a member of the selection panel, told the official government news agency Xinhua. "Though there is little evidence on how the space experience will affect the female constitution, we have to be extra cautious, because this is a first for China." Ensuring that the female astronauts have already reproduced, he said, will guarantee that their family planning is not disrupted.

and this being China, you can note this little observation:
But at least one authority, Zhang Jianqi, former deputy commander of the country's manned space program, has stated that the requirement stands because married women are more physically and psychologically mature.
so how about the effect of zero gravity and radiation on fertility?

UK Telegraph article (2014):

Animal experiments have shown that both male and female reproductive organs are affected by zero gravity. It is also likely that space radiation is damaging the ovaries of female astronauts and the sperm production of men. Although most astronauts have already had their families by the time they go into space, NASA is so concerned that it now offers egg and sperm freezing.

in other words, they will get around the problem by using high tech interventions.

I remember one early astronaut whose wife bore a normal child after he returned, but can't find which one. But scientists were worried at the time about mutations if sperm or ova are radiated.

And if the woman is pregnant, there are worries not only about radiation but on microgravity problems in the developing baby.

and another trivia fact: menstruation in space is a bummer, and one reason that early flights didn't include women.

and Wikipedia has an entire article on sex in space. Yes, it's wikipedia so don't quote it.

and of course, if any of them already have done "it", they are keeping quiet about it. 

update: this is an article about how high dose radiation therapy for cancer affects fertility and childbearing.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Family news update

The lesion that I thought was BCC was biopsied and turned out only to be a wart, so I don't need plastic surgery to remove it: the doctor just cauterized it.

So I bought a new tablet, actually a convertible computer with the money I had put aside from the budget for medical care.

For the last two days, I have been busy doing updates on it and learning how to use it in both regular and tablet style.

The bad news: I always used my tablet for email so had to find my passwords and put them back in.

Other family news:

My niece's skating team just came back from a competition in Austria. Who wudda thot? Guess she got it from her mom, since me and my brother tended to be klutzes.

A still small voice

according to a few Blog posts, the ladies on the View ridiculed those who "heard God's voice" as mentally ill.

True, those who "hear voices" of any sort could be having auditory hallucinations: Auditory hallucination are often a symptom found in psychotic episodes (from schizophrenia, mania, depressive psychosis,  or illness, fever, drugs, or poisons): that is, a sign of a serious mental illness.

But sometimes they are hynogogic hallucinations: From the border of sleep and awareness. This is not associated with mental illness.

however, God doesn't usually "talk" to us as in a hallucination (at least in my experience).

He talks to us in advice from others. He talks to us in coincidences. And he talks to us in the silence of our hearts when we are quiet.

Like Elijah: when told to wait for the Lord's voice, he ignored the wind, the storm, the rockslide  the earthquake and the fire. And then:
and after the fire a still small voice.
This is how most people know God's voice: it is small and it is quiet and "heard" in your heart, not a hallucination of an actual voice.

(but one note of caution:  often our own will is shouting do this or do that, so if the voice is about a decision, the wise caution to get a second person to discern if you should do it).

the still small voice is the voice of our conscience.

The best place I have seen this portrayed in a book is in the humorous books (link) about Don Camillo, a feisty priest in Northern Italy who often fights against the communist mayor, often using fists. Often at the end of the story, the priest goes to pray to Jesus on the cross, who talks back to him and often corrects him.

The Christ in the crucifix often has far greater understanding than Don Camillo for the troubles of the people, and has to constantly but gently reprimand the priest for his impatience....
According to Guareschi, priests who object to his portrayal of Don Camillo may break their staffs over his head, and Communists who object to his portrayal of Peppone may break a hammer and sickle across his back, but no one is to criticize him over Christ's voice, for that stands for his conscience.

But there are times when a person hears an actual voice and the person is not mentally ill and doesn't usually hear voices.
Often we hear this happening in times of peril or emergencies.

For example, once my father had a tire blowout when he was going 70 mph on the turnpike, and he heard a voice tell him: Pump the breaks pump the breaks. (slamming the breaks will lock them and cause a severe skid, which would have been fatal). No one in the car had said anything, but the voice saved my life and the life of my family.

Subconscious voice? An Angel? My father just shrugged and said he had prayed to "that guy" in our church for a safe trip, so he figured "that guy" told him how to control the car.

"That guy" was the saint portrayed in a statue at the front of our church, the good church father St Athanasius.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Just for nice: beautiful places to visit


we are close enough to Manila to get tourism (and the homes of Manila people who build vacation houses here) and since we are near the base of the mountains so we have a lot of nature parks here. No beaches however: we are inland.

And things are getting safer.

SP has a summary of all the wars and geopolitical stuff going on here LINK


Black history month

If you want to really learn about various cultural aspects of the arts, the Library of Congress has a lot of lectures on this.


lots of lectures for black history month there, on various African cultures both in Africa and in the USA or elsewhere that don't get a lot of attention: For example, the black elites, African Americans in Hollywood...about Ethiopia's history, and a a lecture on African elites in India... and overlooked leaders like Clarence Thomas or Condi Rice?

(am I the only one who thinks that the producers of "Madam Secretary" were racist for making their heroine a blond white lady? Never mind).

another source of Black History stories is the AAHIAH:

The stories of black cowboys and the Buffalo soldiers is starting to get told, but do you know the story of Stagecoach Mary?



Someone posted film of the latest Kenda cruise on youtube. Here is part one.

He also has a book out last year about his cases.

News below the fold

Morgan Tsvangirai has died: opposition leader who fought Robert Mugabe's tyrannical rule of Zimbabwe.

AlJ has a summary of his life LINK...

It's a dark moment for Zimbabwe. Iconic opposition leader and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has died after a two-year battle against colon cancer. His death will remain as one of the rare moments that has united Zimbabwean politicians from across the political divide.
His loyal supporters are inconsolable at the loss of their icon, but perhaps the greatest tribute is that those from the ruling elite, who have opposed and ridiculed him as a politician, have shown him respect.
Tsvangirai has, without doubt, been one of the greatest and most influential political figures in Zimbabwean history. He has always fought for the underdog, starting his activism as a trade unionist while working in a nickel mine.

no, not as earth shaking as finding a few Russians trolled Facebook but in the long run more important for the people of Zimbabwe.

As I pointed out earlier: The real heroes are not fake silicon valley type Marvel universe heroes, but those who actually put their life on their line for their people.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

wars around the world podcast

StrategyPage podcast discusses 2017

and one of their articles notes that the real danger is the ISIS widows.

Finally a black superhero


Well, we had lots of Tarzan/Phanthom/She type white heroes ruling in over black populations, often using advanced tech to do it. So I guess I shouldn't worry that the Panther is using high tech,
( probably bought from China who is trying to get dibs on all the African rare minerals).

but I had to laugh at the modern pushup bras worn by the lovely ladies in the dances.

And I wonder: is the Panther Bantu, Nilotic (like Papa Obama) or Masai?

supposedly he united five tribes, but the name of the country suggests a Bantu origin.

but with all the Nollywood talent out there, why are the set designers etc seem to have western names? (African-Americans are considered Americans in Africa, because the culture is different).

The design of the movie’s setting—the fictional African nation of Wakanda—mostly comes from production designer Hannah Beachler (Moonlight, Beyoncé’s Lemonade) and costume designer Ruth Carter (AmistadSelma). “The challenge was imagining how something futuristic looks in Africa,”
then I ran into this:

Beachler says. “What would Africans have done given reign over their own culture, without having been colonized?

Uh, presumably she never heard of Ethiopia?

The cultures of Cush and Ethiopia go back 5000 years, with links to Egypt and the Middle East. Memnon was at Troy, for example. Ancient Egypt, and although traditional Egyptians were mixed race, the pharoahs got their bowmen from there, and they had pyramids, and their own script (one of the "undeciphered scripts alas). They almost took over Egypt during the Hyksos era, and later did take over Egypt. Black Pharohs? yup. The latest kerfuffle is if Nefertiti was Black: Probably not, but since her husband Ahkenatan's mom came from a "military" family, she might have been From Cush. (And Ahkenatan was the dad of King Tut).

One more comment:, the "advanced civilization" seems to be very European/tech oriented, as in Silicon Valley. Fancy trains and super powers.

Uh, what about sewers, midwives, medicine for high blood pressure, insecticides? African culture places emphasis on family ties and cooperation and care for their sick and elderly. Did the producers put any of this into their "advanced" civilization, or is "advanced" defined as techology and power?

yes I know: it's the Marvel Universe. So give them a break.

as for superheroes: Yes Nollywood has done that. 

but I probably won't see the movie until it hits HBO, and even then I may pass. I am not into the superhero genre: the last one I saw was Wonderwoman because my granddaughter wanted to see it and I was "duh".

Never mind.

The real super heroes in Africa:

Dr Vadgama Harsh, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, operates on a patient at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret on April 10, 2017.. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Family News

Robin just landed in Korea: no, not for the Olympics, but to visit her son who is learning the Korean language (he already knows Mandarin and of course, English, but not Tagalog, since he was born in the US).

I am old enough to remember a poor Korea with refugees etc after the war, but now it is a vacation spot: not just nature areas, but for shopping.

Robin is a textile artist and will probably shop for interesting textiles.

When Ruby was there, it was shopping shopping, shopping.

Ah, but if I went, it would be to visit the historical sites where all those wonderful  K-Dramas are filmed. (with those gorgeous costumes)


Back on the home front: The rice harvest is almost over.
The main street is having holes dug in the middle to put up barriers and street lights in the middle of the street. Since there is so much congestion, one wonders if this will make it worse, but I suspect they will also stop double parking and going the wrong direction, stuff that tends to block traffic.

I went to get a haircut, but the only one in town who can decently cut my fine thin hair is off, so instead we went to the "Ukayukay" used clothing shop in the Palenke owned by a local Muslim lady, who usually has some larger sizes in her inventory. I Bought some used teeshirts and shorts: If they don't fit, the maid is slightly smaller than I am. And she was with me and bought a couple pieces too.

I have read a few complaining articles about used clothing and charity clothing "sold" to those evil entrepeneurs who resell them in Asia, undercutting the local industries.

This is a bunch of crap.

The cheap Chinese imports under price our local industries anyway.

Usually you see a dressmaker for good clothing or the local style of blouses and skirts for church, school, or work. Also for gowns for parties and dances.

The only other clothing made here are blouses or those wonderful cool house dresses (similar to mumus) that everyone loves to wear at home.

But here in the provinces we usually just wear jeans (or shorts) and tee shirts on the street: some "ukayukay", but often just cheap imports sold in the Palenke (open air market).

In other news: My new computer works great, but my tablet died. I'll have to buy a new one, alas.

But not now: I have to go to Manila to see the Dermatologist to get another lesion evaluated.

Medicare won't pay for stuff in the Philippines, but I do have Phil Health and enough savings to pay if I again need Mohs surgery (plastic surgery) on the lesion. The last surgery cost less than 2 thousand dollars for all the visits, so I can afford it.

But it does mean putting off buying a new tablet for now, since I tend to keep myself on a strict budget when it comes to "luxuries".

Attention California Gourmets

DaveBarry also reports that 20 pound rodents are invading California.

Weighing in at 20 pounds and measuring 2 feet, 6 inches long, plus a 12-inch tail, the nutria live in or near water. They're also incredibly destructive.
“They burrow in dikes, and levees, and road beds, so they weaken infrastructure, (which is) problematic for flood control systems,” California Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Peter Tira said.

and apparently also Louisiana, and BoingBoing suggests just eat them and no problem.

and for the real question of the week: Can you eat them for Lent?

Well, you can eat Beaver and Capybara (and alligator), but I don't know about Nutria or Cuy or Nigerian rats.

lots of people have weird ideas about why no meat in Lent, but I suspect part of it is that meat was a luxury for the rich and used in parties and fietas, and fish was eaten by the poor in the early church. So the church would easily give permission for the poor to eat their usual foods.

Also in Spanish lands, they have long been allowed to be dispensed from the rule. My sons and husband were not aware of the meat free Fridays...

nowadays, of course, that "rule" no longer exists except for Good Friday and Ash Wednesday.

Female mutant crayfish clones

forget the teenaged mutant ninja turtles: The latest WAGD threat to the world are Female Mutant Crayfish clones.

According to a new study published in Nature, Ecology and Evolution, the all-female marbled crayfish reproduces by cloning at a rapid rate, earning it comparisons to the fictional Tribble alien-species on Star Trek. "If you have one animal, essentially, three months later, you will have 200 or 300," Wolfgang Stein, a neurophysiologist at Illinois State University 

 via Dave Barry

apparently, some Germans put them in their aquariums, and then, voila, they had babies, and more babies, and...
ended up thrown out into streams and lakes there.

where the continued to lay hundreds of eggs which turned into more crabs.

NYTimes reports on the species, which has spread to several countries including Madagascar, causing havoc.

But the big question: are they edible?

Yes, but they are so small that they probably aren't worth trying to cook them.

Yum! Crawdads

wikipedia on crayfish as food... usually you only eat the tail, but can eat the claw if it is large enough.

UK Guardian on how to gather and eat signal crawfish, an invasive species in the UK.. watch out for those claws.

how to eat boiled Crayfish.

so can you eat all those eggs as sushi? We eat the eggs found when we open lobsters and prawns to eat, so why not?

in the USA, crawfish, aka crawdads, are associated with Cajun culture of New Orleans. And it is Mardi Gras time, so sing along:

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Southern Cross

DavidReneke has an article on the Southern Cross, a constellation beloved of those living in the Southern hemisphere.

And he explains that the brightest star at the bottom of the constellation is actually a more than one star:

Acrux is about 321 light-years from Earth, and in fact it is not one star but two nearly identical B-class stars. These can be resolved in a small telescope, making Acrux a nice double, but they appear as a single star to the unaided human eye. The brighter of the two — call it Alpha-1, is magnitude 1.33 and the dimmer — call it Alpha-2 –1.73, with a resultant magnitude of 0.77. ,,,
  To make things even more complicated, it appears that Alpha-1 is in fact a double star, whose components’ combined masses are about 24 times that of the sun. Alpha-2 is a single star about 13 times as massive as the sun. Acrux’s position is RA: 12h 26m 35s, dec: -63° 05′ 57″. Source: Earth and Sky

he says that MarkTwain wasn't impressed when he saw it, but when I worked in Africa, at night I could see it in the south, hanging in the sky over the distant slag heap from an asbestos mine 20 milessouth of us. This is the closet photo to what I remember seeing:

Can we see it from here? no. Presumably we are too far north to see it.

but in the past, those in the northern hemisphere could indeed view the constellation:

 here is another factoid about the constellation. from GlobeAtNight:

Crux was visible to the Ancient Greeks, who regarded it as part of the constellation Centaurus. At the latitude of Athens in 1000 BC, Crux was clearly visible, though low in the sky. However, the precession of the equinoxes gradually lowered Crux’s stars below the European horizon, and they were eventually forgotten by the inhabitants of northern latitudes. By AD 400, most of the constellation never rose above the horizon for Athenians.

Sounds about right

the curse of modern medicine: in the old days, you did an exam, talked a bit about trivia with the patient, and on your chart wrote: Cold. Penicillin.

 Leaving out negative stuff in the exam (such as the secondary infection why you gave her the penicillin) and not mentioning that most of the visit was spent discussing the mom's depression because she had a cheating husband or kid taking drugs.

Nowadays, penicillin is a no no, but instead of chatting with your patient, you spend most of the visit "documenting" everything, and you never do get around to discussing the real reason she came to see you for a simple cold (to complain about her cheating husband or kid).

because paper work is now king.

and I retired ten years ago, before Obama care made it worse.

Epidemics? nothing new under the sun

Instapundit linked to a NYPost article on 7 ways to stop a plague.

don't bother to read it: it is a WAGD (we're all gonna die) post with an agenda:

Sadly, epidemic prevention doesn’t currently seem to be a priority for the US government. In February, the CDC announced they would need to cut their global disease-prevention efforts by 80 percent due to lack of funding.

all over the internet: WAPO here.

one wonders if this is true, or similar to the "Banned words" kerfuffle a couple months ago that turned out to be fake news.

what was cut was an Obamacare part of the funding
i.e. for bureaucrats to implement programs to investigate stuff that affect people.

and most of it is not for infectious diseases or epidemics, but for programs for the elderly, stuff that families used to do when there were still families out there (diabetes prevention, chronic disease self care, alzheimer's prevention, prevent falling are three examples). I mean, I support breastfeeding, but 8 million dollars to promote it? 126 million to stop smoking, fine: but where is that money going?

Oh yes, some of it is actually about epidemics: 300 million to make sure kids get their shots, and 40 million to help smaller places to get lab access to check for disease.

But most, I suspect, will go to a bloated bureaucracy, where most of the funding goes to pencil pushers, and good folks spend a lot of time in meetings and in "documentation" or "writing proposals".

To Know A Fly is a humorous novel about scientific research, and shows that even 50 years ago, how much time was wasted in getting money:
It is believed in some quarters that to become a successful modern biologist requires a college education and a substantial grant from the Federal Government. The college education not infrequently is as useful for acquiring proficiency in the game of Grantsmanship as it is for understanding biology.
No self-respecting modern biologist can go to work without money for a secretary, a research associate, two laboratory assistants, permanent equipment, consumable supplies, travel, a station wagon for field collecting, photographic supplies, books, animals, animal cages, somebody to care for the animals, postage, telephone calls, reprints, and last, but by no means least, a substantial sum (called overhead) to the university to pay for all the stenographers hired to handle all the papers and money transactions that so big a grant requires.
sounds about right.

I have a longer post about my experience with this at my medical blog.

You think the VA has problems? Try the IHS.


No, not the cute Disney ones, or the bumbling idiots in the Hobbit: The ones who stalk you on line.

TeaAtTrianonBlog's writer is an author of historical fiction, and for years her blog has been trolled and her books have received sarcastic reviews including personal attacks from the same troll.

Now she is being threatened with a lawsuit for simply checking with the college if the professor has a history of violence against women.

this is not, alas, new (see Computerworld article from 2007) but is becoming epidemic.

most of the bloggers reporting this type of bullying/cyberstalking tend to be political, whereas Ms Vidal's books and blogs are not.

Her sin? being sympathetic to Marie Antoinette, who most modern historians point out does not deserve her bad press, and  being sympathetic to the religious beliefs of her characters.

But their main problem with her writings is she doesn't have oodles of college degrees.

Quell Horrors!

Well, living in the Philippines and having a limited budget, I have only read one of her books (on Scribd), which included the Cathars as background to the young heroine's struggles to find love.

It was a routine historical romance, meaning that it was a painless way to learn about history while enjoying a nice uncomplicated story about nice people (even the bad guys, or in this case, the religious fanatics including the Lady of the Manor and her ilk, were nice).

Historical romances and detective stories are dismissed by academians, but for the rest of us peons  who read romances or detective stories, well, we sort of enjoy the story, and if we learn about history too, well that is a good "side effect". Think Tony Hillerman, or Laura Rowland, or Ellis Peters, or SergeanneGolan, or Janet Evanovich (I added this since blue collar NJ seems to be a foreign culture to the elites).

The past is another country, and people think differently, but often there is a "modern" thinking character to bridge the gap, and they give help to understand what goes on in other cultures, and how those people interact.

And afterward, sometimes you actually dig into the history to find out more about that time and place.

So why are the trolls after her?

Because they can.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nerd joke of the day

Hollywood is sick.

a Phantom thread is about a guy who verbally abuses his girlfriend, and then falls in love with her when she poisons him.

but the bimbo in the grey series is even kinkier:
50 shades got married, and the feministas are in tears.

What began as a leather-bound power struggle between two lovers in a wealthy dominant's sex lair, has now dissolved in a cold Long Island Iced tea, as our two stars trot towards domestic bliss.

which is just as believable as the dream of HarliQuin's about domestic bliss with the joker.

but for you nerds who don't like violence, a freeper put up this joke on how to torture your girlfriend:

Big brother is reading your romantic texting

the most absurd part of all the smoking guns in the various scandals, has no one noticed that you can't commit have a simple affair with a co worker without big brother finding out about it?

Actually, I believe this started with a hit job against General Petreus' by snooping in on his email, but now the snooping has gotten a lot worse.

Reminds me of the "good old days" of the FBI when JEdgarHoover had bugs in the hotel rooms of Martin Luther King...

what has changed now is that "big brother" will publicize your secrets, shaming you, your paramour, your spouses and kids, on the front page of the WaPost and NYTimes, whereas in the past you just risked a story in the back pages of the National Enquirer.

the justification is supposed to be "terrorism", but when they snoop in on love affairs, while ignoring warnings from officials in Russia (about the Boston marathon bombers) and the Philippines (about AlQaeda's plan to fly airplanes into buildings), well, it does make you wonder about their priorities.


A reminder to those who dismiss the use of opioids for pain as unneeded, while ignoring that all those stories of people "addicted" after their docs gave them a mild narcotic for pain were probably exaggerating their pain to get the narcotic in the first place.

and most of the overdose deaths were from Fentanyl,

The drug is still legally prescribed for rare cases of severe pain, but most of thedeaths are tied to illicit forms of the drug coming from China and Mexico. 

and this doesn't note overdoses from medicine stolen from those needing pain pills.

When I worked in Minnesota, we had two such deaths: One, a drug abuser who stole her cousin's MSContin, another a teenager at a party given morphine by another teen who took it from her grandmother's morphine syrup for breakthrough pain.

Those who need narcotic pain relief can be managed on a stable dosage, and function normally. Get rid of the pain and you can wean them off.

Those who take it to get high keep increasing the dosage until they get a bigger high, and often have social dysfunction. They don't just take opioids, but often had problems controlling their use of alcohol, marijuana, and tranquillizers, but if opioids are available, they are the drug of choice because they give you such a nice "high".

This article discusses the subtle difference (subtle because we sometimes treat people who have chronic pain and addiction problems).

Addiction is a biological and psychological condition that compels a person to satisfy their need for a particular stimulus and to keep satisfying it, no matter what.
It is a compulsive behavior that demands more and more drugs, regardless of the consequences that lead to dysfunction. A person who is addicted to opioids has a disease that undermines optimal function and drives one to compulsively use a drug, despite the negative consequences.
The pain patient who is effectively treated with opioids finds life restored-even if he is dependent on them. With the pain muted by stable and steady controlled use of long-acting opioids, a patient can reclaim his life, go back to work, return to family life, and pursue favorite pastimes.
Dependence is a physical state that occurs when the lack of a drug causes the body to have a reaction. Physical dependence is solely a physical state indicating that the body has grown so adapted to having the drug present that sudden removal of it will lead to negative consequences such as a withdrawal reaction..
.The difference between a patient with opioid addiction and a patient who is dependent on opioids for chronic pain is simple. The opioid-dependent patient with chronic pain has improved function with his use of the drugs and the patient with opioid addiction does not.

LATimes article on alcohol, opioids and suicide deaths.

mainly in rural whites, laid off because they live in areas where jobs have decreased.

Friday, February 09, 2018

the secret life of Andy Warhol

remembering the many faces of pop art icon, a Pittsburgh native

from Biography:

Warhol's life and work simultaneously satirized and celebrated materiality and celebrity. On the one hand, his paintings of distorted brand images and celebrity faces could be read as a critique of what he viewed as a culture obsessed with money and celebrity. On the other hand, Warhol's focus on consumer goods and pop-culture icons, as well as his own taste for money and fame, suggest a life in celebration of the very aspects of American culture that his work criticized. Warhol spoke to this apparent contradiction between his life and work in his book
 via Father Z:  the Vatican Museum will hold an exhibition of his paintings.

The Catholic Herald discusses the tension between his art, his art world, his same sex attraction, and his religion.
 On April 1, 1987, the most popular artists, actors, fashion designers, writers and musicians in America converged on St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Liza Minnelli showed up, along with Calvin Klein, Tom Wolfe and George Plimpton. Yoko Ono arrived a bit early; she was giving a speech.
One could have easily mistaken Andy Warhol’s memorial service for a society event rather than a religious one, were it not for the eulogy given by the artist’s friend John Richardson.
He spoke of Warhol’s “secret piety”, which “inevitably changes our perception of an artist who fooled the world into believing his only obsessions were money, fame and glamour, and that he was cool to the point of callousness. Never take Andy at face value.” It is this secret piety that the Vatican Museums hope to uncover in their major exhibition of his work next year. Indeed, the Catholic faith is the only constant theme in his strange life.

summary: his faith helped keep him grounded in the chaos of the 1960s... and not just a vague mushy spirituality either:

Religion kept Warhol from going over the brink. He attended Mass almost daily. Other days he would just slip into St Vincent Ferrer on Lexington Avenue, drop into the back pew and pray. He spent his Thanksgivings, Christmases and Easters volunteering at a soup kitchen, and befriended the homeless and poor whom he served. He put his nephew through seminary. Though openly gay, he endeavoured to remain celibate throughout his life.

another article here: from Artsy: Ten Reasons Andy Warhol matters.


two speeches by the author to the Library of Congress. Enjoy!
an earlier speech:

bio at wikipedia.

Cat Video of the week

a wonderful film,

Over the Sea to Skye

Outlander fans are familiar with this song:


what I didn't know is that the origianl lyrics were about the Battle of Culloden: 

Wikipedia had the original lyrics:

which remember the flight of Bonny Prince Charles from the British, and the brutal highland clearances.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,Onward! the sailors cry;Carry the lad that's born to be KingOver the sea to Skye

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,Thunderclaps rend the air;Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,Follow they will not dare....
Many's the lad fought on that day,Well the claymore could wield,When the night came, silently layDead on Culloden's field.
Burned are their homes, exile and deathScatter the loyal men;Yet ere the sword cool in the sheathCharlie will come again.

that pretty well describes the background of the Outlander saga.

But the song's lyrics were rewritten by Robert Louis Stevenson, and those are the lyrics that are used for the show: and here are the first and last verses that are sung for the TV show:

 [Chorus:] Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,Say, could that lad be I?Merry of soul he sailed on a dayOver the sea to Skye...
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,Mountains of rain and sun,All that was good, all that was fair,All that was me is gone.
Stevenson's lyrics hint at another aspect of the Island of Skye: the realm of Faerie:

TeaAtTrianon links to the AlishSinclair blog post about Skye:

lots of lovely photos, and it includes this about Dunvegan Castle:

Displayed inside the castle, so no photos, is the ancient and tattered Fairy Flag. There are many stories and traditions surrounding this relic and its origins. The tale favoured in the information provided to visitors is the one in which the Chief of Clan Macleod marries a fairy. The couple have a child together but the fairy knows she has to return to her people in Fairyland. She leaves the magical flag, imbued with protective powers, wrapped round the baby, and this she does a few miles away at the Fairy Bridge:
Dunvegan Castle
from wikipedia commons
wikipedia also has a post on the fairy flag there:

the Fairy Flag was entrusted to a family of hereditary standard bearers. Only the eldest male of this family was ever allowed to unfurl the flag; the first such hereditary standard bearer was given the honour of being buried inside the tomb of the chiefs, on the sacred isle of Iona. Tradition states that the flag was unfurled at several clan battles in the 15th and 16th centuries; the flag's magical powers are said to have won at least one of them. Another 19th-century tradition linked the flag to a prophecy which foretold the downfall of Clan MacLeod; but it also prophesied that, in the "far distant future", the clan would regain its power and raise its honour higher than ever before...

and Skye is located here:
 GNU Free Documentation License.

Dunvegan Castle website discusses the flag.

and no, although Trump's mom was a MacLeod, she wasn't born on Skye, but on the Island of Lewis, nearby.

hmm.. what was that about "in the "far distant future", the clan would regain its power and raise its honour higher than ever before"?

50 ways to kill your lover: From Grey to Mushrooms

The probably have been deaths from people "inspired" by fifty shades of grey, but now we have pushback:

2017's Hottest Trend: Poisoning Your Man With Mushrooms

in one film it was deliberate attempt to kill, but in the second one, she just wanted to make him sick so she can nurse him/have power over him, and the second time he agrees, so it is an erotic trick in a sick relationship where he abuses her verbally for most of the movie.

The Mushroom used seems to be the Cortinarius species.

From Brittanica: a list of poisonous mushrooms, including the one that was used in the film.

The two species of webcap, the deadly webcap (Cortinarius rubellus) and the fool’s webcap (Cortinarius orellanus), are very similar in appearance to both each other and to a number of edible varieties. These mushrooms feature a poison known as orellanin, which initially causes symptoms similar to the common flu. Orellanin has an insidiously long latency period and may take 2 days to 3 weeks to cause symptoms, often leading to a misdiagnosis.

then you see this:
The toxin ultimately causes kidney failure and death if left untreated. In 2008, English author Nicholas Evans mistakenly collected and served webcap mushrooms to his relatives, resulting in hospitalization for four of them. He, his wife, and his brother-in-law all required kidney transplants as a result of the poisoning.
so not an immediate onset of symptoms as with the poisoning in the film.

Mushroom expert has a long discussion of how to identify the bad versions from the ones you can eat.

However, several other (white coloured) mushrooms, mainly the "death cap" mushroom, aka Amanita Phalloides, does lead to the onset of GI symptoms within hours of being eaten and is the most common cause of fatalities.

The clinical course of amatoxin poisoning is described in three phases: delayed gastroenteritis with significant body fluid volume loss (after a postingestion latency of 6–24 hours), symptomatic recovery (24–36 hours after ingestion), and fulminant hepatic and multiorgan failure (typically 3–5 days after the ingestion) 
Maggy Wassilieff, 'Poisonous plants and fungi - Poisonous fungi', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/9791/death-cap-mushroom (accessed 9 February 2018)

this got in the news a couple years ago when a bunch of people in the San Francisco area picked and ate some mushrooms, not realizing they were poisonous.

and they are responsible for most mushroom poisonings throughout the world.

Yes. I saw two cases of this when I worked in Africa, and it was not pleasant.

and from the University of Bath: a very funny podcast:

  Garden poisonings mp3.

or try this book:

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Colors look different in space

LiveScience article explaining why the new Tesla in space looks so fake.
 This Tesla sure looks fake, but that's because of the way colors appear in space....
Even Elon Musk thinks his space-cruising midnight-cherry Tesla Roadster looks weird. "It looks so ridiculous and impossible," the SpaceX CEO told reporters after the Falcon Heavy megarocket launched the car into space yesterday (Feb. 6). "You can tell it's real because it looks so fake, honestly." Musk went on to say that colors, in general, look strange in space, because "there's no atmospheric occlusion. Everything's too crisp," he said.
see also:The 18 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics

Romani, traditional tribes and assimilation

I ran across an article where the SJW were upset that a "white" woman was cast as Esmerelda in the play Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Presumably they think gypsies are black.

However, a quick google shows that they are not "egyptian" (where the name Gypsy derives) but from northwestern India, a fact confirmed by both DNA and linguistic evidence.

the Wikipedia article mentions lots of "genocidal" stuff, but aside from the Nazis, who saw them as "untermensch" along with the Jews and Slavs, much of the "persecution" can be seen as a reaction to travelers who stole a lot of stuff in a time when poverty meant theft of food or animals or money could lead to death or starvation of the victims, and in days when prisons were few and justice was rare, it was easier just to kill everyone who threatened the wellbeing of the community.

No, I am not defending this, any more than I am defending the "Extrajudicial killing" by the cops or NPA here. I am, however, explaining what happens when "rule of law" is weak and there is no justice for ordinary folks.

A lot of the "persecution" seems to be countries trying to assimilate these folks who live in severe poverty at the margin of society and often a source of petty crimes against the community. Again, a lot of moderns get their knickers in a knot about "destroying" a culture, but then one asks: do you prefer malnutrition, a high maternal child mortality, no education, a culture who disdains working hard at a job, and a population who thinks stealing from strangers is okay? And to complicate things: Some itinerant groups are blamed for the drug problems.

How do you reeducate people to assimilate into modernity? And should you? And will education destroy their traditional culture?

Again, the same question can be asked of lots of other groups, mainly aboriginal groups, but also entire countries like Tibet (which is being modernized by China) or places in Africa, where colonial powers intervened. The traditional life has a lot of good things, and the change from traditional to modern ways is fraught with danger of complete assimilation and despair, but do you really want to work hard from dawn to dusk like women in traditional societies?

in checking out the Romani, I found a lot of other "iternerant" travelers were wandering around Europe.

here in the southern Philippines, we have the "sea gypsies", who are slowly being pushed out of their traditional ways, and the Aeta, the original dwellers here who have similar problems with losing their traditional lands and being pressured into assimilation.

we saw a lot of Aeta begging after Mt Pinatubo erupted, and they still migrate to town begging during fiestas.

Rappler article on their plight:

For the Pinatubo Aetas, the 1991 volcanic eruption that killed more than 600 people only made their plight worse.Deprived of their farms as well as game to hunt, about 35,000 Aetas moved to shelters clustered close to the main towns, according to government data.Many never left, with families reduced to begging on the roadsides."They also started to adopt the values of the lowlanders, they buy junk food, eat all these processed food and acquire the illnesses of lowlanders like high blood pressure and diabetes," Zayas said.Getting formal titles to their ancestral lands is not enough and Aetas must learn new skills by going to school, said Adaci of the ancestral domains office."If they embrace the mainstream they should have more stability, but that means they will no longer be able to roam," he added.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Dog post of the day

next week is Chinese new year, and it will be the Year of the Dog:

with the secondary characteristic of the Earth.

These Dogs are stubborn and never give up. They aren’t very connected with the world and society. Though stubborn, they respect other perspectives. They believe that as long as they work hard, they’ll make it.
Businessmen in Asia take astrology very seriously, and alas the various Asian sites either say this is good or this is bad for the stockmarkets.

ABS-CBN warns of "dog days" around the new year but the Standard is more optimistic.

"It's not a year for metals to bark so don't expect much more than a whimper from banks and financials - we expect both to underperform from the previous two years," the index said.
It expects telecommunication, internet and utility stocks to perform well but casinos and transport may not get a leg up until October.
The Hong Kong-based brokerage expects a great beginning for the lunar year, when the "Earth Dog jumps out of the kennel and tosses the Fire Rooster back to the barn," sending the HSI skyward.

The local equity market may welcome "a most auspicious day" on February 28 and take a tumble in March, the index predicts. It cautions investors to be wary of a summer of discontent, though construction and resources stocks will flourish at that time.
From November to January, the "Earth Dog spots the ball and gathers speed, pushing the HSI to a high note and the Hong Kong Tracker Fund will also ride the tailwinds."
No, I don't believe in astrology, western or Chinese, but many here in Asia do, and these predictions could easily contribute to a stock market problem in Asia.

And here is a small factoid for dog lovers:

...dogs are the most hated animals by the devil and the demons because they are the closest and most helpful animal to mankind.



Trixie, call your office, Dean Koontz is on the line...

Do low attendence mean you are umpopular?

College football attendance has slowly decreased over the last six years.

NFL attendence is also down,

So is viewership, but it's not due to Trumpie boy because it started a few years ago also.

Well what about all those movies? Yup. Down. Slowly declining since 1964.

But not because of boring superheroes/special effects/violent films (albeit they still get an audience overseas because you don't have to understand the dialogue). Or you also can go to a PC themed films that despises you.

Never mind: It's just too much trouble to go and spend all that money when you have a big TV at home.

So what do you make of this?

At the general audience on January 31, Pope Francis scored the lowest-ever attendance at a Wednesday audience...
 John Paul II had an average attendance of 32,000 people and Benedict XVI of 33,000. From January 2015 to December 2017 Francis averaged only 9,041. Vatican News edited the footage of the last audience showing only the first block of those present.
well, he wasn't a hit in Chile. Even Cardinal O'Malley was upset at a few of his remarks (O'Malley had to clean up Cardinal Law's mess)...

the history of the 4th amendment


it started in a fight against smuggling:

The government in London responded in 1760 with “writs of assistance.” There will not be a test, but it will help you interpret contemporary events if you understand “writs of assistance.” These writs were open-ended search warrants authorizing a government agent to search private property — anywhere, at anytime — for contraband without ever having to show to a Court that the agent reasonably believed the search would actually yield contraband. 

and then of course the warrentless searches for stuff that had been smuggled was abused, not just so those doing the searching could get rich, but against political opponant of the king:

This abuse came to a head in London (and was, at the time, a cause célèbre throughout the colonies) when King George III authorized a general warrant against a political opponent, John Wilkes, in the hope that searching Wilkes’ home would produce evidence of something — anything — the Crown could use to pin a crime on Wilkes. ”
British agents, having rooted through Wilkes’ private writings, found nothing worse than a truly bawdy poem. They seized the poem and proceeded to create a crime by surreptitiously publishing it as if Wilkes had done so himself – that being a necessary element of the crime of blasphemy in the U.K. of 1760 – and then charging Wilkes with the crime. Wilkes was then expelled from Parliament and fled to France.

In other words, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

the link has a lot more about this, but don't worry:

Forbes reports that the US Congress just passed another authorization for spying on nasty foreign terrorists, and not American citizens.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 256-164 to renew the controversial Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This section of the Act allows U.S. intelligence agencies to listen in on phone calls, to read emails and more of non-U.S. citizens.
It’s controversial because the National Security Agency (NSA) and other agencies also listen in on an unknown number of communications from American citizens—something the Fourth Amendment was written to keep the government from doing unless it first obtains a warrant from a court....
Before approving a six-year extension of the law, the House voted 233 to 183 to kill an amendment designed to protect Americans civil liberties. This amendment would have required officials to get warrants in most cases before intercepting and reading emails and more of U.S. citizens. This amendment was proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich)...

in other words, if you talk to a foreigner, you can be spied on.

A 2015 article from PBS Frontline program that discusses this:

and FYI: This is what the 4th amendment actually says:

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

Falcon Heavy is go

DavidReneke says SpaceX Falcon Heavy just made it into space.

SpaceX’s big new rocket has blasted off on its first test flight, carrying a red sports car on an endless space journey. The Falcon Heavy rocket rose this morning from the same Florida launch pad used by NASA to send men to the moon. With liftoff, the Heavy became the most powerful rocket in use today. The three boosters and 27 engines roared to life at Kennedy Space Center, as thousands jammed surrounding beaches, bridges, and roads to watch the rocket soar, delayed more than two hours by high wind.

live news conference going on now. LINK

CarAndDriver reports

The Falcon Heavy was the actual star of the February 6 launch, but interest in the rocket faded to mainstream viewers relative to the Tesla Roadster, which SpaceX positioned within a capsule in the rocket’s nose. ... A few clever Easter eggs were scattered throughout the Tesla, too, from the touchscreen display reading “Don’t Panic!” (a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) to a tiny Tesla Roadster Hot Wheels model—complete with its own tiny Starman—set atop the dashboard.

Headlines below the fold


Two people died and at least 114 were injured after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of eastern Taiwan.
A hotel and at least three other buildings collapsed in the city of Hualien as a result of the quake that struck early Wednesday, the National Fire Agency said. 
in our prayers.

LINK small quake south of Manila preceded that quake


related item: China continues to start grabbing more of our areas in the nearby sea, this one east of the Philippines.

They are only investigating currents, of course (/s)

update: discussed on StrategyPage.

The rise is a rich fishing area but also may have underwater oil and gas deposits. China has never made a claim on the Benham Rise but that could change if the payoff were large enough. China had asked permission to send a research ship to study the area and at first the Philippines agreed. But the public reaction was hostile to that, given the Chinese aggression off the west coast in the South China Sea. So the government withdrew that permission and banned any foreign research vessels from studying the Philippines Rise unless they received specific permission. Foreign fishing vessels are banned from the Philippines Rise as well.
At the same time the Philippines repeated that war was not an option in the South China Sea where the Chinese have declared the area an integral part of China and is trying to force foreign ships, especially warships, to ask permission before passing through what had always been considered international waters. Meanwhile China continues to dredge up sand at reefs and created artificial islands which are turned into military bases. China says the new artificial islands will have commercial uses (tourism, recreation). 

another related item: US is again willing to sell Taiwan weapons.


unrelated item: Iran tells Turkey to stop killing Kurds in Syria.
that puts them on the same side as the US...