Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Cooking tip of the day

Please Don't Roast Marshmallows Over the Erupting Hawaii Volcano, USGS Warns

but dave barry adds: but hot dogs are okay.

more HERE at Etiquette Hell,  from a man who worked as a park ranger at one volcano:

They said, “Oh we don’t want to come to your talk, we want to roast marshmallows on the lava. Is there a stick here we can use?” I explained that we only have props for visitor education. I wasn’t even sure if roasting marshmallows was a park-approved activity, but it didn’t seem too harmful so I let that part go.
But they were so determined they actually asked if they could break branches off of the trees to use as skewers. Here I had to interfere, because destroying living things is definitely not allowed in a national park. They didn’t seem to understand why that would be inappropriate, but finally suggested using only branches that were already down. I didn’t have time to argue, so I tried to excuse myself.
But they weren’t done. If I wasn’t willing to help them find the perfect stick, the least I could do was get them some marshmallows. I directed them toward the gift shop and walked away.
They actually seemed annoyed with me the whole time, as if they had expected to walk up, be handed a bag of marshmallows and a roasting stick, and walk off to the lava. Perhaps we could even club a few endangered animals for them to roast for dinner. 

How dare they point out it is wrong to starve grandma to death

The Orthodox Jewish group being banned from a NYC hospital.

Long story here.

Deep in the article you find out why: no, not that they are opposing expensive, futile extraordinary care, but because they oppose starving people with dementia.

“Our technology has advanced to the point where it is getting harder to die in the ICU,” said Dr. Kenneth Prager, a pulmonologist and head of medical ethics at Columbia University Medical Center, also in Manhattan.
except it is not about people on repirators in ICUs.

 “A common example is inserting a feeding tube into a patient with end-stage dementia who has lost the ability to swallow. Will this patient ever recover? He won’t. But is it starving a patient to death by denying him a feeding tube [the Orthodox Jewish perspective] or causing the patient additional suffering by prolonging his death — which is a more conventional modern perspective? Medical ethics consultations are often sought in cases like this,” Prager said...
and it's not just those stubborn Jews causing problems:
The conflict in values isn’t limited to Orthodox Jews, but comes up for African-American, Hispanic and Asian patients too, he said.
I should note: Often these patients do not have swallowing difficulties and can be fed slowly and lovingly by hand. But nursing homes are undestaffed, and often we see things like what my mom ran into when she visited her sister in a nursing home: the tray was put beyond her reach so she didn't feed herself, but would take food when my mom helped her eat.

Madeline L'Engle wrote about this in her elderly grandmother who often did not want to eat, but was able to eat: They did not force her to eat, but they didn't withhold her food either.

So it's not a "starve vs feed" problem. 

Truly terminal patients don't have to get IVs or feeding tubes because they are dying, but there are financial reasons one might not want to prolong the life of someone after a stroke or with dementia, that is, patients who are disabled and elderly but not "dying".

Follow the money.

when there is indeed a "dysphagia" problem, often the person dies within six months from aspiration pneumonia, so feeding tubes might not help.

Remember this when you read about the Schiavos who lived for years on feeding tubes....maybe the diagnosis is wrong, the staff is too overworked to feed them, or they are on medications that cause sedation so they don't want to eat.

and when the decision is made not to put in a feeding tube, often all food is withheld (i.e. they stop trying to persuade grandmom to eat). Because it is not about feeding her, it is about trying to make her dead. sigh.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

remember: All your base R belong to us


all your base are belong to us meme.

Headsup Instapundit.


I am back in the Philippines. Will resume blogging and bitching as soon as I recover from jet lag.

Two things I learned:

1) Delta airlines proves that airplane food doesn't have to be lousy. I actually enjoyed my trip to the USA with them.

2) never Never NEVER travel through Shanghai.

Not only do they lack signs to find out where you are in English (or French or German or any other language that I could decipher), but when you ask for directions, you are often given wrong information even when you do find someone who speaks the language such as in the "information" booths. And no airport maps on the wall to guide you either.

(update: There are two airports in Shanghai: I traveled through the Pudong on the way to the USA, and that airport was only mildly frustrating.)

I was traveling with my granddaughter, who studied a year of Mandarin in high school but gave up on that language, alas, and switched to French. So she couldn't help much there.

the only thing good: they have a transit lounge so you can sit or lay down when you have 12 hour layovers. It only took us four inquiries and 35 minutes to find the place.

Even though you are not leaving the airport, you have to get a "temporary" visa, because they wouldn't give us our ticket for the connecting flight to Manila when we checked in: We had to go downstairs and pick it up there, meaning leaving the secure area to do so. As a result, we were screened four times by airport security, twice including fingerprints and photographs.

Heh. They can add that information to my federal OPM personnel file that was hacked a couple of years ago by Chinese hackers.

Oh yes: the Great Firewall of China is alive and well...a lot of internet sites are blocked, including many blogs and Facebook. Poor Ruby couldn't talk with her facebook friends and I couldn't read several news sites and blogs.

But they didn't block Free Republic (guess they weren't worried about the Great Right Wing conspiracy or the opinions of the deplorables) nor did they block my RSS aggregator site, so I could read the headlines for the blogs and news sites that I usually read at those places.

the bad news? Nothing new to read anyway.

Oh well.

as for other airports: the upgrades in Manila really improved that airport.

There is a a new innovation for airport lines: instead of four or five lines, you get in a long long line and wait your turn.

Usually this is just a voluntary line, with a nice young lady keeping an eye on you, like your first grade teacher keeping the kids in line for the lunch room.

But some airports even have barriers to make sure no one jumps in line in front of you, so you have to walk around and around and around even when no one is in line.

So all those new age nuns who are promoting "walking the labyrinth" as a spiritual exercize to find peace and spiritual highs don't have to go to exotic places to do this: They can do there meditations waiting in line in Vancouver airport.

the visit with my son was great, however, and my granddaugher who I picked up for the trip home is now a young lady. Sigh. They grow up so quickly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Biology lesson for the day

Why birds don't have teeth

why? It takes a long time for embryos to develop teeth: without teeth, they can hatch sooner.

And bills work just fine for worms and seeds.

unrelated geek item: Rooster Teeth

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Road goes ever on and on, but Bilbo stays behind

WisdomFrom LOTR Blog discusses the hobbits going home from Rivendale:

Bilbo sends them off with sadness and also some ceremony and then he starts to chant.
The Road goes ever on and on, Out from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, Let others follow it who can! Let them a journey now begin, But I at last with wearyfeet, Will turn towards the lighted inn, My evening-rest and sleep to meet.” ..
.I am reminded of a prayer by John Henry Newman, founder of the Birmingham Oratory, whose priests undertook the responsibility of guardianship to Tolkien after the death of his mother. “Support us all the day long of this troublous life until the shades lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at the last.”

 I do not think it too fanciful to think that this prayer was in Tolkien’s mind when he wrote this final version of Bilbo’s poem. 

a comfort for us old folks who are busy visiting kids and grandkids (and great grandkids)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Family news

I am in Florida on vacation. Blogging will resume in a week or so.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Election day Pinoy style (leave the gun at home)

local elections being held: pray for the safety of the voters and the candidates here.

because the elections are local, people care who wins: The local officials get in charge of local money: meaning if you are corrupt you can get rich, and if you are honest, you still could be accused of being corrupt if your actions make someone mad.

most of the violence is in the south, but we are a local hotspot here too. NEJ has a list of recent ambushes here. I don't follow politics to know the reason behind these, but locals usually know who did what.

Often the hit men were or still are part of "militant" organizations, e.g. the Muslim groups, or in our area, the NPA, but sometimes they are military or police background (some active, others who had been fired or retired).

The cops and military are out to keep the area safe. The ManilaBulletin reports:
Police and Comelec officials acknowledged that barangay elections are usually the bloodiest since the rivalry is among the neighbors in a particular community wherein some of the issues sometimes turn personal. Based on the PNP data, more than 24 people were already killed since the start of the election period on April 14.
Most of the casualties are incumbent and candidates for barangay elections and their supporters.

the cops have roadblocks to check for guns (and illegal guns). 

There is gun control here, of course, ever since Marcos confiscated all weapons... but you can get a permit to carry.

 but the dirty little secret is that there are thousands of guns hidden for protection. And most important folks have body guards, and some even "private armies".

Today is also Palenke day, but the banks and gov't offices are closed as a "non working" holiday.

And the polls here are run by local teachers, who also count the ballots. Why teachers? Again, because they are known and trusted.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

happy mother's day

When did that happen>

BBC Headline: Iraqi's vote in first election after ISIS defeat.

the Shia-led government has won praise for the fight against IS militants, and security has vastly improved across the country.
the rest of the article is about people complaining about corruption etc. The usual stuff.

But ISIS was defeated (in Iraq)? When did that happen?

Last October the BBC noted that when Raqqa fell, it showed Isis was doomed.

long article with details, including noting that ISIS was Sadam's Baathist party trying to take back power. And notes how the Americans sort of became partners (i.e. airstrikes and drone spying) with local militias backed by Iran.

so the real winner is Iran, according to the article.

actually the war isn't over: but as Churchill said, it is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the begining.

Sunni terrorists are down but not out, but the Shiite terrorists and their proxies are still being funded by Iran.

SP on Iraq (April article)
and on Iran (May article)

Facebook: uggh

I mainly read facebook to see what my grandchildren and cousins all around the world are doing.

I ignore the news and ads, and I suspect a lot of people do. So a Russian ad caused the election to change? I don't think so.

But Facebook did: because I got harassed off of facebook because a "friend" posted daily the latest outrage by whoever. Usually they found their strawman "christian" in the news, and then the commentary was filled with anti Christian hate against any and all believers, all 1.5 billion of them.

The comments were worse than those I usually avoid reading on the British papers or the NYTimes.

but I guess it works both ways, because my Pinoy relatives are always posting "honk if you love Jesus" stuff there too.

The problem with facebook is not the Russian news, or that they now have decided to censor "fake news" (aka conservative sites).

The problem is that it is a platform for those who like to ridicule.

And for teenagers it is worse. My sister in law had long forbidden her daughter to go on facebook. Why? She was in an iceskating group that won awards, so the haters were busy ridiculing her for everything (because of jealousy, of course).

Yup. I put up with this in high school and college for being smart. It's a horror, but I managed to ignore it (because as a science major I had lots of guys to hang around with, and you know, if a guy harasses you, you just fight back twice as hard and cut the venom off with a joke, and voila, you are friends and they stop, whereas girls keep the hatred in their heart and go on to do worse things).

so I suspect much of the harassment suffered is by girls and perpetuated by girls or boys who think like girls, because I doubt an engineer is going to be that snarky, and luckily my relatives are divided among engineers, nurses/doctors, and a few artistic types for good luck.

Well, anyway, I avoid facebook but do use their messanger to talk to my granddaugher and other relatives. I have the app on my phone, and my Opera browser had an extension so I didn't have to open facebook and read all the facebook crap to text them.

So this morning, I open my browser and find: WTF? The Facbook extention is now for "telegram", which is now competing with "WhatsApp".


 How old is Telegram?
Telegram for iOS was launched on August 14, 2013. The alpha version of Telegram for Android officially launched on October 20, 2013. More and more Telegram clients appear, built by independent developers using Telegram's open platform.Q: Which devices can I use?
You can use Telegram on smartphones, tablets, and even computers. We have apps for iOS (6 and above), Android(4.1 and up) and Windows Phone. You can also use Telegram's web version or install one of our desktop apps for Windows, OSX, and Linux.
You can log in to Telegram from as many of your devices as you like — all at the same time. Just use your main mobile phone number to log in everywhere.
Our API is open for developers, should you want to build your own applications for other platforms.Q: Who are the people behind Telegram?
Telegram is supported by Pavel and Nikolai Durov. Pavel supports Telegram financially and ideologically while Nikolai's input is technological. To make Telegram possible, Nikolai developed a unique custom data protocol, which is open, secure and optimized for work with multiple data-centers. As a result, Telegram combines security, reliability and speed on any network.

the Russians are coming! the Russians are coming! or maybe the Arabs:

Q: Where is Telegram based?
The Telegram development team is based in Dubai.
Most of the developers behind Telegram originally come from St. Petersburg, the city famous for its unprecedented number of highly skilled engineers. The Telegram team had to leave Russia due to local IT regulations and has tried a number of locations as its base, including Berlin, London and Singapore. We’re currently happy with Dubai, although are ready to relocate again if local regulations change.

Take that Mark Zuckerburg!

on the other hand, none of my extended family uses it, so I am still stuck with facebook to find photos and news of my worldwide Pinoy family.

And yes, I mainly post my rants here (or the really hateful ones on my private blog) to let off steam in between posting stuff about kittens or the Bronze age collapse.

So if you are reading this, don't take me seriously: I usually post before I have had my first cup of coffee, and tend to get mellow as the day goes on.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

If you are reading this, thank an engineer

No, engineers didn't invent writing (bureaucrats and businessmen did). But they did invent ways to use electricity, computer chips, and the internet.

Radicals on the universities are complaining that engineering is a white patriarchal bias

 academic theorists crusade to purge whiteness from STEM courses, because critical thinking and research are regarded as tools of “white hegemony.” Engineering students at Purdue must contend with the school’s indictment of “racist and colonialist projects in science,” while a UC-Irvine professor condemns even “technical prowess” as a white male construct.

Uh, maybe you need to read the history of engineering/applied science.

Podcast at FLP:Simon Winchester | The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

or maybe read this oldie but goodie from L SpragueDeCamp on the Ancient Engineers: available at Scribd (requires paid subscription) and on Internet Archives (free registration).

or you can read Braudel's series of books on how technology interacted with societies.

Civilization usually began when there was a need to regulate water for irrigation, and then spread. Yes, there are plenty of cultures in places without irrigation (ancient Greece?) but even the ancient Greeks admitted a lot of their technology originally came from Egypt, and then they improved it and went on from there to invent stuff.

and Fagan's book Elixir, about water (and irrigation) begins with describing the ancient irrigation systems of south and east Africa. LINK2

but of course, the snowflakes probably would just say these ancient Africans, Egyptians, Cushites, Semites, Indians, Chinese, etc. are just honorary whites.

Lecture of the week

more from this series at the link.

Space X (and China) taking over the satellite launch business

I sort of keep an eye on SpaceX's private launcher, but there is one aspect I hadn't heard about: It is stealing business from Russia.

From StrategyPage:

After 2013 Russia faced growing competition from cheaper, more reliable Chinese satellite launch services. But what really accelerated the Russian decline was the surprising emergence of new American launch technology, mainly the SpaceX reusable launchers (that can regularly return and land intact).................

lots more there about China and their success in launching commercial satellites.

not in the article: How Bill Clinton was bribed by companies to send missile launching techology to China (by calling it "commercial" information and putting it under the Commerce Dept instead of the Defense dept).

NYTimes article in 1998 gives details.

Think of ''the China connection'' as two-tracked. One track is the purchase of White House influence by U.S. aerospace corporations eager to sell advanced missile technology to China. The second is the plan by China to affect Clinton policy by directing money through various fronts into the Clinton-Gore campaign.
 (Place Ron Brown conspiracy theory here.)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Yum: Cobra blood and gunships: The Balikatan exercizes are back

we got "buzzed" by a very slow and very low 4 engine turboprop plane when we went to walk the dog in the city square down the street. It sort of upset the cook, but I just laughed because I have been hearing a plane go over us at a low level once or twice a day in the late afternoon and once or twice in the evening after dark.

and I've heard/seen that plane buzz us before:

Yup. The Balikatan exercizes are going on in nearby Ft Magsaysay, and I presume the city square is used for low level navigation.

Stars and Stripes article HERE.

the PhilSunStar article has more details here.

usually when they are in training, we see these gunships going over,  or larger planes (for parachute practice) at a higher level, and once we saw a parade of helicopters in formation at a low level.

no, this is not about threatening China, who just put missiles etc. in their artificial islands in the Philippine area of the West Philippine sea: this has been going on every year since I moved here 12 years ago.

The training comes in handy, since the US often helps our military with the periodic typhoons/landslide/ etc. that happen here, and of course, and the training makes cooperation easier and allows both sides to teach each other their skills.

 here is the Rappler article, complaining (as usual) that there has not been a lot of press coverage of the military exercize.

The media was initially invited to two field exercises – the amphibious landing exercise in Zambales and live fire exercises at Crow Valley in Tarlac. These two are the staple for media every year. Jungle warfare exercises at the Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija was the third activity traditionally open to the media but was not offered this year.
well it can't be too "secret": they have their own facebook page, with photos. But no photos of our area, so the planes are either buzzing us from Clark or the Ft Magsaysay part hasn't hit the news yet.

Ft Magsaysay is where thethe Philippine special forces teach theUS troops (usually newbies or National Guard types) how to live off the land (usually including teaching them about drinking cobra blood to survive, just to impress them).  Here's a photo from that 2015 Rappler article:

JUNGLE SURVIVAL. Filipinos show US troops how to trap and eat a king cobra for survival. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samantha Van Winkle/Released

Israel 1: Iran's Qud 0

For later reading: StrategyPage on the Israeli strike on the Iranians in Syria, in retaliation for their attack on Israel, while the Arab countries quietly cheer them on.

If Iran gets the bomb, the Saudis will buy one too, and then you will see a real danger. How does that Arab saying go: The enemy of my enemy is my friend?

Long and complicated, to read after a cup or two of coffee.

Iran is resettling people from other countries into Syria so they have a friendly population there: Hmm...

Iran is financing a resettlement operation in Syria that brings in Shia families from Lebanon, Afghanistan and elsewhere to replace the third of the Syrian population that fled the country during the civil war. Nearly all these refugees were Sunni Arabs and the Assads (who are Shia) don’t want them back

a lot of Afghans fled to Iran when the Taliban ran the place, and although most returned after the northern tribes with US help threw them out, some stayed, and are a problem (i.e.drug runing and crime). And Iran has hired a lot of them to fight in Syria...

and I ran across this at GP from an anti Iran site, so it might be fake news: Iran is sending boxes of 100 dollar bills to their proxy militias to hire thugs to cause trouble in Iraq. Hmm... where could they have gotten all that cash? (update: Nah, Obama said he got around sancgions by using non American currancy. So probably from banks looted during the various Iraq wars.... Ironically,right not, the Iranian currancy is tanking and people are buying US dollars for safety, so they are in short supply there.

The forgotten refuge crisis

One million people enter Colombia amid the Venezuela crisis.

While the group is diverse, with some only looking to work in Colombia for a short period before returning home, most are on the move because they cannot meet their basic needs in Venezuela, Capobianco explained. He described the situation as a "humanitarian crisis that needs to be better assessed," including from a public health standpoint amid rising cases of malaria, diphtheria and other serious ailments affecting those migrating.
And yes, the celbrities are holding concerts to raise money to help them---NOT.

They celebrated Chavez takeover of the economy but seem silent on his family's sudden wealth and the economic collapse there.

CNN article from last year about why that economy collapse. 

the same reason that 10 percent of Zimbabwe's population fled: Socialism that was hailed by the leftists of the world, because they gifted programs to help the poor, but which was hostile to foreign investments, local entrepeneurs, and the rich... while, of course, allowing those in charge to loot the country of millions.

sort of like here, where the politicians give out food, small amounts of money and teeshirts to get elected, so they can loot the funding that might really help the poor (and sometimes shooting the guy running against him).

Except that here, you don't have celebrities touting these crooked politicians...  or maybe you do. The left doesn't care if you get rich on drug money or schtupp the help if you spout their PC causes.

Mr. Schneidermann, call your office. Old BlueEyes' kid is on the line....

It's bad when Piers Morgan has to correct the PC Cardinal

The Met did an exhibition about the beauty of Catholic (and Orthodox) costume design.

here is a short video on the actual museum exhibition:

but then the celebrities came to the party ("gala") at the opening, and made sure they mocked and insulted Catholics, just for fun, of course. Sooo trendy to mock Catholics and get applause and your photo in the news paper!

There is a lot of anger in the "rigid" (i.e. the word Francis uses to ridicule pious Christian believers) catholic  blogosphere about this.

They are only doing what Fellini did in the past, the more PC Francis-blogosphere points point out.

But Fellini didn't have a Catholic church leader there cheering him on, as they did at the Met's gala, where Cardinal Dolan cheered on the fun.

Why be upset?

From MarkMallet via Tea At Trianon (a blog about history and fashion):

The vestments of the Catholic Church have an ancient origin from Old Testament times.They are a reflection of the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ...
To sexualize the vestments, then, is blasphemy, really, an abomination. Truth, beauty, and goodness are a reflection of the Creator, not the fallen angel. It's fairly obvious whose reflection is being glorified here....

And not just the pious Catholics who are upset:

Piers Morgan, a British Gadfly, is mad and has expressed what a lot of us ordinary folks think:

If the Met Gala was Islam or Jewish-themed, all hell would break loose – so why was it OK for a bunch of flesh-flashing celebrities to disrespect MY religion?
Read the whole thing. And check out the photos.

Sigh. In our prayers (catholics, when confronted with blasphemy, say prayers in reparation and for the conversion of those who perform these acts).--


update: When thinking of why someone prefers to look "with it" when they see such ridicule of the holy, this phrase (by another pious blogger) kept coming into my to mind: Because they really don't believe in that stuff.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Zapping lettuce

The news notes an EColi epidemic from Arizona lettuce. They aren't sure if it is from dirty hands, dirty packaging, or dirty water.

In the past, we grew organic lettuce in greenhouses and washed the individual leaves with chlorox water then rinsed them with water and let them in the open to dry before we packed them as salads.

But that doesn't always work, obviously, because the germ can hide inside.

There is a way to sterilize lettuce (and meat etc): Zap them with gamma rays.

2011 article from AP:

The Food and Drug Administration approved irradiation for raw spinach and lettuce three years ago, saying it safely killed germs and lengthened shelf life 

Zapping salad fixings with just a bit of radiation can kill dangerous E. coli and other bacteria — and food safety experts say Europe's massive outbreak shows wary consumers should give the long-approved step a chance... 
(it can be done) without harming texture, taste or nutrients. But it didn't catch on, and the grocery producers group, which wants more salad ingredients OK'd for irradiation, blames both consumer wariness and a technical issue. 

yes, even though the radiation goes right thru the food and doesn't make it radioactive, the clueless are wary. And of course I am sure the anti tech "Greens" will make a fuss and then start blaming the radiation on lettuce for causing neurotic women to have symptoms.

(an observation, not a criticism: I have all sorts of aches and pains and nervousness and allergies made worse with certain foods and preservatives, but big deal: take an anti histamine and voila no problem. But then I was trained into the stiff upper lip mindset by my German mother).

Of course, the hysteria will only come if they publicize it.

It's sort of like a town that announced they were adding Fluoride to their water, and after a month was bombarded with all sorts of complaints.... and then the town announced that the Flouride hadn't been added yet due to technical difficulties...

So if you want to get hysterical and decide all your problems are due to radiated lettuce, you are a little late:

Irradiated meat has been around for years, particularly ground beef that is a favorite hiding spot for E. coli. About 15 million to 18 million pounds of U.S. ground beef are irradiated every year, say

Speaking of food poisoning: Factoid of the day:

there was once a bioterror attack against humans in the USA: when an Oregon cult tried to poison lettuce so people would be too sick to vote against their candidate.

well, at least Hanoi is mad

According to this article in the Inquirer, Hanoi is mad that China is putting (anti air and anti ship) missiles on the Philippine claimed shoals that they have dug up and made into artificial islands

But excuse me for laughing (ironically) at this:

Vietnam has requested China to withdraw its weapons from disputed territory in the South China Sea, while security experts have urged the Philippine government to upgrade the country’s defenses in the Spratly archipelago in response to China’s militarization of the strategic waterway.

Right. The Philippine and whose army?

That was what the Philippines with the backing of the US should have done, but PNoy was pressured by Obama to ignore what was going on and take it to court. We won. Big deal. No one will enforce the ruling.

and so Duterte is "Making nice" with China to get lots of stuff to help the Philippines while being leery about the US moving back here (but the public dislikes China, while except for the leftists they like the US).

The Philippines ignores that there have been items in the Chinese news hinting that they once owned Luzon so might want to take it back, mainly because the last time they tried that, we threw the Chinese pirates out with the help of Spain.

But VietNam, which was once a Chinese colony, has gone to war with China over their northern border and over these islands in the last 40 years because they remember their past.

And that is of course the backstory on why the communists threw out the Chinese ethnics after they won the Vietnam war.

Myself: I am wondering: The missiles would allow China to block the shipping routes from the Middle East to Japan and Korea, but except for minor gifts they seem to be ignoring the potential problem here.

You would think that after WWII the Filipinos would hate the Japanese more than the Chinese, but the Chinese intermarried with the great families and run the oligarchy, wherease the Japanese just move to Baguio to retire or study English.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

fishy fishy fishy

eight chapters are on line.

Quick, before the copyright cops find it.

the boy who came back

Stories like this one will give you a clue why the pro lifers got so hysterical against the UK doctors in the Alfie case awhile back:

from the BBC (video at link).

more here from WFSA:

MOBILE COUNTY, AL (CNN/RNN) – A boy was left brain dead after an accident while playing at a friend's house. After his parents accepted his condition and made the decision to donate his organs, the boy woke up. Trenton McKinley, 13, suffered severe brain trauma two months ago from a dune buggy accident. "I hit the concrete, and the trailer landed on top of my head. After that, I don't remember anything," Trenton told FOX10 News.
For the next several days, Trenton was brain dead and barely breathing, according to reports. "Five kids needed organs that matched him,” said his mother, Jennifer Reindl. “It was unfair to keep bringing him back because it was just damaging his organs even more."
Reindl said Trenton was dead for 15 minutes, and doctors said he would be a vegetable if he survived. Then a day before doctors were scheduled to remove him from life support, Trenton began to show signs of cognition.
Trenton said he believes he was in heaven while he was unconscious. "I was in an open field walking straight,” he said. "There's no other explanation but God. There's no other way. Even doctors said it."

several medical problems with this: was he just in a deep coma, or brain dead? The family understood he was brain dead, but then they say the doctors said he had no chance of recovery so they wanted to pull the plug: which is not the same as being brain dead.

Removing the respirator as "extraordinary" treatment is ethically permitted by the Catholic church, but he was not brain dead.

And if he wasn't brain dead, how could they remove his organs?

The dirty little secret: doctors are now allowed to do "living" donations of organs from the dying who don't meet the criteria for brain death. It is called "non brain dead" organ donation, and that is what seemed to be happening here.

The problem? the lay public doesn't know the difference, so that as more of these cases hit the news, the story of people awakening while their organs are being removed will go from an "urban legend" to reality.


In brain death, the entire brain is dead, including the brain stem. Remove the machines and you die.

But in this case (and in Alfie's case), there was no brain death: either the family misunderstood, or the doctors were just trying to remove the extraordinary treatment of a respirator because

a) it's expensive,
b) the family will suffer
c)even if the patient recovers he will be handicapped (aka a "vegetable")

ah, but then you have
d) look at all those wonderful organs that can save the lives of other folks.

and I left out the "but he's dying" argument, which is what these bozos argue: Sorry guys: No, he wasn't dying, but he was in danger of living and that is what the newfangled masters of the universe hate: all those with a poor quality of life becoming a burden on society.

For the elderly, there is a good argument that their many medical problems and low chance of recovery might cause them and the family not to push extraordinary care, but that is not the same as calling someone brain dead so you can harvest their organs:

In effect, this will make people less likely to not sign an organ donor card.

(and the powers that be will then change the law to mandate organ donation if you didn't have a paper saying no).

Many years ago, when bioethicist Arthur Caplan moved from Mn to PA, and he signed up for a local driver's license, he was going to check the "organ donor" box, but the clerk warned him not to do it "because then they'll let you die".

And every move to increase organ donations by moving the criteria to include more people will just make more people suspicious of doctors. (The bioethicists now want to move the diagnosis of brain dead to include "higher brain dead", i.e. you can breathe on your own and live a long time but they can declare you dead because after all you don't meet the criteria for personhood, and if they take your organs, hey, a lot of strong healthy people will live.)

I support organ donation, but because of this last trend I never had an organ donation card on my driver's license.

But since I live in the Philippines, no problem: They often have to pull the respirator after a few days because the families can't afford the bill, but they don't do "body runs" to take the patient to Manila to get the organs out.

and don't give me that argument about "but with modern medicine, many of these people who would have died now live and fill up nursing homes".

Uh no: that argument goes back to the time of Plato, guys, and many of those who thanks to modern medicine nowadays are able to hold jobs in the past would have been kept in a back room and cared for by family (or dropped off at the local monastery).

Long nuanced discussion from the BMJ here. 
The ethicists who question if brain death means dead aren't doing it to question if we went too far by using the criteria for brain death to obtain organs, but to push the line further and use less dead people as organ donors.


By the way: Joy's cousin who was in a coma and on a respirator for two weeks after a cardiac arrhythmia is now off the respirator and in a private room with his family.

The next step is a feeding tube and rehab: but since their insurance doesn't cover this, the rehab will probably be in the home, by the extended family and friends, as is done here.

Today the family is applying for a government grant to get him rehab.

Keep him and the family in your prayers.

Drumbeats of war?

So I made the mistake of opening Drudge early this morning, and found Trump has cancaled the agreement with Iran, and the Israelis are preparing their bomb shelters.

Guess what? They had been cheating on it. Everyone sort of knew this, but then the Israelis stole a basketful of documents to prove it in writing, so it was a bit hard to continue to pretend.

StrategyPage has this about the Israeli operation, and about Israel worrying about Iran.

The Iranian government prefers to retaliate against Israel indirectly. Iran has long used foreign proxies (like Hezbollah or other non-Iranian Islamic terrorists) to attack Israel. Iran does not have modern weapons (because of decades of sanctions) and Iranian leaders are smart enough to realize that Iran itself trying to attack Israel would most likely result in another humiliating Iranian defeat. Israel has anti-missile defenses against Iranian ballistic missiles. Yet Iran has enough of these missiles to attempt a “saturation attack” on Israel using explosive or chemical warheads. Iran could also use a “dirty” warhead by adding radioactive material to a high explosive warhead. A few of these missiles landing in Israel, especially in a major urban area, would be a great propaganda victory. But Israel also has ballistic missiles (armed with nuclear warheads) and, worse, hundreds of modern fighter-bombers that could hit two key economic targets using smart bombs.

a long summary of the problem which is bookmarked for later reading on my tablet, since it is early morning here and I am still half awake.


I hear that there have been a lot of demonstrations in Iran against the government, but that hasn't hit the news due to censorship.

the reason behind the Iranian agreement was not only to keep them from getting nukes but to encourage the moderates to take over from the mullahs, but that last hasn't happened (it's not religious zealotry: the mullahs families are getting rich while the country is getting poor).

And of course, the Saudis are quietly making nice with Israel, since they figure the Persians are a bigger enemy.

as for Iran: They used to have a lot of Jewish people living there, but most have fled. There are a lot of them in the Los Angeles area of the US, and there are so many of them living in Israel that the Iranian government put an office there for them to vote in the election.

Wikipedia article on the Persian Jews

and yes, the Philippines has a lot of Iranians studying here, because our universities are taught in English and the degrees are recognized as good.

Wikipedia page 

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Phililppine origins


Family news

I dropped a cup of coffee on Sunday morning: The cup hit the touchscreen of my convertible computer and then hit the floor and spilled coffee all over.

Luckily the coffee didn't hit the tablet part of the computer, but the cup cracked the touch screen, so that part doesn't work: However, if you attach a mouse and the keyboard it works okay.

Sigh. I had planned to take the detachable tablet with me when I visit my son later this month.

So I decided to give in and buy a cellphone: I found one with a largish screen so it's easier to read with for books or to surf the net and will take it with me for my trip.

A bit smaller than my previous Samsung tablet, but budget is the problem.

Today, I took the dogs for their annual rabies shots. Rabies is an ongoing problem here: lots of stray or runaway dogs and a lot of poor people don't get their dogs vaccinated.  Both the city and in the farm areas, the gov't usually holds free clinics and is pretty good at getting people to get their dogs the shots. But not all the time. And now the mayor has free rabies shots for children who have been bitten, and cheaper shots for adults. But sometimes they run out of vaccine, so again people which run 750 per shot for a series of three, plus extra for the immunoglobulin shot if it is a severe bite.

I had the series so I am okay (one of our half grown puppies got sick and bit me badly, so I got it just in case).

forget Cujo: Listen to this audiobook and shudder.

and most people have seen this:

but you can also catch rabies from bats, racoons, cats and even cows.


a series of lectures on the Vikings.


They saved the girls

Remember this?

well, Nigeria just rescued 1000 hostages of the Bokos, with the help of their neighbors:

ALJ article:

Nigeria's military says it has rescued more than 1,000 people held captive in northeastern Nigeria by the armed group Boko Haram.
Brigadier General Texas Chukwu, army spokesman, announced on Monday evening that the hostages were rescued from four villages in Borno State.
The Multinational Joint Task Force, which comprises Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin, helped to secure the release of the captives, mostly women and children.

I have more links on my Makaipa blog, along links to the drug trade funding the terrorism there, and with comments about corruption as we see it here in the Philippines.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Ancient medicine: needles and hooks and knives, oh my

Needles with eyes for sewing goes back quite a long time

Apparelscience notes:

The needle is the distinctive tool of the Upper Paleolithic period that began about 40,000 years ago.
The oldest known needles with eyes date from the Gravettian period, about 25,000 years ago... Paleolithic needles made of animal bones, antlers, and tusks helped make possible the extension of human settlement into cooler regions after the Ice Age (until about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago), and they also were used for fashioning fishing nets and carrying bags.
There is evidence that by the Gravettian, needles were used not only to stitch hides together for warmth but also for sewing and decorating textiles for social and erotic display.
The needle was associated thus closely with humanity's new conceptual skills and expressions, including fashion itself

Surgical tool also included knives, drills, saws, hooks, scalpels, retractors forceps and pinchers, scales, spoons and a vase with burning incense. The knives used had stone blades. Flint or obsidian has edges sharper than modern surgical steel. When metal instruments were used, the act of cauterizing accompanied it. In some procedures, the blade was heated until it glowed red, and then used to make incisions. It cut well as it sealed up the blood vessels limiting the bleeding. Copper had been used for making instruments until 700 B.C.E. when the iron period started. Copper needles were used for clothing and for suturing the abdomen in mummification process

  this temple dates from only 180 BC but I suspect that the instruments date much further back then that time.

this article has discusses surgical instruments used in ancient Rome: actually found in Pompeii, and has a lot of photos and descriptions on how they were used.

A lot of these instruments are similar to those we use today.

Factoid of the day

David Warren finds proof that St Luke was probably a physician by his use of the word "suture needle" for "needle":

When Matthew and Mark recount the saying of Jesus, that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to pass through the gates of heaven, they use the Greek term for a household sewing needle. But Luke instinctively uses the term for a surgeon’s suturing needle. Case closed, to my mind.
so much for those who insist it meant a local gate called needle, since the proverb probably was originally Persian and is also quoted in the Koran; John MacArthur says the Persian proverb was an elephant, but since there were few elephants in Judea at that time, the local proverb used the large camel instead.

but Warren does note Jesus added this comforting observation for those of us who are rich:

Jesus did not stop at that observation, however. He added that what is impossible for men, is possible with God. To omit this, is to miss the point of everything.

Hemets from a 3D printer

PhysOrg writes: The Swiss Guard at the Vatican are getting new helmets: The same design, but no longer tin but made to fit better with a 3D printer.

They will be lighter and fit better but the only technical information is that they will be from "PVC".

So are they merely ornamental or will they have a protective function, which was why they wore the helmets in the first place?

this is the ceremonial helmet, so like the armour they wear, is probably more for show than protection: but a lot of them are around in civilian clothing to protect the people and the treasures there.

Wikipedia article on the Swiss Guard.

the institution dates back to the medieval period when the Swiss provided mercenaries for all sorts of monarchies.

as for helmets: With the attention being given to soldiers who have post concussion problems from various explosives in the Middle East, there has been a lot of research on making better helmets: But they have to be comfortable since they are worn for hour on end.

PopMech article from Aug 2017 has this picture of the newfangled helmet

Photo: USArmy

The U.S. Army is testing a new helmet designed to offer full ballistic protection to a soldier's entire head. Looking like something out of Starship Troopers, the Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS) protects a soldier's entire head, including for the first time the face and jaw, from injury. The helmet, developed by 3M subsidiary Ceradyne Systems, is scheduled to head to the troops next year.
The article goes on to discuss the "tin helmets" used since before WWI, and then the switch to kevlar, which was lighter.

Here is a short video on the evolution of helmets in ancient Rome:

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Family news: It's raining

it has been hot for the last two weeks, but today it is overcast and it has started to rain.

Hopefully it is the monsoon season starting.

Chano is taking his staff and farmers (who grow rice for his business) to a resort for a day of swimming and partying.

Joy's cousin's son got a tracheostomy but continues to run a fever. He is responding now but still unable to eat. I told them the next step is a feeding tube so they can feed him easier at home until he can take adequate nutrition.

The church is still praying for a miracle, but I am making suggestions on equipment they will need for home care, and Joy is taking a home care course to help.

me, I am busy packing and trying to keep it to a minimum so I don't have to cope with a second bag (and also because Ruby will probably have lots of baggage with her).

China update

StrategyPage has a long post on what is going on in China.

The first part is about the fight against corruption, and pollution (!) that is causing health problems there.

and lots of stuff about various military and border issues.

President Obama pressured the Philippines under the previous president not to defend the reefs in the West Philippine sea, but take it to court and ignore China's building islands (and wrecking the ecology there). Guess what? They now have missiles there, to take down ships and planes, and electronic warfare stuff too.

well, it's only our fish and our natural gas fields, but this will let them block all ship traffic from the Middle East to Japan and Korea. Surprise!

and toward the end is a little covered story: that the mountain over the nuclear testing site in North Korea has collapsed and that there has been a radiation leak...and the Chinese are placing monitors around the border so they can evacuate locals if the mountain collapses more and releases more radiation.

and this snippet about the "invisible man", the overseas workers. Yes, China has them and they send money home to help their famlies.

The Chinese economy is large in so many ways. For example during 2017 China received $64 billion in remittances from Chinese living abroad. This was the second largest amount for any nation in the world. The world leader is India, which received $69 billion in 2017 closely followed by China with $64 billion, the Philippines $33 billion, Mexico $31 billion and Nigeria $22 billion.

Dubia 2: Or WTF do you think ur doing?

FatherZ links to another well written and nuanced "dubia": asking the Pope to clarify the "mess" he made by letting heretic bishops push agendas that go against the 2000 years old traditions and biblical laws.  ("mess" is the pope's word, not mine).

These statements are confusing people and destroying the moral law of the Catholic church while destroying the morale of believing Catholics (which is why mass attendence has gone down, not up under his reign).

from the NCRegister:
Without referencing the Holy Father or any particular document, priest, bishop or theologian, the priests highlight a general “mistaken approach” which asserts that those who “commit objectively evil acts, and judge themselves subjectively free of culpability, must be allowed to receive Holy Communion.”
Translation: if I think it is okay, then it's okay.

this not only covers sexual sin but other commandments like "thou shalt not kill" (Alfie, encouraging grandmom to kill herself) and "thou shalt not steal" (bribery and corruption).

After all, here in the Philippines we see good "catholic" politicians who buy votes, steal money meant for the poor or for the infrastructure/local farmers being diverted into their pockets, while using their private armies or hiring hit men to get rid of their political rivals.

then they wonder why so many middle class folks in South America and the Philippines convert to evangelical Christianity?


Signs of hope

The Saudi prince has agreed to build churches in that country. Up to now, that was forbidden.

if this is true, it will allow the one million Christians there to worship legally, without fear that their worship services in private houses will be raided and the attendees deported.

Headsup Instapundit.


Friday, May 04, 2018

Guns in Space

no, not to kill E.T.s but to protect themselves against bears when they landed in Siberia.

why I don't read modern novels

I tend to check the talks given at various libraries and "new book" podcasts to find new books to read.

The FLOP has some interesing books, but every novel by a "best selling" novelist makes me say "DUH".

Today's example:

“Popular but intellectual, accessible but mysterious” (NPR), Curtis Sittenfield’s bestselling novels—including Prep, American Wife, and Sisterland—offer blueprints of the inner architecture of such diverse female protagonists as a wayward boarding school student, a former First Lady, and an identical twin with psychic abilities. Her most recent novel, Eligible, is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice starring a Cincinnati-born magazine writer. You Think It, I’ll Say It is a debut story collection featuring a shy Ivy Leaguer, overly intimate acquaintances, a powerful but insecure lawyer, and other characters endemic of an unsure and adrift era.

let's check about diversity:

"wayward boarding school student".

Well, except for my granddaughter, I never met a "boarding school student". Boarding schools in England are the custom, and here in the third world they might be necessary if you live outside the big cities if you want a decent education, but in the USA, only the uberrich send kids to boarding schools.

"former first lady".
Yup. could be interesing if a true character study, but this is actually using a made up character to bash the Bush family.

"a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice starring a Cincinnati-born magazine writer."

UH, the point of P&P was to illustrate how girls had few choices, so had to find a spouse to support them.

Now, Bridget Jones might be P&P rewritten, but a magazine writer  in Cincinati? Excuse me? Has the writer ever lived there? the answer is yes: Her mom was the librarian at a boarding school there, and her father worked in investments. Sounds like she grew up in what we ordinary folks called "pill hill" (where lawyers, docs, and other snobs lived), not in the inner city.

and then of course she went to Vassar and then Stanford.

which explains why, despite the claim of "diverse characters", she is mererly exploring the memes of her bubble.

Well it could be worse: a lot of these novelists pretend to write as if they were blacks or immigrants, but their characters still act and think like Vassar graduates in the elite bubble.

then you have this blurb.

 story collection featuring a shy Ivy Leaguer, overly intimate acquaintances, a powerful but insecure lawyer, and other characters endemic of an unsure and adrift era.

you know, they are "unsure and adrift" because they have decided to ignore and chuck the past for the idea of personal freedom.

Part of the problem is that novels that don't echo the meme don't get published. Michael O'Brien is one example of an excellent writer turned down because of his themes.

but a historian in the future might want to check out the best seller isle to find about how normal people think and act.

Stephanie Plum, anyone?

another example: there are 30 million caretakers of the elderly and handicapped in the USA. So who writes these people as normal characters (as opposed to PC stories that only are sob stories)? Stephen King and Dean Koontz puts such characters in their stories, but then both of them came from troubled lower class backgrounds, so maybe it shows.

the Invisible men of Arabia


  several remarks:

One: There are four million Indian citizens in Saudi alone, and at least a million Filipinos there, and I just read that the Indian community includes 400 thousand Keralan Christians.

Two: These Arab areas were ports for the India/Mesopotamia trade for at least 4000 years.

Three: One could argue that the idea of having a personal relationship with the Deity in Islam comes from Indian influence, although one could argue that Abraham was the one who actually was behind this idea.

Four: When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 2001, India arranged for 175,000 of their people to travel to Jordan and be airlifted back home by Air India, despite the danger of the nearby war.

finally, the recent discovery of a Filipino maid who had been murdered and hidden in a freezer is causing a diplomatic uproar here.

the irony? If it had happened in Saudi, they might have gotten away with it.


The smaller Gulf states have a long (4000 year) history of trading, so are multicultural, and there is some freedom of religion (as long as you don't try to convert).

But Saudi? at least a million Christians and no churches.

yet this story, and the story of those working in the Middle east is rarely covered in the news.

They are indeed the invisble workers.

another note: You can tell when things get really dangerous by the number of Filipinos who evacuate.

If it is spotty and they feel safe (protected by their employers) many will stay even when the gov't offers to evacuate them.

Why? No jobs here, due to corruption.

Audiobook of the week

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Stories below the fold: terror war on three fronts

Trumpie boy asked Nigeria's president to stop the killing of Christians (not just by the Bokos but by the Fulani who traditionally kill farmers so they can graze their cattle on the farmland). And of course the MSM who can't tell a Fula from a Kru criticized Trumpieboy for being naive on this "complex" war.

Well, someone has to say it: just stop killing for God's sake.

The Pope of course is even more clueless: He said get rid of all weapons and voila, no more war.

Yes, that will stop the crazies.

There was a terrible suicide bombing of Mosque in Nigeria, probably by the Bokos, show that they hate everyone: but was this a "liberal" Sunni mosque or a Shiite one? and Iran is sending in people to train them in terrorism, so this will get complicated:

Nigeria could well become the next nexus of the ancient Sunni/Shiite wars between Saud and Iran a war that has been going on since the Prophet died and his child wife pulled a fast one to grab power from his designated heir, the husband of Fatima, and a war that has flared up kn recent years and caused thousands of deaths in Syria, Kurdistan, and Yemen.

Of course, the fight actually predates Islam, back to the days of the Persian empire, so don't blame religion.


Baby Alfie's legal team is facing investigation.
Someone found a technical problem with their credentials: Can't have that, can we.

How does that saying by that sardonic Jewish carpenter go? Strain a gnat, swallow a camel.

Probably I shouldn't put this with terrorism news, but it does show the way the west is going. The Alfie case was a working class white couple in the UK: The Jathi case was a black girl. And the Marcias case was a Hispanic man.

can you say "Tuskeegee" chidren?

Indeed, not a day passes without the NYT or BBC posting pro euthanasia stories. Sort of like the "13 year old raped girl with a deformed child" stories that we read to persuade us to legalize abortion back in the 1960s.


getreligion marks a CSM article on how conservatives and Christians are founding their own schools where they can study without being harassed or brainwashed.

yes, that's why bishops in the 19th century founded the Catholic school system: because of bible reading and anti Catholic prejudice.

But it won't stop the SJW: They are trying to shut up traditional Catholic professors at Steubenville, using the "seamless garment" argument that was invented by Bernadin and now being pushed by the Pope to shut up people who take murdering the unborn and elderly more serious than caring for mother Gaia or caring for "migrants", as if you can't do both.

Speaking of Mother gaia: We had another priest killed here. His crime? objecting to mining companies who steal land from local tribesmen and destroy the environment in that area.

That is not Duterte: this is how you got Duterte:
these killings have been going on for years, as have the killings by politicians' private armies against their opponants.

But the Catholics will get more upset about the deportation of an Australian nun who dabbled in local politics.

Her deportation is actually an example of "killing a chicken to warn the monkey", as the Chinese saying goes.

Duterte is sending a warning to all those foreign SJW who will cherry pick "atrocities" in the drug war to remove him. (Duterte is convinced the CIA is trying to get rid of him, so he is sending a message to foreign agitators).

Rappler said the nun was investigating "abuses" of farmers by the military fighting the terrorists in the south, not the drug war.

The nun said she apparently angered the president by joining a fact-finding mission in April to investigate alleged abuses against farmers, including killings and evictions by soldiers fighting guerrillas in the southern Philippines.
background here. Article is about the war against the NPA, under the previous president.

Only complaining about atrocities by the government, of course.  And blaming the federal gov't for atrocities by local "militias" in a land where every big politician has his own private army.

Ironically, Duterte has been called a "communist" because he had backed the NPA and had tried to make nice with them, but the hardcore are still there doing their thing.


The "WAGD" post of the week

or maybe not:


so what would happen if it did? NatGeo says it would " a reversal of Earth’s magnetic poles could seriously mess with life as we know it."

but luckily it probably won't happen soon.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Death panels? We don't need no stinkin death panels

A lot of the pro lifers are going overboard about poor little Alfie, claiming he was killed. No, he had a terminal brain problem... maybe.

But some reports say that the hospital refused to give him food and water after he didn't die as planned by removing his respirator. (later reports said they allowed this after 36 hours)

 Sando Magister discusses here.

But how far does removing food and water go? See previous posts about feeding tubes.

Ah, but now the powers that be want to starve you to death by not feeding you by hand if you have brain damage.

NR on a recent NYTimes article.

the "bioethicist" quoted in the article, back in the early 1990s wrote an article supposed to be supporting voluntary assisted suicide, but began with a physician suggesting assisted suicide for a lady with dementia to her caregiver husband.

In other words it's not about the terminally ill wanting to kill themselves, it's about getting rid of useless eaters and saving money. Don't believe me? Callahan pushed limiting care according to your "quality of life" back in the late 1980s. (1988 review of his book here).

and this ethicist, along with the NEJM and the Hasting Center, and other leaders of bioethics, have been pushing this for 30 years, with little publicity or notice, even by the pro life types who were so busy fighting abortion that they hadn't noticed the line had moved to include the elderly, brain damaged, and otherwise handicapped.

What brought this to my attention 30 years ago was an article about the criteria for being a person. Lots of different criteria have been written about by lots o different "experts", but all of them have in common this little problem: if you didn't meet that criteria you were a non person with no rights, so could be refused treatment, killed, or just used for medical experiments or body organs.

When I asked the philosopher who had reviewed that book for the NEJM if that really meant handicapped people had no right to life, he answered that under the present day philosophical trends, it was hard to find an argument why anyone, even normal people, have rights.

Americans have rights because they are granted to us by our creator, but notice the powers that be who insist there is no creator, and the Supreme Court insisted that we have the right to fashion our own terms of existence, meaning that we can ignore the lessons encoded in ethical and religious traditions.

But of course, in reality this applies only to the strong and rich. For the rest of us poor slobs, it means we are vulnerable to being told what to do by a benevolent government under QALY rules.

For a century, the Catholic church opposed these bozos: against the eugenics experimenters in the US, Against the Nazis and of course against those who think abortion should not just be for hard cases but something to celebrate and joke about (yes, Ms Wolf, I am talking about you).

but in the meanwhile, the newfangled Pope has thrown out Catholic ethicist from the Vatican panels and allowed pro death folk on committees so they can shape Catholic ethics, while having new age gurus discuss medical care at a Vatican conference on medical care (i.e. think positively and you will be okay).

ah, but Pope Francis supported Alfie to be treated, right? Maybe because some in the Italian government were so horrified at the spectacle that they tried to intervene to get proper treatment for the child, so it looked bad when his self selected Vatican experts agreed with the doctors decision the kid had to die.

Again from Magister's blog:

At the Vatican and in the Catholic hierarchy, however, the voices are not unanimous. Pope Francis has spoken out in clear words in defense of Alfie’s life,...
But his protege Vincenzo Paglia, president of the pontifical academy for life - already the author last March 9 of an interview in which he completely agreed with Judge Hayden - issued on Sunday April 22, at the height of the struggle between the child’s parents and the British judicial and medical institutions, a highly ambiguous statement in which the search for consensus, whatever may be the solution adopted, is made to prevail over the truth and justice of the solution itself:...
Not to mention the holing up of the archdiocese of Liverpool, and - something even more serious - the Pilatesque statement of April 18 from the episcopal conference of England and Wales, headed by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, which simultaneously agrees with everyone and no one: "We affirm our conviction that all those who are and have been taking the agonising decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans act with integrity and for Alfie’s good as they see it."

the problem, of course, being that the doctors and judge weren't just talking about using excessive care for the child, who could have been taken home by his father once the respirator had been removed... But it looks as is the doctors had decided that Alfie's  was better off him dead, not kept alive as a handicapped child. Timeline here.

like the notorious "Liverpool pathway", that quickly morphed from advice on how to keep people pain free while they are dying to deliberately using it to kill the senile/non dying, the problem is not what the doctors did per se, but with other issues:

And the Hippocratic philosophy of DoNotKill has morphed into 
Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I doubt the inventor of the oath noted the irony of that last statement.

That Polish revolutionary has a long nuanced discussion of burdening the dying with extraordinary care, but but he also warned us about the modern trend to kill the hopeless...

Sarah Palin call your office: you were right about death panels.