Friday, January 31, 2020

Big Brother at work: Zimbabwe

Global voices has a report on collecting personal information in Zimbabwe and putting it all in a data base built by China (including using facial recognition software).

what could go wrong? Uh, maybe if you vote wrong, you will find your suburb torn down to punish you, or maybe they will just send "green bombers" to your village to beat you up.

and the UKGuardian notes they are facing severe food shortages which are man made.


I was sending money to a friend to pay school fees for her nephews and nieces, but 18 months ago she stopped picking it up and is no longer answering emails. In my prayers.


Musical interlude of the day


So I checked out the BBC website today, and guess what? Brexit is not among the major stories.

a secondary search has a short video by a German commenting that Boris is a tough guy, but no details.

Lots of Wuhan hysteria, Trumpieboy reports (one sided for some reason, duh), and a report that the Palestinians will reject the long discussed peace plan that Trump has presented (meaning the BBC will oppose it of course) and don't notice that the Arab countries are behind it too, and then we see the PC question of the day: Is visiting strip clubs anti feminist?

but after five minutes searching the site, we find this article that tells us what will happen with Brexit: obvious stuff including that the EU delegates from GB will lose their seats in the EU parliement. DUH.

Here is the funniest speech about what Brexit means.

actually, I suspect what was the last straw that made ordinary folks to back Brexit wasn't immigration or racism: it was how some nameless bureaucrat banned the beloved British Tea kettles in the name of energy efficiency.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Wuhan virus? under estimated?

just links to discussions.

so just an ordinary mutant virus from bats/snakes, or should we believe conspiracy theories?

this last podcast by Bill Gertz is really scary: 

Bill Gertz (@BillGertz), in re: The source of the Wuhan coronavirus: now clearly (according to The Lancet) not the wet market, so where? The Chinese governmental biolab smack in the middle of Wuhan city? And the first documented sick person seems not to have been in December, but in October. ..  a study by 29 Chinese scientists says: the first victim was on 1 Dec, and naught to do with the seafood market.
Most of these viruses (in the past) have originated in Guangdong; why is this one from the middle of the country?
But don't worry: The Chinese plan to spread disinformation that it was caused by the USA to deflect blame. 
The Communist regime is steeped in deception; rumors were circulating on the Chinese Net that the US was the origin!
and politics have made Beijing reject US help in fighting the virus: 
... The Director-General of WHO had a presser in Geneva today: “I will not allow any Americans in with the team” [even though US researchers are perhaps the best].
and the worst might be yet to come: 
It's now going from Hebei to Xinjiang. God help the million-plus Uyghurs and Kazakhs being held in concentration camps there. Unknown currently how lethal this is, but said to be at least as lethal as the 1919 pandemic.

Lancet article dated Jan29 PDF

Lancet link2

includes this graph:

the problem? Not all the early cases were in contact with the seafood market. LINK

UK Mail summary.

a lot of countries are shutting down travel, but not the Philippines, although travel visa from the Wuhan area are being stopped.

And there are some arrangements to bring home the OFW in Wuhan.\


and since China has a lot of their workers in Africa, one shudders at the possible death rate when it reaches  countries with high rates of malnutrition/

The UKMail reports it already has reached Sudan

Me? I figure it's just as bad as ordinary flu (remember, 80 thousand folks in the USA died last year of ordinary flu), and hey, maybe it could be like the 1918 Spanish flu with 20 million dead (in an era without antibiotics and when a lot of people were malnourished from the war).

 Who knows?

and that is why folks are so hysterical about this.

and one geopolitical fallout from the virus:

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Wuhan virus update

the news is probably out of date by now.

why the panic when "only" 1000 cases were reported?

Well, remember in the miniseries Chernobyl when they said the top measurement of radiation was 2, but they forgot to add that their meter only measured up to 2 (and it was ten times higher)?

Same here.

Austin Bay had an analysis of the virus from a geopolitical standpoint:

While meeting with a World Health Organization official in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping ....(said) that the Beijing communist government would "release information on the virus in a 'timely' manner."
Read "timely" as "judged politically convenient by a Communist Party dictatorship confronting economic contraction and political resistance from Hong Kong and Taiwan....
the background? China controls information flow by censoring the internet and even monitoring cellphone information.
In communist China, an individual or even a respected doctor in a research bureau reporting on contaminated food, much less a possible epidemic outbreak, is conceivably guilty of anti-government behavior. Said brave soul is subject to fines, travel restrictions, public shaming and perhaps prison. Why? Because the Chinese Communist Party can dismiss the initial warning as illegal criticism of the party. As the party bigwigs dither, a deadly pathogen kills.

what's that about Hong Kong?

well, they are being inundated with sick people according to this report:

Now governments are starting to close airports to planes from China, evacuating their citizens from China and putting possible contacts from Wuhan etc. into 14 days of quarantine (mostly at home).

So is it too late to stop the pandemic? Who knows.

The bad news is that it can spread from people who aren't sick yet, or have a mild case with few symptoms, and the incubation period is 7 to ten days.

This, plus the low mortality rate, is one reason that the conspiracy theories that it was a biowarfare pathogen that escaped the Wuhan biological laboratory is probably not true: it wouldn't make a good weapon to kill someone's army or enemy: too slow and not lethal enough.

However, that doesn't mean that this laboratory, which after all is a place where such viruses are scientifically studied in order to figure out a vaccine, might not have had an accidental release of the virus.

update: John Bachelor's radio program discusses:

The good news: The Wuhan virus is not very lethal.
Why do I say this? well, so far few dead bodies have popped up, even in contacts outside of China.

Of course, if it spread like influenza, this could mean millions infected and lots of dead people. To put it into perspective, the US had 80 thousand deaths associated with influenza in 2019.

however, the danger to China might be more than a few thousand deaths: it is affecting their economy.

Another problem to a China that is trying to spread it's influence around Asia by investment and bullying: it will make them unpopular.

This editorial in the PhilInquirer notes: It could cause a worsening in anti Chinese feeling, a sentiment that is already high here in the Philippines due to their stealing of the fishing grounds in the West Philippine sea and the fact that they refuse to hire locals in their casinos etc.

the editorial writer notes that after a Cholera epidemic in the 1820 that people rioted and killed both Chinese and Europeans who they blamed for spreading the disease, claiming they "poisoned" the river where people obtained drinking water.

Like most conspiracy theories, it was partly correct, except that the "poison" was probably just improperly disposed excrement into the river by travelers from a cholera infected country: similar to how "peacekeepers" from Nepal were the source of a cholera epidemic in Haiti in 2010 that affected 800 thousand and killed ten thousand.

In that case, the UN etc. denied any connection, even after pesky reporters found they were spilling garbage and waste into the nearby river.

So far, the hysteria about the Wuhan virus seems to be exaggerated, but given the way bureaucrats dither and dictatorships cover up, one does worry that this is resulting in conspiracy theories taking over.

one example of this is that it is easier for me to find "fake news" about the epidemic than read the NYTimes articles which are behind a fire wall.

BBC summarizes FAQ for you here.

CDC page updates frequently HERE.

here in the Philippines, no confirmed cases but there are 28 suspected cases, and the gov't is very worried: They just sent a planeload of Chinese tourists going to Boracay back to China
one problems is that the lack of the ability to test for the virus, so tests have been sent to Australia. The Japanese promised to  send material to help with the testing.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

multicultural cat meme

The unreported Demonstration

Family news

the waterpump blew a gasket last night so no water.

We have a deep well pump that goes to a tank on our roof.

We do have access to city water, but the pressure is low, meaning we would have to slowly fill buckets to bathe or to use the toilets.

Ah, the pleasures of living in a tropical paradise.

the good news: The volcano is still smoking but no erupting. A second volcano is starting to smoke, but not near here.

and, thanks to the "human rights" folks who are worried about dead drug dealers, Duterte is threatening to void the armed forces agreement with the USA.

Hmm... the problem is that these "human rights" folks support crooked politicians who claim they are being persecuted for their politics (just ignore that expensive house you built for your lover/driver who picked up bribes for you).

Quarantines, facemasks, and bras

China essentially has put the Wuhan city area under quarantine, but it's a bit late since quite a few cases or suspected cases have been diagnosed in travelers from China.

Scott Adams podcast asks WTF is going on when no one has stopped people from China entering other countries.

yes, especially with Chinese new year this weekend.

Thousands of Chinese will be visiting China and then coming home.

With the enclosed atmosphere in airplanes, infectious diseases can spread through the air.,, or maybe not, says this article: influenza will spread only to people within 4 feet of the infected person. However, that estimate assumes a short flight where people don't leave their seat, and then there is this:

as Michaeleen Doucleff at NPR reports, tuberculosis can be spread within two rows of an infected person on a flight over eight hours. SARS can reach as far as three rows and possibly up to seven.

the problem with Wuhan virus is that it's not sure how close you have to be to get the disease. Some anecdotal stories of family members getting infected, and of course some physicians and nurses who are in direct contact with patients have caught it. 

But what about those nearby but not in direct contact? What about those who collect the trash with infected sputum or saliva contaminating it? Can it be spread (like the common cold) via hands and things you touch? And is it spread via excrement, meaning flies are also a possible way to spread the disease. 

It's not known.

But there is an alternative: Quarantine. The latent period is a week to ten days.

this is being done to a certain extent, since the Chinese have essentially put the Wuhan area in quarantine.

what is not being done is the "circle" screening: find those who have been in Wuhan during the last 2 weeks, and those in contact with someone who had been in Wuhan, and then isolating them away from the public, maybe in their own homes with a "Quarantine" sign on it.

Smithsonian article on quarantine for polio explains how it's done: and notes two problems with this: People don't report early cases, and people just don't obey the quarantine and stay inside.

Even people who worked with Ebola and returned back to the USA and who were at risk for developing the disease refused to stay in their homes. Even MEDICALLY TRAINED people who had been in direct contact refused to obey the quarantine rules.


So now the question is: what does one do about travelers from China who are now traveling to other countries?

And what do you do with people who had been in China entering a country found to have a fever at the airport?

instead of doing temperature scans of people entering a country, maybe the airlines should be doing temperature scans before people even enter an airplane..

. actually this might be too late. Don't let them into the airport.

And if someone who is high risk for arrives in another country and is found to have a fever, maybe they need to isolate everyone on the plane with them for ten days.

Expensive? Yes but not as much as a major epidemic.

Those who already have been diagnosed should be isolated in a hospital.

But those who had been in direct contact with these patients also need to be isolated: home isolation would be enough, especially if they wore a facemask and avoided close contact with their family.

Already people in Asia wear facemasks all the time: It is a common site during influenza season, or by people on treatment for bronchitis or tuberculosis.

One result of this is that there is now a facemask shortage in Asia.

And if you don't have a facemask?

well, we ran out of heavy facemasks here after Taal volcano exploded, and the wimpy paper ones often leaked and also were in short supply.

So the Dept of Health here suggested to improvise:

Diapers, bras, panties can serve as improvised face masks: DOH Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Filipinos who cannot buy N95 face masks due to high demand can improvise to protect themselves from ash fall, the Department of Health said Tuesday.
Diapers and undergarments such as bras and panties can be used to protect one’s nose and mouth from inhaling ash, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Laxamana told reporters in MalacaƱang. 


two articles at the NEJM discuss the disease LINK LINK2

neither article answers the question of how easily does it spread and one worry is that some patients won't have symptoms but will spread it.

and so far most of those dying are old or have other diseases such as diabetes that weaken the immune system.

FR has a discussion and links but includes conspiracy theories and fake news among the hard news information.

Instapundit links inlcludes this one: The numbers are underestimated. (? asymptomatic cases or those with few symptoms? not being counted).
one of the comments is about a John Ringo book. Wikipedia link
Yes, I read the book when it was still free at Baen...sort of a mixture of Xenophon and world war z....

Friday, January 24, 2020


before there was tomato catsup, there was garum and fish sauce (aka patis) and soy sauce.

and here is one recipe to make catsup:
here they also sell Banana catsup. which tastes like regular catsup to me... they also have hot and sweet versions of these catsups in the store,

It's the bats

unconfirmed rumors say that the Wuhan pneumonia originated in a market that sold wild animals, and that the virus came from bats.

Weibo has an interesting article about the disussion about eating bats on the Chinese internet: there is a backlash against eating wild game.

in contrast, this article in ScienceDaily claims that the virus originated in snakes... sort of:

By conducting a detailed genetic analysis of the virus and comparing it with available genetic information on different viruses from various geographic locations and host species, the investigators concluded that the 2019-nCoV appears to be a virus that formed from a combination of a coronavirus found in bats and another coronavirus of unknown origin.
The resulting virus developed a mix or "recombination" of a viral protein that recognizes and binds to receptors on host cells. Such recognition is key to allowing viruses to enter host cells, which can lead to infection and disease. Finally, the team uncovered evidence that the 2019-nCoV likely resided in snakes before being transmitted to humans. Recombination within the viral receptor-binding protein may have allowed for cross-species transmission from snake to humans.
So do the Chinese eat snakes? (Pioneers out west used to eat rattle snake meat in the USA, so why not).

But of course, in poor areas, people eat anything.

I remember my adopted son telling me a story about when one of the horses of the rich rancher fell off a cliff. Later, the locals went down and harvested meat from the carcase.

When I asked why they did that, my son advised me: Mom, sometimes you get weak and just want to eat meat.

Same here in the Philippines, where extra dogs are eaten (not pets, usually extra puppies). And in Africa, they eat local rats (field mice but larger) and in South America, guinea pigs are domesticated to eat, not raised as pets.

Again, the German nuns I worked with in Africa related people eating dogs and cats toward the end of the war when famine was widespread.

and of course, in the USA, not only is hunting deer/elk/bear a sport, but locals ate possum pie.

the problem with eating wild game in China (or monkeys, aka "bush meat" in Africa, or dog meat here in the Philippines) is not because it is eaten by hungry country folk, but that it has become an exotic food for the more affluent.

Of course, vegetarians would insist we shouldn't eat meat at all, but until they get a GM meat from cloned animal muscle, you have to realize that humans are omnivores and restricting meat/eggs/dairy/etc is not really healthy.

one note: a lot of human disease originated from domestic animals, but I was bemused when some lecturers on ancient history insisted that this did not occur in hunter gatherers. I wonder however if hunter gatherers just died off from such diseases, but the low population density made the spread of the disease less likely.

as for eating insects: sorry, bub, but these were not a daily food: just a seasonal one to supplement the diet. And one wonders how many diseases are spread by eating bugs?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Corruption? In the USA?

the fake news pushed by both sides in the "impeachment" scandal is boring. Everything has been said and spun since November 2016 so what else is news.

But some news seems to be perculating below the fold, such as what is this about a couple million illegal dollars being sent to Hillary's campaign, and what has it to do with the One World Order, the new "humanism", the Pope, and of course, a guy who likes Child porn.

why go to "fake news" sites/scandal sheet type blogs? Because if you don't read them, you miss out on juicy stories. 

Latest scandal: the modern Jeramiah, crazy AnnBarnhart, has a link to a blog Dad29 who has a good summary about about a big shot who is friends with a pedophile who has links with the Clinton campaign and was given an award by Pope Francis last year..

it's a good summary, but a better written but more paranoid summary of the shenanigans of the world elites can be read HERE.

 but like most stuff I read on blogs, I checked it out.

So I googled the guy's name and indeed he was just named (Dec 2019) in a case of funneling illegal foreign money to election campaigns in the USA.

no names on the indictment, but CNN suggests it was to the Clinton campaign.

note: This Nadler is a Lebanese businessman, not the Congressman from NYC.

According to the indictment, from March 2016 through January 2017, Khawaja conspired with Nader to conceal the source of more than $3.5 million in campaign contributions, directed to political committees associated with a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election. By design, these contributions appeared to be in the names of Khawaja, his wife, and his company. In reality, they allegedly were funded by Nader. Khawaja and Nader allegedly made these contributions in an effort to gain influence with high-level political figures, including the candidate. As Khawaja and Nader arranged these payments, Nader allegedly reported to an official from a foreign government about his efforts to gain influence.

Nadler is called a "Trump associate" in many news stories, but this is "fake news" what they mean is when members of the Trump administration met with the UAE, he was present and facilitating the meeting. And  as a Lebanese businessman he's been a shadowy player in the Middle East for years: Back in 1991 he helped try to get a hostage released in Lebanon, which is why his child porn sentence back then was so light.

in other words, if you can call him a "Trump associate" you also should call him a Clinton donor, an Obama associate, and probably a Bush (I and II) associate too.

The illegal campaign contributions were to Hillary's campaign, according to CNN. 

but most of the CNN story is about Nadler being a witness for Muller about Trump's Russian ties, which in reality was about a Russian outreach to a minor Trump official in 2017, i.e. after the election, which seems to me to be business as usual.

Nader was a key witness for Mueller as the special counsel pieced together a Seychelles meeting in early 2017 between Trump supporter Erik Prince and the prominent Russian government banker Dmitriev, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nader's efforts to set up meetings with Trump surrogates are mentioned extensively in Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, ... "Nader informed Prince that the Russians were looking to build a link with the incoming Trump administration," Mueller wrote 

uh, if the Russians were looking to build a link with the "incoming" Trump administration, doesn't that imply that they didn't already have links, so how could they be "colluding" with Trump?

And why was Muller investigating something that happened after the election? All sorts of governments and organizations were busy making nice with Trump in order to work with the administration: this is what goes on all the time.

but never mind.

CNN notes that Khawajah gave money to a lot of folks in both parties.

and to a lot of charities.

Khawajah's company, Allied market is associated with e commerce, and he (or his company) were honored by the Pope for giving money to charitable organizations.
Dr. Khawaja and Allied Wallet have supported countless charities around the world including: the United Service Organizations, Wounded Warrior Project, Eagle and Badge Foundation, After-School All-Stars, American Red Cross, Brent Shapiro Foundation, ASACP, Action Innocence, Los Angeles Police Canine Association, From the Heart Productions, Hope for Change International, STAR Team for the Children, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
“I’m very proud to receive this recognition from Pope Francis and the Vatican. My company has always been rooted in helping others and creating safe, successful environments for those with a dream or a goal. It’s nice to be awarded for this, and we will continue to give our best efforts in spreading peace globally,” said Dr. Andy Khawaja.
so the Pope's award was a thank you to a guu who gave a lot of money to charity to help folks.

so yes, the scandal sheets are correct: lots of bad people out there.

and lots of big money being spread around to influence politicians to be nice to them when they pass laws, and maybe look the other way at their financial shenanigans.

But the bad news: 
this is the way the world works: Elite folks talking to other elite folks, greasing the palms of politicians directly or indirectly, etc.

And yes, the Vatican has been part of this type of sleezy diplomacy for about 1000 years.

psst: the Philippines is doing fine

If you read the papers, you think things are horrible here in the Philippines.

But things are okay: Actually things are looking up (despite the chronic problems of poverty, dengue fever, and all sorts of disasters that happen all the time). Even the volcano has settled down, but not enough for people to go home: and now a lot of them are getting ordinary illnesses that are spreading around the evacuation centers.

the gov't is worrying about Wuhan flu spreading here via tourists and people returning from China.

StrategyPage has a good article you should read, ad their analysis agrees with what I see and hear in the rural Philippines where our leftist types are actually worried more about land reform and decent wages than gay rights and that crooked politicians are getting caught and pretend to be human rights heroes. 

 President Duterte continues to enjoy high approval ratings. The latest poll shows 82 percent approval,...
There are many foreign critics of the Duterte war on drugs but for the people most affected by it there is approval. Filipinos feel safer and more confident about their future. The national crime rate is 3.3 percent less than a year ago and is apparently continuing to decline.
Meanwhile, corruption arrests and prosecutions continue to increase and many of those prosecuted are senior officials, often from previous governments. Duterte has also gone after quality-of-life problems like electric and water supplies. The economy is growing and the Chinese threat is being addressed without getting the country into a war.


this year is bad for influenza: there are two influenza bugs out there, and alas the vaccine this year only works for less than half the strains.

I seem to remember a similar problem back in the late 1990s, when we almost lost two children who had flu and then developed resistant staph pneumonia and had to ship them to Minneapolis for treatment (they both lived, thank God).

And then we started to get influenza in our nursing home. That year, the influenza shot (for epidemic type b) worked, so we figured this was the usual type A influenza that lurks around all the time. After almost losing two patients, we stopped all visitors and I put everyone on Symetrel, which treats and prevents type A flu (this was before Tamiflu). No more cases, whoopie! The bad news? I messed up our pharmacy budget.

So, as I noted, it's a bad year for flu.

But I also remember SARS: the Chinese kept it secret how bad it was, and it spread to Hong Kong and then to Toronto. Luckily it stopped, mainly due to old fashioned quarantine (and screening airline passengers for fever) but that was scary, because it seemed to have a high mortality.

Mortality is hard evidence of a disease, but doesn't always give a clue to how many cases are actually around, since many mild cases never see a physician. (e.g. Dengue is probably under diagnosed since ordinary folks don't see doctors unless they are very sick because they can't afford it. )

So now, on top of ordinary flu, we have Wuhan flu. As suspected, the Chinese underestimated the cases and now there are cases all over Asia and perhaps in the USA: we have a few cases here in the Philippines.

Apparently it has a long "incubation period" which means you aren't sick right away so don't get sick until days later. (CDC says to check for it if your patient has been in Wuhan or in contact with another peson with the disease in the last 14 days, meaning the infected people could travel quite a distance before they got sick).

China finally has decided to stop flights from Wuhan to stop people from leaving the area, to stop more cases from leaving, but it is a bit late.

And the bad news: Some of the nurses etc. have caught it, meaning it spread person to person in close contact.
the treatment (like SARS) is "supportive", meaning oxygen, nutrition, isolation, antibiotics if a secondary infection occurs, and maybe put on a respirator if it gets bad.

the patient needs to be put in a private room, preferably one with respiratory protection (we use this in TB patients so the air with the germ doesn't get blown out to infect other patients: In SARS it spread via air ducts, but it's not known if this will also). Docs and nurses should wear special masks and even eye shields.

Luckily, the death rate isn't high, (China only reported 9 deaths so far, but of course, the bad news is that they lie and there could be more cases they are covering up).

But it does kill people, and with Chinese New Year coming up this weekend, it means everyone will be visiting family, (meaning traveling in crowded trains, buses and airplanes where viruses can spread easily) and so there is a big worry it will spread all over the world quickly.


The news changes from day to day, and there is a big meeting coming up to discuss the problem. However, China, as usual, has it's priorities intact: they pressured the World Health Organization to keep out scientists from Taiwan, because China hates Taiwan and thinks it should be part of China, whereas the Taiwanese don't, and politics is more important than people dying.

Here is John Bachelor's show discussion of the disease.

of course, the news is changing fast so it might already be out of date.

the latest CDC report is here

This article worries that the Wuhan flu could be more bad news for China's economy, which is already hit by Trumpieboy's trade negotiations. 

We have cases in the Philippines, but none in our district yet. Chinese new year is big in Manila, but not so much here in the rural provinces, and our fiesta season is pretty well over. But we are close enough to Manila that it could spread here quickly.

In Asia, they wear masks in flu season: The bad news? The heavy masks are already out of stock since people used them to breath after the volcano Taal put ash in the air (the gov't said a wet cloth would work better than the wimpy masks). I have a wimpy surgical mask here, just in case, but my personally fitted HEPA mask (which was used when we went into rooms with folks with TB etc) was left at home.


update: Did you know Wuhan has a lab that studies "dangerous pathogens" (aka germs)?

From Nature (Feb 2017):

Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world's most dangerous pathogens
 Maximum-security biolab is part of plan to build network of BSL-4 facilities across China...
 Some scientists outside China worry about pathogens escaping, and the addition of a biological dimension to geopolitical tensions between China and other nations.
italics mine
But Chinese microbiologists are celebrating their entrance to the elite cadre empowered to wrestle with the world’s greatest biological threats....
and later in the article is this:
But worries surround the Chinese lab, too. The SARS virus has escaped from high-level containment facilities in Beijing multiple times, notes Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. Tim Trevan, founder of CHROME Biosafety and Biosecurity Consulting in Damascus, Maryland, says that an open culture is important to keeping BSL-4 labs safe, and he questions how easy this will be in China, where society emphasizes hierarchy. “Diversity of viewpoint, flat structures where everyone feels free to speak up and openness of information are important,” he says..

again italics mine.

headsup Bigleaguepolitics via FR

Yes these two sites are fake news/conspiracy type sites, but hey, when Nature Magazine (which is one of the top scientific journals) has an article about the Wuhan facility, why hasn't this been in the news?

Yes, I know: given the lack of hygiene in low end markets, it's probably started from animal contact, but still, when possible sources of a disease like this aren't mentioned in the MSM, it leads to people believing in conspiracy theories....

luckily, after the SARS and MERS outbreaks, the Infectious disease folks at Johns Hopkins did hold a "war game" (i.e. simulation) of such an outbreak a few years ago. LINK.  the simulation was called Event 201 and they do have a website.

This is not pushing a conspiracy theory: these are practice simulations to plan how to repond and they make recommendations.

Right before 911, a really scary simulation was about a bioweapon attack with smallpox release called Dark Winter. And the site has held other simulations: CladeX  about a pandemic of an influenza type disease (I suspect they were inspired by birdflu cases that jumped the species barrier about that time), and Atlantic storm that posited a bioweapons attack causing an outbreak.

Hospitals and emergency services organizations hold similar simulations all the time to prepare for mass casualty situations. so forget the conspiracy theory.

Indeed, the lessons from Dark Winter were used to plan for a possible bioweapons attack with smallpox after 911 (I had to review our clinic's protocol, which thank the Lord was never used).

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

BBC pushes grannie killing

What happens when we're too old to be 'useful'?

expect a lot more of these articles in the future.


notice they start out with anecdotes of 3 very poor tribes (with few members) living on the margin of life, where starvation is near for everyone? Also notice that they don't say if this custom continued after the threat of tribal starvation no longer existed because the modern world had alternatives?

In the tribe where I worked with in Africa, usually twins were traditionally killed because they were seen as bewitched because they usually died slowly of malnutrition; once missionaries came and infant formula was available, such customs quickly died out. 

Yet those anthropologists who cited matricide in this article (like the anthropologists who look the other way at Amazon infanticide) don't recognize that people chose life for their children if possible. 

Same here.

so why does the author if the BBC article cite historical examples in marginal primitive tribes (which he calls our ancestral societies) ? Are there other societies, equally poor, that didn't do this (yes, he mentions this but without details or perspective if this was more commonly done or not, maybe because if that was done his entire ethical relativism argument might collapse).

In contrast, filial piety and care for one's elders is a cornerstone to Confucian ethics, and is the key to China's ability to survive and thrive as a culture for the last 2500 years. 

Maybe this is why Chinese culture succeeded, when these tribal cultures he cites lovingly in the article remained small, marginalized, and in danger of dying off? 

but never mind. The BBC author just moves from primitive remnants of unsuccessful societies to today's world, and talks about pensions.

But the right to support in old age is still far from global. Nearly a third of the world's older people have no pension and for many of the rest who receive some money, the pension is not enough to live on.
ah, so it's about the money.

note that part about "no pension"? Well, in most countries the elderly were cared for by their kids or other relatives.

With the modern world, the kids might be working as an OFW five thousand miles away, or maybe, as in China, you only have one child who would need to support four grandparents.

Back to the BBC guy's arugment, which assumes a government pension is the only way old folks can survive.

Old people are inefficient, he laments, so we (meaning the government) can't afford to support them. Oh no, he doesn't say that openly, but that is the implication if you read the article.

Can you say "untermensch" children?

Galton lives!

 In many countries, however, generations have grown up assuming they will be well looked after in old age. But it's becoming a challenge to meet that expectation. And for years, economic-policy experts have been sounding the alarm about a slow-burn crisis in the pension system.

the author go on to talk about raising the retirement age, and this is a good idea, but maybe providing jobs that allow fewer hours and less intense working day might help too.

On the other hand, old age is not what it used to be: because modern diet and medical care and modern machines that make hard physical labor no longer needed not only prolong life but make people "younger" at the same age as their grandparents, and they usually live on their own or with family members:

hard data can be found in this article.

The good news, Kinsella said, is that non-disabled component of the Medicare-enrolled 65-and-over population has been rising over time. In 1982, 74 percent of Medicare-enrolled 65-and-older individuals were “non-disabled.” That number rose to 81 percent in 2004–2005.
This trend is reflected in the fact that the percentage of Medicare-enrolled 65-and-older individuals who reside in institutional settings (i.e., nursing homes) has decreased over time, to less than 5 percent in 2004–2005.

And many elders care for their spouses, children or grandchildren. (one third of caregivers are themselves over 65, and this doesn't include the almost 3 million grandparents who are raising or helping to raise their grandchildren, whose parents often can't care for them due to substance abuse).

All of this comes back to the importance of family, an institution that is under stress not just from economic stresses but from cultural propaganda that denigrates responsibility, sees sex as an act that has nothing to do with love or affection, sees babies as a threat to women's rights, and of course, ignores that evolution (or God) has placed into the human psyche that people need their families to live a complete life.

The traditions of honoring elders is strong here in Asia because we remember the wisdom of the past.

This is dismissed as no longer important according to the BBC expert:
But there are other differences, too. Once we relied on elders to store knowledge and instruct the young. Now, knowledge dates quickly - and who needs Grandma when we have schools and Wikipedia?
What's wrong with this picture?

She is mixing up facts and wisdom.

Professor Etzioni who I quoted in a previous essay,  points out that human beings are social animals and these societal ties need to be encouraged to make a healthy society.

The trouble with this view of society is less in what it claims and more in what it leaves out: namely, that people are social creatures whose flourishing and psychological well-being depend on strong, lasting, meaningful relationships with others and on the sharing of moral and social values.

Hannibal the Greatest General? Bah humbug

 I ran across a video about Hannibal, the greatest general of all, and that compares him to Napoleon.

uh, really?

which only proves Hannibal had a good PR guy to tell his story and leave out the embarrassing parts.

So you take your army over the Alps (losing one third of them, but never mind they were local Celtic peasants), complete with elephants (all of which died except one) you get a glowing story in the history books.

Then you get credit for beating the Romans at Cannae and other battles (never mind that the Roman generals were untested, chosen from political leaders not for their battle experience).

Again, he got a good press because hey, the Romans would rather write him up as brilliant than write up their own generals as nincompoops.

But you know, Hannibal never conquered Rome, because he, like Napoleon, or like Xerxes for that matter, forgot two things: He underestimated his enemy's stubbornness, and he forgot to secure his supply line.

History lesson:

Napoleon figured he'd live off of Russia and that the Russians would give up when they lost Moscow. Instead, the Russians pulled a scorched earth policy, evacuated the people, and let winter (and irregular attacks by cossacks and peasants) attack his fleeing and starving troops.

and history lesson number two:

If Napoleon had read history, he would know the Athenians did the same thing: the Persians captured Athens (whose people had been evacuated), but their supply lines were destroyed in the naval battle of Salamis. so Xerxes left and the next year the Greeks managed to destroy the Persian army at the Battle of Plataea.

So for Hannibal, the next step should have been to destroy Rome (which, after all, was the reason for his invasion of Italy).

Ah, but he couldn't do that because those cowardly Romans refused to come out and get slaughtered engage him in a customary military battle. So instead he went around pillaging and burning the farms of helpless peasants for years, frustrated by those stupid Romans who refused to fall into his trap.

from Wikipedia:

Crossing the Alps, Hannibal reached the Italian peninsula in 218 BC and won several major victories against the Roman armies. The Romans failed to defeat him in the field and he remained in Italy...

well yes  the Romans failed to defeat him, but on the other hand, Hannibal never managed to conquer Rome either, which a lot of people who fell for his PR meme about his glory fail to notice.

so Hannibal was an expert at military tactics, but the Romans thought "outside the box"  and eventually changed tactics and hit him in his weakest spot: his supply chain. enter Scipio Africanus:

The Battle of Ilipa was an engagement considered by many as Scipio Africanus’s most brilliant victory in his military career during the Second Punic War in 206 BC... in which he forever broke the Carthaginian hold in Iberia, thus denying any further land invasion into Italy and cutting off a rich base for the Barca dynasty both in silver and manpower.
But the Romans didn't stop there. Scipio trained his own army, took them to North Africa and managed to destroy Carthage's allies  (and caused many to change sides because he bribed them to do so. Again, thinking outside the box)...and Carthage, now in danger of being destroyed, called Hannibal back to defend the city.itself, meaning Hannibal, who despite his brilliant reputation didn't see this coming, had to leave Italy without destroying Rome.

Then came the Battle of Zama, where Hannibal's brilliant skill as a general should have led to a victory.

His army was huge, and included those weapons of terror: 80 elephants. The mere sight of Elephants usually caused soldiers to flee when the elephants charged the line.

 Except here, the tactic didn't work:

So why does Hannibal get the PR for being the greatest general, but few moderns even know the name of Scipio Africanus who beat Hannibal by out maneuvering him?

Hannibal had a good Press agent.

Proving the truth of the ditty:

The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she’s done—
And so we scorn the codfish
While the humble hen we prize.
It only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise!

Cat item of the day

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Reclaiming patriotism

Professor Etzioni is the founder of the communitarian movement, that in the 1980s and 1990s inspired the Clintons.

Hillary's phrase" it takes a village to raise a child" comes from this movement for example: Meaning family ties, extended families and ties with one's neighbors were important in nurturing the young.

Similarly, Elizabeth Warren in the 1990s wrote about the need to encourage moms to stay home with young children instead of farming them out to daycare, and suggested government policies should figure a way to support such women. (as in done in Germany and other European countries).

The idea is to strengthen the community that is already there. 

The problem? In the modern Democratic party, and among too many in the intellectual class, this has morphed into socialism that posits an intrusive (federal) nanny state to do the job that is customarily done by family and local community.

Am I the only one who noticed the "Julia" ad of the Obama administration not only touted that government would help Julia fulfill her dreams, but didn't mention if Julia's parents, friends, or baby father had a role in her lifestyle choice. 

Yet who dared to point out to those pushing this lovely drama that few Americans live that way outside of Hallmark movies; most families, even those poorest neighborhoods and small towns that are partially broken by divorce or drug abuse or community violence, still have families and neighbors and churches to help support each other, (37 million caregivers can't be wrong).
Etzioni is Jewish, but his ideas are close to the subsidiarity idea of Catholic social teachings: That a person should be helped by those around him, and problems solved as much as possible at the local level. 

Etzioni explains in his book the problem behind the present day American "civil war": that both sides are morphing into caricatures that hate each other, and don't see the reality of life as people actually live it, and hence can't agree on government policies that would actually help ordinary people instead of a political agenda.

an excerpt from his book:

During the campaign, much less attention was paid to the communitarian views that Hillary Clinton extolled in her 1996 book It Takes a Village, which pointed out that to raise children well (and to do well in the moral sense), all community members must bear responsibility for one another’s well-being. The thesis that every citizen has not only rights but also responsibilities is a communitarian keystone.
True, her vision of community is hardly one that nationalists hanker for; still, it is a good starting point for a better understanding of what globalists miss.
As I see it, the rise of right-wing populism in the US and Europe can be attributed to no small extent to the profound misunderstanding globalists have of community and communitarian values.
italics mine. 
Globalists tend to view society as composed of freestanding individuals, each of whom has his or her own individual rights and is keen to pursue his or her own self-interest.
As a result, globalists assume that, given the proper information, their fellow citizens will see that their aging societies are refreshed by immigration, that free trade raises the standard of living for everyone, and that individual rights outweigh tribalism.
The trouble with this view of society is less in what it claims and more in what it leaves out: namely, that people are social creatures whose flourishing and psychological well-being depend on strong, lasting, meaningful relationships with others and on the sharing of moral and social values.
again, italics mine. 
These relationships and values are found in national and subnational communities (including families, which are microcommunities). By definition, communities are circumscribed rather than all inclusive and are inevitably parochial rather than global.
I haven't read the entire book, but it's nice that someone is pointing out that what Americans do have a lot in common with each other and could work these problems out if it wasn't for the radicals on both sides pushing hate and straw man arguments to "win" power. 

Etzioni writes in CityJournal about his problems getting his book published, a fact that says a lot about the state of the intellectuals in American society.

 and the article links to a free download of his book Reclaiming patriotism. LINK

as for me: I live in the Philippines, where the government does it's best but it is the family who does most of the caregiving and social support for one another, but is under siege by a modernism that requires family members to migrate to find a decent job to support their families.

but that's another essay for another day.

War and disease breaking out all over (not)

is war coming? Probably not. Just the usual local outbreaks of violence and small gangs of insurgents killing people.

StrategyPage cuts through the propaganda and analyzes what's up.

Lots of stuff about Iran, and no they don't expect war there either.

One reason I trust the site: They get things right about countries where I have first hand knowledge.

For example, they are one of the few sites that notice how corruption, not just ideology, is behind a lot of the news stories. 

The MSM ignores the corrution angle, and one problem in the Middle East is that the US thought throwing money at their problems would solve stuff: it didn't. It just made corruption worse and inspired ordinary folks to get angry at the US.

Even the radical Islamicists causing trouble all over (and in the recent past, the radical communist types who still are active in the Philippines and India) got local support due to corruption of the government.

Philippine president Magsaysay wrote the classic book about the causes and cures of such insurgencies: get rid of corruption in the government/police/ military, get land reform, and have the military reach out to locals to help them solve problems.

and here is SP/s analysis of last year's news :


and here is their summary (from last year) of various problems here in the Philippines:

here, the big news is the volcano, which is still active but has calmed down (?calm before the storm?)

There is also a bit of a kerfuffle about China exporting their gangsters here: a Chinese girl was almost kidnapped for ransom, so this is about the return of the kidnap gangs, but also the drug smugglers, the food smugglers, the bribery, the manufacture of counterfeit products, legal casinos that won't hire locals (they import the personnel to do things locals could do), illegal gambling, on line pornography, etc etc which is blamed on these "visitors" or illegal immigrants.

the Chinese community is only partly assimilated so tends to keep the crime news among themselves, so the cops are developing a bureau of culturally sensitive cops to handle the increased Chinese on Chinese crime.

Filipinos tend to distrust the Chinese, and a lot of this is just politics, a way by the opposition parties to decrease the popularity of Duterte who is busy cleaning up corruption (a lot of his "critics" are the most corrupt and worried they'll be next on his cleanup list).

that part about smuggling food is important: It was suspected that someone smuggled in pork from sick pigs from China, and spread here because the meat contains active virus and the local pigs are fed discarded food.

That is how we now have a small epidemic of African swine flu in some areas, which means these farmers will have to kill all the pigs in contact with cases.

To make things worse: now we have a child who tested positive for that new Chinese coronavirus. and a few Chinese tourists in Boracay have flu like symptoms.

there is a lot of rumors saying that China is covering up the number of cases: and now there is a report that the disease is able to spread person to person.

this could be a disaster worse than SARS...

 Already the Philippines has a Dengue epidemic, and random cases of measles and diphtheria and polio partly due to people not getting their kids vaccinated thanks to the Dengue vaccine scandal.


the good news? 

now that they are looking for stuff from the sky, we are reading more about meteors going past the earth, or coming down as fireballs. None so far causing damage.

More good (or bad news, depending on your viewpoint): The impeachment fizzling and should disappear, because the dirty little secret is that Biden's son wasn't the only one getting rich on daddy's/mom's or a sibling's influence. 

Maybe only one who has experience with such things in the third world would notice that they aren't impeaching Trump for being corrupt (despite lots of charges and failed investigations of this) but because he dared to investigate corruption in another politician..

But as I noted above, the corruption factors are ignored by the MSM/cable TV news, so all those good honest people who trust the news don't know such things occur in Washington. 

As for Trump: he's worked with corruption in NYC for years so knows all the tricks.

Finally: the big gun rights march in Virginia didn't devolve into violence as the press hinted was going to happen hoped would happen despite rumors that trained antifa provocateurs who infiltrated it were supposed to guarantee would happen. 

Rumors on right wing sites say that the cops were in the crowd and hiding nearby in case of trouble, but the demonstration was peaceful, had "people of color" among the crowd, and like most right wing demonstrations cleaned up their own garbage.

Not my agenda: I support gun control, and refused to carry a gun when I was in the National Guard... but you know, if confronted with a bad guy, a person well trained to shoot can be life saving. 

and that, not guns per se, is the problem:

The real danger is people with a little training who think a gun will protect them. It won't: and the gun in the house is a danger for accidental discharge if you have children, and suicide if you have an unstable depressed family member.

ironically, suicide is highest in white males and especially in the elderly, whereas black on black homicide by gang members using handguns remains a problem in some parts of the inner city community. 

As for mass shootings: alas, like suicides, many are copy cat crimes, where an unstable person sees a crime and thinks: Hey what a great idea. 

Or, in the case of suicide, sees the press sympathetically covering a case of suicide as if it was a logical thing to do. Thirteen reasons why is an example of selling suicide to teenagers, who think: When I'm dead they'll be sorry, but they don't really recognize that first part, i.e. that they'll be dead.


Speaking of suicide: StrategyPage has a long analysis of the problem in the military and veterans but notes it is a problem among the general population.