Friday, February 28, 2020

Musical interlude of the day

headsup Darkroastedblend

Wikipedia: The Ross sisters:

AP Fact check on corona virus

I'm posting this because it supports a lot of the things I said in the previous post on the Corona virus:

AP Factcheck:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential contenders are describing the federal infectious-disease bureaucracy as rudderless and ill-prepared for the coronavirus threat because of budget cuts and ham-handed leadership by President Donald Trump.
That’s a distorted picture. For starters, Trump hasn’t succeeded in cutting the budget.He’s proposed cuts but Congress ignored him and increased financing instead. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t suffering from budget cuts that never took effect.

and here is the part discussing what I said about the CDC etc. already having plans on file that only need to be tweeked to be put into place:
The public health system has a playbook to follow for pandemic preparation — regardless of who’s president or whether specific instructions are coming from the White House. Those plans were put into place in anticipation of another flu pandemic, but are designed to work for any respiratory-borne disease.

Family news

Joy just got back from a meeting with people from other countries interested in setting up organic rice farms.

I guess they aren't worried about catching the Wuhan virus here.

But Joy said the next meeting was supposed to be in Singapore on March 30 but has been postponed.

Latest map of suspected cases here in the Philippines.

a lot of the cases suspected of having the virus have tested negative.\

and the Philippine gov't has banned people from visiting Korea. but so far, Koreans can come here, except for those from North Gyeongsang province.

but it doesn't ban returning Koreans, or Filipinos who study or work there.

several OFW have become infected: 2 caregivers in Hong Kong are infected, for example,

and those on cruise ships.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

CDC and Corona virus plans

the USA shut the borders to people from high risk areas (and quarantined citizens in danger) on February 2, and the president got a lot of flack for doing so (even the World Health Organization was saying this was over reaction back then: Guess they were wrong).

NYPost reports Trumpieboy is on it, and says stop playing politics.

And the conspiracy pages are full of nonsense a about the Johns Hopkins drill for a corona virus outbreak that they held a few years ago. EVENT 201 webpage.says there are 200 "epidemic" events each year.

But what this means is that the plans are there: They only have to do some fine tuning of the response to get it done, and according to this report, they are already doing this.

LINK to CDC response so far on corona virus.

For example, screening for fever at airports (which has been done in the past for other illnesses) is being done:

As of February 23, a total of 46,016 air travelers had been screened at the 11 U.S. airports to which all flights from China are being directed. Since February 2, travelers to the United States who have been in China in the preceding 14 days have been limited to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and others as outlined in a presidential proclamation. Incoming passengers are screened for fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Any travelers with signs or symptoms of illness receive a more comprehensive public health assessment. As of February 23, 11 travelers were referred to a hospital and tested for infection; one tested positive and was isolated and managed medically. Seventeen travelers were quarantined for 14 days because of travel from Hubei Province, China, an area that was designated as high risk for exposure to COVID-19**; 13 of these 17 have completed their quarantine period.

the huge numbers being screened suggest mild cases might get through the screening, especially since it is influenza season.

There are a lot of diseases out there that kill people but don't get into the headlines, but we see the worry here, because so many of our OFW are caregivers, work on cruise ships, or work as nurses and doctors all over the world.

the CDC article says there are 200 outbreaks of epidemics in recent years:

I didn't know that there are that many, but I remember quite a few: Mainly influenza, but also SARS, and MERS and Ebola. One probably should put Zika in there, along with Dengue fever and that yellow fever epidemic that broke out in Angola and spread to China and used up all the yellow fever vaccine in the world. Since the yellow fever mosquito is present in much of Asia and even in the USA, you can see how this could have been a major problem.

The US Public Health Service has a commission corp that once worked to stop disease from entering ports: The port hospitals were closed by Jimmy Carter, and he cut down the numbers, but these people still work in public health projects (inner city and rural clinics) and on Indian Reservations with the IHS. And since the PHSCC is a paramilitary type organization, you can be called up for emergencies.

For example, when the Mariel Boat lift dumped thousands of Cubans, many elderly and sick, into the USA, some of our people were called up

And even civilian federal physicians are tasked for epidemics; the Dark Winter exercize on a biowarfare outbreak of smallpox was used after 911 when many worried that a similar attack would occur.

But the dirty little secret is that money alone is not the way to solve things: You need expertise and a clear plan that fits in with the reality of the epidemic, or you end up wasting money on ineffective treatment strategies. (the opening chapter on the superflu epidemic in John Ringo's black humor sci fi book The Last Centurion, is alas an accurate pictures of good and bad responses to infectious disease emergencies. Caution: Not PC).

Trumpieboy was much criticized for cutting the public health budget (actually, he proposed a 16 percent cut that has not been done yet, but that hasn't stopped the hysterical political accusations that he is to blame for the epidemic). 

But how much was to cut funding for actual infectious disease, versus doing expensive surveys on stuff like indoor smoking  or how often teenagers eat their veggies.

Even the infectious disease part ignores the reality of where the money is being spent. 

throwing money is not the answer: You have to use it efficiently.

For example, many of these critics didn't notice the cut on the ebola taskforce was because  they wasted a lot of money fighting ebola in west Africa a few years ago: even the NYTimes noted there were major problems and a lot of money wasted on treatment facilities that took too long to build and didn't treat many patients, instead of using local talent and building up the local health care system (as is being done in today's Ebola outbreak in central Africa).

The bad news is that Coronavirus is a lot more infectious than ebola, which requires close contact.

The good news? It's a lot less lethal.

And one doubts that isolation and face masks and washing hands will completely stop the spread of the disease: But it will slow down the spread and lower the numbers of those affected.

as I noted earlier: the treatment is basic nursing care. But if the disease spreads too fast, you end up with the health system collapsing, not to mention the health care workers and family members caring for the sick also getting sick, meaning people won't get that care (who does the shopping and cooking when everyone is sick)?

no one is sure what will happen in places like the Philippines. The UN says we are prepared, but I'm not really up to date about what is going on here. Wikipedia page 

It says a lot about Political correctness that we have had lots of editorials warning against anti Chinese prejudice.

there are arrangements for quarantine of infected OFW's, etc.

 and the bishops have added a prayer for safety at mass, and urged folks not to touch at the kiss of peace at mass, and not to touch the cross or statues etc. when they come to pray. 

Strategypage has a summary of the coronavirus effect on China. LINK

Asian factoids

who are the Chinese? Masaman's latest video on Chinese ethnics in Asia:

earlier videos on Asian ethnicity.

and other videos discuss the peoples of SEAsia: trade in this area goes back thousands of years, so explains the Arab Muslim/Chinese/Hindu etc influences in the majority Malay culture.

and not just in Asia:

did you know that the Philippines has a huge history of contact via Mexico?

a lot of this is because of the Manila Galleon trade route. instead of going around the south of Africa, they went east, crossed Mexico and then went across the Atlantic to Spain.


related item: under the "westernization" of Asia lies the traditional stories and mythology:

for example, are you aware of the mythology that explains Princess Mononoke?

there are lots of myths here, which is why horror films are so popular here. Here is a summary of Philippines monsters:

if you prefer the more serious discussion:

and question for you: Can Filipino monsters defeat Godzilla?

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Remembering the Hockey game that gave us hope

I'm old enough to remember the lethargy and depression of America during the days of Jimmy Carter.

Then some college kids went against the (semi professional) Russian hockey team at the Olympics.


This presaged the reason that President Reagan won the election: Because instead of promoting "realism" he promoted hope.

Trumpieboy brought up the topic at his recent rally in Las Vegas, and met some of those who played in the game,

 Because he has the street smarts to know this is a winning strategy to push pride in America.


note all the bitter comments from trolls under the video. 

no, the team didn't come to Las Vegas to meet Trumpieboy.

The Team was in Las Vegas because they were being honored by the local hockey team.

more HERE.

Alas, the Democrats, who were also in town and could have asked for a photo op, ignored them.

WTF? Don't they bother to read the sports page?

No wonder that the Democrats are coming across as out of touch with ordinary people.

Even Bernie didn't bring up the subject, and he should know better, because Hockey is huge in Vermont, so it's not like he isn't familiar with this game.


Bagpipes: Not just for Scotland anymore

The Gaita is the Spanish bagpipe that is used in Galacia.

Yuki Kojima has mastered the bagpipe

AMA, Aichi Prefecture--Yuki Kojima is justified in blowing his own horn, following his victory in a Spanish music festival while playing the "gaita" bagpipe and is now preparing for a tour of Spain. Kojima, 34, became the first Japanese gaita player in July to win the Festival de Ortigueira, a Celtic music festival, which has a competition for individual players...
Kojima started playing the bagpipe around the age of 20, when he was living in Tokyo. He was particularly attracted to the gaita. He first learned Scottish techniques for playing the instrument at a bagpipe teaching group in Tokyo. After a while, he ordered a gaita from a studio in Spain. While visiting the studio to pick up the instrument, he learned that there was a gaita teacher and took lessons from the teacher for about a month. 

and her his band is playing Irish music

Happy Margarita day

EvilBlogger lady says: February 22 is national Margaritaday.

Yes, I like margaritas. But it's been 30 years since I've had one, mainly because as a doctor I was always on call so had to stay sober, and Lolo had a alcohol allergy so we rarely had alcohol at home.

According to Smithsonian magazine, the drink was named for Ziegfield girl/aspiring actress Marjorie King.

As the legend goes, Herrera dreamed up the cocktail for one of his customers, an aspiring actress named Marjorie King who was allergic to all hard alcohol other than tequila. To make the liquor more palatable to his fussy client, he combined the elements of a traditional tequila shot—a lick of salt and a wedge of lime—and turned them into a refreshing drink.
most people use the margarita mix, but here is how to make the drink from scratch.

and, of course, sing along with me:

Saturday, February 22, 2020

russia Russia RUSSIA post of the day

no, not the fake news that Russia was busy backing Trumpieboy that someone made up.

THIS Russia:

Hopper? Is that you?

If you don't understand the reference, ask your grandkids.

Wuhan Flu: What, me worry?

one reason I haven't been posting a lot about the Wuhan Flu aka Coronavirus, is that the news is not accurate: 

The dirty little secret is that no one knows how many cases are out there. Not only are many mild cases and asymptomatic cases or early cases being missed, but a lot of reporting is "iffy".

and it makes you wonder: why the panic if the mortality rate is low: 2 percent of diagnosed cases die, according to the latest statistics.

But then you wonder if the number is artificially high because mild cases which are not diagnosed?

Or maybe people are dying at home, or in isolated villages, and/or are old, so not it's a lot worse than is being reported...

and the question no one is asking: is China lying about it? (yup. I expect Chinese trolls to fill my comment box on that statement).

Because China's attitude seems to be: Only report sweetness and light or we'll get back at you.

For example, this Feb 3 story notes that China condemned the USA for raising the alarm and causing panic.

Global voices notes that certain blogs have disappeared from the internet for their reports on Wuhan flu:

popular online media outlet posting high-quality commentary, suddenly vanished from the Chinese internet after it published an article headlined “The 50 days of Wuhan pneumonia: Chinese people are all paying the price of the death of media”.
Following the article's publication, the website of Tencent Dajia and its WeChat public account disappeared from the internet. Both Tencent Dajia and WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging and social media app, are owned by China’s biggest tech giant Tencent. The takedown happened on February 19, the same day three Wall Street Journal reporters were expelled from China in response to the publication of an opinion piece referring to China as “the real sick man of Asia.”
and the Chinese social network site Weibo, is full of happy happy Chinese folks making comments and posting happy happy videos to counter the reality of what's going on.

We Will Make Them Better” – Popular Online Video Promotes Chinese Unity in Times of COVID-19 Chinese state media are spreading more hopeful and positive online content in times of coronacrisis.

Just move along, folks, nothing to see here...

 and rumors of the failure of government to confront the disease spread is complicated by HongKong's pro democracy demonstrations:

China's bullying has led to some countries like Iran from not banning Chinese entering the country (i.e. limited flights were allowed), and now there are cases in their holy city of Qom...

NYTimes article mentions clusters of cases in the Koreas and in Iran.

(unrelated note: Iran is holding an election this weekend and the opposition is boycotting it. I wonder if they will spin the low turnout by blaming the virus).
I'm not sure where I should be getting news about this: The most recent CDC report was posted on Feb 7 and is probably out of date.

But it should comfort you to know the CDC is busy doing their thing, because since then they have released reports on the percentage of adults over 25 who saw a dentist this year, discussing a program that encourages people to take their BP medicines, a single case of Chaga's disease in Missouri who didn't catch it from travel, This is a headsup meaning it might be spread by local insects (probably an under reported disease thanks to the many unscreened illegal immigrants entering the US), a survey of which states prohibit teenagers from buying tobacco products, and a report that the seasonal influenza shot doesn't work very well. And in the recent past: Lots of stuff about Vaping.

When you read complaints about Trumpieboy cutting their funding, remember that it is this stuff that he is trying to cut, not the actual investigation of infectious diseases etc. but wasting lots of money on stuff about lifestyle and social problems: things that used to be called sin before the PC made sin a dirty name.


here in the Philippines, the big stories are about the Chinese bribing immigration officials for visas. The whistleblower is in hiding, and unlike American "whistle-blowers" who raise money and get interviews on CNN with their claim of threats, here whistle-blowers and witnesses do tend to disappear one way or another.

The story mentions 2000 Chinese enter the country every day, but doesn't mention if that has changed.

So we have cases of Wuhan flu here, mainly in Chinese tourists: But the real crisis is among Filipinos working in cruise ships: 52 have been diagnosed in one ship alone.


And you know and everyone here knows that when things get bad, it will not be China helping the Philippines, but the USA who is offering China and other countries money to help stop the disease.

I'm so old that I remember when the World Health organization said don't close borders 

GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Health Organization cautioned Friday, January 31, that closing borders was probably ineffective in halting the transmission of the deadly novel coronavirus from China and could even accelerate its spread.
If you close official border crossings, you can "lose track of people and cannot monitor (their movement) anymore," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva.
Right. And that worked well, didn't it?

the other news is the Senate is opposing Duterte stopping the US/Phil joint military training agreement. Local politics in this one, but Duterte is pissed at suspected CIA money supporting his opponents and the human rights types in the US Congress and UN are trying to stop the (very popular) war on drugs here.

But even though locals dislike the idea that they are supposed to obey the US in these things, the dirty little secret is that outside of the elite bubbles, the average folk hate hate the Chinese and the way they bribe the elite and ignore custom and visa laws.

 John Bachelor had this from the Daily Beast about China trying to bribe their way to make a base in the Philippines.

well, nothing new: The Chinese even have printed articles in their press that quoted a General insisting that Luzon should be part of a Greater China.

But one wonders how the spread of Wuhan flu will affect China's territorial aggression and it's bribery/threats to influence the Philippines: I suspect it won't make them popular here.

criteria if you are in trouble according to the CDC. 

Interview with the guy who revealed China's forced abortion laws at a time when no one in the MSM noticed what was going on. He suspects they are lying here too

latest from the NEJM: asymptomatic patients can spread the disease. A report of German travelers coming home from China.

In this effort to evacuate 126 people from Wuhan to Frankfurt, a symptom-based screening process was ineffective in detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection in 2 persons who later were found to have evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in a throat swab. We discovered that shedding of potentially infectious virus may occur in persons who have no fever and no signs or only minor signs of infection.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Criminal justice reform?

There is an old Vulcan proverb: Only Nixon can go to China.

So as I was perusing you tube, I came across a live feed of Trumpieboy discussing criminal justice reform, and giving out diplomas for those who retrained.


so I checked the newsfeed of google, and found most of the articles were about Democratic candidates who promised to do these reforms.

and according to the MSM, all of those "amnesties" he gave out were to rich white Republicans (except for the ones lower in the list who weren't).

But the dirty little secret is that Trump, with a bipartisan Congress, passed such reforms already.

From the CrimeReport:

Trump’s mention of the First Step Act — a criminal justice reform bill that included sentencing and reentry reform — was one of the few items to bring Democrats to their feet during his State of the Union address....
 Some have characterized bipartisan reform as a fa├žade for meaningless political pandering, or decried it for being too limited in its scope. This is a shortsighted analysis.
the article goes into details.

Not my area of expertise, but you know, this is ignored in the MSM, but people do tend to notice if such programs helps one of their own, or someone who they know.

and my prediction is that Trumpieboy will pull another rabbit out of his hat and instigate "worker visas" for Mexicans and Central Americans (and Indians and Filipinos) who want jobs and have skills needed in the work place, but only after he builds the wall and arranges a way for illegal immigrants who are working already to get a Green card.

despite all the rhetoric against him, he is a pragmatic businessman whose expertise is to solve problems.

and with the booming economy, there is a worker shortage in the USA.

By discouraging the exploitation of undocumented immigrants (who will take lower wages and not ask for benefits), it has resulted in jobs for working class Americans of all races.

So this will lower black, Hispanic, and poor white unemployment.

But if things continue to improve, there will be a need for more workers. So start recruiting from overseas.

 Why not? A million Filipinos work on similar visas in the Middle East, and if the Saudis/UAE etc. can set up such recruitment for workers, the USA will be able to do the same.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Family news

everyone is busy.
Dogs are fine.
I am ignoring the news so won't blog on the pseudoheadlines.

and here in the Philippines, we are waiting for the wuhan virus to hit us.

we don't need this: It's cold outside at night, and we have had quite a few deaths of old folks recently from heart attacks and asthma (CHF?).

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Musical interlude of the day

Cleaning up the swamp

part two part three part four part five part six part seven part eight part nine part ten part eleven part twelve.

...Against media-Democrat caterwauling, a doughty group of lawmakers forced a shift in the spotlight from Trump to his investigators and accusers. This has exposed the depth of politicization within American law-enforcement and intelligence agencies. It is now clear that the institutions on which our nation depends for objective policing and clear-eyed analysis injected themselves scandalously into the divisive politics of the 2016 election.

And from military analyst Austin Bay:

A FISC with integrity must also protect an American citizen's constitutional rights from crooks and crony government.
Horowitz discovered premeditated fraud on the FISC by a DOJ attorney. In 2016, the attorney "altered" email from "the other U.S. government agency" (CIA) and submitted a fraudulent application for a warrant to the court. So the FISC approved the warrant. The target: Carter Page, a Naval Academy graduate and a former Trump presidential campaign associate. Spying on Page -- an innocent man -- opened a door to spying on President Donald Trump...
and I'm so old that I remember how the press ridiculed Trumpieboy when he said his office had been "wiretapped". Duh.

and it gets worse, because those applying for the FISA snooping knew the guy was a CIA asset: 
The FISC expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing with the Court." Collyer should chastise herself as well. She and her colleagues failed to responsibly question the application. The FBI alleges a Naval Academy grad associated with a presidential campaign in an election year is a Russian asset? Judge, wake the hell up. Page was actually a CIA asset.
the Church committee 40 years ago was about the CIA snooping on ordinary Americans, and put reforms into place to stop this from happening again... alas, supposedly the 911 allowed a bit of snooping to stop terrorist attacks, but has resulted in manipulating politics instead.

and if they can do this to Trumpieboy just think of what the government could do to you in the future.

Is the Pope Catholic?

For later reading since I have been a bit busy:

The new "amazon" document that the German bishops were using to push their agenda was a fizzle for them. (link: Church militant via the Anglican site, Virtue on line)

Sandro Magister comes out of hibernation to discuss the back story and gossip behind what is going on.

Father Z puts his two cents in, and notes that the regular "reformers" are busy spinning their stuff in the press.

my take? Pope Benedict (with help from Cardinal Sarah) got past his keepers to draw a line in the sand.

IF the document had gone the way the "reformers" wanted it to go, the church would have gone into schism.

Meaning the Vatican would be able to keep all the loot from the heretical German church, but would continue hemorrhaging Catholics (and their donations) in the USA.

The drop in money from American Catholics (the ones who still go to mass tend to be like good protestants, to take religion seriously) has hurt their pocket book.

and a lot of ordinary Catholics have been praying to protect the church from those who would distort it into a NWO NGO church of nice.

But the Pope has surrounded himself with modernists, so one expects this to be only a temporary set back for them.

Indeed, one wonders if, like in previous documents, the "reform" agenda was hidden among the 15000 word salad document, only to be pulled out and pushed at a later date.

and then when people object, they will be told.... actually their objections will be ignored and the happy happy secularist agenda will do it's thing and hey, no schism because the Pope agreed with you (or did he? He says both A and B, and disdains you when you ask for clarity.).

Monday, February 10, 2020

Stories below the fold: Wuhan flu and peace plans

Thai soldier kills a lot of people in a mall.

This was described in our newspapers as an "amok" killing: a normal, quiet man who snaps and goes on a killing streak.

Traditionally they used a machete for this, but guns make such outbursts more deadly, alas. But he stole the guns from his military unit, so gun control didn't help.

Duterte is so pissed at the US "human rights" activists and their people in the US Congress interfering with local affairs (not to mention CIA fronts suspected of funding his opponants) that he is trying to cancal the US/Phil joint military training agreement.

However, he is being opposed to this, and may lose popularity because he banked on China to help (i.e. send money to build projects), and alas, they screwed him over in many ways.

and right now, China is not exactly popular, because of the Wuhan virus threat that China underestimated, and now 2 or 3 Chinese tourists here in the Philippines have died of it, and at least one OFW in China has died there.

 If the tens of thousands of OFW in China and Hong Kong request to come home, it will affect the economy.

The plan is to house them at military bases in quarantine to prevent the disease from spreading: That would include nearby Ft Magsaysay, which is used for the US/Phil training in the past but right now is being used for drug rehab, but those numbers are down so it is proposed it be used for quarantine.

AlJ has a report on the response of China to the disease.  link2

the UK Mail discusses which countries have limited travel from China has a recent map of countries limiting travel from China, and notes that Saudi is the latest country to close it's borders.

Saudi has millions of foreign workers who often are housed in crowded dormatories, so if the virus gets lose, it could be a major disaster for that country and for the home countries of these workers (Philippines, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc.)
And of course, a lot of Filipinos work in hospitals there and are at risk.

as I noted in an earlier post, the Wuhan virus is probably no more fatal than some strains of influenza, but unlike influenza, it is a "new" virus, meaning that instead of a slow flow of infections over weeks or months, it could theoretically hit a lot of people at the same time, meaning that the health care system would not be able to care for them, and even care of cases by family members might be difficult if everyone in the family is sick at the same time and can't cook/clean/ nurse each other.

And remember: the long incubation period, the fact that the test doesn't pick up early cases (and that many mild cases who might spread the disease aren't sick enough to get tested) means that the number of actual cases are probably underestimated.

or are the actual number of cases being covered up?  Dreher quotes a comment by a physician who relates stories from his wife's Chinese family, and I've read similar comments on other sites that suggest things are worse than reported.
individual blog posts on Weibo and Globalvoices suggest a similar problem with under reporting.


AlJ has an article about AlSadr's shennanigans in Iraq.
His father was a holy man that Saddam killed, but the son  is a power hungry demagogue and a pro Iranian stooge, sort of a stalking horse for Iran to take over Iraq.

The article tells the back story of Soliemani and what he was doing in Iraq when the US killed him: trying to put down the anti corruption demonstrators in Iraq who refused to be be taken over by Sadr's thugs.
As the violence against them escalated, so did their chants against Iran, which many blamed for the repeated brutal crackdowns. General Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, travelled multiple times to Baghdad to direct the security response. As the protesters pressed for the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, the Iranians doubled-down on him.
the protesters want outsiders to leave them alone (i.e. both the US and Iran) and then to remove corrupt politicians who are stealing everything in sight instead of using the money to actually rebuild the country.

StrategyPage on Iran's terrorist outreach, and the economic problems from sancations, and notes how Soleimani was leader of the radicals that are stopping that country from reforms.

One senior IRGC general, Qassem Soleimani, was a major proponent of more terror, both inside and outside Iran. While many of the religious leaders who ruled Iran opposed Soleimani and the other radical IRGC generals for demanding more violence, the clerics also needed the IRGC to protect the government from growing public protests...

The death of Soleimani was a relief as he was the most powerful, and influential of the IRGC radicals. Now the IRGC radicals, especially Quds Force commanders, fear more personal attacks on them by the Americans. The government has always resisted the more radical ideas by the IRGC, like carrying out major terror attacks in the United States. The religious leaders, or at least most of them, know this would lead to war with the Americans, a war that would do great damage to Iran and probably mean the end of the religious dictatorship. The IRGC radicals are less impressed by such logical thinking and believe in miracles.

and then there is the mess in Syria, which is now between Turkey and Syria and the Arabs and the Persians and the Kurds and whoever.

The area has been fighting each other for 5000 years, so don't expect peace to break out soon. Syria is a mess, and now the US is out of it, is out of the headlines too.

Trump is trying to rewrite the story however.

But the press insists: don't expect Trumpieboy's peace plan to work: the Democrats oppose it, as do the usual suspects.

But then you read that Egypt, the Saudis and Qatar support it. Huh? 

it seems to be a "carrot and stick" approach: and emphasizes trade and economic improvement rather than kumbaya peace.

And the Arabs/Persians/Levant/ Egypt haven't just made war against each other for 5000 years, they also have been trading with each other for about 5000 years.

one thing I wonder: If the Wuhan flu hits the Arabs etc. hard, will it mean they will seek Israeli help for their people? And of course Israel will give it to them, and not be thanked for the help.

Or will they continue to push the conspiracy theory that Israel and the US was behind the outbreak (a disinformation campaign pushed by some in the Chinese government to cover up their slow response to the virus outbreak and distract their own people from rebelling against Xi).

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Movies and book reviews

I found the ebook The Day is now far spent, by Cardinal Sarah on line (well, parts of it on line) at google books and am slowly working my way through it.


quite interesting: Reminds one that without prayer and uniting with God in silence, your works could end up as busy work, without fruit.

so I am reading it a little at a time and thinking of it.

Of course, I am also reading other stuff: I'm working my way through Agatha Christie's books. Nothing like a good "cozy murder mystery" book to pass the time.

 and in the evening we have watched a few of the films up for academy awards.

Joker: reminds me of my paranoid schizophrenic patients. These patients are very very scary: hate takes them over, but you can see they are mentally ill, and don't always chose to hate until the illness engulfs them completely.

However, the character of the Joker here is a mentally ill loner, (?incel) reminding one of the hate filled hearts of school shooters. His hatred and murder is directed at enemies, true or false, including those who ridiculed him or tried to help him. 

Phoenix deserves and academy award for his portrayal.

But the character has little or nothing in common with the Joker in the Dark Knight, who is a criminal mastermind working with other criminals for money and revenge (more like the Ringo character in the film Tombstone, who lashed out at people because of a diffuse hatred but usually chose to kill where he could profit from their deaths).

Once upon a Time in Hollywood? Nostalgia for boomers.
Since I was in Medical school I sort of missed the late 1960s, so I didn't find it very compelling. 

Marriage Story? Should have been called "Divorce story". Very human people seeking self fulfilment in today's modernistic "me me me" culture and the intense anger when that dang marriage gets in their way: but seen with sympathetic eyes.
Scarlett Johanson deserves and academy award for her portrayal here.

Ford Vs Farrari? A good movie with a good plot and interesting characters. Sort of like the solid movies they used to make but rarely do nowadays.

1917: starts slow but gets better. A good story of the quiet courage in war: knowing you might be killed but doing your job anyway without a lot of emotional bragging.
This should be seen in tandem with Peter Jackson's documentary: They Shall Not Grow Old, which portrays a similar old fashioned stoicism toward war and death.

Pain and Glory: good film. not much plot, mainly short scenes. The best ones were of his childhood. 

And am I the only one who noticed the hint in one scene that he was molested as a child and traumatised by it? Did this fit into the plot? As a said: Not much of a plot, and hard to follow the subtitles, but I was fascinated by the cinematography and the colourful rooms etc. in the background of the story.

Parasite? Stupid movie supposed to be about class warfare in Korea. But stupid because the characters are two dimensional and not sympathetic and the plot, including the mass murder at the climax, doesn't really make sense.

Why this was up for an award I'll never know: we see a lot of K Dramas here that are a lot better. Heck, even Train to Busan was better than this film.

The Irishman? Didn't see it so can't comment.
Ditto for JoJo Rabbit and Little Women.

But you know, I hated the book Little Women which I had to read as a young girl, and have seen three previous tv or film adaptations and hated them too. Maybe the word hatred is too strong: Not hated: Saw them as fake nicey nicey passive aggressive girls.

Maybe one of these days they'll make a film of Alcott's hospital sketches, when she nursed in the Civil war, and I might like that one better.

Judy was also enjoyable: Zellweger did a good job acting here, and the character was portrayed as flawed but sympathetic. 

And the music saved the story: They integrated the music into the plot and played the entire songs so you could remember her talent and why she was beloved. ( as they did in Bohemian rhapsody, but didn't do in Rocket Man, which is why I liked the former but not the latter film).

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Good film, solid story. Another film like they don't make nowadays. But, as I wrote in an earlier review, Tom Hanks over acted the part so I couldn't really enjoy the film.

Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell also deserves an Oscar. That low key film was given bad reviews for being non PC, but again it was the story of ordinary believable characters caught in the whirlwind of a false accusation and stoically surviving the storm.

As I said, I haven't seen a lot of these films (and my not even bother to watch them when they hit HBO), but what amazed me is that most of them that I watched (except for Joker) were old fashioned story telling. 

And also noted: no gratuitous sex scenes in the movies I saw...

 Too often in the last 20 years, Hollywood often just seemed to plop R rated sex scenes into movies (often slowing the actual plot) because it was expected of them.

Hmm... maybe they're over that nonsense and will get back to story telling again.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Quarantine story

USNavInstituteBlog tells the story of how a local USN officer worked to stop the spread of Spanish Flu into American Somoa

 He imposed quarantine. That was harder that it sounds, because of the frequent family visits between West Samoa and American Samoa – but Poyer also had the support of the local chiefs, who understood how serious imported epidemics could be. The people of American Samoa self-blockaded, on top of official quarantine: they sent out canoes to stop any and all visitors. They never had a single case.

in other nearby islands, the mortality was 20 percent, partly from the flu because everyone was sick at the same time, so there was no one well enough to care for the sick and do the necessary nursing, cooking and keeping them clean.

But it also was complicated because a lot of their food came from local gardens, and there was no one left to cultivate/harvest and plant crops. So many died of hunger related complications in the recovery phase of the illness.

Note the importance of working with the local officials, who then worked with the locals to obey the quarantine.


So when I hear about China shutting down entire cities in quarantine, it makes one wonder if the disease is so terrible they don't want it to spread, or maybe they want to slow the spread of the disease so not everyone is sick at the same time, meaning hospitals are too full to take new patients, nurses and other medical personnel are too sick to treat them (25 percent of cases reported are in medical personnel), etc.

If you control the disease, not only do fewer people catch it, but it means that people who have recovered and are immune are now healthy enough to care for the new sick patients.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

the great hedgerow (wall) of India

Most people know about the Great Wall of China, but how many have heard about the Great Hedge (wall) of India, careful built over many years to stop the smuggling of salt that hadn't been taxed?

Atlas Obscura article discusses this ultimately futile barrier. Here they discuss the difficulties in finding plants to make the hedge.

At first, the hedge was made mostly of dry branches lugged into place and piled high. But that proved a fruitless task, since it had to be replaced year after year. The line was divided into patrolled sections, and in some places the patrols started to plant and cultivate live hedge, with the idea of creating something more easily maintained and permanent.
Growing a live hedge wasn’t easy, though. The British tried using dwarf Indian plum trees, babool trees, prickly pear, thuer, bamboo, and many other local plants. In some arid places the trees just withered and died. Elsewhere, seedlings were swept away in floods. In other spots, the soil simply wasn’t rich enough to support the growth of anything beyond scrub.
read the whole thing.

it has since disappeared and the line was paved over as roads.

(Trumpieboy take note).

this video discusses.

Hedges are simple plants to form a fence, but a hedgerow is quite complicated, because it is interwoven.

I wasn't aware of this until I was listening to a John Bachelor podcast that discussed a book on the subject (no link: I downloaded it awhile back and can't find when it was posted).

But anyway, the difference between a hedge (line of plants) and a hedgerow is that the latter is interwoven to make a thick barrier.

often you cut down the tree so it would sprout and stay low, or cut it partway then bent it and interwove it to make the barrier.

and not just a barrier, but a source of food: a lot of the discussion was about using (and harvesting) hazelnut bushes in these hedgerows.

Here is an old film about making/repairing British hedgerows:

these barriers were quite thick and difficult to penetrate.

Which is why, when you read about the difficult World War II fights in "hedgerow country", it didn't mean just going through a thin line of bushes, but the barriers of thick hedgerows that made a  thick heavy barrier (eventually, they put plows on tanks to flatten them).

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

The history of slag heaps

History buffs see mounds as deserted cities and burial pyramids fro the ancient world, but one overlooked aspect of modern life is that the world is dotted with similar artificial islands due to the waste from mining and steel production.

Atlas Obscura has an article on this overlooked form of modern waste disposal (or sometimes careless lack of proper waste disposal).

Artificial mountains have sprung up all over the world, the result of hellish manufacturing processes, piled construction and mining waste, or in some cases built deliberately to add a humongous new feature to the horizon.
The majority of the artificial mountains in the United States are the byproducts of cement and steel production, formed at the height of those industries between the late 1800s and mid-20th century. ... 
read the whole thing, which also discusses the recycling material from the mounds and the way that they are converted into scenic hills despite some attempts resulted in problems.

when I worked in Pennsylvania, our home was within walking distance of the local slag heap. They had panted trees along it to prevent it from collapsing, but I always wondered about it, and about the red (iron) pollution in our local creek, which had trout upstream but was dead downstream.

On the other hand, it hadn't collapsed even in the 1977 flood, so presumably it is stable.

Webster dump 1940s

Also when I worked in Africa, the local landscape was flat, and we could see the slag heap 30 miles south of us where there was an asbestos mine.

Mashava mine
it would be nice to condemn all these sites, but the dirty little secret is that the modern world wouldn't have existed without them.

The real solution is recycle and proper disposal so that the toxic wastes don't destroy the neighborhood.

Beer is the answer post of the day

Anti Chinese backlash and Wuhan fever

Duterte for various reasons (CIA has been undermining him since he was mayor) has tried to make nice with China, but that hasn't stopped their aggression against the Philippines in the West Philippine sea, or hiring their own people for their casinos, or granting aid (and maybe in the long term taking over our resouces as they did in Burma and SriLanka).

When China started their aggression first by sending in fishing boats and chasing our fishermen, and then by roping off the areas and building artificial islands by digging up the seabed, the Obama administration pressured president Aquino not to fight back. So Duterte now faces a fully militarized Chinese islands off our coast, and no way short of a major war that could chase them out.

He has tried to make nice in many ways with China, but the "give and take" has actually resulted in "we give and are planning to take all your stuff". 

Meaning not only the fishing grounds, but the natural gas etc. under the West Philippine sea, not to mention that they can now block the sea-lanes from Europe/ the middle East into Japan and Korea... and a lot of locals suspect since Chinese and Chinoy families run our economy, there is a danger of becoming a Chinese satellite. 

The importation of 100 thousand Chinese to work in local Casinos has caused a big uproar, for example: the casinos were supposed to bring jobs in for locals, but they have not. Wikipedia page (?accuracy) discusses.

 StrategyPage discusses how the Chinese are imitating Germany's search for "lebensraum" in Asia. Read the whole thing: One of the push backs is Russia, so one does hope that the fake "Russia" stuff pushed against Trumpie boy will stop so that he can pivot with Putin against the long term Chinese plan to take over eastern Siberia and the central Asian states that used to be part of the USSR.

But for us, the "lebensraum" policies of China are already hurting us: and China is now trying to push the Philippines out of another island, Second Thomas Reef, long occupied by the Philippines.

Will Duterte push back, or let them start a war? who knows.

China is also expanding the same shenanigans further afield:
China has been trying to take over islands and fishing grounds off of Indonesia, and that country is fighting back. As in sending their Navy to sink "fishing vessels". Again the StrategyPage article has the details.

Duterte is hated in the west for his anti drug crusade and this "human rights" pressure has made him more anti American (whereas the locals like Americans, but not American interference in elections etc.).

The human rights types behind the anti Duterte crusade don't care about the dead Filipinos from drug wars or home invasions by druggies, or that Duterte's war on drugs has stopped the country from becoming another narco state like Mexico. 

Indeed, one suspects a lot of the "human rights" hyperbole, and the opposition (e.g. Grace Poe) are CIA surrogate shenanigans against Duterte who is seen as a weak ally against Chinese expansion.


Locally, however, we are safer, so the drug war has made Duterte very popular here. But his pro Chinese policies are not popular, and indeed, China's intransigence is undermining his popularity.

this editorial in the Phil Inquirer mentions all the problems: Chinese takeovers in the West Philippine Sea, the Casino jobs that didn't hire locals but brought in Chinese citizens to do the work, and the promises to help build infrastructure that never quite became reality.

They then bring up the tipping point:
Even more shockingly, when neighbors and major countries began shuttering their borders to China amid the new coronavirus epidemic, the Duterte administration worried about the “political and diplomatic repercussions” of any serious countermeasure against inbound travel from China. As Beijing began to lock down Wuhan and surrounding areas following a weeks-long cover up, the administration still welcomed more than 100 Chinese from the area.Time and again, the President has seemingly prioritized diplomacy with China over the protection of his own people...
But now that a Chinese man has died here of the Wuhan virus, there is a real danger of a major anti Chinese backlash.

Duterte says don't blame the Chinese for the virus, but most people do blame the Chinese for this (heck,  most of the Chinese blame the Chinese government for letting the virus get out of control).

Ironically, the anti Chinese feeling may stop Duterte from destroying the Philippine/American visiting armed forces agreement. There is a huge backlash against Duterte's decision in the Senate and growing anti Chinese feeling in the population may force him to change his mind, especially if US help is needed to fight the epidemic.

The first Wuhan virus death outside of China was in the Philippines, and the DOH is tracing and testing the contacts of the first diagnosed cases here, including one who died.

One of the problems here was the inability to test for the virus: the lab tests had to be sent to Australia at first, meaning a delay in diagnosis. And even if the test is available, people in the early stages of the virus might test negative. 

somewhat belatedly, the Chinese travelers and tourists are being banned and some have been sent back to China,

Filipinos returning from China are being asked to stay in quarantine.

in the meanwhile, contingency plans are being made in cases there is an exodus of our OFW in China and Hong Kong, and there are also contingency plans being made in case the virus spreads and schools etc. will have to be shut down.

None of this affects us so far in the provinces, where the main problem is the cold spell and the dangers of hypothermia and illness in the vulnerable, and the danger to farm animals and crops in the mountains of the north.

from BBC:

Various countries have imposed travel restrictions to a varying degree.
Denying entry to all foreign visitors who have recently been to China: US, Australia, Singapore
Denying entry to foreigners travelling from mainland China: New Zealand, Israel
Denying entry to foreigners who have visited Hubei province: Japan, South Korea
the Philippines also bans non citizens from China/Macau/Hong kong from entering.

the BBC article says that China is upset that there are travel bans: 

Global health officials have advised against the bans. "Travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies," the head of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus, said on Friday. The WHO recommends introducing screening at border crossings.
uh, there are not enough tests available in many countries to screen everyone, and the test doesn't detect early asymptomatic cases, so this advice is bunk. 

And of course, such bans don't stop "illegal" entries into countries. A big worry here in the Philippines.

China has criticised the wave of travel restrictions, accusing foreign governments of ignoring official advice.
well, maybe the WHO is being ignored here because some folks suspect China has pressured the WHO to play nice, but no body dares say this out loud. 


Strategytalk podcast on the background of the epidemic.

Is Wuhan virus China's Chernobyl, where the government's (lack of ) response led to a disaster?

BBC article on the doctor who posted a headsup warning of a possible new SARS type pneumonia on the local social media read by other doctors on December 30 and was punished for it by the Chinese government.

update2: Michael Yon reports from Thailand and Hong Kong