Saturday, October 31, 2020

family news

We went through a minor tropical storm, then got hit by the edge of a typhoon that hit south of here, then got rained on by a low pressure area.

 Main problem was rain rain rain.

Now we are expecting a typhoon to hit Sunday night.

The big worry is quarantine for people evacuating to shelters. Sigh. But the next typhoon looks like it might get stronger before it hits us.

We are only in partial lockdown...everything is open with masks and distancing, and no elders allowed in church or the mall. Restaurants are takeout, and although quite a few are closed, a new Korean restaurant is opening up the street. The problem? Only a few Koreans live here.The strrets are full of traffic, and the mail is being delivered again...I just got a check sent Aug 24, so its pretty slow.

Nov 1 is All Saints day, when folk visit their loved ones graves, clean up the area, light candles and place flowers then sit around and picnic. Alas, with the virus that is forbidden...Joy and the maid cleaned up Lolos grave and put flowers there, but I stayed home...only 2 allowed at a time.

Haloween is not a big thing here, altho the malls in Manila celebrate it. And we are already preparing for Christmas...the mayor has started putting up the lights.

Tell the experts: Medicine is still an Art

 In the evening, the family gathers in my room (I have the large TV) to watch movies. We have several movie channels (HBO, Fox movies) but too often they seem to be violent and nihilisitic, or else superhero nonsense, so instead I cast films from my computer, either from K drama sites or from Youtube, where you can actually watch a story with a plot and normal people.

Well, anyway, Joy loves "Hallmark" type movies, so last night we watch one of the Jean Oakes sagas, this one about a lady doctor. 

Big mistake: I rarely watch medical oriented shows, since they tend to be either so realistic that they bring back hard cases I treated, or more commonly ,they get medicine so wrong that I curse and shout medical advise at the screen.

This film was one of the latter: There is an epidemic in town, and the attractive lady doc looks down the throat of a sick child and immediately diagnoses Cholera.

Cholera? well maybe they left the part out about diagnosing it from the odor on entering the room and she was checking for dehydration, but the medical part went down hill from there: all those cholera patients being treated without her getting her fancy dress dirty. (and falling in love with a handsome cowboy of course). Yecch.

Poor Joy: she was quite startled after I cheered the town folks when they burnt down the orphanage which was the locus of the epidemic (although I suspect it was the orphanage outhouse contaminating the town water supply that caused the problem)...and after the film, I put this up to show her what was wrong with the G rated movie: 

Here is Dr Claire Frazer from Outlander confronting a similar epidemic on a British navy ship (actually the epidemic was typhoid, not cholera but you get the idea: Neither disease is pleasant to treat if you are a delicate lady trying to keep your dress attractive), and is more realistic.

go Claire!

Well, in a related subject, I just finished a book by Dr. Abraham Verghese "Cutting for Stone" about growing up with Indian physician parents in Ethiopia. Why did I enjoy it? Because I have worked in Africa, (albeit Liberia not Ethiopia, and 40 years ago), and found the description of overwork with limited resources and very very sick patients accurate... there is even a section about the fight to repair vesical vaginal fistula that is not for the faint hearted.

 But it's not just about the practice of medicine: It's the human story of those at the hospital: The nun who got pregnant, the physician parents who adopted her sons as their own, and were good and loving adoptive parents. The boys not only learned science and medicine,  but the parents also had time to teach them to dance and enjoy music and books. Then the plot changes when revolutions start, and the one son had to flee the danger because he knew someone who was on the wrong side of the revolution.

The son then flees to America and takes a residency program in a slum area that can't find many American physicians to work there, so hires doctors from India (been there, done that too, although most of my fellow residents were Filipinos and Iranians). and then an emergency: Fulminant hepatitis B requiring a transplant...

Oh yes: And he finds his birth father and reconciles with him: The father had fled into medicine as an escape from life, and became so enmeshed with medicine that he had no time to raise his son.

Yup. I've seen that too: Indeed, the first lecture that we medical students were given was about not making medicine a way to flee life, because being human is an important part of the art of medicine.

Yes, the art of medicine: Not just filling in blanks to get paid, not just asking the questions to satisfy the billing office, not being so engrossed in technology and the scientific approach to medicine that you don't sit down and get to know the patient.

This is also the theme of Dr. Verguese's other books: That medicine is in danger of descending into a dehumanizing mechanical approach:


so how does one teach medical students that the art of medicine is just as important as the science of medicine? 

by having good, humane teachers show you how to do it. And by having them learn about patients via literature and stories.

and here is an interview with him that discusses the importance of story, the importance of human connections, and especially the problem of making human contact while wearing a mask during the epidemic.


sigh. Yes.

Years ago, I met the good doctor, and after his talk cornered him to say what younger doctors needed was to learn about ethics and illness by studying the classics, since too often what passed for such stories in the medical and ethical journals were closer to propaganda than reality, and what was worse these "stories" all seemed to assume the rational upper middle class individualistic approach aka "Autonomy" was the way to teach ethics. (something that is was no help for docs like me who worked with ethnic, immigrant or AmerIndian patients).

and he looked at me sadly, and said this had been done: The President's ethical council released a book using stories as a way to help students think about these problems. And indeed, I did manage to find it on Amazon.

alas, the book is out of print, and no one thought they should have made it into an ebook, but you can find excepts here. LINK

I'll use a short example: To discuss chronic pain, Emily Dickenson's poem is used:

In “Pain Has an Element of Blank,” poet Emily Dickinson shows us the problem posed by the constant intrusion of the body, in its most compelling form: pain. Pain is a direct experience that, according to Dickinson, seems to fill the present; nothing interposes itself between the poet and her pain.

 Pain has an element of blank;

It cannot recollect

When it began, or if there were

A day when it was not.

It has no future but itself,

Its infinite realms contain

Its past, enlightened to perceive

New periods of pain.~

something to remember the next time you read that doctors prescribe too much pain medicine for their patients...

and don't forget: A lot of sickness is from grief, anxiety and the sorrows of life. Listening is a big part of treating that too:

as Hopkings wrote: 

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Anti vax hits the Philippines

 There was a huge social media outburst here in August claiming 5 people died of covid vaccine in Tarlac.

Rappler report here.

The problem? It wasn't true. Not only wasn't it true, but the vaccine hadn't been used yet anywhere in the Philippines.

A more recent report (Oct 5) from AFP in the Japanese Times notes that not only is this disinformation about a vaccine that hasn't been used, but that the anti vax movement here in the Philippines is killing children.

The background of the problem? The Dengue vaccine scandal where an unproven vaccine caused several deaths  in children.

The problem? The children were not properly screened, and should never have received the vaccine. 

And the outrage was made worse because a lot of folks think corruption might have allowed an unsafe vaccine be used, and that the western drug company was using the Philippine people as a guinea pig.

but it wasn't the vaccine that killed a lot of kids: It was the fact that the well publicized "scandal" scared a lot of parents, so they didn't get their kids vaccinated against anything.

Childhood immunization rates have plummeted in the country — from 87 percent in 2014 to 68 percent — resulting in a measles epidemic and the re-emergence of polio last year. A highly politicized campaign that led to the withdrawal of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in 2017 is widely seen as one of the main drivers of the fall.

as a result, as the UK Guardian reported, over 70 childen died from measles. 

(Ironically that Dengue vaccine is 76% effective, and the vaccine has since been approved for use in other countries.).

Fast forward to Covid, where the opposition to Trump, not scientific data, seems to be fueling anti covid vaccine hysteria in the USA...

But part of the hysteria is also from poor coverage by the press, but especially from short quotes on social media. These quotes are usually taken out of context, or they emphasize distrust if recommendations change, or where recommendations are based on different circumstances (e.g. masks where nuanced discussions about different types of masks, who should or should not use them, or where they should be used is often lacking).

And then there are headlines that emphasize one fact, whereas if you read the entire article, you find that the headline is false.

Clickbate anyone?

For example the death from the British vaccine trial was given a lot of publicity, but how many knew that the guy who died received the placebo, not the vaccine?

Alas, similar anti vax stuff is all over the internet, in both right and left wing fringe blogs and social media.

This is not reality, but social contagion similar to the phenomenum described in the book 

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (which was) an early study of crowd psychology by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, (1841) which describes the psychological basis of everything from the witch trials to the crusades to the tulip craze to why people believe in ghosts to economic fads that resulted in major economic problems when that bubble burst.

That was 1841, but now with Twitter and Facebook etc. it is easier for rumors to spread, so the paranoid delusions often spread quickly and are hard to debunk.

In the Philippines, according to the AFP article, the anti vax disinformation is spread mainly via Facebook.

I believe this, because everyone here, even the lower middle class and even our farmers, have access to a smart phone or an internet cafe, and the younger generation live on Facebook and other social media sites.

This anti vax opposition thrives on fear, and there is a lot of fear of the virus here in the Philippines.

add to that a distrust of the government,  made worse by an anti Duterte social media among the elite and students...Although outside of this bubble, ordinary folks trust Duterte (80%) on getting the vaccine, the trust of "experts" might be lower....

and ordinary folks are being overwhelmed by what they read on the social media.

What is usually lacking is common sense, knowledge of the nuances of how vaccines work (including their side effects and limitations) and especially, the cost benefit ratio: that a dozen people suffering from side effects is better than tens of thousands sick or dead from the actual disease.


the nuanced discussion of this is on medical sites, of course, (medical discussions recognize the cost benefit ratio and the shortcomings of any vaccine but also recognizes the huge benefits from such vaccines. These sites also include information on who should should get the vaccine, who should not, and what is a side effect and what is not related to the vaccine).

here's an example of what we docs learn: notice it's 2 hours long and full of complicated data. 

So how many people will watch the long lecture, let alone understand it. 

In contrast, a short tweet or facebook post with paranoid anger behind it will be read by many and alas believed.

To make things worse: much of this anti vax fad is associated with the idea that natural living is better, and all medicines are bad. Use an herb, not a medicine that might cure you. Natural methods are better (really? How could anyone believe that here, when people die of diseases easily treated by western medicine?) 

So (to paraphrase Monty Python): What good has vaccinations done for us anyway?

but how can calm reasoning compete with the paranoid fringe theories out there: Again from the AFP article:

"I trust vaccines 100 percent,” said Jett Bucho, from a poor neighborhood of San Jose del Monte, after her one-year-old daughter was immunized against polio. But the 26-year-old said online conspiracy theories that a coronavirus vaccine could be used to implant chips and control humans had planted a seed of doubt in her mind. “On Facebook, if you keep scrolling, you see this,” she said. “It’s scary.”

Princess Mononoke background story

 I am reading the classic (albeit now outdated) textbook the Chrysanthemum and the sword, written by Ruth Benedict in 1944 to explain to Americans that their Japanese enemies didn't see things or think the same as Americans, and that they needed to understand the culture. Book can be downloaded from internet archive.

But yesterday, Kuya mentioned some of the Japanese looked more Caucasian than Asian, and I pointed out that it isn't caucasian but Ainu and similar indigenous peoples who in the distant past may have intermarried... 

Japan is seen as a monolithic culture by the west, but actually their ancestry is a bit complicated.

.. I was familiar with the Ainu, who still live in the extreme north of Japan and in nearby Russian claimed islands: 

. but I was not familiar with the Emishi. Wikipedia article goes into the group and the history, with the controversies about the group.

If you haven't seen Princess Mononoke, you might want to rent it.
this explains the historical background of the fictional film, along with references to Japanese folklore.

................. Most of these things are posted here for reference for my later research, since I know little or nothing about Japanese history.

LOL post of the day

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Chicken trivia

 we used to farm broiler chickens, until a typhoon flattened the chicken houses and we decided the profit we made wasn't enough to rebuild (our local chicken prices were low thanks to imports from Viet Nam... globalization anyone?)

Well, anyway, the story of how chickens took over the world as a cheap protein source is fascinating:

So where did the chicken originate? From the forest chicken of South East Asia. or maybe China or maybe India. aka the red junglefowl.

And the original chickens might have been caught to use for cockfighting: something I sort of believe, because cockfighting is a big sport here in the Philippines, where you frequently see fighting cocks outside under a small shelter in people's back yards.

However, along the way, the species was bred to become nicer (although they are still aggressive: You ever heard the Phrase "Pecking order"?) Chickens killing other chickens in a herd is alas a problem, which is why more sophisticated henhouses put hens inside a box to lay eggs and the broiler chickens bred for meat production tend to be a white chicken bred for fast growth and lack of aggression.

The fighting rooster is revered as a symbol of courage, and watchfulnees/ protection here in Asia. Remember how the critics laughed at the "Trump Chicken" meme? Well, it had the opposite connotation here in Asia, especially since the meme was not a Chicken but a fire rooster of the Chinese zodiac.

A charismatic man has a stunning energy, is always in the spotlight. Leader, unquestioned authority, charming handsome - all this Fire Rooster.

There are a lot of species of chickens out there but as I noted, most of the cheaper farmed chickens are of one species.

One worry about the chicken is that this monoculture could lead to it's demise from disease: so scientists are doing lots of DNA studies to identify the chicken origin and maybe to steal some of their genes to improve disease resistance.

The problem? Chickens cross breed, so in many areas, thanks to free range chickens in villages, there are few pure bred red junglefowl out there.

which brings me to the Chicken trivia of the day.

Curiously, one of the few remaining populations of pure red junglefowl, as reported in Audubon, is found in Georgia. About 900 junglefowl roam the streets of the town of Fitzgerald....In the 1960s, wildlife managers released the junglefowl as part of an effort to establish populations of non-native gamebirds for hunting purposes.The junglefowl never established in wild habitats, but they did colonize the Fitzgerald’s parks and backyards, where many local residents consider them a nuisance.


in a somewhat related item: 

Before there was Green acres, there was the Egg and I: about a city gal whose husband fell in love with country living.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Secret churches

 Virtueonline links to an article about the newest version of Christianity in China that has revived the house churches in rural areas: Calvinism originating in Indonesia. As the rural Pentecostal house churches lose the educated young because they are migrating to cities, they want a more substantial church i.e. more emphasis on intellectual basis instead of mere emotion.

I wonder if it is because the rule oriented Calvinism has rules of conduct similar to Confucian ethics, but then I don't know enough about the subject to know if this is true.

the article also notes the persecution of Christians and the destruction of churches in China.


I don't know if anyone outside the religious right notices the problem of closing churches. No, worshipping on line or watching TV is not the same.

Yes, virus. But when the public health authorities said hey, BLM demostrations were fine, one does wonder why pastors in the USA didn't say: well if they can gather outside during the day to demonstrate, well, we can imitate them by having worship services outside.

Here, a couple months ago I posted about a priest in Manila saying mass on the back of a pickup truck in the poor areas of Manila.

and our churches have reopened, although elders are not allowed inside (we have to stand outside and keep our distance). Which means as soon as the hot season stops I might actually try to go back to church.

And in Africa, sometimes the priest would say mass under a tree in isolated villages.

So anyway, Father Z links to an article about the Irish sneaking out to pray at the mass rocks, where the Irish gathered to pray and have mass said during that country's persecution.

Alas,. Ireland's bishops pretty well destroyed their church over the last 30 years, so this seems to be mainly a lay effort.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

here comes the storm

Actually not quite a typhoon but a tropical storm. We are signal 2.
The eye should pass us by tonite.

Heavy rain all day.
The harvested rice is dry, which is good news,..the bad news is that we have more rice to harvest...if the wind is high, the rest of the crop could be ruined.

update: aside from broken banana and palm tree fronds we seem to be okay. Kuya will check the farm later today for damage to the crops

Monday, October 19, 2020

Stories not covered in the media:

 Michael Yon, whose reports on Hong Kong told the inside story of their protests, has now gone to report the antifa "peaceful protests" aka riots.

This dispatch points to one of the biggest problems no one seems to be reporting on: That the homeless problem is due to drugs. and it resembles the revenge of China for the Opium wars.

and during the pandemic, overdoses and suicides (which often are in those who have abuse problems) have skyrocketed.

Of course, if someone tries to do something about it, like Duterte is trying to do here, the "human rights" types will protest, because the lives destroyed by drugs and the people killed by druggies robbing them (as several older folks in our town were killed), well they don't care. 

I remember when things changed: Before the Beatles popularized drug taking, such things were not normalized in society. Then suddenly those of us who refused to go along with taking drugs were ridiculed and marginalized.

So yes, go mourn John Lennon. But remember: The guy who killed him scrambled his brains into psychotic delusions due to drug taking. In the east, this is known as Karma...

and the question no one is asking: Where the H### are the churches on this issue? Afraid to preach against drug taking because they might lose their congregations?


Joe Biden is being brought low by his kids. But hey, Twitter and Facebook etc. are trying to censor that story.

But the question no one is asking:

A lot of this is "legal" since giving money to a son/spouse/family member for political influence is not considered bribery. Ditto for family members who get lucrative business deals. But there are a lot of politicians in Washington who have become rich and no one wants to talk about it.

Which is why the well known shenanigans of Trumpieboy before he became president are shrugged off by the deplorables: 

As my husband would say: They're all crooks. 

and we know lots about Trumpieboy's business deals, (lots of "best sellers" full of these claims are out there) but not how other politicians became millionaires while serving in congress.

So where are the reporters in all of this? Well, given the death of Daphne Caruana, and the lack of interest in things like the Panama papers etc., you can see why these things are not covered very well in the press.


I ran across this photo on Powerline blog.

what hit me was not the contrast between the photos, but that there are crowds at airports where Trumpieboy has landed. LINK LINK2 LINK3 LINK4

apparently he is making a lot of stops at small airports to campaign, and by calling these gathering "peaceful protests" he can point out that Antifa, feminists, BLM etc. protests are going on all the time without much outcry about the virus spread, implying that if you condemn one gathering you have to do the same for the other side.

This bring in mind another President hated by the establishment who did the same thing: Give'm hell Harry's whistle stop campaign, where Truman crossed the country on a train and gave speeches.

Whistle-Stop Campaign July - October 1948

THE TRAIN CAMPAIGN PROVED TO BE AN UNEXPECTED SUCCESS. During the tour, a new relaxed and confident Harry Truman was presented to the people — a candidate who spoke their language and understood their needs...
For his part, Truman relentlessly accused the "do-nothing" Republican Congress of failing to meet the needs of the American people, a tirade that served him well with the common voter.
" Give 'em hell, Harry " became a battle-cry for the hard-fought, uphill battle of the campaign.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Russia steps into the breech

While the US vaccine is being held up by TDS/politics, since any attempt to release it early will be opposed by Trump's opposition by calling such a move risky and based on politics, not science. Just ignore the cost/benefit ratio means that a lot more people will die in the name of "safety" by those insising there be no rare side effects.

hopefully, the vaccine will be released a day or two after the election if Biden wins (who knows when it will be released if Trumpiboy wins, since the establishment is busy trying to blame him for trying to rush the vaccine development)

But the dirty little secret is that the Philippines, and other less affluent countries need a vaccine to reopen the economy if there won't be massive starvation and economic collapse in poorer countries.

Duterte wants everyone here in the Philippines to get the Covid vaccine, both to save people's lives and to reopen the economy. And guess who is offering to provide it? Russia.......


Russia is even offering to open a pharmacology factory here to make the vaccine. 


as I have written in earlier posts, a lot of the anti vax propaganda is Russian disinformation against vaccines, something that dates back at least two decades, as propaganda to make countries afraid of aid from western countries.
so far, people prefer Russian vaccine to the Chinese vaccine. 

and of course, if the US State Dept would get off their puwit and offer Duterte a deal, he'd take them up on it, even though he hates and distrusts the US SD and the CIA, because most docs here prefer the better tested US vaccine.

Bernie got robbed

Lots of chaff out there about Biden's son's corruption...back in the news because a hard drive information was leaked to the press.
And more scandal because twitter is trying to censor the story.

But one of the facts leaking out is not the corruption per ee, but that the computer repair shop gave the hard drives to the FBI last December...meaning they were hiding evidence that would have made the charges behind Trump's impeachment nonsense.

But it has another implication.

If Biden had been tainted with credible/ provable evidence of corruption during the primaries, then Bernie would have won the nomination.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Family news

 Kuya is at the farm trying to get the rice harvest in: there have been low pressure areas and rain, meaning it is hard to cut and dry it before it starts to rain in the afternoon.

The cook's latest great grandchildren, a set of twins, just celebrated their first birthday, so we got given Filipino style spaghetti to eat from the party. (sweet tomato sauce, and hot dogs and processed cheese on top).

Like a lot of twins, one was smaller and hospitalized twice for diarrhea/ fever/ failure to thrive. Mom's milk didn't agree with her (probably the real problem was not enough mom's milk for two kids, and the stronger one sucked her dry)...The doctor finally found an organic formula that worked, and since then she has done well. The problem? It's expensive, (a week's worth of forumla is 800 pesos, but mom and grandmom are out of work due to the virus) so I've been paying for the milk, and since then she has done okay and now is almost as big as her sister.


The maid just asked for extra money so her son could buy a smart phone for classes. She has one, but he has been sharing it with her and cousins so has been doing most of his classes with paper modules, which is stressful.

The maid brought up the suicide of a high school student in Manila, who fell behind and was reprimanded for this, so came home and his mom found him dead in his bedroom. This story is all over the papers and social media because adjusting to the new version of school is causing a lot of stress for middle class and lower middle class families who see education as the way out of poverty.

For example, The cook's youngest son went to college thanks to a scholarship from Japan and help from Lolo...but several of her grandkids are attendind post high school education too, with help from extended family.

In the meanwhile, the BBC ignores all of this and has a report of a " political prisoner" jailed for hiding weapons who had a baby in prison, but the authorities sent the kid home so it died after 3 months with diarrhea and pneumonia...and of course is blaming Duterte. The article claims everyone here is upset, but I didnt read about it. My take, as a doc who saw these problems in Africa?

Grandmom fed her formula mixed with dirty water, and maybe even watered down the formula because she couldn't afford to buy it.... or maybe the diarrhea came from dirty bottles. Alas, these deaths from babies on formula is why they encourage only breast feeding here, and most moms do breast feed. 

. In other words,and maybe if all the horrified SJW had helped out with paying for bottled water and a good formula the kid would have lived.  And maybe even help the kids of other women who cant breatfeed, live too...Ah, but demonstrating is so ego gratifying, and actual hands on helping people cope means getting your hands dirty.

Monday, October 12, 2020

on line learning

 I am behind in my LOTR podcast listening, but today's podcast of Morgoth's Ring started with Prof. Olsen, who a couple years ago established an on line College (Signum University), is discussing inequality of employees in universities, and how he is trying to make all employees on the same team.

he says earlier podcasts started with his discussion of marginalizing faculty by the administration?

Nope. Not my area of expertise. But if you are involved in higher education you might want to check out stuff on their site.

I only bring this up because my granddaughter in the USA is busy attending on line classes, with only a few regular classes at her college.

Will all on line classes be the way of the future?

probably not: Because a lot of learning is with questioning the teacher and with students discussing their subject with other students.

On the other hand, when I was in Medical school (nearly 50 years ago!), we tended to be busy, so one enterprising student started a class notes service: He would tape the lecture then have it typed out and duplicated for those who didn't want to attend classes.

So our Medical school yearbook had a photo labeled: A typical class: Showing an empty classroom with the lonely student with his large tape recorder being the only one in the class room.

Yup. the more things change the more they stay the same.

Again not my area of expertise: I am not a memorizer but learn by concepts and mind pictures. So I prefer to listen and take pithy notes of what I heard, which required me to translate the words into the concept.

On the other hand, my youngest did well with homeschool type modules that were used in his school: He knew that if he didn't master the module, he'd have to repeat it, so he actually paid attention to what he was working at. In regular classes, he'd get bored and start daydreaming and not learn anything at all.

The reason I bring this up:

here, students are taking many of their classes on line with the help of their parents: our mayor has established a cheap internet wifi program, and our internet has been going on and off as they update the data connections with fiberoptic cables. There are also non internet ways to teach, using printed modules of the lessons. Sort of like what my son did in homeschool: You follow the module with your parents' help, and then email the teacher to get help...

here are some local videos about the new way of learning here in the Philippines, which is still in partial lockdown.


I should add that polls show Duterte's approval rating remains high: 90 percent approve of his handling of Covid and 80 percent approve of what he is doing to run the government.

But you can see the need is to reopen the cities, and this won't happen without a vaccine. 

The WHO just decided to stop advising shutdown/quarantines
because of the economic problems it is causing in much of the world

Sunday, October 11, 2020

live not by lies

 Live not by lies. Advice from

Solzhenitsyn's essay Live Not by Lies. A pledge:

  • Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
  • Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in 
  • or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
  • Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
  • Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
  • Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
  • Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question. Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
  • Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed. Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.

  • So who is promoting lies that got my knickers in a knot this week?

    Yup. Francis the merciful, with his embrace of global warming and his anti capitalism encyclical released last week that is unreadable, but does have a few good things in there for obedient Catholics to cherry pick and praise.

    Reality check:

    The Pope has betrayed the Chinese church, "opposed" the culture of death  being promoted by his beloved "progressive" wing of the church, while winking at those promoting it instead of punishing them.

    and shall we ignore the latest scandal, where his friend diverted money donated by ordinary folk to get rid of a meddlesome priest who was investigating financial shennanigans,...yes, that Cardinal got fired, but only after he was outed by the Australian press.

    so now Global Warming is the lynchpin on his fuzzy thinking in his last "encyclical:look at what's being ignored in the text?

     so what's missingt?

    Jesus Christ - 2 God the Father - 0 The Holy Spirit - 2 Church Fathers - 0 Pope - 1 Salvation - 0 Heaven - 1 Hell - 0
    so we have gaslighting, lies and distortion.

    He  distorts history by condeming capitalism

    Translation: God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, thieves, rouges, adulterers, or like those evil capitalists...

    Which capitalists: These: capitalists

    Yup. those evil capitalists who  have raised 80 percent of humanity out of poverty while praising socialism, that has killed at least 100 million people in the last century. 

    But instead of a subtle analysis of reality, we have a Pope who quotes a 6th century bishop who pushes the "pie" theory of economics that there are limited resources so if one person is rich, it makes someone else poor: ignoring the "grow the pie" theory of macro economics that is behind the success of today's world.

    the dirty little secret: poverty is not growing
    True, the gap between the poor and rich is increasing: But not because the poor are poorer,  (I doubt the poor today are worse off than my Irish Ancestors during the potato famine). The real reason is that the rich are richer.

    , but is still a problem in those societies where the economy is not growing (often because of local wars and/or local corruption.
     e.g. central Africa or the Middle East)

    so the Pope should be condemning corruption, and maybe even naming names.

    Here is a another graph, that goes up to 2020:

    this type of thinking is not new, which is why I am so cynical.

    Rremember global winter and the population bomb? And the Ehrlich-Simon bet. 

    The widely-followed contest originated in the pages of Social Science Quarterly, where Simon challenged Ehrlich to put his money where his mouth was. In response to Ehrlich's published claim that "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000" Simon offered to take that bet, or, more realistically, "to stake US$10,000 ... on my belief that the cost of non-government-controlled raw materials (including grain and oil) will not rise in the long run."

    the reasons have changed, but the agenda remains the same.

    why the push of the green agenda now? the up coming world wide economic collapse from economic shut down to stop the covid epidemic.

     It's an opportunity to put into place the plans that have been long discussed on international forums but poorly covered in the press except for "conspiracy sites" who often distort things and can be easily ignored or ridiculed in the MSM. But if you read the articles they refer to, or if you have been involved in developmental work, as I have, all of these ideas are not new, and some of them are good. The problem? I sort of dislike elite folks making plans without asking for our opinion.

    I guess that makes me a deplorable, even though I tend to be sympathetic to Bernie and Chomsky.

    For example, the Pope blames the covid epidemic on capitalism and global warming, yet it was communism, the fear of being a whistleblower in a communist state, and the corruption of the World Health Organization that let the genie out of the bottle.

     the Green Agenda  is openly admitting they plan to use the covid epidemic to change the world (but you will only find this out if you read conspiracy sites that link to their pages.

    Conspiracy theory? Uh, no.

    I keep getting heads up to the big TED symposium of celebrities pushing this.
    This virtual event, streamed free on 10.10.2020, is the Global Launch of Countdown, a new initiative to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. Watch five curated sessions packed with more than 50 speakers, activists, actors and musicians, who share actionable and science-backed ideas, paired with moments of wonder, inspiration and optimism. Presented by TED and Future Stewards.

    Phys Org summary of the meeting here and includes this quip:

    With a call to "fix our climate" by 2030, Prince William on Saturday joined a global array of activists, artists, celebrities and politicians taking part in a free streamed TED event aimed at mobilizing and unifying people to confront the climate crisis....
    Yes because you should let self appointed activists, artists and celebrities tell you how you should live.

    This, by the way, is from 2014.

    A theologcal analysis of  Francis promoting a religion of humanity that leaves out the reality of God


    Wednesday, October 07, 2020

    EMPs, the Miyake Event, and...Squirrels?

     one of the "We're all gonna die" scenerios is a solar flare: the most famous one of these is the Carrington event of 1859. when a solar flare was so strong it affected the telegraph.

    One of these could shut down the power grid, all computers, and many modern appliances with the result: devastation of civilization.

    But in these days of the new cold war, one does have to worry about another scenerio: the Electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear weapon that is set off in the atmosphere. (see One second After, where the cause of was an enemy nuclear attack of three nuclear weapons originating in cargo ships near the coast that were able to get under radar, causing an EMP)... both the EMP and a solar flare could wipe out computers, the power grid, the water supply, most modern automobiles, etc. and cause societal breakdown.

    this would affect cities most of all: huge numbers of people would flee cities to rural areas, and the resulting death rate from hunger, disease and accidents would be huge.

    Here in the rural Philippines, we still know how to use water buffalo, plant and thresh rice by hand, use manure to fertilize, and use a machete...But even here, we are close enough to Manila to be overwhelmed by refugees and might not be able to grow enough to feed everyone. And how many would die of infectious disease?

    But again, it hasn't been that long since World War II when the infrastructure collapsed, and there is a memory of those days and how to survive. 

    But in the USA? I'm not sure. I suspect the best place to survive would be in Mormon country, since those folks still keep a memory of their pioneer ancestors, when they were essentially on their own to survive.

    well, anyway, what brought about this musing was this article, on a deserted monastery on an island in Siberia (in Tuva) that was dated due to a piece of wood with tree rings (aka by using dendrochronology), which showed evidence of a Miyake event, a proton solar flare that, if it happened today, could destroy the power grid and every computerized appliance you own.

    Um, Miyake event? Yes, a new term. The article explains.

    In 2012, Japanese scientist Fusa Miyake identified two spikes in the carbon-14 levels present in tree rings of known age from dendrochronological archives—one in 775, and the other in 994. These surges, now called Miyake Events, were likely produced by massive bursts of cosmic radiation and can be seen in tree rings throughout the world.


    Fusa Miyake; Ja'Crispy/iStock/Getty Images, adapted by APS/Alan Stonebraker

     Wikipedia article on the 775 event. thought to be a solar proton event (in contrast to a solar gamma ray event). From Wikipedia:

    Coronal Mass ejection 

    Solar particle event

     This is outside my field, but to put it simply: Both will fry your computer chips... and it is one reason that if you want to protect your computer, you need to keep an eye on solar weather website.

    lots of youtube videos on how to stick your computer into a Faraday cage to protect it (e.g. stick it into a stainless steel trash can?) but hey the real danger is damage to the electric grid.

    Power grids could be destroyed a lot of things: by a simple hack job (see DieHard 4.0), by coordinated physical terror attack by crazies, wildfires (as in California) etc. 

    But the most common cause of electric grid damage? the lowly Squirrel.

    NEARLY FOUR YEARS ago, Cris Thomas began documenting attacks on the US power grid. The number of incidents was eye-popping; over 1700 in all, impacting nearly five million people. The perpetrators? Squirrels. And birds. Assorted rodentia. Some industrious frogs, too.

    It's so serious that it even has it's own Wikipedia page. 

    ------- just for fun:

    Tuesday, October 06, 2020

    Ignore the Russian bots: Vaccines save lives

     BBC has an article about the reality of delivering vaccinations to children in isolated villages in the DRC.

    Been there, done that.

    Read it and weep.

    several points to bring up:

    One, vaccines deteriorate if not kept cool. This can be a problem when electricity is intermittant.

    the bad news?

    this means that the vaccine might not give full protection, which will lower people's trust in the vaccine...the good news? in my experience, it probably means your kid will only get sick and not die.

    Two: War makes people flee, so a lot of kids don't get all their shots, so have only partial immunity.

    so when the kid gets sick, the parents figure the shot didn't work so might start believing what their mullahs or bishops (!) parrot to them after these leaders read the anti vax nonsense in the western press.

    this  is important, for in the case of oral polio vaccine, means that if the one in ten thousand cases where the attenuated virus mutates back to a virulent form, you might end up with a minor polio epidemic among the unvaccinated population.

    The anti vax types make a big thing of this, but we are talking about maybe 300 cases instead of ten thousand cases. 

    True, there is a "safer" alternative, which is what is done in richer countries: go back to using the shot.

    The polio shot is a dead virus and doesn't have that problem, but it also means a higher expense for countries whose budget is very very limited and who lack personnel to give shots.

    Three: children don't just die of measles, but die afterward because after having measles they have lowered immunity to other diseases. When I worked in Africa, we had many cases because the vaccine was just being released at that time.

    We would see babies who survived measles die a week or two after measles of croup or broncheolitis or pneumonia, or a month later from tuberculosis. And many children with borderline malnutrition would end up with full blown kwashiorkor after a bout with measles.

    Four: in the area the article discusses, over 7000 children have died, but world wide, the number is still over 100 thousand deaths a year. This is better than in the past, 

    but the bad news is that last year the number of cases started going up again, and alas with Covid making ordinary folks avoid clinics, I suspect we will have a major epidemic in the near future in many countries. 

    Contributing to this: The anti vax fad, often promoted by rich first world types who never saw babies die of this disease, and who often are inspired by propaganda similar to the anti vax lies spread by the KGB in the past to discredit western vaccination programs. 

    Back in the 1970s and early 1980s the rumor was that whooping cough vaccine caused brian damage, so parents stopped letting their kids get it. So instead of a few cases of post pertussis injection encephalitisThis cause thousand of cases of the disease in the UK, plus several hundreds who died or got brain damage from the actual disease... then a safer vaccine was found, and the hysteria wenr to the preservative used. When this was removed, the hysteria went to measles. 

    Then we in Africa, and in the Philippines in the 1990s we had to contend with the rumor that the tetanus vaccine we gave to pregnant women (to prevent neonatal tetanus) was given to them to cause a miscarriage.

    Did you ever see a baby die of tetanus? It's not pretty.

    Anti vaccine hysteria is not new..the vegetarian British elite pushed this idea in the early 1900s against smallpox. I wonder how many slum kids in the UK died from their hubrid. One would think that the disappearance of these diseases would put a stop to this nonsense, but in recent years it has gotten worse, and much of the blame goes to the remnants of the KGB propaganda network.

    This 2019 article at Foreign policy describes how it was done. Newsweek article from 2018 discusses that this type of propaganda is, alas, still going on..

    Why is Russia still allowing such dangerous propaganda to be spread by their minions? 2018 article in Science magazine notes:

    ..Why would Russian propaganda accounts be anti-vaccination, then? Well, not all of them were. And that’s the key point: some of these accounts tweeted out anti-vaccine lines, while others tweeted aggressively pro-vaccination ones (stuff like “You can’t fix stupidity. Let them die from measles“) These messages were deliberately sent into the discussions where they would cause the most argument and sow the most doubt and confusion.

    It’s not that the Russian troll factories were pro-vax or anti-vax: they were pro-discord.

    This sort of thing should not surprise anyone who knows about the history of propaganda techniques. It’s just that social media platforms like Twitter allow these strategies to be run far more efficiently and quickly. There were, for example, rumors during the 1980s that HIV was some sort of nefarious biowarfare agent that had escaped from a US facility. And these were amplified by the (then) KGB.

     and of course, with covid, things have gotten worse.

    and of course, the competition to "win" the race for a vaccine means that this disinformation will taint the US (fully tested) vaccine, so that Russia (and China) can then offer their (partially tested) vaccines as a better alternative.

    cui bono?

    the WHO, who dropped the ball on Covid lost a lot of credibility for believing Chinese authorities, but the dirty little secret is that their activity along with the help of many church and secular NGO's has saved literally millions of lives from infectious diseases over the last 50 years.

    take measles: 


    In 1980, 2.6 million people died of it, and in 1990, 545,000 died; by 2014, global vaccination programs had reduced the number of deaths from measles to 73,000

    but with the anti vax movement, that number is expected to soar as fewer children get the shot. 

    The anti vax types stress the death rate of measles is low, so why vaccinate? They use the same argument for not getting a shot against covid, which has a similar death rate: 

    for example, in measles:

    The risk of death among those infected is about 0.2%, but may be up to 10% in people with malnutrition. Most of those who die from the infection are less than five years old.

    the "elephant in the room"? Co morbidity. Not everyone is equally healthy.

    In covid, the death rate is much higher in those who have health problems. And in the third world, that includes a lot of people of working age who due to the shutdown are becoming malnourished.

    In the third world, the death rate from the Covid virus isn't much worse than the death rate from other diseases such as simple diarrhea or Dengue fever: But the economic effects of a shut down are horrendous, and so there is a race to get a vaccine to protect workers so the economy can be reopened.

    cat video of the week



    Maru: The most popular cat on the internet.

    Musical interlude of the day

     turn up speakers and dance


    Inspired by the release of the politically correct encyclical just released by the Pope, Fruity tutti.

    But of course, there is a difference: despite his personal failings,  Little Richard actually believed in God. 

    Sunday, October 04, 2020

    Movie of the week

    what do you get when you mix a twisty-donut maker. her computer fixing husband, and their child going on their dream trip to Hawaii, with a plot about terrorists trying to hijack a plane?

    The recent K Drama/comedy Okay Madam.

    lots of action, plot twists and ROTFL moments.

    headsup from AceOfSpades, who has a fuller review of the film but lots of spoilers HERE.

    Saturday, October 03, 2020

    Conspiracy theory of the day

     Trumpieboy and staff all seem to have been infected at the debate.

    Did Cleveland Clinic drop the ball? And don't go on about masks: their protection factor is limited unless one wears a specialized respirator mask as is done by nurses etc. And even the masks are not complete protection: A lot of hospital personnel have become infected, including two of my nephew's kids in the UK who worked with these patients.


    well, short of staying in the basement it's a risk, and quite a few world leaders have been infected.

    deja vu for PM of London's infection.

    Friday, October 02, 2020

    Yum! Eels!

     My mother relates a family story about how her German Great Grandmother used to cook eel the traditional way in the good old days, until her husband saw her preparing the snake like live eels to cook and after that he refused to eat them any more.

    yes, we eat eel in the Philippines, but the dish is not common in our area, so we have only eaten it in restaurants.

    This video of preparing Eel Adobo (a Pampanga specialty) will give you the idea of why my grandfather decided to stick to plain fish: :

    What brought this topic up was because HisotyExtra podcast has a discussion on why eels were a popular dish in Medieval England, and they refer you to Dr. Greeenlee's website for more information on how eels were not only eaten, but used to pay rent and taxes in Medieval England.

    or as he tweets:

    Surprised Eel Historian, PhD @greenleejw · Dec 12, 2019 So you're a medieval landlord, collecting property rent from your peasants in eels. How do you measure them? Eels were usually counted in units called sticks (25 eels) -- likely from the number of eels you can smoke on a stick at one time. 10 sticks of eels was called a bind. 

    Surprised Eel Historian, PhD @greenleejw · Dec 12, 2019 So may great questions! I'll try to get to them in coming days. But, briefly: There were LOTS of eels in medieval England. People ate them, traded them, wrote about them, & paid taxes in them. In 1200 there were 500k+ eels being paid in in-kind taxation each year. Here's a map!

    Eels are part of a subplot in the latest historical novel by Ken Follet:  History extra podcast LINK

    the protagonist is digging a drainage ditch for his water logged plot of land and river eels swim into the drainage pond, giving him and his family a new source of food and income so they don't starve to death.

    The Evening and the Morning is about Anglo Saxon England,

    here is Follett discussing the book.