Monday, August 30, 2021

Take everything but the kitchen sink

Joy's friends and relatives are all calling her because they are testing positive to Covid.

They all know I am a doctor, so are asking me for a second opinion. 


Most of them are put on a steroid, vitamins, and zithromax (azithromycin), plus salbutamol if they have asthma, and sometimes oxygen as needed (they are even using pulse oximeters to monitor you, so if it falls you are told to go to the ER)

Now they have started to add adding Ivermectin 15 mg daily to the mix, (which now can be prescribed by doctors because the animal version was being used anyway, so the DOH decided it was okay)

 because hey it won't hurt will it?

and then some are using local herbal remedies: one cousin was put on Lagundi, Virgin Coconut oil, and Lianhua Qingwen along with her azithromycine and ivermectin.

Here are two videos discussing these herbe, plus other less popular ones (tawitawi is an herbal dengue remedy approved for Dengue)

 Lagundi: a local herb based remedy for coughs and bronchitis, is in the pharmacy as a cough medicine. The gov't is doing a study on this, but for mild cases only. 

and a Chinese herbal medicine used for COPD and lung problems was prescribed for one cousin: Lianhua Qinwen is a Chinese herbal medicine used for broncitis/COPD and asthma and is now being investigated for Covid.

here is the article from Plos:

Traditional Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen treating corona virus disease 2019(COVID-19): Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

conclusion: it sort of works in small studies so let's do a huge study to check it out.


the real problem with using herbs is that these herbs are found in your garden, so the temptation is to pick them and voila, cheap cures.

but the dirty little secret is that the active ingredient may vary from leaf to leaf, and that often it is hard to measure the correct dosage.

(one of our outreaches in Africa was working with herbalists to have them concoct and bottle their remedies with exact instructions so the dosages could be better regulated: home made remedies were a common cause of death in the sick who couldn't tolerate the regular dosage, or in children who were given the adult dosage).

as for the west, we prefer fancy scientific stuff that might or might not work: such as monoclonal antibodies, 

And Florida has been lax in masking etc. but hey, you can get a shot of monoclonal antibodies for free LINK



This outbreak is hitting us worse than the original one, maybe because it is the delta varient, which spreads easier and causes a worse disease.

and of course, the vaccination rate is low here in the Philippines: about  12 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.


one more update: There is also an epidemic of lung infection in toddlers here. 

I said in an earlier post that it is probably RSV, a nasty virus that causes broncholitis, and is being diagnosed in a lot of kids in the USA.

And maybe I am right, since the Twins, (our cook's great grandkids, one of whom has been in an out of the hospital for various infections), tested negative for covid.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Musical interlude of the week

 New Orleans the the Gulf coast might be hit by a hurricane again.

Been there, done that (typhoon here are common).

In our prayers.


The story behind Rice paddy art

Atlas Obscura has an article about the history of the rice paddy art in the village of Inakadate: The farmers were aging, the young folks were leaving for better paying and easier jobs in the city, and then someone had an idea.

LINK for the entire story: how it started, and how it is designed then planted by hand to make the design.

and the city has a webcam:

and a short film about the project:


we are in a rice growing area, and have the same problem with older folks retiring.

Most of the farmers we subcontract with to grow our organic rice brand are local people who are aging. Thanks to land reform, their kids are educated and work elsewhere. Many want to sell their fields, but the law limits how much land you can own, so we had bought back some of the land that was given to them (yes, I know: sold to them cheap) many years ago with land reform, but we can't buy any more fields due to the law. 

But other Balikbayan (returning overseas workers) are buying up the land, including some from Manila who merely want to build a vacation home in a rural area, meaning the good rice fields are being urbanized.

For the land we still own, we hire tenant farmers who care for our land are from Joy's village in the Visayas, but I suspect the answer to the labor shortage in the future is increased mechanization of rice growing, as is being done in Japan and other more affluent countries.

Rice is planted in two ways: broad cast of seeds (for winter harvest, which here depends on irrigation or an iffy rain) or preparing the fields and flooding them, then planting rice seedlings in the mud. 

We usually buy the seedlings from the local rice institute, and plant by hand, although in the future it will be done using machinery (I had to laugh at the Clarkson Farm part where he uses an expensive machine to plant his veggie seedling: but this is the way of the future for planting rice seedlings, although probably using a smaller machine the size of a handplow.)

The dirty little secret is that our area grows rice and veggies, but the imported rice and veggies often crash the price, which is why the gov't is pushing organic rice and veggies: More expensive but better quality, but alas more labor intensive.

When I first visited here, much of the hard work of growing and harvesting rice was being done by hand, but over the last 30 years we have increased the use of machinery: handplows instead of waterbuffalo to till the fields and keep the weeds down, renting a harvester/thresher instead of cutting by hand and using our thresher to separate the seed before we sun dry it with our rice drier or on the local roads, etc. Presumably seedling planters are the next step.

But farming is still back breaking work, and not very profitable. And cheap imports from more mechanized countries keep the price down.

Will the covid problems with importing stuff make it better? Maybe. It would be nice if the Philippines was independent in food production, but we still have to use fertilizer, (huge price increase this year) and then the machinery, and the transportation of the harvest requires diesel/gasoline.

Here, the change in oil/LPG/gasoline prices make headlines.

and in case you are wondering about the poor retired waterbuffalo: well, they are being used to produce milk and dairy products.

altogether now:

Friday, August 27, 2021

American disrespect vs Mano Po

 What is it with these folks?

I am trying to work with Massachusetts govt about a private matter, and I got an email asking me to verify my address (which I had done on the form I sent them).

And voila, when I opened the email sending me the form to officially change my address, the writer addressed me by my first name only.

So when I answered the letter, I blasted him for calling me by my first name only.

This is a PC guy who added his personal pronouns to his letter, expecting me to use them out of respect, but on the other hand, he doesn't have enough respect to address me by my formal name, which I interpreted as a form of disrespect.

I am old enough to be a great grandmother. More importantly, I  became a physician before women's lib, and had to fight to be respected. 

I am old enough to remember when you called elders using their title and/or their full name, as a sign of respect. 

Calling an elder by their first name is a sign that you consider your customer a child: it implies you are talking down to them and maybe planning to manipulate them.

We docs are taught to be culturally sensitive, and this includes being sensitive and not calling our elderly patients by their first name unless they gave us permission to do so. Because it implies they are children. 

And that is why I got angry, sent the guy back an angry email, and just for good meadure, sent a letter to the editor of his local newspaper protesting that state employees are being disrespectful by allowing this practice.

This is not the first business letter I have gotten from the USA that did the same thing. Nor is this the first time I blasted someone for disrespect.

What is going on?

it's part of a culture where everyone is on an equal footing, so no respect for those who are older, for those with authority, or for those whose long years of study entitles them to be called by an honorific like Doctor.


I've been watching too many Korean Dramas. 

In Korean, like in many languages, you address people differently if they rank above you or below you: So a younger person who addresses an older person the wrong way is often corrected by the older person in Korean dramas.

and the use of "honorifics" is a way to show respect.

But such respect is not only found in K dtamas or Chinese movies.

Here in the Philippines, there is a similar custom to use titles of respect to our elders.

When we have visitors, often they will greet me with "mano po", putting their hands to my forehead. An alternative is to prompt the child with the word "bless".

And just like in traditional American culture (e.g. politeness is still taught to children in the Southern USA) you use the equivalent of the word "Sir" or "Ma'am", by using the title "Po"' when you talk to an elder, an official, or one of your relatives who is older than you.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Family news

 My granddaughter just returned to the US to her college. So we've been busy all week.

The newest outbreak of covid has shut down much of Luzon: We are still in partial shutdown but are seeing more cases. 

There is also a lot of sick toddlers. Probably RSV, not covid (it is toddlers, not older school kids who are more exposed to covid). Sigh.

but some good news: The Mayor is back;:

I have no opinion on Afghanistan except that they should have seen it coming and gotten folks out earlier. Heck, the folks should have gotten out earlier when they read the news. But when the bad guys win, they are ruthless, and Biden has a woke military and politicized intelligence system.

Iran and Turkey have interests, and this is peripheral to the Middle East wars.

and of course Covid doesn't take sides: the latest outbreak is world wide and with the Taliban taking over, the aid workers will leave and hospital supplies won't come in (two Filipinos evacuated was with Doctors without borders, meaning that even they are leaving).

Sigh. Been there, done that, although I was told to go home when things pointed to anarchy. But when you know that the patients will die without you, some folks will stay, and of course, those with families are sort of stuck if they all can't leave together.

and both African countries where I worked had overthrows of corrupt/racist governments that worked, and were replaced by ignoramuses who couldn't run things and ruined the place: infrastructure collapse, the best educated emigrating to find jobs or just to get out of there, aid workers left behind harassed or worse, and epidemics of both diseases that could have been stopped with decent sanitation and/or routine immunizations and made worse by malnutrition because the economy collapsed.



FYI: follow the science, yes. But where is the science?

it's almost enough to make you wonder if the conspiracy theorists are right.

(but this is about an mRNA vaccine, not the adenovirus vaccines, i.e. sputnik, AZ and J&J)

the conspiracy theorists are saying this is political, not scientific, to push vaccine passports, which mean you have a national ID card that can be tracked, which really upsets the paranoid.

But if it is about spreading infection, why is post infection immunity being ignored? Shouldn't we just test for antibodies/immunity?

Don't ask me: We are still way behind with giving vaccine, and as a foreigner, I am already on the gov't computer, and since China hacked my OPM file, I'm on their computer too.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Watching censored opinions.

 Just posting this to see if the karens at Blogger try to ban me.


I had to laugh when he said American aid went right into the politician bank accounts. Ya think?

natural immunity factors in the epidemic


.....summary: since those previously vaccinated have a minimal disease, why give them a booster: getting the lowgrade infection probably won't harm the low risk types and will boost their immunity.

this is about children, young people and those without poor immune systems.

And this will allow the vaccine to be sent to poorer countries to protect them (where malnutrition might cause higher mortality).

This might not be true for nursing home/high risk people who have lousy immune systems to begin with. They have been helped by getting the vaccine so might get better immunity with a booster without the risk. Indeed, they might need several booster shots. (something we saw when we gave Hepatitis B vaccine to our patients in a nursing home for the mentally disabled, many of whom had genetic problems with immunity).

For normal people, even if they test negative for antibodies, it doesn't mean they don't have immunity.

part of the reason is that the immune cells will produce antibodies when re-exposed, but might take time to get a high enough antibody response to stop the infection.

Think of warming up your car engine when it is cold: It still works but might take a few minutes if you want to go on the interstate.

And the CDC has a report on the higher risk of covid to black, Hispanic and AmerIndian populations (note: most Hispanics in the US have Amerindian or black ancestry).,

Is this from their poor nutrition, or because they have a higher risk of diabetes/ metabolic syndrome (a major cause of obesity)? 

And yes, I recognize the problems of delivering medical care equally to these populations, because I worked with them for 40's not racism per se (since the problems are similar if you work with poor people of European origin),.. partly because working with these groups is difficult: poor compliance with medicine, low payments from Medicare/medicaid that make it hard to balance the books, etc. 

The reason the PC prefer to blame racism is that they don't recognize cultural problems....

there are barriers to medical care that are economic and cultural.

Fewer clinics, long waiting periods, staff of a different ethnicity (one quarter of docs are FMG and they often work in these high risk areas where it is hard to recruit American medical graduates... I think of my Filipino husband working with the coal miners in Pennsylvania).

We also see this in poor white populations, but it's hard to separate this population in studies: they are lumped in with the affluent yuppies who are health conscious (i.e. their religion is health and they imagine if they do a lot of this healthy stuff they will live forever) instead of the fatalism ideas of many in the lower class when it comes to health problems.

and what is worrisome about minorities who are at covid risk is that the dirty little secret is that it isn't just racism/cultural barriers per se: that the non vaccination rate is high among Black Americans who don't trust the system: they remember the Tuskegee experiment and don't want to be a guinea pig and take the "experimental" vaccine.

Usually the elite blame the victims: in the USA this is related to the present day activism by elites who prefer to point fingers than get their fingers dirty doing the hard work of getting out to treat the poor.

But all those tweets against the non mask wearing Trumpites seem to ignore that white liberal youth also have a high rate of not being vaccinated, and they also seem to be unaware that virus is all over the world.

It's not just an American problem: even the obedient mask wearing Japanese are in the midst of an repeated outbreak: I suspect the politicians who allowed the Olympics will get the blame.

as for us in the Philippines, we are a mess. The Inquirer notes a quarter million cases are expected in the Manila region by September.

and yes, reports say incompetence and red tape were the reason that the Philippines did not get the vaccine in January.

We are starting to see cases here in our rural town, and I suspect a lot of the increase in cases is due to more testing being done. 

We mandate masks, and partial shut down...And then there is contact tracing: if a positive case visited a business, the employees and those who visited on that day are put into quarantine and the business is closed until it is cleaned up.

This is true for Dr. Angi (twice in quarantine) and our bank (shut down for ten days, meaning I could get money from another branch but not cash my checks). Sigh. I got around this by wiring money from my US bank  that gets my pension by direct deposit.... and I just put oodles of cash into my ATM account in case this happens again. The bad news, of course, is that sometimes we lose internet or electricity, (typhoon season is coming) and that source of cash is sometimes closed. I also keep some in Lolo's safe, but hesitate to keep too much because this could attract thieves. 

And of course, we have help who can do the shopping for us.

All those Yanks who talk about moving to a third world country to retire need to recognize they need a support community: family, or to live in a large ex pat community.

Friday, August 20, 2021

happy things in the news

.........Kuya really is enjoying this series: He is a rice farmer but a lot of the problems are the same... 


a half dozen years ago, there were a lot of stories about giant ducks visiting places all over the world. But now a new one has popped up,,,,,

and if you are really depressed, remember there are always cat videos:

and then there is this:

forget the police dogs:

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Organic Brown rice: we haz that

 we have two organic brown rice businesses. 

Organic brown rice is more expensive than the white rice that is grown with chemical fertilizer etc.(which is often imported).

 However, it is healthier, and there is a growing interest in organic foods among the growing middle class here in the Philippines.

The gov't promotes organic foods here in the Philippines, and they inspect farms to make sure that there is no cheating. 

Farmers who grow organic food often have to work harder, but can make a larger profit as long as they can find someone to pack, ship and sell their product. And that is what Joy is doing: The business part.

Kuya farms our own rice fields and subcontracts with local rice farmers to grow rice for our brand of organic rice, which we mainly sell to upscale supermarkets. 

But his wife Joy is busy working with the gov't to establish organic business by teaching and supervising organic farming in nearby Bulacan, and that business sells their rice under another brand name.

Years ago, she was chosen to take a course in the Goldman Sachs ten thousand women initiative, which teaches business practice to women who are small business entrepeneurs.

She was recently chosen to take an advanced course they offered and just graduated. So congratulations to her.

Thanks to the training and their help, she has recently established a website for that business.

As you can see, they are slowly expanding into vegetables and free range chicken.

The Joyful Garden Farm Organic Farmers Association Inc. was formed on July 8, 2015, to advocate, promote, propagate, develop further and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines to our farmers. We focused on helping the farmers, millennials, students, and community to learn about growing and raising organic food, and to generate more jobs and livelihood for our farmers and communities. We aim to support our farmers as a marketing arm and connect them to prospective customers and retailers. We aim to feed people with an abundance of wholesome, organically grown food and healthy products.​Come join us to spread this advocacy and support our local farmers and their products.

awhile back, I posted a video on her business on my youtube channel:

But now they have helped her business get it's own youtube channel, to teach people how grow and cook organic foods.

Here is one of her teachers showing you what to do with left over banana peels:


Monday, August 16, 2021

family news

Joy was sick last month and is now better. But Joy's brother had the same symptoms of asthmatic bronchitis last week, and was put on zithromax and prednisone for it by his doctor after the Chest x ray showed ordinary pneumonia. But now he has a positive covid test, so we continue to worry about him. He does have supplementary oxygen to use as needed, but is not sick enough to go to the hospital.

Which makes me wonder if Joy's bad bronchitis two weeks ago was covid. She didn't get a test.

We had the AZ vaccine last week, so we are good. They saved this for the high risk groups: lower risk groups and high risk who didn't get the shot because they ran out of vaccine got the J&J vaccine (one shot). And Joy got our drivers (who deliver rice to Manila but are in a low risk age/health group) the Chinese vaccine.

The maid claims an elderly lady in town died after getting the J&J vaccine: she was in her 70s so probably not, but rumors will go around again. There is a lot of suspicion about the vaccine here, but most are getting it anyway.

Ivermectin is now forbidden by the gov't... but there is a large underground market for it, and a friend gave a few tablets to Joy in case she gets sick again. 

Ruby had a fit: She said it is probably a fake version and useless, but hey, this is the Philippines so lots of drugs are counterfeit and not up to par. 

The big worry is that the delta varient is in Manila: the vaccines don't stop it completely, but reports say they do prevent you from dying from it. And in the wings: They just tested and found a lamba case in Manila. That one comes from Peru and is scary, but not a lot of good information out there about it. 

more at NPR who is channeling their inner HHGG and just says "Don't panic" 

presumably a lot of the 100 000 people coming into the US have it, but hey, why panic when they aren't bothering to test them all, but are simply spreading them all over the country.

My son reported his (fully vaccinated) wife caught covid by visiting a new grandchild in Texas...

She was vaxxed (she is a caregiver) so was only sick for a week or so and now tests negative.

She caught it because the son in law refused the vaccine and got sick, and gave it to her. Sigh. My son in Florida thinks all the anti vax anti mask types are nuts (and I agree with him). 

So the stories in the MSM point fingers at those evil Evangelical anti vax protesters who are risking death and spreading the disease. 

One problem behind this meme: it's propaganda. Anti vax opinions are more common in the well educated and among minorities.

in the meanwhile, where are all those illegal migrants going? Into local hotels?

But it made me wonder: with such large numbers why haven't they opened up a couple army bases to house them as was done when VietNam fell?

Michael Yon's podcast that I posted yersterday mentions a lot of them have family or friends in the US, so maybe they will be quickly resettled, as were the Cuban refugees in the Mariel boat lift. But it's almost impossible to find good stories that don't have a political bias.

and now the US should expect 100 thousand Afghans on their doorstep in the next few weeks.

Iran, who in the past housed hundreds of thousands of Afghans, will again face an exodus, and will feel obliged to at least accept the Shiite minorities from there, since the Taliban will kill them as infidels. 

And China is there to make nice. Wonder how long that will last.

The dirty little secret is that the Taliban is a product of the Pakistani military, and is mainly a Pushtun tribal group.

strategyPage has background on these groups.

it's not just a US problem: China, Russia, Iran, India, and locals who are not Pashtuns are involved.

and the virus will complicate matters: most of the aid workers will leave and the infrastructure will collapse unless China sends in their help with the Wolf Warrior types to protect them.

Ah but what if Iran pulls back their 50 thousand Afghan mercenaries from Syria to save their fellow Shiites?

and what about Balochastan?

So expect a civil war in the near future.

Afghanistan has been a hell hole and fought over since 2000 BC, but the real problem is that the sight of chaos in Khandahar sends a message to all the bad guys in the world tha Biden is incompetent and won't do a thing to stop them.

and this is bad news Taiwan and for us in the Philippines.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

will no one rid me of that troublesome nun?

.........if the Catholic church in the USA hasn't fallen completely captive to the corrupt and lax, it is because an Italian American nun in the middle of nowhere was willing to preach the word of God.

 Her famous "throwing down the gauntlet" speech is at six minutes in this film.


the title of this post is a paraphrase of Henry II's lament about Thomas Becket, who opposed his attempt to subvert the church.

In Mother Angelica's case, it was Cardinal Mahoney who did his best.

Mother tried her best not to personally attack anyone, and one could say that a few of those who preached on her network were later removed for corruption or faux pas, but one time Mahoney released a document that trivialized the Holy Sacrament, and she did name names.

Mahoney, who was the powerful Cardinal of Los Angeles and beloved of the MSM, complained to the Vatican (her order was supervised from Rome, not by the local bishop). But JP2 protected her.

But one result was that she changed the network to have a lay Catholic supervision, so that the US Bishops could not take it over.

And of course, it was many years later that someone outside the poor laity (who like those of us who lived in Altoona, knew about such things) noticed Mahoney had a little problem.

2013 article NatCathRegister about Mahoney being relieved of some (but not all ) of his duties.

,,,,All this got me to thinking about Cardinal Mahony's legacy. For those of us who watched it at the time, it is hard not to think of Cardinal Mahony without also thinking of the legacy of Mother Angelica. Their two competing visions of the Church came to a head in the late 90's and for a while it was quite unclear which vision would prevail. Ultimately, it is too soon to say which vision will prevail, but perhaps it is not too soon to ponder their legacies.....

Friday, August 13, 2021

factoid of the day: blame Sweden for Joe Biden

 wikipedia entry:

The entire Delmarva Peninsula falls within the Atlantic Coastal Plain, a flat and sandy area with very few or no hills; the highest point in the peninsula is only 102 ft (31 m) above sea level.[4] The fall line, found in the region southwest of Wilmington, Delaware, and just north of the northern edge of the Delmarva Peninsula, is a geographic borderland where the Piedmont region transitions into the coastal plain. Its Atlantic Ocean coast is formed by the Virginia Barrier Islands in the south and the Fenwick Island barrier spit in the north....
At various times in history, residents of the Delmarva Peninsula have proposed that its Maryland and Virginia portions secede from their respective states, merging with Kent County and Sussex County, Delaware, to create the state of Delmarva. A Delmarva State Party with this aim was founded in 1992. Its combined population would be about 750,000, or 977,511 in 2015, or 1,534,290 if New Castle County, Delaware is also included, roughly the population of Idaho, or West Virginia.[9]

related link: New Sweden.

 Settlements were established on both sides of the Delaware Valley in the region of DelawareNew JerseyMaryland, and Pennsylvania, often in places where Swedish traders had been visiting since about 1610.[2] Fort Christina in Wilmington, Delaware was the first settlement, named after the reigning Swedish monarch.

PC Speak against mothernood

 this caught my eye this morning:     

from Instapundit (a libertarian blog)

 UPDATE NEWSPEAK DICTIONARIES ACCORDINGLY: Not satire: The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine just one-upped the term “birthing person” with “human milk-feeding individual.” 


this is, of course, supposed to be about not upsetting trans girls (i.e. psychologically immature females who are planning to become men) who nevertheless decide to have a baby (thereby endangering their developing baby with all the male hormones they take to transition) and then they decide they want to breast feed that baby. 

But when those who head large societies of professionals to impose the PC beliefs of a small minority on society, it is a problem.

First, because most of the time, these society officials never bothered to ask their members about this.

In the future, when you read "woke" policies supported by the AMA, remember this: They were bullied and taken over by woke activists early this year, so will probably continue to bleed membership due to members figuring why pay a thousand a year to help them push an agenda that is anti science.

The elites have an agenda that is extreme, and don't you dare say anything against them, even though the majority of folks don't agree.

Indeed, I suspect that the average Bacla or tomboy or trans doesn't support that extreme agenda either: Because most of them are part of a family by birth or choice, and recognize the importance of that when things get rough.

Second: Every time an official society promotes such PC policies, it enables the mentally confused to impose their PC beliefs on society, meaning those with traditional belief systems face pressure to conform, or worse, might lose their job over a real or imagined faux pas.

This is being exploited as a way to destroy strict Christians, but the dirty little secret is that the Hispanic and other immigrant communities also reject such nonsense

As for doctors:

Attention PC tyrants: The average doc meets all sorts of people, and although there are racial, religious, and social prejudices in most physicians we sort of keep them out of our treatment plans: unless, of course, like the above problem where their chosen lifestyle endangers their own health or the health of their baby.

However, that said, I should add that yes, there are breastfeeding men: Actual men. 

In Africa, in remote tribal villages in the past, if a mom died in childbirth, often the child was nursed by a relative or even a post menopausal grandmother. And in rare cases, there are reports that the father did this out of desperation, since alternative sources of milk were not available. 

This was a life and death situation and done to save the baby's life.

And of course, there are webpages for fathers or mothers with adopted newborns on how to breast feed their child. 

In these cases, it is about loving the child, not about fulfilling one's desire at the expense of the child (and destroying those around you who disagree).

and as for the term "mother": just because some of us are mothers by adoption, it doesn't mean we reject having that term used for those who give birth.

here in Asia (as in Africa, and among my South American relatives, and even in my own ethnic family in the USA) family is important.

It's a Catholic thing: here in the Philippines the extended family includes the baclas, tomboys, drunks, drug addicts, second families, ete because although the standards are strict, the mercy of God extends to those who can't keep the rules.

The family, not the individual, is the center of society.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

family news: remember the onion poultices

We go for our second covid vaccine today. I believe we will get the Astrozeneca again, but last week they gave the J&J to lower risk folks. We need to have our drivers/ rice deliverers a vaccine but they are young so low risk, so not yet eligible.

Manila area is now under full quarantine: we have increased the level of shutdown, closing the "night market" at the Plaza because too many were partying at night. (the food vendors merely moved into the streets with pushcarts during the day, but never mind: The sun and wind slows the spread). The tourist areas are also shut. 

And the bad news is that our mayor is now sick with covid. Keep him in your prayers: he actually has improved the city quite a bit, which means he is using the city budget to fix up the town instead of fixing up his family's bank account like other politicians who will not be named.

The bank is reopened.  Luckily I now am considered a senior, and they have a priority line for seniors and the guards often let me inside where it is airconditioned to wait my turn instead of sitting outside until it is my turn.

A senior member of Joy's church died of covid, and his wife is now in the hospital with shortness of breath, probably covid. Ten days ago they had a party where he probably caught it, but Joy didn't go since she was home sick... with a viral bronchitis (no covid test of course. Why ask for trouble). 

Now her brother and family are sick: Their area has more covid than we do. 

I had given Joy Zithromax and prednisone when she was sick, so told her to send her brother to a clinic to get checked and a prescription, so he and his family are on it.

But a neighbor gave him some (human) Ivermectin, which can be bought on line. The gov't here copies the US CDC and has forbidden human usage of this drug. I asked Kuya to buy some at the animal supply store but he is a Christian and too honest to go against the law.

Lukily Joy is a Christian but enough of a Filipino to ignore stupid laws that don't make sense so she plans to order some for us to take in case we get sick.

taken correctly, the side effects are minimal, but the Australian, Israeli, and Indian data suggest it could help. 

My take? 

when we were in Medical school, we were told the tale of the Onion poultices (an herbal treatment for chest congestion) in the time of the Spanish flu. 

the 1918 influenza was especially fatal to the young (not the elderly like most influenza epidemics) and especially fatal to pregnant ladies. So when a local doctor went to check one very sick pregnant woman, he knew her chances to live were low, but tried his best.

But the husband asked if he should use an onion poultice, and the physician mocked him saying it was useless, so the husband refrained from this treatment.

The woman, of course, died, but for years later, every time the husband saw the physician, would reproach him, saying: She would still be alive if you had let me use the onion poultice.

In other words, people need hope, and often grasp at straws and useless remedies... but since Placebo effect is real, these remedies often work.

Friday, August 06, 2021

Classics without tears

The Internet archives is a treasure for stay at homes like myself. 

I've sent them donations a few times, and recommend you do the same: They have greatly expanded their library there, and of course, they also include the "wayback machine" to check for older, often removed web posts.

most of their books are for borrowing (free registration) but some of the older best sellers that are hard to find elsewhere due to copyright issues are posted by the Library of India or other sites.

and since many of their listings include torrent links, you can download them via bittorrent while you surf the net.

Librivox is one place to find free dictated books, either at their web site, on you tube, or on the Archives.

But a small selection of audiobooks can be found at internet archives.

 For example, this link and this link has newer audiobooks for your listening pleasure 

and lots of BBC radio shows for your listening pleasure.

 But today the OnLine books page has a link to the old Classic Comic books that they have there. 

For example, here is Don Quixote

much easier to read than that long long book.

Back when I was in high school, this was the way most of the kids managed to figure out the plots, by reading these classic comic books, including those listed here.

I was an avid reader but I hated most of the books we were assigned: part of the reason is that we were not given background information that made them easy to understand, and no, we never discussed the ideas behind the books that were the reason they were considered "classics"... 

Maybe the problem was bad English teachers, but all I know is that I ended up hating all the books I was forced to read back then.

Have things improved? Not really. My granddaughter was forced to read "Modern" classics such as  "Beloved" which she was forced to get through in her class.

Yes, I know, it's a classic... and well written. But the dirty little truth is that it is as boring as hell. Of course, I thought Great Expectations was boring too...

but luckily for today's students, they don't need comic books: Lots of discussion of books on Youtube so you understand what the author is trying to tell you.


I also pay for the book service at Scribd.

They have most of the recent best sellers that I like to read,  and often have them as audiobooks.

Since I often fall asleep during audiobooks, usually I read novels and listen to history etc. as audiobooks, where it doesn't matter if you miss a chapter or two.

Right now, I am listening to VDHanson's book the Second World Wars: I play it in the background when I do other things, because it is quite technical. And the next one I plan to listen to is The Boundless Sea, which from reviews sounds interesting.

of course, you can still buy books if you like.

We used to have used book kiosks here, but not anymore: you have to go to larger towns to find used books, or buy them full price at the National book store.

one of the problems is that years ago they had a cheap book rate to send books overseas, mainly for donations to schools etc. but someone noticed that Chinese merchants were sending used books to sell, and they made a profit. How dare they!

but what the anti profit types didn't realize is that middle class types could not afford news books so bought these used books. (A similar problem comes up about used clothing: the westerners hate it and see it as undermining local industry, but that's how we buy decent quality clothing in our town, the alternative is expensive clothing at the mall, paying a seamstress to make a dress for you, or to buy cheap fall apart Chinese stuff).

and the local books such as they use for school, are often with cheaper paper that deteriorates quickly from the heat and humidity.


Wednesday, August 04, 2021

The Chinese naval threat is about fishing and freedom of navigation.

Duterte said it was okay to restart the joint exercizes with the US... he needs the vaccine, and China has reniged on their promises too many times.

And VPHarris is going around pushing back on Chinese aggression. She is visiting VietNam and Singapore.

this is important news, since Pres Biden's health is poor and the US press whispers that Harris will have to take over before his four year term is finished. Harris alas has little overseas experience, so she is getting on the job training.

Over the last decade, China has slowly tried to take over the shoals in the West Philppine sea: First they fence off the fishing areas then they put in their own "ships" which are "civilian" ships who are protected by the Chinese navy.

the Chinese vessels then threaten local fishermen from their traditional fishing grounds, and it is hard to push back against them because the Philippines is a small poor country......


But it's not about fish: there is also oil there to steal.

But for the international community, the main threat is when China dig up the sea bed and have built and then militarized artificial islands. These will not only let them decimate the ecology and fish in the area, but will let them block the valuable sea lanes from Europe/the Middle East to Korea and Japan.

Most of the information in the MSM on China's aggression in the west Philippine sea usually points to the Philippines, but actually Viet nam actually went to war with them when they stole their islands. True, they lost, but unlike the Philippines, they did fight.

Of course, Viet Nam is very anti China: They were once part of China and revolted a couple centuries ago and remember their history... but like much of SEAsia, the business folk are Chinese and are resented...a lot of the boat people refugees were Chinese ethnics who fled the communist takeover, and there was a small border war between those countries.

But the Inquirer has two other articles on other countries who just realized the Chinese threat to the sea lanes:

Indian Navy task force in South China Sea, West Pacific for 2 months....

...During the deployment in the Indo Pacific, the ships are scheduled to participate in bilateral exercises with the Vietnamese Peoples’ Navy, the Republic of Philippines Navy, Republic of Singapore Navy (SIMBEX), and the Indonesian Navy (Samudra Shakti) and Royal Australian Navy (AUS-INDEX). Further, they would also participate in multilateral exercise MALABAR-21 alongside the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, the Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy in Western Pacific. 

background here (2020 article from EconTimes) 

this is not "new": the Diplomat has an article about their visit to Viet nam back in 2016. and this blog notes when Indian ships visited Subic in 2016.

so nothing new: after all, if China blocks the sea lanes it will be able to block India's trade with Korea and Japan...

But this one is new:

.....German warship heads for South China Sea amid tension with Beijing (from the Inquirer).

and now the map is updated to note the radar and air power threat.

China Radar South China Sea Map showing potential Chinese radar cover in the South China Sea, according to analysis by US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

AFP BERLIN — Germany on Monday sent a warship to the South China Sea for the first time in almost two decades, joining other Western nations in expanding its military presence in the region amid growing alarm over China’s territorial ambitions.

 ... Officials in Berlin have said the German navy will stick to common trade routes. ...Berlin has made it clear the mission serves to stress the fact Germany does not accept China’s territorial claims. 
 Germany is walking a tightrope between its security and economic interests as China has become Berlin’s most important trading partner.

the USNI blog has an essay aimed at ordinary sailor who might be deployed there:


I also ran into this essay: reminding sailors that these countries have their own cultures and priorities.

10 Things Every Sailor and Marine Should Know Before Deploying to Southeast Asia

and of course lots of stuff recently on StrategyPage 

LINK  discusses the threat of Islamic and communist terrorism and the threats by China and how the Philippines has been forced to upgrade their military, and how China is using fishing vessels not only in poaching fish but playing a game of "chicken" with the Chinese threatening local fishermen and other boats in the area, hoping that someone will shoot at them in panic.

so far this hasn't happened near here, but Chinese poachers have been shot at elsewhere. LINK. discusses this practice off the coast of South America.

.. and notes that Argentina and Indonesia have both sank poachers in the past, but that it hasn't stopped them.

this is a major ecological problem that is also being ignored by the world for fear of upsetting emperor Xi.


Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Family News: rain, covid, and it's time to plant the rice.

My daughter in law, Joy, is over her "bronchitis". Everyone here had it except me: The cook had a mild case, as did Ruby, my granddaughter. But both Joy and our maid ran a fever and had a bad cough for five days. 

No, Joy didn't get a covid test: she had one shot of the AstroZeneca vaccine and figures she is immune. Besides, she gets a covid test every time they have to go to Manila to deliver rice and always tests negative, and it is expensive (100 dollars of the most accurate test for those delivering food etc. to Manila, and it has to be done within 72 hours of the trip).

Ruby had the full Moderna vaccine in the USA but still had to go into quarantine to enter the Philippines for summer break. But she needed one to visit her cousin in Manila...but since they are in shutdown they just sat around and gossiped and watched TV since most of the indoor stuff is limited or closed.

And now news from Manila is panic at the Delta variant: after starting to open up in the last few weeks, we now learn that Manila will go into full shut down on Friday.

and although there are no major demonstrations or refusing to follow the law, as in Europe and the USA, there are more complaints about it in the social media.

there are proposals to let certain areas with high vaccination rates to move about in their area, but so far no official decision.

and the gov't is worried because a lot of people who are out of work are fleeing back to their rural homes.

I had to laugh at one British news paper who said they are fleeing the floods: Because flooding of the streets in Manila goes on all the time, but the poor are going "home" to their families because they fear being stuck in isolation again. No work for them and money is running out. But in the provinces, hey the family has to take care of their own...and maybe they can work to help in their family's rice fields.

so our province will have border checks on folks going in and out.

Rice planting has been delayed due to the heavy rains, the rains are still daily but not severe, so Kuya told them to start planting rice, figuring if there is a major storm it is early in the season to destroy the crop he can just plant again later.

the Manila shutdown means more money to deliver rice (we have to test our drivers for each delivery, 100 dollars for a test that is only good for 72 hours).

and now, we probably won't be getting any rent from our property there.

In the USA, the law preventing landlords from throwing out their renters is now stopped since jobs are back. But I had to laugh. You see, when I rented my house after moving east, there was a law that you could not throw out a renter during the winter. This was to stop frozen pipes, electrical fires etc. in empty houses. So every year, the renters would stop paying rent in October and move out in May after living free for six months. Yes, we could sue them, but heck: they didn't have money and they might just go back and burn the house down in revenge, so we just shrugged and hoped the next renter was more honest.

Here, we rent out a double home (the front 2 story home is a shop,  the back smaller home is for the renter to live in or for storage). And we haven't been paid for over a year, since their business is not making much money. So two months ago, things had improved and they sent a check that didn't bounce. Alas, now Manila is closed again, so I guess we'll be minus that income for another couple months. The alternative? An empty house/shop which will be looted and destroyed. And the renters were good until Covid hit.


here we have been partly open. True, you have to mask and for some shops/banks etc. you also need a face shield.

They take your name and address for contact tracing when you go inside the bank etc... so last week I went to the bank and it was closed, because someone who had been there tested positive. So now they have to clean up the place and keep the employees in quarantine for 14 days.

No problem: There is another branch of the bank nearby. Except that branch won't process my US check that transfers my pension here. And now with Manila shut down there again will be problems with courier service that moves the paper checks etc. to Manila to process.

Last year the same thing happened, but not for two weeks but for three months. But I did arrange to have money wired here then, and will probably arrange the same thing if the bank is still unable to do it next week.

Now with people fleeing back home, more local cases are expected...statistics sound terrible, until you realize that 

1) there are ten million people who live in the Manila area


2) a lot of people with mild cases will never be tested, and the elders might just die at home without being listed as a covid death.

Statistics: from the Inquirer: 

Case update
The DOH on Wednesday (May 26) recorded 5,310 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total active coronavirus cases in the country to 46,037.

and statistics since the start of the epidemic: 

The country’s total caseload is now 1,193,967. Of the tally, 1,127,770 patients survived while 20,169 died.

so how many were tested? 

...the DOH said at least 36,630 individuals had been tested on May 24 of which 13.5 percent was positive for SARS Cov2.

and what about the shots? 

Vaccination drive Data from the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 showed that as of May 25, out of the 8,279,050 available vaccine doses in the country, a total of 4,495,375 had already been administered nationwide. Of the the, 3,466,341 were first shots, while 1,029,061 were for second ones. Read more: 
Total population of the Philippines is 110 million so there is a long way to go to get everyone vaccinated. But the vaccines were mainly given to high risk folks (elderly, diabetes, caregivers, shop keepers). and the population here is young.

The real question is if herd immunity will kick in and slow the spread. Not a lot of information or statistics about herd immunity: yet with breakthrough cases despite being given the vaccine, one does wonder about the immune status of those who have recovered especially from minor cases that had never been officially diagnosed.

oh well: It's God's will. 

We have to shut down, and Duterte got rid of a lot of bad cops which means ordinary folks can't bribe them to look the other way when you break the law. But when I read the low numbers of hospitalized, I wonder how long until someone says: Hey, more people are dying of dengue fever or untreated cancer than covid.

(we just buried two young people with cancer The bank manager and the cousin of our maid). Sigh.