Friday, April 30, 2010

Health Care Reform Is Socialism A Republican Idea

I've mentioned this before: The "Obamacare" that Republicans are screaming about as "socialized medicine" and a "government takeover of the healthcare industry"? (Boo! Did I scare you?) That plan is an exact copy of the 1993 Dole-Chafee Republican healthcare reform bill introduced as an alternative to President Clinton's healthcare reform.

That's right: The healthcare reform that Republicans are telling you is so bad was written by Republicans 17 years ago.

Of course, politics require you to take every advantage possible: So while telling you how bad the "socialist healthcare reform" is for America (even though it was originally written by Republicans), the Republican leader is out in front of cameras today telling anybody who will listen that the best parts of the "socialist healthcare reform" were put in there by Republicans (even though they've said before time and again that not a single Republican idea was ever included in the final bill).

Remember this kids: When President Obama does something, no matter what, it's Socialism... and Republicans will tell you that it's the worst thing ever in the whole wide world. When Republicans do the same thing, they'll tell you that it's fantastic, will save the country, and will make your teeth whiter and your breath fresher... and that it was their idea all along and Obama is just a big poopy head for stealing their Fashizzle... except that's its socialism and it will kill you.

Oh for Chrissakes, it's called The Memory Hole. Don't you read Orwell? Republicans are simply asking you to use your doublethink skills: "We are at war with Eastasia. We've always been at war with Eastasia."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Information Request

I like to think I'm the smartest person I know... but I'll be damned if I can't figure out what a derivative security is. I pledge a six pack to whoever can explain what such a thing is. (And I've read all the online definitions... so above and beyond those, if you please.)

Mr. Phil graces my comment section with his wisdom... and I'm the smarter for it. And yes... I sent him $10 via PayPal. But no... I can't say whether he spent it on beer or not.


Tonight everybody (me excluded) snacked on The Philippines most famous weird food: balut. Balut is a fertilized egg — a duck fetus — halfway grown in the egg, and then eaten. The appearance is simply awful, but according to Andrew Zimmern, whose job is to eat strange foods, the taste is akin to scrambled eggs with the flavor turned up to 11.
Note the fetus on the plate. Those with a sturdier palate eat the fetus, which apparently is without bones or feathers. The rest only eat the yolk and amniotic fluid.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thailand Says, "Never Mind The Bollocks"

Arrivals at Bangkok's airport are down 33% because of the political violence gripping the capital. Obviously, tourists (probably nothing but tourists) are cancelling trips to Thailand at what must be approaching majority numbers.

So, what's Thailand going to do? Promote! Promote! Promote! I'm trying to figure out whether the Tourism Authority of Thailand actually thinks that potential visitors are dumb enough to say, "Well yes, there are riots and bombs and soldiers and the potential for open warfare, but the Royal Palace is a must see!"... or they just figure they should do something no matter how unintelligent.


If I were in charge of The Philippines tourism board, NOW would be the time to spend some serious money on promotions, showing how The Philippines just kicks Thailand's ass.

Thailand is most famous for the "3 S's" (sun, sand, and pretty ladies). The Philippines has... uh...

Well, Thailand has lots of crazy people running around in color-coded shirts shouting political slogans right now. The Philippines never... um...

Even so, Thailand has all those crazy Muslim folks down South. In The Philippines there aren't... er...

Well, I'm sure that right now there are no bombs going off in Manila... but there are in Bangkok. Hurry up, PI: You've got a leg up on Thailand for a change. Take advantage of it.

A New Syncresis of Philosophies To Play With

I've always liked to use the term "Liberal Leaning Libertarian" to describe the political synergy at play in my mind. Basically, I'm far too uncomfortable ascribing any particular political generalization to my beliefs, and such a limiting exercise in nomenclature would mislead people to think that I'm "them" or "us" on the political spectrum.

I'm not. None of us are. None of us, fully, are "progressive", "liberal", "left wing" (or "Democrat"); none of us, fully, are "reactionary", "conservative", or "right wing" (or "Republican").

I wrapped myself up in the "Liberal Leaning Libertarian" (LLL... catchy!) label to muddy the waters... and clear them. I recognized the need to add at least another dimension to the political label I used to situate myself. Thus, I claim to be a "social liberal" and a "small government fiscal conservative"... LLL.

It seems that I'm in good company with this right/left dichotomy discontent. A gentleman named Noah Millman has come up with a new taxonomy for the political spectrum based on three dimensions, which I think is absolutely perfect. His three axes of political thought are:

1. Liberal versus Conservative.
"A liberal is someone who is generally impressed with the capacity of an individual, and who therefore wants individuals to be free to develop those capacities. Liberal distrust of authority and belief in the importance of open minds and freedom of inquiry stem from this basic assumption.

"A conservative by temperament takes the opposite side in this dispute. [P]eople are not so much moved by ideas as by sentiments. Not only are human beings fundamentally selfish, they are frequently perverse. Deference to authority combined with an intense concern for the nature of that authority and its legitimate grounds grows naturally in conservative soil.

"Put simply: a liberal outlook trusts individuals and questions authority; a conservative outlook distrusts individuals and defers to authority."
2. Left versus Right.
"A left-wing perspective is animated by failure and the consequences thereof. Whether we’re talking about Rawlsian liberals or Christian socialists or orthodox Marxist-Leninists, the ultimate object of concern is the miserable of the earth. Their perspective, their needs, are the beginning and the end of political morality.

"A right-wing perspective is opposite to this. How to design a system that adequately rewards success is the essence of the right-wing political project. What constitutes "success" may vary among different kinds of right-wingers ... but these are all kindred spirits in that all are asking how to reward success, so that we get more of it, rather than how to mitigate the consequences of failure.

"Put simply: a right-wing perspective is animated by an affinity for the winners and their interests, while a left-wing perspective is animated by an affinity for the losers and their interests."
3. Progressive versus Reactionary.
"The progressive is future-oriented. Things will — or could — be better in the future than they are now. But more than this, history has a direction that can be discerned, and that one must be cognizant of in constructing one's politics.

"The reactionary, by contrast, is past-oriented. Things will — likely — be worse in the future than they are now, just as they were better in the past. Apparent progress masks the loss of things that were more valuable than the novelties acquired."
So, where do I align myself on this 3-dimensional continuum of political thought?

1. Liberal versus Conservative. By this model, I'm fully Liberal: Nothing is more important to me than individual responsibility and freedom from government involvement in the regulation (other than in the strictest legal/illegal sense) of morals, behavior, and life choices. Yes to gay marriage, legalized drugs, euthanasia, pro-choice... all to be left to the individual. 100% liberal.

2. Left versus Right. I'm 50-50 here. Right in the middle. Basically, my belief is that the American federal government's sole responsibilities are to (1) ensure the health of the people (insofar as they are individually willing to be helped), (2) maintain the safety of the nation (insofar as it is collectively willing to be defended), and (3) enforce federal regulations of private enterprise that ensure (1) and (2). The rest of the responsibility goes to the states, or to individuals as they see fit.

I believe that "winners" and "losers" are not fully of their own making. I believe that people can do everything right and still wind up on the losing side of life, with the need for government to help them out. That's why I support full access to healthcare for everyone (with government help, if needed), but at the same time think that Social Security and other such programs should be voluntary because receiving government support should not be mandatory.

Similarly, I also oppose any and all efforts of government to restrict the path to success that people take (other than, again, in the strictest legal/illegal sense). I believe in flat taxes, minimization or elimination of estate taxes, and a laissez faire business environment, et cetera. However, I also fully support government regulation of business practices on a systemic level... such as the FDA, the FEC, the EPA, and so on, because it has been often proved that business (mistakenly or purposefully) acts against the interest of the greater public weal.

3. Progressive versus Reactionary. I'm fully progressive. Other than the preservation and appreciation of cultural and historical treasures, and the lessons learned from them, I do not value the past. I have very little faith in the applicability of history, tradition, or the status quo to the new and changing circumstances of humanity. I fully believe that there is always a better way of doing things, and that human advancement is founded on the trial (and error) of societal, political, and intellectual experimentation.

So: Under this new rubric, I'm a Progressive Liberal Centrist. Well, we shall see if the new nomenclature sticks. Otherwise, I'll stick with the tried-and-trusted "Liberal Leaning Libertarian".

U.S. Expats Giving Up Citizenship Increasing

From the New York Times, the number of American expatriates renouncing their U.S. citizenship is skyrocketing:
Still, 502 was the largest quarterly figure in years, more than twice the total for all of 2008, and it looms larger, given how agonizing the decision can be. There were 235 renunciations in 2008 and 743 last year. Waiting periods to meet with consular officers to formalize renunciations have grown.

Anecdotally, frustrations over tax and banking questions, not political considerations, appear to be the main drivers of the surge. ...

American expats have long complained that the United States is the only industrialized country to tax citizens on income earned abroad, even when they are taxed in their country of residence, though they are allowed to exclude their first $91,400 in foreign-earned income. ...

Stringent new banking regulations — aimed both at curbing tax evasion and, under the Patriot Act, preventing money from flowing to terrorist groups — have inadvertently made it harder for some expats to keep bank accounts in the United States and in some cases abroad.

Some U.S.-based banks have closed expats’ accounts because of difficulty in certifying that the holders still maintain U.S. addresses, as required by a Patriot Act provision.

Daily Report: Enjoy The Silence

My new blender broke after 3 days. Blame Canada: I figured that the white "Made In Canada" text on the red maple leaf would have ensured that my 1,200 pisos didn't get pissed away. Wrong. In case I haven't mentioned it before, everything I buy is crap... whether it is top of the line or bottom of the barrel: shitty products always find their way into my shopping cart.

The endless procession of jeepneys blasting campaign music seems to have stopped. Epril told me that one of the mayoral candidates had a rather bad night at a debate of some kind the other night, and maybe he saw the writing on the wall and gave up. The other guy maybe is conserving his resources now. Who knows really? The only poll I can go on is the number of orange posters I see put up compared to the number of green posters. Based on that alone, I can guess which candidate is going to win.

It's actually an interesting campaign. I was talking to one of the candidates for mayor and I asked him specifically what the differences were between him and his opponent. His response: The incumbant is an engineer by trade, and he focuses on infrastructure and public works. The challenger is in the civil service, and he focuses on social welfare and population improvement. A fair enough comparison I would say: Take your pick Jasaan.

The screw fell loose in the muffler of the generator again. I keep forgetting to crack the damn thing open and fix it... until, once again, the generator is turned on and the muffler is piping hot. Fortunately, I've discovered that if I just take a piece of wood and push it against the muffler, and then put the other end against the nearby wall, it holds the shaking muffler away from clattering against the nearby plate.

Yup, life is a bit boring at the moment. That's okay though: It's boring in a tropical, exotic, friendly place.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Daily Report: Summary Of Longueur

Very little has been happening this week.

On Sunday, Epril and I went in to a birthday party in CDO. Then afterwards we went shopping at Limketkai, where we bought lightbulbs and a new blender. (The old blender finally stripped the gear thing on the bottom entirely. $25 for a new one.) We also had a nice dinner out at the Japanese restaurant.

On Monday, Epril did her usual feeding of hungry kids with the Expatriates Ladies Charity. Mike Bird stopped by for a visit at the house as well.

On Tuesday, I spent the day feeling ill: one of my sisters-in-law (I won't say which one) tried to poison me with her ginger pork dish. Also, the Rent-A-Baby was in the house for the day, and he brightened the place up considerably.

(11-month-old Nathan and 13-month-old Tyson are good friends.)

On the other hand, my other sister in law, Ednel, has been cooking wonderful things for me lately. I've decided to put her HRM training to use by making her the house's head chef. (There is finally a culinary school opening up in CDO, or at least that is what we're told. Therefore, we might transfer Ednel out of the HRM program at the local community college and into the culinary school where she belongs. We originally wanted to send her to Manila to study culinary arts there, but that wasn't in the cards.) She has cooked a very nice chicken in a light diablo sauce (accidentally: I don't think Ednel knows what a diablo sauce is), a very good pork teriaki, and a breaded fried chicken.

On Wednesday, Epril and Ednel went shopping in Limketkai again for things to feed me. They also bought a DVD called the Legend Of The Seeker, a television program based on a series of fantasy books I had purchased (but not yet had time to read) that Ednel has gotten her hands on and been working through. (She reads voraciously by any standard, tearing through a 1000-page novel in under a week.)

This week, work has been going better. It unfortunately has to do with the realization that I'm going to be plugging away at this job for a while longer yet, so I might as well do just that. I guess it's the vocational version of battered wife syndrome: Escape is impossible; might as well not complain and just try to make the best of it.

Besides, as Baudelaire said, "Tout homme qui n'accepte pas les conditions de la vie, vend son âme." Any man who doesn't accept the conditions of life sells his soul. (Hey Professor Braga, sorry I've let you down: The first time I wanted to break out a quote I learned from the 20 weeks' worth of French poetry we studied together, and it wasn't a line from Le Bateau Ivre.)

A Good Way To Lose An Hour (Or A Few Evenings)

If you are a history buff, InfoPlease has a fantastic At-A-Glance World History summary.

It breaks down thusly:
Ancient History
1–999 (A.D.) World History
1000–1899 (A.D.) World History
1900–1999 (A.D.) World History
2000—2009 (A.D.) World History
Millennium Milestones

You can just read the summaries or, if you're like me, use them to send yourself off to Wikipedia Heaven.

Sigh. Mr. Robinson's high school history class is wasted on teenagers. Honestly: If I am ever well-off enough to retire early, I'm going to retire by going to study history at university.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fat By History

If you ever wanted to know how fat people are today, just take a look at our past. Here is a photo of Barnum and Bailey's sideshow freak, "Chauncey Morlan, The Fat Man" taken circa 1900. (My God, just look at the size of him!)


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Where Does My Name Come From?

Yes... I have a strange last name, "Wrinkle"; here is the onomastic source.

"Wrinkle" almost certainly started off as "Wrinkler", which was a mispronunciation of "Winkler", another strange — but not quite as uncommon — family name. As with a large portion of family names, Winkler is a job title. It comes from the verb "to winkle" which is an old British word for "prying off". This verb is derived from noun "periwinkle"... a mollusc that spends most of its life stuck to rocks along the shoreline.

Therefore, a winkler... a Wrinkle... is somebody who walks up and down the beach prying snails off of rocks.

(Obviously the Winkler clan of England and their descendants are people of the highest social status and noble birth.)

So where does my first name come from? Well, that's an altogether different story.

I'll let you choose from one of several possible explanations:

1. It's a nickname given during my college years by my too-frequent use of the phrase "Chill Out" when I departed a place, which, when too intoxicated, started to sound like "Jil Out." (I started saying that after watching an episode of 21 Jump Street.) People started calling me "Jill" and since I always wanted a nickname, I figured that would be a good one... but lost an L to give it a hip, Scandanavian look. (I actually used to write it J1L, with a number 1, but that just confused people. Then I wrote it in all lowercase "jil" which I still do from time to time. Then I finally just went to "Jil".)

2. I was a girl named Jill, who became a boy, but was too lazy to pick a manly name like Bob or Frank... and just dropped an "L" instead. My life as a housewife bored me, so I took hormones, grew a beard, lost my hair, and moved to Asia to find the perfect woman I never wanted to be.

3. Some people in Thailand adopted me into their "family", but couldn't pronounce the name I was born with, and gave me the nickname "Jiew". Since I was new to the country, and happy to be "fitting in" with the locals, I happily started calling myself Jiew... but my American friend's little girl couldn't pronounce that and thought my name was Jill, which all the adults thought was funny and started using it to tease me. Since I couldn't stop them from calling me Jill, I adopted it, but changed it to one L to differentiate between the girl's version.

4. I'm hiding out from my past crimes and using a false identity. But my real initials are J.I.L.

(OK... Those of you who already know any of my real names are not allowed to comment. Heheh.)

New Website

Courtesy of Mr. Farrell, I've discovered a new blog about CDO development, called "Progress Watch: CDO". It's a truly fantastic site for anybody interested in seeing what is going on or going up in Cagayan De Oro. Lots of photos too... the authors go right out to the construction sites to do their reporting.

There is also a nice listing of hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping, and outdoor activities.

All in all, I would say that Progress Watch: CDO is the best resource on the internet for watching Cagayan De Oro grow.

That Could Suck

It looks like somebody has it in their mind to build the Mindanao Railway System through and past Jasaan. As I said before, they should just build the railway down the middle of the coastal highway, as that is the flattest and emptiest land in the area on which to build a railway.

But actually building a railway past Jasaan? Well that almost certainly needs to be built on the highway. It's either that, or build it right on the water's edge, which would be senseless. Or, destroy entire Barangays: Most of the villages on the part of Mindanao around the Jasaan area are essentially built along the highway... a mile long and only a few hundred feet wide, steep hills 150 feet back on one side, beach 100 feet away on the other.

Building a railway through the middle of towns like that would displace a huge portion of the population, and it would be for a railway that I don't think would be that valuable. Really: Why build a waterfront factory on the coast out near Jasaan, and then ship your goods by rail to a port 30 miles away when you could just build a dock — like most of the factories out near Jasaan already have done — and ship your products either to an entrepot distribution site in Manila or Cagayan De Oro by water?

My personal opinion? Except perhaps for a light rail system stretching from, say, the future Hajin ship building facility in the East, through Cagayan De Oro, to the new international airport in the West, no other railway will be completed in the foreseeable future.

But then again, look at the highway being built in CDO, and perhaps there is reason to wonder if Macajalar bay's waterfront will switch over to speeding cars and rumbling freight trains.

Granted, Macajalar Bay ranks, on the whole, at the bottom of beach quality in The Philippines... so turning the entire coast into a speedway (rail or road) isn't a crime against humanity; but I think a railway past Jasaan is definitely overkill.

By the way: That highway is pointed right at the front yard of some million-dollar mansions in Villa Ernesto. (There are also four Kanos out here in Jasaan with rather valuable beachfront villas. I'll bet they aren't too keen on trading in their beach for a railroad. But again, I doubt that will happen.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Teabaggers In Pattaya?

I imagine that more than a couple of Americans in Pattaya I know wound up with a couple of bottles of Chang in their tax refund. But what Wat this guy was thinking of, I'm not sure.

I read a report that said that Teabaggers (that's the Teabaggers who protest having to pay the lowest taxes in 60 years, not the teabaggers who suck on... oh never mind) are more educated than the average American. As I've said before, I believe that Americans are the dumbest educated people on this planet... so I won't argue with that assessment.

Andrew Sullivan sums up Teabaggers very nicely:
And this is why, despite my own deep suspicion of big government, I remain unmoved by the tea-partiers. Their partisanship and cultural hostility to Obama are far more intense, it seems to me, than their genuine proposals to reduce spending and taxation. And this is largely because they have no genuine proposals to reduce spending and taxation. They seem very protective of Medicare and Social Security — and their older age bracket underlines this. They also seem primed for maximal neo-imperial reach, backing the nation-building efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, favoring war against Iran, etc. ...

So they are truly not serious in policy terms, and it behooves the small government right to grapple with this honestly. They both support lower taxation and yet bemoan the fact that so many Americans do not pay any income tax. They want to cut spending on trivial matters while enabling the entitlement and defense behemoths to go on gobbling up Americans' wealth. And that lack of seriousness is complemented by a near-fanatical cultural alienation from the modern world.
mi·sol·o·gy noun: Hatred of reason, argument, or enlightenment.

Exceptionally Cool Bit Of Technology

Winscape: At first, it seems kind of dorky. Hang two televisions on your wall and set up a computer to display a vista on them so that you have a mountainside view (as in this video below) of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Until you move around...

There is a sensor that tracks you moving around the room, and as you do it adjusts the (motion) picture being displayed to adjust to your point of view, so that it appears that the image is a dynamic view.

Well... it looks cool on YouTube, though I'm sure that in practice it doesn't pop out at you nearly as well. But: It is an interesting toy, and it definitely is a first future step for immersing entertainment experiences, 3D holography (imagine combining this technology with the new 3D televisions). So, okay... it is still dorky and nerdy, but most first steps of new arenas of technology tend to be that way.

Friday, April 16, 2010

TNR Examines Republican Fiscal Strategy

The New Republic has an excellent article up on the unmitigated disaster looming for the Republican party if they continue to follow their ongoing, Reagan-era "Starve The Beast" strategy in the coming years.

Highly recommended reading:
When the Starved Beast Bites Back
Republicans are trying to create a fiscal crisis they may not survive.

Ever since George W. Bush massively cut taxes back in 2001, squandering much of the $5.6 trillion, ten-year surplus he inherited from Bill Clinton, liberals have assumed that the fiscal game was rigged. Conservatives had been explicit about their starve-the-beast strategy — the practice of creating large deficits through tax cuts in order to force future spending cuts. By playing along, the thinking went, Democrats would only further enable irresponsible behavior — a bit like negotiating with terrorists. Why kill yourself balancing the budget, as Bill Clinton did, if the next Republican is just going to slash taxes again?

The fear of conservative highjinks persists to this day, which is one reason liberals have responded coolly to President Obama's deficit-cutting commission. In fact, many suspect the right is up to something even more sinister — a "doubling down on starve-the-beast," as Paul Krugman put it recently. "Depriving the government of revenue, it turns out, wasn't enough to push politicians into dismantling the welfare state," Krugman wrote. "So now the de facto strategy is to oppose any responsible action until we are in the midst of a fiscal catastrophe."

Krugman is almost certainly onto something. I suspect, as he does, that Republicans believe precipitating a fiscal crisis will force Democrats to roll back entitlement spending (i.e., Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security), which would be both politically unpopular and the realization of the right's dearest policy fantasy. It's an altogether brilliant, if diabolical, plan. Except for one minor flaw: There's a good chance it could vaporize the GOP.

Dialectic: National Day Of Prayer Unconstitutional?

A Federal judge has ruled that America's National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional based on the fact that, "It goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context."

My personal opinion is that this is a far too narrow (conservative, small C) view of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. This judge sees the establishment clause as being limited only to "acknowledging" (i.e., not hindering / discouraging / disparaging) any and all religions, but cannot positively or negatively influence participation.

The most liberal (small L) reading of The Establishment Clause in the constitution is that the American Government shall never adopt an "official religion" for America... no more and no less.

My personal reading of The Establishment Clause is that the American Government shall not favor — neither by proclamation nor practice — any single religion but can confirm and recommend the general concepts of all religions (faith, meditation/prayer, holy texts, divinity/theology) as a whole.

Also, I do not think that atheism qualifies as a religion, or that "Freedom of Religion" means freedom to never be exposed to the concept of religion by government action. I have a narrow definition of religion, limited to a well-established worship of, and faith in, the supernatural and/or spiritual teachings, beliefs, or lessons of now-deceased people (or other life forms) of superhuman origin or destination.

Let's look at this from an "outside religion" perspective. Change "Freedom of Religion" to "Freedom of Music" for a thought exercise. Therefore, the government shall not choose to play rock music and exclude country music. The government shall not play music or get involved in the business of music at all.

But, the government declares next Tuesday a National Day of Dance. That's fine: America can dance to any music. People who hate music aren't required to dance, or come within earshot of music next Tuesday... but if they should happen to be exposed to music, they shouldn't be allowed to blame the government for making it more likely that they will hear music or see dancing on that day when they might also hear music and see dancing any other day of the year.

Additionally, the government has not "promoted music." People who aren't interested in music are not going to find a love of music through introduction to dance. That's backwards. Dancing comes from love of music, as prayer comes from love of religion.

So, my opinion is that The National Day of Prayer is constitutional. The only thing I would say counts against it is that there are some religions which have "meditation" or "spirit walks" or some other name for the action of sitting in quiet contemplation of one's faith and spirituality. Other than that: A bad (timid) decision by a judge that sets a bad precedent for many federal holidays, Freedom of Speech, and other harmless Government acknowledgements and encouragements of various subjects of emotion, faith, and spirituality.

You can expect this decision to be overturned by the Supreme Court.

The Republican Problem of Presidential Candidates

Look at this graph from Nate Silver:
This is an illustration of the problem that the Republican party faces in the next presidential election: When you ask America, "Obama... or anybody else?" more people pick "anybody else" (i.e. "generic") than Obama. However, when you ask people about specific candidates that the Republicans have to offer, none of them win the preference.

Nate sums it up:
[I]t is a problem for Republicans that no actual Republican can approach the performance of the generic candidate, probably because the generic candidate is Rorschach blot that allows each respondent to create what amounts to their fantasy candidate.
That's absolutely accurate... and I honestly don't think that the currents are going to shift towards the Republicans on this either: The negative feelings generated for Obama by the healthcare debate are wearing off and won't hold the public's interest much longer. Also, Obama is ginning up the rebound now, pulling little bits of candy out of his bag to toss to people (the START negotiations, Atlantic coastal oil drilling), and more are obviously going to come.

Whether you think it is a good or a bad thing, it can't be denied that Obama is the most tactical and conniving politician ever to sit in the White House... possibly of all politicians in American history. (No, not Clinton... if he was any good, he would never have had a scandal.) I could say that the man doesn't sneeze without first figuring out the political ramifications... but it would be more accurate to say that now, in the beginning of April, Obama is currently planning when and where to sneeze for June and July... and the actual, important shit is certainly already planned out in full for 2012.

Anyway, none of the Republicans on the list above are going to poll any higher than they currently do. (I can't believe that Ron Paul polls lower than Sarah Palin though... sheesh.)

The worst news for Republicans is not that this is what the poll for the 2012 Presidential election looks like. It is that when you look at the Hillary Clinton version of this chart for 2016 and 2020, all the candidates on the right side stay the same... and the chart looks pretty much the same as well.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

ZOMG! Obama Cancels National Prayer Day!!!!1!


What I'm noticing is that a large portion of the lies told about President Obama are based on differences between his tenure in the White House and that of President Bush before him: If Obama does something differently — or more importantly undoes something or fails to do something — compared to President Bush, all manner of hell breaks loose from people who, frankly, would much rather see somebody exactly like President Bush sitting in the White House.

President Bush was the first and only president to hold a prayer service in the White House on National Prayer Day. President Obama didn't continue that practice. Therefore, in the eyes of the mad Obama haters, President Obama has canceled National Prayer Day. See? It's stupid right? You can recognize that can't you?

The other thing that I'm noticing are lies that I'll call "Reagan the Socialist" lies. People are going around and calling Obama all manner of bad things for doing or promising or enacting the exact same thing that Republicans have focused on in the past. Obama renews and expands on Republican President Reagan's nuclear arms reduction efforts? Then Obama is appeasing communists. Obama enacts Republican Bob Dole's healthcare reform plan? Then Obama is a socialist. Obama uses the Republican-instituted-and-approved process of congressional reconciliation to get healthcare reform passed? Then Obama is a rule-breaking Democrat. Obama follows through on President Bush's bank bailouts? Then Obama is a big-government liberal. Obama calls for a halt to settlement expansions in Jerusalem just like every President for the last 30 years? Then Obama hates Israel.

It just never ends. The people telling these lies aren't stupid; they're just terribly dishonest. They are completely aware that they are lying to you. The only hope we have is that we eventually reach a threshold of Americans... 90% would be nice... who are suspicious enough to read an e-mail as ridiculous as "Obama cancels National Prayer Day" and immediately suspect that it is bullshit, instead of hitting "Forward" to everybody in their address book.

Well (my favorite saying), good luck with that.

Here is the best one yet: Obama just signed a bill that says that hospital patients... not rules or laws or anything else... get to decide who will visit them in a hospital. So, let me ask you: If you were a writer and you had to put a headline together that describes that particular decision by the President, what would it be? Here's one from "Barack Obama Will Decide Who Can Visit You In The Hospital." (And yes, in case you are wondering, is one of the top 5 conservative websites... not some unknown hack writing bunches of crap that nobody reads.)

How can anybody think that clowns who write this kind of stuff should be believed on anything?

Daily Report: Big Bundles

Not too much was going on today. Charity stopped by with Nathan the Rent-A-Baby. At 10 months of age, Nathan is already over 30 pounds, and not only walks fantastically, but even does a little dance if you wiggle your hips for him and say "Dance Nathan!" He's probably the cutest and happiest baby I've ever seen.

Tyson hasn't tried to fly anymore... but I'm nervous now whenever he gets near the edge of the rooftop garden or any of the windows. He's probably confused as to why I'm always telling him "get down" when I didn't before. I should probably just trust his instinct not to do a header from 40 feet up... and if my trust is misplaced... well that just means that Tyson was too dumb to live anyway.

I spent the evening doing a massive spreadsheet for the chicken farm. I've redone the calculations in minute detail, and increased the negative factors (mortality rates, failures, et cetera) to double what I was told to expect. It increased the cost of a chicken from 60 pisos to 75 pisos, and decreased the profit from 54 pisos to 33 pisos. But, that's what I was shooting for: Conservative and pessimistic estimates that (likely as not) are more realistic than hopeful and optimistic ones. (Most importantly, the spreadsheet has shown me exactly how much cash I need to operate the farm for 50 days with no income. It's twice what I had thought. Ouch.)

Tomorrow night, I'll add in expansion plans and growth projections... which are the real numbers to be focusing on. Any increase in costs and decrease in profits can be offset by simply selling more chickens. The salient question is how much longer than originally thought will it take to reach maximum capacity on the first farm? My first thought was 8-9 months. Well, we'll see.

A Tidbit Of Customary Filipino Process

Posted via Mr. Kline on the Yahoo CDO Expat's Group: appreciated and worthy of republication (without permission) in full here:
Yesterday, my wife (Daisy Cline) as president of ELCI [Expats Ladies Charity, Incorporated], along with a companion, proceeded to the BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue... the tax office] to file the necessary papers for the group's non-profit, charitable status regarding taxation and revenue.

The short version of that encounter follows:

After submitting the proper paperwork, the BIR staff asked for a 5,000 piso "voluntary" contribution. Daisy informed them that ELCI did not have 5,000 extra pisos lying around and that she would just pay 100 pisos.

[BIR] Staff mini-conference: BIR then asks for additional paperwork. So Daisy returns home, rummages through the files, makes copies (on the donated printer) and returns to BIR.

[BIR] Staff mini-conference: BIR smiley face then asks for 1,000 piso "voluntary" contribution. Daisy then proceeds to ask them why they are hassling her when ELCI is just a bunch of expat wives doing charity work for the poor of the Philippines because she (Daisy) has no trust in the Philippine gov do help the poor.

[BIR] Staff mini-conference: BIR smiley face returns and asks for 1,000 piso "voluntary" donation upon which Daisy repeats that she will pay 100 peso. BIR: "Madame, that's not even enough to pay for the filing fee."

Daisy then proceeds to pull digital camera out of her purse to snap BIR smiley faces.

BIR has another mini-conference: Madame, that will be 100 peso, please.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Daily Report: A Trio Of Days. Dogs Don't Fly

Expat's Ladies Husband Ted Trenholme
gets some help unloading the food
from Jim Cunningham.

Donna Trenholme and a hungry kid!
Everybody's ready to eat.

Everybody is fed, and now the ladies
sit down to have lunch too.
It's been a busy week so far here in The Jungle. On Monday, the Expats Ladies (and men) did their weekly trip out west to feed hungry kids. They call it The Feeding: Apt, but that sounds more like a horror movie or farm chore than a charitible act; therefore that's the last I'll make mention of of that.

They've been going every Monday for 2 months now, and Epril (although she has to get up at 5 a.m. in order to be in CDO in time to join the rest of the ladies on the trip out West) seems to be enjoying it immensely.

After feeding the kids, the ladies do something fun together, such as swimming. Then, Epril usually takes the afternoon to go to the mall and purchase something pretty.
The remote for my Cignal satellite stopped working, but Paul Cruz stopped by within minutes of being called, determined that the remote was working, took the entire set-top box apart, determined that dust was fouling the electronic eye, cleaned it, and had us back to viewing in no time flat. (I told you he was good.)

On Monday night, there was some election violence here in Jasaan. The supporters of one mayoral candidate burned the signs of another mayoral candidate and beat up several campaigners. That should give you an idea of how violent politics in The Philippines can be: We're talking about people fighting over village mayors here.

Speaking of which, there are now 2 campaign posters hung by my family outside of my house. I'm letting them stay up: One is for my wife's cousin running for city council (same family name and everything), so he's running for any available seat... not a single seat. The second is for Attorney Carreon, who is running for Vice Mayor. He is a family friend and was a sponsor at my wedding, and is also a third-party unaffiliated candidate; therefore he is not likely to be subject to the same intense odium as the mainstream candidates.

The big datus at the monthly meeting
of The Philippine Eagles.

Warren and I with the World's Most
Dangerous Man. (I'm not short... Mike
and Warren are both rather tall.)
On Tuesday, it was off to Eagles for their monthly meeting. They have moved their meeting from Sunriva Restaurant to the Hotel Conchita. Sunriva apparently is renovating. Mike Turner tells me that they are "moving their focus" from banquets to something else... though I find that surprising. All of the big clubs met at Sunriva Restaurant. There is something more lucrative than four or five 200-person banquets per week in the restaurant business? Well, good luck with that.

Well anyway, Warren and Jen Meredith joined us at Eagles. I got this year's shirt as well. (It already had a small seam splitting under the armpit when I got it... I'll have mamma repair that.) The food for dinner at the meeting, as usual, was... as usual. The discussions and meeting events were more lengthy than usual though, ending at almost 9:30. However after that: Beer! Although we chipped in money to buy it, it was nice to have it. The last meeting I went to had no social hour afterwards, which entirely sucked.
After the meeting, Epril and I got a ride back to Jasaan with fellow Eagle Kuya Boing.

On Wednesday, I didn't do anything particularly special (other than watch the BBC's performance of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, and drink strawberry margaritas), but Epril, older sister Susan, kid sister Ednil (along with the always-fey Donkey and Melmar), and new friend Charity all went in to Cagayan De Oro together to join Jen Meredith, her kid sister Bing, Jneth, her sister, and a couple of other girls for a night out at Pulse disco. (They finally got home at 3 a.m.)Oh: Tyson jumped out of my bedroom window today. I was sitting there on bed reading, and Tyson was standing, paws on the sill, at the window. The next moment, I see Tyson's tail and hind paws disappearing out the window, hear a thud on the porch roof 4 feet below, then the sound of claws sliding on plexiglass, and then my father-in-law with a surprised shout, "Tyson!" as my dog plummeted off the roof to the grass 7 feet down.

I rushed to the window to see Tyson bounding around the yard, happy as a clam, and a dozen neighbors and passersby looking rather interested in what had just happened. Tyson soon came back upstairs to the bedroom, but did not make any further attempts to jump out the window. (I think he enjoyed his success... but not so much the process.)

Well, I'm aware that Dobermans as a breed have the "jumping" instinct... I guess that includes "falling" as well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ha (ish) ... if it wasn't so sad

From The Onion:
Republicans, Leukemia Team Up To Repeal Health Care Law

WASHINGTON—Citing a mutually shared vision of health care in America, congressional Republicans and the deadly bone-marrow cancer leukemia announced a joint effort Wednesday to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the historic new bill that extends health benefits to 32 million Americans nationwide.

"Republicans have no greater ally in this fight than leukemia," said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who was flanked by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and the abnormal increase in white blood cells. "Denying insurance to Americans with preexisting conditions and ensuring that low-income Americans stand no chance of receiving quality health care are just a few of the core beliefs that the GOP and leukemia share."

"And believe me, if anyone is angrier than the Republican Party that children can no longer be denied coverage for having preexisting conditions, it's leukemia." DeMint continued. "We're a match made in heaven."

In the coming weeks, Republicans and leukemia will travel the country in an effort to diminish support for the increasingly popular bill, which GOP sources said goes against everything that Republicans and the massive accumulation of toxic cells stand for.

According to party leaders, all forms of the deadly blood disorder, including T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia, hairy cell leukemia, and large granular lymphocytic leukemia will lend their support to the Republican effort.

"I look around and I see Sen. Bob Bennett, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, eosinophilic and megakaryoblastic leukemia, and Sen. Pat Roberts, and I think, 'This is what the Republican Party is all about,'" Sen. McConnell said. "We don't like this new bill. We don't like that it will cut the national deficit by $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. We don't like that it's now illegal for insurance companies to suddenly drop a parent for getting deathly ill. That's why we're so very proud to be working with leukemia."
There are things against which it is tactically intelligent to mount an attack, but politically idiotic. The problem is that some people are too blind to recognize that fact. Trying to repeal guaranteed health insurance — "for kids with leukemia!" add the pundits, rolling out the most tragic and emotionally-charged victim of such actions — is obviously one.

Here's another: The Catholic Church is fighting (loudly, publicly, without any hint of compunction or irony) a repeal of the statute of limitations on child molestation. Actually, I'm amazed that there are people stupid enough — even at the Vatican — to fail to see that "fighting the statute of limitations for child molestation" is (politically... not semantically) the exact same thing as "fighting to keep priests from being arrested for raping children."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Investment Opportunity

Okay guys. Now is your chance to get invested in The Philippines. My chicken farm needs capital. I can't reveal too many details here on the blog, but anybody who writes to me at jilwrinkle at yahoo dot com can get a full prospectus.

  1. Chickens sell in The Philippines for $2.05 (95P) per kilogram. Any chickens that my farm grows will sell for $2.05 (95P) per kilogram.
  2. I have spent the last 12 months finding ways to cut the costs of growing a chicken, and my farm setup will grow a chicken for $1.30 (60P) per 1.2 kg chicken. I can't tell you how I'm getting the cost so low, but that's a very accurate number based on my year's research.
  3. Therefore, I will be profiting $1.16 (54P) per chicken. ($2.05 x 1.2 – $1.30) (95 x 1.2 - 54)
  1. I've invented a way that I can (a) harvest chickens every day, instead of every 40–50 days, (b) and still expand my farm easily and inexpensively. I can't tell you how I'm able to do this, but it's a process that is confirmed by my friend Nelson, who is a retired chicken farmer from Arkansas.
  2. Every chicken distributor (including Jollibee) wants nothing more than a steady, daily supply of chickens. Yet, no other farm in The Philippines (except for a few huge ones) currently does this. When I open this farm, I will be meeting the as-yet-unmet demand of every chicken distributor in The Philippines.
  3. Therefore, I'll be able to sell as many chickens at $1.16 (54P) profit as I am able to produce.
  1. The starting production level of the farm will be 500 chickens per day.
  2. All profits from the farm for the first year will be reinvested to expand the farm to a capacity of 3,500 chickens per day at the end of the first year.
  3. By the end of the fourth year, it is planned to have 4 or 5 farms operational on the island of Mindanao, selling a total of 20,000 chickens per day.
  1. Investments are in blocks of $3,000 (138KP). Each block receives a 1% stake, in perpetuity, fully transferrable, and will not be degraded by additional issuances or further capital requests.
  2. ROI (starting at the capacity of 3,500 per day... at the end of year #1) per block at 3,500 chickens per day is approximately $1,218 (56KP) per month, or 41% ROI per month. ROI per block of $3,000 (138KP) at 20,000 chickens per day at year #4 is approximately $6,960 (320KP) per month, or 232% ROI per month.
  3. All investors will receive weekly updates of business operations.
  4. Additional information regarding production, start up costs, FAQ, performance estimates, additional income through droppings and innards, Philippine-specific concerns, and the proprietary growing and barn methods I have invented are available upon request.
I look forward to hearing from you. I am currently looking for pledges, and will only request transfer of funds once 120% of needed investment capital has been pledged by investors. Larger pledges of investment, however, may be subject to confirmation.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Brownout Versus Rolling Blackout

My father used to be the director of the public utilities in my hometown, and it is with his jaded eye towards electrical onomastics that I say this:

When the electricity goes away and the lights turn off, it is called a blackout. When the electricity is scheduled to go away for a period of time on purpose in order to reduce system load, it is called a rolling blackout.

What happens if you don't have rolling blackouts? THEN you have brownouts. A brownout is the term used to describe what happens when an electrical system is drawing more power than is being generated. Then, what happens is that every piece of electrical machinery on that system receives only a fraction of the electricity needed to run it properly, and this can damage many electronic components. The avoidance of brownouts is the very reason that rolling blackouts are scheduled.

Okay? It's "rolling blackouts", not "brownouts" that we are experiencing.

Glad we cleared that up.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Nice Summary Of Failure

John Cole of Balloon Juice sums up very nicely his amazement at how the Democrats are expected to lose badly during this upcoming election. (Thanks to John for letting me post the majority of his précis here.)
When the President was elected and this congress took office, we were losing over half a million jobs a month. Now, we are gaining jobs.

In the past year and a half, they’ve stabilized the banks, the economy, and the major car companies, they passed health care reform that adds thirty million people and cuts the deficit long term while getting rid of the worst abuses of the insurance companies, extended the solvency of Medicare for a decade, we’re drawing down troops in Iraq, we are making progress with green energy, there has not been one successful terrorist attack on American soil, we’ve just signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty and re-examined our use of military weapons and we are making great progress on the global stage. Hell, the DOW is up over 3,000 since we got rid of the bums. Personally, we’re getting a road paved near me that was a disaster, and it is being paid for with stimulus money. We’re gonna put some people to work and have a nice paved road! And Obama and company did it all without getting blowjobs from interns.

And we’re going to reward them by kicking a lot of them out of office. We’re a really stupid country.

Daily Report: Baptisms

Today, it was up the mountain again to watch Bruce and his baby son Robert join the Catholic Church via baptism. Mike and Emelyn Bird were there as well. Epril and I also had the honor to stand as Godparents for little Robert. After that, it was down to a beachside party for Robert and Bruce. Unfortunately, the whole shindig was on Filipino Time, so what should have only taken a little while had me missing the entire morning of work.

But, it was a very pleasant time.

Oh. I figured out why the blender was broken: When we cleaned the blender, we took apart the bottom part of the pitcher, which included the spinny blade thing, the bottom screw-on part, and a thick rubber gasket. When we put the pitcher back together, the rubber gasket was put below the spinny blade thing and above the bottom screw-on part, instead of above the spinny blade thing and below the bottom rim of the pitcher. That gasket was holding the spinny blade thing too high to come in contact with the spinny knob thing on the blender. Now it's all fixed and strawberry margaritas are back on the menu.

Daily Report: Another Pool

Not a particularly good day of work by any measurement.

The rattle in the generator turned out to be a screw that had fallen out and was bouncing around inside the exhaust pipe: Easily fixed.

Two more pool resorts have opened up in Jasaan. One next door to Crystal Pool, and one down by the river. (That makes the number of pool resorts in Jasaan at seven now.) We went there in the late afternoon for a swim. It's okay, but not so special as to stand out amongst the competition.

So the generator didn't have a problem... but when I tried to make strawberry margaritas tonight, I found that my blender was broken. Jeez.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On Confederate History Month

I am reading that some people are having a problem with various Southern states (and specifically Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell) proclaiming this month to be Confederate History Month. They seem to think that this is racism.

Aside from the obvious missteps by McDonnell and the lack of the politically-necessary, exceptionally-precise wording required to appease all listeners to such proclamations, my opinion is this: People are exposed to the truths of that era in school, and therein gain an appreciation of the bad aspects of the Confederacy, slavery, plantations, racism, et cetera. And that indeed is the principal and foremost of truths.

However, it has to be remembered that Confederates were Americans. Their history is our history. They may have thought wrongly, fought wrongly, killed and died wrongly, but their memory still needs to be honored because they were American — not forgotten because they were wrong or the losers in the Civil War.

It is a perfectly reasonable thing — as long as one can keep part of his or her memory trained on those truths learned in school — to take time to delve into the lost world of the life and culture of the antebellum South and appreciate it in some way.

Few things in this world are all bad... or all good. Harm is not done to our worldly perspective by examining all facets of the events of our world, but in ignoring certain facets of a thing because they fail to speak as loudly to our sense of decency and propriety as others.

Now: If there are people who are trying to take Confederate History Month and turn it into some dismissal of the evils of slavery, of justification of the Confederate positions of secession, or glorification of the war that pitted brother against brother, that is obviously wrong and shouldn't have any part in Confederate History Month. However, those efforts, should they be made, should not vitiate the entire effort to set aside time to explore the culture, honor the deaths, and appreciate the people of the Old South, their lives, and their part in American history.

Daily Report: Screw Loose

An average day of work today... or, average in the old sense, not the New-Year-doing-more-enjoying-better sense. Oh well.

In the evening, Epril and I rode in to Cagayan De Oro and returned Warren's motorcycle, which he had loaned us for a week. Then we went out to dinner with Warren and Jen for some barbeque. After that, it was the jeepney back home.

When we got home at 9:30, Jasaan was in the middle of another rolling blackout. The generator was on, and the motor was making a terrible clanking, rattling noise. I immediately turned it off.

"How long was the generator on?"

"Since six o'clock."

"Was it making that awful noise for the entire time?"

"Yes. We just figured it was running out of gas or something."


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Daily Report: Smart Globe

On Sunday afternoon, for the first time in 14 months, my SmartBro wireless internet went down and (even more surprising) it didn't come back.

Yesterday morning, I loaded up my phone with 200 pisos load and called the help desk. After being on hold for 190 pisos' worth of time, somebody came on to say, "How can I help you?" just in time for my load to run out and disconnect me. So, I drove in to Cagayan De Oro to the Smart Center at Limketkai, where I was told that if I had a Smart telephone (which sister-in-law Susan does), I could call *1888 and it would be free. A waste of a couple of hours... but at least I got some grocery shopping done as well.

I went home and at about 5 p.m. called the free number, and this time was told that there was an upgrade being done on the network. However, since Mike Bird's SmartBro internet was working, and he connects via the same tower that I do, I doubted that was my problem. I called my technical support guy, Paul Cruz, and he sent his brother, Louie, over to troubleshoot every piece of hardware and determined that the problem must be with the antenna on the roof.

I called SmartBro back and told them again that it was my antenna (as I had suspected) that was the problem, and that they needed to send out a repairman no later than tomorrow if they wanted to keep my business. They agreed. Then I called Paul and told him to set up an installation with Globe wireless internet as well. Whether or not SmartBro was fixed tomorrow, I can't have this kind of thing happening again: I need backup.

So on Monday at noontime, the Globe installation guy and Paul showed up to do the installation of Globe wireless internet at my house. (It costs 795 pisos per month, with no money up front.) When they were finished, they said, "By the way, your SmartBro internet is working as well." I called up SmartBro to cancel the service call that was scheduled, but it was too late... even as I was still on the phone making the cancellation, the SmartBro people arrived. So, they took 20 minutes to super-tune my SmartBro internet connection, and I gave them some money for their time. (I wonder if the hotline people were right in their original assessment: That it was system upgrade, and it really did take 48 hours.)

So here is what I have now (tell me if this is okay): The SmartBro internet is hooked up to the "internet in" port on my wireless router, while the Globe is just plugged in to a regular computer port on it. I'm told that the wireless router will just switch to whatever internet connection is fastest. Thus, I will always have the fastest internet possible, and both wireless systems will have to fail before I'm ever disconnected from the internet again.

Oh, by the way, Paul Cruz asked me to put his name up on this blog post, and I can recommend him without hesitation and with the highest praise: If you ever need help with your television cable or satellite, or your computer, or your internet connection, and you live anywhere in Misamis Oriental, call Paul Cruz and he will come to your house and fix it. He's also a licensed technician of Cignal Satellite, Dream Satellite, and has worked closely with both SmartBro and Globe systems as well. His number is 0-906-966-5778.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Daily Report: Monday Vinnie Blogging

Vinnie and Ivan had an Easter Egg hunt at the house yesterday. (It's only a real Easter Egg hunt if you do it in your pajamas, I think.) Boy, he is growing up.

Easter in The Philippines doesn't include the pagan symbology of rabbits and eggs. They are not familiar at all with the Easter Bunny.

Actually, I also noticed that Filipinos are much more observant of Good Friday than Easter Sunday. Epril and her family climbed a mountain for Jesus at 4 a.m. on Friday in order to do the Stations, but church on Easter Sunday was much more optional. (I think it has to do with Filipinos' attraction to the cothurnal side of Catholicism... and life in general. They enjoy their religion like they enjoy their movies and music: With lots of heartache and longing, crushing intensity of emotion, tsuris and hardship, with ultimate catharsis and revival. Not at all like the stoic face that we Presbyterians wear for Christ's suffering; our attachment to the rood is merely spiritual... not physical.)

I'm sure that you knew that Easter was scheduled to fall on the vernal equinox to give Christians an alternate holiday to the pagan equinox rituals they were still performing... but what of the autumnal equinox? Why is there no holiday scheduled to fall on the autumnal equinox? Actually, there is: Michaelmas. It used to be the second most important holiday in the Catholic Church. The Feast of St. John, the third most important Catholic Holiday, falls on the summer solstice, and Christmas, the fourth most important holiday, was scheduled to supplant the winter solstice.

Daily Report: 30 Pictures (and Videos) For The Day

Sorry. My internet has been down 2 days — more on that in a later post — so I'm doing a bit of retroactive blogging. (It's Tuesday, but here at Jungle Jil it is still Sunday... admire my god-like power over time and space!)

Anyway, this Easter Sunday Epril and I met up with Bruce and Victoria from Texas, who are spending some time here in Jasaan getting their son baptized. We went with them way up into the mountains for a visit to the chapel where the baptism would be taking place next week. Nice folks. Then it was down to the river for a swim. Finally, it was off to Annabelle Bird's first birthday party.

(Corny video warning: dancing baby... content may not be safe for viewing by cool people.)

It's days like this I remind myself how lucky I am to be living in an issue of National Geographic. Good friends, good family, good life, good times.