Speak Up: It’s important

This week, a letter written by a former UW-Milwaukee student to the university’s chancellor was posted on the I Have Forgiven Jesus blog.  To say the letter was scathing is the understatement of the year, and we’re only a week in.  As I said to the blog’s author, J, “I had to stop reading the letter halfway through.  My glasses had melted and I needed to change them.”

Trumpenproles (*) like Milo Yiannopoulos (the subject of the letter) have a tendency to flip out and attack those who dare factually criticize them or hold a different opinion…and then direct their rabble of followers upon the target (vis-a-vis Leslie Jones).  In response, I reached out to the letter’s author to show concern and solidarity before that happens.  Because it probably will.

(* “Trumpenprole” is a better term than “alt-right” because they are uneducated masses disinterested in facts, have no idea of the effects of their words and actions or who they serve, vis-a-vis the 1%ers.  The term originated with a Wall Street Journal hack last summer, but he was using it as part of an attack upon Obama, rather than describe the mindless populism of the new far right.  It is less “populism” than priapism – they used to get away with violating others with impunity, but now they can’t get off like they used to and are lashing out violently in frustration.)

The reality of harassment is, the silence of bystanders favours the aggressor.  Whether online or in person, saying nothing and not defending others has two effects:

1) An unchallenged aggressor takes others’ silence as assent with their words and consent to act out.  Bullies only become confident and violent when there are no consequences.

2) The target of the harassment feels isolated, alone and likely outnumbered.

This is even truer in person with the threat of physical violence.  Speaking up, however, has the opposite effect:

1) The aggressor feels isolated and lacking in numbers, especially when attempting to commit illegal acts that might have repercussions.

2) The target knows there is support, feels less threatened and may grow in confidence.  And others who might have stayed silent will begin to speak up.

Back in September 2016, French artist Marie-Shirine Yener (a/k/a Maeril) created a brilliant comic on how to confront islamophobia.  Her comic illustrates what I mean, that silence protects the aggressor, and speaking out more than cancels them out.

Speaking out is not a zero sum game, it’s a case of “the sum is greater than the parts”.  Silence empowers aggressors by more than one person’s strength, and speaking out empowers the targets of aggression by more than one person.

If the target of aggression is someone you know, speaking up speaks volumes.  Showing kindness and support to a stranger accomplishes more than with a friend, and it does the most for someone with whom you disagree and don’t get along with (hopefully, you have none).

Speaking out should be a moral obligation.  I’ve been guilty of silence too often in the past, but I’m working on it.

Must Resist: Hate groups have no place in Taiwan

It has come to light that the anti-LGBTQIA protesters in Taiwan weren’t just dishonest about their numbers (shipping people city to city to make their numbers seem larger) and weren’t just hypocritical about their violent tendencies.  Multiple bigots were arrested last week (not just the one mentioned in the link) after committing unprovoked violence and trespass during their protest against the first reading of the proposed marriage equality law.  They attempted to physically push past a police line and enter the building.

It turns out that several US-based christian hate groups, as defined by the SPLC, have been interfering in Taiwan’s domestic affairs, organizing violent groups and spreading hate speech with no facts behind them (e.g. the myths about child molestation and bestiality).  This includs “MassResistance”, “IHOP” and a few others.

Anti-Gay MassResistance Supporting Anti-Equality Activists in Taiwan

MassResistance has joined the ranks of Religious Right groups that are expanding the global reach of their efforts to resist legal equality for LGBT people, boasting in recent months of its anti-equality efforts in Mexico and Nigeria. Now, as Taiwan moves toward becoming the first Asian nation to embrace marriage equality, the Massachusetts-based group is helping mobilize opposition from Taiwan’s socially conservative Christians.

The Taiwan government should treat the foreign meddlers the way other countries treated “pickup artists”: as a threat to its citizens. They should be detained and deported from the country.

Whims Whimper: Left over ideas, episode 3

Every year around the winter solstice, I trot out the idea of calendar reform.  (Yeah, I know it was almost two weeks ago.)  I have a pipe dream where the world gets rid of the nonsensical “30 days hath November” calendar and start using mine.

January to May are 31 days each, 155 in total.

June to December are 30 days each, 210 in total.

In a leap year, we have December 31st.

It’s simple, easy to learn, consistent, and I’m sure those in the US who celebrate African-American History Month would love it after getting shafted with the shortest month on the existing calendar.

Let’s not stop there, designate the winter solstice as New Year’s Day.  Why not?  It makes a lot more sense than doing it eight to ten days later.


 

There were numerous New Year’s Eve parties in Taipei, and the one I attended was a lot of fun, with a lot of like-minded people, and I’m not just talking LGBTQIA.  Many young Taiwanese and most waiguoren here are atheist, agnostic or at least secular. And those who are religious start to realize they don’t get to and shouldn’t be able to dictate to others.  There’s also a very strong anti-China/separatist streak amongst most young adults.

When my friend Magnolia was performing, she was handing out numerous two word signs and people were happily waving them.  I’m sure you can guess the other word on them.

**** 2016

**** China

**** Trump

**** religion

**** christian hate

Other signs would likely be appreciated around these parts.

view-from-the-club

Music Rules: It was just another day

For the Taiwanese, December 25th was Constitution Day, the day when the country took a major stop to becoming a democracy.  To me, it was Sunday and a day off to go shopping.  The stores were open, the sun was shining, and people were going about their days.

And I didn’t hear a single annoying christmas song all day.  Ah, the bliss of silence.  Aside from the very rare artificial tree or cheap decorations, a person wouldn’t have known there was any sort of foreign holiday going on elsewhere in the world.

The only time that religion in Taiwan gets annoying is major holidays like Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival and a few others when anti-social noise polluters start pulling out firecrackers and blowing them at all hours.  (For those who say, “Why are you spoiling other people’s fun, I beg to differ.  You’re spoiling other people’s sanctity and security.)  Thankfully, I was inside a solid building kilometres away from Taipei 101 when the New Year’s fireworks were going off.

The Tide Has Turned: And the goal is finally in sight

Taiwan’s new bill granting marriage equality for all easily passed the first hurdle in becoming law.  The ruling DPP and coalition partners have the numbers to pass the law, and the KMT, the largest right wing party, doesn’t opposing the legislation.

Marriage equality in Taiwan has gone from uncertainty to possibility to inevitability.  It’s now only a matter of time.

Taiwan takes key step to marriage equality

An amendment to the Civil Code was approved by a legislative committee Monday in a major step toward the legalization of same-sex marriage, as thousands-strong dueling demonstrators took place outside the Legislative Yuan.

After three hours, the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee approved the amendment proposed by ruling party Legislator Yu Mei-nu, which replaces “male and female parties” in the Civil Code’s marriage chapter with “two parties.”

 

Taichung Marches: December’s parade was another success

The LGBTQIA parade in Taichung on December 17th was another rousing success with tens of thousands in attendance.  I wasn’t there, but some who were tell me it didn’t have the same atmosphere at the marriage equality protest.

That’s actually a good thing.  It’s a sign that we know the right side is winning and (see another post today) the right to marriage now has a definite goal, and end in sight.

Taiwan’s Thousands march in Taichung’s LGBTQIA Pride Parade

By Central News Agency

Thousands of people attended the Taichung LGBTQIA Pride Parade on Saturday, waving rainbow flags in support of LGBTQIA rights in the central Taiwanese city.

The Taichung LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual/Allies) Pride Parade, now in its fifth year, began at the Taichung People’s Park.

Don’t Rush: Consider them retired

A lot of people, including many on FTB, talked about 2016 being a bad year. I wasn’t one of them, but not because I didn’t care about those who died during the year.  I’m growing more philosophical as I get older, turning 50 myself next month, so seeing many of the names I grew up with dying (most 10-30 years older than me) comes more as inevitability than surprise.

The biggest inevitability for me in 2016 of people coming to an end are the band Rush.  No, nobody died, but drummer Neil Peart has made it clear that his arthritis makes any more touring out of the question.  After more than forty years, they will no longer play live as Rush, though guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist/singer Geddy Lee still want to perform, and they might still record.

I always knew the band would come to an end, but I always thought I would be sad or crying.  Instead, all I feel is grateful to them.  I am grateful that in the 1970s as a kid, there were other people who felt, liked and said the same things that I did, making me feel a lot less alone in the world.  I am grateful for a band that was down to Earth and ethical, grateful for a band that played throughout my entire lifespan, and grateful for literally dozens of existing albums that will keep me entertained even if another one never comes.  Clockwork Angels is arguably their best album, so it’s one hell of a high note to end on if it’s their last.

Considering the band’s history, feeling anything but grateful would be an insult to them.  In the mid-1980s, there was talk of a split because of musical direction in the band, but they worked it out.  In the late 1990s, Neil Peart didn’t play for four years after the deaths of his daughter and his wife a year apart, yet they pulled through.  (“Consider me retired” is what Peart told Lee and Lifeson in 1998.)  Every year and every album since 2001 has been a bonus, and the only complaints I have are (a) the “loudness wars” on Vapour Trails, which even Rush admit is a problem, and (b) fans stopped buying Rush’s albums in the numbers they used to.

I have nothing but best wishes and gratitude to offer them.  To Mssrs. Dirk (a/k/a Gershon), Lerxst (a/k/a Slobovic) and Pratt (a/k/a O’Malley), I thank you and I’m still smiling.

My Resolve Resolved: New Year resolutions are pointless

Don’t be fooled by the title, I’m not saying resolutions are pointless.  Rather, I’m saying that if something’s worth changing or starting, do it now.  Waiting for a specific day is just procrasinating.

The only reason to make a resolution on New Year’s is because you thought of it on New Year’s.  A good idea is worth starting now, regardless of the date.

It Was The Unexpected, I Expect: Excuse my silence

Hi all,

My absence was unplanned, unwanted and probably unnoticed.  It was a mix of work related Saturdays (a speaking contest), non-work related activities (multiple parties) and a landlord who views reliable internet service for tenants to be not that important.

Give me five to twenty five , and I’ll be spamming FTB with multiple posts today.

Music Rules: Walking on sunshine

Saturday was too good a day.  First came the overwhelming and popular public support for marriage equality, an event only a week in planning by the organizers.  Then came the LGBT party that night, an event planned over a month ago.  I had to much fun that I didn’t mind being hung over at home all day Sunday.

 

Shutter Bugs: Photos of the rally from street level

As promised (but did anyone notice?), here are photos from the Marriage Equality rally in Taipei on December 17th.

People started gathering about 1PM and events started at 2PM, running until well into the evening.  Unfortunately, I was only able to stay until 4PM because of another commitment.  Many of my friends and other people have posted more pictures on facebook and elsewhere.

Taiwan’s Marriage Equality Rally on facebook.

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We Showed Up: Two hundred and fifty thousand

On Saturday December 10th in Taipei, Taiwan, the LGBTQIA community and its allies held a rally in favour of marriage equality.

Two hundred and fifty thousand people showed up to defend and advocate human rights and equality, showed up to oppose hate and ignorance.

equal-marriage-protest-2 equal-marriage-protest-1

(The drone photos come from facebook, the protest’s page and a friend’s.  I’ll publish my street level pics in another post.)

The religious bigots spent weeks in preparation of their anti-LGBTQIA protests and could barely manage 20,000 at one feeble protest, and were likely shipping people place to place and other protests to make their numbers appear larger.  (I’m intentionally quoting “lifesite”, a rightwing US hate site, because they would want to inflate their numbers to further their bigoted cause.)

Saturday’s pro-equality protest was first organized last Monday, and we showed up with 250,000 people.  Even if it was “only 75,000” as Taiwan’s police claim, that still dwarfs the bigots’ feeble attempts.  And then there’s the LGBTQIA pride parade in Taichung next Saturday, which will mostly include new people, not those who showed up in Taipei. (I wish I had time to attend that one, but I have to work that day.)

We showed up in numbers the theocratic bigots could only dream of.  We showed up the theocratic bigots, period.

Counter Protest: Saturday December 10, in Taipei

Saturday afternoon in Taipei, there will be a public counter-protest to last week’s marches by jackbooted thugs that have happened in Taiwan recently.  The bigots shipped people city to city to pretend there are more of them than actually exist (claiming “200,000 people!” while double and triple counting).

Now it’s the turn of those wanting marriage equality to be heard and show our true numbers. I most definitely will be in attendance tomorrow, along with most of the people I know, non-binary and binary. Next Saturday’s LGBTQIA pride parade in Taichung will also be a counter-protest, though I regret that I won’t be able to go.

Unlike the theocrats who had weeks to organize their hate campaign, this protest has only been in the works since Monday.  Thus far, the numbers of people “Going” on facebook are comparable to the numbers at the bigots’ events.  And then there’s the unknown number of people who aren’t on facebook but will show up as well.

“Let Life Go No Longer, Stand Up for Marriage”

December 10 (Saturday) 1:00 pm admission, 3:00 pm start

Ketagelan Boulevard in Taipei

As so often happens, the anti-LGBTQIA bigots have been using “think of the children!” as their rallying cry, inferring that non-binary people are somehow a “threat” to kids rather than the priests who have been molesting them.  As I said the other day, religious hypocrites and zealots call LGBTQIA people “promiscuous”, yet it is the religious who are so promiscuous that they will get into bed with anybody to further their agendas.  If they cared about children, they would be acting to keep kids safe, not endanger them with more home and school abuse which has long been a problem in Taiwan’s socially conservative culture.

Mind Bends: Mini-Cryptic Crossword #4

It’s Mini Cryptic #4 because Mini Cryptic #1, #2 and #3 appeared on my previous blog first.  I’m a fan of cryptic crosswords and might do a post on them (like those sudoku a few months ago over on PZM’s blog).

mini-cryptic-04

Across

1 Time: Mistake ideology for political violence (9)

5 Dean sat not confused, explains in words (9)

7 Melinda Clarke’s TV show was sexy…then religion took over (9)

Down

1  Difficult situation without the first attribute (5)

2 Street taken from far away is still far away (5)

3 You’ve got some nerve, looking at me…. (5)

4 Within, within words (5)

5 It’s moldy.  Do we have to?  Yes. (5)

 

The answers appear under the fold.

[Read more…]

Tax Shelters: How to save money by spending money

In light of my other posts today about LGBTQIA rights legislation in Taiwan, and the enlightment of its politicians, here’s a foreign amateur’s Recent History and Economics in Taipei, 101.  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the play on words and numbers.)


 

Back in 2008 as the economic meltdown hit worldwide, governments reacted in different ways, some horribly.  (For example, the US which copied its plan from the Great Depression: Cut off spending and trade, then wonder why there’s no spending and trade.)  Taiwan’s ruling party at the time was the conservative Kuomintang (KMT) party.  They didn’t cut trade or spending because Taiwan is dependent on it.  They didn’t want to spend billions on bailouts, a politically untenable policy especially when smaller parties were making political gains.

They chose instead to stimulate the economy, but not by giving it to corporations.  Instead, the KMT government gave out NT$3600 in coupons (approximately US$107 in 2008) to elibigle Taiwanese citizens, every individual and household.  (Foreigners like myself didn’t get any.)  The coupons had a short time limit, until September 2009, which encouraged people to spend them as fast as possible.  This money drove the economy, preventing business closures and keeping people employed.  In time, the extra tax revenue generated from spending coupons and respending regular money (the multiplier effect) meant the government roughly broke even, which isn’t a bad thing during a recession.

It was a publicly popular decision and a low-risk both politically and economically.  Most importantly, it worked.  While there were job losses, bank closures and a shrinking of trade and GDP, it wasn’t anywhere near as disastrous or damaging as in the US, Europe or other Asian countries.  Taiwan’s economy recovered quicker than most countries’.

The KMT eventually lost power in later elections, but public opinion of them is still positive and they remain the second most popular party in Taiwan.


 

Everyone to get NT$3,600 bonus

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Premier Liu Chao-shiuan formally announced yesterday a government plan to distribute NT$3,600 shopping vouchers to each of the nation’s citizens early next year. He expects the NT$82.9 billion program will help stimulate domestic spending and economic growth.

The plan received highly positive responses from both the business community and the public as it imposes on restrictions on the status of the recipients regardless of income level.

Liu told a news conference that the program is expected to raise the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.64 percentage point for 2009 if all the coupons are used for shopping.

Under the program, each citizen holding the nation’s ID card will get NT$3,600 in coupons that will be valid until the end of 2009, to purchase goods, Liu said.


 

Taiwan: Consumer Vouchers Issued as Part of Financial Stimulus Package

(Feb. 4, 2009) On December 5, 2008, the Special Statute for Distributing Consumption Vouchers for Revitalizing the Economy was promulgated and took effect in the Republic of China (on Taiwan) (ROC). It will remain in force until September 30, 2009. According to ROC President Ma Ying-jeou, “Taiwan is the first country in the world to distribute consumer vouchers since the onset of the global economic downturn.”

[…]

Under the Statute, each individual who is eligible for collecting a voucher as stipulated by the Ministry of the Interior may collect an NT$3,600 (about US$107) consumption voucher to be used for purchasing merchandise or labor services or for making donations. The vouchers are exempt from income tax.


 

Taiwan and the Global Economic Storm (Wilson Center, PDF)