Weather Fronts: No doubt climate change deniers will latch onto this

In recent years, Taiwan’s normal August to November typhoon season has been anything but.  Some years, the typhoons were minor to non-existent (and causing droughts), other years typhoons occurred throughout the year, even in January to March.  For the first time since Taiwan’s centennial (2011), we’re facing a predictable typhoon season. It’s bad for mosquitos (and spreading Dengue fever) but good for farming and water collection.

After typhoon Mangkhut of last week, we’re already facing another, typhoon Trami which will make landfall by Thursday.  Mangkhut was powerful, but it was fast moving, and crossed Manila’s island of Luzon in about twelve hours; a slower typhoon might have caused a lot more death and devastation.  Trami is a different story, slow moving and heading directly for Taiwan.  At it’s current trajectory, it will take 24-36 hours to fully cross the middle of the island.  As if Hualien needs another landslide and building collapse.  Fortunately, building construction here is a lot more hardy.

It’s likely not a coincidence that 2018 also marks the first summer in a decade where Taiwan’s average summer temperatures have declined.  Not that you’d notice, it was still unbearably humid.  There’s talk about shutting down one of the nuclear reactors producing electricity, and yet no one wants to give up airconditioning and the business dress code, wearing lighter clothing or shorts in the workplace.  Nope, it’s gotta be suits and slacks, every day.

 

 

Challenge Accepted: I have a new responsibility

I intended to gradually talk about my involvement with a women’s support group over the past eight months.  The group is for women who have mental health issues, who have been raped and sexually assaulted, who have family or financial issues or other problems.  I initially joined to help support someone else, but I stayed both for my own benefit and because I’ve been able to help others.

Where I can’t help is one of the group leaders who is leaving.  I won’t list her traumas, but she has made multiple suicide attempts over several years and is submitting herself for long term psychiatric care.  It has fallen to me to lead weekly meetings of the support group because I’m the most regular attendee.

I worry about letting down people, about running the group well.  I hope I’m up to the task to continue what she started, because it was her baby, her initiative to help other women and men too.  Mental health is a taboo subject in Taiwan, and we’ve only just begun getting the public to talk about it.

I owe her greatly as a friend and what she did for me early this summer, which is a topic for another time….

Time To Shut Down: Fox Nuisance of the World

Fox Nuisance lives down to its name again, displaying their standard racist policy.  But this time they made have gone too far, even for their own fake news.

Fox 4 Dallas has decided the police obstruction, cover up, undercharging of Amber Guyger for the murder of Botham Jean isn’t relevant or newsworthy.  It has decided that evidence of the crime in Jean’s home isn’t important (e.g. blood, bullet casings).

Instead, Fox 4 Dallas has decided that marijuana found in Jean’s apartment should be the lead topic of its “news”, an intentional act designed to smear the victim aind infer that “he deserved to die”.

Needless to say, the backlash has been immediate and strong, and not just from those you expect.  Openly racist rightwingnuts from Fox Nuisance and the Nationalist Review have chastised it.  Even NRA mouthpiece Dana Loesch has spoken out.

This is as appalling as News Of The World’s phone tapping scandal, and deserves the same result: Fox 4 Dallas should be shut down immediately and taken off the air.

Small wonder both sources of trash are run by Rupert Muckraker.

Wind Storms: Another week, another typhoon. Ho-hum.

Typhoon Mangkhut will make landfall around noon on Friday, September 14. It will most likely cross the northern half of Luzon Island and go straight to Hainan Island.  But it’s large enough that the southern half of Taiwan will get hit too, even if it doesn’t change direction. Speeds up to 60m/second (216km/h) are expected and its diametre approximately 600km.

I’m at the north end of Taiwan, almost 1000km away from the storm’s centre. It’s unlikely it will affect me, but that could change. Last weekend, the north end and the entire east side were battered by a rainstorm that caused flooding on streets in Taipei.

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Hang Up: Dumb phones are the smart phones

Apple are releasing a new phone guaranteed to always be in people’s hands: the iphone SX Max.

Why will they always look at it?  Because it won’t fit in anyone’s purse, never mind a pocket. “XS” usually means “extra small”, but apple decided that the name of a seven inch long phone should be “XS”. And the cult members will buy it, because they’re told to.  The piece of crap will cost up to US$1500.  I’ll bet when 5G networks are the standard, the 5G iphone will cost 5G, i.e. US$5000.

In January 2019, Taiwan is switching off all 2G, 3G and 3.5G phone service except for emergency numbers. People will have no choice but to buy new 4G phones to have any functionality.  The only 4G phones on the market here are overpriced smart phones, the cheapest of which is a three year old phone for NT$7500 (US$244), many newer ones running NT$12000-15000 for Taiwanese brands (Acer, ASUS) and more for others. Good luck to the poor affording that when minimum wage is NT$22000/month.

This isn’t “planned obsolescence”, it’s enforced obsequiousness.  People are being forced to buy new phones for the benefit and profit of corporations.  Unlike landlines and grandfathering, service will be denied to those who can’t afford to pay.  And that’s before we address the environmental waste of enforced consumption, millions of still functioning phones being thrown away.

 


 

There are several 4G feature phones (aka dumb phones) and a smartphone on the market in other countries, but none are for sale here. I’m sick of smart phones, I want something small that makes and takes both calls and messages, even if it means living with a two inch screen. My current “smart phone” is dying after less than two years’ use, and I don’t abuse my phones.

Personalities Stereotyped: The origin of MBTI codswallop

Merve Erme of Oxford University has written a book on the origin of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) tests, astrology for the 20th century.  Most know that it’s pseudo science, but how did it gain such popularity when it lacks credibility and scientific testing? (See also: Dvorak keyboards.)

My first exposure to MBTI was in college as part of a business management course.  But it was not the first time I had seen such limiting tests that claimed to know people’s “true selfes”.  Magazines containing “personality tests” were in the house when I grew up, and even with limited knowledge and education as a pre-teen, it was easy to see these were bunk, that not everyone fits into pigeonholes so easily.

I would rather hear someone talk about their MTBI than their MBTI.

The Bizarre Untold Origin Story of the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator

How a mother-daughter team created the pseudoscientific quiz that conquered the world

If you’ve ever been on a dating app, you know what the Myers-Briggs personality type is—those four letters that are supposed to unlock the secrets of your inner personality and guide you through everything from your career to your interpersonal relationships. There’s (E) and (I) for extraversion or introversion, (N) and (S) for intuition or sensing, (T) and (F) for thinking or feeling, and (J) and (P) for judging or perceiving. This four-letter classification is hard to avoid. Some companies use it as a management tool, individuals use it to judge their Tinder dates, Redditors even obsess over it in subreddits dedicated to each type.

Merve Emre, an associate professor of English at Oxford, addresses this tension in her forthcoming book The Personality Brokers, which traces the lives of the two women who created the test—the mother-daughter pair of Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. In recounting their lives, she examines how a methodology created from studying their husbands and children blossomed into one of the largest pseudoscientific personality testing models in history.

The Big Bang: Ten years of the LHC

The Large Hadron Collider went online at CERN on September 10, 2008.

Happy tenth anniversary, ten years of proving that the fear mongering Chicken Littles should have kept quiet.  (“The black hole is falling!  The black hole is falling!”)

‘Big Bang’ Large Hadron Collider is switched on

The £5 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will smash protons – one of the building blocks of matter – into each other at energies up to seven times greater than any achieved before.

The LHC, a colossal machine housed in a 27 kilometre (17 mile) tunnel buried under 100 metres of rock, straddles the borders of Switzerland and France between Lake Geneva and the Jura mountains.

Why Leave? : There’s no place like home

InterNations’ Expat Insider has published its report for 2018 and lists Taiwan as #1 in the world for quality of life of its citizens, and #2 for expats living in the country.

Note that the report lists Taiwan as a country.  More and more international companies are kowtowing to the mass murdering dictatorship in Beijing, writing “Taiwan, CN” on their business websites.  Taiwanese and foreigners alike applauded United Airlines for listing New Taiwan Dollar on their website, not lumping Taiwan in with China.

Note also that the report completely ignores anyone outside the cishetero gender binary.  There is not one mention of LGBTQIA people and issues of human rights and protections.  This should be included for all countries – and as it turns out, one on which Taiwan also ranks high.

I really need to get my rear in gear and finish off my application for permanent residency.

History Rebuffed: A Japanese historical revisionist violated a statue dedicated to comfort women

A historical revisionist group calls itself the “Alliance for Truth”? It sounds more like it has a dalliance with truth. In both definitions of the word.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised or shocked that rightwing extremists still want to rewrite history, but Mitsuhiko wasn’t even born when the crimes happened. His isn’t evasion of responsibility, but it is a failure of education.  Utterly disgusting.

Video shows Japanese nationalist kick comfort woman statue in southern Taiwan

Less than a month after statue dedicated to Taiwanese “comfort women” of World War 2 was unveiled in Tainan, surveillance video footage has emerged of a Japanese representative of a comfort women denier group appearing to deliberately kick the statue.

At 9:30 p.m. yesterday, Tainan City Councilor Hsieh Lung-chieh on his Facebook page posted a still image showing Mitsuhiko Fujii, a representative of the historical revisionist group the Alliance for Truth about Comfort Women, appearing to kick the statue. This morning, Hsieh posted the surveillance video dated Sept. 6 showing Fujii extending his left heel and making contact with the statue, while a photographer, apparently from his organization, documented the disrespectful act.

Flash Floods: I’m glad I stayed home this weekend

It’s been an interesting week of weather, with heavy rain over several days, and that’s before Typhoon Mangkhut which is predicted to make landfall by next weekend.

I’m not complaining, though.  Temperatures have been in the 25-30C range instead of 33-38C that they’ve been most of the summer.  The reservoirs are filling after repeated years of drought.  And this rain will wash away the pools where mosquitos are breeding.  Taiwan has now had over 100 recorded cases of Dengue fever, the most recent about 10km from where I live.

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Nothing Bubbled Up: Black fool’s gold

Twenty years ago, George Mitchell sold Wall Street the idea that firing high pressure water into the ground could extract the remaining oil.

Ten years ago, fracking began in many places across the US.

Today, fracking has left behind a devastated and poisoned landscape.  And also turned out to be a money pit, not producing any of the profits promised.

The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground

Some of fracking’s biggest skeptics are on Wall Street. They argue that the industry’s financial foundation is unstable: Frackers haven’t proven that they can make money. “The industry has a very bad history of money going into it and never coming out,” says the hedge fund manager Jim Chanos, who founded one of the world’s largest short-selling hedge funds. The 60 biggest exploration and production firms are not generating enough cash from their operations to cover their operating and capital expenses. In aggregate, from mid-2012 to mid-2017, they had negative free cash flow of $9 billion per quarter.

Cold fusion was a fraud, but at least it create the environmental and economic mess that fracking has.  And there’s no way to clean up either mess fracking has left behind.

Learning Curves: You never know how ignorant you are

You never know how ignorant you are until you actually start learning.  It took a long time (far too long, until the last five years) for me to stop saying things like “Why didn’t you…?” or “You should have….” in response to sexual assault and mental health issues.  But learning to shut up and be sympathetic still doesn’t mean you’ve learnt anything.

In February 2018, I first attended a weekly women’s support group.  I didn’t go for myself, I went to support a friend.  I have been a regular since, attending all but three meetings.  Over that time, I’ve learnt more about mental health (PTSD, depression, various disorders), suicide and attempted suicide, rape and sexual assault than I had heard in the first 51 years of my life.  I used to believe I was curious and informed about these things – now I know better, that I hardly know anything.

There are no medical professionals in the group, it’s women who come to air out their problems, tell what happened to themselves in a place of anonymity an unquestioning support.  I’ve learnt that just saying out loud what happened can be therapeutic, that people listening without judgement and keeping secrets can make a huge difference.  The group does, however, have access to medical resources (high, low and no cost) for people to call on, and several have needed help since I joined the group – therapy, hospitalization, other treatment.

It’s frightening to be up close to people and observing or becoming part of their problems and lives, it’s like having to give first aid to someone who’s badly injured and bleeding profusely.  But it’s not something you can just walk away from when you know others need help.  And it’s also made me aware of mental health issues in my own family, willing to address things I wasn’t willing to say aloud before.

Let’s Remember: Mary King, 1827-1869

Mary King (Ward after marriage) was born April, 27 1827, and died August 31, 1869, age 42. Normally, I post bios on birthdays, but King is a special case.  She deserves to be remembered for her scientific work while alive, and what was lost because of her premature death.  The cause of her death should not be her claim to fame.

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Crime Waves: The murder of a foreigner in Taipei, Taiwan

Update below: the capture of the second murderer.

Second update: Police questioning of Mayer has begun.

The murder of Ramgahan Sanjay Ryan on August 22 in Taipei, Taiwan, has made international headlines. (Today’s news about a 55 year old woman’s attempt to stab other passengers on a subway likely won’t, nor will the story of the pervert who placed a camera in a Starbuck’s toilet.) As mentioned in my post of yesterday, I’m not involved with the crime and don’t know the participants, but I am within arm’s reach of them. I have friends (and some now ex-friends) who know or have met one or all three.

Below are a collection of local news stories. I highlighted sections to explain certain facts, or parts which have been the basis of rumours (but won’t state any myself). Names with Chinese characters are removed because they are not being displayed properly.  I have chosen not to allow reader comments to avoid speculation, and offered only one opinion (about how Taiwan courts would handle those accused of possession) and the eye roll.

For the most part, Taiwan is a safe place to live.  My biggest daily concern is that defensive driving is a foreign concept. But for myself and many I know, the murder is the only topic of conversation. It angers me because it gives Taiwanese people a bad impression of foreigners at a time when we need to support Taiwan’s battle to maintain its independence. It’s not just so I can live more comfortably.

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