Self Determined: Childfree is a valid choice

Being Childfree is the choice to never reproduce, to never have children.  Childfree people are capable of reproducing, but make the conscious decision never to have any.  (This does not automatically include those who are involuntarily infertile or incapable of having children, though it can.)  It is not “selfish”, and it is not something one chooses without a great deal of thought.  Environmentally, choosing not to have a “mini me” is the most unselfish choice of all. [Read more…]

Climate Changes: This year it’s a double whammy

Taiwan’s government weather bureau have issued two warnings in the last week, both bad news and a sign of how climate change exists, despite denials by the ignorant, incompetent and inane (e.g. Annoying Orange and his cast of clowns).

The first is water rationing in certain provinces across the island.  Last fall there were very few typhoons, so the reservoirs were not filled as they usually are (we don’t get pack snowfall here except on one mountain).  Because of this, water rationing has been declared in some counties and townships, the supply cut off during certain hours of the day or night.

Fortunately, the government is reacting much quicker this year than it did in 2015. That year, most reservoirs were below 50% capacity, one as low as 19%.  Right now, the lowest is 55%, and there has been almost a week of rain across the island.  Typhoons have started coming in the spring during recent years (something unheard of in Taiwan’s history) which should alleviate the problem.

The second is cold weather warnings.  In January 2016, nearly all of Taiwan hit low temperatures of 3°C to 9°C for about two weeks.  These temperatures came for several days accompanied by winds, making them feel even colder.  Taiwan homes are constructed to survive earthquakes and typhoons, they’re not insulated for the cold, so nearly a hundred people died in their homes.  It was so cold that certain areas of Taiwan experienced light snowfall or (where I lived) light hail.  I hadn’t seen snow in eleven years until that point. (Normally in January, waiguoren like myself wear t-shirts and shorts outside, but even we started wearing coats.)

This year, however, colder temperature (5°C to 12°C) have continued from early January until now, the end of February.  By now, Taipei should be in the low 20s°C, but are only in the high teens.  While it’s not lethal this time and people are prepared, it’s still not normal.  And while it may not be cold enough to kill plants, it’s definitely going to affect the planting and harvest of crops.  Food shortages and higher prices are a possibility.

Yongyuan bù huì wàngjì: The 228 Incident

February 28 marks the seventieth anniversary of the “228 Incident”, otherwise known as the White Terror.  On February 27, 1947, a woman selling unlicensed cigarettes was beaten by police and a bystander was shot and killed without reason.  This led to protests by Taiwanese people against the government’s actions.

In response, the dictator president Chiang Kai-Shek (still based in China at the time) ordered the military to put down the protests and arrest leaders.  Estimates of the number murdered by the government range from 18,000 to 28,000 people.  Some are now calling for removal of Chiang’s name from the memorial hall that bears his name, and that a song about him no longer be played at public events.  There are yet no calls for Chiang’s face to be removed from the $1 and $5 coins or the $200 note (US$1 = NT$30.68, as I write).

The claim by Chiang and the KMT at the time was the uprising “impeded the movement towards democracy”.  Very unlikely.  It was the Taiwan public’s anger which brought democracy to the country faster.

“Yongyuan bù huì wàngjì” is google’s translation of “never forget”.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to face ‘transitional justice’

Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun on Saturday announced a series of measures to push for transitional justice, including transforming the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, as Taiwan prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident.

Cheng said the previous practice of playing a song in memory of the late president at the opening and closing of the hall was stopped on Feb. 23.

The ministry also stopped the sale of commodities such as figurines and stationery associated with the authoritarian ruler on Feb. 10.


Chiang also had thousands of Taiwanese arrested or killed for political reasons during the “White Terror” era in the decades after he took power in Taiwan in 1949, when the KMT fell to defeat in China’s civil war and retreated to the island.

Cheng argued that the hall was built during a period of authoritarian rule to commemorate an authoritarian ruler and that it needed to be transformed in the pursuit of historical truths.

From the 228 Memorial Foundation:

At the end of World War II in 1945, the government of the Republic of China assigned Chen Yi, who knew little about Taiwan, as the island’s governor-general. Chen brought into Taiwan the Chinese style of hegemony and “rule by man” which resulted in odious policies and discrimination against the local people, not to mention poor ethical behavior by the officials in his administration, a worsening economy, inflation, and surging unemployment. All of these stoked the general public’s discontent with the government.

On Feb. 27, 1947, government agents ignited the public’s anger when they accidentally shot and killed an innocent passerby while beating a female vendor who was peddling unlicensed cigarettes. Many people took to the streets the next day, demanding that the government hand over the agents who were responsible for the shooting and beating. The protesters were shot by law enforcement officials, and casualties were reported. The massacre triggered an islandwide revolt. In order to end the dispute, local leaders formed a settlement committee and called for reform.

Chen Yi, who deemed these leaders to be a bunch of bandits and mobsters, called in troops from mainland China to put down the revolt. This move took a heavy toll on the local people’s lives and property in the ensuing months and came to be known as the 228 Massacre. The government’s follow-up purge operation in the rural areas, and its employment of a “white terror” policy to strengthen the late President Chiang Kai-shek’s authoritarian regime undermined social harmony and impeded the country’s movement toward democracy.

Paradise Found: Isla Formosa

Ah, home sweet home.  And I do mean home, as I’m in the process of applying for permanent residency.  If only Taiwan could shut out the rest of the world, or make the rest of the world think and behave the same way as people here.

Marriage equality hasn’t passed yet, but the ruling DPP is gradually gathering support for passage of the law, which will likely be voted on in 2017, well before the 2018 elections.

Taiwan on verge of becoming first Asian country to allow same-sex marriage

Taiwan is on the verge of becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, according to the politician who tabled the new law.

A legislative committee approved an amendment to the civil code on 26 December, beginning a process that is expected to last until the middle of the year.

“We’re almost close to passing it,” Yu Mei-nu, the politician who introduced the marriage equality bill, told digital news company Global Post.

Another reason I’m glad to be here is quality of life.  There are work opportunities, equality and career opportunities for women, a safe country, relatively clean environment, low levels of violent crime, etc.  The biggest annoyance I’ve had was being verbally and physically harassed by an transphobic jerk the other day (the first time I’ve experienced that), and he was a foreigner.

Taiwan has also just been named the best place in the world for expatriates to live based on a variety of factors (work, education, health care, etc.) out of the top 21 countries. The list includes countries you expect – some of the Benelux, Nordic and Euro Union countries plus Australia, New Zealand and several Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, and Singapore).

Noticeably absent is the US, and that was before Petty Cash was elected.  The only other countries ranked as worth living in within North and South America are Costa Rica and Ecuador, according to 14,000 expatriates from around the world.

The top 21 countries for quality of life have been ranked

The countries with the best quality of life in the world have a good work-life balance, access to quality healthcare, education, and infrastructure, as well as cost of living and career opportunities. Great weather also helps.

In a new survey by InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, the company asked 14,300 expats, representing 174 nationalities and living in 191 countries or territories, to rate 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of 1-7.

The top 21 are in order:

  1. Taiwan
  2. Austria
  3. Japan
  4. Spain
  5. Costa Rica
  6. Malta
  7. Czech Republic (a/k/a Czechia)
  8. Singapore
  9. Germany
  10. Switzerland
  11. South Korea
  12. Canada
  13. New Zealand
  14. Portugal
  15. France
  16. Australia
  17. Luxembourg
  18. Ecuador
  19. Finland
  20. Hungary
  21. Denmark