Music Rules: The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy was an industrial/hip-hop band which sadly produced only one album on their own, 1992’s “Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury”(A second effort “Spare Ass Annie And Other Tales” was a collaboration with William S. Burroughs).

Oh, what an album it was.  It was more landslide than a landmark, its political and social messages on par with Gil Scott Heron and other activists.  The album still stands up today, worth listening to for its message an its music.

There are a couple of weak moments on the album, but most of its themes and messages stand the test of time and are still relevant today.  The standout tracks:

  • Television, the Drug of the Nation
  • Language of Violence
  • The Winter of the Long Hot Summer
  • INS Greencard A-19 191 500
  • California Über Alles

“California” is a cover, updated to talk about then-governor Pete Wilson.

Math Rules: Happy 400th to Napier’s Bones

In 1617, mathematician John Napier produced his bones, or rods, as a means of accurate multiplication and division.  These were improvements on earlier work by by Matrakci Nasuh and Fibonacci.  It was a huge step forward in accuracy and speed of computation for mathematicians and all scientists.  It allowed a simple, visual way to add numbers with single digit multiplication removed to prevent errors.

In the example below, to multiply 8 times 6785, you simply line up four bones on the board and read across at the 8. The product 54,280 is the result of adding the numbers (8+5 and 6+6 both carry).

William Oughtred is credited for producing the first slide rule in 1622, as well as coining sine and cosine and “x” for multiplication.  The slide rule did not allow for as many digits of precision as Napier’s bones, but certainly increased the speed of mathematical calculation.  One can compute two 2-digit numbers faster with a slide rule than with a calculator.


Visit the Virtual Slide Rule for a testable example of how the slide rule works.  First, slide the centre bar to until the 1 on the B scale is under the 2 on the A scale.  Now look to the right at the 3 on the B scale, which is now under the 6 on the A scale.  2×3=6.  Look also at the K scale which is used for cubing numbers.  2 on the B scale is under the 8, so 2^3=8.  The numbers between the integers can be used as decimals or smaller numbers (e.g. 1.5 in place of 15).  You only need to keep track of the powers of 10.

Later, in 1891, French railway engineer Henri Genaille improved upon Napier’s work with the
Genaille–Lucas rulers.  The rulers removed the additions necessary in Napier’s bones, increasing speed and accuracy.  The pointing lines on Genaille’s rulers removed the need for addition, greatly reducing errors in multiplying large numbers.

In the image below, multiplying 3 by 52,749 (158,247) requires only noting the digits from right to left.  Start with the 7 (3×9), then move left where the lines point.

The images are taken from wikipedia.  The virtual slide rule is from Antiquark.

Finally Allowed: Dual citizenship for foreigners in Taiwan

In the past, Taiwan laws required a foreigner renounce native citizenship before being approved for Taiwanese citizenship.  However, this left people at the risk of being “stateless persons” if Taiwan rejected their application.  In 2016, the law was amended to require renouncement of citizenship within a year after attaining Taiwanese citizenship.

Now, in March 2017, Taiwan has enacted new rules allowing foreigners with certain skills to keep their birth citizenship and obtain a Taiwanese passport as well.  I may apply for one myself, after I complete my permanent residency application.  While this is a good decision, it is still hypocritical because it does not apply to all naturalized citizens.  Taiwanese-born people are not required to renounce Taiwanese citizenship if they become dual citizens of another country, regardless of their education or skills.

There is no word on whether third gender recognition is included in this legislation.

Some immigrants no longer need to give up citizenship

The regulation concerning the criteria for foreigners with professional skills to obtain Republic of China citizenship, without being required to renounce their original citizenship, is to be promulgated today, the Ministry of the Interior announced.

The ministry is to promulgate today the regulation, which is in accordance with and supplementing an amendment to the Nationality Act (???) passed by the legislature in December last year that states foreign nationals may be exempted from submitting a certificate of loss of original nationality if “they are high-level professionals in the technological, economic, educational, cultural, art, sports, or other domains who have been recommended by the central competent authority.”

Foreigners with five years of residency and specific professional qualifications in six specified categories can be granted citizenship without renouncing their prior citizenship, it said.

Arguments Made: Taiwan court hears arguments on same sex marriage

On March 24, Taiwan’s constitutional court heard arguments for and against equal marriage in the country.  The judges are currently debating the case but there is no fixed time for rendering a decision.  Some have speculated that Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen is letting the courts to decide rather than trying to push legislation through.  Reasons range from lack of supporting votes to pass the law, a race against time before the next term of elections, or (unlikely) an unwillingness to force it through and let the courts face the backlash.

I have not heard news of judgement from the courts yet, but the arguments for equal marriage have been compelling and emotional, while arguments against have been the usual retreaded lies – “kids are in danger”, “freedom of religion to persecute”, “equal marriage will force heterosexuals to participate”.  I have a good feeling the court will rule in favour of equal marriage.

Taiwan constitutional court hears debate on same-sex marriage

Taipei, March 24 (CNA) Taiwan’s Constitutional Court on Friday heard arguments over whether the country’s marriage law is unconstitutional because it does not legally recognize same-sex marriages.

Fourteen grand justices heard the debate, which focused on whether Taiwan’s Civil Code should allow same-sex marriage and if not, whether that violates articles under the Constitution of the Republic of China pertaining to equality and marriage freedom.

It also addressed whether setting up a separate system, such as a same-sex partnership system, instead of treating same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples under the current law, violates the Constitution.

“I have waited for this day for 41 years, six months and 24 days,” gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei, who is one of the petitioners requesting the constitutional interpretation, told the court.

Oh, Shoot: American learns Taiwan has no right to possess guns

I say an American has no right to possess guns, because in Taiwan, her US police badge doesn’t mean squat.  Here, she’s under arrest for the crime of illegally importing a firearm.

I’m laughing my head off.  Meanwhile, the gun fetishists here are whining about “freedumb” and the “right to arm bears”.

My response to them has been, if you don’t like Taiwan’s gun laws, go home.  And if you think Taiwan is less free and democratic than the US, well….

U.S. police officer discovers pistol in bag on arrival in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A policewoman from California has been stranded in Taiwan since she reported that she had inadvertently brought a firearm and some ammunition in her bag on a flight that landed at Taoyuan International Airport on Thursday, authorities said.

The Aviation Police Bureau said the American police officer reported the matter to members of the airport’s ground staff after discovering the handgun and six rounds of ammunition in her carry-on bag.

The policewoman, identified as Nell Grant, handed over the pistol and ammunition and showed her badge as proof of her identity as a member of the California State Police, the authorities said.

How incompetent is she to put a gun in her bag – or not remove it – before travelling?  If you don’t know where your gun is, you shouldn’t have one. And how incompetent is the US’s “homeland security” if she could get through airport security and get on an airplane with a weapon?

I hope she gets the maximum sentence, two years in prison, and make an example of her the way they do with drug dealers.  Unfortunately, it’s more likely politicians will appease Washington and let her go.  I just hope they destroy the gun.

Wheels Turn: Bicycles, the past and future of transportation

March 2017 marked the 200th anniversary of the Velocipede (aka Dandy Horse), the first bicycle.  While it was a simple construction (two wheels with a connecting bar to sit on and push the ground with your feet), it was the first non-motorized transport that didn’t involve animals.

Bicycles played a huge role in the emancipation of women, allowing them to wear more functional clothing.  Bicycles allowed women to travel, but Victorian era clothing would be impossible on a bicycle.  Shorter skirts and pants for women were necessary and became socially acceptable clothing in the 20th century.

One hundred years ago, Alice Hawkins, a suffragette, cycled around Leicester promoting the women’s rights movement, causing outrage by being one of the first ladies to wear pantaloons in the city. During the fight to win the vote the bicycle became not only a tool but also a symbol for the emancipation of women.

The American civil rights leader, Susan B Anthony, wrote in 1896:

“I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.”

Bicycles have also played a huge part in warfare.  Forget the Swiss, think Britain, Nazi Germany, Japan (some called it “bicycle blitzkrieg”), Vietnam in its defence of the country, and the US during its illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.  They have long been used as fast transport for ground troops, messengers, and silent assaults upon enemy positions.

On October 13, 1967, Jack Salisbury, a New York Times reporter, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, saying, I literally believe that without bikes theyd have to get out of the war. He had seen first hand in North Vietnam how both the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army relied upon the bicycle to supply their troops. Senator Fulbright responded, Why dont we concentrate on bombing their bicycles instead of the bridges? Does the Pentagon know about this? According to reports, the room erupted in laughter at the idea of American bombers hunting bicycles.

US politicians may have been laughing, but the generals weren’t.  They knew.

It wasn’t just in the 20th century.  In the late 19th century, the US’s 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps performed a 1900 mile test to prove the viability of the bicycle for troop movement in warfare.  This test also played a role in acceptance of black soldiers in the US military.

In June of 1897, the all-black company of the 25th Mobile Infantry, under command of a white lieutenant and accompanied by a medic and a journalist, embarked on a journey across America’s heartland — from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri — to “test most thoroughly the bicycle as a means of transportation for troops.”

Their trek would span 41 days and 1,900 miles and pit the men against sandhills, the Rocky Mountains, rain, snow, poison, and more. Decades before Dr. King had his famous dream, these men were sweating together, bleeding together, and biking together as a team.

Their trip proved two truths that we should hold self-evident today: 1) All men are created equal; 2) All men are nowhere near as tough as they were in 1897.

Two-Wheeled Warriors – A Brief History of Bicycles on the Battlefield

Bicycles are the transportation of the future, not the past.  Environmental issues are forcing cities and countries to seriously rethink personal automotive transportation and put the focus on mass transit.  The “last mile problem” (i.e. not everyone lives or works next to transit) is why the car mentality persists.  But with problems like pollution and climate change, rail becoming more accomodating to bicycles, cities building more bike lanes, and folding bicycles becoming more reliable and cheaper, the days of the car may be numbered.

Electric bicycles are as viable as electric cars.  As battery power storage improves and batteries shrink in size, why move a one ton car when you can move a 30kg bicycle with a far smaller battery?  For those with limited endurance or physical mobility but can still walk, an electric bicycle is more than sufficient for travelling locally without reliance on vehicles or public transit.  Electric bicycles offer speed and distance (up to 24kmh and ranges up to 50km) without requiring licenses or registration. For those who lose (or should lose) their licenses due to an inability to drive safely anymore, it is a viable alternative transporation.

There is a lot of snobbery towards bicycles and cyclists, plenty of unthinking people with anti-bicycle attitudes who should never be allowed to drive.   The reality is, bicycles aren’t “outdated technology”, they are not a “hindrance to traffic”.  Bicycles are the most efficient mode of transportation in terms of power to distance travelled.  They aren’t just here to stay, they are on the rise.

And if you still don’t agree or like bicycles, I say on yer bike.