Noise Annoys: Summer Sedition

In advance of July 1st and July 4th, I would like to reiterate a point I made last January: noise is a weapon, not a “freedumb”. Noise in general, and fireworks specifically during these holidays, should be restricted, controlled, and prevented when it causes harm to others. People with PTSD, SPD, autism, misophonia, migraines, hearing loss and other conditions are strongly affected by excessive and unpredictable noise.  Animals are also easily terrified, putting them and people around them at risk.  I would also suggest reading the late Niki Massey’s take on fireworks, from July 2016.

From the Center for Hearing and Communication, emphasis mine:

Noise harms more than the ears

“Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.”

– William H. Stewart, former U.S. Surgeon General

Studies correlate noise with physiological changes in sleep, blood pressure, and digestion, and have linked noise with a negative impact on the developing fetus.


Noise and mental health

We all know the stress created by unwanted sound. Even noise that may not be at hazardous levels to our hearing can make us tense and angry. Consider how irritating the simple dripping of a faucet can be in the middle of the night, let alone more intrusive noises. Studies have found noise to be associated with increased aggression (Donnerstein and Wilson, 1976) and less helpful behavior (Mathews and Cannon, 1975). Numerous articles in major newspapers have reported noise disputes leading to violence and in England, (August, 1995) the Daily Mirror reported that in the previous six years, 16 people or more were murdered or committed suicide due to chronic noise.

[Read more…]

Canada Celebrates: Our home on native land

On July 1, 1867, Canada gained its independence from England. This Saturday marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation.


Call me cynical (I havenever been the flag waving type), but I have a suspicion this Saturday is going to be white history (and immigrants) day, with barely a token mention of First Nations people or what has been done to them. I will be going to the Canada Day event at Hakka Park in Taipei more to watch than participate. The theme seems to be nothing but a party during the day and fireworks at night, no mention of anything historical other than the number.

Resistance 150: Why Canada’s birthday celebrations aren’t for everyone

Many Indigenous people see little reason to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday

The Taiwanese attending the event (along with many non–Canadian foreigners) will likely get the impression it’s a land of immigrants without any mention of the people who were there first. I hope we see sorely needed protests in Canada that mirror those seen at recent pride parades (e.g. Black Lives Matter, Transgender activists).  If anyone dares to physically prevent First Nations protests, they would prove their validity.  Unfortunately, such protests are unlikely to happen here, and worse, discussing it will probably be shouted down, told “this isn’t the time for it”.

When IS it the time?  When no one is paying attention?

Taiwan has its own problems with rewriting history, erasure of indigenous culture and racism and discrimination that it has only started to address in recent years. I was here six years ago during the centenary of the independence from China. There was scarcely a mention of the fourteen indigenous groups (the Taroko, Amis, Bulun, Tayal and Tao, et al). You wouldn’t have known they were here based on the celebrations, it was all about ethnic Chinese immigrants. As I said above, I suspect Canada Day will be much the same.

Discrimination and incorporation of Taiwanese indigenous Austronesian peoples

Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine: The First Nations of Taiwan: A Special Report on Taiwan’s indigenous peoples

Yes, Racism Exists in Taiwan

And in a rare bright spot:

Taiwan Is Reinventing Its Relationship With Its Indigenous Peoples

Bruce Cockburn’s song “Stolen Land” is thirty years old, and things still aren’t much better than when he wrote it.

“Stolen Land”, Bruce Cockburn (1987)


From Tierra del Fuego to Ungava Bay

The history of betrayal continues to today

The spirit of Almighty Voice, the ghost of Anna Mae

Call like thunder from the mountains, you can hear them say

It’s a stolen land


Apartheid in Arizona, slaughter in Brazil

If bullets don’t get good PR there’s other ways to kill

Kidnap all the children, put ’em in a foreign system

Bring them up in no-man’s land where no one really wants them

It’s a stolen land


Stolen land — but it’s all we’ve got

Stolen land — and there’s no going back

Stolen land — and we’ll never forget

Stolen land — and we’re not through yet


In my mind I catch a picture, big black raven in the sky

Looking at the ocean, sail reflected in black eye

Sail as white as heroin, white like weathered bones

Rum and guns and smallpox gonna change the face of home

In this stolen land


If you’re like me you’d like to think we’ve learned from our mistakes

Enough to know we can’t play god with others’ lives at stake

So now we’ve all discovered the world wasn’t only made for whites

What step are you gonna take to try and set things right?

In this stolen land

Music Rules: Me, homesick? Never.

Saturday, July 1 is Canada Day, and Monday July 17 will mark sixteen years since I left Canada. Unlike most who live overseas, I haven’t been back once.  When I first arrived in South Korea, I assumed it would be a one year experience, that I would go back with some pictures and maybe a few dollars saved.  I didn’t expect it to turn into a whole new life.

Over that time, I really haven’t really been homesick.  I’ve gotten used to living without most things – TV, CBC radio, hockey, etc.  But if there is one thing I regret the loss of, it’s popular music in Canada (*).  Canada is, and always has been primarily a rock music culture (i.e. groups actually play instruments), not a pop culture where everything is made out of regurgitated samples.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if I lived in Japan which is also mostly a rock scene, or South Korea which has a great punk rock and alternative scene with many good bands over the years (despite most people’s impression that everything is kpop).

But Taiwan is definitely a pop country.  Most everything is safe, even “rock bands” like May Day.  Other than Chthonic which aren’t to my taste (the singer is an elected member of the DPP government and human rights activist) and Mary Bites Kerry which are a group I would listen to, there isn’t much played music.  The live jazz clubs would be great if they weren’t filth pits of cigarette smoke.

I was very happy to hear the Canadian band Headstones recently released a new album.  I needed to hear something good, anything good.

(* That, and turnips.  You just can’t get ’em here.)

I Wonder: Why the pinkwashing?

During the LGBTQIA Pride Parade in Chicago on June 21, a pro-Israel attempted to co-opt the parades message of inclusion by inserting a message of exclusion and militarism.  They were told to leave by the parade organizers, which immediately unleashed the usual false accusations of “anti-semitism”.

Chicago gay pride parade expels Star of David flags

Organisers of an LGBT-rights festival in Chicago are being accused of anti-Semitism after they expelled marchers carrying the Star of David.


In a social media post, the Dyke March said: “This decision was made after [the expelled marchers] repeatedly expressed support for Zionism during conversations with Dyke March Collective members.”


In a statement, the Dyke March Collective later accused Ms Grauer’s organistion of “using Israel’s supposed ‘LGBTQ tolerance’ to pinkwash the violent occupation of Palestine”.

Why are pro-Israel groups and Israel itself so desperate to pinkwash the country and its alleged “acceptance” of LGBTQIA people, desperate to get the world’s LGBTQIA people to take its side?

In part it is a numbers game.  Israel has long offered citizenship to anyone of jewish descent, even LGBTQIA people.  The country is vastly outnumbered in the region.  Increasing the population occupies more land and enlarges the country’s military reserves.

Now I suspect the reason is very different.  Of all the groups in the world that oppose the apartheid state, LGBTQIA people are the one group that cannot be falsely accused of anti-semitism, having been the victims of the same atrocities during World War II.  I’m not referring to blood libel and other repulsive statements which most definitely are anti-semitism.  Rather, I’m speaking of opposition to Israel’s militarism and crimes against humanity (e.g. mentioning that Israel used white phosphorus on Gaza in 2009).  The false accusations of “anti-semitism” can’t stick the way they do with other groups.

Intersectionality is when the oppressed band together to support each other.  Israel is not the oppressed anymore.  It is the oppressor, and Palestinians are the oppressed, which is why their fight for human rights must be supported.  It is not anti-semitism to support equal rights for all groups.  LGBTQIA people are the one group that cannot be falsely accused, which makes saying it all the more important.

Music Rules: Enjoy the day, though not everyone does

To those who have parents deserving of your love, and especially their fathers on June 18th, I offer best wishes to you. Enjoy the day. If they are alive, call and let them know. If they are gone, my condolences and I hope you have a lot of memories.

Queen, “Father To Son” (1974)

However, not everyone feels the same way.

For those who have regrettable parents and families not worth celebrating, I hope the day passes with as few reminders as possible and you find peace of mind. Father’s day and mother’s day can bristle as much to some as valentine’s day or christmas do to others.

The Grapes Of Wrath, “Peace Of Mind” (1987)

Malaise shown: Call it anything but a hate crime

An eighteen year old boy named T. Nhaveen has been declared dead, five days after a brutal assault and rape by five attackers.

Predictably, the corporate media both in Asia, North America and elsewhere are describing and portaying this story as “bullying”, not violence against someone suspected of being gay. Nhaveen had repeatedly been harassed and assaulted by many people because he was not physically large nor exhibited toxic masculinity as his murderers did. It’s as if the media consider anally raping Nhaveen with inanimate objects to be unrelated to the crime, to not be a crime at all.

Malaysia teen Nhaveen dies after brutal assault by bullies

It is rare to see items addressing the issue:

5 Malaysians face murder charge over bullying death

Nhaveen’s mother, D. Shanti, was quoted by The Star newspaper as saying that her son had been bullied by one of the suspects in school three years ago but kept quiet to avoid more assaults.

“My son said that boy told him, ‘You are a pondan (transsexual) and I have to make you a man,'” Shanti told The Star.

What’s also not being mentioned is the Malaysian government’s culpability for this assault. On June 3, the government issued a call for “ways to prevent homosexuality. And in February 2017, the government openly advocated torture and abuse of LGBTQIA people under the fiction of “reparative therapy”.

Malaysia defends contest on how to ‘prevent’ homosexuality, cites youth health concerns (June 3, 2017)

Malaysian government openly endorses gay conversion therapy (14 February 2017)

The Malaysian government has blood on its hands, but with a public that supports such crimes by supporting the ruling party, violence against LGBTQIA people will likely continue to be a problem.

History Repeats: Mistakes made again and again

An appalling hashtag “don’t racialize our flag” is appearing on facebook. The addition of two colours to the LGBTQIA flag was meant to be only for Philadelphia, but the “we’re not racist!” hostility towards it is quickly becoming an issue for all LGBTQIA people. Being blind to privilege and minimizing a valid concern does not solve anything. Sadly, the responses have been predictable:

“This isn’t about race!”

“It’s divisive!”

“The pride flag already includes black and brown people!”

If that were true, why do people feel excluded? Why did Black Lives Matted need to stop the pride parade in Toronto last year, and other events this month? Why…gimme a break.  There’s an old maxim:

A smart person learns from experience.

A smarter person learns from other people’s experience.

So what does that make those who intentionally fail to learn from others’ mistakes and experiences?

Second wave feminism of the past was exclusionary, leaving out anyone who wasn’t white, middle class and straight until third wave feminists tossed the dinosaurs aside. Atheism became “acceptable” public discussion starting the 1990s, but excluded pretty much anyone who wasn’t white or male. Some have clued in and become inclusive, but there are still pigheaded types out there.

And now LGBTQIA people are making the same stupid mistakes, ignoring, minimizing and excluding non-white people. The backlash against Black Lives Matter reasonable demands in Toronto was bad enough, but you think people would get it. Apparently not. Racism, patronizing attitudes and the “wait your turn” (*) mentality are happening again in the wake of the amended Pride flag. Some LGBTQIA facebook groups I participate in are approaching civil war, privileged clowns too clueless to get it attacking people who say change needs to happen.

* By “wait your turn” mentality, I’m referring to larger minorities asking smaller minorities for support and saying, “We’ll take care of you later.” And by taking care, it means “I got mine” and stabbing the smaller group in the back (re: gay white male republicans supporting Trump). Anyone who says “wait your turn” has no intention of helping others have their turn.

Crime Waves: Say hi, with both hands raised

For the most part, Taiwan is a safe country to live in. Petty crime isn’t a major problem, and while public sexual harassment of women exists, the government cracks down and prosecutes.

(Nearly all of the anti-foreigner animosity and aggression I have experienced here and elsewhere in Asian countries has been anti-american sentiment. Oh, désolé, mon ami! Y a-t-il quelque chose qui ne va pas? One of the first things I learnt while abroad was how quickly “she doesn’t speak English” changes people’s attitudes. It’s easy and inoffensive self-defence. My knowledge of French is déplorable, but most of them don’t know that. ^_^)

Violent crime in Taiwan seems to happen in bursts, like earthquakes and tremors. There’s nothing for a while, then a lot all at once. The past month has been one after another. A similar wave of violence happened last January.

Trigger Warning: violent crimes described. DEFINITELY a TW here.

Kaohsiung (May 20): 54 year old man beheads 52 year old mentally disabled sister.

Taichung (June 3): Man kills his older brother, incinerates his face and hands. The victim was involved in gambling, the suspect involved in fraud-related crimes.

Taipei (June 6): In two separate incidents, police shot multiple bullets into the cars of driver who attempted to run road blocks. No injuries to the drivers were reported. Both were later charged in relation to other separate crimes.  This happened only a few kilometres from where I live, but I was at work when it happened, far from the highway.

Taipei (June 13): 45 year old mercedes driver stabs three in road rage attack, including the 61 year old driver of another vehicle.

Taipei (June 18): Mercedes driver commits hit and run murder of motorist on scooter. The scooter rider’s leg was torn off, found later on the car after the mercedes driver was caught.

Road rage is a regular event here in Taiwan, and I’ve experienced some myself as a pedestrian.  On May 10, a 25 year old beat up a 60 year old who had properly stopped at a red light. The elder man’s presence prevented the younger man from running a red light, which the younger felt “justified” attacking the elder man.  But why worry about committing road rage when you only get eleven years for murder (January 2017)?


Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus drivers here fit all the same stereotypes about aggression and reckless driving as in every other country.  We’ve got blue truck drivers, too, plus scooter gangs in Kaohsiung.  And people still ask me why I don’t want to buy a scooter.

Taichung (June 13): A (thankfully stupid) 25 year old man posted a video to youtube of airguns he had illegally converted to being lethal weapons.  He had planned to sell them.

Kaohsiung (June 12): An organized crime member known as “Leopard” was arrested for possession of a submachine gun as well as other illegal weapons.

Chiayi (June 16): A man’s body found after ten years at the elementary school where he worked. His brother said the man was preparing to give documents relating to a school engineering project fraud to county government investigators before he went missing.

But if you want to buy your way out of a stiff sentence for crimes, you can:

Chiayi (May 28): Former Jhuci mayor’s prison sentence reduced to 15 years in prison after payment to the victim’s family (NTD$25m, US$820,000).  Now the question is where did the ex-mayor get the money?  Hmm…any relation to the school employee’s murder?

And then there’s the torrential “Plum Rains” which have hit Taiwan. I have been here eleven years, and I’ve never seen rain like this, not even during typhoons. People my age who have lived here their whole lives say the same thing. The rains will continue for another five days, making it exactly three weeks of constant rain. There have been major road closures in many places, landslides, and even flooding on one of the runways at Taoyuan International Airport.

Heavy rain warning issued for most of Taiwan

Central and northern Taiwan, as well as mountainous areas in southern Taiwan, are likely to see the worst weather conditions, with accumulated rainfall of more than 200 millimeters within 24 hours, or more than 100 millimeters over three hours, according to the warning.

And to think just a few weeks ago people were making a stink about Taiwanese citizens working for UAE airlines being forced to wear PRC lapel buttons.  Priorities, people.

Three Strikes Again: You’re out, Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick is now a former NFL quarterback.  Not just the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, but of the entire NFL now that the owners have collectively decided not employ him.  Teams in search of backup quarterbacks have hired several in the past week, some of whom threw fewer NFL passes in the past four years, than Kaepernick has thrown in single games this past season.

Deadspin: The NFL Machine Has Finally Beaten Colin Kaepernick

Remember November 2009 when Tiger Woods was exposed as a scumbag and serial philanderer?  Within 24 hours, all the major sports media and regular news broadcasts aired detailed exposés on his actions, proclivities and whereabouts.

Question: How did the corporate media collect all that information on Woods so quickly?

Answer: They already had it.  They knew, and they kept their mouths shut.  They were more concerned about “access” and their careers than the truth.

The corporate media kissed the PGA’s posterior by not reporting what they already knew to be true.  They did it because they didn’t want to become another Lisa Olson, the sportswriter who was harassed, blacklisted, tried in the media and forced out of the US for twenty years after speaking out about sexual harassment in the New England Patriots’ locker room.

Remember April 2014 when Donald Sterling’s racism and ignorance were exposed to the world?  Within 24 hours, all the major sports media and regular news broadcasts aired detailed exposés on his actions and words.

Question: How did the corporate media collect all that information on Sterling so quickly?

Answer: They already had it.  They knew, and they kept their mouths shut.  They were more concerned about “access” and their careers than the truth.

The corporate media kissed the NBA owners’ posteriors by not reporting what the media and the owners already knew to be true.  The media did it because they didn’t want to be shut out of locker rooms and denied pass credentials.  Instead, they began questioning black NBA players, current and former, asking what they thought about it instead of explaining their silence, their failure to report what they knew.  The corporate media were blaming the black NBA players for Donald Sterling’s actions, and black Americans in general for being offended instead of “being grateful” as the subtle implication was made.

And now we have Colin Kaepernick, who protested the way powerful white people said black people should protest: quietly, dignified, not “a distraction” and not be “angry black people”.

Question: How is the corporate media framing the story about Kaepernick?

Answer: They are engaging in character assassination on the NFL’s behalf.  They are more concerned about “access” and their careers than the truth.

The corporate media are serving the NFL’s interests by calling Kaepernick “washed up”, “not a starter”, “not good enough to be a backup”, “doesn’t stay in the pocket” (read: doesn’t play the position like the white players do, while Russell Wilson and Cam Newton don’t either), “asking for too much money”, “too much for the salary cap”, among other fictions and excuses.

Kaepernick did what the white power said to do and has now been blacklisted by the NFL, his career effectively over.  This goes far beyond mere collusion and reeks of overt racism.  It would make a very good case for a civil rights lawsuit, and I hope he files one against the NFL and wins.  I would love to see them have to pay millions in a settlement.  It might not affect their undeserved tax free status, but it certainly would be a blow to the business.

In related news, here’s another reason I haven’t watched football in six years:

Body Found In River Identified As Former NFL Receiver James Hardy

James Hardy was a second-round pick out of Indiana who spent two seasons with the Bills before leaving the NFL in 2011. Hardy was reported missing a week ago, and yesterday afternoon, the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Police Department announced that they had found a dead body lodged against a dam in the Maumee River. The Allen County coroner’s office confirmed shortly after that it was Hardy, although a cause of death has not yet been determined. He was 31 years old.


In 2014, Hardy was arrested and charged with felony resisting arrest after allegedly injuring two LAPD officers. TMZ reported later that year that a judge had ruled Hardy unfit to stand trial and committed him to a state mental institution.

Gee, you don’t think CTE could explain this, do you?