Evergrande Schemes: It’s more of a bomb than a bubble

As I’m sure most have heard, China’s second largest land developer Evergrande is in dire financial straits.  Evergrande has debts of over US$400 billion (reported as only US$300 billion two weeks ago) that are due immediately, and the company lacks the cash to pay it off.  As of today, it managed to scrape together US$1.5 billion to calm one creditor, but that’s a drop in the bucket.

People are comparing this to the Lehman Brothers collapse, but that’s not the only valid comparison.  This is on par with Enron.  In 2001, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling pumped out ENRON shares at $90 and paying themselves millions in bonuses, knowing the company would collapse in a matter of weeks.  Those who “invested” at ENRON lost everything, and only the wealthy were compensated.

Evergrande’s chairman Hui Ka Yan was threatening his workers, telling them to invest their life savings in the company or they wouldn’t get paid their bonuses (and he would know whether they did or not).  Many did, by force and by fear, and now may lose everything if when the corporation collapses.  Meanwhile, Hui paid himself $11 billion in dividends (reported as only US$8 billion two weeks ago).

Where ENRON and Evergrande differ is who loses money.  ENRON only ripped off individuals and investment houses; it was mostly the already wealthy who were hit.  Banks were protected by the FDIC.  In China, many of those hurt will be individuals trying to save and own a home, losing their life savings with no means of compensation; the regime certainly won’t care about how this affects individual citizens unless it causes a revolution.  But just as important, 171 banks (mostly Chinese, some foreign) and over 100 investment firms are on the hook for loans to Evergrande.  If the debts are over US$400 billion, then we’re talking over a trillion in financing.  And unlike the G7 “too big to fail” attitude, the mass murdering PRC government may choose to let it fail unless that takes away their control.  Then it may just seize and nationalize the company instead.

Property giant’s looming collapse threatens to destroy China’s growth model

As the Chinese property titan teeters on the brink of collapse, there are growing fears its ruin could threaten China’s entire economic model.

As the crisis facing the world’s most indebted real estate company rages on, many experts have remained cautiously optimistic that the nightmare was under control.

But there are now growing fears that Evergrande’s potential collapse won’t be able to be contained as easily as many initially believed.

And there’s a reasonable chance it could end up shattering China’s wider growth model along with it.

Evergrande’s troubles began as China’s real estate market soared, with demand for homes in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai sending prices skyrocketing.

The company took out a string of loans and expanded rapidly, snapping up assets and making the most of China’s thriving economy.

But when property prices began to drop in smaller cities, and when the Chinese government rolled out measures to curtail over-the-top property borrowing, via its so-called “red lines” policy, it left Evergrande in the lurch, with mountains of debt totalling a whopping $408 billion.

[. . .]

Despite serious alarm over the Evergrande saga, many economic gurus have clung to the belief the government wouldn’t let the company fail or – if it did – the threat facing the wider economy would be curtailed.

But according to an alarming article by Bloomberg’s Andrew Browne, Evergrande’s “controlled explosion” might not be so easily contained after all.

And Browne argues the nightmare “may eventually blow up China’s entire economic growth model”.

The analysis explains that China’s growth model has long been based on the “doubtful” idea that demand for real estate is “inexhaustible”, which means prices will always rise.

But in reality, “migrant flows are drying up” – a trend exacerbated but not caused by the Covid pandemic – which means there’s nobody to buy all those shiny new apartments.

You can’t have infinite growth in a finite economy or world.  Like all ponzi schemes, Hui depended on a constant influx of new money from suckers.  Now that the public know, they won’t buy apartments even at half the offered price.  And as the money dries up, the inevitable collapse happens.

Because of how the PRC controls banks, most of the debt collapse will be internal to China unless they demand debtor developing nations suddenly pay up.  (Wouldn’t it be fun to see all of Africa and Latin America say “No.” at the same time?)  The biggest international effect will likely be the sudden stop in construction and end of demand for raw materials.

If Beijing was willing to make Jack Ma disappear for three months and throw him into a “re-education camp” (or whatever they did with him), it’s not beyond belief the regime would do the same or worse to Hui if he collapses the entire PRC financial system.  The only human rights that the PRC believe in are the right eye, right lung and right kidney which they can sell to transplant tourists.

Nota Bene: September 28 is International Safe Abortion Day

As the title says, September 28th is International Safe Abortion Day.  I wish I heard about events like these more in advance.


From September28.org:

Statement for International Safe Abortion Day 28 September 2021 :  To the United Nations and all national governments

For this year’s International Safe Abortion Day, we call upon all countries to: remove all laws and policies restricting the right to safe abortion on request; facilitate access to safe abortion and post-abortion care for everyone who needs them; ensure that post-abortion care is available on an emergency basis at community level, provided by midwives trained in MVA and/or with pills; move abortions out of hospitals except for very late and complicated cases; allow outpatient medical abortion in the second trimester, with social distancing in the clinic and without requiring operating theatre conditions; approve medical abortion pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) on national Essential Medicines Lists; decriminalise abortion to the extent possible − raising or omitting the upper time limit, removing barriers and third party approval, aiming to make abortion a woman’s right to choose.We urge everyone to develop vigorous advocacy campaigns to demonstrate to governments and health professionals the safety, efficacy and acceptability of de-medicalised approaches to safe abortion as part of universal health coverage.

From the World Health Organization’s twitter page:

From the She Decides twitter page:

From the Amnesty Ireland twitter page:

Common Sense Prevails: Taiwan is adopting the Norwegian model

In 2017, Taiwan’s supreme court ruled that there was no argument against marriage equality, a decision which forced the government to write new legislation or marriage equality would become law by default.  While the current legislation is lacking (the only non-cishetero foreigners who can marry Taiwanese people are those whose country has marriage equality), it is being changed.

As of last Thursday, the supreme court has also made the decision that Transgender and Non-Binary people should not be forced to obtain surgery and sterlization in order to obtain legal gender recognition, to change of names and gender on documentation.  This is the law in Norway and a few other places.  Considering the discrimination in housing and employment that Transgender and Non-Binary people face which leads to poverty, it was onerous to demand that we pay for expensive surgeries before being guaranteed human rights protections.

Having full legal human rights protections will help people live more stable lives, get better jobs and earn more if they still or want to pay for surgery.  Or NOT pay for surgery if they don’t want to have it.

The decision is still imperfect, since Taiwan’s identity and documentation system only provides “male” and “female”, when it should include at least a third option that other countries have.  But it’s a big step in the proper direction.

Court Rules Against Laws Requiring Proof of Surgery, Sterilization for Changing Legal Gender

THE TAIPEI HIGH Administrative Court ruled against laws requiring transgender people to provide proof of surgery to change their legal gender this afternoon [September 23]. The announcement was made shortly after 4 PM, with a decision in favor of the plaintiff, known as Xiao E.

Xiao E was represented by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), the organization that represented longtime LGBTQ activist Chi Chia-wei in the case that resulted in the legalization of gay marriage in Taiwan two years ago. Xiao E had filed a lawsuit after she was not allowed to change her gender from male to female on her national ID card without proof of surgery at the Daxi Household Registration Office in Taoyuan. This resulted in an administrative lawsuit being filed in March of this year, with the TAPCPR announcing a petition on the issue on April 1st, timed to coincide with International Trans Day of Visibility. The TAPCPR will hold a formal press conference on the ruling tomorrow morning.

Previous laws required proof of surgery in order to be allowed to legally change one’s gender, which included specifying what body parts needed to be surgically removed to qualify for being able to legally change one’s gender. Transgender women were required to surgically remove their penis and testicles while transgender men were required to surgically remove their breasts, uterus, and ovaries. A mental health evaluation from two psychiatric specialists was also required.

Nevertheless, one notes that ROC law demonstrates a highly biological view of gender, when many transgender individuals may identify as a different gender than that which they were identified at birth but may not wish to undergo surgery. Previous laws also necessitated the sterilization of those that wished to legally change their gender, as well as imposing the cost of surgery upon them.

To this extent, the TAPCPR argued that the surgery requirement was in defiance of international human rights conventions that Taiwan has ratified, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The TAPCPR further pointed to legal precedents elsewhere, such as in the European Union, in which the European Court of Human Rights struck down similar regulations on the basis that they violated human rights protections. For its part, the Ministry of the Interior’s interpretation asserted the right to equality, privacy, and personal freedoms protections with regards to the ruling.

I have a suspicion this ruling will only apply to Taiwanese citizens, not to foreigners with ARCs and APRCs. Even so, I’m happy that people will now have legal protections when it comes to employment, housing and other places they often face discrimination.

New Bloom Mag (a Taiwan LGBTQ+ publication) posted a follow up item on Friday:

LGBTQ+ Groups Celebrate Ruling Against Surgery Requirement for Legal Gender Change

THIS MORNING AT 10:00 AM, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) hosted a press conference regarding yesterday afternoon’s Taipei High Administrative Court ruling against regulations requiring proof of surgical intervention to change one’s legal gender. The historic ruling in favor of plaintiff Xiao E found existing legal gender change regulations to be unconstitutional. Assuming that this ruling does not get appealed, Xiao E will be able to change her legal gender and become Taiwan’s first transgender woman to do so without submitting proof of surgery.

[. . .]

[T]he Taipei High Administrative Court will issue formal written judgments to both parties within two weeks. The Daxi Household Registration Office can submit an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court within twenty days upon receiving the written judgment. Press conference participants speculate that it is unlikely that yesterday’s ruling will get appealed since government officials have already expressed their support for eliminating the surgery requirement for changing one’s legal gender.

How badly will the heads of TERFs and other bigoted scum explode over this one?  Or are they too busy spreading hateful propaganda to notice?

The TERFs and bigots certainly haven’t noticed that all of the known or rumoured sexual predators and rapists in Taiwan (Taiwanese and foreigners) have been cishetero binary males.


Time To Rehash: How and why I choose my sources

A year ago, I wrote a post (“Sources Named: Who I quote and why“) explaining how and why I choose my sources.  I want to know something is an original source, or a retelling or re-reporting.  Sometimes, the source ends up being fifth hand, with very different wording or meaning than the original.  It ends up being a game of telegraph rather than telephone.

I also said I prefer scientific sources or university publication over news sources.  Commercial news likes to embellish, either to sell fear or false hope rather than print boring facts.  When was the last time you saw “study reconfirms theory”?  An item from the past week shows why I do this.



Taiwan News is “journalism” on par with The Express (UK) or “weekly world news”.  I don’t believe anything TN posts, even when it goes back to the original source and its hard to get wrong (e.g. earthquake reports).  So when they published an item last week (9/23) about a “cure for diabetes”, my immediate response was, “Yeah, right.”

Taiwanese scientists discover potential cure for diabetes

Taiwanese scientists have discovered a key mechanism that causes diabetes and developed a new drug treatment that could “fully reverse” the disease, according to reports.

Diabetes has been shown to be caused by the loss and function of Beta cells (β-cells) in pancreatic islets, which are regions of the pancreas that contain hormone-producing cells. Yang Wen-chin (楊文欽) and his team at Academia Sinica’s Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center (ABRC) have discovered through experiments on mice that the protein-coding gene, Pdia4 (Protein Disulfide Isomerase Family A Member 4), is responsible for the destruction of β-cells and that inhibiting this gene can prevent and even reverse the loss of such cells.

The so-called “news” mentions a couple of names, but zero sources.  I’ve been waiting for a better report, and actively seeking scientific papers to see how wrong Taiwan News was.

On Saturday (9/25), the Taipei Times showed why sources matter.  Not only do they more accurately call this a treatment for diabetes, not a “cure”, they also cite the scientific publication where it was published.  Now I consider this a credible story.

Study finds diabetes-linked gene

Taiwanese researchers have identified a gene that they say might help doctors treat diabetes.

A study by a research team at Academia Sinica’s Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center showed that the expression of protein disulfide isomerase family A member 4 (PDIA4) is linked to diabetes.

The research was published in this month’s issue of EMBO Molecular Medicine, an open-source, peer-reviewed scientific journal based in Europe.

Details make a difference – who wrote it, where it’s published, and how to find it and then read it.  The details of the paper are waaayyy over my head (though I’m sure PZM understands it), but you can get the gist of it from the abstract (page 1 of the PDF, and below) and Paper Explained (page 19):

Pdia4 regulates β-cell pathogenesis in diabetes: molecular mechanism and targeted therapy


Loss of β-cell number and function is a hallmark of diabetes. β-cell preservation is emerging as a promising strategy to treat and reverse diabetes. Here, we first found that Pdia4 was primarily expressed in β-cells. This expression was up-regulated in β-cells and blood of mice in response to excess nutrients. Ablation of Pdia4 alleviated diabetes as shown by reduced islet destruction, blood glucose and HbA1c, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and increased insulin secretion in diabetic mice. Strikingly, this ablation alone or in combination with food reduction could fully reverse diabetes. Conversely, overexpression of Pdia4 had the opposite pathophysiological outcomes in the mice. In addition, Pdia4 positively regulated β-cell death, dysfunction, and ROS production. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that Pdia4 increased ROS content in β-cells via its action on the pathway of Ndufs3 and p22phox. Finally, we found that 2-b-D-glucopyranosyloxy1-hydroxytrideca 5,7,9,11-tetrayne(GHTT), a Pdia4 inhibitor, suppressed diabetic development in diabetic mice. These findings characterize Pdia4 as a crucial regulator of β-cell pathogenesis and diabetes, suggesting Pdia4 is a novel therapeutic and diagnostic target of diabetes.

I said nineteen months ago I would amend, update, and link to the 2020 post on the main page.  Oops.

Music Rules: And toxic masculinity drools

Yes, another post about music, but this goes in a different direction.

I love music and musicianship. Some people bristle when I say, “If it’s not made with instruments or a cappella, it’s not music.” I prefer people who can recreate their work live, alone or in a group, not by “scratching” or “sampling”. Because of this, nearly everything I listen to is individuals or groups who play, very little electronica.

Nearly all of the new musicians I’ve started listening to in the last few years are independent groups found on youtube, people creating new work or younger people doing covers of other bands, and they’re genuinely good. Unintentionally, most of them are women, which is even more exciting, seeing musicians who would normally be ignored or mistreated by record companies and the media.  Youtube and other social media lets them find an audience they couldn’t reach otherwise and control their own content and public image.

An example of being mistreated is a group I hadn’t heard of until two years ago: Fanny, whose first album came out in 1971, fifty years ago (video: trailer for the documentary about their career). They were a fearsome foursome of women, two Filipina-American sisters and two Americans, with great talent. Unfortunately, sexism in the music industry weighed on them and the band came to an end by the mid-1970s. Listen to a few of their songs and find a new/old instant favourites.

Below the fold is a list new musicians I listen to and links to their music. But it’s not just the music that’s interesting, it’s the response of the public.  It ain’t the 1970s anymore.

“Don’t read the comments” is the universal warning whenever women are writing or talking, but that doesn’t apply when it’s women musicians.  DO read the comments.  Sexist and dismissive comments by men are the exception, not the norm, when women are great players.  (Then again, male music heads are different from typical fanboys.)  And it’s not just sexism that disappears, so does racism; one of them (listed below) is MelSickScreamoAnnie, a teenage muslim from Indonesia (listed below) who plays covers of Death Metal and Thrash Metal.  She’s great.

This is NOT to suggest that women should have to be great musicians or be obviously and visibly skilled in their field to be respected.  That should be the default position, women shouldn’t have to “prove” or be challenged by toxic males in any job or field.  But it does show that men can treat women with respect for their ability, not automatically “challenge” women simply for being.

If a nurse or doctor has a job at a hospital, or teaching at a university, it means she’s qualified, end of discussion. If a woman is doing a public speaking event, it means she has the knowledge and qualifications to get an invite.  And even if she’s working a 9 to 5 sales clerk job, that’s still no reason.

More below.

[Read more…]

Volcanoes Cause And Affect: I never thought about this before

In the post about the Carrington Event, I mentioned the Mount Tambora eruption of 1815.  It was labelled “Year Without a Summer” because temperatures worldwide dropped by half a degree, leading to massive crop failures and starvation in regions with shorter summers (primarily, those north of 45 degrees lattitude).  And yesterday, I mentioned World Car Free Day, which was about encouraging people to give up cars and find other means of transportation that are better for both individuals and the environment.

What I didn’t expect was a link to a post from four years ago, about the 200th anniversary of the Velocipede in 1817.  One item I read pointed out the fact that the velocipede and bicycle may be an indirect result of the Mount Tambora explosion.  It wasn’t just human crops that were affected by the Earth cooling for a year.  Hay and other plants eaten by horses and cows also became scarce, leading to a mass die off of farm and pack animals.  The velocipede was invented (and thus bicycles and perhaps cars too) because people needed a means of transport that didn’t require animals.

A volcano gave us the bike

A volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia was the direct reason we got the bike 200 years ago … Confused? Not after this explanation.

In April 1815, the most powerful volcanic eruption occurred in modern times on the island of Sumbawa in today’s Indonesia. The stratovolcano has today a diameter of 60 kilometers, erupted a powerful fire column and produced violent lava flows.

The eruption led to a lot of deaths and extreme changes in weather conditions around the globe. The crops failed and in the following year – 1816 – and this year became known as the “year without summer”.

“In Europe this followed several years with bad crops. Livestock were slaughtered to prevent hunger death. Also the horses, which were absolutely necessary transport animals, had to die”, explains Reginald L. Hermanns (leader of the Geohazard and Earth Observation team) at the Geological Survey of Norway.

And what happened then …?

The German inventor Karl von Drais took the challange to find something that could replace the horse for transport. In 1817 he introduced “Die Laufmaschine”, the predecessor of the Velocipede. On June 12th, 1817, he undertook an eight kilometer bike ride from Mannheim to the “Schwetzinger Relaishaus” inn.

[. . .]

To put the bike in a larger perspective, Hermanns explains the issue this way:

“As you have read; A local volcanic eruption leads to a global impact on climate. Local reductions in greenhouse gases can also contribute to global effect. When we use the bike, instead of driving a car or using other motorized vehicles, we reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. By cycling eight kilometers on June 12th, you will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and make aware of contributing to the green shift. The volcanic eruption in 1815 taught us that there is only one earth”.

The Mount Tambora explosion also reminded me of another anniversary: Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which erupted in June 15, 1991, thirty years ago.  It was the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century.  Pinatubo stands as an argument for why governments should listen to the scientists and make fact-based decisions.  How many thousands would have died if Ferdinand Marcos were still the Philippine dictator instead of popularly elected president Corazon Aquino, if more than 60,000 people hadn’t been evacuated?  (See also: Cheetolini, Biden and COVID-19.)  Less than a thousand in total were hurt by Pinatubo.

From EOS.org:

Pinatubo 25 Years Later: Eight Ways the Eruption Broke Ground

From the first rapid assessment of a volcano’s history to insights on geoengineering, the 15 June 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo changed the way we approach and learn from volcanic hazards.

On 3 April 1991, Sister Emma Fondevilla, a missionary based in a native Aeta village on the flanks of Mount Pinatubo, on the Philippine island of Luzon, led a group of villagers to meet with scientists from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). Fondevilla and the villagers told the scientists about a series of steam eruptions on the northwestern side of the mountain.

What unfolded next would change history. Somehow, against severe odds, scientists convinced officials to evacuate more than 65,000 people living in Pinatubo’s shadow. Their tireless efforts stand as one of the most successful hazard mitigation efforts of a large volcanic eruption.

On 15 June at approximately 1:42 p.m. local time, Pinatubo erupted—the largest volcanic blast since Alaska’s Novarupta in 1912. Its ash cloud contained 5 cubic kilometers of material—lofted to 40 kilometers high. Because a passing typhoon simultaneously brought heavy rains, fast moving flows of ash, mud, and volcanic debris called lahars rushed down the volcano, flattening towns, smashing through jungle, and smothering rice paddies and sugarcane fields. The water also mixed with falling ash, creating a cement-like substance, and many buildings caved in from the weight. More than 350 people died during the eruption, most from collapsing roofs.

From the USGS, 2016:

Remembering Mount Pinatubo 25 Years Ago: Mitigating a Crisis

Bursts of gas-charged magma exploded into umbrella ash clouds, hot flows of gas and ash descended the volcano’s flanks and lahars swept down valleys. The collaborative work of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) saved more than 5,000 lives and $250 million in property by forecasting Pinatubo’s 1991 climactic eruption in time to evacuate local residents and the U.S. Clark Air Force Base that happened to be situated only 9 miles from the volcano.

U.S. and Filipino scientists worked with U.S. military commanders and Filipino public officials to put evacuation plans in place and carry them out 48 hours before the catastrophic eruption. As in 1991 at Pinatubo, today the USGS is supported by The US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance to provide scientific assistance to countries around the world though VDAP, the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program. The program and its partners respond to volcanic unrest, build monitoring infrastructure, assess hazards and vulnerability, and improve understanding of eruptive processes and forecasting to prevent natural hazards, such as volcanic eruptions, from becoming human tragedies.

The eruptions of Mount St. Helens in May 1980 and Soufrière Hills on Montserrat in July 1995 are examples of what happens when scientists are ignored by people who don’t want to listen.  But with a violent brute like Duterte in power in the Philippines, will he listen if the active Taal volcano is predicted to erupt?  Unlike Pinatubo which is 80km northwest of Manila (the jet stream carried ash north and east across Luzon), Taal is only 50km from downtown Manila, an urban metropolis of 22 million.  Even if Taal has a small eruption radius (say, 10km), there are still millions within the vicinity.

Here are two videos about Pinatubo in 1991.  The first is from PBS’s NOVA, and the second from National Geographic.

Those In Crisis Care: An array of states in states of disarray

Alaska, Idaho, and Montana have all declared emergencies in their health care systems, and enacted Crisis Care rules for determining who gets treatment.

For year, republiclowns lied that universal health care would lead to “rationing” and “euthanasia”.  How will they explain to constituents now that their refusal to enforce mask wearing and discouraging vaccination has now led to rationed care and doctors forced to choose who lives and dies?  There is already one confirmed case of a patient who died from lack of care.  As Rachel Maddow reported on her show (video below), two people in need of kidney dialysis were forced to wait for treatment because hospitals were overrun with COVID-19 patients.  One of the two died.

This will continue to get worse, and continue to spread to other republican states.  How long before trumpkin sycophants and wannabes like Desantis lie and claim “Biden is euthanizing people, don’t get vaccinated!”?

More below.

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Swipe Me: I got the shock of my life today

I went to work today, as per usual.  Unfortunately, I’m still forced to dress “male” to work because I wouldn’t be hired otherwise.  A few Transgender and Non-Binary foreigners are out at work, but not myself.  I don’t know of any Taiwanese people in the ESL field who are out, though I know of some working in other white and blue collar businesses.

I prepared for the day’s classes, then went into the third of the day, and I saw something unexpected.

I saw a child wearing a dress.

This child has always had a boy’s name, and my co-teacher tells me she has a new name.  And I’m spending the next hour distracted instead of doing my job, asking myself whether the little girl knows or has been influenced by me, whether this happened independent of me, whether I should tell her parents, find out if they already know, etc.  There is a lot to process.

This is the first time I’ve seen a child transition at a school.  Thankfully, all the other students treated her the same as before.  And since the entire staff knows I’m Trans and have seen me at social events, it wasn’t a shock to them and they treated her with respect.

But it sure as hell was a shock to me.

As a friend said to me online, “Supportive parents FTW!”

Forty Days To Go: For me, Hallowe’en starts today

The worst day of the Salem Witch Trials came on September 22, 1692, three hundred and twenty nine years ago today.  Twenty victims were murdered by religious fanatics between June and October that year, eight of them on a single day.  It likely would have continued had Governor Phips not had his Joseph Welch moment, a moment that made everyone stop and look at what they were doing, the harm they were causing.  The trials ended by October 29, 1692.

I hereby declare that as soon as I came from fighting … and understood what danger some of their innocent subjects might be exposed to, if the evidence of the afflicted persons only did prevaile either to the committing or trying any of them, I did before any application was made unto me about it put a stop to the proceedings of the Court and they are now stopt till their Majesties pleasure be known.

The title is because September 22 to October 31 is forty days inclusive.

History.com: Salem Witch Trials

Smithsonian Mag: A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials

Salem.org: Witch Trials of 1692

Is there really any difference between the rabble that wanted to burn witches centuries ago, and the rabble today that want ignore scientific reality, actively seeking to spread a preventable disease?  The violent and fanatics of today may not be spreading fire, but they’re just as damaging with their spittle.

According to The Lancet, well over a million children worldwide have been left orphaned (both or their single parent dying) due to COVID-19, and over half a million more lost one parent.  And that’s only from official estimates; unofficial tallies from India suggest five million more people died than official figures, not counted because they didn’t die in hospitals.  They make Desantis’s fake numbers in Florida look like a minor bookkeeping error.  How many more million innocent victims will die and be left orphans before the pandemic starts to slow in 2022 or 2023?



In 1918, Sara Teasdale wrote and published a poem entitled, “There Will Come Soft Rains”, about the end of World War I.  While she was writing about war, she could have as easily been (and likely was) talking about the millions killed by the pandemic.  It seemed fitting, even if it has nothing to do with Hallowe’en.

"There Will Come Soft Rains"

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.


Stop Driving, Walk And Ride Instead: It’s World Car Free Day today

September 22 is World Car Free Day, a day and a movement to encourage people to walk, ride bicycles, and take public transit instead of driving wasteful single person vehicles.  There’s a myriad of good reasons to stop driving: it’s cheaper than owning a car, better for the environment, less wasteful, makes streets safer, less weight on crumbling infrastructure, among others.

As twenty months of COVID-19 have shown, bike riding had many positive effects on cities around the world.  Many are creating new bicycle routes or closing off large areas of cities to cars, returning public spaces to people that should have always been theirs.  New York’s mass of business closures due to the pandemic freed up streets, and Paris has enacted strict 30kmh speed limits throughout the entire city, excluding major thoroughfares.  If only more cities had the courage to try it as London and Brisbane have done.

World Car-Free Day 2021: History and Significance

World Car-Free Day, as the name suggests, is an opportunity to highlight the benefits of going car-free. The day is celebrated every year on 22 September around the globe to encourage motorists to give up their cars for a day.

According to the official website of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “the event highlights the numerous benefits of going car-free to citizens—including reduced air pollution and the promotion of walking and cycling in a safer environment.”

World Car-Free Day: History

Multiple informal car-free days are being organized in countries like Iceland, UK, etc., since 1990s. However, the campaign went global with the World Car-Free Day launched by Carbusters (now World Carfree Network) in 2000.

From Living Streets UK:

World Car Free Day

22 September is World Car Free Day, when all around the world towns and cities allow people to experience streets free of motor traffic.

It’s a great chance to re-imagine our streets around people.

Car Free Metro DC:

What is Car Free Day?

Car Free Day is a free international event celebrated every September 22 in which people are encouraged to get around without driving alone in cars and instead ride a train, bus, bicycle, carpool, vanpool, subway, or walk. For those that have the ability to work from home, telework also counts. Car Free Day is open to all people in the Washington metropolitan area. To participate in this fun and worthwhile event, just fill out the pledge form, then go car free or car-lite (carpool, vanpool) on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Not Just Bikes is a youtube channel made by a Canadian living in the Netherlands.  He talks about how rideable Dutch cities are by design, how bicycles and cars run parallel to one another in separate transportation systems that occupy the same space.  This shows that it can be done, but the problem is the obsession with “car culture”, and how cities are beholden to corporations and bad design based on gentrification.

ZDF Magazin Royale is a very popular German TV comedy/news show, in the vein of Daily Show and Full Frontal.  I don’t speak German, but the automatic translation subtitles on this video are good enough to understand the comedy.  And you understand the point the video is making about how governments and economies prioritize cars over human beings.

I expected comedy to bite at Angela Merkel, but I spit my coffee and almost dropped it when he called her the “stasi chancellor”.  I know she was born in East Germany, but smoley hokes, that was rough. ^_^


Normally, I Don’t: But this case is different

I generally avoid talking about specific foreigners in Taiwan because anything I say might come around (e.g. which foreigners deal in drugs, the racists and white supremacists, the rapists and stalkers, etc.).  But I will when it’s in public view, either published by individuals or in the news media (e.g. the drug dealing murder of three years ago).

A foreigner by the name of Sean King posted pictures of himself at an anti-vaxxer “protest” recently, where the uninformed were demanding Ivermectin.  I mean, seriously?

And yes, his shirt reads “doge lives matter”. 9_9

Sean King
18 September at 18:13

Taipei Day for Freedom
Ivermectin (伊維菌素) 在國外已經用的成功 (墨西哥,印度,日本), 為什麼台灣沒有呢?

Ivermectin is already being used successfully in other countries (Mexico, Japan, India), why isn’t Taiwan?

Taiwanese citizens might be able to argue with the government, but there is no “exemption” to vaccinations for foreigners.  Either he and those of his ilk will have to take the two shots, or they will eventually be deported.  They don’t have a third option.  I hope they choose “freedumb!” and leave the country.

There have been several trumpkins and others making themselves visible in the last twelve months.  They are few in number (both foreigners and Taiwanese), but to the majority, it goes from the eye rolling to outright embarrassing.  King does no favours to the reputation of other Canadians.

[Read more…]

Sometimes, I Worry: Do I talk about music too much?

The Stranglers are back with a new album, Dark Matters, a record that took a long time, effort, and hardship to complete.  They began work in 2020 after recruiting drummer Jim MacCaulay, following Jet Black’s retirement following a stroke.  Then in May 2020, keyboardist Dave Greenfield died of COVID-19 while in hospital for a heart problem. But they soldiered on, creating a great new work.  It was released on September 10, making an immediate impact on the UK charts.

The first single was “And If You Should See Dave…”, a tribute to Greenfield.  The third single is “This Song” (seen below), with an amazing parkour-filled video to accompany it.

What makes the video special is the “narrator” performance of Stuart Pearce, miming the words and acting out a role.  Yes, that Stuart Pearce, age 59, former Nottingham Forest defender (among other teams in a fifteen year career) who played for England at the 1990 World Cup, and currently manages West Ham United in the Premiership League.

Pearce is a lifelong fan of punk rock, and was more than willing to take part in the video when the band asked.  It’s three minutes of absolutely brilliant film.  I suspect half the budget for this video was spent on the choreography and closing areas off from photobombs.


A Carrington Event(ually) Will Happen

My absence caused me to miss an anniversary at the start of September: the Carrington Event of 1859 (CE, for short), when a coronal mass ejection or solar flare hit the Earth.

Sunspots are a cyclical event on the sun, with a period of seven to eleven years.  The more there are, the higher rate of plasma emissions which affects our atmosphere.  Over longer periods, the sun emits a large solar flare of ionizing radation, one of which began on August 28, 1859.

I once lived 800km of the Arctic Circle (1991) and saw the Aurora Borealis (*) during the Autumn Equinox.  Of all the human-made light shows and fireworks display that I have witnessed, none of them has yet to match what I saw over several nights in complete silence.  The night skies were bright enough to read books, and the displays went on for hours over the course of a few nights.  And yet by the descriptions of the Carrington Event, what I saw was barely a fraction of what people witnessed around the world for almost a week, both night time and day.

(* That video is the only one I could find that had natural sounds and wasn’t ruined by background music.)

In 1859, the only commonplace and major use for electricity was telegraph operation.  When the CE hit, telegraph operators reported burns to their fingers from their equipment.  After removing the batteries, they were able to transmit messages for several days without any human-built source of energy to power them.  It was the only effect then on industrial revolution machinery.

Imagine what would happen to our modern electrical systems if another CE or larger solar storm hit us and we didn’t prepare or shut down our electrical grids in time.  They might all break down, burn, or explode and take years to repair.  Our modern way of life would come to a complete standstill.  Imagine the Northeast blackout of 1965 or the North American Ice Storm of 1998 carrying on for years.

History.com: A Perfect Solar Superstorm: The 1859 Carrington Event

National Geographic: What If the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today?

Earthsky.org: How likely is another Carrington Event?

Scientific American: New Studies Warn of Cataclysmic Solar Superstorms

The video below (made in March 2021) tells the story well, but misses a key detail.  (“Fascinating Horror” channel’s stories are generally well researched and told, and are never gratuitous when discussing people’s deaths, even in small numbers.)  The narrator tells how solar flares on the scale of the CE happen approximately every 150 years, and says that “we are overdue”.

He apparently missed or didn’t include the solar flare of 2012 (nor the 1972 event or others) which passed through our orbit but missed the Earth by nine days.  That makes it 152 years between such events, which means we should be safe for a while.  Or maybe not.



Interestingly, the Carrington Event came ten years from midway between the Mount Tambora eruption of 1815 (the “Year Without a Summer”) and the Krakatoa eruption of 1883.  Many millions of people worldwide likely witnessed two of those events, a few perhaps lived through all three.  It’s strange how those almost seem the defining natural disasters of the 19th century (before the majority of people lived in cities), while the 20th and 21st centuries are defined by meteor strikes (the Tunguska Event and Chelyabinsk Meteor) and by major earthquakes and tsunamis around the world.



I Expected As Much: Taipei won’t be having a pride parade this year

There will not be a pride parade in 2021 in Taipei nor in any other city.  Highly annoying, though not unexpected.  Even though half of the people in Taiwan will have at least the first shot and at least 10% fully vaccinated by mid-October (including me), an event of 100,000 people is just too big a risk for the government to permit.

Bars and nightclubs are closed, so there won’t be any large Hallowe’en parties either, though the CECC currently allows private indoor gatherings of up to eighty people, and outdoor ones up to three hundred.  I and others are looking at a rental hall for a small self-catered Hallowe’en event.

I’m definitely organizing a Walpurgisnacht event next April 30th (a Saturday), because nobody ruins my main holiday of the year.  Who knows, if vaccine rates are high enough and restrictions reduced to Level 1, there could be a pride parade around or during Chinese New Year (year of the tiger).  It’s not like anyone can travel.

From Taiwan Rainbow Pride’s facebook page:

臺灣同志遊行 Taiwan LGBT Pride 每年10月30日舉行,但受COVID-19(2019冠狀病毒疾病 / #這中國武漢肺炎)影響,主辦單位今天說,今年遊行將首度改線上辦理,設置互動式網站讓民眾線上參與,不開放民眾到場。
臺灣每年10月30日都會舉辦同志遊行,今年邁入第19屆,主辦單位日前透過臉書粉絲專頁宣布,今年同志遊行主題為「友善日常 in Taiwan」,且遊行形式首度為「線上為主、街頭為輔」。[. . .]#臺灣彩虹公民行動協會 秘書長 #蔡雅婷 今天告訴中央社記者,同志遊行舉辦多年,依照過去舉辦經驗,光是志工人數就會違反中央流行疫情指揮中心的規定,因此今年將首度轉為線上辦理,不開放民眾遊行。
Taiwan LGBT Pride [. . .] organisers said today that this year’s parade It will be the first time to change the line, set up interactive websites for the public to participate online, not open to the public to attend.

Taiwan hosts a gay march every year on [the last Saturday in October].

#Taiwan Rainbow Citizen s’ Action Association Secretary-General #Wu Yaxing told the CPS reporters today that comrade marches have been held for many years. According to past experience, the number of volunteers alone will violate the regulations of the Central Epidemic Command Center, so this year will It will not be open to public procession.

From CNA (Central News Agency) Taiwan:

台灣同志遊行首度改線上 不開放民眾入場(中央社記者吳欣紜台北8日電)台灣同志遊行每年10月30日舉行,但受COVID-19(2019冠狀病毒疾病)影響,主辦單位今天說,今年遊行將首度改線上辦理,設置互動式網站讓民眾線上參與,不開放民眾到場。

台灣每年10月30日都會舉辦同志遊行,今年邁入第19屆,主辦單位日前透過臉書粉絲專頁宣布,今年同志遊行主題為「友善日常 in Taiwan」,且遊行形式首度為「線上為主、街頭為輔」。


Taiwan gay parade changed its line for the first time, not open to people(Central News Agency reporter Wu Xinjun, Taipei, 8th) Taiwan’s gay parade is held on October 30 every year. However, due to the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), the organizer said today that the parade will be reorganized online for the first time this year, and an interactive website will be set up. Online participation by the public is not open to the public to attend.

Taiwan holds a gay parade every October 30th. This year is entering its 19th edition. The organizer recently announced through its Facebook fan page that the theme of this year’s gay parade is “Friendly Daily in Taiwan” and the parade format is “Online for the first time.” The main and the street are the auxiliary.”

Cai Yating, secretary-general of the Rainbow Citizen Action Association of Taiwan, told a reporter from the Central News Agency today that gay parades have been held for many years. According to past experience, the number of volunteers alone will violate the regulations of the Central Epidemic Command Center. Therefore, this year, it will be transferred online for the first time.


Pilots have been complaining that the public sees them as the “bad guys”.  Instead of bristling at criticism, why don’t they tell their fellow pilots to obey quarantine procedures?  Or agree to tighter regulations?  It’s bad enough that they are only required to quarantine for seven days, not fourteen, without them openly flouting the minimal rules.  All three mass outbreaks since the new year were caused by pilots violating the CECC’s guidelines: first the first last December, the the largest outbreak in May, and the most recent in August.

I wish I had the voice to talk to the government and they would listen:

1. Put the pilots on a thirteen week rotation system.

2. They work for six weeks, flying in and out, living sequestered at an airport hotel.  They can rest sufficiently between flights, and are isolated from the general population.  They can talk to their families online and by phone in real time.

3. They quarantine for two weeks at another hotel separated from active pilots.  Then they get five consecutive weeks off to rest, living with their families.

This would eliminate the possibility of violating quarantine rules while not impinging excessively on their personal lives.  This is what mining companies do when working in remote locations (e.g. the Arctic), they work for extended periods then have extended time off after travelling home.  But unlike miners and other FIFO and DIDO workers (fly/drive in, fly/drive out), they would still have access to conveniences, entertainment, food, etc. and have live communication with their families.  They could even meet them in person if separated by a barrier.  The mental health issues would not be the same as it is for those working in isolated locations.

Nothing Changed: Trudeau’s power grab failed

Dustbin Trudeau called a snap election in August 2021, only twenty one months since the last federal election (December 2019), yet Canada allows a sitting parliament up to five years.  His hope was to get a majority after riding high in the polls.

Instead, parliament will have almost exactly the same distribution of seats.  This $600 million debacle of ego and a power grab accomplished nothing except give Trudeau two more years on the clock than he already had with the same parliament.  It created potential mass spreader events everywhere, inflated the cost of an pointless and unnecessary election that taxpayers will foot the bill for.  If he wanted to win a majority, how about acting in the public interest and doing what’s best for the country and saying “look what I did” in 2023?

After the December 2019 election, I said “a tolerable result”.  This is intolerable.

Unless Trudeau accomplishes a lot in the next three years, this will almost certainly cost him the next election.  Historically, Canadians vote for the clowns in retaliation after elections like this.  If the pandemic isn’t resolved by then, the clowns would reignite it with their incompetence.

And yet if Trudeau did manage to make positive changes (which would only happen if the NDP and BQ force him to), he’ll get the credit.  That means another corrupt liberal majority, just as bad as a conservative majority.

After approximately fifteen million votes have been counted:

                2019   At dissolution
                ----   --------------
Liberal          157   155
Conservative     121   119
Bloc Québécois    32    32
New Democratic    24    24
Green              3     2
Independent        1     5

                2021    Votes (~15,000,000)
                ----    -------------------
Liberal          156    4,761,585 (31.744%)
Conservative     122    5,099,692 (33.998%)
Bloc Québécois    32    1,177,521 ( 7.850%)
New Democratic    26    2,654,703 (17.698%)
Green              2      339,528 ( 2.263%)
People's Party     0      769,591 ( 5.131%)
Other              0      143,000 ( 0.953%)

This proves again why Canada desperately needs proportional representation, and why the liberals and clowns are adamantly against it.  I would even be willing to tolerate rightwing extremists and racists like the PPP holding seats if it meant we never have a majority government again.

If the parties were allotted seats by percentage of the vote, the liberals or conservatives would need BOTH the BQ and NDP to support them to pass any legislation.  That would be a government which actually represents the public interest.  The liberals and conservatives would never form a coalition.

Seats by percentage of votes, 2021:
Liberals        107
Conservatives   115
Bloc Québécois   27
New Democratic   60
Green             8
People's         17

What a pointless waste of time, money, resources, and risk, all for the sake of his ego.

This is Canada’s most expensive election

When Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau asked Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon to dissolve Parliament in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, he triggered what is estimated to be Canada’s most expensive federal election ever.

Elections Canada is projecting a $610-million price tag for the 36-day campaign.

In 2019, the election cost $502.4 million.

[. . .]

A fact sheet posted on the Elections Canada website from November 2020 estimated costs for pandemic safety material (such as masks, plastic dividers and sanitizer), adjustments to the vote-by-mail system, and a voter information campaign would cost approximately $52 million.

This might be Trudeau’s last stand.  I would like to see him wake up and realize now is the time to push for prortional representation.  New Zealand has a parliamentary democracy with prortional representation, and it works.  Copy theirs.  Or even ranked voting, but end this “first past the post” crap.

First photo in colour of Trudeau donning blackface emerges on eve of election night

Yet another photo of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau donning blackface has emerged, on the eve of the 2021 election day, potentially serving a blow to the prime minister’s hopes of securing a majority government.

[. . .]

The [2001] photo has caught the attention of several international media publications, with British outlet the London Daily Telegraph being the first to break the story, followed by reports published in the Daily Telegraph, Reuters and Yahoo News.

He was 29 when he did this.  Is he going to call it “youthful indiscretion”?



Side note: Because it was a snap election, my mail in ballot didn’t arrive in time, once again cheating me of my right to vote.  Not that would have made a difference in the riding I am forced to vote in, which always votes for the clowns.