The Final Show: Jim Lehrer, 1934-2020

Journalist, author and playwright Jim Lehrer died on Thursday, January 23, 2020 (NPR).  He was 85.  The Guardian also wrote an obituary.

Unlike most US journalists, Lehrer was objective and credible, never putting his personal agendas or opinions into his job.  He could (and probably should) have been harder hitting in some of his interviews, but he was respected by all sides (except perhaps Cheetolini and rabid republicans of today).  Even Fox Nuisance managed to publish a respectful obituary of someone who never kowtowed, sold out, or participated their phony-baloney form of “journalism” (see: Bob Woodward).  Lehrer moderated twelve presidential debates between 1988 and 2012 when he retired. Too bad he wasn’t around in 2016, maybe people would have seen Cheetolini for the clown that he is.

I’m genuinely surprised that no one else has mentioned Lehrer.  He’s one of the few who won’t receive or deserve heavy criticism or endure character assassination when people look back on his career.

Vow To Disavow: Two tales of confessionals in one week

One good, one bad.

“Confessionals” are allegedly absolutes and absolution – You can say anything inside and be “forgiven”, but those who do expect that to apply to the temporal plane as much as the aethereal.  Most of the time, it’s either a way for the abhorrent to be excused of crimes that would result in prison or worse (re: in the 1970s, the current pope giving absolution” to participants in death flights), or a place where deviant individuals can get their jollies telling a priest or pastor what they’ve done with no consequences.  Perverts like showing off.

In Oregon, Timothy Samuel Johnson told members of his mormon church how he had sexually abused his daughter for four years.  To their credit, one of the leaders called the police.  Johnson is now serving fifteen years in prison.  Unfortunately, his wife Kristine Johnson seems to “think” the mormon church owes her US$9million for “violating privacy”.

Child Molester’s Wife Sues Mormon Church for Violating Confidentiality Rules by Reporting His Crimes

Timothy Samuel Johnson of Oregon confessed to sexually abusing his daughter over the span of four years to his church panel, the church reported him to authorities who investigated, convicted and jailed him. Now his wife is suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, alleging that they violated his right to confidentiality.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Kristine Johnson filed suit in Marion County Circuit Court on January 3.

In 2017, Kristine discovered that her husband had been involved in inappropriate sexual content with their daughter throughout her tween and teen years. Following church doctrine, he confessed before the clergy and the church court at their ward in Stayton, a small town outside of Salem, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

One of the clergy members who heard his confession reported the act to police. Johnson was then arrested for first-degree sodomy, sexual abuse and unlawful sexual penetration, the newspaper reported.

He pled guilty to four counts of second-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He is incarcerated in the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, military priests violated the privacy of gays, lesbians and bisexuals.  They told superior officers, and those outed in violation of “rules” were thrown out.  Hypo-christianity is on display again.

Priests broke confession confidentiality to out gay soldiers to military

A British politician has apologized after it emerged some chaplains with the British armed force told superiors about gay and bisexual military personnel in the 1990s.

The UK dropped its ban on openly LGB people serving in the armed forces in 2000. However, before this time, gay military personnel were routinely dismissed if their sexuality became known. 


The newspaper spoke to veterans who say they confided in their chaplain, only to be questioned days later by military police.


It’s believed both Church of England and Roman Catholic chaplains were involved with the practice. It’s uncertain if the information led directly to soldiers being dismissed.

“Confession” is nothing more than a “get out of hell free” card, and it’s used like a credit card with no spending limit.  Priests and pastors are con men, not professionals like doctors or lawyers.  It’s time to end the privilege religion gives to criminals.  If someone tells of a crime they committed, priests and pastors are required to turn them in or face legal consequences.

Would that stop criminals from confessing?  Probably not, because as I said above, sadists and deviants like to brag about their conquests.  They won’t be smart enough to shut up.


Word Salad Censors: Vegetable English defeats Korea Fish

It would not surprise you if I said that the mainland mass murderers in Beijing tried to censor any discussion of Taiwan’s election last Saturday with the Great Firewall.  They obviously didn’t want anyone in the prison camp nation getting any ideas like democracy and fair representation.  But people being people, they found a way around it and shared the results around the country by using homophones and coded language.

Re-elected president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was nicknamed “Vegetable English” because her family name Tsai (蔡) is a homophone for vegetable (菜).  Ing-wen (英文) is the Mandarin word for the English language.

Defeated KMT candidate Han Guo-yu’s (韓國瑜) family name and part of his personal name are the word for Korea (韓國).  The second half of his personal name, Yu (瑜), is a homophone for fish (魚).

Being the ignorant furriner that I am, I didn’t find out about this until after the election.  I couldn’t understand why last Friday and Saturday, kids kept saying “Korea fish!”  Now I know.

Self Harm: Anxiety is taxing

I recently read a FemPositive item from November 2018 about anxiety and the forms it can take.  And while she doesn’t mention all types of mental health issues, they’re certainly included.  I didn’t do the same as her, but I understand her words.

I had my own nervous tics when I was younger.  My hands suffered endless knuckle cracking and nailbiting, but the skin stayed intact.  It was my lips and inner cheeks that suffere, biting and pulling skin to the point of bleeding.  I now only bite my cheeks when nervous.

I have friends with bipolar and other issues, and their compulsive behaviours are obvious even to the untrained eye.  One of my coworkers (not a friend) has an obsessive habit of clicking her pens, 10-20 times per minute.  All day.  Every day.

Woman’s Facebook Post Shows That Anxiety Is So Much More Than An Inability To Relax

The conversations around mental health, fortunately, are becoming more open in today’s society. People are getting more comfortable to talk about their mental health problems and issues, although not everyone experiences them the same. This difference in people’s experiences doesn’t discredit anyone’s pain and struggle in life.

For some people anxiety manifests with panic attacks and hyperventilation, for others, it is simply the inability to relax. For others, all the symptoms are more severe.

Facebook user Megan Lynne Ferrero decided to openly share her experience with anxiety and it went viral because of so many people related to her story.

Ferrero posted a photo of what her hands look like after biting her nails due to anxiety.


I Hope I Die…: People over 30 are too old

Well, that’s according to a voluntary survey, anyway.  I turn 53 next month and I’m still dancing until all hours at clubs, though I couldn’t name you a single hit song of the past ten years.

Deezer, a music streaming service, said (in 2018) that on average people hit the wall around 30. I was still into new music and listened to everything until I moved abroad at age 34 (2001) and got “set in my ways” around 37-38.  I was physically isolated from new Canadian or foreign music for years. After I started clubbing again, I thought, “This ‘music’ sucks!” but I still dance anyway.

I live for 1980s parties.

Something Strange Happens To Your Taste In Music At Age 30

There’s a reason your grandparents still listen to Elvis, your mom still loves Bon Jovi, and you still have a strange affiliation with the crap bands you liked when you were 14.

A recent survey by the music streaming service Deezer asked 1,000 people in the UK about their musical preferences and their streaming habits. According to their findings, people tend to experience a “musical paralysis” at around the age of 30.5, whereby they stop listening to new artists or genres and tend to stick to what they know.

Musical discovery peaks at an average age of 24 years and five months, although women generally hit this peak around a year earlier. At this age, almost 75 percent of respondents said they checked out 10 or more new tracks per week, and 64 percent said they listened to five or more new artists every month. Around 60 percent of people feel like they are in a music rut and struggle to break out of playing the same old artists over and over again.


There is possibly another factor at play. During our younger years, especially as teenagers, we are the most influenced by the music around us. In The New York Times, data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz wrote about how the songs that were popular in our teenage years, particularly between the ages of 11 to 14, tends to remain our most streamed songs on Spotify.

One funny thing: I’ve heard it said that the number 1 song on your 14th birthday defines your life.  I thought it was a load of codswallop until I found out what mine was.  It turns out to be true for most people I know.

“The Tide Is High” was #1 in Canada, the middle of February, 1981:

Dig Deeper: The back story of the DC Sniper is fascinating

I was recently pointed towards a podcast called “You’re Wrong About”, and their episode on the Beltway/DC Sniper shootings of 2002.  The episode is 110 minutes long, but worth listening to.

It wasn’t “domestic terrorism” and had nothing to do with islam. It was “domestic violence” (aka Intimate Partner Violence) and everything to do with a custody dispute.

Mildred Muhammed, ex-wife of John Allen Muhammed, is a fascinating and heroic person.

US police proved themselves incompetent once again.  If they had taken IPV seriously, the seventeen victims would still be alive.

And the first victim of the DC Sniper is the most important, overlooked because no one wants to examine IPV seriously.  The story of the shootings is eerily reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s book, “The A.B.C. Murders”.

Preliminary Report: Tsai Ing-wen is likely to be re-elected

The resutls of Taiwan’s national election (yes, it is a country) are not yet complete, but every intermediate count is showing the same result: Tsai Ing-wen (DPP) leads with over 58% of the presidential vote, with Han Guo-yu (KMT) second at 38%, and James Soong (PFP) a distant third at 4%.

Update: Multiple scources report a voter turnout rate of 74.9%, this despite the fact that many people must travel to vote.  Unless people own property, they are required to vote where they grew up, a silly rule that needs to change.  Citizens are required to give the governmwnt their new address if they move, so the government knows where everyone is.  Let them vote where they live.

Preliminary voting counts were not allowed before 4PM when the polls closed.  Yes, that’s unusually early compared to other countries, but voter turnout is still high.  Taiwan is a single time zone and 90% of the population lives on the western side, so there was no risk of an east coast bias like there is in Canada or the US.  But it’s still a good idea to ban early returns to avoid morning voters influencing afternoon voters.

The News Lens is reporting live results as they come in.  The restriction on early vote counts has meant people are all checking the internet at the same time. Since 4PM until now (7PM as I write) several news websites have crashed from overloading.

All of the west coast counties have voted for Tsai except two, Miaoli and Hsinchu, which are farming districts.  Hsinchu City is where the industrial parks (i.e. computer and other industries) are based, so I would have expected them to lean rightward but instead they voted for Tsai.  (In those counties, Han only leads Tsai 50% to 45%.)  The east coast counties of Hualien and Taitung and two island counties (Kinmen, Lienchiang) are predominantly fishing and traditionally conservative areas, so it’s not surprising that they voted for Han.

The biggest surprise thus far is southern Taiwan. The southern half has always been KMT territory and pro-unification. Han was the mayor of Kaohsiung and rode a southern wave of popularity, yet he lost in his home district. He and his party’s repeated incompetence didn’t help matters.  All candidates are assigned a number, and voters choose them at the polls.  Han’s campaign chose to place 9, 2, and 1 together in a campaign ad, which angered people almost as much as using 911 in the US would (the September 21, 1999 eathquake that killed 2400).  Han inferrred recently that Tsai would bring dictatorship and invoked the “white terror”, ignoring the fact that it was his KMT that perpetrated the white terror.  And it came to light in the last week that Han had been seeking dual Canadian citizenship, something not allowed for presidential candidates.

It’s almost as if the KMT were trying to self-destruct.

The Stars Look Down: Neil Peart, dead at 67

When I first saw the headline reporting Neil Peart’s death, I was hoping it was “fake news”, but when CBC and others were listed as sources, I accepted it.

Peart was always a private man who kept his personal life out of the media.  When his first child died in 1997 and first wife in 1998, he asked for privacy and spent years away. I’m really not surprised that he never publicly revealed his diagnosis.  I wonder how long he knew and if he was in contact with Gord Downie during his last days.

Neil Peart, drummer and primary lyricist for Rush, dead at 67

Neil Peart, the virtuoso drummer of iconic Canadian band Rush who was revered by fans and fellow musicians as one of the greatest drummers of all time, has died at age 67.

The influential musician and lyricist died Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., after having been diagnosed with brain cancer, according to a statement issued Friday by family spokesperson Elliot Mintz.

His death was confirmed by Meg Symsyk, a media spokesperson for the progressive rock trio comprising Peart, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson.

“It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and bandmate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three-and-a-half-year battle with brain cancer,” his bandmates said in a statement.

They also called for privacy for Peart’s family and urged fans wanting to express their condolences to make a donation in his name to a cancer research group or charity of their choice.

“Rest in peace, brother.”

I thought I would be more upset than I am, but as I get older, I’ve gotten more philosophical and accepting of the inevitable. I’m just glad for what was.

Remember in the 1970s when being openly gay or queer (never mind being Transgender) was “shocking”?  Any time a celebrity came out, it was a message to young people everywhere, “You’re not weird or wrong.  There are other people like you.”

Peart, and Rush as a whole, were the same for me in the 1970s and 1980s: They said the things I felt, held the same points of view.  They told me I wasn’t the only one in the world, that there were others who felt the same way.  And it made living in a world of oppression just a little bit easier.  I will always be grateful to him.

Some songs are below the fold.

[Read more…]

Fire Bugs: They’re war criminals, not arsonists

It has been revealed that 24 scumbags have intentionally started bushfires in Australia, that 180 have been involved.

The World Court need to stop viewing crimes against the environment as property crime and treat it as a crime against humanity and nature. If destroying “history and culture” is a war crime, why not also destroying land, air and ocean, for making it uninhabitable and unable to sustain life?

24 charged with intentionally setting Australia bushfires

As Australia battles bushfires that have cost more than than two dozen lives, thousands of homes and other structures, and millions of dollars, police have charged at least 24 people for allegedly setting some of those fires intentionally.

The New South Wales Police Force says it has taken legal action against more than 180 people for 205 bushfire-related offenses since November 8, 2019.

Among the 180 who face legal actions, 24 are accused of deliberately setting fires. Fifty-three are people who allegedly failed to comply with a total fire ban, and 47 allegedly discarded lit cigarettes or matches.

Selfish smokers are partially responsible.  Colour me unsurprised.  That’s how the Notre Dame fire happened.

Environmental crimes should be prosecuted the same as war crimes. This isn’t arson, this is Chernobyl and Bhopal.

Data Mine: Never ascribe to malice….

…What can be explained by arrogance, greed, stupidity and bad programming.

Two days ago, I was locked out of my facebook account.  Normally that would lead to the inevitable question, “what did you do?” because oft times those who get locked out or barred from places did something to warramt it.  Pleading innocence is easy.

I was locked out four years to the day that I created the account.  Exactly that date, which tells me it’s probably a scripted event to force data collection.  I had never given anything more than my email account – no scans of ID, no cell phone number, nothing.

I went through their “verification” nonsense (e.g. giving my cell phone number and getting “text verification” so they can sell a valid number to advertisers) and still don’t have the account back two days later.  They probably want a picture of ID too.  Like hell.  I will NOT be forced to use a deadname I never asked for.

I have the advantage of being able to visit the fascistbook office in Taipei (about 10km away). Most people who have been locked out and robbed of their accounts won’t.  They’ll be screwed out of their data through no fault of their own with no recourse.  The perils of dealing with unregulated corporations; phone companies are better regulated in how they treat customers and users.

Fortunately, I periodically download everything.  I won’t have lost my friends list, at least, except for the one or two most recent.

Sympathy Vote: Give Weinstein an oscar

Pervy Weinstein has shown up at court using a walker, trying to pretend he’s elderly, disabled and unfit to stand trial.  That’s odd because he was perfectly capable of walking into a comedy club not a month ago….

Harvey Weinstein Has Been Charged In Los Angeles For Rape And Sexual Assault

Weinstein was charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint.

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was indicted Monday for raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in Los Angeles, the same day his sex assault trial kicked off in New York City.

Los Angeles prosecutors charged Weinstein in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013.

Weinstein was charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force, and sexual battery by restraint.

Weinstein isn’t the first to attempt criminal malingering in a fraudulent attempt to obtain leniency. Vincent “The Chin” Gigante did it, so have Augusto Pinochet, Bill Cosby, and other less famous individuals.

If those like Weinstein are so incapable of causing future harm, then they will pose no danger to others in prison.  They’re easier to incarcerate, so there’s all the more reason to do it.

What Were They Wearing: There are no “accidental” shootings

There are no “accidental” shootings, only careless.

A 30 year old man and his 9 year old daughter are dead in South Carolina after being shot by other members of their own hunting party. The two dead were herding deer for a planned shoot.

Thus far, the coroner and others have given no indication whether the two were wearing bright fluorescent colours (deemed “optional” in South Carolina), and whether the killer made any attempt to have a clear view before shooting.  Given the unwillingness to address either point, I suspect the worst on both.

The Colleton County Coroner’s Office said 30-year-old Kim Drawdy and 9-year-old Lauren Drawdy died Wednesday in a hunting accident.

By Live 5 Web Staff | January 6, 2020 at 12:18 PM EST – Updated January 6 at 1:21 PM

COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) – Details from the autopsy report were released Monday in the Colleton County hunting accident which left a father and daughter dead on New Year’s Day.

According to coroner Richard Harvey, both 30-year-old Kim Drawdy and 9-year-old Lauren Drawdy died from buckshot pellet wounds to the chest.

The pair were killed on New Year’s Day in a wooded area on Barracada Road near Walterboro.

An SCDNR spokeswoman said the Drawdys and two other hunters were deer driving, moving deer near to the area where they were set up to hunt.

According to DNR officials, one of the hunters mistook the Drawdys for deer and shot and killed them. Investigators have not said why the victims were mistaken for deer.

You have to wonder how someone shoots without knowing what’s in range, without communicating with the others, without planning the entire event.  And if the father didn’t put on fluorescent clothes, WHY not?

Life Sentence: Criminal masterminds, they weren’t

The first verdict has been handed down in the August 2018 murder of Sanjay Ryan Ramgahan.

Israeli-American Oren Shlomo Mayer was found guilty for planning the murder and carrying out the most brutal parts of the crime (strangulation and instigating the dismemberment of Ramgahan’s body).  Mayer will likely receive life without parole but not the death penalty, despite the fact that the murder was motivated by drug dealing (a capital crime in Taiwan).  Those involved admitted they murdered Ramgahan because they suspected he was a police informant.

American Ewart Odane Bent confessed and testified against Mayer, showing again that there is no honour among thieves.  Bent will likely receive a 12 year sentence.

Taiwanese-Canadian Wu Hsuan (吳宣 aka Daniel Wu) and American Jason Hobbie were also tried but there is no verdict as yet. They are likely to also receive significant sentences, the difference being Wu is unlikely to be deported after release.

Good riddance.

Now if only something were done about the other foreigners involved in trading marijuana and other drugs.

As Luck Would Have It: I have a New Year’s Eve photo

White rabbits. White rabbits. White rabbits.

I don’t believe in luck or superstition at all, but I do believe in having fun and in shameless self promotion.  I hope telling Taiwanese people about a NA/Euro superstition isn’t cultural imperialism.

I hated December holidays as a kid because from December 24 to January 2, the sperm and egg donors would drag us off to the catholic crutch seven or eight times in ten days unless the 25th and 1st were on Sundays.  Then it was only five.  They knew every blinking catholic “saint day”.

As an adult, I can go nightclubbing on New Year’s Eve.  Not because I want to drink and dance (well, I do) but because the walls keep the noise out.  Unpredictable fireworks give me headaches, while nightclub noise is consistent and earplugs make it easy to cope.

May 2020 be better than 2019 was.  Never say “It couldn’t be any worse” because it probably will be.

Finally, a trip down memory lane: an old favourite from my childhood that always makes me happy, and arguably the greatest one hit wonder of all time: Edison Lighthouse, “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)”,  released on January 9, 1970.  It’s hard to think of this song as fifty years old, but it is.