Face Off: Eighteen years in Asia, and I still don’t understand the concept

I have lived in multiple Asian countries over the past eighteen years, and I still don’t understand the concept of “face”.  The idea that things like losing your temper should somehow embarrass you or means you lose the argument doesn’t makes sense.  Speaking truthfully, if angry, isn’t the same as going Godwin.  Some say that westerners (I know, I need a better word for it) don’t have face, but I disagree.  Honesty, trustworthiness and reputation have their own sense of face (or at least, they used to).

Two recent events in the news highlighted this to me again.

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Sitting Out: The only thing coming out today is nationalism

Call me cynical, but I’m in full agreement with Christopher Chan:

 

Friday October 11 is supposed to be National Coming Out Day for anyone LGBTQIA.  But predictably, it’s still primarily about those who are white and cisnormative, primarily about gays and lesbians to the exclusion of other sexual, gender or racial minorities.

The treatment of Black Transgender women at Stonewall 2019 is proof of that.  Ellen Degeneres palling around with unconvicted war criminal George Bush and blathering about “kindness” is sickening.  Pete “the gentrifyer” Buttigieg shrugged when he was called out for failing to hire any Black cops in a city where they are 26% of the population.  Just like first wave feminists and first wave “new atheists”, they serve their own interests, blaming others for “divisiveness” while engaging in the divisiveness of segregation.

They. Are. Not. Allies.  If people are not Intersectional and supporting others in a meaningful way, if they are associating and pandering to those who foment hate, then they are of no value to me.

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I Mildly Disagree: Sometimes, sexy costumes are good, part 2

Obviously, this is the second post….

Shannon is a friend of mine who loves “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.  For the last five Hallowe’ens here in Taiwan, she has performed as Frank N. Furter in a live production.  They do it both in English and Chinese, and all of the cast are bilingual.  And she’s from Alabama.

I hate “Rocky Horror”.  I hate the sexual predation and the rape by deception.  I hate the fact that Richard O’Brien is a rabid transphobe.  I hate how the movie feeds into the “trans predator” myth and hate speech.  And I hate how many can’t or refuse to differentiate between drag and Transgender, assuming the movie in any way represents the Trans community.

My friend and I agree to disagree and respect each other.  Once she knew how I felt, she has not once “offered” that I come and see it, and I ensure that if I talk about the movie, I keep it strictly about the story, avoiding mention of her.  We want to stay friends too much to ruin it over a movie.


Commercially sold “sexy” costumes are there to provoke or provide an excuse for dressing in a way that would never be acceptable on any other night of the year.  It’s a double edged sword – people should be allowed to be sexual beings, but there will always be self-appointed judgemental types who will question why or if someone “should be wearing that?”

I said in the other post that some costumes are and should be clearly off limits, that they are offensive to some people.  When it comes to varied gender dressing (“cross dressing” isn’t an appropriate word for it), costumes come in three types:

  1. parody of the gender
  2. drag and caricature
  3. realistic and attractive

I’m not a fan of the first one, especially since most who do it are men with balloons under a shirt, bad wigs and clown makeup. I can’t speak for all men who do it, but I’ve seen a lot of misogyny in those who do.

More below the fold….

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I Mildly Disagree: Sometimes, sexy costumes are good

In response (retaliation?) to a recent post by PZ Myers about sexy costumes, a few thoughts of my own on costumes in general.  I was going to write this closer to Hallowe’en but now’s as good a time as any.

This is the first of two posts….


I love Hallowe’en. On my facebook page, I’m in the middle of “forty days and forty frights”, counting down from the anniversary of the Salem Witch Trial heights (September 22, 1692) to the big day itself.

No, I don’t believe in apparitions, boogeypersons, cthulhus, demons, elves, fairies, ghosts, haunts, imps, jinxes, krakens, leprechauns, mummies, naiads, ogres, phantoms, quetzalcoatls, reavers, spirits, trolls, undead, vampires, wendigos, x-spot markings, yetis, or zombies.  But I do believe in having fun, in poking holes at religious fervency.  As others have said, the goth kids hold the line.  Without Hallowe’en, christmas crap would start creeping earlier every year.  I saw this abomination at Costco on September 29th:

It’s good that there is strong and growing awarenes and opposition to “ethnic costumes” (read: probably racist) and unnecessarily “sexy” costumes.  But there are other costumes that should also bite the dust.

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The Ill Defined: What’s the difference between a fetish and a relic?

From where I’m standing, usually racism.  White religions worship “relics”, and non-white people worship “fetishes” and “totems”.  I say we start using the same language for all religions.

The Green family (owners of Hobby Lobby) paid $500 million to build a so-called “museum of the buybull” where they display improperly obtained christian fetishes (e.g. unauthorized archaeology of ancient sites, items obtained on the black market without provenance, etc.) and fabricated objects.  This week, they quietly removed one of them because it was – like everything else in their “museum” – a fake.

Would it have been too much effort to just call NASA and find out before paying?  You know your standards of “evidence” are poor when even Ken Ham’s “ark park” looks more credible.

Museum of the Bible quietly replaces artifact purported to be brought to the moon by NASA

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Museum of the Bible in Washington quietly replaced an artifact purported to be one of a handful of miniature Bibles that a NASA astronaut carried to the moon in 1971 after an expert questioned its authenticity.

The move follows an announcement last year that at least five of 16 Dead Sea Scroll fragments that had been on display at the museum were found to be apparent fakes.

The museum replaced the original microfilm Bible with one that was donated by an Oklahoma woman who wrote a book about the Apollo Prayer League, which arranged for Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell to carry tiny Bibles to the moon.

[…]

Steve Green, museum founder and president of Hobby Lobby, also purchased thousands of Iraqi archaeological artifacts for a reported $1.6 million, but was forced in 2018 to return them to the Iraqi government and Hobby Lobby paid a $3 million fine after authorities said they were stolen from the war-torn country and smuggled into the U.S. Museum officials have said none of those items were ever part of its collection.

The only thing that parted were fools and their money.  Not the Red Sea.

Cronus-logically Discovered: Saturn has twenty more moons than we thought

As always: science rules, religion drools.  Hey, religions of the world: Why weren’t these mentioned in your holey (full of holes) books?

Discovery of 20 new moons gives Saturn a solar system record

With its newfound companions, Saturn nudges out Jupiter as the planet with the most known moons in our cosmic neighborhood.

Jupiter may be the solar system’s king, but Saturn has a bigger entourage: Today, astronomers announced that they have discovered 20 more moons around Saturn, bringing its total number to 82—the most for any planet in the solar system. The massive haul comes just over a year after astronomers announced 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter, but with the latest finds, Saturn’s retinue now surpasses Jupiter’s 79 known natural satellites. (Explore our interactive atlas of moons.)

Taken together, these sets of relatively small moons could help astronomers better understand the many collisions that took place in the early solar system, and they could provide ripe new flyby targets for future missions to the gas giants.

[…]

Seventeen of the new moons orbit in the opposite direction of Saturn’s rotation. Each of these “retrograde” moons takes more than three years to trace out one orbit. The other three moons orbit Saturn in the same direction as the planet’s rotation. Two of these “prograde” moons take roughly two years to finish one orbit, while the third takes more than three years to go around Saturn.

Many of these moons may be too small to see (not much larger than Mars’s Phobos and Deimos), but they’re still moons.


The Carnegie Institution for Science is holding a contest to name the new moons, within specific rules based on the moons’s orbits and groupings.  Click to read more….

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Football Sucks: Another year, and it takes less than a month to prove it

The North American game of football needs to die before it kills more people.  The 2019 season is barely underway, and already the toll of injuries, deaths, concussions, hazing, and rapes are too many to count.

The damage done to children is criminal.  All that coaches and parents care about is “the game”, not the kids’ long term health.  They’re never told the risks when they sign up, only that they should “man up” and “be a winner”.

What galls me almost as much is the cowardice of “fans” who talk tough about what players should do while never facing the risk themselves.  And the few who have played football undoubtedly played at a much lower competitive level (e.g. 200 pound linemen running a 6 second 40 yard dash).

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Act Responsibly: MGM Vegas did, gun companies won’t

As seen on the Move On facebook page:

The difference is that the hotel didn’t imagine or expect their property to be used for such a crime. The gun companies did, and kept selling them.  How is the hotel responsible but not the arms dealers and stores that sold the weapons?

MGM Resorts To Pay Up To $800 Million In Las Vegas Shooting Settlement

MGM Resorts International has agreed to pay up to $800 million to settle thousands of liability claims stemming from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, lawyers announced Thursday, almost exactly two years after the massacre.

On Oct. 1, 2017, a gunman on the 32nd floor of the MGM-owned Mandalay Bay resort opened fire on a crowd of people at a country music festival, killing 58 and injuring hundreds.

Lawyers representing survivors and victims wanted MGM held liable for negligence because the shooter was able to enter the hotel with luggage that held an arsenal of high-powered, assault-style weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Reputation Earned: Joe Clark’s was the last conservative government Canada ever had

With another Canadian federal election taking place on October 21, 2019, this is another repost from my facebook page.  I am absolutely NOT a conservative nor would ever vote for one, but I can respect someone with principles, honesty and dignity.  Former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark was a conservative in the traditional sense: balanced budgets and unwilling to change, but also arguing from the same facts as political opponents.  (Take Germany’s Angela Merkel, for example.)

 


 

On May 22, 1979, forty years ago, Canada held its 31st federal election. Joe Clark (born June 5, 1939, age 80) became Canada’s sixteenth and youngest Prime Minister after the Progressive Conservatives won the most seats, but not a majority, 136 out of 282.  Clark made the decision to “govern like a majority” rather than seek consensus with the Liberal and New Democratic parties. The Liberals and NDP opposed Clark’s budget and some of his plans (e.g. de-nationalization of PetroCanada), leading to a non-confidence vote in December 1979, and another federal election in February 1980. Clark would never be Prime Minister again.

The far right Social Credit party had six seats, which would have been enough to give Clark a thin coalition majority, but they did not want to cooperate. They paid for it in the subsequent election, losing all six seats and never winning another seat in three subsequent elections before disbanding. Voters were frustrated and turned away from them. Even the provincial Social Credit parties have disappeared from the political landscape.

This would mark the last time a traditional Progressive Conservative would govern Canada. Brian “the walking jaw” Mulroney destroyed the PC party with his ineptitude and corruption, leading to right wing extremist “populism” and ignorance that continues today.

 


 

Although some regard Clark as a failure, disagree with his planned policies and call him “uncharismatic”, he remains a respected figure. His reputation and legacy are one of honesty, principle, and willingness to do the right thing – even when it cost him politically.

The Iranian Hostage Crisis began on November 4, 1979, and it was Clark’s government that planned and and executed the rescue of six Americans from the Canadian embassy in Tehran on January 27, 1980, the “Canadian Caper” as it was called.  Yes, Canadians were involved despite what hollywood claimed.

Clark’s other lasting legacy of his short premiership was his handling of the Boat People crisis of 1979, providing citizenship and funding to settle 60,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and elsewhere. Compare that to how the rest of the world treats boat people, refugees and migrants today.  Would Justin Trudeau have settled 20,000 Syrian refugees without Clark’s legacy to live up to?

In 1992, Clark negotiated the Charlottetown Accord, bringing all the provincial and territorial premiers to agreement (conservatives, liberals, socialists and Quebec separatists), as well as the leaders of Canada’s First Nations people, a Sisyphean task equivalent to herding cats. The Accord failed because of Brian Mulroney’s toxic personality – the voters rejected him more than Clark’s Accord.

My Blood Boils: The Mass Murdering Regime lives down to its name

On the 70th anniversary of the communists’ “victory”, the Mass Murdering Regime commits its first murder in Hong Kong.  One of the goon cops shot a child in the street and left him to die.  Beijing’s regime is worse than the Imperial Japanese regime that occupied the country.

October 10th is Taiwan’s Independence Day. It’s a national holiday, and it won’t be a celebration this year. It will be a somber ceremony in support of Hong Kong. People are angry and will be out in droves.  I plan to take photos.

Hong Kong protester shot with live round during China National Day rally

Hong Kong police have shot a protester with live ammunition for the first time in four months of demonstrations, marking a major escalation in the use of force on a day when China celebrated 70 years of Communist party rule with a triumphalist military parade.

Protests called to mark a “national day of grief” drew tens of thousands of people on to the city’s streets, across six areas, in the most widespread show yet of public anger towards Beijing.

Some gathered in central Hong Kong, while others met up across the harbour in Kowloon and the New Territories beyond. Initially peaceful, the demonstrations turned into running battles. Authorities shut down nearly half the city’s metro stations in an attempt to contain the violence.

Police in full riot gear used water cannon and barrages of teargas, while protesters threw molotov cocktails, built barricades, attacked metro stations and lit fires in the street.

The scenes, though extremely violent, did not mark a departure from previous protests until mid-afternoon, when a policeman drew his gun and fired a bullet into an 18-year-old high school student’s chest in Tsuen Wan district.

Images shared by local media showed the protester lying on the ground begging for help as he bled from his injury. “Send me to hospital, my chest is hurting. I need to go to hospital,” he said.

[…]

The UK said the use of live ammunition was “disproportionate”, while Amnesty International called for an urgent and independent investigation.

Big help you are, England.  Instead of illegally selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, give them to Hong Kong’s citizens instead.  Or better yet, go back and reclaim the country – send in US and UK troops if you so believe in democracy.


Wait And See: Is the MLS finally growing a spine and brain?

The MLS’s officious (not a typo) policy on “safety” at their games reads:

MLS and its Clubs will immediately action the following behaviors as they represent a threat to the safety of the event:

[…]

Using (including on any sign or other visible representation) political, threatening, abusive, insulting, offensive language and/or gestures, which includes racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist or otherwise inappropriate language or behavior

They have yet to explain how anti-racist and anti-gun violence signs are a “threat”.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, fans have been ejected and banned from stadiums for up to three years for waving Iron Front flags.  Meanwhile, MAGAts have not.  Fans leaguewide have begun to walk out in protest, putting aside team partisanship in favour of unified opposition to hypocrisy.

The MLS has (or might have) caved in to the pressure, changing its policy specific to Iron Front imagery, though a permanent policy will undoubtedly be coming.  They might want to ask the fans to write it, especially when the owners still can’t tell the difference between violent racists and non-violent anti-racists.

Lifting the ban on the Iron Front logo is a start, as is MLS’s promise to rescind the  suspensions of fans who displayed it. But even better is how the fans’ collective actions around the country made so much noise that it compelled the league to come to them and negotiate.

Rivalry came second to decency among antifa fans, something rightwingnuts cannot grasp nor would ever do.  They’ll stab each other in the back at the first disagreement.


MAGAts are so gutless they won’t even speak publicly under their own names.  Former US national men’s team member Geoff Cameron vehemently denies being the USMNT player who called into a rightwing radio show and told racists to wear MAGA hats to games.  If it’s not true, charlie, why are you so upset?

Cameron, from a Sports Illustrated interview:

“I believe it’s important to support our President whether he was your candidate or not,” Cameron told SI.com’s Grant Wahl. “I am pleased he is making security of all Americans one of his top priorities. Our enemies have stated—and in Europe they have proven—they will take advantage of lax immigration procedures for the purposes of staging attacks. A temporary pause on immigration for the purpose of evaluating and improving vetting procedures makes sense.

Cameron, from a New York Times interview:

Pressed about how he feels about the travel ban nearly a year later, Cameron insisted: “I never said I supported a Muslim ban. I said I support a better vetting procedure. And I still do.”

 

 

Slow Down: Estonia tries a new way of curbing speeders

In almost every country, even where defensive driving is the norm, people take the same ignorant attitudes towards the road:

  • “driving is a right”
  • “speeding is a right”
  • “cars are more important than people”

There are many ways to slow down traffic terrorists and stop speeders physically: chicanes, roundabouts, speed bumps and speed dips, etc.  One can use points systems tied to insurance premiums.  You can also stop them with fines, but a flat fee system only works on the least wealthy, the rich can shrug it off.  Finland’s approach is to fine people proportionate to their income; in 2015, a millionaire was handed a 54,000€ fine for speeding.

Estonia is trying a new approach with speeders: take a time out, or pay the fine.  First time speeders (not repeat offenders) can opt to take a time out up to an hour and sit in a waiting area.  Being massively inconvenienced and having their day interrupted may make drivers think twice.  It’s a test program, not a permanent system, but if it works….

Police to offer first-time speeders timeout instead of fines

Police are offering drivers the choice between a 45 or 60-minute break rather than a fine if they are caught speeding, as part of a series of innovative techniques aimed to decrease road accidents.

Drivers exceeding the speed limit by 20 km/h must wait 45 minutes in a parking area next to the road and 60 minutes if they drove between 21 and 40 km/h over the allowed limit.

Officers will test the new technique on the Tallinn-Rapla road on Thursday morning. Only drivers who have no previous traffic offences will be offered a choice. 

Laugh So You Don’t Seethe: Why the US won’t allow Mariela Castro to visit

This is the most egregious example of the POTUS is calling the kettle black that I can ever remember.

The US is banning Mariela Castro from visiting the US because…

…wait for it…

  • government officials involved in corruption
  • human rights violations
  • causing a humanitarian crisis in a foreign country
  • interfering with governments of foreign nations
  • causing food shortages
  • causing a public health crisis

The hypocrisy is so thick you need a spatula, not a spoon.

Mariela Castro banned from traveling to US

The Trump administration on Thursday announced the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads LGBTI issues can no longer travel to the U.S.

Secretary of State Mike Pompous Clown in a statement said Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act “provides that, in cases where the secretary of state has credible information that foreign government officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.”

[…]

“Castro is responsible for Cuba’s actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela through violence, intimidation and repression,” he added. “In concert with Maduro’s military and intelligence officers, members of the Cuban security forces have been involved in gross human rights violations and abuses in Venezuela, including torture. Castro is complicit in undermining Venezuela’s democracy and triggering the hemisphere’s largest humanitarian crisis, forcing 15 percent of the Venezuelan population to flee the country and precipitating a food shortage and health crisis of unprecedented scale in this region.”

Unlike Trumplethinskin, Castro takes part in the LGBTQIA parades, though how progressive she actually is on human rights, I don’t know.

Bogey Spotted: High speed railing against each other

The youtube channel Curious Droid recently produced a video comparing Japan’s Shinkansen railway the France’s TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, or “high-speed train”).  The video also covers some history of high speed rail and its origins – and the US’s missed opportunity to be a world leader before commercial air travel took over.

Taiwan’s HSR system isn’t mentioned in the video.  While not as fast as Japan, France, or other countries’ high speed rail network, it doesn’t need to be (top speeds around 320kmh, usually 290-300).  As mentioned in the video, if it takes rail less time to reach a distination, air travel drops considerably because accessing and boarding trains is far quicker and convenient than airports.  The direct HSR route (Taipei-Taichung-Kaohsiung) takes just over two hours, far less than the time it would take to get to Songshan Airport in Taipei, board the plane, and fly to Kaohsiung.

Most domestic air travel in Taiwan is to the smaller and popular surrounding islands (Penghu, Green, Orchid, Kinmen) but even that is limited.  Ferry service to Green, Orchid and Penghu islands make driving possible.

The Broken Vows: The catholic cult pleads poverty when it’s time to pay up

The Rochester disease…I mean diocese…okay, the Rochester disease of the catholic cult is feigning bankruptcy in order to avoid paying compensation to victims of pedopriests. New York State’s one year “look back” period has begun, where there is no statute of limitations on sexual crimes commited by clergy.  From TIME:

A New York Diocese Filed for Bankruptcy Under the Weight of Sexual Misconduct Lawsuits. Will Others Follow?

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester was the first in New York to seek bankruptcy protection under the weight of new sexual misconduct lawsuits, but lawyers and church leaders say it may not be the last.

All eight of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses face financial pressures as a result of the state’s new Child Victims Act, which temporarily set aside the usual statute of limitations for lawsuits to give victims of childhood sexual abuse a year to pursue even decades-old claims.

More than 400 cases have been brought against the dioceses since Aug. 14, when the law’s one-year “look back” period for such suits began.

Representatives from the dioceses of Buffalo, Rockville Centre, Albany and Ogdensburg told The Associated Press they haven’t decided as they consult with legal, financial and insurance experts.

If the morally vacant vatican city in Rome controls and dictates individual diocese and parishes, can hold them responsible, then why does responsibility not go the other way?  If the dioceses and parishes send money to Rome, why is Rome being allowed to avoid making payments to victims of pedopriests?

The catholic cult has fleeced bilions from the gullible, claiming to be “church of poverty” doesn’t hold water.  (Only if they mean morally poor and bankrupt.)

fff