Nothing Bubbled Up: Black fool’s gold

Twenty years ago, George Mitchell sold Wall Street the idea that firing high pressure water into the ground could extract the remaining oil.

Ten years ago, fracking began in many places across the US.

Today, fracking has left behind a devastated and poisoned landscape.  And also turned out to be a money pit, not producing any of the profits promised.

The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground

Some of fracking’s biggest skeptics are on Wall Street. They argue that the industry’s financial foundation is unstable: Frackers haven’t proven that they can make money. “The industry has a very bad history of money going into it and never coming out,” says the hedge fund manager Jim Chanos, who founded one of the world’s largest short-selling hedge funds. The 60 biggest exploration and production firms are not generating enough cash from their operations to cover their operating and capital expenses. In aggregate, from mid-2012 to mid-2017, they had negative free cash flow of $9 billion per quarter.

Cold fusion was a fraud, but at least it create the environmental and economic mess that fracking has.  And there’s no way to clean up either mess fracking has left behind.

Learning Curves: You never know how ignorant you are

You never know how ignorant you are until you actually start learning.  It took a long time (far too long, until the last five years) for me to stop saying things like “Why didn’t you…?” or “You should have….” in response to sexual assault and mental health issues.  But learning to shut up and be sympathetic still doesn’t mean you’ve learnt anything.

In February 2018, I first attended a weekly women’s support group.  I didn’t go for myself, I went to support a friend.  I have been a regular since, attending all but three meetings.  Over that time, I’ve learnt more about mental health (PTSD, depression, various disorders), suicide and attempted suicide, rape and sexual assault than I had heard in the first 51 years of my life.  I used to believe I was curious and informed about these things – now I know better, that I hardly know anything.

There are no medical professionals in the group, it’s women who come to air out their problems, tell what happened to themselves in a place of anonymity an unquestioning support.  I’ve learnt that just saying out loud what happened can be therapeutic, that people listening without judgement and keeping secrets can make a huge difference.  The group does, however, have access to medical resources (high, low and no cost) for people to call on, and several have needed help since I joined the group – therapy, hospitalization, other treatment.

It’s frightening to be up close to people and observing or becoming part of their problems and lives, it’s like having to give first aid to someone who’s badly injured and bleeding profusely.  But it’s not something you can just walk away from when you know others need help.  And it’s also made me aware of mental health issues in my own family, willing to address things I wasn’t willing to say aloud before.

Let’s Remember: Mary King, 1827-1869

Mary King (Ward after marriage) was born April, 27 1827, and died August 31, 1869, age 42. Normally, I post bios on birthdays, but King is a special case.  She deserves to be remembered for her scientific work while alive, and what was lost because of her premature death.  The cause of her death should not be her claim to fame.

[Read more…]

Crime Waves: The murder of a foreigner in Taipei, Taiwan

Update below: the capture of the second murderer.

Second update: Police questioning of Mayer has begun.

The murder of Ramgahan Sanjay Ryan on August 22 in Taipei, Taiwan, has made international headlines. (Today’s news about a 55 year old woman’s attempt to stab other passengers on a subway likely won’t, nor will the story of the pervert who placed a camera in a Starbuck’s toilet.) As mentioned in my post of yesterday, I’m not involved with the crime and don’t know the participants, but I am within arm’s reach of them. I have friends (and some now ex-friends) who know or have met one or all three.

Below are a collection of local news stories. I highlighted sections to explain certain facts, or parts which have been the basis of rumours (but won’t state any myself). Names with Chinese characters are removed because they are not being displayed properly.  I have chosen not to allow reader comments to avoid speculation, and offered only one opinion (about how Taiwan courts would handle those accused of possession) and the eye roll.

For the most part, Taiwan is a safe place to live.  My biggest daily concern is that defensive driving is a foreign concept. But for myself and many I know, the murder is the only topic of conversation. It angers me because it gives Taiwanese people a bad impression of foreigners at a time when we need to support Taiwan’s battle to maintain its independence. It’s not just so I can live more comfortably.

[Read more…]

While away….

While away, I did not while away the months since January.  My life has been in turmoil.

Immediate and important matters come first: My condolences and well wishes to all who knew Caine, to her co-bloggers, to her family, to other bloggers here, to readers and commenters.  I apologize for not being around as events happened.  It’s highly unlikely I could have done anything to help, but I should have been around to offer commiserations and kindness.



Those who remember that I live in Taiwan may have wondered about the recent news of a murder in Taipei.  This is not the first time I’ve been in close proximity to a murder (*), but it is the first time I’ve had mutual acquaintances with the accused murderers, people whom I no longer consider “friends”.

(* I worked as a security guard when I was in college in the early 1990s.  A co-worker was stabbed and murdered at a motel that employed our company, a place I had worked from time to time.  Other hotels and the local Greyhound station regularly had violent ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands attempting to find women who tried to get away.)

Oddly, it’s not the murder and those involved that worry me, it’s other people and other issues I’ll talk about in other posts.  I won’t be offering any opinion on the murders, only reporting news items because I have in the past associated this blog with my facebook page (though not vice versa) and someone may be able to connect them.

I’m restricting my social life for the next few months for personal and safety reasons which will give me a lot more time to write.  Whether I will maintain the discipline to do so remains to be seen.  Please prod me so that I do.

A final note: A thank you to PZ Myers and others who maintain Freethought Blogs for not closing and removing this blog.  In all honesty, I thought they would have, I was expecting to return only as a commenter.  I had suggested in the past to close down blogs that were inactive for six months, and I’ve been away for eight.

Let’s Remember: James Baldwin died December 1, 1987

James Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) is arguably one of the greatest writers and public intellectuals the US has ever produced. Even when speaking off the cuff without preparation, his answers are more enlightened and valuable than the prepared speches of the polished mouthpieces in Washington. If US leadership in the last thirty years had half the intellect of that man, most of the US’s problems wouldn’t exist.

A novelist, a playwright, a songwriter, essayist, his versatility and intellect knew no bounds. And as a human rights advocate – civil rights, LGBTQ rights, socialism – his words spoke volumes and have become ever more relevant as the US marches backwards. James Baldwin

The Root: 5 Times James Baldwin Read White America

Pacific Standard: How James Baldwin Gives Our Problem Back to Us

Thirty years after Baldwin’s death, though, America has found itself in a Baldwin renaissance. This resurfacing of Baldwin is ubiquitous, from journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates’ award-winning book Between the World and Me (2015); to director Raoul Peck’s Academy Award-nominated film I Am Not Your Negro (2016); to the fact that, over the past year, Baldwin’s book sales have improved by an impressive 110 percent, according to some estimates. That Baldwin is now re-emerging says lots about Baldwin—but it says even more about us.

There aren’t many people I have said I wish I could go back in time and meet, but James Baldwin is one of them. Unlike many whose personal lives turned out to be flawed or problematic, Baldwin’s name remains untarnished.

Let’s Remember: Marie Curie, born November 7, 1867

Marie Sklodowska Curie (neé Maria Salomea Sklodowska) was born November 7, 1867, 150 years ago. She died on July 4, 1934, of aplastic anemia related to her work with radioactive materials. In 1995, she and her husband Pierre Curie were interred at the Panthéon in Paris, the country’s mausoleum for national heroes.

Marie Curie was a giant in the field of STEM. She is the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields, and members of her family (Curies) won five Nobel Prizes in all. She discovered techniques for detecting isotopes and identified two elements, Polonium and Radium, the latter heavily used in medical treatments.

The Nobel Foundation’s biographical profile of Marie Curie

I would have posted this in November, but was unable to for personal reasons.

Self, Care: My time away has not been voluntary

I have to excuse myself for another long break away from posting. I don’t know what’s worse, problems happening all at once or one immediately after one another. Posting resumes this weekend.

In late October, around the time of the Pride Parade in Taipei, I began having computer problems. Data recovery has taken some time along with finding a suitable replacement computer.  That’s one of the advantages of living in Taiwan – if I buy Acer or Asus and have a problem, the factories and service facilities are less than 200km away.

In November, my sister (sister by choice, Kat, who is also transgender) took me to a women’s clinic (cisgender and transgender) which was willing to start me on hormone blockers which I took for three weeks. This was a huge mistake and I will not be taking estrogen again. My blood pressure and heart rate have been excessively high since then (150-160/90-100) and I can feel the physical strain on my heart. At my last health check in August for work visa renewal, my normal BP was 120/75 and resting heart rate was 60, extremely good for someone age 50.  I found out later that the active ingredient in the estrogen pills (ethinylestradiol) is banned in several countries as unsafe.

The estrogen also gave me my first experience with mood swings. I could avoid blogging and commenting during that time (my personal policy of “don’t write while angry”), but I could not avoid work. I did not do anything inappropriate, but my employer needed a medical explanation from a doctor for my erractic behaviour and emotional outbursts. Not a good situation.

Another medical issue unrelated to the hormones (or is it?) that has kept me from writing has been a return of effects from my concussion in 2011, the inability to focus and complete tasks. Recurrences of flooding, inability to concentrate and lack of patience are common post-concussion afflictions.  At work, I have no choice but to try and focus (do my job to keep my job and work visa), but outside of work it has been difficult. I haven’t even had the energy to socialize, let alone write.

One most bizarre and humourous thing this past month has been an American on facebook (we belong to the same nostalgia group) who began messaging me romantically once a week. If being on the opposite side of the world isn’t enough reason to say no, he’s an eagle-t-shirt wearing, Trump supporting Fred Bircher, “it’s okay to be white” type. WHY would he be interested in a transgender woman? (He knows, he’s commented on specific photos.) I know I should block him, but I’m getting great comedic value out of his messages which have not yet been offensive or sexual.

Death Camps: An american tradition

The Slave Trade.

The Gnadenhutten Massacre.

The Trail of Tears.


The Exclusion Act.

Wounded Knee.

Balinga Massacre.


Prison camps for ethnic Japanese people.

No Geun Rhi.

Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Dominican Republic and dozens of others.

My Lai and other massacres in Vietnam.

Iran-Contra and Operation Cyclone.

Azizabad, Kandahar and Kunduz.

Puerto Rico.

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Out To Launch: Annoying Orange is even more clueless than you thought

It’s easy to understand now why Rex Tillerson described Trump as a….   Trump wants the US to increase its nuclear arsenal by ten times. Exactly whom is it going to be used against? ISIS bases in Syria?

It’s long past time for the US military to overthrow the cast of clowns. There’s nothing left to salvage. Could a one year military dictatorship – until a new presidential and senate elections are held – really be any worse than this?

Excuses Excuses: A hollyweird mogul’s operandi

It doesn’t shock me at all that Harvey “Swine-Slime” Weinstein has been knocked from his predatory pedestal.  No, I didn’t know it would specifically be him, but rumours have abounded for decades about the “hollywood casting couch”, of women raped by coercion.  Cue the scum who say “They consented.  How else did they get the roles?  Why didn’t they report it sooner?”  Asia Argento begs to differ, unequivocally stating that Weinstein raped her.  And other people such as Terry Crews – a man, and ex-NFL player – have reported being sexually assaulted by other, different hollywood executives.

This is another example of something I’ve said before about Donald Sterling, about Tiger Woods, about Bill Cosby: People knew and they kept their mouths shut.  The media knew, powerful people knew (NBA owners, hollywood actors and executives), and they protected the perpetrators with a code of silence.  Their careers and access to the halls of power would have been cut off if they had spoken.

There is a lot of heavy criticism for actors like Matt Damon and Russell Crowe who helped silence a 2004 New York Times expose on Weinstein, and for other actors who have said nothing about him since the story broke.  Their silence speaks volumes.  But their silence doesn’t bother me as much as backslapping and congratulating being given to George Clooney, Mark Ruffalo and others who are speaking up.  I suspect they also knew and are protecting themselves.  You can’t be around and spend that much time with Weinstein and his ilk and never hear a single rumour.

The most appalling thing I read today was in a Taiwan feminist group on facebook.  A friend posted a comment by a piece of garbage she once considered a “friend”.  He said, “Following the demise of Harvey Weinstein, artors wishing to make it in Hollywood will now have to rely on their acting ability.”

The level of tone deafness and rape culture advocacy is astounding.


Murder Rates: Lies, damned lies and atavistics

In the Snopes group on facebook, a man named Michael McLaughlin published an interesting correlation of data. He compared the rates of gun deaths in 68 countries versus the wealth (GDP per capita) of each. Wealth is directly related to the education of a country, whether as a cause or an indicator.  His graph shows a strong correlation between wealth and a low gun death rate, and poverty with a high gun death rate, with the US as the biggest exception. [Read more…]

Shells Fall: They are not the hollow men

Mass shooters in the US are not the hollow men of TS Eliot’s poem.  Eliot’s men were hollow because they afraid to carry out their violence.  But there are plenty of potential hollow men in the US – neo-nazis, white supremacists, anti-abortionists, militia militants and other extremists trying to work up to it.

But the mass shooters in the US can be considered hollow men as people, as emotionally stunted and (mostly) white males.  The writer linked and quoted below has an excellent argument for the abundance of white male shooters.  It is primarily about the US, but applies equally well to mass shooters in other countries (e.g. Marc Lepine, Thomas Hamilton, Martin Bryant)[Read more…]

Blog Rules: A reiteration

Recent unpublished comments require this.  I can’t expect everyone to go back to my first post and read them, so I’m repeating them here:

– – – – –

What are your blog’s policies?  I will start simple and evolve or expand it where or when necessary:

  1. Be nice.
  2. No heated arguments.
  3. No profanities.
  4. No insults.
  5. No misrepresentation or quotemining.
  6. No personal attacks upon myself or others.

Most FtB writers have…animated conversations, to put it politely.  I’m not making comment on other people’s blogs by saying or having those rules.  It’s more a stylistic choice than about controlling conversations.  Not allowing certain things doesn’t prevent anyone from saying or doing such things elsewhere, and it doesn’t tread on anyone’s rights or ability to speak here.