Author Archives: d

Islamophobia

Another thing that was discussed in last night’s debate was Islamophobia so I wanted to briefly say what I think that is and isn’t.

Islamophobia isn’t wanting to keep people who live by their own set of medieval laws which make women second class citizens and make it dangerous to be gay, lesbian, or a freethinker out of your country; nor is it wanting to make it illegal for the people already in your country to wear burqas and similar identity concealing attire in public places and to dress children in such attire.

Islamophobia is wanting to ban all people who identify as Muslim from entering your country regardless of how they interpret and practice their religion. We shouldn’t be so afraid of being labeled intolerant that we tolerate things which should not be tolerated, nor should we place an entire broad and diverse group of people into one small box and label it based upon the most abominable members of that group.

A Dirty Debate

In case you didn’t see it much of the first half was spent arguing about the sexual assault rhetoric and record of one candidate and that of the spouse of the other along with the history of that candidate during her time as a young lawyer and as a wife defending sexual predators and discrediting their victims. Way to go America! That’s the way you promote democracy to the rest of the world. We could’ve had Bernie Sanders debating important issues with John Kasich or some other decent, sane, and somewhat informed human being but instead we’ve got an uninformed guy with a severely inflated view of himself and another phony politician who tries to be all things to all people.

So why bother voting for either of them? Because regardless of whether or not you participate in this election you and your loved ones will be stuck with its consequences so civic duty aside it’s in your personal self-interest not to mention the interest of human civilization and entire biosphere that you not only vote but also encourage others to vote for the best possible candidate that has a shot at winning the election. That candidate is Hillary Clinton hands down. She is intelligent, articulate, and well informed; moreover I think/hope that at this point in her life she really wants to do the right thing for the country and the world and if elected will be focused on doing just that rather than on accumulating more wealth and more power so I’m with her!

Barefoot Beach Bouldering

If you’ve never tried bouldering or rock climbing you really should and if you have but a long time ago then you should do it more often. I’m still more of a fruit tree climber however I must say that exhausting your hands and melting your forearms on a climbing wall is pretty awesome. I’ve only climbed up high with a harness a few times in my life because I’m not into get-wrecked-or-die-if you-fall heights and I don’t like putting my life in the hands of old climbing bolts. Particularly those on the beach and subject to the corrosive effects of sea mist. However I love bouldering over sand, water, or some other forgiving surface.

After many attempts today, and over the past few weeks whenever I visited that beach, I made it and now that I know how to do it and have developed a stronger grip it should be fairly easy next time. I climbed onto the stalactite in the center of this photo which is about 2 meters off the ground. I did a little jump and grab and then put my foot over my hands and used my heel to allow me to move my hands into a position that would eventually get me high enough onto the stalactite that I could get a foot on the bottom. After I made it I climbed around it once before jumping down with a smile on my face and blood on my hand (small scrape).

stalactite-climb

Absentee and Early Voting

I mailed in my absentee ballot today! If you know anyone overseas or eligible for early voting in the States please encourage them to vote now rather than later. Getting an absentee ballot is easy! So is printing it, marking your choices, signing your name, and sending it in the mail. Here’s a link to an online tool that makes it even easier for U.S. citizens abroad to vote.

Please remind all the U.S. expats you know to vote.

More Than 150 Republican Leaders Don’t Support Donald Trump. Here’s When They Reached Their Breaking Point.

A Day of Religion

Today in an episode of Witness they recounted a story of child abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church. I wonder how many people would continue to stick with and support a secular organization with a deep rooted and dark history of child abuse like that? After that I read about the White House being mad at Israel for deciding to build more settlements in occupied land and just after they closed the deal on 38 billion dollars in military aid. I wonder how much money the U.S. would give Israel and how Israel would justify it’s settlements if it weren’t a Jewish state that based its territorial claims on religious text? I also wonder how strong U.S. support for Israel would be if so much of the U.S. electorate didn’t identify as Christian?

Today I also read a story about a Dutch tourist in Myanmar where it’s illegal to “insult religion” who just got sentenced to 3 months hard labor for unplugging a loudspeaker near his hotel which was blasting a Buddhist sermon in the darkness of the late night or early morning. I wonder how much hard labor he would’ve been sentenced to if he unplugged the loudspeaker a group of people blasting a secular sermon about the threat of climate change and the role and animal agriculture plays in it? I’m guessing the people blasting such a much needed sermon into the darkness of the early morning would be the ones arrested and sentenced to hard labor for disturbing the peace and disrupting the much needed sleep of hundreds of people.

Religion should not be elevated above morality, exempt from laws, or protected from constructive criticism the same way secular ideas and activities aren’t.

P.S. Yesterday I was speaking with a couple from the States who were visiting from China where they had been living for the past few years. The husband was teaching English in a school and the wife taught English at home via the bible. She told me her students all thought that the bible was just some mythology and didn’t know its truth and I smilingly told her I agreed with the students. She seemed a bit surprised that I’d politely just slam it on the table like that as I stretched my wrists after a bouldering session on the beach. I still find it funny when people assume that since I’m white and speak English I must be Christian and talk to me like I’m on team Jesus when the only team I’m on is team Earth.

After she responded by telling me how she was born into a god loving faithful Christian family and disagreed with my assessment of the bible we went on chatting and she told me they had nine children and she made sure to add that they were all theirs, none of that silly adoption stuff for this fertile couple. As if having one or two kids isn’t bad enough they had nine! Moreover they were all home schooled by a faithful Christian mother so I expect those nine will produce many more. Genesis 1:28 “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” With so many people with an arrogant and anthropocentric attitude like that no wonder humanity along with the rest of the biosphere is in the ecological mess it’s in.

P.P.S. Today I saw a monk on the bus who refused to hand his ticket to the ticket lady. Instead he handed it to a random five year old boy who was seated with his mother and then the ticket lady took it from him. It reminded me of a Swiss handshake story earlier this year in which a teenage student refused to shake hands with his teacher because she was a women. I wouldn’t try to force or even encourage anyone to shake hands with anyone else but could some of you devout men please stop acting like any contact or interaction with a women such as a handshake or simply handing something over to them has to have some kind of an underlying inappropriate sexual meaning to it. Grow up, because if I become a bus driver and there’s a lady collecting tickets for me and you refuse to hand yours directly to her because it violates your religious beliefs then you will not ride on my bus.

Slacklining

I started slacklining last year after seeing one for the first time however today was the first time I stretched my slackline across some water. Walking across it was a lot more difficult than I thought it’d be and I think that had a lot to do with how fast the muddy river below me was moving. If you swam as hard as you could you could still move forward but very slowly. I’m not sure I could have even made it 10 meters upstream. Luckily the stream was only about 12 meters wide so I was never too far from the shore.

You’re not supposed to look down when walking on a slackline but I couldn’t help noticing the water below rushing past me and I think it messed with my balance which is pretty good a meter or so above land. There was also the fear of falling but I wasn’t very high above the water so I think the main thing that made it so difficult was all the movement below me. I look forward to slacklining over some still and preferably clear water and seeing how that feels. In the meantime I need to practice looking forward and ignoring what’s below me.

If you aren’t familiar with slacklining know that it’s awesome and that you should buy a slackline along with a balance board today. I consider being able to walk across a slackline and being able to walk on your hands essential human skills. You don’t need to be able to do tricks on a slackline, I don’t, and you don’t need to be able to take a flight of stairs on your hands however if you aren’t a small child, really old, or physically handicapped you really should make it a goal to be able to walk across a slackline and take a few steps on your hands.

P.S. If you want to see just how important vision is to your balance try standing on one leg, shutting your eyes, and then counting down from 20 out loud and don’t forget to do both legs.

20161005_16343320161005_163742

Running into Water

When arriving at a beach on a hot sunny day it’s tempting to go running into the water, many people even do a run into a dive. I strongly recommend you NOT do this without checking the water first because you never know what lurks just beneath its surface. Have fun at the beach but be careful not to wreck yourself on a rock. No I didn’t wreck myself on those rocks but I’m sure people have and more will in the future. Since they were way too big and embedded for me to move out of a swimming area frequented by tourists which assume it’s rock free I thought I’d issue a little safety announcement that applies to beaches everywhere in hopes it will save at least one person from kicking or diving into a rock. I also sent an email and these two pics to the local beach/park management because although I don’t think it’s necessary to alter natural surroundings in order to careless-tourist-proof everything I do think they should pull up those three rocks which are really in a bad spot.

20160930_14291020160930_164254

Mind Your Own Business

I agree. The problem is that my idea of what’s my business as an adult human greatly differs from that of most people and I hope yours does too because if everyone broadened the scope of what they considered to be their business and spoke out or lent a hand when needed the world would get a lot better in a lot less time than it would have otherwise.

Last week I told a parent, and onlookers, that it’s 100% wrong, i.e., no gray area and not up for debate, to make a child who is only around 7 or 8 years old wear a niqab whenever she leaves the house as this essentially eliminates the possibility of her interacting with children outside of her cult and communicating with her face in public. I guess her father felt it was time she covered her entire body from head to toe including her face so she wouldn’t be “flaunting her beauty” in public.

We should all speak out when we see child abuse regardless of its form, e.g., an overdone and out-of-control spanking that turns into a beating or when a child is fed so improperly that their health is in jeopardy. I decided to write this after reading an article entitled “Should You Intervene When a Parent Harshly Disciplines a Child in Public?”. My answer is YES. I’ve intervened in overdone and out-of-control child beatings on at least three occasions and I hope the next time you see a child being abused you’ll calmly say something that helps stop it and hopefully reduces the likelihood of a future incident.

P.S. Here’s a photo I snapped from the back of a truck bus a few days ago. The ladies husband/handler was nearby waiting on a motorcycle. I like the idea of a mouth hole rather than having to breath directly into fabric because I imagine that could get kind of nasty in this humid and year-round heat, but it looks like that mouth hole is covered by fabric? Regardless even though her husband let her wear a nice sky blue freak mask instead of a black one I still don’t want this women behind me at the ATM or even in line at the supermarket. Thailand’s identity concealment laws aren’t up to me to decide however if it came to a vote and I was eligible to vote I’d vote in favor of banning identity-concealing attire in public places.

20160928_12144220160928_121442-3

YouTube Tips

I saw a useful video on the YouTube Trending page today. Here are a few of the YouTube tips featured in it.

< = decrease playback speed
> = increase playback speed

J = go back 10 seconds
K = pause
L = go forward 10 seconds

, = go back one frame
. = go forward one frame

0 = return to start of video
9 = jump to the 90% point
1-8 for anywhere in between

up = increase volume
down = decrease volume
left = back 5 seconds
right = back 5 seconds

A Day Out

Yesterday I spent the night at a fruit farm in the middle of fruit season and you don’t get any more “right place right time” than that! Early this morning I went tree climbing for ripe fruit and after breakfast the owner offered me to use his scooter so I went to a couple places in the area that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise since there was no public transportation available to get to them and I didn’t have enough time to try my luck at hitchhiking which is generally pretty good and is what got me there and back home this evening.

Today was the first time, and probably the last time, I’ve ridden or driven any vehicle that wasn’t powered by my legs this year. Besides being super convenient it was also pretty fun and although scooters burn fossil fuels just like your average car they do it way more efficiently. The scooter I rode around on today got somewhere around 51km/l or 120 mpg. The only way you’re going to match that with the average new car is by loading it up with 4 or 5 passengers and that’s only if you compare it to a scooter with one person rather than a scooter with two or three which is very common here.

Continue reading

A Vote For Trump is a Vote Against Life on Earth

Tonight’s the first presidential debate of 2016 and will be the first time a women is one of the two people making their case for your vote and public support leading up to election day. Unfortunately rather than pondering the well-thought and detailed plans of the one candidate that has them I’m afraid many of those who are still undecided, yes such people exist, will just be looking for the worst gaffes and best one-liners. To these people who still haven’t outright rejected the possibility of voting for Trump, those who plan on voting for a third party or not voting at all, and those who actually support Trump, know that a vote for Trump is a vote against life on Earth.

Trump claims climate change is a “hoax” and has promised to undo the modest and long-overdue commitments the U.S. has made to do anything about it, e.g. Clean Power Plan. He doesn’t even mention climate change or environmental issues in general on his campaign website nor does he talk about them on the campaign trail except to say things like he’s “going to get rid of the department of environmental protection in almost every form” and “cancel the Paris climate agreement”. How could a man with such a blatant disregard for the health of the planet that has given us all life get a single vote from anyone even remotely concerned about the stability of the climate and diversity of the biosphere.

Trump’s positions, and lack of positions, on climate change and other environmental issues should be a deal-breaker for anyone who isn’t intent on leaving behind a planet to future generations that’s much less biologically diverse and in much worse shape than the one we’re fortunate enough to inhabit. Please publicly support Hillary for president and remind any Trump supporters what a vote for The Donald could mean, and if he’s elected will mean, for future generations of life on this planet. Climate change is real, humans are largely responsible, and we can’t put off taking decisive action any longer. We need a president who will build upon the environmental and economic achievements made over the past 8 years not one who is running on destroying them.

Taking on the threat of climate change and making America the world’s clean energy superpower.

A Full List of Donald Trump’s Rapidly Changing Policy Positions

Trump’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton

P.S. In the debate Trump denied saying virtually the exact same thing he tweeted and has yet to delete. Unfortunately his supporters don’t seem to see it as lying or untruthful when he denies his past statements. The fact is Trump bends the truth or straight out lies more so than Hillary according to the Truth-O-Meter.

Please Quit Smoking

It’s sad to see so many people still addicted to tobacco. I understand the ignorance and/or selfishness that allows most people to live as if they don’t care about the future of the biosphere and the people who will inhabit it however it’s harder to understand how someone could care so little about themselves and those around them that they’d regularly go out of their way to poison themselves and, inadvertently, those around them.

I’m not just referring to the stomach churning unpleasantness of having to speak to a smoker up close or the health hazard of having to breathe their secondhand smoke I’m referring to the harm caused by their willingness to accept such low standards when it comes to their own personal health and quality of life. If a smoker accepts such low health standards when it comes to themselves what kind of health standards do you think they will apply to everyone else? How about to animals other than humans and the biosphere as a whole?

I’m far more concerned about the harm smokers cause others and the burden they place on the health care system than I am with the harm they cause themselves however we can’t ignore the former if we hope to make progress with the latter. Therefore to all smokers and anyone else who doesn’t respect themselves as much as they should I remind you that you have too much potential as a human being to live the rest of your life with a completely unnecessary self-induced health handicap therefore I urge you to make an all-out effort to quit smoking.

18 Ways Smoking Affects Your Health

Smoking can cause permanent damage to DNA

Resources to help you create a quit plan and quit smoking permanently.

Police Shootings

Dear Police, we all know you have a dangerous job and need to be ready for anything but if you’re so nervous and fearful, particularly around black people, that it affects your decision making ability then you shouldn’t be armed and on the beat. Not all people that fail to follow your commands are out to kill you. Some may be autistic, some deaf, and some may be intoxicated so please give them the benefit of the doubt and don’t take lethal action until your life is truly in danger.

Dear Public, you will greatly reduce your chances of getting shot if you keep your hands visible, avoid sudden movements, and do as instructed. I’ve seen a few tragic videos over the past few years of people getting shot and killed by anxious police and most of them have something in common and that is the victim is resisting arrest or not following commands. While this doesn’t justify a police shooting it does greatly increase the chances of one happening so please remember to follow commands.

Dear Protestors, bringing public attention to what might have otherwise been another overlooked injustice is the right thing to do and will lead towards better policing and safer streets. However any rioting and/or looting is the worst possible thing you can do in the wake of a police shooting so if you really want to prevent future tragedies please keep your protests peaceful, engage in constructive dialogue, and work with law enforcement agencies to help bring violent police and protestors to justice.

Easily Rectified Hazards

Anyone who’s lived or traveled in less developed countries learns quickly to consistently watch their head and where they place their feet. Over the years I have on countless occasions avoided stepping into holes, getting poked in the eyes, or smashing my head into something that shouldn’t have been hanging down or jutting out into a public space. However I’ve also had my share of fails and this morning was one of them. As I was squeezing past people at the market I snagged my thigh on a nail that was jutting about 3cm out of a table. Luckily it was the head of the nail but it still hurt and could’ve resulted in a tetanus infection had it broken the skin. Thanks organic cotton shorts! Continue reading

More Pressing Issues

Hijab emoji? Does the emoji library also need a burka emoji and a niqab emoji? Instead of creating emoji characters for all the religions, or just those whose adherents ardently request them, why not just stick with human face emoji which now, as they should, come in multiple skin colors. With that said I think those for and against religious emoji should focus on the more pressing issues related to Islam, other religions, and cultural backwardness in general.

The women tweeting for their freedom in Saudi Arabia

When American girls are forced into marriage abroad, the U.S. can do little to rescue them

P.S. I just made a small donation to Tahirih Justice Center which is highly rated on Charity Navigator.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival which means if you look up into the night sky and you’re lucky enough to have a clear view you’ll see a big bright full moon. This year the festival falls on September 15th however it changes every year and next year it will be on October 4th. Although the date changes from year to year on the Gregorian calendar it’s the same every year on the Chinese lunisolar calendar and falls on the 15th day of the 8th month.

If you’re unfamiliar with this holiday which is celebrated in China, around East Asia, and in Chinese communities around the world it’s kind of like Thanksgiving in the States except that it takes place on the full moon and enjoying the full moon with family and friends is a big part of it. Also instead of turkey the signature food of the event are mooncakes which are little dense cakes that come with a variety of fillings and flavors. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

mid-autumn-festival

Drunk Driving

During my evening walk I passed a strategically placed sobriety checkpoint that was swarming with cops. I saw one guy handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police pickup and I’m guessing the police intend on getting a few more people into the back of that truck before heading back. Considering the prevalence of drunk driving around here I don’t think they’ll have a problem doing so, in fact I think they might need another truck.

The worst is when people come to work drunk… and their job is to drive people around on a motorcycle without helmets. I’ve had a couple encounters in which I gave stern lectures. I’m not writing this to tell anyone how to care for their liver but I am telling everyone: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE and if you want a few reasons why not to do such an irresponsible thing have at look all these people who are now dead due to a drunk driver. M.A.D.D.

P.S. Although I’ve never consumed alcohol and even if I did I would still never get behind the wheel, one thing I have done a few times in my teens and early twenties is drive throughout the night without sleep and drive during the day after a near-sleepless night. Very dangerous and extremely dumb because no matter how loud the music is when you’re body needs to sleep it will sleep, even if you absolutely refuse to shut your eyes. Luckily I didn’t cause any harm but many others have during periods of micro-sleep or all out naps at the wheel.

‘In the Blink of an Eye’: Dozing While Driving

3.8 Billion Dollars Annually

How can the U.S., a country so deeply in debt that we’ve been told it can’t afford to provide health care and higher education to all its citizens, afford to give Israel, a country with a per capita GDP of around $35,000 and the most technologically advanced military in the Middle East, 3.8 billion dollars a year in military aid? I understand it costs Israel a lot to defend its illegal settlements but I don’t think U.S. taxpayers should be the ones to pay for it. Moreover as the sole nuclear power in the Middle East Israel is perfectly capable of deterring and defending itself from its neighbors without U.S. taxpayer dollars.

U.S. and Israel reach agreement on unprecedented amount of military aid

Feel free to let your government representatives know if you think this is a good way to spend 3.8 billion in taxpayer dollars over the next 10 years. I think the U.S. and the rest of the world would be much better off if this annual $3,800,000,000 was spent on health and education or perhaps on alternative energy infrastructure.

White House     U.S. Senate     U.S. House of Representative

Durian

For me premium durian is like creamy bitter sweet chocolate pudding with nutty and sulfuric undertones that will leave your taste buds in bliss and the rest of your mouth with a pleasant sensation of slight numbness provided you’re lucky enough to get one that’s just taken a hard fall from a good tree. Depending on the species, cultivar, and age of the tree there’s a wide variety of durian scents and flavors not to mention textures, colors, shapes, and sizes. There’s also a wide range of quality much of which depends on whether a durian was cut from a tree unripe and consumed days or weeks after harvest and if ripening chemicals were used, or whether it dropped from the tree naturally and fully ripe and was consumed within minutes or hours after harvest.

Continue reading

Ban Bullfighting

Bullfighting is another instance where culture and tradition overrides empathy and humanity and anyone participating in these events and/or opposing an outright ban of them should be ashamed of themselves. It’s great to see the good people of Spain take to the streets to oppose this barbarism that is still taking place in their country.

Spain bullfighting: Thousands rally in Madrid to demand ban

Continue reading