臺灣 Taiwan 台湾

The best way to safeguard Taiwan as the beacon of freedom and democracy it is, and in particular Chinese freedom and democracy, is to not take provocative and counterproductive actions that embolden Taiwan separatists and make the mainland feel that the island is being pulled away from reunification and towards independence by the U.S.. This ill-advised Pelosi visit does nothing for peace, stability, or freedom in the region. It only puts Taiwan at greater risk of invasion and forced reunification while increasing the chances of miscalculations and misunderstandings between the U.S. and China.

The leaders of China understand the difficulty and costs of invading a heavily armed island of nearly 24 million people and will be less likely to do so if that island shows no signs of moving towards independence or unilaterally changing the status quo. This is the best chance that Taiwan has at existing in its current state for as long as possible into the future and until both sides decide to reunify by peaceful means in a mutually beneficial way. I hope at that time the mainland will socially and politically look a lot more like Taiwan than it does now and until then it still has a lot to learn from free and democratic Taiwan.

Durian Season and a Kingfisher

The durians are dropping and so is the price however the named varieties like Red Prawn are still too expensive so with only a few exceptions I’ve been eating the village variety durian aka “Kampung Durian” in Malaysia or “Durian Baan” in Thailand. The price of these has fallen to around 10MYR, 80THB, or 2.30USD a kg which is considered cheap in Malaysia and is about as low of a price you will find in the city. Just be sure to check carefully for any holes otherwise you might find an unwanted guest in your durian.

May Update

My neck rash featured in the last post healed pretty fast without the assistance of any medicines or creams and now that I’m back in Penang I hope I’ll be able to avoid another close encounter with those insects. My primary strategy is to avoid opening the windows and doors at night while the lights are on and it seems to be working so far.

Durian season in Penang has just started and I had a really good one yesterday however it’s still weigh too expensive, around 35MYR, 280THB, or 8USD a kg which is quite expensive considering only around 20% of it is edible so I’ll be trying my best to abstain until the price drops at least another 10 Ringgit.

Have a great day and a great May!

Paederus dermatitis – Rove Beetle Rash

Some species of rove beetle have a potent toxin called pederin in their hemolymph, which is like insect blood, and although these ant-like beetles don’t bite or sting if you squeeze one or even wipe one off of your face or neck, perhaps while you’re asleep, you could end up with an extremely itchy and painful rash. These insects are common in Penang especially in high rise buildings. The best thing you can do is place screens on your windows because if you don’t they will be attracted to the light and fly into your home. On the bright side pederin is being researched for its potential to slow the growth of cancerous tumors which just goes to show you how much we still have to learn from all the insects, plants, and other life we are causing to go extinct before we have a chance to research it. Let’s all do a better job at wasting less and conserving more in hopes of slowing down this sixth mass extinction that we are causing.

Covid

After two years of dodging it I have been infected making it the first time I’ve been sick in over 4 years. It all started last Thursday when I had a slightly sore throat which I thought was from all the talking I did on Wednesday. However on Friday I woke up feeling a bit off so I got a test and tested myself and sure enough two lines appeared. Out of all the self-tests I’ve taken and have given to kids it was the first time I saw two lines so I was a bit surprised and also kind of excited just to see two lines instead of one but I hope it’s the last time I see two lines.

After I saw that I was positive I began my quarantine. The first night was marked by a terrible headache which prevented me from sleeping much. The second night was marked by the chills and cold sweats which also prevented me from sleeping much and the third night was marked by mucous draining into my lungs which made it very uncomfortable to lay on my back and kept me up most of the night having to clear slimy translucent phlegm. After those three sleep deprived nights I started feeling much better and have since tested negative and completed my 7 day quarantine.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Depending on which calendar a society uses there are many different New Year’s and in some places more than one is celebrated. Calendars are generally one of three types: lunar, solar, or lunisolar. A lunar calendar is based on the revolution of the moon around the earth, a solar calendar is based on the revolution of the earth around the sun, and a lunisolar calendar is based on the moon’s revolution around the earth but includes a thirteenth month, aka leap month, every two or three years to keep it in sync with the earth’s revolution around the sun.

In lunisolar calendars like the Chinese calendar a leap month is periodically added so the months correspond with the seasons. It takes the moon around 29.5 days to revolve around the earth which means 12 lunar months is around 354 days and since it takes the earth around 365 days to revolve around the sun the months and seasons would drift apart around 11 days each year without this leap month. The New Year’s that takes place on January 1st is according to the Gregorian or Western calendar which is a solar calendar and the New Year’s that takes place today and every year on the new moon between late January and late February is according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

Happy New Year! 新年快樂!

Sheen = new 新
Nee-en = year 年
Kwai Luh = happy 快樂

Sheen Nee-en Kwai Luh! Try it if you encounter a Chinese speaking person this week because unlike the Western New Year Chinese New Year, aka Spring Festival, is a multi-day mega holiday that doesn’t officially conclude until the 15th day which marks the first full moon of the new year and is celebrated as Lantern Festival.

The Creek Next to My House

Last night I had a dream/nightmare that my little house got washed away in a flood and it seemed as real as it gets. In my dream I opened my front door to find that my house with me in it was floating in the middle of a rapidly flowing river. I was thinking that I had to get out fast because it would be bad if the house with me in it smashed into anything at that speed. Unfortunately I was around 50 meters away from the river bank. I was about to throw my computer and passport into a plastic bag and then into a backpack and make a swim for it. Fortunately at that time I woke up and realized it was a dream but it had been raining heavily and the creek in the video was deeper, louder, and moving a lot faster than it was in this video.

Iguana Sighting

A few days ago was the first time I’ve ever seen an iguana in the wild and what a handsome one. The strange thing is that it was in Thailand so I’m guessing it must have escaped from the nearby animal detention center aka zoo. It looked quite healthy but hopefully it won’t have a chance to breed as iguanas aren’t native to this part of the world and can cause problems for local species of plants and animals some of which, unlike iguanas, might not exist in other places. The picture below the iguana is a lizard native to this area, a banded bent-toed forest gecko, which I was able to photograph as it clung to my front door last month.

Bipartisan Incompetence

If there was truly no international solution to secure Afghanistan and keep it out of the hands of religious extremists and as a result the U.S. felt it was best to withdraw then a half-competent administration could have at least negotiated and planned for a peaceful and non-dramatic withdrawal which would have at least kept the jail doors locked and the capital secure until all those desperately in need of evacuation were safely screened and flown out of the country. If a formal inquiry into this bipartisan incompetence isn’t conducted and nobody loses their job over this international tragedy and national disgrace it will be an injustice to the country and all those who served in Afghanistan including all those who died in the rush to get out and all those who will die because they were unable to get out.

I agree that the buck stops with Biden but just remember Trump with broad Republican support was the one that failed to negotiate a proper deal and instead gave the Taliban what they wanted like prisoner releases and an exit date while getting virtually nothing in return like a guarantee that they wouldn’t try taking over the country until after the U.S. had left and perhaps some basic human rights assurances that proved the Taliban weren’t the same barbarians who ruled the country before the U.S. and its close allies overthrew them. Maybe if Trump hadn’t been so “America First” he could have negotiated a security agreement with other countries that also have an interest in not seeing Afghanistan descend into chaos that would have at least kept it from becoming the next terrorist safe haven and human rights nightmare.

Update May 2022

Taliban Order All Afghan Women to Wear Burqa

Partisan Shame

There was an attempted coup supported by a sitting president and one party feels that it wasn’t all that bad and that we should just forget about it. I’m sure they’d feel differently if this attempted coup was carried out by muslims or minorities but I guess for them it isn’t as bad since it was primarily carried out by unstable white men similar to much of the Republican Party.

I’m so glad these capitol police officers were given a platform to deliver the testimonies they did. Shame on those that try to rewrite history and downplay what happened on January 6th 2021 which was nothing less than an attempted coup that was encouraged by the lies of a delusional president that should have been held accountable for spreading dangerous lies and banned from ever holding political office.

Pandemic Update

The vaccine rollout has been slow and we’re still in the peak of the pandemic here in Thailand. For the most part I’m able to avoid people and feel safe where I’m at but I do wonder when I’ll be able to get vaccinated. Not only for my own personal safety but also so I don’t go around infecting others who could become seriously ill or even die like the millions of people who already have. The U.S. has quite the surplus of vaccines so why not send some to Thailand with a portion of them earmarked for U.S. citizens. Many of us would even be happy to pay for it ourselves. Hopefully Malaysia will open the borders to vaccinated travelers later this year like Thailand has just started doing in Phuket and when that happens I will hopefully have been vaccinated. As for now I have no problem waiting another few months while others at greater risk receive theirs first.

P.S. I caught a Tokay gecko and removed it from my kitchen. This is my third Tokay gecko capture and no it isn’t the one that was featured in my video. That one is still there and is allowed to stay because it’s on the other side of the creek and is not making a mess in my kitchen.

Snake House

Although I finished my quarantine last month I’m still pretty much staying put at home and avoiding any trips to the town or city where most of the local covid cases have been recorded. As of today I’ve been out of Penang for 42 days after being there for around 420 days straight and this is about the longest I’ve been off of the island since 2017. Ever since I left the covid situation there has been getting worse and they are now in day 2 of a full lockdown which will last for at least 2 weeks.

On April 12th the Malaysian immigration department made a short notice announcement telling all of us who had been permitted to stay with expired social visit passes that we had to leave the country within 9 days. At the time I wasn’t too happy about it especially since it forced me to go on a plane for the first time in five and a half years since all the land borders were closed however their announcement and my subsequent departure coincided with a record breaking spike in cases so if they were going to kick me out on short notice it looks like they did so at a good time.

Things have been going well here around 400km north of Penang and now that I’m free to move about I’ve been going to the river every morning for my cold bath/rebirth and although it’s not yet fruit season here I’ve still been able to find good local fruits some of which you can see featured on my wildly popular YouTube channel: (EatPlantsMoveMore). In addition to the fruits I’ve also had a few snake sightings. I had to remove one from underneath my house last week and just yesterday another one lowered itself down from my roof right in front of me. Fortunately neither snake was poisonous. Yesterday’s snake was a Red-tailed Racer.

Here are a few other beautiful snakes that have also visited me at home. These three snakes were venomous but fortunately they are not very dangerous to humans because their venom is weak and they are all rear-fanged snakes which makes it much more difficult for them to inject their venom into large animals like humans even if you did get them angry enough to strike and close enough for them to actually bite you. Fortunately I haven’t seen any Monocled Cobras at my house but I have had three King Cobra sightings. Hopefully the Cobras, Kraits, Vipers, and Coral Snakes will stay away and only snakes that can’t kill you with one bite will visit my house.

Quarantine + Quarantine

I along with every other foreigner on an expired social visit pass had to leave Malaysia by April 21st and since the land and sea borders were closed I had to fly for the first time in over five years. After preparing the necessary documents which included Covid health insurance, an alternative state quarantine hotel booking, and a negative PCR test within 72 hours of flight I went back to Thailand which required a 10 day quarantine in a Bangkok hotel which cost me over $100 a night, ouch. I’ve never even spent close to $100 on a room for one night. I’ve spent $100 for a week and I have even spent $100 for an entire month but I have never spent it for one night let alone ten of them in a row. However they did provide two nice custom prepared meals every day and I did have a large room with a balcony and a view of the city.

After finishing my 10 day quarantine I was able to leave the hotel room and return to my place in the rural south. However upon my return I learned that since I was coming from Bangkok I needed to quarantine for an additional 14 days. Fortunately I can do this second quarantine at home. I haven’t been back in the 15 months since the pandemic began and there was some flooding last December which washed away the front lawn along with the concrete footbridge that I used to enter and exit the property but after a weekend of house cleaning and yard-work it is now habitable despite the poor data reception. I am now looking forward to being home alone at the edge of a tropical mountain forest and eventually being able to return to a few of my favorite local orchards, markets, and scenic spots.

Ignorance, Racism, Xenophobia, Hatred, and Violence.

It’s hard to imagine security guards not running to the aid of an old lady being brutally assaulted and instead actually shutting the door on her as she lay bleeding outside but we don’t have to because there’s a video of it. Racially motivated attacks on innocent people of Asian decent or any racial decent must stop and people who claim to be decent human beings can not stand by when such verbal or physical attacks take place. If there are any more such attacks I hope they will all end with a mob of decent people apprehending the assailant and assisting the victim.

A few days ago I talked to a Malaysian mother about how her son who received a grant from NASA to do his graduate studies in the U.S. was brutally attacked on the street as he was out buying groceries a couple weeks ago and how and nobody even bothered to help him. Fortunately he did make it to the hospital and received treatment for his injuries and is now doing well, however he and other smart people like him may need to think twice about whether the U.S. is still the place to go to bring their talents and intelligence as it may be better for them to stay home or to bring their skills to less xenophobic and less violent places.

Free-roaming Cats are a Big Problem

Stray cats and any house cats that are allowed outdoors unsupervised are a big problem. They kill billions of birds and small animals every year and have already contributed to the extinction of several species. Whether due to their predation or the diseases they carry the effect they have on native species and ecosystems is incredibly harmful.

If you have a cat the least you can do is have it spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Also be sure to keep an eye on your cat while it’s outside so you can prevent it from pouncing on any innocent native, and perhaps even endemic, birds or other environmentally beneficial animals like this poor Zebra Dove that was killed by a cat which was already over-fed but was just looking for something to play with/torture and kill.

https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2380

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/moral-cost-of-cats-180960505/s

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cats-invasive-species-in-your-backyard-cbsn-originals/

America, I hope you’ve learned your lesson.

1.) Don’t elect ill-informed and incompetent liars just because they know how to play off of your fears and ignorance and say what you want to hear.

2.) Don’t elect aspiring dictators who openly praise and admire other dictators, and be extra cautious of aspiring dictators that with a little bit of flattery can be so easily manipulated by actual dictators.

3.) Don’t elect delusional and narcissistic people that prefer to surround themselves with sycophants rather than experts, and that think so highly of themselves that they would never admit fault, take responsibility, or learn from their mistakes.

4.) Don’t support politicians and political parties that would so easily cast any and all human decency and democratic principles aside to ride a cult of personality wave in order to further their own narrow self-interests at the peril of social stability, democratic institutions, and the planet itself.

5.) Don’t believe whatever you read on social media, check your sources, check your facts, and check the basic logic behind the crazy shit too many people in America and elsewhere believe. The earth is not flat and it is getting warmer. Climate change is real and it’s really urgent we take steps to mitigate it.