The U.S. should reach an agreement with China before there’s an accident in the Taiwan Strait and before it further emboldens Taiwan separatists into thinking the U.S. will send its citizens to fight and die in support of Taiwan independence. To put it simply, if the Chinese Navy doesn’t sail their ships into the territorial seas controlled by Taiwan or take any other unprovoked military actions against Taiwan then the U.S. navy should not sail their ships through the Taiwan Strait as doing so is an unnecessary provocation that serves no positive purpose.
If an agreement like this was enacted China would not be as pressed into feeling an increased sense of urgency to retake Taiwan and voters in Taiwan would be less likely to press their luck by supporting politicians and political parties that increasingly and irresponsibly flirt with the idea of Taiwan independence. Moreover this gesture of respect, show of support for the One China policy, and meaningful attempt to reduce tensions will not diminish the U.S. capability or resolve to come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of an unprovoked invasion from the mainland.
After 9 years of armed conflict, which includes the past 53 weeks of death and destruction, there needs to be immediate peace talks. These talks should be held by the U.N. and in these talks Ukraine and Russia need to state their case and tell the world what they want in order to immediately end this war and remain good neighbors in perpetuity. If an agreement can’t be reached then after hearing both sides all U.N. member states, particularly those responsible for directly or indirectly fueling this conflict, need to decide which side is being reasonable and which is not, and drop their support whether it be economic, military, or moral for the country they feel is responsible for perpetuating this conflict and gambling with the fate of humanity.
I watched the Tyre Nichols video so you didn’t have to and was shocked at the incompetency of the police involved and shocked that the Memphis police department, or any police department, would hire such unqualified people to serve as police officers. Moreover whoever decided to put them into a group and give them the name “Scorpion Unit” should be fired as if that in itself wasn’t a warning sign that such a unit might become even more aggressive in order to maintain their reputation as the bad-ass unit and to one-up their fellow scorpions. It seemed like for every point of police incompetence came two points of police anger and aggression as if they were punishing Tyre for their own lack of cardio and composure. From start to finish the officers involved did everything you’re not supposed to do to deescalate a situation and turned a traffic stop into a murder so it’s good they were fired and are being criminally charged. The Memphis police department, and all police departments, need to reevaluate their training programs and raise the mental and physical requirements for serving the public as a police officer.
Police Officer Training Lesson One:
Just because a person may not be in full compliance with your instructions, especially after being manhandled, tased, and pepper sprayed, you as a law enforcement officer do not have the right to punch them in the face, kick them in the head, or beat them with a baton. A police officer does not have the right to punish people for not fully following their instructions or respecting their authority regardless of whether it’s because that person is intoxicated, mentally ill, or in a state of shock and panic, however a police officer does have the responsibility to try and deescalate the situation and get the person under control with as little force as possible while protecting themselves, fellow officers, and the public. Once in custody any suspects or perpetrators will face whatever charges they have coming to them and serve any punishment that is given to them not on the street, in the back of a police vehicle, or in a police station, but in a court of law.
A colugo is an arboreal gliding mammal native to Southeast Asia and they are more closely related to humans and other primates than they are bats, squirrels, or sugar gliders. If you’re hearing about this interesting animal for the first time count them as one more reason on a list of many to protect the forests, preserve biodiversity, and save the planet.
It’s already been two weeks since my vote and all the other votes were counted but I still feel I should thank and congratulate the U.S. voters who rejected many of the Trump-endorsed election-denying crazies who were endorsed by Trump not because they were the best choice for the country but because they were the best choice for him. It seems more Republican voters are waking up to the fact that with Trump it was never “America First” it was “Trump First” and it will always be “Trump First” and the sooner the rest of Republican voters wake up to this reality and start supporting candidates who are for democracy, against dictatorship, and put the country before their own narrow and narcissistic interests the better.
Another 4 years of Bolsonaro would be a disaster for Brazil, the Amazon, and the World so Brazilian voters need to vote this dangerous and delusional joke of a president out of office like we did with Trump!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy New Year! Here we are a full year into the 2020’s! This decade didn’t get off to the best start but with you-know-who on his way out and COVID-19 vaccines being distributed 2021 should shape up to be better than 2020 and lead us into an even better 2022. However this in large part depends on us. Will we be the best versions of ourselves and do what we can to make this year a good one and help set this decade, this century, and this millennium back on a course towards greatness? We can start by learning a few lessons from this past year and by not repeating the same mistakes.
For instance, I hope we have learned to not deny something is happening just because we don’t understand it or don’t want to have to deal with it, otherwise we could miss our chance to mitigate the damage and end up getting the worst of it. I doubt too many people are still calling COVID-19 a hoax after all this sickness and death however there are still a lot of people who feel that climate change is a hoax or is not nearly as serious or as urgent of an issue as it really is. COVID-19 should have been taken seriously from the start and ambitiously addressing climate change should be taken just as seriously.
Another important lesson, one that we should have learned during the first SARS outbreak or during one of the many other zoonotic disease outbreaks that occurred before and after it, is to not abuse domestic or wild animals because first it’s wrong and second the viruses they carry can jump into the human population, kill millions, sicken many more, and wreak havoc on life as we once knew it. Hopefully people that do eat animals will start being more choosy about how those animals are kept and killed and will not continue to support the cruel conditions in factory farms and in many wet markets.