Friday, November 30, 2007

YouTube on Shaky Ground

YouTube, unquestionably one of the world-wide web's most popular web sites, is in the news for the wrong reason. The web site recently disabled the account of an Egyptian man who has used the video portal to expose police brutality in his country. The man, Wael Abbas, has been successfully shedding light on a growing problem in his home country.

You can read about this situation here:
YouTube stops account of Egypt anti-torture activist.

Executives at YouTube claim that his videos cross the line as far as "graphic or gratuitous violence" is concerned.

After reading the article I couldn't help but think that YouTube is making a huge mistake. Sometimes it takes graphic images to wake people up and make a change. This guy is not out to make a quick buck on the backs of others, he is a crusader trying to better his country.

If you surf the video website, it doesn't take long to find tons of worthless garbage with little or no redeeming value. The content in the Egyptian videos is rough, but necessary.

The video that started the controversy shows a man being sodomized with a plunger by the police while in custody. Not nice stuff, but the sad reality of a corrupt system.

If YouTube had existed in Europe during World War II, would they have censored videos taken of the Nazi death camps because they were graphic? What if a YouTube member had been responsible for exposing the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq...would he or she have had her account shut down?

The leadership at YouTube, which is owned by Google, needs to reconsider their actions. This is not going to win them any popularity contests.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Catherine's Groovy New Pad

Today was moving day for Catherine. I will give you three guesses as to who did all the heavy lifting? It was not fun. Her old apartment was on the fifth floor of a building sorely lacking an elevator, and her new apartment is on the third floor of another building without a lift (that's British for a push-up bra or something). Yes, my legs are on fire!

I was glad to see her move because her new apartment is a lot closer to her work and much easier for me to get to from my apartment. Also, she is the sole tenant in this one. She is a bit freaked out about it now, but I think she will learn to love living by herself. This is her first time on her own in a place...I am so happy for her. At about $180 U.S./month, it's a steal. The apartment is about 2 minutes from Taipei Main Station, the hub for the subway and train systems in the city.

Anyhow, she managed to score an apartment that screams Brady Bunch. Folks, this place is trapped in the 70's. I gotta believe finding a place this dated is rare considering how quickly they dispose of the old buildings and build new ones in this city. Check out the photos below for evidence.

The apartment is HUGE! I am standing in the living room near the entrance. You can see her bedroom in the background and the kitchen is behind me. A shockingly big place for Taipei City.

Notice the fine wood-paneling on the left...we had wall-to-wall paneling in the basement of my childhood Another out-of-the-ordinary furnishing is the carpet. This the land of tiling. Haven't seen a carpeted apartment since I arrived on the island.

As I was lugging stuff up the stairs I stumbled upon this little gold mine...two large stacks of vinyl! The LP's appeared to be in great shape. I am planning on offering the landlord a few bucks for them. I knew it was a find as soon as I saw Purple Rain on the top of the first stack.

The place was littered with piles of interesting do-dads...more on that later.

Check out the wood-framed windows...I love it! They are very cool. Can do without the faux forest wallpaper...scroll down for more tragic use of wall space.

The requisite household Buddhist shrine. Do I need to mention the wallpaper?...ugh

On your way to the bathroom, you get a little help from the waterfall image. If you didn't have to pee on your way in, you will have to after witnessing the cascading water. Head-ache inducing wallpaper is not a decorating plus.

The disco-style lighting and the recessed ceiling made my jaw drop! This place is unique, to say the least.

I knew Catherine picked the right place when I saw this display. Godzilla attacking some old bowling trophies is beyond the pale. What living room would be complete without these things?

This photo was taken about 2 seconds before Catherine smacked me in the head. She said something about invasion of privacy...who could possibly resist these little goodies? There were about 7 books full of dated snapshots, a.k.a. GOLD!

A full-frontal view of what would be the centerpiece of my After further examination, I came to the conclusion that Godzilla was, in fact, protecting the coveted bowling statuettes.

The happy couple in days of yore. These folks are very kind to allow Cath to rent this place. It has been vacant for about 5 years, never rented...very odd.

I plan on returning soon and I hope to continue my search for goodies! It's gonna take Catherine a few weeks to make heads or tails of the place. Once she does, it's going to be very nice. In the meantime, I have to ransack this city for a turntable. "I only wanted to see you bathing in the purple rain..."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

With Friends Like These Guys...

Bush chumming it up with Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.Photo courtesy of

Saudi Arabia are allies in the War on Terror?

This week, it was revealed that a 19 year old victim of a gang rape in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 200 lashes. I should mention that she was initially sentenced to 90 lashes but she took her story to the media and the Saudi courts weren't pleased with her actions; so they tacked on the additional penalty.

She was found guilty of being in the company of an unrelated male in public...hmmm. Is the Saudi judicial system in some sort of time warp? This is barbaric, to say the least. This kind of misogyny has no place in the 21st century.

Apparently, the Bush administration is not so appalled. The Associated Press, via Yahoo reported the reaction of State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. He stated that the verdict "causes a fair degree of surprise and astonishment."

Wow, what a harsh indictment...huh? What the hell do the Saudis have on the Bushies? They just can't do anything wrong, I guess. 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals. Makes me wonder how much of the Bush/Cheney mid-east policy is done at the behest of the Saudi ruling family?

Monday, November 19, 2007

I've Been Tagged...Here's My 7 Things

Carrie over at My Several Worlds targeted me for a tagging. Being tagged means you have to list 7 random and/or weird things about yourself. Here they are:

1. I have spent a good bit of my life blaming religion for the world's problems. My exposure to Buddhism while in Taiwan gives me hope.

2. Until a couple of years ago, I wore two pairs of socks every day. I told people it was because it was more comfortable...honestly, it was just a bizarre compulsion.

3. I enjoy eating peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches.

4. I think the greatest movie ever made is The Big Lebowski.

5. I am 37 years old and I still speak before I think far too often.

6. I once went a week, while in summer camp, without changing my underwear. That was about 25 years ago, not recently!

7. I am proud to say I have never stepped foot in a Wal-Mart.

There ya have it. I know the underpants thing is going to come back to haunt

My victims:

Anyesha at One Fleeting Moment
MJ at The NH Bushman
Todd at The Daily Bubble Tea

Sorry, it's not 7, but I don't have the energy or nerve to list any more.


  1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
  2. Post these rules on your blog.
  3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  4. Tag seven random [?] people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
  5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting on comment on their blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Airfare Hunt

I am on a mission to find reasonable plane tickets to the US. Catherine and I are talking about taking a trip across the pond. It will be a great chance for Catherine to see America and meet my family and friends at the same time. I can't imagine a better traveling partner. Also, I am itching to visit so I can iron out some details about transitioning back to the States. The opportunity to teach in Vegas is enticing.

We are thinking about making the trip in mid to late February, right after the Chinese New Year.

So far, it looks like the best deal is with Singapore Air. They are currently offering 2 round-trip tickets from Taipei to L.A. for about $1300 American. I have flown with them before and was very happy with the flights. They aren't necessarily the cheapest but they offer daily non-stop service and their seats and service are top-notch. The cost difference in the fares I have found is negligible...not enough to sacrifice the comfort that Singapore Air offers. When you are flying to the other side of the planet, comfort is a BIG deal.

I will continue to search but I think it's gonna be tough to top the Singapore deal.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Two, Three, Four and Five Year Old

About 2 months ago, I started teaching a kindergarten class. I had never taught a K class before, so I was skeptical. The Dunhua Rd. branch, where I am currently working, is pretty small. We have about 200 students compared to about 1000 at the Shulin branch so I was wondering if we could get any kids to sign up. My question was answered when one little girl showed up for the first day of Monica, my only student, is great. She is a very receptive 4 year old.

Everything was hunky-dory until about 5 weeks into the class, that's when the boys showed up. Ethan and his brother Evan signed up for the class. They are 5 and 3 years old, respectively. So I had an interesting mix of levels. I was a bit freaked out, but thought I could manage because Evan, although being only 3 years old, seemed to have a pretty good level of knowledge.

The next few weeks were hectic, but I found a way to integrate the boys into the existing class plan. After just a few classes I came to the conclusion that boys are about a million times more difficult to handle at this level than girls. It was everything I could do to keep the boys from bouncing off the walls while Monica sat nicely in her seat and was the perfect little student. I love the silliness the boys possess, but man it's tiring trying to harness their energy.

While the class wasn't perfect, I did have them all marching to the same drum. We work at a brisk pace and the 3 of them seem to be able to grasp the material pretty well.

Last week, that all came to a screeching halt! Just before class started I was informed that I had a new student. Adding students mid-stream is never easy but it's part of my job. Not all kids are able to join the class from day-one. It frustrates me but I have done it a million times and after a few speed bumps, the kid is usually up to speed in no time. This particular situation is a wee bit different...

My new student is 2 years old...ugh. Two freaking years old! I understand that it's great to get your kid started early learning languages, but this is ridiculous. Sakura, the new student, is tiny. She spent the entire first class clinging to her mother's leg and crying whenever I tried to get her to participate.

Just to clarify the situation, that makes a 2, 3, 4 and 5 year old in the class. The comprehension levels of each one of them is profoundly ya get the idea that I am a bit frustrated by this scene?

I have decided to talk to Carol this week about this. I can't get any rhythm in the class if I have to on one hand, keep a 2 year from bursting into tears, and on the other, keep a 5 year old from burning the school down...arg!

I am going to ask Carol to suggest the 2 year olds mother find a more suitable class. The curriculum is not appropriate for a 2 year old. Also, I seriously doubt that she could keep up with the program.

This situation is one of the primary reasons I haven't had much time to blog in the past couple of weeks. Work has been very challenging lately and I look forward to getting this crap under control so I can go back to making myself look silly on this here blog...

Friday, November 09, 2007

A Lull in the Action

Hello all. I am still here, just been super busy at work. This past week has been filled with work-related stuff...not anything blog-worthy. I have been frantically trying to clean up some messes that I have created. Nothing terribly serious, just lots of paperwork.

I have a busy weekend planned with Catherine, so stay tuned.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Deadly Toxic Snowflakes

The hits just keep coming. Yesterday, The Washington Post obtained several internal memo's from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office. The memo's were known as "snowflakes". The memo's were directives to his staff. Many of them contained his thoughts on how to manipulate the media in order to scare the public into supporting the misguided war strategy.

A reminder...This guy was the main architect of the invasion of Iraq.

When things started falling apart a few years back, he made some comments that are pretty scary:

"Talk about Somalia, The Philippines, etc. Make the American people realize they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists."

"Keep elevating the threat."

"Link Iraq to Iran."

There you have it! The administration has been planning to link Iraq to Iran for a loooooong time.

Don't believe the hype people. This was planned long ago. Rumsfeld, Cheney and crew are orchestrating an endless conflict that will make them VERY rich.

Here is a news clip covering the topic. Olbermann's show is the best source of news on TV.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gnarley Genius

OK, these guys were hit the scene a year or two ago, but I am still into them. Their creativity is great. They seem to really have fun making music.

Check out the following videos:

I love how they inject themselves into music history. Kudos to Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell.

You all know this song, but have ya seen this fantastic live performance...The force is with

Had to include the official "Crazy" video. I dig the Rorschach test. What do you see in the inkspot?

Great music and fun videos.