Tuesday, August 31, 2010


new word news:

''YOUTUBIC'' (adj.) -- Online comments on blogs and Internet forums that are so inane and stupid they resemble the kinds of comments written about some YouTube videos.

Example: "The level of stupidity in some of the comments in some forums approaches youtubic proportions." - overheard outside a Manhattan office cubicle

The Cyberotta - An Ode to Cyberspace (With a Warning or Two as Well!)


The Cyberata - An Ode to Cyberspace (With a Warning or Two as Well!)


Monday, August 30, 2010

Shut Up, I'm Talking

over 1,456,984 hits since Friday

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nobel laureate from Taiwan says that more than slogans are needed to fight climate change

As the world heats up, minute degree by degree, Taiwan's Nobel
laureate Lee Yuan-tseh (Chemistry Prize, 1986)
says we need to go back to simpler lifestyle and ''slow down''

webposted by Danny Bloom, August 9, 2010

TAIPEI -- Lee Yuan-tseh won the prestigious Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1986,

and someday he might garner another award -- the Nobel Peace Prize --

for his important and heartfelt advice for stopping

global warming in its tracks.

Will future generations face destructive

and life-threatening climate chaos in the distant future? Let's hope


But in order to avert natural disasters and mass migrations in

search of food and fuel on scales unimaginable in the future, Dr Lee

believes the world needs to drastically slow down and dramatically go

back to a simpler lifestyle.

This is not your average wide-eyed climate activist speaking, nor an

end of the world survivalist. It's Lee Yuan-tseh, Nobel laureate from

Taiwan, global thinker and visionary. Born in 1936, the son of a well-known

Taiwanese artist, he's been around the world a few times and has dined with major

players -- and he knows what he's talking about.

In a recent email interview, Dr Lee said he

believes that global warming is much more serious than most scientists

had previously thought and much more serious than the world today is aware of.

He said he believes that Taiwan's 23

million citizens need to cut their per-capita carbon

emissions from the current 12 tons per year to just three, and the

same deep cuts are needed worldwide in all nations, adjusted for size

and population, of course.

Dr Lee said that fighting global warming will take more than a few

slogans, more than turning off the

lights at night in large cities for an hour once a year, and more than

merely cutting meat consumption.

"We will have to learn to live the simple

lives of our ancestors," Lee said.

Without such efforts, he said, Taiwanese will

be unable to face future generations and say they did all they could

to avert climate chaos worldwide. It's not

just a problem in Taiwan, it's a planetary issue, of course.

Will anybody in Taiwan or overseas listen to Dr Lee? For most people

today, his words will go unheeded, if not unheard. But his remarks are

printed here, in visible ink on paper (or with pixels on

a digital screen) in the hope some people will "get it" and work to

make Lee's ideas take root.

A Nobel Peace Prize for Lee Yuan-tseh of Taiwan for his urgent appeal

about how to fight global warming and climate change? It could happen.

His words, and warnings, are heartfelt.

Listen to this man. He's 75 and he cares about the future.

Dr Lee said he likes to quote Charles Darwin who once wrote: "It is

not the strongest

of the species that will survive, or the most intelligent; it is the

ones most adaptable to


Lee believes that time is of the essence. "If the environment changes

faster than the time required for

a given species to

evolve, the likely result will be extinction," he says. "With the fast changing

climate and the rapidly

deteriorating ecosystem of today, the human species [must try] to

slow down environmental change, or a fate of extinction might be inevitable."

"We know what needs to be done," Lee says. "We cannot wait until it is too late.

We cannot wait until what we value most is lost."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The World is Doomed and According to Danny Bloom We Must Go Live in Gerbil Cities in the Far North or Die


Danny Bloom thinks the world is screwed. Who is Danny Bloom you ask? Some scientist or expert on global warming? No, he's a writer that doesn't own a computer and lives in Taiwan. Proving it doesn't take a scientist to believe Mother Earth is packing up her bags and calling it quits. Danny is also the one that came up with the idea for Polar Cities. Basically he thinks that in no longer than 500 years (and possible way sooner) the world's population will be decimated and only a few hundred people will survive in these specially-designed cities in the Arctic.

Surviving a sudden heart attack with a stent inserted and a new lease on life afforded until.....the Grim Reaper comes back again, as She promised! Sigh. Smile

I have woken up feeling like death warmed over a few times in my life, mostly
sporting humongous hangers from drinking too
much beer in Boston or too much sake in Japan.

But nothing prepared me for one gray day last November in Taiwan when
I started feeling as if I were actually shackled to my own corpse.
whole cave of my chest seemed to have been hollowed out and then
refilled with slow-drying cement. My heart was beating either much too
much or much too little, I had no idea. All I could do was walk two
blocks to a local grocery store near my home and ask the friendly
clerk to call a taxi for me.

It took a strenuous effort for me to make it to the store and ask for a
taxi to take me to the local ER, about ten minutes away. A Catholic
Hospital in a Buddhist land. An atheist patient about to walk in
un-assisted to the ER and announce in a soft but urgent appeal -- in
horrendously ungrammatical Chinese no less -- "Help! I think I'm

The taxi driver, chewing betel nut as is the custom here, got me to
the St Martin de Porres Hospital as fast as he could, and thank God
the long-ago Portuguese missionary Martin de Porres (1838-1924) had
once made shore in Taiwan, because the doctors at his hospital saved
my life.

Especially Dr Ong.

God bless Taiwan!

Even if there most likely is no God, and no Buddhist or Taoist gods
either, still, I salute them all. Together, with a stent angled up
into my heart via a large artery, they saved my barely beating heart
from early extinction. The dying part will come later, the Grim Repear
told me. For now, she said, I am on vacation.

The ER technicians and nurses and doctors arrived with great dispatch
and behaved with immense courtesy and professionalism. I had the time
to wonder why they needed so people to attend to me, but now that I
view the scene in retrospect I see it as a very gentle and firm
arrangement, taking me from the country of the well across the stark
frontier that marks off the land of the heart attack patient.

Within a few hours, having had to do quite a lot of emergency work on
my heart to get me up to speed and ready for an important operation 3
days later -- if I lived that long! -- the ER physicians and urses at
this sad border post had shown me a few other postcards from the
interior and told me that my immediate next stop would have to be with
a cardiologist.

A gentle and sensitive young man named Dr Ong who took one look at me
in my ICU bed and said "You will survive." Those three words -- spoken
in a fluent and melifluous English -- re-assured me, and I never
looked back.

*tip o the hat to the brilliant Christopher Hitchens who said it best!


Having dealt with heart attacks for 40 years in my career, I can understand your feelings around the acute stage.

I think you've handled it mentally very well. More than half of the men suffered heart attack developed clinical depression for various length of time, typically beginning after the acute stage and lasts for about one year. You seems to be on the contrary and sounds even more energetic than before.

In younger man, 50 or younger, denial and anger often set in and sometimes become difficult to handle.

I am glad you are doing well. It's good that you like and trust your doctor, Dr. Ong. Too often the patients thank God for getting better but sue the doctors if they don't do well.

Vast Ice ‘Island’ Breaks Free of Greenland Glacier .... August 7, 3010 AD

Dear Andy at Dot Earth at the NY Times

I remain the eternal optimist, full of hope for the future of humankind, but two words come to mind today: polar cities. Is the MSM ready yet to report my news? So far, only Dot Earth blog has mentioned the very idea, in a very good post two years ago. But the print edition of the Times remains afraid to mention the A word, adaptation, and the P word, polar cities. It's okay, I got time.

Meanwhile, yes, another wake up call from Mother Earth in Greenland. We still have 500 years to get it together. Teach your children, those are my 3 parting words....


Thursday, August 5, 2010

''Formosa Betrayed'', a Film for Taiwan’s Youth - a review by Jerome Keating in Taiwan

Summer 2010

There was a time, not long ago, when the Taiwanese people were not allowed to speak their own language, Hokklo, or Taiwanese as it is commonly called here.
There was a time, not long ago, when Taiwanese could not say they were Taiwanese
without being ridiculed. There was a worse time, also not that long ago, when Taiwanese
were tortured and imprisoned if they wanted democracy. That time is what the movie,
Formosa Betrayed, which opened in Taiwan theaters nationwide on August 6 is about.
Can one imagine deprivation if one has only known plenty? Can one imagine oppression
if one has only known democracy? Can one imagine a one-party state violating people’s
rights unless one has experienced it? This is what Formosa Betrayed is about and these
are some of the questions it raises for Taiwan’s youth. It is a film that reveals a harsh
reality of Taiwan’s not too distant past, a harsh, often unspoken, reality endured by the
youth’s parents and grandparents, a harsh reality that is hard to imagine. It is easier to say
that it did not exist.
As a foreign consultant and professor, I currently find myself in the awkward and
somewhat embarrassing aging position that I have lived more years in Taiwan and
experienced more of its changes than any of my Taiwanese university students.
When I came Martial Law had just been lifted, and Taiwanese were still afraid to even
talk about, let alone, criticize the government. Taiwan’s Strawberry Generation, born
shortly after the Kaohsiung Incident, was just entering school at that time. They probably
have no memory of the dreaded Garrison Command walking the streets; they may not
even know what the Garrison Command was.
Today’s “Consensus of 1996” generation was just starting school when the first
presidential elections open to the people were held. They probably have no memory
of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) one-party state control and the lack of free
elections to the positions that really ran the country. They would have no experience of
fat cat KMT Legislators and National Assembly members. Elected way back in 1947,
these men cockily enjoyed iron rice bowl privileges. That finally ended in 1992 when
those that had not died in their positions were forced to retire, albeit with a nice sweet
retirement package. As today’s youth search a flimsy job market for their own survival,
they must wonder at the job guarantee and privilege Taiwanese tax dollars had given such
KMT members.
Formosa Betrayed was not that long ago. Set in 1983, the film is however not a
documentary. Rather it is a composite of the murders, torture and reality of things
happening before, during and after the 1980s. It has an irony in how Taiwanese seeking
democracy were betrayed not only by the KMT but even by the United States of America
which too often turned a blind eye to violations of human rights in Taiwan. It has a
double irony in that the same KMT that in the 1980s oppressed Taiwanese under the
guise that they were “communist spies” now runs and fawns over those same communists
in their present dealings with China.
In the film, a young American FBI agent, Jake Kelly (James Van Der Beek) is sent
to Taiwan in pursuit of two Chinese gangsters who have just murdered a Taiwanese
professor in America because of his outspoken and critical views on Taiwan’s
government. In that journey, a Taiwanese, Ming (Will Tiao) introduces Kelly to the side
of Taiwan that most outsiders are unaware of. In turn, Kelly has his personal epiphanies
and disillusionment.
The film doesn’t have all the action scenes of Mission Impossible flicks; it doesn’t have
sexual seductresses always present in James Bond films; it has only the simple reality of
a Taiwan not that long ago that few want to admit to or face.
Did such things really happen? Talk to those who know Lin Yi-hsiung whose mother
and twin seven year old daughters were brutally stabbed to death in broad daylight in
their home, a home that was under surveillance 24-7 by Taiwan’s secret police. Talk to
those who know the family of the murdered Chen Wen-chen, an outspoken American
University professor. Talk to those who know the family of Henry Liu who wrote
critically of government officials and was subsequently murdered in the United States.
Talk to the thousands upon thousands of families that lost members to Green Island or by
death from 2-28 through the White Terror to now.
Is it that long ago? The man who was Director General of the Government Information
Office (GIO) an agency that helped cover up and misdirect investigations of the above
high profile murders ran for President in 2000, Vice-President in 2004, and Mayor of
Taipei in 2008. 2008 is not that long ago, and this man now wants to broker deals with
the “communists” on the other side of the Strait.
Similarly, many of those who had their doctoral degrees in the United States sponsored
and paid for by the oppressive KMT government shown in the film still hold offices
in today’s government. They often were the campus spies spoken of in the film.
Will the film be successful? That is up to Taiwan’s youth and how much they really want
to know about and visualize their past. The film, Cape No. 7, was not that artistically
strong, but it was successful because it dealt with the delightful nostalgic side of being
Taiwanese. Formosa Betrayed deals with a harsher side of being Taiwanese that many of
today’s youth may not want to face. The ball is in their court.


FINALLY, A GOOD PLAY ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE: maybe polar cities life will hit Broadway soon, too?


How do you create drama over what seems so far away? Just watch "The Contingency Plan", writes Robert Butler...

If there's one line I had to choose from "The Contingency Plan", Steve Waters’s terrific new double-bill of plays about climate change, now on at the Bush Theatre in London, it's the moment when Will Paxton (Geoffrey Streatfeild), a young glaciologist, explains the concept of displacement to the new Tory minister for climate change. Having spelled out that ice is "basically parked water", Will warily predicts that the enormous West Antarctic Ice Sheet may well melt (much like the smaller Larsen B ice shelf).

"But this is thousands of miles from us," chuckles the smooth Old Etonian minister (David Bark-Jones), whose schoolfriend, David Cameron, has become prime minister. Will replies with patience, "If you pour water in the bath, it doesn't stay under the tap."

Climate change is a difficult subject for dramatists. Three years ago Caryl Churchill, a playwright, introduced a talk by two leading environmental scientists by stressing that their work raises an essential dramatic problem: one of distance. To transport science to the stage, a playwright must not only clarify complicated ideas for laypeople, but also evoke the tension of cause and effect. The problem with climate change is that what happens in one place often ends up affecting people in an entirely different place, and at a remote time. The two worlds can seem unrelated. Where's the catalyst for drama?

In "The Contingency Plan", Waters succeeds in closing this gap. It is impossible to see this play and not feel a keener interest in what’s going on in the Antarctic. The melting ice sheets contribute to rising sea levels, which then threaten the lives of British citizens on the coasts and in London, whether it’s Bermondsey, Chelsea or Battersea ("suddenly you notice all the 'seas'," quips the minister). This is not about righteousness, but about lives and safety.

"On The Beach", the first of two related plays, sees Will returning from his work with the British Antarctic Survey, where he's seen unprecedented melting and acquired a new girlfriend, Sarika (Stephanie Street), a high-flying civil servant from the Department of Climate Change. They visit his parents in Norfolk, overlooking the sand dunes and salt marshes, where we learn of his family's painful history in climate science. His father, an ex-glaciologist, quit his research for seemingly inexplicable reasons (having reached similar conclusions), and father and son butt heads. In the second play, "Resilience", Will and Sarika race down to London to brief the minister.

In 1953 the combination of a high spring tide, a windstorm and a tidal surge caused severe flooding and ultimately killed hundreds of people in Britain and nearly 2,000 in the Netherlands. A similar severe weather event looks imminent, only this time sea levels are higher, perhaps much higher.

Yes, these plays have the thrill of a disaster story, a race against the clock. But the real appeal comes from the passionate and often comically exasperating exchanges that take place when one character tries to explain to another what’s going on. There's a large and often hilarious gulf between the science and the politics, the problem and the proposed solution. The minister has to decide that Saturday evening whether to evacuate homes, close down roads and commandeer community centres or to let eastern England curl up on the sofa and watch "Strictly Come Dancing".

When Will explains how cold water will rush south-east from Greenland, get sucked into the Atlantic, gather momentum towards the Shetlands, then smack into East Anglia and perhaps funnel up the Thames Estuary, our response--after shock and incredulity--is one of revelation. Okay, now we get it. And this is what makes Waters's play so satisfying: it's sharp and funny, but also well-researched and scary. He has managed what had seemed impossible and written an intelligent and entertaining play about climate change.

Theatre had been extraordinarily slow in engaging with environmental degradation. Nancy Oreskes, a science historian, claims that popular culture in general has lagged 30 years behind the science. There have been exceptions: in 1993 Tony Kushner had an angel appear through the ozone layer in "Angels in America". In 2006 there was an MP3 audio opera about climate change by Platform, and Caryl Churchill wrote a libretto about climate change for a choral work at the Proms. In 2008 Lawrence Weschler organised a festival of nine short plays about climate change (Don DeLillo wrote one). And this year TippingPoint announced a competition to commission new performance work on the subject.

But "The Contingency Plan", the first decent full-length treatment, has set the standard. In the first night interval on May 7th critics could be overheard comparing it with other science plays ("Arcadia" and "Copenhagen") and Waters with other political playwrights (Bernard Shaw and David Hare). Many wondered why no-one's ever written a play about this before.

"The Contingency Plan" by Steve Waters, at the Bush Theatre until June 6th

Picture credit: wili_hybrid (via Flickr)

(Robert Butler is a theater critic. He now blogs on the arts and the environment at the ashden directory.)

James Lovelock as dramatis personae in London plays and a movie, too

Aug 4,YEAR 4Billion-010, hat tip to More Intelligent Life, R.B. | LONDON

The acclaimed chemist and visionary scientist now capturing the imagination of contemporary playwrights is James Lovelock, a climate-change guru. Danny Bloom in Taiwan, who created POLAR CITIES, is James Lovelock's Accidental Student: http://pcillu101.blogspot.com

Dr L has been depicted twice on the London stage in the last two years. In 2009, Lovelock inspired the reclusive glaciologist in Steve Waters's superb double-bill "The Contingency Plan". The playwright told this UK theater fan that Dr Lovelock’s appeal was that he was a highly visible and contradictory character who “embodies some of the fault lines within green politics”.

Lovelock has also clearly inspired the atmospheric physicist, Robert Crannock, in Mike Bartlett's new play, "Earthquakes in London", at the National Theatre, directed by Rupert Goold. Crannock lives by a loch in a remote part of Scotland, believes it’s too late to do anything, and has no interest in recycling, insulating his home or getting "a bag for life". He works in a shed, from where he studies a planet which can only sustain one billion people. He says the planet is going to get rid of the other five billion.

As a dramatic persona, Lovelock combines two well-known types: Cassandra and the Misanthrope. In "The Oresteia", Cassandra makes a classic Lovelockian statement: “No escape, my friends, not now.” For all of Lovelock’s impish humour, he clearly relishes harsh, uncompromising statements. As Mr Waters has said, Mr Lovelock’s writing contains “something really misanthropic”.

Mr Lovelock has even provided playwrights and directors with a handy analogy. Mr Bartlett was inspired by Mr Lovelock's comparison of the present situation with the Weimar years, wrapped up in his statement: "Enjoy life while you can". In theatre, of course, the Weimar years conjure up a single image: "Cabaret". This explains the play's intriguing set design: Mr Goold has snaked an orange-surfaced cocktail bar through the auditorium; audience members sit on bar stools or stand behind railings while the action takes place on the bar or on stages at either end. The idea is we're all too busy dancing, drinking and shopping to notice the world is sliding towards disaster.

In one way, though, things have got worse since "Cabaret". In the 1960s musical, when the party-loving Sally tells Cliff that she's going back to work at the Kit-Kat Klub, she says, "Isn't it heaven?" Cliff doesn't think so. He’s seen what’s happening outside. "You know, Sally, someday I've got to sit you down and read you a newspaper. You'll be amazed at what's going on." Only today, as one pseudogate follows another, the idea of turning to the newspapers for the latest in climate science seems fairly quaint.

"Earthquakes in London" is at the National Theatre in London until hell freezes over.