Holly's Birthday Party and Friends

Last night, Sonia and I went to Holly‘s birthday party. First we met up at TGIF for dinner. A couple of guys I knew from Modawei showed up. After dinner, we hit the KTV, where we were wowed by Holly’s singing skills. I particularly enjoyed the song 朋友, by 周華健 (Zhōu Huá Jiàn).

It’s a fun one for KTV.

Kucinich Getting Some Pwnage Too

Ron Paul has finally climbed out of his previous obscurity. With more fourth quarter earnings than any other Republican candidate, a fierce independent campaign orchestrated by a former Google employee, and surprising support from a few rank and file GOPers, he’s a bona-fide top-tier candidate.

What’s more impressive to me, though, is that the other guy out there who wants to end the wars, and restore our civil liberties and reign in the military industrial complex is starting to get some attention. That’s right, Dennis Kucinich is actually getting some press. Like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich voted against the Patriot Act and the invasion of Iraq; in fact, he and Paul co-sponsored a bill (ACLU) to replace it in 2003. Kucinich also wants to end the drug prohibition that’s filling our jails with non-violent drug offenders, and he’s for impeachment, too.

The frustrating thing was, that all through the Democrat debates, he’s basically been laughed off the stage. The Democrat debaters are much more uniform in their views than the Republicans are, and there really wasn’t much dissent tolerated at all. When Guiliani took a swipe at Ron Paul’s stance on Iraq, he got a thunderous applause, but Ron Paul came back strong and got his own applause. When Mike Gravel or Dennis Kucinich tried to attack Hillary Clinton for her vocal support of the war and wiretapping out citizens without a warrant, she just laughed at them. Then the crowd laughed at them, too. It was a painful thing to watch.

Sometime over the last few weeks, something has changed. In poll after poll, mainstream Democrats have been supporting Kucinich’s positions all year. One by one other candidates have had to slide closer to his very views they mocked only months ago. He’s also looking more confident, and people are starting to react. I realize that if Ron Paul’s bid for presidency is like shooting for the moon that Dennis Kucinich’s must be like shooting for Gliese 581 c, but seeing this hit the top of youtube was heartening.

He and his wife are adept at handling the media that try to trivialize them, too.

Kucinich: Well, the most important thing I would tell you, Hannah, as a professional, is it’s important not to trivialize a woman who has worked on international humanitarian matters, you know, helping people in Africa get access to energy and to housing and education, helping poor people and children in India, working with a group connected with Mother Teresa, working with the Mission To Seafarers in London. Here’s a woman of great accomplishment with a Master’s degree in international conflict resolution, and I hope that you’re going to talk about more than a tongue stud.

Well done, Dennis!

Related Posts:
Youtube Fame Propels Ron Paul
Obama: Impeachment is not acceptable
Youtube Promotional Videos: Barack Obama vs. Ron Paul

The Debit Card Dilemma

This web site may be near its end. My US bank was recently bought out by ING Direct, they closed the accounts of all their customers living abroad. That leaves me without a debit card. Unfortunately, even after living in Taiwan for five years, I still haven’t found a local bank willing to give me one. I made a very exhaustive search in 2003, and then again in 2005 and came up with no success. Automatic refusal of all foreigners, including long term residents seems to be the norm.

I asked my current banks again. Taishin and Huanan refused me outright, while Fubon gave me a card specially crippled for foreigners, to prevent us from buying things online. I don’t really have the energy to check with a dozen banks again, especially since all evidence points to them being just as discriminatory as they were two years ago. Maybe I’ll look for a US bank that will serve international customers, but it will take a while.

For now, no debit card means no way to buy books online, no way to buy Skype credit, no way to order stuff, and most significantly, no way to pay for my web hosting. I’m not quite sure when Dreamhost will try to charge me for this month, but when they do, the site will go down. The same goes for everyone else I’ve been sharing hosting with. Such is life.

Related Posts:
No Debit Card for Big-nose
Denied Banking (frostfox.com)
First Full Day in Shanghai

Update: If you’re a foreigner and want to be able to get a debit card, try calling the government help number at 0800-024-111 and telling them so. They were the ones who ended up helping me find a way for a couple of my friends here to get phone lines (without a local to sign for them), but when I asked about debit cards, they said that it wasn’t an issue for many foreigners.

Hours After Being Sworn in, New Australian Government Ratifies Kyoto Protocol

Keven Rudd sure doesn’t seem to be messing around. He’s been talking for a while about emphasizing three E’s while in office– Economy, Education and Environment. Only hours after getting into office, he has already ratified the Kyoto Protocol to limit greenhouse emissions. Since China and India wouldn’t have faced any limits, I can understand the previous government’s objections, but it’s still good news that Australia’s on board.

“Australia’s official declaration today that we will become a member of the Kyoto Protocol is a significant step forward in our country’s efforts to fight climate change domestically – and with the international community,” Mr Rudd said.

He said the Federal Government would do everything in its power to help Australia meet its Kyoto obligations, including setting a target to reduce emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Australia Ratifies Kyoto Protocol
photo by Reuters