The Beidawushan Series: Introduction

As I leave Taiwan, what will I take with me?

I think one of the most important things I will take with me is a better ability to see the connections and understand things holistically.

The sky is blue, and there is a peak covered with hemlock trees. A cloud is forming on the right side of the peak. In the foreground there is a pine tree and a rhodederon.

Throughout my time in Taiwan, again and again and again, I have observed how geology, climate, ecology, language, culture, history, transportation, physical health, food, water, and everything else are all tied together.

I want to share that. So I will use Beidawushan as my example.

Beidawushan shows part (though only a part) of why I am to attached to Taiwan.

Looking up at a foggy forest canopy with many trees and lots of mist.

I hope that readers will find Beidawushan itself interesting, and that this will be useful for anybody who is going to go to Beidawushan. But more important than learning about Beidawushan itself is getting a better sense about how things connect together as part of a whole.

If you read this series, and are then even just a little better at observing systems and making connections between seemingly separate things in your own life, then I will have succeeded.

Continue to the next part: “Geography”


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The Coo of the Pearl-Necked Dove

A photo of a pearl-necked dove taken by Dick Daniels.

A photo of a spotted dove taken by Dick Daniels.

When I first learned that the theme for this month’s Carnival of Aces is ‘change’, I was at a loss of how to respond.

I have been living in Taiwan for a few years … and I’m leaving next month.

I’ve identified as asexual since before I moved to Taiwan.

Since I started IDing as ace, my diet has changed, my weight has changed, my language has changed (when I started identifying as asexual I spoke about three words of Mandarin; now I use Mandarin more than English in face-to-face speech), my means of exercise have changed (I do very little dancing now, but I’ve become an avid hiker!), I have gone from being a native to being a foreigner, my opinions of the political economy have changed a lot, my health problems have changed, the environment (as in climate, ecology, etc.) I’m in has changed a lot, the *water* has changed, my reading habits have changed, my financial situation has had really wide swings, my social life has had several upheavals, my dreams and long-term goals have changed, and so on and so on and so on.

My lack of sexual/romantic attraction? That’s been constant. And my sexual abstinence even more so.

One, this is evidence that asexuality is a sexual orientation. Though sexual fluidity happens, more people do not experience major shifts in their sexual orientation, regardless of how much their personal lives change.

Two, I do not see any holes in my life left by ‘missing’ sex or romance.

So, with all of the changes in my life, trying to figure out how anything related to asexuality has changed is like trying to hear the cooing pearl-necked doves during torrential rain as noisy construction machines remodel the ground floor of your concrete building and people sing karaoke loudly just below you.

And yet, I can sometimes hear pearl-necked doves cooing while I sit by my laptop in my apartment, writing blog posts.

There have been changes in the way I have experienced asexuality since I started identifying as ace, and I sometimes discuss it in this blog. In an earlier draft, I even tried to talk about it in this post. But as I’m unravelling my way of life and figuring out how to put it back together, what’s apparent to me is not how my experience of asexuality has changed, but how my experience of asexuality has NOT changed.

Ily at Asexy Beast has commented that she thinks that having quiet time alone with ones thoughts might be necessary for realizing that one is asexual. I think she has a point. If I were not already identifying as ace, I would not start now since I have way to many other things keeping my mind preoccupied.

Rather than pushing my ears to hear the cooing of the pearl-necked doves, I’ll yield to the torrential rain, construction work, and karaoke – and admit that I don’t hear the doves right now.


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The Snowden Documents Should Be Put in the Public Domain

Like tons of people around the world, I’ve been following the NSA whistle-blowing story.

I will put in the caveat that I think that the names and personal information of anybody who is not a public figure should be redacted. But I cannot think of anything else in the Snowden documents which needs to be kept hidden from the public. Oh, right, it might help terrorists. Well, if people are so darn concerned about terrorists, I suggest tightening safety standards all all nuclear power plants, which not only will remove the terrorists’ scariest targets, but will also protect us from Chernobyl/Fukushima-like disasters. That would do far more to protect the public than withholding documents. Some people say that if certain information in the documents were make public it would be ‘damaging’ to the United States. Well, I actually care more about the people of the United States than I do about the US government, and I do not understand how ignorance is a good thing for the people.

It’s been noted that Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras are the only two individuals who are confirmed to have full access to all of the documents, and they have been oh so very carefully picking which documents to make public and write stories about (the Guardian and other journalistic ventures have also been making their ‘careful’ selections). I have encountered two theories about how they select which choice bits to make public:

Theory A) The Snowden documents are mostly boring and not newsworthy. Therefore, Greenwald, the Guardian et al. have to cherry-pick the documents in order to sensationalize them and make the NSA look scarier than it actually is. If the public had access to the full set of documents and got to see the released bits in their context, the public would realize that this is all a carefully staged stunt to promote journalistic careers and newspapers.

Theory B) The Snowden documents contain revelations so shocking that, if the full thing, or even 20%, were made public, it might very well spark a revolution and tear down governments. Therefore, by maintaining such tight control over the documents, Greenwald et al. are actually protecting repressive governments from angry citizens.

I have my own thoughts about whether Theory A or Theory B is closer to the truth … but since I do not have access to all of the documents these are just guesses. Without seeing what’s actually there, it’s not possible to know.

Okay, there is also Theory C) Greenwald et al. are publishing all of the parts which will actually help the public, and the 98% that is not being published would not be interesting to the public, yet they are not manipulating or distorting the story in any way. My reaction to that is: the public did not give Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, the Guardian etc. permission to make those judgement calls

Though I am highly skeptical of Theory C, I cannot disprove it because I don’t have access to the evidence (and the best way to convince me that Theory C is most accurate would be to put all of the documents in the public domain).

And I don’t think it matters which theory is correct when considering the question of whether or not these documents should be put in public domain. If these journalistic ventures are misleading the public by making a mountain out of a molehill, then I think the public should know. If these journalistic ventures are covering up government transgressions so severe that they could inspire the overthrow of governments then I think the public should know so we can get on with the business of overthrowing those awful governments.


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Moving from the United States to Taiwan was a big shift.

Then there are a zillion practical considerations, like making sure you visa is okay, trying to make last-minute changes to your flight, and so forth.

However, all of this was made easier by the fact that I had just graduated from college. My college life was already nicely wrapped up, and I didn’t have a job.

Yet even during the interval of time between college graduation and departure, I had built up my own new rhythm of life – volunteering at the Fringe festival, gardening, retro-gaming, going on City Walks – and that rhythm had to be broken.

2011 was the year I settled into Taiwan, establishing my new habits of living. 2012 was my most stable year in Taiwan – and it’s not a coincidence that this blog started that year. This year, 2013, has been less stable, yet some of the shake-up has been very good.

Next month, I’m going to leave Taiwan.

I had been thinking about leaving ever since last December, but last week I decided that I was finally going to do it.

I do not know if this is a repeat of the process I went through when I moved from the USA to Taiwan, or whether everything is going into reverse and the life I set up here is being unravelled. It’s probably just a matter of perspective.

I am surprised at how little this has been affecting me emotionally. It was actually my emotional self-check which partially persuaded me to leave. I realized what is keeping me in Taiwan is not so much attachment … as inertia.

Of course, I knew that the life I’ve had in Taiwan was not going to be forever. Even if I stay in Taiwan, the life I have will change anyway … and life itself is not permanent. Now, rather than holding on, it’s time for me to let go and move forward.

I do not know what will happen to this blog in the upcoming months. I will try to keep up the weekly posts. Maybe it will be easy. Maybe it won’t be. Maybe I won’t keep up.


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