Thursday, October 7, 2010

24/7/365 : digital news from all seven corners of the Earth (and then some!)

Notes from a pseudoanonymous blogger named "dissent" on cyberbullying cases and the law and privacy concerns....


Privacy invasion aftermath: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
September 30, 2010 by Dissent

I didn’t sleep much last night. I felt sick inside over the suicide of
a young man whose privacy had been horribly invaded. There will be
those who lump this case in with what is often referred to as
“cyberbullying,” but cyberbullying does not necessarily involve
invasion of privacy. The suicide of Tyler Clementi is about privacy in
its most element form — to be able to engage in sexual activity in the
privacy of your own space without prying eyes.

Back in August, I blogged about my concerns that schools were grooming
students for a surveillance state in which they are growing up with
reduced expectations of privacy. At other times, I’ve covered news
stories about whether the younger generation has abandoned its privacy
or is less concerned about privacy. Whether it’s the schools,
Facebook, parents trying to be “friends” with their kids or
electronically snooping on their kids, or anything else, the bottom
line is that although privacy is certainly not dead, respect for
privacy is in peril.

We are failing our children if we do not teach them that not only do
they have a right to personal privacy, but they have a responsibility
to respect others’ privacy, too. The tragic case of Tyler Clementi,
which Kashmir Hill discusses on Forbes, the “Star Wars” kid video that
Daniel Solove discussed in his book The Future of Reputation, or any
of a number of cases where teens have either been the victims of a
privacy invasion or the perpetrators – all of these cases signal a
failure to teach respect for privacy. And in some cases, these privacy
invasions have had tragic consequences. Whether Clementi killed
himself out of depression or out of anger and desire to get revenge on
his roommate or for some other reason is unknown to me, and as a
psychologist, I will not speculate about his mental state. What does
seem evident, however, is that had it not been for the actions of
others who invaded his privacy, he would almost certainly be alive

Older teens and young adults are old enough to consent to having their
privacy invaded. They are also old enough to take responsibility for
invading others’ privacy. I’ve little doubt that many will clamor for
new laws criminalizing the conduct of the two students involved in the
Clementi case. Suddenly, five years for invasion of privacy will seem
too light a penalty. Where were all these people when many of us kept
warning others that we need more privacy protections, not less. Where
have the courts been when many of us have urged them to recognize
privacy harms that are not just unreimbursed financial losses or
demonstrable impact such as job discrimination?

And can we really hold young privacy invaders accountable or
responsible if we have failed to teach them what our parents taught
us? Knowing that what you are doing is wrong is one thing. Fully
appreciating how devastating a privacy invasion can be is another.

Being a parent is the toughest job on earth. When was the last time
you had a conversation with your child about privacy and respect for

Notes from a law professor at GW in DC

From the facts I’ve learned thus far, it remains unclear precisely
what motivated Ravi and Wei’s actions. What is clear is that this
case illustrates that young people are not being taught how to use the
Internet responsibly. Far too often, privacy invasions aren’t viewed
as a serious harm. They are seen a joke, as something causing minor
embarrassment. This view is buttressed by courts that routinely are
dismissive of privacy harms. It continues to persist because few
people ever instruct young people about how serious privacy invasions
are. Another attitude that remains common is that the Internet is a
radically-free zone, and people can say or post whatever they want
with impunity.

But privacy is a serious matter. People are irreparably harmed by the
disclosure of their personal data, their intimate moments, and their
closely-held secrets. Free speech isn’t free. Freedom of speech is
robust, but it is far from absolute. Today, everyone has a profound
set of powers at their fingertips — the ability to capture information
easily and disseminate it around the world in instant. These were
powers only a privileged few used to have. But with power must come
responsibility. Using the Internet isn’t an innocuous activity, but
is a serious one, more akin to driving a car than to playing a video
game. Young people need to be taught this. The consequences to
themselves and others are quite grave.

I doubt Ravi and Wei realized that their actions would contribute to a
young man’s suicide. I doubt they had any idea that their actions
were criminal. They’ve learned these lessons now. Sadly, it is far
too late.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bullying, Suicide, Punishment

from the pen of JOHN SCHWARTZ, at the NY TIMES

TYLER CLEMENTI may have died from exposure in cyberspace. His roommate and another student, according to police, viewed Mr. Clementi’s intimate encounter with another man on a Webcam and streamed it onto the Internet. Mr. Clementi, an 18-year-old violinist in his freshman year at Rutgers University, jumped off of the George Washington Bridge, and now the two face serious criminal charges, including invasion of privacy.

The prosecutor in the case has also said that he will investigate bringing bias charges, based on Mr. Clementi’s sexual orientation, which could raise the punishment to 10 years in prison from 5.

But the case has stirred passionate anger, and many have called for tougher charges, like manslaughter — just as outrage led to similar calls against the six students accused of bullying Phoebe Prince, a student in South Hadley, Mass., who also committed suicide earlier this year.

What should the punishment be for acts like cyberbullying and online humiliation?

That question is as difficult to answer as how to integrate our values with all the things in our lives made of bits, balancing a right to privacy with the urge to text, tweet, stream and post.

And the outcry over proper punishment is also part of the continuing debate about how to handle personal responsibility and freedom. Just how culpable is an online bully in someone’s decision to end a life?

It is not the first time cruel acts and online distribution have combined tragically. In 2008, Jessica Logan, 18, hanged herself after an ex-boyfriend circulated the nude cellphone snapshots she had “sexted” to him.

Public humiliation and sexual orientation can be an especially deadly blend. In recent weeks, several students have committed suicide after instances that have been described as cyberbullying over sexual orientation, including Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old in Tehachapi, Calif., who hanged himself from a tree in his backyard last month and died after more than a week on life support.

A survey of more than 5,000 college students, faculty members and staff members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender published last month by the advocacy group Campus Pride found that nearly one in four reported harassment, almost all related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Warren J. Blumenfeld, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at Iowa State University and an author of the Campus Pride study, also conducted a smaller survey of 350 nonheterosexual students between the ages of 11 and 22 and found that about half of the respondents reported being cyberbullied in the 30 days before the survey, and that more than a quarter had suicidal thoughts.

“Those students who are face-to-face bullied, and/or cyberbullied, face increased risk for depression, PTSD, and suicidal attempts and ideation,” Professor Blumenfeld said.

But punishment for people who do such a thing is still up for debate. In the Rutgers case, New Jersey prosecutors initially charged the two students, Dharum Ravi and Molly W. Wei, with two counts each of invasion of privacy for using the camera on Sept. 19. Mr. Ravi faces two additional counts for a second, unsuccessful attempt to view and transmit another image of Mr. Clementi two days later.

If Mr. Ravi’s actions constituted a bias crime, that could raise the charges from third-degree invasion of privacy to second degree, and double the possible punishment to 10 years.

Still, for all the talk of cyberbullying, the state statute regarding that particular crime seems ill suited to Mr. Clementi’s suicide.

Like most states with a cyberbullying statute, New Jersey’s focuses on primary and high school education, found in the part of the legal code devoted to education, not criminal acts. The privacy law in this case is used more often in high-tech peeping Tom cases involving hidden cameras in dressing rooms and bathrooms. State Senator Barbara Buono sponsored both pieces of legislation, and said the law had to adapt to new technologies. “No law is perfect,” she said. “No law can deter every and any instance of this kind of behavior. We’re going to try to do a better job.”

Still, the punishment must fit the crime, not the sense of outrage over it. While some have called for manslaughter charges in the Rutgers case, those are difficult to make stick. Reaching a guilty verdict would require that the suicide be viewed by a jury as foreseeable — a high hurdle in an age when most children report some degree of bullying.

Besides, finding the toughest possible charges isn’t the way the law is supposed to work, said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University who specializes in cybercrime. “There’s an understandable wish by prosecutors to respond to the moral outrage of society,” he said, “but the important thing is for the prosecution to follow the law.”

The fact that a case of bullying ends in suicide should not bend the judgment of prosecutors, he said. Society should be concerned, he said, when it appears that the government is “prosecuting people not for what they did, but for what the victim did in response.”

Finding the right level of prosecution, then, can be a challenge. On the one hand, he said, “it’s college — everybody is playing pranks on everybody else.” On the other, “invading somebody’s privacy can inflict such great distress that invasions of privacy should be punished, and punished significantly.”

There is also the question of society’s role. Students are encouraged by Facebook and Twitter to put their every thought and moment online, and as they sacrifice their own privacy to the altar of connectedness, they worry less about the privacy of others.

Teenagers “think that because they can do it, that makes it right,” said Nancy E. Willard, a lawyer and founder of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use.

Impulsiveness, immaturity and immense publishing power can be a dangerous mix, she said. “With increased power to do things comes increased responsibility to make sure that what you’re doing is O.K.,” she said.

That is why Daniel J. Solove, author of “The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet,” said society needed to work on education.

“We teach people a lot of the consequences” of things like unsafe driving, he said, “but not that what we do online could have serious consequences.”

That sounds good, of course, but adults still drive recklessly after all that time in driver’s ed. And it is easy and cheap to say that “kids can be so cruel at that age,” but failures of judgment can be found almost anywhere you look.

After all, what are we to make of Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Michigan who devoted his off hours to a blog denouncing the openly gay student body president at his alma mater, the University of Michigan? His posts include accusations that the student, Chris Armstrong, is a “radical homosexual activist” and a photo of Mr. Armstrong doctored with a rainbow flag and swastika. He told Anderson Cooper that he is “a Christian American exercising my First Amendment rights.”

On Friday, the attorney general’s office announced that Mr. Shirvell was taking personal leave pending a disciplinary hearing.

網路忠告 -- ''DIGIRATA'' - A 'Desiderata' for the Digital Age -- translated into Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan by Tracy Li and Jacky Lin

Dear Friends in Taiwan,

當你慢慢地點擊網路上的連結並接收 KUSO 訊息 的同時,記住,你生活原有的寧靜正被連根拔起。











快樂,要快樂!用最簡單的符號做到所有的可能,並努力做個快樂的 24/7, 偶爾離線放鬆一下吧!

----------------------------- (c) 2010 ----------------------------

[words by Dan Bloom, American writer in Taiwan]
[translated into Mandarin Chinese by Tracy Li at Chung Cheng University in Taiwan and Jacky Lin, editor, CCU graduate now working at Chiayi Christian Hospital in Taiwan.]

Thursday, September 30, 2010

LETTER - ‘Digirata’: Enjoy the Web - Published in Taipei Times, October 1, 2010

Dear Editor,

Helen Pidd’s recent Guardian article from the UK about cyberstalking and cyberbullying (“Tackling faceless abusers,” Sept. 27, 2010, page 9) was an important wake-up call about how the Internet must be monitored more diligently in the digital age.

In keeping with popular concerns over Internet use and abuse, including Internet addiction to online games, I wrote a short text to use as an educational tool in classrooms worldwide and it’s being translated into Chinese now as well. It’s called “Digirata” and is modeled as an homage to Max Erhmann’s famous 1927 poem Desiderata.

The purpose of writing an update for the digital age is to help students and teachers ponder the very issues that Pidd wrote about at length in her article. The text reads:

Go placidly amid the hot links and the distractions, and remember what peace there may be in unplugging.

As far as possible be on good terms with all persons online and never, never flame others or engage in any kind of cyberbullying or cyberstalking.

Key in your truths quietly and clearly; and read what others have to say, too, even the dull and the ignorant; for they too have their stories and ideas to impart, even if you disagree.

Avoid angry and aggressive flamers and out of control cyberbullies, for they are vexations to the spirit of the Internet.

If you compare your blog with other blogs that are better and have more visitors, you may become vain and bitter, so just enjoy your own blog for what it is and don’t worry abut the big guys. Enjoy your online achievements, as well as your plans for future downtime.

Keep interested in your own blogging, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in who you give your personal details to; for the world is full of trickery and Nigerian scams waiting to part you from your money.

Be yourself when you are online, or, if it so pleases you, adopt a persona. Use your real name or a pseudonym for your userid, and let no one steal your password, especially those pesky phishers.

Take kindly the counsel of your fellow bloggers and gracefully chat with your Facebook friends in real time. But don’t over do it, and always take time out to unplug and enjoy a weekly ‘Internet sabbath.’

You are a child of the Digital Age, no less than the spam and the pixels; and you have every right to blog to your heart’s content.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt cyberspace is unfurling as it should. Well, sort of, and you are part of the great equation, whatever that might turn out to be.

Therefore be at peace with Amazon and Yahoo, and make of your Kindles and your nooks what you will.

Whatever your labors and your aspirations, in the multitasking distractions of cyberspace keep peace with your soul — if you still have one.

Remember: With all its sham, mattdrudgery and quirky keyboards, it is still a beautiful online world.

Be cheerful. Be careful, too. Use the smiley emoticon as much as possible, and strive to be a happy camper. Unplug often.”

Published in the Taipei Times:
Copyright © 1999-2010


Nancy Willard in Oregon, working on cyberbullying and Internet safety issues, has created what she calls the DigiDesiderata and it's going public today: FULL TEXT SHE WROTE BELOW: urgent, important, vital, spread it around. See copyright info below first, however.

Nancy writes at her website:

re "DigiDesiderata"

Do you believe in synchronicity? In mid-September, I was contacted by Danny Bloom, a wonderful gentleman who had written a digital age version of the Desiderata. He wanted to use this document to help prevent cyberbullying.

At the same time I was working on a document for Facebook to provide to teachers to help them teach social networking safety (forthcoming) and the manuscript for a book for teachers on teaching Internet safety (Corwin Press, forthcoming).

With Dan's inspiration and support...... I wrote a new version.

What astounded me was how well all of the concepts I felt were so important fit into Max Ehrmann's original beautiful 1927 work. What I also have discovered is that the younger generation has no knowledge of Erhmann's 1927 poem or work. It is definitely time to for a renaissance of the original. He lived 1872 to 1945. Terre Haute, Indiana man.
Harvard Law School.

I am developing some beautiful posters using fiber optic photos and a YouTube video. These will be available soon. The sales will support the ongoing work of CSRIU. I will also have a reproducible version for teachers, along with some teaching recommendations. *Copyright information is below. TEXT FOLLOWS


Desires of the Digital Age

Go placidly amid the texts and tweets and remember what peace there may be in unplugging. As far as possible, be on good terms with all persons in the global digital community.

Post your text, pictures, and videos in a way that reflects well on who you are and the passion you bring to your life. Think before you post or send anything in electronic form.

Read and politely comment on what others have posted, even if you disagree with their perspective. They too have the right to post their opinions. Avoid aggressive cyberbullies, flamers, and trolls. They are vexations to the digital spirit.

If you compare your profile and number of friends with others, you may mistakenly think you are “hot” or “not.” Seek quality, not quantity in your online friending.

Enjoy your online activities, as well as the time you spend doing fun things with real people in the real world. Make sure the time your spend online does not interfere with your education, career plans, and personal relationships; for a balanced life is essential in this chaotic world.

Exercise caution when reading information on web sites or in messages you receive; for the Internet is full of trickery, scams, phishers, and those who promote hatred and bias.

But also recognize the wonder of an environment that gives everyone, especially the oppressed, the opportunity to express their own truths; for out of many truths expressed online by people with higher ideals may come higher truths. And everywhere online there are Internet heroes who speak out against harm or file abuse reports.

Be yourself online or, where appropriate, create an avatar. But do not engage in theft, deceit, or abuse, or seek to coerce someone to send you a nude sexy image. Always remember, just because you can, doesn't make it right.

Recognize you can form wonderful relationships with people online. Relationships are grounded in healthy communications and sharing, which is the essence of the Internet.

Read and follow the Terms of Use for the web sites you use, as these are grounded in the principles that support the well-being of all users on the site.

Connect safely. Use the privacy protections. Know how to detect when you are at risk, and how to effectively respond if someone sends you hurtful messages, distributes damaging material, or sends overly friendly messages in an effort to exploit you.

But do not fear you will always be at risk online; for the vast majority of people do not wish to cause harm or to see others harmed. Make a commitment to be kind and respectful to others and expect the same in return.

You are a child of the digital age, no less than the texts, messages, blogs, tweets, and clicks. You are a part of the emerging global digital community. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt this digital community is growing as it should.

Therefore be at peace with the electronic energy flow; for you are part of the great connecting. And whatever your online activities and aspirations in the multitasking cacophony of bits and bites, keep peace with your essential being.

Despite the immediate global distribution of images of destruction and despair, those who are now more effectively connected can better work to turn the darkness into light.

Be part of the light. Strive to be :)

© 2010 Nancy Willard

Permission granted to reproduce this in text format for non-commercial purposes under the following conditions:

1. Inclusion of the copyright notice.
2. Provision of a link to
3. Mention of the availability of posters. Additional use under a license is possible.


Thursday, September 9, 2010


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A new name for ebooks is waiting in the wings, but what will it be?

In our opinion an ebook is not a book, and maybe we need a new word for such ''device readers''. My guess is when the culture is ready, a new term will come bouncing down the information highway, organically and naturally, coined perhaps inadvertently by some geek in Manhattan or a PR operative on the sly.

Come to think of it, why do we even call a book, a book. That word: book. What are the origins of the word book?

This is interesting: The word book comes from Old English bōc which itself comes from the Germanic root bōk- a cognate to beech. Similarly, in Slavic languages (e.g. Russian, Bulgarian and Macedonian) буква (bukva—letter) is cognate to beech. It is thus conjectured that the earliest Indo-European writings may have been carved on beech woodSimilarly, the Latin word codex, meaning a book in the modern sense (bound and with separate leaves), originally meant block of wood.

So seriously, folks, we cannot call ebooks ''eblocks'' of ''ewood''. We do need a new word. If we build it, it will come. Well, we already built these device readers, dozens of them, but a new name is still waiting to be blessed and accepted. Any ideas out there for a better word than ebook? Maybe by 2025 it will happen.

''Digirata'' making waves worldwide in struggle against cyberbullying

Writer calls it 'classroom tool' for teachers, students

NEW YORK -- September 1, 2010


As online life gets complicated in the digital age, a freelance writer who says he penned "Digirata" hopes the text will speak loud and clear -- to millions around the world.

Preferring to remain unidentified here and claiming that his role in the process is to remain in the background and let the text speak for itself, the author says he's concerned about the abuse of the internet by cyberbullies and cyberstalkers.

So, in memory of teenagers like Megan Meir and Phoebe Prince and countless others who committed suicide after being bullied and harassed online, the author says he put cobbled the "Digiratga" together with input from several scholars and internet experts.

"I didn't write this myself," he says. "It wrote itself. I merely helped push the story to the media, and I hope the media will use the story to help foster more national discussions about these issues."

"Digirata" is a tool for teachers and administrators and counsellors to use around the world, he says. "It's just a small, minor contribution to the struggle against cyberbullying and cyberstalking, in the hopes of helping to push forward laws with teeth in them. We need legal documents, written into law, to take down and take care of cyberbullies. The internet has become a very dangerous -- and unpoliced -- place."

Words have power, the author told this reporter in a recent email interview. Words can hurt, but words can heal, he also says. Words can destroy, words can also educate. So "Digirata"
was born, he says.

"Digirata" is just 89 words long. But the man behind the text hopes the words can go out and reach the world, influence legislators and politicians, and help teachers and students get a handle on better uses of the internet, while at the same time putting an end of unmoderated interent abuse.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A note to Claire Cain Miller at the New York Times re SONY E-reader


It's not a book, it's not a book, it's not a book. And it's not reading. What people do when they take in text from a screen is called, for lack of a better word, screening. It aint reading. Future MRI and PET scan tests will prove this.

re: Claire writes:

On Wednesday Sony introduced a new line of e-screeners and applications for iPhones and Android phones.

The Sony Reader TouchSony has updated each of its three e-screeners. The Reader Pocket Edition, with its 5-inch screen, weighs less than many of its competitors. The Reader Touch Edition has a 6-inch screen and the Reader Daily Edition is the biggest of the bunch at 7 inches.

“Consistently the No. 1 thing we heard was it needs to feel like a book, so you just forget that you have a device in your hand,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division.

To try to achieve the book feel, Sony made the e-screeners smaller and lighter than before. Most noticeably, all three e-screeners have touch-screens for the first time, something that consumers expect in gadgets these days.

Sony previously offered touch on the two bigger readers and updated the screens by removing the top layer of glass so there is less glare and to make them more responsive. While the older versions required forceful touching, the pages of the new e-screeners respond even to a hovering finger. Sony also used an improved E Ink Pearl display so text is now visible in direct sunlight, the company says.

The new devices arrive as the market is getting ever more competitive. On Tuesday, said that Staples would start selling the Kindle, and Borders lowered the prices of two e-readers it sells, the Kobo and Libre.

Sony’s new Readers range from $179 to $299, significantly more expensive than some of the others available, like the $139 Kindle Wi-Fi and the $100 Libre.

Despite the raging e-reader price wars that are expected to heat up as the holidays approach, Mr. Haber said that “we found in this space that people step up and buy features they want and price is less significant.”

Sony has struggled to capture the same brand recognition as other e-readers. Amazon, as one of the world’s largest bookstores, started out with a big advantage, Mr. Haber said.

“You think of books in the past and you don’t think of Sony,” he said. “It takes time to build a brand in books.”

Sony’s bookstore offers a few unique things, like borrowing books from public libraries and an upcoming partnership with Goodreads that will add reviews.

While Kindle users can download books anywhere, using either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, readers of the Sony Pocket and Touch Editions still have to plug their e-readers into a computer. Readers of the Daily Edition can now download books using 3G or Wi-Fi. Sony added Wi-Fi because, contrary to its expectations, the majority of people use their Readers at home, Mr. Haber said.

The Pocket and Touch Editions will be available Wednesday and the Daily Edition by the end of the year.

The new phone apps will be available later this year and, like the Kindle app, will allow people to pick up where they left off in a book when they switch devices.

Sony is also expanding availability internationally — including to Italy, Spain, Australia, China and Japan — and the new readers include 10 translation dictionaries in addition to two English ones.

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:

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.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Barnes & Noble Planning Big Push to Increase 'Frankenbook' Sales

JULIE BOSSMANN at the New York Times reports on
July 29, 3010:

In September, B&N will begin an aggressive promotion of its 'Frankenbook' (TM) e-readers by building 1,000-square-foot boutiques in all of its stores, with sample Frankenbooks, demonstration tables, video screens and employees who will give customers advice and operating instructions.

By devoting more floor space to promoting Frankenbooks, Barnes & Noble is playing up what it calls a crucial advantage over Amazon in the e-reader war: its 720 bricks-and-mortar stores, where customers can test out the device before they commit to buying it.

“I think that’s everything,” William Synch, chief executive of Barnes & Noble, said in an interview. “American consumers want to try and hold frankenbooks before they purchase them.”

Barnes & Noble has already installed small counters in its stores where customers can test out the Frankenbook. The new display space would be much larger, and it would be located next to each store’s cafe, to encourage customers to stop by the Frankenbook space, coffee or tea in hand. It would also sell more than 100 accessories for the Frankenbook, like padded covers designed by Mary Shelley and Melvin Brooks.

While in the store, Barnes & Noble customers can read entire frankenbooks free, just as they can with print books. “We’ve tried to replicate the physical bookstore experience,” Mr. Synch said.

To make room for the new displays, Barnes & Noble plans to clear out some of its music merchandise, which in its superstores takes up 3,600 square feet, and to arrange its books more efficiently. Mr. Lynch said that the number of books on display in Barnes & Noble stores would not decrease.

Analysts said the 2010 Chanukah holiday season might be the first time that most consumers become aware enough of frankenbooks to seriously consider buying one, given their greater visibility and lower price.

“Most people have never read a frankenbook,” said Michael Florris, senior analyst at Simba Information, which provides research and advice to publishers. “Most people still don’t know much about these monster devices. But it's true, they have a heart of gold.”

Climate change could spur mass migration of billions to polar cities in north and south by 2080 A.D.

WASHINGTON — Global warming could drive billions of men, women and children in droves into northern regions of the world in search of food and fuel and shelter at so-called "polar cities" by 2080 A.D. due to diminishing crop yields arpund the world in tropical and temperate zones, a study released Monday showed.

[Images of polar cities:]

"Depending on the warming scenarios used and adaptation levels assumed... climate change is estimated to induce 5 to 7 billion people to emigrate as a result of declines in agricultural productivity alone," the study said.

Researchers led by Dale Leonard Molloy of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University estimated the sensitivity of migration to climate change and predicted the number of people who would migrate under a range of different climate and crop yield scenarios. "It's not going to be a pretty picture," Molloy said.

In the worst-case scenario would occur if temperatures were to rise by one to three degrees Celsius (2 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2080, if farming methods had not been adapted to cope with global warming and if higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide had not spurred plant growth. This would mean crop yields in the Lower 48 of the USA and worldwide would fall by 39 to 48 percent, the study said.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study focused on polar cities because it is an issue that most mainstream media outlets worldwide are afraid to talk about, Molloy said.

The findings are relevant to all countries in the Americas, continental Europe, Africa, south Asia, and Latin America, and even to Australia and New Zealand, where the authors of the study predict migration will become a "significant issue" as climate change drives temperatures up and crop yields down.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More than the 20th Century ended on Friday. The fate of all humankind as a functioning species was sealed as well. It's all over.

Some of our descendants will survive. But of the 25 billion people alive in 2500 AD, 99 percent will perish in a massive die off as climate chaos pushes the human species to the ropes, as Lovelock teaches us. Now, dear readers, and I know I sound like a lunatic here, always repeating my polar cities mantra, but really, when will people wake up. It's over. We need now to start planning adaptation strategies, among them polar cities, er polar settlements, polar villages, in the northern regions of the world and in NZ and Tasmania as well. Although nobody takes me seriously, and that's okay, par for the course, comes with territory, and I don't need approval to go on with my work till die (and my days are numbered as you know, cough cough, heart attack last November, stent now) FB reader said "Danny, you have amazing foresight and an iconoclast POV, you may be right....", so I am soldiering on as James Lovelock's Accidental Student until one print media outlet decides to do a real story about future polar cities and interview me. I am not prediciting the future. I cannot see the future. I am saying, and have been saying for 3 years, that we as a humanity -- O the humanity! -- are not going to get it together or come together on climate change and it is already too late, and that we need to start actively exploring the A-word, Adaption, for future survivors of AGW and climate chaos. It is all but in the cards now. As of last Friday, the fate of the human species was sealed. Okay, don't believe me. It's not a comfortable meme to follow. But if anyone wants to follow me, here I am and I am avail for media interviews, pro and con. Go ahead, mock me; go ahead, diss me. I know of what I speak. Ask Dr Lovelock if you need a PHD:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dear Mr Bloom, re Polar Cities: ''I applaud the foresight and iconoclasm of your thinking.''

LL added: "I imagine you run into all kinds of jokes about Santa Claus, vril, and Hyperboreans."

DB replies: YES I DO! Humor helps!


Calling on the US government under President Barack Obama to set up an Office of Risk and Response at the White House in 2012 to study risk and response issues related to Polar Cities for Survivors of Global Warming in the year 2500 AD, perhaps sooner!

references: Richard Posner, author of 2004 book "Catastrophe: Risk and Response" and a US judge

also: see ideas of Robert Crease at SUNY and Nick Bostrom at Oxford

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

American climate activist Danny Bloom's files hacked on ''POLAR CITIES'' work, 4 years of work deleted by mysterious hackers on gmail account

GOOGLE CENTRAL -- June 23, 2010

An American climate activist, who closely follows future scenario
predictions of James Lovelock and others, and who has come up with the
of polar cities for survivors of future climate chaos events in the
distant future, say year 2500 or so, has had his gmail account broken
into and his files for "polar cities" completely deleted from his
gmail account, four years' worth of emails and news links -- 3000 emails and news clips in all.

Bloom, 61 going on 100, he feels, says he has no idea who did it, but he does know that his
gmail account was hacked a week ago, because Gmail HQ told him and
asked him to make a new password in order to use his account.

What is strange, Bloom says, is that of his 25 miscellaneous files,
only one file was deleted, and that was his file marked POLAR CITIES.
The other 24 files were not

Monday, June 21, 2010

Polar cities activist crusader files hacked and deleted at gmail account. Who did it and why? Lost and gone forever!


I recently had my polar cities climate activist files hacked and deleted on my gmail account, the hackers came in and of my 25 files, only attacked my files marked [polar cities] and inside the file was about 3000 emails and news links from top scientists around the world, both pro and con climate change....and all my other 24 files were left untouched! Not only that, the hackers deleted the 3000 emails and links completely, they did not even go to trash where I might find them, they just disppaeared completely and these include emails, none of them toxic, from Times reporters too, Andy Revkin among them, John Tierney and UK scientist James Lovelock, my entire 4 years of work on polar cities deleted by who? I have tried to contact gmail and no response. The gmail forums help but not enough. I know what happened but now i want to know who did it and where those emails are now and was this a black op from FBI KGB MI5 CIA or just the known opposition of the rightwing denialists. Thing is, I am small potatoes, there is nothing, was nothing, in my files worth looking for.

Since I am am a reporter,.....I aim to track this
down.....I have top contacts with top editors and reporters at
NYTimes, AP reuters CNN and BBC and I am to crack this open, but how?
The info i lost was not important, and nothing was compromised, but

1. an inconvenience and
2. a weird feeling of being violated but by WHOM and whY

3. does this maybe have somethind to do with the Climategate thing in
UK and somehow the paper trail leads to some of my emails?

......what is so weird is that whoever
came in to my account only came to delete my entire 4 years of polar
emails files which include emails from Andy Revkin and James
Lovelock, but NOTHING compromising, so why?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reading on screens is not ''reading'' per se; it is screening ....

It is my hunch that reading
on screens is not "reading" per se, but a new form of human reading,
and I call it "screening" for now until a better word comes down the
line, and it will, someday. Soon. I have been trying to alert the
media and newspapers to this but not one reporter will interview me. I
have contacted Newsweeka and Time and the NYTimes and Atlantic and the
Boston Globe and not one outlet will publish my eccentric views on
this. But watch: future MRI scan studies at Tufts and UCLa will prove
that reading on paper surfaces lights up different parts of our brains
vs when we read on screens and that reading on paper is vastly
superiod for processing of info, retention of info, analysis of info
and critical thinking about the info read. I have no PHD so nobody
listens to me, but let some Times reporter interview Dr Wold and Dr
Tenner and Anne Mangen in Norway, and Paul Saffo and Kevin Kelly and
Marvin Minsky, they all agree with me. The Times will listent to
them. Sharon Begley at Newsweek is writing a big cover story about
this now. As in the New York Times Sunday magazine and Time has a
summer cover on this too. See more at my blogs.

To sum up: reading on screens is not reading per se. it is a new form
of human reading, vastly inferior to paper reading. but what does this
mean for the future of civilization and does anybody care? I do.

Mitch Moxley, Canadian writer in China: "Rent a Canadian Caucasian Man" -- true story of life among expats in Taiwan and China

Rent a Caucasian Canadian Man

Confessions of a ''fake'' businessman from Beijing

By Mitch Moxley (who does not answer his email apparently)....[smile]

Not long ago I was offered work as a quality-control expert with an American company in China I’d never heard of. No experience necessary—which was good, because I had none. I’d be paid $1,000 for a week, put up in a fancy hotel, and wined and dined in Dongying, an industrial city in Shandong province I’d also never heard of. The only requirements were a fair complexion and a suit.

“I call these things ‘White Guy in a Tie’ events,” a Canadian friend of a friend named Jake told me during the recruitment pitch he gave me in Beijing, where I live. “Basically, you put on a suit, shake some hands, and make some money. We’ll be in ‘quality control,’ but nobody’s gonna be doing any quality control. You in?”

I was.

And so I became a fake businessman in China, an often lucrative gig for underworked expatriates here. One friend, an American who works in film, was paid to represent a Canadian company and give a speech espousing a low-carbon future. Another was flown to Shanghai to act as a seasonal-gifts buyer. Recruiting fake businessmen is one way to create the image—particularly, the image of connection—that Chinese companies crave. My Chinese-language tutor, at first aghast about how much we were getting paid, put it this way: “Having foreigners in nice suits gives the company face.”

Six of us met at the Beijing airport, where Jake briefed us on the details. We were supposedly representing a California-based company that was building a facility in Dongying. Our responsibilities would include making daily trips to the construction site, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and hobnobbing. During the ceremony, one of us would have to give a speech as the company’s director. That duty fell to my friend Ernie, who, in his late 30s, was the oldest of our group. His business cards had already been made.

Dongying was home to Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War, and that’s just about all it has going for it. The landscape is dry and bleak, with factories in all directions. We were met at the airport by Ken, a young Canadian of Taiwanese extraction with a brush cut and leather jacket, whose company, we were told, had been subcontracted to manage the project.

The lobby at our hotel was dimly lit and smelled like bad seafood. “At least we have a nice view,” Ernie deadpanned as he opened the drapes in our room to reveal a scrap yard. A truck had been stripped for parts, and old tires were heaped into a pile. A dog yelped.

Ken drove us to the company’s temporary offices: small rooms with cement floors and metal walls arranged around a courtyard. We toured the facility, which built high-tech manufacturing equipment, then returned to the office and sat for hours. Across the courtyard, we could hear Ernie rehearsing his speech.

The next morning was the official ribbon-cutting ceremony. A stage and red carpet had been set up near the construction site. Pretty girls in red dragon-patterned dresses greeted visitors, and Chinese pop blared from loudspeakers. Down the street, police in yellow vests directed traffic. The mayor was there with other local dignitaries, and so were TV cameras and reporters. We stood in the front row wearing suits, safety vests, and hard hats. As we waited for the ceremony to begin, a foreman standing beside me barked at workers still visible on the construction site. They scurried behind the scaffolding.

“Are you the boss?” I asked him.

He looked at me quizzically. “You’re the boss.”

Actually, Ernie was the boss. After a brief introduction, “Director” Ernie delivered his speech before the hundred or so people in attendance. He boasted about the company’s long list of international clients and emphasized how happy we were to be working on such an important project. When the speech was over, confetti blasted over the stage, fireworks popped above the dusty field beside us, and Ernie posed for a photo with the mayor.

For the next few days, we sat in the office swatting flies and reading magazines, purportedly high-level employees of a U.S. company that, I later discovered, didn’t really exist. We were so important, in fact, that two of the guys were hired to stay for eight months (to be fair, they actually then received quality-control training).

“Lots happening,” Ken told me. “We need people for a week every month. It’ll be better next time, too. We’ll have new offices.” He paused before adding: “Bring a computer. You can watch movies all day.”

Copyright © 2010 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved

Paul Horan - haiku - "Evolution's both baby steps and leaps and bounds; let's enjoy this dance."

Evolution's both

"baby steps" and "leaps & bounds";

let's enjoy this dance.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

PETA Asks Polar Cities Project to Stock Future Survival Shelters With Vegan Food

NEW YORK, June 1, 2010

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
recently sent a letter to Polar Cities Project director Danny Bloom
urging him to serve only meat-free, dairy-free, and egg-free food in
his proposed network of polar city climate refugee survival bunkers.
PETA's request follows reports that Bloom is advocating the
construction of 144 polar cities across the northern regions where
about 200,000 people can seek refuge from climate chaos catastrophes
in the distant future, should the need arise. In the letter, PETA
points out that vegans are fitter and trimmer, on average, than
meat-eaters and less threatened by leading killers such as heart
attacks and cancer. Bloom hopes to construct 144 polar cities in
Alaska, Canada, Russia, Norway, Greenland and Iceland, in addition to
polar cities in New Zealand and Tasmania in the southern hemisphere."Whether you live in an underground bunker or a penthouse suite, the
best way to ensure that you'll still be around as a polar city
resident in the distant future is to ditch meat and go vegan," PETA
said. "By maintaining a vegan diet, the bunkered polar city climate
chaos survivors would be in better shape to adapt to their
post-apocalyptic world and would help put an end to the doomsday
scenarios that animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses face
every day."

PETA added: "In a post-apocalyptic world of polar cities, it will be
crucial to ensure that the surviving members of the human race are
healthy. To ensure this, we urge you to require that poalr city
shelters be stocked exclusively with vegan food. Polar cities may
protect inhabitants from climate chaos in the distant future, but if
residents are dining on fat- and cholesterol-laden meat, eggs, and
dairy products, they're at a higher risk to keel over from heart
disease, cancer, or diabetes before the fallout clears. Vegans are 50
percent less likely to develop heart disease, have 40 percent of the
cancer rate of meat-eaters, and live an average of six to 10 years
longer than meat-eaters do. A vegan diet is the best way to ensure
that those in polar cities emerge healthy and strong."

"Stocking up on vegan foods would also protect animals from enduring
the horrors of modern factory farms, where every day is doomsday: They
are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, gestation
crates, and wire cages so small that they can't even turn around or
lift a wing. Many have their throats cut and are scalded alive at
slaughterhouses. Won't you please offer in your plans for polar city
residents -- and for animals -- total protection by serving healthy
and humane vegan cuisine? Shelf-stable soymilk, tofurky jerky, and
other protein-packed vegan staples like beans and peanut butter will
last longer. too. Thank you for your consideration and best wishes for
a safe and healthy future."


Sunday, May 30, 2010

German musem show hopes to include "polar cities" exhibit in next exhibition in 2011

When Hamburg-based Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum for Arts and Crafts) in Germany decided to curate a show about "Climate Capsules" they inadvertently forgot to include polar cities as part of the show. Too bad, because they missed a good chance to show the work of Taiwanese artist Deng Cheng-hong to the world. He is the first person on Earth to come up with designs for polar cities for future survivors of global warming, and Dr James Lovelock of the UK has seen Deng's image and said "Bravo!"

Lovelock gets it. In fact, Lovelock is the father of polar cities.

"What to Do When the Earth Warms Up?" is a good question, and the German media asks that question in writing a story about the new show this summer of 2010.

"Given humankind's lackadaisical response to climate change, a museum in Hamburg is presenting fanciful visions of how humans might adapt to disaster. "Climate Capsules," an exhibition starting Friday, imagines people of the future in oceangoing cities and other artificial, self-contained environmentsm" the report notes. Sadly, the curator neglected to include any images of polar cities in the show. Maybe next time?

"Headlines about the changing climate are more plentiful than political moves to slow it. Among those assuming that bleak predictions will become real is the Hamburg-based Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum for Arts and Crafts). Its Climate Capsules exhibition, which opened today, asks how people can survive in a heating globe," the German media opined.

"Organizers collected a range of bold, sometimes zany, approaches to the threat of an increasingly inhospitable world. Curator Friedrich von Borries points out that, amid all the debate about climate change, there has been little talk of solutions. The focus instead is firmly on slowing or stopping the temperature trend, even though much damage has already been done."

"In the search for alternative solutions, there is a category discussed substantially less often in public: adaptation," the musuem wrote in a press release. Aha! The dreaded A-word! Yes, adaptation. Which is exactly what polar cities are all about, and why the museum will hopefully do a show in the future on polar cities, too.

In ''Climate Capsules'', artists, designers and architects have dreamt up science-fiction-style solutions. Sadly, the show does not include the pioneering work and images of Deng Cheng-hong and his project collaborator Daniel Halevi Bloom.

Climate Capsules - What to Do When the Earth Warms Up?

Given humankind's lackadaisical response to climate change, a museum in Hamburg is presenting fanciful visions of how humans might adapt to disaster.

"Climate Capsules" imagines people of the future in oceangoing cities and other artificial, self-contained environments, including POLAR CITIES (
). And don't forget Underground Desert Living Units - UDLU, created by Reynard Loki

Headlines about the changing climate are more plentiful than political moves to slow it. Among those assuming that bleak predictions will become real is the Hamburg-based Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum for Arts and Crafts). Its Climate Capsules exhibition asks how people can survive in a warming globe.

Organizers collected a range of bold, sometimes zany, approaches to the threat of an increasingly inhospitable world. Curator Friedrich von Borries points out that, amid all the debate about climate change, there has been little talk of solutions. The focus instead is firmly on slowing or stopping the temperature trend, even though much damage has already been done.

"In the search for alternative solutions, there is a category discussed substantially less often in public: adaptation," the musuem writes in a press release.

In Climate Capsules, artists, designers and architects have dreamt up science-fiction-style solutions. Architect Vincent Callebaut, for example, takes escapism to an extreme with his plan for a floating city called Lilypad, which would take to the ocean as a haven for climate refugees.

Other ideas on show are not as modern as they look: In 1960 Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao drew up their utopian "Dome over Manhattan," an idea for a two-mile-diameter glass dome over Midtown that would control living temperatures for New Yorkers in both summer and winter.

Fake Clouds

The Hamburg show also explores the idea of chemical and physical interventions to moderate weather. Among the dramatic plans featured is the US Army's Project Cirrus, an experiment in 1947 to weaken a Caribbean hurricane by "seeding" its clouds. There are also low-key proposals, like painting roofs and streets with reflective white paint to reduce global warming.

Artists in this exhibition suggest that humans may have to grow more cut off from their environment than they are today. The show starts with an unusual installation by Paris-based artist Pablo Reinoso. Two visitors at a time can poke their heads into his inflatable textile construction, sharing the air they breathe in the enclosed pod-like space.

Ilkka Halso's photo series, "Museum of Nature," is similarly striking. Her digital montages relocate forests, lakes and rivers into imaginary museum buildings, transforming everyday wildlife into exotic museum exhibits.

Deng Cheng-hong of Taiwan, whose images of Polar Cities and part of Dan Bloom's Polar Cities Project, were not on display, but might be in the future.,1518,697394,00.html

James Lovelock's PLEA FOR A BIGGER UK NAVY in Britain TO KEEP OUT CLIMATE Refugees when the shit hits the fan and millions line up to get into Polar Cities in northern Europe and Canada

Starvation could follow if Britain's shores are not protected. Read Hamish MacDonald's FINITUDE for a fictional treatment of all this.

May 31,2010
By John Ingham

BRITAIN needs a bigger Navy to stave off mass immigration caused by climate change, James Lovelock claimed yesterday.

Starvation could ­follow if Britain’s shores are not protected, he said.

Dr Lovelock, 90, said that as the world population rises, ­climate change would trigger mass immigration north AS PEOPLE LINE UP TO GET INTO POLAR CITIES IN THE NORTH. - See: -

And Britain would be seen as a “liferaft” or Lifeboat Britain on to which the dispossessed would scramble.

The moderating effect of the surrounding seas may help us escape the worst effects of ­climate change, he said.

Dr Lovelock, who in the 1960s invented the Gaia theory that the Earth is a self-regulating entity, said mass migration was already under way.

At the Hay Festival of Literature in Herefordshire he said: “Do you know that Italy now has a larger navy than we do and it is to keep immigrants from Africa out?

“We are a bit of a liferaft but there is only a ­limited number of people that this island can support.” Dr Lovelock, a pat­ron of the Optimum Population Trust which campaigns for a gradual global population decrease, said that with 60 million people Britain may already be at its optimum size.

“So what are we going to do?” he said. “The people who are going to come here are going to starve and so are we – a larger Navy may be the answer.”

The Royal Navy is facing cuts in the Strategic Defence Review. One senior officer told the Daily Express that meeting its current commitments was already an “awesome challenge”. The scale of migration was revealed last week by official figures showing that 203,000 foreigners were given a UK passport last year – one every three minutes.

Campaign group MigrationWatch estimates annual migration to the UK quadrupled to 230,000 between 1997 and 2007. It says there may be 1.1 million illegal immigrants here. And it predicts that at current rates immigration will add seven million to the UK population by 2034.

Dr Lovelock urged the audience to grow their own food and conserve more. He said: “Good gardening produces four times as much food per acre as farming does. That was something they found out in the Second World War.”

New Zealand faces the sames issues as the UK on this, so watch out Lifeboat New Zealand and Lifeboat Tasmania and Lifeboat Alaska!


I have been
reading a lot on my iPad recently, and I have some complaints — not
about the iPad but about the state of digital reading generally.
Reading is a subtle thing, and its subtleties are artifacts of a
venerable medium: words printed in ink on paper. Glass and pixels
aren’t the same.

When I read a physical book, I don’t have to look anywhere else to
find out how far I’ve gotten. The iPad e-reader, iBooks, tries to
create the illusion of a physical book. The pages seem to turn, and I
can see the edges of those that remain. But it’s fake. There are
always exactly six unturned pages,
no matter where I am in the book.

Now, a larger problem. Books in their digital format look vastly less
“finished,” less genuine. And we can vary their font and type size,
making them resemble all the more our own word-processed manuscripts.
Your poems — no matter how wretched or wonderful they are — will never
look as good as Robert Hass’s poems in the print edition of “The Apple
Trees at Olema.” But your poems can look almost exactly as ugly — as
e-book-like — as the Kindle version of that collection.

All the e-books I’ve read have been ugly — books by Chang-rae Lee,
Alvin Kernan, Stieg Larsson — though the texts have been wonderful.
But I didn’t grow up reading texts. I grew up reading books. The
difference is important.

When it comes to digital editions, the assumption seems to be that all
books are created equal. Nothing could be further from the truth. In
the mass migration from print to digital, we’re seeing a profusion of
digital books — many of them out of copyright — that look new and even
“HD,” but which may well have been supplanted by more accurate
editions and better translations. We need a digital readers’ guide — a
place readers can find out whether the book they’re about to download
is the best available edition.

And finally, two related problems. I already have a personal library.
But most of the books I’ve ever read have come from lending libraries.
Barnes & Noble has released an e-reader that allows short-term
borrowing of some books. The entire impulse behind Amazon’s Kindle and
Apple’s iBooks assumes that you cannot read a book unless you own it
first — and only you can read it unless you want to pass on your

That goes against the social value of reading, the collective
knowledge and collaborative discourse that comes from access to shared
libraries. That is not a good thing for readers, authors, publishers
or our culture.


It is astonishing how old the morning's headlines seem by evening.

It is astonishing how old the morning's headlines seem by evening.

Praying for a Pokkuri Moment: No Muss, No Fuss

by Danny Dan Daniel Bloom

When it's time to meet your Maker, do you want to hang in there as
long as possible, even if you are bed-ridden and in pain and in an
assisted-living residence, or do you just want to ''pop off''? In
Japan, there's a temple in devoted to ''popping off,'' which in
Japanese is called ''pokkuri''.

I recently ran this concept by the celebrated and cerebral film critic
Roger Ebert -- who knows a thing or two about death and dying, and
living and life! -- and after reading my note he tweeted on Twitter:
"...'Pokkuri' -- the Japanese word for popping off suddenly. There's
even a Pokkuri goddess."

I had casually mentioned in a comment on Mr Ebert's blog that he might
want to know about the Japanese concept of pokkuri, which literally
means to ''pop off'' in one's sleep or in sudden heart attack in bed
or outside while walking around the neighborhood, a painless, quiet
and serene death. He liked the term, apparently, noting on his blog:
"I googled the term and found your own blog on Open Salon: Yeah, no muss, no fuss."

It's true, in Japan, every year, thousands of elderly people visit
Kichidenji Temple in Nara Prefecture where they pray for a pokkuri
death — preferably during sleep or a sudden heart attack — so they are
not a burden on their families during their final days. I lived in
Japan for five years in the 1990s, and while I never made it to this
celebrated temple, I read a news report
about it five years ago.

The Kichidenji Temple was established in 987 by a monk whose mother
had passed away peacefully wearing clothes that he had prayed over. As
time passed, a new Japanese tradition took shape, and now elderly
people visit Kichidenji to pray for a discreet and quick passing.
Although most of the visitors and supplicants are Japanese, foreigners
often visit the temple as well, mostly out of curiosity, and the
blogosphere is lit up here and there with photographs of the temple
and maps on how to get there.

The word caught my attention: ''pokkuri'', to pop off. Maybe pokkuri
is a good concept to borrow from the Japanese, I thought, as I posted
my first blog comment about the concept a few years ago, intoning this
brief prayer: "God, grant me a good life, a useful (and meaningful)
life, and when it's time, let me 'pokkuri' in a dignified, discreet
way. Amen."

Kichidenji Temple, I've since learned, is located in Ikaruga-cho, not
Nara City, although it is in Nara Prefecture in between Osaka and
Tokyo. A friend of mine used to live a couple of minutes away from it.
He told me that a lot of the visitors first visit the more famous
Horyuji Temple (about ten minutes away) and then make their way to

Here's a link:

According to the temple's chief priest, pilgrims making their way to
the temple will chant a holy phrase and beat a wooden block, which
makes popping sounds (thus the term ''to pop off''). I am not making
any of this up. Roger Ebert knows exactly what I am talking about: "No
muss, no fuss."

After his tweet, some of Ebert's followers chimed in with their
reactions to this Japanese loan word.

"Those crazy Japanese! What will they think of next?" one person told Mr Ebert.

A wit, and there is always a wit on the Internet, commented: "I
thought 'pokkuri' was about premature ejaculation, for a moment

"I thought you were getting vulgar," said another person. "The boomers
will get to know it & pray 4 it w the future of health care."

And a philosopher of death countered with this reaction: "When pokkuri
happens in the middle of the night, a spouse or family is/are often
bereft of the chance to say goodbye."

So we're left with this: in Japan there is a temple devoted to popping
off, and the received word in Japanese is "pokkuri." In America, there
are no temples for popping off, and there is
no word for the concept in our common vocabulary.

But is it time now to borrow this word from Japan and make it our own?
Roger Ebert believes it could work here. I, do, too.

God, grant me a good life, a useful (and meaningful) life, and when
it's time, let me 'pokkuri' in a dignified, discreet way.

By the way, as a footnote, while the concept of praying for pokkuri comes out of Japan, I'm told that in Roman Catholic tradition, one can also pray for a happy death in another ancient and inherited tradition. According to legend, St. Joseph died in the arms of what Catholics refer to as the Blessed Mother and Jesus.

"What a way to go!" Alexandria Karako, of  San Antonio, Texas,  told me. "It is not uncommon among my co-religionists to think about death in those terms."


Dan Bloom is a freelance writer. His days are numbered. Are yours?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's official: Dan Bloom has changed his name, legally, to Polar Cities Bloom -- and will be known by that name from now on and for the rest of his life (and his days are numbered, yes)

Polar Cities Bloom is now my legal name on driver's license, passport, library card, social security card and all other documents. Friends still call me Dan Danny or Daniel, of course, but legally I am now Polar Cities Bloom. Ask me why.


With the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the coal fuckups, it's time to stop all use of coal and oil worldwide. Or else. Don't believe me? Come back in 500 years. I plan to.

Roger Ebert the celebrated and cerebral film critic in Chicago tweets on POKKURI: the Japanese term for "popping off" in one's sleep and dying a peaceful, quiet, painless death. RE: ebertchicago: Danny Bloom on "Pokkuri," the Japanese word for popping off suddenly. There's even a Pokkuri goddess in Japan!.

Roger Ebert tweets on POKKURI: the Japanese term for "popping off" in one's sleep and dying a peaceful quiet painless death.

RE: ebertchicago: Danny Bloom on "Pokkuri," the Japanese word for popping off suddenly. There's even a Pokkuri goddess.

This tweet received 15,188 twitter mentions (110 replies and 88 retweets) from 15,188 distinct twitter users. In addition to ebertchicago followers, it has been read by 341,410 second-level followers (retweeters followers).

TMTheFreak 25 May 27, 2010 Reply
@ebertchicago Thanks "pokkuri" link. Interesting read.
9 minutes ago · Danny Bloom

 litdreamer 21 3 days ago Reply
@ebertchicago Those crazy Japanese! What will they think of next?

8 minutes ago · Danny Bloom saffronroses 123 3 days ago Reply
@ebertchicago When pokkuri happens in the middle of the night, a spouse or family is/are often bereft of the chance to say goodbye.

8 minutes ago · Danny Bloom ClaudeSeymour 29 3 days ago Reply
@ebertchicago Jeez, I thought "Pokkuri" was about premature ejaculation, for a moment there.

Lisa1LinenLady 1,674 2
@ebertchicago I thought you were getting vulgar. The boomers will get to know it & pray 4 it w the future of health care

NOTE: I had casually mentioned to Mr Ebert in a blog post that he might want to know about this Japanese term POKKURI, which literally means to POP OFF, in one's sleep or in sudden heart attack, a painless, quiet and serene death..........and Roger liked the term, replied to me, and tweeted it, and these comments came in, among others. Would love to see a larger national discussion on these issues, perhaps with a news story in the New York Times, or a wire story. Any reporterse interested in interviewing Mr Ebert or me or the monks in Japan who run the Pokkuri shrine in Nara, Japan? The AP had a story on the shrine a few years ago, that's how I first heard of it. Lived in Japan for five years 1990s but never heard the term until I saw the AP story. It resonates with me, so I am doing a quiet PR job for POKKURI, in anyone cares.

My pal Dan Bloom on “Pokkuri,” the - Twitter conversation

My pal Dan Bloom on “Pokkuri,” the Japanese word for popping off suddenly. There's even a Pokkuri goddess. - Ebertchicago (Roger Ebert) ...

ebertchicago: My pal Dan Bloom on "Pokkuri," the Japanese word for ...

ebertchicago: My pal Dan Bloom on "Pokkuri," the Japanese word for popping off suddenly. There's even a Pokkuri goddess. ...