TSA is a Waste of Time and Money


I recall seeing that expos√© a year or so ago showing that undercover agents working for the Department of Homeland Security were able to smuggle weapons and bomb-making materials through TSA checkpoints with a success rate of 95%. This article (link) makes a great point that TSA is mostly just something to make us all feel better about a very rare occurrence. This is in addition to the fact that a large portion of the TSA agents I encounter tend to be loud-mouthed and condescending pricks. Yes, I know not all of them are like that, but I have never taken a trip that involved traveling through a U.S. airport where I didn’t encounter one.


POLITICS: Congress is the Political Center of Gravity


This is as it should be.¬†The Framers of the Republic never intended for the sort of imperial presidency we’ve experienced beginning in the latter half of the 20th Century. It was always intended that Congress would be the political center of gravity. Liberals would do well to understand this. So long as conservative, corporately-backed forces are the dominant force in legislatures across the country, the reforms we seek will remain elusive.

FROM FACEBOOK: Filing My Taxes

Today, I went to file my taxes. Not my U.S. federal taxes, mind you, because I’ve never done that before. I’m actually still trying to fill out the various IRS forms I’m required to file so I can submit them for the past three years. You see, it was only in the past year that learned I still have to file U.S. taxes despite my living and working abroad. As a matter of fact, the United States is one of only two countries in the world that taxes its expatriate citizens; the other is the tiny dictatorship of Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. Strange bedfellows.

But never mind all that because it’s beside the point. The taxes I filed today were for my home of the past year, Taiwan, known officially as the Republic of China. To do so, I simply walked around the corner from my apartment to my district tax office. I walked in, was handed a number from an attendant, and took a seat. A few minutes later, my number flashed across a screen directing me to counter 9. The tax bureau representative couldn’t speak English, but there was no need for her to. All she needed was the ID number from my alien registration card (ARC), which enabled her to pull up my tax documents from a digital database on her computer, print them out, and then direct me to a computer station to file them.

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TYPE B in TAIPEI, PART VI: Unintentional Phallic Artwork, and Other Hazards of Teaching

2015-10-12 16.01.23The word was necklace. It was a word I had introduced to my junior high students the previous week as we used a dialogue about a woman’s lost wedding ring to practice our speaking and pronunciation skills. The boy reached into the bucket of Pictionary words I’d created specially for this review game and pulled out the piece of jewelry one wears about the neck. I asked him if he remembered the word and he assured me he did. His teammates watched anxiously as I started the 1-minute countdown in which he’d have to draw a picture that they could then interpret correctly to give me the word. I yelled, “Ready, set, GO!” and watched his teammates for a raised hand. Then, after a few seconds, the entire class erupted in laughter. I turned to see what was so funny and discovered the boy, in a hurried attempt to draw a necklace with a small pendant had instead drawn what more closely resembled a penis with urethral opening. My wide eyes must have told him he needed to try again, which he did. Seconds later, more laughter–this time, he’d done a rather fine rendition of a vagina. Thankfully, his teammates were able to guess the word, and he was able to sit down without suffering any more embarrassment. In short, welcome to my life, friends. Continue reading