Boy Scouts of America sends disappointingly terse reply to my letter

Boy Scouts of America sends disappointingly terse reply to my letter
In my mailbox today was this disappointingly generic reply to my letter protesting Donald Trump’s politicization of the Boy Scout National Jamboree. The Boy Scouts of America is wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one political position, candidate or philosophy. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition dating back to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937. Since then, an invitation to speak has been extended to every U.S. President that has had a Scout Jamboree occur during his term. This 80-year-old custom of inviting Presidents to speak to Scouts is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. Rather, the speaking invitation is based on our “Duty to Country” from the Scout Oath and out of respect for the Office of the President of the United States. As one of America’s largest youth-serving organizations, the Boy Scouts of America reflects a number of cultures and beliefs. We will continue to be respectful of the wide variety of viewpoints in this country. ———————————————————————————— Note: This E-mail is sent with reference to Incident #1935491 Kindly mention Reference Number ‘ref#24-1935491’ for further E-mail communication in this regard. The letter was not ...

TFW you see yourself quoted anonymously in a news article 1

TFW you see yourself quoted anonymously in a news article
This morning, while reviewing news from the cryptocurrency world, one article especially caught my eye, so I read it all the way through. And found myself reading my own words. No, it wasn’t plagiarism, but the writer used a comment I had left days ago at a Steemit.com post verbatim, without using my name or Steemit handle. My feelings were a mixture of pride, surprise — and annoyance. Back in my days as a newspaper reporter, we were expected to contact people whom we would quote in a news article. Since the writer made no attempt to contact me, seeing my words in her article ruffled my feathers a bit. Otherwise, I was quoted accurately and appropriately, so my feathers are now back to normal. The subject of the article at Bitcoin.com was American investment in ICOs (initial coin offerings), which have recently become a very common method for cryptocurrency projects to raise money quickly. If you’re familiar with IPOs (initial public offerings) in corporate finance, the idea is the same: to get a boatload of money to help expand a business. As many ICOs are based abroad, Americans are sometimes blocked from investing in them, because of US taxation ...

My first month on Steemit.com: my account is worth more than $260!

My first month on Steemit.com: my account is worth more than $260!
JISHOU, HUNAN — Last month, I wrote that I had signed up for an account on Steemit.com, a new blogging/discussion platform that rewards writers and commenters with tokens called Steem Power and Steem Dollars (SBD). These in turn can be exchanged for regular money (US dollars, for example) or for other kinds of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. Well, after a month, my Steemit wallet is now worth about $263. Not super impressive, but still more than I have earned from this blog during its decade-long existence. I really need to talk to HR about my pay. Steemit users earn whenever readers upvote (aka “like”) their content. Some prolific authors, such as Chinese travel writer sweetsssj, earn hundreds of dollars for each post. My biggest reward so far has been much more modest: just shy of $35. But Steemit users also are paid “curation rewards” — for reposting others’ content. The amount of the reward depends on the original post’s value and on the reposter’s Steem Power. Essentially, Steem Power is a measure of a user’s influence on the platform. More Steem Power means more curation rewards. So, you can earn money by posting, commenting and reposting (re-steeming). Here’s my tally ...

Big news: some bad, some good 1

Big news: some bad, some good
JISHOU, HUNAN — I’ve been quiet here for the last two weeks, because I have been very, very busy, and not just for the usual end-of-the-term onslaught of activities. I learned on June 2 that I had “aged out” of my job here in Hunan, and would need to leave China no later than June 30. That’s the bad news — a forced separation from this place and the people I’ve grown to love. While I can still visit, I can no longer teach in Jishou on a work visa, because in April Hunan province enacted a new rule — 60 is the maximum age for a work visa. I’m now 61. Now for the good news. Within a few days of posting my resume on Dave’s ESL Café I was offered a job at the Henan University of Technology in Zhengzhou. There, the maximum age is 64 (I asked several times to be sure), so conceivably I can work there another three years if I like — or as long as the province or the city doesn’t abruptly change the rules to screw over the foreigners again. In fact, several English language schools in China sent me offers, but ...

Got my first Steemit.com payments today!

Got my first Steemit.com payments today!
JISHOU, HUNAN — Last week, I announced I had signed up with the new social media platform, Steemit. Today, seven days later, I got my first payments for the posts I made: about $30. This is really quite remarkable, because after several years of maintaining this blog, I have barely made $50 from Google AdSense and affiliate marketing. I have deliberately avoiding loading the blog with ads, because I find ad-heavy websites really annoying, especially as some advertisers use some very aggressive tricks to hijack readers’ attention away from your content. Steemit has given “liking” a post — “upvoting” in Steemit terms — a monetary reward. The minimum reward is 1 cent, but upvotes from longtime users of the platform have more weight, and pay higher rewards. Rewards are paid out every seven days. Here are my very first payments. The Steemit economy is a bit arcane. There are two kinds of rewards: Steem Power and Steem Dollars. The first gives your upvotes and reposts (resteems) weight; more Steem Power translates into more influence and into payment for curating others’ posts. The second is a kind of cryptocurrency, which can be saved in your wallet or traded for other currencies ...

I am now on Steemit!

I am now on Steemit!
JISHOU, HUNAN — In my ever continuing pursuit to leave no blogstone unturned on the Intertubes, I have just signed up with Steemit.com, the hot new blogging platform. Steemit is unique in that it rides on top of a blockchain and allows bloggers to earn money (Steem Power and Steem Dollars) based on that blockchain. Steem tokens can be exchanged for US dollars, Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, or left to accumulate on Steemit to earn interest or to loan out. A blockchain is a distributed ledger — pioneered by Bitcoin — upon which developers can build a variety of online services. As I am still learning the ropes there, I’m going to let this video below do the explaining of how it all works. My username at Steemit.com is @wheatdogg (naturally). For now, I will probably cross-post my WordPress blogs there, but some content I write for each venue will be specific to that venue. In other words, you’ll have to follow me at both places. The video:

Loose change found in a sticky note on a wall

Loose change found in a sticky note on a wall
JISHOU, HUNAN — Last month I reported I had found “loose change” in a hard drive backup, but regretted losing the password to free some of it from captivity. I found the password today, and in the nick of time, too. What I had found in a backup were the wallet files for two cryptocurrencies I had bought in 2014, then eventually forgot about. One of the files held about $2.50 of Namecoin, while the other (at the time) held about $8 of PeerCoin. Trouble was, the PeerCoin wallet was encrypted with a passphrase I had long since forgotten. After wracking my brain for a few days and trying different possible passphrases, I gave up on the project, assuming those $8 would be forever out of my reach. Then today I learned PeerCoin’s value had shot up from 80 cents to $2, making my tiny holding worth $20. Once again, I attempted to guess the long lost passphrase, to no avail. Just before I had classes this afternoon, I went over to my desk to fetch something and noticed one of the sticky notes on the wall behind my computer screen had curled up enough to hide the note written ...

Epilogue to my Bitcoin dilemma: I got my money back

Epilogue to my Bitcoin dilemma: I got my money back
JISHOU, HUNAN — So, after three telephone calls and four chat sessions on Huobi’s customer service chat window, I finally got my 500 yuan ($73) deposit back two weeks after I sent it. All is well now. I won’t bother you with all the details, but bank-to-bank transfers in China are persnickety affairs. The sender has to specify the exact bank branch at which the recipient opened his or her account. And my branch at the university is a sub-branch of another branch, so the system was not allowing the transfer to go through. Or something. Anyway, I got my money back. I am still unable to bind my bank card at Huobi without a national ID number, so obtaining Bitcoin using Huobi or BTCChina, despite my previous relationships with them, is impossible for the foreseeable future. In education news, I am spending this weekend recreating my lesson plans and syllabi for courses I taught in 2014-15 to submit to the college. Why, you ask? Well, the college needs to get accreditation (if that’s what it’s called here) from the provincial education bureau. To get it, each instructor has to provide detailed lesson plans and syllabi for courses taught in ...

Update to the update to the Bitcoin saga

Update to the update to the Bitcoin saga
JISHOU, HUNAN — So, I got a reply from BTCChina today to my inquiry about continued use of their services. You can guess what it was. But here it is from the horse’s mouth. Good day! Our sincere apologies for this matter. BTCChina will no longer allow foreigners to use our services. You cannot use BTCChina from now on. Should you have further concerns, please do not hesitate to let us know anytime. Thank you very much and have a nice day! Best Regards, Customer Service 1011 This reply has two explanations. Given that both Huobi and BTCChina had no problem before with my using their exchanges with a foreign passport as ID, this new policy confirms that the government is trying to restrict the flow of Chinese yuan out of the country, other than by official channels, and that government regulators want the Chinese Bitcoin exchanges to only deal with Chinese citizens, who would be easier to control legally (or extra-legally) than foreign residents. While I have not heard back from Huobi about my bank card + passport issue, I can now assume that they will tell me the same thing as BTCChina — that Huobi can no longer ...

Living your dream sometimes has unforeseen consequences

Living your dream sometimes has unforeseen consequences
JISHOU, HUNAN — Here’s a bittersweet anecdote from the world of teaching. Last week, I was looking for a TED talk about careers to show my students and found one by a dynamic guy named Scott Dinsmore, who founded an organization called Live Your Legend. Since TED speakers talk a mile a minute, courtesy of the 18-minute time limit, I included the English subtitles to help with their comprehension. The freshmen liked it, so this morning I shared it with the sophomores. During the break, I decided to visit Dinsmore’s website to check it out. Since China blocks YouTube and Vimeo, we couldn’t see the video on the main page in class. When I watched it after coming back to my flat, I got an unpleasant surprise. Scott Dinsmore was killed in a rockslide on Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2015. Everyone else in the climbing party, including his wife, survived. He was 33. Now, if TED had bothered to note Dinsmore had died, I might have chosen a different video. As it is, I should tell my students that living your dream sometimes has unfortunate consequences, but that they should never hesitate to take risks. His message, which is ...

Some thoughts on Hiroshima, the city of peace

Some thoughts on Hiroshima, the city of peace
HONG KONG — Even before Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) won the election, I had planned to visit Hiroshima during my Japan tour. Now that he’s president, visiting this city is especially poignant. During the campaign, both Trump and his rival for the nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), spoke casually of using nuclear weapons on ISIS and our other enemies, as if dropping them would solve all our problems. [See notes below for details.] Their comments made me cringe, as neither man seems to comprehend the horrors of nuclear weapons. If they did, they would never suggest using them in such an off-the-cuff manner. I wanted to visit Hiroshima to see how the city has rebounded from its utter destruction in 1945. Now, you would hardly know the city was once a pile of rubble. Ground zero is now occupied by a peace park, which is surrounded by high rise buildings. Hiroshima is a vibrant testimony to the strength of the human spirit. Rather than be depressed by my brief visit, I was uplifted. Hiroshima has moved on, choosing to stand for peace and reconciliation, not hate and retribution, despite the horrors the A-bomb brought on.. Everyone should read John Hersey’s Hiroshima. ...

A teacher grades Donald Trump’s remarks about Black History Month, gives speech an F 1

A teacher grades Donald Trump's remarks about Black History Month, gives speech an F
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN — Donald Trump (R-Blowhard) made some remarks Wednesday about Black History Month and (the bust of) Martin Luther King Jr. that have left many puzzled. For one thing, Trump appeared to believe Frederick Douglass (at left) was still alive, though he died 122 years ago. Less puzzling was the extent to which Trump took the opportunity to talk about himself and his campaign. In a speech of less than 800 words, he managed to address the topic of Black History Month and notable African-Americans less than half the time. To demonstrate what I mean, I’ve highlighted in red anything pertinent to the subject of Black History Month and struck out anything relating to Trump and his campaign and election. If this had been a homework assignment for a class of mine, I would have failed it, and required the student to rewrite it. It barely addresses the topic at hand, and the general tone is so casual and flip that it would lead one to believe the speaker not only knows very little about black history but that he doesn’t even care to. In my professional judgment, Trump barely spent five minutes preparing this talk. “Just a few ...
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