Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday, August 12, Blog Roundup

It's Friday in August, and everyone seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. With the week bracketed by typhoons at both ends, that was probably a good idea....


Poagao offers us a report on typhoon Matsa, which dumped lots of politically touchy rain over the northern part of the island.

The last one, "Matsa", didn't actually come ashore, but its effects got us a typhoon day on Friday. In fact the strong wind was already full of gusting, horizontal rain by the time I got back home on Thursday night. To my dismay, the entire block was dark. I live on the 12th floor, and the thought of all those stairs hauling my shopping wasn't a pleasant one. I wondered briefly if I should just go to the Sandcastle, which apparently still had power, and wait it out. Perhaps, if I was particularly lucky, Jojo would have baked a pie.
Even the ones that don't come ashore still manage to do nasty things.


Karl, always ready to make the hard sacrifices in search of a story, took a moment from blogging on foreign policy to whisk us the news of this key Friday night event:

If you are in Taichung tonight, do not miss the Mustache Party at 89K. There is no cover charge, there will be bands, and there will be, I assume, a lot of mustaches. I do hope that Chiang Kai-Shek's mustache is featured prominently somewhere, preferably alongside materials with which to deface it.


Over at Mutant Frog Travelogue there's another blow in the never-ending struggle for truth, justice, and a standard Romanization for Chinese across the island.

Like Guting, 淡水 is now rendered in the correct Hanyu pinyin of 'Danshui.' It may not match 17th century Dutch maps, but it sounds closer to the Chinese pronounciation, and it's consistent with, for a start, the way people write Chinese words in the Roman alphabet in the other 99% of the planet that isn't Taiwan.
High time the nation gave up its Wade-Giles pretensions and moved over to the saner alternative. Every foreigner I know complains about this problem, which only worsens as one heads south. In some places a single place-name may have four different romanizations in a short stretch of road. Another reason to learn Chinese too, so you can ignore the bad English.

Also on romanization were the thoughts of Taipei, Taipei, an insightful new blog I just discovered. Looks very promising. He says that:

Basically, Taiwanese do not care about how Chinese characters are transformed into a latin alphabet, a process called romanization. How else can this mess be explained? Being helpfull and courtous to overseas visitors as always, they try, but basically it is a very low priority problem. And why bother? If you have even junior high school Chinese you can get around fine.

Not only do they not care, I have never met a Chinese who even knew the romanization systems. They simply don't use them for any purpose, except for their names on passports.


Kerim at Keywords comments on China's protest "problems.'"

What is interesting about this story from the Washington Post isn’t the sheer number of Chinese engaged in (often violent) protests against the state, but that the government is openly discussing the issue:
I've seen estimates of 100,000 protests annually over the last few years. It is clear that the people of China, especially the rural populations who draw a living from the land that they do not own, are deeply unsatisfied with life in a totalitarian state. It reminds me of Chomsky's comforting observation that humans simply will not be ruled, and will always struggle against authoritarianism. On the other hand, one notes the support President Bush gets in the US....


David at jujuflop blogs on the recent panda-monium:

It is still unclear whether the pandas will ever make it into Taiwan - back in May the official linewas that they would only be accepted if all the permits from the 'Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species' were in place (a problem, as the donors don't believe it is an international trade). Now the Mainland Affairs Council seems to have softened its stance a bit, saying that 'major international conservation groups would have to have a say on whether Taiwan is able to take care of the animals'. So maybe the penguins and koalas will be getting worried about losing their top billing at Taipei Zoo...

The panda opponents claim that the cost of caring for them will be enormous and not worth it. Wolf Reinhold pointed David to this pan 'da Lien Chan:

I was looking forward to David's comments on the most recent example of the way the KMT left Ma flapping in the wind, but David hasn't remarked on it yet. During recent KMT internal meetings, a motion was put on the table to extend current party committee memberships two years. Ma naturally opposed it, since it would mean that the party would not be run by his people during the next two years. Naturally the motion passed. With Ma as Chair, he is the Party candidate for President in 2008 unless something unusual happens. The election is not in November but in March, which means that during the crucial run-up to the election at the end of 2007, the party will not be run by Ma's people, but by allies of Ma's opponent, Wang. The KMT is so intent on screwing Ma that they may throw away their best chance to take back the Presidency....


Erick Heroux blogs the unlikely tale of a matriarchy in China:

The traditional Mosuo religion worships nature, with Lugu Lake regarded as the Mother Goddess and the mountain overlooking it venerated as the Goddess of Love. The Mosuo also practice Lamaism, a Tibetan variation of Buddhism. Most Mosuo homes dedicate a room specifically for Buddhist worship and for sheltering traveling lamas, or monks.

The Mosuo language is rendered not in writing, but in Dongba, the only pictographic language used in the world today.

The Mosuo language has no words for murder, war or rape.

This just sounds too good to be true. One hears of such tribes in isolated places, but one can't quite believe it, after all the romanticization of the Bushmen, and the Tasaday debacle.....


Wandering to Tamshui had a couple of don't-miss posts this week. One was an analysis of the ongoing arms budget issue, which, according to the Taipei Times, the KMT and PFP have voted down 26 times since it was first proposed. You know when they grab the Presidency that package will pass faster than you can say "All that graft!" The second was a tour through his collection of Taiwan-themed hats.

You'll notice the vast majority of my collection are of a greenish hue, but this doesn't reflect so much on my status as a rabid Green supporter (so what if I am?) as much as the fact that the pan-blues have absolutely nothing to offer in the political swag department (outside of Drew's plastic James Soong piggy bank, but that never counted because the money inside it kept disappearing). Were I to come across the WWI German field marshall's helmet (complete with spike) that Lee Teng-hui used while campaigning for Taichung's KMT legislators back in '98, then we'd be talking. But I haven't, so I won't.



POTS has a high quality piece blogging a recent independent journalism conference in Taipei:

Stumbling home from a late night drinking binge with a group of indy media activists the following Saturday night, it felt like we had at least made a step toward getting Taiwan's alternative news sources more connected to the outside world. As long as we can overcome the communications barriers, establish better communication with our foreign colleagues and get beyond those nasty cultural imperialist stereotypes while avoiding the Straits issue like an infected SARS patient, the budding Taiwan alternative media circle will be leagues ahead of our corporate, one-party mouthpieces in the local corporate media. And if you disagree, TWBlog is always open.
Any step that gets Taiwan more connected to the outside is a welcome one....


Taiwananonymous, which got rolling last month, discusses one of the most important Taiwanese in the world. No, not Annette Lu, but Morris Chang. You don't know him? Well -- you should!

Bill Gates and Donald Trump. These are two of the names that most people think of as the richest and most successful. But go ahead, think of a rich and powerful man from a non-English-speaking country. The Sultan of Brunei you say? That doesn't count. You've got to come up with his name. Chances are you did not say Morris Chang (張忠謀), founder of Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC). But he is a household name in Taiwan, admired for inventing the foundry business and acting as CEO of the largest semiconductor company in Taiwan until this year, when he stepped down as CEO.


MZT has a pointer to a key speech by Richard Fisher. If you're interested in China's economy, it's a don't-miss.


CameraEye narrates a journey around southern Taiwan.

I couldn't help but feel a little too touristy on our trip to the Southern Cross Island Highway, Taitung, Lanyu, the East Coast Highway, Tailuge, and the Central Cross Island Highway- most of the major tourist destinations in Taiwan.

SHORTS: Maddog, David on Formosa, Maoman, B@Taiwan, and BetelnutBlogger have vanished into the ether for a month. You guys don't actually have lives, do you? Don't miss Getting a Leg Up, devoted to podcasting, with plenty of news and music. Karl at Chewin' on the Chung pointed me to this fascinating blog by a local expat that combines commentary on Taiwan with some learned remarks on theology. a better tomorrow with its great pics is thinking about moving everything over to Flikr. Don't miss the gorgeous flow of images at Mengshin journal. And get out of the rain this weekend!

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