Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday, August 19th, Blog Round-up

Friday....I spent most of the week in Kaohsiung writing a paper with a good friend....but got back to get the great stuff this week, as always.....


Ahmad scores with a mention of his blog in a Singpore newspaper, noting:
I don't know if it's part of their in-house training or it's a recruitment pre-requisite. Your typical Sinagporean SPH reporter/journalist is either highly trained in the art of "Quoting Out Of Context 401" or has a serious case of tunnel vision.
I'd pick (a) and (b) on that one, Ahmad.


Jonathon Benda blogs on interesting books about China and Taiwan that have made their way into his library recently.
走出白色恐怖 (Farewell to the White Terror) by 孫康宜 (Sun Kang-i), a Tunghai graduate (FLLD, 1966) who teaches in the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department at Yale. Her father (a mainlander) was arrested during the White Terror period in Taiwan and jailed as a political prisoner for 10 years. The book was recommended to me by a Tunghai Chinese department professor, Hung Mingshui. I've gotten through the first 40 pages so far.
Looks like great stuff....


Karl posts his great article in the Taichung Voice, concluding:

Both in theory, and in custom, Taiwan is way ahead of most of the world when it comes to the spiritual stuff. That's not to say that there aren't some odd religious practices here, but nobody really minds if you happen to believe something else. So the Taiwanese have invalidated my definitions of 'theology' and 'metaphysics'- theology does not have to inspire argument, and metaphysics can make sense even without a beer or two to help out. I suppose it's probably better that way.

Taiwan is a great place to live for us irreligious types. Not only do the Taiwanese keep religion private, they also do not permit it to have any great influence over public policy. A welcome relief from the increasingly insane United States.


Mutant Frog Travelogue points out a very interesting article translated by ESWN, which discusses the rising success of Apple Daily. Oddly, MFT feels it is important to point out that the Liberty Times group is pan-green, pro-independence and pro-democracy. [MF explains in comments that actually he had wanted to say that the other papers in Taiwan are more political, and more serious.] ESWN's translated article says:

[deleted a bunch of clearly incorrect stuff!]

The newspaper industry in Taiwan had been almost always closely linked to politics, whether it was of the 'green' or 'blue' variety Running a newspaper meant that it was impossible not to get deeply involved in politics. Over the long term, the readers became thoroughly disgusted by any kind of political discourse. Yet the newspaper executives were incapable of changing the political baggage. This provided the space for Apple Daily to move into.

Apple Daily too has politics, of a particularly vacuous, vicious kind. The article does make on interesting point:

Overall, the vacuity and nihilism of Taiwan society towards political and economic discourse and the general lack of serious and logical discourse is not the responsibility of Apple Daily, but the consequence of the longstanding tradition of Taiwan media. The traditional newspapers had been protected by the Nationalist party-government system while the journalists had been accustomed to working under that system. These excessively protected media elite had no response to the new competition. Lacking self-confidence, they flowed along with the 'latest' tabloid journalism, because they don't know how to re-think the media business from other angles. In Japan and the western world, quality newspapers and tabloids co-exist, not only because the markets are large enough for both but also because the traditional journalists know how to compete commercially by offering the readers more diverse choices.

I think it is incorrect to blame the media for the lack of serious political discourse on the island. The educational system that promotes memorization over analysis, and the authoritarian politics that do not permit alternative views, rooted in the authoritarianism of Chinese society, are truer places to look for explanations for the clumsiness of political discourse here. The type of "thinking" done here is exemplified by this very article, with its blame-the-media approach and its absurd claim, unsupported, that Taiwan is "moving toward a monolithic vacuity." Unsupported prejudicial claims are a staple of "analytical" articles here. The vacuousness here alas, is in the analyst himself....[UPDATE: Mutantfrog explains his comments below....and thinks I am too paranoid. Probably right, too, so I deleted everything I wrote.]


David on Formosa remarks on the new comic book history of Taiwan.

So much history is distorted and biased and often used to promote political agendas. It would be very easy to fall into that trap when writing about Taiwan's history. However, these books try to tell every side of the story. Winterton writes, "this refusal to come down heavily on one side or another [concerning the effects of Japanese colonisation] is an educational lesson in itself. Education in Asia has too often been a case of learning by rote, but that is the last thing offered here. Look at the evidence and make up your own minds. This is the moral of these highly colorful volumes." He further notes, "If there are any special sympathies expressed, they are probably for the aboriginal communities."

I bought a copy for my children and found it to be as David says....


ESWN blogs on the closing of the Chen shooting inquiry.

China Times (via Yahoo! News) has a larger poll of 798 adults with breakdowns. Do the respondents accept the explaination? 4% totally accept, 15% somewhat accept, 23% are dubious, 17% totally refuse to accept and 41% had no opinion. By party affiliation, more than 90% of pan-blue supporters think the case is unsolved, whereas 69% of pan-green supporters believe in the official explanation; among the independents, 32% believe in the explanation, but 68% have doubts. The only certainty here is that party partisanship trumps objective analysis, and this is not the only time.

Frankly, you'd have to be an idiot to believe that Chen arranged to have himself shot on the day before the election. ESWN is half-right: for the KMT, party partisanship trumps objective analysis. Objective analysis says, dispassionately, that no evidence supports any KMT claims. Maddog has an extensive analysis of how stooooopid the conspiracy theory is, so I won't repeat it here. [link updated 8/20]


Kerim posts over at his other blog, Savage Minds, another fantastic post, this one on aborigines and baseball in Taiwan:

Aborigine identity became even more important to Taiwan after the end of martial law in 1987. Pro-independence politicians emphasized Taiwan's unique history under Japanese rule as a way of distinguishing Taiwanese identity from that of China. For the previous forty years the KMT had taught Taiwanese that they were part of China, all but ignoring local history in the school curriculum. Aborigine baseball thus became even more important to Taiwan's national identity. This was capitalized upon by the Taiwan Major League (TML, 台灣大聯盟) baseball company, which was created to recapture an audience put off by scandals and foreign players. The TML drew from Aborigine languages in naming its teams, as well as in its official anthem, "supposedly based on rhythms and patterns of several types of Aboriginal tribal songs, consists of lyrics (see below) in Mandarin, Taiwanese, English, Japanese and Aboriginal languages":

Good stuff here, very informative and insightful.


IslaFormosa is a blog new to my list, with plenty of promising stuff. And any blog that puts up pix of babes like her on the left there, which I lifted from his blog, should be encouraged! More babes! Isla nailed that cute young thing while observing a CosPlay:

Summer is here and so is COSPLAY! Every summer if you head out to parks in the Taipei area you'll come across the regular sights of families going for walks amongst the flower gardens and shady trees as well as couples getting their wedding pictures done at places such as the Taipei Water Park, YangMing Mountain, ShiLin GuanDi or CKS and SYS Memorial. But if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the growing number of cosplayers sprouting in Taiwan.
Taiwan...always a social trend emerging somewhere....

Don't miss Big Ell's list of things to bitch about in August in Taiwan.....

Like many foreigners in Taiwan I love to bitch and moan about how terrible my life is in Taiwan. I bitch and moan about pretty much everything. The language, culture, people, food, you name it, I bitch about it. So in keeping with my perpetual state of whine I have listed ten reasons I hate the month of August in Taiwan:



Wandering to Tanshui blogs on Annette Lu's appearance in the US establishment journal Foreign Policy:

I'm pissed at the pan-blues for their obstructionism and double dealing as anyone, but all this airing of Taiwan's domestic dirty laundry to the foreign media only makes Taiwan in general (and the DPP in particular) look straight-up bush league to the international audience that has to read it.

She was playing to the domestic audience, of course. Her remarks were duly reported in the local press. If only she had chosen to think globally for once...


One reason I like POTS is that its commentary manages to be hip and informed at the same time. Here's the most recent one, on a Hakka band.

ETHNIC FOLK music is probably as popular now in Taiwan as it has ever been, though as it getting more and more pop it's inevitably taking on new dimensions. Two years ago, one of the island's true groundbreakers in ethno-folk, The Labor Exchange Band (交工樂隊), split up only a year after winning a Golden Melody Award for Best Band. After five years of reinventing a Hakka music born of rigorous devotion to local community issues and introducing the notion that tradition can also include fusion, the social urgency binding the band was fading, and its members decided to amicably part ways.

Posts at POTs are always enlightening and well-written.


Taiwananonymous blogs all sorts of interesting stuff, including restaurant, book, and movie reviews. Here's a recent book review:

The protagonist of Qiwang, Cheng Ling (程凌) is an artist who has created his own advertising firm. He enjoys painting, but like his friends, he is caught up in the pursuit of money. The paradox that Cheng Ling constantly ponders is that money is freedom, but one has to give up so much in order to achieve that freedom that he must constantly evaluate whether he is losing more than he gains.


MeiZhongTai blogs on the recent flap over Taiwan's new cruise missiles.

Part of the misunderstanding appears to be whether the Hsiung Feng-IIE is a LACM or a anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM). In 2001, CSIST said the HF-IIE was not a cruise missile, but rather an anti-ship missile (ASM). As late as July of this year, newspapers were still reporting that the HF-IIE was a LACM, including the Taipei Times, which claimed that the HF-IIEs could hit Shanghai if they were deployed on the ROC's outlying islands. eTaiwan News, in its article on the ministry's denial, stated matter-of-factly:

SHORTS: A better tomorrow has the usual collection of great photos. Cameraeye is off to China and is no longer in Taiwan. Survived Sars has a link to a perceptive article on China's problems. I'll bet all of you missed the Tatoo Convention in Taipei last week, noted on Needled.

And don't miss Today in Iraq, a great blog logging all the news from Iraq.


Mutantfrog said...

Michael, I thought it was important to mention that the Liberty Times is a heavily political newspaper so that readers of the article on ESWN realized that newspaper consumers in Taiwan are turning away from a real newspaper to a tabloid. The fact that it's pro-green isn't really the important part, but I didn't make that very clear in my original comments.

I don't see why you think that the Apply is really a propaganda vehicle though-isn't the parent publication in Hong Kong profitable? New busineses often bleed red ink for years before going into the black. I figure they're just trying to use the same formula that worked in HK to make a buck in Taiwan.

Michael Turton said...

Look at the size of the stack of Apple Dailies there. This is not an ordinary newspaper start-up. No other newspaper even comes near to 1/4 its volume printed. Apple is does not seem to be in this market to make money, and hasn't since its inception. So what is it here for?

I realize that the parent corp in HKK does not get along with the PRC gov't, but disliking the PRC government is not incompatible with a stance that is essentially anti-Taiwan. Probably I am just being too paranoid (whatever their politics, its true I dislike them intensely). But that stack of papers sure is big...what do you know about their position on Taiwan issues?


mf said...

Apple Daily is going to raise the price from 10NT$ to 15NT$ next month.

Mutantfrog said...

Unfortunately, I don't read Chinese nearly well enough to tackle a newspaper-even a tabloid like the Apple Daily which is probably written to a much lower reading level than the serious dailies.

I may be able to read Japanese newspapers, I've only been in Taiwan for 3 months and it's going to be a while before I can read anything difficult.

But as for the stacks of newspapers, I think you're missing an essential difference between the traditional business models of tabloids and serious newspapers. 'Good' newspapers tend to rely on a base of subscriptions as their primary readers, whereas tabloids such as the Apple rely primarily on impulse purchases by a customer who mainly intended to buy somethine else. The best example of this that I know of is the supermarket tabloid in the US, which like the Apple uses sleaze and gaudy covers to catch your eye while you are on line to pay for your actual purchase.

I suspect that the reason the Apply Daily has so many more newspapers stacked in the convenience stores is because those are their primary method of distribution, as opposed to the established papers such as the Liberty Times, which sell far more of their copies as subscriptions.

Friendly Fire said...

Thanks for the link.

Great blog; I read it.

OneTopJob6 said...

Rikku = HAWT. Taiwanese Rikku = TEH FAP.