Friday, November 25, 2005

Friday, November 25, Taiwan Blog Round Up


Friday and time to round up the burgeoning Taiwan blogosphere. Lots of blogging on Taiwan this week, too much to keep up with. But let's try anyway...

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ELECTION: The local elections are next month, Dec 3, and many of us have been following them with great interest. David at jujuflop flayed the candidates and media with a few acid observations on their compulsive idiocy:

What does a Taiwanese politician do when he finds out about weblogs - and that people are using them to make fun of him? He blames his opponent and then sues him:

David notes that the Chinese think the election atmosphere is crazy. He also blogs on election mania in Taiwan:

December is election month in Taiwan. You'd have thought that after presidential elections (March last year), legislative elections (December last year), and National Assembly elections (May this year), we were due a bit of a break. Not so - Taiwan works on the principle that a democracy needs elections, and lots of them!

This time around, it's local elections. These always used to be the preserve of corruption and vote-buying - with the candidate who could provide the most 'incentives' for his constituency a surefire winner. Nowadays, things have improved no end, to the point where the election is all about ... allegations of corruption and vote buying. The candidate who can make the most mud stick to his opponent wins.

Negative campaigning is the inevitable result of the fact that so few of the candidates appear to have positive legislative and administrative programs, and that half of the candidates, the pan-Blues, are anti-system and thus negativity is a positive policy for them.

Wandering to Tamshui posted a great overview of the local races as the Empire Strikes Back:

After observing yesterday that the Blues had thus far taken a surprisingly mild tack in the run-up to the Dec. 3rd elections, I open the paper (well, the laptop, actually, but same diff) to find that the House that Peanut Built has come out of its corner, and this time with some teeth. So much for that soft-sell strategy.

Once again, don't miss that detailed look at the local races. The Blues are going to win big....

On this topic, I blogged a few pics of our visit today to Chiu Tai-san's election HQ, and have updated my election ads page this week as well.

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Newley Purnell, a former teacher here who blogs on Taiwan quite a bit, has a piece in Student Traveler about the hazards of getting a scooter license in Taiwan.

But for several weeks, rumors had swirled that the police were beginning to crack down, imposing exorbitant fines and finding license-less expats financially liable in accidents even when they weren't at fault. So, I'd decided, it was time to go legit. Thus, I found myself at the Taiwanese traffic bureau that day facing the written exam.

It seems like only yesterday I was failing my own driving test. "Whaddaya mean I can't stop on the S-curve?" Chester also blogs on his new license.

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Scott Sommers had a bevy of beauties this week. Among them was this one on construction workers and university students:

Let me expand on this issue of how much workers in construction can make. One of the managers that I quoted in the original post was at one time the vice-president of a leading local construction firm. I spoke with him the other day about the wages of construction tradesmen. According to him, a tower crane operator in Taiwan can make almost as much money as a Canadian tower crane operator. That's right. In Taiwan, the operator of this kind of machine can make between 80 and 100,000 a month, which translates into about cd$42,000 a year. In Canada, a similar worker would make about cd$50,000 a year. He cited comparable figures for trades such as bricklayers, electricians, and plumbers.

But in a sense, why shouldn't constructions tradesmen make more money that graduates of low-ranked university programs? Tradesmen actually know something. It's doubtful that many of the graduates of the programs in question actually have knowledge of anything that an employer would want to pay for. The quality of education in most of the newly opened schools is so poor that their diplomas mean nothing. As a result, they can not get hired in the jobs I mentioned earlier.


Yeah, I was lucky that many of my grads found employment this year. Another thoughtful post discussed DPP native language policy:

But it does not, and I suspect this is at the root of its failure. The DPP, like the USA in Iraq, were calculating on huge grassroot support for their cultural policies. They presumed that 'the masses' would rise up at the first chance to be Taiwanese at school. They were not prepared for what would happen if this failed. And it was certain to fail because no one appears to have given even the slightest thought to why anyone would want to learn to Taiwanese.

I think these are both wrong -- the Bush Administration really didn't care whether the masses in Iraq rose up or not, and the DPP was not counting on the masses rising up either. The DPP's models for state-building consist of the colonial Qing Dynasty, the colonial Japanese, and the colonial KMT. The latter two emphasized language policy as part of their nation-building programs, so it is natural that the DPP should turn to that solution. The other strain of thought is 20th century thinking on what constitutes a state: geography + volk. The DPP has the geography, but it must build the volk. Or so it imagines. Beyond that, there are about 3,000 years of Chinese states with centralized language policies that serve as models as well. The DPP simply has no cultural or historical template for the multicultural, democratic state it must build. Its imagination is hampered by the limitations of its conceptual toolkit, and thus it has churned out this particularly stupid and short-sighted policy, which I have opposed since its inception.

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Doubting to Shuo has begun a new series of Chinese Textbook reviews. This kind of thing is very useful:

However, there are a few drawbacks. Even though the book was written in 1994, sometimes it seems like it was written in 1954. The accents of the speakers on the accompanying CDs and VCDs are decidedly mainland. Also, there are a few grammar constructions taught in the book that many Taiwanese people don't understand, such as the double construction. Even worse, is the use of and as passive markers. For example, "我讓你給弄糊塗了." Most Taiwanese people under the age of about 50 will say that construction is flat out wrong. In truth, it is standard Mandarin, but it's Mandarin that simply isn't used here anymore. While this book isn't quite ideal, it will get the job done, and many, many people have used it as a stepping stone to the next level.

Great idea, DtS.

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ESWN reports on media corruption in Taiwan.

Chinese Television System (CTS) president Chiang Hsia (江霞) made the astonishing claim today: "In normal countries, television ratings are trustworthy. But in Taiwan, ratings can be bought." She swore an "oath" that ratings can be bought with money or else "Chiang Hsia's head can be handed to you."

At a forum titled "Give me culture and forget all else -- elevate culture and stay away from the stench and violence," Chiang Hsia pointed out that television ratings is the source of the chaos in televised news. Since becoming CTS president 18 months ago, she has never looked at any ratings.

She said that media buyers and the ratings combine to go through "special analyses" by the ratings company, such that if you are willing to pay NT$500,000 to 1,200,000, you can get to be the ratings leader.

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Jerome Keating essays on hatred, POWs, Taiwan, and China:

It was a most unlikely meeting of a most diverse group with a most unusual purpose: that of democracy, freedom, peace, and reconciliation. There on Friday morning November 18th at the Presidential Palace in Taipei, Taiwan, President Chen Shui-bian of the Republic of China received three former British Prisoners of War (POWs) George Reynolds, Ernie Agass, and Adam Houston along with members of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society, members of AGAPE a Japanese Reconciliation Organization, members of Academia Historica and Taiwan Historica and family and friends of the three POWs.

Alas, for hatred is driving so many of our leaders today.

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Congratulations to Bourdeiu Boy for his new book contract for a book on identity and Taiwan:

The development narrative has become part of one of the most powerful narrative structures for understanding Taiwan. Like other forms of meaning, it is a way of 'knowing' about Taiwan which produces its identity. Development has been an alternative discourse of identity to that of Chinese or Taiwanese nationalism, into which Taiwan was incorporated in the 1980s. It can be summarized by the term 'the Little Dragon', although there were a range of related terms: the miracle economy, the Tiger economy, the Asian Tigers or the NIC's, the Newly Industrialized Countries.
Can't wait to see the whole book....

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Pasuya Yao, who has been the subject of merciless savaging in the media and in the blogs around town, got another bloody nose from Wandering to Tamshui:

The tragic tale of Pasuya Costanza Yao continues as word comes that his nomination to be named one of Taiwan's "Top Ten Outstanding Youth" faltered in the first round. The Yao-hatin' United Daily News has the dope:

Nominated as one of Taiwan's Top Ten Outstanding Youth! You just can't make up shit like this....

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Michael Fahey at POTS reports on Ma Ying-jeou's China policy as a probable future president of Taiwan.

Mr. Ma has come out against the Chen administration's proposed US$10 billion arms purchase from the US. He has repeatedly argued that his concern is not cost, the major issue in the domestic debate over the purchase. Mr. Ma's contention is that the arms purchase is unnecessary in principle because China does not pose a threat to Taiwan unless Taiwan provokes China with steps towards independence such as changing Taiwan's official name or instituting a new constitution by referendum. The Chen administration, Mr. Ma argues, has created an artificial need for advanced weaponry by repeatedly provoking China with such steps. At the same time, Mr. Ma believes that his party, the Chinese nationalist KMT, has eliminated the casus belli between China and Taiwan with the meeting between his predecessor Lien Chan and Chinese president Hu Jintao in April. That meeting, Ma claims, ended the Chinese civil war and with it, the military threat to Taiwan.

Ma's position is complete bullshit and totally dangerous, because if you read further on:

This bold position reflects not just Mr. Ma's commitment to democracy, but also his pragmatism. Mr. Ma understands that the ultimate decision about Taiwan's future will have to be ratified by the Taiwanese people who are in no mood to unite politically with a China that is any less than fully democratic. To urge unification under any other circumstances would be political suicide. Mr. Ma is keenly aware of this reality, and he is prepared to wait.

The idea that Ma is committed to democracy is nonsense (Fahey is just reporting, not editorializing), but Fahey's commentary highlights the elephant in the room: the Taiwanese people will not accept annexation to China until China is a democracy and probably not even then. This means that on one hand Ma's policy will strip the nation of its defenses, claiming that China is not a threat to Taiwan, while at the same time preventing Taiwan's annexation to China. Ma thinks that Taiwan can be both undefended and free.

Anyone see the problem there?

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Cold Goat Eyes rants on a subject near and dear to my heart, digital cameras:

It was always a moot point as to whether photography is an art, but the proliferation of the digital camera has put that argument to bed once and for all. It is out-of-control photography, it is point and hope for the best. It is just the latest symptom of a world that is doing it's best to extract and crush everything that is not instantly gratifiable. This is not art, even if it never was. It is just taking pictures. Taking crap pictures that you can now crapify even more by putting them through some picture manipulation software. This fucking MacPhotography, this psuedo-art, it is another nail in the coffin of civilization. You can smell it in every city as you walk past the golden arches, this stench of death and decay. You can hear the music of collapsing empire and degeneration in any nightclub or on any radio station. And you can see it on every street. I wonder what Rome smelled like in it's final days, or how the Greeks sounded as they faded into obscurity.

The Greeks probably went out bitchin' about how everyone had a mosaic of some story from Homer in their house these days....my advice? Get a prosumer or digital SLR. You'll be raving about it within hours.

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MeiZhongTai had a busy week churning out absolutely informative posts on...

...pilot hours in the Chinese air force...

...China's sealift capability....

...and changes his stance on whether Taiwan needs subs....

...and posts a paper on Taiwan's military capabilities....

...and a widely-linked review of China's missile capabilities...

Sure wish I could comment in detail on this shower of useful stuff. I'm saving up the comments for a separate post. But enjoy many hours of useful reading.

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Rank notes:
From the Taipei Times: [Premier Frank Hsieh] added that since people abroad generally pay no attention to local newspaper coverage or TV talk shows, they have a better perspective on what's really happening in the country.

What a startling statement by the premier. I can't decide if he's thoroughly correct or thoroughly incorrect.

I can't either. But even more interesting than whether he is right or wrong was that he said that thought aloud.

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Lot of bloggers commented on Bush's remarks, but The Foreigner in Formosa had a pithy post that put them nicely in perspective by drawing on some nasty and revealing commentary from the China Post:

The pro-unification China Post wasn't cheering when they heard Mr. Bush's words, though. Taiwan? A Model? Democracy? Humbug!

"Is Taiwan's "model" so wonderful as President Bush has depicted? Let's not get too giddy. The fact is, Taiwan has not "delivered prosperity to its people" for almost a decade, thanks to the political implosion brought about by "embracing freedom at all levels."... Taiwan may not be a convincing example for the mainland to emulate, at least as far as economic prosperity is concerned. Apparently, President Bush had a political axe to grind."

They sure don't sound too happy about Taiwan "embracing freedom at all levels" now, do they? In fact, they sound downright resentful. Because Taiwan isn't their model - Beijing is.


Damn straight.

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SHORTS: Big Ell blogs on crybabies and other useful stuff. Pinyin News reports on a new Taiwanese sign language reference. Anarchy in Taiwan has a hiliarious encounter with a Korean girl and a kimchi fox paws. I discovered Doubting to Shuo's movie review blog. Joytoyz posts revenge for "I just want you to hold me." Pat Golemon goes to Sun Moon Lake and returns with the obligatory nice shots. Don't miss the podcasting at Getting a Leg Up, The Bluesman's Killing Floor, Misadventures in Taiwan, and Ugly Expat. As always, great photos at 35togo, Unplugged, the forgetful's photo gallery, the forgetful's photo gallery, amateur commune, andres, Clarke vs Matt, Cat Piano, T_C at Fotolog, battphotos, Fotologging Taiwan, Photoactionboy, leftmind, MaMaHuHu, Everything Visible is Empty, Roger in Taiwan, Love Songs (Are for Losers), Photoblogging Taiwan, Eight Diagrams, Tagging Taichung, and This Life.

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I shamelessly stole this gorgeous spider from Aaron:



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New Blogs on the roll this week:

  • Doubting to shuō: Movies
  • tai kua zhang le ba!
  • James in Taiwan
  • by Sue-Fang Li
  • Cruise Taiwan
  • peachy martini shizzle*
  • Leave Your Sanity With the Nearest Customs Agent
  • Rod & Eileen's Fireside Room
  • juliekintaiwan
  • welcome to my cool space
  • Music Felling Beat
  • raystudionegimaki.com
  • SeekSaveServe
  • COUNTRY OF THE MYSTERIOUS
  • Spaceman
  • Yo
  • Vicky MO
  • Marek's view of Taiwan
  • Poohat and the 10 billion years before the sun blew up!

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    SNARK OF THE WEEK: Jason at Wandering to Tamshui on the conviction of two cannibal killers in Taichung: "I do, however, feel that its a mistake to revoke their right to vote. After all, the New Party needs all the help it can get, right?"

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    1 comment:

    Scott Sommers said...

    Michael, of course I don't believe what I said about the Bush Administration. On the other hand, I think you have it backward about the Chen Adminstration.

    When the DPP took power in 2000, they really had no working education policy. The idea of having Taiwanese language education is a perfectly reasonable one and would have had to be addressed at some point even by the KMT. The DPP blew it because they did not consider all the ramifications and because they thought it would be easily accepted by most people. As it has not been, they have increasingly been falling back on what you call volk policy.