Sunday, December 31, 2006

Just Some Random Pics

Fiona, one of my students.

It's the New Year. I ain't blogging. Enjoy some pics I had lying around.

Catch the recycler pushing her cart across the yellow line.

Metal forms for construction.

Happy New Years!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Harvard Studies on Taiwan

I was surfing today and ran across the Harvard Studies on Taiwan, a product of the Fairbanks Center and funded by a grant from the Benito Mussolini Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. The Harvard Studies on Taiwan looks like it was intended to be a series but it seems to have petered out in 2000. Sadly, the 1995 and 1998 volumes are not online, and only a few papers of the 2000 volume are actually online (send them to me; I'll shoot, stuff, and mount them!). The papers on Taipei and on religion and identity politics are really quite good; the latter is full of interesting observations on the complexity of religion and identity in Taiwan. Most of the writers are well-known commentators on Taiwan.


Harvard Studies on Taiwan:

Papers of the Taiwan Studies Workshop
Volume 3 • 2000

Table of Contents


Reading Taipei: Cultural Traces in a Cityscape
JOSEPH R. ALLEN.................................................1
Lessons From the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis for the U.S., Japan and Taiwan
PARRIS CHANG...................................................23
The Role of the Party System in Taiwan's Evolving Democracy
CAL CLARK.........................................................37
The Greening of Taiwan's Scientific Desert:
Science and the State in the Republic of China, 1949-1969

J. MEGAN GREENE..............................................67
The Taiwan Conundrum in U.S. Security Policy—Critical Questions
MARTIN L. LASATER...........................................95
Federalism With Chinese Characteristics?
Taiwan and the "One Country, Two Systems" Formula
TAHIRIH V. LEE...................................................101
From Japanized Periphery to the Real China:
Taiwan in Nationalist China, 1945-1950
STEVEN PHILLIPS...............................................127
Is Taiwan Independence Passé? Public Opinion, Party Platforms
and National Identity in Taiwan
SHELLEY RIGGER................................................151
Constitutional Reforms in the ROC on T’ai-wan:
Internal and External Parameters of Regime Change
AXEL SCHNEIDER.............................................171
United States' Policy and Taiwan's Struggle to Sustain the Status quo
ALAN M. WACHMAN........................................203
Religion and New Taiwanese Identities: Some First Thoughts
ROBERT P. WELLER..........................................225

Too bad the other stuff isn't on the web. *sigh*

Daily Links, New Years, 2006-7

Happy New Year! Enjoy the holiday.
  • Taiwan rescinds its plastic bag ban. Which really wasn't much of a ban.
  • Karl makes the NRA enemies list.
  • Paogao and Prince Roy find an amazing temple where Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek are deities. Here's Prince Roy's side of the story.
  • Jon Benda complains about the scheduling at his university, with FOUR makeup saturdays. In the Taiwan employer lexicon, employee means serf.
  • Mark at Doubting to Shuo gets struck by chain blogging. And nails me! Sorry, dude, there might have been something to know about me back when I still had a personal life....Richard at the Peking Duck gets tagged, and Prince Roy deflects the request.
  • David visits the Puppet Museum in Taipei and likes it.
  • Kerim on the abbreviations for Christmas and Christmas in Taiwan.
  • Patrick gets told to where to put his fingers.
  • The Blog Formerly Known as the leaky pen has been closely following the sordid tale of two Christian university Chairman who attempted to rape those in their care. An updated version gives more details, including the sad fact that the tale involved the Dean and 9 other profs taking femme students to a "teahouse". A student of mine did a presentation on teacher-student affairs in Taiwan, polled several classes, and found student approval of them running at 70% or higher. I suspect we're looking at the tip of a huge iceberg here...
  • Feli describes the great Xmas quake. Everyone blogged on it, but I liked hers.
  • Initechnology rounds up links of his own, including a couple on China and its growing world involvement. He also has a great post on the old MAAG post in Taipei. Taiwan Airpower also offers some old pics of air force past.
  • The Bala Daily has a great pair of posts on hiking near Juifen with wonderful pics and commentary. Part I and Part II. BD is a great blog and I am delighted to see them back and posting.
  • Sponge Bear brings back great pics of his walks around the local area. As always.
  • Rudolf as he should have been.
  • Jerome says focus on the 2007 legislative elections.
  • The Tainan Don blogs on one of the most odious aspects of Taiwan: noise.
  • In the category of I'm-not-making-this-up, the police chief of Calgary, Canada, actually went to China to recruit police. After that, I understand he is going to Saudi Arabia to recruit gender sensitivity trainers.
  • Holly recruits for the Vagina Monologues in Taipei.
  • Battlepanda overhears men talking about women engineers.
  • Try this Hanyu pinyin crossword from Mark at Pinyin info.
  • Anarchy in Taiwan puzzles over Chinese nationalist skinheads who wear Union Jacks.
  • The Foreigner overflows with quality stuff. Links. And this essay on irrationality and China's claims about Taiwanese independence. As I always say, all claims that the other side is irrational are attempts to gain control of the other side.
  • What's Up in Taiwan has a special interview on Orchid Island.
  • Brian makes a magazine cover -- absolutely beautiful pic.
  • The strange foreigner tries betelnut.
  • The more I hang out in Tainan, the more I like it. I can't wait to spend more time there next semester. Meanwhile Open Epistle vists Tainan and brings back pics.
  • POLITICS: Remember the woman who set up Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mo for Apple Daily? Several papers have reported she is now embroiled in another scandal, this time attempting to curse some of her colleagues.

    Taiwan Matters, the group politics blog, is coming up on a major remake for the new year when the semester is over We're always looking for more posters. Meanwhile, enjoy maddog blogging on a pro-DPP radio station calling for the punishment of DPPers suffering from Joe Lieberman Syndrome. I've got a discussion of why the case against Dr. Hsieh is just another attack by Blues on Greens. And my very favorite post of all: on the island of fakes, even the Gallup Poll is fake. As a friend of mine sardonically put it the other day, in Taiwan, you're not wrong until you're caught.

    BLOGS: Bloggence, Cunning, Exile is now gone. Thanks for the great posts, man. But life also giveth: Suitcasing is back. ADDED to the roll:

    Congrats to the Lost Spaceman, who married the girl from Popcorn and Green Tea.

    Friday, December 29, 2006

    Nazi Kitsch

    My country's sick of me,
    I'll go to Germany,
    to be a spy.
    I'll eat their sauerkraut,
    until my eyes pop out,
    and then I'll scream and shout:
    "Hotsie totsie I'm a Nazi!" -- Children's ditty, last line shouted out, sung to the tune of "God save the Queen/My Country Tis of Thee"

    + + + +

    Taiwan Tiger recently remonstrated with one of his students about Taiwan and Nazi symbols:

    I remember hearing a story once my friend told me about a Taiwanese guy who showed up to watch a German soccer match in a local pub while wearing a Nazi swastika shirt as an emblem of his support for the German team. The Germans (as well as all other foreigners) who were there were horrified, and finally my friend told this guy that it just isn’t appropriate due to its symbolic meaning. I think he went to the bathroom and reversed his shirt and all was fine. But the Taiwanese staff didn’t think anything of the fact that he was wearing it and was deeply offending half the bar.

    So when this girl walked in, I could question her about why she was wearing a swastika around her neck. I explained that in the rest of the world, that would be likely to anger and offend many people. Her response? She said that she wouldn’t wear it in Europe or the U.S., but “Here is Taiwan.” What, is there no meaning to this symbol in Taiwan? Is Taiwan exempt from responsible actions? What is she thinking? I went on to explain that the symbol still has meaning in Taiwan, and she needs to think what message she is sending. Even after explaining that it is basically a symbol representing her support of the killing of 6 million people, she said “I know” and tucked it in her shirt. On what planet does it become acceptable as a fashion statement to wear the Nazi swastika? And why was I the first person to make her feel embarrassed enough to hide it?

    While I was reading that today, my friend, the author Dan Bloom, emailed me this well-composed photo from the Taipei Times the other day:

    Apparently the ROC is one of the last nations in the world to still use a version of the Fascist salute in swearing in certain government officials. Though little known, the US also used this salute, called the Bellamy salute, for the Pledge of Allegiance into the 1940s, before Roosevelt made it official to switch the whole nation over to the modern hand over the heart position. Here's a pic from the 1890s in the US:

    Nazi kitsch is pretty common in Taiwan, where it simply lacks the cultural resonance it has in the West. Remember the Taiwanese company back in 1999 that used Hitler in an advertisement for German-made heaters sold locally? The blog Lost in Translation found this pic a while back:

    Some people in Taiwan do understand how nasty the Nazis were and what they mean for westerners and exploit that -- it's routine for the pro-China forces to claim that Chen Shui-bian is a dictator and to mock him as Hitler, especially at media events where western media are likely to be present. Here's a pic from one of the Blues' faux "protests" in March:

    And this ad that the Blues ran in the presidential election of '04 comparing Chen to Hitler, which eventually had to be pulled:

    And of course, when you're an anti-democracy pundit, what could be more appropriate than releasing a book saying Chen Shui-bian is a Nazi? The People's Daily gushes:

    Some personages from the cultural circles in Taiwan pointed out on August 8 that in comparison with the German history of the Second World War, the Nazi phenomena in Taiwan could be seen in the social political affairs today.

    Attending a new book release, entitled "A shuddered future - analyzing the new dictatorship in Taiwan", political commentator Nanfang Shuo, writer Zhu Tianxin, as well as professors Xie Daning, Zhang Yazhong and Huang Guangguo expressed that the regime of the Democratic Progressive Party has on and on manipulated the national Nazis to form a Nazi environment and atmosphere. With democracy and human rights as covers, they pursue "Taiwan independence" and Fukianese' chauvinism.

    But don't worry, if we have our Nazis, we also have our Anne Dan Bloom reports:

    Did you know that Taiwan has an "Anne Frank" story of its own? It is about a man who hid from the secret police in small, secret hiding place -- a thin space between two walls, with no room to even stand up -- for 18 years during Taiwan's dictatorship period.

    His crime? The government's secret police were looking for him, and rather than risk being arrested, tortured and perhaps killed, Mr. Shih Ru-chen decided to find a hiding place.

    Whatever happens, we're sure to see more manifestations of Taiwan's uninformed fascination with Nazi kitsch...

    UPDATE: reader Graeme B. sent me this pick of a drink shop sign:

    Love the Hercule Poirot mustache.

    UPDATE: The talented photographer Poagao snapped these (thanks, man):

    The Hitler Cafe:

    The Nazi Bike:

    The T-Shirt:

    Future Government Sign

    Out walking, my friend Sponge Bear discovers this sign...."furuton," he explains, is a local rendering of the old Japanese name for Fengyuan...

    Thursday, December 28, 2006

    Dr. Hsieh and the politicization of the prosecutors...

    Over at Taiwan Matters I've blogged on the case of "corruption" in the Tainan Science Park vibration damping technology.

    The recent case of "corruption" in the Tainan Science Park vibration damping technology bid isn't what it looks like on the surface. What's really going on? Well, the defendant is Green, and the prosecutors are Blue....

    Oz, Uranium, Taiwan, and the NPT

    Australia's Daily Telegraph comments on controversial uranium shipments from Oz to Taiwan, through the US for processing:
    CONTROVERSY surrounds Australia's first uranium shipment to Taiwan since it may clear the way for future exports to nuclear-armed India.

    BHP Billiton refused to confirm the timing of the shipment via the US but the buyer was less constrained, Fairfax newspapers reported.

    “We like to diversify our fuel sources, so this first shipment from Australia is appreciated,” Taipower's Sydney-based executive Samson Lee told Fairfax.

    Mr Lee confirmed the uranium would “only be for peaceful power generation”.

    The shipment to Taiwan employs an indirect sale arrangement through the US, which will first convert and enrich the ore under a bilateral agreement between Canberra and Washington.

    The shipment coincides with the shipment of spent nuclear fuel, in six shipping containers, from Sydney's Lucas Heights reactor via ship to the east coast of the US.

    This editorial in the Hindu explains the problem:

    .....Mr. Howard, one of Australia's long serving Prime Ministers, obviously cannot resolve this issue easily. His country holds almost 40 per cent of the world's reserves of uranium, yet it does not have a single nuclear power generation plant. All the uranium it mines is exported, but guided by a policy first outlined in 1977, this can go only to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India clearly does not qualify under this policy as a customer.


    But Mr. Howard knows his country and its politics are different and difficult. Australian voters have been hypersensitive to nuclear proliferation. A recent opinion poll on the proposed sale of uranium to China showed more than half of the respondents were against it even though China is a signatory to the NPT and therefore an eligible buyer. At the other end of the scale are large uranium mining companies in Australia which sense that the entry of China and India to the club could dramatically expand their market, indeed treble it by 2020, according to one estimate. With global uranium prices likely to rise sharply as demand increases, the companies see substantial profit ahead.

    Taiwan is not a signatory to the NPT; though it signed on as the ROC, it is no longer a UN member since the ROC delegation left the UN. Hence uranium sales from Oz to Taiwan effectively open the door to sales to other non-NPT countries -- like India.

    Taiwan: Designing Its Way Up the Ladder

    eWeek discusses the burgeoning design capabilities of Taiwanese laptop firms....

    As competition in the fast-paced IT world intensifies, Taiwanese firms are trying everything they can to give their clients added-value services.

    Taiwan computer makers such as Quanta, Asustek and Lite-On Technology Corp. have all created their own design teams, earning reputations as new product pioneers and winning awards in global competitions.

    "Over 80 percent of the world's notebook computer design is outsourced to Taiwan now," said JP Morgan analyst Alvin Kwock.

    Having design teams close to the manufacturers has also become more strategically logical for foreign tech firms, said Kwock. Most final production is done nearby, in mainland China.

    Contract makers are using their design capability to distinguish themselves from one another, realising sophisticated design capabilities can attract customers who want everything from MP3 players to mobile phones and laptop computers.

    "At some point you can't compete on cost alone, so you have to turn to design," said Markus Wierzoch, a product design manager for Asustek.

    The move to design marks a coming of age for Taiwan firms, which have migrated from pure manufacturing work, or Original Equipment Manufacture (OEM), in the 1980s to a new type of work, called original design manufacturing, or ODM, starting in the 1990s.

    As competition heats up, the level of design services offered in Taiwan has increased as well, as players try to distinguish themselves in industries where margins are already razor-thin.

    As a result, the island is earning a name for its new generation of young engineers and designers who are winning awards in global competitions for their work.

    "Perceptions regarding Taiwan's design has really changed a lot in the past five years or so," said Wierzoch.

    While awards may be a pat on the back, the Taiwanese firms are less motivated by prestige and payment than by sheer necessity.

    Quanta Computer, the world's largest notebook contract maker, whose main clients include Dell and Hewlett-Packard, said its design development services are provided almost free of charge for big customers since competition is so intense.

    "It is what Taiwan makers have to do to survive," said JP Morgan's Kwock.

    And to think the grandparents of these designers made their living sewing handkerchiefs in living room factories and walking to work because they couldn't afford a bicycle.

    Laptop design is only one facet of Taiwan's world-class design capabilities, which are also manifest in sporting goods, semiconductors, gambling and gaming equipment, and many other fields. Don't underestimate the island -- there's a great future here if people are willing to reach for it.

    UPDATE: nostalgiaphile over at The Blog Formerly Known as the Leaky Pen has some good comments on the article as well.
    Taiwan News has the story on President Chen's son-in-law going down for insider trading.

    President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) son-in-law Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘) was sentenced to six years in prison and fined NT$30 million after being found guilty of insider trading charges.

    After a five-month investigation into the Chao and his father's alleged insider trading of Taiwan Development Corporation shares, the Taipei District Court announced its verdict at 3 p.m. yesterday in the high-profile case.

    According to the verdict, the judges ruled that the TDC case was a typical crime committed by influential people and because neither the father nor the son showed remorse for their actions, they deserved to be given stiff penalties.

    "Chao Chien-ming, a doctor as well as one of the first family members, and his father Chao Yu-chu, a retired principal, even made use of their influence to obtain confidential information that had a positive effect on the prices of TDC shares. They obtained huge profits through the buying and selling of TDC shares," the verdict read, which put the total profits earned by the two at over NT$58 million.

    "A panel of three judges convicted Chao Chien-ming and his father of making illegal gains through insider trading and decided not only to send them to prison but also to fine them NT$30 million respectively," court spokesman Liu Sau-song said at a press conference.

    Liu further noted that Chao Yu-chu was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison for not only insider trading of TDC shares but also for embezzling NT$4.5 million from a total of NT$11 million in donations made by Eslite Chairman Robert Wu and other people to the table tennis association he headed.
    It's not over yet, as there will no doubt be appeals....

    Wednesday, December 27, 2006

    Hsinchu Pic

    ....but no time for blogging today. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist leaving ya'll with this well-composed photo I saw today from a recent Taiwan News piece on Hsinchu. Enjoy, whilst I slave away at work...

    UPDATE: Quake knocks out telecommmunications across Asia.

    Two cables were damaged, both off Taiwan's coast, Chunghwa said.

    The company reported a 50 percent loss of overall telephone capacity, with connections to China, Japan and Southeast Asia most affected.

    Chunghwa also said almost all of Taiwan's communications capacity with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong was disrupted. Also hard hit was telephone service to the U.S., where 60 percent of capacity was lost, the company said.

    Internet access in Beijing was cut or extremely slow, while Japanese customers were having trouble calling India and the Middle East. In South Korea, dozens of companies and institutions were affected, including the country's Foreign Ministry.

    Hong Kong telephone company PCCW Ltd., which also provides Internet service, said the quake cut its data capacity in half. Many Internet users were unable to access Web sites in parts of America, Taiwan and South Korea. Calls to Taiwan weren't connecting.

    Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    Technorati Bloglist: New and Improved

    Last year I kvetched about Technorati's blog directory for Taiwan, because its list of top blogs for Taiwan contained several blogs that weren't about Taiwan, and several others that were repeats. Metablogging myself:

    In sum, of the first twenty, 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 15, 18, 19, and 20 can reasonably said to be blogs about Taiwan. One would expect that the opposite would obtain -- that more non-Taiwan blogs would crop up in the lower numbers, but the first thirty would be mostly about Taiwan. Actually, only about half are.

    I was checking from time to time in my neverending quest for Taiwan blogs, and for a while they had a bunch of blogs that were non-Taiwan, but often blogged on the island, like Asiapundit and ESWN. Recently, however, they seemed to have fixed the problem (mostly), and now almost every blog in the topmost ranks is actually about Taiwan. Here is the current top ten:

    Photo of zonble
    2 days ago

    * 617 blogs link here
    * Tags
    music, wordpress, asia, taiwan, garage, chinese, blogger, taipei, traditional chinese, band,, chinese,, zonble,, zonble,,chinese,,garage,band,,taiwan , More ?

    amarylliss。艾瑪[隨處走走] -
    13 days ago

    * 213 blogs link here
    * Tags
    japan, travel, italy, paris, taiwan, bali, nikko, taitung, occitane , More ?

    Refleksi dan Blog Tutorial by afatih
    Photo of afatih
    16 hours ago

    Kolom Refleksi tips menulis dan tip kiat cara membuat blog atau Blog Tutorial

    * 203 blogs link here
    * Tags
    blog, weblog, blogs, philippines, indonesia, usa, thailand, uk, singapore, saudi arabia, taiwan, blogger, blog tutorial, budaya, refleksi, blogger indonesia, tips menulis, lowongan kerja, tutorial blog, membuat blog , More ?

    Mr. 6 - 趨勢.創業.投資.策進
    14 hours ago

    * 155 blogs link here
    * Tags
    china, 投資, taiwan, 趨勢, chinese, vc, web 2.0, entrepreneur, 創業, 台灣, 風險, 創投, 善搞, mr.6, mr. 6, 策進 , More ?

    The View from Taiwan
    11 hours ago

    * 146 blogs link here
    * Tags
    asia, china, us, us foreign policy, taiwan, taipei, kaohsiung, taichung, kmt, asian blogs, dpp, taiwan blogs, axis & allies , More ?

    酥餅的BLOG - Yam 樂多日誌
    32 days ago

    * 107 blogs link here
    * Tags
    food, politics, news, music, photo, 政治, camera, 音樂, 美食, taiwan, 攝影, hifi, wall street, 經濟, 台灣, 音響, 相機, 美國, 華爾街 , More ?

    # by Schee
    Photo of Schee
    14 hours ago

    * 107 blogs link here
    * Tags
    china, motorcycle, taiwan, chinese, taipei, schee , More ?

    到台?找我玩,同志!–台??中??地的玩耍邀?网站 by funck
    Photo of funck
    1 hour ago

    到台?找我玩,同志!–台??中??地的玩耍邀?网站 / Come See Me In Taiwan, Comrade ! - Taiwan's ivitation for Mainland China

    * 90 blogs link here
    * Tags
    blog, internet, travel, china, 博客, 台?, 部落格, 旅游, taiwan, 台灣, 觀光, funck, 中國, 大陸, ?光, 百万网, 格子經濟, ?岸, 內地, 百萬網 , More ?

    fiLi’s world by filination
    Photo of filination
    7 hours ago

    Discussing Asian culture and life from a western-Israeli perspective. Covering : Asia, Chinese, China, Taiwan.

    * 85 blogs link here
    * Tags
    culture, japan, israel, asia, asian, china, vietnam, taiwan, chinese, israeli, fareast, eastasia , More ?

    Doubting to shuo?: Chinese, Investing, EFL and Being a Geek in Taiwan
    6 hours ago

    * 66 blogs link here
    * Tags
    teaching, science, asia, investing, geekery, china, linguistics, taiwan, language learning, chinese, esl, taiwanese, teaching english, cultural observations, learning chinese, language teaching, l2 acquisition ,

    The only blog that doesn't appear to belong there is Refleksi dan Blog Tutorial, an English/Bahasa blog that appears to blog on everything but Taiwan. Kudos to Technorati for finally getting the problem fixed.

    Tonight's Quake: a doozy

    Image courtesy of USGS by way of Schee, run by one of Taiwan's best known bloggers, Schee ('s former blog manager) has the lowdown on the quake:

    NHS and Self-Pay

    Just quick reminder.... my wife found out visiting the hospital the other day that if you have at any time in the past selected 'self-pay' instead of National Health Insurance pay during a visit to a hospital, the entire system may revert to 'self-pay' for all your visits, not merely to the same department but to any department of the hospital. Last year she went to one of the GPs for something minor, and since no medication was prescribed, the doctor recommended she 'self-pay' to avoid higher health insurance system fees. Since that time the system has been setting itself to 'self-pay' whenever she comes up -- like last year when she had a spot of surgery that nearly cost us an arm and a leg. Check your bill -- the white part that you return to the cashier -- and ask to make sure that you are not self-pay if you don't want to be (the nurses won't check for you since they assume whatever the system spits out is right). If the NHS is paying, in the box on the upper right corner, where it says "Shen fen (ID)/Ka Hao (card number)" the number '40' will be present. If you are paying yourself, it will say 'ZB.'

    Good luck! Hope that 6.7 quake tonight didn't cause much harm down south...

    Yu: crowing too soon?

    DPP Chairman Yu Shi-kun giving vent to strong feelings of triumph in regard to the giant egg now resting on KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's face after the December mayoral elections. Quoth Yu:

    The DPP chairman released a satiric "report card" of Ma's eight years as Taipei City mayor, which gave the KMT chairman zeros in urban construction, concern for the land, river conservation, team leadership and environmental policy and "100" grades in "the art of lying," "evading responsibility," media relations, performing shows and "jogging and swimming."

    The DPP chairman especially criticized the KMT chairman for "deceiving society" by failing to fulfill promises to properly handle the problem of the KMT's massive holdings of "ill-gotten" party assets and repeated commitments to support the procurement of advanced defensive weapon systems for Taiwan's national defense as well as for "contradictory" statements regarding the former mayor's use of special executive allowances.

    All this is probably true enough, as even the Blue papers have complained from time to time about Ma's apparent lack of accomplishments. But let's be fair -- the city's wireless program is a feather in the cap, and Ma inherited a city that had already made dramatic progress under Chen. Naturally he could hardly expect to make more huge policy changes.

    Interestingly, Yu apparently revealed the results of DPP internal polling. According to local lore, the KMT and DPP internal polls are said to be fairly reliable:

    The DPP chairman stated that in poll conducted at the end of March, Ma had a satisfaction rating of 75 percent against 15 percent dissatisfied, but that his approval rating had fallen to 55 percent in June, 46 percent in July and to 38 percent in November, while the KMT chairman's dissatisfaction rating had risen to 35 percent in June, 45 percent in July and 52 percent at the end of November.

    Several polls have been showing falling long-term popularity for Ma. He was always vulnerable -- indeed, the way that recent events have highlighted his many failings would almost appear to the conspiratorially-minded to have been arranged. Consider that the first thing Eric Chen, the prosecutor in the Chen Shui-bian scandal, did after returning indictments against Chen's wife Wu Shu-jen was to turn the spotlight on Ma Ying-jeou. And Eric Chen is apparently a good friend of Lee Teng-hui.

    But fortunately I am not conspiratorially minded.

    The report went on to say:

    Moreover, Yu said the DPP had improved its party organization by abolishing factions, dealing with the chronic problem of "proxy members" and promoting "joint decision-making between the party and government."

    "Proxy members" are local political operatives retained by certain party members to handle distasteful tasks like buying votes (see below). The article also noted that DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍)said the DPP would reduce its headquarters staff by about 20 percent to ease financial pressures and to restructure the party for future campaigns. Lin failed to defeat Jason Hu in the last election for mayor of Taichung and appears to be one of the younger talents currently being cultivated by the DPP.

    I've always regarded triumphalism like Yu displays here to be unseemly, the kind of hubris that the gods single out for just punishment. It is certainly true that Ma is vulnerable could probably be beaten by any of several DPP heavyweights, but it doesn't follow that the DPP will deliver in '08. There's many a slip twixt cup and lip, as the saying goes. Ma got out the vote in Kaohsiung this year, adding 17,000 to the 2002 KMT vote total there. While he didn't make the 1998 peak, he showed that he can effectively mobilize Blue voters. And on an island dominated by identity politics, mobilizing one's base is one of the keys to victory. Crow after you've won in '08, Chairman Yu.

    Try a little tolerance

    Robert Price (2000, p214-21) has shown that empty tombs and resurrection scenes were a staple of early Greek and Roman popular romances, occurring in such stories as Chaereas and Callirhoe, Xenophon's Ephesian Tale, Leucippe and Clitophon, Daphnis and Chloe, Heliodorus' Ethiopian Story, The Story of Apollonius, King of Tyre, Iamblichus' Babylonian Story, and in places in Apuleius' The Golden Ass. -- from my historical commentary on the Gospel of Mark

    I've blogged a couple of times on what a great place Taiwan is for atheists. Taiwanese Buddhism and Taoism are not exclusivist religions, while Chinese Folk Religion is rampantly polytheist, syncretic, and tolerant. Taiwan is also host to dozens of small syncretic religious cults. Every time I see a temple in Taiwan, I think -- isn't polytheism wonderful? And purely as an aside, living in polytheistic Taiwan has given me much insight into the workings of early Christianity and its Hellenistic matrix. Thus, the other day the Taipei Times discussed an example of an unusual complaint in Taiwan:

    Taiwanese-American hip-hop singer Stanley Huang's (黃立行) new album has triggered protests from the religious community because the title song is about atheism, a Chinese-language daily reported yesterday.

    Since radio and TV started playing Atheists Like Me, the lead song in the album, Huang's record company has received more than 100 phone calls protesting the content of the new song, the local China Times newspaper reported.

    Huang's record company said it was prepared for the controversy and Huang stressed the song was about love, and had nothing to do with religion, the paper said.

    But the protests kept pouring in, via telephone and e-mail, forcing Huang's record company to shut its website for three days, the paper added.

    Somehow, I doubt it is Taoists, Buddhists, and local folk religionists who are bombarding the company with calls and letters.

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Taike and Being Taiwanese

    Ralph Jennings, a Taipei-based reporter for a major news service, has a well-written article on Tai-ke, that down-home expression of a local identity...

    Taiwan college teacher Lee Shu-ping has a 20-year-old student who programmed his motorcycle to say "go away" in the Taiwan dialect of Chinese.

    It's part of a statement. The same guy wears flip-flops, loose-fitting pants and T-shirts, borrowing from the down-market fashions of working-class elders from Lee's agricultural home county of Yunlin in central Taiwan.

    Lee's student blends in with plenty of other Taiwan youth who have ducked fashions from Japan and the West and shunned speaking the standard Mandarin version of Chinese in favour of local clothing styles and dialects to show they're Taiwanese.

    Loud motorcycles and betel nut chewing that produces blasts of red spittle are often part of the act, and it's hip to study the Taiwan dialect of Chinese.

    Here Hau Lung-bin puts a toe into the identity issue....

    Taiwan politicians with a warm spot for Beijing - which considers the island part of its territory and opposes displays of a separate identity - bristle at the trend.

    "Taiwan culture is part of Chinese culture," said Taipei mayor-elect Hau Lung-bin, who is backed by the China-friendly Nationalist Party. "I am native Taiwanese. I was born in Taiwan."

    Tai-ke has been the subject of media reports for most of this year. The now defunct POTS hosted a good article on it a while back. During the martial law era Taiwanese language and culture were suppressed and deemed low class, an attitude that still survives in the remarks that ones hears from time to time, like Taiwanese language is a market language, or Taiwanese names are "market names." Taiwanese have attempted to reclaim the low class image by adopting it as a fashion trend, just as many African-Americans reclaimed the N-word in using it with each other, and it has now become something of a joke. Thus, the flip side of this trend is a scathing remark heard among local young, describing things as "so tai," implying that the thing addressed is vulgar and low class. And Taiwanese.

    Why do local polls suck?

    Many Taiwan watchers have commented recently on the low quality, pro-Blue nature of the local polls. I've noticed over the years, for example, that the Gallup Poll in Taiwan is apparently extremely pro-Blue. Thanks to Taipei Times columnist Johnny Neihu, as chronicled by Maddog over at Taiwan Matters, we now know why.

    Dear Johnny,

    I just read your piece from last Saturday titled "You love farce? Send in the clowns." Toward the end you commented on Gallup and polling results from the recent election.

    Gallup did not do this work. We are the only owner of the Gallup trademark in Taiwan and in 100 other countries around the world. We had a licensee in Taiwan who used the name up until 2002 when we revoked the rights. The poll that has used our name is a counterfeit. The individual [Dr. Timothy Ting Ting-yu, 丁庭宇] or his organization does not have any rights in the trademark Gallup and any unauthorized use is infringement of our registered rights. We respectfully request a correction.

    If only we could correct all those bad polls....

    Random photos for Another Christmas

    Taiwan at Christmas: When someone asks you what you're doing for Christmas in Taiwan, there are only four possible answers:

    ..........(A) Working
    ..........(B) Working
    ..........(C) Working
    ..........(D) Nothing

    How many of you even remember it was Christmas? If I didn't have kids I probably would forget it completely. Fortunately for the economies of several large nations, my children never fail to remind me. We had our Christmas yesterday and today, opened the presents, and then went back to work. Meanwhile I had a chance to get out and take some pictures....

    With the short days, the afternoon sun angles are fantastic.

    When I was a kid I was fascinated by sensitive plants. And now they grow like weeds in my backyard.

    Christmas Dinner: the night market

    In the mornng we hit the local day market. As Chinese New Year approaches more trucks selling the kind of stuff people replace when they do massive cleaning is a truck selling only cutting boards.

    I never get enough pictures of here's a few random passers-by who were captured by my lens....

    Whatever your holiday, have a great one!