Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday, Feb 5, 2006, Taiwan Blog Round-up


With everyone out for Chinese New Year, the blogs were largely silent. So Happy New Year to you all.

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Mutantfrog notes that Taiwan wants to become Japan's Florida, referencing an article in the Asahi Shimbun that announces the promotion of 6 month visas for retired Japanese to come live in Taiwan:

Sounds like a good deal all around. Japanese retirees will get to live in a nicer climate where prices are lower, and yet the standard of living is not dramatically lower, and the Japanese government has to spend less money on its own expensive domestic healthcare. On the other side, Taiwan’s coffers gets to make up some of the tax shortfall caused by their own aging population, and local service industries get a significant cash infusion.
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Jason at Wandering to Tamshui annihilates a hapless writer for the Boston Herald who confused Taiwan with a fantasy of China.

Following in the tradition of its woeful Red Sox coverage, the Boston Herald lays another stinker with this gushing, albeit momentously confused travel article written by a young Chinese-American woman named Heather Eng, who traveled to Taiwan looking for... China.

The horror starts in the first paragraph:
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Like a number of us, Jason blogged on the obnoxious formation "Chinese Taipei" that major league baseball become yet another purveyor of.

No, I'm not referring to A-Rod's asinine self-imposed dilemma over whether he should play for the Dominican instead of his home country in the upcoming World Baseball Classic (he ultimately chose the U.S., probably sensing that even Yankees fans would turn against him), I'm referring to the decision by MLB Commissioner Bud "Balls-Deep In Every Washington Nationals Fan's Arse" Selig to enforce the equally asinine rule that Taiwan compete in that international tournament under the loathsome name "Chinese Taipei", and use the equally loathesome Chinese Taipei Bear mascot.
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Taiwan Fashionista blogs on a local fashion survey:

For its top 10, the magazine polled women, separated in three age categories, ladies in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The top 2 popular brands are the same for all groups, and no surprises, Louis Vuitton is the absolute winner, with Gucci second.

The differences begin at number 3: the 'older' women prefer Chanel to Dior at that rank, though the latter still features in their top 5, as does Coach for all three groups. Further down in the top 10 you also find Burberry, Hermes and agnes b. present in all groups.

The biggest difference is the presence of Anna Sui at number 4 in the list for the youngest women, which the magazine explains by saying its lower prices allow more "brand beginners" to favor its products.

Near the bottom of the rankings there's also place for different names to appear for different age groups: women in their 40s favor Loewe at number 10, those in their 30s put Celine in that place, while the twens have Vivienne Westwood at number 9, maybe because of last year's successful exhibition at Taipei's Fine Arts Museum, or because, as the paper says, of the brand's presence in a popular Japanese movie, Nana.
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The New Hampshire Bushman blogs on displays for teapots.

What does one do when one acquires a number of teapots? Any collector of teapots knows that the number of them adds up rather quickly. And the truth be told, the number of pretty and attractive teapots far outweighs the number of well designed and functional teapots that are actually useful for brewing tea. Nevertheless, the problem remains: what do I do with all of them?

Fortunately if you live in Taiwan there are many display options available. Shown here is a classic teapot display that I got yesterday in Sanyi - the center of Taiwan's woodworking industry. The interesting thing about this particular display is that it is an import from Vietnam. Taiwan is outsourcing a lot of its wood products from Vietnam because its cheaper to buy them finished than to manufacture them here in Taiwan.
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Scott Sommers argues with Mark on Hard Core Foreign Owned Bushibans:

As everyone knows, Taiwan is experiencing an ' English Renaissance - of a sort. There is lots of talk about English education, but very little control over what is being taught. There are English schools everywhere: schools for adults, schools for children, and schools for the little ones. One of the things that competition like this does is drive innovation. And drive it it has. There are English programs everywhere; programs that promise all kinds of great results. I don't intend to discuss all the different types of programs that have erupted onto the Taiwan language teaching landscape, but there is one that has caught my attention because like it or not, it is the wave of the future.

While most of us think of effective language education as occurring in small, intense classes with lots of input and room for exploring language use, this 'new' education is quite different. It occurs in large, crowded classes. There is little room for students to use the language experimentally. The classes specifically aim to create a learning environment that does not resemble natural language learning. In fact, it is the exact opposite of what most language teaching has been aiming for.


Do not skip the comments as this is one of the most important ESL exchanges Taiwan teachers will ever read. Local professor Clyde Warden, who has written a revolutionary paper on TESOL teaching recently published in TESOL Q, weighed in:

Scott, I'm not very clear on your direction here, in spite of your points at the start. You are not saying this method has no effect. I got that. But it seems you want to point out this method is not supported by language learning research:

"(HFRB) is not based on any knowledge or method understood anywhere outside Taiwan. It has no basis in contemporary thinking about language learning, cognition, child development, or school administration. There are many more effective methods available."

This type of assertion has been at the core of my language learning research for the past ten years. I think it is important to note that outside of Taiwan there is very little research on language learning in Taiwan. My results have found that assumptions at the core of research done in the West are totally wrong here. For example, error correction and negative consequences for such errors is much move effective in the Taiwan classroom than what is assumed to be "best" in the West (EFL business writing behaviors in differing feedback environments).

Our recently published TESOL Q paper goes right to the heart of this issue and quantifies what Michael's experience has shown him to be true, Chinese cultural values create totally different motivation orientations. We have called the motivation, Michael is talking about, the Chinese Imperative (Motivators that do not motivate: The case of Chinese imperativeness as a culturally specific motivating force).


A number of us have quietly concluded that language instruction research in the US is essentially a highly culturally-constrained project whose conclusions are of limited application, at best, out here, and Clyde is documenting that fact. I hope someday Clyde takes a moment to write up the publication process for the paper, as epic as the conclusions and discussions and research that he engaged in over the years it took him to publish it.

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Poagao meets Ang Lee.

Dean called yesterday saying the publication he works for, which is tangentially related to my company, was sending Alex, a friend and co-worker of his, over that evening to interview Ang Lee, who is in town promoting Brokeback Mountain, and they needed a photographer. So I packed up my 20D and slipped a demo of my movies into my pocket, just in case, before I went in to work.
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The Pan-Blues' hold on the legislature is hardly a lock, translates Jason at Wandering to Tamhsui.

The trouble basically stems from two developments, that of the halving of the legislature in the next round of elections in 2007, and the recent number of embarrassing defections of PFP legislators to the KMT. The problem could be exacerbated after next month's bi-elections for the legislative representative for Jia-yi city, as the KMT could lose its claim to the title of "Biggest Dog in the LY", thereby making cooperation with its ticked-off allies all the more important.
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Jason analyzes the Greens' chances:

Seeing as option number one didn't go down too well last time with the "Deep Green" wing of the party, and the DPP is presently trying to hold itself together under new chairman Yu Shyi-kun, it would not surprise me to see some half-hearted DPP overtures to the PFP to see if Soong will bite, but no real policy compromises that would end up disrupting what little unity the DPP has at the moment. The smart thing for the DPP to do would be to concentrate on rallying its base in Jia-yi to vote for Chen Li-zhen by adopting a "greener" tone, something President Chen has been doing plenty of over the past month.

Also lost in the euphoria of the KMT victory at the county level was a 41% gain in seats at the local level by the DPP. I'd say the Greens have a good shot a majority after the next cycle of elections. A lot can happen between now and then.

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Pinyin News blogs on unfortunate results of appetite for 'lucky' moss, the hairlike moss that is popular at this time of year (all of the internal links at PN seem to be broken, so have to point to the blog itself):

The desire around Chinese New Year to consume fàcài (髮菜 / 发菜), which is an edible, hairlike moss, has led to desertification in Inner Mongolia, according to an article in the South China Morning Post. The problem is rooted in that fàcài sounds like fācái (發財 / 发财), which is the verb “to get rich.”

Note that fàcài and fācái are not true homophones, so there’s no problem distinguishing them in Pinyin — though even without tone marks the difference would be made clear by context, relative frequency of use, and the fact that one is a noun and the other a verb. The name of this moss and “get rich” also sound similar in Cantonese. (In Taiwan, the pronunciation of the fa of fàcài is in third tone.)

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MeiZhongTai links to some important new defense reports on China.

The Department of Defense has released the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). Rumors have been floating around for days that the report would focus more on China than the Global War on Terror or the Iraq War.

Another report recently released and no doubt of interest to this blog's target audience is from RAND, who bring a can-do attitude and see "A New Direction for China’s Defense Industry (pdf)." (Hat Tip: Michael Turton).

A little older, but also of interest is a report by the Congressional Research Service's Ronald O'Rourke's "China Naval Modernization: Implication for U.S. Naval Capability (pdf)."
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HUMOR: Tim and Tam, who have an eye for funny shots, found this one:



Life of Brian pointed to this hilarious blog entitled IS ANYONE AT COSMO GETTING LAID?

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SHORTS: Where is Taiwan Tiger? Good bye to This Life. I'll miss your wonderful photos! Radio Taiwan International offers a job. Ryan Witte goes to I-lan and comes back with nice pics. Simon World is looking for a name for their fourth child. Asiapundit searches "Hun Jintao is a wanker" and finds some odd gaps in the Great Firewall of China." Don't miss a series of posts at Finding the Rabbit on the sculptor Ju Ming. Mind of Mike comments on a man who committed suicide to show his love. I wanted to mention Bourdeiu Boy's excellent piece from last month on the rhetoric of China's claims to Taiwan. Don't miss the podcasting at Getting a Leg Up, The Bluesman's Killing Floor, Misadventures in Taiwan, Ugly Expat, and What's Up in Taiwan. 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 The New Hampshire Bushman in Taiwan and The World.

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RESOURCES: QBooks.com.tw offers an array of editing, publishing, and book services. Disclaimer: I work for them.

This interactive Taiwan blogger map looks like fun but only displays Taiwan blogs in Chinese.

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NEW BLOGS ON THE ROLL:

Frotteurism
http://spaces.msn.com/themarkman5000/

The strange foreigner blog
http://strangelaowai.blogspot.com//

Finding The Rabbit
http://androgenre.blogspot.com/

active thrust
http://activethrust.blogspot.com/

Ice 9
http://threestorms.blogspot.com/

Big Smile
http://aprildaver.blogspot.com/

Back off the stanchion
http://itscomeout.blogspot.com/

ICLP 2005
http://iclp2005.blogspot.com/

Anna's Amazing Adventures Away
http://amazingadventuresaway.blogspot.com/

Anna's Asian Adventures
http://annasasianadventures.blogspot.com/

Open Epistle
http://openepistle.blogspot.com/

VYM Taiwan
http://www.cune.org/michael.kersten/taiwan.html

just going
http://justgoing.blogspot.com/

the void
http://spaces.msn.com/xethsvoid/

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4 comments:

Mark S. said...

The internal links on my blog hit a snag as I was updating the software. But all should be well now. Here's a direct link to the piece you mentioned: unfortunate results of appetite for 'lucky' moss.

Anonymous said...

A little about Chen Li-Zhen (陳麗貞), whom I know personally. She ran for mayor of Jia-yi in this past election and didn't lose by much. There were several factors for her loss, even though she was the incumbent mayor:

1) She's an extremely honest and hard working, pulling a good chunk of change for Jia-yi out of the national government to build their city hall. Before her terms as mayor and deputy mayor, she was a lifer in civil service, a string of promotions putting her near the top level civil servants can rise to. However, her personal characteristics unfortunately are not an ideal combination for campaigning.

2) No one outside the KMT really knows where all that old, stolen KMT money is. But in the case of this election, the DPP was outspent by the KMT by a factor of 6 to 1. One-third was Legislator Huang's family's own money, but taking that away, that's still an advantage of 4 to 1. If you were in the city a few months before the election, KMT posters were plastered everywhere, with DPP posters going up much later, and even then, in smaller number.

3) She was accused of carpet-bagging, as she followed her old boss (an old Health Department chief that was native to Jia-yi) down to Jia-yi. Additionally, because CSB replaced her old boss after having given her position as Minister of the Interior (she vacated the mayoral position to take it, leaving it to Chen Li-zhen), her old boss became very grumpy about the DPP, not supporting her old protege Chen Li-zhen, and in the last days, purposefully going on TV saying she wasn't going to support her.

So can the DPP eek out a hail Mary, despite their run of bad luck?

The best thing Chen Li-zhen has going for her is she's as clean as they could possibly come, so if it's corruption voters don't like, she's actually the rational choice. Her campaign machine is also already ready to go, and as former mayor, she has very high name recognition around town. As the record shows, she's also pretty good at pulling for national money, which is an important skill to have in a mature democracy (probably not as big a deal to voters as I think it should be). The negatives are obvious--she's already lost once (true, it was to a native daughter legislator who knew how to campaign) and any national drag on the DPP, however a big a deal it was in the local 3-in-1 elections, it can only be an even bigger deal in a national election.

Anybody reading this blog around Jia-yi thinking of helping out--you'd be helping an out a hard worker that has nothing even remotely near a case of corruption, but could use some help in the packaging. I'd say the odds are 50-50... let's see what happens.

Anonymous said...

In case it wasn't clear, 2/3s of the money spent in the KMT campaign was direct subsidy from KMT nationals. They wanted to win, and they wanted to win bad. Ma Ying-jeou may think he knows something about being honest and law-abiding and he may be relative to many KMTers, but he's not beyond authorizing an unfair election if it's of use to him.

Scott Sommers said...

Michael, if you think this is important, just wait a bit for my new post on the subject. Keep in mind that I agree with Clyde on this point. My concern is what exactly this means.