Several months ago Asiapundit argued via Curzon's Coming Anarchy that Bush was probably not a sociopath, as crazed individuals can't get elected as heads of major nations. I was reminded of this post when I read the other day that Seymour Hersch, the well-known investigative reporter, is going to warn in an upcoming article that our sociopathic President is planning to use nuclear weapons against Iran, unprovoked, in time of peace, and that he will do so over the advice and objections of saner minds in his military (a review of the physics issues). Just when I thought the pain of watching Bush destroy the United States couldn't get any worse, it did......
The news this week on the Beautiful Isle, where we survive in the uneasy tension generated by our dual role of pawn and troublemaker, fortunately offers us nothing as grim as that. Plenty of good blogging this week, and some interesting political and social happenings on our island.
Local anthropologist Jeff Martin's presentation on the police at the Swenson's meetup on April 1 offers a wealth of useful information on the police in Taiwan:
The highlight of the morning was Jeff Martin, a newly-minted PHD fresh from the University of Chicago's Department of Anthropology, who gave a talk on Taiwan's police. Jeff's talk was sympathetic, informative, detailed, funny, and useful, setting a standard for any future presentations that will be difficult to match.
One of the great things about the presentation wasn't just the high quality of Jeff's work and the accessible way he presented it, but also the fact that audience consisted of people who all knew quite a bit about Taiwan. It was a privilege to sit in with so many well-informed and experienced Taiwan expats, all talking to each other about topics of vital importance to our experience of
the Beautiful Isle.
Jeff was introduced by Linda Arrigo. She observed that he had done fieldwork on how the police function in Taiwan by "spending three years drinking with them," coming back from the torturous and ever-changing world out there with a shipload of information that no one else understood. The police have two systems, Linda said -- the official system, and "the other one." It was our happy lot to listen to Jeff clarify both for us.
Jeff began with two simple questions: what do the police do? And why do they do it? It turned out that Jeff had to answer a third question: just who are the police?
A very important talk from a very insightful presenter. Jeff is currently looking for work in a sociology or anthropology department here.
The Former Native Speaker gets revenge for the way our English has been impacted from years of living in Taiwan:
The former native Chinese speaker has complained recently that my mispronunciation of several tones in Mandarin is beginning to affect her pronunciation. Most egregious of my mistakes is my frequent reference to the "kitchen waste container" (廚餘桶 chu2 yu2 tong3) as the chu3 yu2 tong3 (楚瑜桶, perhaps named in honor of James Soong?).
I especially like the snarky political reference there, Jon.
Taipei Nights offers humorous insights into cartography in the Age of the KMT:
I look upon Shi Da's Chinese Language and Culture Program partially as a tool of Taiwanese aggrandisement. The most popularly used text is quite overtly patriotic. Moreover, the sheer number of scholarship students, such as myself, suggests an attempt to build an army of people who's perception of Taiwan has been heavily influenced by the free money, and relaxed life style. My favourite aspect of this exercise is the maps placed in every single classroom at the Language Center. Every room has one map of Taiwan, and one map of the World. They are identical in every room. The Map of Taiwan (R.O.C.) is quite unremarkable, with little worth commenting upon. The World map at first glance appears to be the same, unremarkable in every way.
That is until one takes a closer inspection. The first thing you're likely to notice is that Taiwan is part of China on this particular map. This isn't particularly noteworthy as this was the official government stance for decades and of course is an opinion still held by a not insignificant minority. Beijing is referred to as Beiping, ffectively changing the meaning from Northern Capital to Northern Peace. Fair enough, we wouldn't want the illigetimate commie/fascist government center to be considered the capital. This too is unsurprising, the GMD [KMT] tried for years to get people to call Beijing, Beiping, and some do.....
Don't miss the dialogue between a cartographer and a publisher....
Hinet and Blogspot had a disgreement this week, with the resuly that many bloggers lost the ability to see their blogs for two days. So not many people posted on the Chen-Ma meeting. That was one reason, anyway. The other was probably the fact that none of us anticipated anything from it, which made discussion of it more an act of theatre criticism than political reflection. Tim at Indiac had a review in his usual slashing style:
Thursday's Taipei Times reports that according to Taiwan's representative to the US, David Lee, the US is "happy" with the April 3, 2006 meeting between President Chen Shui-bian and KMT chairman and Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou. I, too, am happy about it -- mostly about the clarity that resulted from what each side said.
Ma brought up Chen's "five noes" several times, giving Chen the chance to finally say out loud that which I have been reminding readers of on many occasions recently: that the promises within his "five noes" were based on the condition that China not militarily threaten Taiwan. Chen reminded Ma of the increasing number of missiles and of the "anti-secession" law (which "legislates" the arbitrary use of "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan).
Ma, on the other hand, unwittingly made it clear that his and the KMT's position is based on lies, lies, and more lies. By continuing to use a long-dried-out, recently-detached dingleberry (the so-called "1992 consensus") which was barehandedly retrieved from a 5-ton pile of horseshit as a basis for treating the DPP as a "major enemy" and China as a "minor enemy," he demonstrated a clear disregard for the simple truth.
KMT con artist Su Chi admitted just this February that he made up the term "1992 consensus."
The meeting was clear Chen victory over Ma. Chen is a wily political operator with real experience riding herd on a major democratic party, and his experience, brains, and dedication far outshone Ma's. Polls gave the nod to Chen in that one. It is interesting to read Robert Ross' slanted article in Foreign Affairs (Taiwan's Fading Independence Movement? Or Robert Ross' Fading Understanding?) against Chen's superb performance. No matter how much wishful thinking US policymakers indulge in, Taiwan independence isn't going to go away.
Jerome Keating defines three key phrases in the cross-strait lexicon:
Three key phrases that every member of the world community should know and be able to explain as regards Taiwan/China Cross-Strait Affairs are the following: status quo, the Consensus of 1992, and the National Unification Guidelines. To facilitate this, the following excerpts from the Dummies Guide to Understanding Taiwan/China Cross-Strait Phraseology are provided below.
It's incredible that Ma could still refer to the "1992 Consensus" when there is no such thing.
Big Ell's Taiwaner of the Week is none other than the lovebirds of Taitung County Chief fame:
Wu Chun-li (吳俊立) won an election last December 3 to gain the county commissioner post. He was suspended on December 20 after being sworn-in because of profiteering charges stemming from his days as Taitung County councilor. He then divorced his wife Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞) and named her deputy magistrate. This slick move allowed Wu to circumvent laws that prohibit naming
close relatives as deputies.
Facing profiteering and vote-buying charges Wu formally resigned on January 23. He is appealing the case. This led to a Taitung County Commissioner by-election. This also led to Ms. Kuang's decision to run for the Taitung County Commissioner position. On April 1st, Kuang Li-chen is elected in a landslide to become the first female magistrate in Taitung's history. The quote of the week goes to Ms. Kuang when she yelled "We won it back!" upon hearing the election results.
Read the post, it's a great overview of the whole sick affair.
Taiwan Today posts statistics to combat the horrible propaganda that the KMT-dominated media put out about Taiwan's economic "recession." Apparently our exports grew 14% in March. The economy is growing stably at 4%. But you'd never know that from the steady drumbeat of complaints from the pro-China camp.
Taiwan's exports, which drove a pickup in the economy in the most recent quarter, probably showed little signs of cooling in March, economists said.I usually take great pains to refute the "Taiwan's economy is in recession" nonsense wherever it crops up.
Overseas sales probably rose 14 percent from a year earlier, the same pace as in the first two months, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 20 economists. The figures will be released today at 4 p.m. in Taipei.Booming sales of semiconductors and notebook computers to China and the U.S., Taiwan's biggest markets, has kept the economy humming and the government in February raised its growth forecast for 2006. Exports powered the quickest economic expansion in 18 months in the fourth quarter.
Daniel at Suitcasing is on a tear. There's no way I can round up all his great posts, so have at them yourself....but this one on troublemakers is a good representative....
Something that seems very tempting to foreign teachers in Taiwan is the urge to inform everyone how things should be done. You don't agree with how your school teaches children, how your boss treats you, nor with your colleagues' working practices. I was like this, when I arrived; I've come to believe it's not a good idea.
In other words: keep your big mouth shut.
Quite true. The Taiwanese are neither stupid nor illogical, and they usually have good reasons for the way they do things.
One regrettable incident this week was the resignation of 69 year old Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mo over an alleged affair with woman three decades younger than himself. The paper that revealed this nothing event was none other than Apple Daily, well known around these parts for simply making up news. Jason at Wandering to Tamshui posted on the event:
For those of you suffering through Taiwan scandal withdrawal, your delivery is at hand: Judicial Yuan Vice President and Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mou (城仲模) has resigned from his posts this week amid reports of an illicit and poorly-explained affair with an assistant professor.
Making a rare foray into trash journalism, the Apple Daily reported that Judge Cheng was seen entering a motel in Taipei County with A Woman Who Is Not His Wife, where they stayed for an all-too-brief 70 minutes. Chastened by the attention, but not broken, the allegedly randy jurist did his best to put an innocent spin on the relationship:
As several of us noted in the comments, it stinks of a set up. Maddog had it down perfectly:
Points of suspicion:
*The photographer from the wormy Apple Daily checked into a nearby room just over 10 minutes after Cheng and Wang arrived at the motel.
* The wormy photographer was seen scouting the location by a motel worker two days prior to the incident.
* The judge admitted going to the motel, but the woman denied everything (being with the judge, having a "stomachache," going to the motel, etc.).
* The woman in the photos is wearing the standard "victim" disguise (big hat and sunglasses).
* The wormy Apple Daily claimed to have records of phone calls between the woman and the judge. Unless they are the police, how is it possible that they have these records? Did the woman provide them? If not her, who?
* Contra what the Liberty Times said about an untouched room, my wife tells me he wormy Apple Daily had photos of a room with its bed messed up. I asked how they were able to get into the room to take such photos. She suspects that the wormy photographer photographed his own room. The people at the wormy paper do love "reenacting" stuff -- even if it didn't happen.
In an FTV interview, the judge said that the reason he stepped down ws that because he had been duped, the public would tend to doubt his ability to do his job.
Having said all that, I'll believe there was an "affair" when there's evidence. For now, it's part of the same story as the "backwards" flag: an attempt to distract the public from Ma Ying-jeou's slip'n'slide into the political abyss.
Lest we forget Diane Lee and Twu Shiing-jer!
I admit that I laughed my head off at Jason's tongue-in-cheek remark that Apple made a "rare" foray into trash journalism.
The Foreigner on Formosa has also been on a roll. This week he points out that Ma actually encouraged the EU to drop its ban on weapons sales to China while at the same time opposing US weapons sales to Taiwan:
Saturday's Taiwan News reported on a ceremony marking the 17th anniversary of the death of Deng Nan-jung, a Taiwanese democracy advocate. Deng was apparently the editor of a weekly magazine, "Era of Liberty", when it published a hypothetical constitution for a Taiwanese republic. For this, the KMT shut the magazine down, and issued a subpoena for him to answer charges of sedition. Rather than comply, Deng committed suicide by lighting three barrels of gasoline in his office. Sedition charges. For PROPOSING a new constitution. And only 17 years ago. It's easy for the world to forget how recently stuff like that was happening here.
Speaking of sedition, the March 22nd edition of the Taipei Times had a letter to the editor with a couple of intriguing paragraphs in it:
The post is a wonderful juxtaposition of past and present. Few, if any of my students even know this case.
Hanjie wonders whether Taiwanese are Xenophilic or Xenophobic:
Basically, Canadian, American, British, Thai, Philippino, Vietnamese and Japanese, they all share a common ground: "the outsider". But what makes Taiwanese treat them differently? Is there racial discrimination in Taiwan? Of course there is racial discrimination in Taiwan, actually, it exists inevitably in all kind of forms. A big part of the foundations of racial discrimination in Taiwan is based on how wealthy the country is then skin color. And the stereotype Taiwanese possess is Caucasian are from wealthy western developed countries, whereas Thais and Philippinos are from poor developing countries. Thus, in general, Taiwanese are xenophilic to Caucasian but xenophobic to other Asians. This is a very interesting phenomenon in Taiwan, and it has expanded the ego of some of the Caucasian outrageously and some of the Taiwanese just can't do enough for them. Therefore, it's not surprising to see a Taiwanese flatter a Caucasian but look down on other Asians. Of course, there are always exceptions and exceptions reflect the selfishness of human nature honestly. We show great generosity to countries we can't even pronounce to seek diplomatic breakthrough. We help Vietnamese to set up a lab for clinical diagnosis in turn we get access to samples collection which can't be done in Taiwan.This is a Taiwanese writing. It is great to see a Taiwanese frankly discussing local racism and thinking about what it might mean. [This sentence is followed by an unvoiced But...]
Tea Masters tells us how to taste teas in the professional way: Tea tasting DYI
Above is the professional tea tasting set used during Taiwan's various tea competitions. The soup spoon is usually not included. Each taster has one that he rinses before trying a new tea. How do they use the spoon? First, the taster plunges the spoon in the tea and then smell its back. Second, the spoon also serves to fill a cup to drink the tea. (Like for wine, professionnal tasters will spit the tea, especially if they are tasting over 20 teas at a time.)
This competition tea ware is not often sold in Western tea shops. So, how can you perform a professional tasting to compare several teas without investing in this equipement? Imagine, for instance, that you want to compare 3 teas in a standardized way.
SHORTS: Scott Sommers and I are participating in a Blogging Roundtable at NCKU on April 22. Come one, come all! David does Tomb Sweeping Day and Spinning around above Taipei. Ryan Whelan turns me on to The Edge. Who are the modern masters of deconstruction? Kerim Friedman points to a great essay. Brian is conducting a Taipei Hypnosis Workshop on April 23. Todd Alperovitz blogs on the Lin Family Home in Taipei, with plenty of great pics. El Spencer rocks to Wu Bai in Taichung. Freeflying Taiwan has great pics of hang gliding and flying here. TaiwanHo! serves notice on the Swenson's Breakfast Club: they'll have a site dedicated to it. Don't miss the podcasting at Getting a Leg Up, The Bluesman's Killing Floor, Misadventures in Taiwan, Ugly Expat, The Formosa Diaries, 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, Finding the Rabbit, and The New Hampshire Bushman in Taiwan and The World. Also, Waiguoren Project wants your stories.
New blogs on the roll:
.Rosa's Random Stuff
....New to Taiwan
.......Living.....Canadian in Taiwan
..........Hsinchu Divers Club
............Beyond the land of spare room
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UPDATE: Added missing links