Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Custom Taiwan Politics Search

Jerome and David yakking at a Swenson's meetup earlier this year.

Having served out his five-year sentence, David of Jujuflop left Taiwan, vanished into the maw of Google and has not been seen for months. Now he has emerged to construct a Google Co-op Taiwan Politics search that searches the major politics blogs and websites on Taiwan. Enjoy! I plan to add it to my sidebar.....

Sausage II

I guess am starting a series on sausages available in Taiwan, a reader sent me this link to a South African sausage lover who is making life on the Beautiful Island tastier with every link.

Beeb 2000-6 Taiwan Timeline: Problems.

STOP_MA and Maddog have been pointing out lately that the BBC Taiwan timeline for 2000-6 has some pretty powerful pro-Blue biases (the Taiwan history Timeline isn't too bad). I thought I'd take a look.....(BBC timeline in bold).


Timeline: Taiwan
2000 March - Chen Shui-bian wins presidential elections, ending the Nationalist (Kuomintang) Party's 50-year monopoly of power.

"elections" is plural? There are lots of English errors in this timeline. Speculation on that follows.

2000 May - Chen Shui-bian says in his inaugural speech that he will not declare independence as long as China does not attack. He says he won't call for a referendum on independence, nor abolish Taipei's official blueprint for an eventual reunion with mainland China.

China responds by accusing him of insincerity, and by saying he had evaded the key question of whether he considered Taiwan part of China.

While Chen's remarks were important events, it is curious why the BBC considers the pro-forma Chinese response worthy of comment here. Is Chen's consideration of whether Taiwan is a part of China of the same level of importance as SARS or the Fourth Nuclear Plant issue? Nope! Consider all the other things that happened in 2000 -- for example, 2000 was the first year in many years that Taiwan experienced negative economic growth. Surely that is more important than the usual Chinese expansionist intrasigence. More to the point, consider also the context. The majority of this timeline discusses events relevant only to the sovereignty debate between China and Taiwan. Ask yourself whether a real Taiwan-centered timeline would focus so strongly on the sovereignty issue and on China's responses to Taiwan. Equally important was the positive US response -- but for some reason it isn't mentioned. Instead, the Chinese response is presented as an implicit negative critique of Chen Shui-bian.

2000 August - President Chen Shui-bian stops over briefly in the United States before starting a two-week tour of Central America and Africa. He gets no official welcome.

The trip may be worthy of mention, but note how the context is construed -- Chen gets "no official welcome" (in fact Clinton penned him up in a hotel). The BBC could have inserted "as per US policy, Chen gets no official welcome." Without that context, it is essentially an attack on Chen Shui-bian. This is reinforced because the BBC does not mention Chen's 2001 stopover in the US, where he was warmly welcomed by a planeload of Congressmen who had flown up to see him, and by the Mayor of New York, and on the way back, in Houston where he saw a baseball game and hung out with Tom Delay. Two other transits of US territory and their different results are also left out, meaning that the reader has no other context by which to judge the statement "he gets no official welcome." It is thus hard to argue that the purpose of that last comment is anything but to reflect negatively on Chen.

2000 October - Government halts work on the construction of a nuclear power plant, sparking a major political row. It argues that the facility - approved and started under the previous government - would not be a safe source of energy.

Again the context is gone -- the previous KMT government approved the nuclear power plant only after a decade of wrangling, a fact that could easily have been indicated in the timeline. Shutting it down had long been a goal of the democracy movement.. The facility is not only unsafe but also quite expensive, and many observers feel Taiwan would be better off investing in wind and other renewables. Note how "approved and started under the previous government" acts as a negative critique of the DPP's decision.

2000 October - Chang Chun-hsiung sworn in as prime minister. He replaces Tang Fei, from the main opposition Nationalist Party, who stepped down amid disputes with President Chen, over issues including the scrapping of the nuclear plant.

It would be nice if the Beeb referred to the Nationalist Party by its full name, the Chinese Nationalist Party. The BBC does not mention that it is normal for PMs to go in and out in Taiwan -- they are, after all, appointed by the President and are entirely his creature. Needless to say no other change of premier is mentioned.

2001 April - The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, meets President Chen during a visit which draws strong opposition from China.

Again, a reference to a China-centered sovereignty issue followed by "strong opposition from China." Such opposition, as every intelligent person knows, is pro forma. So many other things happened on the island in 2001. Why are none of them mentioned? This timeline is China-centered, not Taiwan-centered. For example, a timeline centered around Taiwan might have mentioned the opposition's first attempt to recall Chen over the nuclear plant issue.

2001 April - US says it will go ahead with sales of submarines, warships and anti-submarine aircraft, but not the requested naval combat radar system Aegis. China protests and President George W Bush pledges to help Taiwan should China invade.

This is a key event and deserves to be here. Note how the US appears in context with China only. It never appears by itself here as an important actor in Taiwan events in its own right. Note the awkardness of that phrasing "naval combat radar system" which almost suggests a translation from Chinese. The correct name is the Aegis Advanced Combat System.

2001 June - Taiwan test-fires Patriot anti-missile defence system bought from US, as China carries out military exercises simulating invasion of island.

China-centric again. This kind of thing happens every year. Many interesting things happened in Taiwan this year. Why are none of them here?

2001 November - Taipei lifts a 50-year ban on direct trade and investment with China.

Note the completely China-centric point of view -- the timeline needs only a few words to note that Taiwanese businessmen have already been flooding into China for a decade at this point to make the context clear. In other words, the lifting of the ban was a formality that recognized an already vibrant reality.

2001 December - Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) party loses its parliamentary majority for the first time.

Important event - and yet note, instead of reporting a DPP victory, it reports a Nationalist loss. The term "DPP" does not appear in this timeline.

2002 January - Taiwan officially enters the World Trade Organisation, only a few weeks after China.

Why mention China here? After this the entire year of 2002 was skipped. Yet this year a quake knocked a crane off Taipei 101, killing several, the China Airlines flight to Hong Kong fell out of the sky near the Penghu, taking 225 with it, the First Lady had a highly successful trip to the US, there was a record drought, worst in almost two decades, and a major policy failure with the credit union reform that brought down then-Premier Yu. But mentioning those things would make the timeline Taiwan-centered instead of China-centered.....

2003 May - Dramatic rise in cases of the pneumonia-like Sars virus.

2003 July - Taiwan is the final country to be removed from the WHO's list of countries which were badly affected by the Sars virus.

Note how this apparently reflects negatively on Taiwan ("final country"). What if this had been contextualized by adding "after Canada." Note that there is no mention of Taiwan's attempts to enter the WHO, a situation that would automatically occur to anyone viewing SARS from the Taiwan point of view. In other words, while on one hand the timeline constantly presents Taiwan "provoking" China, on the other, it fails to mention any examples of China suppressing Taiwan's international status, an important experience from the Taiwan standpoint. This timeline is China-centric, not Taiwan-centered.

2003 November - Taiwan unveils the 508-metre Taipei 101 building, which it says is the world's tallest.

"...which it says.." Does the BBC mean that the claim that it is the world's tallest office building is disputed? Why not just say "currently the world's tallest office building."

2003 November - Parliament approves bill to allow referendum on declaring independence should China attack. Referendums on sovereignty and changing country's name are not sanctioned.

Again, after SARS and Taipei 101, we're back to the sovereignty issue.

2004 March - President Chen Shui-bian wins a second term by a slender margin. His win follows an apparent assassination attempt against him on the eve of elections.

An "apparent assassination attempt." I suppose those were "apparent" bullet holes in the jeep's window? Only the pro-China side believes that the assassination was fake and would refer to it as an "apparent" assassination attempt. There was an actual assassination attempt by a Blue supporter who was found by following the chain of evidence.

2004 November - Court rejects opposition challenge that President Chen Shui-bian won March's presidential election unfairly.

Why is this even here? Did nothing else happen in 2004 between March and November? The Court's rejection of the Blue fantasties was a foregone conclusion, since the Blues had no evidence for their outlandish claims. Why not mention the beef dispute with the US? But then...that has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the Chen presidency (a obsession of the Blues) or China.

2005 January - Aircraft chartered for the Lunar New Year holiday make the first direct flights between Taiwan and China since 1949.

Again, a sovereignty-related event. Acceptable because it is an important milestone.

2005 March - Taiwan condemns a new Chinese law giving Beijing the legal right to use force should Taipei declare formal independence.

Clearly biased -- no law can give Beijing a legal right to murder Taiwanese. I doubt that the BBC would argue that murder of dissidents in China was a "legal right" of the PRC since that government passed a law saying it could kill them. This is clearly tremendously biased. Not to mention ethically offensive.

2005 April - National Party (KMT) leader Lien Chan visits China for the first meeting between Nationalist and Communist Party leaders since 1949.

A milestone.

2005 June - Reform requiring future constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum arouses China's concern that it will be easier for activists to promote moves towards independence.

So many things happening in the first half of 2005. Yet the focus is on China's concern about a Taiwanese constitutional reform. Why not add a sentence that notes that the Constitution was never approved by the local public, or that it is unwieldy and has been amended more than a dozen times since the early 1990s to fit the new democratic society. Or anything at all about the context of constitutional change in Taiwan?

2005 July - National Party (KMT) elects mayor of Taipei Ma Ying Jeou as its new leader.

First, it's the Nationalist Party. Second, Chinese names are formally written out as with the given name capitalized and then in lowercase: Ma Ying-jeou. Third, where is the DPP? It has had several chairman during this period. The formation of the KMT splinter PFP in 2001, now an important factor in local politics, is also ignored in this timeline. In addition to not mentioning any of the leaders of the DPP, it also ignores the important local PFP politician James Soong. It is both KMT-centric and China-centric.

2005 December - Opposition KMT triumphs in municipal elections. The result is interpreted as a mid-term vote of no confidence in President Chen Shui-bian.

Note how the timeline gets in a dig at President Chen. However, the various triumphs of the DPP (a term never used on this timeline) were not similarly presented as a judgment on the KMT. For example, the BBC does not mention that the Blues blew an aggregate 20 point lead over Chen in the 2004 Presidential election.

Note also that about this time US officials start showing up in Taipei to put pressure on the Blues to pass the arms purchase bill. Despite the fact that the arms purchase has dominated headlines here for the last two years, the BBC mentions it only once, in 2001, when Bush approved the deal. Think what other things a Taiwan-centered timeline might mention -- the ongoing gravel crisis, the Kaohsiung MRT foreign laborer scandal, the National Assembly and Constitutional amendment process changes, Ang Lee's Oscar, educational reform, the reconfiguring of the legislature, the development of economic links with China, the disputes with Japan and other neighboring nations over nearby islands, the water shortages in Taipei, the opening of new national parks, the disputes over the Meinung and other dams, the delivery of the Kidd class destroyers... there's so much going on here, and none of it appears here. But the Beeb always has space to report China's pro forma responses to Taiwan's democracy in action.

2006 February - Taiwan scraps the National Unification Council, a body set up to deal with reunification with the mainland. China says the decision could bring "disaster".

Again, the pro forma Chinese reaction to a sovereignty issue (no "disaster" occurred, so why even mention this?). The BBC could have inserted the word "defunct" or "symbolic" before the term "body" to provide at least some context, or after the word "disaster" inserted the phrase, "...objecting as it did when the body was first established." Or mentioned the really interesting thing -- the relatively muted Chinese reaction, and the really over-the-top US reaction. But that would mean mentioning the US.....

2006 June - Under pressure over corruption allegations against a family member, President Chen cedes some of his powers to the prime minister.

This is just plain silly. Anyone recall this event now? Why not? Because it was a meaningless political show: Chen cannot cede his powers, and the Premier cannot accept them (anyone ever see a concrete list of exactly what was ceded, how, and when?). All the things going on in Taiwan this year, and the BBC mentions this. One has to question their understanding of Taiwan affairs.

2006 October - President Chen survives an attempt by parliament to force a referendum on his rule - the second in four months. His opponents and supporters take to the streets.

Poorly worded. Chen did not "survive" as he was never in danger, since the legislature lacked the votes. The move did not stem from "parliament" but from the opposition. By using the term "parliament" the BBC lends a spurious bipartisanship to the motion. "Take to the streets" is a ridiculous overstatement -- the demonstrations were largely peaceful and confined to the downtown district of Taipei (and have been fundamentally over since Oct 10). Outside of Taipei there were no large demonstrations at all. Chen's supporters demonstrated once. There were minor incidents down south, but they hardly qualify as "taking to the streets."

It's always hardest to see what's not present -- and what's not here? Japan, for example, though the Diaoyutai disputes were a constant source of news, and Japan has been drifting closer to Taiwan over the last five years. We all know who doesn't like mentioning Japan's ties to Taiwan: the pro-China side. Nor are Taiwan's relations with any other nations mentioned. Nor is Taiwan's extensive technology and business sector, though many milestones were met. Nor are any cultural milestones mentioned -- Ang Lee wins an Oscar, for example. Nor is the DPP mentioned by name, nor are any major DPP leaders mentioned -- only Chen Shui-bian. We all know which side obsesses about the activities of Chen Shui-bian, deprecates the DPP, and glorifies Lien Chan and Ma Ying-jeou. At the moment, the sidebar has pictures of Chiang Kai-shek's widow, a figure of zero importance for the last quarter century, and Lien Chan, who has no formal position in the KMT. No pictures of Chen, Lu, or any other major figure from the democracy side.

Biased? It's as plain as the BB in BBC.

BONUS: just for fun, try playing spot-the-bias in the BBC's completely pro-China explanation of Taiwan's status for the 2004 elections. It makes this timeline look positively fair and balanced.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Taichung to get World Class Opera House

Do fiscal crises drive extravagant spending, or do they just highlight it? Earlier this year the Taichung county government, flat broke, petitioned the central government for permission to increase dredging in local rivers so it could sell the gravel for a few dollars. Here in the small Taichung county town where I live the speed cameras are all broken because there is no money to fix them. And yet the government has decided that what central Taiwan really needs is a world class opera house. Sucking down large sums of central government quatloos...

Premier Su Tseng-chang agreed Saturday to offer an additional NT$500 million in construction grant for the Taichung municipal government to build a world-class opera house in the central city.The planned Taichung opera house originally called for an outlay of NT$2.4 billion and the Cabinet-level Council for Cultural Affairs had agreed to contribute half of the needed budget.

As the winning design for the new opera house, created by a Japanese architect, requires special technology and materials, city officials said the construction cost will spike by more than NT$1.1 billion. The city government has expressed its hope that the Executive Yuan offers more grant for the project.

During a community outreach of Taichung Saturday, Su acceded to an increase of NT$500 million in the central government's grant for the ambitious construction project after Taichung Mayor Jason Hu made three assurances -- the city government will be able to complete the project smoothly, the city council fully supports the project and there will be no more cost overruns.

Wow! It would be truly amazing to see an infrastructure project here in Taiwan with no cost overruns and smooth completion (can anyone say "High Speed Rail?"). Apparently since we lost the Guggenheim when the city council balked, we are going to get an opera house by way of compensation -- note that Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (KMT) had to provide assurances that the city council would not reject this project.

For a look at the winning design, go here. It looks like someplace where Captain Kirk was enslaved on an alien planet. I'm sure it will fit right into the tile-n-concrete world of Taichung.

[Taiwan] [Taichung]

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Taiwan Matters: Arms Purchase Stuff

Again, if you haven't read Feiren's excellent post yesterday on AIT Chairman Steve Young's blunt criticism of Blue obstructionism on the arms purchase over at Taiwan Matters, you need to. Feiren writes:

Crystal clear. End of strategic ambiguity. Finally someone in the US administration who understands that what we need is clarity, not obfuscation. Tellingly, Ma Ying-jeou complained that Young would have advanced his cause if he had been more 'wan3zhuan3' or indirect. Bullshit. The Taiwanese people need to hear what their security partner thinks directly without the mediation of paternal nationalists like Ma.

And just in case Ma was not listening carefully:

The United States is watching closely and will judge those who take responsible positions on this as well as those who play politics. Because fundamentally, this moment and this opportunity could pass and be missed by Taiwan if it doesn't seize it.

Again this is 指桑罵槐 'pointing at the mulberry while cursing the acacia.' While the immediate target is James Soong, Young and the US are in fact rightly holding Ma Ying-jeou responsible for the arms budget impasse.

The US does not want to see Taiwan go the way of South Korea and become a Chinese client state. After years of wondering if anyone in Washington gets Taiwan, we have an answer: Steve Young does.

Heady stuff from a longtime commentator on things Taiwan. I've also commented on the Taipei Times publishing a couple of articles today further expanding on the issues.

As for me, for the entire year and more I've been asking US officialdom to send someone over here with the clout and the understanding to talk directly to the Blues and inform them that the world doesn't revolve around them, and, to get the US to do it again and again until the message sinks in. It's an absolute delight to see the US actually doing that. Now if only Steve Young would brng me back a 10 pound brick of fresh parmesan from his next trip to the States, AIT would complete my happiness....

IMHO, the US really, really needs to do something about the price of the submarines. Even the supporters of the purchase have trouble swallowing that one.......and they would shut up the Blues instantly, exposing their intransigence-for-the-sake-of-intransigence for all to see.

EXTRA: This Taiwan Focus post, saved on my blog, written by someone I know to be an expert, has some very good background info on the arms purchase.

EXTRA: The pro-Blue China Post, traditionally pro-KMT and anti-Soong, attempted to recast the remarks as criticism of Soong's PFP:

Young's plea was directed at the People First Party, that is strongly opposed to the arms purchase.

James Soong, PFP chairman "on leave" to run for mayor of Taipei, considering the plea as "an ultimatum," said he is not opposed to the package per se.

"What we oppose is a fool's purchase," Soong said. That is a purchase of overly priced weapons not necessarily suitable for Taiwan's self-defense.

Soong said Young met him Wednesday. "I told him," he stressed, "the United States 'cannot tell us when to pass which piece of legislation.'" His party is most likely to ignore the plea and remain opposed to the purchase.

But as the Taipei Times and Feiren both pointed out in their discussions, Young's remarks are directed at Taiwan's leading invertebrate, Mayor Ma Ying-jeou of Taipei, Chairman of the KMT and presidential hopeful. This is a blunt warning about the future. Fortunately for the side of Right, I doubt the Blues will heed it.

Daze in the Life

A few scenes from a life. Enjoying one of Taiwan's most interesting flowers.

I spend a lot of time hanging out with the undergrads during the Coffee Corner program the university offers to give students the chance to practice their English with a living breathing foreigner. Here are Terry and Herbert, two of the students helping me.




Chatting with Jessie

Taking the econ test.

Watching a rock concert on campus.

My life as a pedestrian: a fortune teller on a Fengyuan side street.

My life as a teacher: night econ class.

My life as a PHD student: watching a presentation.

My life as a train station denizen.

Taiwan: a nation under construction.

Sunday morning we went down to the hardware market near the train station.

A paradise for men who remember the days when real men bashed metal, not pushed electrons around.

No space is so small that scooters won't speed down it.

A hardware store along the street.

An alley outside in the wholesale vegetable market area.

Mom and the kids buy veggies.

The hardware lane is bounded on both sides by morning meat and vegetable markets.

Picking a chicken...or a turkey....or a pigeon...

Black Bridge Sausage: Yum

Tired of eating those cloying Chinese sausages with chunks of fat in them like icebergs in the North Atlantic? To my great delight, this year Black Bridge came out with two new western-style sausages, a pork "bockwurst" and a pork-and-cheese bockwurst. The flavor is a lot more like what we used to get at home, and the price of a package of five of the too-slim sausages is just ~$70, or about a quarter of what imported varieties will set you back. Nope, they ain't like the chorizos at your local bodega, and they won't fill you up like a kielbasa on rye slathered with horseradish, but they are definitely not bad at all. Most of the major supermarket chains like Shin Nung and volume retailers like Carrefour will have them in the processed meats department...enjoy!

Taiwan in the Media

There's some meaty stuff in the international media about Taiwan:
  • The BBC's Caroline Gluck turns in an excellent piece on the plight of AIDS victims on the Beautiful Isle, also in the news recently here. Meanwhile, is the BBC slanted Blue? Well, it calls the assassination attempt on Chen by a pro-Blue whackjob an "apparent assassination" on its timeline of Taiwan events. That's pure Blue propaganda. As Maddog noted, I guess the bullet holes in the windshield of Chen's jeep were only "apparent bullet holes".......

  • Over at the Financial Times, Kathrin Hille reports on the move to strip the KMT of its plunder. The article is now out of date; the bill has been returned to the various Committees responsible for it.

  • Hille also reports on AIT chief Steve Young's warnings to the Blues about their behavior on the arms purchase, killed in committee 60 times. She also reports that it is the Blues doing the obstructing. Good on her.

  • The International Herald Tribune carries the AP report of Li Ao's gassing of the legislature.

  • The Financial Times also reports on the consumer lending crisis that has become such a big political issue here recently. The crisis was averted by sticking banks with the problem, "depressing margins in that market for years to come."

  • Ting Yi-tsai reports in the Asia Times on the comic opera banana crisis in Taiwan and its China connection, as well as good info on Taiwan's ag relations with China. Don't miss Johnny Neihu's caustic commentary on the mess.

  • Incinerate Hau with Accusations of Corruption

    *Yawn* The DPP assault on KMT Taipei Mayoral hopeful Hau lung-bin has gotten into gear with accusations that Hau approved illegal incinerator construction by the Japanese firm Mitsubishi when he was head of the EPA in 2002. Taiwan has scores of incinerators, and many are either illegal, or operate illegally. Beginning in 1981, the government here embarked on a program to develop waste-to-energy incineration on the island, with a goal of 21 such incinerators on the island by 2005. The government also subsidizes ash sold to reuse facilities through cash grants to local governments. There's lots of opportunity in waste here on Taiwan.....

    Hau is essentially though vaguely accused of some kind of favoritism:

    Wang showed a document issued by the Cabinet's Public Construct-ion Committee to Hau in January and February 2002, in which the committee informed Hau that awarding the bid to Mitsubishi would be illegal, as the government had banned doing business with the Japanese company for a year because of an ongoing dispute with the state-run Chinese Petroleum Co.

    Wang added that the committee told Hau that allowing Mitsubishi to construct the project would be illegal unless the EPA could provide proof that it could not any other qualified supplier for the project.

    Although there were more than 20 big, legitimate and experienced companies that bid for the project, Hau arbitrarily decided in favor of Mitsubishi, Wang said.

    "As a government official ... you should defend public interests," Wang said.

    The decision caused a furor back in 2002 when Hau first approved it. From an article dated Feb 24, 2002, in the Taipei Times. At that time, since Hau was working for the DPP administration, he was attacked by the DPP's opponent, the Blue PFP:

    Yesterday, PFP legislator Hsieh Chang-chieh (謝章捷) criticized the EPA's favoring the Japanese firm, whose right to bid on public construction projects in Taiwan has been suspended by the Cabinet's Public Construction Commission since Dec. 7.

    "Why does the EPA open a door to an unwelcome client? Does it mean the company can still do business in Taiwan despite having been blacklisted?" Hsieh told the Taipei Times.

    The one-year right suspension of the Japanese firm, Hsieh said, was issued by the commission following the company's unsatisfactory performance in building LNG storage tanks for the Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油).

    Hsieh said EPA head Hau Ling-bin (郝龍斌) is the first agency chief to use the right granted by the Government Procurement Act to invite a bid without taking a suspension into account.

    Tactically speaking Hau was an excellent choice for the KMT, since his most prominent service to the government came in a DPP administration, meaning that the DPP cannot attack him without making themselves look bad. Brilliant. What was Hau's defense? Hau's defense is: It's Taiwan:

    In response, Hau's campaign office said later yesterday that the Taipei mayoral candidate has left the issue to his lawyer, adding that everything Hau did during the bid was done in accordance with the law.

    Hau was apparently within the law in ignoring the suspension of Mitsubishi's right to do business on the island. Apparently he had that authority as EPA Chief. Why is Taiwan so corrupt? Because the System gives officials too much power to supersede oversight processes and concentrates too many decisions and decisionmaking powers in the hands of single individuals.

    Brass Monkey English Language Night

    My friend Joyce Tsai forwarded this ad to me for the Brass Monkey's English Language Night tonight:


    The Brass Monkey
    English Language Night this Sunday
    Oct. 29 at 6:00 PM

    October 29, 2006

    The Brass Monkey's language program continues this month! If you want to practice English or Chinese in a fun environment, this is the chance you've been waiting for. Come and meet people like you, who want to improve their language skills!

    Admission is only $100, which covers the expenses of the program. (Admission is waived for native English speakers.) Reservations are not required, so come on down. You can bring friends or come alone; regardless, you're sure to have a good time.

    Do you know how many dreams most people have in a night? (Scroll down to find the answer) Dreams and their interpretation date back at least as far as 3000-4000 B.C. Dream research has shown that dreams play an important role, both physically and psychologically. After Sigmund Freud revolutionized the world of dream analysis more than a century ago, a new era of dream interpretation was ushered in. Today dream analysis and interpretation continues to be a source of wonder, inspiration and even healing. One popular theory goes that dreams are a safe outlet for the subconscious mind to release repressed feelings during waking hours. When dreaming, some people solve the problems they can't solve during daytime. Do you dream every night? Do you believe in dream interpretation? Can you interpret your dreams?

    What's your view on this topic? You're welcome to bring your views to share with us this Sunday. This is a perfect chance for you to learn about the topic, and at the same time, improve your English!

    Show and Tell
    Again this month we'll be practicing our tradition known as Show & Tell. All participants are invited to bring something from work, school, or home and show it to the rest of us. The item you bring can be anything--photos from a recent trip, a sample product from work, an old tooth even--anything at all. Whoever brings the most unusual item will win the grand prize for the evening.

    In addition to all that, English Language Night provides you with a way to meet people like you, who want to practice another language. No matter if you want to practice your English, Mandarin, or Taiwanese there's almost always someone who can talk to you--without a strange accent!

    English Language Night Coordinator
    Our coordinator for English Night is Joyce Tsai. Joyce has an advanced degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and several years' experience teaching English in Taiwan. Joyce has a lively and educational program lined up for this month so you're sure to want to attend.

    The co-coordinator this month is Chris Lawrence, a native speaker of English who taught in Taiwan for a number of years as well as at the University of Minnesota in the US.

    "The Brass Monkey (click here for more information) provides a relaxing atmosphere and native English speakers are often there to help you speak English. Many Taiwanese used to say they don't have a chance to practice English in Taiwan. Now, this is an opportunity you shouldn't miss." -- Anonymous satisfied attendee

    The answer is 4 - 7 per night. See you this Sunday!

    The Brass Monkey
    email: chris@brassmonkeytaipei.com
    voice: 02-2547-5050
    web: http://brassmonkeytaipei.com

    The Brass Monkey 166 Fushing North Rd. Taipei Taiwan 104

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    ELT Journal 1981-2004 CD ROM offer

    QBOOK, a publishing company I work for, dropped this in my mailbox:



    感謝您對 Q書買賣網 的支持與鼓勵; 茲附上敝公司網頁 http://qbook.com.tw ,請教授點閱參照。本公司獨家所代理之 ELT Journal on CD-ROM (1981~2004),將有助於教授您來從事研究。

    With the CD-ROM you can
    Use the complete listing of authors and titles to go straight to a known article. Search with one click through the entire contents of the CD-ROM to find every occurrence of any key word you choose. Use the contents page of each issue to get an overview of current topics. Print out complete articles or selected parts for your personal use. Paste quotations from the text directly into your own work.

    個人使用版: NT$ 3,300
    Available only to individuals for their personal use on a single machine.
    機構單機版: NT$ 6,700
    Available for use within institutions on a single designated machine.
    機構公播版: NT$ 23,000
    This covers use on a wide area network which is configured to allow only one user at a time to access the material.

    請不吝指教 ,推介採用,謝謝 !!


    研安 !

    Daily Links, Oct 28, 2006

    Had one of those days. Get in line behind the woman talking on the pay phone. Yak. Yak. Yak. Wait. Wait. Wait. Yak. Yak. Yak. Wait. Wait. Wait. Suddenly I realize: she's not talking on the payphone. She's standing in front of the pay phone, talking on her cellphone. Fortunately not everyone is as slow off the mark as I am today....

    SPECIAL: Feiren posts on one of the most extraordinary documents in recent memory from an American Institute in Taiwan Director, and US diplomat: a long warning to the Blues and above all Ma Ying-jeou:

    The United States is watching closely and will judge those who take responsible positions on this as well as those who play politics. Because fundamentally, this moment and this opportunity could pass and be missed by Taiwan if it doesn't seize it.

    This is a hugely important piece. Take a close look. I'll be back with my own comments tomorrow.

  • Jerome Keating announces a Taiwan Studies program at a prestigious London school
  • Scott Sommers on an incredible academic fraud case. Fascinating and depressing.
  • Wulingren ponders scooter accidents in Taipei.
  • David blogs on studying idioms.
  • Kerim at Keywords asks local Anglais bloggers to write on income equality in Taiwan without getting into a Blue/Green debate. Been there, done that, friend. But the income inequality problem drives the claim that the economy sucks that plays into Blue hands. Neither party will do anything because elites benefit.
  • Prince Roy samples Indian food in the Shihlin Night Market. I won't say more, lest I expire from jealousy.
  • nostalgiaphile rips the European Chamber of Commerce for demanding that Taiwan open up more to China. Misguided political cant masquerading as "economics."
  • Global baseball comes to Taichung. So does a documentary film festival this weekend. And of course, the jazz festival is still on today and tomorrow here in Taichung.
  • Poagao's book is the subject of an enthusiastic post at the Taiwan AF blog.
  • Sayaka Chatani, a GW student just like this blogger once was, posts the first in a series on Taiwan's conscription policy. What a beautiful name! I wonder if she plays Axis and Allies....
  • initechnology blogs on the CIA, Ray Cline and Taiwan. Fascinating stuff.
  • Cold Goat Eyes posts some great pics from his east coast trip.
  • What's Up in Taiwan interviews Garden of Hope's Linda Hinderer.
  • ESWN has a poll from the pro-Blue China Times on the arms purchase. My own experience is that the arms purchase does not necessarily fall out on party lines as ESWN claims -- I've been assigning it as an essay topic in my writing classes and quite often see Greens and Blues on both sides of that fence. Unfortunately the steady drumbeat of propaganda here on the issue has been effective, and my students spout all sorts of nonsense. The first part of the assignment is simply to look up what the facts are......
  • The Foreign snarks on James Soong and a leave of absence.

  • Enjoy your weekend!

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    Peking Duck at Anti-US protest in Taipei

    Richard of the Peking Duck had a surreal Friday morn in downtown Taipei as he bumped into a protest against the US weapons purchase.

    So the cameras are going out of their way to keep taping me as I take my pictures. And suddenly, a geezer in a straw hat wielding a large sign starts screaming at me in Taiwanese. I thought he was asking me to take a picture of him and his sign, so I raised my camera to do so. To my shock, he lunged toward me, still screaming, as if he was going to hit me with the sign. He then shouted, in broken English, "We hate you! Get out of here! Get out of Taiwan, American!" The TV cameras were taping the whole thing (all 5 seconds of it). With that, a group of police officers walked up, got between the angry demonstrator and me and led me away, insisting that I leave "for my own protection." I was the only Westerner there, and apparently this wasn't a good place for Westerners to be. For the record, the police were exceptionally courteous and I don't blame them for asking me to leave.
    The protesters were repeating Blue camp agitprop that the special budget weapons are archaic weapons the US dumps on Taiwan at inflated prices. I've heard it from my own students many times. The PFP and KMT, the major Blue camp parties, once more prevented the arms package from reaching the floor of the legislature -- the KMT reversed its position. I sure hope that the US government has noted how well the KMT keeps its promises to America and serves US and regional security interests.

    Soong and Shih together at last

    I've been speculating for a while now that Shih Ming-teh, the former DPP Chairman who switched sides in 2001 and led a pro-Blue demonstration in recent weeks to try and force out President Chen Shui-bian, is a tool of James Soong, the chairman of the People First Party (PFP). This week Shih switched from attacks on former comrade-in-arms Chen Shui-bian to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and its stolen assets:

    Yesterday the Million Voices Against Corruption campaign led by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) announced that it was changing the emphasis of the campaign from deposing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to pursuing the stolen assets of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

    At a press conference yesterday, Shih said that Chen's name had already been ruined and his place in history cemented. As Chen still hasn't been toppled and people are losing patience with the campaign's peaceful methods, he said that the next step would be to push for the passage of the "Sunshine Laws" and the passage of a law governing the assets of political parties in the legislature.

    Shih said that pursuing the KMT's stolen assets had gone on for too long and needed to be solved as quickly as possible.

    Is Shih a tool of Soong? Funny that the same week that Shih urges his mob to focus on the KMT, the PFP suddenly decided after a year of stonewalling to put the KMT's stolen asset bill on the legislative agenda:

    After being blocked by the pan-blue alliance for more than one year in the legislature, a statute designed to divest the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of its stolen party assets was put on the legislative agenda yesterday.

    The statute passed the pan-blue controlled Procedure Committee after People First Party (PFP) lawmakers turned their backs on their political ally over the issue.

    The PFP's move came as a shock to the KMT, as the parties had allegedly reached an under-the-table deal on Monday swapping KMT opposition to an arms procurement deal for PFP support in obstructing the statute.

    Whether or not the bill actually reaches the floor will be determined in a vote today, but the instructive thing here is to watch how the PFP and Shih appear to be working in concert. According to the tale, Shih called Soong to ask him to put the stolen asset bill on the agenda:

    Meanwhile, anti-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) campaign leader Shih Ming-teh (施明德) said yesterday that he had called Soong last week to persuade him to place the controversial statute on the agenda.

    "Party assets are a historic burden for the KMT. If [the party] doesn't deal with [the issue] now, it will follow the party like a shadow to the 2007 legislative election and the 2008 presidential election," the former DPP chairman said.

    The anti-Chen campaign's newfound support for the statute, however, met with a negative response from some of its supporters, who said they had joined the campaign to demand Chen's resignation, rather than to fight the KMT.

    No kidding -- the largely pro-Blue crowd's response was negative? Who wudda thunk that?

    The papers are explaining the stunning PFP volteface on the asset bill as Soong, currently running for Taipei mayor as an independent -- he asked himself for a leave of absence, and then granted it to himself -- revenging himself for remarks by Taipei Mayor and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou earlier

    The PFP's actions have been interpreted by some as a revenge attack after the reputation of Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), was allegedly "damaged" by KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who supposedly leaked a story about Soong to a foreign news outlet.

    Leverage, leverage, leverage. What does Soong want? With his popularity sliding..... (ESWN has the latest numbers from a China Times poll) ... anything is possible. Now that the Shih Ming-teh campaign against President Chen has pretty much shot its bolt (all talk of Shih staying there until either he or Chen is finished seems to have disappeared), Soong's Blue rival Hau Lung-bin, the KMT mayoral candidate, has rebounded in the polls. Even the DPPs Frank Hsieh, who has virtually no chance of winning the election at this point, has crept up. What will Soong do?

    Vanish into obscurity, hopefully. But not very likely, alas.

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Wild at Heart: Great Article on Raptor Killing in Taiwan

    Wild at Heart, the environmental organization, has a great article on raptor killings in Taiwan this week.

    Media reports of possibly thousands of Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle and smaller numbers of other raptors being hunted during the recent September-October migration period in the Southern Taiwan, Kenting National Park area are worrying. Once again, there is a need to raise awareness and highlight the plight of Taiwan’s raptors and insist that the authorities take action against those responsible. Additional measures must be put in place to protect these magnificent birds as they pass through Taiwan in their thousands in one of nature’s greatest spectacles.
    Wild at Heart does great things for Taiwan, and is a force for progress on this island. If you have some spare change, drop it in their donation box. They'll put it to good use.

    CFP for two Taiwan-related conferences

    H-Asia announces two more venues for those you itching to comment to the academic community:


    October 24, 2006

    Call for papers: Asia and the Other, Taiwan, June 2007
    From: H-Net Announcements

    Asia & the Other

    Location: Taiwan
    Call for Papers Date: 2006-12-31
    Date Submitted: 2006-10-10
    Announcement ID: 153117

    International Conference
    Department of English
    National Taiwan Normal University
    Taipei, TAIWAN
    June 23, 2007
    (Deadline for Proposals: December 31, 2006)

    Confirmed Invited Speakers:

    **Sneja Gunew, Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of
    British Columbia
    **Hugh J. Silverman, Professor of Philosophy and Comparative
    Stony Brook University
    **Scott Slovic, Professor of Literature and Environment, University of
    Nevada, Reno

    The year 1984 witnessed the taking place of a pioneering conference entitled "Europe and Its Others." With the publication of Edward W. Said's _Orientalism_ only a few years apart, the conference organized by the University of Essex engaged in discussions heralded in Said's monumental work and presented some of the most groundbreaking writings in the then-emerging field, "postcolonial theory," with the participation of numerous thought-provoking scholars, Said himself included. Now, a
    little over two decades later, the Department of English at National Taiwan Normal University invites proposals for an international conference, ASIA AND THE OTHER, soliciting input on Asia's positioning in light of the question of the Other/other.
    Presenting a similar-sounding theme with slight revision to the Essex conference, we would like to examine whether or not the idiom of the Self/Other demarcation is still relevant in the context of Asia. If yes, relevant in what ways? Is the present-day Asia still imagined in the same fashion as the old Orient once was? Does the rising economic force of Asia grant Asian countries "Occidentalist" optics through which they represent their others as old Orientalists did them?

    Without fixed conceptual presumptions, ASIA AND THE OTHER is interested not only in Asia's relations with "its" others, but also in Asia's relations with "the Other/other" as an ethical, political, epistemological, or ontological problematic. ASIA AND THE OTHER seeks to revisit issues taken up by earlier postcolonialist theorists with a different geopolitical focus; reexamine and update theoretical
    apparatuses often adopted in the discussions of the Self/Other issue, employing the
    realities of Asia, past and present, as examples; and stimulate conversations regarding the tensions or mutual productivity in cross-cultural, cross-national encounters.

    We welcome proposals from various disciplines, including (but not limited to) anthropology, art history and theory, cultural studies, film and media studies, gender studies, geography, history, linguistics, literary studies, performance studies, philosophy, political science, religion studies, and sociology. We are particularly interested in submissions that not only provide historically-grounded reflections but also boldly reassess predominant theoretical concerns in their specific field.

    Panel themes include (but are not limited to) the following:

    1. Discourses of the Other:
    Asian governments' foreign policies in history, cultural transformations occasioned by the arrival of Westerners, identity and class structure, ethnic imagination, subaltern cultures

    2. Revolution, Democracy, and Their Influence:
    nationalism, democratic reform, Marxism and Communism, cultural trends, social reform

    3. Imperialism and Colonialism:
    the rise and fall of imperialism and colonialism in the region,
    immigration, development of Asia after colonization

    4. Cultural Exchange in the Pacifics:
    evolution in language, spreading of technology, development of
    influence of Buddhism, arrival of Christianity, aftermath of wars,
    in education system, impact of interracial marriages, implication of
    gender issues

    5. Contemporary Literature and Comparative Literature:
    postcolonial literature, immigration literature, diasporic literature,
    popular literature, genre comparison and development

    6. Cinema, Visual Culture, Art, and the Media:
    representations of Asia in film, arts, music, popular cultures, and

    7. Criticism and Reflections on Theory:
    postcolonial theory, minority discourse, other theoretical discourses
    engaging the Self/Other issue

    8. Impact of Modernization:
    economic development, urbanization, globalization, consumerism, piracy
    culture, spatial politics, subcultures

    Papers may be presented in English or Chinese. Please send your proposal (500 words maximum) and a brief curriculum vitae by December 31, 2006 via e-mail to Chun-yen Jo Chen or by snail mail to Organizing Committee, ASIA AND THE OTHER, Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University, 162, Ho-ping East Road, Section 1, Taipei, TAIWAN.

    Notifications of acceptance will be made prior to January 31, 2007. Full papers (10-15 pages in length) are due May 15, 2007. Papers written in English may be submitted to _Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies_ to be considered for publication in a special issue dedicated to the conference theme.

    Inquiries should be addressed to:

    Organizing Committee, ASIA AND THE OTHER Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University 162, Ho-ping East Road, Section 1, Taipei, TAIWAN
    Phone: 02-2363-6143 ext. 205 (from outside of Taiwan: 886-2-2363-6143
    ext. 205)
    E-mail: jochen@ntnu.edu.tw
    Department website (with link to conference website):

    Organizing Committee
    Department of English
    National Taiwan Normal University
    162, Ho-ping East Road, Section 1
    Taipei, TAIWAN
    Phone: 02-2363-6143 ext. 205
    (from outside of Taiwan: 886-2-2363-6143 ext. 205)

    Email: jochen@ntnu.edu.tw
    Visit the website at http://www.eng.ntnu.edu.tw/


    October 24, 2006

    Call for papers: 13th Annual Conf. of North American Taiwan Studies
    Association, Madison, WI, June 8-10, 2007 DEADLINE Nov. 30 2006
    From: H-Net Announcements

    The 13th Annual Conference of North American Taiwan Studies Association

    Location: Wisconsin, United States
    Call for Papers Date: 2006-11-30
    Date Submitted: 2006-10-16
    Announcement ID: 153234

    The 13th Annual Conference of North American Taiwan Studies Association

    *An international and cross-disciplinary conference*
    - Date: June 8-10, 2007
    - Venue: University of Wisconsin -Madison, USA
    - Submission Deadline: November 30, 2006
    - Acceptance notification: January 20, 2007

    [Call for Papers]

    Part A. 2007 Main Theme

    Taiwan in the Nexus of 'Empires'

    Part B. 2007 Other Major Themes

    1. Political Corruption and Democratic Consolidation in Taiwan: issues
    specific interest include political corruption, judicial corruption,
    democratic consolidation, constitutional reformation, the social
    responsibilities of academics and intellectuals, and the role of the
    in shaping a mature democracy.

    2. Justice and Peace in Taiwan: issues of specific interest include the
    phenomenon and consequences of increasing wealth disparity, the
    of foreigners/foreign laborers, phenomenon and consequences of
    about and/or prejudice against gender roles, sexual orientation, and
    ethnic minorities, the prospect of achieving full equality/equity for
    marginalized groups (such as the aforementioned ones), peace studies,
    relationship between justice and the maintenance of peace, and the role
    civil society (NPO/NGO) and religion in achieving and defeating
    aforementioned justice, equality/equity, and peace.

    3. Reflection and Critique on Taiwan as an Information Society: issues
    specific interest include the social consequences and environmental
    of technological innovation and practice, ethical issues in an
    society, intellectual property, privacy, medical ethics, cyber-culture
    new media, and generational differences.

    Part C. Other Topics

    Please note that those who wish to pursue topics in Taiwan Studies that
    are not listed above may do so, but they are required to organize their
    own panels and submit panel proposals together with individual paper

    Conference contributors may be eligible for travel grants; details will
    announced on the website in February 2007.

    For details of the submission guideline and more information, please
    the NATSA website at http://www.na-tsa.org. Enquiries may be made to
    NATSA Secretary: secretary@na-tsa.org.

    We know that together we can make the 2007 Conference an intellectually
    exciting and rewarding experience and we look forward to receiving your

    North American Taiwan Studies Association
    email: secretary@na-tsa.org
    Visit the website at http://www.na-tsa.org

    STOP_MA: Bloomberg Blue Bias Barefaced

    My right arm still thinks it's a log, so my man STOP_MA volunteered to bring home the bacon with a guest blog on more bias and error in the international media. Enjoy!

    Bloomberg Blue Bias Barefaced

    Much has been written in this blog about the blatant pro-blue bias that is sadly so prevalent in the western corporate media these days. One can speculate as to why these so-called objective journalists continue to tell half-truths or to simply get it wrong on basic issues affecting Taiwan in the international community.

    Sheer laziness in today’s big media can partially explain why details are not investigated or why one side of the story is reported but not the other. However, when an established international media outlet breaks with news about a major policy revelation concerning a political party that, in two years, may drastically change the dynamics of a global flash-point, you would think they would make more than a half-hearted effort to provide a story that is as objective and as accurate as possible.

    The breaking news to which I refer is KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou’s proposed “peace” pact with China. The well-known international media company: Bloomberg.com. The Article: "Taiwan Presidential Hopeful to Seek China Peace Pact”.

    Of course, the implications of Ma’s plan if he should become President will be dramatic. So, it is of no surprise that this story has generated political reverberations throughout Taiwan. Informed readers of this blog will be well aware of both the pan-green and pan-blue points of view in this debate. However, less-informed international readers may, again, form a decidedly less balanced opinion after reading this narrative (borderline opinion piece) by James Peng.

    Here is an excerpt. (emphasis denoting strong bias and/or factual errors are mine):

    The Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang, lost the presidency to the Democratic Progressive Party's Chen in 2000, ending their postwar hold on power. In his six years as president, Chen has provoked Beijing by calling Taiwan a sovereign state, proposing an overhaul of the island's 59-year-old constitution, and trying to get Taiwan a United Nations seat.

    Almost 60 years after the civil war's end, those policies are prompting warmer relations between the heirs of Mao and Chiang. Ma's predecessor Lien Chan met President Hu Jintao in the mainland last year, the highest-level talks between the two sides since 1949. China has offered trade concessions to woo Taiwan voters.

    A peace agreement would help reduce security tensions in East Asia, where the U.S. is preoccupied with the North Korea nuclear crisis. It might also benefit Taiwan's $346 billion economy by allowing businesses to forge closer ties with the mainland. Taiwan companies have invested as much as $150 billion in mainland China, the island's largest trading partner.

    Ma's offer of peace talks didn't include a commitment to move toward reunification, the goal of the government in Beijing. The Nationalists adhere to a ``one China'' principle agreed with the Communist government in 1992, which declares the mainland and Taiwan are part of the same country, though the two sides may have different interpretations of the term.

    I will not bore you with analyses of why the words in bold are so egregiously biased. It should be obvious to anyone who follows the cross-strait situation that annexation of Taiwan by China is an official goal. It should also be obvious that China has done far more to provoke Taiwan (I wonder if Mr. Peng remembers that little piece of paper called “anti-secession law”). Moreover, it is conveniently forgotten that President Chen Shui-bian has tried on numerous occasions to encourage a productive dialogue between the two nations. Chen even gave his blessings (wrongly, in my opinion) to the first exchange between Lien and Hu – and even invited Hu to Taiwan, afterwards!! However, James Peng erroneously insinuates that this very exchange was merely a causation of a very difficult President in Taipei. As for the 1992 “consensus” – James Peng is simply rewriting history by telling us that such an agreement was made at the time, despite the fact that two official delegates who were at the meeting later confirmed that such an agreement is part of Nationalist party mythology. There is no “consensus.” He shows himself to be a complete journalistic fool, however, by asserting that China and Taiwan agreed to the premise that they are the same country! LOL! More laughable fawning over Ma Ying-jeou can be found by reading the rest of the piece yourself.

    Alas, the last laugh will be with Mr. Peng, as he will continue to distort history, report on only one-side of the issue, and print blatant factual errors. Why am I confident of this prediction? Because I wrote James Peng about an article he wrote on October 13th. It was a piece about the failed recall efforts on President Chen a couple of weeks ago.

    Amongst the bias in that article entitled, “Taiwan's Chen Survives Lawmakers' Second Attempt to Oust Him”, was a unique version of factual information – factual information that has been contradicted by every international news organization that has reported on this story.

    Here’s the short excerpt containing the lie (emphasis mine):

    A rally in Taipei on Oct. 10 drew several hundred thousand people, according to police, while a spokesman for Shih said 1.5 million participated.

    Several hundred thousand – that would be recognized by anyone to be, at the very minimum, 300,000. However, I think most people would consider “several” to mean at least 400 to 500 thousand. Of course, the other part of this factual error is that he is confirming this number based on a Taipei police estimate.

    When I politely wrote James Peng about this distortion, he replied and reaffirmed that, “several hundred thousand is what Taipei police told us that day.”

    I wrote him back and provided him with four different international news agencies – including CNN, Reuters and even The China Post that stated explicitly that the Taipei police had estimated the attendance to be 125,000.

    And here is the China Daily’s version (which Mr. Peng might have read, being based in Hong Kong):

    Organizers had pledged to bring 2 million people to the streets around the "presidential" office, but police estimated 125,000 protesters took part in the march.

    One would think that an objective journalist would question why his report was the only one (including China state-run media) that reported this number to the international community. I received no further replies from James Peng. And he did not send me any links to any other news organization that reported this number, as I had politely asked.

    However, he did manage to get an interview from none other than Ma Ying-jeou.

    Thank you, STOP_MA!

    Speaking of bias in the international media, I've had an exchange of emails with Caroline Gluck of the BBC asking her, among other things, why she remains the only major foreign reporter here who hasn't mentioned that the mob behind Shih are composed predominantly of Blues. I won't post her reply here (80% of which was completely off topic, in any case) unless she miraculously gives me permission, but she did say she had talked to the people in the mob personally, so she knew that a large number were disillusioned Greens.....I guess, because, well, it's a fact that people never lie to foreign reporters. I also raised a number of other issues, none of which got answers. I don't think the fact that BBC has business connections with the Blues through its exclusive arrangement with the pro-Blue cable company CTI really has anything to do with the pro-Blue bias in its reporting. I think the simple explanation that Gluck didn't dig, and got snowed, is probably the correct one.

    Reporters Sans Frontieres says Taiwan Freer than US

    The bogus US War on Terror, a war on innocents abroad and civil rights at home, has claimed another victim in the form of US press freedoms. The latest Reporters Sans Frontieres report puts Taiwan at #43 and the US at 53, tied with Botswana and Togo. If you can't win the war, at least you can beat the media.......

    The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.

    Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.

    Hussein has been deprived of due process and has no legal rights. My nation has become a spreading sickness in desperate need of a regime change. Meanwhile, Taiwan's press gets freer every year.......

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    November 4, 2006, Swenson's Meet Up

    Sorry about my silence, but I had a huge editing job this weekend, elbow swelled up, tendons very painful, so I'm resting for a few days. Meanwhile: Jerome Keating passes around the good news:


    To all,
    We will have our breakfast club meeting on the first Saturday of November--Nobember 4th; at 9:30 am at Swensen's,
    81 Keelung Road, Sec. 2;

    That is on the east side of Keelung Rd. and a couple of doors north of where Kwangfu deadends into Keelung. (2735-3696)

    The speaker is
    Dr. David Curtis Wright
    Associate Professor, Department of History
    Fellow, Centre for Military and Strategic Studies
    University of Calgary (Canada)
    Visiting Scholar, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, August-December 2006

    David is here doing research on his uncle Ensign Hans Jensen who was the first pilot to sight, detect, report on and attack Kurita's Center Force in what would become the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

    His specialty however is the Yuan Dynasty in Chinese history and thus his topic will be

    "All the Khan's Horses and All the Khan's Men: How the Mongols Conquered China."

    For all those questions you wanted to have answered about the Mongols but were afraid to ask, here is the man.

    Look to see you there, same rules as always, everyone buys their own breakfast.


    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Daily Links, Oct 21, 2006

    No time for blogging today, but tracked down some goodies on the blogs this week:

  • David on Formosa finds some interesting signs. Translation...just imagine if the US had to reproduce all its signs in Chinese. Might be a few errors....
  • Beijing says new Romanization is "cultural Taiwan independence."
  • Sector 40 tours the computer quarter of Kaohsiung.
  • The Foreigner has a great post on KMT griping about the US. Don't worry, I'm sure they'll be great partners for the US when Ma Ying-jeou takes the Presidency. After all, he speaks English, so he must have our interests at heart....
  • The Bushman posts pics of two trips to Green Island. Hope those you who went this weekend had a good time.
  • Cold Goat Eyes is back and posting. Hey, CGE, you always have something good to say.
  • Daniel Wallace, one of my favorite people, is interviewed at What's up in Taiwan.
  • Ask-a-ninja. I'm not making it up.
  • Hard-core bushibans. Kick ass, as Mark reminds.
  • Brian points to a survey of teens and their sex lives, and parents and their delusions about their kids' sex lives.
  • Radio Free Taiwan pens a stirring defense of my man A-bian.
  • Ni Hou Ma has postcards of early Taiwan.
  • Taiwan Matters! has a rundown on the Taipei Mayor election. That's going to be a fun one.
  • Scott blogs on international education at his beloved Ming Chuan U, a topic suddenly near and dear to my heart as an international student in a PHD program here.
  • Formosa Birding has some kickass pics of eagles.
  • Congrats to The Real Taiwan on the new addition to the family! Live long and Prosper!

    Stolen from lyh0626...this one's for you, CW:

    You see a fabulous girl/guy at a party. You approach them and say, "I'm fantastic in bed." That's Direct Marketing.

    You're at a party with a bunch of friends and see a fabulous girl/guy. You have one of your friends approach them, point at you and say, "She's/He's fantastic in bed." That's Advertising.

    You see a fabulous girl/guy at a party. You approach them to get their telephone number. The next day you call and say, "Hi, I'm fantastic in bed." That's Telemarketing.

    You're at a party and see a fabulous girl/guy. You get up, straighten your clothes, walk up and pour them a drink. You open the door, pick up their bag after it drops, offer them a ride, and then say, "By the way, I'm fantastic in bed." That's Public Relations.

    You're at a party and see a fabulous girl/guy. They walk up to you and say, "I hear you're fantastic in bed." That's Brand Recognition.

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Time article from 1946 on Taiwan

    Shrimpcrackers, who has a great blog of his own, posted this link to a 1946 article from Time describing the looting of Taiwan by the KMT at Forumosa:

    At last, eight months after V-J day, sugar-starved China was getting supplies from its new sugarbowl, Formosa. Ships were plying the 400 miles from Kiirun to Shanghai with the first of 150,000 tons of Japanese stores confiscated by the Chinese Army that took over the island, under U.S. tutelage, last fall. But the resumption of trade with tropically lush, industrially rich Formosa was a sweet-&-sour business.

    Formosans complained that the Chinese occupation army was looting stocks, letting crops, refineries, railroads and power plants go to rack & ruin. Just as angry Shanghailanders, who could buy only from the government-backed Formosa Sugar Co., feared that a colossal sugar corner was being rigged in the already disastrous black market.

    2007 Taiwan Studies Conference Call for Papers

    Hot off H-Asia:


    October 18, 2006

    2007 Taiwan Studies Conference, University of Wisconsin-Madison, June 2007
    From: "Madeline Y. Hsu, Ph.D." _mhsu@sfsu.edu_ (mailto:mhsu@sfsu.edu)

    13th Annual Conference of North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA)

    - Date: June 8-10, 2007
    - Venue: University of Wisconsin -Madison, USA
    - Submission Deadline: November 30, 2006
    - Acceptance notification: January 20, 2007

    2007 Main Theme
    Taiwan in the Nexus of 'Empires'

    Theme Statement:
    Since the birth of modern social sciences, nations or nation-states as implicit units or boundaries of analysis have dominated social inquiry. The use of such frameworks, however, often implies unexamined assumptions, such as that these societies have homogeneous and synchronic societal landscapes and autarkies. The theme "Taiwan in the Nexus of 'Empires'" challenges scholars from all disciplines to look at Taiwan from a different perspective. Participants are invited to reflect on: a) how the presence of competing empires on the islands, both past and present, have shaped Taiwan's social, political, economic, and cultural landscapes, and b) how these imperial influences, with their multiple forms and layers of governance and hegemony, have resulted in particular responses by the Taiwanese people, such as resistance, acceptance, transformation, and misplacement in everyday life or academic praxis. The term "empire" as used in this Call for Paper is broadly understood to possess the potential to include without limitations sovereign states, private and public entities, supra-national organizations, and ideology. Please note that methodological reflections or critiques of this empire approach as applied to Taiwan Studies are equally welcome.

    2007 Other Major Themes
    In addition to the above theme, NATSA strongly encourages submissions on one or more of the following interdisciplinary themes:

    1. Political Corruption and Democratic Consolidation in Taiwan: issues of specific interest include political corruption, judicial corruption, democratic consolidation, constitutional reformation, the social responsibilities of academics and intellectuals, and the role of the media in shaping a mature democracy.

    2. Justice and Peace in Taiwan: issues of specific interest include the phenomenon and consequences of increasing wealth disparity, the treatment of foreigners/foreign laborers, phenomenon and consequences of stereotypes about and/or prejudice against gender roles, sexual orientation, and ethnic minorities, the prospect of achieving full equality/equity for marginalized groups (such as the aforementioned ones), peace studies, the relationship between justice and the maintenance of peace, and the role of civil society (NPO/NGO) and religion in achieving and defeating aforementioned justice, equality/equity, and peace.

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    Please note that those who wish to pursue topics in Taiwan Studies that are not listed above may do so, but they are required to organize their own panels and submit panel proposals together with individual paper abstracts. Conference contributors may be eligible for travel grants; details will be announced on the website in February 2007.

    For details of the submission guideline and more information, please see the NATSA website at http://www.na-tsa.org. Enquiries may be made to the NATSA Secretary:

    Madeline Y. Hsu, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, Asian American Studies
    Book Review Editor, Journal of American Ethnic History
    c/o Asian American Studies
    San Francisco State University
    1600 Holloway Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94132
    (415)338-3493; _mhsu@sfsu.edu_ (mailto:mhsu@sfsu.edu)

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    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    It's Official! Soong is IN!

    This year's Taipei Mayoral election promises plenty of good fun on the Blue side as Blue Potentate James Soong, Chairman of the People's First Party -- a splinter off the KMT formed in 2001 -- and self-proclaimed bearer of the Chiang Family Legacy, officially tossed his hat in the ring, his pearls before swine, and his cookies all over the people of Taipei with his announcement of his mayoral candidacy:

    After months of speculation and innuendo, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday announced his candidacy in the Taipei mayoral election, sparking concern in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of a pan-blue split.

    The KMT, which nominated its own Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) in May, has been negotiating with the PFP in an effort to dissuade Soong from joining the race.

    Pledging to run as a candidate "transcending party affiliations," Soong shrugged off the KMT's concerns by declaring that he would temporarily leave his position as PFP chairman to run as an independent candidate, while urging Taipei residents to choose their future mayor according to the candidates' abilities.

    "We should not depend on `faction politics' in Taiwan ... In choosing the future Taipei mayor, residents should consider candidates' abilities, instead of asking what a candidate's father or his party chairman can do," Soong said while releasing his new book at the Mayor's Arts Residence Salon.

    The last line, with its reference to fathers and chairmen, is a cheap shot at Hau Lung-bin, the KMT candidate and son of former Premier and mainlander reactionary Hau Pei-tsun. The China Post recorded that Soong:

    He also blasted Hau for having once betrayed the "pan-blue" camp, and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou for "ending the pan-blue" camp.

    More interesting is who turned out to support a Soong candidacy:

    Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅), talk-show host Sisy Chen (陳文茜) and several PFP city councilors attended the event to lend their support.

    "Chairman Soong has put all his effort into understanding Taipei City's issues ... Given an opportunity, I believe that he will transform Taipei into a brand new city," Wang said.

    Say.....who? Speaker Wang is a KMT heavyweight and political rival of current Chairman (and Taipei mayor) Ma Ying-jeou. Wang's appearance at a pro-Soong event is yet another signal that come 2008 party insiders may yet decide to hack Ma off at the knees. Some of you may recall that in the KMT Chairmanship election a few months back, Ma accused Wang of cheating and then spanked him hard in the election. Wang has yet to be heard from, I think. Somewhere behind that dapper manner and those perfectly pressed suits is a heart burning for revenge.

    In addition to Wang, also associated with Soong is KMT legislator and attack dog Chiu Yi. That's the same wonderful fellow who made all those unsubstantiated attacks on Chen Shui-bian, and has built a career out of grandstanding, lawsuits, and in 2004, leading a riot. Chiu Yi's most recent arrest required 200 policemen. Is Soong the "black hand" behind the assault on President Chen? Sure are a lot of people attacking Chen and hanging out with Soong. Even more interesting is that the DPP thinks it can work with Wang Jin-pyng...whose political ally among the Blues is Soong.

    The true guarantor of comedy here, however, is the presence of Li Ao:

    In addition to Hau and Soong, independent Legislator Lee Ao (李敖) on Sunday announced that he would run in the election.

    Li Ao, who was an intellectual in a previous life, loves to grandstand, is funnier than a troop of drunken monkeys attempting to learn ice skating, and will have absolutely no chance of winning. There is thus nothing to prevent him from cutting loose.

    On the serious side, I have grave doubts that Soong will actually see this election through to the end. It is instructive, though, that his opening salvo was fired at the KMT. Taipei is profoundly Blue and thus, KMT candidate Hau Lung-bin is the frontrunner. Not only is he of impeccable mainlander ancestry, being the son of a reactionary right-winger who was Lee Teng-hui's chief rival in the opening stages of his Presidency, but he also served as the EPA head during the first Chen Shui-bian Administration and is widely seen as a moderate, popular among people from many different political stances. Hau's previous brief association with the DPP Administration was what led Soong to claim Hau betrayed the Blue camp -- even though Soong's exit from the KMT and independent run for the Presidency split the Blues and gave the Presidency to Chen Shui-bian in 2000. Yes, with Soong around, you have to wear rain gear to keep the irony from sticking to you.

    No, I expect that this is all about Soong keeping up his visibility (as well as helping his party's candidates in their city council elections happening at the same time; Soong's party is slowly disappearing back into the KMT from whence it came). Soong has pledged that there will be no posters or big rallies (translation: no great expenditures). No, somewhere toward the end of the campaign, the wily and populist-minded Soong will pull out with a tearful, melodramatic, and oh-so-public ceremony, hand his support base over to Hau, and focus on the 2008 Presidential election. In the meantime, he will have given his PFP people a boost, prevented further defections back to the KMT, and kept his face in the public eye.

    But whatever happens, look forward to a very enjoyable Taipei election season.

    UPDATE: Roland over at ESWN has the poll numbers:

    This is a tracking poll, so there are two numbers (one for the poll results on September 6 and the other one for October 17). This poll is about the support levels for the Taipei city mayoral candidates.

    Hau Lung-kin (KMT): 50% -> 34%
    Frank Tsieh (DPP): 15% -> 14%
    James Soong (PFP): 10% -> 9%
    Clara Chou (TSU): 1% -> 1%
    Li Ao (IND): ? -> 5%
    Undecided: 24% -> 36%

    Clearly, there is a huge drop in the support for Hau Lung-king. Some of the support went to the newly announced candidate Li Ao but most of it goes to the Undecideds.

    Roland has a typo -- that's Hau Lung-bin. He also complains:

    Is this yet another push poll like some fundamentalists say all published polls in Taiwan are? Their assertion is that all published polls come from pro-China, pro-blue organizations and are therefore push polls. President Chen Shui-bian showed leadership when he said, "I don't read the news and I am very happy." Meanwhile, it is peculiar that the pro-green organizations never conduct and/or publish any polls. Is it professional ethics, or is it because the situation is so bad that it is impossible to spin?

    I can't imagine who these fundamentalists are that Roland is talking about, although I assume since I've been talking about Roland's affection for push polls lately (here: Pro-Blue blogger ESWN has the results of a push-poll from Apple Daily up on his blog. ... Roland sometimes points out push-polls, but for whatever reason missed this one., and here: Pro-Blue blogger Roland over at ESWN loves those push polls. He's got one from the pro-Blue station TVBS on the Shih protests....) he might mean me (never can tell, though, since he doesn't link back). It's really quite simple, Roland -- stop citing unprofessional push polls from pro-China, anti-Taiwan sources, and I'll stop complaining about it. Note that I never claimed that all pro-Blue polls are push polls -- only that ESWN seems to have had a thing for them recently -- inexplicable, because usually Roland is all over push polls. Roland also complains:
    Meanwhile, it is peculiar that the pro-green organizations never conduct and/or publish any polls.
    Yet Roland himself has discussed polls from pro-Green orgs, such as these comments on the TSU poll of civic groups. As I noted, he is usually all over push-polls, and that one is a good example. He observes:

    More troubling is the sampling universe. Is this a population survey (say, of adults in Taiwan)? No, it isn't because the support for Chen Shui-bian has been hovering just around 30%. This is a survey based upon 69 civic groups. According to CNA (via Yahoo! News), the TSU sent out questionnaires to 100 civic groups (which are non-government organizations with special interests that include industry, commerce, women, human rights, social community and social welfare), of which 69 questionnaires were completed and returned. On what basis? Who from the organizations completed the question? Does this represent the organization's or one person's opinions? What do these organizations represent (other than themselves)? I don't think that anyone knows.

    So what do these survey results really mean? I have no idea. If this were a tracking report (e.g. conducted annually), then I can at least make some trending comparisons. Instead, this is just an opportunity for a small group of people to vent their frustrations, but there is no scientific basis for any general inference.

    The survey sponsor is the TSU, which is a pan-green ally. You can speculate as to why a nominal ally wants to feed this piece of biased negative news to the general public.

    It's commentary like this that makes Roland's site worth reading. Everyone loses when he puts up a push poll without commenting like this.

    UPDATE: Anyone wondering why the pan-Blue protests led by former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-teh have died need only look at Hau Lung-bin's poll numbers instanced above. After a month of pan-Blue protests in Taipei, KMT support fell 16 points. No wonder all kind of conspiracy theories that Shih was really a Green tool sent to destroy the Blues are being passed around. Not only did Hau take a big hit -- losing a third of his support -- but down in Kaohsiung DPP candidate Chen Chu also received a boost. Thanks, Shih.