Saturday, October 10, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize and other Saturday observations

My friend Drew and I took the road to Da Hsueh Mountain today, northeast out of Dongshih, climbing to 1000 meters along ever-more lovely mountain road on a perfect day for biking. Highlight of the trip, though, took place in Fengyuan. As we rode, a cyclist on our side of the street but going in the opposite direction, looked at me as we passed. Instead of a robust "How are you!" or "Hello!", he leaned over all googly-eyed, peered at me, and bellowed: "D-u-m-m-b-l-l-e-d-d-o-o-r-r-e-e!" Drew and I nearly fell off our bikes laughing.

Yesterday night I got on Facebook and saw that everyone was talking about Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, which, like probably everyone else at first encounter, I thought was some brilliantly wicked viral internet joke. I'm not going to comment on the award itself; from the Taiwan perspective, what interests me is the Prize Committee's rationale, which only partly appeared to reference Obama's accomplishments, but also appeared to be aimed at encouraging him to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as rally support for his policies in the world. Given while the work is in progress and the issue still in doubt.

This is very suggestive, because here in Taiwan the KMT and the CCP are negotiating for a "peace agreement" whose ultimate purpose is to annex the island to China. The "process" is still ongoing. Anyone see how the Prize Committee's rationale applies here? "Let's give'em an early Nobel to keep the peace process moving along." Yes, I think we just moved a step closer to the Hu-Ma Lovefest Male Pattern Baldness Nobel Prize Tour of 2011.

Meanwhile lots of fun this week in Taiwan. The Taipei City government has decided to change the name of the unlucky Neihu MRT line, because in local culture, you can change your luck by changing your name....
Following a similar practice, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin is considering changing the name of the newly added MRT line whose streak of bad luck seems to be continuing without an end in sight.

The bad luck line is now known as the Zha-Hu line from Muzha, where Taipei City Zoo is located, to Neihu via Songshan Airport. The last syllables of Muzha and Neihu make up Zha-Hu, which is a homophone of the Chinese word of “cheating at the Mahjong table.”

Hau and his Taipei MRT executives are convinced the bad name of the line is bringing bad luck. The line has been plagued by frequent problems since it opened on July 4.

One of the new names they are considering is the Wen-Hu line. Wen is the first syllable of Wenshan, the district where Muzha is located, meaning Literary Mountain. The district is known for the good tea it produces.


Asked why Zha-Hu has had so many problems, the source quoted a geomancer as stating Zha, which means wood barrier, is on the waters of Hu, which is “lake.”

“Wood on lake waters drifts,” the geomancer intoned. “It's only natural that the drifting causes many and frequent delays,” he claimed.
This is actually not uncommon -- I blogged on another case of this a few years ago. Again, it shows how fate in Taiwan is regarded as deterministic and changeable by human action, like a river whose course can be diverted, but if left untouched, will cause disaster. One also has to admire the poetic invention of the geomancer. If only real poets were paid as much....

Turning serious, in Hualien county there are now three KMTers running for the county commissioner position, but only one is party-approved. The other two are renegade local politicians. Though Kinmen split, in Taitung and Yilan the party averted splits. It wouldn't surprise me if the KMT actually emerged stronger from this streamlining, cramming scores of local factions into far fewer elected positions, like an airplane entering a tunnel and emerging looking like a train. The adjustment process will get an easement when the municipalities are upgraded next year -- the county commissioners will preside over an increased government workforce, which means new positions will open for appointees from their parties -- pals from local factions. And even if a renegade is elected, there will not be fundamental changes in things. Moreover, nothing has happened to the party's grip on the flow of monies out of the central governments and into local faction coffers. Perhaps the DPP will pick up a seat here and there as the factions fall out among themselves....(KMT plans to discipline splittists)
Daily Links
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Anonymous said...

I think it should be called the YAHOO line, in honor of the yahoos who made poor planning decisions in the first place.

Lisa said...

I think the Nobel Prize is an honor for the President, he was very gracious about accepting it.

Dixteel said...

Not that I have any personal opinion about President Obama, but I think giving him a Peace Prize now is ridiculous. He hasn't accomplish anything concrete yet, and he is far from the end of his term. How can they give a award to him in such a situation? No wonder even Obama himself is shocked.

Sam Kaufman said...

I suspect that the Nobel Peace prize was given to Obama to send a message... to whom and for what purpose, who knows

Max said...

Top 10 list why Nobel Committee thinks Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize: -):

10) everyone knows his name
9) yes, he can
8) no hype no gain
7) Ivy league graduate (knows how to say tomato correctly)
6) Chicagoan (knows how to play Chicago politics right)
5) 1st year in office (most favored new kid in town)
4) lawyer (benefit of the doubt)
3) fight GOP (very popular strategy)
2) American with a strange name
1) Success is 99 percent aspiration and 1 percent perspiration (listen up, kids)

Marc said...

People need to read the criteria for the Nobel Peace prize. It isn't always awarded for past accomplishments, but potential ones. It is truly a political award, not a friendly handshake.

I think Obama should really get the Good Housekeeping Award considering all the sh*t he has to clean up from 8 years of Bush.