Monday, January 18, 2010

Daily Links, Jan 18, 2010


Drew spotted these aboriginal-style granaries as we rode south on 145. Note that the rear one is woven of sticks and mud.

Had an awesome weekend of riding with my friend Drew. On Saturday I did my first Century (100 mile) ride, going 187 kms to Tainan from my house. On Sunday we reversed the ride, doing 182 kms back. Saturday we rode across the flats of Changhua and Yunlin, while on Sunday the return ride was through rolling hills and a bit slower. Over 350 kms in all.

Lots of stuff out there this week:
MEDIA: Danish Taiwan friend Michael Danielson interviewed in the Liberty Times. NYTimes piece on Google says that Google got access to the server here in Taiwan and then discovered that the cyber attacks had targeted many other companies. H1N1 vaccine: it is probably just a coincidence that the chairman of Adimmune, the local vaccine maker, is also a powerful member of the KMT. Chinese visit Taiwan for medical tourism, long expected to be a growth market for the island. Land prices in Taipei continue to rise, with land prices in Taitung, Hualien, Pingtung, Changhua, Miaoli, Nantou, Yunlin and Chiayi falling. Birth rates here continue to fall, with births hitting new lows. Population decline could begin here as early as 2017. Apple Daily editorializes on Taichung's decaying public order. Taiwan may be listed in visa waiver program for US. UDN editorial argues that vote buyees don't get punished enough and -- check this out -- vote buyers need not return their public subsidies if convicted of vote buying. Taiwan stock market opens to Chinese institutional investors. Bank of China to establish branches in Taiwan. Taiwan soldiers busted having sex with underage prostitutes. Asia Sentinel: World headed toward another rice crisis? As US invasion of Afghanistan sputters, China moves in commercially. Each night, analysts in Beijing go to sleep laughing at US foreign policy.

IN-DEPTH: CSIS with piece on China-Taiwan trade. "Taipei has continued to resist pressure from Beijing to address political issues about which opinion in Taiwan remains deeply divided." Bullshit: opinion is quite united: only a few yammerheads here want political talks. Another CSIS piece on Confidence Building Measures: silly Taiwanese public opinion is a "serious constraint on progress." If only they were Serious People like CSIS commentators and agreed that Taiwan should be sold out so global finance could make the big bucks. They also note: "although Beijing is interested in CBMs primarily as a means to build political trust, while Taipei seeks CBMs to avoid accidents and create a more predictable security environment." Nicholas Lardy on the growing rift in US-China relations after Copenhagen. Commonwealth on the Fear of Death: Major Taiwan corporations do not have plans for the second generation when the current leader dies. This failure to plan for the death of the patriarch is a major problem at every level of Taiwan society.

TOM FRIEDMAN: Lots of discussion about the NYTimes piece mentioning Taiwan from Tom Friedman, Establishment Buffoon. Yes, Friedman is an idiot:
Has anyone noticed the most important peace breakthrough on the planet in the last two years? It’s right here: the new calm in the Strait of Taiwan. For decades, this was considered the most dangerous place on earth, with Taiwan and China pointing missiles at each other on hair triggers. Well, over the past two years, China and Taiwan have reached a quiet rapprochement — on their own. No special envoys or shuttling secretaries of state. Yes, our Navy was a critical stabilizer. But they worked it out. They realized their own interdependence. The result: a new web of economic ties, direct flights and student exchanges.

A key reason is that Taiwan has no oil, no natural resources. It’s a barren rock with 23 million people who, through hard work, have amassed the fourth-largest foreign currency reserves in the world. They got rich digging inside themselves, unlocking their entrepreneurs, not digging for oil. They took responsibility. They got rich by asking: “How do I improve myself?” Not by declaring: “It’s all somebody else’s fault. Give me a handout.”
Everything in here is wrong, from Friedman's claim that peace prevails in the Strait (hello, 1,500 missiles) to his bizarre construction of Taiwan's development history (massive US aid, for starters). It's so obviously stupid that there is no need to even discuss it. But his main point, that the national direction, our insane obsession with the Middle East, is an unproductive dead end and we should be focusing on China and the future of our people, is correct. Of course, Friedman's point would have had actual impact if he had not been a major cheerleader of that obsession (Greenwald's rip of this with Friedman's 2003 remarks). A few years ago I might have been amazed that a vapid, ignorant, hypocrite like Friedman has a national audience, but now it merely induces a kind of grim, knowing, amusement.

SPECIAL: Taiwan News with an excellent piece on the KMT's local government power play. Read the whole thing; Ma is trying to get the legislature to change the law to preserve local KMT officials in place after the new municipalities come into effect this year. The idea is that whoever is election, local faction politicians will retain their grip on local politics through being given an additional four years, whereas the reformists wanted the elected magistrates to be able to appoint their own people. One implication of this law is that is appears to fear that the KMT may lose big in the elections at the end of the year....

VIDEO: Bloomberg has a collection of its own stuff which you can sort through.

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23 comments:

Todd said...

Congratulations on your first century ride Michael! It's even more impressive that you woke up the next morning and did another one!

I've ridden quite a few century rides myself, but unfortunately they were all metric-centuries!

Lisa said...

Hi,

Stumble over your blog...

I, born and raised in Tainan, shamelessly admit that I have never seen those granaries in my life. Do you remember which town you saw them?

SY said...

I believe, the aboriginal-style granary is called "Challenpoon" (or, "Chha-Len-Pun") by the Taiwanese. It used to be a common sight in any Taiwanese village some 40 years ago. It shows one of the aboriginal ingredients in the Taiwanese culture.


Regarding Friedman's "the most important peace breakthrough on the planet":

Well, I bet, if the US had agreed to everything the Soviet Union wanted, there wouldn't have been a costly cold war either. Problem solved. "The most important peace breakthrough on the planet" would have taken place 60 years ago. No need for the Berlin airlift or the Marshall plan, nor would there have been a "Korean war" or a "Cuba crisis."

Tom Friedman and Ma Ying-jeou are smarter than George Marshall and JFK, you see.

Anonymous said...

Remind me again how many Pultizers Michael Turton and Jerome Keating have won.

Thought so.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Friedman is a ridiculous hack. But this is why even though it's so obvious in Taiwan that peace DIDN'T come in these past two years as some change over the past 10 years, it's so dangerous for Ma to continuously repeat that refrain that tensions have eased. It's all going into the papers and into the record and the majority of people who read about Taiwan will think this even though it's nowhere true.

BTW, congrats on your ride! Sounds and must feel awesome!

Michael Turton said...

Remind me again how many Pultizers Michael Turton and Jerome Keating have won.

LOL. He's a hack with three pulitzers. So? I think his main purpose in life is to make everyone around him feel intelligent.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the Pulitzer is old hat for Thomas Friedman, and he is now hoping to land a National Book award for literary fiction.

Anonymous said...

SY,

You are correct. The "Chha-Len-Pun" were once common along the central Taiwan plain, mainly between Yunlin and Chia Yi counties. They appear in the paintings of the Zhuluo Gazetteers and the Dutch make mention of "burning the grain silos" in Mattou (Madou).

Thoth Harris said...

"I think his main purpose in life is to make everyone around him feel intelligent."

Ha. I think that the more likely supposition is that people feel oh so smart by uttering his name. People love to feel they are part of a club. So-and-so is part of Oprah's book "club." Anonymous 2:44, I guess, feels that he is part of some Thomas Friedman fan club, and that by uttering His Pulitzerness, he has entered some Holy Shrine or some such.

Thomas said...

Yeah, and the guy who predicted that China's economy would be US$123 trillion by 2040 has won a Nobel. What is your point, anon?

The problem with Friedman's piece is that it is simply dishonest. An uneducated listener, would think that the Chinese missiles had been removed to go by his wording. He also neglects any diversity of viewpoint in Taiwan. Finally, he refers to conflict in the past tense, as if everyone were happy now and the rest of the world could go on about its business.

I don't see how anyone with his background can be this naive. This type of writing is dangerous. It encourages missteps.

Michael Turton said...

Lisa, I don't remember where they were, somewhere on 145, south of the town of Pu Tz.

FOARP said...

Friedman is a pure tool. The main work on reducing tensions happened in the 90's, Ma/Hu have done little of substance - what does this bloody idiot think he is talking about?

Re: Succession in Taiwanese companies. Yeah, Terry Guo is a prime example, the senior managers started manoeuvring years ago, one of them will probably grab the top spot, as far as I know no-one in his family is interested so long as the bills get paid.

Jonathan Benda said...

The last time I rode a century was over 20 years ago. I can't imagine doing it now at my age and (ahem) condition. You're an inspiration to all of us.

Arty said...

Yeah, and the guy who predicted that China's economy would be US$123 trillion by 2040 has won a Nobel. What is your point, anon?

Except he is talking about PPP-GDP which will probably be right if there is no war among the top nations. You don't even need a Nobel price to predict that. Here is a TED talk by Hans Rosling about how you can predict exactly when India and China will catch up...

http://live4.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_asia_s_rise_how_and_when.html

wait, he has very small share of Nobel Peace prize.

And Friedman is not naive, he is stating the fact. Today's trend will eventually push Taiwan toward China through migrations and exchanges. You may not like it though, but does not make it wrong and without merit.

Don said...

No more Pulitzers ahead for Mr Friedman unless there's an award for Blackberry-drafted punditry-from-30,000-feet. On this occasion he clearly didn't even set foot in Taiwan. At most he dropped a CGI avatar down to pick up the check for his speaking engagement. I mean..."Taiwan is a barren rock"!!!

P. S. said...

Michael,

Congratulations on your back-back century achievement, that's really impressive (my only double-century was at age 29; scary to think of doing it now).

I am curious what was your impression of the route in terms of scenery and traffic. Having lived in Taichung, I assumed that the west side of Taiwan is impassable. Or were you able to take some farmer's roads to sneak past the tricky bits?

Michael Turton said...

P.S.

On the way down, we took 1 to 145 to 19. Then I got us lost so we ended up on 19A, then went through Madou and got back on 19 and finished.

145 is wonderful, empty, broad shoulders, flat, and the shoulders don't have glass or shards of metal like most Taiwan shoulders do.

On the way back we took 165 to Chiayi and then rode around small roads on the way up. The only memorable road was the one past Bagua Shan between Ershui and Mingjian, treelined, rolling, empty. A lovely ride. 165 from Longtian was also nice, but it had a gentle upward grade. It was treelined in many places and designated a bike route. Really a sweet ride if you can take it.

Michael Turton said...

P.S. also...

...we took 1 down so we could cross the great red bridge at Xiluo, really the highlight of the trip.

Anonymous said...

I think those silos were around Yuan Chang. Interestingly, the graves nearby also cited Yuan Chang as the "Ancestral Village".

Anonymous said...

Arty you're being an idiot. You speak in this all-knowing manner, but the facts are the exact opposite of what you said. The current trend in Taiwan is towards a stronger and stronger exclusively Taiwanese identity that desires independence. The one thing that will make your ever more rare ambivalent Taiwanese young person feel fervently Taiwanese is to have them go to China.

Arty said...

Arty you're being an idiot. You speak in this all-knowing manner, but the facts are the exact opposite of what you said. The current trend in Taiwan is towards a stronger and stronger exclusively Taiwanese identity that desires independence.

Differences in opinion do not make me an idiot, and only an idiot will say that. Time will tell who is right. Although I have root in Taiwan, sometimes I think Taiwanese think way too highly of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Arty, no one called you an idiot, though it's telling that you read it that way =). That swipe at Taiwanese while setting yourself apart as someone not in that group is also telling.

The trend is the opposite of what you say. That's a fact, and there are yearly polls by the Mainland Affairs Council that prove it. There has been steady increase in exchanges and tourism ever since the 80s, mainly of Taiwanese going to China. Yet Taiwanese see themselves as separate from China ever more strongly.

What do your "exchanges" consist of? The ill-mannered, academically-weak, class-skipping, rude and over-the-top nationalistic typical Chinese student in Taiwan only makes young Taiwanese feel more and more anti-China.

Time won't tell. No, time is telling us right now that you're wrong.

Arty said...

Arty you're being an idiot.

Okay, I guess being an idiot and is an idiot are two very different things.

What do your "exchanges" consist of? The ill-mannered, academically-weak, class-skipping, rude and over-the-top nationalistic typical Chinese student in Taiwan only makes young Taiwanese feel more and more anti-China.

You should check out how many poor farmer's wives or lower classes' wives are Chinese :), who cannot find a mate in Taiwan.