Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sunday, Februrary 19, 2006, Taiwan Blog Round Up

The university starts for me again tomorrow. Can't wait to see my kids again....this semester I have an 18 hour schedule. So may not have much time for blogging. Try not to look too relieved...

Let's lead off with some hearty congratulations to P. Kerim Friedman of Keywords, who landed a post at Dong Hwa University in Hualien (Scott Sommers on that here). Kerim writes:

In India, on January 12th, around one thirty in the morning, back from a long day of filming which had involved over nine hours of driving, I fired up my iBook just before going to bed. Thats when I got the email that would turn our lives upside down: I had been appointed as assistant professor of indigenous studies (Chinese version) at National Dong Hwa University in Hualian Taiwan!

I couldn’t have been happier. This is a job I had only dreamed of. I had come to Taiwan last summer just to see whether or not it would be possible to find such a job. I had been especially lucky in that the department had posted a job search the very week I arrived in Taiwan! Even more lucky that a friend of mine happened to see the posting and forwarded it me. Because I was able to visit the campus and meet with people then and there, it was then possible to later conduct my job interview over the phone from India. I had interviewed at a lot of schools in the US, but none can compare with the offer of working at a Taiwanese university just forty kilometers from my field site! It isn’t a matter of choosing between teaching and research because I will be able to learn so much just from working in this department!

Once again, congrats, and expect to see me at your door one of these days! Donghwa is pictured above, the tower against a stunning mountain backdrop.

Doubting to Shuo blogs on that perennial annoyance of English teachers here: student names:
There is one kind of “English” name, though, that I can’t stand. It’s the mis-spelt name given by Taiwanese teachers from the public schools. My new students of this type have included an Anterny, a Cynphia, an Avy, a Jesper, a Weever, a San, and a Weanston. The problem with these “English” names, beyond the fact that they aren’t English, is that English speakers (including myself) always think that the kids are mispronouncing real names. I already have a lot of names to remember, and it really sucks trying to remember if Jesper is the one who insists that is name is pronounced as “Jeesper” or if it was Cynphia that insists she’s “Seenvia”. Worse yet, after practicing with each other for a few years, the kids will have the exact same problems with real English names. I don’t really want to be some sort of “cultural imperialist”, but there is a point at which I can’t take the Engrish. I sat the parents down and explained that their kids’ names were the result of letting non-natives with really screwed up phonics try to remember real names. At first they were incredulous. “Are you sure Weanston’s not a popular English name?” Fortunately, by the end, I got Cynphia to become Cynthia, Avy to become Amy, Jesper to become Jasper, Weever to become Webber, San to become Sam, and Weanston to become Winston. Anterny isn’t budging, though.
I used to be pretty lenient on the name thing, but in the last few years I've been taking students aside and explaining that "Doris" and "Gilbert" are not hip names of the cool generation. I've basically had my fill of "Winston" and "Mabel", and don't get me started on Queena, Piggy, Egg, Rabbit, Ant, and Cloudy (all names held by legal adults I've taught). Basically, I've found the simplest way to get the point across is to confirm that yes, indeed, "Doris" is not a common name -- and then point out that the reason it is uncommon is that it is not considered a good name to have.

Two factors at work. First, the kids want unusual names. And second, many of the names we might think sound beautiful, like "Rachel", sound ugly to Chinese ears. And then, as DtS notes above, there are the inevitable misspellings and mispronounciations. Another problem is short forms and variants -- Ann, Annie, and Anna are basically related names which I often interchange. This results in indignant corrections, or even a refusal on Ann's part to answer to Annie.

Big Ell listed some hilarious names he remembers:
  • Cartoons: Mowgli (a feral 3 three old, now a normal 10 year old), Tom and Jerry (twin brothers), an inordinate amount of kids named Minnie and Mickey, Tigger, Garfield, Linus (not really that weird), Snoopy, Nemo and Kitty. Funny no one named Doraemon yet.
  • Furniture: Seat, Couch and one Table.
  • Pro Wrestlers: Rock, the Game (used to be Kevin but he really loves the WWF) and Hulk (not sure if he was the wrestler or just Incredible.)
  • Natural Phenomenon: Rainbow (One of the few ALE members who actually learned anything), Cloudy, Sunny and Water,
  • Animals: Lion, Kitty, Eagle and my favorite Bat.
  • Adjectives: Dark (now changed to Darko), Wisdom (ironically he doesn’t have much), First (the oldest boy), Chinese (given by her mom), Powerful shortened to Power (with his little brother Plus) and a couple of women named Shiny.
  • Verbs: Link and Follow.
  • Fashion: Gucci (often mispronounced Guggi), LV and Chanel.
  • Music: Jazz and Bono.
  • Computers: Acer (with a sister named Guggie)
  • Toys: Numerous Yo-Yos and one Slinky (sorry I made that up)
  • Body parts: A little girl named Titty. A man named Brain.
  • Miscellaneous: NATAS (Satan backwards, really, really, into the occult.), Nigger (a gangster rap lover from Kaoshiung), Yorg, Olio (a very thick kid), Lala (a very nice little girl), Braid (now Brad) and Elf (named by his big brother after watching Lords of the Ring.)

Maddog is back and blogging with a vengeance on things Taiwan. Here he takes apart a horribly pro-China article that made it into the Taipei Times the other day.
In an opinion piece in the Friday edition of the Taipei Times, former Villanova University professor and political commentator Henry Ting, while pretending that he supports President Chen Shui-bian and "the DPP's democratic struggle against the authoritarian Chinese National Party (KMT) regime," warns the DPP government about all kinds of things they shouldn't do and makes shit up about the feelings of the people of Taiwan:
Chen and the DPP brain trust should be very careful in stating that their sacred goal is Taiwan identity and sovereignty. Taiwan identity should never be used to antagonize China by refusing to communicate or cooperate. Taiwan identity should be illuminated as a symbol of the nation's advancement in terms of democracy and a free society. Taiwan identity does not have to mean keeping China at arm's length in cultural and economic exchanges.
How is it that Chen is once again being painted as the aggressor in this situation? And why is even talking about the fact of "Taiwan...sovereignty" off limits while planning for unification is unoffensive to ultra-sensitive superpowers?

This week saw a huge furor break out in Taiwan over Ma Ying-jeou, the mayor of Taipei and the current Chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and his attempts to appear as though he is moving toward the center. The huge action-reaction from within and without Ma's party is evidence that the KMT, while on the surface still enjoying its election victory in December, is actually in a state of crisis. Many of us blogged on the Ma huha. The always sensible David at Politics in Taiwan (formerly jujuflop) observed:

Pretty obvious, huh? Yet it’s something which the KMT has had a problem with accepting for some time. Ma is simply stating that the KMT is just one party in a multi-party democracy, and as such they have no absolute control over what happens to Taiwan. Given the KMT’s history, and the overblown rhetoric over independence and unification from both sides, it’s important to say it though. To clarify, Ma said:

“As citizens of a democratic country, the people of Taiwan are free to choose which option to pursue, so long as the choices are constitutional and do not violate any of the laws of the country.”

I couldn’t agree more. Ma went on to say that the KMT still support eventual unification - a position they’ve always held, and aren’t likely to change soon. Will the other parties applaud Ma for this statement, and say they respect (but might disagree with) the KMT’s position on unification? Or will they just try to misrepresent what he’s saying? I’m not taking bets on that one …

Ma's words could be read in many ways -- check out that tiny caveat "so long as the choices are constitutional." But of course, Taiwan's constitution is an ROC constitution. Tim Maddog had a few choice comments on Ma. Discussing the mayor's comments earlier in the week, he writes:

KMT chairman and Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou set the latest slide-fest in motion in an interview appearing in the Dec. 26, 2005 - Jan 2, 2006 issue of Newsweek in which he declared (a little more loudly than usual) that "eventual...unification" with China was his party's goal -- despite the fact that a vast majority of the people in Taiwan wish otherwise.

No ambiguity. No "maybe." No "it depends on the will of the people of Taiwan." Just that authoritarianism-with-a-smile that the media loves to fawn over.

During the interview, Mr. "Don't Paint Me Red" donned his red apologist-for-China's-bellicosity hat, saying, "[I]f Taiwan makes a provocative move, [China] would be left with no choice but to use force."

No explanation. No definitions of what he considers "provocative." No examples of what would "justify" China's use of force. Just Ma's self-evident "red hat."

Jerome Keating, historian, scholar, and book hound, weighed in today with a great article on Mayor Ma:

Yet while Ma runs hard for the presidential office; he still goes nowhere fast in taking a clear stand on key issues that relate to Taiwan. Instead he shuffles from side to side uttering amorphous declarations trying to be all things to all men.

On the ill-gotten assets of the KMT party he states that they are one of the problems that his party faces. Yet he has been chairman for over six months, and still has done nothing to rectify that situation. Nothing that is, unless selling one of the properties and putting the money in the KMT coffers is considered action. (Ref. my August 28 entry, Is Selling Still Not Stealing.)

On the issue of Taiwan's possible unification with China, Ma had stated some time ago that the time was not right and that China must first move toward democracy. Though his position has changed, the residue vagueness remains.

What does the phrase moves toward democracy mean? If China jails only thirty dissident journalists in a year instead of forty, is that moving toward democracy? If it dismantles 100 of 700 missiles pointed at Taiwan does that qualify for moving toward democracy? Do open elections for inconsequential positions or voting on the color of Shanghai garbage trucks fit the bill?

I have watched Ma for over fifteen years and always found him more concerned with image than results. (Ref. my August 21 entry More Style than Substance) The Taipei press on the other hand has always treated him with deference and indulgence. Instead of pressing him for position statements it concentrates on photographing him in his jogging shorts or at smiling appearances for public events.


In Europe the probing questions and consistent focus on what Ma actually says are the rule. First Ma tells students that Taiwan should not negotiate with China as long as they have their missiles pointed at the island. But the following day, this shifts and Ma says negotiations for unification can start even if the missiles are still there.

Next a newspaper ad put out by the KMT and approved by Chairman Ma states that the KMT admits that independence is a valid option for the people. Again, the following day, the soft shoe dance does a series of quick back steps, and it is stated the KMT holds to the noncommittal retain the status quo.

For many in the pan-blue camp, to even admit independence as an option that democratically minded people can choose is something to be resisted. So now Ma must shuffle faster. With each answer, new questions arise and more specific clarity is sought.

One of the most frustrating things for us Taiwan-watchers is the way the Taiwan media treats Ma so gently. Nobody will ask him the hard questions; indeed, reporters seem unaware that there are hard questions. the leaky pen commented on Mayor Ma as well, posting a translation from the pro-Green Liberty Times:

The Liberty Times picked up the story and has a long editorial blasting Mayor Ma's fickleness in today's edition of the paper. Translating on the fly, part of it reads:
In England recently [Mayor Ma] showed up to answer reporters' questions and was constantly came up with same responses: as long as the mainland doesn't arm its missiles, Taiwan won't talk about betrayal;" and likewise, "since the 700 mainland Chinese missiles are aimed at Taiwan, the KMT seeks peace in the Taiwan Strait above all else." Inside the country he still talks about "unification in the end," but when he goes abroad he avoids the question [of unification] and won't talk. On the one hand he stresses "in order to have real unification you have to have Taiwanese citizens approval", and it seems he puts the Taiwanese people first, but on the other hand he brings up "one China, two systems," as if he is trying to put Taiwan's fate inside a "One China" cage. If Ma Ying-jeou's independence stance and cross-strait policy is to be fallaciously argued like this, then he really should be called "hundred-sided Ma Ying-jeou." 「百變馬英九」。

The Taipei Times ran an interesting editorial on Ma's positions that I noted. The Times observed:

With Ma at the helm of the KMT, we may witness a new cycle of Lee-style nativization, not on the basis of nationalist slogans and ethnic awareness, but more on the basis of Ma's "let's all be friends" style of politicking and a new purging of immoderate elements on the pro-China extremities of the party. If Ma can thereby heal the tension that hardliners attempted to exploit with calls to violence at the last presidential election and so pull off a reconciliation between pan-green and pan-blue voters, he will have ironically stuck the knife deeper into Beijing's agenda. He will have done this by rallying Taiwanese around unificationist rhetoric whose goals are (to Ma) so noble and (to us) so outlandish that Beijing simply cannot deliver on them. Ma has now demanded of Beijing the impossible: accountability for the Tiananmen Square Massacre, demilitarization of the Taiwan Strait, democratic reform and genuine respect for Taiwanese sensibilities.

The interesting question is what Ma is aiming to do with a presidency that will be far too short for him to achieve his ultimate goal of a unified, civilized Chinese state.

Let us assume for the moment that Ma is elected president -- and that his apparent goodwill to the pan-green voter is sincere. If his stint in office is successful, his KMT successor will need to emulate him and defend Taiwanese self-determination.

Otherwise, a humbled and reconfigured DPP will probably replace him, either in four years or eight. Any of these options would surely make supporters of Taiwanese self-determination of all colors shiver with pleasure.

Finally, I wrote a long essay on the crisis in the KMT that democracy and generational change are engendering.

Chairman Ma's most recent pronouncements, and the criticism, backtracking, clarifications, and denials that ensued have illuminated yet another problem that lies deep in the mainlander Theology of Return. Ma Ying-jeou, in recent remarks and advertizements by the KMT, has not only voiced the opinion that China's missiles are an impediment to negotiations, and conceded that independence might be a possible option for the island. Because China was an Absolute Good, and return to its embrace the guiding eschatology, independence for Taiwan could never ever be just one policy among many. It could never even be policy; since it was the opposite of Return, Independence is Evil and never to be contemplated, let alone presented as a potential choice for the island's future. To understand the reaction to Ma, one must understand that he is not proposing a revision to extant policy -- he is proposing something like the KMT equivalent of Vatican II. Hell, it turns out, is just another public policy option.

It will be very interesting to watch how the KMT handles the social and institutional changes it will have to make in order to become just another political party. Make no mistake about it: the DPP's attempts to build a Taiwan identity may be aimed at their followers, but they are forcing the KMT to concede that it is wrong on the future of Taiwan, inch by tiny inch, and that the vast majority of Taiwanese will not support a policy that seeks to annex the island to China.

Finally, it should by now be occurring to everyone: what will China do when the KMT really and truly embraces independence as a possible policy outcome for Taiwan? As an anguished phone call from Beijing to its partner the KMT earlier in the week was chronicled by the redoubtable Jason at Wandering to Tamshui:

Seriously, the KMT's going to have to pull something spectacular out of its ass within the next two years if it's going to be taken seriously by the majority of Taiwanese voters who would rather lick Zhang Fei's sweaty mullet than live under Chinese rule.* So far it's been content to play the "hard blue" card to consolidate its base while demonizing anything to do with the DPP, a gambit that paid off in the wake of its devastating loss in 2004. Now that the Horse is in full-on campaign mode,** he's going to have to soften up his unification stance and that of his troops in preparation for the next round of legislative elections--which are being advertised as the advent of "LY Lite"--and the all-important 2008 presidential race.

But can he pull this balancing act off? His recent flip-flops (Christ, that word again?!) on the independence-as-an-option issue highlight the precariousness of his position. On one side he has to contend with the DPP, which is waiting for Ma to make these kinds of mistakes and make the KMT's "unification fixation" an early campaign theme. On the other side he's got to placate China, which has been getting a little antsy lately in its "hands off" policy since Chen's New Year speech. Finally, he has rivals within the pan-blue camp itself to deal with, a mötley crüe of hardline "Take back the mainland"-ers and moderate nativist members like his intra-party arch rival, Wang Jin-pyng. How the hell can you strike a balance with that?***

Another blogger who often blogs on Taiwan affairs writes:

KMT former chairman Lien Zhan's visit to China made the party's liaison with the communist party an asset for KMT, but what's going on right now, especially this piece of news, would probably turn the asset into liability. Now KMT will have a hard time to explain to Taiwannese voters if they are cooperating with the communists, or representing Taiwan. Ma Yingjiu's recent move was clearly aimed at testing water, and he may actually succeed in that. You see, he can't make the announcement that Taiwanese independece is an option right before the 2008 election, and so now is a perfect time---he can retreat from the statement to show to his supporters that he's still pro-unification, but he can also hint to pro-independence voters that he is should be acceptable to them too. Nice move from the perspective of elections. But the above piece of news really changed things.

I don't know what the future will bring, but I can say that if the DPP beats the KMT in the 2007 and 2008 elections, people who track the Taiwan blogosphere won't be surprised. The more Ma has to craft positive policies, the more he is going to reveal how out of the mainstream his party really is, and how the KMT lacks a forward-looking vision of the island's future. If the DPP puts up a slate of good candidates in the legislative elections, and a strong candidate for President, it could clean up. Ma might be the anointed successor, but he hasn't seized the throne yet.

The Mind of Mike has some interesting observations on service in Taiwan:

Service in Taiwan is of a quality that spoils the average Westerner very quickly, and I am no exception. When I go to Starbucks (ashamed grin) and see the smiling happy face of the girl behind the counter, I can’t help but notice that she is actually happy to see and serve me. It somehow makes my day a little better. Starbucks isn’t the exception either, it’s the norm. Everywhere you go in Taiwan, people are genuinely happy to assist you in most of the department stores, night markets, restaurants and a myriad of other shopping areas.

It’s quite a different scene than the sullen, stoned looking teens who throw change and a half ass coffee in your direction back home. It’s something you are so accustomed to experiencing that you don’t even notice the difference until you have the shock of a sudden change. Recently, we went on vacation back to Canada and the second I arrived in Vancouver on my way to Toronto, I stopped at a Tim Horton’s in the airport lounge. I was immediately ignored for 10 minutes while the staff chatted about their after work plans and how drunk they got the night before. It was a blatant reminder of how bad our service has become and honestly made me want to get right back on the plane to Taiwan.

I am sure this is due, in part to the fact that most Westerners in this type of industry loath their job with every fiber of their being. They simply look at work as a necessary evil in order to make some beer money, or as a daily reminder of how much their life sucks. Well, maybe that’s a little bit of an over simplification, but in essence, they view their employment much differently that most Asians.

Taiwanese people seem, overall to be happy and proud of their job, they go there happily and don’t complain about the hard work, and often low pay. I guess the point of all this, is to say that it’s nice to see people who are appreciative what they have, instead of constantly complaining about what they don’t.

I don't know if I would agree with that observation, but it is worth noting that service here has improved rapidly over the last 15 years.

Pinyin News has a fascinating entry on Crossword puzzles in Taiwanese used to teach Romanization in the 1920s by the Presbyterian Church here:

At the display for the Taiwan Church Press at the Taipei International Book Exhibition I came across a number of interesting works. The press has issued a 70-volume set of the collected newsletters of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. (University and research libraries, take note! So far no sets — NT$150,000 (US$4,600) each — have been sold to America or Europe.) The Presbyterian Church has long been an advocate of the rights of the people of Taiwan to speak Taiwanese without oppression, write in Taiwanese (including in romanization), and enjoy other political and human rights.

The newsletter, which dates back well into the nineteenth century, was written in romanized Taiwanese until 1969, when the KMT forced a change to Mandarin in Chinese characters. While flipping through a volume of the newsletters from the 1920s, I was startled to see that crossword puzzles in Taiwanese were a regular feature. (Click the thumbnail for a larger image.)

Daniel at Suitcasing begs for help with his loving neighbor who is killing him with kindness:

Two nights ago, Valentine's Day. I finish internet surfing in a cafe, and walk home, through deserted, sleeping streets. It's about 1am again. Cars are rare and fast on the big roads; I follow several lanes home for ten minutes. I climb the six floors to the roof, and turn the key in the lock. As the bolt clicks back, the door is suddenly pulled wide open by someone on the other side. It's Melody, waiting for me to return,


I scream, "Aaaargh"!

She cries in English:

"Happy Lovers Day, Baby Bear"!

We talk for a second, she tells me to wait, goes into her room, produces a little red box with a red ring inside (jade or plastic), "For your Girlfriend"!

I say thank you, offer her some of the chocolate a friend has given me, and escape into my room.

Saturday classes! Cold Goat Eyes wants revenge:

Fuck. After 6 months of weekends that began, to all intents and purposes, on thursday evenings, and after 6 months of believing that, as a relatively 'old hand' teacher (i.e. not the new boy anymore), I am spared the goddamned inconvenient inconvenience of inconveniently teaching on Saturdays, I received my new cycle schedule to find that I have two new saturday classes. It is a bitch. I have Fridays and Sundays off, with a big fat bastard 3 hours of reading/writing instruction inbetween. It gets worse though. My students, no wait, my pupils, are pubescent, mute, half-asleep, wishing-they-were-not-there high-schoolers who are forced to attend by their domineering, academically ambitious semi-crazed parents. Sounds bad eh? You dont know the fucking half of it. The first class it at 8.30. That's 8.30 in the morning. A fucking M. Dont worry though, I have a plan. I am going to be the biggest bastard of a teacher you ever saw. I will punish them for no particular reason. I will make them stand in the corner for 45 minutes just because I feel like it, and I will make them lick the floor for my entertainment, just like that Romanian teacher did. I will bring an electronic tennis-raquet mosquito killer into class and use it unsparingly. I will pull their sideburns like my Geography teacher Mr Rudkin did to me (I hated that bastard) and poke them in the eye with my finger. I will make them eat dirt and I will be such an unscrupulous mean fucker that they will go home crying to their mummy and begging to be taken out of the nasty waigouren's class so that eventually my boss will have no choice but to cancel it due to lack of attendance. Yeah. Thats what I'm going to do. You wait.

I had no idea Hsinchu even had a zoo, but Taiwananonymous actually paid it a visit:

The zoo was established in 1936 and is Taiwan's oldest zoo. It seems to have come from an era when the purpose of a zoo was to allow people to come in close contact with wild animals, even at the expense of the animals' comfort. For example, in the crocodile exhibit, one can come so close to the little crocodiles as to, say, spit some binlang dregs on a crocodile's back, judging from the stain. The zoo was also founded to satisfy our curiosity about these animals, rather than to educate us about ecology. So, the title of the article on one variety of goose reads "Delicious meat quality." In short, the zoo is not trying to recreate the native habitat of the animals, it is a zoo created for its customers--humans.

It's a lengthy and informative review.

Pasuya Yao's ill-fated decision to shut down local TV stations, which has been discussed on several blogs, ran its course today when the stations won. ESWN says that the government ought to compensate the victims.

In the case of ETTV-S, the most readily identifiable public servant is the former GIO Minister Pasuya Yao. Here is the instant Apple Daily poll: When the reinstated television channels ask for national compensation, should the government ask Pasuya Yao for compensation money? Yes: 63.8%; No: 20.6%; Don't now/no opinion: 15.7%. In practice, showing personal liability would be impossible since this was not a personal decision by Pasuya Yao alone, as any number of government bureaucrats and commissions were involved in the process too. The poll reflects public perception, though.

ESWN still hasn't learned that Apple Daily is about as reliable as cardboard in a typhoon. Nor has he fixed his previous post that featured an Apple Daily lie about a government website to note that it was a lie. Roland, as long as you rely on Apple Daily instead of a real newspaper, you're going to go wrong on Taiwan.

Meanwhile Jason at Wandering to Tamshui posts absolutely hilariously on Pasuya Yao, the former GIO head who made the dumb decision to shut down the seven stations, now the head of a burgeoning blogger cult:

The Pasuy-Agape continues to flow for the growing community of underground Yao worshippers (three and counting!) as the Infallible One stepped back into the news last night to defend his bold (most would say foolhardy) decision to renew the trashy Dongsen (東森) News S's broadcasting license, and reign verbal blows down upon the false prophets at the Executive Yuan Appeals Committee who have blasphemously agreed to reverse His decision.

The multitalented Yao is planning on entering the race for Kaohsiung mayor. As a result, the Taiwan blogosphere is looking forward to reporting on that race.

Taiwan Travel blog has a little piece on the grave of the world famous singer Teresa Teng:

Teng (known to ethnic Chinese as Deng Lijun) was born in Taiwan in 1953, and remains the most famous female singer ever in Chinese communities around the world. In the 1970s, she was hugely successful - first in Taiwan, then in Hong Kong and Japan.

She also made inroads in the US market, and was held in special affection by Taiwanese soldiers posted to remote islands. In the 1980s, millions of pirated copies of her albums sold in mainland China, although she refused to perform there for political reasons. Her father, who introduced her to various forms of Chinese opera when she was a child, was a former Nationalist soldier from the mainland.

When she died - following an asthma attack while on vacation in Thailand - the news was reported in Time magazine and the New York Times, as well as by every Chinese-language media on the planet.

The popularity of this tomb is also unusual because, in ethnically Chinese societies, burial sites are traditionally avoided, even by relatives of the deceased, except during the annual Tomb Sweeping Festival.

Will my pu-erh age well? This is a question I asked my doc the last time I had my prostate checked that has never occurred to me, but in case you were wondering, Steph at Tea Masters is the master of pu-erh:

2. How long are you willing to wait?
Aging pu-er takes time, lots of time. In Taiwan, the tropical heat and humidity during summer gives aging a natural boost. Even so, the serious merchants in Taipei often wait 15 years until the tea has reached sufficient maturity before selling those teas. The longer you are willing (and able) to wait, the more it makes sense to age pu-erh yourself, as prices rise exponentially over time. Buying very young for the very long term is the riskiest strategy as it's most difficult to tell how a pu erh ages when it's very young. An alternative strategy, suited if you aim at very old, is to purchase compressed pu-er (loose leaves don't age so old) when it's already 10 to 15 years old and still reasonably affordable. My Menghai district Fang Cha Zhuan of 1990 (wrapped 3 bricks at a time) falls into this category.

Taiwanfashionista blogs on the show of Italian designers at a Taipei Museum:

Spent my afternoon on the second floor at the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art today. The exhibition "50 Years of Italian Fashion" is well worth it.

You first walk into a huge hall that features pretty much the typical layout of the whole show: picture plates showing one designer alone and with celebrities and family, and models showing off his/her works, and drawings. Each designer has a couple of real, 'live' objects on show, mostly dresses. The first hall features the big names, Armani, Versace, Prada, and famous clothes such as 'that' Versace dress Jennifer Lopez wore, or the Brioni suit made for James Bond Pierce Brosnan.

What can we expect out of China? Some stuff on peak oil is very scary. The writer argues that war between Russia and China is a distinct possibility:

These facts about China's currency reserves, trade surplus, oil consumption, major purchases of foreign oil outside of the Middle East, and data concerning Chinese oil demand and consumption, may signal a disturbing trend when viewed in conjunction with data about overall global energy reserves. The data regarding global oil consumption and exploration is troubling itself; but viewed alongside the information about China, it could all signal imminent conflict between two nuclear powers in the most populous region in the world. While there are several ways to interpret all of this data, and several scenarios which may occur, one such scenario that appears increasingly likely is the outbreak of war between China and Russia. To continue this analysis, it is necessary to first look at facts regarding global energy reserves, and the role of the U.S. in the Persian Gulf, to better put the information about China into the proper context. This information will then be applied directly to China and their potential decision to wage war against Russia.

What kind of world are we leaving my children?

A blog that works on the Ohio Senate Race discusses how dangerous Sherrod Brown's support of One China, One Taiwan is:

Pushing China to give up its rights to Taiwan is highly dangerous. Tensions are incredibly high, as we saw when Bush first entered office and a US spy plane was forced down in China while doing recon in the straits. Does Sherrod Brown want to openly advocate fueling this tension to this point when the Chinese are so entrenched on the issue, when they are propping up our economy and deficit buying our treasury bonds, and have assumed a significant amount of our manufacturing ? I think he is nuts, so too does Bill Clinton

As long as China threatens to annex Taiwan through force, there is no "safe" policy the US can follow, except total capitulation. The One China policy legitimates Chinese expansionism, while a One China, One Taiwan policy, however ethically correct, might provoke a war. Welcome to the Taiwan choices, all bad.

PICS: Activethrust paints a test advert for herself on a local wall. Beautiful work, Tarka!

SHORTS: BC papers are reporting that Matt Forand, that foreigner who got busted bringing in drugs in language textbooks (as if they weren't soporific enough already), is facing death in Taiwan. Languagehat clears up the origin of the name Coxinga. Taiwan Baseball notes that the Red Sox have signed three kids from Taiwan. Finding the Rabbit visits the Gold Mine on the Gold coast and posts a passle o'pics. Peow Liung Taiwan! mines Taroko National Park and Hualien for beautiful pics.Don't miss the podcasting at Getting a Leg Up, The Bluesman's Killing Floor, Misadventures in Taiwan, Ugly Expat, The Formosa Diaries, and What's Up in Taiwan. As always, great photos at 35togo, Unplugged, the forgetful's photo gallery, the forgetful's photo gallery, amateur commune, andres, Clarke vs Matt, Cat Piano, T_C at Fotolog, battphotos, Fotologging Taiwan, Photoactionboy, leftmind, MaMaHuHu, Everything Visible is Empty, Roger in Taiwan, Love Songs (Are for Losers), Photoblogging Taiwan, Eight Diagrams, Tagging Taichung, Finding the Rabbit, and The New Hampshire Bushman in Taiwan and The World. Also, Waiguoren project wants your stories.


Congrats to my beautiful friend Grace, who recently opened a blog:
Me - Fish All at Sea (Grace)
Taipei Travel & Living
Me - Fish All at Sea (Grace)
my taipei
kiss my blog

RESOURCE: The US-Taiwan Business Council. "Fostering Business Relations Between the United States and Taiwan". News, events, articles, information.


Anonymous said...

One of the things that struck me so much about the 1920s crossword puzzles in Taiwanese was that they probably were not particularly used for teaching romanization. Now that the bad old days of outright repression of the Taiwanese language have passed, we can see material from time to time in Taiwanese. Most of it tends to be language-learning material aimed at children. Then there's some religious material aimed largely at a graying audience. But the crosswords, those appeared to be there as, for lack of a better phrase, simply a part of everyday life, just as we might pick up a newspaper in English and see a crossword there. Writing in Taiwanese was already a reality. Romanization was already a reality. These could have expanded to a much wider section of the population. But the Japanese and the KMT succeeded in stamping much of the life out of writing in Taiwanese (romanized or not).

Unknown said...

Dear Michael,
I work for a branch of Joy Schools. I don't know about the other branches of my school, but my branch is much more sensibly inclined about the naming of kids. Occasionally you get a Hansom (Handsome, of course, is not really a common, English name, but there is the fairly hip band called the Handsome Brothers, not to be confused with Hanson). But aside from that, it is really good! And the text books are delightfully devoid, for the most part, of the scary errors mentioned in your round-up.

I should mention, though, in Taiwanese, well, Chinese, versions of phonetics, kk, and I am not simply talking about one particular school, but the whole spectrum. I bought kk cards at Caves Bookstore in one of the universities in Taichung. I am puzzled, I must say, by the more complex kk's like sleepy with the last sound as [I]. This, to my mind, as many things Chinese or Taiwnese, defies logic, ahem. Why blimy not [i]? It won't hurt, will it. We don't say slippy or sleepih. We say sleeepee.

I think a lot of the problem, to get back to the issue of misnamings, is that to many people, just anybody with a bit of money or a bit of credit from the bank, is starting up an English school these days. They don't have foreign teachers as consultants, or if they do, they don't do enough checking to see what talents that native speaker has, particularly, vis-a-vis linguistics. Not that you need a native teacher who is brilliant, but you do need someone who is willing to adapt a little bit. This particularly goes for really young teachers in their early twenties, who can be a little more inflexible, due to their age. And if they come from a country with a weird accent (excuse my slight arrogance!) like South African or British, or Australian, they need to speak more slowly. I come from Canada, and I am proud of my flat yet sometimes emotive drawl. But sometimes even I hear of a teacher express a preference for American accents. This is natural perhaps. The accent you most hear on TV is American, followed by Canadian (+ it's similar), followed by British, etc. My main point in the whole matter, though, is this: owners of English schools should try to hire teachers who know English, and the owners themeselves, even if their English is almost nil, should try to improve their understanding of English. But as some bloggers' rants go, not all experiences have been as positive on this particular matter.

Vis-a-vis the mention by a blogger whom you quote as seeing a kid with the name, Titty: that is just plain wrong and disturbing, etc. If it is a playful nickname bandied about by teenagers at school that is one thing. But an elementary school kid? Yikes! The author of that blog should have immediately demanded a change of name and stated in vehement terms the reasons!

Vis-a-vis - service: service is slow in Taiwan. The blogger who stated that service is fast and friendly is probably a bit green.
The friendly factor here (from my experience at Starbucks in Taichung, Hsinchu, Kenting, and Taipei) is relative, perhaps. In the United States, it is, perhaps, what the writer says it is. But in Canada, it is the same as Taiwan. Nothing to do with work ethics. Work is viewed here in Taiwan differently, yes, but not in such black and white terms in which the writer hinted. It has more to do with family life here. Work and family are intertwined. And close school friends form a close second.

Speed? C'mon. The fast food service here is slow. But let's try to move onto more positive things. After all, I will probably rant about too many of the negative things in my blog. I don't want to always talk about the constant irritants.