Monday, 25 May 2009

Chase the Rabbit

I haven't posted for a while because its pretty boring lately. I'm finally going out of town this weekend and that might give me something to write about. For now, you can read about my Saturday night. I warn you though, its not that exciting.

Drinking has diminished to once a week for me. Every Saturday I go to a great bar that I won't mention because I don't want to ruin the atmosphere by telling the lao wai world about it and I want it all to myself. I'm selfish. Its a little haven for the rockers, artists, for Taiwanese actors, and MTV vj's. They got those track bike scenie-weenies too. Why all these folks find themselves in one small, dark bar playing all the indie rock hits is beyond me but I happened to have been turned on to it and consider myself lucky. Feels a lot like home too. That is, if everyone back home looked "Asian" and spoke Chinese.

Last Saturday I had a usual night at the bar. However, as sometimes is the case, a beer can lead to a shot which leads to a war. And Whiskey always matter how much vodka and tequilla you think you like. Needless to say i fell asleep on my bathroom floor. It was nice to wake up in my bed though. Hmmmm. I never did chase the rabbit down the white hole. (Chase the rabbit is puke in Taiwanese)

Friday, 8 May 2009


Commuting can be a monotonous drudge. The daily routine of walk, wait, ride, transfer, ride, and finally work lays waste to days and years. Yesterday was no different. I walked to the place to wait for the dinosaur. Luckily, I found a seat. The dinosaur began roaring and vibrating its way through traffic to pick up and drop off the worker bees. Click.....Click.....Click. It started after some older passengers from the same stop sat down somewhere behind me. Click....A sound that was instantly familiar.

"Is someone really cutting their nails on the bus? in public?" I said to myself. One of my pet peeves since I can remember. I turned around to see an older Taiwanese, maybe middle aged, cutting her nails and talking to an equally aged, fellow dinosaur rider. While the country bumpkin clicked away with out a care as to who picked up her nail scrapings or if the noise bothers the holy shit out of fellow passengers, I pondered confessing these thoughts to her out loud. Releasing my righteous pet peeve onto the ignorant bitch poking my nerves. My stop comes up and off I go, departing happily.

I transfer to the roller coaster for the last leg of my commute. This time I am also lucky to find I seat. I sit. Across from me is a man giving a phone bill the once over. He takes of his glasses and, while squinting, brings his face closer to the paper. I guess he thought his bill would change if he took his glasses off.
"This bill Can't be right. They must have made a mistake. Let me rely on my poor eyesight to double check"
Perhaps he couldn't believe how expensive the bill was and thought that he should take his glasses off to blame the price on his misread? I got to work at 930.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Paranoid much?

I showed up at the building General Mills has chosen to be the base of office operations in Taipei. Walking past the doorman I went to the elevator and pushed the button. Up. I hop in with the water delivery man because I don't want to wait for another up and down cycle. When I arrive at the fifth floor I walk through the to the secretary's desk so they can give me their visitor's sticker. Instead, they hand me a translated notice that reads, "because of swine flu we require everyone to spray their hands with gasoline and submit to having their temperature taken through a minor invasive procedure before entry"

Ok, so it didn't say that exactly. After washing my hands with alcohol to kill any flu germs I moved on to the next stage of my examination by the secretaries. A horned device was waved over my forehead to determine if I had a fever based on surface temperature. It was hot out this morning and I was in a rush so the thermometer couldn't register my fever possibilities until I cooled down and stopped sweating. I had a sweet wait of about ten minutes before my temperature registered. I didn't mind though since I sat and waited on their time. I was marked at a cadaver average 34. Oh, that's Celsius. I was wondering why they let me in.

Since there has been no cases of swine flue (H1N1) in Taiwan its pretty safe to say that people are too paranoid on the island (was that a lost reference?). It's flu god damn it! not the bubonic plague. Yeah, some people die from flu, mostly old folks and babies, but it's still a flu. The news said our stockpile of drugs can deal with it. So can we please have confidence in drugs and deal with it minus the paranoia?

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Charter 08

Here is a link to a translation of Charter 08 ( at The New York Times book review by Perry Link. I mentioned it in the last post and thought you might want to know more about it. I also added what the charter outlines below.

Specific demands are:

Amending the Constitution
Separation of Powers
Legislative democracy
An Independent Judiciary
Public control of public servants
Guarantee of Human Rights
Election of public officials
Rural–urban equality
Freedom of Association
Freedom of Assembly
Freedom of Expression
Freedom of Religion
Civic Education
Protection of Private Property
Financial and tax reform
Social Security
Protection of the Environment
A federated republic
Truth in Reconciliation

Lackey Chan

Nothing is more infuriating than high society defending a defunct status quo. The rich telling everyone else to toughen up and those in power telling the rest of the country to stop their whining and complaining. Jacky Chan is known in the west as a kung fu comic but in Asia he is the most recent example of movie star gone politicing in a dead pond.

While in Hong Kong, Mr. Chan made some comments about Chinese people that reflected the Communist Party's interest but rejected by an increasing number of Chinese. Playing on the stereotype that there is something fundamentally different and exotic about Chinese (or Asians) he said, "gradually, I think we Chinese people need to be controlled. If were not, we'll just do what we want". He also spoke of Taiwan and Hong Kong as being "too chaotic" because they are too free. Obviously, as a rich actor probably living in America he is going to be seen as a hypocrite. I'll see him as naive for being the lackey spokesman of the Chinese government or not seeing how much more chaotic China is than Taiwan.

Take the prevalence of fake Chinese products and their consequences. Perhaps that isn't chaotic enough for Mr. Chan. How about arresting people with out charges who write or get together and talk about some of China's problems and how to fix them. Chinese like Charter 08 drafter Liu Xiaobo, Tibetan blogger Woeser, or Bao Tong. Still not chaos? I got it. How about passing laws and then ignoring them like those in the constitution or that protect their land. Then, while on the way to address their grievance and ask for help from Beijing local governments detain them or kick the shit out of them before they can file their petition at some obscure office they can't find anyway. Now, their pissed and are prevented from redress so they riot and strike. Now that's chaos!

I know Jackie Chan will release some PR spiel and that he may have even catered to the predominantly Chinese official crowd, possibly for some reciprocity. A lackey for hero status relationsip? He knows he's fighting for the machine. I also realize cultural values vary and create different systems of government but you would have to be dictator to argue that any group of people "need to be controlled" or do not desire basic human rights. Democracy may be a western thing but the basic freedoms are universal. If you need proof that human rights are a Chinese thing just read charter 08 or the last 40 years of Chinese history.