Monday, May 30, 2005

'Nother useful blog entry I have no time to comment on

Earth Wide Moth's notes on readings from the genre theory class he's taking this summer. Hope to see more of these, since I can't be there in person (*sniff*).

[Update: here's a link to Derek's genre studies category.]

['Nother Update: Baron Miguel Secluna is also blogging the course. Way to go, Baron... er... sir?]

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Taking a break

I've got a couple of projects to get done between now and the end of June, so my blogging will be light-to-nonexistent until then. (If I can control myself!)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Teaching vs. research universities revisited

In blog-time, this is slightly old news, but I'll post it anyway:
MOE Grants 90M to THU

May 7, 2005

90 million NT dollars was granted to Tunghai University by the Ministry of Education. THU ranked no. 3 after the MOE reviewed the Teaching and Learning Plans from 54 universities. Twelve other universities benefited from the 1 billion NTD subsidy.

THU President Haydn Chen thanked Dr. Cheng-Tung Lin, Dean of Academic Affairs, as well as, all faculty and staff for the work and effort that was put into producing the Teaching and Learning Plan. President Chen said, "Education is an ongoing affair. At present universities are putting too much emphasis on research, leaving the teaching and learning facet as secondary. Our school cares for general education emphasizing on holistic education for the development of the ideal student."
(Source: Tunghai's website)

Does this relate in some way to the issue of classifying Taiwan's universities into research universities and teaching universities? It seems to--judging from this May 8 China Times article that mentions that some schools had already received grants from a plan to promote research universities (「推動研究型大學整合計畫」), so they were disqualified from competition for the grants that Tunghai and the other 12 universities got.

Interestingly, the same article concludes,
The MOE complains about the overemphasis on research at the expense of teaching, but it seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth here, considering its hand in encouraging the heavy emphasis on research. (As Scott has mentioned, the MOE plays a major role in the promotion of faculty members of Taiwan's universities.) It's nice to see an attempt at establishing a balance, though. On the other hand, I'm a little worried that the balance will be between research universities (with their more easily quantifiable results) and teaching universities (with their less quantifiable, potentially more subjective results). In the long run, where will more of the money go?

[Update, 2:42 p.m.: Perhaps that last question doesn't get at the real issue, which is the role the MOE should or shouldn't have in promoting universities as places of high-quality (undergraduate) education as well as institutes of high-quality research. Direct injections of money to support innovative teaching plans are one approach, but not the only one.]

More fun with SSCI

Clyde and I have been having a nice chat over on Scott's blog about the uses of the SSCI in Taiwan, and Scott himself has thrown his two cents' in, too (well, it's his blog--of course he has!).

The line that I got the biggest kick out of is the beginning of the third paragraph: "No one would deny, not even Jonathan Benda, that publication in an SSCI journal is a major accomplishment in a research career." I don't know if I'm supposed to take this as a sign that I'm becoming infamous for disagreeableness, but if so, well, I'll try to take it as a compliment.

At any rate, I do agree that publication in an SSCI journal (or, say an A&HCI journal, etc.--depending on your field) is a big achievement in a researcher's career. But... well, check out Scott's blog for more of my crazy comments.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A cultural *what*??!!

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (corrected...hopefully)
created with

Saturday, May 14, 2005

More pictures from Ghent

I've got a lot of pics, but it has taken me forever to get around to posting them. And most of them are of old buildings... (Duh!) But here are some pictures.

This fortified me for presenting my paper... (No pics of me--I ate too much.)

Guess what's special about these shoes...

Gravensteen, a 12th-century castle in the middle of Ghent. Taken from a tour boat on the Leie River. Gravensteen has an (ahem) interesting collection of torture instruments on display. There was one where they'd strap someone to a wooden bed and put his meals on a table, just slightly out of reach. (Someone should have done that to me while I was there...) Posted by Hello

Friday, May 13, 2005

Enough with the rain already!

Nine o'clock in the evening. It's been raining HARD since yesterday. Living at the top of Dadu Hill (I'm refusing to call it a mountain) helps keep our home dry, but some folks in other parts of Taiwan (Hsinchu, Miaoli, Yunlin, for instance) aren't quite as lucky.

This shot, from the United Daily News, is from Hsinchu.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Guóyǔ (國語) as prerequisite to citizenship

Mark Swofford's Pinyin News reflects on a Taipei Times report regarding a proposed language requirement for foreign nationals wishing to become Taiwan (R.O.C.--so far) citizens. The Times article refers to "a basic grasp of Mandarin," but when Swofford checked with the Ministry of the Interior, he was told other Taiwan languages (Hakka, Minnan, and possibly Aboriginal languages) would be acceptable alternatives. Swofford comments,
I suspect some of the ambiguity may lie in how Guóyǔ (國語) is translated. Most of the time the word refers to Mandarin. Recently, however, the government has occasionally chosen to translate Guóyǔ not as "national language" (i.e. Mandarin) but "national languages" (i.e. the more than one dozen languages of Taiwan: Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, and the languages of Taiwan's tribes).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Boston--a land of contradictions

a better tomorrow has a nice post about the use of the phrase "land of contradictions" in much (too much) travel writing. His parody of a travel article is worth quoting (check out the whole thing here):
Boston is indeed a land of contrasts and contradictions. Meander along any of its cobblestone streets and you can feel the deep Puritan spirituality of the people. But walk through the bustling business district, and you can feel the vibrant pulse of one of America's oldest cities trying to adapt to its status as a newfound economic powerhouse. ...
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen in any English-language travel guide. But I haven't checked out any Chinese travel guides lately. Maybe they have their own version of this.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

How to distinguish foreigners from Americans

Some little kids noticed me when I got out of my brother-in-law's car near my in-laws' house Sunday afternoon. One of the kids yelled, "Foreigner! Foreigner!" in Chinese to his siblings and parents. Another kid said to him, "He's not a foreigner, he's an American. The ones with long noses are Americans."

Monday, May 02, 2005

On defining rhetoric at family reunions and other awkward occasions

This is not quite in response to a request by Paul Stob at the Blogora for a "quick" definition of rhetoric for use at family-type gatherings:

When I went to my first Rhetoric Society of America conference in 1998 they were selling a cool T-shirt with the heading "What is rhetoric, anyway?", followed by a bunch of definitions on the back, including Aristotle's "the faculty of discovering in any given case the available means of persuasion", I. A. Richards's "the study of misunderstanding and its remedies", George Campbell's "that art or talent by which discourse is adapted to its end", and Kenneth Burke's "[t]he use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols", among others. I wore this T-shirt with pride and would point to the back of it whenever someone asked me what I was studying. (To be honest, it also helped me define for myself exactly what it was I was supposed to be studying. And to be honest, I think the definitions helped me a lot more than they helped those asking me what rhetoric is.)

Unfortunately, after many washings, the definitions of rhetoric faded away and in the end, I was left with a T-shirt that only asked, "What is rhetoric, anyway?" Oddly appropriate that all the definitions of rhetoric would self-destruct like that, leaving me again to my own devices.

[Cross-posted as a comment to the Blogora]

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The dreaded reading meme

I've been avoiding responding to the 9th grade Tuba Player's mention of me in her response to the reading meme. But I figure I'll need to respond sooner or later...

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. What book do you want to be?
To be honest, I've never read Fahrenheit 451, but I did look up the book on (*gasp*) SparkNotes (don't tell anyone). Sounds like an interesting book that I'll probably not be able to read for a good long time. So maybe I'd like to be Fahrenheit 451 if I were stuck in Fahrenheit 451...

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Princess Leia--not Carrie Fisher, mind you, but Princess Leia from the Star Wars book. (When Star Wars came out, I was only 9 and I wasn't allowed to see it, so I read the book. Actually, when I got to see the movie years later, I was very disappointed. The book was better...)

The last book you bought is?
The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation by Hayden White.

What are you currently reading?
The Content of the Form, Is Taiwan Chinese? by Melissa J. Brown, Between Assimilation and Independence by Stephen Phillips, and a bunch of Research Methods proposals.

Five books you would take to a desert island:
I like 9th Grade's choice of the U.S. Army Survival Manual. In addition to that, I would take the Bible (maybe I'd finally be able to read the whole thing, something that 30 years of church-going hasn't been able to get me to do), Black Athena volumes 1 and 2 by Martin Bernal (another work I've been trying to read for years), The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (I read it every summer), and (heh heh) a blank diary (hope that's not cheating!).

Who are you going to pass this stick to and why?
1. last updated, because he probably read Fahrenheit 451 during his science fiction phase
2. ERG, 'cause he's judicious and even-tempered (though he doesn't have a blog--use the comments function!)
3. Clyde Warden, who also doesn't have a blog (probably because, unlike me, he has a life!), because he's such an eclectic reader

For that person who found my blog when searching for "pictures of people being acupunctured," here ya go... sort of... Posted by Hello