Wednesday, June 29, 2005

125% slang, all the time...

Your Slanguage Profile

British Slang: 25%
Canadian Slang: 25%
Prison Slang: 25%
Southern Slang: 25%
Victorian Slang: 25%
Aussie Slang: 0%
New England Slang: 0%

Sunday, June 26, 2005

It must have been "Foreigner Day" at the Taichung Harbor fish market today...

Michael Turton went to the fish market with his family and friends this morning and posted his pictures while we were at the fish market with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and their son. He's got some beautiful shots, and I'll try not to post "repeats" of his pictures...

When Michael and his family went, there weren't many people there. But by the time we got there...

This fish was just taking a rest--I think it had heat stroke, like I had.

These fellas look kind of prehistoric... From what I could find on the web, they're called "Chikamekintoki" in Japanese...

There were some devout Buddhists at the fish market today, buying (and asking other people to buy) live fish so they could release them back into the water. They didn't appear particularly successful... (They're the people in the back holding up the red sign with a picture of a lotus on it.)

"Dragon's Intestines"--actually the intestines of mambo fish.

Our nephew found another use for the styrofoam coolers Michael mentions...

OK. What's our next outing gonna be, Michael? (heh)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Another interview about Taiwan

Konrad Lawson, on his blog Muninn, relates a chat he had with an elderly Taiwanese couple at a coffee shop in Taipei. They talked mostly in Japanese. It's an interesting read. Here's one paragraph to pique your interest:
When the war ended and Taiwan reverted to the control of Nationalist Chinese forces, he finished his high school education in Taipei though all of his classes switching suddenly from Japanese to Chinese. The couple said that the switch was particularly difficult for elementary school teachers who had to study Chinese via the radio and change their materials from Japanese to Chinese, while junior and high school teachers came largely from China. After graduating the husband was accepted to and went to Zhongyang University in Nanjing after turning down an offer from Taiwan National University. The year was 1948 and within only a few months of starting college, he would be fleeing Nanjing with the rest of the Nationalist government and his fellow students as the Nationalist forces started crumbling in the face of Communist advances.

Link to the former native speaker's abode

I found our apartment complex (or "community," as they often call it here) using Google's satellite images: here it is, in case you're interested. We're in the building in the middle of the picture. Tunghai University is here, with the FLLD building in the middle (the big building to the far left that looks like a rectangular donut is the university library).

By the way, I heard on the news that Taiwan's government is worried about the easy availability of satellite images of the island. They're worried that our enemies will be able to get free images of Taiwan's military bases through Google Maps.

[Update, 10:06 p.m.: Also took a trip to China--I think this is the Forbidden City, right?]

Friday, June 24, 2005


Am listening to an interview I did yesterday, using my MP3 player for the first time. It is SO clear! I'll never go back to bulky cassette recorders...

And the interview went quite well, too--the interviewee was able to take a lot of my "yes-no" questions (note: don't ask so many yes-no questions next time!) and talk for quite a while on them. I got a lot of good stories, too, that will make my dissertation not so dry. He was definitely better at being interviewed than I was at interviewing!

Preparing for ISHR

I found out Tuesday afternoon that Tunghai has accepted my proposal for a travel grant to present a paper at the conference of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric. I was a little worried I wouldn't get the grant because, as you can see from my abstract, I'm not going to be talking about English teaching. (Actually, I could probably make a decent argument that it relates to the work we do in the intercultural communication class I teach here.) So I'm grateful to Tunghai for agreeing to help foot the bill for my trip to LA in July.

I'm shortening the paper to focus mainly on post-war Taiwan because I don't think I could cover both colonial and post-war Taiwan adequately in a 20-minute presentation. (I found out in April how hard it was to cover to any depth a few presidential inaugurals in 20 minutes!) The paper explores some issues pertaining to how the KMT government defined the Chineseness that it encouraged (or perhaps "coerced" is a better word in some cases) the people of Taiwan to identify with--specifically, "Chinese" as equal to "citizen of the Republic of China, temporarily exiled to the island of Taiwan but diligently at work on recovering the nation from the Russian Communists and their puppet Mao Zedong" (or something along those lines). I'm arguing that in order to have an understanding of the complexities of 20th-century Chinese rhetoric, it's necessary to look at competing notions of Chineseness rather than focusing only on rhetoric that is considered Chinese simply because it is produced on the Chinese mainland--though admittedly, the mainland figures prominently into the notions of Chineseness that the KMT on Taiwan emphasized. I argue that it's important to pay attention both to the claims the KMT government made about how it represented the last bastion of true Chineseness in the world, and to the "contents" of the Chineseness that the R.O.C. on Taiwan represented. (Why, for instance, some Republican era Chinese writers and thinkers were acceptable and others, such as Lu Xun, weren't. Or why some aspects of language simplification were acceptable and others weren't.) The main angle on this that I will take is how what I call "the rhetoric of Chineseness" was fundamental to educational theory and practice in early martial-law Taiwan, particularly in terms of learning to use language/rhetoric. Learning was in large part, as Richard Wilson wrote 35 years ago, "learning to be [a particular kind of] Chinese" or learning to speak and write as a particular kind of Chinese.

Most of what I will have to say would probably be no surprise to anyone who has lived in Taiwan for a while (and hasn't been asleep the whole time) or has read about Taiwan. (In fact, there's some interesting material at--of course!--Scott's blog about some of this.) But Taiwan hasn't had much representation, to my knowledge, at international rhetoric conferences, though there have been some good articles on Taiwan in NCA/Sage's Intercultural and International Communication Annual (see here for links to tables of contents). In fact, while there are about half a dozen scholars from the mainland who will be at ISHR, I'm the only one I know of who is coming from Taiwan. (A-chin Hsiau of the Academia Sinica was going to present what looked like an interesting paper, but won't be there.) So again I'm in the odd position of being the "foreigner" representing Taiwan at an international conference. Hope that's not always the case...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What do you do when your car won't start and it's the middle of the night? You call MacGyver, of course! Using only a paperclip and his wits, our friend Manfred "MacGyver" Sablotny helped us fix a blown fuse when all the auto supply stores were closed last night. Thanks, MacGyver--er, Manfred! Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005

Link smorgasbord, with a picture of my dog thrown in for good measure

I've been playing around with Technorati tags for my posts, but I have a feeling this is going to defy any tag besides ...

First the links--they're from my Bloglines feeds (which I'll make public one of these days, when I get around to it), so I want to post them here for future reference. In no particular order:

And now for Mei-mei:

Mei-mei, who lives with her "grandparents" in Hsin-she, likes to hang out around our car when we visit. She always looks forward to going on rides with us, even though those rides usually end up at the vet's where she gets her blood sugar checked... Posted by Hello

Alex Reid on assessment at SUNY

Came across a post by Alex Reid on "SUNYwide assessment and the failure of composition" that critiques the school's rubric for assessing the teaching of writing. Interesting...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Don't know why I have time to do these things...

Your IQ Is 120

Your Logical Intelligence is Above Average
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

Some blog entries on mentoring

There are a couple of interesting posts about mentoring over at the blog of the Synecdochic Prof (not to be confused with Schenectady Synecdoche--hmmm... wonder if they know each other?).

I'm particularly interested in this subject because I tried (unsuccessfully) to get a mentoring program started in my department. One of the reasons it failed was that a lot of people (including junior faculty) didn't feel a formal program was necessary--enough mentoring is done informally, I guess.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Study on scientific misconduct

Issues in Scholarly Communication links to a study reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education that found that a third of respondents to a survey about scientific misconduct in the U.S. admitted to having "engaged in actions such as overlooking others' use of flawed data, failing to present data contradicting one's own work, and circumventing minor requirements of human-subject research."

The original article from Nature, entitled "One in three scientists confesses to having sinned" (written by Meredith Wadman), is available online (for how long, I don't know). It quotes Brian Martinson, who conducted the survey with colleagues at the HealthPartners Research Foundation, as saying that "'[t]he majority of misbehaviours reported to us are more corrosive than explosive,'" but also that they are still a serious matter.

Martinson, according to Nature,
thinks the main cause of all the questionable behaviour is the increasing pressure that scientists are under as they compete to publish papers and win grants. "We need to think about the working conditions in science that can be addressed," he says, suggesting better salaries and employment conditions for young scientists, and a more transparent peer-review process.
The U.S. government, evidently, has a policy of only policing "fabrication, falsification and plagiarism" and does not concern itself with other types of misconduct like the ones mentioned above. The article concludes,
Martinson and his colleagues say their study is the first attempt to quantify such activities. They hope their results will persuade scientists to stop ignoring the wider range of misbehaviour.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More on research in the UK (and, by extension, Taiwan)

Chris Bertram at Crooked Timber cites an article by Jonathan Wolff about "the distorting effects" of the funding of humanities research on the research itself. The original article, from the Guardian, is here and the Crooked Timber discussion is here.

One paragraph from Wolff's article that I think is quotable concerns how the AHRC (the Arts and Humanities Research Board), which gives out the grants and evaluates the research results,
wants to reassure itself that it is funding work of the highest international standards. How can you demonstrate this? Not easily. Citation rates rely on quickfire take-up of ideas in the peer-reviewed literature; fine in the sciences but poor in the humanities, where response time is more measured. And anyway, published citation rates ignore mentions in monographs and book chapters, which remain central to the humanities.
This reminds me of the situation in the humanities in Taiwan.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Grumble grumble

Tunghai's computer center picked the dumbest of all possible times to make major changes to the school's web and e-mail service. So now my "official" website is offline until I can find time to figure out what they've done.

[Update at 6:19 p.m.: I've moved the my official homepage over to the new server, but have to do some editing to get it all looking the way it should be. But I don't have time to do that right now, so it'll have to stay ugly for a while...]

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Peking Duck on Singlish

There's a nice discussion going on at the Peking Duck on Singapore English, the bane of Lee Hsien Loong's existence, evidently (Singapore English, that is, not the Peking Duck).