Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gettin' windy here...

Typhoon Talim is starting to affect us right now, as you can see from the images below from the Central Weather Bureau:

Update, 11:23 p.m.: Still windy (getting windier). And have some rain leaking into the apartment--somehow getting in through the air conditioner.

Here's the latest satellite image from the Central Weather Bureau.

Taiwan's down there somewhere...

I heard Mike Chinoy on CNN earlier, saying that Taiwanese are even more serious about this typhoon because of the coverage of Katrina that has been on the news here. Maybe. But I think it's also because this is such a huge typhoon. One news article mentioned that it has winds up to 184 kmh.

The news has announced that businesses and schools will be closed all over the island tomorrow. We'll probably have to prepare for a water shortage too, I imagine. Hopefully it won't be like last year. Time to fill up the bathtub...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Speaking of Taiwan and rhetoric...

Rhetoric doesn't actually get a mention, but the Taiwan News has an article about a discussion group on deliberative democracy that was held during the Youth National Affairs Conference in Taipei:
In a discussion group on the Youth National Affairs Conference, a panel of National Youth Commission officials and youth representatives shared with international experts how the "deliberative democracy" decision-making process is being implemented locally.

"Deliberative democracy" refers to a fairly direct form of democracy similar to a political debate and decision-making process found in Swiss cantons, and was the theme of the meetings over the weekend, which focused on the "Impact of Deliberative Democracy on Youth of Taiwan."

The meetings included "Citizen Dialogue Circles", which "are group sessions that use study group methodologies to clarify and discuss issues by means of role-playing, active listening and vision building", and "Citizen Consensus Conferences", which

targeted issues related to educational resource allocation, career development for youth and even prenatal medical tests. Another major discussion stream centered on Taiwan's global role - as a globalized economy, as a global nation and as a global civil society.
According to the article, last year's conference included discussion of the presidential election.

The process results in reports that might summarize discussion and/or make recommendations to leaders. According to Zeng Jhao-ming of the National Youth Commission,
"In the Taiwanese case, National Youth Commission is responsible for a view of policy rather than having a direct impact on or being responsible for implementation of policy...we are in a position to send out the recommendation or advice made..."
The Youth National Affairs Conference website is here (Chinese only). Sunday's session was also attended by international scholars including James Fishkin of Stanford University's Center for Deliberative Democracy.

I haven't thought much about this youth conference or how (or if) deliberative democracy is being implemented in Taiwan. I'll have to come back to this at some point, though.

Update 8/31/05:
The Taiwan News has an editorial in today's edition: "Deliberation tools can boost quality of Taiwan democracy." The editorial comments on the potential usefulness of deliberative forums to increase citizen understanding of and participation in national and local issues.
As several analysts noted, deliberative forums or polls can provide an important supplement to both indirect representative institutions and to process of direct democracy, such as national citizen referendum, by providing channels for reasonable and informed discussion of urgent or important issues on a community or even national scale.
The editorial goes on to point out that two of the basic prerequisites for successful citizen forums or other forms of public deliberation are the people's (and organizers') willingness to keep their minds open and their willingness to see discussion and deliberation as an end rather than a means:
Methods of deliberative democracy, such as citizen forums, "storytelling" among people of various ethnic and social groups and political views, and deliberative polling should be used to explore such critical questions in an open-ended manner instead of being seen as a means to "solve" a predefined problem.
As the editorial points out, however, there is a great deal of "political polarization" in Taiwan--particularly in the Legislature--that would make "a bill that would require citizen discussion of proposed laws and programs" hard to pass. They suggest "an independent institution under the Cabinet or under the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission or its proposed replacement National Development Commission" as an alternative.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Another new book in the former native speaker's library

台籍菁英的搖籃:台中一中 (The Cradle of the Taiwan Elite: Taichung First Secondary School), by 朱珮琪 (Zhu Peiqi).

This book is an extensively revised version of Zhu's master's thesis. It's a history of a school that was the first secondary school established for Taiwanese boys during the period of the Japanese occupation (1895-1945). The school was established through the efforts of Taiwanese elites like Lin Xiantang (林獻堂), Lin Lietang (林烈堂), and Gu Xianrong (辜顯榮). Looks like it'll be a good book! (The school is now a senior high school, by the way.)

Friday, August 26, 2005

mmmmm... Dr. Pepper....

OK, why didn't anyone tell me that Tesco in Taichung has Dr. Pepper for a mere NT$25 per can? (That's about 77.383 cents US, btw.) Dr. Pepper fans of Taichung, run out there and buy 'em up! Let the folks at Tesco know that they need to keep this stuff in stock! (And maybe devote more shelf space to it. I almost missed it--it's on the far end of the carbonated beverages shelf.)

Oh, and there's some A&W Root Beer too, for fans of that. Ahem.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Helping out a blogger and her family

Academic Coach has set up a way to help an ABD blogger named "Badger" deal with the medical costs for her terminally ill husband. Check out the link and consider contributing to the "Badger Fund." The family's medical costs are enormous, the U.S. government is no help (of course), and anything we can spare will surely help.

Here's Badger's blog, by the way.

Update, 8/30/05: News from Academic Coach that Badger's husband has passed away. Also this from Badger herself.


I've posted a few article summaries on my "disserblog", Kun zhi ji (困知記) that pertain to intercultural rhetoric. So far the summaries are of
The summaries are part of a lit. review I'm working on. I'll be revising them and posting more summaries/commentaries as I work on them. I'm particularly interesting in the ways in which rhetoric and writing studies have approached rhetoric and writing in intercultural contexts, especially as it pertains to China, Taiwan, and more generally, East Asia. I'm less interested, at this point, in contrastive rhetoric articles that simply compare "thought patterns" or writing styles/organizational patterns of different cultures. Right now I'm more interested in studies of rhetorics in contact. I'd like to get feedback, especially from folks interested in intercultural rhetoric. Thanks!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Farewell to the White Terror

This evening I finished reading 走出白色恐怖 (Farewell to the White Terror) by 孫康宜 (Sun Kang-i). As I mentioned earlier, her father was arrested and jailed for 10 years. He was imprisoned in 1950, when Sun was six years old. He spent some time imprisoned on the infamous Green Island and then was moved to a military prison in Xindian (新店) in 1953, where he spent the rest of his 10 years of imprisonment. Sun's father was jailed because of some relatives who were members of an anti-KMT organization (though he was not a part of that--one of Sun's uncles, however, was involved in the Luku Incident [鹿窟事件] of 1952). Sun's father actually got out after 10 years, which was not by any means guaranteed at that time, but his health was affected by the experience (he got tuberculosis).

But Sun's book, as she emphasizes, is not "accusatory literature" (控訴文學) or "scar literature" (傷痕文學, also translated as "literature of the wounded"), but rather a book about gratitude. She thanks family members who took her, her mother, and her brothers in when her father was jailed; she thanks a teacher (Mr. Lan) who helped her family, even taking in her brother when her mother had to stay in the hospital for a while; she even thanks a rickshaw driver who took her family from the Xindian bus station to the military prison and refused to accept her mother's money for the trip because of his sympathy for the family's plight. In fact, most of the essays that make up Farewell (many of which have been previously published in various magazines and newspaper literary supplements) are organized around a person or group of people to whom Sun wants to express gratitude for their help during her family's time of need.

Part of the reason for this "literature of gratitude" comes, I'm sure, from Sun's deeply held religious beliefs. As a Christian, Sun wants to demonstrate how God led her family through the difficult circumstances of their lives during their time of suffering. One of the most difficult issues that many Christians (or any believers in a religious faith, I imagine) are asked about or have to face themselves regards why people suffer. While Sun's book is not a theological treatise on the roles of evil and suffering in the world, one gets the impression that she might view suffering as one way through which people can have the opportunity to help one another (and have the opportunity to be helped by others).

So close it's eerie...

My wife just took the Book Quiz... It's quite accurate, except for the part about "Celeste"...

You're Babar the King!

by Jean de Brunhoff

Though your life has been filled with struggle and sadness of late, you're personally doing quite well for yourself. All this success brings responsibility, though, and should not be taken lightly. Life has turned from war to peace, from damage to reconstruction, and this brings a bright new hope for everyone you know. These hopeful people look to you for guidance, and your best advice to them is to watch out for snakes. You're quite fond of the name "Celeste".

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Composing interview questions

I'm writing interview questions (actually a list of questions to send to a potential interviewee). Lately, my questions have been along the lines of, "Fifty years ago, you said ..... What did you mean by that? How did people respond to it?" etc.

Sometimes I feel like one of Chris Farley's characters on Saturday Night Live--the one who would interview movie stars like Bruce Willis and say, "You know that time when you were in Die Hard and you tied the firehose around your waist and jumped off the building?"


"That was cool."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Well, I should have figured...

You're The Sound and the Fury!

by William Faulkner

Strong-willed but deeply confused, you are trying to come to grips with a major crisis in your life. You can see many different perspectives on the issue, but you're mostly overwhelmed with despair at what you've lost. People often have a hard time understanding you, but they have some vague sense that you must be brilliant anyway. Ultimately, you signify nothing.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mail call

After a day of working on my dissertation, reading and writing (mostly reading) and struggling in spots with where I want it to go and how I'm going to get it there, I get to settle back and take a look at today's mail.

I got a "big brown envelope" from my parents (as promised in an e-mail from my father). It contains a letter that my mother typed around a photocopy of a "Doonesbury" comic. (It's the one from July 24, in case you're interested--the one where Mike is daydreaming about Bush apologizing for the Iraq war. Dream on, Mike...) Among other things, my mother mentions that one of my uncles has just turned 65. ("I barely remember being that age!" she exclaims.) She also recounts their pastor's children's sermon, where the pastor
made the mistake of asking them if they'd ever gone swimming in the ocean, and they proceeded to yell out their experiences in the pool, ocean, bathub, whatever, and she couldn't shut them up to give the sermon. Finally said let's bring an end to this, and dismissed them.
The brown envelope also contains an obituary for Richard H. Hart, a gentleman from Morgantown (but born in Martinsburg) who "died unexpectedly on July 20, in the Morgantown Public Library, his place of employment for the last 10 years, surrounded by his beloved books." My parents didn't know him, but they understand his feeling about books...

The envelope also contains a copy of the "Journal Junction" (from Martinsburg's newspaper The Journal), where some folks have called in to voice their opinions and The Journal has printed some of 'em. One caller's opinion is notable:
From my observations of the political scene in the past five years, I have concluded that the real difference between the Democratic and the Republican parties is that the Democrats want to improve the lives of the American people from the cradle to the grave and the Republicans want to control the lives of the American people from before the cradle to beyond the grave.
Hmmm... I resonate with that... (Well, I should, considering the caller was my mother!)

Wrapping up this inventory, there's a (mighty late) apology letter and baggage tracing/claim form from United (they lost our luggage for close to a week while we were in the States, but it finally got to us). There are two pictures of my mother's four-foot tall (or is it five feet tall?) teddy bear playing the piano, and there's a copy (actually the original) of a treatise I wrote on "animal sex" when I was 6. (There--that last mention will definitely bring some new readers to this site!)

(And no, I'm not going to make a Technorati tag that says "animal sex"!)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

New books in the former native speaker's library

Went to 7-Eleven this evening and picked up 3 books I had ordered from 博客來網路書店 (which translates "Berkeley Internet Bookstore", although they don't call themselves Berkeley in English). They're owned by the same company, President (統一) that owns 7-Eleven (and Starbucks, among other businesses) in Taiwan, so you can order books through the website, have them delivered to your neighborhood 7-Eleven (in Taiwan only, natch), and pay for the books there. (And you don't have to pay postage.) Anyway, that's a long preface to listing the books I bought--sorry! Here's what I got:
  • 走出白色恐怖 (Farewell to the White Terror) by 孫康宜 (Sun Kang-i), a Tunghai graduate (FLLD, 1966) who teaches in the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department at Yale. Her father (a mainlander) was arrested during the White Terror period in Taiwan and jailed as a political prisoner for 10 years. The book was recommended to me by a Tunghai Chinese department professor, Hung Mingshui. I've gotten through the first 40 pages so far.
  • 野火集 (Wildfire Collection) by 龍應台 (Long Yingtai). Republished in 2005, this is a 20th anniversary edition that includes her reflections on the essays she wrote and the reactions to those essays. I found out about this book from the post "Unpolitical Political Statements" on the EastSouthWestNorth blog. Interestingly, the first essay in the collection, 〈中國人,你為什麼不生氣〉("Chinese person, why aren't you angry?") is the first Long Yingtai essay that I read--years ago, in a collection of the R.O.C.'s best essays of 1984. At the time I read the essay, though, I had no idea who Long Yingtai was/is. (I don't mention this to show how well-read I am; rather, I think it demonstrates the huge role serendipity plays in my reading habits...)
  • LA流浪記 (Roaming about in LA)*, by 蔡康永 (Cai Kangyong). Cai is a writer and a host of several kinds of shows on TV here (including interview shows about literature/the arts, shows about relationships, shows that interview celebrities, and even the recent Golden Horse Awards show). He also happens to be a Tunghai graduate (FLLD, 1985), which I didn't know until I saw this on the Tunghai website. Hmmm... Wonder if he'd be interested in doing an interview about his experiences as an FLLD student?
Well, those are the books. Now back to reading them...

*I made up the English translation for Cai's book's title... was thinking about Harry Franck's books of the first half of the 20th century, like A Vagabond Journey Around the World (1910), Roaming Through the West Indies (1920) (both of which I have copies of), and Glimpses of Japan and Formosa (1924) (which I'd love to get a copy of sometime...). Anyway, guess I could have translated Cai's book "Vagabonding in LA", too...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Links (before I lose 'em)