Tuesday, June 30, 2020

More webinars I'll be attending...

I'm not sure they'd appreciate this being called a webinar, though. My latest virtual learning opportunity will be via the 2020 Taiwan Studies Summer School at the SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies. Here's some of the info and a link to the registration form, if you're interested:

2020 Taiwan Studies Summer School

Date: 6 July 2020Time: 9:00 AM
Finishes: 10 July 2020Time: 9:00 PM
Venue: Virtual Event
Type of Event: Summer School

13th SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School

SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies
倫敦大學亞非學院臺灣研究中心
6th-10th July 2020

The SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School is free to attend and open to all. To register for this year's Summer School please complete our short registration form.
There's a schedule of events that includes lectures, book events, film screenings and Q&A sessions, and student presentations. I think there's still time to register if you're interested. You can choose to attend the whole event or just individual days.

I'll try to report on my experience, though I'm teaching this summer session as well as doing other things.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Broken links

I wonder what bloggers do (or are supposed to do) when the links from old posts get broken. I mentioned a couple of posts from seven years ago and 14 years ago to a colleague and in the process noticed that most of the links didn't work anymore. A search on one of the sites that had hosted the linked-to pages didn't turn up the material I had linked to; I'm guessing that the material was considered time-sensitive or not worthy of archiving. Speaking of archiving, I guess I could try to use the Wayback Machine to find some of those pages; that would be worthwhile in some cases if not in all of them.

Trouble is, I tried a Wayback Machine search on one of the "worthwhile" pages and nothing turned up. "This page is not available on the web because page does not exist," they tell me. But it must have existed at some point--I linked to it, after all. Anyway, I think there's no realistic solution to this problem, though I'd be happy to hear of some if anyone has any ideas.

Friday, June 26, 2020

More clues about Y. F. Yeh, aka Antenna

I found some more letters by Antenna on the 國史館 website. I'm just going to transcribe one letter from August 31, 1949, though, because it raises some interesting questions about Antenna even as it gives more information on him (typed exactly as written, including mistakes):
August 31, 1949
Dear Jack,
I hasten to take my pen and paper when I am informed that Dr. Huang (黃演燎), the vice-director of the Taiwan University Hospital, is going to America to attend to the X-ray course of Iowa University. How glad I am that I can write to you. I am very sorry that I have never written to you for these two years because there is no safe way for our correspondence after Mr. Catto left here.
How have you been getting along? Is it true that you are teaching at the University? And have you married or stayed single? I guess you might have a nice marriage and be a good daddy now.
Well, I have to tell you something about myself and this island. After your leaving Shanghai for America, I had spent a [1||2] miserable time in disappointment and uneasiness. Then I sailed for Japan on a small smuggling ship loaded up with sugar, but to our regrets, she was arrested by the Japanese coast-guards at Kōbe and we sneaked away with nothing but our own clothes. During those days of distress in Japan, I only expected I might find you out there because you had told me that you would go there by the end of that year. But nothing fell on me except poverty and bitter cold, so I came back again to my home land through a risky voyage last March. I lived a hundrum life last year and married at the beginning of this year. And now I am going to be a dad. Mr. Umbō Chō married also and has a baby, and has improved much in health. 
As to the situation of this island, [2||3] I can't keep from saying from more and more though you are quite well-informed enough to understand it. Through four odd years, the Chinese regime established in Formosa committed the worst vices that have ever appeared in human history -- speculation and embezzlment, extortion and black-mailing -- and have demonstrated their inability to rule and unwillingness to improve this island. Especially the terrible disaster led by the financil panic which the government intended to destroy the Chinese-Formosan's economical faculty, caused a large number of bankrupt and unemployment this May. This we call the Economical 2.28. accident. And during the past several months crowds of refugees with many Kuomingtan big-wigs, seeking shelter from the worsening civil war, have been [3||4] rushing into this island, therefore bring about a shortage of houses and foods and cause a terrible social confusion. However we never believe any improvement under such government, and desire sooner political change in this island. 
Nevertheless, there is a welcome news about the butcher Chen Yi, ---- that he was detained this March, then the Governor of Chekiang Province, because losing the confidence of Generalissimo Chiang and has been sent to Formosa after the fall of Shanghai, and is cynically leading a secluded life here. 
Please write me through Mr. Chō's sooner you get this letter. I hope I can see you again, and wish you every happiness now and in future with [4||5] all my heart,
 Ever yours sincerely,
Antenna Yeh
You may write me through:
Mr. Antenna Yeh 
Otorhinolaryngology of Taiwan University Hospital
Taipeh, Formosa
A few notes:

  • I'm guessing that because he calls himself "Mr." Yeh, he isn't a doctor of otorhinolaryngology (*Whew! What a word for "ear, nose, and throat!"*). Also, as the letter mentioned in my previous post indicates, by the end of 1949, Yeh was working for Butterfield and Swire, a shipping company. Quite a switch of jobs, but he stayed with Butterfield and Swire at least until 1954.
  • I searched through a book entitled 臺大醫學院, 1945-1950, but couldn't find anything that seemed like a reference to Antenna Yeh or Y. F. Yeh (not surprisingly if he wasn't there that long). Dr. Huang is in there, though, as an instructor of radiology (放射線學). 
  • Umbō Chō ... is still a bit of a mystery. He's probably the Cho Un-bo mentioned in the 1954 letter in the previous post as being in Japan. [From Yukari's comment: "Cho Un-bo is, I believe. 張雲舫. He was a student of Kerr at Taihoku College; stayed in Japan after 228."]
  • Mr. Catto is Robert Catto, the USIS officer in Taipei at the time of 228. 


(Thanks to my wife for reminding me of how to create Google Docs by taking pictures of documents and saving them to the Google Drive app! 

In Search of... Y. F. Yeh

Remember the old Leonard Nimoy-hosted In Search of... shows? (The link will take you to one on astrology--just in time for the upcoming full moon!) This post doesn't really have anything to do with that show, but I am in search of something--or rather, someone.

My fellow Kerrologists and I are trying to figure out the identify of the writer of this letter to Kerr. A partial transcription of the letter by Kerr indicates that the author is the same person as the writer who sent letters to Kerr under the name "Antenna." As this letter indicates, the writer, Y. F. Yeh, had taken a job in 1949 working for the British shipping company Butterfield and Swire. As of the date of the letter (1954), he was working in the Keelung office.

Not surprisingly, it's kind of difficult to find out more about Y. F. Yeh of Butterfield and Swire based on what we have. I did find the archives of John Swire & Sons Ltd (at SOAS), which look interesting but I'm guessing wouldn't include anything on Yeh (in fact, there's no online finding aid).

After finding out through the first article in this journal (pdf) that the Chinese name of Butterfield and Swire is/was 太古輪船公司, I found some references to the company on Taiwan's 國史館 website. It looks, though, like most of the materials predate Mr. Yeh's time.

I've also tried the Taiwan Biographical Ontology database, though I'm not sure Yeh would count as an "elite." (And not knowing the characters for "Y. F." doesn't help...)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Another new book in the former native speaker's library

One thing that I've been thinking about recently, first with the COVID-19 pandemic and then with the demonstrations for racial equality that came in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, is the relations among minorities in the US--in particular Asian Americans and African Americans. My wife and I have talked about this a lot, and I've tried to do some reading, too, on the different ways Asian Americans are reacting to or are involved in this struggle for racial justice. Admittedly I'm a privileged outsider to both of these groups and their struggles, but that's why I'm trying to learn more. And as a colleague mentioned at a webinar on Juneteenth today, I shouldn't be trying to corner my friends and colleagues of color and expect them to teach me everything I need to do without me doing my homework first.

I bought Living for Change, the autobiography of Grace Lee Boggs. I had seen the PBS film about Boggs a few years ago and was impressed by this documentary of a Chinese American woman who was intimately involved with the struggles of African Americans for decades. I've read through the first four chapters so far. I'll probably post some thoughts on it (or quotes from it) once I'm done.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Driving in Postwar Japan

I started watching The Warped Ones on Turner Classic Movies tonight. I couldn't sit through the whole thing, but I did get curious about where it was filmed in Japan. A scene early on shows the two released criminals Akira and Masaru stealing a car, and I noticed that the steering wheel was on the left-hand side and they were driving on the right-hand side of the road (as was everyone else). Here's one scene of the guy (Masaru?) breaking into the car:


So my question is, I thought that in Japan, steering wheels were on the right-hand side and they drove on the left. I did a little Googling research and found that while Okinawa was still under US military rule, people there were required to drive on the right, but I didn't see anything about whether that was the case in the rest of Japan, especially around 1960 when the movie was made. Does anyone have any ideas about this? Does this movie take place in Okinawa?

[Update, 6/20/20: I forced myself to watch the rest of this, and there's a bit of dialogue where someone says, "The steering wheel's on the other side." The response to that: "It's a foreign car." So my question is sort of answered there. I also read somewhere that the movie was filmed in Tokyo. But I'm still confused by what I thought I saw was other people driving on the right-hand side fo the road... Maybe I was wrong about the whole thing--just saw people driving on the left-hand side. guess this blog post was much ado about nothing!]

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Notes on the June 2 Webinar, "The Challenge of COVID-19: The Taiwan Experience"

Wow--how did it get to June 16 already?

I listened to that webinar on COVID-19 in Taiwan on June 2. I'm not sure if anyone was waiting with bated breath to get my impressions of the discussion, but I'll mention a few things.

In the meantime I see that Evan Feigenbaum from the Carnegie Endowment interviewed some "senior health and epidemiology figures" from Taiwan, including Steve Kuo from National Yangming University (who also participated in the webinar). Feigenbaum comes to the same conclusion that Steven Goldstein came to at the webinar concerning the lessons the US can learn from the Taiwan experience. Goldstein even suggested that the Taiwan experience would be used as a negative example in the US, particularly in terms of the single-payer argument. He said that you can't even get some people to wear masks here, and any kind of single-payer system in which the government was able to compile the health information of Americans would be more of an argument against a single-payer system like Taiwan's for many of these Americans. (Which once again leads me to the conclusion that I wish I were in Taiwan right now...) Feigenbaum says the same thing about American views of the Taiwan model:
Mask-wearing? Fuhgeddaboudit. Large-scale integration of personal databases? No way. Centralization of messaging and coordinated efforts across levels of government? Whoa, hard. Political culture matters a lot. What worked there is easily ignored and trashed by many here.
Depressing...

Another interesting part of the discussion on June 2 centered on the question of whether Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO was an advantage or a disadvantage. Steven Kuo was pretty clear that it wasn't a disadvantage (though he didn't say it was an advantage). He felt that Taiwan could get information from other allies (even if the US withdrew from the WHO). My notes on what Kuo said (not exact quotes!):
For this outbreak, I won’t say being outside WHO has had any significant impact on our ability to respond. We’ve been trying to get into WHO as observers for a long time (20 years). SARS served as wake-up call, learned a lot, collaborated with other countries like US CDC, which improved disease control system. 2009, joined WHO as observer. Had some experience as observer. It would be wonderful if Taiwan could be part of WHO, but if we can’t “it’s not really a big deal.” We work double-hard. Some people think we’re lucky not to be in, but he doesn’t think so, though he doesn’t think it mattered in this case. Not an official gov’t point of view (he emphasized)!
In the end, he felt it was more a political issue than a health issue.

William Hsiao, on the other hand, who was one of the people who set up Taiwan's National Health Insurance program, felt that it was "an issue of respect" whether Taiwan was part of WHO or not. He admitted, though that Taiwan wouldn't gain much benefit from membership.

There are other things I could mention, but I have to get back to grading now...

Sunday, May 31, 2020

I hope Richard Bush is making some royalties off of this...

If you are looking for a copy of Richard C. Bush's 2006 book, Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait, if you hurry you can pick it up at the low price listed below:

It looks like there are three copies available at these bargain-basement prices:


Glad I got my copy already. (But maybe I should put it up for sale...)