Thursday, June 30, 2005

An 11 year old boy in Utah went missing on a hike last week and was found unscathed four days later. Yahoo carried 31 photos of this event. Recently a high school student from Georgia disappeared during a graduation trip to the Caribbean; the news played for days. While I am happy the boy is safe, and hope for the safe return of the Georgia teen, I also look around the world.

At the same time, thousands of children in Uganda are being kidnapped by militias and crazies. Thousands more in India are sold into slavery. For the most part, they are forgotten by the American press, because they are far away from us. Also, they're not blonds. They are dark-skinned. They aren't so photogenic.

A bride in Georgia bolts before her wedding and turns up days later in New Mexico; the reporters almost outnumber the total population of that state. Meanwhile, girls from the former Soviet bloc are sold into prostitution, and we hardly spare them a glance. They may be fair-skinned blondes, but they're far away. They don't speak English.

Of course we are more aware of those around us, as we should be. We are more sympathetic since they are familiar. But this also leads us to think that only the US is of any importance. Then we neglect other lives and wishes, to our own detriment.

My thinking on this line was set off by this side note; unfortunately, I carelessly neglected to jot down the source. I believe this came from the LA Times Book Review from last year.
“A side note: a search of major English-language newspapers for stories about the Rwandan genocide turned up 185 such stories published from late April to late May 194. the majority of these stories appeared in overseas newspapers. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 stories about the Columbine killings appeared in the month following that event. Mathematically, that would seem to indicate that, for the English-language press, a murder in a suburban American high school is approximately 75,000 times more newsworthy than a genocidal killing in a central African country.”

Twelve students were murdered at Columbine; an estimated 507,000 Tutsis were murdered in Rwanda (, so one American high school student equates to 42,250 Tutsis. But the Tutsis aren't blond.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The United States is a land that prides itself as a beacon of freedom, aberrations such as McCarthyism and Dubyastrophe aside.

Among all the assorted variations of the American life, which group permits its members the least leeway in dress, behavior, and protocol? Your rat-race tie-wearing cubicle dweller? Nowhere near. The Amish? Guess again. Hara Krishna?

Three strikes, you're out. The most rigorous demands for conformity among any American groups are found in inner-city youth gangs. Jailhouse low-riding pants of an exact droop, the baseball cap at a carefully set angle, meticulously prescribed colors, precise formulas for speech and behavior, gangstas live inside their own rigidly defined mental jails.

So why is it that boys all over, trying to prove their uniqueness, originality, and freedom, slavishly imitate those poor encumbered souls?

Maybe for the same reason that their uncles, out to prove their individuality and wildness, slavishly buy Harleys.

Our founding fathers gave us so much freedom that we seek refuge in conformity.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

To date, I have seen none of the Star Wars movies, not from intention, but from inattention. They may be fun, but better, I say, to err on my side than on the side of those people who focus their lives (if they are actually alive) on the movies.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Monday, June 20, 2005


有人說攤子髒亂、妨礙秩序;這個簡單,稍管一下,不要管太多,問題不難解決。 比較不利的是,攤子逃稅,逃稅,任何政府痛恨惡絕。這方面,擺攤子給極多人謀生的機會,不須早九晚五,比較自由,對經濟、物品交流有很大的貢獻,但是勿容置疑,他們賺的是辛苦錢。(擺攤辛苦、錢賺不多,何以知之?簡單:從未聽說過哪一個議員擺地攤。容易撈錢的把戲,大官必然趨之若鶩,and vice versa。)



Sunday, June 19, 2005

紀曉蘭 閱微草堂筆記 云:表兄與一狐為友,狐自稱生于北宋初,表兄叩以宋代史事,曰,皆不知也。凡學仙者,必遊方之外,使萬緣斷絕,一意精修。如于世有所聞見,于心必有所是非;有所是非,必有所愛憎,則喜怒哀樂之情,必迭起循生,以消爍其精氣。神耗而形亦敝矣,烏能至今猶在乎?迨道成以後,來往人間,視一切機械變詐,皆如戲劇,視一切得失勝敗,以至于治亂興亡,皆如泡影。當時既不留意,又焉能一一記之?大都萍水相逢,煙雲倏散,夙昔笑言,亦多不記憶。


Saturday, June 18, 2005

剛好有一群全副武裝的人爬呀爬的(攀岩牆須要斜帶背十幾個鉤環嗎?不過,的確很帥,很有個爬山的樣子。) 我們看著他們爬,Joshua內行利眼,說,"這個牆,他們爬過很多次。但是這種爬法,比較不適合在山岩用。"

一兩年前,全台原住民跆拳賽在烏來舉辦,很開心去給烏來隊加油,結果越看越氣:這是甚麼爛跆拳?中華跆拳本來打的不錯,怎麼槁成這種樣子?當時我想找烏來鄉長說,烏來隊讓我訓練一年,保證明年全國冠軍(因為每一隊打的實在太差,幾乎談不上一個:打:字,冠軍太簡單;一兩招也夠了。) 慎重其事,找鄉長前我先查了跆拳比賽規矩,愕然發現,好的招數,全都禁了,剩下容許打的,只有一些不痛不養的腳法。

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Joseph Shipley points out that the telephone is linked in microseconds. There are more microseconds (60 million) in one minute than there were minutes (52.6 million) in the twentieth century.

So how come I keep getting cut off?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Proven once again: justice is scarce in jury trials. Money talks.


Monday, June 13, 2005

An old story popped into mind. This would have happened in about 1970. I heard it from someone related to the case.

Two local thugs figured Wanhua 萬華was getting too small for them. They got jobs as seamen, smuggled their swords on board, and jumped ship in San Francisco. Soon they were spreading the word through Chinatown. "We are the Wanhua Gang! This is now our territory, and we are going to get respect!"

A Cantonese restaurant owner very mildly told them, "We are very willing to show you our greatest respect. Please come to my miserable restaurant tomorrow night at 9 and we will have prepared for you what you require."

At 9 the next night, the Wanhua gang swaggered into the restaurant. The lights were on, but nobody was in. Then the lights went off, and the two black guys flown in from Chicago stood up behind the counter, whump whump whump.

They had never seen submachine guns in Wanhua.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Why is such an indispensable part of so many movies the bedroom scenes? Of course I know the answer. Sex means money, so naturally that means it is art, and sacrosanct.

But what do the bedroom scenes contribute to the plot, to our understanding of the characters or the story? If we have to witness all the everyday details of the characters' lives in order to understand them, then certainly every movie should have regular defecation scenes. Urination and defecation are at least as important to life as sex, and something all ages participate in. If we need to see the hero and heroine in bed together, then we ought to see the hero on the throne struggling to pass his Big Mac.

Not that I'm eager to see such scenes, or even willing. It's just a query.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Go stand an egg.


Friday, June 10, 2005

It was an especially hot day. I was 18, working for Uncle Jim, delivering pizzas to the US Army in Viet Nam. I had made my delivery to a hooch on Long Binh, and was walking back to the Toyota. Some American soldiers were unloading supplies from a truck. They were surprised to see an American kid, and not a soldier. They asked me what I was doing, and I explained. Just then they were unloading a case of apples. In Viet Nam, you simply could not get apples, even on the black market. One of the soldiers reached down, picked up an apple, called, "Catch," and tossed it to me. I had not had an apple for months and months, and it would be years before I ate another. I polished it carefully on my shirt and munched happily all the way back to the truck.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Don't be a slave to money.
Make money your slave.

Monday, June 06, 2005


今天下午在外面工作,聽到群蚊討論,要發個感謝狀或扁額給我。上面寫甚麼呢,有兩派。 有一派主張提

Saturday, June 04, 2005

At a pet store near NTU, I admired a violet snake in a terrarium. Then I saw a little baby mouse stumbling alongside, naked, its eyes unopened to death staring with unblinking eyes.

Some years ago, I was clearing out some underbrush. A field mouse rushed out onto the branch of a bush I had just chopped. She bristled and glared at me with burning eyes. In her mouth she held just such a baby mouse. I could have hewn her in half with a flick of my soqi. I have little love for rodents. Instead, I told her, Amitabha, I am sorry to destroy your house, please find somewhere else to live, and next time, don't come to this world as a rodent.

There are many snakes where I live. They are neighbors. I admire their beauty and grace. We get along fine. I know what they eat; sometimes I hear the frantic screams of their prey. But I could never own a snake and drop naked baby mice into its terrarium. That is monstrous.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The great athletic meet was held today. It rained hard all morning and through noon, so all the athletes very sensibly gathered under the tents for some very serious drinking. By the time the rain stopped, nobody was in any shape to compete, but the show must go on. The MC called for the 400 meter race, begged, pleaded, cajoled, and whimpered, and finally got some contestants lined up. The winner, Patu, completed the 400 meters in 6 minutes and 53.7 seconds. He might have been faster, but the judges said his coach, Agu, couldn't touch him to keep him moving in the right direction. They wouldn't even let Agu touch him when Patu fell down and started snoring. After a hurried discussion, the judges ruled that Agu's proposal to kick Patu awake would constitute touching, and was therefore forbidden, but they did ask him to think of something so the race could be finished. The other contestants had woven their way back to revive their team spirits, if you catch my meaning. The Tayal are great weavers. Agu rained gravel on Patu, but he didn't wake up until Halus dropped a bottle on his head just as Agu was reaching for a brick. Patu started chasing Halus. Halus crossed the finish line ahead of Patu, but was not a contestant, so did not win the race.

I have embroidered this story only a little bit.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Everybody wants to live a long life, but nobody wants to get old.

Susan Ertz said, "Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

something to be proud of(?)

-How did our Wulai village team do in the basketball tournament?
-We took third place. Tampya took first.
-Really? I thought Mangan would take first.
-No, they took second.
-And we took third. Not bad. …. Wait a minute. How many teams played in the tournament?
-Only three.
-So we took last place.
-Yes, but our team beat the others in drinking!