Sunday, July 29, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
I hang my head in despairing shame. I let a vital anniversary slip by. On July 8, 1947, the Roswell (NM) Daily Record stated that a flying saucer had been captured, and with that, sixty years and twenty days ago, the government cover-up began. Nobody has ever explained to my why the government would want to cover up that event; I mean, those nice aliens came to the U S of A and didn’t go to any commie Rooskie place. But I have seen it with my own very eyes, I have seen newspapers reporting that conspiracy theorists say the government has covered up the crash of a flying saucer in Roswell, and what’s more, with my very own eyes I have seen websites that say there was a government cover-up, and if it’s in a newspaper and on the web, it must be true. Case closed.
I would like to offer proof positive that yes indeedy, a flying saucer crashed in
Objective observers will also note that there was no celestial influence at all involved in the forming of the Stones.
Friday, July 27, 2007
I don’t follow the news closely; only vaguely, from a distance, through a glass darkly. I agree wholeheartedly with Ben Hecht, who said, “Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.” If you want to know what is important in the world, train your eyes on the street: watch the people, what they do, how they do it. This is important. The latest pronouncement by some political hack, what movie star went out with which singer, these ephemeral bits of information which journalists pawn off on us are of no more importance than a pig wandering off in search of something to eat.
Far less importance, it may happen. A stray pig was shot by an irritated man who later ran for office; he lost by one vote, cast by the owner of the pig, still angry. The winner of the election eventually cast the deciding vote that passed the measure that led the
The fulcrums of history may be so subtle that they are not discerned until years later. Journalists aren’t trained or psychologically tuned to important events. A successful journalist has A, a very short attention span; B, very shallow vision; and C, utter self-confidence. Hardly a formula for historic perception.
On July 6, 1957, an earthshaking event took place, but no journalist reported it until years later, even though it was probably the most important thing that happened in the world that day. A teenager in
That teenager was Paul McCartney. The band was called the Quarrymen, led by John Lennon, who was all of 16. After the show, John and Paul talked and soon began playing music together. The next year another boy joined them George Harrison. They called themselves the Beatles, and brought on a new drummer, Ringo Starr.
In other words, if you want to know what is important in the world, forget the New York Times or the Washington Post. Read this blog. Not only do I have a sense of proportion, but I am humble as well.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
在新店看到M~、S~、與 H~三個烏來部落的高中男生坐一排，M~剛含了一根煙要點。我信步走上將煙從他嘴巴裡拉出來，罵了一句，「Nanu sa, M~,你想要性無能，是不是？」
「還你的煙？我是為你好，ini baq su ga?你再抽，你過了三十歲，你不夠用，你的女人就要找
我說，「M~，你現在很健康沒錯，可是十年後呢？」這句他聽進去了，旁邊的S~點頭；我跟S~說，「你太小，你沒看過，mama su Abus十五年前多有力氣！」他們三個用很疑惑的眼神看我。H~說，「他身體很差，根本走不動。」「那是現在。十五年前，生龍活虎，上山下水，你問老一代的人，從前Abus是烏來最強的。現在呢？抽煙把自己身體搞垮了。」
三個靜靜的。M~右手上還是拿著打火機。「好了，我煙還你，可是M~,你還是少抽，好不好？Taway mniq tbaku, lokah hi su。」
oooo, post #1111.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Yesterday there was quite some hoopla about a
While this is highly commendable, and more power to the dog and the kid, I foster doubts. Very humbly and respectfully, I would guess that I have more experience with snakes than most people, because there are a lot in Wulai. I never play around with snakes, but I do romp all over the jungle barefoot. I have stepped on and kicked highly poisonous snakes, entirely by accident; I very quickly apologized each time, and that was the end of it. I have never seen a situation like in the movies where the evil slithery snake sneaks up on some unsuspecting dupe.
I will be the first to warn about the danger of snakes. I never step outside my doors at night without a flashlight. I am careful and respectful, but I think snakes get a lot of bad press. Even snakes that are touted as being highly aggressive are not in a bad mood all the time. For that matter, snakes are extremely sensitive; even more than dogs, they can sense a person’s attitude, and I think that has a lot to do with it. Many times snakes have had the opportunity to bite me but they spared me; I reciprocate. I do not kill snakes. Again, if you see a snake, step back, don’t fool around, but don’t panic, either; be polite and admire its beauty. You start screaming and beating at me with a stick, I’ll bite you too. Why make a fuss?
What was really going on there in
While I was thinking about this, I happened to find something I wrote in September 2000, when Tlahuy and Bengax were ten months old.
about a month ago, a friend's company was having a two-day activity in Wulai. She phoned to ask if she could come for a pot of tea after their evening meeting was over. I said sure, so when she phoned, I headed out to pick her up at the roadside. When I opened the front door, right in front of the steps was a kimpahu/龜殼花/pointed scaled pit viper (very poisonous) about two feet long. I was a bit worried, because when the puppies hear me open the front door, they come charging over, and I had never seen how they deal with snakes. They kill rats, they ignore frogs, and they love to chase birds, but I had never seen them deal with snakes, and I did not think that was the time to find out. I picked up an umbrella and prodded the snake, whispering, "Get out of here quickly, leave before the dogs come." The snake cooperated, and I rushed down to the roadside.
Ever the perfect host, I did not tell my guest about this until AFTER she got into the living room.
Last night, I went to say good-night to the dogs. They were prancing about happily; they are usually kind of sleepy and lazy by the time I turn in. Then I saw there was a nice fat kimpahu about four feet long on the back steps. At first I was worried the puppies might get bitten. Then I realized that the snake wasn't biting anyone, it just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible, and the puppies 還想留客 were enjoying the company. They weren't attacking it, just playing with it. I went out, and the moment the puppies turned to me, the snake zipped off into the grass: snakes can move like lightningwhen they want to: Beautiful!
Pups were kind of disappointed, though.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Obeja, a Tayal charm
In days gone by, the Tayal would cut a gourd in two and hang half in the house like an upside down bowl. From this they hung strings made of ggi/苧麻 (jute? Manila hemp? I’m not sure), which were decorated with slices of a vine/蓪草. Each string represented a spirit invited to protect the village and bring fertility to the fields: in other words, each string represented a head taken. At the bottom of each string was a stylized carved wooden knife to represent a man’s head, and a loom to represent a woman’s head (feminists take note: a woman’s head was every bit as good as a man’s head). This charm was called an obeja.
Inside the gourd on the top of the obeja was secured a small version of a tokan/pack, woven out of cloth instead of naku (ggi thread), with pom-poms and locks of hair on each corner. Inside this pack a flint and firemaking steel were kept.
A fire burned continually in the hearth. Before mgaga/a headhunting expedition, the fire was extinguished and relit with the fire-making tools from the obeja. A large, slow-burning log such as qesu/九芎：
The obeja was the indoors charm. Outside another charm with shorter strings held the head until it was installed on the sakaw, the rack on which skulls were placed to watch over the fields and insure good harvests. Some call this charm a tmapeh utux招魂, others a slawa, which means call. There is some confusion, because the authorities banned headhunting years ago, and the rituals have been forgotten. Will some kind Cultural Relativist come to
Photo by Watan Kahat/鄭光博
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Help, if you wish to call it that, has come from an unforeseen source. A local goth-style rock band backed by Ozzy Osbourne has decided that it will become involved, probably because the government is footing the bill. Hey, travel abroad to put on concerts at no expense to yourself, sounds pretty good, if futile. But if the current regime tilted at windmills, I would call that a step up; usually once they spot the windmill they go racing off on a tangent, with sound, fury, and a total lack of sense.
When I look at
Ozzy Osbourne, who is also putting up money for this tour, is “a satanic-theme rocker known for biting heads off bats on stage.” Oh great, just the image we want to represent
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
sign of the times 中
We went out for a walk. Near Yayaw, somebody’s dogs came out to investigate. Byajing charged, and chased them away. They looked friendly, but she wasn’t letting them anywhere near me.
This was originally Tlahuy’s role. I am always amused by the look of disdain on Tlahuy’s face when some dog comes out to challenge our passage; I have never seen him forced back, but he would allow his understudy Yumin to take over and charge into whoever was blocking our way.
The torch has been passed to a new generation. For the first time, Yumin turned aside and watched as Byajing shot out like a cannonball to clear our route. Yumin and Tlahuy watched approvingly.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I have finally decided to recycle my old desktop encyclopedia. Someone gave it to me in 1980. Why bother with a 1300 page desktop encyclopedia when you have the internet?
The encyclopedia is a remnant of another time in another way. Way back when,
Times have changed, Chairman Mao is gone, mainland
Why bother with a 1300 page desktop encyclopedia when you have the internet? Well, the 1300 page desktop encyclopedia never crashes…. Read the posts for this blog from July 5 through 10, 2007…. exactly!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Today is the Tayal festival for the ancestral spirits; some people call it Cmayal, others Smyus: Chinese, 祖靈祭. The Wulai Tayal prefer the ceremony be kept within the tribe, but the county government wants to make it a tourist attraction. Yesterday I told how the speeches got rained out in spite of forecasts for clear skies and sunny weather.
Today the actual offering was scheduled to begin at 3:30PM; traditionally this offering was held during the night, but that’s not convenient for tourists. Tayal grumble that it is no longer a Tayal festival for ancestral spirits, but an ethnic festival for tourists.
Thunder and lightning, at noon it rained buckets, barrels, and bathtubs. I understand there was also a flood of sightseers racing back to the city, where the sun still shone merrily. Kaway came, as did Denise the Vet and her coworkers. I told them to be prepared for disappointment, because it looked like it would rain hard until at least 4 or 5.
Shamans called chiefs from the villages, who were sitting in bamboo booths constructed to represent their villages. The shamans preached to them and dismissed them; a show was made of working in fields, and then a boar was toted out onto the field, and symbolically slain. Boars are protected animals, so even if they are poached, the county government wouldn’t allow this one to be killed, more power to them. It will be released unharmed in the mountains to tell its kin about its terrifying, incomprehensible ordeal. But better than the alternative.
By then my guests were getting restless, so we watched a dance by grade school Tayal from 宜蘭Ilan; mountain kids are not only vigorous, but they also have very strong lungs. We headed home after their dance. It started raining just as we started crossing the jungle to get to my place.
I have posted sample videos below, on more on YouTube and Google. It was fun, but I was surprised and disappointed by how few of the Wulai Tayal went, not even the elected officials. They must really be displeased. That probably makes the ancestors happy.
Shamans call the chiefs for the beginning of the offering to the ancestral spirits. The language is Tayal, an ancient Austronesian language spoken by aborigines in Taiwan. There are other posts of the offering on YouTube:follow this link. There are more photos on flickr.com. Cmayal/Offering to Ancestors and Spirits 祖靈祭, July 15, 2007, Wulai, Taiwan
Dance by Tayal kids from the 宜蘭四季國小 Elementary School Tayal Dance Troupe, an award winning dance troupe from the eastern side of the mountains from Wulai. At the Cmayal/Offering to Ancestors and Spirits 祖靈祭, July 15, 2007, Wulai, Taiwan.
The video quality leaves much to be desired, since this was shot on my digital camera. Some clips are on YouTube, others on Google. YouTube evidently just 欠罵 required stern words, because it is much faster now.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Whatever the situation is, this year the ceremony was planned for two days, Saturday and Sunday. I have noticed that the Tayal are not excited this year about the ceremony as they have been in the past. The kickoff should be this afternoon at 2:30 with speeches by Important People, ie, bigwigs and higher ups, nobody from the Tribe.
Beautiful weather this morning, at around 1:30 clouds gathered, and precisely at 2 the skies opened and now it is pouring. Maybe the ancestors don't want to hear all those speeches.
Friday, July 13, 2007
On the bus, a boy from
I thought, oh no, I don’t even know this kid, what mischief has my beagle gotten into now? I asked, ”Mswa?” what’s wrong?
He said, “Lalu ku Yumin,” my name is Yumin.
Relieved, I said, That’s good. I considered telling him that I have a dog named Yumin, but thought better of it. I told him, My name is Yugan. He laughed and said, “Yugan, baqun ku lalu su Yugan!” I know your name is Yugan, and went back to his seat.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Justice, don’t you just love to see justice done?
I just read that President Bush has erased the 2 1/2 year prison sentence give to Scooter Libby, VP Cheney’s chief of staff, for leaks in the CIA case, which I have to admit I didn’t follow carefully.
President Bush is so merciful and kind! He wrote, "I respect the jury's verdict, but I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison." Yes, thirty months is just toooooo harsh for Dead-Eye Dick’s Chief of Staff.
Isn’t that a wonderful way to show your respect for a jury and the law of the land? Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald pointed out that Libby was sentenced under the same laws as other criminals, Fitzgerald said. "It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals."
Isn’t that wonderful? Now when is Dubya going to start commuting all those unfair sentences handed down to poor uneducated blacks and Hispanics?
Monday, July 02, 2007
Sunday, July 01, 2007
An old couple got on the subway a few stops after me, and sat nearby. Before she sat down, the old lady got out a kleenex and carefully wiped the seat. For those who have not been to
As she wiped down the seat, I was thinking, Lady, your husband has cigarets in his pocket, so you get his smoke in your lungs; you have makeup on your face and lipstick on your mouth, so your skin absorbs a wide variety of chemicals that can’t be doing you much good; you don’t look like vegetarians, so you soak up oodles of chemicals that the chickens, pigs, and cows you eat have been injected with; you look like city people, so your lungs are full of Taipei’s imaginative air pollution; how much good do you really think you can do yourself with that kleenex? If you want to be clean, is that the best you can do?