Tuesday, October 30, 2007


子絕四:毋意、毋必、毋固、毋我。這是論語子罕的記載,說明男子漢大丈夫能屈能伸,會變通,若知事不宜,另求出路,唯義之與比。

These bread-making machines are really something. At the recommendation of my pottery teacher’s wife, I bought one recently, and it’s great. All you have to do is choose your recipe, measure your ingredients, pour them in, push the buttons, and wait for delicious perfectly baked bread. Sure, a stone oven might be even better, but with a stone oven, you have to do a lot more than just shovel in the ingredients. This is so easy that even I can make scrumptious bread, and a house full of the smell of baking bread is a happy house, even if it’s a robot doing the baking.

With the bread machine, I also bought a pasta machine, for shaping and cutting noodles. Flushed with my success with the bread, I decided to try my hand at making pasta, noodles! Hurrah! How hard could it be? The recipe says you don’t even need eggs, substitute water for eggs. Flour and water? I can handle that! Just get out your fork, pour the ingredients into a bowl, stir with the fork, and prepare to cut your noodles into desired thickness and length with the machine.

I got off to a good start, successfully pouring the goodies into a bowl and stirring with a fork. But the recipe says a good pasta mix doesn’t stick to your fingers. Very nice, but how do you achieve this mix? Mine could be used for super glue.

After much vigorous stirring, accompanied by appropriate thrusting, grunting, and prodding, I finally had a viscous glob that didn’t look anything like the photos in the pasta machine booklet. I tried putting it through the rollers, and came out with a flattened viscous glob. I realized I would not be eating perfectly shaped noodles for dinner, so I resorted to Plan B: 麵疙瘩: I am not sure how to say that in English, but noodle globs would be pretty close. You take globs of noodle dough, or blobs if you prefer, and flick them into boiling water, which is a pretty good trick when they’re glued to your fingers: not the ideal mix, I see. But I managed, without scalding myself too seriously.

So I enjoyed a meal of tasty noodle globs. At least I convinced myself it was tasty. But I think I’ll leave the pasta machine for another time, and stick to the bread making machine. Unfortunate choice of words, that: stick. Can anybody help me get some of this dough off my fingers?

論語子虛(第二十三篇)也記載夫子企圖自己作麵不成,因而改做麵疙瘩。甚至有的學者認為麵疙瘩就是孔子發明的。清‧胡曰逵著論語攪拌注:子絕四:毋意、毋必、毋固、毋我,就是夫子下廚的記載;夫子最絕望的事有四:意大利麵spaghetti做不來、必薩pizza也做不來,麵團不要那麼快凝固!麵團不要黏住我!知不知道為甚麼夫子銅像往往兩手齊舉胸前?因為被麵團黏住,俵不開,故也。

Monday, October 29, 2007

要正名的話,我們現在用來泡茶的器皿應該叫做盉,不是壺。

盉常用于商周,自非茶具,但形制同今日泡茶器。

觀堂集林3:13說盉,王國維云:有梁或鋬者,所以持而蕩滌之也;其有蓋及細長之喙者,所以使蕩滌時酒不泛溢也;其有喙者,所以注酒于爵也。


容更商周彝器通攷云:其狀碩腹而斂口,前有流,後有鋬,上有蓋,下有三欵足。


而所謂壺,比較像我們現在用來煮水的熱水瓶:壺圓腹長頸圈足貫耳有蓋;故說文解字:壺,昆吾寰器也;象形。

儀禮聘禮:八壺設于西序;注:酒尊也。周禮挈壺氏:掌挈壺以令軍井;注:盛水器也。

可見我們用來泡茶的是盉不是壺。

至于盉,首一要求是要好泡茶。我學陶,老師問我要不要學作盉,我說不要,因為盉首一要求是要好土,宜興土最好,沒宜興土,作啥盉?加上我手拙。可是我用的盉,幾乎都是宜興的。(按:水仙宜汕頭盉)

聽人說買了一把名家作的宜興盉,六萬元臺幣,本野人不肯。我管你名家手藝多好,我用盉泡茶,不是炫耀身分,我只管好不好泡茶。當然,外型也重要,可是名家有時為了強調是名家(所以買主掏鈔票要俐落一點),製盉炫技,所以整體效果不夠俐落;而名家作品未必好泡茶,好泡茶未必名家作品,貴盉未必好,好盉未必貴。我曾在士林東坡居陳列百餘盉中,一眼看上一把不起眼的盉,三百塊買回家,果然上品,定不輸六萬名盉。有一天解茶師來我家,看架上四五十把盉(我有這個買盉的毛病,我承認家裡的盉多了一些),她一眼看便將三百元盉取下來玩。茶瘋所見略同。

甚麼樣的人自以為很懂茶,卻不懂茶?開口閉口說這個茶一斤多少錢。盉不在貴,茶葉亦然。會泡的話,便宜的茶好喝;不會泡的話,貴茶也難喝。林華泰一斤四百的小種,會泡的話,不輸昂貴的高山茶。

玩盉、泡茶,在于用心、在于開心。我把我最愛的宋韻今茗大葉野生普洱泡給你喝,你心不在焉,跟茶包差異不大。糟蹋我的普洱!用心喝,心情便好。

可是如果可以正名,說茶盉不說茶壺,我總是比較開心。














←盉 壺→

現在會看吧!

PS: 盉,从皿禾聲,戶戈切,段十七部;ㄏㄜ二聲,同禾和龢鉌等音。

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What is this? What’s wrong with these people? Here I see an article that says

Terrorism is a daily threat in Afghanistan six years after the 9/11 attacks that led the United States to topple the Taliban, the government said Tuesday on the anniversary of the Al-Qaeda attacks.

And again:

Violence in Afghanistan has surged nearly 30 percent this year and suicide bombings are inflicting a high toll on civilians, a new United Nations report says.

I simply don’t know what’s the matter with these people. Don’t they know that Rumsfeld announced the American action in Afghanistan is successful?

Saturday, October 27, 2007


從臺北回來,

從新店捷運站出來,空氣清涼,一喜

在烏來大橋下車,空氣涼爽,又一喜


糾正大前天(廿四日),本blog說,皇帝地位也許比法律高。

漢書張釋之傳:漢文帝出行,過中渭橋,有一人從橋下走,乘輿馬驚,于是使騎捕之。釋之奏此人犯蹕,當罰金。上怒曰,此人親驚朕馬,乃罰金耶?釋之曰,法者,天子所與天下公共者也;今法如是;更重之,是不信于民也。上從之。

即使集權專制,貴為天子,亦知遵法,而出身律師,口唱民主的元首,竟不敬法,可悲。

Friday, October 26, 2007

I love online dictionaries. Today I learned that the Swedish word for passage is genomfart. Isn’t that mellifluous?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

For various reasons, recently I translated two poems for Sabiy. These are from the Confucian classic, Poetry (sometimes called Odes), and date from roughly 500BC.

邶風 靜女

靜女其姝,俟我於城隅;愛而不見,搔首踟躕。

靜女其孌,貽我彤管,彤管有煒,說懌女美。

自牧歸荑,洵美且異,匪女之為美,美人之貽。

Quiet Girl

Quiet girl, you are so beautiful,

You said you would wait for me at the corner of the city wall

I came on time but you hid so I couldn’t see you

I tore my hair and stamped my feet.

Quiet girl, you are so gorgeous,

You gave me your lacquer needle-case

The lacquer needle case is beautiful

I love it as much as I love your beauty.

When we were out grazing the cattle you gave me a tassel of grass,

It is beautiful and special,

But I love it not because it is beautiful,

I love it because you gave it to me.

陳風 月出

月出皎兮,佼人僚兮,舒窈糾兮,勞心悄析。

月出皓兮,佼人懰兮,舒懮受兮,勞心慅析。

月出照兮,佼人燎兮,舒夭紹兮,勞心慘析。

The Rising Moon

The rising moon is shining hey

The beautiful woman is so charming hey

She is graceful and elegant hey

If I don’t see her my heart aches.

The rising moon is bright hey

The beautiful woman is so entrancing hey

She is lissome and refined hey

If I don’t see her my heart wrenches.

The rising moon is brilliant hey

The beautiful woman is so enthralling hey

She is poised and stylish hey

If I don’t see her my heart yearns.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

我所了解的民主,是美國的民主:畢竟我家族在北美為自由、民主努力已經有三百七十多年的經驗、美國民主政治已經有兩百多年的經驗:這是我民主思索的基礎。

小時候在美國上公民課,老師一而再、再而三強調:民主是法制的政治;民主百姓的義務與權利,義務佔三分之二,權利只佔三分之一。公民首要義務是:知法守法,因為民主是法制的政治。(中國有一句,不知者無罪,與美國相反。美國說,Ignorance is no excuse under the law: 不知者有罪。)

民主國家裡,人民最大。因為政事繁瑣,所以委任專人代表我們處理萬機,可是他們只是為民服務:人民最大。民意代表,代表民意。

民主國家裡,還是人民最大;再大的官,是為人民服務而已,因為民主體制,人民才是主人。舉個例來說明吧。為了我自身健康,我請牙醫師幫我檢查牙齒、治療牙齒,因為牙醫是一門很深的學問,我雖然有牙齒,可是沒有牙醫專業訓練。但究竟牙齒是我的。牙醫師可以說,「這顆要補」,可是最後,由我作主,因為牙齒是我的,不是牙醫師的。同理,我們委任民意代表為我們作事,可是民主國家裡,還是人民最大,因為在民主國家,人民是主人翁;作官的,只是為民服務。

因此,官派的院長、部長等,沒有民意代表大。這是因為民意代表是經過民眾的選舉任職,而院長、部長,只是一人指派的,所以民意代表比較大。怨民意代表素質差,只能說百姓好騙;可是不管怎麼樣,民意代表是人民選出來的,所以比院長、部長大。

這是我所了解的民主。

因此,我覺得,臺灣越來越不民主。為甚麼這樣說呢?因為我看官派的首長,對立委不敬。不問黨籍,不論良莠,立委經過選舉,是人民的票選出來的:他們是人民喉舌,所以即使尊為行政院長,也必須把民意代表看成長官。大官汙辱民意代表,就是污辱人民。哪怕是鄉民代表,行政院長應該敬之如敬長官,因為鄉民代表經過人民票選,而行政院長沒有。如果院長、部長等對民意代表不敬,等于汙衊選民、辜負民主。

另外,因為我認為民主是法制;公民有義務主動守法;民主體制中,沒有任何人地位比法律高。皇帝地位也許比法律高;獨裁地位也許比法律高;可是在我認識的民主體制中,沒有任何人地位比法律高。

現代都市有交通法,人民有義務知曉、遵守:交通法規定,要在馬路上遊行、辦活動,必須向執法單位:即警察局:申請。其實,這只是一個形式,讓警察知道何時派警察往哪裡為民服務維持交通秩序,讓大家順利上下班等等。

可是這次路跑主辦單位,聽說沒有向警察局申請,而身為臺灣最高的行政官,居然對市長說,「有膽來抓抓看。」這不是民主精神。民主不問有膽沒膽,民主只問,法律的規定是甚麼?

痛心。

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I am reading an excellent book, The Crow Indians, by Robert H Lowie. Lowie did his research among the Crows in the early 20th century, and published the book in 1935. I am reading a reprint by the University of Nebraska press, with a 2004 introduction by Phenocia Bauerle, a member of the tribe.

I will sing the praises of the book some other time. Today I would like to mention something that seems interesting. The author quotes a war chant:

‘“Eternal are the heavens and the earth; old people are poorly off; do not be afraid.” The sentiment here expressed is one of the most characteristic of the Crow: mortals cannot expect to live forever like the great phenomena of nature; let them console themselves with the thought that old age is a thing of evil and court death while still young.’

Compare that to a line in another book I reread recently, Tales of the South Pacific, by James A Michener. Describing the bloody landing on Kuralei near the end of World War II, he describes a commanding officer: “He had the sad, tired look that old men wear when they have sent young men to die.”

What happened to talk of glory? On July 26, 2005 in this blog I discussed the war lust of earlier literature. Perhaps young men are less willing to go down in a blaze of glory because old age has lost many of its evils.

Two hundred years ago, a young Crow could look forward to a toothless, nearly blind old age of infirmity. Now we have false teeth and reading glasses so we can eat and see. Old age is not so fearful that the young wish to court death.

Dear President Bush: Please do not send any more young people to die in Iraq. Or anywhere else. If you want to fight, you were trained as a pilot, go bomb Iraq yourself. But please do not send any more young people to die.

Monday, October 22, 2007

bikes, YIKES!

From the subway terminal in New Store to Wulai is about 14 kilometers. The road goes up from about 25 meters elevation at the terminal up to around 100, then comes all the way back down again before climbing again to around 200 meters and finally coming down to about 100 meters at the bus terminal and parking lot in Wulai. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, I do, so never mind.

Because of the length and slopes, plus the scenery, the road is a favorite for bike riders. On weekends, especially when the weather is good, you see packs and packs of bicycle riders pedaling some very expensive hardware, decked out in skin tight pants, those bizarre helmets, spiffy shades, and jerseys in colors most tropical fish would cringe at as too gaudy.

However, going in to teach yesterday morning, I saw something very upsetting. WARNING: the following description is graphic: queasy readers are strongly advised to stop here!!

On the road between Bunqo日月光 and Tampya 忠治, I saw a young man chugging uphill at a very good clip. He was riding a 3 speed clunker with high rise handlebars, a big fat comfortable seat, and a basket between the handlebars. What’s worse, he was dressed in loose, comfortable clothing in tasteful colors.

Why are bike riders like this permitted on public roads?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

有人問我對臺灣英文教育的看法。

首先,我反對全民英文。有人沒有興趣學外文,有的沒有外語緣,不必強迫。現在說臺灣英文普遍,可是臺灣普遍的英文程度比二十年前好嗎?未必。現在花很多精力強迫大家學英文;一個很明顯的效果是,十年前我常碰到很多很喜歡學英文的人,已經很多年沒遇過這種情況。現在英文是大家的負擔,大學生一定要攷TOEFLTOEIC多少分才能畢業,否則在校修學分抵充…這裏面很有文章。我主張,初中畢業有個基本程度就夠了;有興趣的人再進修。

小學英文教育要加強:不是從天可憐見的小鬼身上加強,而是要求教育部作決定,到底如何教英語?師資培養、標準、教學、教材,各方面要搞清楚。現在臺灣小學英文教育,朝令夕改,一片混亂。

小學不提筆。換句話說,小學可以學習背誦abc,但是絕不以文字引導教學,課堂上盡可能不要用文字,從頭到尾以口說耳聽為主。如果攷試的話,絕對不允許筆試:嚴格規定,一律口試。這是因為小朋友學習、理解,與大人不同,加上小孩子耳根利。小孩學語言的自然循序是:聽與說。哪一個小孩子學母語要記筆記、抄寫單字?說、聽,不要讀、寫。更何況,英文書寫麻煩的要死,兒童不宜觀看。

當然,這樣要求老師能說英語;這牽涉到教育部栽培師資問題。我不怪老師,但臺灣英老師,大多數沒有辦法把二十六個字母念對一半,學生還有甚麼希望呢?::諒我肆吼幾下:g念似「計」,絕對絕對不可以念「居」!!n不可以念「恩」!l 怎麼念?f 怎麼念?我哭了。太多問題。

講到師資,很多人罵,甚麼樣的亂七八糟的外國人都可以在臺灣教英文(哪裡,哪裡,過獎)。可是為甚麼這些人可以這樣呢?因為,我聽同行說,南韓啊、日本啊、新加坡啊、亞洲很多地方給外老師的待遇比臺灣好很多,那你說好老師往哪裡跑?政府嘴巴上說要加強英文,卻不引徠好師(還有一點一般人不知道:陳總統執政說要拼經濟、要國際化等等的同時,給外國人、公司、投資加了很多從前未有的限制,來封殺國際化),你認為只有高呼「愛臺灣」,人才便湧來嗎?醒醒吧。

(其實,我認識來臺灣教英語的外國人,大部分很認真;尤其教兒童美語的,很有愛心、很有耐心:我沒有這個辦法。)

十歲以下的孩子學語言,一年內應該流俐(實際上,幾個月就夠了)。這句話有很多附帶條件,但原則上,在適當環境中小孩學語言一年還不流俐的話,有問題。

下一點十分重要:高中前,絕對絕對不可以教音標。小孩子耳根利,不該以文字引導教學。初中英文應該著重說與聽、句型練習。初中生要學的單字,應由課本提供,所以高中以下,不宜查字典:因此,就不需要音標。

實際上,我看過很多小朋友把音標寫的很漂亮、很工整,然後問我,「這些字是幹嘛用的?」音標能寫,並不代表能發音,更不代表能聽。小孩子耳根利,應該讓他們習慣英語的聲音:習慣聽、習慣說。照理說,小朋友學語言,應該沒有口音。

至于大人學外語有沒有口音,我覺得無所謂,有自己的特色很好呀。但是雖然發音、句型、用詞或許有自己獨特的味道,切記:語言首要任務是communication;無論如何,一定要讓對方聽懂,一定要懂正確語言。

臺灣英文教學,應該務實。換言之,教學目標,應該是以實用英語為標準:學生能不能說別人聽懂的英語?寫出來的英文,別人懂嗎?能不能聽、看正確的英文?

因此,我要提出下一個重要的觀念:我們應該以一九零零年為切割線:1900年以後的英文,才是教學範圍,1900年以前的英文,只有外國文學系的大學生才要管。

為甚麼這樣說呢?因為目前學校英文,有太多古貓死老鼠的英文纏擾,所以在學校─尤其在高中─浪費太多時間去認識已經死了兩百年的人的陳舊文法。英語是活的,所以時代不同,用法不同。前人講的英文,不能說它不對,可是早已沒有人那樣說。

這個道理很容易懂。請看這段文字:

徐侍郎道:「今日皇上陞殿,真乃曠典。先生要在寓靜坐,恐怕不日又要召見。」

這句引自儒林外史。你說是不是中文?絕對是。你自己說話,會這樣講嗎?我想不會。一個外國人學中文,說還不流俐、寫不通暢,你認為需要用這種中文攷他嗎?但現在臺灣攷的英文,差不多就是這個模樣。所以我說,臺灣英文教育,必須畫定,1900年以後的英文,才是教學範圍。

現在教的,參雜太多中古英文,一則不實用,二則學生動輒得咎,越學越沒信心。

十多年前吧,有個高中補習班老闆,因為他同學有個兒子是ABC,生在美國,長在美國,華語不太行,所以大二暑假回來練中文,老闆在補習班給他找點事作:就讓他校對英文課的講義吧。後來ABC與補習班老師鬧的很僵,快要動粗的時候找我去調停。ABC說老師寫的英文不通,老師在文法祕笈查出證據說沒錯。問題在于,那位ABC學生用的是實際英文;補習班老師雖有憑有據,但那種高中課本英文、升大插大英文,你隨便帶到美國任何一個Freshman Comp(大一寫作班),老師一定會把紅筆拿出來改錯。我們是現代人。我們應該講的是現代的英文;否則乾脆也把Beowulf編入高中英文教材吧。我們要學的、要教的英文,應該是實用、通用的英文;若能有文學氣息,最好不過。

=========

講一堆,真麻煩!有沒有比較簡單的方法?

有。

臺灣英文教育怎麼辦呢?其實,最簡單的方法,也是執政黨最愛用的方法:我們來個公投吧!

我們就公投說,只要是中華民國教育部認可的高中畢業生,說的、寫的英文就是正確的。

不要再管美國人、英國人:臺灣高中畢業生說的英文就是對的!不是有人說外國人不可以過問臺灣的事嗎?對呀,美國人憑甚麼糾正臺灣的英文?我們愛臺灣,所以我們就要愛臺灣英文!

糾正自己,不如罵別人!真方便。

這法子多棒!我們可以花很多錢玩公投,多麼熱鬧!當然囉,這種英文限用于台灣,可是跟入聯公投有甚麼兩樣?愛臺灣嘛!所以one可以念「萬」;yap是肯定語而不是哈巴狗叫聲;no thoroughfare表示「禁止通行」;只能說between 2不可以說between 3;而且各種死英文可以復活。此外,最棒最好的效果是,UN for Taiwan就成英文啦!皆大歡喜、信受奉行、天女散花,善哉。

可是這次公投,郵局不可以在民眾私人郵件蓋豬耳章。

要蓋豬頭章才適合。

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I saw a wonderful parade on the way to work today. 仁愛路 was full of happy kids, colorful costumes, lively dancers, cheerful aborigines, and really loud drums: no amplifiers, no other instruments, just rank after rank of really really LOUD drums. Smiles were on every spectator’s face.

The best thing was, I asked a lot of the people watching, and nobody had any idea what the parade was about. A parade can’t get any better than that!





Friday, October 19, 2007


Mstunan

This is an armlet by Watan Kahat, made of boar’s tusks and hair from a wig. This sort of armlet is called a mstunan in Tayal. Traditionally, only men could wear them. Only a man who had hunted boar could wear one of boar’s tusks. Others had to content themselves with rattan, cloth, or other materials. Only a man who had considerable success in headhunting could wear mstunan on both arms. Otherwise, only one was permitted.

And you can figure out for yourself that they did not use wigs for the hair to decorate the mstunan.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


This morning while I was standing on the porch, I was surprised to see a leaf falling straight down. I was standing under a roof, where could it be falling from? I was even more surprised when, after it landed, the wind blew it towards me, because there was no wind blowing.

Careful examination revealed that that was no leaf at all, it was a moth!

Sure fooled me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

make tea, not waves

The Bean Regime is holding a referendum on entering the UN. They seem to think that if they vote to enter the UN, Sesame! the doors of the UN will open for them. They don’t seem to grasp the concept that, it doesn't matter if 100% of the people in Taiwan vote to enter the UN, it's still not going to happen. The US State Department has publicly washed their hands of the Bean regime, saying they are unreasonable and it’s impossible to deal with them. Nobody in Europe supports Taiwan's joining the UN. Even traditional ROC supporters in Central America, like Costa Rica, refuse to support Taiwan. So in my opinion, it's a waste of time, money, and effort. The regime is spending piles of money to ram this down our throats. There are far more pressing needs in Taiwan.

The referendum has very little popular support, but Taiwan is festooned with signs that say UN for Taiwan. This is supposedly English, and is supposed to mean Taiwan wants to join the UN. You figure it out, it's too difficult for me.

But last week a letter I wrote to Chao arrived in Boston with two rubber stamps supporting the referendum. In class I gave this as an example; I frequently tell my students, when you use a foreign language, your first concern is not whether you are right or wrong, but whether you are communicating. “UN for Taiwan” doesn’t make sense. Right? “A phone call for you,” “Republicans for Kerry.” What is UN for Taiwan supposed to mean? That the UN supports Taiwan??

I also pointed out that putting these stamps on my envelope infringes on my freedom of speech. The referendum has not been held yet; the people have not yet spoken, and in my mind, in a democracy, the voice of the people is supreme.

Can you imagine the uproar there would be in the US if, say, before the 2004 election, Bush had ordered the US Post Office to mark private envelopes with rubber stamps saying “Bush for President”? Not even Dubya would go that far.

My voice was heard, and since then I have been interviewed by 7 tv stations, some radio stations, and some newspapers. The Chief of the Government Information Office insists that UN for Taiwan is correct English. Ok, if you say so.


He has challenged me to debate this slogan with him. (the gentleman on the left in this photo, addressing the national legislature) I have to admit, I am awed by his English ability (his college major was German); I have taught English to college level adults for over 30 years, including over 10 years teaching GRE Reading and Vocabulary, and I can’t make any sense out of that slogan. If he can figure out what it means, his English must be a lot better than mine!

When I went to the city today, a lot of people gave me big smiles. But of course, one of the joys of living in Taiwan is the wondrous civility of the people. Near the President’s Office, a postman making deliveries took a close look at me and asked if I was the guy on television. I said yes. He gave me a big thumbs up and said, We’re all cheering for you! (我們郵差都為你加油!) In the post office we don’t want those stamps either, but they force us to do that. Put up a big fight, the bigger the better! (鬧的越大越好!)

Frankly, I think we need quiet, reasoned discussion, not challenges or fights. Democracy has a long way to go in Taiwan; we need work on basic concepts of respect for others’ opinions and for other’s right to express those opinions. We even need work on basic civility among ranking officials; Du, the Minister of Education, perhaps the most widely detested person in Taiwan after President Chen, was publicly picking his nose during an official appearance in the national legislature. Questions of breeding aside, this is indicative of how much respect Bean’s appointed officials have for the representatives elected by the people.

But as for me, I’ve voiced my opinion, and I'm bowing out.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/10/17/asia/AS-GEN-Taiwan-Going-Postal.php

最近討論郵件蓋章,很熱鬧,這是好現象,因為民主政治,就是希望大家發表意見。

但是有人不了解民主,叫我不喜歡這個郵章就滾回美國,顯得十分缺乏民主素養。更可笑的,有個網站「討論」時事,可是註明,如果想發表意見:

任何參加本站討論者均同意:(1)世界上不論有幾個中國,台灣現在及未來不應也不會是中國的一部份;(2)台灣是主權獨立的國家;(3)目前盤距於台灣土地的中華民國政治體制應徹底被移除;(4)接受本站不定期用email提供的訊息。不能同意以上觀點者,請勿參加本站討論。

換言之,歡迎贊同我們的意見,不許提出其他想法。

就有人愛閉門關窗,對著鏡子唱,We are the World

另一種奇怪的邏輯:說外國人不准討論臺灣的事情的人,說要臺灣加入聯合國。這不是很矛盾嗎?

這種人,往往前一句說,外國人不准討論臺灣的事情,下一句說,臺灣有難,美國就要來救。我只能說,理路不通。

為甚麼要美國人來救臺灣?因為自家兒子當兵的話,不可以操練!不可以讓他不舒服!當兵辛苦的話,找立委。三十年前,中華民國建兒能夠悍衛臺灣,這是國民黨的政策;現在喊愛臺灣的陳總統,兒子已經不在國內;女婿聽說沒當過兵。

但是各位千萬不要幻想美國會救臺灣!臺灣的形象已經大不如以前。我個人認為,花錢花時間花精神搞公投,不如整頓臺灣的形象。一方面,我認為,臺灣只要不要太離譜的話,中共不會笨到用武力攻臺灣;讓臺灣自己爛就得了。另一方面,如果真的派軍隊來,美國頂多派軍艦在外海遶幾圈,隔岸觀火。

我也希望大家不要一直參與藍綠的僵局;民主的老百姓,我們應該自己為臺灣長久的前途設想,而不要困于黨爭。撇開硬化的政客立場,如何是臺灣最佳的出路?

有人說,UN for Taiwan沒錯,是簡寫。如果是簡寫的話,實在太簡了,誰看懂?要簡寫,也可以單寫一個T字,代表臺灣入聯;沒人看懂而已。標語的作用,應該是讓人家看懂吧?

有學生戲解UN for Taiwan Unfortunately, Nobody’s for Taiwan. 苦笑。

新聞局的謝局長叫我放馬過來,跟他辯英文,我自嘆不如,甘拜下風,承認他英文程度比我高。我教了三十多年的成人英文,可是我實在看不懂UN for Taiwan怎麼會是代表臺灣入聯的意思。謝局長能看懂的話,他的英文程度一定比我高太多!因此,我只好揮淚,婉拒他的邀請。

對于郵章犯權的事,我已經發表了我的意見。有人鼓勵我再敖、告郵局,我個人認為,不如喝茶去也。


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

新聞局長認為,UN for Taiwan還是對的, so I must be wrong ~~ ho ho ho!

Monday, October 15, 2007

blog上禮拜四(十月十一日)提出,UN for Taiwan不成英文。結果,立委因而質問新聞局長,新聞局長堅持UN for Taiwan沒錯。

很好,很好,他是大官,他認為對就好了。外國人看不懂就是了。

可是我向來認為民進黨主觀太重;自己認為怎麼樣,就是怎麼樣,不管事實如何、不管世界局勢如何,自己的主觀就是對的、不動搖、不變通,只要喊一句「愛臺灣」,然後罵國民黨,問題就擺平了。

民進黨的好處是,你只要抓住這個信仰,心念就可以不動搖,一切思想問題就可以擺平。可是這樣很難為社會造福。

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Friend in Need


Overheard near Taipei Train Station

男甲:你還有假的話,可以在台北多住幾天。你可以住我們南港那邊那個房子,房客上禮拜搬走了,現在是空的。

男乙:搬走了?不是才剛搬來沒多久嗎?

男甲:是呀,可是那個房子常鬧鬼,房客都留不住。

Guy #1: Since you have a few more days vacation, why don’t you stay in Taipei? You can stay in our place in Nankang. The tenants moved out last week, so it’s empty now.

Guy #2: Moved out? Didn’t they just move in not long ago?

Guy #1: Yeah, but the place is haunted, so we can’t hold on to tenants.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Walking by a store, I happened to glance in, and saw the shopkeeper slouched down as close to horizontal as possible in a chair, watching a televised game of pool.

You must be pretty close to brain dead to watch pool on television. That’s almost as bad as watching golf or bass fishing or baseball.

Before the days of television, the man would have been busy arranging his stock, fixing tools, whittling bowls and spoons, weaving baskets, gossiping with the boss next door, playing a musical instrument, or any one of a hundred little tasks. Now with efficient mass production and mass television, people are too passive to do anything with their lives: better to watch a brain deadening television show than to find something interesting to do.

At the end of a busy, fulfilling day, I sometimes wonder how anybody ever finds time to read a newspaper. There is so much to do! Aside from yard work and chores, I have a pile of slabs of wood that I have promised to carve for friends, tea to drink, tea pots to polish, clouds to watch, a bookcase to repair, mantras to tell, frogs to listen to, calligraphy to practice, recorders to play, dogs to play with, letters to write, saplings to plant, crickets to see, books to read and reread, paths to follow, sutras to chant, birds to admire, and in some distant year which I hope may never arrive, I should clean out the basement.

People ask me, Don’t you get bored up there in the mountains? Are you kidding? I can barely find time to go out and earn money! I realized that I am never bored because I do not have a television.

Friday, October 12, 2007


一念之差

煩惱即菩提,看你念頭怎麼轉

因為山上亂開路,前幾天颱風促成土石流。不能怪颱風,土石流完全是人為的。我很苦惱,想到生態的創傷、公帑的浪費、不必要的破壞,天啊,多糟糕!頓足長歎。

去上陶藝課,遇到青山師兄,他劈頭問:我看到你寄來土石流的照片,那個土很好,這是大好機會,可以挖幾袋、洗一洗用來作陶,你拿了多少土?

煩惱即菩提,看你念頭怎麼轉

Thursday, October 11, 2007

我所了解的民主,是集思廣益的政治:每一個國民有義務接受教育,以便貢獻個人意見。一個好國民應該思索時事、凝聚成意見,只要不造謠、不毀謗、不教唆犯罪,每一個人有言論自由,民眾意見愈多愈好。民主政府不可以箝制民眾發言權;同理,民主政府不可以強迫人民說他不想說的話。

我發現我寄到國外的信件,郵局擅自蓋章:UN FOR TAIWAN,完全沒有爭取我同意、違犯我本人立場、侵犯我發言權、冒犯我的言論自由。

唯一可以安慰的是,這句不成文的章,外國人一定看不懂。UN for Taiwan是甚麼意思?看不懂,這不是英文。

但是政府侵犯我們的權利,大家要注意。不管你贊成公投反對公投,民主政府不能利用我們私人郵件作執政黨的宣傳品。這是獨裁作法。



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Today is Double Ten, the anniversary of Dr Sun Yat-sen’s revolution which overthrew the Ching dynasty and established the Republic of China. China was being flayed by imperialist powers (England, France, Germany, Japan, the US, Russia), and yet, in the words of Wang Ching Chun, a Chinese representative to the US, China gave “the world the greatest revolution of modern times in the most civilized manner known to history. We have emancipated ourselves from the imperial yoke, not by brute force, but by sheer reasoning and unparalleled toleration. Within the amazingly short period of four months, and without shedding over one hundredth part of the blood that has been shed in other similar revolutions, we have transformed our immense country from an empire of four thousand years’ standing into a modern democracy.”

October 10th, Double Ten, commemorates this "new standard of sanity in revolutions." There's always a parade in Taipei to celebrate the national day, and today, for the first time in 16 years, it was a military parade. However, President Bean emphasized that this is a "national defense performance," not a "review," because "only dictators 'review troops.' We are having a 'national defense performance.’” Nice to know that so many American presidents have been dictators, isn’t it?

Think of all the world leaders Bean has called dictators in that charming statement. Quite the diplomat. I’m sure the People's Liberation Army is changing any plans they might have had, now that they know Taiwan has not a military, but national defense performers. Hard to keep a straight face.

But this is indicative of the Bean Regime. In almost eight years as president, he has done nothing concrete or constructive. He has apparently devoted all his energies to setting new records for corruption, and a new record for the world’s lowest popularity rating of any elected president since public opinion polls were first invented. Other than that, he has done nothing. Since he is incapable of doing anything else, all he has done is changed some names. He changed the name of the airport, the post office, and a few other agencies.

Too bad he doesn't do anything for Taiwan.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Patrick Henry said, Give me liberty or give me death.

The cry heard throughout the land now is, Give me junk food and give me death.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Nine years ago, a road was started near my place. The road served absolutely no practical purpose, beyond opening land for speculation and enriching those involved in the construction work. The only other benefit of the road is that it provides a secluded place for dumping trash: secluded, because nobody goes there. There’s no other reason to go there.

Fortunately, they only built 400 meters of the road. The workmanship was so shoddy that in the first big rain, the end of it slid off the mountain, so the taxpayers had to foot the bill to fix that with new embankments.

Typhoon Krosa came over the weekend. It was not a particularly impressive typhoon, aside from one distinction: it stayed. Most typhoons whisk right by, but Krosa wanted to visit Taiwan, so it wobbled around the northeast coast, dumping rain on us. Some places got over 1200mm of rain on Saturday ~~ that’s over a meter of rain in one day ~ but Wulai village got only a quarter of that, not even 300mm on Saturday. We didn’t even win a spot in the Top 100 for rainfall.

But that road slid again. This time was more serious. The whole embankment came down and wiped out 環山路Huanshan Road below, which is Wulai’s main road. Villages further into the mountains, Rahaw, Hapun, Mangan, are cut off. The taxpayers now have the privilege of paying for the mess to be cleaned up. At least part of it. All that mud is going to reach the stream and disrupt the ecosystem there, but how much do politicians care about that? You don’t make money by protecting stream ecosystems from landslides, not easy money, or ready money, anyway.

Yesterday I visited the landslide at Huanshan Road, just outside our entry. Today I took a notion to visit the top. Crossing the jungle was arduous. I must have been the last person to cross that path, and that was a good six months ago. Since then, constant rainfall popped up lots of vegetation which Krosa blew down. By the time I reached the top of the slide, I didn’t want to come back the same way, so I took a long walk up the mountain, across, and back.

I wish to emphasize that the destruction was entirely manmade. Gen, gen, gen! I was out all afternoon. I saw two other little slides, and all three places where there was damage, was due to the presence of a road. Taiwan already has all the roads we need. In these steep mountains, building roads equals building landslides. When will they ever learn?

I took a pile of photographs. You may view them at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/talovich/sets/72157602318178571/

Sunday, October 07, 2007





九年前,我家附近的「野要」區開路;我很反對。該路沒有實用價值,野要區不需要那條路。收益的,只有操地皮的投資人與工程單位;對本地人有害無利。更何況烏來山陡峭,在山坡地開兩個車道的柏油路,實非所宜。好在,路開了前面一段四百公尺便作罷,不再挖了。

施工很隨便,因為那條路,不會有人用,所以不必作太好。路鋪了柏油以後第一場大雨就垮了,因為沒有甚麼路基可言。因此相關單位花了幾十萬作駁坎,固定路基。

但該路本來沒有實用價值,頂多只有偷倒廢土、垃圾的人用。沿途有很多冰箱、冷氣機、電視機、建材、廢土、油漆桶。反正,那條路沒有人走,眼不見為淨。

苛羅莎颱風來了,路面帶駁坎全垮下來了,把下面環山路─烏來鄉主要道路─一起沖斷了。今天養路處、臺電來搶修。

納稅人,你辛苦賺錢交稅,看它這樣大筆大筆花來摧殘生態,你甘心嗎?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Here’s a question somebody asked on the web:

Dear EarthTalk: The marketing of soda to school kids was a big item in the news this past year. What’s so bad about soda and where can I find healthier alternatives that still have the “fizz?”
— Chase Abromovitch, via e-mail

To my way of thinking, simply asking such a question is inconceivable, sort of like asking, what’s so bad about getting attacked by a great white shark?

http://environment.about.com/od/health/a/soft_drinks.htm

Friday, October 05, 2007

What’s going on?

The Homeland Security Department produced a video marked Official Use Only, showing the destruction hackers could cause by controlling part of the US electrical grid: an “enormous turbine shudders as pieces fly apart and it belches black and white smoke.”

Idaho National Laboratory made the video for top US policy makers, and sun of a gun, somehow Associated Press got hold of it, and made it public. All concerned emphasize that this is all theoretical, that there have been no hacker attacks on the power grid, everything’s okay, this is just a hypothetical scenario, SO DON’T PANIC, THERE’S NO NEED FOR CONCERN, EVERYTHING’S ALL RIGHT, BUT DON’T LET THOSE HACKERS NEAR OUR POWER SUPPLY! STOP THEM BEFORE THEY CAUSE THE END OF CIVILIZATION!!

Come on now, White House, start screaming, aren’t you supposed to scream and rant when somebody leaks material authorized for only high-level briefings? Am I paranoid, or am I the only person who smells a rat?

OK, I’m paranoid, George and Dick really have our best interests at heart. Just don’t be surprised when Homeland Security starts investigating people who use computers and interrogating them on the suspicion of attempting to blow up the power supply.

Thursday, October 04, 2007



This is a wood pigeon, called in Tayal a mqwang. The Tayal do not like this bird, considering it unlucky. This may be due to its hollow, somewhat spooky call. If a mqwang comes near a Tayal house, they chase it away.

Perhaps because of this, perhaps they are inherently shy: I rarely see them. Yesterday I was able to catch this photo of one roosting in the camphor in the front yard. I asked it to stay for a better portrait, but it flew away.



Wednesday, October 03, 2007

最近重讀Bruce CattonThe Coming Fury,敘述美國南北戰爭的前奏、開始。其實這個戰爭應該可以避免,所以Catton一直分析,為甚麼變這種下場?死了六十幾萬人,是為了甚麼?黑奴制度不合時宜,為甚麼緊抓不放?因為問題情緒化了,主觀太盛。他說,The most profound emotional force in the South was leading men to revolt against the whole trend of the times, and a tragically isolated society was preparing to risk everything in the attempt to preserve a past that was dissolving.

天啊,像不像臺獨派的寫照?