Monday, September 29, 2008

I wrote this in November 1998, almost two years after I moved to Wulai, before I got dogs of my own. Sinkang got two dogs and kept them up at his hut, but since he is busy driving his bus, he didn't have much time to spend with them. They were so lonely they would come down to play with me.

"I had a big pile of old wood to burn, remnants of an old fence, so I piled it up a safe distance from the house and set fire to it. It burned all afternoon, and by evening it was still smoldering. At about 8PM, I went out to make sure everything was okay. As I was coming back, I found my path barred by a qimpahu\龜殼花 'turtle-pattern snake' about a meter long. The qimpahu is poisonous, and noted for its aggressive temper and lightning fast movements.

"I asked it to move on, which it didn't, so I stamped my foot, indicating, I'm coming through. It ignored me. Just then Sinkang's dogs came by. I thought, great, they'll bark and chase the snake away so I can go back up. The black and white one came trotting up. Boy, talk about an alert dog protecting us faithfully. Not only did he fail to notice the snake barring my way, but on his way up the path he even stepped on it!! I was amazed: dumb dog meets dumb snake… The snake just kind of ignored him and glared at me. I clambered up another way.

Since I wrote that, I have become much more familiar with my footless neighbors, because there are a lot of them here in Wulai, and I have become used to that sort of behavior. I probably have more experience with snakes than most people, but I have never seen a snake slither over to attack somebody like they do in the movies. In my bare feet or flipflops I have stepped on poisonous snakes and even kicked a couple by accident, but I always apologize. Keep your distance from snakes, because they are dangerous, have no doubts about that. But there's no need to get all panicky, and if you're all panicky, you can't see how beautiful they are. Certainly snakes are among the most beautiful creatures on earth! Just say hello, admire their beauty, and go your own way.

The photo is a qaxa, 雨傘節 banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus multicinctus), in my front yard. I have to admit that here I was not taking my own advice, but I wanted to get close for a photo, and the qaxa didn't mind. But still, it's always safer to keep your distance from a snake. Just step back and admire.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

當老師,任重道遠,真如師大校歌:教育,國之本 (我只記得這一句)。可是我觀察認真教書的老師,我覺得有兩種心態。





Today is Confucius’s birthday, which used to be celebrated as a national holiday, Teachers’ Day, before President Bean got into office and decided education was not worth a holiday.

Let’s all sing together:
Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Confucius, Happy birthday to you!

When you were a kid, did your family sing the following verse?
How old are you, How old are you, How old are you dear Confucius, How old are you?

Boy, that’s a tough one to answer:
Today I am two thousand five hundred fifty nine, Today I am two thousand five hundred fifty nine, Today is my birthday, Today I am two thousand five hundred fifty nine!

Today I hope you take a minute to think gratefully of your teachers and how much you have learned from them.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

A point well made:
While Bush is unpopular at home, hostility to the outgoing president appears to be much deeper among expatriate donors than the general population in the United States. Obama's many backers in Europe say they are motivated by a yearning for America to once again be viewed with respect by the rest of the world.

Not only in Europe!

Friday, September 26, 2008





Thursday, September 25, 2008

Overheard in the Jungle at 12 midnight

She: Why is it so dark?
He: This is called “nighttime.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mosquitoes must exult in the way we slap ourselves on their behalf.


They say Wulai means hot spring in Tayal, but I think actually it means Mosquito Paradise. Many years ago, a prophet arose among the myriad mosquitoes of Wulai. She called all the mosquitoes together and preached The Coming of the Feast. "Oh, you millions of mosquitoes, hear my words and doubt you not! I foresee the coming of a great feast, and his name shall be called Yugan Dali."


You people who live in cold climates, envy us our privilege of feeding mosquitoes year round.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Can you believe it? This is post #1500 for this blog. Amazing what sort of drivel they'll allow on the internet.

Today I am going to offer a quote that is worth reflecting on. J B Priestley said: "Refuse with scorn the great dope-dreams of the economic emperors and their sorcerers and Hollywood sirens. Don't allow them to inject you with Glamour, Sport, Sensational News, and all the Deluxe nonsense, as if they were filling you with an anesthetic."

This was written right after WWII, but it rings true today.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Today the Wulai village traditional aborigine games were held on the basketball court behind the church. The events were: chicken catching, wood sawing, spear throwing, and rice pounding. I would like the UN to investigate why none of these are Olympic events: a case of blatant discrimination! You just explain to me why beach volleyball is an Olympic sport but rice pounding isn’t. Sheesh!
Well, the Olympics missed all the fun, so we had it (although the chickens did not have such a great time.) The wood sawing event required each of five contestants on a team to saw off a length of a fir log, taking turns. They wanted five teams, to keep things rounded out, and quickly got four teams of strong young men. For the fifth, so they called out Sawye (our village headman), the minister, another local Tayal, and two Yugans, including me. Our team was obviously much older than the other four. The judges assured us it didn’t matter who won, it was all just for fun, don’t worry.

Guess what? All five members of our team finished sawing up our log before the first contestant of any other team had sawed through their log. We had already taken a whole set of victory photos before the team in second place finally finished. All of which just goes to prove the Chinese saying, 薑還是老的辣, old ginger kicks the hardest.

I didn’t throw any spears because a, I can shoot anything but when I throw I can’t hit the side of a barn, and b, I am waiting for the Archery event in the Wulai Township Tribal Games. If the organizing committee remembers to include Archery.

notice in the lower right the cheerleaders for another team, still sawing away ha ha ha.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

其實,那天對曹操有點不好意思,因為理所當然把他當鐵石心腸(click here)。事實到底如何,很難辨認。傳說,曹操避董卓之亂,路過呂伯奢家:「伯奢出行,五子皆在,備賓主禮。太祖自以背卓命,疑其圖己,手劍夜殺八人而去。孫盛雜記曰: 太祖聞其食器聲,以為圖己,遂夜殺之。既而悽愴曰:『寧我負人,毋人負我!』遂行。」

但此語出孫盛雜記,「寧我負人,毋人負我 」彷彿不見正史。正史反而說,曹操「逃歸鄉里。從數騎過故人成皋呂伯奢;伯奢不在,其子與賓客共劫太祖,取馬及物,太祖手刃擊殺數人。」


Friday, September 19, 2008

aaaarrrgh!! Mateys, do you know that today is TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY? Then let's hear it LOUD AND CLEAR, with a WILL me boys and no grousing from you lubbers! and don't forget, you heard in WORLD FIRST right here.

click here: ARGH MATEY!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

At the risk of stating the obvious, eating is natural. Under normal circumstances, nobody needs to be reminded to eat. Right?

Since eating is so natural, why does anybody need to be prompted to eat something by advertising? This should give good reason to suspect that if a food product is advertised, you're probably better off if you don't eat it.

Talovich's dietary guidelines:
Eat close to nature. Eat food as it grows; eat as little processed food as possible; eat food as little processed as possible; eat food that either sprouts or rots quickly if it falls on fertile soil (watch this). Very little of what I eat comes wrapped in plastic. If you wish to be healthy and enjoy life, do not place in your mouth, chew, eat, ingest, imbibe, swallow, or take in any of the following: rat poison, eggs of any kind, lead paint, broken glass, flesh of any animal corpse, thumbtacks, razor blades, turpentine, milk, battery acid, tobacco, antifreeze, soda pop, hemlock, strychnine, heroin, and Mickey D fries.
I prefer to be healthy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

People today want Hello Kitty, not Picasso, because Hello Kitty is comforting and does not challenge. Picasso requires you to think; even if you can’t stand him, you have to think about why he irks you.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Consider the lowly leech. It has no brains and it has no spine; it lives by sucking blood. Once it has attached itself to a spot where blood can be sucked, it is very difficult to dislodge, until it has bloated itself.

Sounds like a sure formula for success in corporate management.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

All right, it's finally here, my favorite holiday of the year:: 中秋節!! the Moon Festival! Let's go out and make tea and enjoy the moon aaarrghhh let's not go out, it's pouring. A typhoon has come and won't go away. Not a horrific typhoon, although wind has gone up to 16 on the east coast. Problem is it won't leave. In Wulai village we've been getting over 300mm of rain a day for the last three days (for you savages who don't understand metric yet, that’s about 12 inches), which doesn't give you a lot of chance to look at the moon as is due and proper on the Moon Festival.

No big deal, we get lots of typhoons every year. But it may bear noting that Hurricane Ike on the Gulf Coast, which has been in the news so much, dropped about six inches of rain, with winds at gauge 11. The average annual rainfall for Los Angeles is 380mm a year, which is about what we got today, but they sing It Never Rains in Southern California. It sure does rain in Taiwan. Down south over the last three days they've gotten about 1400mm of rain, and of that, 970mm fell today. Wet, you know?

So what to do on a rainy Moon Festival? Find substitutes.

Maybe a reflection in a glass door can stand in for the moon.

Or maybe not.

It may not be a bad idea to just find a place to lay your head and doze until the rain stops.

Friday, September 12, 2008

When Chinese arrived in San Francisco, partly for their own protection in a strange land and partly because they were Cantonese, they formed many 堂 tongs(tang in Mandarin; hall, meeting hall), societies originally designed for support and protection. Many of these tongs often operated outside the law and engaged in criminal activities. Their ‘enforcers’ were feared inside and outside Chinatown; contemporary reports record their deadly use of the hatchet, for hacking and throwing. These armed men were so fearsome that this has contributed the term ‘hatchet man’ to common speech, someone hired to do dirty work for a boss who keeps his hands clean.

What has always confused me about this is that although Chinese martial arts have a rich variety of weapons, the hatchet has never been prominent. I have never been able to figure out why the tang men used hatchets in the US when it was not a common or familiar weapon at home.

It occurred to me that they were using a familiar tool from home: the 菜刀kitchen knife! The Chinese kitchen knife was unknown to Westerners then, but it looked like a hatchet to them, so that’s what they called it. Or so I conjecture.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I had this tucked away in a folder:
Of 2,318 people surveyed in March 2006 by Harris Interactive and Randstad, 32% say an office loud talker is their biggest pet peeve. Coming in a close second at 30% is using an annoying cellphone ringtone; 22% said speakerphones are their No. 1 peeve.

I have often wished that someone would invent a device that you could place, say, in the corners of a room or over the doors; once the device was activated, if anybody switched on a cell phone in that area, the cell phone would explode. Don't you agree that that would contribute measurably to happiness and mental health? At least mine.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008



要減碳、要環保,最徹底、最有效的方法,就是吃素:請click here:: 寧摧毀生態,休叫我少吃一塊肉!

Monday, September 08, 2008

I forget where I read this, but it is food for thought.
A British officer, Major Summerford, fighting in Flanders in February 1918, was knocked off his horse by a bolt of lightning and paralyzed from the waist down. Summerford retired and moved to Vancouver. One day in 1924, as he fished alongside a river, lightning hit the tree he was sitting under and paralyzed his right side. Two years later Summerford had recovered enough that he was able to take walks in a local park. He was walking there one summer day in 1930 when lightning struck him again, permanently paralyzing him. He died two years later. Four years after he died, during a storm, lightning struck a cemetery and destroyed a tombstone. Whose tomb? Major Summerford's.

Somebody forgot to sacrifice to Zeus.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Friday, September 05, 2008


賴鵬智的blog: 在此::



Thursday, September 04, 2008

This is the scariest piece I’ve posted, so prepare yourself.

The Republican candidate for VP, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, believes she has a direct, infallible connection to god’s mind, and that she knows just what god wants. What does god want, Governor Palin? God wants US troops to fight in Iraq. It's all part of god’s plan, so you'd better not buck it: "There is a plan and that plan is God's plan."

What else does god want, Governor Palin? God wants that $30 billion natural gas pipeline built; she told students, "God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that."

I am not making this up. You can read it here::

I am not Christian, but it seems to me to be impertinent hubris to assume you know what your god wants.

If fighting in Iraq is an assignment from the creator of the universe, how come so many of our warfighters are getting killed? Why hasn't the war been won? Maybe god is too busy laying plans for that pipeline to worry about details such as so many deaths in war, or the destruction of the Alaskan environment. That may be why god can't unify people and companies by himself. And I suppose god likes unmarried teenagers to have babies so they can't finish their education properly?
(my comments on having babies in your teens here:: )

But actually, here is where you can see the difference between Palin and Dubya Bush: Palin believes she knows just what god wants, while Bush believes he is god.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The death penalty has been the subject of prolonged and often emotional debate. My own feeling is that murder and rape are such heinous crimes that some murderers and rapists should be exterminated; that the victims and their families deserve special treatment, and should be freed from the fear of a murderer or rapist being freed on parole. I will include drug dealers, in particular the wholesalers, because of the misery they inflict on so many others.

It costs a lot of money to incarcerate a prisoner. If I remember correctly, the original idea, of benevolent intent, was that prisoners would be reformed rather than executed. Now, however, prisoners are brutalized. If the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, it lasts only minutes; internment is much more cruel, lasts interminably, and benefits nobody.

(okay, well, maybe it does benefit some. Barbara Bush is a big investor in privatized prisons, so cruel and unusual punishment does benefit some. On the principle of ‘do unto others as you would have others do unto you,’ maybe laws should state that any investor in privatized prisons has to spend some time in those prisons; the more you invest, the longer you have to stay in them.)

I think the US's most pressing needs now are protecting the ecosystem and reforming prisons. The War on Drugs is a farce, so cease immediately; that would slash the prison population right there. Far fewer people belong in prison, and those that do, should be reformed, not deformed. But again, it costs a lot more money to lock up, feed, and clothe a prisoner, than to kill him; the government's budget is finite, there is only so much tax money to go around; in certain cases, I think the tax money would be better spent on taking good care of those outside prison walls than in incarcerating a murderer or rapist.

But this is where I start getting lost: while there is such a hue and cry against the death penalty, armies and wars are taken for granted. Countries that righteously abolish the death penalty maintain armed forces. We have to defend our sovereignty! It's considered a patriotic duty to kill a young man because he is wearing the wrong uniform, without trial or anything resembling due process. If the death penalty is wrong, what is right about armed forces?

My point here is not to argue for or against the death penalty, but rather to point out what I see as a contradiction. It is wrong to kill one convicted murderer but it is right to kill thousands (the more the better) of people for saluting another flag. I hope someone will please explain the logic of that to me.

And finally, my own personal viewpoint: anybody who advocates abolishing the death penalty, while eating the flesh of dead animals, is a hypocrite, intentional or unintentional. If someone guilty of murder should not be put to death, certainly innocent animals should not be killed to stuff your belly!

Monday, September 01, 2008

First, let me admit that I have not been hanging on every jot and tittle of the US Presidential campaign, although my sympathies are clear: on the one side, we’ve got Candidate Same-old-same-old with a name straight from the British Isles (just like almost every other President in our history), years beyond the mandatory retirement age for civil servants, a bad temper, and a propensity to racism (doesn’t anybody else remember his slurs on the American Viet Namese community?); on the other side, we’ve got a chance to show the world and show ourselves that we are committed to embracing all Americans as Americans; we’ve got a candidate who actually lives in the 21st century and understands how to live among the tides and currents of technology, politics, and economics. This shouldn’t be too hard to decide.

But I feel that a vital issue is being neglected. The US, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, today has a higher proportion of citizens in prison than the Soviet Union did under Stalin. The US has history’s highest proportion of citizens locked up.

Proportion, proportion, the incarceration rates are not proportionate, big news guess what, not as many whites go to jail as Hispanics and blacks, bet that surprised you. The entire legislative and judicial system is biased to lock up minorities. Equal pay for equal work? Then equal punishment for equal crimes. The system comes down hard on minorities; of course, this is why the White House is graced with the presence of His Travesty Dubya Bush. If African Americans were not charged more often with felonies, more would have voting rights left intact, and you can bet your booties they wouldn’t vote for Dubya with a ten foot pole. So you can see that, from certain perspectives, there are advantages to the system as it sits now.

But inordinate incarceration lacerates individuals, families, and communities; not just the minorities, but everybody in the country suffers. Which would be better for your community; a youth who was carefully educated to develop his abilities and lead a fulfilling life, or a youth who was carefully trained that all his role models end up in prison or dead, that he will most likely end up in prison, and that he has no constructive future?

If I were running for office, I would demand, “Millions for education, not another penny for prisons! Millions for building communities, not another penny for building more prisons! Millions for teachers, doctors, and day care, not another penny for imperialism in Iraq!”

You can see why no party has nominated me for President.