Sunday, November 30, 2008

中正紀念堂前一小撮人聽演講,演講人聽起來敷衍了事。旁邊很多標語寫大字:PEACE,也有英文標語Blast violenceFight for rights,還有「修改遊行法」。很奇怪,又說反對暴力,可是用詞:blast, fight,充滿著暴力,而一旁又說PEACE


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Here is a story told me years ago by Teacher Lu 國語啟蒙老師,路國棟老師. I'm not sure if this will come across, but let me give it a try.

Once a village was being terrorized by a demon. Crops withered, animals died, children had nightmares, old people got sick. Finally, the villagers sent a delegation to a Buddhist temple for help. The abbot smiled and said, "No problem, I'll send someone to take care of it later today." The villagers went home in great anticipation, expecting a spectacular battle between the demon and a detail of monks with bells and gongs and other dharma instruments. To their surprise, at dusk, a lone monk appeared, and he was only about 8 years old. He carried nothing but a bag slung over his shoulder, but he seemed confident and unafraid. He told the villagers to stand aside, and walked with a firm step to the village shrine, which had been taken over by the demon. He pushed open the door and entered. Moments later, such a piercing, unearthly shriek was heard that everybody's hair stood on end. The demon rushed out of the shrine and raced away from the village as fast as he could go. The little monk came out with a small smile on his face. The villagers surrounded him. "Little Dharma Master, how did you chase away the demon?" "Simple," he said, "I just reached into my bag and got out my Donations book."


Monday, November 24, 2008

Those who wish to write about the weather in Wulai are well advised to write quickly. Bright sun yesterday morning, followed by a rainy afternoon, a starry night, and steady rain this morning. Whee. That's Taiwan, and especially, that's Wulai.

Friday, November 21, 2008

This blog is temporarily running behind schedule as I race to crank out teaching material for a new course I'm teaching, 聽力無礙.

Since you have so much extra time that you don't have to spend on this blog, I would like to introduce you to a wonderful site (thanks, Abe, for telling me about this): Free Rice. For every English vocabulary word you get right, sponsors donate 20 grains of rice to needy people. You can choose your level of vocabulary, or answer questions in math, geography, or other topics.

Tomorrow reserve a moment to remember JFK, who was assassinated on this day in 1962.

I expect to get my head above water by next Thursday. In the meantime, go play with free rice. And please remember to click on The Hunger Site every day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Here's a true story that my father loved to tell.

It seems that in the 1930s, ads appeared in many national publications for a guaranteed bug killer. The device was not cheap, but the ad proclaimed that if applied properly, a 100% success rate was guaranteed. Times were tough, but a lot of people shelled out their hard-earned cash and mailed off for this amazing device. (I vaguely recall that the price was $5, no mean sum in those days.)

What they got was two wooden blocks and an instruction sheet.
One block said BLOCK A and the other said BLOCK B. The instructions said, "Place bug on BLOCK A. Hit with BLOCK B."

The suckers sued, but the courts decided that no laws had been broken. The ad said that the device had to be applied properly, and if you couldn't get the bug to sit on Block A long enough to hit it with Block B, well sorry that was your own problem.

The inventor laughed all the way to the bank.

Friday, November 14, 2008






Thursday, November 13, 2008

If you haven't been eating your veggies, consider this: President George HW Bush, the father, is a junk food junky. He eats chocolate bars with breakfast, and is addicted to pork rinds. One policy he always stood firm on was broccoli. He banned if from Air Force One, because he claimed, "It tastes like medicine." This did not go over very well with broccoli growers, who unloaded ten tons of broccoli on the White House steps. Bush's response: "Wait till the country hears how I feel about cauliflower!" He also announced that he hates carrots, calling them "orange broccoli."

If that's not a good reason to swear off junk food and become a vegetarian, please give me a better one. Just think what your son might be like!

Important link: click here::
Yes, I eat broccoli. I don't eat it every day,
but once a week is ok."
- Governor Jesse Ventura

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Overseas readers may have noticed the news that ex president Chen was led off in handcuffs yesterday, crying out that he is a political prisoner. Reasonable readers (the only kind this blog has, I trust) will observe the difference between political persecution and being charged for corruption, which has been a cloud over Chen since he was Mayor of Taipei.

Before you get overcome with sympathy for Chen, note that a poll of over ten thousand people in Taiwan showed 98% "happy" that he is incarcerated. While he was handcuffed, Chen suddenly collapsed and accused the police of beating him. Commentators point out that at the time of the alleged beating, he was surrounded by reporters and onlookers, being filmed by dozens of cameras; not one showed the least sign of any maltreatment, and nobody on the scene saw anything untoward. Maybe Chen thinks that since he supposes everybody believed his ludicrous assassination attempt, they should believe that the police beat him without touching him.

For all his squawking about democracy, Chen fails to realize two points. First, his party has been thoroughly trounced in recent elections; the people's voice is the voice of democracy, not his. Second, the simple fact that an ex-president is in handcuffs, standing at the top of a long list of accusations which will be dealt with by the courts according to legal process, is proof that democracy based on the rule of law is working.

To give an idea of the mood: last month the tycoon 王永慶 Y C Wang died at the age of 91. A shopkeeper in 大稻埕 the most conservative part of northern Taiwan, typically a die-hard bastion of Chen's DPP and hard core Taiwan Independence, was overheard bitterly lamenting, "The wrong person died! Look how much Y C Wang did for Taiwan! Sure he made a fortune, but he helped us all, and now he's dead. We put Chen Shuibian in office and all he did was steal our money. Why couldn't he have died instead of Wang?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama's election promises a new day for the United States. However, now is not the time to be complacent. Danger still lurks, and vigilance is necessary. In his last days in office, Bush is working hard to destroy the ecosystem. He is trying to allow power plants to operate near national parks, to remove wolves from the Endangered Species List, to loosen regulations for factory farm waste, and to make mountaintop coal-mining operations easier to set up. He wants these regulations put into effect before he leaves office on January 20, in which case they will be hard for President Obama to undo.

I have a friend who swears that Bush is the Manchurian Candidate. Could be. It certainly seems that he has done his utmost to undermine the strength of the US. Good bye, sir, don't call us, we'll call youuuuuuu.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I am reading an exceptionally good thriller, The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva. Israeli intelligence works to thwart an extremist Muslim plot to overthrow the United States.

You may have heard the expression, Be careful what you wish for. Extremist Muslims plot to overthrow the United States; if you ask me, they are out of their minds. Nature abhors a vacuum; humanity abhors a power vacuum. In the highly unlikely event that anybody did manage to overthrow the United States, China would be the world's superpower. Speaking as an inveterate Sinophile, I have to say that if the Arabs displeased the Chinese enough to bring Chinese brawn and methods to deal with them, any surviving Muslim extremists would carry photos of George Dubya Bush in their wallets, to gaze at fondly and kiss lovingly. Riling Uncle Sam is not the same as riling Dragon Hua.

Be that as it may, the extremists probably do not really want the overthrow of the US or Israel, because, as Silva points out, the US and Israel provide wonderful scapegoats and whipping boys. If the US and Israel disappeared tomorrow, fundamentalists might have to face themselves and deal with their own shortcomings; far easier to blow yourself up with explosives!

And the fundamentalists need not bother trying to overthrow the US. The US will overthrow its own might through the offices of fast food, tobacco, guns, liquor, and dope.

Friday, November 07, 2008





這群人,IMHO,思想已經錯亂。為了「愛」臺灣打我們的警察、擾亂社會的秩序、窒礙市民的交通,到底受苦的是誰?還不是臺灣的人民!看倌或許沒看到現場,剛好我在臺北,「抗議」人群平均年齡大概六、七十,都是從中南部免費坐遊覽車來玩,送便當吃、還有T shirt、帽子可以領;只有一小群人鬧事,場外民眾盡量不理他們;少數一群人,發洩心中無法平衡的矛盾,我們納稅人要為他們埋單,我看不出他們對臺灣有甚麼好處。說反共,很好,那麼反共義士頭一號大英雄不是蔣中正是誰?說悍衛臺灣,很好,那麼悍衛臺灣頭一號大英雄不是蔣中正是誰?搖國旗的是他們、升五星旗的也是他們。一波又一波自打嘴巴聲響起。





Thursday, November 06, 2008

Angry suit: When is this flight going to take off? I have a very important meeting to get to!
Flight attendant: The incoming plane is delayed, sir, there's nothing we can do at the moment.
Angry suit: Well, are you going to make arrangements for me to get on another flight? This is urgent! Do you know who I am?
Flight attendant (over loudspeaker): Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, there is a gentleman at the desk who does not know who he is. If anyone has any information about his identity, please come forward.
Overheard in Midway Airport, Chicago
From Overheard Everywhere, Nov 2, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A glorious day for the United States! The country has finally managed to get past gullibly ignorance and fear, and move towards hope and ideals. Again we have a president we can look up to and admire.

IMHO, I found nothing admirable about Dubya. Nothing. Clinton was a good president, but he was not admirable. Father Bush, cipher. Reagan, the tobacco industry’s actor (see endorsement in Monday’s post). Carter the peanut farmer. Nix on Nixon, nobody admires Nixon, not even the “new” Nixon. LBJ was a good president. He inherited a war he probably didn’t want and did as best he could. More important, he worked for civil rights and against poverty. Kennedy was a president to admire. Over 40 years.

But even forty years, we are lucky. I never thought I would live to see an African-American President.


Roger Cohen put it very succinctly: Beyond Iraq, beyond the economy, beyond health care, there was something even more fundamental at stake in this U.S. election won by Barack Obama: the self-respect of the American people.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008




Monday, November 03, 2008

Tomorrow is the big day, the day that if enough American voters have sense, the US will elect its first African-American president, a vote for toleration and hope conquering racism.

An interesting site is providing a place for people around the world to express their preference for US president. Obama is getting about 85% of the international vote, which seems a bit low, if anything.
Environmental history professor: Look at some of the items on this menu from a hotel of Chicago Thanksgiving dinner from 1872: loin of buffalo, antelope steak in mushroom sauce, ham of bear, black tail deer, leg of mountain sheep, buffalo tongue... Miss Palin, your table is ready.--

Classroom, Fordham UniversityOverheard by: Martin Van Nostrand
From overheard in new york

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My good friend Qalux is going to be a grandfather in a few months, so to formalize things, his son Qoyaw (the forthcoming grandchild's father) married said forthcoming grandchild's mother this evening. As luck would have it, I had class all day, and missed the wedding feast. Qalux is well liked and widely respected, so most of Wulai must have been at the feast. By the time Sabiy and I returned to Wulai near midnight, the wedding was long over, but as we passed Qalux's home, we saw a considerable number of revelers continuing the celebration. As I have known Qoyaw, the groom, since he was about eight, I was very happy to stop in to offer our congratulations. A large number of Tayal from the Tribe where there, who immediately began to slander me most mercilessly to Sabiy. There was also a contingent of Lukai / 魯凱, as Naluwan, Qalux's wife and Qoyaw’s mother, is from the Lukai tribe.
In this photo you see me with a young Tayal from the Tribe, Qoyaw's little brother Qosun, and on the left Alu, an old chief. Traditionally, Tayal chiefs do not occupy a hereditary position. Rather, the situation is somewhat like that described by Francis Parkman in The Oregon Trail concerning the Dakotas and Sioux in the 1840s: "Each village has a chief, who is honored and obeyed only so far as his personal qualities may command respect and fear. Sometimes he is a mere nominal chief; sometimes his authority is little short of absolute, and his fame and influence reach beyond his own village, so that the whole band to which he belongs is ready to acknowledge him as their head." A Tayal (Sateq) example of the latter would be the great Mona Luto 莫那魯道 who lead an uprising against Japanese imperialists in the 1930s.

Such a situation indicates a society which has not yet developed political institutions. 或許堯舜禹湯相禪,非不家天下,而上古華夏為王為帝,制度未凝。

Be that as it may, tomorrow morning most of Wulai is sure to be hung over.