Tuesday, December 31, 2013

We came back from the city at dusk, and had dinner at a little restaurant perched over the valley at Kayu. Coming through Ulay village, we came across Naluwan, going to pick up her husband Qalux after work. Then we passed Ive’s house, where his wife Miko and daughter Sabiy wished us well, and asked how we were going to celebrate the new year. Nothing, we said. Miko said, Lying in bed asleep is a good way to celebrate the new year. Agreed.
No noisy fireworks, no pulsing crowds; a filling dinner, quiet chats with neighbors, dogs to welcome us home, and tea with the wife, this is the best new year’s celebration for me.
Best wishes to all for the coming year. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Sunday, December 22, 2013


Friday, December 20, 2013



Thursday, December 19, 2013


Wednesday, December 18, 2013



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My mother taught painting in a high security penitentiary. The inmates taught her, Say law, never say justice.

Monday, December 09, 2013

I ran across a magnificently euphonic phrase today: early Xochipala Olmec art.
Read that again, and listen to the vowels, the cadence. You can remove the early, and just say
Xochipala Olmec art. A mellifluous phrase, well worth repeating daily. 

Sunday, December 08, 2013

December 8 is National Brownie Day. Let’s get our priorities straight, people. I mean, really, how important can Christmas be when you’ve got a National Brownie Day?
You have to know what’s important in life.
In Taiwan, what passes for brownies, 布朗尼, is more like devil’s food cake. The best place for real brownies is cocoBrownies: here::

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Up until the 1980s, from downtown Taipei you had a good panoramic view of the mountains surrounding the city. You could see all the way down to 三峽 Sanhsia and the beautiful peaks marking the southern edge of the Taipei basin. This was because few buildings were more than four stories.
In the days before the press was released upon the public, newspapers were only two or three sheets. They were delivered by old soldiers, mostly, who pedaled their heavy bikes up and down the streets and alleys at the crack of dawn. To deliver papers to upper floors, they would twist the paper, cock their arms, and let fly. Their aim was astonishing. They would send their newspapers winging up to the second, third, and fourth floor balconies, with rarely a miss.
Early in the morning before the sun began to shine, a thunk! on the balcony glass doors would announce the arrival of the morning’s paper.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

You would hardly expect it, but for religious tolerance, few countries can top Azerbaijan, which is 96% Muslim.
post 2500!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

教育、國之本:a country stands or falls on how well it educates its citizens: ALL its citizens.
This is worth reading and pondering.LINK:
also worth learning about: toxic stress.LINK::

Saturday, November 30, 2013

頭髮       aopa
耳朵       tsana
眼睛       mata
鼻子       arum
腹部       atten
A hundred years ago, a Japanese anthropologist, Ino Kanori, recorded the last remembered words of the aborigines in northeastern Taipei:
Head = aohu; hair = aopa; nose = tsana; eyes = mata; nose = arum; mouth = arivun; hand = arei; foot = ahha; abdomen = atten.
On the one hand we perceive the tragedy of a vanished language. On the other hand, we wonder why so many words began with a? Visualize the serious anthropologist questioning the aged aborigine, who scratches his head and casts back for vocabulary that sank into forgetfulness decades before: nose, yes, yes, ah, ah, let’s see, nose, ah, ah, ah rum! and the serious anthropologist diligently records: nose = arum. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

In 322AD, Shih Le, founder of the Later Chao dynasty, said, When a real man does things, that should be as direct and powerful as a rockfall, as clear and open as the sun and moon. 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fascinating: A young boy buried 24,000 years ago in Mal’ta, near Lake Baikal, has DNA that matches Western European genes, and also matches the DNA of about 25% of living Native Americans.

Friday, November 22, 2013

People my age will be among the last to have personal memories of the Kennedy assassination.
I was in fifth grade in Stoneman Elementary School in San Marino, California, which in those days was so conservative that the John Birch Society was suspected of having leftist sympathies. We were not only Democrats, but also named Talovich, so obviously we were dirty Russian commies: case proved. Fortunately, I was too dense to take much notice of this. (San Marino in those days was lily white, populated by good solid Republicans with good solid names like Smith, Taylor, Hunter, Miller, and for variety Vosburg. The racial minority at Stoneman was a Jewish family trying to pass under the name Bloom, and then the Yugovich twins, Eddy Godycki, and Talovich. The Yugoviches were of course highly suspicious, but at least they voted Republican, and although Eddy Godycki was a Democrat, and clearly a dirty Rusky commie, he also kept up on all the latest television shows, which removed a bit of suspicion about his loyalty, but the Taloviches read books instead of watching television, which proved that we were dirty Rusky commies.)
That day we were in class when the principal came in, whispered something to the teacher, and then both of them turned and gave me a long look. My immediate reaction was, Uh-oh, what’s my brother done now? Years later I realized they looked at me because I was the highly suspicious Democrat.
A few minutes later, a public announcement was made that John F Kennedy, the President of the United States, had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. We were let out of class, and all the students milled about on the playground in confusion. We had never had a President assassinated before, and didn’t know what we should do. A kid came over with the news, “Eddie Godycki’s crying!” For a moment we were all stunned by the shame of a boy crying in public, and the next moment, every kid on the whole playground was crying, tears streaming down our faces, our tribute to our fallen President.
Amitabha, rest in peace.

Thursday, November 21, 2013



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

手彈棉被已經不容易找到,但二十年前在三重李大川買的幾床被,墊被好像古代雅士的胸懷:自有山壑。講白一點,都是窟窿。最近訂了一床八斤的雙人墊被,今天去拿了。她們裝棉被套好像變魔術,一攤二綁三翻好了。新的墊被很厚很酥很想趕快關電腦去睡。It’s hard to find old-style handmade cotton blankets anymore, but Li Dachuan in Sanchung still makes them. We had a nice thick foundation blanket made, and picked it up today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sleep.
02 2972 3320

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This is hardly surprising: a white supremacist took a DNA test and found out that he’s part black. This is even less surprising: he doesn’t believe the results of the test, once they’re out.
People who hate exorbitantly generally know they have that trait themselves. So what does this tell us about those vile church people in Wichita who defile funerals howling Dog Hates Figs?

Irony is delicious. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy: “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy.”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Saturday, November 09, 2013

In 399 AD, Kui, the ruler of the Toba Hsienpei kingdom Northern Wei, asked the learned man Li Hsian, “What is the best thing in the whole world, which can improve people’s spirit and knowledge?” Li answered, “Nothing better than books.” The ruler asked, “How many books are there? How can they be gathered?” Li answered, “Since the invention of writing, books have multiplied generation after generation, so by now, there are more than can be counted. If the ruler considers this good, there is no need to worry that they will not gather.” The ruler followed his words. He ordered local officials to gather books and send them to the capital. 


Friday, November 08, 2013

LINK  << Interesting information that dog breeds originated in Southeast Asia. But Byajing says this is nothing new, she knew it all along.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

custom hearse

I wouldn’t be seen dead in a hearse like this. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I came to Free China when I was 18 to study Chinese. Taiwan was vastly different then. Every month my father sent US$100 to a bank to transfer to my NT account here. Green was strictly controlled, but at the exchange rate then, every month I got NT$4,000, enough to live on. With some American friends, I rented a 3 bedroom apartment on Canal Street (Hsin Sheng South Road) for NT$3,000; we split the rent. I have always had a hearty appetite, so in the cafeterias on Lungchuan Street, I might pay as much as NT$10 a meal. When I had money left over, I bought books. When I didn’t have money left over, I bought books.
When I had studied Mandarin for eight months, I started learning Classical, and was immediately addicted to its beauty and economy. When I was 19, I began studying in the Chinese Lit department at NTNU. I had courses in the Analects and Han Fei Tz, and fell in love with the pre-Chin period. I also fell in love with books published by Chung Hwa publishers, because they were carefully printed with large clear characters and no punctuation Chinese books traditionally were not punctuated once you get used to it reading unpunctuated books is a lot more fun than reading texts all cluttered up with a bunch of periods and commas which are once you think of it really quite unnecessary just think more carefully as you read
In my freshman year, I bought an eight volume set of Records of the Historian, published by Chung Hwa. During the summer vacation, I finished it in three or four weeks. My only regret was that there were only eight volumes. 
When I went back to school, as a sophomore, at the age 20, I had Etymology. I took up the study of Chinese because Chinese characters fascinate me, so Etymology was just what I wanted to study.
But problems came up in my life. The bank said that no money had come from my father. In those days, international phone calls practically belonged to the realm of fantasy, and anyway, of the 37 people in my class, only five or six had phones at home. Sending a telegram was expensive, so I had to content myself with writing an airmail letter for help, and hoping the post office delivery was quick. I cut down on food, and looked forward to money coming into the account, the sooner the better. Every couple of days I would trot up to the bank, on Chungshan N Rd; there weren’t many phones in those days, so you had to go yourself. I was almost out of money, and there was no news, so I had to start borrowing from friends, fifty NT here, a hundred NT there. The only thing I had left to scrimp on was food, so I ate only one bowl of plain noodles a day.
As luck would have it, there was a Book Fair, one of Taiwan’s first, at the International House gym. I was hungry, and looking at the books could keep my mind off food. As luck would have it, Chung Hwa had a stall, and they had a set of Tzu-chih T’ung-chien, twenty volumes, on sale! Just the one set, but I really didn’t have money. All I could do was stop by every day or so to see if some lucky person had taken it home. Fortunately, it was still there. What a beautiful book! There were only a few days left before the Fair ended, and nobody had bought it, but I still had no money.
(Compiled during the Sung dynasty [in the eleventh century], the Tzu-chih T’ung-chien [Comprehensive Mirror to Promote Governing, Zizhi Tongjian] runs to over three million characters, and covers over a thousand years of Chinese history, from 403BC to 959AD.)
After two, almost three weeks on a diet of one bowl of noodles a day, one night I was so hungry I woke up. The room was spinning, and I wanted to throw up, but I was so hungry I couldn’t stand up. I slowly crawled into the bathroom. I sat by the toilet to heave, but my stomach was so empty that nothing would come up. I barfed for a long time, but nothing came up. All I got was a sore throat and an awful taste in my mouth, so I slowly crawled back to my room and lay down on the tatami, waiting for the room to stop spinning. I finally fell asleep.
In the morning, my apartment mates noticed that I wasn’t up and around, so they very thoughtfully knocked on my door and said, “You woke us up last night with your retching, are you dead?” I was out flat but still alive, so they made me some vegetable broth. But I was still too weak to stand, so I cut class that morning. By noon I had regained some strength, so I went to class. My friends said that they were surprised I hadn’t come to class that morning, and very thoughtfully said, “When you didn’t come to class, we thought you must be dead.” Pretty close. One very considerate friend brought me a loaf of black bread from the Astoria. Bread in Taiwan in those days was atrocious: fluffy, white stuff that was inedible. A Russian ran the Astoria on Wuchang Street, so he knew how to make bread. I sat by the English Department’s fish pond and ate my bread. A friend bought me dinner, and I felt much stronger.
The next day, the mailman delivered a registered letter. My mother had stapled six ten dollar US bills inside a letter. This was highly illegal, but I didn’t care, I took the money and ran to Hengyang Street. A jewelry store on Hengyang Street had a backroom in which you could illicitly exchange green. I got two thousand and some. Money in hand, I raced to the bus stop and headed directly for the International House gym. In a tizzy, I raced to the Chung Hwa stand, and the T’ung-chien was still there! It hadn’t been sold! Wonderful! Two hours before the Book Fair ended, I stuffed most of the money the jewelry store gave me into the hands of a Chung Hwa clerk, and triumphantly carried my twenty volume set of T’ung-chien home. Once I got home and put the books on the shelf, I realized, hey, I’m hungry! I went to Lungchuan Street and spent ten NT on a big meal in a cafeteria.
A couple days later, money from my father entered my account. I soon learned that for decades, the one and only US bank to go belly up was the one transferring my father’s money to me. The US government cleaned up the mess quickly, and there were no more problems after that.
I started reading the T’ung-chien, and got to the Han dynasty, when schoolwork intervened and I had to stop. I started again from the beginning about 16 years ago, but the Wei Chin Southern and Northern dynasties were so chaotic that I was stopped because I couldn’t figure out what was going on. In recent years, scholars in mainland China are doing superb work on history, and with recent publications, I have finally gotten a handle on the Southern and Northern dynasties, so I am reading T’ung-chien again, and this time I will finish. I carry the volumes around, so Sabiy has made a case to protect the books. They are already pretty old, after all.
The book is important to me in many respects. The day I bought T’ung-chien was October 30, 1973, forty years ago. This is a good day to commemorate that. 

Friday, October 25, 2013


:萬聖節=All Saints’ Day,美國幾乎沒有人聽過。Halloween = Hallowed E’en (evening)萬盛節前夕,鬼節。

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I can’t be reading this right. It looks like it says the cop who pepper-sprayed those students last year got US$38,000 in compensation. Is that right?
If it is, I’m going to go out to buy some pepper spray and spray my students. It’s a lot easier to make money that way than by teaching them.
…. and more fun, too.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Celebrate, believers, today is the birthday of heaven and earth: October 23, 4004 BC at 9:30 AM. To tell you the truth, I really don’t know what to say about anyone who believes in that sort of thing.
What some fail to understand is that first, “truth” is the realm of religion or scientism, not science. Good science only tells us that to date, we know that this has not yet been disproved. Second, the sciences interlock: physics cannot contradict chemistry cannot contradict astronomy cannot contradict biology cannot contradict medicine. The chemicals in your cough medicine would not work if the same rules did not hold for chemistry and physics. Medicine is based on biology, and as Theodosius Dobzhansky said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” If evolution were not valid, your doctor would have no way to stitch up a gash or perform a CAT scan. They may be several steps removed, but a jet flying through the air, a piston firing in a lawn mower engine, and 14C all work on the same interlocking principles. In other words, you nitwits, if your computer can go online, that means that, albeit several steps removed, evolution must be considered proven; not a religious truth, but as reliable as gravity or the electric lights overhead. In other words, will you please stop wasting people’s time with creationism? Evolution is for real. Get over it. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hello Kitty已經夠糟,現扗全臺灣扗瘋三歲小朋友洗澡玩的黃色小鴨子。大家好,我們可不可以長大?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Three Boy Scout leaders in Utah intentionally knocked over an ancient rock formation and posted a video online. Now that they are facing charges for destroying a natural masterpiece, they are claiming to be selfless saints whose only concern was the public safety, because these rocks, which have stood firm for 170,000,000 years, might topple over and hurt somebody.
Assuming we believe that, we learn that they are teaching that it is not necessary to report conditions to authorities or people who know more about these things than you do, take it into your own hands. If you see a traffic light that doesn’t work, just climb right up and change the bulb. If someone falls over on the street, don’t call an ambulance, just cut him open and treat him yourself. In other words, Zimmerman was right. If you see someone you suspect might commit a crime, you just get out your gun and shoot him. 

All vandals should be responsible for their acts. I don’t care if they are sanctimonious white men, I say throw the book at them. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Okay, so two convicted murderers, sentenced to life, walked out of a Florida prison on forged papers. LINK Then they very compliantly registered with local authorities as convicts, and nobody paid any attention except the families of their victims. Now everybody is wondering how such a thing could happen.
Well, it did. Now tell me, how much do you trust the voting machines in this state?

Friday, October 18, 2013


Saturday, October 12, 2013

You learn something every day. It turns out that China had pipes of pan back in the fourth century BC. I hadn’t realized that. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Sunday, October 06, 2013

通常颱風老遠扗關島成形,慢慢靠近臺灣。今年奇怪,很多突然扗附近迸出來。而且,都是週末、假期來的。Typhoons usually form way off near Guam and Yap and build as they come closer. This year they’re just popping up nearby. Weird. And they come on weekends and holidays.
Meanwhile, South Dakota got four feet of snow. 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

How the Republicans serve the United States with their shutdown: while President Obama has to cancel his Asia tour, Xi Jinping of China is taking his place. link<<
I’m sure the People’s Republic of China would like to extend their hearty thanks to the Tea Party for providing this great boost for their prestige and international prominence.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

If you’re going to fool around in politics, you should have some political sense. Seems reasonable?
The Soviet Union was a world power, but after the breakup, Russia was greatly diminished. They have had hard times, but are getting back on their feet, and eager to show that they still can swing their fists.
They are reasserting their presence in the Arctic, which makes sense strategically. Recently they sent practically their whole Navy up there to reestablish a base that had been closed when the USSR fall apart. The Russian public has apparently followed this with enthusiasm and support.
So Greenpeace picks this time to send a boatload of protestors into this sensitive region, and what a surprise, the Russians were not happy. LINK They arrested the protestors, who are probably feeling very self righteous. LINK
I am deeply committed to environmentalism, but I have never felt the need to protect the environment by making myself unwelcome or by traveling in gas guzzling boats. Perhaps I should be ashamed, but I am not.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

I don't know a lot about the issues, but to me, the idea of anybody "shutting down" the government sounds treasonous.
The Constitution defines treason as citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the US, so I know this is legally not treason, but I still think the people responsible should go to the wall for this.

Monday, September 30, 2013

There is something sardonically symbolic, and we hope prophetic, about an NRA spokesman shooting an elephant, the symbol of the G.O.P.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

People today spend far too much effort on their jobs and careers, and when they have some energy left over, they work so hard at having fun that they have nothing left over. In The Closing of the American Mind, Alan Bloom said people “have lost the habit of reading serious philosophical books or of considering them essential.” A tragic loss. 
It’s worth learning Chinese just to read The Analects, an inexhaustible treasure trove. Today is Confucius’s birthday. Commemorate the day by making sure you are thinking and living. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

我們的功力越來越深。昨天吃晚餐時只是討論今天要不要洗車,不到兩個小時就下雨了。厲害吧!All we did last night over dinner was talk about having the car washed, and within two hours, it started to rain. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

呂唂谷 (or:呂唂八八口)

棪一ㄢˇ 一種像柰的樹,紅色,果可食。
梙 ㄏㄨㄢˋ同槵,無患子當作梙、槵。
梠 ㄌㄩˇ  屋檐

Sunday, September 22, 2013

天兔颱風雖強度,但不算太猛,而陣風有力。一支巨竹被撕成這個樣子~We had a strong typhoon, but it passed without too much trouble. Parts of Taiwan got up to 780mm, or thirty inches of rain (a bit more than they got in Colorado, where eight inches were called a “biblical downpour” or “unprecedented torrents”). We got only about 100mm, or four inches here. Some of the gusts of wind were pretty strong. How strong? Consider that bamboo has the tensile strength of steel, and see what happened to one of my giant bamboos. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

準備過中秋!Friday is the Moon Festival. 
Brightly burning the western sinking sun
Waning light brightens my clothes
Probing wind blows the four walls
Cold birds huddle together.

from a poem by Juan Chi/Ruan Ji (3rd century)

Monday, September 16, 2013


Sunday, September 15, 2013

overheard at 素食展

Saturday, September 14, 2013

overheard in 上海湯包 a restaurant in Taipei Station
Old lady: That daughter-in-law of mine is smart.
Old man: Oh, really?
Old lady: Yes, she has almost finished writing her doctor’s thesis.
Old man. Oh. Does she cook?
Old lady: Three meals every day.
Old man. Oh. I had my blood pressure checked today. 

Monday, September 09, 2013

The stars were so bright that I had to go out for a look. At almost precisely 2AM  I was startled to see a line of white light shooting south between pitu ci Ya’azuonʉ no cou (the Pleiades) and Orion. The line was not a shooting star, as I first thought, but nine egrets, flying high overhead. I was astonished. I had never seen egrets flying at night before. A formation of flying egrets is a sight of haunting beauty. They flew south, out of sight, then came north again and flew out of sight. I stood there with my mouth open. Before long, they came south again, and I decided I had to drag Sabiy out of bed to see this. But the egret show was over for the night, so we stood admiring the stars for a while before we crawled back into bed.
後來,我想到我要怎麼說:天鵝湖兩排舞者想要表現的仙境,應該是如此. Later in the day, I realized what I wanted to say: in Swan Lake, when the two lines of ballerinas dance, they are trying to recreate the magic I saw in those flying egrets. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

We often observe inexplicable behavior in others. Meanwhile…
In Two Years Before the Mast, Dana observed a funeral procession in California in 1835, and says, “the most singular thing of all was that two men walked, one on each side of the coffin, carrying muskets in their hands, which they continually loaded, and fired into the air. Whether this was to keep off the evil spirits or not, I do not know. It was the only interpretation that I could put upon it.”
A hundred pages later, describing a wedding, Dana says, “Our guns were loaded and run out, men appointed to each, cartridges served out, matches lighted, and all the flags ready to be run up….Twenty-three guns followed in regular succession, with an interval of fifteen seconds between each…. This we thought was pretty well – a gun every fifteen seconds – for a merchantman with only four guns and a dozen or twenty men.”
And for what did you fire the guns, Mr Dana? To keep off the evil spirits, perhaps? 

Friday, September 06, 2013


Klang! The wind chime by the living room rang out suddenly. But that wind chime is three meters off the ground, and usually the wind doesn’t blow there. Flashlight in hand, I very carefully stuck my head out the window
: the culprit! 

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

If you hear an ambulance going to a car accident, you hope to hear the ambulance leaving the accident. If you hear an ambulance going to a fire, you hope not to hear the ambulance leaving the fire.
阿彌陀佛,everybody’s safe::link::

Thursday, August 29, 2013

For some reason, for the last couple of days the San Marino High football fight song has been playing in my ears. I haven’t heard the song for decades, I have no idea what triggered this, and I didn’t even go to San Marino High School.
Now I sort of know how Kafka’s guy felt when he woke up and found he had turned into a cockroach.

…and we will win tonight!

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Saturday, August 24, 2013

If the ancients had seen this, they would have told about a monster who lives at the bottom of the swamp who has an unquenchable thirst and eats trees whole.
Of course, once the myths passed down to us, we would sneer and congratulate ourselves on being so much more clever than the ancients. I mean really, whole trees disappearing into the bottom of a swamp? Everybody knows wood floats, it’s obviously impossible.

CLICK<<< If I were the cameraman for these videos, I would be ready to pick up my heels at any moment and sprint for solid ground, preferably in the next state. 

Friday, August 23, 2013



Thursday, August 22, 2013

或許我沒那麼愛權。我實扗不懂為甚麼有人想當總統。美國國父George Washington被強迫連任,就職典禮前他說心情好像要去見儈子手。
當年Jimmy Carter花兩年半競選總統,我很懷疑他的權力慾怎麼那麼多大。他雖然笑容可掬,但當總統平平,而糟糕的是,因為他的無能,接下來雷根上臺。

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

rain, we got rain. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Miracles happen: link<<<

Monday, August 19, 2013

太元十五年 (390 AD)
太元十六年 (391 AD)
太元十七年 (392 AD)