Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Apparently nowadays they are setting up 
“historical markers” for totally absurd myths.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

     One of the most brutal, sadistic rulers in Chinese history was the Deposed Emperor Liu Tzeye (宋廢帝劉子業 449 – 466), who ascended to the throne at the age of 15. For fun, he gave his uncles names such as殺王 King Killer or 賊王 King Thief. One uncle, 劉彧Liu Yü, was fat, so the Emperor had him stripped naked, thrown into a sty, and named him 豬王King Pig. One day the Emperor decided to slaughter King Pig and eat him. Liu Yü did not wish to be eaten, and managed to overthrow and kill his nephew. After some turbulence, Liu Yü became Emperor, 宋明帝. You can imagine that he was upset about his treatment at the hands of his nephew, so in revenge, he slaughtered all of his nephews, the eleven surviving brothers of the Deposed Emperor.
   The author Jiang Lang comments, “Power is totally blind to family and relatives. In power games, there are only two roles: the winner and the loser. It doesn’t make any difference if someone is your father or your uncle or your brother, these have nothing to do with power games.” (姜狼著金戈鐵馬p314:權力這東西最是六親不認的,權力場上只有兩個角色:勝利者與失敗者,沒有甚麼老爹老舅二大爺的區別,權力場上不講這個。)
    This is why power struggles have always been so vicious. The winner wins power and glory, the loser loses his life.
     We are fortunate that George Washington, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, various Adamses, and the other Founding Fathers did their best to tame power and civilize politics. They introduced reasonable discourse and mutual respect to government. “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say so.” This quote comes from Europe, but it was the American Founding Fathers who first put this into practice. Thanks to their efforts, it is possible for a retired President to spend his days in peace, and ever glory, something inconceivable in days when violence ruled politics. This American contribution is often overlooked, or even taken for granted.
     I am deeply worried that Trump is leading America back to the days of life and death power struggles. Yes, he may say his mind (or what you could call his mind), but he never thinks of consequences. 50,000 people have signed petitions to carry firearms to the GOP national convention! How can an armed man carry on reasoned, respectful debate? The very notion of carrying weapons to political discussion is a slap in the face of basic American political ideals.
    Trump has opened Pandora’s box, which is much worse than any of the supposed ills he mistakenly thinks he can deal with. Time will see whether or not the opened box can be closed. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Fidel Castro said President Obama's speech was enough to give him a heart attack.
Let's send Obama back to Cuba for month-long speaking tour.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The funniest, stupidest, silliest news recently is about Trump on foreign policy. He obviously doesn’t have the slightest idea about what to do, aside from alienating everybody and bombing the oil fields (“Now we have to destroy the oil”), so he said he is vague because “I wouldn’t want them to know what my real thinking is.”
He is in favor of Japan and South Korea developing nuclear weapons. If South Korea develops a nuclear bomb, I predict they will test it at a remote site in Shinjuku, Tokyo. (Among the myriad things Trump doesn’t understand is that Korea and Japan have been at each other’s throats for many centuries.)
I can hardly imagine how the rest of Asia, in particular China would react to Japan developing nuclear weapons. But Trump said, “We have tremendous economic power over China.” Yes, we owe them billions and billions of dollars. Everybody knows that when you’re up to your eyes in debt to somebody, they will tremble and rush to do your bidding.
RYAN: You [MUFFLED] mentioned a few minutes earlier here that you would knock ISIS. You’ve mentioned it many times. You’ve also mentioned the risk of putting American troop[s] in a danger area. If you could substantially reduce the risk of harm to ground troops, would you use a battlefield nuclear weapon to take out ISIS?
TRUMP: I don’t want to use, I don’t want to start the process of nuclear. Remember the one thing that everybody has said, I’m a counterpuncher. Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he’s a low-energy individual, he hit me first. I spent, by the way he spent 18 million dollars’ worth of negative ads on me. That’s putting [MUFFLED]…
RYAN: This is about ISIS. You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?[CROSSTALK]
TRUMP: I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?
The New York Times summed it up: “Mr. Trump explained his thoughts in concrete and easily digestible terms, but they appeared to reflect little consideration for potential consequences. Much the same way he treats political rivals and interviewers, he personalized how he would engage foreign nations, suggesting his approach would depend partly on ‘how friendly they’ve been toward us,’ not just on national interests or alliances.
And some people would actually trust this rust-bucket with the nuclear codes?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

星期天,陽曆三月二十,值農曆二月十二日,乃花朝節,百花生日。大家一起慶祝花草之美,欣賞自然之工。Sunday, March 20, is the 12th day of the 3rd month on the Chinese calendar, the Flowers’ Birthday. Join the world in celebrating the beauty of flowers and nature.

畫:明、項聖謨、卉花十開 Painting by Hsiang (Xiang) Shengmo, 1597 – 1658

Saturday, March 19, 2016

March 19, 2004, the afternoon before Taiwan’s Presidential election, there was shocking news: there had been an attempt on President Chen’s life! Somebody told me that he noticed that on television news, when the KMT candidate, Lien Chan, was told about the assassination attempt, a smile flitted across his face, but he quickly became serious. Strange.
What was not strange was that with the sympathy vote, Chen squeaked through for reelection. It quickly became obvious that we had been had. The assassin’s bullet allegedly went through the windshield of Chen’s jeep, creased his stomach, hit VP Lu in the leg, and then landed neatly in the pocket of Chen’s suit. Uh-huh, a very gymnastic bullet.
When he lost the 2008 Presidential election, DPP candidate Hsieh was so sore that he said he was going to spill the beans on the fake assassination attempt. Ma didn’t follow through, because he’s not vengeful enough to be a good politician. But that made me wonder, that smile on Lien’s face? Maybe Lien was in on it, or at least had heard about it, so when he heard the news, he thought, Aha!
Then by an AMAZING coincidence, just before this year’s election, a beautiful young singer nobody had ever heard of made this touching video that catapulted her into fame and coincidentally made sure the DPP’s Tsai won by a good margin. Don’t you just love these coincidences? Tricky Dick Nixon would be green with envy. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kang Sengyuan (active around 300AD) built a retreat a distance from the city, next to joined ridges, beside a long river, with fragrant woods along the building, and clear waters flowing in front of the hall. He lived leisurely studying the dao. Powerful politicians came to see him, and watched his exercises. He took it all in stride, which added to his fame. Eventually he caved in to pressure and took a position in the government.
This section struck me for several reasons. First, the story tells a great deal about the times. Second, it is beautifully written. Third, the shape of the characters used lends it to writing; the only one I would rather have left out was the , which in the script I chose doesn’t seem to jibe. Also, this is a good example of the succinctness of Chinese literature, a whole story clearly developed, beautifully described, in less than a hundred words.

Monday, March 14, 2016

An archery contest featuring Robin Hood, William Tell, apples, and others.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

A partial solar eclipse was predicted for this morning, 
so very predictably it rained. 
But the sky was noticeably dimmer, and aside from a crow that cawed a couple times, the birds were all quiet. 
Then the sky gradually brightened. A squirrel climbed a tree and chattered, and the birds resumed singing.
Here’s a photo of the eclipse at the maximum.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

今年第一朵鳶尾花 the first iris of the year

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

When we think of the European migrant problem, we usually don’t think of minors, just kids, really, traveling by themselves.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

深夜奇光 an uncanny light (English follows)
Late last night an uncanny light appeared in the sky. The whole village was in an uproar. Dogs were howling and brave men were trembling. People were saying, It was February 29, Leap Day, the ancestors were warning of disaster to come. I saw Legun on his knees, tears streaming down his face, begging the ancestors to spare us. I had to do something. Suddenly, a long buried memory surfaced: I had seen something like this before! I shook Legun’s shoulder. “Mama! Think back! We’ve seen a light in the sky like this before, don’t you remember?” He looked at me and slowly said, “Yugan, now that you mention it, yes, I have seen a light like this before, but it was so long ago, I had forgotten!” Halus nearby also got to his feet and said, “Yes, now I remember, long, long ago, I saw something similar! Could this be the thing we used to call ‘the moon’?” “Yes, yes, that’s right! It’s the ‘moon’! We haven’t seen it for so long that we totally forgot about it!” Everybody became happy again and went to bed with smiles on their faces.
The winter rain finally let up and we got some clear weather. This story is embroidered only a wee bit.