Showing posts with label news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label news. Show all posts

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Talk on Gui Minhai by Swedish journalist to be held on 10/17

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 3.11.41 PM

October 17 (this Wednesday), 7:30pm-9pm
Location: Enspyre; 12th Floor #181 Fuxing N. Road, Songshan Dist. Taipei (section not given but it's basically near/on the Fuxing-Changchun intersection)

Top-notch Swedish journalist Jojje Olsson will be hosting a talk on the disappearance and continued detainment of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai this Wednesday.

Olsson has been holding Sweden's feet to the fire over the government's silence on Chinese government crimes against Swedish citizens for some time, and is deeply knowledgeable about these issues. He is well worth listening to and I strongly recommend attending.

Gui's disappearance affects us all. First, it shows that the Chinese government is deeply racist: it is far more likely to go after dissidents of Chinese ancestral heritage, showing that it considers all people with ancestral ties to China to essentially be "Chinese" regardless of where they actually come from, live, or are citizens. China seems to have wagered that the rest of the world doesn't care as long as the victims look Asian. I fear that they have wagered correctly.

It also shows that China's actions are not just impacting their own citizens (although prominent Chinese citizens are disappearing as well, including ones who head prominent international organizations and do not reside in China, such as disappeared Interpol chief Meng Hongwei). Gui Minhai is a Swedish citizen; this issue also calls to mind Li Mingche, the Taiwanese citizen also 'disappeared' by China. Li, too, is not Chinese: he is Taiwanese, and his actions in Taiwan were entirely legal.

Even scarier is that Gui's disappearance did not happen in China - he was in Bangkok. Essentially, this means that the Chinese government does not stop at its own citizens or borders, and is certainly willing to abduct foreign nationals from other countries. It is possible - likely, even - that they attempted to do the same thing to Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong when he arrived in Bangkok, but had to release him as he was able to get word of his detainment out on social media.

This is what we're up against. This shows that, as evil as you think Western countries can be (and they certainly can be), the CCP is several orders of magnitude worse: they are crueler, more evil, and more terrifying.

Knowing more about these issues, especially if you reside in Taiwan, is absolutely worth your time. Also, you'll be supporting one of the foreign journalists whose mission it is to expose Chinese government atrocities to Western audiences and who is committed to Taiwan. We need more of those, and to support the ones we already have.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Light News Petiscos and Wine

Greetings from Coimbra! Their university is great except they have a Confucius Institute. But the building is well-marked and I kind of spat at it, so...that accomplished nothing but felt good. 

Hello from Portugal, where we are traveling for a bit before I take up my 2nd semester at Exeter. Because I’m on the road, I won’t be keeping up much of a regular blogging schedule. But, here are a few takes for you - perhaps a bit behind the news cycle but whatever - I’ll try to keep them quick. I have wine to drink and lots of it. Also, port.

We’re not really getting beyond the tourist hotspots, which a few years ago I’d say was a shame. And, in fact, I’d love to have the time to explore the lesser-known gems of the country. But, as I grow older and travel more, I grow more at peace with staying on something like a tourist circuit while abroad, unless I have good reason to depart from it. I don’t have a special connection to the countries I visit other than (I hope) helping their economies with my well-spent tourist dollars, zero dollars of which go to buying cheap trinkets in souvenir shops, so what connection would I have to a regular neighborhood of no particular interest to travelers? Trying to pretend the local cafe or restaurant, the local park, the local place of worship has any meaning for me as an outsider feels cheap, like a debased way of seeming like I’m better than a regular tourist, which of course I am not. You build connection by returning to places frequently over time, which as a traveler I cannot do.

That’s not to say I never have a reason to go out of my way: in Greece we traveled far beyond the tourist center of Athens, to seek out the church where my great grandfather had worked, and which my grandfather had attended as a child. We had coffee from the local shop and walked around the local streets, and had good reason to: my ancestors had lived in that neighborhood for many years. It goes without saying that a good restaurant recommendation will get me to go anywhere.

And, of course, Taiwan is no longer ‘abroad’, it’s home. That’s different. I have connections there. 

All that to say, yes I’m just going to Lisbon, Sintra, Coimbra and Porto, but I’m okay with that. 

Anyway, there’s a hot take for you. Here’s another - let's talk AIT. 

I don’t know what to say about the new AIT opening - some people say it’s a sign of ‘upgraded relations’. Others write ludicrous headlines (“angering China”? I'd say "eat me" but CNN is clearly chowing down on something way meatier) Still others say it doesn’t mean much, which seems like it could be the case given that the US sent no-one important to attend. Personally? I think it’s just as confused and schizophrenic as US policy on Taiwan has always seemed - even if, officially, it is clearer (and more pro-Taiwan) than people think. We want to build a big office in Taiwan! But we don’t want to draw attention to it! We care about Taiwan relations! But we don’t want to talk about that! It’s the same old dance - he loves me, he loves me not. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Though if you really want to know, at the end of the day, what those who matter in the US think of Taiwan, skip the new AIT opening and look at who makes decisions about arms sales to Taiwan. 

Moving on. Korea. 

The Facebooks are ablaze with WHAT IT ALL MEANS!!! re: the Xi Jinping Marionette Spectacular I mean Trump-Xi oops Trump-Kim meeting. You already know what I think it means. Few, however, seem worried that China would surely seek to fill that void of regional influence - after all, better that the regional power in Asia be Asian, yes? Plenty of people are talking about how anything that gets US and US imperialism out of Asia must be a good thing.

I don’t know if those people like Chinese imperialism, or just aren’t aware it’s a thing (though I would guess it’s the latter). It’s an easy thing to overlook: it’s not fully realized yet and the CCP is trying hard to make sure it stays under everyone’s radar, whereas US imperialism - and all those bombs we drop to advance an agenda mostly beneficial to us - is well-known and more than fully-realized. It’s easy to criticize.

It’s even easier to criticize knowing that you can do so and you won’t get shot. Try criticizing Chinese expansionism in China and see how long you are not ‘disappeared’. That’s the key difference of course - both China and the US are primarily interested in what’s best for them, and despite what they say the US doesn’t really stand for either global democracy or human rights - but at least under a US-led system you can say so.

What worries me is that in the wake of WHAT IT ALL MEANS!!! is that until perhaps just today, not many people seemed to be talking about China at all. Even those otherwise criticizing Trump's performance. I am certain - and anyone else who is watching ought to be as well - that this was all manipulated to benefit China (before you accuse me of ‘anti-China hysteria’, remember that I live in Taiwan, a country China has said obliquely it will annex by force.) Not to sound like a tired cliche-ridden “China expert”, but isn’t the Art of War all about conquering through manipulation or a clever strategem, so that your opponent doesn’t even realize they’re losing, and only if that is impossible to use force? Well…

So who realizes that we’re losing? Not The Atlantic, who mentioned China 7 times in this piece (I counted) but didn't seem to be able to pinpoint who was both manipulating the show and who benefitted from it. Not the BBC, which I had on most of yesterday evening in Sintra. The National Post gets it, but nobody I know reads it. My preferred outlets continue to not understand Asia. South China Morning Post, for the first time since they became a CCP propaganda tool, seems to get it right. But nobody I know in the US regularly reads SCMP.

But, because the average US liberal or moderate doesn't read these outlets, this particular observation seems lost on them. Not a peep. You’d think China wasn't even a player. A lot of my smarter friends hadn’t even seemed to consider that they were (“Why a [fake] Chinese proverb for a Korea summit?” one friend asked. “Because Xi Jinping is running the show,” I replied, to their surprise - they’d been expecting I’d agree that this summit had nothing to do with China, because none of the media they read have mentioned it.)

And Hau “Muppetface” Lung-pin went to China to talk about his hope for "unification" because he’s a massive jerk-off, being all kinds of Mean Girl to Taipei mayoral incumbent Ko "Reminds Me Of My Dad" Wen-je. As in he jerks Chinese authorities off. Fine. What bothers me isn’t this - Hau’s gonna Hau - but that it won’t matter. The vast majority of Taiwanese not only don’t agree with Hau’s far-right jerk-offery, they vehemently disagree with it.

But it doesn’t matter. Those who hate Hau (or even mildly dislike him, or think he looks like a Muppet but isn’t as smart as one - I don’t mean the Muppet characters, I mean the actual cloth Muppets are made of) are gonna find him odious anyway. Blue voters who watch blue media will either not know he said this - because the media they watch won’t report it - or assume he meant something milder, or defend it saying it’s his “personal views” which he is entitled to (and he is, but that doesn’t make him less of a jerk-off who’s dumber than a scrap of fake fur with google-eyes). Why would they assume this? Because if the media they watch does report it, this is the commentary they will offer, which people will swallow.

And nobody who has a message to get out to those who aren't listening is either trying, or able to get their attention, whether that's in Taiwan or the US. And the blue voters will vote blue and the Americans will talk about Korea as though it wasn't a massive back-door win for China, and we're all going to die.

And so it goes.

And if you’re feeling low,
Stuck in some bardo
Why, even I know the solution
Love, music, wine
And revolution!

It’s time for wine. 

Brendan is happier than he looks in this, he just...does this for cameras? I dunno. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Just a little light news commentary

Greetings from San Francisco!

Lao Ren Cha has been silent these past two weeks because I've been traveling in the US visiting family and friends, and frankly just haven't had the time. I wasn't even supposed to be in California, but I missed my flight and as a result I'm going to miss Taipei Pride 2017. I had had a rainbow skirt made for the occasion and everything.

But, with a bit of time to kill before my flight, I'd add a little commentary to two stories that caught my eye.

First, a petition to ban the Chinese flag in public places has passed the 5000-signature threshold for a government response. 

I've made the case before that pro-unification demonstrators should be banned (and also made the case that they shouldn't), but I hope it's clear that I don't necessarily buy my own devil's advocate argument.

It's true that China bans the ROC flag, and this would be tit for tat. It's true that pro-China protesters have a track record of violence, it's true that the Chinese government is an existential threat to Taiwan and must therefore be treated differently from other foreign governments, and of course we all ought to know by now that few of these pro-unificationists are sincerely expressing an ideal. They're either gangsters, associated with gangsters, or as I suspect in many cases paid by the CCP as "fake civil society" agitators. Many protest not to convince Taiwanese - a lost cause if there ever was one - but to create appropriate photo ops in China of "pro-unification Taiwanese".

All of these are reasons, I suppose, to prohibit them from demonstrating.

But you know what? I don't think it matters. Yes, China bans the ROC flag, but we are better than them. It is a stronger example to show that we can allow the flag of a threatening country to be shown in public without fearing that its very image could destabilize Taiwan than to ban it out of fear. Treating China as an existential threat is important, but also a separate issue from allowing Taiwanese citizens and legal residents to exercise their rights of speech and assembly. Pointing out the irony that they are demonstrating in favor of a country that would take away their right to demonstrate is another way to handle this without putting an unnecessary gag on free speech.

And yes, we need to do something about the violence, but using "they are violent!" as an excuse to disallow certain kinds of protests is a path we really ought not to be going down. It could theoretically be used on anyone. Keeping an eye on certain individuals known to be violent and a law enforcement presence similar to that seen in other, peaceful protests is the way to deal with it - as well as finally locking up gangsters known to be pro-violence, pro-China agitators who have committed crimes (that is to say, White Wolf).

Certainly, we could ban them because they are disingenuous, but this is very hard to prove, and also a problematic approach. Do we also ban anyone from protesting who has received money in any capacity or is employed by an organization that advocates for the issue behind the demonstration? Do we ban paid political party staff from marching in support of an issue their party also supports? We can and should put more restrictions on foreign funding in Taiwan, but I suspect a lot of these payments are personal - think "red envelope full of cash" - and difficult if not impossible to trace.

As for the point that these demonstrations are more to generate visuals in China than to impact anything in Taiwan - who cares?

In short, there is just no way to reasonably ban these guys in a free society, although they should be held more fully legally accountable for any violence they incite. The best we can do is make sure the general public is educated about who they are and why they are doing this.

As for the second story, in this article on indigenous Taiwanese reclaiming their names, this line caught my eye:

First of all, many people could not pronounce his [Neqou Sokluman's] name because he chose a rare character. And whenever he went to a hospital or to a government agency, the staff would ask him in English, “Are you Taiwanese? Can you speak Chinese?” and treat him as a migrant worker from Southeast Asia. [emphasis mine]. 

It goes without saying that indigenous Taiwanese, and everyone, frankly - should be able to have and use their real name. I'd only add that it is also necessary to educate the general public on not only the existence of such names in Taiwan, but also the need to respect them. I'll also point out that the rule that one must adopt a Chinese-character name is not limited to indigenous people - if a foreigner registers a marriage in Taiwan with a Taiwanese citizen, they are also required to adopt a "Chinese name". In addition, it's not at all fair that I can have both my English and Chinese names and nobody whose opinion matters raises a fuss about it. And, of course, I have more than one Taiwanese friend who has been forced to choose and use an "English name" that they don't want. That's not right.

Although these situations are not the same as what indigenous people face, one can draw a few comparisons.

But...what really bothers me is this: I don't want indigenous Taiwanese to be treated better than Southeast Asian migrant workers. I don't want anyone to be treated better than Southeast Asian migrant workers, because these workers ought to be treated with just as much respect as anyone else, as equal human beings. I don't want the phrase to even have a reason to exist, because you can't equate poor treatment to the experience of a group if no group is treated poorly.

This goes way beyond elevating one group and right to the heart of treating all people with respect regardless of socioeconomic status, visa status or national or racial origin (or gender, or orientation, or creed, or weight, or age).

People deserve respect because they are people, not because they are "indigenous" or "Taiwanese" or the right kind of foreigner (so says the Garbage Foreigner), and everyone should be able to have the name that they want - their name - and just be who they are.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Two articles at rather distinct odds came out over the past day or so. One is very much worth reading. Let's start with that one, from the Washington Post, written by several young Taiwanese including my friend Brian Hioe.

I have complained before that the Western media ignores Taiwanese voices and, when they do seek them out, they use them to suit the message they've already decided they want to convey. As a result, public opinion in Taiwan, if it is considered at all, is made out to be more divided, muddled or discordant than it really is - or that it agrees with Western or Chinese narratives more than it actually does.

I stand by that, and am so thrilled to see strong Taiwanese voices taking the initiative and getting their own work published in major Western media outlets. They were never going to come to Taiwan, so it is good that many Taiwanese have gone to them.

Of course, this is also the nature of privilege. If you are Dr. Some White Guy Who Is An Expert on China, you don't have to seek out media and try to get work published: they seek you out. You don't have to push, or take the initiative - they contact you. If you are a qualified Taiwanese voice, however, chances are you are going to have to make the extra effort.

Generally, I love this article. There was a kerfuffle over the title (when I first read it, it was entitled "Taiwan wants One China: but which one does it want?" or something like that, which made no sense and was at odds with what was actually in the piece. In fact, if Taiwanese wanted One China that would imply they either wanted:

a.) One China (the PRC) and One Taiwan (which happens to be my position)
b.) One China, the ROC (okaaaaaay, but not gonna happen, dreamface)
c.) One China, the PRC, with Taiwan as a part of it (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA)

Nowhere in that title is there room for "we'll take an independent Taiwan as the ROC separate from the PRC" (that is, two Chinas), which, although it is not my position, is the most popular one at the moment. I do think this will change in a generation or so, however.

But good on the writers, who asked the Washington Post to change the title. The paper obliged, and now it reads "Taiwanese see themselves as Taiwanese, not Chinese". Good. Nice.

One small quibble:

In the U.S.-China Normalization Communiqué of 1978, the backbone of the policy, the United States “acknowledges” that there is one China and that Taiwan is part of China.

As far as I am aware this is not the case - the United States acknowledges that China's position is that Taiwan is a part of China, not that Taiwan is a part of China necessarily. If I am wrong, please correct me, but that is my understanding. I also appreciate that it mentions 1992 but not the fictitious 1992 consensus. It's good not to bring up things that don't exist in one's newspaper article.

Anyway, those are small things.

I don't have much else to say beyond what the excellent article already says, so enjoy some quotes. They are like a cold, refreshing mint lemonade on a warm day.

1. Taiwan is de facto independent. The Taiwanese see themselves as Taiwanese, not as Chinese.
The official stance of Taiwan was that Taiwan is part of China. Butthe China that this stance refers to is the Republic of China (based in Taipei) instead of the communist People’s Republic of China (based in Beijing). (One interesting fact is that the special institution National Unification Council, which defined the official stance in 1992, was “ceased” in 2006 along with the Guidelines for National Unification.)
Since the 1970s, PRC became diplomatically acknowledged as China by most nation-states, including the United States. That is, ROC no longer asks to be seen as representing all of mainland China. Its constitution, which claims sovereignty over the whole mainland, does differentiate between the “free area,” or the island of Taiwan, and the “mainland area,” after a series of amendmentsthat have been added since the 1990s.
But the ROC has never been part of the PRC in its history.
Good, nice, very good.

What’s more, ROC residents increasingly identify as Taiwanese rather than Chinese. That identity has changed significantly since the island became a democracy in the 1990s. In 1991, ROC and PRCrepresentatives met with one another for the first time since the 1949 civil war. At that point, about one-fourth of Taiwan’s residents identified themselves exclusively as “Chinese”; 17.6 percent as exclusively “Taiwanese”; and nearly half said both Chinese and Taiwanese.
But by 2014, only 3 percent still identified exclusively as Chinese — and more than 60 percent Taiwanese, hovering around there ever since. Today, only one-third of Taiwan’s residents think of themselves as both Chinese and Taiwanese. Among those who are 29 or younger, born after martial law ended in 1987, 78 percent hold an exclusively Taiwanese identity — as do nearly 70 percent ofpeople younger than 40. If this trend continues, a solely Taiwanese identity will prevail as residents’ consensus.

Yes, yes, yes. Clap clap clap. I like this very much. American friends - this is all true and really something you ought to know.

For Taiwanese younger than 40, pro-independence support reaches 84 percent. Perhaps most startling, 43 percent of the under-40 generation would support independence even if it meant China would attack Taiwan under the risk of war.
On the flip side, unification with China has become unpopular. Even under the most favorable scenario — in which there would be little political, economic or social disparities between mainland China and Taiwan — only one-third of Taiwanese citizens say they support unification. That’s a significant drop from the 60 percent who supported unification in 2003.
Yes - and this is something many Americans are unaware of - and many leaders as well. There seems, outside of Taiwan, to be this assumption that peaceful unification is possible and best for all involved.  It is not possible, and not best for Taiwan, however.

Threats from China that Taiwanese independence will result in war are taken seriously. Taiwanese admonishments that attempts at unification will result in conflict are ignored. It's as though the world still believes that the Taiwanese buy the ROC myth and that they fully believe their constitution's claim to China - that the ROC and PRC are rivals for China because a government they never elected, which in fact invaded from China, said they were, and now the government in China threatens them with violence if they even think about changing it to reflect the public will.

It is time that the West realizes that the historical claims of the ROC are not an accurate representation of what the Taiwanese actually want.

Unification is not possible. It will never be possible. Many "experts", even some who work for reputable outfits, make the current status quo sound as though it exists because China has simply not put forward a suitable proposal for unification.

This is false. Bush is wrong here. There will never be a suitable proposal for unification. Not because China won't try, but because there is no possible proposal that China could put forward that would tempt the Taiwanese, because they are not Chinese and do not see themselves as Chinese, and that is not going to change, nor can a change be forced. The only possible peaceful path is one of an independent Taiwan.

So, anyway, that's the good article. Really, it's excellent. Go read it.

After that cool drink of mint lemonade, you can read this one (or rather, in fact, don't, just don't unless you like hate reading) which is like squatting in the dirt gnawing on roots and twigs.

This? This is a steaming bowl of stanky used douche - I mean not only like it was used so now it's kinda gross, but like some of it also ran up your buttcrack like it was a Roman aqueduct and so now it's kind of butt-stanky too with maybe some poo or hair in it, and also you were on the rag so it's...


Also there is a pube floating in it.

Aherrm. Sorry. Anyway.

This fuckstick slammed his fists on an unfortunate keyboard like an angry macaque and a few words inexplicably came out, and what we got was this.

My eyes want to file assault charges after this thing accosted them in an alley. The only good thing I can say is that I had actually never heard of this bum-bungler nor the "Neo-Whatever Eastern Whatever" or what the fuck ever this site is, because I read real news by real journalists and experts and hang around smart people pretending I am smart as well. What bothers me is that somehow he has a name for himself and even a Wikipedia page? Like, really?

Why? Off the tip of my dick I can think of like twenty writers who deserve Wikipedia pages before this ball-dangler does.

I won't bother to take down the article's central points. They sort of speak for themselves. The only thing I'll mention is that that stupid survey that pegged Taiwan as the "third most ignorant country" was also a steaming turd-pile, not to be taken seriously. I won't go into the questions asked and sample sizes - but the samples were too small and the questions stupid and pointless - suffice it to say that it is not an accurate reflection of Taiwan.

Instead, I will provide you with a running translation of some of this douchecracker's major "points", such as they are.

Shockingly, almost all the people I approached in December 2016 in Taipei either refused to discuss the topic, or appeared thoroughly ignorant about it. Some did not seem to even understand the concept of the ‘West provoking China’.

Translation: "Shockingly, when I approached random strangers in December 2016 and was a total asshole, shouting at them if they gave me answers I didn't like, I was surprised to find nobody wanted to talk to me!"

“Our enemies?” Did the Defense Minister say “our enemies”? Taiwan is a renegade province of China, whose ‘independence’ is recognized by only 21 countries (down from 30, two decades ago).

Translation: "I am a blithering idiot who not only has no knowledge whatsoever of the current state of Taiwan-China ties, but also struggles with basic life skills like forming words into sentences that make sense and reflect the true state of the world. Also, with this attitude I am quite surprised that nobody in Taipei was interested in telling me how they felt."

I will give him credit here: he's right about checkbook diplomacy. I'm not a fan of it either.

I asked him about the present tensions between Taiwan and Mainland China, about the West playing an increasingly aggressive role in the region.

He had no opinion.

I asked about the fascist anti-Communist and pro-Western legacy of Chiang-Kai-shek. He began to look nervous:

“I just work here for 8 hours a day. I don’t know anything about this place, really…”
“But you work here, in the middle of this enormous propaganda center!” I insisted. “Haven’t you heard about the millions massacred on Mainland China by his troops? Haven’t you heard about the tens of thousands killed here, in Taiwan?”

“No. I know nothing,” he laughed. “At school we learned nothing about this… I’m just a volunteer…”

In one of the halls, high-school students were taking selfies. “Do you like Chiang?” I shout at them. They all laughed, happily, showing me “V” sign with two fingers.

Translation: I do not understand the simple idea that when I approach people and ask them rapid-fire questions using high-level vocabulary in English*, which involve sharing the pain and struggle of their nation's history, they don't want to answer me because, again, I come off like a total fucking asshole and who would want to talk to someone like that? Furthermore I am incapable of parsing the non-answer, appeal to ignorance or half-baked reply as a common way in Asia of saying "I don't want to share my thoughts with you because you seem like a big fucking jerk". Instead I just dismiss them as stupid.

*I do not for one second believe that this twatmangler speaks fluent Mandarin or Taiwanese. 

At the “228 Memorial Museum” dedicated to the government-orchestrated massacre of Taiwanese civilians, I spoke to an 86-year old Mr. Chang, a survivor of the atrocities.
On the official museum site it reads:
“It commemorates the victims of the 228 Massacre which took place on 28 February 1947. The 228 Massacre was a rebellion by the Taiwanese people against the recently arrived Republic of China (ROC) troops. The ROC government responded with a brutal crackdown that ended with tens of thousands of Taiwanese people killed.” 
“Was Chiang Kai-shek really ‘democratic’?” I asked sarcastically.


Bizarre Chiang’s cult, Nazi high school parades and thorough political and historical ignorance! Continuous efforts to corrupt tiny poor countries in all corners of the world… Playing into the hands of the West, provoking China. What a place Taiwan has become!

I give him credit for being right about Chiang - but not  his inability to see that most Taiwanese also understand this but just don't want to share that with a total fucking asshole. Nor the contradiction inherent in rightly slamming Chiang but slavishly insisting that Taiwan is, in fact, a part of China, which in Taiwan is something only Chiang's party believes. What does he expect Taiwanese to do, hate Chiang (which they do, mostly) but still vote for the KMT? Understand the atrocities of the invading ROC, and yet agree with their party line? This isn't just him being Craptasticus McCunterson (though he is), it's plain stupid. Pretty much everyone who agrees with him about Chiang - which is most people - are pro-independence. The two are irreconcilable.

Nevertheless, here is my translation: 

bhjirwhpu9afos'c890[aerw klmXZGIUOXGEGRGRGogjgjlhgrj;eainphgopuy80748

No but seriously, "Nobody wants to talk to someone who comes off like a massive douchesmuggler" shouldn't be, like, a hard fucking concept. It's not even unique to Taiwan, or Asia. In the West perhaps we'd say outright "you seem like an asshole and I don't want to talk to you", or just "hey buddy get outta my face" (my preferred New York reply), but the non-answer or fake ignorance is Taiwan's (and Asia's) way of expressing the same.

Get a clue, or get the fuck out of Taiwan.

That said, apparently this "philosopher" has worked on "every continent". That's good news! I look forward to his working from Antarctica!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

BREAKING: Taiwanese artists desperately trying to convince China that their political positions are not "vague"

from here

INDEPENDENT FUCKING TAIWAN, YOU FUCKERS (31 Dec 2016): Following the announcement of the banning of several international artists from performing in China, including creatives from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, a number of Taiwanese artists rumored to be on the list are protesting the circumstances of their inclusion in the strongest possible terms.

Taiwanese black metal group Chthonic and political activist rapper Dwagie both lodged harsh criticisms of the as-yet-unconfirmed list circulating online, which is said to attribute their being banned from China to having "vague political positions".

"What the actual fuck," noted Dwagie. "There is nothing 'vague' about anything I write. How the hell do a bunch of Zhongnanhai asshats take lyrics like We are beaten by the batons of history / Although our heads are bleeding, we never lower them / We climb the barbed wire and barricades / To light up the darkest corner with a sunflower and call them 'vague'? Seriously, what the hell? They have heard of the Sunflowers, right? Aren't they banned from China too? Are their political positions also 'vague'?"

"I mean, definitely the goal of every talented artist in Taiwan is to get banned China," Dwagie continued. "That's obvious - you're nobody until China hates you. So I guess I should thank China? But still, fuck them for thinking there is anything at all 'vague' about my politics!"

"For real," added members of Chthonic. "What do we even have to do to convince the Chinese government that we do not in any way consider Taiwan to ever have been, to be, or to have any possibility of ever being a part of China? How is this not crystal freakin' clear?"

When reached for comment, a Chinese government official declined to say much on the record, but did note that the "complex" and "questionable" political ideologies of the groups was "under serious consideration", but no decision has yet been made.

"Do I just need to write a song called "TAIWAN IS INDEPENDENT AND CHINA CAN EAT OUR BALLS?" added Dwagie. "Is that what it takes? I wrote an entire song eulogizing Taiwanese political hero Nylon Cheng and they, what, aren't sure? I mean it's an honor to be banned - maybe I could write a song called It's An Honor To Be Banned From China, would that be vague? But come on, the actual hell, China?"

"So, like, screaming Let me stand up like a Taiwanese / only justice will bring you peace into a mic with a stage background of intensely Taiwanese imagery is somehow vague? The rest of the song is about killing tyrants!" interjected Chthonic frontman Freddy Lim while other band members rolled their eyes. "Are they trolling us? Is this on purpose? Did they even listen to our songs? There is literally nothing, not one thing, in our discography that isn't either explicitly or implicitly about Taiwanese history, identity or sovereignty!"

"Seriously! You try to get to the heart of Taiwanese identity and the Taiwanese experience and sing about the country you love - COUNTRY, NOT PROVINCE, FUCKERS - and maybe even actively try to piss of China a bit in the process, but who even cares about them because they are a totally different country from beautiful, independent Taiwan, and this is what you get?" added Dwagie, exasperated.

Both members of Chthonic and Dwagie expressed surprise that they were not, in fact, already banned from China. "Was the list just, like, making it official? How did this not happen years ago?" quipped Chthonic member Doris Yeh.

"Hey, what about us? Are we already banned, or did they just forget? We wrote that 'Island Sunrise' song you hated over in China, and you as well as your buddies in Singapore even refused to show the segment of an awards show where it won an award for best song," added members of the Taiwanese rock group Fire Extinguisher. "What are we, nothing? Seriously? We work really fucking hard to have the honor of being banned from China!"

"Yo, us too," added Taiwanese indie hip hip group Kou Chou Ching. "FUck China man, we can't even get on the list?"

After hearing of the musicians' reactions, a Zhongnanhai official noted, "although our operatives have released these rumors on the Internet as per our instructions, we would like to remind everyone that the list has not yet been confirmed by any government official. These vague and unclear political positions will be weighed carefully, however," before smirking and getting into a black Mercedes.

Just covering my ass here: if it wasn't obvious that this is a work of satire and none of the artists named actually said any of those things, I really don't know how to help you be smarter, but this was a work of satire and none of the artists named actually said any of these things.

...though I like to think they would. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Post-Truth, Taiwan Style

It has come to my attention recently that the tentacles of post-truth America, at least on the issue of marriage equality, are beginning their slimy coiling around the debate in Taiwan.

Earlier this week, I was discussing marriage equality with a pro-equality student (I wouldn't have brought it up otherwise), who indicated that "it may be some time, because there are more people against marriage equality now". I asked him why he felt that way as, in fact, most polls pretty consistently show a majority of Taiwanese are in favor of it. He said that he'd seen the two rallies on December 26th on the news and the anti-equality side seemed a lot bigger.

I told him that most journalists I know believe that not to be the case - police estimates have the pro-equality rally at 5,000 and the anti- at 4,000: better, more accurate estimates have the pros at 30,000 and the antis at between 10,000 and 20,000. He knew nothing of the less civil, more hot-headed actions of the anti-equality crowd, and had been led to think that maybe the pro-equality side was pushing too hard (in fact, that side was widely reported to have been civil, welcoming, friendly, well-behaved and safe).

It felt not only like the news was trying to gin up disagreement where there is little, or make the two sides seem more equal in number than they are or have more similar levels of support than they do, but to actively make it seem as though Taiwanese are, by and large, opposed to marriage equality when this is simply not the case. The disagreement is not nearly on the level of a 'culture war', and society is not nearly as 'divided' as reports suggest (though it is true that support is not universal).

I have tried to find examples of what my student spoke of, but was unable to - and I personally do not own a television. I was unable to find relevant clips online, but I do believe my student: why would he lie about his impressions?

It echoes an online conversation I was briefly involved in, but left, that included two expats who insisted that marriage equality was being "forced" on Taiwan by "the West" when we shouldn't do that because they "have a different culture and values" (sure, but if they did in that way, then there wouldn't be support for marriage equality). One admonished us pro-equality supporters not to "push something on the Taiwanese that they don't want" (again, because I can't say it enough times, marriage equality has majority public support).

That's not all, of course. Don't even start me on this bullshit. They actively twist the truth to make it sound as though the people swiftly condemned marriage equality: nothing could be further from the truth. The pro-equality rallies, despite not having well-organized church networks behind them, consistently draw larger crowds. This is straight-up American-style 'fake news' (not a fan of the term but I'll stick with it for now) coming to Taiwan on the backs of bigots.

Another report I've heard of from a few sources is that rumors are being spread that the proposed changes to the civil code would also make sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor (so, basically statutory rape) legal. This is a straight-up lie - the proposed changes would do no such thing - but it is beginning to gain traction.

There's also this poll, which I have my doubts about. The change is far too quick, and doesn't at all square with the turnout we've seen at pro-equality rallies. The question about "pushing legislation through" (rather than simply supporting marriage equality or not) seems oddly worded, at least in English. The sample size is not great, but acceptable, however, I am not sure at all that they adequately got a sample of a variety of ages over 20 if they used land lines: do younger people even know what land lines are? They are almost certainly guaranteed a skewed sample of older folks who are more likely to waver, or not support, equality. The younger people they claimed to have included wouldn't have a land line phone to be reached on! (I don't know much more about this poll - here's a link in Chinese to the guy whose foundation ran it. I don't know who he is, and I have never heard of this particular organization. Have fun.)

Of course, I shouldn't be surprised. Being generally anti-journalist - because accurate reporting on their beliefs and methods would make them look bad, so they have to spread lies - and knowing quite well that the tide of opinion is not swinging their way and likely never will again, the easiest recourse is to lie. Not only that, but to distort, appeal to emotion over logic, insist on respect and an equal platform for unequally-sourced and evidenced views, to insist on respect and ears lent to their religious ranting, to try to equate intolerance of their bigotry with their intolerance of basic equal human rights. In a word, to troll (because I do think purposely making the pro-equality side angry is a part of this). When your views are not supported by logic, evidence, scientific findings or rational debate, but you have decided you must believe them, you basically have to become an ignorant comment thread come to life. Your only choice is to spread 'fake news' through outright lies or carefully-edited media, and appeal to a post-truth world.

In short, it's easy to make it seem as though your side has the most support, when you decline to mention that the other side has almost twice as much: that's what both that MassResistance steaming turd of an article and the video linked above are doing.

Don't believe them. Be smarter than that.

What bothers me is how little I can do about it. I can write about it here, but it would take a level of language ability I don't have to write something in Chinese, and I would gather most Taiwanese not only don't read Lao Ren Cha (hahaha) but don't often read English-language media in general. Even if I did pursue this in Chinese, would the people who need to read it do so? Most likely not. Would it be an effective counter to the barrage of 'fake news' coming from the bigots? Again, most likely not.

It's already had an effect - people are starting to say "well it looks like society really is divided" (it's not, not really), and the government is giving the anti-equality crowd a bigger platform, and more political influence, than they deserve. Remember, the anti-equality fight is mostly led by Christians and Christians make up less than 5% of the Taiwanese population, although they wield considerable influence in both major parties (and the influential ones tend to be wealthy).

I do feel like action needs to be taken, but I'm at a loss as to how.

Another worrying point? Amid all of this post-truth nonsense carried out by people with troubling agendas, right now in Taiwan we're witnessing a generally popular, though with predictably faltering approval ratings, generally 'progressive' DPP administration falter a bit as it tries to wield power, coming across alternately as weak and indecisive or frosty and technocratic. They're grasping for the center and finding it's not holding very well (though that's my own personal impression). Although the liberal/conservative divide, such as it exists at all in a context easily understood in Western terms (which is to say, not really), is not along party lines in Taiwan, certainl elements of the DPP come across as overly conservative, causing more progressive elements to consider dropping support or to drop it altogether in favor of one of the many parties to the left of the DPP, such as the NPP (or any of the others). I've already heard cries of "if the DPP doesn't pass marriage equality, I'm not voting for Tsai in 4 years!" which, to my Bernie Babe ears is alternately appealing and worrying.

On the other side we have a party that looks like it's falling apart, with weird infighting, internal decisions on how party voting will be carried out and apologies for whatever-the-hell from Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu, people calling for her to step down or whatever and all sorts of things that I barely pay attention to, with a group of ultra-ROC-nationalist pro-China zealots and their deep blue supporters on one hand and a more Taiwanized KMT (which I still hate, by the way, the KMT is gonna KMT no matter what and I'm not interested) on the other, and Jason Hsu in there screaming that they all should be better than they are, or ever will be.

KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu

At the center of it all we have crazy-ass Hung, and a potential presidential run by Rich Boss Man Terry Gou. OK, sure. Not so appealing, right? They don't look like they're poised for success anytime soon.

But...does that sound familiar to anyone else?

I know it seems unrelated, but in an environment where one party is a bit weak and unable to convey its basic message while the other one is wracked with infighting, and no third parties are strong enough to really shake up the system, where both major parties either are bleeding support (in the case of the KMT) or might well do so if they don't get their progressive act together (that is, the DPP), all I see is well-fertilized ground for all sorts of insidious post-truth rumor-mongering to take hold and propel Taiwan to the same electoral clusterfuck the US just experienced, because nobody knows what to believe anymore, and will simultaneously denounce professional journalism while eating up lies.

Anyone? Y'all have seen this before, right?

Am I the only one who's worried?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pubic can grill his meat under the light of the moon if he wants

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 9.05.27 PM 

Just in case they fix the typo, here's a screenshot.

"Every year, local Taipei resident Pubic Wang barbecues outside of his Songshan home.

'Barbecuing during Mid-Autumn Festival may not be a part of our 5,000 years of culture, but ever since the tradition began it is one of the best parts of the holiday,' he said.

Some neighbors disagreed. 'Every moon festival while I am sitting at home watching TVBS and complaining about the young people and their barbecues, I can smell the sizzling of Pubic's meat, especially when he puts sauce on it.'

Asked for comment, Pubic replied, 'Auntie Ho is welcome to come and eat my meat. I'm always happy to share.'"

* * *

In all seriousness, this is a stupid way to try to improve air quality. Air quality in Taiwan is affected by scooters, factories, ghost money (but not temple parades) and maybe a little bit from China, but not as much as you think.  Moon Festival barbecues and such are not the problem and have never been the problem, so trying to stop them to improve air quality is not going to solve the problem. The same goes for temple festivals, by the way. Ghost money, sure, okay, it bothers some people and apparently scientific measurements indicate that it does affect air quality, but not the festivals themselves.

If you want to improve air pollution in Taipei, go after the scooters and the factories, not the barbecues and the parades. Don't be stupid.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The WSJ's Taiwan Coverage Is Bad And They Should Feel Bad

I could be writing about lots of things - I never blogged our trip to Taidong and the East Rift Valley, nor have I updated my Indian food post with reviews of Khana Khazana and Sagar Indian. I could be adding Fuzhou Hill to "day hikes in Taipei when you woke up late". But oooooohhhh NOOOOO. We can't have that when there is shitty journalism to tear apart.

Instead, Josh Chin and his fucking terrible WSJ article/blog post have got me so riled up that I have to rant about that instead. So thanks, Josh, for ruining my flow. For interrupting my qi or whatever. For writing a steaming piece of crap.

Granted, the subheading is not bad: China is in denial about its alienation of Taiwan and needs to rethink its approach to the island, the top official in charge of managing Taipei’s relationship with Beijing said on Friday.

So far so good. But then:

The comments from Mr. Hsia, delivered in a conversation with The Wall Street Journal in New York, show how mainland China’s declining image in Taiwan has complicated relations ahead of the island’s presidential elections, whose outcome could frustrate Beijing’s desire for closer ties.

No, Beijing does not just want "closer ties". Beijing wants to TAKE OVER Taiwan. True, but misleading as it doesn't mention China's end goal, which is of the utmost importance.

Relations between Taiwan and China have long been fraught; the two sides split in 1949 following a civil war.

NO THEY DID NOT JESUS FUCKING CHRIST. The KMT and the Communists split in 1949, that happened in China (and the war started before that anyhow so it's a weird definition of "split"). If you were to write that the ROC, which currently occupies/governs (depending on how you want to look at it) and the PRC split, sure. But "Taiwan" and "China" did not split in 1949 as Taiwan was not a part of China at that time - it was a territory of Japan. It was distinctly not Chinese to begin with at that time, so how could it have possibly "split"?

Student protesters opposed to a trade pact with Beijing took over Taiwan’s main legislative chamber last year.

The protesters were not "opposed to the trade pact", they were opposed to the purposely "black box" back-room dealings that brought it about. They weren't fans of the pact for sure, but how could anyone be opposed to it or not, in full, as nobody was allowed to actually know what was in it? And they weren't all students.

A poll conducted by National Chengchi University shortly after the elections showed 23% of Taiwanese people supported independence for the island, the highest level since polling began in 1992. The number of people identifying themselves solely as Taiwanese, as opposed to Chinese, also set at new high at 60.6%.

That only counts people who call for independence immediately. If you count people who feel the status quo should lead to independence that number jumps considerably. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that number, the one that is a more accurate gauge of Taiwan's current political climate, somewhere above 50%? To quote the lower number but not the higher is almost purposely obfuscatory. Or maybe it's actually obfuscatory.

And 60.6%? True, but citing only that fact and not the one that shows that something like 90+% of Taiwanese view themselves primarily as Taiwanese, again paints an inaccurate picture. To the point of it being "truthy" rather than true. 
Despite that, Mr. Hsia said, Beijing has continued to act in ways that irritate people and officials in Taiwan.

"Despite" what? That implies the numbers above are favorable to China, and they are not.
The KMT is expected on Sunday to confirm Hung Hsiu-chu, an outspoken former teacher, as its candidate to take on Tsai Ying-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party in presidential elections next fall. Ms. Tsai, who is widely favored to win in polls, has said she favors maintaining the “status quo” with China. It’s a position shared by most Taiwanese, according to government polls.

Tsai Ying-wen and the majority of Taiwanese do favor maintaining the status quo, but this is another bit of truthiness, as both Tsai and a majority of Taiwanese want that status quo to eventually evolve into independence. Leaving that part out leaves out an important part of the equation and shows the majority viewpoint in Taiwan in an inaccurate light.
“If you truly wanted to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese people, make a good example in Hong Kong. Obviously it’s not helping,” he said.
This implies that it is possible to "win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese people" to the point that they would actually allow you to take over their country.

And that is not going to happen. I'm not sure it's possible. Why imply that the impossible can be accomplished?

Oh...and don't read the comments.

So, thanks Mr. Chin for writing a "status quo let's not anger China" pile of dung. You probably thought you were being provocative of China by writing this. But, as usual, your rag got the situation in Taiwan all wrong. Again.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Can't even think of a title, something about women or something

Here's where I honestly say that I'm thinking of taking a blogging break of a few weeks - not sure if I'll do it yet, we'll see. I've been working so hard that I got sick, even though the hours I work are still far less insane than - well, than most Taiwanese with office jobs. Blogging has fallen by the wayside, which you might have noticed as I've been opening almost every post with "sorry" or "need to blog more often" or "so much to say, no time" or "I'm really tired / have a headache".

And then this comes along, including an editorial here and some stats here in the China Post which I normally never read (can't stand the thing), complete with comments on "leftover women" and the resulting hate from both sides, and I know I should be blogging on it, but all I can summon over the whole thing is a resounding "WTF". And while occasionally "WTF" makes a perfectly acceptable blog post, I would normally want to do more with this story than leave it there.

That's when I realize I'm dropping a ball that, maybe, I have no business for the time being of carrying. I've got, to put it in the filthiest terms possible, enough balls it seems.

So, we'll see. I may or may not blog again for the rest of this week and next and see how I feel, and if I need more time off.

For what it's worth, I'll do my halfhearted best here.

As for the person who originally made the "leftover women" comments, Zhang Xiaofeng (張曉風, or Chang Show-foong or however you want to spell it) - she just makes me sad. We hear enough of this bullshit from men - it's really not OK for a woman to be attacking other women in this way. I'm used to hearing sexist crap from guys. I mean, I'm from the USA after all, and while we may seem to lead the world in progressivism, the vicious bile spewed by so many American men - hate speech really - and the recent contraception debate have really put that into question. It's sad when an American woman, who ostensibly comes from one of the most egalitarian countries on Earth, feels that she hears more of this crap from her own country than from less progressive and egalitarian places.

But when a woman makes comments that make it clear that being married is the only measure of value for adult women...that's just insane. Aren't we supposed to be in this together? Married or not? Rich or poor? Whatever our race or background? Can't we women all just please get together and agree that being married is not only not the sole measure of value of a woman, but not any measure of value whatsoever? Please, can all of womankind - and preferably all of humankind - please agree on this one simple thing, that it's OK to be female and not to marry?

What's sad in Taiwan is that I hear the opposite - that a woman's only worth is as a wife and mother - from women more than I do from men (although I am sure plenty of men secretly believe it). I hear it from this idiot Chang lady, from grandmas obasans and moms and aunties and frenemies. I don't hear it from men, although maybe they're just quiet around me. Back home, I hear it from men (and I tune them out as best I can).

As for the rest of it, I generally agree with the editorial linked above. First, she's just wrong about "leftover women" - the stats prove it. Second, the writer is absolutely right: even if some of the Taiwanese men who've married foreign women (and by "foreign" I mean "Chinese, Southeast Asian", not "white" - that still seems to be not very common) hadn't done so, that doesn't mean Taiwanese women would choose to marry them.

Of course, my problem is not with interracial marriage. I have no issue with that, and obviously this is regardless of where the two people come from. I am sure plenty of Taiwanese guy/SE Asian woman matches are actually marriages based on love and partnership.

I *do* have an issue with mail-order marriage: the problem isn't marrying foreigners per se. It's more the idea of picking a woman out of a catalogue and having her shipped over. It's sad to say that these marriages are almost always Taiwanese man/SE Asian or Chinese woman, but there you have it.

Since I, at a glance, can't necessarily tell the two apart, I generally try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I have my views, but in the end someone else's marriage is not my business.

And with those men - the ones who think "a wife is a cleaner and bed-warmer that I can pay to have sent here" - yeah, no, who would want to marry someone like that? The problem isn't foreigners, interracial marriage or whatever: it's sexism. It's the mail order bride industry, but more than that, it's the attitudes of the men who obtain such wives that make the mail-order bride industry viable. "I need a wife so I'm going to pay an agent to ship a woman over from Vietnam" is very, very different from "I love and want to marry this person who happens to be a foreigner". It is sexism, and it is an attitude problem, and I daresay it's with the men.

"Leftover women" remarks aside, Taiwan is still a place where, if you can avoid the occasional barb, you can choose not to marry (in that regard, it's not all that different from the USA) without too much of a problem. My impression, gained from observations from friends and students, is that Taiwanese women who don't marry either:

a.) Have actively chosen not to, because they prefer being single; or
b.) Would like to marry, but really do want to meet someone they can love and be a partner with and haven't met that person yet.
c.) Would like to marry, but, something like (b), have been disappointed time and time again by what prospective marriage partners would expect out of a marriage (doing the bulk of the housework if not all of it, kowtowing to mom-in-law, doing most if not all of the child-rearing) and have decided that being single is better than that.

Because as much as I like to say that Taiwan is pretty good in terms of women's status when compared to the rest of Asia, it's still got some serious problems.

I have never met a woman in Taiwan who is old enough to marry but is single because:

c.) The good, available guys don't want her; or
d.) Her standards are impossibly high, including demands on income and home ownership

...of course, women who do have these issues or standards aren't likely to admit to them, or even necessarily be conscious of them. I am sure there are women out there who feel this way, and I've just done a good job of avoiding them.

I know my friends pretty well, though, and they're super cool people (not the type to have insane standards and insist on diamonds or owning a nice apartment before marriage) and lovely ladies, and my students seem similarly down-to-earth. I think if (c) or (d) were issues, I'd be able to intuit that.

And yet, so many people seem to point to those reasons, and blame the women, for not marrying. Not long ago I was at a gathering of expats where the general consensus was that Taiwanese women were impossible, clingy and materialistic. I had to ask myself - do they actually know any Taiwanese women that they didn't pick up in a bar or in English class? Because that certainly doesn't describe my female friends.

I've even heard them blamed for men marrying foreign brides ("if you weren't so opinionated and didn't  overachieve so much, you'd get a man but instead they're marrying Chinese girls because the Chinese girl will let him be the head of the household! Shame on you!") - to which I'd say, if the prize is a guy who'd marry a woman he barely knows because he wants a warm body that happens to include a vagina, then that's not a competition worth entering (sort of like when a Western guy says "well if Western women want to compete with Asian women, they'd better..." - compete? For what prize again? No thanks). (Just making clear again that my issue isn't with marrying foreigners: it's with the mail-order bride industry).

I've heard them blamed for insisting on men who earn as much as or more than they do (which I admit is a problematic social belief, and I have met women who have admitted to this) or otherwise being their professional and social equals. Other than the whole income thing - because money shouldn't really matter that much when it comes to love - I don't see why wanting to marry someone who is on roughly equal footing with you in those areas is deserving of such scorn.

I also don't think it's really all that true: my observation has been that many Taiwanese women are holding out for an egalitarian partnership, not a relationship with a guy who always feels he has to be "in charge". They're holding out for love, for a guy who isn't as likely to cheat or see cheating as his birthright, for a guy who won't try to order them around and who will do his share at home and not always prioritize work. I think that's a good thing, and honestly, if there were a dearth of men who fit that description, even if the country was full of single men, I'd stay single too. Better single than hitched to someone I don't respect, love or trust or who tries to exert control based on sexist values.

But then I've covered all this before. More than once. 

I'm not going to cover the Westerner angle too much - it's been done, and anyway, as a foreign woman married to another foreign guy, I have very little to say on the subject. The best I can come up with are that plenty of Taiwanese woman/foreign guy couples are legit: they genuinely like each other, they're a good match, and it's not skeezy or weird.

Then there are also plenty that, well, do carry a whiff of "undesireable white guy picking up anything Asian in a skirt at a bar that'll have him" ickiness. Since I don't hang around the latter, all I'll say on that is that a.) if you get to know a person or a couple, you can usually tell which it is and b.) even if you can tell which it is, it's generally speaking not your business who a person chooses to couple up with and why, so does it really matter if it's a bit creepy? I mean, it's not like you'd want that guy (I know I wouldn't), and the girl must know what she's getting into - her choice, after all - so whatever.

And I have to admit, I find guys anywhere who'll hook up with any ol' warm body - including a Taiwanese (or Western) man marrying one that's just arrived from Southeast Asia whom he barely knows - to be icky. They're free to do what they like, but that's not who I want to spend my time with.


So, how was that for halfhearted?

Now I'm going to go curl up somewhere.