Thursday, April 27, 2006

Taxi Music

Yesterday, while further depleting my local 7-Eleven's beer supply, I realized that the type of music they were playing on the radio is slowly disappearing -- good old-fashioned Taiwan taxi music. You know the songs, those low-budget sentimental pop ballads with swirling pentatonic string parts, with achy-voice singers who seem to be sounding out their plaintive noises while hip-deep in a lonely rice paddy.

I remember that 15 years ago you just about couldn't get into a taxi without hearing that stuff. Now, in a taxi you'll probably hear talk radio or "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was a Freak Like Me."

Many will say good riddance to Taiwan Taxi Music. But I miss the stuff. For all its obvious flaws, I always thought Taxi Music communicated a bit of credible pathos. And you know what? The women and men who sang those songs, unlike the Mandopop youth of today, could actually carry a tune.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lien's Trip to China

Honorary KMT Chairman Lien Chan is following up last April's historic Chinese visit with another this year. He's leaving Thursday, April 14. Since he added the "honorary" title, the Chinese could hardly not accord him even more honors befitting a high-profile provincial minion - so he gets to meet with PRC President Hu Jintao on Sunday.

Hu's most generous gift to Lien and Taiwan last year was a pair of giant pandas. He's expected to offer more goodwill this year - probably in the form of more non-cashable currency. The big question in some people's minds: Will Hu take President Chen's bait and announce that he embraces the 1992 consensus and explicitly state that it means that Beijing can interpret "one China" as the PRC and Taipei can can interpret it as the ROC?

Chen indicated during his meeting last week with Ma Ying-jeou that he would proceed with cross-strait dialogue if Hu makes such a public statement. The farce, as Chen pointed out, is that he actually recognizes that there are two Chinas. It's only the PRC that doesn't accept the existence of the ROC. It would indeed be fascinating if Hu made a clear statement in support of "one China, each side with its own interpretation."

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Populism Unpopular in Hong Kong

Poor President Chen. Suffering dismal popularity ratings at home in Taiwan, you'd expect that comrades in Hong Kong would at least recognize his good faith in actively managing cross-strait relations. Sadly not. Apparently, Chen is almost as unpopular in Hong Kong as in Taiwan. See this Angus-Reid poll. However, it appears Hong Kongers are on the "Ma Phenomenon" bandwagon. At least they won't hurl "Hong Kong Foot" as an epithet at the handsome KMT chairman.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Preserving a "Traditional" Way of Life

If I ever get back to my erstwhile occupation as a translator, I want to be sure that I have as many opportunities to get source text in traditional characters as possible. That's why I "signed" this online petition. 16,000 "signatures" and counting.

Maybe I've been in Taiwan too long, but it just seems crazy to me that the UN would adopt the upstart simplified characters when even people in China seem to prefer traditional ones in intellectual and even commercial pursuits. Or maybe the UN has taken a position similar to President Chen's re pandas: keep them (traditional characters) in their natural environment for conservation reasons.

Update 4/11: After a few weeks of this story coming into and out of the news, Taiwan's foreign ministry has explained that the UN told it that in fact, traditional characters have not been used there since 1971. A sad day for Taiwan's media workers ... and anyone else worldwide who picked up the story and never double-checked it.

I was kind of wondering whether it was an April Fool's prank, but a quick google news search yielded a March 24 story

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bian-Ma Hui

Watching the end of the meeting between Ma Ying-jeou and Chen Shui-bian.

Well, it's a start.

Really, though, it's mostly an argument about words.

I'll leave it to Feiren to write a more complete analysis. I just have to say both men are pretty impressive. Ma speaks very well and looks very reasonable, but he's just not as foxy as Chen. I've seen him speak a few times in person using English and he knows how to use humor, but he doesn't really make laugh.

This may be the first time I've seen Chen in a conversational context and it's the first time I've understood his appeal. He makes me laugh. The most amusing part of his "conversation" with Ma was when he asked him to define the boundaries of ROC under his "one China, each his own interpretation" ('92 consensus) model.