Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Fuck the (traffic) police

The traffic lights in the city are on a reasonably well-synchronized timer system. If all things are normal, I always know exactly which lights I will have to stop at. Even when traffic is heavy, my route has a certain flow.

Today traffic was bad, which is no big deal, because on a scooter, you can zip around most obstructions. But I still had to wait much longer today because of the traffic cop. Just one guy, plugged in to the light-control box at one major intersection, fucked everything up for miles. He was causing people to get stuck before and after all the lights around the one he was controlling, because they were still on the same timer they always are. So in turn, he was letting the light cycles run longer and longer to try and clear the backup.

I imagined a whole stage-full of Chinese acrobats falling all over each other because one of them was wearing a shock collar controlled by one guy in the audience.

Did I mention that it was pissing down rain during all this? That's really why I'm bitter.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Election, part 2

So, Taiwan's political parties are still arguing over how to recount the votes. The loser, Lien Chan, has moved the goalposts about 5 times, changing his demands to try and get the most leverage he can. President Chen has agreed to a recount, but the opposition in true contrary form, doesn't want to do it his way. Chen's suggestion is that the election law be amended so it can be conducted legally. Lien's suggestion is to declare a state of emergency and order the recount that way. Another possibility is that the opposition-dominated legislature should pass a law that if a candidate gets hurt before the election, the elecions are cancelled. Retroactively, of course.

Again, I'm no politician, but I heard from a Chinese person that even though there are lots of protesters, the KMT is losing a lot of respect for their childishness. And Taiwanese people also think that the KMT is crying foul because of their long history of playing dirty tricks. The KMT thinks, of course Chen must have cheated, because that's what they would have done. They had their way for so long, that they don't know how to handle a legitimate defeat.

Finally, matters aren't helped by the fact that Lien speaks fluent English, as does his running mate. They were both born in Mainland China and have been in government for a long time. So they can call news conferences for the international media, more personally casting doubt on the election. Chen and his vp, the horribly-dressed and confrontational Annette Lu, are both native Taiwanese (or descend from the earlier wave of Chinese migration hundreds of years ago), do not speak English. This may seem trivial, but the international news media I've been reading on-line seem to be taking Lien's side because he's been more available. The Taipei Times, though, has been blasting the nasty old man at every turn. In the 2000 election, when Lien and his running mate ran on separate tickets, Lien came in dead last, with about 23 percent of the vote. Nobody wants him, but he sure can whip up a frenzy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I was watching a movie the other night, and I noticed something I hadn't before. It was the British movie, "Dirty Pretty Things," which was truly dark and creepy. But the thing that struck me was this:

At one point in the movie, an illicit business deal is going down: money for kidneys. Fair enough (ick). And I was cringing, waiting for someone to get killed. But no one did. The kidney and the money were exchanged, and then the movie continued. If it were an American movie, someone would have been killed.

With all the drugs, guns, illegal porn, (and kidneys?) bought and sold in the United States every year, there must be lots of perfectly successful business deals involving large briefcases filled with cash. But in Hollywood, every drug dealer shoots their connection, or vice-versa. Every arms dealer gets shot by a righteous cop. Shit, even Wall Street bankers shoot each other over their scams. If that happened all the time, the massive wheels of our underground economy would truly come to screeching halt. But it doesn't, does it?

If I were a businessman, I would demand that Hollywood start treating us more fairly. I mean, after all, there's money to be made.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Sore loser

So Lien Chan has refused to concede defeat, telling the nation that the shooting raised too many questions about the legitamacy of the election. In other words, the conspiracy theorists within the KMT think President Chen had himself shot at to win the election.

To be fair, to lose by only 30,000 votes out of 13 million cast might tend to make one bitter. But at least, unlike the U.S., Chen actually won the popular vote. No electoral college here.

Somehow, though, I imagine that if Lien Chan had been shot the day before the election, he still would have lost. Everyone would be thinking, "Damn, that old man had it coming." But that's just me. So for now, I promise, no more talk about killing presidents, since I'm sure The Man is trawling the net looking for just such a phrase.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Today at work, at about 4 pm, my co-worker asked me if I knew.

Knew what?

Chen Shui-bian. You know?

Yeah, I know. What about him?

She pantomimed to me that he'd been shot. I was dumbfounded. Taiwan is just not that kind of country. I've never been afraid while wandering around the streets drunk in the wee small hours of the morning with the equivalent of a couple hundred dollars in my wallet. Sure, everyone's had something stolen, but they don't pull a gun on you and do it while you're watching.

The TV news in Taiwan has, predictably, been showing an endless tape loop of the motorcade he was driving in, with a little red circle showing the hole in the window, and then another circle showing the part where the president puts his hands down over his abdomen and feels the blood. Media reports suggested that President Chen first thought he was hit with a stray firecracker. He was traveling in an open 4x4 with the VP at his side, while mile-long strings of firecrackers were going off next to the truck. That just goes to show how inconceivable something like this is here.

Of course, there are crazies in Taiwan, but most of them don't have guns. The Chinese conspiracists think that Chen had it done on purpose to win sympathy ahead of tomorrow's election. I'm sure the local conspiracists think that the slimy, wife-beating, tremendously wealthy, and personality-lacking candidate for the Nationalists (KMT) probably had something to do with it. I personally think it was just some loony who probably blames the president for his divorce.

Everytime CNN starts a sentence with "President Chen and Vice-President Annette Lu were shot..." I feel guilty, but I have to laugh. It's such a savage word, and hard to imagine in a country like this. What's even stranger is that they waited until the day before the election to do it. If I were going to shoot a president, I'd at least wait to make sure they were still going to be the president tomorrow.

If he wins a second term tomorrow, I'll be relieved. Politics don't affect me here, but the other guy looks like a Chinese mix of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, with a personality to match. I'm sure Lien Chan, the opposition, just wishes everyone would shut up about democracy and let the KMT get back to some serious martial law.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 18, 2004

My veins are filled with snot.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Man, this must be Wednesday. I never could get the hang of Wednesdays. I've been sick for about two weeks, but there's no point in going to the doctor, because he only gives you three days worth of useless pills. I have no idea what I'm going to do in the classroom, and I can't be bothered to care. I'm tired of sitting in front of the computer and checking on blogs that are rapidly disappearing or updated once a month. Everyone, please feel sorry for me until at least Friday afternoon.

Thank you.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Today's Lunar Prophecy (courtesy Taipei Times):

It's a good day for:
It's a bad day for:
all auspicious activities.

Go back to bed. See you Monday.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Today, I turned on the air conditioner for the first time this season. And there's lots more heat where that came from. But today wasn't too bad. In honor of this fact, here is my Chinglish tribute to the air conditioner:

Designed with coolly indoors.
Make happy life and feeling the best days.
When temperature over 28 degres,
touching button firm bring fine weather come.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Made in Taiwan proudly presents
The Chinglish Special Recognition Award!

You know, when you're making a product, you should maybe ask your English-speaking friend to at least glance at it and see if he or she giggles. This is, I swear, word-for-word, copy from the inside of a pair of overalls:

gave new life best choice
supr teans copy right life style
i would like a jeans clothes.
is this dress washable? what
world best choice what
materials is this? will take
this one. for a wonderful.

It got me to thinking, could you come up with something this incomprehensible and strange if you tried? I'm going to work on it. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Once again, I'm trying to avoid politics, but reading op-ed pieces just make me so mad sometimes. Why are the anti-gay-marriage people blaming "activist judges?" for somehow subverting the people's will? Isn't it their job to interpret whatever Constitution they've sworn to uphold?

Man, don't these people have anything better to do? I'm not in the mood for a long diatribe, because it's all been said before, but how can two men or women signing a document granting certain legal rights be destroying someone else's relationship? While we're amending the Constitution, how about requiring women to wear headscarves? And making blacks 3/5 of a person again? And requiring that we all pray to Jesus Christ our Savior every day? And put a picture of our dear leader on every available wall space?

That's all for now. My bath is almost ready.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Last night, I took the clothes to get washed. The best thing about Taiwan is that every laundry is a Chinese laundry. Four loads of laundry were only about 7 dollars. Washed, dried, and folded. No dry cleaning for me, I don't wear those kinds of clothes.

I brought the clothes home, dropped them on the floor still in the bags, and went off to use the computer and other random nonsense. The dog amazingly managed to leave them alone. Hours later, before I went to bed, I had the nagging sense that I hadn't done something. Dishes? No, I did them after dinner. Dog mess? No, that got cleaned up a while ago.

This morning at work, I realized that I hadn't put away the clothes. I've been thinking about it all day. It was almost the first thing I did when I got home from work. I feel much more relaxed now.

I'm not obsessive-compulsive. Yet. But everyone needs a hobby.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I'm not going to pretend to be the first person who's ever brought a puppy home. But I do have to say that I am surprised by the daily re-positioning of every shoe that's not at least 3 feet off the floor.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I remember posting something last year about watching the Oscars. This year, I managed to steer clear of the internet and TV news all day Monday until I could watch them, 12 hours later, on TV. I really liked "Lord of the Rings," but nobody likes a blowout.

Anyway, in a slightly ironic twist, "Lost in Translation," the movie concerning a Hollywood actor who goes to Asia to sell-out, was upstaged, in my opinion, by the frequent ads with Charlize Theron selling "Lux Spa Moist." If the Academy had seen her schlock performance in those commercials, she never would have won Best Actress.