Friday, April 01, 2005

News Bites

Letter from ardent reader, Casey Maddren, of Los Angeles: "Sounds like things are heating up over there in Taiwan. The Chinese are rattling their sabers again. And Europe is lifting the embargo. Would they really try an invasion?"

You know, Casey, I wouldn't put anything past those Europeans these days. Especially that bastard Chirac. We just have to hope that the Poles and the Bulgarians provide enough of a counter-weight that they don't do anything stupid. J.D.

Headline (Taiwan News): "Local Scientists Make Powdered Water". It's concentrated, you see, you just add water... nah, I'm pulling yer ankle. The powdered water is real, though. Apparently it's activated by crushing and grinding, then - it just turns into water! "According to Li, the powdered water is produced by coating tiny particles of water in gelatin, which through the use of nanotechnology is condensed." This puts me in mind of the food processing jobs I had in Portland, Maine (this was after graduating from the University of Chicago, mind you) - popsicle maker, Chicken Kiev assembly line worker... This is what the new global economic order has in store for the next generation of recent graduates, stunned and uncomprehending, finding themselves in temp jobs applying the gelatin coating...

Headline (Taiwan News-sorry, only in print edition): "Graffiti Now Allowed in Five Taipei Parks." I mean, is Taiwan the anti-paradise or what? The Taiwan government, disappointed that there is not enough graffiti in our cities, is establishing a kind of "Graffiti in the Parks" program, in order to get kids hooked at a young age. Money quote: "Graffiti has become a recognized form of expression in Taiwan and now five Taipei parks are open to anyone wanting to do a piece, do a throwup or just tag. Chen Wei-jen, director of the Public Works Department under the Taipei City Government, presided over an event yesterday held at a news conference at Chungshan Fine Arts to announce the news, while children tried their hand at tagging." It'll never catch on. About the only graffiti in Taichung is done by a group of tiresome foreigners, who insist on putting stenciled faces of people like David Byrne all over everything. For wordies, there's this, though: a "portmanteau" is a word that has been composed of two previously existing words. "Brunch" and "fog" are among the words that get all the best tables at portmanteau restaurants. But my favorite portmanteau is "giraffiti", which refers to those tags you see in the most improbable, high altitude locations, and wonder, "How did they ever get up there?"

Three English language newspapers is probably a bit much for the rather small market that exists in Taiwan, but it does make for a kind of Blogger's Paradise. The English language skills of the writers are excellent, as well, for the most part. There are times, however, when the language is just a little bit off, in some way that you can't quite put your finger on. Take this,from the China Post, for example - "Lunatic Attacks Two Academica Sinica Officials." Hmmm. Not incorrect, exactly, but we don't usually use the word lunatic in quite that way any more. The people attacked were Ovid Tseng and Lao Sze-Kwang. Neither was seriously hurt in the attack by a mentally ill man. The article tells us, "Lao, a philosopher,was one of the eleven Academicians who opposed the $U.S. 18 billion arms purchase from the United States." The guy named Ovid was not the philosopher? Why does it not surprise me that someone whose full-time job description is "philosopher" was against the arms package? The article doesn't tell us what the position of the lunatic was on the arms package, but given the editorial position of the China Post, I can imagine.

Headline, Taiwan News, AFP Beijing Bureau (print only): "Most Chinese Favor Marrying a Foreigner, Survey Suggests." The article says that "nearly 63% of Chinese citizens would like to marry a foreigner." Great! Not that I'm getting married any time soon -I'm only forty-five - but it's good to know I have future prospects in the mainland. But, wait, there is a dark side: " Marrying a foreigner is no guarantee of long-lasting happiness, said the paper..." Nonsense. The swinging, foreigner lifestyle is, if anything, underestimated by the Chinese, "...citing a separate study showing that international marriages tend to have high divorce rates." Anybody I know? " The survey showed that 60% of marriages between Canadians and Chinese failed." Well, Canadians, yeah... They don't get along with anybody! "A whole nation of Associate Professors!" And let me tell you, the meltdown this past winter by the NHL has not done one thing for their collective disposition...