Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2014

The Taipei MRT Knife Attack and Taiwan's Society

Every time a crime is perpetrated, the media find themselves in a difficult position. On the one hand, they have the responsibility to spread knowledge, inform and analyse. On the other hand, they are a business that must make money out of the news they report on. They are easily tempted to speculate on the suffering and the misfortunes of people, to turn them into entertainment. 
The Taipei Metro knife attack that happened a few days ago is such a tragic and sad event that I think everyone should be careful not to use this massacre as a pretext to speculate and fabricate theories that try to explain why Zheng Jie committed that crime. The most absurd of such theories is that the Sunflower Movement made society more violent and therefore encouraged individual acts of ferocity such as Zheng Jie's. These ideas can't be taken seriously, as they completely lack evidence and are nothing more than insinuations. The murder of four people should not be used as an instrument to fight po…

Neoconfucianism and China's Internet Valentine's Day

On May 20 China celebrated the so-called Internet Valentine's Day (网路情人节 / 網路情人節 pinyin: Wǎnglù Qíngrénjié). Chinese netizens believe that this day at 13:14 is the most auspicious time of the year for lovers. Those who already are in a relationship should declare their eternal love, while those who are still single have a good chance to find a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Before Internet Valentine's Day, a Chinese netizen published a post called “The 2014 New Girlfriend Criteria” (2014女友新標準 / 女友标准, pinyin: nǚyóu xīn biāozhǚn), in which he listed off the characteristics that a perfect girlfriend should have: 
her height should be between 1.62 to 1.73 and her weight between 50 and 61 kg. She should have long hair. Her nature should be gentle and soft, and she should neither drink nor smoke. She must be able to cook, she should care about others and be a filial daughter (孝順父母). She should love animals, have elegant manners, she shouldn't say bad words and not be suspicious without …

An Old House in Taipei - Or Not?

It's hard to write a blog post the day after the Taipei Metro knife attack. So I decided to just upload a few pictures I took one or two days before I left Taiwan in February. 
These are the pictures of a building I've always been curious about. It has an old-style tile rooftop and it looks quite old. Since it's located inside a courtyard separated from the street by a wall I couldn't see much except for the roof. 
The house is in Roosevelt Road in Taipei, and I've always wondered if it's really an old one or not. My dream is that it's a Japanese or Qing-dynasty house, and that we can save it from its decay. But I'm pretty sure it's just a dream, because the whole area is modern, with nearly no exception (but there are a few, which I hope to show in the future). 




I would like to meet some local Taiwanese who know something about this building. But so far, that, too, has been a dream.

My Love-Hate Relationship With Taiwan's Convenience Stores

Some Taiwanese friends of mine make fun of me because I spend too much time in convenience stores. I have a favourite one near my home. Late at night, I am often the last customer sitting there. It is quiet, there is Wi-Fi, I can read books or surf the internet or do some work while drinking a beer, or coffee, or eating some snacks. Sometimes I also have dinner there.
And yet I don't like convenience stores. They don't have the relaxed, individual atmosphere of coffee shops; their packaged food - which must be heated in the microwave - is full of preservatives; Wi-Fi isn't free; they are more expensive than supermarkets. 
Nevertheless, there is hardly a day when I don't go to a convenience store to buy a drink, to top up my phone, to withdraw money from an ATM, etc.


Taiwan is the country with the highest density of convenience stores in the world, and perhaps it is also the country where they have reached their highest stage of evolution so far. They have all sorts of foo…

Paris vs Taipei: The "Importance of Appearances" Experiment

A few days ago norniTube released a video that shows how people react when a man falls down in a street in Paris, pretending to be sick. In the first part of the video, the man is dressed like a homeless person. People get by but no one helps him. In the second part of the video, the man is dressed in a suit, and immediately some people go to him and ask him if he's all right (note).



The incident is supposed to show that people often ignore each other's suffering, and that the way someone looks determines how helpful and friendly others will be. 
The same experiment was tried by Apple Chen in Taipei, in the wealthy Eastern District, near Sogo department store. However, the experiment was not about the different reaction of passers-by to a homeless and a rich-looking man. 
A normally dressed man begins to cough and then falls down. After just a few seconds some people go to him and ask if he's all right. He says that he has pills in his pocket, and they help him take them.

What I Really Think About Taiwan's Independence

Every now and then I receive messages from people who accuse me of being pro-KMT, pro-China, anti-Taiwan etc. etc. Well, I admit that I'm not a China-hater or KMT-hater, and that repeating over and over again that China and everything related to it is bad is not the purpose of my blog, and I wish - as a reader of blogs and newspapers myself - that the attitude of demonising others were less widespread. 




I have explained in another post that I think the media coverage of China is often extremely biased; it is either ideologically pro-China or ideologically anti-China. During my academic career I have learnt one important thing: when you write about something, distance yourself and try to be balanced. Being balanced doesn't mean you can't interpret things from your own perspective, but you must try to take into account all possible perspectives. 
I therefore made clear that I think both pan-Chinese nationalism and Taiwanese nationalism are as legitimate as any other political …