30 Dec 2006

Happy New Year

I wish myself a fruitful and successful 2007.

It is very important to keep a positive attitude. I should do so and try my best to achieve my goal. I have done nothing, and I constantly feel sad and depressed this year. I think all the negative qi that surrounds me in 2006 is a training to make me strong and ready for 2007. Now, I am slowly overcoming the negative qi around me. With the coming of 2007, I start to gain some silly confidence for no reason. I really don't know why. I guess 2007 may be the time for me to really do something that I have yearned for. If that is the case, I definitely will be successful, and of course, being extremely happy.

I wish all my firends the best in 2007.

Happy New Year!

25 Dec 2006

Merry X'mas

Merry X'mas...
I don't like holidays. That means people everywhere!
By the way, Chinese don't celebrate X'mas, only when you are a Christian.
But we do celebrate this special day. It is the "Constitution Day"!
How sad the government canceled this holiday. Now all kids in Taiwan only celebrate "X'mas", which is quite irrelevent to us. It seems a bit dumb as well.
The most ridiculous is this crazy government is considering making X'mas a national holiday in Taiwan ...
I don't understand what is in their brains.
This is extremely stupid.
Still, I have to say "Merry X'mas" since some of my firends are turly celebrating this amazing day.

20 Dec 2006

Artists versus Scholars

Artists create objects
Scholars entitle objects art
Without scholars, artists are only craftsmen
Without artists, scholars are no better than the proletariat
I guess Only God can be both, but God is dead
____________

Artists are those lucky poeple born with amazing natural ability to turn objects into something for appreciation, for interpretation, and for discussion. They live with great passion and imagination, and they devote themselves to their creation. Their innovation usually leads a new fashion that contests what has been established. They are not writers, nor explainers. They express their position through their creation.

Scholars, with learned knowledge and experience, perceive the quality of objects created by artists and identify them as art. These people appreciate, interpret, and discuss what art is. They are sensible. They are trained to explain in detail the meaning of the creation. They catogorize objects, give them names, and relate them to life. They establish their position through writing and explaining ideas.

These two groups of people are interrelated; one cannot survive without the existence of the other. When a person is able to create, it usually means the person expresses him/herself through artistic actions. The result is artisitc that requires perception and identification. On the other hand, a scholar delivers his/her ideas through reinterpreting and responding to artistic actions. This brings written words clearly explaining the ideas that are embedded in artisitc creation. Therefore, one's work is completed by the other's endeavour. This is a both way communication with which social fashions are constructed and theories on arts is established.

These are also two social positions we need to choose when we are enlightened, whether it’s a secular enlightenment or a religious one. Never try to be both. A good creator will never be able to explain his/her artistic action well enough, and no one can do this job better than scholars. In the meantime, a good explainer can only speak and write, and if he/she tries to create, the result can never be better than his/her critiques on other people's works. I firmly believe that God is the only one who possesses both abilites, but unfortunately he is no longer with us anymore. As Nietzsche stated "God is dead", and if there is truly a person who can do both works, then he must be the new "Savior". As for us, the proletariat, all we can do is to find out which group we belong to and work towards it. However, if enlightenment sounds rediculous and impossible, then it is totally fine to stick with the proletariat. They are everywhere and we always need them to support the function of the society.

18 Dec 2006

學英文 :【中文不好,英文一定學不好】

為什麼說中文不好的,英文一定學的很糟呢?教英文這麼多年,遇到了各式各樣的學生,也發現若學生中文程度不好的,他們在英語學習上通常會出現問題,表現不如其他國語文程度佳的學生。這個說法或許不甚公平,但卻是我所遇見的實例。當然也是有一些學生,他們的英語能力大大的超越其國語文程度,然而在比較這些學生與其他學生的中文表現後,我發現這些學生仍具備相當的、甚至是中上等級的中文程度。所以我相信,不論中文或英文,都是語言的一種,是要下工夫學的,並且要活用。中文是我們的母語,若是連母語的運用上都出現了問題,就更別提外國語言的學習了。

相對的,英文很棒的,中文也一定具備良好的基礎。能夠將英文或外來語文學習好,表示這個人具有語言的邏輯能力,能夠理解外國語言的邏輯結構並且靈活運用。前一陣子我香港的朋友寄了 2007 香港藝術節的訊息給我,於【桃花扇】演出資料中有一則余光中教授的訪談記錄。在這個訪談中,余教授提到了中國文學以及昆曲藝術的美。他對崑曲及中國文學的了解與認知,是無可否認的,學戲劇與電影的我是十分景仰如此博大的學識。但這樣一位深具中國古典文人氣息的學者,實際上並不是一位專攻中國古典文學的儒士,而是台灣中山大學外國語文學系的榮譽退休教授。既能成為外文系的教授,想必他對外語,尤其是英語,一定具有絕對的理解及運用能力。在他身上,我們看見的是一位中英文俱佳的學者,他對中文的高度理解加強了他的語文邏輯能力,並強化了他對外來語文的吸收與運用。

記得在一篇台灣中國時報的社論中,余教授曾強力批評了台灣現在的中小學語文教育,而我讀完此篇社論,心中只有完全的贊同,並感慨現代台灣語文教育的悲哀。國語文是中小學教育中十分重要的課程,他的存在在於強化年輕一代對自己母語的了解與應用,並提供了一個語文邏輯的基本訓練。縮減這個課程的授課時數,事實上是剝奪台灣新一代學習本國語言與邏輯的權力。語文邏輯聽起來像學術論文中的專有名詞,其實它的意義是容易了解的。它的目的在於訓練我們對語言的熟悉與運用,例如如何將字組合成詞,如何組合字詞並彙整出一個具有意義的句子,如何構思一篇文章並清楚表達清晰完整的意思。這不只是中文的學習,而是一個完整性的邏輯訓練。學習邏輯是困難的,需要長時間訓練的,而最好的方式就是用母語來訓練。當年輕一代對於母語沒有情感只有陌生,想當然的他們不具備基本語言邏輯,這就導致了他們之後對英語學習上產生嚴重障礙。更糟的是,當學生沒有完整的架構起應有的邏輯能力時,不論任何科目的學習上,他們都會出現問題。最基本的是學習障礙,即不具備理解力,再者是缺乏分析與批判的能力。邏輯能力的缺乏將會造成整個教育品質的低落,比如說大學生本應具備基礎知識,如歷史、文學、或科學,並能夠對知識提出想法、批評、或建議;然而因邏輯思考能力的缺乏,大學生反而是在大學教育中才開始邏輯能力的訓練。很明顯的,這是將大學教育高中化,而小學教育似乎是延長板的幼兒教育。

我常常跟我的學生說要用心學中文,但他們的反應實在是令人灰心,有些更說為什麼教英文的要求中文要學好。沒錯,教英文的應該只要求英文的表現,但低落的中文程度是英文學不好的主要原因。這是很可悲的,當學生的中文句子都寫不出來時,如何要求他們造出完整的英文句子?當他們無法寫出中文作文時,如何能要求他們寫英文作文?當國語都不會說時,如何能開口說英語呢?有些家長執意要小孩學英文,從小就上美語班,但結果是中文、英文都不好。問題就出在太過於偏重英文,而忘了自己的母語。我相信若是在純英語的環境中,如送到國外去,小孩的英語必定一級棒。但是別忘了,在這樣的情況下,它的母語早就變成英語了。在台灣這樣的環境下,實在是很難靠著學校教育將語文學好,這也解釋了為什麼補習教育仍是如此昌盛,學生壓力仍是無敵大,台灣學生英語能力仍是亞洲倒數,以及火星文的氾濫。身為一位英語教學工作者,我反而更要強調中文教學的重要性,更要要求中文能力的提升。

這是我第一次用中文發表,以往都是直接以英文做表達。主要是因為我打中文字的速度實在太慢。此外,以英語寫作是一種強化自己對英語熟悉運用的好方式。如上所述,學語言是要花時間、下工夫的,並且一定找機會活用它。既然中文是母語,就應該將自己的母語強化,一來可以提升對語言邏輯的能力,再者可加深對自有文化的認知與了解。中文能力的提升強化了邏輯的發展,可幫助對外來語文的學習,並加促理解外來語文及其文化內涵。可見提升國語文能力即可達成對自我文化與社會的認同,並加速台灣新一代國際化的腳步。

教育部為了要強化台灣新一代的本土意識及國際化,硬是拿掉國語課時數並塞入了閩南語、客家語、及英語課程。我並不反對多元化語文教學,但是問題出現在政策的制定上。這些不負責任的官員,為了要配合減輕中小學生的學習壓力政策,反而減少最重要的國語文教學時數來配合多出來的課程。試想,原本的課程科目數量就以造成學習上的壓力,難道減少時數增加科目可以減輕壓力嗎?這不是反其道而行嗎?結果是現在的小孩反而要學更多的東西,而沒有一樣是學的好的。更慘的是連中文都不會講也不會寫了。如果那些在上位者,不認為中文是他們的母語,那請他們以後都不要講或寫中文,有本事的話就將閩南語寫出來。請謹記,千萬不要借用中文字來寫閩南語,因為中文字不是你們認同的母語。

13 Dec 2006

Don't irritate me, or I'll walk off the stage

After Roberto Alagna's opening aria in Aida, the audience in the gallery of Teatro alla Scala greeted him with boos. Then, very surprisingly, Radames, the role he played, stalked off the stage in response to the rude audience. Daniel Wakin from New York Times reported,

"In the history of operatic hissy fits, what happened at Teatro Alla Scala in Milan during 'Aida' on Sunday night was a bravura performance." (Dec. 13, 2006)

This is the first time we see a tenor walking angrily off the stage in the middle of the performance, and the stand-in was pushed on stage to finish the act without costumes. Can Alagna just leave the stage like that?


How I wish I were there!


I believe every artist deserves proper respect, but in the meantime, he has to show his professionalism and the ability to take catcalls and boos. The audience in the gallery of La Scala, called the "loggionisti", is notorious for their attitudes. These people are the opera aficinados who queue for cheap seats and always express their opinions freely during the performance. They could nod approvingly or shout and boo loudly if the performance is simply not as good as they expected, which is the case that happened on Sunday. Indeed, the loggionisti is rude, but it is their freedom to express their preference. If their actions are far too extreme, the opera house would certainly take good actions to stop them. I just cannot imagine the tenor suddenly stopped his singing, stared angrily at his audience, and then stormed off the stage.


This action is extremely childish and unprofessional. Even the loggionisti disapproved your singing, you still had the responsibility to finish the performance. After all, every audience in that theatre paid to hear your singing and see your performance. The conflict between the artist and the loggionisti is not new. Alagna is not the only one who was booed by the picky audience, Luciano Pavarotti and Renee Fleming were also victims at La Scala. In the infamous case, "Rome Walkout", Maria Callas simply cenceled her performance Norma after the first act at Rome Opera House in 1958. Many great opera singers encountered such disgrace, but none of them dared to leave the stage in the middle of the performance. In my opinion, once you step on that stage, you must do your best to play your role. You are responsible for the completion of the performance. This is the basic requirement for all actors and singers, and this is the respect for both the opera house and the audience.


How could Alagna ask for respect when he was not able to pay his? Of course, it is the loggionisti who started the conflict, but if Alagna completed his duty and presented a great performance, every opera critic and operagoer would speak for him. He would definitely secure his reputation as one of the greatest tenors. Sadly, he did not do so but quit the performance in the most irresponsible way. It is truly "such a shame" as those audience yelled. Due to this incident, Alagna is replaced by Walter Fraccaro, the Italian tenor who has sung in La Scala, the Met, and many major opera houses. I wonder if Alagna would ever have any chance to sing at La Scala agian.

5 Dec 2006

Why would I care?

The son of the president of Taiwan is the most discussed person lately in Taiwan. Everyone wondered if he and his wife would come back to give brith to their first baby. The supporters of the current government urged them to come back because:

    the president of Taiwan should not have an American grandson.
The opponents said this couple should come back because:
  1. producing an American baby would secure their legitimacy to stay in the U.S, which is not what we want to see.
  2. their expense in the States is actually the dirty money his parents stole form the country, but no one can confirm this information
Eventually, they were forced to come back, very reluctantly.


I am trying so hard not to make any comments on this news; however, the whole issue is just so stupid and insane. Whether you agree or not, I mut say their coming back does not and will not change anything. This lousy government of Taiwan still functions like a lame old man, the dear president and his corrupt wife still claim shamelessly their innocence, and politicians are all still blind and busy protecting their own rights. Their coming back is extremely useless to the development of Taiwan. I only agree with the opponents' idea that they should come back for the first lady's prosecution. This is the speculation that the son of the president, though not prosecuted for the first lady's fraud, should have known and in whatever ways assisted and provided his mother the required receipts for obtaining the secret funds. If this is true, than he must be ready for the possible coming trial against his family and himself. I firmly believe that every member of that family is more or less involved in this fraud.


The ridiculous part of this issue is on the supporters' point. This is a very bizarre and immature attitude, and sad to say so that most of the people in southern Taiwan strongly agree with this attitude. They have been educated by those who claim themselves as "the real Taiwanese" that being a Taiwanese must recognize Taiwan and live for Taiwan only. Sure, I agree with the notion of "recognizing Taiwan", where I am from, and "contributing to the future of Taiwan". However, this does not mean that I only live for Taiwan or I must support their idea to bulid a new nation-state. The most ridiculous is that those, who are "the real Taiwanese", are usually living somewhere other than Taiwan, having foreign properties, having offspring who hold foreign passports, or themselves foreigners. When people are ignorant, they are very easily influenced by stupid but passionate laguages. These supporters always say that everything must be about Taiwan. If the president has an American grandson, then this fact would contradicts to their political standing. They will naturally lose their supporters. This is why they urged this couple to come back for the baby with such a naive statement. After all, these "real Taiwanese" are only using this case to protect their own political rights.


Why would I care if this president has an American grandson? Why can't he have one? This is a free country, and his son and daughter in law are free to make any decisions of where to have this baby. Even though they came back to have this baby, they still could immigrate to the U.S. if they really want to, especially after having such a big amount of money stolen from the country. They are rich people! If he commited to his mother's fraud, he would still have to come back for the tiral, as an American.


I only care if he is tury innocent of the fraud, which I believe he isn't.

1 Dec 2006

World AIDS Day & Free Hugs


Around forty million people are living with HIV throughout the world - and that number increases in every region every day. ... World AIDS Day, 1 December is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS. This year, it's up to you, me and us to stop the spread of HIV and end prejudice.
World AIDS Day.


AIDS is not scary; AIDS is not dangerous. AIDS only becomes scary and dangerous when we are not aware of it. It is a disease that can be prevented, and I firmly believe that there will be an excellent cure for this disease someday.


In fact, I think AIDS gives us a good chance to reconsider our current human relationships. We seem to detach ourselves more from normal human interactions due to the proliferation of Internet. We stop talking to our neighbours or stop smiling at a beautiful baby. We have become so cold and distant. It is this cold and distant attitude that stops us from caring for other people. When we are not able to care for other people, how we could really fight against AIDS.


People with HIV are not dangerous, and they need our attention. This disease has long been mystified, and all we know is the negative parts of it. Who said AIDS is reserved for homosexuals only? Who said you will become HIV+ just because you have any contacts with another HIV+? Who said AIDS is a sin? No one ever gives any definite answers to these questions. All we know today is plainly rumors we heard somewhere.


I don't agree with the idea that AIDS is a sin. I agree many gay men were diagnosed as HIV+ in the eighties, but recent cases show that people with HIV are mostly from unsafe straight sex, inappropriate blood transfer, and the delivery of babies. I agree that AIDS is highly contagious, but it only happens when you know nothing about it. Every individual is responsible for his/her behaviours. Only when we have proper knowledge of AIDS and are responsible for our actions could we prevent it from spreading.


Educating the public about AIDS is what we need to do today. We should stop taking AIDS as a taboo, an unspeakable subject, a sin. We need to encourage people to learn about this disease, to communicate, and to open their hearts. Imagine how a person with HIV would feel. We can actually offer our aides to help him/her to recover in whatever ways. Instead of feeling sad and unsafe, with our help, he/she could build up a positive attitude towards this disease. Through our help to them, we learn more about AIDS, and we truly contribute to better humanity.


On 11/26, there is an action named "FREEHUGS FOR HIV/AIDS" in Taipei. The goal is to encourage 100 people to hug Mr. Chang (張亞輝), a HIV+ writer and the organizer of this campaign. To the end, he actually hugged more than 150 people that day. Living in this modernised society, we used to oppress our feelings because showing true feelings would be a weak action. Of course, we become so cold and distant so as to survive in this society. However, according to the reports of this campaign, some people said that hugging Mr. Chang, or even just showing support by smiling at him, had already made their day, and they would never forget this experience. Through this campaign, he helped introduce the notion that people with AIDS are just normal patients, and the hugging and warm responses show that humanity still exists. Showing humanity in fact brings more happiness than all other achieved success.


This campaign reminds me the freehugscampaign proposed by Juan Mann in Sydney. He said that this is the age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact. I totally agree with this, and I think it is more important to remind the public to seek again good human contact we used to have but lost now. If we can encourage people to reconstruct smooth and positive human interactions, the idea of uniting people to fight against HIV could easily be realised. We would start trusting people again, and we would care for people again. Along with good education programmes on AIDS, we definitely would end our prejudice against AIDS.

28 Nov 2006

Is it necessary? : penis enlargement

Yesterday when I was paging through a magazine, I saw a series of horrible pictures about penis enlargement. They really show you bloody pictures of how to enlarge your dick. I was in shock, and I start to feel the pain! Why on earth would people do such a thing?

Does size really matter? I guess it does for some guys. According to that report, after the operation, you can actually get your dick thicker by 50% at least. One guy who was interviewed said he is very happy about the result, and he isn't ashamed of his small dick anymore.

Just by looking at these pictures already makes me feel the pain. It must be extremely painful. I just can't imagine having someone holding a knife and cutting my dick. Moreover, it takes at least a month to recover. Imagine this, what if you get an erection when the open wound is not yet closed.

Though sometimes I agree that bigger could be better, I don't think size is really that important. It is the skill and the performance of the tool that I care about. A thick 9 inch tool definitely looks great and is such a proud thing to show off. But not knowing how to use it well only makes that tool such a big joke. From my experience, guys with big dicks sometimes just don't know how to please their partners. So, from a receiver's point of view, a big dick might be a disaster!

26 Nov 2006

Nov. 27, My Birthday; I panic

10 hours later, I will be 30, officially. I should be happy for my birthday now, but I don't.

30 is such a depressing number. Confucius said in the Analects(論語): "三十而立". James Legge, the first Professor of Chinese at the University of Oxford, translated it as "At thirty, I stood firm". My perception of this phrase is when you reach the age of 30, you should have done something in your life and started to establish yourself well in the society. You are no longer a youngster taking the world as a playground. You are responsible for all your utterances and behaviours. It is time for social responsibility rather than individual ones. True, I totally agree with this saying, but what makes me depressed is that I have not yet achieved what Confucius had taught us, say, being a successful individual who has done good learning and has had clear ideas to establish him/herself well in the society.

Confucius wanted us to realise that 30 is the age we should start considering our social positions, how we could improve ourselves so as to contribute to the overall progression of the society. I have done certain learning to lift up my knowledge, I have done some jobs to gain social experience, and I do have ideas for my lifelong learning and career developmet. However, I feel so lost and uncertain about these. My learning is not useful, my work experience is not helpful, and my ideas for future are not functioning. I cannot see my furture progressing as I planned for myself. I panic because I truly don't know what awaits me ahead. Will the goals I set for myself be achieved? Or I will be just like this for the rest of my life. I am trying so hard to change the current circumstances, and I am so tired of it. Now I am reaching this depressing number, and it worsens my anxiety.

My anxiety is growing to such a scale that I don't know if I can bear it anymore, and this triggers my negative emotions. Thinking of past events is not a positive way of living, but recently, I start to think of my past experience quite often, especially the time when I was in London. We are supposed to live for the furture, not the past. This is not about regret. I don't regret what I have done in the past. It is a case of reminiscene, the one that brings good feelings, the one I yearn for now. It was the time that I did something I considered as living a real life. It was the time that I could fully be myself without fearing for being considered as abnormal and politically incorrect. It was the time I was still naive but happy.

I am unhapppy and I panic. Living in where I am now is not such a big problem, but I constantly feel restrictions that are generated by this city. It makes me feel like a prey trapped in the spider's web. Once I struggle, it tightens up more, and this process suffocates me. But I must struggle so as to reach my goal. Though tired and sad, I believe I have the ability to overcome whatever difficulties. Indeed, thank Buddha for giving me such a strong personality. I believe, through my endeavours, I definitely will achieve the goals I set for myself. This dark phase will be gone soon, and this unavoidable part of my life will complete my journey to be successful.

I am hoping that I will overcome this depressing feeling of being 30 in a short time. If Buddha could truly hear my prayers, his/her responses and supports would be the best present for my thirtieth birthday!

23 Nov 2006

Purity & Innocence

Courtesy of Natalie Souchon


I received this picture from Natalie, a dear friend of mine who works in Tibet now. According to her experience, it seems quite fun teaching there, though it is a difficult place to live in.

I don't know the name of this little girl, but looking at her pure innocent face really makes me feel peaceful. It has this magical power that could sweep aside my frustration and pressure. Aren't children pure and innocent? Yes, they are, but sometimes I just feel that kids living in the big cities are not as pure and innocent as those living in remote areas.

Being a teacher living in the city, I truly feel sad for the city children nowadays. They are not easy to teach, and they are not willing to learn, either. They have spent too much time on T.V., video games and the Internet. They have been busy with things that are not what they should be doing at their age. They are not having a decent childhood. The adults are forcing them to grow up as soon as possible so that they can compete with other children. They are not happy, and they become so material that should not be seen in children.

This little face in the picture is so different from those city faces. Her kind of sad looking only highlights her innocence. She seems reluctant to be the focus of the camera, and this reluctance is clear and simple to capture. Unlike this one, expressions of city children are always mixed with adult ones they learned from soap operas and commercials. Sometimes we may think that their cunning expressions are cute, but this in fact becomes such a hassle when you have to deal with it everyday. Why can't they just act like normal children? I believe they can't becuase they have been deprived of their childhood by us, the adults. As a consequence, we are responsible for their lost of childhood.

Thanks to Natalie for sending me this nice picture. She is born to be an artist. She captured the right angle at the perfect moment that intensifies the girl's pure eyes and her innocent reluctance. I think she should carry on her creation in the arts. Lastly, I wish this pretty girl a bright and fruitful future.

21 Nov 2006

Possessed by the inner demon? : Requiem, a film about demonic possession

Does demonic possession really exist in this world? Can we claim that a person is possessed by demons when we have got psychoanalysis as an academic subject? I am neither a theologist nor a psychologist, so I am not able to provide a concrete answer. I am not analyzing demonic possession or the potency of exorcism, either. The topic is provided only to help us analyze the context of Requiem (2006), a German film about demonic possession directed by Hans-Christian Schmid.

Requiem is based on the true incident, the Klingenberg case, happened in Germany in the seventies. In the small town of Klingenberg, a young girl named Anneliese Michel died from starvation and exhaustion after exorcism in 1976. Whether she was truly possessed or not, both the German court of justice and the German Bishops' Conference declared that this is not a case of demonic possession and the girl should survive if medical treatment is practiced. According to the article on Wikipedia, the girl’s parents, the pastor and the priest were all indicted for negligent homicide. Though this Wikipedia article is disputed, it still gives an introduction to this incident. Alternatively, if you can read German, the website of the German Bishops' Conference has further information on this case.

Although the film was based on the Klingenberg case, the director had adapted the context of the film and claimed that actions and characters were all imagined. According to the interview on the official website of this film, he stated that he personally does not believe the existence of demonic possession. In fact, the narrative of Requiem intends to correspond to the decision of the German court. It seems to state that demonic possession simply does not exist.

In the beginning of the film, the character, Michaela, was presented as a good girl being diagnosed as having epilepsy. She was forced to quit school and stayed at home for health reasons. When she finally experienced her free life in the university, her mental illness suddenly started to exacerbate. The director intended to exaggerate this condition so as to show Michaela’s inability to cope with her new life. This free new life contrasts to the strict upbringing she had at home. This change came swiftly for which Michaela was not able to adapt herself, but lost in it.

Michaela tried so hard to cope with this new life because she had the pressure from her mother who always considered her as not healthy enough for normal life. Through interactions between the two shown on the screen, we could capture the mother’s strict attitude to Michaela. In the scene the mother commented harshly on her clothes, we saw her wrath that ended as somewhat like a demonic possession. This strict upbringing actually suppresses all her feelings. When she is not able to handle a certain situation, she would show this demonic possession to release her anger or frustration. This frantic behaviour is presented when she could not complete her essay writing and got frustrated with the typewriter. This explains Michaela's demonic possession is the behaviour she adopted to express negative attitudes. It also delivers the idea that Michaela was in fact in need of medical treatment for her mental disorders.

However, this intention to say Michaela was not possessed by demons is not delivered successfully. The Klingenberg case is closed with scientific reasoning, but many people still believe Anneliese was a devote believer. Her grave has become a place of pilgrimage. Whether it is this reason or not, the director added certain horrid and supernatural atmosphere in this film. When Michaela’s problem worsened, she had hallucinations and asked for help in the church. She convinced herself that she was truly possessed by demons and kept saying she needed exorcism. She could not touch her beads, nor the Cross, and she could not bear hearing any prayers anymore. She showed her failure to believe in God and finally let her abnormal behaviours take control of her. In the scene where she was presented as fully possessed, she acted like another person yelling at her mother for her strict upbringing.

It is until the end of the film that the director finally decided to place Michaela’s demonic possession in a religious context. Doing so indeed can give more horrid sense to the film, but it seems to distract the whole film from its original implication. The intention of this film is to express that Michaela’s demonic possession results from her inability to manage her attitudes, and in order not to take any medical treatments, she convinced herself and others that she was possessed. Her demonic possession is a representation of her mental disorder.

This approach is very different from the other film also based on the same incident, The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), a Hollywood horror film directed by Scott Derrickson. In this film, we clearly get the intention that is to show us what a demonic possession is. The director used special effects to show scars, stigmata, and corporeal and sound changes on Emily. It focuses on giving entertainment and really provides a horrid sense. It places demonic possession over psychiatric disturbance. Unlike it, Requiem seems to place its focus on the human emotions, especially on the psychological process of why demonic possession became the symptom of Michaela’s mental disorder. When the director suddenly shifted his focus from psychiatric disturbance to supernatural forces, it caused problems to this film. What has been presented in the end seems to contradict to the main idea set up for the film. Does the director try to tell us that Michaela was really possessed by demons?

Mental disorders are usually considered as demonic possession in the old days when knowledge of the mental realm is not yet fully studied and analysed. Therefore, we naturally think mental disorders, along with the accompanied weird and abnormal behaviours, are consequences of demonic possession. Speaking with a religious sense, when a person acts differently from others and expresses disbelief in God, he/she is possessed by demons. On the other hand, living in this modernised world, religions are losing their hierarchical powers. When technologies develop, we distance ourselves more away from religions. As a consequence, we no longer consider God as the only saviour. In mental realm, we seek advice and treatment form psychoanalysis when mental disorders happened. However, could we really deny demonic possession? Can we say that it is only a form of mental disorder that could be fixed by psychoanalysis?

In the end of Requiem, it touches this question without giving any possible answer. I believe no one, not even those experts in theology and psychology, can really give a definite answer to whether demonic possession exists or not. Here, we are not trying to argue the existence of demonic possession in our everyday life. Mental disorders indeed require our attentions. It is a condition that may come from a person’s failure to manage his/her negative attitudes. Of course, we could take it as a demonic possession, but at the same time, we should always seek advice from psychoanalysis. After all, saving a human life is more important than compelling the demons to leave the body.

Reading the name of this film, we might think Requiem is a horror film. However, this film is humanitarian, and this special concern gives qualities to it and wins it the Fipresci Award in Berlin International Film Festival 2006. It is such a downfall when the director shifted its humanitarian focus to supernatural forces in the end of the film. Demonic possession should only be considered as a material that adds flavour to the film. If we want a horror film that is filled with supernatural forces and exaggerated performances, we can always choose a Hollywood production without any hesitation. The director of Requiem could have focused more on his humanitarian concerns and completed the film with this special quality.

16 Nov 2006

My New Gadget: Nokia E50


I finally got a new mobile, Nokia E50, a fancy looking multifunctional one. It feels so good to use Nokia again. Have a look of the product information of Nokia E50.

This mobile has multiple functions and is very good looking, and I think its target customers are on those extremely busy businessmen like those you see on Wall Street or in the city of London. It is not a simple mobile you use to call, text or surf the Net. It is designed to be a mobile office on which you could deal with almost all your tasks. I feel this mobile is more like a PDA or a small laptop than a mobile phone.

I am definitely not a businessman. Actually there is no reason for me to buy such a fancy mobile. I got it because I had a very good discount from my contract with the phone company, which made the price of it very attractive. More than that, I think we should always treat ourselves well. Since my B-day is coming, this mobile would be a good birthday present for myself.

My last mobile was a disaster. I got it right after I came back to Taiwan from London. I was almost broke then, so the only option I could go for was the free phone offered by the phone company. I am not saying that mobiles of Sony Ericsson are badly designed and produced. My last SE mobile just could not function normally, especially the battery charging. It caused me quite a big problem, and I just could not put up with it anymore. I firmly believe that free stuff is never good stuff. I would rather spend more money on something I am confident with. Anyways, I am giving myself this indulgence to play with the latest electronic gadget.

After my exploration of this new mobile, I have realised that it really performs well and all its functions are applicable to me, even I am not a 'businessman'. I work in education, and I have lots of stuff to deal with. All my tasks and stuff to do are stored in my laptop, memo and my brain. How sad that I am getting old that means I cannot count on my brain anymore. Thanks to the multiple functions of E50, all things to do or remember can be stored immediately and be transferred to my laptop or memo without losing any important information. Honestly speaking, I am an old-fashioned person still keeping the habit of using memo. If once the electronic gadget crashed, at least I got my memo to cope with my work.

This new gadget assists me well in my day to day schedule and tasks. However, I cannot understand why Nokia only allows its mobiles to be compatible with Windows only. I am a Mac user, and this mobile cannot comminucate with my ibook. In order to update files and info on my laptop, I must use another PC for file transfer. Quite a downfall to this well-functioned mobile.

In conclusion, what I want to say is:
I learned my lesson that free and cheap stuff are not reliable. I am happy with my new mobile, and I decide to be good to myself forever.

13 Nov 2006

Students in Taiwan are 'illogical'

Recently I have been feeling frustrated with my senior high school students. It seems more and more difficult to teach the new generations of Taiwan. Their learning habit is going from worse to the worst, and this leads to a terrible learning result. How could I help them when they are not gaining positive training for learning form schools? I reason that the main problem lies in the wrong educational policy practiced in Taiwan.

I agree with the original idea of reforming the old educational policies, that is, to eliminate such heavy study burden. I have been through it, and I support it. However, the current situation shows that this reform is a total failure, and it is in fact dragging down the quality and level of education in Taiwan. Policymaking is crucial that cannot be taken as an experiment. What happens now in Taiwan's education is like a big experiment in which students are treated as lab mouse. When there are problems, the policy makers simply don't fix them but discard the whole project and start a brand new one. I don't think any kinds of national policies should be changed from time to time. They should always be well planned that mean to bring progress to the people.

Because of this failure in education, students of Taiwan are not releasing their study burden but having more from the parents and schools. This failure results in low-level performance in learning, and this drags down the competitiveness. For both parents and schools, this low level performance is unacceptable, and the only way to lift it up is to give more studies to students. However, how could we lift up the quality of learning when there is no competitiveness at all? What students do now basically is about remembering whatever is listed in their textbooks. They are not required to do extra work for gaining knowledge outside of their textbooks. Teachers in school are so busy teaching them how to do tests because that is what the parents and schools want. As a result, students are becoming machines answering questions only. This is not learning. They are not able to think creatively, let alone logical and critical thinking.

I was so sad when I read my senior high students' short essays. Most of them could not present their ideas clearly, and some of them simply do not know how to write. At first I though the reason is because they have difficulties in English writing. However, I realized that English writing is only part of the reason, and the main issue is on their logical and critical thinking. Since the very beginning of their learning, they have never been trained in this way of thinking. What they are required to do in schools is always to memorize what the textbooks say. They cannot think! I am so terrified of this realization. This realization helps me understand why some university professors complain about the low quality of current university students.

Is there anything I can do to help my senior high school students? I am trying to train my students to be more logical and critical, but this environment will still block their progress. After all, knowing how to answer dull questions and entering a good university are goals they should achieve. Maybe I should just leave this problem to the university professors.

4 Nov 2006

Justice comes, and we start to see the hope!

What a breaking news! The prosecutors addressed to the public of Taiwan yesterday their final report of both the president and the first lady's corruption. In this report, the first lady is indicted for corruption and faking documents, along with three other presidential aides being charged for faking documents. As for the liar, Chen, the corrupted president, he is protected by the consititution against these charges. This is the first time in the history of Taiwan. The Anti-Chen group has started their protest again right after the news was released.

I truly admire the prosecutor Mr. Chen for his courage and endeavour to find out the truth. It took him about four months to check the usage of each single receipt that is reported in the secret presidential fund. This secret fund is set up to enhance Taiwan's diplomatic works overseas. From the news, we saw how the money of this secret fund was used. Some of them were used in purchasing luxuary goods like clothes, jewellery, and watches, some in baby stuff, some in books, and some in funitures. This really sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? How could these purchases help and enhance Taiwan's diplomatic relations? It is obviously a fraud the first lady intended to commit. The most horrible is the president Chen did not try to stop this wrongful action but helped his wife lie to the public. He made a huge lie that part of the fund is used for a top-secret diplomatc work. Lies don't last, and once you lie, you must tell another lie to cover the old ones. This is a snowball effect that more lies involve more people, and when one of them recognizes the danger of it and decides to quit the game, the snowball bursts. So many lies meaning both the president and the first lady are truly guilty.

The Anti-Chen group now protests again, and the Nationalist party will start the third recall of Chen's presidency next Monday. I wonder if this recall will be successful, and I also speculate about Chen's intention to resign. It seems he has already known something is gonna happen because his son flew to the U.S.A. in the end of last month. Though his family said he was leaving for study, this action in fact feels more like fleeing. Both his daughter and son are more or less involved in this fraud. Though they are not charged, this incident has darkened their furture and makes it tough to live. Finally, we see justice and the hope to recall this corrupted liar. He can always deny any wrongdoing, but the evidence speaks for itself. Thanks to the power democracy gives to the society of Taiwan.

3 Nov 2006

“Organic”: on performance and performing arts

Definitions
Perform: entertain an audience, typically by acting, singing, or dancing on stage
Organic: of, relating to, or derived from living matter
Performance: an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment
Performing arts: forms of creative activity that are performed in front of an audience, such as drama, music, and dance.
(The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 2005)

The above are the definition of the terms from the dictionary. Why am I putting these terms and their definitions here? Recently, I have been working on my previous essay on opera productions. Retyping it because I lost my original file due to the crash of my last laptop and modifying it to make it more reasonable and complete. When I was busy working on this essay, I suddenly felt the need to express my thought on performance and performing arts. In my point of view, I consider both organic forms that present ideas, generate ideas, and reproduce ideas.

This concept is easy to understand. What I want to make clear here is to say that both performance and performing arts are organic and ideological. They are organic because they are formed and produced by human beings. They are derived from living matter, as defined by the dictionary. Moreover, what they present is always about our life or environment, such as feelings and perceptions of social relations or nature. This essence of them reflects the definition of organic that is of or relating to living matter. However, this essence of presenting things about our life or environment gives a strong implication to performance and performing arts. It shows that both of them are meaningful from which it makes them an ideological form. Every word we say and every action we take are products that express our desire and intention. We don’t do things or say words that are completely irrelevant to our thoughts. Therefore, what we express is what we want or think, and this expression is full of meanings. Performance and performing arts are the representation of our feelings and perceptions of social relations and nature we experience in our everyday life. They are meaningful, and they cannot be excluded from our life experience.

The presentation of performance and performing arts is an organic form. It is organic not just because of its form is organic, meaning human beings produce and take part in it. It is organic for the reason that it has meanings and ideas are presented through it. The meaning comes from the intention of the person who produces and presents it. This could be a director, choreographer, conductor or performers who participate in it. Their words and actions are meant to give ideas to the spectators. This makes the presented meaning become an idea that is available for digestion and reproduction. The spectators are the most important element to help complete the meaning of this organic form, and the result of this production is a non-stop circulation of meanings. When a person experiences a presented meaning, an idea, whether it is related to him/her or not, he/she would be effected by this presented idea and naturally would generate it in his mind. The producer may expect you to conform to his idea, but the final decision is on you. As a result, whether you conform to it or not, your experience, knowledge and preference will give new meanings to this presented idea, and a new idea concerning what is presented is constructed. This idea of yours is an attitude and a reaction to the idea that is presented in front of you. In other words, this new idea of yours is a reproduction of the old one, and it has given layers of meanings to what is presented, namely, a performance.

In order to draw the attention of the spectators, entertain them becomes an important part in both performance and performing arts. According to the definitions of both terms in the dictionary, to entertain construct the basic meaning of the word. Indeed, who would go for a performance with no entertainments at all? Even a plain talk show has incorporated certain level of entertainment in it. Once you want to present a thing, whatever it is, as a performance for a group of people, the notion of entertainment should be applied. I would argue here that entertainment, with no further analysis to the nature, content and form of it, is only applied to attract the spectators without whom a performance simply cannot exist. This takes us back to the notion of taking spectators as the main concerns for arguing that both performance and performing arts are organic forms. The participation of spectators generates and reproduces ideas, and the consequence helps construct the circulation of meanings. In a circulation of meanings, ideas are shared, experienced and reproduced. This gives both performance and performing arts its implication to be ideological. Everything that is presented is all about ideas.

They are organic. This is what I argue here. We cannot treat performance and performing arts as dead objects that are ready to be dissected and thrown away. They should always be regarded as organic, and its presentation is a representation of ideas and life experience. In them, what has happened or been placed in front of us is always inserted with meanings either from the producer or performers. We are asked to participate in this process of reproducing ideas, and we should not be treated as dead objects. There should always be things that invite our feelings and perceptions. This is a both way communication in which the performance itself and the spectators benefit from each other. As a result, our participation confirms the organic form of both performance and performing arts, and this organic form gives the spectators a chance to examine their living conditions. This special quality gives performance and performing arts a distinctive place in the world of the arts.

27 Oct 2006

Eliminating 'Difference': C.R.A.Z.Y.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, C.R.A.Z.Y. captured a young gay man's early life in 1970s Montreal. Being gay is hard, and that means 'being different', whether you live in the 70s or now, in Montreal or anywhere else.

I saw this film couple days ago, and the topic, difference, attracts and entices me. Imagine yourself born on Christmas day. Doesn't this make you different enough? Zachary, the main character in this film, is such a blessed child. He survived from his father's carelessness, dropping him on the floor on the day of his birth. Consequently, his mother started telling him and others that he has special healing power from God. All mothers are the same, and they just love their kids. However, this causes troubles to little Zac. His birthday is always a big family reunion, and when whoever is bleeding, he has to pray to heal them.

Zac is not just different in this way. The director highlights 'difference' in the mental development of Zac's childhood. Every father expects his boy to be like him, a real man. Little Zac failed his father's expect when he was accidentlly caught wearing his mother's pearl necklace and lipstick. He was only trying to be mom taking care of his baby brother. This is not acceptable for all dads, especially this one who has five boys. His father tried so hard to convince himself that Zac is a normal boy. He always paid good attention to what Zac likes and gives him related presents on his birthday. However, what little Zac wanted is the present the girls have in the next room, and he wished he could go and play with them instead of staying with others listening to his father singing Charles Aznavour's 'Emmène-moi au bout de la terre', which had become a nightmare for everyone on Christmas Eve. In his childhood, Zac was angry at and confused about his father's attitude, and therefore, he broke his father's favorite Patsy Cline record. This action brings the gap between Zac and his dad, but it also starts Zac's journey to recognize his true self.

In his teenage time, Zac and his brother, Reymond, have become the taboo in the family. Raymond is such a macho guy who indulges himself in drugs and sex all the time. It seems he is the least favored son but in fact is the one who receives most of his father's manly attitudes. His representation contrasts with Zach's, whose preference was the music of David Bowie's 'Space Oddity'. He dressed himself as an androgynous rock star that points out his confusion of showing his true sexual preference and at the same time shows the difficulty in identifying himself with his father and brother. As a teenager, most of us have being through this phase of confusion, but being gay makes the whole situation worse. Zach was rumored to be gay in school, and rumors spread. How could he position himself when he is not even sure about his true sexual preference? Father got angry and suspicious, mother was sad, and brothers fought. Though the film did not put much emphasis on the brotherhood, it shows us Raymond's silent recognition of Zac's sexual preference. Despite his drug addiction and bad attitudes, he loved his brother and protected him from rumors.

Though Zac tries to convince himself he is normal as other boys, he could not fight his temptation for man. He had his first oral with his schoolmate in his father's car. His father sent him to the doctor and got the answer that Zac did it on purpose. Of course, this is not acceptable for the father, but this gives Zac the chance to face who he really is. Can we change our sexual preference? Is it a sin to be born to love the same sex? Zac still tries to divert himself back to normal, but it is not successful. The last big argument he had with his father encouraged him to leave the family and country to search for his true self. This reflects what his father always sings in Christmas, 'Emmène-moi au bout de la terre', that is, take me along to the end of the world. This argument came from a rumor that says Zac was making out in the car in his brother's wedding. Though it is ture that Zac was with the man he secretly loved in the car, they did not commit any sexual behaviours. His father did not want to listen to his explain because he had already known that his beloved son is different, different from all other boys. Parents all know their children, and it is only the matter of time to accept that my children are different from others.

This adventure Zac had to Jerusalem is crucial to him. He finally sees and recognizes himself through this experience. Though his sexual preference is different from others, he will only be considered different when he sees himself as different. Only by embracing your difference that you could gain the courage to open up yourself and welcome the world. This journey helps him confront his homosexuality, and it also helps him see that love is the power to heal wounds, and the family is the only place where provides us love and strength. However, it is quite smart but ironic here that the director places Zac in Jerusalem, such a religious holy place, where he finally recognizes his homosexuality. Isn't this an answer to the question that it is not a sin to be born to love the same sex? After all these endeavours, recognizing one's true self is way more important than being gay or not. God and Buddha love all human beings, not regarding your race, power, sex and sexual preferences.

In the end of the film, Zac said it took him 10 years that he could finally take his loved one home. Time heals, and time erases difference. Being different today doesn't mean being different forever. If we face difference courageously, we will succeed in finding our true selves and gain more from the experience. This film does not just show us a young gay men's journey of being gay, but presents us a true father and son relationship in which both are learning to accept difference. It provides us an excellent chance to look at homosexuality as 'not different', not just in 1970s Montreal but in every places in whatever time. Supporting homosexuality can eliminate difference and help us make better humanity.

Check information of this film:

Official Website of C.R.A.Z.Y.
C.R.A.Z.Y. info on Internet Movie Database

26 Oct 2006

Trick or Treat

Halloween is coming! Most kids, maybe some adults like me, are expecting this holiday. This is a fun night for both kids and adults. For kids, they go out in their costumes for trick-or-treat, and for us, adults, we go out for a crazy and fun Halloween party.

What if there aren't any Halloween parties to go? No worries! Try online games. Zeeks Games provides different kinds of easy-to-play online games. Transylmania is one of them and is cool for Halloween. I Iike the design of this easy game, especially the cute little vampire. Sometimes, it is just nice to play some silly games after work.

Happy Halloween to everyone!

19 Oct 2006

Online geographical game

geosense.net is an online game designed to test your geographical knowledge. I read about this game on the newspaper. After I tried that, I found my geography is actually not that good! I could identify the country easily from the world map, but I had a hard time finding out the exact position of the city on the map.

I think this programme is in fact a very good tool for young students to learn geography. Through this online game, they could easily and happily absorb basic geographical knowledge. It is truly sad to say that most students in Taiwan know nothing about geography. Once I asked a junior high student where the capital of the USA is, and he told me the capital of the USA is New York. This is ridiculous. Most of them can only find the major countries, like Taiwan, China, USA or UK, on the world map. Beyond these common big names, other countries are alien to them. When they don't know the names of the countries, how could they identify them on the world map, let alone the cities.

The current inadequate educational policy in Taiwan results in poor performance of the Taiwanese students. The government focuses only on the teaching of what Taiwan is and tries to insert the dishonest national identity into the new generations. Students have to learn everything that is about Taiwan, like literature, geography, history and Taiwanese language. When it comes to the learning of other countries, such as world history, world geography or world literature, it is always only couple pages on the text book. It seems to introduce them is enough. Students are not required to learn in detail what the world is, but are required to know every little detailed thing about Taiwan. I am not suggesting that learning the required knowledge of Taiwan is wrong, but we also need to learn other knowledge that could equip us well in the international society. Geographically speaking, Taiwan is only this big. If we only focus on Taiwan without gaining further knowledge concerning the world, how could we compete with other countries? My next question to the government would be, 'Do you really think that Taiwan is the centre of the world?'

I would say, we could try to make Taiwan the centre of the world, but if we carry on this inadequate policy, we would be nothing and slowly disappearing form the international society, which is already happening now. After all, in this highly competitive globalised society, who cares about Taiwan! Only those who practice right policies and truly lift the educational level of their people could finally be the star shining in the international society.

6 Oct 2006

Chien-Ming Wang, you are really good


I am never a beaseball fan, but Wang's performance makes me wanna spend my time before the tele. Maybe it is because he is from Taiwan, and I feel the need to salute him for his always cool and focused performance. However, despite his attitude on the field, he has a special charm when he pitched that naturally attracts the audience's attention and even leads the whole team to perform their best. Is he a natural born pitcher? Undeniably yes, but I stronly believe the great success comes from his commitment and endeavour. What I appreciate him the most is his humbleness that brings him good fame in this competitive career. I love the Nike advertising slogan I read on the local newspaper that goes "Taiwan may not produce another Chien-Ming Wang, but great efforts can". This is very true, and we have seen it in Wang. Well done, Wang! I hope to see you wearing the MLB World Series Championship Ring on Oct. 29.

4 Oct 2006

Happy Moon Festival

This Friday is the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which is called Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival. This is a very important festival for Chinese people, and we usually have family reunions to celebrate full moon. On this day, all of us will eat lovely moon cakes and try to identify the shadows on the moon as Chang'e or the Jade Rabbit. I kind of feel sad for Chang'e. Imagine yourself floating to the moon and staying there forever. If you are interested in these myths concerning the Moon Festival, you can find them on Wikipedia. Anyway, I still like moon cakes though they make me fat.

Happy Moon Festival
to all my dear friends

2 Oct 2006

Cultural and Creative Industries

The idea of promoting cultural and creative industries has become the major investment for most developed countries for about a decade, especially in northern America and Western Europe. Of course, both Taiwan and China also participate in this new trend and invest in this new industry. It has been about 10 years since the beginning of the competition between the two countries in this filed, and we have seen very different results in both investments.

Yesterday I read a long report about this issue on the local newspaper, and later the night I watched a short news programme on this topic again. Both have very harsh but precise comments on Taiwan's failure in this field. I don't really know why this topic suddenly becomes the focus for the local news. I can only guess, because of the current unstable political situation, the news channels and newspapers want to point out how incapable the current government is. The success of China in this field highlights the failure of the policy making and execution in Taiwan.

What is "cultural and creative industries"? According to the description of this term on the UNESCO website, its meaning is as follows:
"this term applies to those industries that combine the creation, production and commercialisation of contents which are intangible and cultural in nature. These contents are typically protected by copyright and they can take the form of goods or services. ...(It) may also be referred to as 'creative industries'. ... Cultural industries add value to contents and generate values for individuals and societies. They are knowledge and labour-intensive, create employment and wealth, nurture creativity - the 'raw material' they are made from -, and foster innovation in production and commercialisation processes. At the same time, cultural industries are central in promoting and maintaining cultural diversity and in ensuring democratic access to culture. This twofold nature –both cultural and economic – builds up a distinctive profile for cultural industries. During the 90s they grew exponentially, both in terms of employment creation and contribution to GNP. Today, globalisation offers new challenges and opportunities for their development."
In other words, promoting cultural and creative industries in fact creates employment opportunities for the public, strengthens the economic development of the nation, and raises the visibility of a country in the international society. The outcome of investing in this field is positive, and this is why, after the traditional industries move to cheap places for cheap labours, most developed countries would focus on and invest in this new field.

Let us analyse the UNESCO definition of this term more. It says cultural industries promote and maintain cultural diversity, and it ensures democratic access to culture. This is a very important concept for us when we are positioning ourselves in globalisation. How do we maintain our distinctive place without being marginalised in the process of globalisation? I believe most people would say building up the political and military power would be an advantage to maintain a country's international place. Many would suggest to develop the high tech industries or the IT related ones so as to secure the country's economic progress. Yes, I agree with both ideas proposed, and I firmly believe that these two measures would definitely bring good effects to both the public and the country. However, we seem to forget one very simple idea that can lift a country's competitiveness effectively, that is, the power of creativity and culture.

As explained by UNESCO, creativity is the raw material that generates culture, and culture adds values to the society. Due to this close relationship, creativity and culture are tightly linked that cannot be separated for discussion. If we invest our time and money in this field, we certainly will gain great values from it, and this great value will strengthen the society. A society would be free from the danger of being marginalised because it recognizes its culture. A society would have good confidence to compete with others because its value-added culture has become the true identity of the society. All we need to do is to allow the expansion of creativity, to build up good educational strategy for creativity, and to fulfill the needs of creativity. Though values gained through this measure would never be as concrete and solid as those gained through military or high tech industries, they are in fact more effective and perpetual. Therefore, I would argue that the best way to secure a country's place in globalisation is to promote cultural and creative industries.

Taking the Edinburgh International Festival as an example, this is the most famous international arts festival in the world. Its mission is to
"promote the cultural, educational and economic well-being of the people of Edinburgh and Scotland"
Starting from a very basic idea, the festival positioned itself as a platform for performing arts on the fringe and to promote cultural activities in the region. After years of development, this fringe festival gains good support from the government and attracts the international attention. Now it has become the leading arts festival in the world and represents both the arts scene and cultural industries of UK. Its success not only guarantees the country's place in globalisation but also fosters the economic growth in the country. Same story is happening in China now. The 798 SPACE in Beijing is on its way to be one of the most important cultural symbols of China. Its mission
"to host high-level cultural and commercial activities"
reflects what cultural industries can bring about. When this space gains its fame and attracts more tourists, we see new restaurants, cafes and bars opening, and this creates new employment opportunities. In fact, who benefits from this new art scene? It is the public, the municipal government, and even the whole country. As a result, its success represents what China can offer culturally. This invisible power not only promotes the cultural and economic well-being of the Beijing public but also lifts China's cultural position to the level of London, New York or Tokyo.

There are many successful examples in the world, and I have found the government's policy making and execution play the key to success. As I have mentioned, Taiwan has devoted almost a decade to promote cultural industries, but at present we have only produced a few internationally well-known ones, and they are all suffering to survive due to the lack of governmental support. We have set up many policies to promote our cultural industries, but most policies contradicted to the notion of promoting the cultural, educational and economic well-being of the public of Taiwan. Instead, what we have done is always about presenting big shows and conferences without giving references to what Taiwan is culturally. These big shows and conferences are always about what is the trendiest or the most discussed in the world. When an event cannot achieve what is expected, such as the participation of the public, their solution is always to invite a pop star to give a performance. How could this lift the cultural well-being of the public of Taiwan? Can a pop star performance innovate our creativity? The worst is the central government, for no reason, thinks cultural industries should be the responsibility of the local governments and is not keen on organizing policies in this filed as the main focus for national development. As a result, we can have more than 100 cultural activities in a year, all named as international festival or international conference. The funny thing is that almost none of these activities can survive in the next year. This is plainly wasting money and resources.

We do have some good examples in Taiwan, but all of them do not receive proper respect and good support from the central government. The most famous one would be the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. Even these groups have gained their international fame and are regarded as the representation of Taiwan culture, in politician's point of view, cultural industries are still not worth talking about. This is really sad. How could we expect the country to be strong when we are not taking our culture and the development of it seriously? Frankly speaking, Taiwan does not have any international influence despite the IT industries or maybe our foreign savings. Worse than that, we are already losing our advantage. Moreover, we cannot compete with other countries politically or militarily because we are not even recognized as a nation-state. We should really take our chance to build a society where creativity is freely expressed and culture is progressing. I believe in the twofold nature of the cultural industries. It can help the economic development in the country and can guarantee the country's international place in globalisation.

30 Sep 2006

Koh Samet, My Secret Island!















Koh Samet, Samet island, lies in the Siam bay, like a pearl gleaming in the sea. It is so beautiful that I can't stop myself going there again and again.

Samet is in the province of Rayong, southeast of Bangkok. From Bangkok it takes about 2.5 hours on the bus to get to the port named Ban Phe and then a 20 mins boat trip to the island. It is not difficult to get there. Most tour operators on Kao San road offer "VIP bus" service, though not really VIP service, to the island now, but I still prefer using the public bus from Bangkok Ekkamai, eastern bus station, which is cheaper and safer.

I had a horrible experience with the Kao San tour operators last time to Koh Chang. Because we were lazy to sort out the ticket problems and wanted to save time, we decided to get "VIP bus+boat" tickets from Kao San travel agencies. Two friends of mine got their tickets later than us and paid more. (I should feel lucky not paying more) They tried to argue but got nothing. The agency said you either take it or give it up because they will not pay the difference. Then, we found out the "VIP bus" is just a bit better than the public one. It is very different from the VIP bus I took couple years ago to Krabi. We think maybe only the 10 hours or more journey can get the real VIP bus. Everything was fine for the first 2 hours, then we had to stop every now and then cause the driver had to check the tire and the break. Okay, good for all smokers! But the scary part came, after about 9 hours of driving, one sitting at the back smelled something burning and saw fire coming out of the tire! We had to pull over and put out the fire. The bus was really on fire! We were only like 30 mins ride to the port, so we decided not to continue the bus journey. The angency sent some vans to drive us to the port. We almost missed the last boat to Koh Chang. From bankok to Trat should only take about 6 hours, but this one took us 10 hours. We didn't get a real VIP bus but had to rescue the bus.

Back to Samet. I would suggest those who want to go there use the public transportation. You can easily get bus+boat tickets from Ekkamai. If you are interested in going there, check out travelfish website. On this website, you can also find accommodation information though most of Samet's budget bungalows do not offer online booking service. This is quite troublesome since most bungalows are full during the peak season. If you go there during the rainy season, you should be able to find rooms easily. Though this island is named the driest one in Thailand, it still rains a lot. I was there this June for 5 days, and I got only a half day to do sunbath! What to do for the rest of days? Massage, drinking, chatting with stangers, eyeing cute guys, and then having great party with everyone who got bored there.

To be honest, there is not much you can do on that island. It only takes you about 30 mins to go around the island if you are on a motorbike. I can ride both motorbike and scooter, but I would not do it on that island. Only 1/3 of the road is paved, the rest is rocky and bumpy. I go there to relax and enjoy my time at the beach, not to risk my life. By the way, the island is so tiny, and everything is grouped around the white sand beach. You don't really need a bike unless you stay on the other side of the island that takes about half an hour to walk to the lively area.

This island only got famous recently, it was mainly the spot for locals before. I still remember the first I went there, all I saw was locals spending their holiday with families. But this time, I was surprised to see VIP bus service to Samet from Kao San. My friend and I thought it would be easy to find rooms because of the rainy season, but we were wrong. Still we were very lucky to get our desired bungalow, the last one available in that resort. So lucky that we also got a very good bargain price for that bungalow. Though it rained almost every day when we were there, we still had a great time. Who will feel sad when you have the amazing sunset view right in front of your bungalow? Our bungalow was right in front of the beach, and we had a large porch where you can sit and do whatever you want, such as singing. (Beware of the mosquitos, they are huge and mean.) If I go next year, I definitely will stay there again. I hope they will not raise the room rates again. Samet is becoming more and more expensive.

There is a saying about the name of this island. I heard this from a friend who lives there now. He said that Samet island is cursed. If you are a couple spending passionate nights on that island, you two will break up for sure once you leave the island. I am not sure if this is true because I did not go there with a lover, but I really want to give it a try. The view and the atmosphere on the island are just perfect for lovers. Don't be sad if you are going alone. You may be very lucky to find one on the beach. For no reason, people natually become relaxed, sexy, and charming on that island. You see, this is the charm of the island.

Yes, I am planning to go there again next June. I am only hoping that the weather will be just fine, and I can still be lucky to get that bungalow I want. Next time I am there, I will do snorkeling. I read on the internet that good underwater view is only couple steps away from where I stayed last time. If possible, I hope all my friends can join me so that we can have a cool beach party there. Of course, a handsome and nice partner besides me would be an asset. I believe I can break that myth!

28 Sep 2006

Suvarnabhumi Airport


Suvarnabhumi, the new Bangkok international airport opened at 3am this morning. The main building of this new airport is the world's largest single building. It has 120 aircraft parking bays and can handle 45 million passengers and 3 million tonnes of cargo per year. This airport is new and very big. Its opening shows Thailand's ambition of wanting to be the air hub of Southeast Asia. This is the time to say goodbye to Don Muang Airport which I have visited so many times. I agree that Don Muang is always crammed with tourists, but it is so close to the city, and I know exactly where to get what I need there.

Suvarnabhumi means 'The Golden Land'. Gold is important to Thai culture as it is to Chinese culture. Gold usually symbolizes high quality, and its meanings include wealth, illumination and prosperity. This bright colour is also used to represent fertility. The old Chinese royalty used gold as its symbol, and only the king had the privilege to use this colour. In Buddhist tradition, especially in East Asia, the image of Buddha is always depicted in gold. This color is widely used in Buddhism to show that Buddha's teaching is like the ray of sunlight. It penetrates darkness and brightens our mind. Though yellow is the royal colour in Thailand, they have used gold in everything related to the royalty and Buddhism. I believe many tourists who visited Bangkok will be impressed by the use of gold in the grand palace.

I guess the king chose this name to hope that this airport will be like gold shining in Asia. In the introduction film of this airport, I saw this intention of which they tried to create the image of the airport on a golden field. Aircrafts taking off at sunset with beautiful reflections of golden sunlight from the surroundings. I must say this short video is a very good promotion for both the new airport and Thailand. It not only tells its audiences how big, new and effective the new airport is, but also introduces Thailand as an ideal place for all international travellers. I have been to Thailand so many times, and I think I have known quite a lot about this country. However, after seeing this film, I get the feeling of going there again to experience the charms of the country. Despite all the delays of this new airport and scandals of the current political situation, this short video is truly a good promotion to the country's tourism industry.

I cannot help myself but think of my country's policies on promoting Taiwan. Recently, our government announced a very strange decision. They decided to change the full name of Taipei C.K.S. International Airport to Taoyuan International Airport. I don't understand the decision. Further, we always say that Taiwan has the best location to be the hub for Asia Pacific, but I have not yet seen any positive policies to make this real. Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Shanhai and Guangzhou all have their big new airports now, and Singapore will complete their new terminal in Changi Airport in 2008. We are only starting to plan the new terminal and a new runway for our newly named airport. How can we compete with our neighbours when we are always couple steps behind? What is truly sad is that our current government never admits that we are losing our place in the international society, but tries to comfort the public by making false statistics. The worst is that they try to divert the attention of the public away from criticism by creating group conflicts. It seems that these politicians only care about maintaining their political power and privilege instead of lifting the living quality of the public and the national competitiveness.

Our world is losing its old geographical boundaries, and it is becoming a flat world, as proposed by Thomas Friedman. We should look forward and position ourselves as a constructive part of this flat world. In the meantime, we should put the needs and the welfare of the public as the priority and work on it. Changing the name of the international airport will not bring good welfare to the public but create confusion in the international society. I strongly believe that the government should take immediate actions to lift the service of the airport and to attract more international airliners. Though it is simply not possible to promote Taiwan through political measures, we should focus on what we have already established and succeeded in the international society. When Taiwan takes its good position in the international society, naturally the world would know Taiwan as a political state and would continue its positive, though not political, connections with Taiwan. This good connection would bring beneficial effects to the people of Taiwan.

Though we are not sure if Suvarnabhumi Airport can achieve its goal to be the air hub of Southeast Asia, its opening in fact promotes Thailand once again in the international society. Now I am expecting my next trip to Thailand because I know I will be landing in this brand new airport. I am hoping that I will have a good experience using this airport in the coming future. At the same time, I am also hoping that our government can really open their eyes to look forward and do something positive to promote Taiwan to the rest of the world.

20 Sep 2006

A new government

Thailand's military coup declared martial law just last night. According to the full statement, the army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin said the reason of doing so is to
"control and rectify the situation and bring normalcy to the country and quickly restore the people's unity."
He further said
"(the group) has no intention to become the administrator of the country itself ... it will return the democratic administrative power with the king as the head of state to the Thai people as soon as possible ... (the group) has pledged to maintain peace and order and preserve the stability of the beloved nation of the Thai people."
In this statement, the leader of the coup explained the mismanagement of the current government resulted in this extreme action, and they were forced to take this action. He claimed they were in fact acting in accordance with the wishes of the Thai people. This extreme action, according to the army chief, will stop when the new prime minister is appointed and the new permanent constitution is written.

The current prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been involved in corruption since this January. There are harsh criticism on his failure to stop Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand and his control over the media. All have made him the main target for his opposite party and most Thai people. In April this year, most Thai people walked on the street to protest that Thaksin is no longer qualified for the position of prime minister. Though he promised to step down, he resumed his position after a short period of time.

The political situation in Thailand is in fact quite similar to the one in Taiwan now. However, I must say that Thailand and Taiwan are different, and I do not support military coup d'état. I believe that a democratic country should have an appropriate measure to discharge the power of the disqualified head of state. This disqualified head of state should accept the criticism from the public and consider the best for her/his country. When the public says that they do not have the confidence in her/his ability to manage the country and walk on the street to pretest against her/his leadership, she/he must immediately take good actions to solve the problem. The solution, in my opinion, includes resignation and the reform of the congress. Only by taking good actions that the democracy of the country could be maintained. After all, democracy is what we have gone so far to fight for.

In terms of the case in Thailand, the situation is not out of control, and we have seen the intention of maintaining a peaceful and nonviolent coup. I believe the reason why peace could be maintained in this coup is the intangible power of the king. The king of Thailand is a supporter of democracy, and because of his good deeds, he receives great love, respect and support from his people. Though the king of Thailand seems not to have real political power (royal powers), the image of him symbolizes the true national identity. We can see this through the celebrations in June this year. Every woman and man wore yellow T-shirts to celebrate the king's 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne. This immense popularity has made him the true leader of the country. We have also seen his influence in the 1992 crisis. He intervened in this crisis so as to keep the democratic progression of the country. The same goes with this time, the coup leaders pledged their loyalty to the king right after they declared the martial law and announced their intention for a new parliament. Later on, the king endorsed the coup that gives the coup its legitimacy. The king has taken his action to stop further dispute and keep the country from military dictatorship. Though this political crisis is still in process, at least, what we have seen here is a nonviolent one that is well received by most Thai people.

Of course the use of military power to overthrow a corrupted government is quick and powerful, but it is dangerous when we do not have a leader that gains absolute respect from both the military and the public. It is very likely that a coup would lead to a military dictatorship which we can see from certain African states or Latin American countries. This is not the result that we want. When democracy is practiced in the country, every action and decision should be carried out under the constitution. Can we take the same action as Thailand did? I guess the answer is 'No'. We do not have a king, and we do not have a person who gains such power like the king of Thailand, either. Moreover, we have gone so far to establish a democratic system, so we should use the power the constitution gave to the congress to solve this political crisis. I don't support coup, and I don't think a coup would ever happen in Taiwan. I can only hope that the disqualified head of state can think of the best for the country and resign. In the meantime, the congress should take good actions to stop his mismanagement of the country, and the supreme court should carry on all required investigations on his frauds. Coup should not be encouraged in Taiwan. I believe we can overthrow this corrupted government through democratic measures.

16 Sep 2006

Siege

Congradulations to the people of Taiwan! We have made our first goal to voice what we truly believe in, that is
For Buddha's sake! Chen Shui-bian should and must step down!

The anti Chen Shui-bian rally, named "Siege", attracted more than 320,000 people yesterday. This number is in itself a new record for the mass and social movement in Taiwan. Moreover, according to the local news, all the participants joined this rally with their free-will. This is a success, a success for the people of Taiwan. I am hoping sincerely that this peaceful rally can carry on and the final goal can be reached soon. Thanks to everyone who joined the rally yesterday.

Click the title to read the news of this rally published on Taipei Times.

13 Sep 2006

Hey, it's time to step down!

Starting from Saturday 9/10, people in Taiwan start writing a new page in the history of Taiwan's democratic progression. What we are aiming at is to bring down the corrupted government led by Chen shui-bian. This is not a violent protest but a silent rally that means to voice our opinion: Chen Shui-bian, it is time to step down.

This rally has been in process for almost a week, and it has become the hottest topic for the public in Taiwan. All the media reports this rally in detail everyday. Every one talks about this rally everyday. It is so obvious that you cannot simply miss or ignore it. We speak out what we want in an honest but solid sense: Chen Shui-bian, you should and must step down.

Chen Shui-bian always says he is the president who is elected by the public of Taiwan, so his leadership is what the public of Taiwan wants. I am not going to question the legitimacy of that second presidential election. When the public chooses him, it means they want him to lead them to better lives. In other words, he should always listen to them with care and good grace. However, it seems that he never really listens to the public. He only cares about his own power and his family's wealth. The suffering of the public is not an issue for him, let alone the development of the country. Taiwan, under his leadership, has become a patient who suffers great pain from cancer. He still doesn't care; he still insists that he is the right one for Taiwan.

Has he heard what the public wants? Doesn't the public of Taiwan show what they really want now right in front of his presidential house? He simply cannot accept that he is no longer the right one for Taiwan, and he simply cannot release his power easily. Power corrupts human minds as Lord John Acton pronounced
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Due to the nature of power, Chen Shui-bian would never agree to step down. Moreover, his family and him are rumored to have been involved in frauds and are under investigations. If he agrees to step down, and if what has been investigated is truly illegal, he would be prosecuted immediately. Therefore, it is unlikely that he would step down of his own free will.

I agree that forcing him to step down is a tough task to accomplish, but let us not forget the power of people. As one Chinese saying goes "Water can float a boat and sink it as well", the power of people is like water, and when the surge comes, it can in fact overthrow the unstable and unsupported government. This requires the participation of each individual who shares the same idea in the society. This gathered group of people would form a positive energy that aims to discharge the power of the inappropriate leader, and this energy is an organic form that it grows when the group expands. This is a grassroots ideology whose achievement calls for persistence.

Indeed, we have made the first move to gather people up, and we are seeing the persistence in this rally. Though I am not there in person to support this action, I am here supporting them by writing up my ideas, chatting over coffee with friends, educating new generations. I am truly hoping this rally will go on, and finally we will reach what we hope for. We should not allow Chen Shui-bian to damage the image of Taiwan and ignore the suffering of the public in Taiwan anymore. We all have the right to speak out what we truly want, and let us all take our chance to say: Hey you, it's time to step down.

12 Sep 2006

Viva Bollywood

I just love Bollywood movies. Be careful, they are highly addictive. I found this short clip named Yehi Hai Pyar on YouTube, and it reminds me those bollywood movies I saw before. Glamorous setting, music, dancing and the most important, beautiful people! Aishwarya Rai is amazingly beautiful. She is truly a goddess. How sad it is not that easy to find bollywood movies in Taiwan.

Here is the link to the clip:
Yehi Hai Pyar

6 Sep 2006

Twitching Eyelid - 左眼跳財,右眼跳災!

My right upper eyelid has been twitching a lot for almost a month. Should I have a medical check of my right eye? I think I must have overused my eyes. I gave myself this logical answer so as to be cool with this situation. But I also found that this twitching condition comes in a very regular pattern, and it is always the right upper eyelid. Let's put it in a superstitious way of speaking, it must mean something. I am not proposing that we should be superstitious. It is fun to have another approach towards an issue. You are free to believe it or not.

I recall the old Chinese saying about the twitching eyelids that goes as follows: 'the twitching of the left eyelid indicates the coming of good fortune; while the right one is a warning about the coming bad luck.' According to this saying, my right twitching eyelid is a sign of bad luck. Because of this warning, I have been very careful of everything recently. However, this saying is too general, so I searched the Internet for more information about twitching eyelids. I found that there is another way to explain twitching eyelids, and it is a more detailed one, which can be found in the book of Chinese lunar calendar. It explains the hidden meaning of each twitching eyelid in each time section. We used to have only 12 time sections for a day in the old Chinese society. For this way of reading, it provides a hidden meaning for each eye in a time section. As a result, there are in total 24 different meanings for twitching eyelids, some are good omens and others are bad ones.

In my case, after matching the twitching eyelid to the specific time section, I found the hidden meaning is in fact a good one. Frankly speaking, I am quite happy with this result, and I prefer this reading to the general old saying. For me, this positive meaning makes me happy and brings me hope to live for better. Happiness is crucial to all of us because it gives us strength to fact the struggle of life. Being happy also allows us to be able to develop a positive thinking. All human beings are born to hope. It is impossible to say 'I hope for nothing', which is still under the condition of 'hoping'. In other words, when a positive thinking is formulated, we naturally hope for positive achievements that follow with positive actions. But why are there so many negative ideas, images and actions in our society? Most of us have forgotten the importance of being positively happy and how to perceive happiness. Our education nowadays doesn't teach you what happiness is and how to obtain it. The worst is that it even stops teaching the young generations the importance of being a virtuous human being. Ethical principles are disappearing since no one ever cares to practice them. When ethical principles are gone and men lose their ability to perceive positive happiness, it is the time for negative ideas and images to rule.

Coming back to my first reaction towards the twitching eyelid, I would also say being cautious and careful is essential. I cannot just fully believe in the good omen and forget that I should be careful. I should always be careful of my own life, whether the omen says so or not. This is something ambiguous about happiness. When a person expands his happiness to a certain limit without being cautious of his surroundings, he is stepping into danger. He no longer acts as a positive being but an aggressive one who cares only about his needs and desires. Due to this person's egocentric action, his happiness is in fact established upon the struggle of other people. This is not the happiness I am talking about here. As I have mentioned, for achieving positive happiness, a person must develop a positive thinking. Feeling happy is essential to this psychological process, but it is not enough. We must always bear in mind the notion of ethical principles. Only when a person is truly aware of this that he could truly reach the positive happiness. Without this positive element, the result will be disastrous. It would lead a person to a devastating end. Being cautious, under this consideration, means to be very careful of whatever actions taken to achieve positive happiness. When a good omen is presented, the right action is to look at it and go for it with an ethical eye. If what is received is a bad omen, what has to be done is to avoid any negative ideas and look for what is positive.

We all deserve the right to be happy, and being happy is so crucial to a person's entire life. It allows us to see what is possible and leads us to achieve what we want. However, without having ethical principles as backup, happiness becomes the tools of the evil. It fosters our ego so well that we can never see ourselves falling into self-destruction. For some may say that a person's self-destruction could do nothing to all of us, but I would argue that we are all members of a society where a person's behaviour would affects the rest of us. In order to stop negative ideas and images spreading out, we must reintroduce the ethical principles to our society through education.

This is what I have perceived from my twitching eyelid, which is still twitching annoyingly now. I truly have no idea when it will stop. Whatever the result of this issue will be, at present I stick to the positive one with a cautious attitude towards my daily life. If the final outcome is as what the good omen says, I will bear in mind the ethical parts of the issue and receive freely the positive happiness. If not, life still goes on. Again, the deeper of meaning of this issue is nothing about superstition. It is mainly about facing our life with a healthy and positive attitude. I guess this is what our ancestors try to teach us. Why look at the dark side of life and feel sorrow for yourself? After all, we all deserve happiness!

1 Sep 2006

Chen's ridiculous Trip Again

Chen Shui-bian, the president of Taiwan, is going to have holidays again! This time he is going to visit Palau and Nauru, two small countries in the Pacific, and he will detour to Guam on his way back. I can't help but think this trip is more like an island holiday than an official visit, and he is indeed an island hopper! Let's put it this way, since he is having a difficult time in Taiwan, why not go out to breath the fresh air and enjoy the warm sun at the beach. I guess he will come back tanned and relaxed!

I wonder how much money he is about to waste this time. What scares me more is that almost every time he goes out, it causes great damage to Taiwan's diplomatic relationships with other countries. The latest example is his visit to Central America in May this year. Because of his insistence on stopping over either in New York or Los Angles, he annoyed the U.S. first and then spent more time and money to complete the journey. Without offering any information or press release to the public of Taiwan, we absolutely had no ideas where our president was. We only knew that he took the most ridiculous westbound itinerary to fly from Taiwan to Central America. Even the journalists on that plan had no ideas where they were. I have no idea how those government officials deal with Taiwan's diplomatic policy. This ridiculous journey doesn't contribute to the positive image of Taiwan but brings about negative effects.

True, a month later, Republic of Chad decided to cease the diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. There is no direct link between these two events. However, Chen's ridiculous and childish behaviour and decision irritated Beijing government. Giving pressure to Taiwan is never a difficult task for China, and all they need to do is to offer better deals to Chad. Logically, Chad immediately welcomes Beijing government as her new dear friend. Moreover, according the local news, our friends in Central America are not as loyal to us as before. China, who has already increased her great political and economic capital to date, can offer better deals to these countries. As a result, Chen's trip, as he always called as 'official visit to establish concrete and fruitful friendship with our friends', did not achieve what he had planned but failed in an ugly sense. Worse than that, as a president, he never admits his failure to the mission but always blames China for suppressing Taiwan's pathetic diplomatic situation. Does Chen really think that everyone in Taiwan is as naive as he? We all have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to feel. As a Taiwanese myself, of course I blame China for trying to suppress Taiwan in the international affairs. But I do know that it is never this simple. If we can use our brain to think before we act, we may get a better result in a less harmful way.

How sad! The latest news reported the same old story again. Chen is trying to use his old tricks to go to the U.S. He is really naive to propose that he will be flying to Guam, the territory of the U.S., in our Airforce One. Of course, you don't need to guess what the U.S. government says. So he said he would use this Airforce one to Palau, and then China Airlines would provide two other aircrafts to fly him to the rest of the destinations. Why make the whole issue so complicated? Who is going to pay the fuel for empty flights? Us! My tax will be used to pay for his ridiculous decision. Another local news says that recently Taiwan just helped the national airliner of Nauru purchase their only plane, and our president is going there for this special reason. Is this necessary? In other words, we are trying to keep the friendship by providing money to them. Here is my question: can we really establish a friendship by the use of money? I believe a grade 2 student can give you an answer. How could our government officials be so innocent? Is this how we deal with diplomatic policy in Taiwan? This is truly pathetic. It seems they are taking diplomatic policy as a game, and this is irresponsible.

I can imagine this now. After this trip, if another issue appears, such as losing diplomatic relationships with other countries, our dear president would say 'it is China's fault'. It is never his fault. He will say that with his lovely tanned skin and relaxed attitude. After all, he is a great leader who suffers from vicious attacks of the opposite parties. He deserves a nice holiday at the beach with a glass of pina colada. The most important is he will be the first president of Taiwan to fly to our friends in our national Airforce one. That is truly a milestone. Because of his great efforts, we will all remember that, and this trip really has its 'diplomatic and historic meaning'. Let's cheer for him!