Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

Archive for September 2006

You too are on YouTube

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It always boggles my mind how human beings repress the fact that, though our egos may not concede, we are just as temporary and powerless on this planet as every other living organism…

Check out this video on YouTube… it is brilliant. Well done.

“Dance Monkeys Dance.”

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Written by Miles

September 27, 2006 at 5:38 pm

The Beat Goes On and On until the Break of Dawn…

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Check out what my man Bianj said in his comment on a previous post about the life at home (U.S.).  As I said, we have all entered our own marathon; we are all pilgrims in this new personal era.  Bianj keep making those benjis, brother.

Peace.

Written by Miles

September 27, 2006 at 4:37 am

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The Taiwan Situation: Thoughts on the Alternatives

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The debate over the legitimacy of the anti-Chen Shui-bian protest is widespread. In retrospect, I see my initial post was rather gung-ho. It was, in the least, extemely optimisitic, and at the most, extremely idealistic. Over the last few days, I have had to confront the question of whether or not I believe in this movement.

Michael Turton is an incredible blogger (see his link on my page). His recent posts draw on national news reports and on a very palpable, very present perception that this “seige” on Chen is diluted through poltical partisanship. In his effort to discredit the anti-Chen camp, he goes as far as alleging involvement of criminal rings and gangsters in the organization and participation of anti-Chen events. His rabbid repudiation of the anti-Chen movement stems on these arguments:

1. This protest is a partisan hack-job, personally aimed at Chen with no larger implications and no widespread social support.

2. The anti-Chen movement will be unsuccessful.

3. Violence is the ultimate aim of the anti-Chen demonstators; since only through violence will they succeed.

4. Anyone who is anti-Chen is pro-China.

5, 6, 7… he lists other interesting and seemingly implausible justifications, such as Shih Meng-teh is dying of liver cancer and this is his last big hurrah at political notoriety.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think Turton has a lot of valuable insight. He has been on this island much longer than myself. However, I find the entire logic of his argument to be both counter-productive and remissive of the point of this protest (in my eyes).

Foremost, let me state that I too shared a concern for the longevity and potential outcome of this protest. Taiwan, for as long as I have been here, seems stable enough to let the judiciary process trudge along against Chen. Rocking the boat seemed foolish. I am a realist; one who usually weighs outcomes by simple logic; one often swayed by the Hobbesian state of nature; one who believes the status-quo is the inevitable outcome of geopolitical interests. I thought, Ma Ying-Jeou and his ilk are no better. The KMT of before was no better, no less corrupt than the DPP is now. The status-quo is very unlikely to change. Chen is very unlikely to step down. All of this is bad for Taiwan’s “face” toward China.

I believe Turton would feel the same way in many respects. Where my viewpoint changed, I cannot really say. I can say that my experiences in daily life have led me to a very different place then my intitial impulses. Each day, and continually, the Taiwanese people in my life or those whom I interact with tell me openly that they dislike Chen Shui-bian. They tell me that they would like to see him step down, to “get off the stage”. It should be stated that these are not some young group of radicals, these are every day people… cabbies, food vendors, 7-11 employees, school staff, businessmen and women, families, students, etc. Turton and the anti-anti-Chen crowd are misguided and wrong to believe that this protest is standing upon the dancing legs of political puppets.

I happened to drive past Ketagalan Blvd. again today. The crowd is depleated, the numbers very few in comparison to Sept. 9. This is to be expected. Protests, by their very nature, are formidable in number only in the fire of their genesis. They wane. They weaken. But there are still citizens “sitting-in” Ketagalan Blvd. “It” is still in the streets, still in the news, still in the water-cooler converstaions. It is still in the psyche of this nation.

I would reiterate what I said in my intial posting on this movement: What inspires me here, what I see that I believe in, is that through all of the mist and misguidance of the commentary, there is a core of people who are simply fed-up with the status-quo being that of corruption within their democratic government.

Now, Turton would say that Chen has not been proven guilty. Yet, he argues that Ma and all of the anti-Chen people are also corrupt, almost entirely and equally as unproven by the court of law. In Eastern society the ramifications of one’s family’s actions are an onus on the individual. Unlike Western cultures, here it is even easier to be guiltier by association. Not that I am dropping the hammer on Chen. I care little for his actual guilt. The fact of the matter is that he has let his presidency be riddled and ridiculed by a slew of heavy allegations. His job is marred by mediocre management of those in his personal and in his political life. With hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets of your capital, if you so brazenly believe in the democratic rights and democratic future of this country then you should put yourself at the whim of your constituency.

Today, the People’s First Party and Ma’s KMT continued the advance of the anti-Chen front by submitting a motion for a public referendum for the recall of the president. The Taipei Times quoted PFP spokesman Lee Hung-Chun saying, “Approving the recall motion does not mean you oppose the president. It means letting the people make the decision.” Ma himself stated that the DPP shall remain in power until 2008 if Chen were recalled. Will it succeed? Well, I guess it hinges on what one calls a “success.”

I say in response to Turton and his kind, that they are misrepresenting this protest to the public and to themselves. For within this movement there is great hope for Taiwan’s future. It is people in action, people choosing to partake in the destiny of their own creation. This movement is by its very existence proof of a democratic pulse pumping in the heart of this island.

Written by Miles

September 26, 2006 at 5:54 pm

“King of Kings” atop a Temporary Pedestal

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Ozymandias (1818)
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Written by Miles

September 23, 2006 at 6:21 am

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The Beat of the Drums from Home

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A good friend of mine, whom I met while studying in South Africa, wrote this to me a few days ago. He and I both recently graduated from different, major universities in the U.S. He has lived all over the world, growing up as a military brat, and has now found himself a “home.” After graduating from college, he is as so many of us are: adrift in a new personal era.

SEPT. 21-

Miles,

It’s been a while but I don’t think it’s out of place. I looked at your
picture album and couldn’t wrap my mind around the life you’re living.

I’m sitting in a cubicle, looking over my shoulder every five minutes or
so to see if the boss is watching what I’m doing. I sit here for eight
hours a day but there is never enough work to fill my day. I’ve
become a voracious reader of political and music blogs and an amazing
pen pal. Casey, Jordan (both from south Africa) and I might as well be
sitting in the same office, five cubicles down as we’ve developed this
technocratic relationship over fiber-optic cables and keyboard
strokes. The job, when I am working as a reporter is great. I feel
part of the community and I feel as though I am doing a service for
that community. It keeps me interested and happy, both intellectually
and emotionally. I don’t have a uniform, but may as well–dress pants
and collared shirts populate my closet and seem to copulate, giving
birth to an array of monochromatic colors of the same style–yellow,
the most recent addition to the closet family. I have become an
amateur-pro at the Domestic Olympics–ironing and cooking probably my
bests events, mopping and dusting probably my weakest.

Friends are the hardest to meet when they don’t want to meet you. The
pool of potentials are harder to find without a classroom. It’s a slow
moving process, where it must be proven you’re not only on the same
level, but beyond that level, a desired friend. More than
one-in-the-same because it that’s the case, you’re just not worth the time getting to know.

Women are much easier to capture. They seek a male and are easily
engaged but, in D*, rarely are worth the time. Most are married
anyway, the others have kids or are just not on the same intellectual
level (i.e. college graduate) and I realized very quickly that is
important.

But, it pays the bills and for the first time I am truly independent,
which was the ultimate goal four months ago. I put up with the chores
because it is what needs to be done in order for that, sort of,
transcendence. All trepidations are temporary, necessary and part of
the game. And it’s an interesting game–winnable with focused
ambition.

It’s easy to get bogged down, which is why I have paid particular
attention to keeping a strong healthy mind, body and spirit. Reading
blogs, books, magazines in large quantities. Training to be a distance
runner–right now I’m running four miles a day four days a week. And
staying happy with a variety of good music, movies and television
shows (I’ve finally embraced my love for hip hop, which you instilled
two Christmases ago by showing me art and mastery in lyricists like
Jay Z, Black Thought and Talib Kweli, who I saw in May, it was fucking
great). The new T.I. album is great, watching a lot of foreign films,
Bergman and Kurosawa mostly and Weeds, Entourage and Lost keep my
dinner time enjoyable.

What I’m getting at is that I’ve decided life is an equilibrium
experiment and right now I’m still trying to reach equilibrium–that
is the new goal.

But what about you? You have surely had a different experience. One
with excesses of stimulation as opposed to my over-hyped trek after
graduation. What are the people like? What are the women like? What is
the political environment like? What is the plan for the next few
years ahead? How is it as a teacher teaching English? How do you
reconcile being part of the colonialism and the globalization
processes that you balk at in your photo album?

Peace in the Far East
b

Written by Miles

September 22, 2006 at 12:01 pm

The Taiwan Situation: Corruption vs. Democracy

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TAIPEI, September 16-

since most of you would struggle to find this in the news, here is what’s happening in taiwan:

as many as 1 million people marched through the streets of the capital city last night demanding the resignation of the president due to his links to corruption. a sit-in was launched six days ago, right in the heart of the city, next to the equivalent of the US “white house”. it is a peaceful mass movement protest, a truly inspiring display of democracy and people choosing to ACT.

day and night, in the rain, regardless of the fact that taipei was almost hit by a typhoon (hurricane) this week, these people sit and chant and sing and LIVE. there is talk of a nationwide strike, which could cripple this country’s economy at the cost of $900 million USD per day. THE CITIZENS ARE FED UP WITH THE STATUS QUO AND ARE DEMANDING RESPONSIBILITY AND EFFECTIVENESS FROM THEIR GOVERNMENT.

it is truly invigorating to be here right now. it is essential to remind oneself that we, the people, create these governments. they are a manifestation of our collective cooperation. we as individuals shall always be superior to governments, shall always be responsible for our own creations and responsible for our own destinies.

i have been to the grounds twice now. it is an honest representation of the country, young and old, rich and poor. families have come. children are out of school. there is passion. the people all greet each other with smiles and thumbs-down, the symbolic gesture referring to the (in)adequacy of the president.

at first i thought i would remain an objective observer. i’m a realist. this is not my country, i thought. this is not my fight. but then it became apparent to me. this country has risen out of the seemingly eternal shadow of dictatorship to build a new democracy (against great odds, standing up to china). the two main parties, the KMT and the DPP, have both been riddled with scandal while in office. the people, rather than panicking, rather than turning to violence, and- more importantly- rather than becoming disheartened and uninvolved, have stood up for themselves.

i too shall always try to live up to my own expectations. i have the people of taiwan to thank for rekindling and reigniting my belief.

my love to to you all… and always, PEACE.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED TO LEARN MORE:

here is a link to the front page story in today’s newspaper… http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2006/09/16/2003327826

this is some guy’s website that i found. he has some great shots of what is happening in taipei right now and some other nice shots. check it out… http://www.flickr.com/photos/bwpingu/

Written by Miles

September 20, 2006 at 3:10 pm