Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Detrimental Media and Natural Reflexes of Race Relations

Someone who lives in an ethnically homogeneous society (or at least one that claims itself to be) often requires a visually exaggerated definition of race in order of make sense of distant peoples they often cannot meet in real life.  Oh ok, Italians eat pasta, Japanese eat sushi, Americans eat hamburgers...thats all harmless and well if one never gets to meet an Italian, a Japanese, or an American.  Whatever it takes to help people remember different peoples and their practical differences, then, would prove somewhat valuable for, say, watching TV or going for short tourist visits in foreign countries.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Dangers of "Manufactured Tourism"

In the eastern suburbs of Taipei, a little rural township nestles amid the northern reaches of Taiwan's central mountain range.  A little railway runs through the valley, bisecting the township's component villages and bringing in tourists from all over the island and beyond into the embraces of their splendidly well-preserved architectures of the past and winding, hilly roads frequented in the township's glorious past as a top coal-mining spot.  Honestly, the villages themselves are not that old, but that feel of "living history," along with all the foods and sights reminiscent of the past draw massive crowds on a regular weekend.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Whispers of an Embattled Minority

When a friend invited the author for dinner in a Tibetan restaurant here in Taipei, the author's first thought was, well, a complete blank.  What the hell is Tibetan food?  And it is all the more embarrassing that the author has no clue, as most Chinese people are brainwashed to some degree that Tibet is an inseparable part of China, and by the same logic, Tibetan food ought to be considered an inseparable part of Chinese cuisine.  But the bigger question here is, how does a Tibetan restaurant, in a land where few Tibetans reside and few locals know about Tibet outside casual trips and political news, even survive and prosper?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How Collectivist Culture Enlarges Human Disasters and Intensifies Human Suffering

Recently, a massive cruise ship accident off the coast of Korea has become the latest human disaster, quickly overshadowing the still nowhere-to-be-found Malaysian Airlines flight 370 to become the global headline-grabber.  Global attention and sympathies proved easily to obtain in such combination of circumstances: a holiday cruise of young high schoolers enjoying the last vacation before exam studies, a country supposedly leading the world in a technological manufacturing, and a rescue procedure so inept-sounding, incompetent-looking, and punctured with a story line so full of holes that the casual observer can only be shocked.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Establishing the Social Institutions of International Brain Drain

A casual Thursday night, the author found himself having a beer at the local English-style pub with a French academic.  Coincidentally being a coworker at Academia Sinica like the author himself, the Frenchman shared some of his own opinions of what is it like working as a researcher in a strange land with a different system.  The results are by no means flattering and one thing stood out the most in his assessment: it is that a mentality of "let's temporarily be here until we can get a better opportunity abroad" that prevails among the non-tenured employees of nearly all institutes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Manipulating The Business of Getting Strangers to Meet One Another

Being the not busy person that he is, the author has recently been increasingly using his time off after work and over weekends to show up at various meet-up events across Taipei, trying his best to make acquaintances with the rather small foreigner community here in the city as well as the well-heeled and keen, international-minded, and often enthusiastic English-learning local Taiwanese crowd.  In this process, the author has come across an interesting segment of a small-business owners.  They have no office, little revenue, but plenty of friends they can leverage on to gain revenues through scale.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Virtue of Not Being Busy

This author is not a busy man at the moment, in fact a man with very very abundant amount of leisure.  There is no getting around this fact.  It is all the more ironic considering a mere few months ago, he was working six days a week, some twelve hours a day, getting so physically and emotionally sick from the experience that he had to quit his job, leave the country, take a massive pay cut, just to recover from the fiasco.  A part of him is starting to miss the days where he had so little time for himself that savings started accumulating not particularly because he was being financially astute, but simply because there was no time to spend cash.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

the Religious Fervor of Emotional Connections with Inanimate Objects

As a solo traveler with some psychological obsessions, the author have plenty of items that have accompanied him throughout his travels.  The roads walked with these inanimate objects, whether it be shoes, backpacks, or umbrellas, become so nostalgic, that the author has began to share with them more memories than he has with, well, normal people.  In what would be perceived as unusual for most normal people out there, the author has in essence began to develop what he would sincerely term emotional bonding with these inanimate objects, out of mutual support and camaraderie of traveling.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On the Flows of Democratization and the Ebbs of Globalization

The author, despite espousing some strong left-wing views, tend to be in agreement with some neo-liberals on the fundamental direction of humanity's future.  It will primarily be defined by two inevitable, unstoppable flows of history.  On one side is democratization, a rise of the empowered masses, bolstered by labor's increasing ability to leverage their economic roles, utilize independent sources of information, and propagate their own organized opinions to large populations via social media.  On the other is globalization, the gradual breakdown of state control over cross-border exchanges of goods, capital, and labor.