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  • Sinking Feeling

    Sinking Feeling

        My 6-year-old loves nothing better than beating innocent bystanders to death and stealing their cars. If you’re still showing so much as a twitch of life as you lie prostrate in the gutter, guaranteed he’ll stomp it out of ya.* A first-grader and I’ve already caught him reflex aping the betel-nut chomping jaw [...]

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  • Mandela and a tale of two pariahs

    Mandela and a tale of two pariahs

    My op-ed piece from today’s Taipei Times. This is my original version. They ran it pretty much intact, but there was one stupid change that annoyed me. The piece as it is in the paper is here. “O my friends, there is no friend.” With this line attributed to Aristotle, the French philosopher Jacques Derrida opens [...]

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  • I’d pay to see this guy get battered

    I’d pay to see this guy get battered

    I try not to make this little space that I maintain here a repository of mindless abuse but when I see people like this, I really can’t help myself. As part of a moronic protest against same sex marriages (let’s be clear, that’s what it was) by people calling for “family values” this prick donned [...]

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  • Flexible diplomacy is anything but

    Flexible diplomacy is anything but

    Here’s my op-ed piece from today’s Taipei Times. A couple of minor oversights on my part and theirs but generally not too bad. Flexible diplomacy is anything but By James Baron Taiwan’s perennial quest for legitimacy has long been what Samuel Kim has described as “diplomatic Darwinism” as successive regimes have been nothing if not [...]

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  • An Exercise in Anticommunism

    An Exercise in Anticommunism

    Struggling with my on-off perennial battle to shed some flab, I was in the changing rooms of Songshan Sports Center (松山運動中心) the other morning, about to shower after a feeble effort on the track, when I heard an old man crooning away. Old men and crooning are pretty standard fare at such establishments in the [...]

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  • Beitou Granary (北投榖倉)

    Beitou Granary (北投榖倉)

    Since I moved further into the belly of Beitou, I’ve been passing the old granary on Datong St (大同街) almost every day on my bicycle journey to and from Beitou MRT. I’ve been meaning to have a proper look for a while and finally stopped by last week. There aren’t many eye-catching pieces of architecture [...]

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  • Frontier Toughs and Pettifoggers (Part II)

    Frontier Toughs and Pettifoggers (Part II)

      In 1886, the area that is now modern-day Hsinchu was tranquillity itself compared to the Wild West that was the south. But as store owners Zhan Ajing and Lan Tong discovered, few places were safe from sticky fingers and wanton thuggery. Few of the players in the following sorry saga emerge spotless; most of [...]

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  • Frontier Toughs and Pettifoggers: Robbery and Recrimination in Late-19th Century Hsinchu and Miaoli (Part I)

    Frontier Toughs and Pettifoggers: Robbery and Recrimination in Late-19th Century Hsinchu and Miaoli (Part I)

    I borrowed from Law and Local Society in Late Imperial China: Northern Taiwan in the Nineteenth Century by Mark A. Allee a couple of posts back. At the time I was in the process of ordering the book and had taken the info. on Sanwan (灣三) from Google Books. Said volume is now in my grubby [...]

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  • Cutifying Dictators? Only in Taiwan. Maybe.

    Cutifying Dictators? Only in Taiwan. Maybe.

    Pretty much any long-term ex-pat in pretty much any country must have heard or uttered the smug cliché “Only in (insert country name),” when looking condescendingly on some absurdity of life in their adopted home. It’s usually accompanied with a wistful shake of the head and, implicit cultural arrogance notwithstanding, is usually tinged with something [...]

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  • Forget the pears. Sanwan (三灣) is all about the beef noodles

    Forget the pears. Sanwan (三灣) is all about the beef noodles

    Anytime I take a break from a spot of frenetic one-handed Internet surfing these days, to see what’s afoot on the Taiwan blogosphere it seems I come across some bozo muscling in on my territory. If it’s not old Turton gliding through the serenity of Liyutan and holding forth on the wind-turbine protests at Yuanli, [...]

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