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  • Sympathy for the Devil: Taipei Times Book Review

    Sympathy for the Devil: Taipei Times Book Review

    My review of Cambridge historian Barak Kushner’s book Men to Devils, Devils to Men from today’s Taipei Times (9/7/2015). A fascinating analysis of how competing visions of postwar justice shaped relations between Japan, China and Taiwan Early Saturday June 19, a group organized by Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society gathered on Lane 44, Jinshan South [...]

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  • Taiwan media owes Honduran ambassador a big apology

    Taiwan media owes Honduran ambassador a big apology

    Honduras Ambassador to Taiwan Rafael Sierra speaks at a press conference the day after he was involved in an accident with a scooter in Danshui on Sunday 17 May. Within the first few months of my two years at the now essentially defunct Taiwan News back in 2004, any slither of hope I may still [...]

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  • Opportunity Knocks: Nicaraguan director Jaime Zúñiga makes Taiwan debut with Venus in Fur

    Opportunity Knocks: Nicaraguan director Jaime Zúñiga makes Taiwan debut with Venus in Fur

    My Taipei Times piece (Friday, 15 May) on actor-director Jaime Zúñiga and his production of Venus in Fur running at Taipei National University of the Arts from 15-17 May.  All three performances are already sold out, though you might be able to grab a place on the floor if you show up early.   Jaime Zúñiga takes [...]

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  • Floyd Mayweather doesn’t frustrate me; boxing’s relentless greed does

    Floyd Mayweather doesn’t frustrate me; boxing’s relentless greed does

    When the decision was announced, the silence from the overwhelmingly Filipino crowd at the Farm House bar in Taipei’s “Combat Zone” said it all. There was some half-hearted, almost apologetic booing and, in a few cases, some wilful delusion. “It’s bullshit,” said a Pinoy named Dave, shaking his head. “He just ran away all the [...]

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  • From warzones to wailao (外勞): Taiwan’s qualifiers for World Cup 2018

    From warzones to wailao (外勞): Taiwan’s qualifiers for World Cup 2018

    While there’s next to no chance of Taiwan emerging from the second round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they could have done a fair bit worse in terms of the teams they drew in Group F. True, with a world ranking of joint-179th (out of 209 nations) with Cambodia, they are [...]

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  • Un Bataburillo de la Cocina Paraguaya

    Un Bataburillo de la Cocina Paraguaya

    There’s something satisfying about reduplication. Words like pell-mell, riffraff and whippersnapper just sound good. Johnson called them “low words.” Blackadder called him a “pompous ass with sweaty dewflaps.” Hodepodge is another good one and so is the Spanish equivalent batiburillo. The word suits Asunción, a city of jumbles. Passionate indolence. Teutonic Guarani-speaking Ladinos. Dark and dusty bookshops on hot [...]

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  • Into the Mist: The Secret History of KMT Collaboration with the Japanese

    Into the Mist: The Secret History of KMT Collaboration with the Japanese

    The following is the original draft of a feature which appears in today’s Taipei Times (Sunday, 5 April). Just above Hell’s Valley in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投區), there’s a small clearing in the bushes that affords a great view of the surrounding hillside. When the sulfurous steam dissipates, you can watch tourists milling around the [...]

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  • Verse Not Purse; No Green, Free Bean; Can’t Write for Toffee, Still Blagged a Coffee …

    Verse Not Purse; No Green, Free Bean; Can’t Write for Toffee, Still Blagged a Coffee …

    Though I sometimes still have the odd couplet or rhyme floating around my head (mainly the works of the late Christopher Wallace), I jacked in writing poetry a long time ago, mainly because I’m not very good. Not long after I got started with with this blog, I stuck up a couple of my better [...]

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  • Soulang Cultural Park (蕭壠文化園區)

    Soulang Cultural Park (蕭壠文化園區)

    November 1651 was an irksome time for Nicolas Verburg, the 10th governor of Formosa, and Reverend Daniel Gravius was the biggest of the irks. The clergyman had already got Verburg’s back up by issuing poll tax papers to the Chinese settlers of Soulang village and allegedly extorting a large sum of money from two different [...]

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  • What’s the deal?

    What’s the deal?

    This one has bamboozled me for years. Why, oh why do market vendors announce that something is “25 NT each, four for a hundred!” like that’s some kind of deal? I’ve asked people and invariably got blank looks. “It’s 25 NT. Four for a hundred.” Some of the more wily, rascally types down the market [...]

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