Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Month: January 2004 (Page 1 of 3)

Takin’ a Break

I won’t be posting much for the next week or ten days. I’m working on some other writing projects, and I’ve also got some travel coming up next week. So hasta February, mis amigos. I leave you with these links:

–More on the exploding sperm whale in Taiwan
Kaba Kick: “Russian roulette for kids”
Miles B. responds to my recent post about the new Doritos Guac-flavored chips:

This question asked in your blog is quite possibly the most ridiculous one of your life. The appropriate question here is, “how can they not be awesome?”

Made by Doritos: check

Guacamole flavored: check

A bit spicy: check

Totally awesome: Check

My Next Destination: Kaohsiung, Taiwan

“Bird Flu” is raging in nearby Vietnam. SARS is still a danger. And China’s got missles pointed in its direction.

I ask you this: could there possibly be a better time for me to move to Taiwan? The answer, of course, is no!

In early March, I’ll be heading to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where Jill A. and I have landed jobs teaching English at a private language school. Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second largest city (population: 1.5 million) and the world’s third largest container port (I’ve always loved container ports). The city used to be called “Dagou,” which means “beat the dog.” Really.

I’m interested in the following aspects of life in Taiwan, and I look forward to exploring them further:

–The way in which China’s culture co-exists with the high-tech Taiwanese economy;

–What’ll happen to the “One China” policy? China says Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China, but Taiwan is fully autonomous–yet not exactly independent. Taiwan is planning a national referendum on the issue soon.

–How hard is it to learn Mandarin Chinese? We’ll see.

Resources for Futher Reading
General info: Michael Turton’s Teaching English in Taiwan Web site is excellent. (But my sense is that Turton is, well, finicky, so keep that in mind.) His photo section is worth checking out. As is his food page. The Lonely Planet Taiwan section is also good.

News: eTaiwanNews.comand Taipei Times are two good English publications.

Weblogs: Robot Action Boy (an American living in Taipei) and The Taipei Kid are a couple of interesting blogs I’ve come across.

I’m really excited to go and I’ll keep you posted as I come across new sites and find out more about Taiwan.

Oh yeah: almost forgot. The other day a whale exploded in Tainan city! eTaiwanNews reported: “A dead sperm whale being transported through Tainan City on its way to a research station suddenly exploded yesterday, splattering cars and shops with blood and guts.” Photo here.

The American Imperium

Josh Marshall, who writes about American foreign policy better than anyone I’ve read (including Tom Friedman, who I simultaneously love and hate), writes in the current New Yorker:

American power is magnified when it is embedded in international institutions, as leftists have lamented. It is also somewhat constrained, as conservatives have lamented. This is precisely the covenant on which American supremacy has been based. The trouble is that hard-line critics of multilateralism focussed on how that power was constrained and missed how it was magnified.

Conservative ideologues, in calling for an international order in which America would have a statelike monopoly on coercive force, somehow forgot what makes for a successful state. Stable governments rule not by direct coercion but by establishing a shared sense of allegiance. In an old formula, �domination� gives way to �hegemony��brute force gives way to the deeper power of consent. This is why the classic definition of the state speaks of legitimate force. In a constitutional order, government accepts certain checks on its authority, but the result is to deepen that authority, rather than to diminish it. Legitimacy is the ultimate �force multiplier,� in military argot. And if your aim is to maintain a global order, as opposed to rousting this or that pariah regime, you need all the force multipliers you can get.

Read the whole thing.

A Few Things

1) First of all, Jordan M. sends along this excellent article from today’s NY Times. “Someone Is Stealing Avocados, and ‘Guac Cops’ Are on the Case.” (Loyal readers know that I make a mean guacamole. Or at least I think I do. And also, I like to compare avocado prices throughout the Americas–they’re about 25 cents each in Ecuador, and cost north of a buck fifty in Boston. On a related note: Doritos now has guacamole flavored chips? They can’t possibly be any good. Can they?)

2) I’ve said it over and over and over and over again: The Japanese never cease to amaze me. Now they’re creating ping pong ball avalanches. (Question: what’s the over/under on how long until this sort of thing becomes an event on “Most Extreme Elimination”?)

3) Here’s that baby dragon in a jar you’ve been looking for.

4) Happy year of the monkey, everyone! Yesterday, when the Chinese New Year was officially celebrated, my mom (who’d come up for a visit) and I drove through Eden Center, which is “Northern Virginia’s premier Asian center containing approximately 120 stores.” One word: wow. Why, I’m wondering now, did I travel all the way to Vietnam when this conglomeration of Asian wonders is just 20 minutes away from DC?

Miscellaneous Stuff

–I predict great things for Wonkette, a DC political gossip blog brought to you by the fine folks at Gawker.

–What happens when you eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

–Google’s just launched their own version of Friendster.

–My Yahoo! now features RSS feeds.

You’re Not Fooling Anybody…

with that storefront (via TMN).

The Jayhawks

I saw the exceptional Jayhawks perform at the storied 9:30 Club last night. Lots of fun.

“Meet the Fockers”

Sweet Jesus, there is a God.

Hollywood Reporter: “Dustin Hoffman has been cast as Ben Stiller’s father in ‘Meet the Fockers,’ the sequel to the 2000 comedy hit ‘Meet the Parents.'”

No word on whether or not Mr. Jinx will be returning.

(P.S. Further evidence of a higher power here.)

Dean’s Primordial Scream

Jack W. writes:

I don’t know how to link directly to it, but on you can get a link to an audio of Dean’s concession speech last night in Iowa, where he starts shouting out the names of states that he is going to win, and then lets out this guttoral Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!! sound. It’s pretty creepy.

Talk about self destruction, the Dean campaign is floundering. No New Hampshire, bye bye nomination.

Here’s the audio clip. And man is it strange…

Huffin’ Down the House

Wow. Jack W. sends along this breaking news item from Roll Call:

House Pages Expelled for Chemical Abuse
By Jennifer Yachnin
Roll Call Staff
Friday, Jan. 16; 09:44am

Seven students were expelled from the House Page School last Friday after they were found abusing household cleaners. School officials discovered the students apparently using aerosol dust cleaner — which can contain pressurized chemicals such as difluoroethane or tetrafluoroethane, often used on computers — as inhalants.

I feel like I should make a joke but I can’t think of one. (The House Page Program provides internships for high school students.)

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