If You Need to Find Me …

“What’s that ossiffer? You’ve heard reports of illegal deep-fried-pancake vending opposite the 7-11, you say? Wouldn’t know anything about that. Card, you say? Ohhh, THAT card …”

There’s nothing I like more to eat in Taiwan than fried filth. My new favorite place is stall in a lane off Dunhua South. They serve scallion pancake positively oozing in trans-fats filled oil  that has been swilling around in the grimy pan for days. I don’t think they ever clean that thing. It’s great. They also always leave the egg runny. FTNM is drooling over the keyboard as types, thinking about his next coronary-inducing indulgence.

What I love even more than what they served up is the couple who (wo)man the stall. As with most of the stalls and clothing racks on wheels in those alleys and lanes of an evening, they are one hundred percent illegal. The missus is constantly keeping a beady eye out for Old Bill and, on several occasions, I have seen them fleeing their normal spot, part of a back alley Serengeti migration in miniature, when the cops show up to do their routine wildebeest scattering (they never seem to want to catch these langers, rather just make a show of enforcing the law).

So when they handed me their business card the other day I had to guffaw heartily. I think they understood why, despite my poor Chinese skills, and joined me for a chuckle.

Name, address of their little corner and even a phone number, just in case you need to get hold of them for some preorders. Brilliant.




Go to the Hell Britain! (Redux) Oh, and please use quotation marks when Quoting no one in particular. Oh, and “bumbler” means “dependable”.

Blah blah Taiwanese people have the right … blahdee blah …. foreign media … blah … admittedly …. yadda yadda … quotation marks … blah yadda burble …

Chrimble has come way early here at TNM!

Seriously, in this Central News Agency report on a letter to the Economist from Taiwan’s UK rep Shen Lyushun, we have everything that is pea-brained, ignorant, ill-informed and pompous about the Ma Ying-effectual (bumbler) debacle crystallized into one big iceberg of piss!

First, Shen Lyushun – who seems like a decent enough fella (note the penchant for making his name ‘two words’ though, ala PRC) – doesn’t seem to have a clue what he’s talking about. Admitting that Economist’s depiction of Ma was pretty much spot on, he reckons “The people of Taiwan have every right to use harsh words against their president, but when a foreign media organization repeats the name calling it should at least use quotation marks.”

Where to start with this incredible statement? It’s almost as if Shen is a (the?) faithful subscriber to FTNM, as he couldn’t have backed up the main point of my last post on this (namely that it’s quite all right for local press to abuse their prez til the cows come home, but god forbid any WAIguo publication offers a comment) better if he’d tried.

And he’s asking for quotation marks (or inverted commas as they were when I was a wee NMer) for, er, what exactly? The statement in the economist clearly said: “The country appears to agree on one thing: Mr Ma is an ineffectual bumbler.” This was something that was not mentioned during all the caterwauling, by the way: the Economist was not actually calling Ma that but claiming that’s how he is now viewed in Taiwan. Now, while I do think that’s pretty much the case, it would be fair to call them on this because low opinion polls don’t necessarily = “ineffectual bumbler” (surely a tautology anyhow). It could just be they don’t like the guy (also probably true, so maybe a bit of both).

But that is NOT what Shen was moaning about. He’s asking for quotation marks for something that blatantly ISN’T a quote. He’s even admitting it’s not a quote by saying it’s “name calling” from the Taiwanese public. Why on earth would that need to go in quotes?

Economist Journo: What’s that they’re shouting in that crowd of protesters?

Translator: I think it’s “Ma, you bumbler! Step down, you BUMBLER!”

The only other real reason for using this punctuation is to denote ironic usage, something that was clearly not intended. I’m not 100 percent about Shen’s academic and career background, aside from the fact that he was MOFA deputy head for a while, but it doesn’t seem he knows much about journalism. As far as I’m aware, you don’t quote things that aren’t quotes.  If he’s claiming it is a quote from a local rag, find me the quote in Chinese! The fact remains, if it was something that was said in the local media (not what the Economist was saying anyway) there is no reason for him to be saying “when a foreign media organization repeats the name calling”. Anyone repeating something verbatim should put it in quotes;why should it matter if they are foreign?

Sadly, that esteemed font of knowledge Michael Turton seems to falling for this red herring when he writes: “Shen is right; The Economist article carries not a single quote of any speaker on the topic, from (wo)man on the street to expert in the office.”

As I’ve said: It’s one thing saying the piece was short on quotes (it was an op-ed type thing, so I don’t really see why that is important) but another to demand quotes for something that WAS NOT A QUOTE!

Meanwhile, the proverbial crushed nuts on the mochi is this stroke of brilliance from “recognised authority on translation” (why does that title immediately make me suspicious?) Yu Kuang-chung. Chastising the local media for mischievous/sloppy Chinese rendering of “bumbler” (that much iis true enough: they were translating it as “idiot”), Yu declares: “‘bumbler’ refers to a person who has great skill but appears incompetent'”. Er … I reckon my dictionary needs an update.

In a meeting with Ma, Yu went on to assure the Prez that “the word also refers to a person who is down to earth, responsible and does not act rashly.” I think someone might be looking for a cushy advisory role …


Visit the Historic City of Tainani

I think I’ll choose the Tainani option …

I spotted this on a wall outside a building which I think houses several cram schools. I don’t exactly know what the  International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is but a mate reckons it some kind of English proficiency test and, from what I can see, it seems to be connected to Cambridge uni.

Anyway, if you want to do the test, there are apparently centres all around the island: here in the capital, in Taoyuan, in Taichung and down south in Kaohsiung and TAINANI!

Honestly, how can these schools and “testing centres” be charging people to test their English abilities without being able to even spell or at least do a quick proofreading? Jesters …

Welcome Taiwanese Comrades … For US$100!

Stroessnor: He liked em young …

Now I know Taiwan’s “diplomatic allies” routinely take the Michael. I’ll never forget Costa Rica jumping ship in 2005 after voting no to get the Taiwan issue on the UN agenda! (I swear the rep – it wasn’t the actual ambassador – even had the cheek to claim he didn’t understand the question!)

But Paraguay, Taiwan’s sole ally in south America, should show some gratitude. I mean, the KMT was always willing to play host to  lovable dictator Alfredo Stroessnor when no one else would give the paedophilic  psychopath the time of day. And, given Taiwan’s record of training fascist torturers Latin American police forces, we might speculate that Paraguay’s late Torturer in Chief Pastor Coronel compared notes with his counterparts at the Taiwan Garrison Command.

Pastor Coronel: Wiki lists his professions as “politician” and “torturer”. I think the most accurate description would probably be “nasty cunt”.

So, Paraguay, in appreciation of this deep friendship has decided to waive visa requirements for Taiwanese visitors. Well, kind of. Well, actually, not really at all. The droves of Formosans positively itching to visit the exotic country are now able to pick up a visa on landing. Asuncion is offering “this preferential treatment unilaterally” for a mere US$100. A hundred jib for  a visa that’s supposedly not really a visa anymore?! Sounds like a proper piss take to me.

Considering British nationals can travel there for free, this doesn’t strike me as quite the diplomatic coup that MOFA Director-General of Central and South American Affairs Jaime Wu is making out when he gushes about  “greater convenience” and “Taiwan’s gratitude for the facility”. Grow a pair, mate, and politely ask the Paraguayans: “Are you lot having a laugh, you cheeky buggers?!”

On a related note, I’d recommend John Gimlette’s At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig, a travel/history book on Paraguay. It’s magic and makes me want to visit the country to sample it’s craziness first hand. Be an opportunity for the gf to avail herself of the new “convenient” visa regulations, too …

There is no way that thing is mine!

OK, this story looks like it was from a couple of weeks back but FTNM has just got hold of it and I ain’t letting go!

Apparently this guy Jian Feng sued his wife for being ugly! Bad enough. But … drum roll … he WON!

It all started when his missus have birth and Jian noticed the baby was ugly as sin. Presumably Jian is god’s gift to the ladies (no pic available) …  Anyway, convinced there was no way he could’ve sired such a minger, he did what any man would do and drew the obvious conclusion: The missus must’ve been having it away with “Handsome Boy” Huang the local baker’s delivery boy (I may have made that last part up).

Rather than indulge in a customary round of slap the missus, Jian demanded to know what was going on. His wife finally fessed up that she had been burn a butters and had paid for $60-odd grand’s worth of plastic surgery to disguise her butt ugliness. So, quite justifiably, Jian sued her formerly-ugly ass for fraud or something like that.

The judges found in his favor as she had snared the poor fellow under “false pretenses”. Heaven knows what is going to happen to the baby, the poor lil gargoyle. Imagine when she grows up …

“Hey, isn’t that Mei Ling, the one who’s old man sued her mum when he saw how ugly she was?”

“Yeah, that’s her … Poor cow. To be fair, you can see his point though, eh?”

Shut Up Britain! How would you like it if we said this shit about your leader? … Eh? … Oh.

Idiot Abroad: “How can a ‘bumbler’ get a doctorate from Harvard?” asked Wang Chien-shien, president of the Control Yuan.

So Taiwan’s President Ma won’t be lodging an official protest over the Economist calling him “an ineffectual bumbler!” How magnanimous  of him. The UK mag must’ve been shaking in its boots in fear that El Presidente would take them to task over this painstakingly accurate baseless and malicious slur! Probably.

Even if they aren’t going to “protest”, the very fact that there was talk of this by legislators shows how bloody childish and irrational they are. And it’s not just the KMT. Foreigners who have offered their tuppence worth on sensitive issues to  Taiwanese friends or family members will know that a lot of people don’t take kindly to foreigners “interfering” even when they were sometimes asked for their opinion in the first place! I’ve been taken to task for calling Chiang Kai-shek a dictator by staunch green, Taiwan independence types! He may be a dictator but he was “our” dictator.  Message: “Keep your (long) nose out forriner!” Similarly, note the DPP jumping to Ma’s defense. Message: “Only one thing worse than our crap prez and that’s Johnny Forriner lambasting our crap prez. If there’s any ridiculing to be done, we’ll be doing, aaaaahite?!”

This tribal, us-against-them mentality can be seen from the comments that there has been a “storm” in the press over the audacity of this British rag. “I feel bad and also sad some foreign media would launch such a criticism against our national leader,” says KMT legislator Lo Shu-lei.  So it would be all right if it was local media, then?

Anyway, I reckon the old KMT party are still pining for the martial law era where they used to be able to bang people up for complaining about the weather, or worse, make people “disappear”.  See, they don’t seem to be able to distinguish between a country (read government here) and its press.  How you gonna “lodge a complaint” with the British authorities for an editorial than appeared in a privately-owned magazine? If you feel you’ve been libelled, take up a suit. Don’t hear any talk of that, do you?

Amidst all the idiocy, I did have to laugh at this snidey aside in South China Morning Post:  “Diplomatically isolated Taiwan is highly conscious of its image abroad, with the local press often reporting at length if the island is mentioned in international media, even if it is as part of the weather forecast.”


Off Her Trolley

“It’s all right for some! What I’d give to be poncing around in that cart instead of chained up here behind this fence! You don’t know you’re born, son!”

Down south to visit some friends recently I saw this ridiculous old mare walking up and down the lane pushing her dog along in a trolley. When we came back the same way an hour later, she was still pushing him back and forth with no clear purpose.

I have no idea why she was doing this. The dog looked perfectly healthy … Some shit in Taiwan is completely unfathomable! You may note that the mutt behind the fence doesn’t seem to approve of these shenanigans, either.


Beastly Meat

Vile Vegetables is the stall next door …

Been up partying all night with a buddy in Songshan District. Staggering home, I saw this most appetizing-looking street vendor’s stall. Wasn’t open, so I didn’t get to sample the wares. This is just the “demo” stand …

Professional Bollokers

You’ll be hard pressed to get as good a bolloking for 10NT anywhere else in Taipei.

Found this stall at Taipei Main Station. Reminded me of this classic Monty Python sketch.

“I came here for a bolloking!”

“Oh, that’s the next stall down. This is mild disapproval here. “