7/30/2009

New Bicycle "Only" Lanes in Taipei

I grabbed this shot of a mail truck blocking the new cycle lane on Dunhua my cell phone


The Taipei government has recently had bike lanes put in along some of the busier streets in the city, like this one running along Dunhua (敦化) Road. Sometimes they're painted red and sometimes they're in green. I've noticed a pattern: The red ones are usually barricaded off from encroaching cars and scooters by a little rubber rail. A motorcyclist trying to get over the bump to ride in the bicycle "only" lane would probably end up on his or her butt, while a car could get caught straddling the bump.

For some reason, the lanes are not completely barricaded off. This morning, I noticed several breaks in the railing, like near bus stops and around Pateh (八德). At these breaks, motorcyclists rode freely in the for bicycles "only" lane. I also saw a mail truck (see above picture) parked in the lane, forcing cyclists back out into the traffic. I counted a dozen violations in less than five minutes.


Can I get a ticket for parking if I'm a mail carrier? Do mail trucks ever get towed in Taipei?

7/29/2009

Conscription Versus Volunteerism: Taiwan's Commitment to WWII


My MA. Interestingly, it states I was born in 1970. Usually in Taiwan, they'll say I was born in 59. This means 59 years after the Chinese Revolution (the one that got rid of the Ching Dynasty, not Chiang Kai-shek). Some of the people I know in Taiwan will appreciate this. They believe this date is not relevant here as Taiwan was a colony of Japan in 1911, and would remain so for another 44 years. I'll have to check with my local classmates to find out if this is now standard.

I concluded the red tape on my MA thesis this afternoon. The title I wanted to go with was: "From Volunteerism to Conscription: Taiwan's Commitment to the Second World War". But I guess I forgot to inform the IMTS secretary at National Chengchi University (國立政治大學), so it's back to "Conscription Versus Volunteerism: Taiwan's Commitment to WWII". The working title should be fine (though the Chinese title doesn't match). I'm just glad to be finished. Now I can read non-academic books and hang out with my family and friends. For the last four months, I've been working 9-6, babysitting 7-10 and writing 10-2. I'm just happy to be done. For the next little while, I'll be academically detoxing.

After deciding my topic, I realized there was a shortage of source material. Thus, I had to collect oral histories on my weekends. My friends suggested writing a book report, but this just wasn't possible. Another logjam I encountered was a lot of people in Taiwan found my topic taboo. Simply put, China fought wars against Japan; that Taiwan joined Japan to fight in China and also took on China’s allies in Southeast Asia was an uncomfortable memory for those with an affinity to China.

I'm interested in the idea of identity formation. Many of the older generation in Taiwan get sentimental about the Japanese, who built their infrastructure (banks, railroads, hospitals) and brought relief from the frontier chaos of incompetent Ching Dynasty rule. But I stayed away from this, instead focusing on mechanisms that allowed the Taiwanese to serve Japan's creation of a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Second World War brought forth items and emotions I think some might want to not re-stir, such as Taiwanese celebrations for a Japanese "victory" in Nanking. This is what the British Consul reported in January 1938: “monster celebrations were organized to [celebrate] the fall of Nanking, in which all classes loyally participated”. Around the same time, 200 prominent Taiwanese businessmen gathered to pass a resolution supporting the provisional Japanese government in Northern China.

Anyway, I'll put up my abstract below:

This thesis paper tracks the development of the draft in Taiwan leading up to the Second World War and through its conclusion. In the mobilization of Taiwan as part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, many factors played a role in first encouraging and then pressing the Taiwanese population into service, including the propagation of mass paranoia labeled spy fever, Japanifized education policies, assimilation projects, general media stresses, social organization allowing for a police state, economics and the weight of Taiwan’s own unique frontier history. All of the routes created a certain frenzied (for lack of a better word) atmosphere and deserve attention in understanding the processes that led young Taiwanese males, and females, to first volunteer in the Imperial Japanese Army, Navy and Air Force and then comply to institutionalized conscription. The story of these individuals remains overlooked in the current reconstruction of Taiwan’s history. The era has been overshadowed by the turbulent events following the Second World War and the landing of half a million Chinese immigrants in Taiwan upon defeat in China. This corner of Taiwan’s history is still inappropriately relegated to the sidelines.

With the Second World War generation and in particular the 200,000 who served both in Taiwan and overseas as volunteers and conscripts beginning to die off, the need to get their first-hand accounts recorded and preserved for posterity is pressing. In maintaining their information and stories, the interested historian can do service by adding to the historical record. Knowing this, “From Volunteerism to Conscription: The Mobilization of Taiwan for the Second World War” does not seek to score political points in plotting such a course. The thesis paper simply attempts to better comprehend the mechanisms that worked to pit Taiwan against her ancestral China and to comment on the plight of the survivors, bringing up their influence on Taiwan today. So, this paper will delve into 13 years of history, from 1932 to 1945, when Taiwan sat at the side of Japan as a colonial possession, and did its part in an unprecedented modern territorial expansion. The thesis paper wants to explain more about those who served, and why their service and its outcome might remain relevant in shaping Taiwan’s story at this very moment.

7/25/2009

SPCA Taiwan: I Am Adopting a Dog

A colleague, Sean McCormack, works for SPCA Taiwan, a nonprofit organization that take in dogs http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2009/05/05/2003442831

I've listened to him talk about it before. A lot of the dogs have been abandoned and have suffered abuse at the hands of their owners. Some are mutilated and scarred. They are, I guess, pretty traumatized. The other day, I had lunch Sean and another friend, who was looking to adopt a second dog. I sat there listening, half in a daze, wondering why my Vietnamese noodles and spring rolls were taking so long. It didn't really occur to me that I could also adopt. I have been planning to get a dog, but my intention had always been to wait until my daughter was a little older. I envisioned explaining responsibility and then seeing if she was up to the task by giving her extra chores, like washing the dishes, doing laundry and basically cleaning the house from top-to-bottom. I imagined myself cracking open a cold beverage and resting wisely on the sofa in front of Saturday morning MLB and someone doing work - two things I never get tired of watching.

On Thursday, Sean asked me if I could take a beagle called Luna. Sean found her at a hut in a field on the way up to Wulai (烏來). The hut is a popular dump site for people in Taipei who have grown bored of their pets. He said the dog, an eight-month-old beagle, had a scar or stain around her neck. It seems the previous owner kept her leashed with a wire noose. I told him I'd have to get back to him, that I had to talk to the wife, etc. At the time, I figured this was a good-enough brush off. For the rest of the day, I just couldn't get the scar out of my mind. Plus, why wouldn't I want to adopt this dog? My daughter is crazy about dogs. I think I know dogs (I grew up with them.) We go to the park by my home every night it's not raining - a great place for walking a dog. More importantly, we can help this dog.

By the time my wife came home from work, I had come up with a whole resume for this beagle. It wasn't necessary. She was on board from the moment I brought up the topic.

Sean says he goes through a certain process before signing off on an adoption:
1.) He interviews potential adopters for suitability.
2.) He has a chip embedded in the dogs. I'm not so sure about this one. I think it has to do with controling dog populations.
3.) He has the dogs vaccinated.
4.) He house breaks the dogs.
5.) He has them fixed. I don't what Animal Taiwan's policy is here. I need to get more information.

Sean also provides a dog obedience, maintenance class if he decides a suitability exists and decides to get the ball rolling on the adoption. It is worth pointing out that he will take any dog back if things do not work out with an adoption.

Sean will probably bring Luna, the beagle, over in the next couple of weeks. There are some things to work out still.