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I made tea eggs today

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 4:29 pm
TeaEggsApparently this makes me both a multi-millionaire and part of cross-straits relations. I have not kept up as much as I should with the current Taiwan protests, but Offbeat China has. and they claim that tea eggs are one of the things that both sides are using as a symbol (both real and snarky) of Taiwan. Admittedly, mine are not real tea eggs, since 1. I did not meet Dr. Who, steal the Tardis, go back to the Shang dynasty and build a 7-11 and then put the eggs in a crockpot and let them simmer for 3,000 years. That would be a proper Taiwan tea egg. 2. I only made them because we had too many eggs and everyone I know likes tea eggs. No rhetorical points about China, Taiwan, democracy, identity, etc. Just eggs. And tea. 3. They taste good, but maybe I should have used one more star anise. Always hard to judge that.


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Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 6:44 am

Buy Triamterene Without Prescription, I was going to do a post on how the Chinese world is remembering 1911, the overthrow of the Qing, and founding of the Chinese Republic. The answer seems to be that there is not much up, is Triamterene safe. Triamterene online cod, A couple years ago, for the 100th anniversary there were quite a few publications, Triamterene without a prescription. Triamterene recreational, This year the big story seems to be that very few people are visiting the museum of the revolution in Canton, although private collectors are donating artifacts to the museum of the Revolution in Wuhan Taipei does not seem to be up to much, online buy Triamterene without a prescription, Triamterene dangers, although Ma Ying-jeou did use the occasion to call for closer cross-straits ties, but the general coverage is pretty downbeat, where can i find Triamterene online. Triamterene australia, uk, us, usa, The mainland seems to be continuing its tradition of not paying much attention to the occasion. The Santa Fe Opera is doing an opera on Sun's life which, Triamterene steet value, Canada, mexico, india, from the description, sounds like it is not very historical, where to buy Triamterene. Kjøpe Triamterene på nett, köpa Triamterene online. Order Triamterene online overnight delivery no prescription. Purchase Triamterene for sale. What is Triamterene. Effects of Triamterene. Triamterene dosage. Generic Triamterene. Triamterene natural. Low dose Triamterene. Buy no prescription Triamterene online. Triamterene use. Buy cheap Triamterene no rx. Triamterene class. Triamterene results. Triamterene for sale. Order Triamterene online c.o.d. Is Triamterene addictive. Fast shipping Triamterene. Triamterene no rx. No prescription Triamterene online. Purchase Triamterene online no prescription. Order Triamterene from United States pharmacy. Triamterene pics. Triamterene price. Triamterene over the counter. Triamterene no prescription. Buy Triamterene online no prescription. Rx free Triamterene. Triamterene price, coupon.

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Filed under: — sayaka @ 10:26 am

Buy Quinine Without Prescription, I posted this on Frog in a Well Japan.

Earlier this month, Quinine pictures, Quinine class, I met a descendent of the Taiwanese aboriginal group, Sysiyat tribe (賽夏族), buy Quinine online no prescription, Quinine price, and his wife. The Sysiyat is a relatively small tribe living in Wufengxiang (五峰鄉) and Nanzhuang (南庄) in the mountainous inner-land of Hsinchu (Xinzhu, Quinine overnight, Real brand Quinine online, 新竹) Province. I called him because I am studying the local history of Beipu (北埔) right now, Quinine natural, My Quinine experience, and stories about the Sysiyat people in neighboring Wufengxiang seemed important to me.

His name is Zhao Zhenggui (趙正貴), Quinine long term. His grandfather, Taro Yomaw, was the chief-general of the tribe in the area during the first half of the Japanese colonial rule, and he cooperated with the Japanese in many policing operations to suppress other rebellious aboriginal populations, Buy Quinine Without Prescription. Quinine pharmacy, Taro Yomaw's third son and Mr. Zhao Zhenggui's father, low dose Quinine, Buy Quinine without prescription, Ybai-taro, attended the Japanese elementary school in the Zhudong (竹東)city, Quinine no rx, Quinine alternatives, went to the elite Teacher's College (師範大学), and became a police officer and teacher for the aboriginal villages, Quinine brand name. Quinine blogs, Ybai-taro continued his career as a teacher after the KMT took over the island, and after he retired in the 1970s, online buying Quinine hcl, Order Quinine online overnight delivery no prescription, he started writing memoirs, histories, where to buy Quinine, Quinine duration, and fictional stories in Japanese. (Mr, Quinine from canadian pharmacy. Zhao's interview about these writings in Chinese)

Taro Yomaw in his youth:

Taro Yomaw and Ybai-taro
Buy Quinine Without Prescription, (both photos provided by Mr. Kjøpe Quinine på nett, köpa Quinine online, Zhao Zhenggui)

From what I can tell, his memoirs and histories are based on what he heard from his own father and older generations, Quinine used for, Quinine australia, uk, us, usa, Japanese publications he later read by himself, and his own experiences as a police officer, buy Quinine no prescription. Order Quinine from United States pharmacy, Sometimes they are mixed together, but one eye-catching feature is that his writings show a perfectly smooth transfer of legitimacy from Japanese colonizers, Quinine price, coupon, Online Quinine without a prescription, especially Emperor Hirohito, to the KMT and Chiang Kai-shek, no prescription Quinine online. Where can i cheapest Quinine online, Instead of giving my lousy interpretations, I will just show some quotes from his "高砂族の古今" (Old and New of Takasago Zoku)

(Showa Emperor named all the aborigines in Taiwan "Takasago zoku" after the Sysiyat who had arrived in the high beach in Hsinchu)

This is historically not accurate because the Japanese were already calling them 高砂族 in the 16th century, Quinine dangers. Quinine dosage,

(When I went to the Japanese elementary school, Japanese children called me "mountain people" but never called me "banjin (barbarians)", Quinine coupon. [Chinese] settler children called us "banjin" so I naturally felt closer to Japanese children.)

In the statistics of elementary school attendance, there were no Chinese-Taiwanese children who attended 小学校 before the 1920s, but there were always a couple of aboriginal kids studying with the Japanese children in the cities of Hsinchu, Buy Quinine Without Prescription. Quinine without a prescription,

(Because my younger brother who died in the battle is also enshrined in the Yasukuni Shrine, I am thinking of visiting Tokyo some day and praying for his soul, taking Quinine. Quinine reviews, [The aboriginal people] were regarded as Taiwan's mountain monkeys and barbarians, but after only 10 years of guidance by our old friends, cheap Quinine, Where can i order Quinine without prescription, we surprised people around the world by fighting bravely in the South [Southeast Asia]. After the war, Quinine results, Quinine photos, we were separated from Japanese people, but we did not hold grudge against them but sent them home safe with tears. I thank the Japanese, who educated the aborigine who used to like head-chopping and transformed us into true human beings. Buy Quinine Without Prescription, After becoming Chinese, we built upon the basis of old-day education and received orders of the new government. We have been making amazing progress the past 30 years, and enjoying a stable life. We returned to the mother nation, and based on Sun Yat-Sen's Three Principles of the People and President Chiang's will, we became even truer human-beings. I think it is thanks to Japan and China.)

This I found very interesting because of his heartfelt acceptance of both regimes. Praising the Japanese occupation wasn't a popular thing to do in the 1970s under the KMT rule, but the issue was not either-or for him. If you are too upset or too happy reading his praise of the Japanese rule, don't forget to read the next one, Buy Quinine Without Prescription.

(Upon the end of WWII, the leaders of Britain, the US, and the USSR in particular, insisted that they would divide Japan into three and abolish the emperor system. But President Chiang suppressed their assertion by saying "Japan should remain the same but the occupied territories can be returned. We must not abolish the emperor." I hear the Japanese people cried and thanked President Chiang. He will be remembered as the God of Re-Creation of the nation in the Japanese history. Buy Quinine Without Prescription, After the war, the number of the world's greatest people increased by 20 and became 30. President Chiang became the "world's greatest person" for the first time in the history of ROC. Many people in the world came to see him in Taiwan because he was a living great man.)

I don't have to discuss the accuracy issue of this passage. I was stunned by his affirmation of the authority of Chiang Kai-shek by claiming that Japanese people worship him.

As you can see, there is a lot going on in his writings but it obviously requires a careful reading. I don't know exactly how I am going to use this as a source but I hope at least someone enjoys this entry.

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Revising history: Brief notes

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 9:51 pm
Quick hits:
  • It's one of the most difficult periods of modern history to teach, and I love using primary sources for the tough times, so I'm always glad to see new oral histories of the Maoist era. In some ways, the flaws the reviewer cites -- wandering in particular -- could be really useful for students.
  • A new revisionist history of Chiang Kaishek raises the possiblity of teaching 20th century China in a much more balanced and complete way. I'm not entirely convinced, though: the portrait of Chiang as a political visionary is still in great tension with his heavy-handed methods and questionable associates and administrative skills; the idea that Taiwan's development was charted by Chiang has to contend with both the Japanese legacies and the favorable international environment for Taiwan's economic development during the Cold War. I want to see some real academic reviews.
  • The NYT "Room for Debate" about Chinese Character Simplification would be a lot more interesting if they discussed anything other than the first-wave simplification carried out by the Communists -- the association of language control with early empire, the natural evolution of languages (i.e. the instability of "traditional" characters), the realities of technology and language. I've read a couple of their "Room for Debate" pieces, and I don't see the point.


Chin music

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 1:24 am
Today is Opening Day, and the Cubs are in first place, so all is well with the world. I just got a copy of Yu Junwei's Playing in Isolation: A History of Baseball In Taiwan. ((One of the many nice things about being married to my wife is that she will often order me things off my Amazon wishlist for no good reason.)) The book is not all that analytical. It is also a little inside baseball for some people (Yu assumes you know what the Mendoza Line is.)

The book is, however, a lot of fun, especially for those who like both Chinese history and baseball. It confirmed what I had already thought, that while baseball is a world game (take that IOC), it actually spread in Asia as a Japanese game (just as it was mostly a Cuban game in the Caribbean basin.)  A lot of the book is just a narrative of postwar baseball, which is interesting enough, but I found the stuff about the cultural politics of baseball in Colonial Taiwan most interesting. It was of course the Japanese who first brought baseball to Taiwan, but Taiwanese (both Han and aboriginal) picked up on it, leading to the Jiayi Agricultural and Forestry Institute's "tri-racial" team placing second in the all-important Japanese high school championships in 1931. Needless to say baseball was not very popular with the mainlanders who took over Taiwan after 1945. They preferred soccer and basketball, which explains why everyone I played pick-up hoops with in Taiwan spoke such good Mandarin. ((It is also sort of interesting that through the 50's about half of the best Hong Kong soccer players played for Taiwan.)) Chiang Kai-shek used basketball to tie Taiwan to the Overseas Chinese of Southeast Asia. Well into the 1960s Taiwanese baseball teams made their names defeating Japanese teams. It was not until the 1970s that winning in Willamsport became a national obsession, bringing all the problems you would expect from people taking youth sport too seriously.


Lies, Damn Lies, and Chinese “Lies That Bind”

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 4:23 pm

Do Chinese lie?

The Western media have jumped on recent revelations about doctoring the Olympic opening ceremonies and allegations about false ages of their gymnasts, and the recent book The Empire of Lies: The Truth about China in the 21st Century argues that the West is being too soft on China.

On the other hand, John Pomfret asks “Should We Give China a Break?” He refers us to Tim Wu of Columbia University, who asks “Are the Media Being Too Mean to China?” Chinese hosts expect guests to honor their hard work, Wu explains, but Western journalists see their jobs as ferreting out the “real” China, which to them is “the dirt, not the rug it was swept under.” Wu adds that it's “the dishonesty, as much as the substance of what's wrong in China, that seems to get under the skin of Western reporters.”

The major factor is that China still feels defensive after two centuries of national humiliation, and, as in any besieged country (the United States in World War II, for example), citizens give the government a pass on regrettable transgressions. It’s all in a good cause.

Jeff Wasserstrom at China Beat sees a “Great Convergence” in which we have made great progress in discussing Chinese behavior in the same terms we talk about our own, and adds that as for “populations that accept lies, while it would be foolish to suggest any kind of complete moral equivalency, this is another case of people in glass houses being careful about throwing stones.”

In much of the mainstream media, I still smell old Western prejudices, which makes me think it’s worth while to look back. After all, Shakespeare used “Cathayan” when he wanted to say “liar” and even today newcomers to China are warned that Chinese concern with “face” leads to evasions and cover-ups, and that guanxi – “relations” or “connections” – opens the back door. [1]

More than a century ago, the American missionary Arthur Smith’s Chinese Characteristics (1894; reprinted, with a Preface by Lydia Liu: EastBridge, 2003) explained the China difference using pungent terms echoed by Americans who live there today: “talent for indirection,” “disregard” for accuracy and time, “absence of sincerity,” and “contempt for foreigners.” Smith would not assert there was “no honesty in China,” only that “so far as our experience and observation go, it is literally impossible to be sure of finding it anywhere.” It’s easy to cherry pick outrageous quotes but the book wrestled with a genuine question: why do Chinese and Americans behave differently?

“Face” is Smith’s first chapter. Face provides “not the execution of even handed justice” but “such an arrangement as will distribute to all concerned ‘face’ in due proportions.” Truth was less important than harmony. Smith asserts that “any Chinese regards himself as an actor in a drama,” so “the question is never of facts but always of form.” Face seems to mean “mask”: only if you strip it off do you uncover the truth. He was perhaps the first to explain Chinese behavior by the circumstance of living in a closely knit society and being dependent on harmonious mutual relations, but his mistake was to take America as the norm and to look for “absence” or “disregard” of what were actually parochial American middle class ideals.

The most cogent successor to Chinese Characteristics was Francis Hsu’s Americans and Chinese: Passages to Difference , first published in 1948 (University of Hawaii, 3rd ed. 1981). Hsu was born in China and came to the U.S. after the war. His book, just as acerbic about America as Smith was about China, contrasted his remembered China with the complacent, materialist America where his daughters grew up. Because the Chinese “situation oriented” approach was group defined, polytheistic, and realistic it was more mature than the American illusion of an autonomous individual based in Romantic ideals, monotheism, and expectations of endless plenty.

Recently Susan D. Blum’s charming and thoughtful Lies that Bind: Chinese Truth, Other Truths (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006) took up the challenge left by Smith and Hsu to study the rules, expectations and beliefs regarding lying and honesty not only in China but everywhere. Blum and Hsu both explain anthropological theory through breezy stories of everyday life (and both talk about their daughters), but Blum’s starting point is Michel Foucault’s post-modern assumption that every society has its own “regime of truth.” This is akin to Richard Rorty’s provocative statement that truth is “what your contemporaries let you get away with.” (Rorty quickly adds that serious people care not only about producing agreement but also about justifying their methods for producing agreement.) [2]

Blum catalogues the reasons we lie: profit, comfort, flattery, clever management, spin, polite convention, tactful greasing of squeaky social wheels, and sometimes just for the fun of it. Plagiarism is a lie about authorship, but Blum elsewhere adds that the “value of cross-cultural and historic examples is that they point out the constructed nature of our familiar expectations.” That doesn't mean we should abandon them, but we might hesitate to call plagiarism “sinful” for our values “are certainly not universal.” [3]

We can add a few more lies: Macbeth, like many in Shakespeare’s plays , distrusts what his eyes tell him and calls his visions “lies like truth” (Othello comes to grief by trusting “ocular proof”). A geographer says “a map is a lie.” [4] Bullshit is sheer indifference to truth. [5] And then there is Huck Finn’s wonderful term, “stretchers.”

If truth is what our society lets us get away with and lies come in so many varieties, we need to ask why do Chinese act the way they do. Blum groups the contradictory explanations:

● Chinese culture (Arthur Smith’s “Chinese Characteristics”). That is, Chinese behave the way they do because they’re Chinese.

● Modernity in the form of Communism; authoritarian rule shapes behavior.

● Modernity in the form of post-Communism; free for all Capitalism shapes behavior.

Chinese situations change. Take your pick.

Unlike Smith, Blum does not take American values as the reference point, but she agrees with Hsu that because they live in closer and longer lived groups, Chinese are more focused on the social consequences of a statement than its literal truth.

Are all lies bad?

Chinese and Americans agree that rearranging the truth to make others happy is different from lying to cheat them. I love my birthday necktie and don’t add that I already have one exactly like it. Should you tell social or political lies because your children would pay if you say what you think? In China, the costs are higher and more certain than in mobile societies where authorities control fewer resources and neighbors more likely to move on. Should doctors tell patients that they are dying? Chinese are more likely to say no.

Blum sees differences which go way back. Aristotle and St. Augustine exalted Platonic Truth which transcended time and place, but Confucius sought to explain right action as relative to the situation. If your father steals a sheep, do not turn him in: The result would be wrong. When Chinese today, especially urbanites, brag of their cleverness they echo the Daoist generals who used tricks and strategy to get maximum effect for minimum effort For a Chinese court painter to copy a landscape stroke for stroke was not deception or “forgery.” If the result was beautiful and it pleased the emperor, it was beautiful.

Philosophers will recognize this not so much a debate between East and West as between the deontological commitment to truth at any cost vs consequentialism. In ancient China the poet Qu Yuan drowned himself in the river when the ruler was deaf to his advice and the historian Sima Qian accepted physical castration to avoid castration of his political views. Like establishment intellectuals in Mao’s China, they spoke truth to power but did not rebel or challenge its legitimacy.

Likewise, the scholarly painters in China were centuries ahead of the Romantics in 18th century Europe in condemning academic painting as not authentic since artistic truth was individual, spontaneous, and could not be copied. Rock ‘n Roll says this in simpler words and at higher decibels: “I need to be me,” “I can’t live a lie.” Americans often say that government should help individuals -- “be all you can be” -- Chinese that individual should help the government build a Greater China.

Hsu points out that these differences cut two ways. To be “free” or “independent” can also be “irresponsible,” “lonely,” or “selfish.” What Chinese call “harmony” can be “conformity” or “repression.” American “straight talk” can be childish, reckless, or self-righteous, and Chinese “sweet talk” can cover up realities until they fester.

Chinese regimes evoke both the iron hand of repression and the velvet glove of Confucian harmony; Americans talk the individualism game but have conformity and wartime group think as well.


1. Yes, Chinese do lie.

2. No more than anybody else.

3. For the same reasons.

4. They are in a different situation.

Which explanation do we chose for which action? Are the Chinese authorities behaving like good hosts, lying dictators, or just like most authorities would behave in the same situation?


[1] Harvard Business Review on Doing Business in China (Harvard Business School, 2004) has many references to guo qing, translated as “Chinese characteristics.” (p. 123). Josh Gartner’s blog “China Expat” has a sensible piece, “The Great Chinese Myth: Guanxi.” Academic studies include Thomas B. Gold, Doug Guthrie David L. Wank, eds., Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture, and the Changing Nature of Guanxi (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Andrew B. Kipnis, Producing Guanxi: Sentiment, Self, and Subculture in a North China Village (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997).

[2] Jim Holt, “Say Anything,” New Yorker, August 22, 2005

[3] See Blum’s piece on H-ASIA December 7, 2007

[4] Mark S. Monmonier, How to Lie with Maps (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2nd, 1996).

[5] Laura Penny, Your Call Is Important to Us: The Truth About Bullshit (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2005); Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).


舊版報紙資訊網: Initial Thoughts and Technical Review

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 4:47 am
I have been spending a few days looking at one of the important early postwar newspapers in Taiwan, 臺灣新生報, using the microfilm collection on the 6th floor Taiwan resource center of the National Taiwan Library (國立中央圖書館臺灣分館). Yesterday, I happened to catch a glimpse of someone viewing some old copies of another important postwar Taiwan paper, 民報, using an online database, which I will offer some comments about below, following a brief opening rant. I'm not a big fan of microfilm newspapers. The advantages of this medium over providing access to physical copies or bound printed copies are obvious. Among them include: 1) preservation 2) space conservation 3) the ability to zoom 4) ability to print zoomed in articles from microfilm machines onto various sizes of paper, etc. However, from the point of view of the historian, the disadvantages soon become apparent: unlike the bound printed copies of, for example, 中央日報, 申報, or 大公報 that I can find in various libraries, which sometimes shrink the original size of the newspaper such that the characters in the articles are barely legible - it is actually possible to browse these through these collections quite fast. It is in fact faster to turn the pages of a book and scan a page of a newspaper for interesting articles than it is to operate the knob of a microfilm machine and zoom in and out on interesting looking pieces. More importantly, the higher contrast of black text on the printed white of paper makes the experience of looking at bound volumes far more pleasant than a microfilm machine. With the exception of some digital microfilm readers that artificially boost the contrast, the vast majority of microfilm readers I have used in Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and the United States are extremely hard on the eyes. If you have to sit at the reader for 4-10 hours, with some short breaks, for even a few days in a row, the impact on one's eyes is noticeable. The sick yellow background (or black with white text, as the default is for many newspapers I viewed in Korea's national library, hardly much better) of the microfilm reader, desperately trying to transfer light to the viewer through its lenses always seems to fall below the expectations of my eyes, which yearn to look at real paper, or even the greater contrast of a computer screen! Digital databases of newspapers are always welcome. In addition to the power of database searching, they offer some of the benefits of both paper bound and microfilm collections but also some more serious defects. It is not all one glorious march towards progress. In my experience, I have found that digital newspaper collections (as well as many library OPAC databases and other online resources) often are designed by people that appear to greatly underestimate the importance of browsing. It isn't just about what is there in that article or even on that page; historians often want to know what can be found near that article, page, or issue. Sometimes we aren't looking for a single article about a single topic, but trying to get a feel for the kinds of things being written on the days and weeks surrounding a particular historical event. It is all part of the task of surveying the discursive environment of a time or place. Now, having made these comments, let me turn to the database I discovered completely by chance yesterday: 舊版報紙資訊網. Read on below the fold... Contents From what I can tell, the 舊版報紙資訊網 is a digital newspaper archive project put together by 國立台中圖書館 and first launched online in the spring of 2003. Its own introduction reports that it currently includes, among others these newspapers: 民報(館藏民國三十四年十月十一日至三十六年二月,已停刊)、公論報(自民國四十一年三月開始收藏,已停刊)、民聲報(自民國四十一年一月開始收藏,已停刊)、香港工商日報(自民國三十九年五月開始收藏,已停刊). Another page reports that it contains: 民報、正氣中華、外交部周報、工人報、台東新報、大華新聞、更生報、攝影新聞等. This is a truly impressive list and a great service to historians of early postwar Taiwan, but even more exciting is the claim that they want to add to their collection 中央日報、中華日報、and 台灣新生報. The last two among these are particularly important for historical projects involving early postwar Taiwan. Unless I'm missing something (please let me know if I am!) there is no way to browse by newspaper or date using the web page so I wasn't able to easily confirm what issues of what newspapers in the above list were available. The only way to access the contents of database, as far as I could tell, is through their search page. Using various search terms I was able to get the useful 民報 for most searches 1945 to the suppression of the newspaper in 1947 following the 2.28 incident, and 外交部通報週報, 青年新報, and 攝影新聞 for searches in the 1950s. However, among these four papers, I was only able to view images of 民報 and no images appeared for the others. This inability to browse, both within the available range of a newspaper or limited by newspaper is truly crippling. It really need not be this way since the database clearly offers a way to index by the name of the newspaper and by date. I very much hope that they will add this capability in the future, and furthermore, add an "update" page (ideally with an RSS feed) which will indicate which recent additions have been made to the database so we can follow the growth of the database and return when an important addition has been made (e.g. 中華日報 and 台灣新生報) Technical Review Let us look closer at some of the technical aspects of this online database. As already mentioned, the website doesn't seem to have images for some of the newspapers that appear in the search: I wasn't able to get images at all for newspapers other than 民報. The search mechanism, when it functions, does provide the ability to search by a large number of metadata categories such as title of the article or author, etc. It was not clear to me how much data was actually indexed from each article. You can limit the searches by year or exact date (in Western or 民國 years), but not by newspaper. Unlike many of the world's worst online newspaper databases (Japanese and Korean historical databases are, in my opinion, the most infamous in this regard), this collection fortunately does not appear to require any special plugins, ActiveX components, etc. The creators of this collection bravely resolved that standard web images are more than sufficient to show images on the screen. The small preview images are jpg files (example) that are actually shrunk down and can be viewed in larger size if you download the image while the full size image is a TIFF file which can be downloaded and viewed on any operating system. I find the choice of JPEG for the preview image to be unusual, since black and white or greyscale images are often much smaller and clearer if saved as GIF files. They are, however, clear. When a search is performed, a list of hit articles are returned. When an article is clicked the screen splits into 2. An image of the newspaper page with the article appears on the left and on the right a list of article titles on that page, with the article searched for marked. While the list of other articles is a useful addition, there is a flaw with this design: Splitting the screen in half wastes important horizontal screen space, forcing the developers to use a much smaller newspaper page image than necessary. If the article information was place below/above the image, perhaps broken into two columns to minimize its vertical coverage, then they could use a newspaper image twice the size on the screen, and thus make it far more legible to the reader. As it is, the small image makes only some of the newspaper titles on the page visible and it is difficult to tell how long the article one is looking for is. In the background, if popups are allowed, a much larger image of the page often seems to appear, and will also appear if the smaller page image is selected. However, I have never been able to get these larger images in the popups to appear, though I have seen them appear on a library computer, so it may have something to do with the version of Internet Explorer I used (versions 7 and 8 on Windows XP). Now let me list some of the many many design and coding flaws of this database that need to be fixed if this collection is to reach its potential. I hope this will not only serve as a critique of this newspaper collection but will be read by others creating similar collections as a warning of the kinds of mistakes to avoid: Only Works on Internet Explorer Using Windows - This problem follows the long tradition of digital archives, especially in East Asia, being created by programmers who apparently don't know that there are standards compliant browsers other than Internet Explorer (Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc.) and other operating systems besides Windows (OS X, Linux). If you try to open the search page using Safari on a mac, you get this completely unusable page: 6safari.gif If you open the search page using Firefox you will find that, due to poor Javascript programming, drop down menu items are missing so you cannot choose the type of search you wish to do: 6firefox.gif If you try to search using either Firefox or Safari you will get this message: 6firefoxsearch.gif Web standards are important, and it is no longer acceptable, as it was perhaps more accepted back in 2003 when this site was developed, that your web page fail to function with those standards for maximum durability into the future. The above problems were due to some simple errors Javascript, especially using references to objects in a way understood only by Internet Explorer. Text Encoding Is Missing - Another common problem in East Asian historical databases is that programmers assume that every computer viewing their website has Internet Explorer configured with their own favorite encoding as the default, in this case Big5 for traditional Chinese. But what if you are viewing the web page on a mainland Chinese computer, or a Korean, Japanese, or American computer? The result is that some pages will appear like this: 2encoding.gif As I show in the source below, the developer did not include any meta tag to indicate the Big5 encoding here so that the buttons and message are unreadable until you right-click and physically change the encoding yourself. This is despite the fact they did include this tag correctly on other pages: 2.1encoding.gif Poor Overall Design - There are some aspects of this site which are simply poor overall design. These include serious problems with text and tables overlapping with background images and a background pattern that is not made wide enough to accommodate the larger resolutions of today's monitors, making some text almost illegible. Here are three examples: 3.1overlap.gif 1overlap.jpg 3overlap.gif There are also a number of completely mashed buttons, and I'm not sure how they ended up creating the effect. The effect, however, is to make three of the special features of the collection largely invisible to the visitor who cannot read their titles: 7mashedbuttons.gif Here is an original version of one button: 7.1mashedbuttons.gif Incidentally, it puzzles me that they offer these special searches for advertisements and riddles (as one of the others is) but not the ability to browse by individual newspapers! Frequent File Not Found Errors - There were many cases where I searched for an entry and after going through several pages of hits, eventually was given a file not found error for the next page: 5notfound.gif This error 500 is a script error, which suggests that it was not able to handle the parameters of the call for the next page. Incorrect File Type - This collection doesn't require special plug-ins, which is very handy. It offers the ability to download a full TIFF image of single pages of the newspaper (PDF downloads of whole issues, would be nice, but perhaps asking too much). However, the file that is downloaded does not have a .tif or .tiff or other recognizable file type. It is a TIFF file but will not be recognized as such by Windows or, if the file is transferred to OS X or Linux, on other operating systems either. People with more computing experience will know they can simply change the file name's final characters to .tif to get it to be recognized as an image, but some less technically inclined historians will not know how to open the downloaded ".xtf" images. These TIFF images are certainly not XTF files. 4filesave.gif The developers should ensure that the downloaded file is given the correct file attribute. 100 Hit Limit Too Small - I understand why databases provide a maximum number of hits. They need to manage the load on the database server which is processing the searches of all visitors. However, 100 does seem too small, and I would suggest 500 or even 250 as a more reasonable number. I also feel that it is also lazy programming to leave out a link at the end of the first hundred hits that allows the user to query the database for the next 100 hits. As every web database programmer knows, this is easily done with a simple modification to the MySQL query. That way, if someone really wants to go through many hundreds of hits, they can do so without asking for all the returned results all in a single query. Conclusion I was delighted to find this online digital archive, the 舊版報紙資訊網. The quality of the downloaded images themselves, which are in nice standard TIFF format are very clear, often more so than the bound or microfilm versions I have been looking at so far. If it eventually contains the half dozen or so most important early postwar Taiwanese newspapers it will allow powerful search abilities for a scholar without access to hard copies or microfilm collections often found only in Taiwan. If good solid browsing features are added with fast and easy viewing of the high contrast images, it will easily outdo microfilm in usefulness. If someday, powerful OCR software indexed some of the text in the pages (at least the more clear text in the titles where OCR software stands a chance at accurately interpreting the content) or if article titles were embedded as metadata into the files and the database collection provided us PDF downloads of these pages, it would allow us to search for relevant articles in our own set of downloaded collection of relevant articles when we are away from the internet and access to the online database. I hope that this online collection receives sufficient support and funding to continue its digitization and indexing efforts but that it will also invest some time and effort into improving the code and design of the existing infrastructure of the site.


National Taiwan University Library

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:12 pm
I've started an entry for the NTU Library at the EALA wiki. Besides the fact that this is a wonderful library by any international standard, I'm really impressed with how open this university library is to visitors. As I explain in the Usage section for the EALA entry, you need only bring a passport or student ID and register at one of the computers near the entry to get a temporary readers card and free wireless login information. The process is even faster and simpler than that at the national libraries in Taiwan, Korea, or Japan. I wish some prominent American university libraries provided such easy access to visitors.


Corruption and the Use of Technical Experts in Taiwan 1946

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 3:15 am
Corruption was one of the biggest target of complaints by supporters and sworn enemies of the Chinese republic in wartime and early postwar China. This was also true for the new Chinese regime in Taiwan after Japan's defeat and contributed to the anger among Taiwanese who sparked the 2/28 incident in 1947. Here is one example of an investigation into corruption reported in this exchange between a council member and director of Inspection Bureau of the Department of Civil Affairs in Taiwan, May 1946:
"How many persons are in the Bureau?" "There are 114 persons, of whom 23 are Japanese." "Are they employed on the basis of technical ability?" "Yes." "Is there a person named Fan Chin-tang in the office?" "No. He has resigned." "Is there a person named Hsieh Chin-chiu in the office?" "No...yes." "What qualification has this person?" "This person is a graduate of Chekiang University." "What official rank does this person hold?" "Technical expert." "Is she your concubine?" "Yes." "Fan Chin-tang, with thirty years' technical experience, was dismissed. Why is his salary allotment still requested from the senior office?" "Salaries for March have not yet been paid." "Yes. You requested the Finance Department to allot salaries for 186 persons, while in reality your staff consists of only 46 persons. The average salary is 1,200 old Taiwan dollars per person. Your total income from November through March has been 1,000,000 old Taiwan dollars." (( Tse-han Lai, Ramon H. Myers, and Wei Wou A Tragic Beginning: The Taiwan Uprising of February 28, 1947 (Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1991), 74. Original source is cited as Formosa: Internal Affairs, 1945-1949, Reel 1, Enclosure no. 25 (Nov. 1, 1946, report), p. 35. Bibliography gives full citation as: United States State Department Central Files. Formosa: Internal Affairs, 1945-1949. Washington, D.C.: University Publications of America, 1985. Reel 1 ("Political Affairs Reports for 1946 and January 1947") ))


If you prick Taiwanese savages, do they not bleed?

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 8:27 am
I want to share just one more short passage from Small Sea Travel Diaries, the English translation of Yu Yonghe's journal and essays from his trip to Taiwan in the 17th century by Macabe Keliher. I find the following reflections by Yu on natives he met in Taiwan to be an interesting display of humanity and an overly confident universalism on the part of the author, though it's tone is entirely inconsistent with the far more insulting, unsympathetic, and otherwise derogatory tone used elsewhere in Yu's journals.
The worst off people in the world are not as bad off as the Taiwan savages. Because they are different they are discriminated against. When people see them without clothes, they say, "they don't get cold." When they see them walk in the rain and sleep in the two, they say, "they don't get sick." When they see them carry burdens over great distances, they say, "they can work without rest." Aye! They are also people! They have limbs and bodies and flesh and bone; in what way are they not human? How can one say such things of them? If horses run without rest, or oxen loaded with more than they can carry, will they not get sick? If oxen and horses are like this, then what of humans? If they had cloth, and they would wear layers of clothes when the weather turned cold - what would be the point of getting cold. If they had no responsibilities, they would settle peacefully and not run around naked - what is the point of being naked? If they did not have to work, they would rest and relax and not labor for these interpreters. Who does not enjoy eating well and staying warm, avoiding pain and hunger and cold? Who does not hate hard labor and enjoy leisure and comfort? This is human nature. There are different people, but the nature is all the same. The benevolent know this and do not need to repeat it. (( Yu, Yonghe, trans. Macabe Keliher Small Sea Travel Diaries (2004) SMC publishing, Taipei, 2004, 119. ))
As the mention they get in this quote suggests, Yu really did not like interpreters, and they appear as the most evil figures in his narrative. Perhaps his own dependence on them when he went hunting for sulphur in remote areas of Taiwan added to his dislike for their deceptive practices.

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