Archive for August 2011

Traveling in China August 15 to September 15

August 15, 2011

I’m traveling to Hong Kong, Yunnan, Xi’an, Beijing, Nanjing, Suzhou, Shanghai, and Hangzhou to improve my knowledge of the continent. I’ll resume writing in this blog when I return. Peace be with you!

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My Facebook Wall: July 2011

August 14, 2011

Prompts are in italics.

2: This is my hometown all right!
4: There are no dull people, only people whose areas of expertise and amazing stories you haven’t uncovered yet.
5: Advice on Climbing Mt. Fuji: My Dad, brother, and I started climbing at 10 PM and made it to the top at sunrise. We didn’t stay in a hut, and we had time for short rests but short ones only. We’re all in decent shape. My sister came too, but asthma forced her to stop halfway up. People of all ages make the climb; it’s respiratory issues that could stop you. Pack dry protein, like nuts, for snacks. Hiking boots are necessary because it’s a volcanic mountain, and the descent is steeper and more painful than the ascent. Bring a flashlight. Walk backwards some of the way back to relieve pressure. The most crowded and slowest area to navigate is the peak. Sunrise left us speechless, so we didn’t shout anything. しっかりして楽しんでください!
5: 太平燕 (Taipien) is a Chinese-dish that is native to Kumamoto (according to the box). Does that make any sense to you? Basically, it’s Chinese food that’s born in Japan. Yeah, it’s soupy like 酸辣湯, and the noodles are like 米粉, but I haven’t seen it in any restaurants here in Taipei.
7: ‎”I think God can speak to us through donuts.” — Tom Chappell Lewis Having a hole that makes it easier to hold = “my strength is made perfect in your weakness”?
8: A two minute demonstration of the brilliance of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker. If you know of any writers whose words are creative as these notes, please send their names my way so I can learn from them.
10: I had no idea that before today the Yankees had no 3000-hit players. Very surprising. It’s an impressive achievement. That said, Ruth, Gehrig, and Mantle still lead him in times on base because they all walked more than Frodo Baggins. For that matter, he also trails the career totals of part-time Yankees Winfield, Sheffield, and Jackson. The Captain would need a thousand more hits/walks/HBPs to catch The Babe. The Record Book
10: The Nadeshiko, or the Japanese Women’s World Cup team, just eliminated two-time defending Women’s World Cup champion and tournament favorite Germany…IN Germany…with a goal in extra time. Their spirit puts the country’s political and business leaders to shame. Mina-san, ganbare!
11: USA! USA!
11: Thanks to Kristen Yang for visiting me here in Taipei, to all my friends who said hi to us on the way, and to the Holy Spirit for blessing our time together!
14: So it looks as though the US shall be taking on the Japanese for the World Cup… Which leads me to ask you James… Where do your loyalties lie? Are you ready to be the bad guy and cheer on the powerhouse team just as you did when the Colts played the Saints in the Superbowl and when Duke fought off Butler in the NCAA Championship? Or are you going to side with a country with which you have developed a strong connection and is playing to uplift the spirits of its millions of downtrodden citizens? What shall you do James? WHAT SHALL YOU DO!?
Excellent buildup, David, and great use of the word “SHALL”, but the choice is clear! I’d be happy for Japan if it wins, but I can never be Japanese. I’m from Indiana and Duke and the States, and that will never change. Besides, just reaching the final is excitement enough for the Japanese; they were really satisfied with the men’s appearance in the quarterfinal last year. Let’s go Yanks!
14: America’s Finest News Source strikes again!
14: Sesame’s a staple in the Chinese diet, and I’ve been wondering where it’s been all my life!
15: On the last Harry Potter movie: Harry finally got out from under Hermione’s shadow!
16: This week, every news service has run an article with this template: “Harry Potter’s over, and you’re grown up. So…what’s next?” For my classmates, the answer is “A Game of Thrones” and its sequels. I approve.
16: ‎2011: The year we realized the ’90s were a long time ago.
17: ‎”Bill Veeck feared sleeping because he thought he might miss something exciting.” -Michael Weinreb
17: ‎2 farewells, no tears. Either I’m bad at this or my speeches aren’t emotional enough to draw them out. Maybe it is as what James Smyth had said: “Too busy for tears.” That is what shows how much you’re valued. When I was running retreats, we always said to each other, “If tears come, they come, but our goal is to inspire people, not to break them.” You are putting the personal touches in your speeches, right?
18: Would Japan have won the World Cup if the earthquake/tsunami/meltdown hadn’t happened? Obviously, I wish that nothing had happened on March 11 and that those who passed away were still with us, but today’s victory shows the value of suffering, the possibility of redemption, and (my words not theirs) one reason Catholics worship a god on a cross.
18: Dizzy Gillespie’s “Bent” Trumpet: “According to Gillespie’s autobiography, this was originally the result of accidental damage caused by someone sitting on his trumpet during a job on January 6, 1953. The constriction caused by the bending altered the tone of the instrument. He liked the effect and used the design from then on.” And he puffed his cheeks like a blowfish when he played because he was self-taught. No one was around to tell him he wasn’t supposed to do that until he was already one of the best.
20: My friend Eugene handmade an amazing goodbye present for his junior high school in Japan: he put everyone’s names in a single word search.
20: Burnt the cookies I was making for teachers, overslept on my last day of school, forgot my lunch at home so I had to go back home in the afternoon to get it, was so nervous during my speech I’m sure I screwed it up, and after saying goodbye to everyone forgot my lunch at school. I’m really sorry to hear that, mate. It sounds like you packed kryptonite in that lunch. Don’t let your disappointment outlast the evening! “Nothing ever ends well – otherwise, it wouldn’t end.” In the end, the teachers and students won’t remember any of that anyway. It pales in comparison to the good works you’ve done there day after day for 3 years.
20: Today’s “The More You Know!”: Where are the worldwide oil cartel OPEC’s headquarters located?
22: In the midst of navigating through the fog of fuck (aka red tape). Will pull a rabbit out of my hat. again. So when you pull the rabbit out of your hat..it will chew through the red tape? It will blow the fog away? You will get on its back and it will jump out of the red tape fog?
22: A lesser-known and haunting “Ave Maria”
26: I have this cask of amontillado in my cellar that you just HAVE to sample! After we’ve finished it off, we should play The Most Dangerous Game!
26: Question of the Day: When you read something written by a person you know (or at least you’ve heard this person speak) do you try to read it mentally with the other person’s voice? Nope. Everyone sounds like me…the voice I hear when I’m speaking, that is, and none of you know the sound of that. But the words go so fast sometimes that it sounds more like a hum, and my love of that resonance makes me read compulsively.
26: I just learned the Chinese word for the pill crusher Mom always uses! It’s a “jiu” (臼), pronounced “jyoe” with a falling tone of voice, and it’s been used for thousands of years here.
26: anyone have suggestions for my “Musician name”? Daniel Chang? Dan Chang?… If you become an otorhinolaryngolist the possibilities are endless. e.g. The Ear Doctor.
27: I’ve talked about teaching English in Japan every day since I left one year ago. With apologies to those who’ve heard me talk about it 365 times, nothing I’ve done outside the Church taught me more. It was time to go, but I’m grateful I got to be there.
27: [122+] Guns for U.S. sting found at Mexican crime scenes
28: The termite inspection was a waste of precious $$. I just have the oddest feeling he would have mentioned it if he saw termites regardless. Don’t let it eat at you too much.
29: : Guess which Spanish club has spent the most in the summer transfer window?
30: Athlete’s foot is “Hong Kong Foot” in Chinese slang (and Chinglish) because it plagued English soldiers unaccustomed to HK’s environment.
31: This Year’s Best Bad Writing: San Jose State’s English Department hosts an annual bad writing contest in honor of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, the first man to write “It was a dark and stormy night.” Follow the link for a few dozen more mesmerizing metaphors.

Prime Ministerial Candidate Noda Proposes Grand Alliance With Opposition Parties

August 13, 2011

Prime Ministerial Candidate Noda Proposes Grand Alliance With Opposition Parties
Yomiuri Shimbun: 野田氏、自公との大連立目指す意向…TV番組で
1:23 PM August 13, 2011

Financial Minister Noda reiterated on Tokyo TV this morning that he plans to run for Prime Minister after Mr. Naoto Kan resigns from office and added that he would pursue an alliance with the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeitō in order to create a “Cabinet to Save the Country”.

With the announcement by Mr. Noda, an influential candidate, that he would seek a grand alliance in order to gain the government a new mandate, inter-party debates about the nature of cooperation between the ruling and rump parties are sure to be more spirited both before and after the new Prime Minister is chosen.

Mr. Noda said, “The parties should speak to each other openly and create a cabinet to save the country. If there isn’t an alliance, the government can’t make progress. We in the majority party must bow our heads and knock on the front doors of the minority parties to ask them for help.

At a press conference after the television program, he said “I’d like to make policies that address the concerns the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeitō voice in three-party talks.” The goal of the grand alliance would be “to revive the Tōhoku reconstruction efforts and resolve the cleanup and control of the nuclear accident.”

Original/原稿: (more…)

Renewable Energy Law Agreed Upon; Prime Minister Kan to Resign After Ratification

August 12, 2011

Renewable Energy Law Agreed Upon; Prime Minister Kan to Resign After Ratification
Yomiuri Shimbun: 再生エネ法成立へ…首相は直後に正式退陣表明
12:03 PM August 12

At the beginning of a meeting of policy committee chairmen on the morning of the 12th, the Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party agreed to pass a Special Renewable Energy Law in the House of Representatives on the 19th.

The law is expected to be ratified by the 26th. Immediately afterward, Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan will formally announce his resignation.

In addition, at a Cabinet roundtable on the 12th, the Prime Minister announced his intent to resign and told his ministers, “I want people to say that Prime Minister Kan’s ministers gave everything they had until the very, very end fulfilled their responsibilities.”

Finance Minister Noda, who has confirmed his candidacy in the coming intraparty election for Mr. Kan’s successor, spoke at a press conference after the cabinet meeting about the proposed tax increase which will come up for a vote soon and which is expected to be controversial. He confronted intraparty opposition to the tax hike by saying, “The government and the ruling party have a definite plan [for reforming the social security system]. There’s no need to overturn the tea table during the debate.”

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Charges Filed in Tokyo Against Taiwanese MP for Injury to Shinto Priest During 2009 Demonstration at Yasukuni Shrine

August 11, 2011

Charges Filed in Tokyo Against Taiwanese MP for Injury to Shinto Priest During 2009 Demonstration at Yasukuni Shrine
Yomiuri Shimbun: 靖国でデモ・神職けが、台湾の立法委員書類送検
11:46 AM August 11, 2011

Charges were filed at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Public Security Division on the 11th against Taiwanese legislator Kao Chin Su-mei (May Chin) (age 45). She is suspected of injury and intimidation to Shinto priests trying to restrain a demonstration she led at Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda protesting the enshrinement of Taiwanese there who had served in the Japanese military.

According to the police announcement, on August 11, 2009, Representative Kao Chin led approximately 50 people in a protest at Yasukuni Shrine. They clashed with 6 priests who attempted to prevent them from entering the temple grounds, and one priest’s right hand was lightly injured, intentionally so according to the charges.

A Japanese veterans’ organization made a formal accusation in May 2010. Because Representative Kao Chin lives abroad, it would be difficult to try her in court.

Kao Chin Su-mei, formerly a Taiwanese actress, was first elected to the Legislative Yuan in 2001. She has gone to Yasukuni to protest Taiwanese soldiers’ enshrinement there 5 times since 2002.

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CNR Subsidiary Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Halts Production of Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Trains Over Safety Concerns

August 10, 2011

CNR Subsidiary Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Halts Production of Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Trains Over Safety Concerns
Yomiuri Shimbun: 北京―上海高速鉄道の車両、生産停止…中国紙
Yasushi Kōuchi reporting from Hong Kong August 9, 2011

Changchun Railway Vehicles Company, a subsidiary of China CNR Corporation which went into business at the end of June and has been manufacturing trains for the Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Rail line, has halted production for safety reasons.

This news was reported in the August 9 edition of the online news magazine Business China.

Of the 96 trains running on the line, 48 were supplied by CNR and the other 48 by CSR.

Of the 38 malfunctions on the line so far, 37 of them were by CNR trains. Because many of those were Changchun trains, the company has halted production, “voluntarily and not because of a government order” in the words of CNR.

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Europe, a Union of Destabilized Countries

August 9, 2011

Greece Ireland Portugal Risk Premiums 2010/05-2011/08
Belgium France Risk Premiums 2010/05-2011/08
Risk Premiums on Sovereign Debt of Various EU Nations, May 2010-August 2011

Europe, a Union of Destabilized Countries
Among the countries that don’t need a rescue, Belgium and France are the most exposed to the weakness of Spain and Italy.
El País: Europa, una unión de países desestabilizados
Álvaro Romero reporting from Madrid August 6, 2011

According to the market, Spain is no longer the country most likely to follow in the footsteps of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal. As of yesterday, the next country in line for a rescue is thought to be Italy, whose risk premium has overtaken Spain’s for the first time in 15 minutes. This change offers no relief for Spain, but it shows investors are concerned that Italy, with its weak growth prospects and the weight of its debt (more than 120% of its GDP), might not be able to fulfill its fiscal consolidation plans.

Here are the current states of affairs for the other countries that share the dubious honor of being one of the most fragile debtors in the European Union.

Greece: The Origin of the Debt Crisis
Greece caught the spark that set off Europe’s fiscal inferno. The new government which took power in 2009 brought to light that the nation’s macroeconomic figures had been dressed up for years and said that the government was on the verge of bankruptcy. The country has been rescued twice by the EU and IMF: it will receive €219 billion, €50 billion of which will come from the private sector. Its public debt is 142% of its Gross Domestic Product.

Ireland: Dragged Down by Its Financial System
Ireland’s problem was the enormous sinkhole of its financial system, which was disproportionately large in relation to the size of the nation’s economy. It had to request an €85 billion rescue, most of it to recapitalize its banks, which owed some €70 billion. Its sovereign debt rose by 32% of its GDP in 2010 and is now 96% of GDP altogether.

Portugal: Grave Productivity Problems
It was the third country, and the most recent, to request a rescue, in its case €78 billion. On March 31, it corrected the quarterly deficit data it had originally announced from 7.3% to 8.6%. That was the final blow for investors, who lost confidence in the solvency of an unproductive economy with a sovereign debt at 93% of GDP.

Belgium: Large Debt and No Government
All the countries above were rescued on the basis that their crises could infect other countries. They’ve been contagious, nevertheless, and many analysts are speaking of a speculative chain attack. Besides the countries that have already been rescued, like Italy and Spain, the next is Belgium, which hasn’t had a government for more than a year and carries a public debt that is 97% of its GDP.

France: A Very Exposed Central Bank
The second largest economy in Europe is still far removed from the pressure the other countries are suffering, but it would be the next on the horizon. Its principal problem is that it’s the most exposed to the debts of Greece (€40 billion, 38.5% of the total) and Italy (€293.5 billion). Its own public debt is elevated as well: 81.7% of GDP.