mitcho Michael 芳貴 Erlewine

Linguist. Fifth year PhD student at MIT.

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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

The West Wing and Election 2008

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

The New York Times had a nice article the other day on the eerie (but perhaps uncoincidental) similarities between this year’s presidential election and The West Wing seasons 6 + 7, but this video from Slate does a nice job laying it out visually:

Dinner with Barack and Hillary

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

I made some pasta tonight for dinner, and decided to share it with [[Barack Obama|Barack]] and [[Hillary Clinton|Hillary]]. I haven’t cooked in a long time here in Taiwan, especially as the noodles down the street are so cheap. Now that I have, though, I do really enjoy the process and the smells, and of course the familiar flavors that are hard to come by. I look forward to cooking more in the months to come. ^^

On a side note, very cool section in the Texas Democratic debate on second language education.

White Protestants and Catholics don’t frequently attend religious services

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Breaking news from the Potomac Primaries:

White Protestants and Catholics backed Mrs. Clinton, but Mr. Obama was strongly supported by voters who frequently attend religious services.

Seeing as backing Mrs. Clinton and supporting Mr. Obama are, in terms of votes, mutually exclusive, this sentence entails that white Protestants and Catholics (the majority of ) are not a part of “voters who frequently attend religious services”, as is demonstrated by the infelicity of the following sentence:

“Group A did A, and Group B did not do A — but Group A is part of Group B.”

Well, that just settles it then.

北京 Part 1: Fulbright love, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and Houhai

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

It’s amazing how time flies… just over a week ago I’d just returned from [[Beijing]], but it feels like it’s been weeks… I’ll take this chance to write up my adventures before my memory falters.

Day 1: 北京,你好!

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After getting into Beijing two Mondays ago, we took some time to explore the city. Our hotel arrangement (the Red Wall Hotel) was much nicer than in [[Hong Kong]], with windows, free internet, nice decor, and a great location, on the north-east corner of the [[Forbidden City]].

Walking around in Beijing, we were both immediately struck by the size of the city, in particular of the amount of open space. The streets were incredibly wide, with sidewalks and space between buildings! The landscape looked much more like an American Midwestern city than any other city I’ve been to in Asia.

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In the evening, K80 and I met up with my high school friend Anna. Anna and I never took Chinese together in high school, but it turns out Anna now is on a Fulbright in Beijing researching environmentalism in China, particularly leading up to the [[2008 Summer Olympics|summer olympics]]. She mentioned she would bring along a friend from her Chinese program who taught English in Taiwan last year, “doing something similar to you.”

It turns out this friend was one of the English Teaching Assistants from last year, in the exact same program that we’re in now. What a small world! K80 and he even lived in the same apartment! We had some great Korean food and shared had a wonderful time catching up.

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Day 2: The Forbidden City

Magi and we met up in the morning for some breakfast, and then it was off to the [[Forbidden City]] (故宮)! The Forbidden City is quite literally a “city,”1 but it now a museum with many gardens and historical relics, about half of which is off limits to the public. While most of the “better items” are in the [[National Palace Museum]] in Taipei (the joint result of [[Chinese Civil War|”history”]] and [[Cultural Revolution|Mao]], for he is beyond history), I was pleasantly surprised by the items in the City. That being said, I do think the best parts were the architecture and the gardens, which include various perilous hills.

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We started in the back (north)—the rather unconventional route—having curry for lunch halfway through. The north half houses most of the exhibits, after which the second half is mostly the larger-ticket items, and a number of large courtyards. The City is definitely not just preserved history… Starbucks most famously had a brief stint in the City for a few years, though it is gone now. The curry was good and it was nice to be inside for a bit, satisfying priority one.2

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There were a few items of particular note here. First of all, I was surprised by all the signs having both Chinese (traditional, the real Chinese) and [[Manchu language|Manchurian]] on them… it turns out the [[Qing dynasty]] court used Manchu as a primary or secondary language throughout its rule. I never expected to see that interesting script there.

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Second, I was surprised to see a bicycle inlay on the ground… this led to my skepticism of the Forbidden City actually being built in the 1400’s.3 I present Exhibit A:

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Finally, but not least: my four-star toilet experience.

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Meet Mao

South of the Forbidden City is the [[Gate of Heavenly Peace]], though you might have heard it as 天安門 Tiānānmén. You know, where the tanks ran over protesting students in 1989.4 Everyone and their mother has seen a picture of the huge wall with Mao on it… what you don’t realize is that it’s HUGE. I was standing in front of it, a decent ways away, and it didn’t fit in my camera’s viewfinder. K80 did one of her American [[Pledge of Allegiance]] photos there too.

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Temple of Heaven

Afterwards we went to the Temple of Heaven (天壇), a large park a little south of Tiananmen Square. There were some really cool trees, including the camouflage tree, below. The gardening organization of the vast expanse reminded me of the [[Gardens of Versaille]]. Surely it would have been even more beautiful in the spring or summer.

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Afterwards we had some [[Beijing duck]] for dinner, though priority one was sadly unfulfilled.

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Houhai café

On our final leg of Day 2, we went up to the hip Hòuhǎi (後海) area, basically a lake with many bars and restaurants around, with many traditional Chinese streets ([[hutong|胡同]]) nearby. We stumbled upon a cute café where we drank some citrus tea, tea, and some cakes, all ordered off of their hand-written menus. It was a little hold in the wall, but fulfilled priority one, and had some great conversations about life, politics, and food. Thus concludes Day 2.

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  1. At least, if [[Dent, Minnesota]] gets to be a city with 192 people get to be a “city,” the Forbidden City is for sure. 

  2. Priority one: warmth. The temperature was hovering around 0°C (alas, no snow!) but it was pretty chilly for walking around all day. 

  3. Only to be followed by all the simplified character graffiti on the [[Great Wall]]… they must all be hoaxes! 

  4. It’s articles like that that got Wikipedia blocked in China, as my website will be soon, to be sure. Apparently copies of Lonely Planet sold in China also have censored history sections as well. Reminds me of [[Warai no Daigaku: University of Laughs]], [[Mitani Koki]]’s humorous film about the censorship of plays in war-time Japan. I guess it’s only funny if you don’t live under such a government. 

Obama for Taiwan 2008

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

I just saw this logo near Yilan station and felt like I’ve seen it before…

Obama for Taiwan 2008

Oh my god, it’s Obama! The banner is actually for the [[Taiwan Solidarity Union]] party, one of the third-parties here in Taiwan (but it’s part of the [[Pan-Green Coalition]]).

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Republicans

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

From Gore Derangement Syndrome:

Today, being a good Republican means believing that taxes should always be cut, never raised. It also means believing that we should bomb and bully foreigners, not negotiate with them.

While I agree wholeheartedly with most of this Op-ed, I just don’t think this statement is valid. Granted, the sentiment is there. From the news, the speeches, you do get the sense that the Party is in this direction and that the conservative populus is. But would an individual Republican politician really feel this way? But then where’s the disconnect. Maybe I should ask a Republican politician. Or have someone ask for me.In addition, the idea of a smaller government and fiscal responsibility in no ways rationally leads to such a conclusion nor situation. Maybe Lakoff has the answer.