THE SMELL OF baby vomit, soiled diapers and gripe ointment have been permeating the air of the office this week, as one of my colleagues recently became a father.
Now I'm not interested in settling down yet, although my gal Cathy Pacific has been pushing the issue, but I did take the opportunity to have a quick look at my colleague's copy of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) Guide to Perfect Parenting (coming soon to a bookstore near you, I'll wager) while my workmate was on a bathroom break, and came across an interesting section called "Why a child brags."
Bragging, it seems, stems from a child's need to be wanted and is a result of low self-esteem. To combat a child's tendency to brag the parents should, the book says, increase his or her self-confidence with praise and affection.
Now this is apparently something that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large and former Government Information Office chief Su Chi (蘇起) didn't receive much of as a young boy, as the serial bragger was at it again just last week.
In an interview with the BBC, Su claimed that he and his party had helped ease tensions in the Taiwan Strait since China passed its "Anti-Secession" Law, saying that because of the KMT's actions, China has "no need to attack or invade Taiwan. We have saved Taiwan's skin."
A slight exaggeration perhaps, but we should not be surprised by Su talking himself up. Just a few weeks have passed since his last spate of boasting, when he admitted to making up the "1992 consensus," saying then that he hoped the two sides could retain a "basis for dialogue." What a decent fellow he is.
What can we expect next from this compulsive attention-seeker? Will he claim that it was he who single-handedly built the central cross-island highway? Or that he will walk across the Taiwan Strait on a peace mission? Or even that Elvis Presley is alive and well and stuck in the body of the KMT's head of China affairs, Chang Rong-kung (張榮恭)? No wonder former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) referred to Su as a "mischievous little monkey."
While we're on the subject of cross-strait shenanigans, you would think that after 60 years of involvement in affairs between Taiwan and China that US officials would know how many "Taiwan Straits" there are. Apparently not, as just the other day in an interview with ABC's The World Today (and thanks to one of my readers for pointing this one out), US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley drawled, "a conflict in the Taiwan Straits, everybody loses."
Maybe all this "one China," "two Chinas" baloney has got our old friends over in the US a little confused, or maybe it's just that they have their heads stuck up their Shanghai Communique.
Or maybe it's because Hadley sounds exactly like the kind of guy who, when you tell him you live in Taiwan, answers: "Gee, I love that place. All those quaint temples, the Boo-ddhism and those massages in Bangkok." You know the type.
Another grievance I wanted to get off my chest this week is the tendency for certain rags to avoid the use of adjectives when describing our good nation and its institutions. A good example is "Taiwan leader faces rocky US reception" that appeared on the Boston Globe's Web site on March 17.
Now I am all too aware of the space constraints editors suffer when writing headlines under pressure, but this particular example stinks for two reasons. As well as the aforementioned adjective avoidance, you could be forgiven for thinking that old A-Bian (
But no, the leader that this shoddily written headline is referring to is none other than the patron saint of joggers himself, the ever-affable Taipei Mayor and KMT Chairman Ma, who according to the Associated Press is "popular for his good looks and clean image." Thanks for hitting the nail on the head, AP, because one thing that's for sure is he ain't popular for laying out concrete policies.
Why, just last Sunday, before jetting off for his jogging tour of the US, Ma was asked by a reporter on FTV what he thought about a poll that said his popularity had dropped by 22 percentage points. To which he replied something along the lines of, "You shouldn't pay too much attention to polls."
Then, later the same day, Ma was quoted in our very own Taipei Times as telling the pan-blue March 19 shooting celebration rally: "According to a poll, about 67 percent of those surveyed think the case should be reinvestigated."
Now come on, Mr Mayor, to believe or not to believe? That is the question. This man has more flip-flops than a British beach resort.
Now I'll freely admit that while my own Mandarin is pretty "horse-horse, tiger-tiger" (I went to the same school as the president), there is no way on Earth that I could correctly pronounce the following abomination, which appeared on the Web site of KHPO radio in Phoenix, Arizona.
"Tens of thousands of government loyalists have marched through the streets of Taiwan's capital in support of President Chen Shui-bian (jehn shwee bee-ehn)."
How thoughtful. In a bid to further propagate Chinese language learning, the good people down at KHPO have decided to create their own phonetic system, "Redneck pinyin." Expect this system to be adopted throughout Taipei County sometime in the near future.
And finally, thanks to Big Red and the People's Daily Web site for picking up a story entitled "Taiwanese researchers work to develop anti-fear drug" (March 20).
You have to ask yourself why our friends across the Strait would be so interested in this particular piece of news. Maybe they're planning on purchasing 23 million doses to release into the air ahead of the next presidential election.
By the way, thanks to my readers for all your correspondence. I may not get the chance to use it all, but I am listening.
Heard or read something particularly objectionable about Taiwan? Johnny wants to know: firstname.lastname@example.org is the place to reach me, with "Dear Johnny" in the subject line.
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