Sunday, September 18, 2011

Interviewed by Centered on Taipei

Trista di Genova interviewed me a little while ago for Centered on Taipei magazine. The print edition is now out, and the text is also featured in Trista's online magazine, where you'll find lots of interesting stuff about expatriates in Taiwan.

Monday, September 12, 2011

English Emblem 2011

For the third year running, I joined one of the Research, Development & Evaluation Commission's judging teams for the English Emblem program. In recent weeks we visited two dozen businesses in the counties of Taichung, Changhua and Yilan, among them a winery, some homestays, a mushroom wholesaler and two hospitals.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reviews of a book I edited

A book I edited last year, Troy Parfitt's Why China Will Never Rule The World, has been picking up positive reviews on

At the time of writing, 10 of the 33 reviewers had given it five stars, and 17 had given it four. One of the shorter five-star reviews says:

"This book is quite astounding. I hadn't realized when I started it that the book was so chock-filled with condensed and very informative and entertaining historical treatises. And I had thought that maybe the title was a little overboard given that the author had never lived for a substantial period in this sprawling toxic wasteland. Don't be fooled! Troy Parfitt knows his stuff, that is quite clear. He gives his subjects more than ample opportunity to prove themselves, and at every step they confirm his thesis. Of course, anyone who spends longer than a few weeks in China (4 years for me) will soon begin to have inklings of the same conclusion, that the Chinese are not, nor will probably ever be, ready for prime-time, and that we've been fed a steady diet of rah-rah China hype and BS in the Western media. Mr. Parfitt gives an almost scientific treatment to our suspicions. And one that is frequently laugh-out-loud funny.

Old China hands will likely suffer a sore neck after extended reading from near constant nodding in agreement with the author's experiences and well-documented conclusions. But the dreariness of the landscape he paints is regularly interrupted with moments of keyboard-splattering hilarity, as I mentioned, and with lots of myth-busting history dealing with the big players (Mao, Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek) and major events (founding of modern China, the civil war, the war with Japan, and Taiwan).

As the product description says, this book is vital for anyone wishing to understand what China is, what it has been, and what it is likely to become."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A mention in the local newspaper

I heard about this a few days after the report appeared, but I didn't see a physical copy of the item until last week. On August 3, the China Daily News, a Chinese-language newspaper based here in Tainan, ran a quarter-page report and color photograph about my recent meeting with Yan Hong-sen, whom I was interviewing for a Hong Kong magazine. Professor Yan, an engineer and vice president of National Chengkung University, is quite famous in Taiwan for his collection of ancient locks. He's amassed almost 700 locks, and written a book on the subject.

The English version of the press release on which the report was based is still online.