Category Archives: Uncategorized

Travel to Taipei

The New York Times talks about travel to Taipei.

The people, too, embody all the complexities of a country that is at once forward-looking and historically aware, internationally plugged in but diplomatically isolated, and as multiculturally hybrid (influences include China, Japan and the United States) as it is full of hometown pride. That pride has generated what may be Taipei’s most vibrant cultural movement. It’s called “tai-ke,” a phrase that originally meant “redneck” but has now come to encompass a youth-focused lifestyle that celebrates both the déclassé (flip-flops, Long Life cigarettes) and the haute (Gucci, Macallan).

Moving to Word Press

Just moved my blog from Typepad to Word Press. Please update your bookmarks!

Sarah Konrad (photo)

Sarah Konrad became the first American woman to qualify for the winter olympics in two different events. She will compete in Torino in biathlon and cross country skiing.

Amy Tan’s Journey to West

Amy Tan, the author of The Joy Luck Club, has been named literary editor of The Los Angeles Times magazine. Editor Rick Watzman says the magazine is being renamed “West” to mark a stylistic return to its 1960-70s heyday. With magazines having cut back fiction for years now, it is good to see a major player come back into the market.

The Edge of the Alphabet: Writers in Repressed Societies

From The Redress of Poetry by Seamus Heaney.

And the project of the [Christopher Marlowe] plays can be represented to some extent by an analogy first proposed by the South African writer Andre Brink in relation to the role of writers in a repressed society. People in such societies, according to Brink, typically employ only a portion of the alphabet that is available to them as human beings. In matters of race or sex or religion, citizens will confine the range of their discourse to a band of allowable usages, say, A and M. This will be a more or less conscious act of self-censorship, as much a collusion as a consensus. So it then becomes the writer’s task to expose this state of affairs, to extend the resources of expression up to perhaps N or V, and thereby both to affront and enlighten.

Lance, Allez, Allez

The Los Angeles Times ponders Lance Armstrong’s legacy as a cancer survivor and a seven-time winner of The Tour de France.

"Lance brought a new level of professionalism, a different level of professionalism to the sport," said Bjarne Riis, the 1996 Tour winner who is director of the CSC team. "He also brought about the idea of focusing everything on the Tour de France and using every other race as just a preparation for the Tour. "Is this good for the sport? I don’t know. … But in the way he trained, the way he paid attention to details, that would be what I would think of as Lance Armstrong’s legacy to the sport of cycling."

Brendan Gallagher in The Telegraph writes that "perhaps his brave and ultimately successful battle against cancer
finally enabled Armstrong to make sense of everything and released an
unstoppable life force." Yet Gallagher says the focus on Armstrong’s cancer detracts from the fact that Armstrong won because he was simply one of the toughest hombres in cycling.

Some Armstrong myths need to be debunked, or at least modified, notably that his phenomenal success on the Tour is totally down to massive changes in lifestyle and a hardening in attitude after his recovery from cancer. Winning that war affected him profoundly and kick-started his career, but there is every possibility that Armstrong would have been a high achiever anyway. He has a resting pulse in the low 30s and nearly seven litres of lung capacity, one of the highest ever recorded, and his body also produces almost negligible lactic acid, hence his ability to ride harder and longer than anybody else. In other words, he is a freak.

"People have the false impression that Lance was a regular guy who got cancer and then came back to win the Tour de France," says trainer Chris Carmichael. "The truth is that he was one in a million before and he’s one in a million now."

Part of Armstrong’s legacy is the strong backbench of U.S. cyclists he leaves behind, says The Christian Science Monitor. See also Matt Seaton’s Top 10 Books about Cycling at The Guardian.

North to South

Wrap Up: Back in southern Taiwan after a trip to Taipei for my brother’s wedding. Good to see Lance Armstrong with a strong lead after putting on a devastating attack in the tenth stage of the Tour de France. The Guardian describes the attack well.

At eight miles to go
came the coup de grace: Armstrong gestured to his Ukrainian team-mate
Yaroslav Popovych and saw off Alexandr Vinokourov, Jan Ullrich and
Andreas Klöden all at once. T-Mobile’s trio de choc looked suitably
shocked. To underline his physical superiority, like a boxer whistling at the
count, Armstrong immediately began to perform stretching exercises on
the bike […]

With my family personally battling cancer, Lance’s performance becomes even more poignant to me.

One of my favorite photography bloggers Stacy Oborn is back after a hiatus with an entry about Miwa Yanagi. Maury Gortenmiller, Won Ha, Michael Turton, Naruwangirl, Dan Suit are among those who have added links to this blog (thanks!).

Disposable Digital Camcorders

Drugstore chain CVS began selling disposable digital camcorders earlier this week, according to Reuters. Not surprisingly,  people have already started hacking them.

The camcorder program sounds similar to CVS’ program for its disposable digital still cameras, which The Washington Post profiles.

Experience with film throwaway models may tempt you to call these
cameras, made by Pure Digital Technologies, disposables, but
technically they’re rentals. You can’t get your digital pictures
"developed" anywhere and instead must return the camera to the store,
which will transfer your photos to a data CD while you wait. The store
keeps the camera.

Some of the hacks of the still camera include making them reusable, adding USB connections
and adding storage. describes some of the hacks of the Dakota camera from Ritz Camera. Engadget in the past has noted how cell phone cameras have hurt sales of disposable film cameras, but The Washington Post notes some of the creative uses that people are getting out of the digital still cameras, like attaching them to kites.

Publisher Jossey-Bass is coming out with a book called Hacking Digital Cameras this Fall.

Technorati Tag(s) – photography.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Hearing that my favorite way of having coffee is Vietnamese style, my friend Janice Shih brought back some chicory coffee from Louisiana. Vietnamese coffee is made by taking espresso that has been brewed from a blend of coffee and chicory, and dripping it into condensed milk. (Craig Haller has a nice tutorial.) I like it best as iced coffee. Yes, I know it is fattening, but so are a lot of the other good things in life: European-style cafe creme (better Swiss style, with a little piece of chocolate on the saucer), even Starbucks Frappuccino (delectable, unlike most of the overly expensive, overly scorched other products they serve).


If you are a fan of 1980s-style music, you should check out Valeze. Their list of "influences" looks like a list of a lot of my favorite bands.

The Cure – Robert Smith is one of the best songwriters, Blondie –
debbie harry is a goddess, Prince, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Billy Idol-yah!,
Patti Smith, Pretenders – love chrissie hynde, New Order, Bjork,
Missing Persons, Berlin, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Madonna –
Immaculate Collection/Erotica, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys – Neil
Tennant also one of the best songwriters ever, Duran Duran, Elvis
Costello, GNR, Sex Pistols, Queen, Elvis Costello, siouxsie and the
banshees, 50’s, early 60’s, 80’s punk/new wave, The Clash – London
Calling… sigh…, Michael Jackson – Quincy Jones, Garbage, Motown –
love it all!, Blur
so many more… need to keep thinking 😉

E and I got a chance to catch the band playing a show at Pianos last night. My friend Joe Hung is the bassist for the band (and yup, he rocks). The band has drawn several comparisons to "early Blondie," and lead singer’s Tiffany Randol’s singing does remind me of a cross between Debbie Harry and Gwen Stefani. The band itself sounds a touch like Blondie and Missing Persons–with an interesting dose of Cure-like guitar riffs and synth. My favorite track is "Liar." You can find mp3 downloads at and

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