Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
While we're looking at trends here, I am also predicting another one about Taiwanese sports. And I know I'm going to get bawled out for this one.
Baseball is on the decline. Face it everyone!
That's right. Taiwan's pride and joy is going the way of the dodo. And not even Wang Chien Ming, Taiwan's savior, can stem this tide.
Baseball has been popular in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan since the post-war years primarily due to the American (military) presence in these countries. However, another sport has been rising at a breathtaking pace in recent years.
And why do I believe this is happening? Well there are some clearly visible signs and some general things that can be said about affinity to sports in different countries.
Take a look around you. Kids in Taiwan are playing basketball in droves! When was the last time you saw a scrub baseball game?
And why do they prefer basketball? Well, there are many reasons:
a) it's easier to start a game, requires less players and less equipment and set-up and even space (which is at a premium in Taiwan!)
b) it can be played indoors (an asset considering the weather here)
c) it's faster paced and higher scoring (remember the up-and-coming generation has been raised on PS2 and PS3)
d) guys are getting taller due to dietary changes so basketball doesn't seem like such a far-fetched choice of sports anymore
There is a larger international trend to look at though. Soccer and more recently basketball are more popular than other sports primarily because they allow the most people to play and to play easily. It's no surprise that the poorer countries excel in soccer as, if you have some motivated kids and some basic equipment and set-up, you can have a game. It doesn't really have to be all that organized even. The same things can be said of basketball. (Even soccer, which is not popular to play or watch in Taiwan except than at World Cup time, is popular in China where scrub games are a common sight. However, I believe that even soccer cannot withstand the rise of basketball in China as the middle-class and crowded city-dwellers seek a sport that appeals to them.)
Once again simplicity, cost, space and pace all mean that aspiring Taiwanese are choosing basketball more often over baseball by far. Oral testing of students almost always plays this one out: 99% of students claim to play basketball in their free time while a show of hands in class only once in a while reveals a single student who played or had played baseball regularly. So I wonder if many young kids are really playing baseball these days, how long and where?
All these factors bode ill for baseball in Taiwan. Basketball is the clear future winner... for now...
... but it is taking a pounding and is on the retreat for now.
According to a new Reuters article:
'tea has little appeal for Asian youth who don't have the patience to wait the 10 minutes it takes to brew tea in the traditional way.
"I don't have any time or relevant tea culture," said Becca Liu, a 25-year-old college graduate in Taipei. "I'm more curious to know how to make coffee," she added.'
'Younger drinkers prefer canned tea, powdered tea, soft drinks and coffee. They increasingly refer to traditional tea as "old people's drink." '
Although tea culture is far from gone, it has to do something to make it hip and youthful again.
"Determined to restore tea to its exalted status in Asia, tea lovers are trying to repackage tea as a funky new-age brew to a young generation more inclined to slurp down a can of artificially-flavored tea than to sip the real thing."
As the article goes on it hits on a good point. Tea promoters should probably be stressing the supposedly healthy properties of tea (coffee is also touted every once in a while for its healthy properties).
"In Japan, a new tea line is winning fans among young Japanese with its claims to reduce body fat, while a South Korean brand called "17 Tea" is popular for its claims to blend teas that cure a host of ills."
This linking is certain to make weight conscious girls take a glimpse but what about the boys???
Sunday, October 14, 2007
This is the visa office of America's defacto embassy in Taiwan called the AIT (American Institute Taiwan).
It's amazing that with all the unofficial connections between the ROC and the US that they couldn't have gotten better property and a better building. It looks like barracks for construction workers.
Is that the strategy? Low key? Well I say it's an eyesore and an embarrassment. Any Americans feel like weighing in on this?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
"Notes from the Other China". Here's a little write up:
"By turns irreverent, informative and amusing, a dauntless young man captures the experience of the expatriate in Asia. Notes is a humorous yet insightful romp based on the author s decade-long experience as an English teacher in Taiwan (the other China ) and Korea, with expeditions to other parts of Asia. With a lively appreciation for the absurd, he cuts through the frustration to moments of splendor, friendship and stirring human warmth.
Part travel narrative, part cultural exposé, Notes is based on the author s decade-long experience as an English teacher in the less-traveled parts of Asia. Taiwan, or the other China, takes center stage, while Japan, the Koreas, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal and Vietnam also play their parts.
Steering clear of politics, Parfitt focuses on the individual humans he meets. This is a glimpse of real life in the shadow of China, neither a dry-as-dust academic treatise nor a heroic tale of surviving the Cultural Revolution. He takes a look at Korea s fever-pitch nationalism and gives an assessment of the world s only Chinese democracy, has a run-in with a Nepalese rhinoceros and one or two equally volatile Vietnamese tour guides. Most of all, he ponders the actions and reactions of the people he encounters as he finds his way in an alien world: the man on the street, in the pub, in his adult language classes and sometimes weirdest of all his fellow Westerners. Simple people greet the author with everything from spontaneous gestures of friendship to sudden slaps, from openness and warmth to rock-headed obtuseness.
Parfitt endures the jolts of traveling where there is no travel industry, touring where there is no tourism infrastructure, and teaching map-reading skills where there is no Western-style logic and adults freely admit they can hardly find their way to work and back. He shares it all with the reader over a beer, and all is well again with the world. Then he's off to look for more. A picture emerges of a fractured, diverse humanity muddling along and still getting by together in spite of all."
You can purchase it here:
He also has a website to visit and a blog to add comments:
Maybe a little something for under the Christmas tree???
(Click on the picture for a great larger view. Further pics of the air show here.)
I've written about the general malaise in the army in a past blog, especially in the consripts but also in the officers. I've always wondered, after all the simulated wargames, and the rhetoric whether the ROC army would be ready should the fight come.
Maybe a better question would be, if Taiwan were to declare independence, how many people would step up to put their muscle where their mouth belongs? Let's hope it never comes to this.
But, who knows, I firmly believe that China is obsessive and crazy enough to pull something foolish and disastrous like this off...
ROC Heavy Metal!