Saturday, 31 October 2009
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009
where there is a surprising number of unpretentious secondhandbookshops
including one with a whole fiftypenceperbookbasement
with thousands of reasonable books to choose from
i got a couple of cookbooks, and a couple of poetry volumes
the second verse i read in the second of which was:
The Fish Museum by Amy Scattergood
Anna first came to the base at Keflavik
as an army machinist.
After the Cold War melted, she moved in
to the Njarovik house
and agreed to oversee its museum,
....[there aren't really dots, i cannot manage indentation]She was paid in flour and coffee.
petrol and light bulbs and plastic.
Every night she dreamt of dead fishermen.
During the day she watched the fishing boats rearrange the harbor
while she unpacked hundreds of examples of salmon.
She mounted stuffed haddock and herring on the walls.
....With her acetylene torch
she reinvented lightning. One day
.....she soldered together an airplane
out of empty aquavit bottles from the government store.
.....Soon she was building engines
with fish bones. With the radial cartilage of a Greenland halibut,
she made a generator flywheel.
Out of a frontal bone from an 18th century Arctic char,
she fashioned a propeller-bolt collar.
As dirty icebergs sailed in and out of the harbor,
she carried boxes of gill filaments
down from the attic and assembled a bone mosaic
.....on her kitchen floor. Amid battery jars
from her favorite Reykjavik store
.....and lithographs of cod drying racks,
she designed clavicle engines and fitted them
[the line break is not clear here]
in lemon sole mounts. The rooms whirred with activity.
Through here baleen curtains pieces of winter
.....swam over the furniture
and floated amid the cavities of her engines.
.....Sometimes she would sit and enjoy it all
while she ate gravlax and islands of thick rye bread
and read Popular Mechanics through an aquavit fog.
At night tears poured from the glaciers
and collected in kettle holes
while the dead fishermen powered their boats
with all her engines. They fished
off the Reykjanes peninsula with lamps made from fire-flies.
.....The bones of their engines clicked
through waters and porpoises, avoiding chunks of drift ice
and crates of lost firewood.
They spread their nets over the horizon
as she drifted in her sleep,
her socks pulled to her knees and her hair
falling over the floor-boards.
They motored between sleeping gulls
and pulled up the fish like little moonlit seeds
from the tesserae of broken ice.
When morning came
there was a bone heap in the middle of the floor
and a fresh trout wrapped in local newspaper.
She thought she saw footprints of ice
in the snow from the open door.
Later she stirred the air with a sheet of cardboard
from a battery packing crate
and the bones righted themselves and whirred.
Even with support, public libraries' future in doubt
Taipei City Government came under attack from two city councilors last week for conditions in its public libraries. With tatty books, unhealthy environments and out-of-date or non-functioning equipment, the capital's libraries resembled secondhand bookstalls rather than places of learning and self-advancement, one of the critics claimed.
In response, the city government said that around NT$60 million was spent each year acquiring around 200,000 new books that were shared between the city's 55 public libraries — meaning they now have an average of 2.06 books for each citizen — and that a further NT$150 million had already been earmarked for a three-year makeover of their buildings and equipment.
This, in local-government speak, probably means that the councilors have a point. Who knows? Maybe they were just helping make it clear — or perhaps appear — that the general public is keen that money is spent and library services and facilities are maintained and improved.
But are people keen on libraries? After all, many of libraries' traditional functions are now also done — or are better done — by computers, the Internet and other IT developments. With education, health, housing, leisure, transportation and numerous other public services competing for slices of national and local budgets, perhaps the information revolution is rendering libraries a beloved but costly irrelevance. That will be for future historians to decide. At the moment, the question facing politicians is whether to keep funding libraries, and that facing librarians is to find imaginative and innovative roles to justify their institutions' continued existence.
That libraries have a proud history is beyond dispute. Starting with the private collections of emperors and kings, through the semi-public libraries of religious and academic institutions, to the truly public and publicly-funded libraries of the last century or two, libraries have made major contributions to most fields of human endeavor, and the European and North American practice of providing tax-dollar supported libraries in every city, town and even village, which were free for everyone to use, is a tradition that rightly spread around the world.
And even in the 21st century, while it is true to say that hardly anyone makes the trek to his or her local library to thumb an encyclopedia or check a telephone number in a far-off city as they would have done just a decade ago, it is equally true that hardly anyone downloads an entire novel from the Internet or reads it on a computer screen. So while libraries' reference sections are probably a thing of the past, their literature, humanities and popular science sections still have a great deal going for them. When public libraries in two U.S. cities closed their doors recently, local people opted for a slight increase in taxes to fund their re-opening, albeit with reduced hours.
But libraries, like people, cannot remain relevant simply because of their past histories, and it is fair to say that the world of librarianship is in a worldwide state of crisis. Librarians are the first to admit it — though many are no longer called librarians, but information specialists or some such — and are racking their brains to find new roles that continue their social relevance. With the help of government funds, most libraries are now equipped with computers, are connected to the World Wide Web and have online databases, meaning that although they may not be able to compete with the Internet in certain functions, at least they can tap into it.
Some libraries are focusing on particular needs of their communities, such as those cities in the United States with high proportions of immigrant residents, which are offering advice on citizenship applications and language services such as assistance with form filling. Elsewhere, many libraries are focusing on reading groups for toddlers and young children, or providing space for youth clubs and adult-education classes to meet. Similarly in Taiwan, libraries have experimented with 24-hour opening, staff-less branches or small outlets at MRT stations.
But libraries are not Internet cafe's, kindergartens or community centers, and they will have to find roles more uniquely connected with their primary book-, periodical- and information-related functions if they really are to survive.
Unfortunately, to date, this seems beyond the imaginations of most librarians, library users, and the politicians supporting them. Future proposals by library professionals include a great deal about improving environments, expanding services and making staff friendlier, but very few concrete innovative suggestions. They will have to do better.
But libraries deserve to be given more time. Just as a sports club does not sack its star athlete and stop his salary as soon as he enters a slump, so politicians should not turn against libraries, which have similarly strong track records, and discontinue their funding while the information revolution is still unfolding.
seems it's not a one-off from Raymond Chandler
in "The Long Goodbye" he also has:
"The whole thing was just window-dressing. The clients of the Carne Organization were charged a minimum of one hundred fish per diem and they expected service in their homes. ..."
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Monday, 19 October 2009
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
from “Farewell, My Lovely” by Raymond Chandler
does this mean “fish” is [or was] slang for US$?
anyway, it’s your fish-of-the-day,
answers on a postcard please …
Monday, 12 October 2009
More women participating in the work force
Last week the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) released figures showing a rise in Taiwan's women's labor force participation rate — a measure of the percentage of women of working age who are employed or looking for work — to 49.7 percent in 2008, up from around 46 percent in 2002. The CEPD anticipate that this indicator will break through the psychologically important 50-percent barrier sometime in 2010.
The CEPD also noted that since the total number of jobs had not increased significantly, this growth in women entering the labor market has been at the expense of the men's labor force participation rate, which fell from 68.2 percent to 67.0 percent over the same period.
While women lag behind men in terms of paid employment around the world, Taiwan's women also still lag behind their sisters in most other advanced economies. In many European and North American countries, for example, more than 70 percent of women participate in the workforce, and even in Japan and South Korea, which are typically characterized as having large gender gaps, the figures are 67 percent and 59 percent, respectively.
This is not simply an equal-opportunities issue of concern to feminists and liberal-minded organizations. It concerns Taiwan's competitiveness on the global stage. Having spent decades improving young women's access to educational resources, it is Taiwan's loss if the country does not make the most of their resulting talents.
Indeed, the current situation can be seen within an historical context stretching back thousands of years to China's golden age of philosophy, now known as the Contention of a Hundred Schools of Thought. While this is generally understood as the period in which philosophers such as Confucius, Zhuangzi and Hanfeizi brought forth new ideas that later became codified as Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism and so forth, the real consequences were social and political rather than philosophical. Particularly important was the ideal of a meritocracy promoted by Confucius and Mozi, who argued that people should be employed according to their talents rather than according to their status at birth. Of course, the 'people' in this meritocracy meant 'men,' and it wasn't until the 20th century that women in Taiwan and China were given any significant role outside traditional areas of home and field.
That a meritocratic system was adopted had nothing to do with concepts of fairness, egalitarianism or human rights, but was simply a result of pragmatic requirements, a kind of Darwinian survival of the fittest applied to systems of government. By Confucius' birth some 26 centuries ago, China had split into a number of small states, which battled with each other for survival and supremacy, and for the right to reunite and rule “all under heaven.” In their pursuit of this goal, some states were willing to consider new political and military strategies, including the employment of talented members of the lower social orders. These were the states which prospered.
And just as the Confucian revolution was a product of its time, so are many of today's social and political changes. It was not mere coincidence, for example, that women's participation in the workforces of European and North American countries increased significantly during and after the Second World War when there was a shortage of male workers.
So what are the factors encouraging or driving Taiwan's women into paid employment in the first decade of the 21st century?
Since marriage and childcare are two of the key factors depressing women's participation in the workforce — with equal numbers of women and men working before marriage — the gradual increase in the age at which women wed has long been seen as a contributing factor. What is new is the 3-percent rise in participation by married women over the last seven years. This, the CEPD report suggested, might be due to the generally deteriorating economic environment in which a husband's salary alone is less able to support a family.
Another factor might be the gradual cracking of the “glass ceiling” said to prevent women from rising to high positions in business, government and non-governmental organizations, which make remaining in a professional career less attractive to women who have accumulated similar academic laurels or work experience as their male colleagues. For decades this has resulted in a drain of talent from Taiwan's public and private organizations, as many women embarked on careers in religious organizations, non-governmental agencies or simply returned to housework, a loss that was only masked by other advantages that helped Taiwan move up the league table of world competitiveness.
As a World Bank report concluded a few years ago, countries that protect women's rights and increase access to resources, education and employment are the ones with narrower gender gaps, have less corruption and achieve faster economic growth than those that do not. This economic growth then helps to further narrow the gender gap, creating a positive feedback loop, the kind of loop that Taiwan could use to its advantage.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
i chased after the car, to retake the photo
and interview the driver
but it disappeared
it is a picutre of a fish with legs
with 'DARWIN' written inside
how cool is that!
i want one
a reaction to the Christian symbol
from a neo-Darwinist like myself
I WANT ONE for my bike
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
fish-shaped soy sauce dispenser with sushi 'lunch' from Wilmslow Waitrose
and fish-shaped fish sushi too, of course
it was my first trip back since leaving almost 40 years ago and brought back many memories
as usual for these occasions i tried to write a poem, as usual i didn't find it easy, in part because i've never tried to write anything for five/six-year-old children before
Memories Stirred by a Visit to My Primary School
In whatever country, in whatever city,
when I see gorse flowers, so yellow and so pretty,
I remember, of course, my six years on a stool,
sat listening to teachers here at Gorsey Bank School.
Primary One was kind of fun,
the teachers were nice, but I still missed my mum,
things got better in Primary Two
there were collages, football and reading
... lots of good things to do.
Primary Three wasn't my best,
I recall, above all, failing the spelling test,
and most of Year Four I spent on the playground,
kicking a ball of old stockings around.
All i remember of Five was being out in the sun,
playing football on the Carnie,
... and skating on Lindow Common;
finally in Six I was taught how to hope,
writing essays entitled "What I want to do when I grow up."
I remember friends, like Susie and Jonathan,
and Robert (who said his name was Trebor backwards)
... and let's not forget Simon,
so looking back to my last days from the first,
so many happy memories at Gorsey Bank Primary School, Wilmslow,
... Cheshire, England, Europe,
... Northern Hemisphere, The Earth, The Solar System, The Galaxy,
... The Un ... i ... verse.