Wednesday, 25 November 2009

fish of the day

i feel so guilty
i eat tuna about once every two months (well twice, if sushi is included)
and yesterday was that day (see here), with leftovers in my 蛋餅 for breakfast today

and this evening I went to the "Formosa & Tuna -- Netting up the Pacific" Greenpeace exhibition at Dunnan Eslite
oh, the guilt (well at least i didn't go by scooter)

go check it out (it's on till Sunday)
and start eating sustainably-harvested fish

how the H do I know, but i'll try to find out

fish of the day

jacket potato with tuna and apple salad
(i will not be making this again, but i offer it for those who perhaps like fruit with their fish)

p.s. the potato was nice, on the other hand, such a contrast to restaurant-bought jackets here in Taiwan, which are always done in foil and so do not evaporate enough water, making them heavy rather than flaky

AND, whatever that veg is called, i LOVE it: just the right balance of bitterness (it's in the markets now, NT$1o a bunch or there abouts)

but is it art?

Tight Bends SCTC3
Mark Caltonhill
(copyright details contact

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Sunday, 22 November 2009

(over)fishing of the day

Frontpage story in today's Taipei Times:

Activists condemn fishing industry

Taiwanese-owned fishing fleets are some of the worst offenders of overfishing and illegal activities in the Pacific Ocean, representatives from Greenpeace and the Environmental and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said in Taipei yesterday.

If the current rate of fishing is not substantially reduced, stocks of Pacific Tuna — one of the world’s most overfished species — are expected to be near extinction in three to five years, they said, calling on the government to support international conservation measures, close some areas to fishing and crack down on illegal fishing at the upcoming annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Tahiti next month.

The WCPFC — of which Taiwan is a full member — manages and regulates fish stocks in the Pacific Ocean.

Greenpeace representatives said yesterday that in an eight-week investigation undertaken by their vessel, the Esperanza, they documented seven vessels operated by Taiwanese companies engaging in illegal fishing, fish transferring or fishing in vulnerable areas.

Fish transferring is a problem because some vessels catch fish in areas where it is prohibited and then transfer the catch to ships that have fishing licenses for other areas, they said.“Taiwan’s fishing fleets are out of control,” said Sari Tolvanen, an official at Greenpeace. “It is the worst [perpetrator] of illegal activities in the [Pacific Ocean].”

She said the Taiwanese government must take immediate measures to control the activities not only Taiwanese-flagged fishing vessels but also those registered under other countries but owned by Taiwanese companies.

Greenpeace says Taiwanese fishing vessels account for about 10 percent of the total tuna catch in the Pacific Ocean. They said that amount must be reduced by 50 percent to ensure sustainability for both fishing stocks and the fishing community.

Officials from EAST said Taiwan’s fishing fleet capacity — at 2,500 vessels — far exceeds economically viable and sustainable catches of tuna, adding that the government was more concerned about the fishing industry than the environment or sustainability.

At a separate setting yesterday, Fisheries Agency Director-General James Sha (沙志一) said the reports of illegal activities undertaken by Taiwanese vessels would be investigated.

Sha said that if the reports were found to be true, the agency would likely revoke the licenses of those vessels.

He also said that as an NGO, Greenpeace had no jurisdiction over the vessels. Ships sailing in international waters generally remain under the jurisdiction of the flag state.

Officials from the agency said the government prioritizes tuna conservation, including increased monitoring and reporting of Taiwanese-flagged vessels, adding that the agency is committed to long-term sustainability of fishing stocks and subsequently the fishing industry.

Tolvanen said Greenpeace and EAST have set up an exhibition titled “Netting up the Pacific” at the Dunnan branch of Eslite Book Store in Taipei that runs through next Sunday.

"international" Taipei hosts New Row Mian contest (whatever that is)

In what way is the Taipei Ctiy Govt beef noodle competition "international"?
is it merely because Taipei wants to be an international city, so everything the TCG does is "international" ?
for crying out loud, it doesn't even translate "牛肉麵" into English
or any other international language,
merely transliterates it into "New Row Mian", which certainly is not the international standard romanization,
nor, in fact, any romanization system ever used anywhere in the world (outside Taipei)

(but if, by some miracle, noodle makers from other countries did participate, i'll apologize -- though i still think New Row Mian is a stupid title)

wrong time, wrong place, or wrong number

was it
1. Critical Mass Taipei did not have an event today at 3pm
2. CMT did not meet at Taipei Arena
3. Only one person attended CMT

(apologies if i got the time/place wrong, but seems i didn't mislead anyone into going anyway)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

fish of the day

An angler on Guandu Pier removes a hook from a fish's mouth
this one can be eaten (though the fins contain poison so must be removed, he said)
but was thrown back as too small to worth bothering with

and while in Guandu (I had planned to cycle round the north coast but the weather was too miserable),
here's a fishing boat setting off from the small harbour (and passing the mangrove swamp):

Critical Mass Taipei (if 9 is a "mass")

Critical Mass
cycling pro-activity
tomorrow (Sunday) 3pm
gather outside the Taipei Arena (Nanjing E. Rd. and Dunhua N. Rd.)

come fight for your rights to cycle safely
see you all there (or probably not, if last time's is anything to go by)

fish of the day


At the beginning of “In the House of the Spirits”,
Isobelle Allende introduces the character Rosa
(the family's eldest daughter, who represents the "angelic", while the youngest daughter represents "satanic"):

“The tone of her skin, with its soft bluish lights, and of her hair, as well as her slow movements and silent character, all made one think of some inhabitant of the sea. There was something of the fish to her (if she had had a scaly tail, she would have been a mermaid), but her two legs placed her squarely on the tenuous line between a human being and a creature of myth.”

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Taxis a force for environmental good or evil?


China Post editorial (though I post the original text, as the CP editors have some creative ideas about the use of m-dashes):

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) last week announced it would research ways to balance supply and demand in the market for taxicabs. This is in response to findings of its Institute of Transportation (IOT) that supply of taxis far exceeds demand. Although taxi drivers work an average of 12.17 hours per day, it reported, they only carry an average of 18 fares and spend about 80 percent of the time driving an empty cab around.
This is indeed a sad state of affairs, but perhaps not for the reason the MOTC thinks. Like most government agencies, it clearly believes the solution lies in bureaucratic intervention. But perhaps the ministry isn’t aware, Taiwan has a free-market economy, and according to the theories of capitalism, without intervention—usually called regulation in transportation circles—market forces would naturally find a balance between supply and demand.
Taiwan is not alone, of course, in having regulated Taxi services. This practice is widespread around the world, usually implemented in the name increasing safety and improving customer satisfaction. But there are other ways of enforcing safety, and the factor of most importance to customers is cost. The only clear beneficiaries of regulation are the taxi companies and their drivers, who profit from a closed market, reduced competition and artificially maintained high fares.
If anything, therefore, there is an undersupply not an oversupply of cabs; a situation that arises from the reduction in demand, which is also a result of the artificially high fares. Deregulation, whereby any qualified driver could offer taxi services, from and to any location, and at any cost agreed with the passenger, would be the surest way to balance supply and demand.
But such a move would clearly need to be considered carefully, given the potential social and environmental impacts. Having yet more greenhouse-gas-producing vehicles driving round the nation’s streets, mostly empty but occasionally occupied, does not necessarily gel with the pressing need to prevent the greatest threat to humankind’s continued wellbeing in the 21st century.
The potential role of taxicabs in the battle against climate change is hotly debated. Some argue that increasing their number will simply increase carbon emissions; others that increasing their number and lowering their fares will encourage private drivers to abandon car and motorbike ownership.
Weaning the nation off private transport use—Taiwan is rapidly approaching having the unenviable figure of one car or motorbike for each member of its 23-million population—must make walking, cycling and mass transportation its goal. But in the medium term, taxis, a non-mass public transportation, can play a key transitional role.
The MOTC will need to take a more outside-the-box approach to the issue, however, and taxi firms and drivers will have to play ball rather than digging in their heels on policies aimed at reducing their environmental impact, whether within a regulated or deregulated system.
To reduce the effects of taxis driving around empty for long periods—other studies show figures lower than the 80 percent recorded by the IOT, but still around 60 or 70 percent—the Taipei City Government, for example, has long been proposing the establishment of designated stands where cabs would queue for fares. Although this would not mean the end to taxis’ traditional point-to-point services, since they could still be booked by telephone or online, this environmentally friendly move has and is being stubbornly opposed by taxi drivers who argue that having to use stands would be inconvenient for passengers and drivers. They obviously fail to imagine the levels of inconvenience that are predicted to result from not responding to the threat of climate change, a change that itself results from our increasingly convenience-driven lifestyles.
Other measures would be to require new taxicabs to be hybrid vehicles—which emit one-third to one-half the climate-change emissions of regular automobiles—and for local and central government agencies to abandon the policy of providing free or subsidized parking spaces and subsidized travel by private vehicle to their employees, but rather require them to travel by mass transportation or taxis.
Getting the general population to shift to using cabs could involve a congestion charge like that of London and other cities, should definitely include restrictions on single-occupancy in cars, might require subsidization of taxis in rural areas, and could even go as far as some form of control of private ownership of cars, like in state-managed Singapore, which has almost twice the density of taxis than New York and almost three times that of San Francisco.
In short, the MOTC and other government agencies do have a role to play in devising sustainable transportation policies that meet present and future requirements. While free markets operating under purely market-driven forces may know everything about economics, and may know a lot about balancing supply and demand, they will need to be carefully nurtured into learning more about environmental protection and balancing humankind’s short-term needs and greeds against its long-term survival.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

fish of the day

Advert on the side of a bus, Neihu

(oops, that's not quite true,

it is true, but creates a false impression

because the bus is not going anywhere, it is parked in a restaurant off the side of Ruiguang Road;

the ad is for Heineken beer)

Monday, 2 November 2009

on taiwan's dangerous roads

China Post editorial:

Deal with road safety rather than dispute reputation

More than two millennia ago, the story goes, King Hui of Liang asked Meng Ke for advice about ruling his people. Master Meng, being the philosopher now known in the West as Mencius, answered by way of analogy. Two soldiers, he said, were fleeing from the front line of a battle; one of them stopped after running 50 paces, the other not until he had run 100 paces. The first to stop mocked the other for being scared and deserting the battle formation.

A similar situation occurred in Taiwan last week, when two transportation officials locked horns over whether the R.O.C.'s traffic-accident statistics meant the island's roads were the most dangerous in the world or simply among the most dangerous in the world.

Their disagreement arose at the end of a tragic month of local transportation accidents. Three weeks ago, seven people died and 21 were injured when a bus collided with a truck in Kaohsiung County. A week later, four more people died in Changhua County when another bus crashed into thirteen cars “like a bowling ball into pins.” Then just a few days ago, AIT Director William Stanton described eating beef from the United States as being “safer than riding a motorcycle in Taiwan.” All of which seem to have precipitated the spat between officials of the Road Traffic Safety Commission and the Ministry of Transportation and Communication.

But the truth is that with around 50 people dying on Taiwan's roads every week, public officials should focus more of their efforts on finding ways to lower this figure rather than worrying about what the figure does to Taiwan's international reputation. Traffic accidents can be reduced in a number of ways. The first is simply by lowering the volume of traffic on the island's roads. This requires cutting the number of non-essential journeys made by car or motorcycle, and shifting essential journeys to public transportation, bicycles and foot. Effecting these changes will require a shift in attitude by the general public, and firm resolve by policy makers. This resolve will certainly need to be firmer than that shown by Premier Wu recently when, within 24 hours of the Cabinet's Tax Reform Committee reaching a consensus on introducing a “green tax” on gasoline and other energy sources that will start in 2011 and increase in small increments over ten years, he bowed to public pressure and claimed that no such timetable had been arranged.

Without becoming sidetracked, it is worth noting, however, that various initiatives to combat climate change - moving from private to public transportation, traveling at slower speeds, green taxes, government encouragement and incentives for drivers to abandon gas-powered vehicles for bicycles -can also help with prevention of traffic accidents.

A second method requires improving roads and related facilities to make accidents less common, but this would also entail the use of mechanisms to slow vehicles down, particularly in accident-prone areas.

More stringent annual inspections of vehicles -that at present can take as little as a few minutes and see very few vehicles fail -would prevent less-than-roadworthy cars, trucks and motorcycles from endangering innocent lives.

Similarly, requirements that drivers upgrade their motoring skills are being mulled by some lawmakers, particularly drivers of buses and heavy-goods vehicles, just as there are already such regulations for those transporting hazardous materials.

At a more basic level, there are calls for learner drivers to practice and take their tests on real roads under actual driving conditions, rather than on the artificial conditions on the empty lots used at present.

But ultimately, what is most needed is a change of attitude in Taiwan's drivers, from the “might is right,” “first come first goes” and “time is money” mentality prevalent at the present.
Unfortunately, such a sea change in mindset will probably need more sticks than carrots, including adoption of stricter and more frequently enforced traffic regulations. Currently around 3 million tickets are issued for traffic violations each year; an amount that comes up to almost 8,000 per day. But this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and many drivers think the chance of being caught jumping a red light, parking illegally, or driving after drinking alcohol is no big deal, not to mention such widespread actions as changing lanes without flashing indicator lights, using horns for other purposes than preventing collisions, or cutting in from a side lane by impeding the motion of other vehicles -the sort of behavior that everyone disapproves of but a great many people do. It is with this in mind that one idea being run up the flagpole is the rewarding of citizens for presenting photographic evidence of other drivers' transgressions.

In short, drivers need to learn to respect each other, respect pedestrians, and to respect life in general. Hopefully, by adopting the above measures, Taiwan will soon be able to tell future AIT directors, “it is perfectly safe for you to ride a motorcycle here in Taiwan.”

Sunday, 1 November 2009

perhaps it never was a "fragrant harbour"

Apparently Hong Kong (香港) might not mean "Fragrant" (香) "Harbour" (港) as often said,

but rather the "Incense" (香) exporting "Harbour" (港), though "exporting" in this case might only be up the Pearl River to China.

apparently either the timber used for incense was shipped out of here, or there were incense-manufacturing plants in the town, and incense was shipped out.

photo of the day

reflection of the so-called Thousand A'hole building, Central District, HK