Earthquake Man and Pokemon Go 地震奇人

I went to Xinbeitou today to check out all the Pokemon Go fun. Loads of people and really nice atmosphere, although drivers weren’t seeing the fun side.

Every time there was a rare pokemon found in the park, there were whispers and a rising bubble of excitement followed by a stampede.

While I was waiting for my friend to finish up (as my battery had died), I got approached by a man with a National Taiwan Ocean University cap on his head, with the words 「地震奇人」(earthquake whisperer) along the side. He did the standard awkward stranger approach and after asking where we were from we continued to talk in a mixture of Chinese and English. He said that he didn’t understand why everyone had gone mad for the game, and said that he’d been coming to Xinbeitou for the hot springs for quite some time but it had never been so crowded before. After this things got a bit weird. He pointed to the「地震奇人」on his cap, which he said is someone who can hear earthquakes before they happen. He said he was working for free at the university as a postdoctoral researcher and that he was approaching 70 years of age. He said he was able to predict typhoons at least 8 days before they hit too. Then he took out this advertisement:


He asked me what I thought of the picture. Then started to describe how the different shapes represented different things. Like the mountain in the background is important because it represents a goal, and something about how it has its inverse in the neckline of Angelina Jolie’s top. The arm making an “L” shape and her leg an inverted “V” also featured. Then he started talking about the mangroves and what they represented. He then took out several other pictures. One was of a Fendi Karl Lagerfeld campaign as below:


He said he was a structural engineer and had also studied economics, so he had created his own field which he calls “economic/financial architecture” or something similar. He took out a graph showing the stock price fluctuations of 東鋼 (Tungho Steel), when I asked him why Tungho Steel, he said it wasn’t important, that it was just about the shape of the fluctuations on the graph. He took out picture of two nearby buildings, which were visible from where we were standing. The first was the Radium Kagaya, pictured below:


He kept stressing the importance of threes, in particular, how the building moves out in three blocks from the right. He also had a picture of the building below, which neighbours it:


It’s slightly harder to see, but he had another theory about the shape of the medium bit of this building, as the three parts towards the top have a different shape than the ones below.

He said his method of analysis was based on the discoveries of Robert F. Engle III and Clive W.J. Granger, who won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2003, the former for “methods of analyzing economic time series with time-varying volatility” and the latter for “for methods of analyzing economic time series with common trends (cointegration)”. It was slightly odd, because he kept mentioning the concept of qi (氣) too. I’m not sure how his interest in economic trends in the real estate market related to the shapes of the buildings. But I thought it was an interesting encounter I’d never have had if not for Pokemon Go.

Protests in Taipei: Uber vs Taxis; Land Rights and Illegal Buildings

Last week I saw taxis besieging the Executive Yuan (between Shandao Temple and Taipei Main MRT) over the government’s failure to crackdown on Uber quickly enough.  Taxi drivers were protesting because of Uber’s refusal to be subject to taxi regulations in Taiwan‬ and it’s refusal to clarify its tax status. My colleagues at work had a related discussion last week over whether existing (over?) regulation is strangling disruptors in the interest of maintaining the status quo. While there were a wide range of opinions as to whether Uber‬ is, in fact, bringing anything new to the Taiwanese industry as a disruptor or whether it’s just trying to dodge consumer protection regulations and tax, the conversation can be extended beyond Uber to the financial sector and further afield. Some of my colleagues thought the government was being too cautious when it comes to providing legislative flexibility to innovative industry disruptors while others thought existing legislation was just common-sense protection for industry players and consumers? The government announced that they are going to launch “diversified” taxis, but it’ll be interesting how the story develops beyond just the Uber issue.


About a week prior to the taxi protest, I was passing by the front of the Executive Yuan when I saw this protest placard, along with a single protester. It reads:

政府無能,     [When] the government is inept,

百姓受窮,     the ordinary people are forced to live in poverty;

竊盜私地,     Stealing private land

罪大惡極,    is an extremely pernicious crime.

天理難容。     [which] the heavens cannot tolerate.

哀!     Woe!

I’m not sure if it was a specific grievance as I didn’t stop to chat, but maybe someone can help me out in the comments section.

I saw the banner below outside my friend’s housing development when she invited me for a barbecue/pool party there (near Qizhang MRT – opposite Carrefour):


Common facilities (of a residential complex) are illegal buildings, the residents have been lied to

From what I’ve gleaned from the internet, this is a controversy over certain common areas of a residential complex which were built without planning permission by the developers. The city government then demolished or plans to demolish these areas and the residents are protesting because they were sold their apartments under false terms.

If you’ve seen any disgruntled looking peeps holding signs let me know in the comments section!

MRT Poetry: Chen Ke-hua’s ‘Night’ 捷運詩句:陳克華的「夜」


Another day, another opportunity to lean over someone to take a photo of the poem on the MRT behind them. This one’s by Chen Ke-hua and I thought it was pretty appropriate for this humid summer night.

夜     Night

沸騰之夜,     The Simmering Night,

將她最燙的一塊皮膚     Lays the most scalding piece of its skin

貼在我頰上。     Against my cheek.

我疼出淚來,說:不,     I cry tears of pain and say, “No”,

這不是我最需要溫暖的位置。     This isn’t where I’m most in need of warmth.

Chen was born in 1961 and was born in Hualien in Taiwan, although his family were originally from Wenshang in Shandong. After graduating from Taipei Medical University he started his career in medicine. In 1997 he studied at the Harvard Medical School, returning to Taiwan in 2000. He now works at the Department of Ophthalmology of Taipei Veterans General Hospital and as an assistant professor at the medical school of National Yang Ming University. As well as his medical career, he’s also a poet, an author, a painter and a photographer.

Update: Tea Trademarks in Taiwan


I recently posted about a trademark lawsuit in Taiwan, involving Uni-President Enterprises Corporation’s tea brand 「茶裏王」 and 「阿里王 Ali One」. I pointed out in the post the difference in the second characters of each brand name. However, I recently checked the trademark database in Taiwan and found that Uni-President has registered both 「茶裏王」 and 「茶里王」 as can be seen below:


You’ll notice, amusingly enough, that the character 「裏」 doesn’t even show up on the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office trademark search website – and is displayed as just a blank box. The missing character is pictured in the image, however.


This makes the judgement I previously mentioned a little more understandable, given that two out of the three characters are the same (even if they have different meanings). You’ll also notice that the product ranges to which the second trademark is applied is broader than the first.

Here’s the registration for 「阿里王」:


Interestingly, the English translation for 「茶裏王」, “King of Teas”, doesn’t seem to be a registered trademark. So many companies and brands adopting similar English names is allowed, like the one at the head of this article (King Tea).

啜飲室 ─ 啤酒也可以品!



台灣東區到處都是Lounge Bar或個性咖啡店,雖然各有所長,但是能喝到的生啤酒也是大同小異,就是台灣啤酒或進口的豪格登、健力士黑啤酒等等。因此一位外國朋友帶我去一家只有玻璃窗為店面、沒有醒目招牌的小酒吧,我沒料到有機會喝新鮮的口味。



一進去就看到有人在椅凳坐著、有些人站著喝各種顏色的啤酒,櫃台後有二十個啤酒龍頭,讓我想起西班牙的酒吧氛圍 ─ 就是一邊品好酒一邊跟朋友聊天,可惜這裡沒有西班牙式配酒的小吃。





後面的牆上還掛著一些台灣藝術家的作品,不過人實在太多了,沒辦法好好地去賞畫。讓我意外的是吧台上方有二十多種手工啤酒(craft beer)可選。



畢竟啤酒單是在黑板上寫的,你應該可以猜到販賣的啤酒是會換來換去的。我是看到啤酒單才知道這間酒吧的名稱也指明它的使命 ─ 啜飲室 ─ 提供一個空間讓在台灣的啤酒愛好者可以嘗試國內外的手工啤酒。



「啜飲」所暗示的小口小口地喝也反映這空間是給人品酒的 ─ 就是跟西班牙和法國的喝酒方式相同,要慢慢欣賞酒的品味。上面印有「台虎精釀」徽章的杯子因此比一般啤酒杯小。


看了那麼多陌生的啤酒品牌我沒想太多就點了那天晚上黑板上的第一號,也就是「五十五街精釀啤酒桂圓琥珀愛爾」(55th Street Amber)。味道比較淡(5.7%;NT$200/杯),我也很推薦給不習慣喝苦的朋友們。我一個朋友則點了比較濃的第十一號(10%;NT$300/杯)─ 「Ballast Point勝利海戰咖啡和香草波特黑啤酒」(Victory at Sea Imperial Porter with Coffee and Vanilla)。它味道應該是我們點的最苦的,略可品到咖啡味。第三個朋友點的是「惡魔之石垂涎印度淡愛爾印度淡色艾爾」(Stone Delicious India Pale Ale; 7.1%;NT$200/杯)。雖然沒有波特黑啤酒那麼苦,但是還是超過我喜歡的範圍。





Ballast Point和Stone Brewing則皆為1996年在美國聖地牙哥的啤酒釀製廠。



啜飲室 from Hallie Haller on Vimeo.




Ballast Point:
Stone Delicious:

提醒您:飲酒過量有礙健康 酒後不開車

Tea Trademarks and Chinese Variants: King of Teas/Ali One Tea Dispute 茶裏王/阿里王商標大戰

13730546_10102616344538349_1668283995_oI thought that the recent trademark dispute between Taiwanese tea brands 「茶裏王」 (King of Tea) and 「阿里王 Ali One」 that resolved in favour of the former was interesting because two characters 「里」 and 「裏」 have been seen by the Taiwan Intellectual Property Court as the same character.

「茶裏王」 was launched in the early 2000s by Tainan-based international food conglomerate Uni-President Enterprises Corporation, while 「阿里王 Ali One」 was launched in 2014 by a woman called Huang Yi-zhen (黃逸蓁).

The name 「茶裏王」 translates to “King of Teas” because the 「裏」, a common variant of the character 「裡」, means “among” or “in”  – so it’s literal meaning is “among teas a king”. 「阿里王」 however, just uses 「里」 as a phonetic particle as part of 「阿里」which alludes to 「阿里山」 (Alishan National Scenic Area) – which itself is a transliteration of the Tsou (鄒) aboriginal name for the area “Jarissang”. In fact, although 「里」 means “in” in simplified Chinese, in which it is used in place of 「裡」 and 「裏」, in traditional Chinese, it is only used as a unit of measurement (approx 500m) and for an administrative unit under township (neighborhood/village). Each district in Taipei has an individual li, as shown in the street sign below:


While the 「王」 in 「茶裏王」 means “King”, the 「王」 in 「阿里王 Ali One」 appears primarily to be a transliteration of the English word “one”, hence the product’s English name. A similar example is the 「旺」 in 「旺旺集團」, which is anglicized using the English word “want”, to give you the Want Want Holdings Group – the company at the center of the media monopoly protests in Taiwan and my former employer. However, there’s also a sense that the 「阿里王 Ali One」 trademark is also playing off the use of the word 「王」 as both a transliteration and for its literal meaning as “king”, i.e. King of Ali (referencing Alishan, an important tea-growing area in Taiwan). So the case for the third character is not as strong as that for the second, in my unqualified view.

Thus, the Intellectual Property Court finding as quoted by this report on the trademark case would seem to be incorrect:

智財法院認為,「茶裏王」、「阿里王Ali ONE」商標都是用於茶葉商品,第二個字皆有「里」字,第三個字皆為「王」字,對消費者而言近似程度高,加上「茶裏王」商標使用久、知名度高,因此應給「茶裏王」較大的保護,今判統一勝訴,智財局須撤銷「阿里王Ali ONE」商標註冊,全案仍可上訴。

The Intellectual Property Court found that the trademarks “茶裏王” (King of Tea) and “阿里王 Ali One” are both used to market tea products, and that the second character in each is “里” while the  third characters in each are both “王” (King), so they are very similar for consumers. In addition because the “茶裏王” trademark has been in use for a long time and is very well-known. because of this, “茶裏王” should have greater protection, so Uni-President Enterprises Corporation won the case today, and the Taiwan Intellectual Property Bureau rescinds the trademark granted for “阿里王Ali One”, although the case is still subject to appeal.

The 「茶裏王」 bottles have recently been featuring thought-for-the-day style “profundities” (note the use of speech marks) such as the one below, which I thought was particularly apt to go with this post:


Photocopy machines are used to remind you

That if you only copy

You’ll stay in the corner forever

Have you done something innovative today?



Taiwanese phrase: Pretence of diffidence when you really can’t help yourself -「愛甲給細二」/「愛食假細膩」 ài chia̍h ké sè-jī

I was talking to my friend when he started talking about the vibe in Taipei bars, in the sense that people always complain about them every week, but still end up there anyway, due to fear of missing out. He said the following:
每周都出現在同樣夜店的人 嘴中總是掛著"I hate this place" “so boring here”但還是每周都出現,「愛甲給細二」。
(The people who turn up at the nightclubs every week are always saying “I hate this place” and “It’s so boring here”, but every week they turn up, they pretend diffidence, but they love it really despite themselves.)
The Taiwanese phrase he uses 「愛甲給細二」 is likely 「愛食假細膩」 ài chia̍h  sè-jī. This is equivalent 「貪吃假裝客氣」 in Mandarin, so “people who love to eat, pretending to be polite about it”.
There is also an alternate phrase with the same meaning in Taiwanese, which is pointed out at the Taiwan Language blog:
「iau(夭)鬼假細膩」  iau-kúi  sè-lī  which translates as “a glutton pretending to be polite”.
 Photo from Greed (1924) – Public Domain

MRT Poetry: ‘Mental Image’ by Yan Ai-lin 捷運詩句:顏艾琳的「意想圖」

There’s still plenty of nice poetry to be found on the MRT when you’re out and about in the city.



Mental Image


An unaffected taciturn monk stands solemnly on the corner


With both hands outstretched


His ten fingers forming an alms bowl


Shaping the casual kindness of passersby

Yan Ailin was born in 1968 in Tainan. She graduated in history from Fu Jen Catholic University. She is a poet, a lecturer and an author.

N.B.  Variants of 「缽」 featured in a previous post.



《民意誰說了算?》 - 以理性心態來面對近年來隨著一波又一波社會運動而來的雜音




這本書能讓讀者看到台灣媒體界、法律界的一些問題。田律師一再舉出例子說明台灣媒體報導、電視新聞節目的過度主觀性 - 甚至有些記者在報導殺人案時莫名其妙的變成了無所不知的敘事者,在沒證據的情況下還能清楚地交待被害人在死前最後一秒的想法和動作。田律師認為,這一切的問題都是因為台灣的教育系統沒有著重分辯事實和意見。

在讀到這一點的時候,我便開始有些疑慮 - 這是相對於哪裡?田律師偶爾提到的「正常社會」到底為何?台灣人沒辦法分辯事實和意見,那歐美人就有辦法了嗎?那我在台灣大學的台灣籍碩士班同學怎麼都很理性?後來經過跟田律師的討論,我發現她針對的是體制性的問題,而不是個人問題。她論及「東方」沒有像「西方」一樣,從封建社會漫長地經過啟蒙時代而進入一個所謂的「現代性」,而是經過了「壓縮的現代性」(Compressed Modernity)時期便很快地從封建社會轉變成一個現代的社會。在過程中很多體制是借來的、或在殖民統治下被移植的,而不是自然從人民的需求或社會紛亂的結果而成形的。田律師坦言美國本身不是她的理想,而是美國體制的這種成形過程。儘管在本書中美國的法律界、新聞界常被拿來跟台灣的比較,但我覺得田律師指出的問題在每個國家都會有的,尤其是在現在一個資訊越來越多的、常規一直在改變的時代。



田律師想看到的台灣人是以他/她職業為傲的、能夠以「思辯」(critical thinking)的方式分辯真相和假象的、能夠自制和自律的。




Old lady with Taiwanese song sheet on the bus 方怡萍的「夢袂醒」


Spotted this old lady practicing her Taiwanese song skills on the bus – I wonder if she was just getting her KTV on point or is planning get her man back? Before looking more closely at the lyrics I’ll admit that I thought it was a hymn sheet. Have you seen song sheets like this? There seems to be a cool notation system a little bit like TAB for the guitar.

The song is “Not yet awake from a dream” or 「夢袂醒」bāng bōe chhíⁿ  by Fang Yi-ping:

People in Mainland China can watch it here.

The lyrics are as below – it’s pretty easy as it’s just one section repeated over and over:

英暗的這杯酒 是咱最後的溫柔
This glass of alcohol tonight, is the last warmth we have
過去親像夢一場 明日咱變成朋友
The past seems like a dream, tomorrow we become friends
講要牽手天長地久 為何對我下毒手
We said we’d hold hands for eternity, why are you plotting against me
無論怎樣苦苦哀求 擱懇求返來這個巢
However miserably I beg and beseech you to return home

放你自由甭強求 我的心肝結歸球
I’ll set you free, there’s no point in forcing you, my heart is in a knot
Making it hard for me to accept

英暗的這杯酒 是咱最後的溫柔
This glass of alcohol tonight, is the last warmth we have
過去親像夢一場 明日咱變成朋友
The past seems like a dream, tomorrow we become friends
講要牽手天長地久 為何對我下毒手
We said we’d hold hands for eternity, why are you plotting against me
無論怎樣苦苦哀求 擱懇求返來這個巢
However miserably I beg and beseech you to return home
放你自由甭強求 我的心肝結歸球
I’ll set you free, there’s no point in forcing you, my heart is in a knot
Making it hard for me to accept

講要牽手天長地久 為何對我下毒手
We said we’d hold hands for eternity, why are you plotting against me
無論怎樣苦苦哀求 擱懇求返來這個巢
However miserably I beg and beseech you to return home
放你自由甭強求 我的心肝結歸球
I’ll set you free, there’s no point in forcing you, my heart is in a knot
Making it hard for me to accept

Some useful words in case you need to shout at your boyfriend for breaking up with you:
英暗/盈暗 êng-àm (今晚/晚上) this evening/evening
過去 kòe-khì (過去) the past
親像 chhin-chhiūⁿ (好像) to seem as if
朋友 pêng-iú (朋友) friend
kóng (講) to say
下毒手  hē-to̍k-chhiú (下毒手) to plot against someone
自由  chū-iû (自由) free (as in liberty)
結歸球 kat-kui-khiû (糾成一團) to be tangled in a knot
怎樣  chóaⁿ-iūⁿ (怎麼樣) how
接受 chiap-siū (接受) to accept

It seems like a great simple song to start you learning Taiwanese if you don’t know it already!