Big in Taiwan: Bobby Hill – 佛系[Insert your job here]法

Recently I’ve started to hear the term 「佛系……法」 a lot. The term plays with the Buddhist concept of noninterference, essentially suggesting that instead of trying to follow your boss’ direction/ study in school/encourage internet users to Like your page/earn money etc., you should just resign yourself to the fact that things are beyond your control and that if what you want is meant to be, it will happen without any effort from you. In one sense it can be used as an attack on the perceived lack of a work effort among millenials, suggesting that they think they deserve to get their dreams served to them on a plate, while millenials themselves have adopted it to counter this narrative, as an expression of their cynicism at how much of a difference they can make by following the rules. Different verbs or job titles can be inserted into the blank depending on what the author is describing.

The first time I saw it was when a friend sent a meme featuring a familiar cartoon character, Bobby Hill from King of the Hill. Although my friend had no idea who Bobby Hill was, the meme featuring him meditating while incense burns in the foreground seems to have caught the Taiwanese imagination. I’ve put some examples of the use of the meme I found on the internet below. There was one example I saw of an English use of this meme, but it doesn’t seem to have caught the imagination of the English-speaking world quite so much:

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Source: https://dailyview.tw/Popular/Detail/1656

 

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‘When you can’t fatten your pig, but your dog is ballooning’ 「豬不肥,肥到狗去」

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A friend of mine posted a Taiwanese phrase in a Mandarin-language Facebook post recently that caught my eye:

「人生第一次抽中1元飲料,居然是幫[某某人]買咖啡,這就叫豬沒肥,去肥到狗~~」

The post translates roughly to:

For the first time in my life I got a drink for NT$1 in a lucky draw, and it turned out to be when I was buying a coffee for [name omitted], isn’t this what they call [lit.] the pig not getting fat, while the dog balloons.

There seems to be several variations of this phrase, including the one above, the version my colleague suggested 「豬沒肥,肥到狗」(ti bô pûi, pûi tio̍h káu) and the one listed on the Ministry of Education dictionary 「豬毋大,大對狗去」(Ti m̄ tuā, tuā tuì káu khì (Click link for audio)). A literal reading of the phrase is someone being unable to fatten their pig for market, while the dog, which is meant to serve as a guard dog, and should be agile, is getting fat instead.

One explanation of this phrase I found at this blog, suggests that it was originally quite a misogynistic phrase, as it could be used to describe a situation wherein the son of a house, who would actually benefit the family if he got a good education, gets bad grades in school, while the daughter, who wouldn’t benefit the family with an education, gets good grades:

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A very horoscope-heavy profile on Weiling Chen (陳慧翎), the director of the Taiwanese drama On Children (《你的孩子不是你的孩子》) and the actor in the recent first episode, Ivy Yin (尹馨) makes reference to this interpretation, when the director (Chen) mentions that her mother once used the phrase, comparing her and her younger brother:

雙魚座的陳慧翎成長壓力來自不被了解,難忘媽媽說過「豬不肥、肥到狗」,意旨為何她比弟弟優秀。

“Piscean Chen Weiling’s pressure growing up came from not being understood. She always remembers when her mother said, “the pig won’t get fat, while the dog gets fatter,” questioning why she was more brilliant than her little brother.”

It does seem to have a wider application, however, as both the poster and the subject of my friend’s post were male. In this context it’s kind of a mixture between ‘casting pearls before swine’ and a bitter cry of ‘why do some guys have all the luck.’ My friend is suggesting (jokingly) that he deserves good luck, but instead it’s being wasted on his friend.

A report in the Liberty Times used the phrase in a political context too, although the fact that Tsai Ing-wen is a woman may make the use of the phrase more natural. If you couldn’t tell from the subtle objective tone below, Liberty Times is not a big fan of the KMT:

國民黨一向認為兩岸關係為其強項,其領導菁英都想跑北京領命,現在恐怕成了選票毒藥,致英雄無用武之地。

在這樣的情況演變下,如果蔡英文不犯錯,十一月的選舉大勢不難推估,唯有執政黨穩固了這次中期選舉,才有可能促使北京重新考慮其對台對口的設定,兩岸在明年才有機會鬆動緊繃的局面。不過,中國到頭來肯定會發現竟是「豬不肥,肥到狗」。這樣的辯證關係,豈不是很好玩嗎?

“The KMT has always considered cross-strait relations its strength, and its leading elites take their orders from Beijing. Now, it seems, this has become toxic to their election hopes, so these heroes are unable to make use of their skills in this department.

As the situation continues to evolve, if Tsai Ing-wen doesn’t make any mistakes, the overall trend of the November election isn’t hard to guess at, as only the party in government will be sitting pretty in the mid-term elections. It’s only this situation that will drive Beijing to reconsider their stance on Taiwan. Cross-strait tensions are unlikely to ease until next year. However, China, in the end, is sure to discover that “the pig isn’t getting fatter, while the dog is ballooning”. Isn’t this dialectic quite good fun?”

This suggests that China will end up working with the DPP (the fat dog), rather than the KMT (the skinny pig), despite its idea of which party should be the best for it to work with.

Reichmark Bond Protester Giving Up?

Outside 101 is a bit like Hyde Park Corner in London. Lots of “interesting characters” on soap boxes. This man was previously pictured protesting Germany’s alleged refusal to reimburse Reichmark bonds issued in Taipei by Japan in the 1920s, with the Japanese reportedly forcing many Taiwanese to buy them against their will. He’s actually posted screen shots from the European Press Photo Association on another placard beside him. He was suggesting their refusal constituted being Nazis again and his placard still says “Hitler Resurrected”. He’s resorted to passive aggression now, stating in English and Chinese that given Germany’s failure to address or engage with the argument and that “they can’t afford it anyway”, he was giving the bonds as a gift to Germany. For more info you can check out their Facebook Group The Old German Mark Association. Looks like he’s had some abuse about his use of the Nazi flag, as he or someone else has crossed it out and drawn a thumbs down on it. Lots of media coverage on his protest, so maybe that’s what has led to his change of heart.

Forget Chiang Kai-shek’s Progeny – Shit Hits the Fan for Hongwu Emperor Scion

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Saw this poster on a traffic box on the way to work. Someone went to a lot of effort just to mock this guy.

The picture on the top left is the Hongwu Emperor (朱元璋) and the one on the right is the former head of Da’an’s Guangxin Li (smallest administrative division in Taiwan) Chu Hsueh-chang (朱雪璋) who claims to be the great^19 grandson of the Hongwu Emperor, the founder of China’s Ming Dynasty and his wife Wu Pei-hua (吳佩樺).

(Guangxin) Li Head Chu Hsueh-chang is the descendant of an emperor! So he can’t be guilty~! There is nothing wrong with protecting your wife. Chu Hsueh-chang is innocent

After the”not guilty”, “喔!” an empty particle used to add emphasis, and which is often used in advertisements in Taiwan, is repeated six times, which adds to the sarcastic tone of the poster.

He was sentenced to six years (105,訴,207) for “Destruction of or serious damage to the function of one or more limbs” (See Criminal Code Article 10 Clause 4), when he and a group of other men allegedly assaulted martial artist Kenny Wang and two other men. Chu was the manager of the Tiger Martial Arts Fitness MMA Club. The alleged events, according to the court documents are as follows. In January of 2016, Kenny Wang (王毓霖) and Tsai Chao-chuan (蔡櫂全), both of whom were martial arts practitioners, live-streamed themselves outside the club picking their noses and sticking up their middle fingers on Facebook. Chu was angered, and under the pretense of inviting them to compete in a martial arts match, he invited Wang and Tsai to the club on February 16, 2016. Wang and Tsai arrived with a referee they’d designated for the contest and some friends. The door was then locked from the outside. When Wang, Tsai and the referee entered the club their phones were taken by force. A gang of men entered from the fire escape and beat the three men with a range of weapons, including aluminium bars, wooden bats, as well as with punches and kicks. Chu has appealed the verdict to the High Court.

It’s not the first time Chu has been in trouble. During a dispute over parking in Danshui, he got into a scuffle with a crowd of onlookers, after which nine people were hospitalized. After being arrested, he’s reported to have told police “I know Hung Hsiu-chu!”, referring to the then vice president of the Legislative Yuan, now the KMT chair (and who was briefly the KMT candidate for president in the 2016 election before being replaced). He’s also alleged to have been involved in other unsavoury incidents, including a dispute with a resident of his li, an incident where he “confiscated” the passport and mobile telephone of a Thai Muay Thai (Thai boxing) coach.

Posters Surrounding the Abandoned Taipei Dome Construction Site

Ko Wen-je still seems to enjoy quite a lot of popularity as Taipei mayor, despite being increasingly distant from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which did not nominate a candidate in the mayoral election in which he was elected. There has been talk this time round of DPP politicians running against him, but Ko has so far come out on top on polls (reference).

Ko’s reign as mayor has not been all smooth sailing by any stretch, however, and one of the major controversies of his term is still in evidence at the abandoned construction site of the Taipei Dome where posters denouncing Ko can still be found plastered over the walls of the site:

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(Top) “Protect old trees before the election
Move old trees after the election
‘Making Real Change’ (from the title of Ko’s second book White Power 2: Making Real Change)
Start with changing yourself”

(Bottom) 7 Questions for Ko Wen-je
Mayor Ke Wen-je, Are you going to let the construction of the corrupt landmark restart?
1. Have you completed the renegotiation of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Contract?
2. Have you dealt with FarGlory’s illegal breach of contract?
3. Have you dealt with the controversy surrounding the Taipei Dome scandal?
4. Did FarGlory complete the implementation of the seven public safety standards?
5. Have you passed the changes to the Urban Design Review, the environmental impact assessment and the building license?
6. Have you realized the concept of “lining roads with trees” (a campaign slogan)?
7. Have you dealt with the impact on traffic after the capacity was dramatically expanded?

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Here the Chinese for Songshan Cultural and Creative Park have been defaced to read “Songshan Logging Park”. Under this is a another poster, which reads as follows:

“The Big Scandalous Egg (a corruption of the Chinese for Taipei Dome) is facing a lawsuit for profiteering, we ask that the administration of Mayor Ko Wen-je end the contract and revoke the construction permit.
Don’t exchange fairness and justice for money, don’t renegotiate the contract for the flawed scandalous egg (Taipei Dome), cancel it.”

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(Top right) Ko Wen-je and Farglory are both telling lies, until the public safety appraisal has been completed, plant it with trees.”
(Bottom) “The scandal hasn’t been cleaned up, cancel (the project) and put trees in its place.”

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This piece of graffiti has a more interesting story behind it. It reads, “The purity of youth has fooled the whole country to their deaths.” This sounds like something reminiscent of the criticism of the Student Sunflower Movement. However, according to a news article, a man in his 50s went across Taiwan graffitiing this message on a range of different landmarks in 2016. There are picture of him in action here, although I’m not sure if this is a copycat or an original creation.

For an interesting explanation of Wayne Chiang’s recent decision not to run in the mayoral election, check out this Frozen Garlic update.

Punning with Shrimp and Fish 「蝦不掩魚」

There is a great columnist in Taiwan, Chou Wei-hang, who goes under the nickname 「人渣文本」 (Scum Text), often featured in magazines in Taiwan. Always a column to look out for. I was reading a particularly scathing article he wrote ripping into Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), when I came across this cool pun, which harkens back to one of my previous posts 「無魚,蝦也好」:

何煖軒用有損華航形象為由幹掉一位工會空姐,新潮流覺得這樣做很好嗎?段宜康覺得這樣做很好嗎?鄭文燦覺得這樣做很對嗎?鄭運鵬你也力薦何煖軒啊,要不要評價一下他上任的表現?瑕不掩瑜?蝦不掩魚?又愚又瞎?

Ho Nuan-hsuan fired one of the union air hostesses for damaging China Airlines’ image. Does the New Tide faction (within the DPP) think that he did a good job?  Does Tuan Yi-kang (DPP Legislator) think he did a good job? Does Cheng Wen-Tsan (Taoyuan Mayor for DPP) think he did a good job? Cheng Yun-Peng (DPP Legislator), you highly recommended Ho Nuan-hsuan (as chairperson of China Airlines), why don’t you evaluate his performance after taking the job? A small blemish doesn’t spoil jade? Shrimp doesn’t spoil fish? It’s both foolish and blind?

The author takes the common idiom 「瑕不掩瑜?」 (xia2bu4yan3yu2), meaning literally that “one blemish doesn’t spoil the jade” and figuratively that just because there are disadvantages to something, doesn’t mean that they aren’t great overall. He then substitutes the 「瑕」(xia2) meaning “flaw” for 「蝦」(xia1) meaning “shrimp/prawn”, and 「瑜」 (yu2) meaning the “lustre of jade” for “魚” (yu2) meaning “fish”.

Now the phrase reads, “shrimp cannot spoil the fish”, and this is a nod to the Taiwanese phrase 「無魚,蝦也好」 (bô hî, hê mā ho):

Although this phrase was originally used to indicate “Something is better than nothing”, here it is used to mock the idea that you can replace something good with something lesser and still claim to be great overall. Here it particularly refers to the way politicians and others step down from their campaign promises with less appetizing versions of policies. This is a similar usage to the one I pointed out in Li Ang’s novel chronicling the breakdown of idealism and misogyny of the opposition activists that eventually formed the DPP:

陳英俊因一般女性仍不敢靠近,基本上沒有太多的選擇,加上林慧淑頗具吸引力的姿色,很快的確定了兩人的關係。

As no normal women [Lin Hui-shu is the product of a mixed marriage between a mainland soldier and an aboriginal woman] dared to be associated with Chen Ying-jun, he really didn’t have much choice, and as, Lin Hui-shu was really quite attractive, the two quickly entered into a relationship.

雖然偶有政治犯同學戲稱他無魚蝦也好,但多半是羨慕又帶嫉妒。

Although some of his political prisoner comrades joked with him that he was really scraping the bottom of the barrel, most admired him with a little bit of jealousy mixed in.

Riffing again on the “yu2” and “xia1” sounds, he adds the phrase 「又愚又瞎」, where 「愚」 (yu2), meaning “foolish”, is a homophone of 「魚」 (and 「瑜」) and 「瞎」(xia1) is a homophone of 「蝦」 (and a near homophone of 「瑕」xia2).

 

Let the Weak Say, I Am Strong: The KMT as God’s Chosen People

I thought this was quite a creative campaign flyer from KMT Taipei city council candidate Wayne Chen (陳孝威).

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It has quite simple messaging, with his name, the word “HOPE” in English and then a quote from the Book of Joel (3:10):

軟弱的要說:我有勇氣

Let the weak say, I am strong

This phrase from the Book of Joel is used as a prophecy of God’s wrath against the enemies of the Israelites. This can be construed as an almost comical positing of the Kuomintang (KMT) as the “children of Jerusalem,” and, by extension, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are presumably their enemies who “cast lots for My people, and have given a boy for a harlot and sold a girl for wine.” More generally you can see the phrase as a reference to the KMT’s current political straits after a massive electoral defeat in the Taipei mayoral elections and the presidential election, and much of their capital having been confiscated by the DPP’s independent Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee. The line quoted is preceded by the line “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears”, so I guess Ko Wen-je should prepare for war.

To be fair, he also quotes Helen Keller, along with the word “UNITY” in one of the other campaign flyers featured on his Facebook Page:

一己之力有限 一起之力無限

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much

Although he’s also peppered his Facebook Page with a few other Biblical quotes, it also features him in a video which suggests he’s not as bellicose as suggested above (maybe he won’t sell the sons and daughters of the DPP “to a people far off”):

This is not an endorsement.

Another Year Another Sign: Vet Wei-shyue Chang Opposes Radioactive Imports from Japan 張維學又在反對

I’ve previously dedicated a long post to the various signs that have popped up around the Zhongzheng bridge that separates the Yonghe area from Guting (my morning commute), with everything from an urge to protect Taiwan’s claim on the Diaoyu Islands, to support for former KMT presidential nominee Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and demands that the Japanese government apologize to “comfort women” – the women who were forced into sexual slavery under Japanese rule. Although only one of the signs has his signature, I assume that they’re all the handiwork of Wei-shyue Chang (張維學), director general of the Association of ROC Veterinarians and senior vet at Jinhua Animal Hospital.

A new sign has been up for quite a few months now, but I only really got the chance to get a clear picture a few days ago:

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It reads

反對日本核災食品進口

Oppose imports of food affected by the nuclear disaster

This refers to the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the continuing debate over the standards used to judge food safety and concerns over the alleged mislabeling of provenance of affected foods.

Pro-unification Signs in Ximen 西門町統一分子

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This old man holding a People’s Republic of China flag is standing next to a sign reading:

「打倒日本侵略者,南京大屠殺罪惡」 “Overturn the Japanese invaders, and the evil of the Nanjing Massacre”

This video features several posters featuring the following messages:
「反對台獨,反對戰爭,台灣要和平,不願子女當炮灰」 “Oppose Taiwanese Independence, Oppose War. Taiwan should be in peace, so that our sons and daughters don’t become cannon fodder”
「什麼叫作92共識?92共識便是体現咱們都是中國人的意思。蔡英文是日本人嗎?蔡英文為什麼不承認92共識拖累我們?」
What is the 1992 Consensus? The 1992 Consensus embodies the idea that we are all Chinese. Is Tsai Ing-wen Japanese? Why does Tsai Ing-wen hold us back by not acknowledging the 1992 Consensus.
This is the spot where Taiwanese Independence activists gathered each week when the Kuomintang were in power.
Nearby here were the Falungong protesters, with posters and broadcasts calling for the arrest of former People’s Republic of China president Jiang Zemin for presiding over policies which purportedly allow for the harvesting of organs from political prisoners whilst still alive:
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These guys have invested in an English translation however:
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The sign on the left says “Bring Jiang Zemin to Justice” and on the right you can see
“Stop the Chinese Communist Party from violently harvesting organs from live donors”.

Messianic Jewish Endtime Ministries in Taiwan: On Gays, Abortion and the Sabbath

I’m always interested to see religious pamphlets when they come through my door, especially given the recent protests held by Taiwan’s Christian minority against the gay marriage bill.

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has treated these religious groups on the same footing as pro-gay marriage groups, despite a lot of misinformation spread by the former on the actual content on the bill (lots of talk of men marrying Ferris wheels and dogs).

Anyway, I got this leaflet through the door this week, which appears to be associated with or enamoured with the “Aleph & Tav Prophetic Endtime Ministries“, a sect of Messianic Judaism, and have translated selections of it that I thought were interesting as they relate to gay rights and abortion.

The first page is slightly odd, in that it first suggests that there has been an uptick in “earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, heat waves, damage to crops from cold spells, epidemics and terrorist attacks” and then states that most of these are the result of how humanity has destroyed the earth’s environment. He then points out, that actually earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not related to global warming, but are rather a sign of god’s anger. He goes on to state that effects of global warming are far beyond what many scientists predicted, so god’s probably making global warming worse for us too.

After this the author goes into a rant about the Sabbath being from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, not Sunday as some Christians would have it. One line of this rant stood out to me:

不要再讓外邦人嘲笑我們不遵守十誡。

Don’t allow the people of foreign countries to continue to mock us for not observing the 10 Commandments.

This is interesting because it conflicts with statements made later on in the text, in which he criticizes Taiwanese people for blindly following Western conventions on the issue of abortion.

The second page is a little more interesting, and I’ve translated it in two parts. The first excerpt is as follows:

WarningWarning

Warning! Warning!

The creator clearly tells humanity in the bible “Homosexuality is sin”, but nowadays, people with ulterior motives use “respect for human rights” as a shield to promote such evil behaviour among humanity. Their motive is to destroy and obliterate our next generation! Over recent years the number of homosexuals, drug users and even people infected with AIDS [sic.] on school campuses has clearly risen, which is closely related to the evil education policies (gender equality education, today in schools they no longer emphasize the idea of one man and one woman, but they advocate to allow for diverse genders)! There are even massive parades by homosexual groups in Taiwan every year, with singers launching concerts to support the cause and the media writing favourable reports about them, which has led to an intangible brainwashing and warping of the value systems of Taiwan’s young people so that they can no longer tell right from wrong!

The creator tells us in the bible that “homosexuals” are an object of his scorn, and are accursed! (The city of Sodom was destroyed because of the sin of homosexuality). What is most regrettable is that during the presidential election we chose a political party that supports diverse families and we chose a leader who supports homosexuals. This choice has led our country to be cursed! As all the people of Taiwan must take responsibility for their decision! Do you still remember? The day after the election (January 17, 2016) their were dark clouds in the skies all over Taiwan, and it rained everywhere! This is a sign that the heavens were weeping for this accursed piece of land, from that time onward there has been natural disaster after natural disaster, with frequent news of accidents, but this is just punishment and discipline, in the hope that our compatriots can wake up to this as soon as possible, and be cheated by this disingenuous rhetoric no longer, to prevent an even bigger disaster befalling us!

Dear compatriots, we hereby implore you to save our country’s next generation, to clearly express your opposition while we still have freedom of speech, otherwise when a disaster befalls us and we will be left with nothing but regret! We ask that Christians not remain silent, as silence is tacit agreement in the eyes of the lord!

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