Hsinchu: America the Beautiful

So, shall we begin discussion?

I choose team e. I will say, the answer is yes or no, but not always. We have talk about the trading system. I would say, the relationship between Taiwan and America is like a trading system. We try to find some mutual benefit. So I would say the relationship is based on what is our mutual benefit. So according to this point of view, yes, they’re are friend if w have the same benefits. So for the economic affair, yes we have the same goal or industry, like the electronics industry. The market in both places have the same benefit. So in this case, they’re a good friend. But for military and the foreign affair, no they’re not good friend. So the answer is yes and no, but not always, it depends on the benefits. If there’re no benefits, there’s no friend. It’s very realistic.

Well, I’m more with team b. for me. A true friend would stand by you no matter what the situation would be. You’ll always be there. So from this point of view, I don’t think there’s a true friendship between countries, there’s always a matter of interest. Maybe sometimes we can be friends, but its always quite superficial.

So you are more humanist, you always think the friendship is always kept. So if I’m you’re friend, I have to keep my loyalty to you!

Well, that’s my idea!—


—but I don’t always expect so.

So that’s why I say my ideas are realistic. Because the two countries are concerned abut their own benefit, or for their citizens. So you don’t think about what is your benefit to your people.

So two people, you can talk about friendships. But countries, represent a lot of people and the people in charge get changed, so we don’t call any country is the friend of any country. Not talking just about America and Taiwan, it applies to all countries. Because it depends on the people who govern, who have the most power, who can decide, who represent the country and have the so called friendship. So you have to consider the interests of your countries. So if you have something in common with your so called friend, sure, but if you have the opposite, then you have the enemies, and the enemies, enemy is my friend, because that helps me get what I want.

So we are the same team.


And we are against you.

Oh shit! You can’t get any more in your face than that!!

You know, there is an interesting opinion in the Taipei class transcript. It says Taiwanese lose their identity. It says that Taiwan has no relationship with other countries. They’re more pessimistic.

They’re younger.

But I agree, because Taiwan is not recognized by other countries, but according to my experience, but I would say that it’s more recognized as an economic identity.

Yeah, ‘Made in Taiwan’ was a successful marketing campaign

But I agree if the country has the power to bargain with other countries it’s not good.

Not having the power to bargain is good?

I’m talking about that economic power is the realistic power, but cultural power is soft power.

But political power is military power, that’s not soft. And WHO, and information, that’s not really soft anymore, that’s hard.

But that’s why America got Taiwan into WHO you can get information as an observer.

Hey, no, not that much actually. I’m told the Taiwan delegation can only get into the main events, but there are a lot of closed-door events that they’re shut out of. And it’s like high-school. Certain people are afraid to talk to our people in the halls if certain other people are present.

I belong to an industrial organization, and we do distinguish between observer members and principal members. As an observer, you can collect information and give information to other members. You can give any opinion, but you need to get some approval. You need some approval.

Yeah, so you’re talking that you need patrons. It’s a hierarchical system, then. Not democratic or open.

So part of my job is to talk to members of what information we can contribute to the meeting.

You have to lobby first!

Who’s controlling the information and to what purpose, that’s the question you have to ask as an outside observer!

But this is an industrial organization, not a political one.

Actually, there’s no difference. They’re both political.

When I look at the article, I agree that the media power is very important, and when you want to turn America into our friend, yeah? I think that maybe, this is maybe a crazy idea, we could get that famous director, Ang Lee, I think that most Americans are not deep thinkers, most people actually, they’re most easily moved by easy story, and simply right and wrong, and simply have the emotions. If we can leverage the, because Ang Lee is the first, I mean that he can enter the American mega…his movies are well received.

He’s an insider in the movie industry.

Yes, I imagine he could take this advantage. But it’s just simply to influence some Americans to think about the relationship. But now of course, he’s not political.

Probably his insider status depends on that…

So your point is…

Well, it’s just a crazy idea, it’s a way of influencing what people think.

So let me interpret it as the one who can control the media can own the power to control the society.

Yep it’s true.


But you know the tycoon, that want to acquire the New York Times, he also wanted to buy Bloomberg

Who was that?

Those are major American properties, it’s like Lenovo getting IBM and all the American military secrets.

So yeah, it’s like Lenovo is the new evil empire.

So talking about that they said that Americans are not getting good education. We can talk about Taiwanese, well, Americans watch more and more TV, but also us, and read less and les books. Because we watch TV, and get the information very straightforward.

But it’s a controlled information.

Yes. And so we don’t do much thinking about what’s behind the information. And so we are too lazy.

And so that’s why the democracy is dangerous.

So yeah, that’s why Thomas Jefferson and them decided to make the electoral college..

I think America is nobody’s friends.

I think that’s true right now!

Especially European counties, they contribute a lot in the climate change issue, but only America and China refused to sign the Kyoto agreement. Of course you can understand why China wouldn’t sign, since they want to focus on economic issues, but of all those developed countries only America didn’t.

Of all the G8 countries.

But it’s not to do just with G7, because there was like milestones you have to decrease in how many years, you have to contribute it. At first Europe developed a system of carbon credits, but in the US, it’s easy, so they just buy the quota.

I heard President Bush said America would sign in 2012.

Yeah, cuz he won’t be president then.

If I remember right, it was in the last g7 meeting.

What’s the difference between g7 and g8, anyone know?

It means seven or eight countries.

Who do what?

They’re the developed countries. The US, Canada, France, GB, Germany, Italy, Japan,

[a Google search was then made, and it was found to be: G8 = Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States. Group of Seven Finance Ministers, not heads of state: = Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States of America.]

So these are like friendship cliques. It’s like high school, again!


Being Taiwanese

Questions to Ponder:
1. Is it more important to focus on disadvantages/faults or advantages/talents?
2. Another way to say it: is it better to try to correct faults or try to develop talents?

3. Is the internet a resource? Or just a very good tool for instant communication?
4. Do you think languages are like keys to different stores of information? [e.g. if you can read Chinese, you can read Chinese philosophy, theories and research information, if you can read English, you can read English philosophy, theories, and research information]

Discussion Question:

How do you see yourself as a Taiwanese, globally?
Does this clip change your perception of Taiwan?

The Video:
Commonwealth Magazine (天下符) recorded a very interesting speech by Kenichi Omae. Here’s a short excerpt of it.

The Transcript:
In the wake of 三通*, I think Taiwan could seek to become a super Silicon Valley because you have been very successful in establishing research parks, but not only for Taiwan, but Super Silicon Valley for entire East Asia. Anybody who’s gone to business school has seen this smile curve. Taiwan EMS concentrated on this lowest profitable area and still able to make money. See, and then driving the Japanese, Europeans, Americans from the bottom of the smile curve. So we in Japan had to go upstream, this is the materials, machinery, etc.
I think Taiwan’s strength is, number one knowing Japanese psychology, speak the language, buying the best machines--components. And also Taiwan managers established long term relationship, human relationship, with Japanese companies. They also manage larger operations in mainland china in mother tongue with full of Taiwan experience in manufacturing and management. Sell products worldwide in the English language, maintain high level contact with global brand owners, in other words communication capability in English, Chinese, Japanese seem to be what is behind Taiwan’s enormous success to date.
All of the companies that have IPO in IT industries in the United States—number one is Israeli, number two is India and number three is Taiwan. And so you have tremendous number of talents given the size of your country, it is overrepresented in that region. Take advantage of that, become Super Silicon Valley, count this for your innovation and R&D, trading engineers and manufacturers from china which, 三通* can enable, will enable, manufacturing support for Asian countries. Not only for China but for the rest of the world. All countries are looking for industrial parks, or science parks, to attract companies and capital. You have a very successful example of industrial parks and R&D centers. You can export this concept. Taiwan’s great success in East Asia, this is tremendous. And also contribution to china’s success. Taiwanese people should be celebrating this, but China should be very much appreciative of this. China's own emergence of the super power of the 21st century: Taiwan is lucky because you are the best beneficiary. You take advantage of this upward migration of china—no other country can do better than Taiwan can.

*'san tong' = 'the three links' = the direct communication and transport links that will soon be established between Taiwan and China

An Observation:
A friend said, when discussing this clip:
We have to compete with others with our advantages, not our disadvantages! But our education (in Taiwan) only focuses us on our disadvantages.

A Further Note:
In another section of his speech, I’m told, the speaker noted that the internet is an enormous influencing factor on the world today, and that most of the information on the internet is written in English. He said that only 1% or so of the internet is in Japanese, and this leaves Japan at a serious disadvantage in finding out new information.

Taipei: Being Taiwanese

Participants: Mary, Maggie, Willie, Fanny, Kerry, Angela

I’m very interested in question one, because when we were children, we were trained to correct our faults. But this is the first time someone lets us know what’s our advantages, and what’s our disadvantages. And for countries, is it so important to stress our advantages, or not so important? For my point of view, it’s important to know both our advantages and disadvantages. When we know our strengths, we can find the direction of our life, and I think also for countries. So like, now, our gvt want to develop Taiwan to be a center of finance-something. The first step is to address our advantage and disadvantage, compared to other countries. Do you guys agree with my point? Or you have different views toward this?

In my field, science, I think Taiwan’s advantage of Chinese medicine, because we often use the Chinese medicine, much more often than America or Europe. Because we use these plants, so we have several point to attach the center of the secret of Chinese medicine. So this is Taiwan’s advantage of this field. But I think the financial field, I’m not so good at.

So what do you think?

About question one?


For me, I prefer question two. I think it’s better to correct faults, because I don’t think it’s important to focus on advantages or disadvantages.
I don’t have much inspiration for these questions, to be honest.


I don’t know, maybe later, after I listen your opinions, your words might inspire me.

What I’m burning to know is, what do you see Taiwan as?

For me, before I saw this video, I heard similar points from others, because I am in financial world. I observe many similar information from other resources, so it was not so shock or stun to me, to hear his opinion.

So, but, how do you see Taiwan’s place in the world?

Maybe when it comes to Taiwan, people in the world will think it as a big manufacturer, or a, um a people of high technology. Like, when it comes to India, people will think about math and engineers.

Or really really poor people, and farmers killing themselves with pesticide.

Oh, I heard from others, in business world, American or European company like Taiwan company, because they think Taiwanese as very hardworking people.

They don’t see Chinese as hardworking?

I don’t know,…I

I think Taiwanese and Chinese are different. Chinese devote their labor efforts, while the Taiwanese have higher level education, so, and I think, um, from the working side, they are different.

And I assume in the bioscience world, Taiwan also have its cutting edge?

I think Taiwan have higher standard? Standard, no. The medicine system is better than china, but we still can’t join the WHO. This is unfair! I’m angry about these things. Because it’s political issue.

How is it bad for Taiwan, that it can’t join?

It’s about public health. We can’t join WHO, so we can’t connect with the world public health, so many problem, just like about the mosquito disease, dengue fever, and SARS. During SARS, we couldn’t have any support from who or other country. So we had to help ourselves. All our medication solution is come from ourself. So WHO totally take us for granted. So it is a disadvantage that we can’t join?

It’s a bad thing for them, as well as for us. Taiwan has things to teach the rest of the world, too, and they’re losing that.

Taiwan is a lonely island in the world.

It’s all Chiang Kaishek’s fault. If he hadn’t been like, it’s China or us, you choose, we wouldn’t have lost our place in the UN.

So Mary, what do you think about Taiwan’s place in the world. I think some people, they come to Taiwan, they come to learn Chinese culture, and to learn Mandarin.

Yes, that’s true.

I was kind of surprised, that at the hostel I work at, when you speak English, they speak Mandarin to you, and they want you to speak Mandarin to them. And their Mandarin is really quite good. They’re from like Portugal, and Spain, the Mediterranean.

Why don’t they go to china?

They actually go to both places, a lot of them.

Well, actually, why do they come to Taipei, too?

Some of them, they have to transfer flights here, and then they go to Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. And I know some people come to Taiwan for the food.

Yes, delicious “shiao chi” [=lit. ‘little eats’, a Taiwanese specialty, small stands on the street selling noodles and side dishes].

And it’s not that expensive!

But what I want to know is, how do you see Taiwan’s place in the world?

So you want to know our opinion about the Taiwan’s place in the world, not others.

But what you think others must see Taiwan as.

Maybe it’s that Taiwan is a country that produce very good computer product. If you come buy a camera here, it’s 30% cheaper.

In my opinion, from the geography side, Taiwan is very small, so many people ignore this place. And I know, some people think, Taiwan is the same as Thailand. So I say from the geography side, it’s quite small. But from the IT industry, Taiwan occupies a very important position. Taiwan is a very important component of the IT industry. Like Mary said. Taiwan has ability to produce cheaper computer products.

Maggie, what’s your view?

‘Lonely Island’

Well, yes, but can you elaborate?

We always isolated by the world. So we can’t join the worldwide organization, and we not accepted by the world, so I think…but we still live in the world. The people in the Lonely Island still live in the world, so I think it’s fine, because we are used to being alone. No, I don’t know how to say that, but, I think we accept the situation, and we are happy. Next? Willie, what’s your opinion?

I don’t think Taiwan is the lonely island, actually. I think it’s that we can’t publicly establish those relations in those official organization. But I think privately, if gvt is not involved, Taiwan does pretty okay. Those non-gvt organizations, like companies, Microsoft, Google, those companies have pretty big impact in the world, band they also have their site in Taiwan. Also in Beijing. I mean, Beijing is their center, but they also have big spots in Taiwan, pretty beautiful. So privately we’re doing okay. If you travel in Europe, it’s a problem, because Taiwan hasn’t formal relations with those countries, and that’s a trouble. I’m not sure, lots of Japanese and Koreans, they come here, they know Taiwan very well, and they’re interested in visiting Taiwan. Also I think those production, we’re known for our production, especially IT products. And also, everyone knows that, for example that Google will have their own phone, like an iPhone, in September.

Everyone except me!

And me!

Well I knew.

Anyways, it’s going to be open source, for those excellent programmers on the internet to finish the job for them. And the company which produce the phone for them, is from Taiwan.

I think it will be public at the end of the third quarter. I also think the reason why the production is well know in Taiwan is that “made in Taiwan” has been mentioned in Hollywood once or twice.

Which movies?



Did anyone see that movie? With Liv Tyler?

At the end, they’re trying to escape from the comet.

But did they mention Taiwan?




Because their spacecraft didn’t work, and the Russian astronaut said ‘that shit’s made in Taiwan’

But that’s not good!

Or in Toy story! Woody the astronaut. He always thinks he’s a real astronaut. But at the moment he opened the cover of his arm. Brrt! Made in Taiwan. So he realized he was a toy. At the 20 years ago, Taiwan makes the many toys, many small plastic items.

Why is that significant?

Because now china makes the small plastic things.

Oh, 20 years ago, Taiwan has many local and high-quality—

High quality, are you sure?

—okay, middle quality, labor force.

20 years ago, we had a lot of plastics manufactories. Now the techniques is better than Chinas, but the benefit is more than produced by china. So many plastic products is made in china.

So, to be honest, I was so surprised to realize that, even in nowadays, in western countries view, Taiwan’s products is mean low-quality products.

Well, now it’s ‘made in china,’ grrrr, cheap. I don’t know about Taiwan anymore.

But Germany, it’s considered high quality.

And expensive.

And not so beautiful. Made in France and England is more stylish, but the German is high quality, undoubtedly. Just like the Birkenstock. The shoes is not very stylish, but they’re well known.

But not good looking? What about Mercedes?

Oh, yes, they’re beautiful.

Or else, like Porche. And they’re an example that German’s products are not as beautiful as other countries. Volkswagen is a byproduct of Porche.

I didn’t know that.

I didn’t either.

I don’t think these cars…well when you mention sporting car, most people mention Ferrari or Lamborghini, than the Porche.

Hey, maybe Taiwan can follow Italy. They used to have no work, and no reputation, and their currency was bad, but then they got well known for fashion design and certain high end products like furniture.

That’s an interesting point, at the moment, most people are looking at Ireland.

So what are the strengths of Ireland?

Okay, it’s their open-mindedness to Europe, and their lower tax rate. Before, Ireland was an island of few people—

And socially conservative, and really backwards.

—but when they start to develop their education, and lower their tax rate, they attracted a lot of companies from all over the world to invest in Ireland. Then support their economic development.

But sometimes I think Taiwan sees itself as not as good as the rest of the world. Not as democratic as America, not as large as China, not as well-run and neat as Singapore…it’s like Taiwanese look at the world and always only see their own shortcomings.

I agree, my colleague’s point is just like you. We, Taiwan is always thinking we’re weaker than other company, even though our company do very success in the world, like Giant, or Acer. But we still think we are, our quality worse than others. I think maybe the reason is like, the comment from the observation, in our education, not focus on how to find out or develop our advantage. We only focus in our education, nobody tell us to think about the value of individuals, or your points of your future. So, companies in Taiwan never think of serious, what’s their cutting edge, their planning for company’s future. They only want to copy other’s experience. Because they have chance to train themselves to the thinking of something like this.

But Lynn said that in her company, a textile manufacturer, it’s no good to come up with innovative fabrics, because China will like copy them within a week, and sell them for a price that undercuts their profit.

But what china can not copy is our communication capability, and our ability to establish personal relationship. That’s from some factors from our history and culture. Because we are an island, we were colonized by so many countries. So in our blood, we know how to deal with people from different cultures.

That’s an interesting point, I never put those two together.

That’s why Taiwanese can do business around the world, you can see Taiwanese, in us, in Africa, in anywhere, and most of them are so successful.

I think in some respects, Taiwan is better than china, like she said, Taiwan has some strengths in dealing with multinational relationship. Right now Taiwan is open to all over the world, so maybe, um after a period, china might be better than Taiwan.

So, is Taiwan to china like Ireland is to Europe?

I think entering china is more dangerous than before.

Well, do we have to enter china to take advantage of it?

Well, we all know there’s kind of human costs, there are many interruption, or some difficulty, by the gvt, by people. Interference. In china, I think, from, a lot of people who have been to china talks about the interference of gvt. And those rules are not exactly the priority in china. So the difference between Europe and china, the technical advantage of china…

No, I think it means…

Does that mean we’re using Chinese resources or..?

I think countries from Asia and Europe and America, I think they can use Taiwan, Taiwan’s people, Taiwan’s resources, to help them into the mainland china market. So in their world, Taiwan is in the position, in the middle, of, to be a bridge to connect china and those countries. I think that’s what this guy is saying to how Taiwan to take advantage of china.

So why don’t they do this through Hong Kong, I think that’s a point.

But, Taiwan is famous for its IT industry.

And Hong Kong is not.

It’s famous for it’s financial field. So for the western people, so they think Taiwan is a good gate to enter the mainland china market. Because they have the same language, and the secondly, Taiwan and china have the same culture, so the habits are the same.

I would say similar, but not the same. Because china is an ex-empire, or an empire in a low point, but Taiwan is an immigrant country.

I work in a manufactory company to produce some consumer goods, and after I enter here for one year, the original team classify Taiwan to the china cluster. So Taiwan is part of china, not china part of Taiwan.

Yah, but what I’m saying is that they’re not a part of each other at all, they’re different countries with different histories. Actually Taiwan’s history is one of colonization. First the Spanish and Portuguese set up colonies, then there was the separatists Koshinga retreating here from the collapse of the Ming Dynasty, and then the Ching Dynasty rulers held the island for like 50 years before they sold it to the Japanese, then after WWII the Japanese left and the KMT colonized it till the island threw off martial law in the 80s. And all through that, various waves of immigration, the Hakka, then Minnan people, and most recently the Waishengren after the war. Now you could say you’re a democracy. But China, well, it’s been a cohesive empire, or at least the idea that the people believe in that it’s supposed to be an empire, has been, for a long long time. People on their own turf, not coming from other places. And there’s this weird idea of a greater racial China, the Huaren idea. So, like Singapore, or the Chinese in Malaysia still identify as Chinese, not with the country they’re actually living in.

But technically people don’t connect Singapore with china.

So, I’m curious that, if it’s very possible for Taiwan, to take advantage, like Fanny said, to use Taiwan resource of people to enter china, actually. Because I think the best timing for Taiwan to do this is past already.

Nowadays, the change not exist.

Its not as easy, actually. I just talked about this problem with classmates today. We both think that the time is missed. There are many foreign countries, like Google.

They’re not countries yet!

Google country!

I think Google is richer than second or third world country, or something like that, but anyways. We know that many companies have already established their base, and Chinese have already copied. There’s a company who copied Google, in china, and it’s local, but they’ve done it first, and so Google can’t really enter china. So they want to go in, but they can’t join china now, the opportunities aren’t the same as before. The ones that got in early are set up, and now you can’t compete. They’ve lost the advantage of time. So for Taiwan, I don’t think it’s the right time to enter china.

We don’t need to enter china, for now it’s not a good time to enter but we can think of how to become a good connection to benefit from china and Japanese, or benefit from china and America, or benefit from china and Europe, no I think is too far. But by geography, we are in the middle points of china and Japan and America.


I heard, one of my colleague is familiar with Japanese. He said that most Japanese fail to deal with Chinese people.

Because of language?

Because of maybe some history record, maybe. But Taiwanese are so familiar with Japanese, and also, in business it’s easier for us than Japanese to do business with Chinese. So we can think about this point. But, even though I have this discussion with my colleague, but we didn’t found the answer yet.

Hsinchu: Being Taiwanese

Participants: Wilson, Peter W, Kevin, Robert, Angela

You know, the this-week article is easy to read, but the question is not easy.


Because you say globally, from a global view.

Why is that difficult?

In Chinese, we say, we are easy to find the advantage or disadvantage of others, but not yourself.

I was saying, like Americans are perceived as loutish, insensitive ignorant aggressors. But they’re also sometimes seen as generous and open-hearted people, so what I’m saying, is how do you think Taiwanese are perceived in the world?

So start from this question first?

Sure. Any takers?

My first impression, is when people ask what’s your relationship with Chinese, that’s what people normally ask first.

What’s your answer?

Well, you’ve heard my spiel on that before.

You know, when we participate in a conference in a foreign country, Taiwanese is not individual. I would say most of the people, first time when they see the Taiwanese, they think you are Japanese.

Yeah, but that’s cuz white people can’t tell Asian people apart.

Not, but they can distinguish Korean from Japanese, but they can’t distinguish Chinese and Japanese.

So Angela, are Americans, can you identify Chinese people, Taiwanese people or Japanese?

Well, I grew up in a very mixed neighborhood, and went to a racially very mixed high school with largely low-income kids, and there were a lot of Vietnamese there, and some Chinese, besides Black and Hispanic and then like a minority of whites, too. And when I was in college in NYC, there’s just everybody from around the world. But a couple of years ago, I was in this hostel in Seattle, and there were some Taiwanese staying there, and this white woman there was commenting on the ‘Japanese’ people. I don’t know, I haven’t lived in the US for more than 10 years, so I really can’t say, but I think maybe Asian foreigners are mostly identified as Japanese first, because of the economic race with the Japanese?

So maybe after several decades—

Right! They’ll assume they’re Chinese!

I think this article has a strange view. I don’t know, I don’t think most of Taiwanese people are very confident when we go out, when we face the other foreign countries. So it’s very strange, you know, Kenichi Omae is a Japanese, and he encourage and appreciate the Taiwanese people’s contribution to the Asia global area and to china economics, and even think Taiwanese could take advantage of economic strength even better than Japan in future.

Yeah, we don’t normally hear stuff like this, right?

So the Olympics, in the game a good performance, so this article reflect the effects is, Taiwanese need the, another words we have perform or achieve the better, a better or a do the better job than our expectation, from the outside, from the foreigners’ view. But I don’t know, it’s normal or common for Asian peoples, because we read a lot of articles from Omae, he’s always release a warning to Japanese gvt, and emphasize the Japanese it’s a competition in the future, in the next decade if the Japanese gvt don’t take any effective economic action, or the education, or globalization, because Japanese is a relatively closed country. Because I heard that in Japan, the most technical articles, they will translate to Japanese, so that’s why most of the Japanese people don’t feel the immediate pressure to learn English or Chinese or some foreign language.

Our education system can’t educate our students for systems integration. Also for engineering. So our gvt hire a lot of experts to build up our system, but sometimes it’s not successful, for some public engineering case, like the transportation system. For aerospace, we want to import some foreign company to help our industry to build our space satellite for outer space, to put our satellite in outer space. But our experience is not successful.

But didn’t they actually get it up?

Yes, but the original goal was not reached. We wanted to transfer some technical experience, but sometimes, you can’t transfer this to local company.

Why not?

Yes, why can’t they get the experience from the foreign company?

Because the language barrier?

Not exactly.

But if you dedicate yourself, you’ll get something back. Like semiconductor, we pick it up little by little then we start building 6 inch, then 8 inch, and then every have some kind of experience and now the 12 inch, although it’s not that much of an issue. But the point is, if you want energy in, you have to give some back. Learn and watch, still can gets something.
Even you go to SE Asia, you can see the building is just like square, actually you don’t need architect, you could just do it yourself but for instance, they’ll have a guard on the second floor, because the ground floor is the parking plaza. But in Taiwan you never saw this, l never.

I want to point out the, I heard someone say, if the individual Taiwanese, they have advantage to do work perfectly, but if a lot of Taiwanese is put together, their strength is lost. And they say we are good at mimic something, for example, maybe we have the advantage to copy the concept or concrete concept from outside company but if we put our power on redesign, we can’t. You know why? It’s a good question to ask our education system. Maybe can train our students to redesign or initiate a new concept.

Actually, I’ll give an opinion. The problem is not creativity. It’s market size. If they do innovation. If I do this product, how much can I sell. This one is OEM product, but this one is copy. But this one is already on the market, I don’t have any risk, it’s easy to sell. It’s safer and more profit. Because Taiwanese business usually small and middle sized. Korean ones are a giant monster, very big. So small sized ones have to be more flexible. So normally they will cut it in this way. So they try to make similar one. As long as the performance is good as the original one. But if you sell your own brand how will people accept that?

You said, we have to focus not only the local market, but we have to target on the global market. And another example is for the South Korea enterprise. Samsung is a gvt sponsored business so the scale is large, and its not a useful model for Taiwan. I heard someone say that the Samsung model is not appropriate for Taiwan, because south Korea’s local market is larger than Taiwan, and it’s gvt sponsored, so they can dominate the market and also compete with the global market. But in Taiwan we don’t have this advantage. And the other example is Israel. They don’t have the local market.

So where is the market for Israel product?


Their largest industry is military, right?

Yes, and aerospace.

India, too is very strong for military products. Not for consumer products.

Because consumer products you have to be competitive, but for military, you don’t have to be. It’s a different business model.

I remember the 60s, the background of Taiwan and Korea, they’re both focused on manufacturing, but they choose different approach. Taiwan was small and medium sized enterprise. But Korea followed Japanese style, large enterprises. So they got Samsung, Golden Star, what’s now LG, so they tried to follow the Japanese business model. So actually you can look the actual enterprise, only three or four large companies, but Taiwanese have so many, so it’s a very different business model. So I’m working in a foreign company, I can see, even though Taiwan is a very small country, you can find many different kinds of products here. Like facemasks used in industry.

The public safety industry.

Yes, but you won’t see this in another country, because it’s not a big enterprise, so people won't get into this, but here there’s small business, so they’ll find any niche they can. So talking about marketing, it’s not so strong. The giant guys they have R&D. But small and medium size, no marketing, and first generation, their English is not so good, maybe Japanese is good. But they’re not doing trading business, like Singapore. Those guys are very good at marketing. And their language capacity is better than Taiwan. And they’re businessmen, that’s their style. Be we do manufacturing. Singapore just buy and sell. So the good thing is we can make and sell, but the bad thing is we don’t have a strong brand.

I think the interesting thing, is Taiwan’s global brands, people don’t actually know they’re Taiwanese. Like Giant bicycles.

Right, well Taiwan market is too small, so they have to go overseas, but they don’t have enough resource for R&D and financing, so they starting the aftermarket. It’s not like apple computer. It’s not that they can’t design, it’s that if they design, nobody will buy it.

Well, can I give you an opinion as an outsider? One of the things that really shocked me when I began working in Taiwanese companies is how people would cover for the one who couldn’t perform well. Like, me. My Chinese was so bad, and I didn’t know meeting etiquette, and I didn’t know the building code, and my coworkers just covered for me, constantly. They just put up with what I didn’t know and worked around it, because I was their teammate. But I think in an American company, a similar situation, I would have been just hung out to dry. So when you said earlier, that one Taiwanese on their own is fine, but when you get a group, it gets mediocre, do you think this might have something to do with that? That people are spending their energy covering for the useless people, to keep face for the team?

It’s from Confucius, we want to keep harmony, we don’t want conflict on the team, so we will tolerate some troubles or some fault for their colleague.

Yes, but Japan is also like this, but they’re more successful.

Even more serious. Japanese focus on team opinion. But I would say Taiwan style is in between of Us and Japanese style. US is very concentrate on opinion of team leader, and also public opinion, and even you don’t like you still have to follow. The decision of Japanese is very slow, and difficult to change. But also stable, and well sorted. They think everything carefully, and everyway, then start. But in Taiwan, we go 50 percent, and then go, we move, and then adjust. But Japanese think it through, and then when they movie, it’s very clear.

So Taiwanese are flexible.

Sure, but not well sorted, and it’s risky.

And Japanese, the way they do business, they follow the SOP, the company their bosses set, and the member in the team, normally they will follow every detail, their steps, their company or standard procedure. But I agree with Kevin, usually in a meeting, the boss usually speak, and everyone keeps silent, this is similar to Taiwanese style. In my experience, when I travel in the meeting, the junior engineer, or even senior engineer, if you don’t ask questions, they keep silent. So I don’t know the real reason why we lack confidence. For Japanese people, because the major language we communicate with Japanese customers or vendors still we discussing English, okay, so I think the most the Japanese people is not so confident in their communication in English, so but my experience contact with the Japanese people, usually some, if Japanese people who can speaking English, usually can become leader of crosee countries project, and go more opportunities or promotion
So I think more and more of Japanese people who like to travel to Taiwan and maybe short term stay for two or three years, and normally after finish the supporting mission in Taiwan, they got a lot of improvement in English communication ability, and they get a promotion.

But my idea is more Japanese, they want to send overseas, because they don’t want to be fixed in their life, they don’t have to be relaxed. If you work in Japan, you have to stay from 8:30 to 10:00, but in the US, they can go home at 6. So if they have to go back to Japan, they’re sad. Life in Japan is strict, you have to follow, even if you don’t want. The people in Tokyo are really pressed. High density, high pressure. I was in there for about 2 years, I know the life there. You are just pressed like a dog life.

I heard someone say, if you are a Japanese, you shouldn’t go home before 8, even they’ll go to bars, other wise they’ll show they’re failure.

So if you’re out on the street late in Tokyo, you’ll see so many people in suits. And they have to get up very early, because of the traffic, so they have to get up like at six. And the commute is like one and half hour. So the life is hard.

But the Japanese people I contact, even they’re in Taiwan, they work very hard. They might work overnight, without inner, work harder than local engineer.

I’m saying it’s a different work style. I worked in a joint venture in Japan. They say, just work there, we work overtime, but their arrangement, if you work overtime, you work another 12 or 24 hours. But for us, it’s just ridiculous, its not good for your health or your energy. So we would split into two shifts. But the Japanese would just assign one person for 24 hours. Okay, you work 24 hours, so you just sleep in the chair. I don’t know if they work harder, but their style is different.

So that’s what I want to say, you know the discipline, I think they’re more disciplined. They try their best to achieve their boss’ assignment before the deadline. I don’t know, on the other hand, we can say the Taiwanese people is more flexible, but we also can say that most of Taiwanese engineer lack discipline.

But we’re still better than china.

Yes, but right now, we have to compare to higher developed country, not developing country. But even some Chinese company, their discipline is even better than Taiwan. So the quality, of course now the market price of those made in Japan is higher than Taiwan, and higher than china, but it’s the quality image. But I think that will be changed. I think this depends, still the discipline is very important. I think maybe we define maybe 10 assembly steps for one product procedure, and the japan do it one by one, and maybe the Taiwanese will remove 2 or 3 steps, but in china maybe they only take 5 steps. So I think the, you just take the Samsung example, or some big enterprise, it’s nothing to do with the enterprise scale. I think the size of the enterprise is the result of your company globalization. Not strategy. So over 85 percent of Taiwanese company is small to middle size scale. But their efficiency, I think most of them is better than big international company. So, in the article’s Omae mentioned the smile curve. Because most of the Taiwanese company are OEM, the biggest one, Foxconn, is the biggest EMS company. But the smile curve emphasize the added value in your company, for your product. And the lowest added value is the manufacture stage. For the upstream the process is R&D, new product development, and downstream, the sales and marketing, so the two ends of the smile curve is the weakest point for Taiwanese company. But these two sides are the area with the highest added value. So that’s why the acer invest the resource to build this global brand, like BenQ.

Well, BenQ was a failure.

Well, you don’t know the next ten years.

Well, the merger with Siemens was a mistake.

Well, you’re talking about the working style of the Japanese, well, think about the consumer electronics industry. They have a lot of innovative products. You say they’re discipline, and have lots of new ideas. It’s very interesting, they can leverage the discipline, and they have lots of great new concepts. And the other one is for china. One of the biggest private company in china is Huaway, it’s a telecom company. Now it’s the biggest telecom company in china. But it is fully private. The scale is very large. You say in Taiwan, our company is mostly small and medium sized. But Huaway’s scale is very large. So they can compete with the global industry. So you can say the telecom industry now in the global market worldwide, the biggest is Motorola, Nokia, but Huaway the scale is large enough to compete with these companies. So in Taiwan you mentioned Foxcom, and Xycell is become to one part of the third party to Huaway, is not compete with. So scale is sometimes important to global market.

The point I mentioned is not to, of course, you want to compete other international company, you have to upgrade your company’s globalization degree, but I emphasize the efficiency or the effectiveness. Most big companies were originally small. Also Acer is not international brand company, but they also started small, founded by doing some oem business. So of course the Samsung, I don’t know if you remember, he also damaged from the financial crisis of 97 in Asia and Korea. But now it has become the international, the first-tier company, I think its because of, of course the resources is coming form Korean gvt, but most important, it has built his own brand, and his strong of product develop capability. That’s the root cause for become the leading position in many industry. Okay, so, I don’t think the finance supporting or the conversion for explain the success.

Yeah, but what about the lack of competition, of the monopoly, the protection by gvt?

I’m sure, it wasn’t the fair competition, for example 30 years ago, Yulong, the car maker.

Yeah, but they almost died from too much protection.

Yeah, but not yet, they’ve a new car the Luxgen, it’s coming out next year. They want to have their own brand car, that’s the dream of the founder.

It’s just a dream.

They had a lot of money to waste.

But back to Huaway, you know their R&D budget is bigger than Taiwan gvt’s budget.

But basically, the market in Taiwan is too small. The LCD factories, the DRAM, its just not big enough.

Anyways, it’s not just support from the gvt, you have to find your core value.

But you cannot deny that if you have backup form the gvt it’s better, right.

Can we change the topic, Omae said in the wake of the three links [= travel and communication links between Mainland China and Taiwan, which up till now have not been allowed to be directly linked]. But what does that have to do with silicon valley? They are talking about Asia pacific operations area: manufacturing, air and ocean hub, telecom, banking, Chinese media, like books, newspaper. But look at banking, its impossible.

Why not?

We don’t have the character for banking.

But, there’s like more banks per square foot here than any other place I’ve been.

But it’s not like we’re Hong Kong. Manufacturing, we’ve got that down. Ocean shipping, we’ve got Kaohsiung, maybe Keelong. Telecom okay. We’re really weak in banking. Media okay.

Well, a huge market for publishing.

Yeah, and ten years old Taiwanese songs are now popular in china.

But I think the silicon valley idea is the idea of innovation for new companies. So the environment is motivated for the new company to set up. And because you say the local Taiwanese market is not big enough, so our target market is global, so new company if they want to set up target market, then that’s the sprit of silicon valley.

Another think I’m curious, because he says we can take advantage of upward motion of china. Maybe we’ll be marginalized.

I would say it’s because of the communication gap, because there’s no communication gap between Chinese and Taiwanese industry.

It’s funny, take advantage, hard to say.

And we mentioned the teamwork culture, maybe the Taiwanese working style is more similar to the Taiwanese worker.

What about Ireland, is that a viable model for Taiwan?

I heard about one strategy or policy in Ireland, is that everyone can vote, even if they’re not a citizen.

Yeah, this is such a refreshing idea. It’s post nationalist, it’s global. Where you are is where you are, not where you are from. Like the mayor of one town, he’s actually a citizen of an African country, but he was elected mayor. He *could* be elected, even though he’s not an Irish citizen. And *was* elected!

So did it change your perception? I’m guessing not.

Actually I’m not sure about the main point, it has to do with the three links? And are we really in a position to take advantage of china’s rise?

How about the note. Internet, only 1% written in Japanese, so this is a disadvantage for the Japanese. But I would say it’s similar to Chinese.

Language as information access tool. Korea only knows what Koreans know, but we don’t know what Koreans know.

In Taiwan we have over 8 million internet users. 2 million are the maybe internet society users, on Wretch, so they’re familiar with Chinese webpage, so the ratio is one fourth. One fourth are doing Chinese pages. So I’m curious about this 1 percent.

I think it’s the whole world, not just in Japan.

So that’s a business opportunity if you know Japanese.

Is Feminism Important?

Discussion Question:
Is feminism important?

Shakesville: Because You Have A Belly Button
Extra Fun:
Teh Portly Dyke

Hsinchu Discussion Transcript: Feminism

Participants: Kevin, Robert, Wilson, Maurice, Angela

Its interesting how the human being society, why it’s always patriarchal. You know ants, they’re not patriarchal. That’s because the female ant has the right to, it’s the females can choose to have male or female offspring.

Yes, it depends what they feed the larvae.

Also bees. So only humans are patriarchal.

Not every country. I read the news, some places, the woman is more important in the family. Like in Vietnam, the women are very powerful there.

So we have a female gvt in Vietnam?

Yes, okay, but they have power at the home.

So that’s why of all the female trafficking in Asia, there’s no Vietnamese wives. I mean, none of the women that are trafficked come from Vietnam, yeah?

So our society is controlled by men, and most of the power is controlled by men. It’s interesting.

Maybe it’s the physical strength.

Oh, let’s not go there, I’m really bored with that argument.

I’m saying that men can lift heavy loads.

Okay, right, if we’re going to go there, let’s get this out of the way quickly. Men can sometimes life heavier loads than women, but women have far more endurance and tolerance for pain than men, meaning they can work harder and longer. So, talking about who is stronger? Sort of not the point, becase if you can lift heavy loads, well, I can probably work much longer than you, so how are men stronger, physically? Okay? So lets talk about what men and women care about, the power relations. I think when people say ‘men are stronger’ they’re saying ‘this justifies that men control things.”

Evolutionarily, men protect women, the men have more power to protect their family, and the female can promote more time to take care their new generation, their children. So it’s kind of like an evolutionary result. So men control most of the power. So the background for the female to support the men. But just for the society of ants, it’s different because their population is very large, so maybe it’s not dangerous for the population, so the female can control all things. You know the ratio for ants to people is like 10 to one.

Yes, if you add up the total mass of ants on this planet, it’s ten times the mass of humans. Talking about volume and weight of the bodies, not number of bodies. Okay, you mentioned matriarchal earlier, let me say something about that here. I heard that there was a matriarchal tribe in Taiwan, the women owned the houses, and the men lived with whoever they were lovers with at the time. If the woman got pissed off at the man, she could kick him out of the house, and he had no right to return. And brothers lived with their sisters and helped raise their sister’s kids, if they had no lover to live with at the time. So what if, if this story were true, maybe the men got tired of not having their own house, of someone else having power over where they could live. And I’ve been speculating that perhaps, where the change happened, why the men are in control now, is that they redefined the meaning of the home. They were like, yeah, you women, you still control the home, no problem, but we’re going to build this bigger society structure, and it’ll be more powerful than the home, so even though women are still in the home, the home has been devalued as not as important as the public sphere of commerce and gvt.

So this question, is feminism important, is it a difficult or easy question?

But I think that feminism, this question, it depends on how we live in this society. It’s just, why today we have such a situation that men usually have a more resources, more powerful than women, is it because that in our culture period, and women, men may have more strength to, how to say that! Er, to feed, like hunting and farming, like that, I think it’s the main reason why men could dominate society.

Okay, let’s address the ‘men brought home the meat, so they were more important’ myth. Actually, what they’ve studied about the diets of previous cultures and primitive cultures, they found that in fact their diet was composed very little of meat. Mostly it was grains, fruits, what was gathered, or later, what was grown. But okay, so why does hunting take hold of the imagination? A well-known author, Ursual K. LeGuin, put it very well when she said that, basically, hunting is a better story. Like: “…and then, the beast roared, and twisted, and Oleg nearly lost a leg, but then Biff threw his spear really hard…” But, she’s like, how do you make a story about gathering? “…and then I found another great clump of really beautiful nuts, and then Trudi found another really nice tree, then we walked and chatted for awhile, then we got to the other nut grove…” You know?
People want to hear interesting things, so if you’re a good storyteller, people will listen to you. So having great stories can be a springboard to power.

Yeah, everyone likes a story. On the TV, it says, everyone needs a drink of milk, so you’ll be more intelligent. So you’re forced to believe that, it’s quite interesting. So if you can tell a good story and make them to believe it, then you are successful.

And the Greeks! They wrote some great stories, but they were these two-bit city states. The Persians, at the same time, were this huge empire, but they weren’t all that interested in writing. And so now we hear how powerful the Greeks are, and how the Persians are pigs, because of the famous Greek stories, but we never hear how wonderful Persian society and culture and ideas were, because they never wrote anything down. Or how about Chinese history? 1000 years of ‘Tien Shia’. [lit. ‘all under heaven’ = all must be united under the heavenly emperor’] How do you combat that, if you’re an island with a mere 300 years of colonized history? How do you talk about Taiwanese indepedence when you’ve got 1000 years of ‘Tien Shia’ to go against.

Feminism is important, because of one word, it talks of equal for women. But how do you say equal? Can you really say men and women are the same?

Okay, this is a problem going back to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. When it says ‘all men are created equal’, it sounds like ‘all men are born with the same abilities’. What they were actually saying is: ‘all men are given the same rights, to live, to be free, and to do whatever makes them happy’. So we’re not talking about ability, who’s stronger or so on.
So the Declaration was talking about men. Feminism is talking about everybody: Men, Women, all humans. It’s the idea that every human should be given equal rights, to live, to be free, to do what makes them happy.

So if our law have the regulation to protect or guarantee the equal right for men and women, and then I would say the men and the women, in nature, they are not the same, they have different responsibility.


If men are stronger than women, generally, they can have responsibility to protect women. And women have ability to generate the new generation, so it is our responsibility to take care our children. So I would say it’s a kind of evolution, it’s our human being living.

Our way of life?

So I would say feminism is not important, its kind of our society rule. So I would say it’s not equal to give the better treatment to female. Our society can change, but it’s not important, but it’s a kind of natural rule, if our society have the right to change the situation, it would change.

The right? The ability, the desire?

The desire. Like the west has a different attitude towards women. Or say, African women. I would say Africa has a very tough situation for women, because they have a tough living environment, and the women have the most responsibility for children, and search for the food for their children. And the men’s job is just for fighting and maybe to protect their family. So its a kind of cultural evolution.

I have another point of view. I think it’s a kind of a, it depends on what kind of a profit you want to grab. Though it’s a kind of lifestyle about how you would like to live in, in today’s, let me say, in Taiwan society, there’s no need to for men to protect women, for technology, with such greater technology development, I don’t think that women need men to protect women. Women can protect themselves with the…the modern device and equipment.

Smith and Wesson!

Yeah, maybe weapon. It depends on what kind of a life you want to live it. I don’t think it’s a kind of responsibly or not, it the life you choose. Men could also decide to educate their children by themselves. It’s not a duty for women. It’s not anymore the duty for women. So that’s my point of view.

But according to your point, for Taiwanese, we don’t need to marriage, because the Taiwanese girl doesn’t need Taiwanese boy to protect them.

But marriage is not just for who protects who! It’s a kind of agreement.


Contract. It—

So we have a contract to have a baby.

—it depends on both of you, the wife and the husband, it depends on their consensus. So the role of woman or man is, they can discuss themselves to each other. I still think that modern society, we don’t have to think in the traditional way. Yeah. So I think the author propose such a question is to remind us we can think things in another way, in another side, that’s my point of view.

Wait, I’m sorry, I want to go back to what Wilson said. Forgive me if this is too straightforward, but it sounds to me maybe like you’re saying: “If they don’t need us, why would they want us?” Is that what you were saying?

Well kind of, so why to form a marriage, just to generate a new baby? But it’s not true for our society, the family have a function of our society.



Well, so, what is the function of the society?

We need to have a harmonious society, we need to have a cooperative relationship. And the father and mother have a responsibility, and also the children. So it’s a kind of human being evolution result. I would say evolution is a mystery word. Because we don’t know why we have a male and female, why people don’t have a binary gender—why every creature has a binary gender.

Well, actually, there are a few species who reproduce parthogenically, for instance there’s a kind of lizard, there’s no males, not at all. The eggs are produced in the females, and somehow the genetics works. It turns out, actually, that humans could produce parthgenically, we have all of the codes in the eggs, but a certain section of the genes is switched ‘off’, but they’re switched ‘on’ in the sperm. So if a sperm fertilizes an egg, it goes all the way to making a complete baby, but if the egg does it by itself, then the baby goes wrong, doesn’t fully form, and then aborts. So there are cases where they’ve found a half-formed baby, or at least discrete genetic material, like hair or teeth, and they’ve got a different dna, in a woman’s ovary. But yes, in fact the majority of the species on this planet have male and female.  And that's really interesting, I do wonder why evolution brought us to this point.  I mean, from an evolutionary perspective, why do you really need men?

Okay, wait, you were talking about male privilege, what is the main problem for women?

Constrainment of choices!

Okay, don’t say that. I don’t see how that’s true.

Well, you’re male! You have the privilege to not see it!

I can say, from my marriage, I can say that asking this question, asking is equality important? In marriage, I have learned so much, it’s about mutual respect. I can say nothing is more important than that.

Of course, in marriage you need to respect your wife’s thinking. If she thinks you’re not treating her with a better way, you need to treat her with a better way. You need to respect her thought and treat her better. I say respect is based on what you believe and what you think.

Um, because I’m a homeschooling father, so I find out if I’m not supporting enough, or I’m ignorant sometimes, I’ll see that our family functions less than it should be. So supporting your wife is supporting your family, if you want our family to prosper.

You have the responsibility to take care of your family. It’s not only your wife’s responsibility. You have the right and the duty to teach your children, maybe to grow up to stand beside your children while they are growing up.

Well, I usually see our family as a unit, so I think every family member has their contribution, and, um, I would say that family is the learning center of our first socialization, and I um, hadn’t thought
about that much before I got married. I realized, when I was a father, in addition to taking care of, being a financial support, I also have to educate my children. And sometimes I would ignore my wife’s emotion, and not give enough support to what she’s doing, and I would see that the happiness of the family would not be good. Maybe my viewpoint is very partial, but it’s what I feel.

Something comes up in my brain. I think, cuz the author mention that boy are growing up knowing that one day they will have to function. Today we sit there and discuss the many aspect of this question, it’s because we are well educated. I think is feminism important implies that good education is important, and its because, uh, we are well educated, we are more open minded, and will have a positive manner towards the question or on what you have seen on a lot of events.

Your experience.

Yes! And so the core concept of feminism, I think it will eventually be how we educate our new education, it depends on how you educate your children, and how do they know that we cannot just thinking about yourself. We should think about…it’s something like that we should help others if we have enough ability. There’s a Taiwanese saying, it’s something like, the happiest thing is to help other people.
It’s that, why we need feminism is it comes from there are some inequality between men and women. But it’s just not what I thought, it is not important to just find, to observe sorts of situations we know or we observe, the most important is your manner toward this problem, and a good attitude comes from good education.
It’s like, our education is teach us to believe our society is formed by male and female. So the form of the marriage is to generate a new generation, for our children. So if, the marriage is not for children, for example, two young people they got married, but they don’t want to have children, it’s nothing, they don’t care about their equal status, because the nature of unequal, the factor does not exist, because they don’t want to have baby. They’re only married to live together. I don’t care you are male or female, I just want to live with you. So if this is the situation, then nothing unequal You can declare your right for you living, or anything. I would say, it’s another interesting point.

It really is.

It’s just like lesbian or gay for our society, homosexual is unusual. But in western society, it’s normal. It’s a kind of cultural acceptance. So it’s question of what you want to support. So the most important thing is, we define our marriage is for, you need to have your own children, so you define role of father, and role of mother, so family is for children. So it’s a kind of education system, to give us belief.

Sorry, what I mean for education, is not normal education. Its not just you have to go to school and listen what teacher say to you. My meaning for education, is for our school system, we have teach you to believe something, maybe is for knowledge, maybe is for living style, It’s a process for you learning something. It’s not necessary for education system, just for your learning process.

Maybe you can put that in another way, that you shift your focus to further self development for each individual, instead of devotion to your family, maybe that would be more clear. So everyone deserves to have his or her potential fully developed.

Well, let me say another way. We have equal right to learn, to know our potential, and to develop our own life, and meanwhile we need to communicate and to coordinate, to compromise, to have same conscious then finally we need to cooperate with each other. So that our human society could function well, and could keep going, and will not misfunction at all, and be destroyed.

This conversation is intensely interesting. How do you define family? In my experience, family was very strong when I was a child, then when the children grew up and left home, it’s like the family was dismantled, it was a formal shell, not a living organism. Before modern society, family was your social security, children were how you were cared for in old age. But when families dismantle, your social security is also dismantled. But in modern society, actually, you can create family, from unrelated people. People are choosing to live together in groups, because more people living together is much easier than just dad mom 2.2 children. It’s called ‘intentional community’. You can Google that and learn some interesting things about creating a family not from blood relatives.

I also came from a dismantled family. In my growing up, in my childhood, my family seldom got support from our, from our…my main point is that I come from dismantled family, I don’t got any support from my cousin, my relatives, but I still can live well by myself. That’s why I don’t think family support would mean anything in my life. I think this can be, just be an extra option, if you have a good family network, maybe you can live more well.

I think this is true. A good family network of any sort, allows you to live more well.

It’s a human mystery. There’s some combination, some component that lives in our blood. It’s not removable, even though we don’t live together, we have a relationship, contact.

Who is family???

Good question!

Knowing What's Nice

Questions to Ponder:
1. How do you know enough to appreciate where you are??
2. How do you know when you have enough money?
3. How do you know when to be satisfied with what you have?
4. How do you know enough to know when you’re happy?

Discussion Question:
What’s the difference between desire and expectation?

Kurt Vonnegut Archives: Knowing What's Nice

Taipei Discussion Transcript: Knowing What's Nice

Participants Discussion Transcript: Mary, Fanny, Riley, Flora, Angela

I read a book and it helped me think about these questions very practically, its about a guy who only wants to work four hours a week. And he has very vivid description about our sense of security about work, but he thinks this is ridiculous. He says you work 56 hours a week to get promoted to work more hours a week. And the other ridiculous example about your career dreams is, you expect to go travel and do every thing you want to do after retirement. And now you waste a lot of time with colleagues. Actually you don’t do much, you just forward some email, and chat on unimportant topics with your colleagues, and so this is what makes your life meaningful. So he tried to do what he want, so he went to travel in Europe, and right away, in the next month. And it evokes a thought for me, we put what dreams you have, what you want, at some untouchable point, but we see the path we took the work we do right now as a cost to exchange for future happiness. But in fact it’s untouchable to us.

It’s really easy to talk about to appreciate what we are right now, but we are unconscious of that most of the time. It’s easy to say we’re satisfied. But take me as an example, we’re unconscious of real happiness, and we dare not do what makes us really happy at that moment. It’s like a circle, keep planning, keep planning, but actually you wasting time, enforce the plan is not really the right direction.

Like maybe we’re just always planning for the future.

But maybe the plan is wrong, we just enjoy the planning. For the sense of security. So you follow the conventional steps, and it’s questionable you could achieve your happiness by this kinds of way. So about this question, I’m thinking right now, I’m thinking there’s no answer actually. We keep pursuing the answer what makes us happy, but I don’t think there’s an answer.

But you don’t think there’s a difference between desire and expectation?


I just found it’s easier for most people to say they are unhappy, but it’s harder for people to say they are happy. Because most people do not know exactly what they really want, and who they really are, so they don’t know whether they are, if they are really happy or not. They just know, I’m not happy now. But they have no idea what will make them happy.

So do you think there’s a difference between desire and expectation?

I just think expectation is what others or myself want to achieve, and desire is I just want to get, I want to do, I just want to achieve, regardless of what others think. Like, I expect myself to be a professional person, but maybe that’s because I hope others see me like this.

So it’s more a social thing.


As her definition expectation is interpreted more socially, and—

And desire is more—personal.

You know, I had this conversation with a 1-1 student of mine. He’s pretty rich, and he said that he was so grateful that he was well off. He’s like, when he desires something, no matter what, he can just get it. He said, if he didn’t have money, his desires would turn into expectation, which is really like a state of loss. He’s like, if I want a Rolex Oyster automatically winding watch or whatever, if the desire enters his head, he can just act on it, and there’s joy in that. To fulfill your desire—that’s joy. If he didn’t have the money, he’d maybe have to save for it, then that desire would become the expectation of fulfillment at some point in the future, and then, basically, it would be all about NOT having the watch, and not fulfilling his desire, and so the joy would be lost. He would be in a state of loss.
So it’s because of this conversation, because of what he said, that I proposed this question for discussion today. I never though about this before, and I thought it would be interesting to see what y’all said. So what you just said about the planning, I think this is related somehow to what my student was saying, but I don’t see it yet.

Okay, so the watch, somehow in the process, not having the watch is a kind of energy, for keeping your life going, but when you get the watch, you lose the energy, you don’t have anything to push you to go further.

Wow, that goes with the planning then.

That’s why people plan and don’t get, because they’re afraid of what happens when they get.

So they start up another plan so they—

So it’s like, what’s the destination of your whole plan?

Like recently, we had some promotion, and lots of personnel events, some people were promoted, and some people failed in the competition. Some people, when they’re manager, they expect to be vice president, and so on. Their whole life. If you’re their president, you’ll have struggled for 15 or 20 years. Most people, if you take this company life for example, all the life is just planning for this stage. But what’s the meaning, the eternal meaning for you? You spent 2 years promoted to president, but what’s the value of that?

But from my point of view, planning from every stage of life, not totally a bad thing. It’s not a bad source of energy. What matters is the contents you plan for. For example, you can plan for a travel, for next year, and so you start to save money, and serve on the internet to get information, and then when you achieve the goal, you can start to plan for another plan, like maybe publish a book for the trip, something like, I mean the, I think planning is a kind of process to help us to find the meaning of our life. When we start to plan something, we start to think about our goal, our desires, and our expectation, whatever, and then to organize the every resources we can get. I think, planning also can be a good thing, but—

So it’s a big difference for that, because you said planning for travel or whatever is sort of a personal affair, but when planning put in the context of social, society, somehow you cannot plan by yourself. You need to plan under the instructions of the society, most of the people regard, they have consensus on the principle, and the range is restricted, so it’s not your plan, so it’s decided by society. And then your, I think somehow your autonomy will be dismissed in this planning. If you just plan for travel, for dinner, sure, it’s quite free, you can achieve your desire, your innovation. But in society, even I obey my motivation, I cannot… I saw one of my colleague, she was promoted very fast, she became a senior manager at a very early age. From a social point of view, her planning very successful. But she live single, because she doesn’t have time to date, she has to spend the working hour. And she doesn’t have hobby, because she doesn’t have time for some entertainment. She sacrificed this for her position. She doesn’t get any, she didn’t attend her desire for some basic happiness for her life.

But she made her own decision. For when she decide to contribute her whole time to achieve her goal, I think she, I propose that she thought very clear, and she should take responsibility of her life. So if she choose by herself—

But seriously how much is it really her choice? Think about it, a man in her position wouldn’t have had to give up being married. I doubt she didn’t get married because she didn’t have time to date. I bet she didn’t because she knew she didn’t have time to take on the responsibilities of the expectations placed on women in a marriage, knew that she couldn’t do that and also further her career. You know, mostly for men, when they get married, it frees them up to concentrate on their career, because they don’t have to take care of cleaning laundry etc, because why? Because the woman is doing it. Women, including working women, are expected to do a disproportionate amount of home work. Besides the social pressure to have a baby for a family, all of that. It’s not the same as a man being married.

Maybe there are some results, unexpected, after her choice. Maybe she tried to assume, she thinks, okay, when I’m a manager, I’ll have more time money and power to fulfill her personal life. But when she gets to that position, the things don’t match her imagination. She could not expect, it’s like a game, when you go to certain situation, she cannot predict what the situation will be.

[slight pause]

So Riley, you’ve been really quiet.

I am on the same page with them, so—

In that case, if you were the woman she mentioned, what would you choose?

Um, if I’m rich, then I would go for my basic, what I really want, which is not work, in that woman’s situation. But if I’m not rich, then I would pursue my career, because you need to have enough money to maintain your present life. After that, you can start to do whatever you want. So if you want to do something, you really have to focus on work, which is making money, what I’m doing now.

Well for me, I made a vow in 2001 to only do work that also spiritually satisfies me. I’m not saying it’s got to be 100% or nothing, it’s just that the job has to allow me to grow personally, on some level, not just feed me. It’s got to support me and at least somewhat feed my soul. Of course I currently have the privilege of having a decent range of choice of jobs, but so, what I’m saying is, to the extent that I have a choice, I’m definitely going to choose something that lets me grow, not just take whatever makes me the most money quickest.

Flora just said that in the reality, maybe your friend cannot expect or control the feedback from society to her choice. I just want think maybe, that’s the major reason why we feel unhappy. Because after we make decision, the feedback of the situation not fit our expectation or desire, so then we feel unhappy.

Huh, you might have solved something for me. A friend of mine just bounces from job to job, is always changing jobs. Even when he’s negotiated himself into a good position, three months later he’ll say to his girlfriend, “Hey, there’s this job available in Hong Kong.” And it makes her want to scream, because she’s already moved around for him, and sacrificed a fairly well paying job so he could be in Taipei. So we were discussing this, but couldn’t come to any conclusion. But now that you said that, I realized: He doesn’t know how to develop where he’s at. He thinks you have to walk into a perfect situation, and when it isn’t, he just wants to give up on it. Whereas other people like look at where they are and try to develop the situation they’re in, and try to improve where they are currently, to make it what they want it to be.

And you know, the other, the case I mentioned, the colleague, right now she’s a senior manager. She sacrificed opportunity to organize a family, when but she want to get a better promotion, she was blocked by her sacrifice. She didn’t have a family. They don’t think a person, because it’s a bureaucracy, they think a person with a family is more stable. So for instance, if she gets angry, they think, “See?” And she lacks contacts, because people think about what kinds of contacts you have through your family. But if you’re a single person, you don’t have these family contacts. Like, if your father in law is in a certain business, or your husband is a diplomat. So it’s the rule of social games, but it’s hard to realize the rules unless you encounter that.

But I think it’s just an excuse to just not promote your colleague.

Yes, I think so too.

Because there’s another case, there’s a woman, she had a family, but she was not promoted because she had family. I think that’s the sex discrimination. Our gvt, the whole society, just don’t want to promote women, so they will find excuse as possible as they can to choose a man. I think so.

I think of another example, because previous, President Ma want to pick some ministers—the combination of ministers in his cabinet, he need to announce he is fair about gender, so he have to collect enough female ministers, no matter if they are capable or not. On that point, that list is really surprising.

Hey, about them ‘being capable or not’, it’s hard to get experience if you aren’t given the opportunity, don’t you think?

Hey, what about Tsai Ingwen? She’s single, right? And she was being considered to be the chairman of the DPP, and some bigwig in the party was like, a single woman is inappropriate? My girlfriend was so pissed off about that. She was finally still appointed, right?

Yes, and that guy was forced to apologise to her.

Aw, yeah!

Yes, first of all because women’s groups protested about that. Second, her father is pretty powerful. But Lu Shioulien, [the previous Vice President of Taiwan] she didn’t get that kind of apology.

But she doesn’t have a powerful relative.

Yeah, but so she’s even more amazing, because she managed to be the Vice President of the country. And she’s not married, either right? She still could be so powerful, have the kind of backing to be the second-most powerful position in the gvt.

Hsinchu Discussion Transcript: Knowing What's Nice

Participants: Peter W, Amenda, Kevin, Angela

I think desire is maybe the things you don’t need, and you don’t want, but expectation is your dreams and your wish you want to fulfill it, and the picture you want to go for. And desire is the things you want but don’t need.

Expectation is more positive, it’s something you want to achieve. But desire is more, for me, more unrealistic, it’s more like a dream that cannot true. It’s my secret, but it’s a dream that cannot come true. Maybe it’s illegal. More unrealistic. But expectation is more practical. You go to it step by step, you expect it. But desire, you don’t expect it. You don’t really have to make this come true, because it’s just desire. Maybe it’s illegal.

I’m afraid to ask…


Like a second wife, maybe you want a second wife, but that’s just desire.

But I would say today’s topic is related to the topic we discussed last week.

How’s it related?

Because they say, do you know enough, it looks like, how could I say, do you know enough when you are happy, or you have enough, I would say it really depends on, you have different desire, or different extra need. But as long as you know how to put that intangible thing in a real framework, then you can see if you can achieve or not. The first one, “How do you know enough to appreciate where you are??”… this one I don’t know how to say, like every day, you wake up its different, like a new house or something. For the second one, “How do you know when you have enough money?” that’s a lot more clear. You know when you’ll go bankrupt. But number three, “How do you know when to be satisfied with what you have?” What do you mean ‘when’?

The point at which you’re satisfied.

Some signal?

Yeah, how do you know?

When you feel comfortable, when you feel free. Some CEO said the major purpose of making money, or getting rich is that it provides more freedom for what you want, what to do, how to achieve.

Right, because money gives you the right to choose.

It’s true. What you want, where to go.

Right—it’s the budget, if you don’t have it, you don’t even dare turn on the heater. Because I’m thinking, if you don’t have this—you need money—you don’t have it, you’re in a state of horror. If you have enough money, you’re free of this state of horror. So if you have money, you can do anything, if you don’t have money, you can’t do anything.

But if you have money, you can do a lot of things you can do when you don’t have money.

What’s ‘where you are’?

It’s like your status or situation. It’s not your physical location.

Okay, I try to compare the difference between desire and expectation. I want to explain desire from the—when we say I have some desire to do something, I think the idea should be initiated from our own mind, and I think, but expectation more often we use “expect”, this word, in a passive way. It means the, usually, we have something to expect, to achieve, is under somebody’s or external wishes, it means always our performance has some lack, between our own, desire or, and other people’s expectation. So most people, I think we work, we perform well following society, our family, friends, teachers, some rules they set. But often, what we have done the right way, is other’s expectation, didn’t follow our desire.

Yes, exactly!

So I think the, I say only we will feel happy or free, okay, following our internal desire. Often we cannot get the real happiness by dong some, try our best to fill other’s expectation. So, I think the major difference is, uh, desire is coming from our own mind, and can decide or monitor or control by yourself. But the expectation, I think sometimes we, it’s under, how to say, under some kind of pressure or some kind of, not the coming out of the free will, our free will. So, also we can say, desire, the scope is decided by ourselves, but sometime the scope of expectation is not decided by yourself, but by others around us.

So expectation is negative, in this characterization.

But I don’t think expectation is negative, I think it’s passive.

As an American, passive = bad, so passive is also a negative connotation for us. I know it’s not for Chinese and Taiwanese culture

So for a homosexual guy, they never fulfill their parents expectation, so they don’t say they’re gay in front of their parents. But it’s not natural—

What’s not natural?

For them, or for most of gays, they’re born homosexual, so not decided by themselves. So if we respect their desire of the sexual—even they are not fulfill the expectation of their parents or most people around her or him. So only you can get only real happiness follow his own desire.

That’s a very interesting point.

And now I know how to answer question 1 and 4. “How do you know enough to appreciate where you are?” and “How do you know enough to know when you’re happy?”


If I can live in a state, up to my expectation, then I’m quite happy.

What is your expectation?

It depends on the state of my situation. Sometimes my desire is more unrealistic or unattainable. But if I can work up to expectation. So I can live up to second one, then I can be happy. So if I can live up to the level up my expectation, then I can be happy. My expectation is different from you, let’s say for, let’s say you want a score of 100, I just happy with 90. So I’m talking about my standard for myself.

So how about the people around you, do you have expectations for the people you’re close to, and how do you handle them?

It’s like respect, if you are respected. It’s not like you’re rich, but if you show up, you’re respected, that’s what I’m talking about. I cannot say high class, just that you’re respected.

Social standing. High social standing?

No not like that.

Middle class?

No, what I’m saying, respect, that’s the basic minimum standard.

Mmm, don’t quite understand. Do you guys get it?

Maybe, restate the question.

What I’m saying, I want respect from my friends, so I’m saying, minimum respect. I’m saying, like professional skills, or respect, it’s not those things, what I’m saying, maybe it’s because—

You’re saying you expect your friends to have integrity?

It’s part of that.

Does this have something to do with ‘face’?

You’re saying your friends want to be friends with you because you’re rich or your high position, are you saying that?

No, he’s saying the opposite.

No, you asked, “what I expect from my friends”, so I said ‘respect’.

It’s hard to talk about this, right?

I’m saying there could be many things that they respect you for, the point is, what you want from your friends is respect.

You expect to be respected by your friends, for whatever reason.


So what do *you* expect from the people around you?

So your question, we usually expect others around us to do something, so we feel good.

Yeah, I think so. But I don’t know…I think maybe a simple criteria is we don’t have the right to force the people around us to make us feel happy. Maybe they feel some uncomfortable.

Wow, this is exactly what my girlfriend was talking about the other day.

So the difference between desire and expectation, we live under other’s—you know unreasonable—inhuman expectation. So following the same logic, I don’t have the right to add some unnecessary pressure to my family, to my colleagues.

Wow, that’s saying a lot!

Everyone have the right to live, to perform, to maintain his relationship with your friends, your boss, your— So. So just like today’s topic, knowing what’s nice, I think, uh, yeah. We have to respect everyone has his own way to pursue happiness and choose, okay, physical and psychological life. I remember the article author emphasize the music right?


Very important! More important than god, right?

Well, he doesn’t believe in god!

So I don’t know about Americans—

Oh, yeah, Americans are really into music.

It’s a different culture.

[slight pause]

I have another idea about desire and expectation. Desire is like asking yourself what you want, then the goal is like expectation, and you fulfill it step by step, and maybe you get it, and maybe you don’t, but the result doesn’t matter. So I don’t agree with your friend. It’s how you go through it, how you experience, so you live right now.

How about expectation?

I say, you have desire, so you set it up as an expectation, so you make it happen, as your goal, so that’s the expectation.

A little extra for you all: Corporate Cannibal

I've looked all over, but can't find the lyrics yet. When I can, I'll post them.
Updated to say: Here's a link to lyrics, scroll down a bit to find them.

Meanwhile, some excerpts from an interesting post on The Pinocchio Theory:

In the video, Jones is frightening, ferocious, predatory, vampiric. She has become pure electronic pulse, materiality of the electronic medium ... — and she will utterly devour and destroy (convert into more image, more electronic pulse, more of herself) whatever thinks it might be able to stand apart from the process.

Jones’ voice is at first wheedling (”Pleased to meet you/ Pleased to have you on my plate”), before it turns stentorian, imperative, and threatening; and at the end of the song it modulates again, beyond words, into a predatory growl or snarl. She is telling us flatly that she will destory and devour us (”I’m a man-eating machine… Eat you like an animal… Every man, woman, and child is a target”). She is a vampire, but not a romantic one: rather, the song expresses Jones’ absolute identification with Capital as a vampiric force (remember that Marx long ago described capitalism as vampiric: “Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks”). Jones sings: “I deal in the market… A closet full of faceless, nameless, pay-more-for-less emptiness… You’ll pay less tax but I will gain more back… I’ll consume my consumers.” Her lyrics absurdly juxtapose the cliches of corporate-speak (”Employer of the year”) with those of pulp horror (”Grandmaster of fear”).

Grace Jones is forcing us to confront the way in which, today, even the transgression that might have thrilled us twenty-five years ago is little more than another marketing strategy. Or the way in which, beyond all those discourses about race and gender and “the body,” the only thing that is “transgressive” today is Capital itself, which devours everything without any regard for boundaries, distinctions, or degrees of legitimacy; which “transgresses” the very possibility of “transgression,” because it is always only transgressing itself in order to create still more of itself, devouring not only its own tail but its entire body, in order to achieve even greater levels of monstrosity. Or, as Dejan puts it, in the video “you can see directly the intimate bond between animation and the mutability of Capital,” as Jones’ electronic mutations or modulations track and embrace and coincide with the metamorphoses of Capital itself, in our world of delirious financial flows and hedge funds and currency manipulations and bad debts passed on from one speculator to the next ...

“Corporate Cannibal” ... gives the most profound expression or articulation that I have yet come across to the affect of the vertiginous “globalized network society” we live in today.