The Taiwan Blog Feed Lives!

Hackers may have taken it down for a while, but the Taiwan Blog Feed is redesigned and up again!

I have no idea why it was under such a brutal attack. I added any sites which met the criteria of being about Taiwan, teaching English or learning Chinese, and promptly removed anyone who asked to be. On top of that the site was entirely non-commercial, with no self-serving purpose what-so-ever. Nonetheless, it was under constant bombardment; perhaps some Chinese activist was upset at all the political blogs being aggregated, but it seems unlikely. In any case, it was pretty clear that the attacker had a Drupal kit. I upgraded the site to the newest version of Drupal in order to close some of its security holes, but that broke half the add-ons I had used to make the site.

So, I’ve moved the Taiwan Blog Feed to wordpress, which I’m much more familiar with. It should be easier for me to keep on top of maintaining the site now, too. People can’t add their sites anymore. Just leave me a comment if you want a particular site added (or if you’re the author and you want it removed).

A Busy Day: work, bookstore, post election meetup

What a day. I rolled out of bed at 10am, brushed my teeth, and sleepwalked over to Starbucks for a business meeting. It went pretty well.

Then, it was to the school, where I had to so some last minute editing for my Tuesday/Friday class’s first semester exam. For some reason or another, the internet connectivity was horribly spotty (and it’s on a LAN, not a WAN), but I got everything done.

The Bookstore

Next, it was off to the bookstore. I went to the new Caves Bookstore, near 圓山 MRT, and what a bounty they had for me! Over fifty books I had ordered for my students were there waiting for me, and I found a new series of readers that may have some potential for curriculum.

I’ve been very satisfied with the Oxford University Press Bookworms series, on the whole. However, their “starter” level books are terrible. They use the simple present tense for just about everything, and do so in unnatural ways. Chinese speakers have a tendency to do that anyway, and the last thing I want to do is reinforce the problem further. The problem is that the level one Bookworms are a bit difficult for low level students. I push my kids pretty hard, and it takes them about year before they’re able to read them. Not only that, but I have to give them some vocabulary sheets are support so that they can get through them at a reasonable speed (15-20 pages/hour).

Today, I saw a series that just may fill in some of this gap for beginning level students– OUP Dolphin Readers. The entire series is at a very low vocabulary level, and the books are full of good illustrations that make them much easier for students to understand. Levels 3 and 4 include multiple verb tenses, and at least from the browsing I did, the 1st and 2nd level Dolphin Readers managed to avoid the unnatural usage of the present tense that’s so common in other EFL books. They even offer headword lists online. The only problem is that the Dolphin Readers have a lot of writing activities inside them, and I’m really looking for something that can be re-used from class to class. Few parents would be happy paying for all those little readers.

The Election

On my way home from the bookstore, some middle aged Taiwanese guy commented on all my books, and we got to talking. It turns out he’s a History teacher at a university near where I live. He gave me an update on the election– it was an utter rout. I had thought that Ma would win, but I’d never imaged that he’d pull in 140% of Hsieh’s vote total after his party already won three quarters of the legislative seats a couple months ago. The people have spoken for the KMT and spoken loudly. It will be interesting to see what they do with their mandate.

Wayne called me up and told me a bunch of people were meeting up for a post election party, so I hurried home, dropped of my stuff and headed out. I had expected it would just be the usual suspects– Wayne, Franc, and Poagao. I was pleasantly surprised to see that David and Maoman made it there, too. The food was great, and I’m sure those guys will have a zillion pictures online tomorrow.

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

Trucks with Loudspeakers

For the last several days, I’ve been woken up by an obnoxious blaring sound coming from just outside my window. A “colorful feature” of Taiwanese life is to blame– trucks with loudspeakers that drive around just to get their message out. Back when I lived in Guishan, these trucks were around all the time. Trucks with loudspeakers telling me to buy their dumplings, trucks with loudspeakers offering to fix my windows, trucks with loudspeakers advertising new products, and trucks with loudspeakers for just about anything else I didn’t want to hear about.

My current residence doesn’t seem to have too many. Maybe it’s because I live near 101 in a more developed area where people don’t tolerate the noise pollution, or maybe it’s because they’re illegal. In any case, they’re rare enough that I decided to go downstairs and check it out this morning. Amazingly, the offending truck in question was campaigning for the political election. It was all decked out in campaign slogans and it was telling everyone who to vote for and why.

This doesn’t amaze me because it’s so obnoxious. What’s amazing is that it must work. They wouldn’t do it otherwise. The thing I have to wonder is, what kind of people would be positively influenced to vote for someone who sends those trucks around?