Taiwanese Publisher Who Printed My Dissertation Ruined by Inferno


I was sad to learn that Zonghe Zhuangding, Ltd., the publisher who worked with Y’s father to print an exquisite hardcover edition of my PhD dissertation, “Brains, Minds, and Computers in Literary and Science Fiction Neuronarratives,” shuttered their business after their shop burned down. Zonghe Zhuangding provided printing and book binding services for publishers in Taiwan until the fire consumed their entire facility.

Y’s father insisted that we publish my dissertation after I defended it in 2012. Zonghe Zhuangding did an amazing job printing the book-version of my dissertation, which I had to layout with opposing running headers and other book-design features. The gold-typeface on the cover and spine look very impressive. And, the stitched-in red ribbon bookmark was a surprise bonus (see below).

After Y defended her dissertation last year, her father had her dissertation printed there, too.

N.B.: In Chinese, zhuangding means binding or book binding.


The A-Team: Sky Dragons in Translation


This afternoon, Y and I caught the beginning of The A-Team first season episode “Holiday in the Hills”–one of many episodes that reveal the horrors of the home front, in this case the backwoods of South Carolina.

While we were watching the episode, Y shared this very interesting bit of information with me: in Taiwan, The A-Team is called 天龍特攻隊 or Sky Dragon Special Attack Team.

I asked what is the significance of “sky dragon?” She reports that it is because “sky dragon” just sounds cool. Television shows and films often get Tradiational Chinese-translated titles in Taiwan that might not have much connection to the original English title, because the promoters/importers want an impressive title that will attract viewers.

In point of fact, “sky dragon” is the name of another of my favorite 80’s television shows: MacGyver, or 百戰天龍 (“One-hundred Battles Sky Dragon”). Also, Miami Vice was given the title 邁阿密天龍(Mi-a-mi Sky Dragon”).

I should add that these titles might vary in other Mandarin-speaking countries, including Hong Kong and mainland China.


Demos Chiang, Chiang Kai-shek’s Great Grandson, on the Cost of Social Media

Demos Chiang, photo by Yi-Ping Wu. CC BY-ND 2.0.
Demos Chiang, photo by Yi-Ping Wu. CC BY-ND 2.0.

In a BuzzOrange.com interview with Demos Yu-bou Chiang (蔣友柏), who is Chiang Kai-shek’s great grandson and  founder of the Taiwan design firm DEM Inc. (橙果設計), the interviewer asks if he uses social media:

Q:你有 Facebook 或 Line 等社交通訊軟件嗎?

不開,很累,真的很累,而且 Facebook 商業行為太嚴重。我的手機是 4G 可以上網,但所有通訊軟件 、Line 都不使用,只用簡訊。我不喜歡人家可以免費找到我。

Y’s translation into English:

Q: Do you have Facebook or Line accounts, or any kind of social media apps?

A: I don’t use it. It is too much work. Facebook has too much commercial activity. I have a 4G cellphone to get online, but I don’t use the communicating apps like Line except for text messaging. I don’t like it that people can find [or reach] me for free.

There are three parts of Chiang’s response that I would like to discuss.

First, he observes that social media takes “too much work.” This is one of the reasons why I deleted my Facebook account a few years ago. It seemed like I was putting in a lot of time and labor on the Facebook website and mobile app. On the one hand, I wanted to connect with others, create conversation, and share my goings-on while enjoying the goings-on of others. However, it increasingly seemed to me to take a considerable amount of effort to keep up with the information and conversations taking place there. Jennifer Pan goes into the issue of labor that sustains social media networks in her Jacobin article, “The Labor of Social Media.”

Chiang laments that there is “too much commercial activity” on social media. This can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, there is a lot of advertising on social media, which is a kind of commercial activity. On the other hand, people use social media as a platform to publicize their work or seek support for their work on social media (another form of advertising). While social media opens new ways of supporting otherwise unfunded projects (such as with Patreon or Kickstarter), the number of such projects that one sees on a daily basis can be overwhelming and seemingly unsustainable.

Another aspect of Chiang’s lament is the unseen commercial activity of tracking and personal information. Social media platforms make money in part through targeting advertising to its users by selling targeted and detailed access to its advertising partners. The more information that a social network can get about its users and the more meaningful that information can be made for the purposes of advertising mean that the social network can potentially make more money by selling a higher value to advertisers.

Finally, the third issue that Chiang takes with social media is that he says, “people can find me for free.” This is important point that I hadn’t really considered when I left Facebook and other social media platforms a few years ago. For Chiang, he is a business person whose time is valuable. Even deflecting questions or offers takes away from his focus and time, which is time and focus he could apply to other endeavors. Social media at its core is about connecting people together. Social media makes it easier for one person to contact another person. Some networks, such as LinkedIn, place monetized barriers in the way of too easy contact, but others, such as Twitter, make contact for public accounts extremely easy. By not being on social media, Chiang places the ultimate old-school barrier to others bothering him, stealing his focus, or taking away his time. Making it so that others cannot simply find you “for free” protects your time and attention so that you can apply yourself to the work and living that matters the most to you.

Chiang’s three points are useful for thinking about what the costs of social media are for you. It involves our labor, out information is bought and sold, and others want to monopolize our time. Consider these things when you sign-up or configure your social media accounts to protect yourself and maximize its value to yourself.

Science Fiction, LMC3214: Global Perspective Unit on Taiwanese SF and Review for Exam 3

Taiwanese SF lecture notes on the chalkboard.
Taiwanese SF lecture notes on the chalkboard.

In today’s class, I introduced my Science Fiction students to Taiwanese SF. For class, they read David Uher’s “Trends in the Development of Science Fiction Literature in Taiwan” (Anthropologia Integra 1.1 2010, 63-70) and a translation of Chang Shi-Kuo’s (Zhang Xiguo) “City of the Bronze Statue.”

In today’s lecture, I charted a brief history of China and Taiwan (revolution, Kuomintang/Republic of China, Civil War, and diaspora to Taiwan), the history of Taiwan SF with an emphasis on Zhang Zioafeng’s “Panduna” as the first Taiwanese SF and her role–like Mary Shelley’s–as the “mother of Taiwanese SF” and Zhang Xiguo’s as the “father of Taiwanese SF” who also coined the term for “Science Fantasy Fiction” (科學幻想小說: Science/科學, Fantasy/幻想, Fiction/小說). I also identified five general characteristics of Taiwanese SF: 1) Synthesis of Western and Eastern culture, 2) Wuxia (武俠) or the Chinese martial arts chivalry story, 3) Adopt Chinese mythology and history to make the reader more familiar with the fantastic elements of the story (c.f., Star Trek), 4) Themes of nostalgia and loss, and 5) Conservative affirmation of society and the existing social order.

During class, I led the students through two exercises. After explaining to them the general characteristics of reading and writing in traditional Chinese, I handed out worksheets for them to practice writing the four characters of the truncated term for “Science Fantasy Fiction” (科幻小說). I gave them about 5 minutes to try out their Chinese penmanship while I walked around watching their progress. This also led to a discussion about how written traditional Chinese is different than Japanese (kanji, hiragana, and katakana).

In the second exercise, I divided the class into four teams of three students each. I handed each team two pages from the John Balcom translation of the Prologue to Chang Shi-Kuo’s City Trilogy (which corresponds to the “City of the Bronze Statue.”) The students were tasked with identifying differences between the two translations. They discovered small variations in measurements, descriptions, and phrasing. In particular, they noticed that the two translations differed in tone–the translation on his website is more vernacular and the book translation has a more formal tone. However, they reported that the Bronze Statue seemed more life-like and personified in the Balcom translation. I was surprised though that they did not pick up on the understated comedic tone in either translation. Nevertheless, I was glad that they got to experience first hand how much of a role the translator has in the creation of a translation–translation being a creative act itself.

Exam 3 review notes.

At the end of class, we reviewed for their short third exam tomorrow and I talked with them about the fun Lego project that I have planned after the exam.

Their final essays in the class will be due next Tuesday.

Many thanks to Yufang for helping me with my research, writing, and pronunciation for this lecture!

“Altars” for Steve Jobs in China and Taiwan, Built with Walter Isaacson’s Biography of the Tech Titan

Taiwanese Home Guy Lucifer posted photos from around China and Taiwan of “altars” for Steve Jobs built out of his official biography by Walter Isaacson. They aren’t really altars, but they have a striking similarity to the kinds of altars a family would build for a deceased relative. A traditional altar for a deceased relative would include photos of the deceased, incense, flowers, and white candles. Go here to see all of the photos that Lucifer posted–I have included only one to the left.

Dishonor in the New York Times, A US Marine Suggests “Ditching” Taiwan

Paul V. Kane’s op-ed piece in the New York Times saddened me today. How could a US Marine offer Taiwan, the last vestige of a democratic China and a long-standing ally with the United States, up on the sacrificial altar of balanced budgets? How could he write not only that the US should enter into negotiations with China without involvement of the Taiwanese? What gives the US the authority to decide Taiwan’s fate? What gives a Marine the right to say that we should “ditch” an ally?

Kane is a Marine who served in Iraq. I don’t profess to know everything about the Marines, and I certainly don’t suppose that all Marines think alike. However, I do know that the Marines’s motto is Semper fidelis–Always Faithful. It is virtually the Leatherneck raison d’etre. Certainly, Marine faithfulness and honor should first be to the duties of the Marine to the US and the Corp, but it extends through our alliances to those who need our support the maintain democratic governments, especially in the face of overwhelming antagonism from the Chinese.

Shame on Kane for suggesting that we should give up on the Taiwanese people and their government. Does he forget that Taiwan’s economic powerhouse helped support the US economy through the technological revolution? He is correct that there is much economic interdependence between China and Taiwan, but much of that is anchored in the businesses and industries of Taiwan that built those bridges to the US economy. Also, would he suggest that in explicit language that we should hand over a democratic country to a Communist regime? Taiwan is certainly uppity in the eyes of the Communist elite in China–I can only imagine the severity of any takeover by the Chinese government of Taiwan. It would be swift and there would be nothing we could do to protect the Taiwanese if we gave into such an unhonorable decision as that suggested by Kane.

If we as a people support the ideas of democracy and the protection of those who endeavor to be free despite the crushing power of totalitarianism, we have to hold the course. If we waver for Taiwan or any other people who ask for our assistance to preserve their freedoms, then we will lose our honor in favor of unfaithful short-sightedness. The fact of the matter is that freedom, for ourselves or others, is not free.

More Commentary About Taiwanese Home Guys

Y’s friend Amy from Taiwan sent me a wonderful write-up about Taiwanese “Home Guys” awhile back, but I have neglected to publish it on Dynamic Subspace. I have pasted her extensive explanations below in English and Chinese, and I give her my thanks for taking the time to contribute her expertise on the Home Guy phenomena to an English-speaking audience. Below, Amy qualifies what I had wrote before about “actual” Home Guys and their relationship to Media Home Guys and Lucifer Home Guys. You can read more about Home Guys on my blog here and here.

The term “Home-guy ” is came from the Japanese word “otaku”, originally referred to people who “over-indulged in comic books, animation, video-games , can not or just fear to contact with the real people(or opposite), and almost always stay in home. ”

Because these people stay at home, with most of the money spent on animation products, they are general not pay attention to how they look. (also part of the reason is because they do not have too much experience of communicate with others, so no way of knowing how dressed up)

Too obsessed with animation and game → did not resonate with the people around or do not know how to get along with people around → frustration on the relationship →stay at home, do not want or Does not create a social relationship, or just talk to people who has the same enthusiasm about animation or video games → slovenly.
Do not good at relationships with people around → finding out animation, comics, games, are more interesting than real people → stay at home, do not want or Does not create a social relationship, or just talk to people who has the same enthusiasm about animation or video games → slovenly.

In other words, only in full compliance with three conditions: “enthusiast about comic books,playing games than ordinary people “, “like stay at home, do not want to establish social relations, “”do not pay attention to their appearance, “can be most “otaku” means.

However, in the media in Taiwan, as long as “love the cartoon or games ” or “dowdy” or “can’t be easy to fall into talk to the opposite sex, ” one of these three conditions are met (or even the media is that they meet the “unkempt looks” like) , will be considered “home-guy “.

Even when TV show invited some “people who like anime or games” on the program, it is also meant to these people “dress up a little slovenly. ” Only to come more in line with the media to create stereotypes.This also affected the public’s perception, as long as animation or comic books than the average person to understand that it could easily be said, “Oh, you are such a home-guy! ”

Therefore, the matter that “love the comic, animation, video-games ” has been twisted, in addition to the definition of the image of the media,there are many people in Taiwan are: like cartoons, comics, playing video games, but they are not always stay in home, or fear to communicate to others.

They (I may call “Taiwan home-guy”) is the most common of the other features:
a. interest in new technology.
b. In the Internet,they are all great writers.but in the real conversation,they may not be a good talker.(but not exclusive to have a chat)
c. against the war (except the game), and usually don’t like politics.
d. have a open mind to everything.
e. of the favorite things, even if not get any real benefit, but also willing to bet a considerable enthusiasm and energy to study.
f. not a fan of outdoor activities and sports, most of the time would rather in static leisure: reading, such as in the coffee shop and so on.

But in Taiwan media, they are all regarding as the “home-guy”.

Of course, these people (including me), sometimes claimed as the “home-guy”, because sometimes it is the easiest way to make people understand your hobby, or sometimes just do not want to be a killjoy,or do not bother to explain so much with others.

Call these people “actual home guy”, may not actually quite correct. But I can not think of a better term to replace that …

2. Everything is from her personal point of view. Others may have different perspective on this phenomena.

3. About Lucifer Chu and the related information why he is called the home guy is on wikipedia (see link).

“Hot blood activities” = things that you are passionate or enthusiastic about. English course translations to Chinese and put online. Pro-death penalty and rallies. Public service persons die in the line of duty, and he tries to get people to be more aware of their sacrifice and donate money to help their families. A lot of things about him correspond with what is considered Taiwanese “homeness.” But because he come out to do these things, to be more public, he become an idol for some people on the web and they call him the “home god.” Celebrity shows or talk shows will invite him to go on tv, but like what Amy said about point b above, very often when he is on the tv show, he doesn’t talk in a very organized way, he couldn’t convey his ideas very clearly, the way he dresses himself corresponds with people’s stereotypes of home person. additionally, some motivations of his behavior do not seem to be that just. Sometimes, he does not seem to have a good capacity for criticism or toleration for other people’s viewpoints. This last point is more complicated than that. This has to do with 氣度 (chih du) or the capacity for taking in criticisms or different opinions, and how you react to those things. The Far-East Chinese English Dictionary defines it as 1) “spirit; air; bearing; manner” and 2) [more appropriate here] “capacity for tolerance.” Even sometimes, you can see his personal capacity for tolerance is not that great. This issue is debatable. Furthermore, there is debate online about Lucifer Chu’s role as spokesperson for home guys (see link). However, the media consider Chu the spokesperson or leader of the home guy movement.

In Chinese:

1、關於他文章裡說的三種home guy定義:media home guy 、actual home guy(我說的那部分)、Lucifer Home Guy。
關於「actual home guy」這項,其實還有待商榷:









c.反對戰爭(遊戲裡的除外 XD),也不是很愛接觸政治。




當然,我描述的這些人裡(包括我),有時也會自稱為「宅」,但其實那只是用來讓對方馬上瞭解「我對動漫電影很有興趣」,或有時候只是不想讓氣氛太僵,也懶得跟別人解釋這麼多(對方可能也不想聽 XD)。

所以,要將我描述的人規類於「actual home guy」,其實是不太正確的。但我也想不出更好的名詞可以取代就是..。





Taiwan Science Fiction Novel Advertising: An Exercise in Exaggeration and Mathematics

Y tuned me into the Taiwanese ad posted below for the Chinese version of Warren Fahy’s Fragment, which you can also find here:

With Y’s help, I translated the ad below (with some commentary):

Y explains to me that in Taiwan book publishers are notorious for making bold claims about authors and new books. In this case, the advertisement begins by proclaiming, “Father of Science Fiction Michael Crichton’s most legitimate heir was born” [meaning the author: Warren Fahy]. I have no complaint with Fahy, but I have never heard anyone refer to Crichton, the author of The Andromeda Strain, Westworld, and Jurassic Park, as the father of science fiction!

The bottom of the ad tries to link Fahy’s work with other, better-known science fictions. However, the copywriter goes above the call of duty and devises a clever algebraic equation to drive home the sheer brilliance of Fahy’s novel: “(Jurassic Park + Lost) x Avatar = So good that it makes you lose control!” I wonder how many U.S. readers would be able to work through the process of this equation? I love the fact that copywriters in Taiwan think highly enough of their readers to grok advertising like this.

I haven’t read anything by Fahy before. Can you recommend Fragment or another of his novels? If so, leave a comment below. Thanks!

Photos from Trip to Brunswick and Taiwan, Winter 2010-2011

Yesterday, I got a bit frustrated with Apple’s Aperture photo editing and organizing software as I was trying to sort and post my photos from our trip to Brunswick, Georgia and Taiwan over December 20, 2010 – January 9, 2011. I arduously climbed Aperture’s learning curve and humbly accepted its irritating return to projects after copying images to a new album. As a result, I posted our photos to Flickr in the following collection of fourteen sets. I will blog about some of the many pictures in the coming weeks as I continue telling our story of this recent trip to see our folks in different parts of the world. Click the link below to begin seeing what we saw on our trip.

Christmas in Brunswick/New Years in Taiwan 2010-2011, a Flickr Collection

Notes from Taiwan, Continuing the Record of Memories from the States

Missing Taiwan

I experienced a jarring feeling when Y and I landed in Houston and even more so when we walked through the Cleveland International Airport this past Sunday. The feeling was rooted in the fact that that I already missed Taiwan. The feeling itself was the realization that the States aren’t all that great–especially the Great State of Ohio. I had a similar recognition when I returned to the States after a year in the UK reading for my MA in Science Fiction Studies. However, the feeling wasn’t as strong, because there are many similarities between the UK and the US that cannot be elided. Taiwan’s differences with the US, including its speed and agile pace of life, technological innovation, and deliciously healthy food, make me more curious about other career opportunities abroad.

Working at Y’s Parent’s House

Before Y and I left Taiwan, I had a few opportunities to show off my handiness to her folks. I had already got her father’s computer working and cleaned up the computer desk area at the front of the house. Other chores that needed to be taken care of included a row of sagging wooden ceiling tiles on the third floor, a loose sliding glass window above Y’s room on the second floor, and replacing fluorescent lights on the first floor 12′ above the ground with a short wooden folding ladder.

I chose to take care of the ceiling tiles first. After a little experimentation and Y and her father taking turns helping support the tiles, I hammered nailed into the edge of the tiles to bring them back in contact with a ceiling joist. It wasn’t the prettiest repair because the tiles are made of a fragile wood fiber composite and they easily cracked under the pressure of being pulled back into place. I would have liked to pull them out and replace them properly with their tongue-and-groove, but they were affixed with glue or nails against the wall above the moulding.

The next repair was necessitated after new telephone wires were installed in the house. Since the walls are solid concrete, the wires had to be run along the wall. For Y’s room on the second floor, they ran the wires into her room through the sliding window above her door. Unfortunately, they did not take the time to notch the window frame to allow the wire into the room while also making the window capable of closing. Luckily, Y’s Dad had a bush cutting saw, which I used to notch, a little at a time until I had just enough clearance to reinstall the window on its slide while allowing the wire to enter the room.

The last repair involved replacing some florescent lights on the first floor. Each floor of the house has vaulted ceilings with the first and second having the most height. The first light was at the front of the house above where they park their Camry inside. That particular light wasn’t turning on occasionally. I tried replacing the light and then the condenser, but it wasn’t turning on every time it had power. Then, I wiggled the connector on the right side and realized that it wasn’t making proper contact with the tube. It was an older light assembly, so I told Ba that he should get an electrician to replace it. My repair will unfortunately be temporary. Next, I needed to replace one florescent tube in the living room at the back of the house. This was scarier to do, because that room does not have a dropped ceiling as the front of the house does. This meant that I had to go up 12′ into the air to replace that light. Having Y steady the wooden ladder, I went up and switched out that tube, which resulted in a much brighter room!

Packing Our Suitcases

Two days before we left, I took charge of packing our luggage, because I wanted Y to spend extra time with her folks. We had four checked bags and two carry-on bags. In the checked bags, we managed to bring over 200 lbs of stuff back with us, which included books, research photocopies, and foodstuff that we can’t find in the States. Y’s folks told her that my packing efficiency impressed them!

Flying Back to the States

Before we left the States, Y and I had cashed in all of my air miles and some of hers for the privilege of flying first/business class on our three flights from Taiwan to Cleveland, Ohio. We were waitlisted on those flights until 24 hours before each flight. We were upgraded on the first two flights to Business class.

On the Taiwan to Japan’s Narita International Airport, we flew on the top deck of a United Boeing 747. This was the best Business class experience that I have ever had. Since the upper deck is a smaller space, the flight attendants gave us much more attention than you get in the larger business class section on other airliners. Y was a little intimidated by the attention, but it was nice having my glass of wine from the Rhone refilled automagically. Also, Andre Agassi also flew on our plane, but he was in the lower deck’s first class section.He had been playing a match in Taipei while we were also in Taiwan. We had seen him on television playing against professionals and teaching younger Taiwanese players how to improve their game. He even took the role of ball runner for them!

On the long Continental flight from Narita to Houston, Texas, we flew in the middle of the business class section of a Boeing 777 airliner. This was a good experience, too. The flight staff were very friendly and looked after us very well. However, I looked back to coach whenever I would get up, and I thought about how unfair it is that all air travel cannot rate the same level of service and respect as you get in business class. Y and I flew to Taiwan on coach, and it was a completely different experience. I always try to be friendly with flight attendants, because I know they have a rough job and it can be advantageous for me to make a friend on a flight. On the way to Taiwan, one flight attendant who I told, “This meal was the best, thank you!,” said back to me, “Thank you for saying that. Most people never say thank you for anything, especially Americans.” So, I can’t blame all of the problems of coach air travel on airlines and attendants. From what I have observed and based on what that attendant told me, it has a lot to do with how passengers act. Air travel is extremely stressful and uncomfortable for coach passengers, but I think we all should be nice to those folks who serve us. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it may just make that person’s day a little brighter. Additionally, they may return the favor to you.

Y’s and my business class luck ran out when we got to Houston. We were flying on a 737, which only has 4 first class seats, and its upgrade seats were already taken. I tried talking to a Continental agent in the Elite line after going through customs, but she rudely said that my ticket doesn’t say Elite (as my earlier tickets did), so she wouldn’t help me. She walked away to talk to the people standing in line behind me. I suppose most airlines have a “what have you done for me lately” attitude, but I think this particular agent went out of her way to be a bitch. I learned from a more friendly gate agent that the seats on that flight had already been filled. Safely back in coach where apparently the earlier agent felt our kind should stay, we had an uneventful and sleepy ride back to Ohio. We gathered our bags from baggage claim, and Dave was soon there to give us a ride back to Kent.