My uncle Richard, the banker

The current economic crisis, and the scandalous behavior of many bankers, makes me think of my uncle Richard.  He was the head of a bank in Uppsala, Sweden, but his real vocation was singing.  He would have made a great tenor, but with three kids and bills to pay he picked the safer career of […]

“advanced studies”

The “Advanced Studies Center” at NCTU has now finally opened its doors.  The Ministry of Education in Taipei has just given us a pile of money.  The first international scholar, György Szell, from the University of Osnabruck in Germany just completed his stint with us.  He gave four lectures on assorted topics (”the Japanese model,” […]

starting to bite

The recession is starting to really bite.  According to the latest trade figures, Taiwan’s exports fell by 41.9% in December.  And this is a problem since exports account for some 64 % of Taiwanese GDP (the equivalent figure for Sweden is 53% and for the US a mere 8%).  The center of export industries is […]

Made in Taiwan

Most of the things we buy are, naturally, “made in Taiwan.”  And much of it really sucks.  We have bought MP3 players, phones, electric kettles, tumble driers and blenders, and they all broke down within weeks of coming into our house.  In contrast to Japan, it seems Taiwanese companies are spending very little time on […]

That O’Leary is a thief!

That Michael O’Leary is stealing our money!  We are in the process of booking tickets for next summer.  Unusually, we are making plans well ahead of time.  We didn’t go to Sweden last summer and we haven’t been in the US for seven years!  As a part of these complicated arrangements, we were trying to […]

Nightmare almost over

The nightmare which was the Bush years is now almost over.  In a  week Obama will be in the White House.  In his last press conference, yesterday, Bush argued that “you misunderestimated me.”  I don’t think so.  Some of us — unfortunately most of us not Americans — always knew what a disaster he was […]

A Dylan fan in the White House

What more than anything gives me confidence regarding Obama’s presidency is the fact that he’s such a great Dylan fan.  According to an interview he gave to Rolling Stone, Obama’s iPod contains 30 Dylan songs, including the entire Blood on the Tracks album. He mentions “Maggie’s Farm” as a particular favorite: Well, I wake up […]

black? so what?

  It was extraordinarily moving to watch the faces of all those civil rights fighters on election night.  The people who grew up with real racism — mean, hard, uncompromising racism — and never thought they’d live to see this day.  America has come a long way in only 50 years; Martin Luther King’s dream […]

my president

  The world was waiting.  The world was watching.  I and Diane snuggled up in front of an MSNBC stream on my laptop.  It was very convenient to watch it in our time zone.  Coverage started at 7 in the morning. For a long while it seemed like a repeat of 2004, but once Ohio […]

Obama for Obama

If there are readers of this blog who still haven’t made up their minds about who to support in the American election, this video should provide the decisive argument.  It’s the good citizens of the Japanese city of Obama who are making it clear who they would like to see win.  “Obama,” as they point […]