Monthly Archives: November 2008

All Related

My mom says: People are all selfish. Now we can see conflicts, wars, accidents, and disasters from afar on TV. Signals sent through internet and satellites us images and sounds, all live. People watch them, feel sad or sorry, and turn off their TV. Globalization is always discussed, talked, and argued in the media or conferences. People live in it, but never think they are a part of it. Knowing attacks in Middle East influence oil prices doesn’t stop people from complaining when they pay more to fill in their tanks. They still think those news, incidents and tragedies in faraway countries are irrelevant to their lives, even if the TV audience knows much more about the war than those directly involved or affected. That’s one of the million reasons/excuses many say they don’t need to read international news. It’s unrelated.

But to me, it’s almost all related now.

With so many friends from abroad or travel around the world, I know every piece of news on newspapers or on TV will affect one or two of my friends, if not more. Though I don’t have a friend living in Mumbai, when terrorist attacks happen there, I am worried if some friends coincidentally visit there. If attacks happened two or three weeks earlier at the Taj Hotel, my friend could be on the injury or even death list. As the conference I help organize is fast approaching, I wonder if any of our guests will transfer in Bangkok. In this sense, protests in Thailand definitely influences my life and our schedules, if it stays two more weeks.

It’s a gradual process. I never think I will get to know anyone from Trinidad & Tobago before going to Budapest. After that conference, I know four. I’ve never been to Alcatraz in the US, but because of interpretation work, one of the managers and I are now friends. The world is never the same to me now.

Many times when I translate for Global Voices, I am actually thinking similar things happen in Taiwan. Maybe some readers here will be able comapre in those parallel pieces. Election frauds, corruptions, deforestation, languages, politics, TV. I don’t know if readers have noticed those links, but it’s always interesting to see those things happen again and again with the same plots and stories. If some are willing to pay some attention to those news afar, probably they will know what’s happening next in this island.

It’s all related, human nature included.

Read, Write and Learn

Is Global Voices covering Obama and the US election too much recently? That’s what a friend questions in GV mailing list. No, many people respond, it shows how this topic is universal. Most people in that thread would like to continue the coverage, as Obama fad is all over the world. David believes Obama is one of the few topics that everyone is interested in discussing, whatever their backgrounds are, and one that everyone seems to have sufficient knowledge or information to engage in a conversation.

Very true. The price of Big Mac may be different around the world, but the word “Obama” means the same thing, same person, and same face to almost all people. If you have no idea how the world is crazy for this man, take a look on Voices without Votes, and you’ll get a better picture.

Hundreds of millions of blog posts all center on one person: Obama. Politicians are eager to compare themselves to him as a symbol of change, a new era, and self-confidence. Should Global Voices reflect this reality?

Some say “Yes”; others say “Yes, but…” I am closer to the latter group.

To me, Global Voices is a learning process. If someone still questions why read/write/translate Global Voices, it’s because you learn from the process, at least I do.

Last night, I wrote and published a post about New Zealand’s parliamentary election on November 8. Before I start, I know Helen Clark, the outgoing Prime Minister, I know an election is going on, and I know lots of immigrants living in NZ. I didn’t follow the election, I don’t know who John Key is, and I have no ideas about what will happen after voting day. I decide to write a post about it, partly because GV doesn’t have an NZ author, and partly because I want to know what and who these things above are. So I start my journey and write about short post about this election.

It is not a comprehensive post, not even close, but I believe at least it provides a possibility for me and maybe others to get to know some different things. This is the joyful part of being in Global Voices. We can learn because of our innocence. Global Voices posts will not turn you into experts immediately, but they open up doors for you to explore. I don’t know how many people will actually read my post about New Zealand, but I am certain that I am one of them who benefit the most.

Is it easier to talk and write about things that we already know? Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons why people are indifferent towards international news: they don’t find any relevance to themselves. Some people think only domestic affairs matter. Only local stuffs are qualified for headlines.

From Obama case, we can clearly notice the strong power of mass media: It makes people everywhere believe that they know enough about the guy named Obama, and they are able/suitable to share their views with others. Mass media makes people think Obama is as important as an domestic issue. His victory is on the frontpage and headline of countless newspapers.

US election and Obama espeically is indeed one of the rare cases that becomes a common topic worldwide. Can we learn anything from it? Of course. Can we learn from other issues and topics? Of course, and I perceive Global Voices is a good place to start, to put one step out of our comfort zone.

Just put it simply: Isn’t that fun and joyful to learn something that we don’t know?

My friend, Hanako tells me Canada has held a federal election before US presidential one. I don’t know much again, but would be interested in knowing who Stephen Harper is, what will happen since he continues in power and what Québécois think about the results, although GV doesn’t have coverage on this yet. I can read and learn.

David says:

In each place I had to invest uncountable hours of reading newspapers and Wikipedia to have the basic context in order to have a conversation with locals.

But I think it’s very worthy when you see faces delighted when they find someone knows and cares about their country. From my experiences, I think it is.

2008 New Zealand General Election photo from sirwiseowl

Ridiculous Farce

While many around the world are celebrating Obama’s victory as America’s next president, lots of audience in Taiwan are witnessing bloody conflicts between protesters and police. What for? They want to emphasize and reiterate sovereignty in front of envoy from China. Taiwan and China always involve so many complicated issues, mixed with nationalism, economic interests and political manipulation that some people think no solutions are possible.

Many bloggers have reported numerous violent incidents during the past few days. Two posts have been published on Global Voices so far highlighting rude and unacceptable behaviors from police. I won’t provide links as I think it is a shame. People are keen to defend freedom of speech and other basic human rights. Many civilians and police are hurt during clashes.

Protests to China are quite common around the world, for Tibet, for human right abuses, for Tiananmen, etc. We should always protect and recognize people’s rights to get on streets and voice their concepts, ideals and ideology. This protest, however, has totally lost its legitimacy and become ridiculous farce in the late night of November 5, when protesters besieged, verbally insulted and attacked journalists and anchors from CCTV, China.

Clips have been uploaded by others on YouTube. I won’t embed the footage as I think it is a shame. No matter what differences people have on both sides, attacking jounalists is always a shame. Lots of bloggers have criticized the government in Taiwan acts like an authoritarian and barbarian because it oppresses protesters in violent and brutal ways. How would others criticize people in Taiwan when they see protesters attacking journalists with their fists?

PipperL writes a post titled “I no long say this is a free and democratic country“[zh], criticizing the police. I agree with this sentence. People in a free and democratic country will not attack journalists, no matter where they are from.

Change Overnight?

Americans are now voting for their new president. Every poll I can get so far project Obama is going to win this election. I watched a special report on local TV, in which one expert clearly states, “If I am going to bet with my own money, I put it on Obama.” Most experts point out, though, on the China-Taiwan issue, Republicans are always closer to Taiwan compared to Democrats.

Of course, on the very last day of election campaign, it becomes a topic for my friends. Obama has been emphasizing “Change” throughout his campaign since primary. One friend asks me: “Will Obama cahange everything overnight on November 5?” Her assumption sounds reasonable, given that all media present in a way that it seems everything will be changed after the elction day, no matter who wins (though Bush and McCain have an agree list way longer than disagree list).

The truth is, NO. Most things won’t change overnight after casting your ballot.

Life goes on the same after November 4. The new American president will not inaugurate until January 2009. Dow Jones and Nasdaq still open snd close at the same time. Oil price still fluctuates. American troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. When 20 leaders from around the world gathers in Washington to discuss about global financial tsunami/crisis on November 15, George W. Bush, a lame duck or not, will still be the host. (I wonder whether the new president will be invited, though. He should, as he will have to be take over the government and be responsible for all decisions made in that summit.)

Many people encourage us to vote, saying “your single vote will change everything.” Yes, but it won’t change things in real terms immediately, at least not overnight. The only instant effect I can think of so far is HOPE. The results will light up many hopes that the next four years will be better than the past eight (Can you imagine worse four years than now??).

No matter it’s going to be Obama or McCain, let’s wish hope will prevail.

In Case You Forgot/Missed US Election 2000

US election 2008 is only a few days away. According to many polls, Obama seems to be in the lead. Some people are worried about the so-called “Bradley effect“, which the result goes opposite to polls. Some are concerned about the low turnout. Some are questioning about the possibility of election fraud regarding voter list.

Some hope the situation in US Election 2000 won’t replay.

We should always learn from history, no matter how sweet or bitter it is, so it won’t hurt to have a recap, in case you forgot/missed that part of it.

I recommend “Recount” produced by HBO and directed by Jay Roach. It’s a movie of course, but it has also shown power struggle within campaign, self-interest concerns, propaganda and tactics. It reminds me the atmosphere that had been conveyed to me via TV screen eight years ago. US elction 2000 is a controversy that never ends. You watch the trailer from official website.

This incident clearly changes the direction of history in the past years: national security, foreign policy, healthcare, tax regime, and so on. It was Bush vs Gore, but in retrospect, it is more than that. Reviewing this part of history tells us each decision will lead to unexpected results. At least because of my innocence, I didn’t expect some parts of the world will be like now.

Even if you are not interested in the history, it’s still a good choice to watch Kevin Spacey as a good actor in a Saturday night movie.

Some people wonder why voter turnout in the West is much lower than that in the East. Maybe it’s because people in the West are used to elections. For more possible reasons, You can read this post written by my friend Jason Miks several months ago.