Processing the US PEOTUS-Taiwan phone call

There are so many reports, think pieces, and social media postings after the report of a phone call between US PEOTUS and Taiwan President 蔡英文 Tsai In-Wen. It’s difficult to process everything.

What we know is that there was a phone call that was not within normal protocol. Unfortunately the protocol is the basis of peace on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The threat of China is always there, and now it is expanding to other areas in the South China Sea.

Historically, the US Republican Party in has always been supportive of stronger ties to Taiwan. Earlier this year, the RNC adopted a Resolution Affirming Strong Support for the Republic of China (Taiwan) [pdf]. The cornerstone of this is Regan’s Six Assurances from 1982. The parts to Taiwan’s benefit are the sale of arms for defense, and the support for participation in international organizations. So it is not outside the possibility that there are pro-Taiwan opinions in the PEOTUS administration.

But no matter what the US supports, Taiwan will always be hindered by China in international organizations. Especially now that China is not happy with the Taiwanese government. Ever since 蔡英文 has taken office, Taiwan has been given a hard time. Taiwan was not allowed to be a observing member in UN committees where it was trying to gain observer status. Other countries have been sending criminals with Taiwanese nationality to China because China tells those countries to do so.

For Taiwan, a change to the status quo would be welcomed. Taiwan in 1982 is not the Taiwan of now. The people of Taiwan identify as Taiwanese, want their say in the world, and be recognized. If the incoming US PEOTUS administration has plans to change the status quo, I am sure the Taiwanese government would be willing to listen. It would need to make sure that the Chinese government is willing to listen as well.

Day to day life will go on for the citizens of Taiwan, but who knows what is around the corner? The concern is beyond one phone call, or the reaction to one phone call. The concern is protecting a democratic island nation and its people.


“I Voted” Sticker in Chinese

On election day in the U.S., I saw this particular “I Voted” sticker online:

The sticker has “I Voted” in three languages: English, Chinese, and Spanish. The statements in English and Spanish seem very positive and upbeat, with exclamation marks. The Chinese translation 我已投票 comes across as happy as your computer telling you its virus library was updated. The statement 已更新 is used in software to mean that it has been updated. The use of 已 makes the statement rather formal and boring. It makes voting seem rather mundane, which is probably the opposite of what the sticker is supposed to project, given the statements in English and Spanish. 我投票了! also means “I Voted!” and sounds much more exciting. Plus, it also has an exclamation mark.

What is the real price of things in Taiwan (in U.S. dollars)?

I’m not an expert in economics, but I am aware of the economic differences between Taiwan and the U.S. Something that always concerns me is when I see people directly determining the price of an item in Taiwan by a simple exchange rate conversion. A shortcut for the conversion is that 1 New Taiwan Dollar (NTD) is equal to 30 U.S. dollars (USD). When someone buys a breakfast that costs 60 NTD, the common response is, “That’s cheap! It’s only 2 U.S. dollars.”

But that’s 2 U.S. dollars from the point of view of someone with an U.S. income and used to an U.S. cost of living. What does that 60 NTD breakfast really feel like to the average person in Taiwan? How do we figure out the price in USD so the average American would feel the same way about that breakfast?

We can compare incomes and find the price of that breakfast in U.S. dollars based on income. The median income in the U.S. is roughly 52800 USD. The median income in Taiwan is 39600 USD. The average Taiwanese earns 75% of what the average American earns. For 1 USD that a person in the U.S. earns, a Taiwanese person is earning 75 cents. Based on this income discrepancy, 1 NTD is equivalent to 22.50 USD. The price of that 60 NTD breakfast for the average Taiwanese feels like a 2.67 USD breakfast for the average American.

That probably doesn’t seem like a large difference, but that is based on median incomes. Now let’s look at a particular income bracket: college graduates. College graduates in the U.S. earn an average of 45327 USD a year. Taiwanese university graduates earn 26722 NTD a month, or 320664 NTD a year, or 10688.80 USD a year. Taiwanese college graduates earn on average 23.58% of what an American college graduates earns. For the 1 USD that an American graduate earns, a Taiwanese college graduate earns 24 cents. In this case, 1 NTD is equivalent to 7.20 USD. So to a Taiwanese college graduate, that 60 NTD breakfast would feel the same as a 8.33 USD breakfast for an U.S. college graduate. I’m sure most of you would think that that breakfast is rather expensive!

I know I’m probably missing some things. Maybe I should be comparing amount of disposable income instead of salary. I’m only comparing the price of breakfast, and not taking into account other items that contribute to the total cost of living.

It’s important to understand the local economic situation and not just base price comparisons on the exchange rate. Just because one thinks something is cheap relative to the exchange rate does not mean it is affordable to the average person in that country. Of course, when you’re on vacation, you can spend what fits in your budget, but some awareness of the value of items to locals may help you better understand a place.

Sephora+Pantone Color of the Year & Eye Makeup Tips

The year is already halfway over, and I am just now writing a post about Sephora+Pantone Color of the Year. I was really happy when I saw that the color was Radiant Orchid – a hue that is a purple and pink mix. Specifically, I was excited to see the eye shadow palette. It has a total of 25 colors to complement Radiant Orchid. Purple colors bring out the best in brown eyes!

Now my problem with following eye makeup tutorials, like the ones Sephora provided for the palette, is that I always seem to get confused about the placement of colors. It look me a while to realize that the eye makeup directions I find in the U.S. are most likely not written for my Asian eyes. So, I need to go elsewhere for proper directions. The best place I found for English directions were from bun bun makeup tips.
She has a whole series on Asian eye makeup:
Eye Makeup Tips For 14 Different Types of Asian Eyes
Tutorial: Where to Apply Contour Eyeshadow Color on an Asian Eye
Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes Part 1: Where to Apply Eyeshadow
Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes Part 2: Vertical Gradient Method
Eyeshadow Tutorial for Asian Eyes Part 3 – Defining the Outer V
Eyeshadow Tutorial for Asian Eyes Part 4 – Defining the Contour Area
Eyeshadow Tutorial for Asian Eyes Part 5 – Horizontal Gradient Method

I have to review these techniques every once in a while. Then I can decode other eye shadow tutorials to figure out the appropriate placement of colors. I pretty much look at other eye shadow tutorials for guidelines on mixing and matching colors, but follow techniques that work for my eyes.

Boontling, and foreign words in Quebec (link)

I’ve read two interesting language-related articles. The first article is about Boontling, a dialect of English from Boonville, California. Unfortunately, it is slowly disappearing as the younger generation shows no interest in learning it. The other article is about Quebec, where the government has gone a bit far in making sure French is the dominant language. The offending words are foods that have foreign names.

News about Taiwan – 李安 edition

李安 won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Director for the movie “Life of Pi.” Besides articles regarding the movie and the Oscar win, there were also articles explaining Taiwan’s history and Taiwan’s place in the international community.

First, the acceptance speech:

“Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ cleans up at Oscars” [UPI; February 24, 2013]
A typical article that reflects most of the articles about the Oscar win. It mentions that 李安 was born in Taiwan and his past movies. The article then focuses on the making of “The Life of Pi” with quotes from 李安.

“Oscars 2013: Asia Celebrates Ang Lee’s Best Director Win” [The Hollywood Reporter; February 25, 2013]
The win was highly regarded by people in Taiwan and India. It is wonderful that one movie, one win, can influence so many people. It’s also great to see the respect people are giving to 李安, especially as he is known for his diverse films. The Oscar win is a win for Asia.

“Ang Lee win prompts soul searching in China” [The Hindu; February 26, 2013]
“Sino-Taiwan tension re-emerges after Ang Lee Oscar win” [Variety; February 25, 2013]
Two articles that go deeper into the contrasts between Taiwan and China. The first article explains the regulation system that China imposes on films. 李安 had his own run-ins with the system. Both articles mention that China claimed 李安 and Taiwan as its own in the press.

“Taiwan ‘proud’ of Oscar winner Ang Lee” [AFP via GlobalPost; February 25, 2103]
“Ang Lee & Taiwan: Director’s Oscar Win Sends Waves Of Joy” [AP via HuffPost; February 25, 2013]
These articles mention Taiwan’s history and place in global politics. The win has brought an opportunity to educate people about Taiwan and its complicated situation. Hopefully the win brings about more recognition for Taiwan.

“‘Life of Pi’s’ Oscars give limelight to Taiwan” [The Christian Science Monitor; February 25, 2013]
“Taiwan Celebrates Ang Lee’s Best Director Oscar Win for ‘Life of Pi’” [The Wall Street Journal; February 25, 2013]
The first article focuses deeper on Taiwan and the role the Taiwanese government played in the making of “The Life of Pi.” Both articles report the joy and excitement out of Taiwan at the announcement of the win.

And to finish, an interview from the morning after the Oscar ceremony: