Ma and Siew look down on Taichung.

Marc reminds me that there is only 1 day left in the competition to get Taipei into the Global Monopoly edition ( In this way generations of children in the future will learn that Taipei 101 is indeed, in Taipei. D from the City of the Stampede writes me once a year to point out that the DoD’s annual report once again has Taiwan separate from China on its maps. Write more often, man!

Hsieh waits for a press conference to begin.

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the first week in March is over and there’s. no. bounce. We are now just two weeks away from the election. In 2004, by this time, Chen Shui-bian had already drawn even with Lien Chan in the polls and many DPP-watchers were starting to get quietly excited. I’m not seeing that now — last time I checked Ma still had a comfortable lead in the NCCU election stock market. If we don’t get a bounce soon, this one may be over. Ma is doing a much better job campaigning than the unpopular Lien did in 2004, and the KMT’s money advantage is really shining in the posters that blanket Taiwan’s cities.

DPP headquarters in Taipei. It’s on the corner of Linsen and Chang-An, one block north of the Shandao Temple stop on the Blue line.

World Bank Chief Economist Justin Lin, who famously defected from Taiwan to China in 1979 and has now risen to high position in China, was quoted in Xinhua as saying that Taiwan should take advantage of the high growth opportunities offered by China, explaining that the failure to do so has meant that Korea has passed Taiwan.

Right. The utter bogusness of the Taiwan-Korea comparison has been beaten to death on this blog, but I’d like to draw attention to another aspect of the presentation of “Taiwan has missed out on many opportunities” and “if only Taiwan opened more….” that one hears….

During the 1980s and 1990s scholars in management, economics, and other fields observed that massive investments in IT systems did not seem to produce corresponding increases in productivity, a phenomenon known as the IT productivity paradox. In a wonderfully sardonic journal article on technological determinism, the IT productivity paradox, and business management mentality, management scholar Stuart MacDonald wrote:

“Many economists agreed that they would have to wait to see the end of the productivity paradox. Indeed, so dedicated was this waiting that Jorgenson and Stiroh (1999) have referred to ‘a kind of Computer Cargo Cult among economists and economic historians, patiently awaiting a deluge of spillovers like those that supposedly accompanied earlier technological revolutions’.”1

Anyone following the KMT claims that if Taiwan just “opens” to China, if the restrictions are lifted, the economy will boom, is listening to cargo cult economics. Economic arguments aside, there isn’t much difference between building a mock airfield in Vanuatu hoping that the gods will deliver cargo in great amounts, and “opening.” Both are presented in the same ritualized, fetishized fashion in which the assertion is made that if we take action X, the ancestors will smile on us and the cargo/fortune that is rightfully ours (which the ancestors have mistakenly bestowed on perfidious Americans/Koreans) will be showered on us…..observe also how claims that Taiwan “is missing out” appeal to the fear of being weeded out….

Hsieh with the high speed rail. The HSR is a common sight on political ads for politicians of all parties, conveying images of progress and modernity.

Speaking of grueling campaigns, a local English paper features a determined young runner, an English teacher here, who plans to do a marathon a day on The Beautiful Isle to raise money for cancer research.

Neil O’Maonaigh-Lennon, formerly of Roestock Lane in Colney Heath, is by no means taking the conventional approach to sightseeing.

The 27-year-old will be discovering Taiwan’s tourist attractions by running 26 miles a day for 30 consecutive days around the island’s coast line to raise money for Cancer Research UK and the Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders.

His exhausting trek of the island, which sits off the coast of China and measures 246 by 90 miles, kicks off on April 1.

Go Neil! In other news, Taiwan registered 103,000 children of foreign spouses in 2007 for local schools. We had our first enterovirus death, a 20 month old kid. Please parents, make sure your kids wash their hands.

1MacDonald, Stuart.” The IT productivity paradox revisited: technological determinism masked by management method.” Paper presented to the International Telecommunications Society Asia-Indian Ocean Conference, Perth, July 2001.