Book recommendation: Taiwan, A Contested Democracy Under Threat

Taiwan: A Contested Democracy Under Threat (Flashpoints)

You should care about that island nation called Taiwan. Not because I told you to (and I am obviously biased,) but because how your democracy engages the country reflects its value, and to some extent, your value.

You should also try to understand it through its rich, complex history and people. Not just commentaries in the news when pundits speak of U.S.—China relationships.

Taiwan: A Contested Democracy Under Threat is the best book that I know of that will tell you all about it. The book thoroughly explored how Taiwan became what it is today, how it transformed itself into a young democracy, and most importantly, a framework to look ahead.

I have been reading Lev Nachman’s perspectives on contemporary Taiwan for quite a while. The book did not disappoint. I enjoyed the fresh new take on a topic that I’m already familiar with, especially through the lens of International Relationship studies. It was also entertaining in a way — I crackled when the authors explained how the two major parties employ their own versions of “strategic ambiguities” when cornering votes (my take, not the view of the book,) while precariously trying to avoid angering the bases. It is happening in real-time right now again, with the presidential election less than 30 days away.

I am especially appreciative of the conclusion:

Superpower politics and the conflict are the dominant lenses through which Taiwan is seen internationally, but Taiwanese agency and the complexity and diversity of Taiwanese wants and needs deserve to be heard.

Please get a copy. I am sure it is a worthwhile read.

High Performance Browser Networking

Note: In light of recent events, I am going to spend time backtracking my Twitter timeline and attempt to document some memorable moment. Apologies if these may be repetitive to you.

I highly recommend High Performance Browser Networking by Ilya Grigorik. Great overview and insights whether or not you are new or a veteran.

The book is from 2003 however. Thankfully, Ilya provided a “15 sec 2nd edition” when I asked on Twitter.

When work cease to …… work

One of the downside being a middle manager in the office is the loss of focus on the big picture and focused on getting your team, your company, and your product to succeed. The article, F**k work” by James Livingston, asks for application of universal basic income, and what’s the shift of mindset the world would need to make that happen.

To me, it serves as a bloody reminder of what work is essentially about to individuals within the society, and what it has been unfulfilling for most of the people in the society (those who maybe ended up gave us Trump).

The broader issue covered by this post is how the economy can work without sank generations of creativity into just for bread and butter of their families. I have to admit that I immediately think of the Star Trek Federation society upon reaching this paragraph, where people work because of their aspirations and sense of achievement.

Incidentally, I have been reading The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton, and he too touches the meaning of work. Finland recently became the first country implementing universal basic income, but it applied as a tool for welfare reform, not a challenge to the meaning of work itself.

I don’t know what can be done to bring this kind of massive social change, something so fundamental, almost since the beginning of the human civilization. Nonetheless, we must remain helpful as that’s the only way to keep the dream alive.