Sunday, 24 July 2011


Just a few quick jottings today...

Camera Stuff...

Yesterday I drove out to the north end of route 17 as it exits Tainan City on its way up through the Qigu, Jiangjun and Beimen districts before entering Chiayi City. I took some pictures of the hoizon looking south toward Tainan City and afterward commented on some of the technical issues with this.

This afternoon, I drove out to the south end of route 17 as it exits Tainan City on its way down toward the Luju district of Kaohsiung County*. Taking pictures of the road going north toward Tainan City also gave me some interesting problems. Below are three of the pictures I took, subsequently cropped and very lightly edited (a touch of brightness reduction)...

The first and most obvious thing was that I left it too late (I allowed myself a lie-in this morning) and didn't get out there until after 3 in the afternoon; this meant that the light had moved out west and was not going to illuminate the city skyline when viewed from the south. As such it was clouded in hazy noise. I would think the ideal time for this would be mid-morning, say between 9 and 10, but I'm not sure because of course the sun doesn't always rise exactly due east.

However, there were other, more basic compositional problems. I wanted to capture the following elements all together in one image: the city skyline, the ocean, the road with its' serial lights - and crucially, a particular bend in the road (a road marked with the even rhythm of street lights will usually hold the eye far better if it is curved than if it is straight). The difficulty was that, in doing so not only was I struggling to keep all of those elements within the width limitations of my 55mm-250mm lens, but that there were a number of other unwanted features dominating the composition (a water pump and a signpost in the foreground, a stupid "leisure facility" folly in the intermediate distance...). Cropping the images mitigated the adverse effect of these difficulties somewhat but I suspect that another trip with more time to experiment with different shooting positions (e.g. standing in the middle of the road at a time when the traffic is light to non-existent, or moving further north up the road to preclude the road sign) would give me a better chance at solving these compositional problems.

Online Readings...

Occassionally my firefox browser crashes when I have too many tabs open (e.g. twenty to thirty) so I might as well note some defence articles here which I will bear in mind for a coming-soon defence essay I want to write.

The first of these is J.Michael Cole's recent piece on a report by two academics at the U.S. Naval College calling for a review of Taiwan's naval strategy.

A second piece was this one at the Adam Smith Institute on improving the efficiency of military subcontracting by regulatory reform.

The third piece was far more general: Claire Berlinski's article at Ricochet on recent events in Syria and her criticisms of Western government's attitudes toward the Middle East in general. I rate Berlinski as one of the very best of the top flight conservative commenters and journalists - I loved it when she practically tore Peter Robinson's head off last year after he dared compare Palin to Thatcher.

I've read these three pieces several times over whilst finishing off the Hoppe collection on the private production of defence. The salient question is how best to strategize for the defense of freedom in Taiwan. The first thing obviously, is that there needs to be a shift in psychology and ideology concerning what is to be defended. Here I submit that this demands a clear conceptual grasp in terms of principles of ethics - from which political economy is derivative - rather than some nebulous and corruptible semi-notion of nationalism to which the Taiwanese are all too prone, led by the nose as they are by the intellectual bodyguards of the environmentalists and social democrats. Still, the institutional and strategic questions of how a better practice of defense ought to arise are desperately important with each passing year. I suspect that the unification faction within the KMT may attempt to use a future financial and economic crisis, in conjunction with a possible debt default, as the pretext for securing loans from the PRC. With those loans will of course come conditions.

Enough for now. I'm due a half hour or so in the swimming pool.

*This is an area the locals refer to as "golden beach", though I can't quite see why. Personally I much prefer Anping beach further north although in the summer months such as now, I only go there in the early morning in order to avoid police hassle if and when I want a swim. Every year some people manage to drown themselves at that beach because they can't swim well, get caught in the riptide and panic. The City government made swimming there illegal, but the local idiots continue to drown themselves thus proving that not only was the decision wrong, but that it was also a futile stupidity. Anping beach has got to be one of the calmest and most docile beaches on the entire western coast - you can only drown there if either (a) there is bad weather causing rough waves, (b) you're heavily under the influence of alcohol or some other psychoactive subtance, or (c) you're a bloody imbecile. And really the first two are collapsible into the last one.


  1. Does getting killed by a riptide really qualify one as an imbecile? Seems a bit harsh.

  2. You know what? I let myself get caught in riptides on purpose just for fun. It's not especially dangerous if you know how to swim and know not to swim against the current.

    What's really dangerous are the large waves on an especially windy day - not because of their size per se, but because of their frequency and the comparative strength of the undertow they generate.


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