Primary colors

I was talking with a colleague from Taiwan today, who asked me whether I had ever been there. Yes, in fact, I recalled, I was in Taipei during their completely crazy 2006 election. For those of you who don’t follow Taiwanese politics, the incumbent Green party’s platform was a strong declaration of independence from mainland China, whereas the Blue party advocated finding a graceful way to just avoid the whole issue.

If you’ve ever looked at the two countries on a map, you would know that the outcome of any outright military conflict would be more or less reminiscent of the Marv Newland classic animation Bambi Meets Godzilla, with Taiwan playing the part of Bambi.

As you can imagine, the Green party was not favored to be reelected. However, the day before the election, both the president and the vice president were reported wounded in simultaneous assassination attempts. Tensions ran high on election day, and the vote ended up being split right down the middle. At the end of the day, the wounded Green party president and VP returned to office, riding (just barely) on an outpouring of emotional support.

There were many on the Blue side who said that it was a set-up job — that the assassination attempts had been faked, engineered by the Green party to gain votes. The day after the election, as I walked the streets of Taipei, police were holding back thousands upon thousands of protesters. It was like being in “The Year of Living Dangerously”, only without Linda Hunt and what’s-his-name.

That night I attended a formal dinner, where one could argue that I’d enjoyed one or two drinks too many. I was sitting to the right of a pleasant fellow from the Taiwanese government, when suddenly I had an inspiration. I told him, rather giddily, that Taiwan was playing out the full spectrum of politics, according to my academic field, computer graphics.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Well,” I explained happily, “you’ve got a Green party and a Blue party, right?”

“Yes,” he nodded, still not getting where I was going.

“Don’t you see?” I went on, “It’s perfect. Right over there, just north of the Taiwan Strait, you’ve got the Red party. So between you, you can make any color you want!”

The man just stared at me for a long moment, then ever so politely excused himself from the conversation, and began talking to the person on his left.

Perhaps I am not cut out for a career in diplomacy.

4 thoughts on “Primary colors”

  1. LOL! Do you think the sense of humor is cultural, or personal, or both? Just imagined my dad would have laughed his head off and given you a great come-back. He is Japanese but quirky 🙂 Not very diplomatic but quirky enough to get away with it 🙂

  2. Obviously, this only works with an additive color model.
    Given the political relationship between Taiwan and China, the Taiwanese official certainly believed in a more subtractive model.
    Perhaps that’s the real reason why he turned away?

  3. I definitely think the sense of humor is cultural, and personal, and both.

    Japanese but quirky sounds nice. It must have been fun to grow up with that!!

  4. Great point Raphael! Do you think we could convince the PRC and ROC to switch their various party colors to Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, just to avoid confusion? 🙂

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