The Fully Equipped Library Warrior

Bris­bane libraries are busy places these days. Even some Aus­tralians use them. For a large tribe of young East Asians on work­ing hol­i­day visas, liv­ing four to a room in West End, libraries are a god­send. And of course, those other young folk, the inter­na­tional stu­dents pay­ing us six­teen bil­lion dol­lars a year for the priv­i­lege of a dubi­ous diploma with an Aus­tralian address, libraries are the Terra Aus­tralis ver­sion of sweat­shops where they labour to secure the family’s pros­per­ity back home. I don’t begrudge them, even when study time slips into SM text-friend time. After all, their Aus­tralian dou­bles are mostly some­where else, on a beach or in a bar. Con­tinue read­ing

Canned Demo’

There is a noisy island of demon­stra­tion in city square, with a small fringe of bored police. This blob of human­ity fills just enough space to fit the view­ing angle of a TV cam­era lens. I can see it 100 metres away, too far to read the plac­ards but you can bet they are mass pro­duced any­way. Pre­dictably, nobody gives the demon­stra­tion a sec­ond glance, but there is some­thing oddly irri­tat­ing about it. Sud­denly it strikes me. The chant­ing itself is pre-recorded and on a tape loop like the canned laugh­ter of a failed com­edy show. This is the sort of thing you’d think gov­ern­ments would stage to prove that they allow true democ­racy. Wow, what­ever their cause, these peo­ple are losers. Maybe the demon­stra­tors are just going through a bio­log­i­cal phase, like the teen girls who want bad-boy boyfriends, the the bad-boy boyfriends with their painted on designer sav­agery, quak­ing inside.

Transitions – out of China, into Oz

Here is a note to mark the end of twelve years in East Asia (China 1998–2000, South Korea 2000–2007, China 2007–2010). Well, I was indeed thrown out of China on the cue of turn­ing 65, regard­less of being awarded a PhD a few months before. My employ­ers in a joint Chi­nese-Aus­tralian ven­ture were inef­fec­tive (inert?) on this mat­ter in chang­ing the mind of China’s all-pow­er­ful and murky Pub­lic Secu­rity Burea. My stu­dents, at least, were indig­nant.  These links to a farewell note from one class, and from one stu­dent, can put this more elo­quently than I can. Here is a link to my farewell speech to the Mid­dle King­dom, which actu­ally never got made thanks to clever oblit­er­a­tion by a KTV party. In vain I made three short, shaky videos to prove that I wasn’t entirely decrepit: one in my class­room, Teach­ing is Fun; on a speech to grad­u­at­ing stu­dents, The Jour­ney of a Pas­sion­ate Skep­tic; one of me run­ning, Born 1945 and Still Run­ning Strong. Naive of course – no bureau­crat is inter­ested in actual real­ity.  Con­tinue read­ing