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
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.
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