An insightful TED talk on the rise of China by Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules the World. He is tailoring the message and examples to the audience of course, but two of the points he makes I have never encountered so well enunciated before. First – that virtually all Western analysis of China is predicated on a very artificial perspective of how the world can possibly develop (in the footsteps of the West); and second – that Western conceptions of China remain at best locked in a rationalized version of this paradigm, and at worst (much more common) in a state of total parochial ignorance of the entirety of Chinese civilization – ignorance which is not reciprocated on the other side. First-hand experience and conversations with ordinary Chinese across different provinces confirm both observations for me.
Finally settled in Wollongong, more or less, and as luck would have it the weather has been humid, gloomy and very un-summerlike compared to Perth. Surprisingly to me, even though the place is practically a suburb of Sydney, all business is done extremely s-l-o-w-l-y, and the paperwork required to achieve something is in direct geometric relationship with the time it takes to achieve it. The wonderful, almost circus-like ineptness of the property agents here deserves a special mention. On the other hand, and in the spirit of fairness, it must be mentioned that it has already taken three different gas companies (AGL, Energy Australia, Origin) more than ten days to decide which one of them owns the gas connection at the place we are staying, and there is still no eureka moment on the horizon. Of course all three consider it beneath them to keep us mere paying customers informed of their deliberations, and I haven’t called a fourth simply out of fear its presence will prolong the process according to some no doubt equally confused formula. Don’t even get me started on what it takes (and how much it costs) to register a car which was perfectly roadworthy, comprehensively insured, and fine for Perth. Alas, enough. Rant over. After all New South Wales is a bankrupt state and deserves our condolences and tender understanding. The long break is over, let a thousand musings bloom.