Monday, January 28


On Friday, Burns' birthday, we met up with Scots friends. Next day the Aussie contingent here were celebrating Australia Day, and right after that came Holocaust Memorial Day.

There's a holocaust memorial near the new German parliament. But not everyone approves. I think the hundreds of concrete blocks are supposed to signify the murdered millions, but my German friends object to its anonymity. It could represent any mass murder anywhere. They would have preferred a memorial that spells out "this thing happened here, it grew out of our culture." And I agree with them. This memorial is like a giant playground. Whereas a visit to the concentration camp near Berlin is appalling, as it should be.

Saturday, January 19

interesting times

The business pages yesterday contained some surprising facts on China. For instance, despite their huge population they are now experiencing a labour shortage! Caused partly by their one-child policy.

Also, although we usually associate Quantitative Easing with desperate Western governments, China has actually been printing money much faster than the US. Albert supposes it makes sense - their trillions invested in the US have been losing value as the dollar is diluted, so why shouldn't they water down their own currency?

In the past, China has lent all its surplus funds to America, but now they are diversifying their investment strategy, and that makes sense too. For instance, they're splashing a lot of cash on buying Australian mining companies. A much more productive use of their money - Chinese factories need metals and coal.

Albert says that some Aussies are appalled to see their companies acquired by China, viewing it as an economic invasion. But they had the same paranoia a few decades ago, when it was Japan buying up Aussie land and iconic businesses.

Sunday, January 6

fire and water

We're on a short holiday in Australia, a country that has escaped recession so far, but according to investment bank Societe Generale it is “a credit bubble built on a commodity market built on an even bigger Chinese credit bubble". Its economy is tied to Chinese growth. 

The day we arrived in Hobart was its hottest day for 120 years. 40 degree high winds, like a full-body hairdryer. Ghastly. And the poor volunteer firefighters have to be out in it all day, in full overalls. Had a great view from the plane, of bush fires ablaze in several places outside the city. Outlaw rellies drove the length of Tasmania to meet us before they closed the roads. The whole population of one village was driven by flames out of their houses and down to the shore, for evacuation by sea. Their houses are ashes. That evening, our sky was bright pink/orange.

I once read the first page and a half of the hobbit, so won't need to see the film. And yet, today I immensely enjoyed Life Of Pi 3D, despite having ploughed without joy through all of that book. The ship scenes in particular put the fear of god into me and had me jumping in my seat. 

Thursday, January 3

first post

I've been mixing aimless downtime with mildly strenuous walking. Tomorrow we're off to Australia for a short holiday in Tasmania. I hope to report on those wacky Aussies

At tumblr I stumbled upon an unusual and unnervingly creative blog called the Trojan horse. At first I thought it was showcasing corporate output, but I think it's really more like culture jamming, or student portfolios. I'd be interested to know what you make of it. See what you think.