I can’t quite believe it either, but thanks to the Internet Archive I present what used to be on Angelfire!
Monday, August 7
I thought people might find this amusing and interesting. It is a report I have written for our school newsletter:
Last Saturday the visiting students from Hangzhou returned to China. On Friday morning at a morning tea in their honour all five students spoke eloquently (in English) of the kindness they had experienced with their host families and here at our school. Two indeed wrote poems in English for the occasion; as these are to be published elsewhere I cannot use them here. In keeping with the multicultural nature of the occasion, I congratulated their teacher, Mr Xu, in very brief and halting Mandarin, on the students’ skill in English. Here are some more examples of the students’ writing.
“Differences between Australian culture and Chinese culture
“1. The Chinese don’t show their feelings to others. There are no kissing or hugging. For example, a Chinese boy will do lots of things for his girlfriend, but he won’t say ‘I love you.’
“The Australian people are quite different. When you see an Australian people, you can know his feeling, happy or unhappy. It’s very easy. When someone disagree an idea, an Australian will say: ‘You are wrong.’ A Chinese will say, ‘Maybe you are right, but I have another idea.’
“Family is important to Chinese. A Chinese can do everything for family, even to die. The most familiar people is his wife, son, then his friend.
“I think the most important thing for an Australian is himself. When he is 18 years old, his father is his friend, not a father again. I find there are a lot of people have pet, a dog or a cat. That may be because he don’t have a child. The pet is his child.
“In all, there are many differences between the two cultures.”
“2. (Australians) think if you like it, you should say. And if you hate it, you should let him know. But people in China do something different. For example, a guest wouldn’t say any of the meal is terrible, though it really is. He would force himself to eat it and try not to show his embarrassment. Because he think it is the custom.
“Second, Australians respect a people’s ideas more than people in China do. Parents wouldn’t let children to decisions to their own business. But in China parents would do more decisions for children, no matter if their children like. If you have a choice, the Australian would let you make it yourself, but Chinese people would give you more suggestions and even decide for you.”
Wednesday night, 16 August
Ian Smith ICQ’d last night that there would be an “inter-month” yumcha next Sunday at a different restaurant, one MP has recommended–something to look forward to on a cold wet night after a day that has been too quiet. Those changes in the Ninglun establishment will take some getting used to, for all that I have really been well looked after. Still, the evidence so far does seem to point to the events having turned out for the best really. No more that I can say in this forum.
Reading another detective story–average, and I’ve worked out who did it!
Sunday, August 20
Yumcha lived up to expectations. The Golden Harbour proved to be indeed better than the Silver Spring in many respects–the portions were more generous, fresher, and piping hot. It may have been a little more expensive at $15 per head, but we had only five people (myself, Ian Smith, J***s, PK, Sirdan–who is having terrible trouble trying to extract his birth certificate from the Mugabe government). There is definitely an economy of scale in yumcha.
Mitchell’s site continues to attract many visitors and I am beginning to get jealous 😉 Fresh pages are promised. Hope all his Legal Studies training will guide him if he continues with the promised expose page.
I have just finished yet another murder story–I seem to need them at the moment. Could this be displacement activity? This one is set on a university campus in Michigan and is by a gay Jewish writer, Lev Raphael. What seems like a serial killing proves to be not quite that, as gay English lecturer/amateur sleuth Nick Hoffman discovers. His relationship with his serious but commercially unsuccessful novelist partner, Stefan, is well drawn. The novel bristles with literary and pop culture allusions, usually apposite. It is witty if sometimes a little too arch perhaps. Some splendid satirical sketches of academia and modern American culture. On the lighter side, and really only moderately suspenseful, but I do recommend it as a rather intelligent entertainment.
Sydney Chinatown 2018
Thursday, August 24
Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (1975-1983) has again entered the political forum with a carefully reasoned, truly liberal (in the best sense) critique of the present government’s handling of Aboriginal issues. I have just seen him on the 7.30 Report on ABC-TV. I have more and more respect for this man–solid, fair. While his predecessor Gough Whitlam (Labor) was a needed breath of fresh air in early 70s Australia, he did suffer from hubris and an excess of theatrics, as did P J Keating; R J Hawke was, I suspect, merely lucky, though his concern to unite rather than divide the community and to try to achieve some degree of consensus that could still embrace difference was not unintelligent.
Those who assume I have always been left-leaning are wrong, of course. Well into my late 20s I was a firm Liberal Party supporter; I have never been (despite some personal friendships with Communists) a fan of the grand Marxist analysis, albeit it could yield some truth. Marxism in practice (has it ever been practised?) was of course a disappointment, to say the least. I even worked in the mid-80s (incidentally as it happens) for the Liberal candidate for the seat of Sydney, and through him met a number of Liberal Party persons of note and (usually dreary) apparatchiks. There were still Liberals in the Liberal Party then; not many now. The mind-numbingly awful reaction to “political correctness”, that much abused cliche, fed by the likes of Stan Zemanek and the egregious Piers Akerman–passes for intelligent conservatism in some circles today, even up to Prime Ministerial level. Excessive “political correctness” can indeed be annoyingly puritanical, but these days those who invoke the phrase really mean, I suspect, “For God’s sake hold your tongue, leave us alone and don’t make us think, or expect us to concede that other lifestyles, other ways, may be worthy of respect and politeness. Minorities should learn to shut up! Keep in your place, dammit!” If you’re not an Australian and haven’t heard of some of these people you’re probably lucky, though exemplars as bad, perhaps worse, may be found in the UK and the USA.
Thank God, I say, for a Malcolm Fraser, who is a living reminder of what Liberalism was once about.
Not often politics appears here in the diary is it? But, as we used to say, “the personal is political”, and there can’t be a thinking gay man who could see something wrong with that concept. Oppression has ever resulted from gay men (or whoever is at the wrong end of ignorance) quietly wearing the labelling foisted on them by the righteous and self-satisfied “decent” majority, and endorsed by the timid–in which camp I long counted myself, to my shame.
Funny reading that back, because I am really a quietist; confrontation has rarely been my style, and in the past I think I was the despair of many of my more left-wing and socially engaged friends. And also it has been a lovely 24 hours 🙂
M had a couple of his friends from his travels over for dinner last night, a young man and a young woman, really charming and intelligent. And to cap it I had coffee today with one of the sweetest people I know, who probably disagrees with 90% of what I just wrote! Yet he and I seem just naturally to be friends; I for one find merely spending time with him a tonic and a delight–despite his occasionally alarming views 😉
Thursday 31 August
Fourteen days to the Olympics as of tomorrow. Moore Park, near where I live, has been in a state of destruction/reconstruction for the past two years, mainly due to an airport tollway built on its perimeter. The tollway is done, but the park is still mountains of topsoil. Interesting, as the pedestrian access to certain Olympic venues (according to the official map that arrived in my mailbox yesterday) goes right through it. Hmmmm.
Just finished The Boy in the Lake by Eric Swanson; I swear I didn’t know it was a gay novel when I borrowed it from the library, but it is, and it is very good indeed. A rather slim novel, American, it explores relations between present and past, issues of adolescent sexuality, and guilt,love and betrayal. Here is a review, and a few other books which I haven’t read thrown in. Remarkably uncliched, and humane first and gay second–if you know what I mean.