23 April 2008

My Man Wants a Bub

Well it's no secret that Jason has a soft spot for kids. Whenever we visit relatives, he is regularly assaulted by my little cousins (now 5 and 7). They cheer for him, climb on him, wrestle on his stomach, use him as a guinea pig to play UNO, Legos or Spiderman. They've called him names...let's see, like Muffin Man. That was his name for a good couple of years. But hey, he loves it!

And where do I fit in all this?
Well only about a year ago, when my auntie told her kids that they were going to visit family, one of them asked, "So...is Muffin Man coming too?"
To which my auntie replied, "Yes. He is coming."

- "Is Muffin Man's daughter coming as well???"

Muffin man's daughter, that's me. Even the kids think I looked too young to be Jason's partner. What's the world coming to?

I'm not totally useless. The most fun I have is buying clothes for their birthday. I have an addiction to the girls section in Target and KMart. I could spend hours (HOURS) mulling over little coordinated outfits in pinks, purples and reds. Oh, the Barbie summer dress is to die for!! Oh, check out the little pink cardigan...would she like a coat to go with that...or maybe the mini tartan pleated skirt with the Hello Kitty vinyl belt...etc.. etc...it's fun. I have noticed that Jason doesn't think much of shopping for kids' clothing. Well, until today that is...

Today, I met him in town to buy baby things. It's my sister in law's baby shower this Sunday, you see. So we went looking for newborn bits and pieces. And that's where Jason transformed himself into a real mother hen. His eagerness for his own little bub came surfacing dangerously in the Nursery aisles where he dispensed a litany of advice and recommendations, saying sinister things like:
"I think we should get this suit in a 0 rather than a 000, what do you think?"

He also proceeded to follow me everywhere I went and to make note of each color and size. To make matters worse, he cheered with disturbing enthusiasm everytime I suggested a particular item: "Yes! Get this! This will be so cute!"

On and on it went for a good twenty minutes. I tried to ignore him as best I could since I've always believed that when it comes to shopping for kids, no one should intrude on MY territory. But he was practically dribbling all over the Nursery section.

Muffin Man, you are nuts. But you know what? I love it.

21 April 2008

More on China and the Olympics - Boycotting the Planet

I simply had to shame myself, at the risk of being labelled unoriginal, by featuring yet another lazy link to an external website:
Le Figaro, 21 April - Editorial by Nicolas Barré

It's in French by the way. It contains a paragraph which perfectly summarises part of what I believe vis a vis Tibet related manifestations. I hope my English translation doesn't corrupt Barré's meaning:

"No matter how sincere this pro-tibetan mobilisation is, we can observe that it is sometimes accompanied by an anti-Chinese dimension which is not unlike the anti-Japanese animosity of the 70s and 80s. Under the white flag of great principles and human rights discourses, there often hides, here and there, a certain resentment towards a country, which similarly to Japan 20 to 30 years ago, perturbs the world's equilibrium, notably in economic terms: this mobilisation is often stronger when it is fueled by the fear of the 'made in China'. Cloaked in the noble argument of our so called 'universal values' there often exists the stench of racism which lies at the antipodes of those principles that we pretend to incarnate."

So true!

I believe that the entire world is replete with breaches in human rights.
Lucky Draw: Israel's blatant use of white phosphorus to bomb Lebanon in 2006.

To zero in on a single country's infringement of human rights while ignoring all other cases that spring up in the rest of the world, is either a sign of ignorance, moral panic, hypocrisy, economic motivation or racism.

15 April 2008

Tran Sy Ich

Born in Gia-Dinh (Saigon) in 1743, Tran Sy was Tran Vy's fifth son. He was only four years old when he and his parents regained the village where his ancestral home was located.

Early Struggles

At nine, he began to attend school. In his youth he possessed a sickly nature which proved ruinous to the quality of his studies. He was given the name "Ich" by one of his uncles. One day, this same uncle took him aside to encourage him. He said:

"Everything that belongs to your father, belongs to you; ensure that it prospers such that it becomes as useful to you as possible."

Following this interview and after conscientious efforts in an exam, Sy Ich had to come to terms with the fact that as of yet, he had not completed a single action to honor his parents. This tormented him deeply.

As a result, Sy Ich further concentrated himself on his studies. He became especially attuned to the older generation from which he would acquire precious knowledge that he hoped to pass on to his children and he abandoned himself wholly to the study of literature.

Adult Life

When he reached working age, his efforts were rewarded. He found a job as an administrator for the imperial court and obtained the court title "Noi-Han".

Tran Sy Ich shared his life with three women and they gave him a total of 13 children:

Cao Chung Truong (1752 - 1785) was First wife. She had 6 children including 4 boys and 2 girls.

Tran Thai-Duat (1752 - 1823) was Second wife. She had 1 boy.

Tong Xuan-Qui (1758 - 1819) was his concubine. She gave birth to 6 children including 3 boys and 3 girls.

Consequences of the Tay Son Uprising

The Dai-Viet had since been ruled by the Nguyen lords in the South (based in Hue) and the Trinh lords in the North (based in Hanoi) who controlled the figure head emperor. But in 1770, the Tay Son brothers namely Nguyen Nhac, Nguyen Lu and Nguyen Hue, led a political rebellion against the Nguyen army. This was called the Tay Son rebellion.

During those times, my ancestors were from the mandarin class. As such they would probably have been known as corrupt and oppressive. To what degree they were corrupt, if at all, I will never know. But given the rife corruption in the imperial court, it was essentially for the peasant cause that the Tay Son brothers led their revolt.

In 1778 after having defeated the Nguyen army and murdered the entire Nguyen family except for Nguyen Anh, who escaped, the Tay Son brothers were then locked into battle against the Trinh lords in the North and then later, against the Manchu army from China who had come to restore the figure head Vietnamese emperor.

It was following the Manchu defeat, when the youngest of the Tay Son brothers, Nguyen Le, proclaimed himself emperor of unified Vietnam under the name Quang-Trung, that my ancestor, Sy Ich, refused to serve the usurper and promptly gave his resignation to the court. He was not the only intellectual who refused to serve Quang-Trung.

Nevertheless, there were some interesting changes to arise from Quang-Trung's reign.

The new Emperor distributed land to the poor peasants, encouraged the artisans that had been suppressed, allowed religious freedom, re-opened Vietnam to international trade and abolished Chinese as the official language of the nation. The new official language was Vietnamese written in the script called Chữ nôm.
- Wikipedia, Tay Son Dynasty

I wonder how my ancestors, who probably prided themselves in their Chinese literacy, would have taken the official language change.

When Quang-Trung died, his young successor was quickly toppled by the legitimate Nguyen heir, Nguyen Anh. He became the very Confucian orthodox emperor, Gia Long (1762 - 1820).

At this point, my ancestors, being the Confucians they were, would have breathed a sigh of deep relief. And so in 1802, when Gia Long ascended the throne, Tran Sy Ich proudly regained his post in service to the court.

Honor Your Parents

Sy Ich eventually did honor his parents.

To begin, the excellent quality of his court service, his honesty and his charitable manner were highly praised by all the Lords and souveraigns that he served in his lifetime.

In his spare time, Sy Ich pursued his father's Gia Pha and wrote several biographies.

When he died in 1814, he was given the cult name On-Muc Tran Sy-Ich.

And later, when emperor Tu Duc was in the 32 year of his reign, he conferred Sy Ich with the posthumous title of:

Gia-Nghi Dai-Phu Thiem-Su-Phu Thiem-Su

Similarly, his first wife, Cao Chung Truong, was accorded the posthumous title of:

Chanh Tam-Pham Thuc-Nhan

Back to Tran Genealogy Index

14 April 2008

Tran Vy

It is to Tran Vy that my family owes much of the research and integration of the first elements constituting the Tran "Gia Pha".

Over 2000 years ago, imperial edicts in Vietnam required that local administrators establish family registries in which they recorded all names, marriages, births and deaths within a family. Known as gia pha (family history), such registries have their origin in ancient China and are found elsewhere in Asia, including Japan. [..] Family registries are more common in the northern and central parts of the country.
- Insight Guides, Vietnam, APA Publications

Early Life

After the death of his two older brothers, Don Tinh Tran Than (1699 - 1758) and Nguyen Luan Tran Tiem (1703 - 1751) together with their descendants, Man Truc became the head of the family. He became responsible for ensuring the continuation of the family lineage and for presiding over the ancestral cult.

Man Truc was actually only a three months old foetus when his father, Tran Ton died of cholera in 1714. He lived with his mother until the age of 8 until one of his paternal uncles adopted him and sent him to school. He was such a poor student that even his older brother took note of his poor aptitude for studies.

I find this last note interesting considering it betrays the relative importance that the Tran family placed on education and intellectual prowess. It also implies that Man Truc along with his brothers were expected to fill their father's shoes and become equally apt scholars.

Would Man Truc succeed in overcoming his initial childhood lapses to fulfill family expectations? Read on.

Coastal Merchant

Man Truc did what many people do to escape self-fulfilling prophecies. He changed his environment, away from negative pressure. At 17 years old, he decided to leave his family and go far away...by way of the ocean to the south of the Dai-Viet, in Gia-Dinh (Saigon).

In Gia-Dinh, Man Truc began a commercial enterprise. After saving enough capital, he invested in the construction of junks which in turn, were critical to the operation of his commercial activities.

I assume, based on what is to follow in this fairy tale account, that like his great uncle, Tran Hong, Man Truc was also well versed in traditional medicine.

I also assume that at this stage, he took the name Tran Vy. This is the name that the account uses from now on.

The Healer and the Crow

One day, a crow with a shell inside its beak came to land on the prow of one of Tran Vy's junks which were moored along the port. Seeing this, Tran Vy tried to shoo the bird away. According to Vietnamese scholar Huu Ngoc, in Vietnam, crows herald a bad omen and are symbols of evil. But in China, the crow is the bird of the sun and brings light on earth.1

Keen to protect himself and his business against any bad omens, Tran Vy tried all he could to persuade the bird to fly off. But all his efforts were futile: the bird remained perched obstinately on the junk. It would not budge.

So our ancestor decided to lead a small enquiry and soon discovered that the bird in question belonged to an old woman. This woman suffered from a affliction that none of the doctors she had consulted so far, had been able to treat. In time, she had learnt that the junk owner, Tran Vy enjoyed a certain reputation as a healer. And so she had found no better means to attract his attention than to send her crow. This was how the dark bird had come to perch itself on one of Tran Vy's junks.

Her stratagem succeeded. Tran Vy was soon persuaded to visit the old woman and to administer a medical treatment. The medication that he prescribed turned out so efficient that the old lady soon regained her health. To thank him for his attentive care, she gave her daughter, Trinh Thuan Cung Nhan, in marriage.

Tran Vy's 19 Children

In the course of his life, Tran Vy shared his life with four women comprising two wives and two concubines.

His first wife, Trinh Thuan Cung Nhan (1719 - 1757) who he married in Gia Dinh, gave him 9 children including 7 boys and 2 girls.

His second wife, Duong Thi Nhu-Nhan (1737 - 1770) produced 4 children including 2 boys and 2 girls.

His first concubine, Thi Nho-Nhuan (1743 - 1801) produced 5 children including 3 boys and 2 girls.

And finally, his second concubine, Le Thi Nhu, gave birth to 1 boy.

I suppose that Tran Vy must have been very wealthy in order to be able to afford this many women. I wonder whether the high male count among Tran Vy's children was natural or if it was brought upon by female infanticide or foeticide as a result of the preference for male heirs in this family's patriarchal culture. This I will never know.

Return Home

At 26, some time after marrying his first wife and having already had several children, the successful merchant Tran Vy, confident in the sense that he had now fulfilled, if not surpassed, family expectations and perhaps longing to regain his roots, finally returned home to his natal village.

Tran Vy lived until the old age of 80. Much of his spare time was employed in the research and compilation of the Tran Gia Pha.

When Tu Duc (1829 - 1883), often regarded as the last independent emperor of Vietnam, was in the 32 year of his reign he gave Tran Vy the posthumous title of:

"Trung-Thuan Dai Phu Han-Lam-Vien Thi-Doc Hoc-Sy"

At the same time, Tran Vy's first wife was given the title:

"Thanh Tu Phan Cung Nhan"

1Huu Ngoc, As the Crow Flies, So Does its Meaning, Vietnam News - The National English Language Daily, Jul 2004.

Back to Tran Genealogy Index

Tran Ton

Tran Ton, the eldest son of Tran Tong was born on 15 September 1675. At his birth, he was named Nginh Nhat.

He became a studious man, part of this social class easily recognisable through their ong quyen, a cylindrical container of lacquered wood which was used to encase rolled documents and other literary work.

Tran Ton married early with a woman called Du Thi Diem. He became a father at the age of 20 years old. His first son was called Nguyen Le.

Around this time, Tran Ton set forth on a journey to China to regain the natal province of his grandfather, Thi-To. During his stay, Tran Ton visited members of his family that were still alive and paid his respects at the tombs of his Chinese ancestors. Note that according to ancestral worship practices and also according to the filial obligations set out by Confucian morality, it was considered (and still is) an important duty of Vietnamese and Chinese descendants to maintain their ancestors' cult and to respect such dates as their ancestors' death anniversary...a task my grandmother fulfills to this day.

I noticed that Tran Ton divorced. In those days, divorce was very much taboo. Incidentally, having children was considered important for assuring the perpetuation of the family line and to ensure the maintenance of the ancestral cult. So I wonder whether the reason for this divorce was the lack of children from his first wife. Either way, Tran Ton remarried with Tu-Thuc Tran-Van-Dai and had seven children:

Three Boys: Nguyen-Luan, Nguyen-Hoan, Man-Truc
Four Girls: Thi-Nguyet, Thi-Doai, Thi-Qua, Thi-Lan

Tran Ton died of cholera around the same time as his parents, on 28 October 1714.
He was only 39 years old.

His cult name is Tanh Tien Tran Ton. He was buried near his parents' tomb at the foot of a mountain in the village of Phan-xa in the province of Quang-tri.

His second wife survived cholera. She lived to the age of 84 and died on 7 April 1766. Her remains were initially placed near her husband's and later moved to the foot of the Da Bac mountain, in the village of Chau chu (10 km from Hue) in the district of Huong-thuy in the province of Thua-thien.

Back to Tran Genealogy Index

11 April 2008

Candeau Genealogy Index

Yves Candeau (1924 - 1996) - Childhood

Yves Candeau - German Prisoner

Yves Candeau in Indochina

Yves Candeau in West Africa


Jean Candau (b. circa 1670-1680, d. post 1727)

Pierre Candau (b. circa 1700, d. unknown)

Jean-Baptiste Candau (1730 - 1784) - Captain of the "Uzbek", Slave trader

Jean-Baptiste Antoine Candeau (1768 - 1817) - Corsair, Captain of "L'Intrepide" and "L'Infatigable"

Mutation to Candeau

Pierre Marie Candeau (1777 - 1852) - Knight of the (Royal) Legion of Honor

Leopold Jules Candeau (1815 - 1890) - Knight of the (Royal) Legion of Honor,
Frigate Captain, Commandant of a New Caledonia mission under Napoleon III

Auguste Candeau (1859 - 1929) - Knight of the Legion of Honor

The Children of Auguste Candeau

Marcelle Candeau (1889 - 1964)

Marie Candeau (1892 - 1971)

Marguerite Candeau (1894 - 1983)

Pierre Candeau (1895 - 1982)- father of Yves Candeau

Renee Candeau (1897 - 1937)

Jacques Candeau (1901 - 1988) - brother in law of Albert Camus

8 April 2008

Tran Hong

Nothing much is known of Tran-Duong-Thuan's first son, Tran Tong. Like his father, he was a Chinese migrant to the Dai-Viet. In 1714, he and his wife died of cholera following an epidemic which had spread in the region. When he died at 71, he left a son called Tran Ton. He received the cult name Duc Thien Tran Tong and his remains are on the slope of a hill situated in the hamlet of Ma-da not far from the village of Phan Xa in the province of Quang Tri.

I will now look at Tran Hong who was Tran-Duong-Thuan's second son.

Hong was a sino-vietnamese born on 13 May 1681. He studied Chinese medicine.

In this period, he was a renowned and well respected doctor, particularly in the Gia Định province where he practiced for more than 10 years.

It should be noted, however, that before the French colonization, the official Vietnamese name of Saigon was Gia Định. In 1862, the French discarded this official name and adopted the name "Saigon", which had always been the popular name.
- Wikipedia, Ho Chi Minh City

In his spare time, Hong consecrated his time on genealogical research.

His wife was called Dac. She originated from the village of Su-lo-ha. Dac gave him 6 children:

  • Three boys: Dai-dao, Dai Duyen, Dai-Thinh
  • Three girls: Thi-Linh, Thi-Nhan, Thi-Sanh

On 11 March 1730, Tran Hong died at the age of 50. His funerary eulogy was pronounced by M. Nguyen Bai, another medical practitioner from the region who was himself retired at the time.

His cult name is Man Chanh Tran Hong.
His remains are at the foot of the mountain in the village of Duong Xuan in the district of Huong Tra.

Back to Tran Genealogy Index

4 April 2008


Our story begins in China during 1611 when our first known TRAN family ancestor was born in the village of Ngoc-chau-thuong of the district of Long Khê, in the province of Fujian. The Middle Kingdom, or China, was then governed by the Ming emperor Wanli (1573 – 1620).

Aside from being a region where coastal trade and merchant businesses flourished, Fujian, during the Ming dynasty, was also a centre of publication producing a mass volume of books including almanacs, novels, joke books and law or moral guides 1.

Economic Problems

This was not a happy time for our first known Chinese ancestor. It was characterised by high taxes incurred mostly by the farmers who were themselves overseen by landlords1. Inflation had risen to ridiculous levels, with the mode of currency changing several times since the inception of the Ming dynasty by emperor Hungwu (1328 - 1398).

The Ming emperors were beginning to incur the consequences of their extravagant living. The Ming army was no longer agriculturally self-sufficient as Hungwu had originally intended centuries ago so as to relieve the burden from the peasant population. The empire was in dire financial deficit: its treasury was empty. Even government food relief had to be sourced from philantropists or wealthy merchants who were often ordered to alleviate the plight of starving peasants 2. This was a far cry from wealthy times when the humane Zhu Gaozhi (1378 - 1426) was generously dispensing aid to the people and scolding his ministers for not acting more promptly during a famine.

Political Problems

Further issues had arisen from the despotism of the eunuchs who over the centuries following the Yong Le (1360 - 1424) period had gained increasingly more power and often acted independently of the emperors to further their own self-interests. For example, in 1620, when our ancestor was merely 9, emperor Tianqi (1605 - 1627) succeeded to the dragon throne. But soon, Tianqi's affairs were largely managed by an usurping eunuch called Wei Zhongxian and by the young emperor's wet nurse...

During the period 1621-1637, ancestor Tran-Duong-Thuan would have witnessed a political crisis involving the Ming eunuchs. It originated from a craftsmen uprising following yet another brutal increase in commercial taxes by the governing eunuchs.

In 1627, these uprisings were followed by important insurrections in the Northeast of the country because the armies were finding it difficult to meet refurbishment requirements after their budget had been decreased.

To make matters worse, the disatisfied peasants soon joined the uprisings which continued right up until the end of the Ming dynasty.

In the meantime, the Jurchen tribes had begun their invasion of China from the Northeast.

Famine and Epidemics

According to Brook 2, the population in this period had grown to a level far exceeding that of any Ming period. This caused additional pressure on resources. Brook explains that from 1580 onwards, there were recurring floods, droughts and cold cycles. For example when Tran-Duong-Thuan was 26 years old, he would have heard of the famine in Jiangxi, a province to the west of Fujian, where people were so hungry that they were driven to filling their stomachs with soil dug deep from the ground.

The consequences of particular famines remained relatively short term until the great epidemic of 1641. Entering into China from the northwest, it raced down the Grand Canal to infect most of densely populated Jiangnan, then made a second pass through many of the same areas the following year. A gazetteer in northern Zhejiang records that over half the population fell ill that year, and that in 1642, 90 percent of the local people died. Another gazetteer across the border in South Zhili records that in 1642 the corpses of epidemic victims were scattered everywhere.2

Tran-Duong-Thuan's Plan

This then was the state of the Middle Kingdom when our our ancestor Tran-Duong-Thuan reached 30.

To protect himself from the often bloody conflicts which accompanied the revolts and political uprisings, Tran-Duong-Thuan began to seriously consider leaving his natal province to regain the Dai-Viet (eventually Vietnam). In particular, he contemplated settling in the south, in the Thừa Thiên province. Once there, he hoped that the local authorities would recognise him as a political refugee.

His plan was to leave his wife behind because she was tending to her ill mother. This exile would, or so he thought, only last for a very short period, the time required for the calm to return in his country. At this moment, he would return to China, back to his village where his wife would be waiting for him…

In 1643, his wife whose name, date of birth and death remain unknown to us, had born him a son which they named Tran Tong.


And then the worse came.
The Jurchen armies took Beijing and adopted the ruling name “manchu”. They installed a new dynasty called Qing. In 1644, the first Manchu emperor, Sunzhi decreed that:

  • Mixed marriages (e.g. between the Hans and Manchus) were forbidden
  • Manchuria would no longer be opened to the Han Chinese
  • Han Chinese must be segregated from the Manchus in large cities
  • Possession of Chinese peasants was to pass from the landlords to the Manchus
  • It was obligatory for all males to shave their heads and grow a long plait, following Manchurian custom.
  • It was obligatory for all men and women to wear the Qing clothing.

This was ironic since the Jurchens themselves had been sinicised by the Ming emperor, Yong Le centuries before. And now, in a cruel twist, they were imposing their custom to the Chinese.

Ming Clothing

Qing Clothing
Source: Panda Gator

Being stripped of his national identity and personal dignity would have taken its toll on Tran-Duong-Thuan. He decided that he would not submit to the Manchus and would remain loyal to the Ming. Soon after these new rules were imposed, he made a decision. He would leave China.

Sadly, he did not take his wife and child with him. She remained behind to take care of her mother. But what was a woman’s worth in those days anyway?

New Life in the Dai Viet

When Tran-Duong-Thuan arrived in the Dai-Viet, it was ruled by emperor Le-Thanh-Tong of the Le dynasty. While the emperor reigned as figurehead, authority was detained by the Trinh lords in the North and the Nguyen lords in the South.

Not long after his installation in the Thừa Thiên province, Duong-Thuan took a second wife. She was a Vietnamese woman from the village of Su-lo-ha.
As these were not recorded, we do not know her name, birth date or the date of her death. However she should not be confused with a purchased concubine. She was a legitimate second wife.

In the meantime, Duong-Thuan’s son Tran-Tong had joined him in the Dai-Viet.

Later, he and his wife had a son, his second, which they named Tran-Hong.

Hope for Descendants

Duong-Thuan died at age 79 on 12 April 1688. He had remained loyal all his life to the Ming form of dress. He gained posterity under the cult name “Thi-To”.

His mortal remains were buried on the slope of a hill in the hamlet of Tu-tay, in the village of An-cuu of the district of Huong-thuy of the Thu-thien province.

According to Chinese geomancy specialists, the tomb’s site is excellent because it is surrounded by hills and flowing water which is beneficial to Duong-Thuan’s descendants and future generations under the condition that no funerary monument in the form of a spiral shell is erected in this region…

1 Chan, Albert. The Glory and Fall of the Ming Dynasty. University of Oklahoma Press, Hong Kong, 1982.
2 Brook, Timothy. The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China, University of California Press, 1999.

Back to Tran Genealogy Index

1 April 2008

Melbourne Fun

I've just come back from an extended weekend in Melbourne and thought I'd share some experiences.

Oh Crap

Here's a photo I took on Swanston St.
Now you tell me, who has more attitude, Matthew Flinders or the seagull?

Upon closer inspection, it appeared as though Melbourne's birds had eagerly baptised Mr Flinders with their excrement.

Is that bird French?

Poor Mr Flinders. After his unjust imprisonment by the French, he became ill but he toiled for years on his book, A Voyage to Terra Australis. Strangely, he died only one day after his book was published. I can not imagine more passion and dedication than to be so close to death but refuse to die until your work is accomplished.

Food Frenzy

Well as you know, Melbourne is a culinary treat.

On the last day, we had lunch in Bistro Vite, an excellent French restaurant on Southgate with a slightly rustic interior. I was tempted by the Steak Tartare and Frites but doubting that they would serve horse in Australia, I opted for the Bouillabaise. The last time I ate a decent Bouillabaise was in Marseille so I was in for a long awaited treat. Check it out.

Can you just smell the saffron? Notice that Bistro Vite's Bouillabaise comes with coriander sprigs. I thought that was interesting and much to my delight, the rouille married well with the coriander. The seafood was tender and flavoursome. I especially liked to dip my French fries in the sauce...

The night before this, we sat inside the brick walled Pasta Rustica on Lygon St and I got drunk on a Penne Pescatore in white wine. The night before that, I was tucking in an Osso Bucco in Hardware Lane and downing it with a Rothbury Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

None of these meals were expensive. That's the beauty of Melbourne. Prices are competitive because almost everywhere you eat, the food is high quality, delicious and the serves are very generous.
Why can't Brisbane be a little more like Melbourne?

Cheap Thrills

This bit is rated R.

Since I enjoy scaring myself occasionally, I had enormous fun one night imagining that the RMIT building was a haunted castle from some Italian horror flick. As I walked down Russell St, on my way to a comedy show, I took a few shots of what I like to think will be the set of a future Australian horror movie.

I particularly like the fact that the RMIT is immediately adjacent to the Old Melbourne Gaol. This convenient location can not be a coincidence. I believe that a convict ghost story is in order. Imagine a bunch of students traumatised by a rowdy set of revengeful, toothless prisoners. Gives me chills...

A Man's Worst Nightmare

And finally, I observed the Melbourne tradition and went clothes shopping!

Well, not exactly. Instead, I paraded like a lunatic beside gigantic artwork gift bags on Southgate...much to the amusement of other tourists who soon joined in the fun.

These look so cool! Every girl should have one of these.

One day, shopping bags will come in that size. One day...

Of China-bashing, Tibet and the Olympics...

I am not enthused by the China-bashing.

For years now, I made a decision to avoid television as much as possible.
Current affairs programmes, in particular, irritate me. Sensationalism makes me angry, unfair media representations make me angry, juxtaposition of out of context photos with mindless voice overs makes me angry...

I used to sit in front of the box many years ago. My silent viewing was punctuated by loud, intermittent, "bullshits".
"Bullshit!" I would cry out like an old man.
One day it hit me.
I was becoming my Dad!! That's exactly what he does...
The discovery sparked some hysterical laughter. I switched off the television and walked away.

I have a name for television. I call it the fear mongering, advertising tool. That's all it is. Occasionally I watch comedy shows but since I've discovered that there are plenty of Gad Elmaleh YouTube videos, I no longer need television. So we haven't bothered replacing the CRT box. That's right: I shun the plasma. It's not a stylish commodity for me. My ideal house is devoid of television.

So about China... and Tibet...

No country is innocent.
Every country makes mistakes. Every country makes a strategic decision to endorse beliefs that aligns with its nationalistic interests.

I leave the question as to whether China could claim sovereignty over Tibet during the Ming dynasty (i.e. the last Han Chinese dynasty) to other historians. All I can say is that during that period, given they had much to benefit from it, Tibetans were only too happy to pay tribute to the Chinese emperors. But the question of whether this tributary relationship established Tibet as a subservient vassal of China or whether China saw Tibet as an independent kingdom is still under debate. There are many opposing views.

What do the words "Free Tibet" mean?
I'm not really sure.

For Chinese nationalists, "Free Tibet" means splitting their country. They take offense at this because, they say, it recalls the Divide and Rule policy of foreign imperialist powers. To "Free Tibet" means to set a precedent for the other 56 ethnic groups in China who may also desire to be free...a possibility, especially in Yunnan.
But when you have 56 ethnic minorities, the results could be disastrous. Chaos.
Can you imagine 56 ETAs in Spain?

The phrase "Free Tibet" also provokes defensiveness in the Chinese, and rightly so, because it implies that Tibetans are currently slaves and that since the toppling of the feudalistic monk regime, the Tibetans have suffered more. This is a myth.

Michael Parenti looks at the Tibet myth here.

I really like this article because it dispels the spiritual shroud that clouds popular perceptions of Tibetan monks. Michael Parenti examines Tibet's old feudal practices. He looks at how people were treated by the monks before egalitarian ideals were introduced by the communists. He acknowledges the wrongs suffered by Tibet during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) but he also notes, what is all too easily ignored by foreigners, that China, as a whole, was impacted and often suffered during the Cultural Revolution. Finally, Parenti outlines the economic, infrastructure, educational and health benefits that communism has brought to Tibet. These can not be ignored.

Let me leave you on that note: at the Sydney Olympics, the last thing Australians would have wanted is to have the international community demonstrating with banners to "Free Arnhem Land!!"

And to put it in Wired terms, China-bashing is so Tired.