You have enjoyed a respite and refreshing in Du An, and realized the enormity of the challenge in delineating a universal objective metric for economic analysis.  And gotten insights into the way ahead (attack on oxygen). Now dive into a commonsense analysis of the Jiamusi question, get the best answer, and be ready for the long road back in Du An.


We grow old and think we have seen the world but Kyogle had a big surprise and lesson for me when I went back in January 2015.  After reaching 65 it was hard for me to renew visas in China –  they are frightened you are gonna cark it and kept sending me back to Australia hoping I stay away but I kept coming back to Brissy and getting another visa and going back – lots of pleasant surprises and rewards of many kinds in China.  In fact on visits to Brissy I tried finding out about Centrelink and got a rude shock. Not eligible for pension cos I was “expat”.  In January 2015 after 4 rebuffs in the city over 2 years I figured go back to Kyogle where surely I am accepted as Aussie born and bred, Army Officer, fought in Vietnam, 20 years paying taxes in various government agencies.

Not much money so I stayed in the cheapest room at the Commercial Hotel, $36 a night.  There seemed no one else on the second floor and I was just across from the showers and toilets so that seemed a quiet set up.  I was there a few days (had to visit Casino Centrelink –good to me as a hometown boy and met up with 3 classmates – great yarns, and I climbed Fairymount ). On the second last night it was stinking hot 27 January and I had no ventilation. At midnight it poured and went out in the corridor in undies to celebrate and see if there was a window up the end. From a door 10 meters way a guy had come out stark naked. I was surprised to see anyone, and certainly not that.

I went back to bed and heard the showers going. Then stopped and footsteps and an almighty crash on my door. It was not a mistaken stumble but a huge deliberate crash. I was so concerned I barricaded my door with a full height cupboard backed with draws pulled from another cupboard. So weird.

Next morning I inquired of the guy at the bar if my neighbor was one night or regular. Did not get an answer.   The thought troubled me through the day and then I realized, I had already had an odd encounter with this guy.

I had arrived on the one train there is each day  early in the morning I had gone back to the station when people were about to see when there was a train back to Brissy.

There was nothing going on except a guy sitting on a bench with a can in a brown bag. As soon as he saw me he said rather leerily, “I like your shirt”.  In fact it was purple uni T shirt. I said, “yeah, Tsinghua Uni, China” and asked about train times and his answer was just rubbish. As I turned he yelled “I still like your shirt”.

What was the deal with the two events?  Had he checked in stalking me? I was due to catch the one train back 2.46am. No bloody shower that evening, that’s for sure. His door was ajar and maybe he che cked out but I just kept quiet. On sunset I came back to the hotel and at a door looking out from the 2nd floor was a guy enjoying the sunset. Back to me. He seemed about 40, over 6 foot. It was either the weird guy or the hotel manager (similar from the back and maybe he lived on this floor). I still had 6 hours hanging around and must check this out.

“Nice sunset” I said and he turned around. It was not the manager. He rubbed his fist and said “you nearly broke my hand last night….He went on, “you know you shouldn’t go round naked like that. You know what that can do to a man”.  Shit. We have a problem.  No point arguing who was wearing what and happy in my secret I was on the train in a few hours. I apologized for upsetting him and disappeared down the stairs and wandered my hometown till  2 am then fetched my backpack and headed for the station.

I reflect. I was being stalked by a man that could overpower me and he was lustful. It wasn’t that he was sick that haunted me, but the first ever feeling of what women might often experience.  Had to wait 70 years to get that taught to me in my hometown.

Dunno if he was a local pervert or passing through.


Money is such a gamechanger invention, demonstrating an unspoken mutual agreement between users that it represents real goods or services, that we are prepared to accept it at face value even as manipulators in public and private finance siphon off profits from transactions.

Bartering limited cooperation in economic activities to very simple deals.  Once some symbols agreed as representing a good or service was introduced, the chains of supply and demand spread, enabling new scales  of development, and more leverage into rearranging the atoms on Earth.




At church at the time when the minister invites congregation to greet those round us a lady offered blessings to me then read the Chinese characters on my shirt.  I was taken aback as no idea an elderly Aussie lady could do that.  After church out on the terrace for coffee I followed up and she has a wonderful story. During WWII Chinese sailors at the Brisbane Port could not return and were interned at a place in Bulimba near the river.  They often passed Ingrid’s house and after months set up a laundry business under the house.  At war’s end they engaged Ingrid’s parents to help them register the laundry as a business and so they could stay.  Ingrid and Peter Fong fell in love and they had 4 children. Peter was a steward at the church for decades and passed away 2007. Ingrid showed me his photo in her wallet and certainly a dignified gentleman.  She visited China with him 6 times including his ancestral home which she recalls in English as Ho Chong somewhere not too far outside the main southern city of Canton.  Her kids are apparently consumed in Western ways and not much to tie them back to China.

There is a whole book in there, stranger than fiction.  A lovely story. Ingrid Fong

Thrilled to see an article describing my eldest son’s contribution to professional women’s cycling sport.

Of course I know it is true and objective. I have followed his journey and if I wanted to be biased I would add more which is also true.  But I had to reflect on my own perspective and impact on all this. I was especially struck by the line that “my parents had land”  for him to train riding at our place.  It sounds like we were real rich with a huge expanse for a bike circuit. And maybe in his eyes as a junior maybe that was how he saw it. In reality, in suburban Brisbane, our whole street was half acre blocks, with a single residence leaving space for play.  Our progression of homes in Canberra, Darwin and Brisbane was a story of increased room for the kids’ development and we always had enough room to kick the footy as they grew from toddlers to teenagers.

Jono sure used our yard as a race circuit.  I was supposed to be doing my PhD write up and his mum would have been playing tennis. Jono 8 and Lee 6 were doing circuits, racing, like it was viewed by millions.  I was the only one peeking and I snuck out and changed the closest corner marker. After a couple of laps I made it more difficult and I saw his eyes flicker reckoning what’s up. Couple more laps with increasingly impossible corner and put down the bike and discovered dad’s prank.   Had to laugh.  He was learning the mysteries of being pranked.

On another occasion as dark fell I found the two chromemoly bikes out against a fence and likely to be highly prized by others. I put them in the shed than nonchalantly mentioned he had better put the bikes away. He came in like ghoststruck and I had to burst out laughing and tell him it was okay.

So “the land” his parents had, just a  good back yard, did grow to be major circuits of world cycling.  Very pleased for him and the people he works with.



Everything around us is chemistry – water, air, the ground we walk on, and our biological bodies are a miracle of balanced chemical reactions.  As babies we experiment with our five senses to explore the useful nature and functions of materials.  What is soft and hard, hot and cold, malleable and brittle.  Parents get horrified at their kids’ taste tests, but it only takes once to determine what tastes good and bad.

We soon sublimate the miracles of everyday chemistry and take them as given – panting after exertion is increased oxygen intake, shivering is flesh doing work on a nanometer scale to generate heat, hunger is a need for more carbon-hydrogen bonds to fuel combustion for maintenance and mobilizing myriad body functions.  We don’t need to test every step we take because we learn to link observations with a huge file of molecular characteristics.  If the path looks slippery then we take care.

Having learned and subsumed these libraries of chemical facts (when water boils and freezes, what food rots and what metals rust, and the strengths of materials) we go about our daily business with no need to fact check.  Our body functions, millions of them, are basically self-correcting, though we acknowledge unquestioningly the need for rest and maintenance, and some people are particular about the chemistry of what we eat.

And so a person gets up in the morning and starts the day.  There are more intricate moving parts than on an aircraft carrier (we can build aircraft carriers but not people). So what does a person do?  Part routine – breakfast and dress, and part conscious mission, a hierarchy of priorities based on importance, timing and relationship compatibility and synergy. Breathing, drinking and eating are crucial but usually below the horizon of our planning.

Most actions done are not discussed in terms of chemistry, but in abstract shortcuts to identify the goal. The more abstract and long term the goal, the less relevant the chemical reactions involved seem to be.  “Getting married and having a family” is a noble cause embraced by a majority of people, and the chemistry involved, over 3 or 4 decades, does not seem to warrant detailed attention. We think at higher levels of abstraction unless something goes wrong with health.

Only occasionally can our long term goals be characterized in chemistry terms – gold, diamonds, scarce compounds, athletic performance, dieting.  Elaborately transformed manufactures are the result of complex series of chemical processes, often of rare materials in an organized way.  We fail to admire the chemistry in a smartphone, but it is a miracle maze of atomic structure of silicon, copper and other metals and materials. Expert chemists worked together to make it look simple.

Here is a heady, complex concept: the history of the Earth is a series of chemical reactions, and right now the number of atoms that make up the planet are either in stable relationships or are reacting to form new compounds.  The bulk are fixed – rock, and the second large category are in cycles, with carbon, oxygen and water as main reactants and products.  Birth, and life, and death have a chemistry basis.

From animal kingdoms where individuals or groups forage for food and sustain life, and the chemistry is fairly basic, humans evolved from similar patterns to complex societies with value chains. Originally production was in primary industries through to now where the major sector of an economy is services.  The more profound the value chains and more intricate the skills and history of learning that goes into final goods and services, the less traceable is the chemistry at work. If you don’t get half a kilogram of carbohydrate a day, that is a huge problem, and it is a challenge for a billion people.  But for the majority of 7 billion people where the next meal is coming from is not a mystery.  There is more thought given to a ton of metal in a car, or the bricks, mortar and timber in a house.

The big abstraction occurs when material goods and services are equated to a price, which then tends to skip over any chemical processes to reach what consumers see as the final delivery.  While individuals facing markets may still have a feel for chemistry behind production, stimulus packages and smoke-and-mirror financial products have diluted reality till wellbeing is a one dimensional dollar number.  Chemistry is more than that and does not lie.  Chemistry can nourish and warm and provide protection. Of course it can harm in the wrong hands too.  We all need a feel for the chemistry of all around us.

We are very complex marvelous robots, all born roughly the same as babies.  We are remotely controlled and there is some soul somewhere that is working with that remote control pad figuring out how to move your parts and how to manage the messages coming into your five kinds of sensors, and after about a year that soul has learnt how to walk you and then the achievements including language come quickly.

We cannot hope to explain the soul, except there is one with a remote control pad for each human.  We don’t know “where” they are because it is not of the dimensions we understand. They may be inside your brain or heart but probably not.  We don’t know what the soul’s purpose is, if it is a game, or a competition, or some exercise completely beyond our comprehension. It could be a test for that soul to get to some Heaven.

One important feature could be that through the actions of the human (a fancy robot) the values and characteristics of the soul (the operator) become manifest.  Are they a good operator? Can they handle malfunctions? Can they manage conflict with other robots operated by other souls?

An interesting conclusion would be that the human body is just like a remote controlled robot with mechanisms having an average life of 70 years.  The soul has as much affinity to the robot as a kid has to a remote controlled toy.  One day it will be broken beyond repair.  No big deal, the toy is discarded and what happens to the soul would be beyond comprehension or even concern to the toy.

But do we (our consciousness) have a connection to the operator – the soul?  I think we do and I hear people talk about “body, mind and soul” as 3 parts of one person.  The explanation I am guessing is that soul in not just “part”, certainly not just an extra part of our consciousness. If we, our conscious self, as a body (very complex mechanism) and a brain (central processing unit for incoming and outgoing signals) can come to grips with imaging that we are operated by some ethereal soul (not of this world, certainly not visible), then that would explain a lot.

It is almost like us complex robots are now evolving an artificial intelligence that is piecing together the story of our existence.  It is almost like this primitive stirring of realization leads us to have a vested interest in the future of the soul after our physical bodies burn out.  I would like my operator to be successful whatever that means, and hope I can function effectively.