|Thoughts on diverse topics: the Gold Coast, Pakistani politics, and cricket
||[28 December 2007|04:38 pm]
Tomorrow morning, I return to Melbourne. It's been nice to visit everybody and I wish my time with them weren't so limited, but I do not miss living on the Gold Coast one bit. I may have spent nine years of my life here, but I am bloody sure that I will never move back here. I suppose I shouldn't say "never", as who knows what kind of job offer could come my way in the future, but I would not ever entertain the notion of moving here for the sake of moving here. The Gold Coast is truly a disaster of town planning; a lesson in how to not do it. Now, there are plenty of poorly planned cities out there, and others that are victims of difficult geography (such as my native Wellington). But the Gold Coast is downright horrible. It's just a bunch of seaside towns that have sprawled and sprawled into a formless mass of suburbia pretending to be a city. Accordingly, it is completely car-dependent. Public transport is either barely visible or outright non-existent. I had somewhat forgotten the feeling of total dependence on others. Due to my inability to drive, I simply cannot have any initiative in going anywhere; I have to fit in with the plans of others. The tram network in Melbourne really is one of the best things that has happened to me and I imagine I will live there for a long time yet. New Zealand may be nice, but Melbourne suits me better. In any case, if I go into New Zealand history as an academic career, it's not exactly hard for me to fly across the Tasman.
In world events, I was quite shocked but not at all surprised to see that Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani Prime Minister, has been assassinated. This really just caps off a horrendously turbulent year in Pakistani politics and things seem to be on a knife's edge with Islamist parties achieving significant popularity in some regions and President Musharraf being more than just a questionable person for Western states to materially support. What does bother me is how many people have instantly brought up the issue of financial aid to Pakistan not in the context of "why in the first place?", but "why has it not successfully caused democratic change?" This in many cases seems to be based on some kind of assumption that throwing money at a problem will solve it; that if you offer people financial aid, they will behave exactly as you would desire they behave and adhere to the norms that you wish to impose. Now, I have no answers for Pakistan's problems and would never pretend to be an expert on that part of the world, but expecting Western money to motivate considerable long-term change strikes me as foolish. The issues run much, much deeper than that.
To move to a totally different topic, the sporting world, it's nice to see New Zealand convincingly win some one day cricket matches, but beating Bangladesh is hardly anything to boast about. Meanwhile, the Boxing Day test seems to have gotten away from India; Australia has declared, setting India a target of 499 for victory. The world record winning score in a fourth innings is, I believe, 416 - though someone once made approximately 650 in a drawn match. India do have over two days to play at this point, so if they can hold onto wickets and score 250 a day, they can win. Given their abysmal performance in their first innings though, where they failed to reach even 200, I do not expect big things from them and the egotistical, arrogant Australian cricketing juggernaut will roll on.