Drop that goddam Citizenship Test, Senator Evans!

I agree with Tim Dunlop: “Just dump the stupid, politically motivated, shallow, ill-conceived thing.”

Today The Age reports that fear of failure is turning away potential citizens in droves.

Some migrants were too frightened to apply to become Australians because they feared they would be deported if they failed the controversial citizenship test, Immigration Minister Chris Evans has admitted…

Just 16,024 migrants applied to be citizens between January and March, compared with 38,850 at the same time last year.

I’ve written about this before, of course, both to point out how the whole concept is teh FAIL (to use current lingo), and how it was just pre-election dog-whistle politics anyway.

It’s pointless. I’m assuming there’s already a black market in the answers — though they’re in the book anyway. As one soon-to-be-citizen told me, “It’s all easy enough: 1. Barton. 2. Bradman. 3. Wattle.” And exactly how does that arcane knowledge prove you’re not a “bad person” in a way that isn’t covered by the police and other checks already in place?

Senator Evans, ruling out scrapping the test but setting up a committee to analyse its impact is just wasting taxpayers’ money. Just make a cup of tea, get yourself an Iced Vo-Vo or two, and work through the logic yourself. If you can, that is.

One more New Australian

Photograph of Mayor of Marrickville, Dimitrios Thanos, with Trinn Suwannapa, holding an Australian Citizenship certificate

I want a photo to be sitting at the top of the website through the night, not just the links digest and Twitter digest that appear at midnight. So, here’s ’Pong receiving his Australian Citizenship certificate from the Mayor of Marrickville, Councillor Dimitrios Thanos.

He’s a dentist, but we’re allowed to show you his face.

And doesn’t he look like he’s loving this? Still, we had a drink and chatted local politics afterwards. More of that later.

In theory, this post should only appear at two minutes past midnight on Saturday morning, Australian Eastern Daylight time. If anyone’s visiting at that time, please let me know if it worked.

’Pong becomes an Aussie

Photograph of Trinn Suwannapha with long mohawk, giving the finger

This coming Wednesday evening, the Mayor of Marrickville will cast a political spell and ’Pong will become an Australian citizen.

The ceremony is bound to be a dull local affair in his office. I’ve no idea why this wasn’t all done in the public ceremony on Australia Day, given that ’Pong’s citizenship was approved before the election last year. I presume the word is “incompetence”.

Still, the following Sunday 16 March we’ll be celebrating in appropriate style with alcohol and burnt, dead animals. I just don’t know what’d be an appropriate gift. Suggestions?

[Photo of ’Pong taken by me on 23 March 2004, just after ’Pong had been a movie extra in either Son of The Mask or Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure. Both so classy…]

How this ordinary aircraft will change my life

Photograph of Thai Airways International Boeing 747-400 at Sydney Airport

This Boeing 747-400, photographed at Sydney airport last Friday, belongs to Thai Airways International. If you happen to have decent eyesight, you can confirm this by the fact that it has “Thai” painted on the side. Ownership is not about paint, however.

If you paint “Thai” on my side, I do not then become the property of Thai Airways, not even if you’re employed by Thai Airways to do so. Paint is just paint, whereas ownership of property is an abstract concept. A concept which can be supported or asserted by paint or other physical signs, but still an abstract concept which can only be agreed upon by sentient beings.

But what about another concept: nationality?

Nationality is not about paint either. Paint “Thai” on my side if you like. If you use the right brush I might even enjoy it. But I won’t become even remotely Thai. However is nationality something which is just agreed upon? Or is there something essential — in the core meaning of the word, having to do with essence — which makes someone immutably Thai or Australian or Czech or Chinese?

And how does nationality relate to similar concepts, such as ethnicity or race or culture?

I usually don’t think about these categories. The variation within them outweighs the supposed differences. People of every nationality range from amiable to arsehole. However that aircraft — that specific aircraft — has brought it all into focus.

Continue reading “How this ordinary aircraft will change my life”