comparing countries

After I left Iran, I used to go every day to Google News and type "Iran" to read about the latest news from there. Once, I believed that there was some hope that things would get better in Iran, that the economic or political situation would somehow improve. The country has a restless young population, some very clever people, and the tolerant King Cyrus as part of its history. But after living there for nineteen months (April 2002 to October 2003) I realised the future there is bleak. Most intelligent people living there want to leave. I know some who don't, but generally they are eternal optimists, people with wool in their eyes, or people with even more inertia than me. The most useful thing I learned from my stay was Persian itself -- though that will deteriorate without constant practice.

Financially Iran was not good for me - and I have promised myself not to move to a country where I would be paid less than Australia, because I think I would lose self-respect. I wonder what I gained from it; I think the experience made me a much more interesting person, although Australians aren't that much interested in Iran and I don't suppose that will change unless George and/or Johnny decide to invade. (I note though that The Diplomat magazine seems to have an article about Iran every month.)

I've been thinking about Quality of Life lately. Is Australia the best place to live and is Brisbane a good city in Australia? Mercer and the Economist Intelligence Unit seem to think so. (Though compare Ireland's position in the latter with the broadband penetration mentioned next.) Perhaps Brisbane just doesn't seem exciting to me since I've lived here most of my life.

Recently I visited South Korea. Since I came back to Australia, I've been typing "Korea" into the search box at Google News instead of "Iran". There is some good news - OECD broadband figures show Iceland and Korea have wunderbar broadband penetration. Whereas Australia is still living with 256kbps "fraudband"; there was an article about it in the Australian Financial Review on the 8th April. In this respect, I feel Australia is very backward compared to Korea. Also, Korea has the world's first HSDPA network.

And yet, economic indicators are falling in Korea and the Australian economy seems to be strengthening. (Though I am confused about which way the dollar is heading: the Big Mac index predicts up to $US0.90 whereas the head of Queensland Investment Corporation predicts $US0.50. Bloomberg shows traders divided in their recommendations.)

Somewhere, perhaps in a Korean English newspaper, I read that Korean fertility is the lowest in the world. (Correction: quote from Robert Samuelson article about Russia - "by not having children, people are voting against the future - their countries and perhaps their own." So how is the future in Korea?

I need love and excitement while still maintaining a high quality of life and not working excessive hours. Can I have all of that?


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