Friday, December 26, 2014

Steve Wozniak, My Engineering Hero

Came across the news that Steve Wozniak was taking firm steps toward Australian Citizenship, which drew some nasty cynical comments from some friends of mine about him wanting to evade US taxes.

It irked me just a little, but I had known Woz's story for quite a while now and he had been one of the inspirational drivers for my inner geek and how I'd like to approach my professional life - if it proves useful to someone, I'd happily give my work as my default way of thinking. If I can make money from it, or get paid for it, then that's great. Of course, don't take my word for it ... Woz made his fortune from the Apple II machine way back, and he hadn't hastily left the USA the way Severin did the moment he found out he was getting a windfall from the Facebook IPO. What Woz did, he did for passion and I'm glad he made good money from it. Strangely enough, I have good reason to believe those cynical friends of mine are the same ones who worship Steve Jobs the way I don't (even if I admired some of his vision.)

If I could, I'd wish Woz a great and happy retirement. Seems like he really does enjoy Australia a lot.


Kevin Jang said...

The issue about taxes aside, I would like to comment on Australia as a whole. Everybody is going to have a different experience based on what he or she enters Australia with. For those of Asian heritage, you have to be mentally prepared for discrimination which, although not always direct at times, does come across in the process of seeking to settle down. Firstly, the "local experience" clause will close you off from a lot of jobs, and that was what happened with my job search over there. No matter how much foreign experience you have that seems attractive to others, Australians want LOCAL experience. It's a Catch-22 situation, and this is one of the main reasons why highly qualified people who immigrate from abroad tend to end up doing menial jobs in Australia.

While Australia is seeking to be a post-racial society like other western ones, including Canada and the USA(Canada is by far the best on this count from my point of view), it has not fully resolved this issue. People in advocacy groups urging immigration reform in Australia are still on this "European immigrants(whites) first, and then Asians who CAN SPEAK ENGLISH" track of thinking. There is still a very deep-seated bias amongst a lot of white Australians that Asians did not grow up speaking English, might not speak English, and hence, cannot be suited to certain jobs, such as teaching and so on. It sounds sad, but very true.

Chee Wai Lee said...

I'm not sure if Australia has had a long history of having to deal fairly with racial diversity issues. The US has had a very tumultuous one, and is still having to negotiate biases across a wide spectrum of peoples. I agree that Canada probably has the most progressive of the three societies. Not sure I know why though.

As for the US, the biases are deep seated, and almost always directed at the latest waves of immigration. Still, people there talk about it, and the government has institutionalized progressive principles guiding labor laws regarding immigrant workforce. To be fair, these laws appear to work better for professionals than for laborers.

Singaporeans still do not bat an eyelid when told why some maids are paid less than others by country of origin, and why they ought to be paid what is effectively nothing by Singapore standards.

Kevin Jang said...

Actually, Australia is well-known for being racist and xenophobic all along. It would be comparatively worse when you even compare it to the UK, its 'parent' country so to say. A friend told me that as someone who has lived there for more than 5 years and qualifies for citizenship by now, why Australia is so racist and resistant towards immigrants is not known to him, since it is hidden in its history. I trace it to the history of the settlers, who were first convicts (predominantly) before the free settlers came in, and the British constitution played a large role in forming the ways Australia's immigration policies and racial integration policies are shaped. Aboriginals are still very much marginalized despite public apologies by the government, and Australians on the whole have not learned to full integrate them.

Canada Day, which is in June/July, is incidentally a day known for the implementation of the racial discrimination act against Chinese many years back during the 1st World War period, and hence, was technically a day when Chinese were marginalized and enslaved to various causes, including the building of the Pacific Railway. When the Chinese communities fought back legally and physically, the government was forced to revise their legalized policies of racism. That also explains why cities like Vancouver and Toronto are more racially diverse and multicultural as Canadian cities.

Kevin Jang said...

The one other reason why I think that I had to leave Australia back then was also because it was bringing me further and further away from my dreams and what I really wanted to do. At that point in time, I figured out that in the house which I was staying at, it was a sick house in its environment for me to even stay on there without being affected negatively. But the house aside, Sydney was bringing me further and further away from the things that I wanted to do, so that led me to get the ticket back. I am actually quite hesitant to get back there if you ask me without a game plan in action or any open doors.