It is June 1999 - winter in Australia. It is the end of the financial year, when companies and shops clean out stock at whatever price it will fetch. In bookshops throughout Australian cities tables are heavy with books of fiction and poetry, esoteric texts, colourful cooking and gardening books. Books galore. What happens to the leftovers at the end of the sale when new editions go on show, I wonder. How are all those volumes that did not find a home disposed of. With a sense of shame at our inability to manage and distribute resources effectively, more equitably, I think of Professor Tien. An academic from Hanoi, Professor Tien's efforts to keep alive his research program could have cost him his life. Indeed, it may have. I feel extremely uncomfortable at the sheer meaningless waste I witness here. There must be a better, more dignified way to deal with surplus materials.