Posts tagged "Australia"

Stuff I hate about Americans.

Look, if I didn’t love being here, I would go home tomorrow. I could do it easily. And when I got there, people would look at me strange. Like, don’t you love America? Yes I do, and, stupidly, on many days here I step outside and am amazed that I’m in America, and get so happy because of that fact. I am not anti-American.

But there’s this American thing, where if you’re an American even slightly educated about the world beyond your borders, you think you know everything there is to know about the world beyond your borders. The place I notice this most frequently is in politics and sports. 

I was at my local bar tonight (and the differences between a local bar and a local pub are one of the many things I love about America), and the bartender, obviously wanting to make conversation, asked me is I was excited about the World Cup. (This is while I was watching the Suns-Lakers game and the Mariners-Tigers game, both of which I was mildly interested in.)

Now, this is a question he could not have known I would take offense at, but it’s also a question he would not have asked if I didn’t talk with a certain accent.

See, I not only consider soccer to be a foreign game, I consider it to be an invasively foreign game. This is not a view all Australians share. But, when I hear an argument of equivalence made between Australianness and soccer, I think of the way Aussie soccer fans idolize Manchester United and Liverpool and Chelsea, and other English teams, and I think of colonialism, and I think of the eternal political debate in my country as to whether our head of state should be one of us or should be a foreign monarch, and I get very patriotic.

None of which is something an American should be expected to know. Except for the fact that, in Australia, the most popular non-cricket sports are Australian Rules football, Rugby League and Rugby Union. That is, there is no reason for an American to believe that Australians are interested in soccer unless they deduce “non-American places like soccer,” and “Australia is a non-American place,” therefore, “Australia likes soccer.”

America. I love you. But there is a huge difference between “non-American place” and “X country that is not America.” Countries that are not you do not do sport like England. Countries that are not you do not do politics like England. 

And I sympathize. I understand, and enjoy, how immersive American life is. It is difficult to know what happens beyond these borders while you’re here. And even though I once was offended when a friend of mine asked if we celebrated Christmas in Australia (um yes), this seems a far more honest approach than to extrapolate knowledge of other nations from an understanding of Canada or from an understanding of England.

To the bartender’s credit, when I told him I was Australian, he responded, “Oh, so you’re more into rugby.” Which is, hey, thanks for the recognition, but where i’m from rugby means rugby union, which I have to dislike for class reasons, even though I don’t at all like rugby league, which I’m meant to like for class reasons. But how can I explain that to someone who is being generous by even supposing that I might like rugby (a game with local cultural roots) as opposed to a foreign game like soccer?

I might be creating an unfairly high standard. But it does infuriate me that the Americans that are most interested in a world beyond their borders seem to be the ones most comfortable with thinking they understand my culture when they do not.


Which I wouldn’t fault anyone for, even though I do get frustrated that something as important as my nationality could become obscured by assumptions. There’s this clip of the Veronicas on the Suite Life of Zach and Cody I like, because it features the twins being asked if they’re from England. “Australia,” they respond in unison. “Do you hate it when people think you’re English?” their questioner continues.
"Yes," they affirm. And I think, oh my god, yes. Of all the unlikely emotions to be communicated by the Disney channel, thank god for this one.
It’s the assumption more than anything. The idea that someone should be able to know what I am, when they clearly do not know. Just… you know. You can ask me where I’m from. That’s cool. I can answer that.
As for Australian football, or as I shall henceforth refer to it, Aussie Rules, I’m not interested in it, because I don’t pay real attention to any sport other than American football. But I can talk about it. If I have a team, it’s the Richmond Tigers. That’s because my father is a fan of the rugby league team Balmain Tigers. (Balmain is in Sydney; Richmond is in Melbourne. This is sort of like liking the Giants in baseball because your father likes the Giants in football.)
All I’m saying is… if you don’t know about something, don’t talk about it as if you do. Especially if it’s something as important as someone’s country. (I probably break this rule all the time, too, considering I’m a white male from a Western country meaning I fit pretty well into most hegemonic structures anyway.)

Which I wouldn’t fault anyone for, even though I do get frustrated that something as important as my nationality could become obscured by assumptions. There’s this clip of the Veronicas on the Suite Life of Zach and Cody I like, because it features the twins being asked if they’re from England. “Australia,” they respond in unison. “Do you hate it when people think you’re English?” their questioner continues.

"Yes," they affirm. And I think, oh my god, yes. Of all the unlikely emotions to be communicated by the Disney channel, thank god for this one.

It’s the assumption more than anything. The idea that someone should be able to know what I am, when they clearly do not know. Just… you know. You can ask me where I’m from. That’s cool. I can answer that.

As for Australian football, or as I shall henceforth refer to it, Aussie Rules, I’m not interested in it, because I don’t pay real attention to any sport other than American football. But I can talk about it. If I have a team, it’s the Richmond Tigers. That’s because my father is a fan of the rugby league team Balmain Tigers. (Balmain is in Sydney; Richmond is in Melbourne. This is sort of like liking the Giants in baseball because your father likes the Giants in football.)

All I’m saying is… if you don’t know about something, don’t talk about it as if you do. Especially if it’s something as important as someone’s country. (I probably break this rule all the time, too, considering I’m a white male from a Western country meaning I fit pretty well into most hegemonic structures anyway.)


I’m sure he was. I asked him how the US team was doing, and he definitely knew more than I did. It was more that he clearly thought I should share his interest.
It was as much a social problem than anything else. I didn’t want to be indignant, or pompous. I wanted to have a conversation. It’s just that eventually it had to be made clear he thought he was conversing with someone with whom he wasn’t conversing. Like, when dude talked to other patrons, he talked about the baseball and basketball games. How do I tell him that, no, actually, I’m more interested in baseball and basketball than soccer?

I’m sure he was. I asked him how the US team was doing, and he definitely knew more than I did. It was more that he clearly thought I should share his interest.

It was as much a social problem than anything else. I didn’t want to be indignant, or pompous. I wanted to have a conversation. It’s just that eventually it had to be made clear he thought he was conversing with someone with whom he wasn’t conversing. Like, when dude talked to other patrons, he talked about the baseball and basketball games. How do I tell him that, no, actually, I’m more interested in baseball and basketball than soccer?


naysayersspeak:

Reading Plouffe’s memoir made me realise one thing: the Obama campaign had totally undermined the notion of convention wisdom. Every time they played to conventional wisdom, they were beaten. Every time they defied it, they were rewarded- a notion Plouffe underscores in the book.

Maybe that’s why the traditional media are so threatened by new media. Because it forces them to consider new wisdoms, and not just settle for the old one.

There’s this thing that Matt Yglesias especially does, and it’s kind of tiring. He argues that all the talk about political narratives is basically meaningless because in the end elections are all about the economy. Which is usually absolutely true, except for the times it’s not. And because elections happen only intermittently, the exceptions matter. Which is why you get the rules being broken in the ‘08 campaign, where America would never elect a black president, except, oh wait, they did; or like Australia in ‘07, when we changed governments in the middle of great economic prosperity. I think there’s even a bit of this in America in the ’60s, though I’d have to revisit Nixonland to be sure.

And this is not normally how elections go. But the exceptions were the result of narratives. And that’s why it’s silly to sit back and blame it all on the e-e-e-economy like T-Pain and Jamie Foxx. Yes, usually that’s how elections are decided, so that’s why paying attention to getting people jobs and that is an important thing. But elections are sometimes decided for other reasons. And when they are, you better have a narrative.


Isolation and distance and the options and opportunities available at that distance must play a part in a compilation like this. With the spotlight off and a small sprawling port city to negotiate, bands and artists rely on a sense of co-operation and tolerance to survive and flourish. Artistically, though, that is a double-edged sword: isolation and its gift of an added sense of self can benefit the creative process and sharpen an artist’s work, while the lack of a wide and critical audience eats at the feedback the artist or band needs to develop and bounce. Things can drift – strange, wonderful talents may grow in the dark – while distance and its imposing lack of urgency may cause others to lag behind.

Robert Forster, “Distant Sounds: ‘Community: A Compilation of Hobart Music’,” The Monthly, March 2010

Forster is talking about the capital city of the state of Tasmania here, but his words could equally apply to Australian music in general. Unknowingly, he gets at one of the things most frustrating about the way the country thinks about its local acts, and also at the reasons behind some of its best successes.


It is understood that in the past few weeks the Queen’s treasurer, Sir Alan Reid, has briefed government officials that her expenditure is running at about £7 million ($12 million) more than the annual allowance. This shortfall is being met by an emergency reserve that is expected to run out in 2012.

The civil list, £7.9 million a year, has been frozen for 20 years.

Courtiers say that, in the long term, the Queen needs an increase in annual funding that at least takes into account inflation over the past 20 years - 80 per cent during that time.

The Queen, however, is sensitive to public opinion and ministers fear a public relations disaster if the civil list is increased by such a large amount in the wake of the economic crisis.

Andrew Alderson and Patrick Hennessey, “Queen is $12m short each year,” The Sydney Morning Herald, May 31, 2010

The civil list is the money the British Parliament pays the Queen to be queen.

So. We have a woman whose only job is to smile and wave and nod at ceremonies, who qualified for such a job by crawling out of her mum’s vagina eighty-something years ago and staying alive long enough for her dad to die, and she receives millions of pounds every year from the British taxpayer for this highly-technical work.

And she spends almost twice as much as she “earns.”

And the only reason she doesn’t ask for even more money is because it might look bad. Because the people who pay her don’t have a lot of money at the moment. Not because she doesn’t do shit to earn the money she’s asking for, but because it might look bad.

I have a modest proposal for the British Government. How about they cut this dumb bint’s earnings to about zero pounds per year, and tell her to go get a fucking job?


Since I understand my suggestion that the Queen get a job might be perceived as a little radical, I’ve got an alternate suggestion for the British government. I propose that they crown me king of England. 
This will save them an immense amount of money, because I promise to spend no more than three million pounds more than I’m given each year.
Please support my campaign by tweeting the hashtag #MakeJonathanKingofEngland. As you can see from the picture above, I asked the former Australian Opposition Leader and one time leader of the Australian Republican Movement to support me. His protest that he never abandoned the movement is sadly unconvincing; Turnbull thinks Australia should not reconsider the issue until the Queen dies. Making the destiny of our country contingent on the actions of a foreign monarch seems entirely antithetical to the intention of republicanism.

Since I understand my suggestion that the Queen get a job might be perceived as a little radical, I’ve got an alternate suggestion for the British government. I propose that they crown me king of England. 

This will save them an immense amount of money, because I promise to spend no more than three million pounds more than I’m given each year.

Please support my campaign by tweeting the hashtag #MakeJonathanKingofEngland. As you can see from the picture above, I asked the former Australian Opposition Leader and one time leader of the Australian Republican Movement to support me. His protest that he never abandoned the movement is sadly unconvincing; Turnbull thinks Australia should not reconsider the issue until the Queen dies. Making the destiny of our country contingent on the actions of a foreign monarch seems entirely antithetical to the intention of republicanism.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

The United States Declaration of Independence.

I know people think it’s a little odd how ardently I express my republicanism, but I simply do not understand why what I’m saying should be considered so extreme. Can 234 year old words really be so radical?


naysayersspeak:

The light in the city today was beautiful.

I felt sure Erin was driving north here, but the light’s coming from the left, so this must be going back toward the city? Unless she’s driving in morning. I don’t understand morning.
Anyways, I love driving north over the Harbour Bridge. To get on it you have to enter through some little byways in the western edge of the city, and then, after going through a couple tunnels, you emerge on a gleaming thoroughfare soaring above ground level in the midst of the towers of Circular Quay. Accelerating, you catapult on to the bridge, seven lanes of speed with nothing separating you from the southbound traffic from the north. In your rear-view is the spiring CBD, and on either side lies the vast steely expanse of Port Jackson barred-off by the grim grey-iron of the bridge.
It feels like flying.

naysayersspeak:

The light in the city today was beautiful.

I felt sure Erin was driving north here, but the light’s coming from the left, so this must be going back toward the city? Unless she’s driving in morning. I don’t understand morning.

Anyways, I love driving north over the Harbour Bridge. To get on it you have to enter through some little byways in the western edge of the city, and then, after going through a couple tunnels, you emerge on a gleaming thoroughfare soaring above ground level in the midst of the towers of Circular Quay. Accelerating, you catapult on to the bridge, seven lanes of speed with nothing separating you from the southbound traffic from the north. In your rear-view is the spiring CBD, and on either side lies the vast steely expanse of Port Jackson barred-off by the grim grey-iron of the bridge.

It feels like flying.


An American Parliament.


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