Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Last Australian Frontier

As our time in Australia nears its end, there remains one frontier of cultural understanding that we haven't explored.  As much as we may feel at home in this country, we are completely in the dark when it comes to Australian sports.

So Elias and I pushed back the veil of our ignorance, just a little bit, by attending the third day of the current cricket test match this weekend - Australia vs. Sri Lanka.

It was a great father-son outing.  I found that I could even explain a few things about the game to Elias. At this point, I'm appreciating every moment when I still know more than him about something.

And - I enjoyed the game.  Two Sri Lankans were batting the entire time we were there - the Aussies couldn't get them out - and I appreciated the stately pace of the match as the day went on.

All that - plus there was face painting.

Elias wore his new Australian Cricket singlet to bed that night.


Meanwhile, it hasn't escaped our notice that the children killed in Connecticut were Elias' age.

Looking across the Australian/American divide, I can say that things don't have to be that way in America.  Gun control works.  My kid's school in Tasmania doesn't have to practice for mass-shooting incidents the way that American schools do.

The politics of saturating American civil life with guns, like so many of the dark/angry aspects of right-wing politics in America, is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating to the civil rights movement.  Fifty years ago, the NRA was focused on gun safety, and the idea that anyone should be able to own a semi-automatic assault rifle with a large-capacity magazine was completely foreign to American political discourse.

So, this too, will change.  The pendulum will swing.  It will take a generation, and many many more six-year-old children will be shot and killed before change comes, but eventually we will make things better in America.


  1. Hi Mike,
    I’m an old cruising friend of Peter and Ness Addenbrooke on Akimbo. I sailed a steel “Joshua” ketch called Sundowner for 12 years in the Pacific.
    I’ve been in touch with Akimbo for years now by snail mail, and they had a yahoo e-mail address. I tried that today and its not working. Do you have a current e-mail address for them that you could e-mail me? If you’re ever in Nelson, give me a call...
    Mr. Sandy Fontwit
    26 Athol Street
    RD1 Nelson 7071

    1. Hey Sandy - I've only got their winlink address, which I'm not sure they check when they're not out sailing - I sent them your email via facebook....perhaps we'll give you a call in Nelson some time - we hear it's a great spot.

  2. Hi Mike - Thanks for saying the things you do about guns. There will always be crazies, sadly. There are in Tasmania too. But I remember how fast Australians fell in with new gun control laws after the Port Arthur massacre. We were terrified out of our minds by that casual slaughter. It seems to me that Americans (in general) are not nearly afraid enough of the weapons in their midst. I don't understand why that is, but I hope you're right about the pendulum.

    1. yeah, America is definitely the only western nation to make sure that every crazy can own as many assault rifles as they can pay for. But things do get better - lynching was endemic in parts of America during my parents' lifetimes, but it's unheard of now. The American right has gotten so crazy on guns - "tragedy could have been averted if the teachers had been armed!" - that they will be their own downfall on this issue.

      Meanwhile - we can't wait to go sailing, already!