(PHIL is visiting the AUSTRALIAN HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT with his nine-year-old Aussie nephew CALEB. They enter the GREAT HALL. It is an impressive sight. The two of them pause for a few moments to take it in.)
CALEB: Oy! I wish I had a basketball right now!
PHIL: (nodding sagely) Spoken like a true American, Caleb.
There’s a famous quote by the late Dr. Kinsey in which he wonders what America would have been like if it had been settled by criminals and hedonists, rather than religious fanatics, the implication being that a much more liberated society would have formed. He needed look no further than Australia, to see his thesis proved both right and wrong. They’re a lot like Americans, only without that wonky puritanical streak.
Visited the Aussie House of Parliament, and got separated from the others no less than twice, because I had to spend just a little more time with their copy of the Magna Carta — dating from 1299, when Edward I signed and distributed several copies, only four of which are still in existence.
Its easy to romanticize the document, regarding it as a triumph of the people over their monarch, when in reality it had a lot more to do with one small gang of thugs stealing power from the king for themselves. But still, it articulated a set of ideas and started a dialogue that was later picked up by figures like Richard Overton and Oliver Cromwell, Adam Smith and John Locke, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, and that’s still going on today. It’s hard to stand in the presence of that and not be sort of startled by it.
And, y’know, I never thought the day would come when I was waxing nostalgic for the right of Habeas Corpus. So there’s that.
Travelling with my father means listening to lots of arguments championing the cause of socialism, and that means necessary recourse to copious amounts of alcohol. This has led me to three observations:
1) Hard as it may be to believe that an advertising campaign has lied to me, Foster’s is something of a joke here.
2) Observed several signs indicating “WARNING: THE SERVING OF ALCOHOL TO SOMEONE WHO IS INTOXICATED IS A FEDERAL OFFENSE.” Where the hell is the fun in that? This is one of those laws that I assume isn’t really enforced. I can’t imagine what watering hole *could* enforce it and still stay in business.
3) Guinness is me brand, and it’s so hard to find here it’s ridiculous. Finally hit up a bar towards the end of the trip that had it on tap, and, mmmmm, there it is, that dark, creamy liquid flowing down my throat, black as the devil and cold as hell — how could anyone have ever made this shit illegal? If heaven doesn’t have a keg, I ain’t interested.