Matthew Reddin

Hello America, From Australia: Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger

(Left Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash; Right Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash)

In his latest Hello America, From Australia, Matthew Reddin praises vaccination efforts in California, and questions the resumption of cruise ships in Florida.


Nice to be with you again, from the other side of the world. Here, it’s winter, and it’s shaping up to be a very cold one. New Zealand pop singer Lorde recently released (or “dropped,” as the young people say) her new single “Solar Power” and said upon its release, “It’s about the infectious, flirtatious summer energy that takes hold of us all, come June (or December if you’re a southern hemisphere baby like me but I know that’s literally IMPOSSIBLE for you all to wrap your little heads around so don’t worry about it!!).”

Which is Lorde either speaking a somewhat disheartening truth about America’s education system, or her just straight up being condescendingly shit, implying that Americans don’t know how hemispheres work. You do, though, right? I can’t imagine you wouldn’t (it means “half circle”). Spoiler Alert: We have Christmas here in summer. It’s our thing. The water goes down the drain in a counterclockwise manner, as well. And we eat pumpkin as a vegetable, not as a dessert.

Let’s move on.

If you steal from people without acknowledging it, it’s called plagiarism. When you do it AND acknowledge it, it’s called homage. Knowing that, please allow me to pay homage to Stephen Colbert with a “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger” in your direction.

First things first: a tip of the hat to the United States, especially San Francisco, which The Guardian is reporting will soon become the first major US city to achieve what is said to be COVID “herd immunity”:

“Nearly 80% of San Francisco residents eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine have received at least one shot, according to data from the city’s health department, and 68% are fully vaccinated.”

The theorized target goal for herd immunity is 70-80% of a population.

The city is still recording a small number of coronavirus cases, about 13.7 per day (comparatively large when compared to Melbourne, where we had zero last Friday, meaning our 14-day average for newly acquired cases is 4.4 … during which we were amid a snap lockdown). The level of SF’s hospitalizations and deaths has plummeted. The sheer volume of vaccinated people has pretty much made “opening up” and a return to “normal” a thing again, with San Francisco leading the nation. This is a rarity for the city, which has previously led the nation in few other ways than “ludicrously steep roads.”

“The state of California … lags a bit behind San Francisco’s vaccination rate with about 58% of its population having received one dose of the vaccine, according to statistics from the Los Angeles Times,” The Guardian said.

It’s good to see, and with it we can take solace that a well-organized vaccination program works and pays dividends.


A tip of the hat to the United States, especially San Francisco, which The Guardian is reporting will soon become the first major US city to achieve what is said to be COVID “herd immunity” …


Down here, it’s been a bit of a struggle for the government to kick their vaccination program into high gear, with it having been botched from the outset. It’s gaining momentum, but in Victoria (the state for which Melbourne is the capital) – population 6.68 million – 11.2% of the population has received a single dose of the vaccine, with a paltry 1.5% of the population fully vaccinated.

California has among the highest vaccination rates in the US, but is still behind 11 states, including Vermont, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. Nothing to sneeze at. So, again, tip of the hat to San Francisco for gettin’ it done.

Wag of the finger, however, is directed firmly at … Florida, I suppose. NewsNation reported two people having tested positive for COVID-19 on the first post-pandemic cruise from North America (for what it’s worth, we’re not “post-pandemic” yet; just ask 1/6th of the world’s population in India).

The Royal Caribbean “Celebrity Millennium” cruise reported two people, asymptomatic and vaccinated, tested positive aboard their floating petri dish and are now isolating.

Per NewsNation, “The cruise was adjusted for COVID-19 protocols including changes to everything from buffets to how safety routines were conducted.”

It’s all well and good, and encouraging too, that the Royal Caribbean people would have such rigorous health-incentivized protocols and procedures in place. They have a business to run, after all.

But it does beg the question that given the massive global impact the virus had, the disquieting degree to which such diseases spread aboard cruise ships, and how the disease disproportionately impacts people of a certain age, who seem to be fans of cruise ships (for some reason) … that cruise liners would still be operating at all, and people would be in the slightest bit keen to get on board. The last time I saw one of those things docked in the harbor I needed a penicillin shot just looking at it.

Think of all the times you’ve read or seen anecdotes from disgruntled passengers about bad experiences on such vessels, that included the liberal use of the terms “food poisoning outbreak” and “raw sewage in the corridors.” And that was pre-COVID.

Not that I want to tell America’s Boomers how to suck eggs, but lord have mercy, people. Your parents successfully saved western civilization, defeated fascism, and invented the middle class. Do them a service by not being reckless with your (and the world’s) wellbeing. There are other, nicer, less germ-infested places to visit that don’t require endless hours inside what are essentially buoyant virus incubation chambers.

For what it’s worth, I’d avoid any food service set-up that has a sneeze guard just as a rule of thumb (it’s there because it NEEDS to be there: someone has, in the past, sneezed enough on the crouton bowl to necessitate there being a guard in place), but then again, I’m not much one for self-serve fried chicken. Call me crazy.


Matthew Reddin

Matt Reddin has been writing nonsense about film, TV, books, music, and live theatre for a touch over 20 years. He’s gone from the halcyon days of street press in Perth, to regional dailies, national magazines, and major metropolitan newspapers. Now, in between bouts of sporadically yelling at clouds, he vents his creative spleen at

Related posts