Not Saussure

May 23, 2007

Selling lingerie in Texas

Filed under: Bloody Yanks — notsaussure @ 9:21 pm

Via Andrew Sullivan:

LUBBOCK, TX — An obscure law sends one local lingerie store clerk to jail. And now she may forever have to register as a sex offender.
The lingerie store, Somethin’ Sexy was raided by police last week for violating Lubbock`s sexually oriented business ordinance.

Read more and weep….

April 11, 2007

Zero Tolerance

Filed under: Bloody Yanks — notsaussure @ 11:43 pm

From an arrest report, filed by Police Officer 1401 Tamara L Neale of the Avon Park Police Department in Highlands County, Florida, describing a terrifying incident at a local school:

On the above date and time I responded to the Avon Elementary School at 705 W Winthrop Street, Avon Park, 33825 for a disruptive student, Desirée Watson. Watson was upset and crying and wailing and would not leave the classroom to let them study causing a disruption of the normal class activities. Ms. Rider was called to remove her from the classroom, at which she began to hit and kick Ms Rider. She had to be carried to the front office at which time she continued to wail and cry and refused to communicate in any way or to calm down. When I arrived Watson was still carrying on and would not calm down. When I approached her she crawled under the table, at which I had to crawl and get her and she began to try to pull her legs away to get away from me. When I finally got her clear she began to pull and try to run away from me. I tried several times to get her to calm down and she began to wail louder. I placed her in handcuffs to keep her from hitting and she still kept trying to get away. Upon placing her into the back of the police vehicle she kept unbuckling and trying to get out by placing her foot in the doorway to prevent it from closing. I had to have Officer Allison Smith ride in the back with her to the police department. The parent was still unreachable. She was transported to the Highlands County Jail.

Desirée Watson then found herself charged with two misdemeanours (‘Disruption of School Function’ and ‘Resisting LEO [Law Enforcement Officer?] without Violence’) and one felony, ‘Battery on School Employee’.

Why is this remarkable? Well, according to the ‘Perpetrator Information’ section of the charge sheet, this desperado is 4 foot 6 tall, weighs 50lb (22.7 kg , or just over three and a half stone in old money) and is 6 years old.

According to the local TV station, WFTV,

The chief of police said his officers did the right thing.

“When there is an outburst of violence, we have a duty to protect and make that school a safe environment for the students, staff and faculty. That’s why, at this point, the person was arrested regardless what the age,” said Chief Frank Mercurio, Avon Park Police Department.

Via Slate

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April 4, 2007

Campaign for British Reparations: A Public Service Announcement

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, Books — notsaussure @ 8:23 pm

You know how Americans notoriously don’t do irony? After all, their most reasonable conservative is on record as thinking

Young people (and many adults) often don’t have the capacity to determine the difference between funny and unfunny so I think that we need to start teaching our youth about comedy in the schools. They need to learn that the number one rule of comedy is that a “joke” should be funny. They need to be taught the difference between laughing at and laughing with someone. And they should be taught to avoid satire, which only confuses people and saps the national will. I don’t think, however, that we should teach young people how to be funny, because I don’t think they are ready for that, so I propose that we fund Abstinence-Only comedy classes.

Well, some British bloggers, to whom I won’t link because I like most of them most of the time, have become rather upset about an American campaign,, which purports to be

a global network of citizens who have suffered injuries at the hands of the British Empire over the last five hundred years. We’ve banded together to ask the United Kingdom to compensate the world for all the damage they’ve done.

To further this end, this global network of citizens is circulating a petition containing the following modest proposal:

We, the undersigned citizens of the world, demand reparations payments of £31,960,000,000,000 from the British Monarchy and government of the United Kingdom. This money will compensate us for the profound injuries we have suffered over the last 500 years from British brutality, negligence, malevolence, crimes against humanity, and other heinous and atrocious forms of misrule. It is far from enough to make us whole, but a necessary first step in the long process of British coming to terms with its historical guilty and reconciling itself with global opinion and international law.

Should anyone require further and better particulars in support of this claim (amounting to about £4,600 for every living person on the planet), they are referred to a book, The Evil Empire — 101 Ways That England Ruined The World, of which number 99 is that we made Elton John a knight.

Should anyone require still further and still better particulars of the claim, they’re advised to read an interview with the book’s author, a Mr Steven A Grasse, that appears on the same site before taking it all too literally. Mr Grasse, by the way, is an advertising executive in his day job, and seems to know a thing or two about viral marketing, though being an American he’s obviously not very good at irony;

Like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.

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March 25, 2007

Divided by a common language

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, Foreigners, Opinion polls — notsaussure @ 1:18 pm

While I don’t, for the moment, want to discuss the substantive point about the EU, I think Tim Worstall rather misses the point here. A propos a remark by Will Hutton that ‘The varied languages hide just how very similar we all are’, Tim writes,

Given that we share roughly the same language and have even more in common (things like the basics of the legal system and so on) with those in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the US and so on, this argument means that we should means that they are even less foreigners than the French or Swedes are.

I take this in a rather different way; to my mind, the fact that Americans — I’m not talking about Commonwealth countries here — speak English with a funny accent tends to make us forget they’re foreigners, and thus likely to be dissimilar to us in many ways — while we’re constantly reminded by the fact they speak a different language that the French, Swedes and whoever else have failed to draw first prize in life’s lottery.

If, for example, a survey of young men’s attitudes to women’s dress and modesty — a self-selecting survey, to be sure,and one conducted among a particular, though very sizeable, religious group — were made in Britain or any other EU country, and elicited replies such as (more…)

February 25, 2007

Imagine a world where Americans could read maps…

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, Politics, press — notsaussure @ 8:07 pm

The straw may well be flying over at Doughty Street, but I hope it doesn’t mean I’m an American-hating leftie because I found this rather amusing:


Incidentally, on reading the article that the Flying Rodent discusses, with graphs, about Western Europe’s America Problem, it struck me Professor Markovits’ account of the problems the Viennese gave him over his American accent while he was at school there in the 1960s is a bit partial; my Godmother Lisel, whose parents (Catholic converts) managed to get her out of Vienna on a Kinderstransport, still doesn’t rate anyone, outside family and friends, other than the Viennese very much (and she isn’t too keen on them, for obvious reasons), and she’s lived here for almost 70 years.

Knowing her, I can quite understand why he was admonished by his

English teachers, in their heavily accented, Viennese-inflected English, not to speak this abomination of an “American dialect” or “American slang,” and never to use “American spelling,” with its simplifications that testified prima facie to the uncultured and simpleton nature of Americans.

The Viennese, at least in my experience, take the attitude that, at most, there are only correct ways to do most things; if you’re fortunate enough to be Viennese, you do it the Viennese way — which is obviously best, because otherwise they wouldn’t do it that way — but, if not, you do it the echt way, which, in this case, would be to speak English the way the English speak it.

January 20, 2007

US Election — the smoking cigarette

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, usa — notsaussure @ 6:59 pm

Via Jon Swift, I learn that there’s great concern in the US not only over the fact that Barack Obama’s absent father was a Muslim and that Senator Obama’s middle name is Hussein — and, as Mr Swift points out,

It has only been in the last century that most of our Presidents had middle names, but most of these were good American-sounding middle names like Gamaliel, Delano, Fitzgerald, Baines and Milhous. Two of our Presidents just had the middle initial S, which didn’t stand for anything controversial at all.

but that he has an even more sinister side to his character, as Fox News reveal.

I thought the picture was a photoshop job, but no — if you go over to Crooks and Liars you can watch the segment yourselves.

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January 1, 2007

Maybe not the sort of place one would want to visit

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, civil liberties, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 12:23 pm

People reading today’s Telegraph might want to reconsider their holiday plans in the light of this:

Britons flying to America could have their credit card and email accounts inspected by the United States authorities following a deal struck by Brussels and Washington.

By using a credit card to book a flight, passengers face having other transactions on the card inspected by the American authorities. Providing an email address to an airline could also lead to scrutiny of other messages sent or received on that account.

The extent of the demands were disclosed in “undertakings” given by the US Department of Homeland Security to the European Union and published by the Department for Transport after a Freedom of Information request.

About four million Britons travel to America each year and the released document shows that the US has demanded access to far more data than previously realised. (more…)

December 22, 2006

17-year-old sentenced to 10 years for consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, Foreigners, Law — notsaussure @ 3:33 pm

Via The Magistrate’s Blog and the incomparable Harry Hutton, what Bystander JP rightly describes as

almost unbelievably savage sentence for something that would be very unlikely even to be charged in the UK: in Georgia, a seventeen year old boy has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment for the heinous crime of consensual oral sex with a 15 year old girl. There is to be no possibility of parole.

For a full account of the case, and the problems with the Georgia law he transgressed, see Atlantic magazine.

One of the many disturbing aspects of the case is that the prosecution appear to have accepted guilty pleas from other boys at the same party to lesser charges, on the same facts, as part of a plea bargain. This being the case, the District Attorney’s excuse that he had no choice but to use what he agrees is an unneccessarily savage law against the unfortunate lad who didn’t cop a plea is a nonsense. Either there were lesser charges he could have brought against the boy or he accepted pleas to insufficiently serious charges — based on the facts — from the others. Either explanation makes a nonsense of his protestations that he was saddled with a bad law by the state legislature which left him no choice in the matter.

It’s also an object lesson in what happens when legislators decide that they can do better than ‘liberal judges’ who can’t be trusted to sentence properly and saddle them with populist legislation about minimum sentences.

Harry Hutton notes that the state motto of Georgia is “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation” Who says the Americans don’t do irony?

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December 2, 2006

US dragged kicking and screaming into the C19th

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, Politics, usa, Wingnuts — notsaussure @ 8:23 pm

Here’s an extraordinary story that recalls a controversy in Britain in the late C19th. Keith Ellison was recently elected to the US Congress to represent Minnesota, where he will sit as a Democrat. He’s the first Muslim to be elected to the House of Representatives.
According to USA Today,

Members of the House of Representatives traditionally raise their right hands and are sworn in together on the floor of the chamber. The ritual sometimes seen as the swearing-in is actually a ceremonial photo op with the speaker of the House that usually involves a Bible.

Being a Muslim, Mr Ellison intends to use a Koran rather than a Bible in this ‘photo-op’. Nothing odd about that, one would have thought. Well, I would thought there was nothing wrong with it, anyway. But I would have been wrong.
The Telegraph reports,

The decision by Democrat Keith Ellison to use Islam’s holy book for the ceremony instead of a Bible triggered an angry column by Dennis Prager on the authoritative website this week.
Mr Prager headlined the post, “America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on.” He argued that using the Koran for the ceremony “undermines American civilization.”
Conservative bloggers have picked up the criticism and run with it

I don’t know about ‘conservative’ bloggers, but Mr Prager is certainly vexed about it; apparently, ‘the act undermines American civilization’. He writes,

Tony Banks shows how to do it

The late Tony Banks shows the
Americans how to take an Oath

Of course, Ellison’s defenders argue that Ellison is merely being honest; since he believes in the Koran and not in the Bible, he should be allowed, even encouraged, to put his hand on the book he believes in. But for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either. Yet those secular officials did not demand to take their oaths of office on, say, the collected works of Voltaire or on a volume of New York Times editorials, writings far more significant to some liberal members of Congress than the Bible. Nor has one Mormon official demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon.

According to USA Today, that’s apparently mistaken; they reckon,

Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, carried a volume of Mormon scriptures that included the Bible and the Book of Mormon at his swearing-in ceremony in 1997.

But, be that as it may, one can only imagine that Mr Prager objects to the inference some people might draw from Mr Ellison’s insistence on using a holy book in which he actually believes that all these Jewish or secular American congressmen were, errm, hypocrites whose oaths meant nothing in comparison with a photo-opportunity. More seriously, given the extraordinary (to a Brit) importance religion seems to play in American right-wing politics, one can see that Mr Ellison’s actions might cause the religious right some embarrassment in future if religiously-inclined American Christian and Jewish voters start to take an interest in which book their chap swears on.
We went through all this back in the 1880s when Charles Bradlaugh was elected as MP for Northampton. Bradlaugh, a militant atheist, wanted to affirm rather than take the Oath of Allegiance but was refused permission so to do by the House. He then offered to take the Oath ‘as a matter of form’ (rather, one imagines, as Mr Prager would like Mr Ellison to do) but the House refused, presumably taking the apparently profoundly un-American view that if you’re swearing an oath you ought at least to give the impression you mean it. Wikipedia continues,

Because a Member must take the oath before being allowed to take their seat, he effectively forfeited his seat in Parliament. He attempted to take his seat regardless, was arrested and briefly imprisoned in the Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament. His seat fell vacant and a by-election was declared. Bradlaugh was re-elected by Northampton four times in succession as the dispute continued. Supporting Bradlaugh were William Gladstone, George Bernard Shaw, and John Stuart Mill, as well as hundreds of thousands of people who signed a public petition. Opposing his right to sit were the Conservative Party, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other leading figures in the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church.
On at least one occasion, Bradlaugh was escorted from the House by police officers. In 1883 he took his seat and voted three times before being fined £1,500 for voting illegally. A bill allowing him to affirm was defeated in Parliament.
In 1886 Bradlaugh was finally allowed to take the oath, and did so at the risk of prosecution under the Parliamentary Oaths Act. Two years later, in 1888, he secured passage of a new Oaths Act, which enshrined into law the right of affirmation for members of both Houses, as well as extending and clarifying the law as it related to witnesses in civil and criminal trials (the Evidence Amendment Acts of 1869 and 1870 had proved unsatisfactory, though they had given relief to many who would otherwise have been disadvantaged.

Many of the voters of Northampton, one rather imagines, at least in the four subsequent by-elections, would have been motivated not so much by approval for Mr Bradlaugh’s unorthodox (for the time) religious views as by the idea that since Mr Bradlaugh had been elected as Northampton’s MP, then no one but the voters of Northampton were going to prevent his taking his seat and voting. Similarly, it’s surely only up to the voters of Minnesota whom they have to represent them in Congress.
No wonder Gwyneth Paltrow finds one of the attractions of living here the fact that

The British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans

While we’re too polite to mention it, it’s always rather gratifying when someone else recognises what we all knew.

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December 1, 2006

American authorities secretly give international travellers terrorist "risk" score

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, civil liberties, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 9:12 pm

Via Bruce Scheier, AP report

Without notifying the public, federal agents for the past four years have assigned millions of international travelers, including Americans, computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years.

The scores are assigned to people entering and leaving the United States after computers assess their travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.

As The Register, covering the same story in considerable detail, comments, note, pass on pre-ordering the halal option. (more…)

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