Monthly Archives: April 2012

God Bless America!

Seeing as we’re off to America tomorrow (don’t miss us too much), we thought we’d leave you with a American themed post to satisfy your political appetite whilst we’re soaking up the Californian sun.

Image

 Have you ever wondered what the differences between American and British politics are? Or did you think they were pretty much the same? In fact, there are a whole host of differences and seeing as we’ve got a flight to catch early tomorrow morning, we thought we’d leave you with a few to mull over before we return.

Shall we begin?

  1. The most important difference, really, is the constitution, or the fact we don’t actually have one! The United States has a written constitution which underlies all American politics. The UK, however, does not have a single document and instead its constitutional provisions are littered over various Acts of Parliaments (which can easily be changed.)
  2. It’s logical then, that over the pond, politicians often refer to this so-called constitution. Some parties will suggest that opposition parties initiatives are ‘unconstitutional’ for example. Despite the fact that British politicians love to disagree with each other, it is incredibly rare for them to suggest that opposing policies are illegal.
  3. You might have noticed that the Yanks love their flags – they often fly proudly outside houses. The flag holds a special place in the political heart of the nation and people sing to it. The Union Jack sadly rarely gets an outing at political events.
  4. In the USA, blue signifies states held by the Democratic Party, the more left-wing. In the UK, blue identifies the Conservative Party, the more right-wing.
  5. In the USA, red signifies states held by the Republican Party, the more right-wing. In the UK, red identifies the Labour Party, the more left-wing.
  6. In America, the term ‘conservative’ means really right-wing, especially on social issues. In Britain the name ‘Conservative’ means mainstream right-wing, especially on economic issues.
  7. In America, the term ‘liberal’ generally means quite left-wing. In Britain, the name ‘Liberal’ means broadly centrist.
  8. In the States, politicians often emphasise their patriotism and desire to serve America. This side of the Atlantic, however, it is assumed that anyone who wants to be a politician and run for national office cares for their country.
  9. In the States, virtually every political speech seems to mention God, especially in the final call “God bless America”. In Britain, no politician mentions God and none would think of inviting Him to show a special preference for his or her nation state.
  10. The American general election effectively lasts almost two years, starting with the declaration of candidates for the primaries. The British general election lasts around four weeks.

There we have it, a brief introduction to American politics to satisfy your political needs whilst we’re gone. In the mean time, can you think of any more differences? Hopefully we’ll come home with some first hand political evidence (and a tan, of course). 

Image

Advertisements

April Fools to Remember

You might have noticed it was April Fool’s Day yesterday (pinch punch first of the month…) – we hope you managed to play out some good pranks. 

Here’s a slice of lighthearted news for you today – some handpicked April Fools gems for you: 

1878: Edison’s food creator

Image

American newspaper The Daily Graphic published news of a technological breakthrough: Thomas Edison had invented “the Food Creator… a machine that will feed the human race!”. It was unclear how exactly, but this magnificent invention could manufacture meat, vegetables, wine and biscuits using only air, water and “common earth”. A concluding paragraph revealed the “Food Creator” did not exist, but many readers did not get that far and many wrote to Edison to congratulate him.

1957: Swiss Spaghetti Harvest 

Image

Panorama ran a segment that detailed how Swiss people harvested spaghetti from trees. CNN said it was “the biggest hoax any reputable news establishment ever pulled.” Approximately 8 million viewers were told of Swiss farmers struggling to cope with “an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop”. Among those fooled were then-director of the BBC, Ian Jacobs, who admitted having to look up “spaghetti” in his encyclopaedia.

 1974: Alaska’s volcano

Image

In Sitka, Alaska, the volcano Mount Edgecumbe had been dormant for around 9,000 years when, one morning in 1974, residents noticed dark smoke spooling from its top. A coastguard helicopter investigated and saw that 100 tyres had been doused in cooking fuel and set alight in the volcano’s crater. Someone (a local joker Oliver Bickar who had planned the prank 4 years previously) spraypainted “April Fool” in 50ft letters around the rim.

 1980: Digital Big Ben

Image

The BBC announcement that Big Ben’s clock face would be replaced with a digital display sparked outrage nationwide.

 1998: Left-handed burger

Image

Burger King’s unveiled a “left-handed Whopper” – a normal burger, with “the condiments rotated 180 degrees.” Obvious, you may say, but it still fooled thousands in the US and UK with left-handers going out of their way to order one, and righties making it clear they’d prefer the original version.

2012: Green Tax on Chilled Champagne 

The Mail on Sunday reported a government plan to mitigate “pasty-gate” with a duty on chilled champagne. “Serving warm champagne, says No 10, is good for the environment.”

2012: Non-slip Banana 

Image

Sainsbury’s vowed its new non-slip variety of banana would bring an end to the 300 injuries reported each year in the UK caused by run-ins with the fruit. 

You better get your thinking cap on for 2013…