Broken Britain

I’ve written before about my perception that the UK took a drastic turn in the wrong direction during the 1970s, and that it has been deteriorating ever since. My perception is that the UK now has political and economic problems worse even than the USA. This is not a popular opinion, particularly among those who still live in the UK. Some accused me of callousness, but I have friends and family in the UK.

Idle thoughts at IHOP

It’s quiet this morning. I wondered if a game was on, but apparently it’s not football season. Perhaps people are at church and we’re just up earlier than usual? I have no idea when churches normally finish Sunday service in the USA. I’m told it depends on the church. This seems wrong. If there’s a British Standard for making a cup of tea, there ought to be an ANSI standard for going to church.

Well, you certainly showed him!

“We did it because of Barack Obama. He said all those people in the Midwest, you’ve got to have compassion for them because they’re clinging to their guns and their Bibles. I found that quite offensive. We all go to church on Sunday and we all carry guns.” –Mark Muller, car salesman, quoted by BBC News

US tourism

If you’re traveling to the US from Europe, you can enter without a prearranged visa via the Visa Waiver Program. However, if you plan to do so, then it’s worth noting that US authorities reserve the right to put you in shackles and throw you in a jail for 10 days, based on nothing more than a “hunch”. This is not a theoretical right, it’s one they’ve happily made use of.

10 years

I have now lived in the USA for 10 years. Or, another way of putting it is that rothko and I have been together for 10 years, which is statistically far more unusual. My continuing to live here doesn’t surprise me. When I left the UK, I had in my mind that if things went well, it would be a permanent move. Still, this seems like a time for reflection, so I’m going to try to reflect.

In case you missed it: Pearl Harbor

Independent Institute article: Newly released naval records prove that from November 17 to 25 the United States Navy intercepted eighty-three messages that Yamamoto sent to his carriers. Part of the November 25 message read: “…the task force, keeping its movements strictly secret and maintaining close guard against submarines and aircraft, shall advance into Hawaiian waters, and upon the very opening of hostilities shall attack the main force of the United States fleet in Hawaii and deal it a mortal blow…”

Social mobility

According to the New York Times, I can no longer think of myself as in any way middle class. Interestingly, the US has worse social mobility than several European countries—but not worse than the UK. I remember back in the John Major days, hearing a lot of talk about the “classless society”. A lot of people seemed to believe the US was one.

Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?

I’ve decided that it’s really time I learned US history and passed the Citizenship Test. Most intelligent Americans seem to view the test as some kind of joke, but my attitude is the same as my approach to the driving test: I don’t just want to be good enough to pass, I actually think I have a duty to go beyond that and really learn properly. The same can’t really be said of the average American.

USA! #1!

The Observer: A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population — the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit’s streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown. Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line.

In case you missed it

Anyone see this story in the US media? Facing its most chronic shortage in oil stocks for 27 years, the US has this month turned to an unlikely source of help – Iraq. Weeks before a prospective invasion of Iraq, the oil-rich state has doubled its exports of oil to America, helping US refineries cope with a debilitating strike in Venezuela. —The Observer No, didn’t think so.