No. 486: "Zanan-o-Gram"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Oct. 5 2000 3:00 AM

No. 486: "Zanan-o-Gram"

(Continued from Page 1)

"A giant iron robot designed and constructed by Benjamin Franklin (and mysteriously kept hidden deep in the bowels of the Smithsonian)."—Carl Cox

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Randy's Wrap-Up

Look at Anglo-American relations from a little more than 200 years ago, during the American Revolution, and you notice that while people here spoke of little else, people there weren't all that interested. (You also notice how oblivious everyone was to the oncoming horror of the musical 1776—like some big singing death-comet heading right toward them. And they just went about their business! In powdered wigs!) James Boswell's Life of Johnson, as good a guide as any to topics of conversation among educated Londoners of the day, includes remarkably few references to our little tiff and delightfully many to sexual hi-jinks and "plum duff," which is neither a sex act nor a hi-jink, if it is possible to have only one. Hi-jink.

(It looks Dutch, doesn't it?)

When Johnson did talk about us, he didn't have much good to say, once remarking, "I can love any man except an American who uses fuzzy math." (Or something.) In 1769, beating the rush, Johnson said of us, "Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for any thing we allow them short of hanging." (But he may have been confusing us with the Australians or some guys over at Firestone.) Johnson wrote an anti-American pamphlet called "Taxation no Tyranny; an answer to the resolutions and Address of the American Congress." The answer was: No.

This sort of thing disturbed Boswell, who wrote, "I had now formed a clear and settled opinion, that the people of America were well warranted …" and they he went off and enjoyed another sexual hi-jink.

Put It in Writing Answer

England now has a Bill of Rights.

The power of Britain's rulers has been limited since the Magna Carta in 1215. However, its people have had only negative rights—they've been permitted to do anything the law does not forbid—they've never before had positive rights delineated. And without such protections, akin to our 1791 Bill of Rights, what the law forbids can change.

The new Human Rights Act allows people to seek redress in the courts there, rather than having to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Conservative critics of the legislation say the introduction of such a bill in Scotland swamped the courts with around 600 cases, 98 percent of which were ruled inadmissible.

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