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26 May 2013

Published Hardcover, Piatkus 2004.

Some weeks ago I read that it it illegal to enter Michigan wearing a chicken on your head. I had quite a bit to say about that which, when attending a library sale the other day, inclined me to purchase the above book. This has provided both a lot amusement and food for thought. One of the meals being how often odd laws continue unrepealed. They aren’t enforced any longer, but for some weird reason they remain on the books, why, heaven only knows. But there they are, still in force. Announcing in England that it is illegal to bait bears in the metropolitan areas. (Always supposing you can find a loose bear to harrass.) That it is an offence to ‘impute unchastity or adultery’ to any woman in England, Ireland, or Wales. (Apart from, these days, what the woman is likely to do to you for saying that let alone what the law may do and I’m wondering why you can impute unchastity in Scotland with legal impunity?) Also still in force is the law that in Parliament MPs are not permitted to wear armour (although I bet a few feel that that law should be repealed when their colleagues get more difficult that usual,) and in London a taxi driver may still fall afoul of laws that require him to ask each passenger if they have smallpox or plague, (none of them ever asked me that) while being reminded that s/he may not carry corpses or rabid dogs. (giving you a very good insight into the lives of earlier cabbies.) And it is expressly forbidden for them to make ‘insulting gestures.’ (And if the police ever start enforcing that one, there won’t be a taxi-driver left on the roads of London!) And in case you thought that this sort of law always dates back a long time, it doesn’t. From the Outer Space Act of 1986 I find that ordinary citizens are prohibbted from launching ‘space objects,’ (schools with an interest in rocketry could be in trouble) and that Under Section 9, a magistrate is empowered to issue a warrant to turn back an alien invasion and yes, they really do mean little green men, not refugees. And on that note, I shall say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will keep it to re-read. The section on what the town of Congleton won’t allow is particularly funny. Recommended.

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