It’s Guy Fawkes Day here in Britain, and that means fireworks have been going off since sunset (4:30 pm!). Pretty, but the sound is jolting when you’re trying to study. Weird that the Brits party in rembrance of a guy who tried to blow up their Parliament building.

A story in the NY Times this morning talks about how risk assessment is killing off Guy Fawkes day parties, which are usually celebrated with fireworks and bonfires. Even York, Fawkes’s hometown, canceled their bonfire for fear of litigation should something go wrong. I know Americans are litigation obsessed and risk averse, but the British take things to another level. Safety and privacy rules are very strict, and often concern the most trivial details: any appliances (lamps, stereos, etc.) brought into our rooms have to be tested and approved by an electrician; I have been sent home from the gym for wearing shoes that had been outside before; the warden of our hall is not allowed to tell us the room numbers of our hallmates. Again, none of these is really that big of a deal–but I’m an American, I’m not used to people telling me what to do!



  1. 1
    John Says:

    Interesting that Londoners allowed their city to be blanketed with cameras able to track people from one end to the other (as displayed quite well in the latest Bourne film).

  2. 2
    seth Says:

    you should look into the Icelandic tradition for christmas, I lived with this Icelander for a while who was actually a rather well known electronic music producer. He told me that they basically have a week of drunkenness leading up to an enormous community wide bonfire which, as he told it, can literally be seen from space. The fire apparently gets to be 3 – 4 stories tall. Kinda scary those Nordic warriors.

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