(Roughly) Daily

Diplomatic Impunity…

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The U.N. may be a beacon of hope and peaceful negotiation around the world, but it brings with it workers who use their immunity to park in front of fire hydrants, red zones, and anywhere else they please– it’s the stuff of urban legends and West Wing episodes.

New York is owed over $17 million in unpaid parking tickets; Washington, D.C., over $500,000:

New York’s top offenders:

Egypt – $1,929,142
Kuwait – $1,266,901
Nigeria – $1,019,998
Indonesia – $692,200
Brazil – $608,733

D.C.’s:

Russia – $27,200
Yemen – $24,600
Cameroon – $19,520
France – $19,520
Mauritania – $8,070

What do these countries have in common?  Freakonomics (quoting Forbes) suggests that “the level of a country’s corruption (according to the Corruption Perception Index) predicted the level of parking ticket delinquency, along with a country’s level of anti-American sentiment.”

As we pine for diplomatic plates, we might compose a loosely rhymed remembrance of William Topaz McGonagall, widely considered to be the worst published poet in British history; he died on this date in 1902.  McGonagall distributed his poems, often about momentous events, on handbills and performed them publicly (often, it is reported, to cat calls and thrown food).  And he collected his verse into volumes including Poetic Gems, More Poetic Gems, Still More Poetic Gems, Further Poetic Gems, and Yet Further Poetic Gems.  (Readers will find a selection of his poems here.)

McGonagall’s best-known work, a verse recounting of “The Tay Bridge Disaster,” ends instructively:

I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

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