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Ogre 4th Dec 2008 21:04

World's Oldest Hamster
 
I heard a sound bite this week, where George W was commenting on some international event and promised the support of "the worlds oldest democracy"

So the first question is, is this factually correct?

And for bonus points (and more likely to start a response), would you recommend this as a system of government given the example used?

Bunker door closed, heat shielding up, In your own time, go on.......

Davaar 4th Dec 2008 21:09

Switzerland is pretty old, and it is what we understand by democracy. Iceland has had the "Thingvellir" for more than 1000 years I think, so that would put it ahead of Switzerland. I go for Iceland.

dead_pan 4th Dec 2008 21:13

I guess he was talking about Thailand (it certainly wasn't America). I think we ought to take a leaf out of their book and occupy LHR demanding that our PM steps down. Mind you, if we did, would anyone notice? They'd probably just think that the French ATC had gone on strike again.


Pop quiz - which South American country has been a democracy the longest?

Foss 4th Dec 2008 21:15

Any chance of a link so you can see what on Earth he was talking about? Just for the laugh.

But I think the oldest is up for grabs, depends on what you call democracy.
This'll get down to nitty gritty in about 4 posts.

G-AWZK 4th Dec 2008 21:19

Iceland has the oldest democracy.

Encyclopedia Brittanica

The US has the biggest numpty for a president though.

G-CPTN 4th Dec 2008 21:49

Nothing new there.
Apparently, they also built the first jet airliner too . . .

tony draper 4th Dec 2008 21:52

They be claiming they invented the Electric Light Bulb next.:suspect::rolleyes:
Hasn't the Manx Parliament been around for a while?

G-CPTN 4th Dec 2008 22:05

Tynwald - The Parliament of the Isle of Man

BenThere 4th Dec 2008 22:17

The US is the oldest continuously functioning democracy whose status is enshrined in the formal law of the land.

I just read Waterford-Wedgewood are on the ropes and unlikely to survive unless bailed out soon.

Waterford and Wedgewood are, and have been for eons, icons of fine living, and losing them would be terribly sad. My family has used Lismore crystal since long before I was born. It will last forever if I continue to remember to put it away on New Year's Eve.

Scooby Don't 4th Dec 2008 22:28

BenThere, if you require your democracy to be formally enshrined in law to be valid, you're clutching at straws a little! Not every nation feels the need to have a formal constitution after all, and even the US constitution does not guarantee democracy. The US is a republic.

BlooMoo 4th Dec 2008 23:13


The US is the oldest continuously functioning democracy whose status is enshrined in the formal law of the land.
What? the US has ENSHRINED itself as the oldest (cue profound sounding but meaningless qualification -->) continuously functioning blah, blah etc etc.

Hey, I'm impressed. Really. Hollywood lives. :ok:

Duff beer 4th Dec 2008 23:29

The US was the first liberal democracy, though it was only a democracy if you were a white, male land owner.

Democracy had existed in various forms long before the US, ancient Greece for example. You could even argue that the original thirteen crown colonies were democratic, they were essentially self-governing individual British colonies.

The question is:
What was the first counrty to give give EVERYONE the vote, black, white, male, female, the poor and the wealthy?

I would guess at New Zealand.

Wod 4th Dec 2008 23:38

To set the scene

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." (Winston Churchill : from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947)

Next - define democracy.

If it is representative of most, but not all, citizens, then Iceland is in.

If democracy requires universal suffrage without exclusion apart from minimum age, then a different group of more recent arrivals appears on the scene, led perhaps by New Zealand.

(Sorry Duff Beer, you were posting while I was researching and typing - I second your New Zealand)

brickhistory 4th Dec 2008 23:40

What, no mocking of the lack of an apostrophe in the thread title and the opening line?

Yet you have the temerity to bash new Dallas area homeowner GWB?

Standards are slipping.

seacue 4th Dec 2008 23:55

I have understood that Iceland is the oldest Democracy. I was probably taught that in a US school. But it's easier to have a democracy in a small country with a small and homogeneous population.

IMO the US is lucky to have had the small band of geniuses in the very late 18th century who produced a written Constitution which is still serviceable with relatively few major changes. The independent Legislative, Executive and (Supreme) Court branches have managed to moderate the worst swings (eventually).

Given the widely-diverse interests of the States of the new country, I find it impressive that they worked out the compromises needed to keep the country together when it was obvious that the Articles of Confederation weren't working.

At least the US hasn't had a new "Republic" every few decades.

con-pilot 4th Dec 2008 23:59

Yeah, but His Royal Majesty, King George Washington would have had such a nice ring to it. :p

brickhistory 4th Dec 2008 23:59

Something about taxes, import duties and the like. (Never mind that many of the Founding Fathers engaged in a 'bit of harmless smuggling.')

Nothing like an uncaring government and high taxes to roil the population.

Good things citizens can keep the means to curb that government should it grow too tyrannical.





Hey, wait a minute....

Howard Hughes 5th Dec 2008 00:32


IMO the US is lucky to have had the small band of geniuses in the very late 18th century who produced a written Constitution which is still serviceable with relatively few major changes. The independent Legislative, Executive and (Supreme) Court branches have managed to moderate the worst swings (eventually).

Given the widely-diverse interests of the States of the new country, I find it impressive that they worked out the compromises needed to keep the country together when it was obvious that the Articles of Confederation weren't working.
I think Seacue has a very good point!:D

Especially when you consider our (Australia's) States can't seem to agree on anything!:rolleyes:

King George Washington would have had such a nice ring to it.
You mock us Con, if only this were the case, then we would never have seen the rise of King George the Third! ;)
Of course the last line sounds better with an Irish accent!:}

Buster Hyman 5th Dec 2008 01:17

I saw that bite & it was GWB sympathising with the World's largest democracy (India) from the Oldest (USA). I must admit, I too was puzzled by that however, in context, most Texans think they have the largest State....:}

con-pilot 5th Dec 2008 02:59


most Texans think they have the largest State....
Well duh, they're Texans. :p


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