Of Laws and Magic Words

Yesterday, in a moment of lightness I posted a facebook meme that said “Post this if you rode unsecured in the back of a pickup and survived.”

I’ll note that part of the reason I posted is that the only time I did that was when I was camping with my host family during my exchange student year. If we wanted to go to the grocery store with dad, my teen host sister and I rode in the back. It was fun and slow along country lanes.

I remember the warm summer afternoons, and riding in the back of the truck amid the corn fields.

The other part was of course more complex. I think we have been wrapping kids/teens and sometimes adults in bubblewrap. I have theories on why, but that was sort of a general “yeah, there was a risk, but it wasn’t a huge risk, and yeah.”

Even so it surprised me when I started getting comments from people who said they knew people who’d died by falling from the backs of pickups and lecturing me on the fact that those who didn’t survive couldn’t post the meme. (DUH.)

I’ll note at least in one case the person who didn’t survive had been standing in the back of the pickup and shooting out the back (rats, I think) which of course is much more dangerous than sitting in the back leaning against the cab, with the gate part closed.

Yes, if my host dad had hit something full on at sixty, we’d have been thrown. Probably. But he wasn’t doing sixty, he was doing 25 and the chances of his hitting anything head on on those roads was close to zero.

So, should it have been illegal, or should it have been left to his discretion?

Look, in theory I’m all for cracking down on people who have little kids unsecured in the back of the pickup. I don’t even like seeing dogs unsecured back there, not on the highway at least.

In practice, things are a great deal more complex.

Take spanking.

I’m going to confess right here that I spanked my kids. The older son more than the younger. Spanking consisted of open hand on behind, and most of it while behind was still wearing diapers. After that there were more effective methods of punishment because he was conscious/sentient enough to know what it meant when I said “the computer cord goes away for a day.”

Before that, sometimes you needed to swat him just to get his attention. (Ideally to get his attention we should have used a two by four. Still should. But we didn’t want to HURT him and the swat was enough to stop him.)

Time outs didn’t work on him. He would come out of them and resume whatever had got him put in time out.

Until he was conscious of time and consequences, the smack on the butt was the best way to get whatever it was to stop. (Whatever it was included stuff like running naked into a downtown area in the middle of the night; melting crayons on the radiator; trying to turn the gas stove on/playing with gas knobs; wanting to remove the cat’s eye with a screw driver [the cat was okay. He remembers the incident. He thought the cat was a robot]) I.e. we took no joy in it – I truly learned the principle of “it hurts me more than it hurts you” – and we only did it when we were unsuccessful by other means at stopping behavior that would endanger him or others.

Younger son I THINK got swatted twice in his entire childhood (Pretend-smacks on the back of the head don’t count. That’s now, and he’s bigger than I. Also they’re pretend.) because he responded to time outs, distractions, and taking away something he was playing with instead of spanking. His biggest sins were the sin of the younger child: scream like a banshee to get the adult’s attention. He didn’t ever throw chairs at us, bean us with toy trains or lock us out of the house. … or take off running naked through the middle of downtown. He did take off running through the middle of Orly airport but when he was too young to even think of smacking on the behind (a year old) and just bored.

Recently, over the thing with the football player beating his kid I became aware of two things: first, there are people who think that spanking is somehow always sexual and therefore think smacking a kid on the behind is kinky. (These people need therapy.) And second, people think the swat to the behind (more noise than anything else) should be illegal because they think normal, sane parents if they smack the kid once are at risk for beating the kid into the ground.

Or to turn that around: they think if they make it illegal to swat your son on his diapered behind then children won’t get beaten to the ground; burned with cigarettes; locked in closets, or whatever the extreme forms of child abuse they call to mind.

This is the same form of insanity we see with gun control.

Look, just because in extreme cases, to protect him and others I swatted the kid’s behind, it didn’t mean I was going to start beating him till he died. I didn’t want to beat him. And it was already illegal. Heck, it was illegal when I was young and when it was normal to beat kids with switches, wooden spoons and wooden rulers.

There is a vast amount of difference between a singular smack that surprises and stops and beating. There is even a difference between smacking a kid’s hand with a ruler (no, I never did it, but it was the accepted form of punishment in the school I attended. For some reason the smack was called a bolo which means cake in Portuguese. I rarely got it, though I did if asked to recite the multiplication tables aloud, because I knew if you missed three you got smacked, and suddenly I couldn’t remember anything. I don’t recommend beating with a ruler as an aid to learning, but it didn’t permanently damage me, either.)

(And no, you’re not teaching the kid violence. Kids know violence without learning it. Arguably they know more violence if they were never spanked, because they’re not aware of what it does. All mammals physically disciple their cubs. And while I agree we’re not animals, and we stopped as soon as other methods worked, sometimes it was the only thing that stopped a careening little boy.)

And here is the key: the people who would BEAT a child would do it whether it was illegal or not.

The people who buy guns to kill people, don’t care if buying the gun is illegal.

And the people who stand and shoot rats from the back of a moving pickup don’t care if it’s illegal.

Almost anything you can think of, making it illegal has a cost. In the case of older son, I REALLY don’t know if we’d have got through his childhood without major incident without the occasional smack. (I could tell you stories.) Curiously, once he got to be around five, and you could threaten/reward and he understood, he was one of the best kids to deal with. Before that… (And despite the “teach them violence” thing he still is one of the gentlest young men with the weak and defenseless.)

In the case of guns, when you make them illegal, you make it easier for those who don’t care it’s illegal to prey on a disarmed citizenry.

In the case of seat belt laws, etc, you have smaller trade offs, but trade offs, nonetheless. Oh, okay, so on a long camping weekend, I might have had to do without gum. Or pads, which was at least one reason for one of the trips. Not the end of the world. But there are all sorts of issues. For instance in Portugal the seat belt law discommodes my mother. (Mind you I have nightmares at the idea of riding there, on those roads, with those drivers WITHOUT a seat belt, even if I did it all the time as a kid.) You see, she’s very short and it goes right in front of her neck. I know in the US there are adapters for that, but not in Portugal.

My brother in law died in a motorcycle accident from a tire blow out because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. (He’d just removed it.) OTOH other motorcyclists hate the helmet laws because it cuts out on visibility or whatever. I don’t know. I don’t ride, and it’s not my life. The choice should be theirs.

What I mean is, yes, he died (mind you he would be liked to survive with severe impairment if he’d been wearing the helmet) but other people think they have valid reasons not to wear helmets. And, well, he might have been in a region when a helmet was required, but he’d removed it for a few minutes because he was hot.

To be fair, given the chance, he’d probably rather have died than be incapacitated. (He’d talked about it in the past.) I’d disagree with that choice, but it was HIS choice to make.

The point I’m trying to get at beyond the rightness of any of the actions mentioned is this: laws are not magical formulas. There are trade offs to every human action. Sane people know those trade offs and make a judgment on them without the need of a law to distort them. People who are either insane or outlaws will not care if you have a law.

I’m not going to discuss spanking, for instance. We did it briefly, in a mild form, in limited circumstances, with a child who didn’t respond to other methods of discipline. It might not have been the best thing ever, but at the time it was the trade off we felt we had to make, as rational and informed human beings to both keep our son safe and keep him from hurting others. We never had any wish to beat our child into the ground, and if we’d had it, the law would not have deterred us, because that was already illegal.

We don’t have any intention to go around shooting people, and if we did laws against gun ownership wouldn’t deter us. It’s already illegal to shoot people.

We don’t ride in the backs of pickups, but if we had to because it was the only way to get somewhere, then we’d probably ride with our back to the cab and the back closed and not on the highway. Because we’re willing to risk lower safety, but we’re not crazy. And if we HAD to we’d do it despite the law. If there was a way around we would rather be inconvenienced than break the law. But in either case, we’d not be seriously endangering ourselves.

OTOH the people who want to stand up and shoot rats from the back of a moving pickup aren’t going to be deterred by laws. They’d do it anyway.

Laws are not magical words of power. Passing a law doesn’t mean the extreme form of evil/mean/careless action is going to stop magically.

You might stop/inconvenience the responsible people from doing a mostly safe form of whatever you want to stop. I’m sure if it were today my host father would say “you can’t ride on the back of the pickup, the police might stop us.”

But if he were the kind of person who encouraged his kids to stand and hold on as he sped down the highway? Well, why would the law deter him if potential loss of the kids didn’t?

The law isn’t magic words of power. Saying them will not keep people who don’t care about the law anyway from doing the harsher forms of whatever you’re banning. They’re already doing things that risk life and limb of themselves and others. What is a little legal trouble on top of that?

Teach people the risks and let them make their own decisions.

Before passing a law remember that even the best laws have drawbacks. And that laws only stop the law-abiding.



355 responses to “Of Laws and Magic Words

  1. Growing up in the South, everyone rode in the back of a pickup at one time or another. My father was a cop. He’d worked the accidents where someone had been in the truck bed and had bad things happen. He still didn’t hesitate to let us ride in the back on certain occasions. It’s just how life was in the South.

    Plus, it was kind of fun.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I personally wonder if that last part is the real reason some people are against it. 😉

    • It makes me sad kids can’t ride in the back of trucks. Those are some of my best memories growing up. Except standing behind the cab wearing a shirt with a collar, the dang thing beats you to death.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      My dad had a panel truck when I was little. It had a gutter running across the back of the roof, and the hinges for the doors in back stuck out from the truck, rather than being internal.

      When he was at work at the YMCA camp where he was maintenance man, and there were people helping him, the ones who couldn’t ride in the passenger seat would stand on the bumper and hold on to the hinges and the gutter. We could put three people on the bumper. He never went over about 10-15 mph, and unless you were particularly unlucky in how you fell, you wouldn’t get more than bruises and scrapes if you fell off.

      And yes, it was fun.

    • CombatMissionary

      Nothing bugs some liberals more than the idea that someone, somewhere is having a good time.
      Gets in the way of them properly being guilted for their skin color, dontcha know.

      • Not sure why, but that kind of reminds me of a joke I heard years ago.

        Why do Southern Baptists not have sex standing up?

        Because someone might see them and think that they’re dancing!!!!

        In all seriousness, there does seem to be a correlation between SJWs targets and fun. After all, now they’re trying to screw with video gamers.

        Yes…telling a bunch of people who pride themselves on being outcasts that if they don’t do what the SJW’s want, they’ll be outcasts. And yes, it seems to be working out about as well as you would expect it to. 😀

      • The liberal antifun sentiment has got to be a vestigial holdover from the Northeast’s puritan past.

        • CombatMissionary

          Truly. They’ve simply replaced puritanical Christianity with puritanical progressivism. Didn’t I see on Truth Revolt the other day that some university that withholding sex is now a form of ‘sexual violence’ that men practice against women? Methinks mine olfactory senses do detect the foul stench of a double-standard! Forsooth and verily!

      • Banstubation is what helps them sleep soundly at night

    • The South long held onto the idea that people didn’t belong to the State, they belonged to other people.

      Thant’s what I like about the South.

  2. Laws named for people are generally bad ideas also. A law named for a victim is usually an overreaction by lawmakers.
    As to laws governing every aspect of life, this is law pollution. It has gotten to the point that an average citizen cannot get through the day without committing four or more felonies. This reduces respect for the law and accelerates societal decay.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I’ve begun (Ok, it’s been a growing conviction for several years) to think that this is by design.

      • It’s been shown that there are cases where to observe a law you had to violate another. This is definitely intentional. I think it’s done so that everybody is guilty of something, so that the authorities can harass anyone they want.

        • “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” – Ayn Rand

          Rand was a windbag and her characters were one-dimensional, plus she was just weird in a lot of ways, but she did have the occasional insight worth quoting.

        • The only real crime in this circumstance is contempt of cop.

          • There’s a story I’ll try and relate, told to me by a lady corrections officer the next county over. She tells it a lot better.

            One fine spring day there was a little red sports car pulled over just a few miles short of the state line. Local County Officer peck-peck-pecks on the window, and as it opens lo-and-behold, a veritable *cloud* of alcohol fumes rolls out.

            At this point the fun begins for Clueless Drunk B*stard as he proceeds to:
            1) Proposition said Local County Officer for sex.
            2) Become irritated when said 6’4″ Officer politely declines.
            3) Fall out of the car when asked to exit, and become combative once helped to his feet.
            4) Attempt to flee once finally handcuffed, landing himself in a cattle pond some twenty yards away and nearly drown.
            5) And lastly, seek to blame it all on aforementioned long-suffering Local County Officer.

            Back at the station, when asked WTF happened, why is he and half-clothed suspect dripping, stinking wet, etc., Local County Officer lays out his tale of woe.

            “…And I charged him with DUI, Resisting Arrest, etc., etc., and POCO!”

            “…What’s POCO?” Inquiring minds ask him. Straightening his damp pistol belt and mustering an impressive amount of dignity, he replies,

            “P*ssed Off County Officer.”


        • I recall a conversation, years ago, between a friend who was opening a bar and one who ran a restaurant. The Health Code (and its inspectors) required the bathroom be painted with a latex-based paint so the walls could be properly sanitized for the public’s protection. The Fire Code (and its inspectors mandated the bathroom walls be painted with oil-based paints to avoid toxic fumes in event of fire.

          Nobody had authority to resolve this conflict, although the abundance of bars and restaurants in our city suggest that it was routinely handled.

          It is possible that memory has swapped the requirements, as that is a minor detail.

          • Paint it with both.

            • Perhaps I ought have phrased that as “banned painting with [type]-based paint.” Reference: “fumes.”

          • Maybe that’s why so many restrooms are wallpapered or tiled rather than being painted?

          • A friend of mine used to work in environmental compliance for a public agency locally. Denver Fire Dept was the worst for creating requirements that directly conflicted with state and Federal EPA mandates for installations and vehicles.

            • CombatMissionary

              I knew a guy back home who had an appointment for the country inspector to come do a code compliance check on his newly-built garage. Knowing the reputation of the code inspectors (minimum of four visits and several thousand dollars’ modifications following each visit except for the last; double it if the inspector was off mid-process and you had to start over with a new one), he was prepared. The inspector arrived and began checking things out. Then the inspector asked, “What’s that rifle for? The one leaning up in the corner of the garage?”
              “Oh, that? That’s for dumbsh*t inspectors that can’t do their job the FIRST time around.”
              Lo and behold, the garage PASSED. 😀

          • So… what were the Fire Dept and Code Compliance office bathrooms painted with?

  3. “And the people who stand and shoot rats from the back of a moving pickup don’t care if it’s illegal.”

    You know that sounds like it could be a lot of fun. And yes they do care if it is illegal, that is why they keep an eye out for the authorities while doing it. No, I’ve never done that, I can recall bouncing through the desert in the back of a pickup with a bow, while chasing antelope, however. I’m pretty sure that was more dangerous.

    By the way, riding in the back of a pickup truck is still legal in most western states, as long as you are seated on the bed of the pickup (and not firing firearms or archery equipment).

    I know a number of parents that really need beaten into the ground for failing to spank their hellions/kids.

    Helmets are only required by law for people under 18 in Idaho. Much like seatbelts (which are required) I think they are a good idea and I always wear my seatbelt on the highway, but I don’t think it should be a law, adults should be capable of choosing for themselves what risks they will take.

    By the way, does anyone know how much truth there is to the story that Muslims believe it is an affront to their religion to wear a seatbelt?

    • No idea about Muslims and seatbelts, but as screwy as some of the fatwas and sharia law rulings are, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that some imam somewhere has issued a fatwa against wearing seatbelts (maybe someone thought the mechanism is lubricated with lard or uses pig leather or something.)

    • Never tried rats. Prairie dogs are a hoot. Of course, you pretty much have to stop the truck to shoot. The bed is the best, provided you’re ambidextrous. Sandbag on either end of the toolbox and you’re all set.

    • I use to shoot jackrabbits in the old ranch pickup with my parents– it was before we moved, so less than 13 years old.

      With basic sense, it’s fine, and it’s the only way to keep the population down to a point where you don’t lose tractors to the holes. (Well, without poison, which is also not without cost. Including random dogs dying horribly.)

      If you’re going fast enough that people get bounced out, then you’re not doing it right. If you’re standing so that you can fall out, you’re not doing it right (and really shouldn’t have that 22, either.)

      Anything is dangerous if you do it wrong enough!

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Yes, you should be standing surfer-style, so your legs absorb the bumps. Still impressive to be able to hit anything while doing that.

        • Thank you.

          The really impressive thing is that I can only remember one time that we did a non-fatal shot– it took about 30 seconds to get stopped, down and finish it off, and the poor thing was screaming.

          There were a lot of misses, too, but it was effective enough to actually be a rather important job instead of sheer fun. (They don’t come out during the day, and there was a serious difference in field yield between culling and non-culling.)

        • All those Oaters Westerns where the hero fires his six-gun with deadly accuracy while hanging to the side of a galloping horse … might be credible to anyone who has never fired a pistol nor ridden a horse.

          • It’s a translation error.

            You know how “everybody” can throw a knife like magic in movies?

            In reality…. not easy.

            Shooting a sixgun with zomga accuracy is a signal of how AWESOME they are, not that it’s easy.

            Ditto throwing a knife accurately.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              IIRC in Romancing The Stone (the movie), the main female character was an author and we see a scene from one of her books where her female character easily throws a knife to take out the bad guy.

              Later in the movie, the author tries it herself against the movie’s bad guy and fails to throw the knife as well as her character did. [Very Big Evil Grin]

            • I was recently entertained watching Rhys splutter and make hilarious remarks of disbelief with the first (?) episode of the first season of Top Shot. “How the @#$&%@$$***!!!! do you miss a bright red target ten inches across at 50 yards, with a scope?!” (Notably, Rhys swears less than I do.) This was very quickly followed up with “THROW THE GUN! You’ll hit SOMETHING that way!” then “Actually, no, scratch that, HEADBUTT IT.” Other remarks included “My wife, without her glasses, could shoot better than you guys!” and “Forget firearms, go back to throwing rocks!”

              Oh, and they also had knife throwing later on in the season. And we pegged one of the shooters as Filipino off the bat. He didn’t have a very strong accent, but during that episode, he said “This is embarrassing. I’m Filipino! We’re supposed to be good at this!” (The dude was a VERY impressive speed-target pistol shooter though. The elimination round to determine the top 3 was a really, really fun competition to watch.)

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Ok, I’m not a hot shot shooter, but at 50 yards, I could look at the target, close my eyes, THEN aim and fire, and probably hit a 10 inch target half the time.

                • My hubby’s comment about my likely being able to hit a target without my glasses (I’m frightfully nearsighted) likely isn’t wrong. (The target in the show was a bright red ceramic plate. There’s no need for bullseyes, it’s just ‘smash the plate.’)

                  We’ll have to test this sometime, though. For science and all that.

            • It is some of the pulp fiction serials like Mack Bolan where the bad guys can’t hit anything while using rifles and machine guns, while the good guys routinely make head shots at a hundred yards, WITH A PISTOL, ON A MOVING TARGET!

              • only believable if the character is Jerry Miculek:
                1000 yard hit on a man sized target with a pistol:

              • sorry if this makes moderation but a second try:

                • Sweet shot, but I notice he did the same thing that I did when I busted a clay pigeon with a 44 mag on my first try… put the gun down and not try it again. He might have been able to make that shot again, but I doubt he could do it again in two shots. I figure I could have shot a thousand rounds and never hit again trying to shoot skeet with a revolver, but dang it was impressive to those standing around when I did it first shot. 🙂

                  • Similar to when I stood on the foul line at one end of the basketball court and made a hook shot to the other basket and made it. It hit the backboard and went through the center of the hoop. I tried it again some time later, and missed the net by about three feet.

                  • I don’t know about not hitting again, but it would not surprise me if he could ring it rather consistently after finding his hold. I have seen him shoot 100 yards with a little .380 sub-compact pocket pistol and hit regularly.

      • Ahhh memories…going through bricks of .22 LR every summer shooting jackrabbits. Night spotlighting was legal, or at least the game wardens in West Texas did not enforce it as long as it ws rabbits you were hunting…..

  4. I also rode in the back of a pickup (though Dad’s had a camper shell on it.) It was only on rather specific occasions. Highway speeds? Never. Our worse country roads (where things have to be strapped down to avoid leaving the bed of their conveyance in a projectile fashion?) also a no-go. The back country lanes that were reasonably well maintained to that cool little park? Yup. And we have someone in our family who has been in a wheel chair for 40 years because of an accident with no seat belt (though that was back when they were something new fangled you had to buy separately and install yourself.) We’re pretty big on the seat belts, as a family, but there were times when the increased risk was minimal and there was no real other way of doing it. If we’re doing serious driving you are in and buckled.

  5. I fondly recall as a kid riding in the back of the family station wagon some 30 years ago.

    I also fondly recall less than 5 years ago catching a ride around a military base with some enlisted Air Force personnel in the back of a pickup. They insisted I (and other passengers) sit against the sides of the back. And they were quite firm about using a seat belt if one was available; I hope I didn’t exasperate them too badly as my tired and bewildered civilian self had to remember to buckle up for a trip of under a mile at under 15 kmh in a utility cart.

  6. MadRocketSci

    Here’s an interesting question: Do you even know what the laws are? What they say?

    I was wondering aloud about this to a friend the other day, when I was prompted by “but we *need* laws against some things”. I bet if you’re not a lawyer you have no clue what the law says about any given subject. (Or at least, I don’t). What are the conditions? What penalties are prescribed? Who passed said law and when? (Or did it grow metastatically out of ‘case-law’?) I don’t know, and I doubt many other people do either in their day to day lives when they are actually making decisions and taking actions on the fly.

    What I do have is some vague idea that outright attacking others is frowned upon, doing unsafe things with a vehicle is probably going to be stopped, etc.

    Add in the fact that 99.9% of these laws probably have to do with the minimum required distance between junction boxes in a wall, rather than anything we would consider criminal….

    So what really keeps civilization civilized? What program is actually running in everyone’s heads that makes $TOWN different from Somalia? It has to be small and simple enough to actually fit in their heads, unlike the actual law, where even people who make their career out of it specialize.

    • I’m willing to bet most lawyers don’t know most of the laws either.

      Honestly, there are way too many for most any one person to remember them all. I read somewhere that the average person commits something like three felonies per day. I don’t know how accurate that is, since I’ve never really checked, but I can see how people could easily commit a felony without actually meaning to.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        It used to be said that, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” and it is probably still a maxim today, but when there are so many laws that the lawmakers almost certainly don’t know them all, shouldn’t it become an excuse?

        And can we maybe start implementing some sort of penalties for lawmakers who make laws that are already covered elsewhere? That might slow down the rate of new laws.

        • Laws are supposed to be such that a reasonably prudent man, using ordinary judgement, can determine what is legal. sigh

          Exactly following IRS directions is not a defense against charges of violating tax law, even though it’s obviously entrapment.

          • Even following direction an IRS agent gives is not a defense against charges of violating tax law, if a higher level agent or a tax “court” decides otherwise!

        • CombatMissionary

          Uniformly codifying law and putting a mandatory sunset clause on all of it would help. Make those congressmen and the President sign EVERY PAPER for EVERY LAW they want to renew. Plus term limits.

          • As no Congress can bind a future Congress, shouldn’t ALL Congressionally founded laws (laws either enacted by Congress and regulations authorized by legislation) expire when a new Congress is sworn in? Okay, give a one year sunset period during which Congress can re-enact or permit expiration — that ought a) keep down the number of laws passed and b) keep the critters out of mischief.

            Impractical, sure — but imagine the fun if the Supremes decreed only the Constitution had long-term effect?

            • CombatMissionary

              The best way to prevent the passage of stupid laws is to make the passage of ANY law very difficult. Then the bare minimum of laws that hold the country together keep getting passed, and if weird ones start getting passed, the country can collectively say, “WHY is this law necessary? WHO proposed it? WHO’S supporting it? And WHO is providing them with a lavish lifestyle? And HOW are THOSE people benefitted by these laws?
              And WHERE’S THE NEAREST ROPE?” 😀

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Thinking of recent changes in the speed limits in the town where I’m moving to (two miles of 4-lane, divided highway set to 35 mph), any law where one of the proponents of the law is found in violation within the first year or so, the law should automatically be struck down.

                Yes, this happened with the aforementioned speed limits. One of the primary proponents of the new limits was the FIRST person cited for violating them.

        • As I understand it the original of this was that ignorance of a law “in mallum se” was no excuse, but that ignorance of a law “in mallum probium” was. That is that braking a law against doing something that was bad in itself due to ignorance was inexcusable, but breaking a law against doing something that was not bad in itself but was mearly prohibited due to ignorace was ok.

          Does anyone have either a cite for this, or a cite for a refutation of it?

      • Nor most cops, in any detail. Many police depts have a person on staff to consult when the LEO in the field thinks he needs to know more than he does for the situation he’s in.
        Re: the original question – I’d bet a lot of people’s understand of the law is basically “first, do no harm”.

        • If we’re betting, my money is down on people’s understanding of the law being basically “first, do not get caught”.

        • Of course not. Attorneys have a lot more training on the law.

          My father is a retired police officer, and he’d be the first to tell you that he didn’t know all the laws. Of course, there are a lot of laws that law enforcement just doesn’t fool with.

    • Part of the issues with laws are we can’t trust that the inevitable gray areas in laws will be interpreted via common sense, so every case needs to be spelled out as plainly as possible. In part, it’s an outgrowth of the inevitable lawyerization of government as they seek to keep themselves in business interpreting the law. In part, it’s a result of politics continuing it’s long march into every nook and cranny of society. In part, it’s a response to the descent of the media from public check on government to sensationalism and cheerleading. Together, it’s a self-sustaining reaction.

      Take Zero-tolerance school policies. A bad thing happens: someone brings a weapon to school (*gasp*) and attacks or threatens to attack someone. “There ought to be a law”, so a law is passed. With common sense, the law would be: take a look at the nature of the offense and come up with an appropriate punishment. This makes sense, so obviously we can’t use it. Why? Because rich people might lawyer up and have an advantage in the system, or the results might look worse for minorities, or the system might not work once and we end up with a sob-story in the local paper (a sob story is better if caused by impersonal inflexible laws than if someone with decision making ability makes a mistake).

      • Look at current efforts in Connecticut to use the Adam Lanza case to impose new regulations on home schooling, because Lanza’s psychiatric councilors had convinced his mum to home school him as the public schools couldn’t handle him.

        A whole public school system’s worth of administrators, advisors, councilors and badhaviouralists couldn’t address Lanza’s issues, so they fobbed him off on his poor mother for High School — and now they want to use that as an excuse to require ALL home schooled kids to be regularly “examined” by state certified “experts,” “specialists” and time-wasters.

        • *reads your comment* *twitch*

          … Excuse me while I walk away from the computer, so I can snarl enraged expletives.

          • Via Media, the blog of Professor Walter Russell Mead. Embedded links at the post:

            School Choice

            The Panopticon State, Homeschooling Edition

            As part of an initiative to prevent future school shootings, the Connecticut state government is acquiring new and controversial powers that could permit it to significantly curtail parents’ right to homeschool. Some background: After the tragic 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the state’s governor, Dannel P. Malloy, set up a committee to recommend changes to school security and other measures that could help prevent such horrifying crimes from occurring. The committee released an interim report in 2013 that called for obvious changes and created no stir.

            But the latest report has added a new proposal. Because the shooter, Adam Lanza, was homeschooled during high school, the committee decided that children with “behavioral problems” who are homeschooled must be monitored much more closely by the state. Here’s the Connecticut Post with the substance of the proposal:

            Under the proposal, home-schooled children with behavioral and emotional disabilities would have to have individualized education plans approved by the special education director of the local public school district. Allowing for the continued home-schooling of such children would be predicated on the individualized plans and “adequate progress” documented in mandatory annual reports.

            “Given the individuals involved in the tragedy that formed the basis of this commission, I think we have thought this issue out at some length and we believe it is very germane and that the actual facts leading up to this incident support the notion of the risk in not addressing social and emotional learning needs of children who may have significant needs in that area who are home-schooled,” said commissioner member Dr. Harold I. Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital‘s Institute of Living.

            Over at City Journal, Matthew Hennessey points out a few of the many troubling aspects of this proposal. Seizing upon this tragic incident to enact these regulations seems like the worst kind of opportunism, not only because, as Hennessey notes, Lanza attended public school for more years than he was home schooled, but also because Lanza’s situation was unique from first to last. More importantly, the category of “behavioral and emotional disabilities” is terrifyingly broad, and could easily come to include run-of-the-mill problems like ADHD. Given that every year we find new “behavioral disabilities” in need of “medical treatment,” this is a real risk.

            Parents should have the freedom to homeschool—not least because homeschooling families represent at least an attempt to think outside the box of the blue model idea of industrial education. But even if homeschooling wasn’t a boon to parents rightfully frustrated with our often-dismal public ed, we’d still decry this sort of bureaucratic opportunism and overreach.

            • I have bookmarked the link, but I think I’ll need a much calmer frame of mind before I try to read the attached links on the article. I agree with the article you linked though. That’s waaaaaay too broad and pols simply trying to grab more control.

        • Since Adam spent only about one year home-schooled, most of his problems can be “blamed” on public education (if you’re going to blame them on his schooling environment, which you probably shouldn’t).

          And since, as I understand it, he killed all those kids at his mother’s workplace because of an insane jealousy of their taking her time and attention away from himself, it would make as much or more sense to forbid the parent of any “disturbed” kid from work for or regularly attending any mass-victim target facility — school, shopping mall, etc. After all, if she hadn’t been at the school, none of those kids would have been shot…

    • CombatMissionary

      Walter Williams says that, more than anything, upholding property rights civilizes a nation. Makes a pretty persuasive case for it. The right to keep most of what you’ve earned. Lose that, it all starts falling apart.

  7. *raises hand* Rode across ranches in bed of pickup, rode to hardware store and back in bed of pickup (sitting on plywood sheets on the way back.) Still alive. Never on the highway, never at highway speeds.

    • Summers were so much fun when I was a kid, and Dad had the only pickup in the neighborhood, It was the only way to move all the kids on the block to the swimming hole.

    • When I was on a hay crew, we rode on a flat bed, at highway speed, between jobs. Everybody did, I don’t recall anyone getting hurt that way. It’s a different world nowadays.

      • masgramondou

        I did stuff like that. The only time there was a problem it was going from field to field when someone who shall remain nameless had failed to properly close the gate at the back. And as a result slid out the back when we started up the really really steep hill.

        Mind you the tractor was going at approx walking speed so I just pulled myself back on again.

        • Only time I managed to get hurt hauling hay, I stumbled coming off the running board, (Dad’s 46 ford) and sat down hard on a rock. Cracked my tailbone.

          • The hay rides I had were in a horse drawn cart, with the horse usually walking. And once on a field my uncle misjudged and drove too close to a big rock, one of the wheels (it was a two wheeled cart) ran over it and the whole cart fell over, full of loose hay and with me and a friend of mine on top of that hay so we ended under the hay once on the ground (I think we were around seven or eight years old). Neither one was hurt, but getting buried in the hay and finding out the damn stuff actually was heavy enough that I couldn’t move or dig myself out of it was scary. The adults forked it off. Which was a bit scary too, I was afraid one of them might stick me with their fork.

            Uncle and horse were fine too.

        • Good. Teaches you to observe and anticipate problems.

      • My dad had an extended bed F150 where we slid an insert into the bed area – three sided couch with a table that could be put down to make a large sleeping surface.

        We took a lot of trips that way. 12-hour slogs to Massachussetts or FL from VA

  8. One thing I didn’t agree with. We are animals. More highly developed in many ways, but we still have all the biological survival responses of our ancestors. Now, to the spanking. I study graduate Child Psychology (with some branching into Neuropsychology) at the University of Alabama. We taught Time Out, which didn’t always work at first, and we taught the proper way to spank (apply hand to bare bottom no more than three times). The bare bottom was because it is easier to gauge how hard you are hitting than through clothes. Many parents try to spank through clothes, get frustrated when the kid seems to feel no effect, and increase the number and intensity of the spank. And end up actually hurting the kid. I think, whenever I hear about a child abuse case involving corporal punishment, whether it was actual abuse, or the complaint of some advocate of Dr. Spock who thinks you can reason with a two to four year old (the answer is, you can’t, they are running on instinct at that age, and don’t have the cognitive development to reason). And a lot of kids get out of the time out chair and see it as a game when their parents chase them down. That’s a good time for a spank, to let them know it’s not a game. Now, when I was growing up it was a different game. Dad hit me with a belt across the legs on exactly three occasions when I was growing up, and I behaved because I didn’t want the number of occasions to increase. I think now he was doing it with a belt to be safe. He was an ex-professional boxer who sometimes didn’t realize how hard he could hit. I also went to catholic school, and rulers across the back of the hand was the rule. No one I know from my class turned out to be a really violent person.

    • We hit Robert on the diaper because we used cloth diapers with a really noisy plastic cover. The noise usually served as “Shape up, we’re really upset” and stopped him. But yes.

      I once read a Dear Abby column on how horrible it was that most of the spankings occurred before four. And I stared at it going “Well, duh!”

      Yes, I know we have the instincts, etc, but every time I say “All the apes spank their babies” I get “We’re not animals.” And we’re not — “just” animals. but we are animal enough.

      • Dear Abby occasionally wrote about how awful it was you could order machine guns through the mail.

        • ** twitch twitch ** You posted that just to troll me, didn’t you Charles.

        • Did she happen to mention any dealers by name? So we can avoid supporting them, of course. *pious expression*

          • Prior to the 1934 National Firearms Act, you could order a Thompson Submachine Gun from Sears and have it delivered by your postman. Can you imagine that kind of liberty? Oh the horror!

            • Guns magazine used to run a feature on the last two pages featuring ads and articles from fifty and a hundred years ago. They are accessible online, check it out!

      • I expect you’ve noticed how many of the “We’re not animals” crowd also bridle at “Human Exceptionalism.”

        Logical consistency is for small minds, but large minds that are mostly empty are not any better — possibly worse as conflicting ideas rattle about chipping off pieces and damaging the paint job.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Time Outs simply don’t work with all children, and that really caused problems for us, since after my f***ing mother-in-law accused us of child abuse for bruises older son got playing, we were prohibited from physical discipline from then on. Because both our sons would completely ignore being told to go to their Time Out place. The only way to have a Time Out was to sit and hold them in a wrestling hold, or else put them on the floor and lay across their backs with my weight resting on the floor on my elbows. And it never got better.

      Taking things away when they were older didn’t work because they would just do something else and turn up their nose at me. Younger one STILL won’t hardly even help clean up his own messes, but otherwise he finally grew out of most of the things that made me want to beat him with a club.

    • Post hoc, ergo propter hoc is especially popular in some circles. People with HS diplomas have lower unemployment, ergo give diplomas to EVERYBODY! Juvenile delinquents read comic books, ergo anybody reading Spiderman or Uncle Scrooge is at risk of becoming delinquent.

    • I on the other hand, think I got the belt at least three times a month. And I hate to think how I would have turned out if my parents didn’t believe in spanking, because I can’t think of a time when I got spanked that I didn’t earn it. 🙂

      • About the same. And for well and good reasons, too.

        • I, OTOH, was a perfectly behaved child who never needed more than the mildest correction … and there’s nobody alive who can remember differently except my older brother, and you can’t believe a thing he says because he’s a lawyer. His allegations of attempted homicide followed a completely accidental blow to his head and are therefore wholly unreliable. Besides, he has always been jealous that I, much cuter and brighter, came along and distracted our parents from his meagre achievements.

            • me th– okay fine. Fine. I know it will surprise everyone here that I was a little hellion.

              • I give lessons on “Not Getting Caught”. Seminars with a group discount.

                • There’s a dent in the kitchen cabinets back home that purely coincidentally corresponds amazingly well to the patten of my next-younger brother’s front teeth. The subsequent but nearly proximate appearance of a hammer-head-shaped dent in the Formica countertop nearby that stemmed from the ensuing exchange of views is no longer visible since the new granite tile tops replaced the Formica.

              • WHAT?!??! Sarah! Not you!

                I actually WAS a rather disgustingly good boy for the most part (except for minor episodes when I seem to have lost my senses). Quiet, listened while the adults talked, paid attention in class, etc, etc. It wasn’t until later on that I developed a “Kiss My Ass” attitude.

                • …. my recruiter spent two of the three hours he had at the school trying to find ANYTHING I’d done wrong, legally speaking. It was actually a problem when I was enlisting…..

                  Turns out that “being such an innocent brat that you annoy the piss out of the liberal teachers with innocent questions” isn’t illegal. Neither is pointing out that the head recruiter is lying when he says there are no job openings in the nearest small college town. (REALLY pissed him off, but it didn’t matter– he didn’t show up except for when it got him a travel bonus, anyways. And he was either a liar or the most ignorant *bleep* that’s ever driven past a dozen huge “help wanted” signs at every service place in a city.)

                  • The recruiter lied!?! Also water is wet.

                    • Mine didn’t*. His boss did.

                      The real shock was someone pointing out he was a liar without discounting the pitch.

                      (One of my classmates lost his brother in an experimental plane crash, so I was the only normal military recruit for our year. One guy also went Coast Guard, but I thought that was too dangerous– at least Navy is expected to shoot back.)

                      * It was actually awesomely honorable and delightful how honest Harley David (yes, his birth name) was; his boss was hit for selling meth on the side two years later, after recruiting my brother. Yes, that IS much longer than you’re supposed to be allowed to be a recruiter…..

                    • That long as a recruiter means someone higher up was trying to sideline him. The method bust gives the why.

                    • Had to read that twice; AutoCorrect “help”?

                      But yeah–someone higher up was trying to put him aside, and the meth bust DOES explain why.

                    • Curse autocorrect and all uppity editors, machine or otherwise.

                    • Recruiters have a long and noble history.

                      Skip to 5’50” … 23 pounds, 17 shillings and sixpence.

                  • CombatMissionary

                    When I was going through the police academy, we had a local police chief come and give us a presentation. Somebody asked him about his hiring policy with respect to prior drug use. Among his remarks he said, “I’m convinced there’s not one kid in America that HASN’T tried marijuana.”
                    Fast forward a few months, and there I am before the hiring board. This same chief asks me about my prior drug use. I looked him in the eye and answered, “None.”
                    Shockingly, I didn’t get hired there… sometimes it’s hard being one of the few in your area without a stupid streak…

                    • *headdesk* Morons like that are part of why there’s so much drug use. If you’re going to be assumed to be guilty anyways…..

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Soon as he asked, I figured, “Well, here goes THIS job.”
                      Genius just turned drug use from a policy issue into a job requirements. HA HA HAS A…

      • Same here. I got the belt, and the wooden cooking spoon from my parents regularly, and I deserved every single one of them.

        I also have the distinction of being one of the only people that the principal of my (small, private) school ever got the ping pong paddle with the wholes drilled into it off the wall for. That principal is one of the best people I have ever met.

        I thank God that I grew up around enough decent adults who cared enough about me to put me in my place when I needed it.

        • I thought the ax flung at head was over the top, but mom is like that, and I ducked fast.

        • Three principals during the time I was in grade school (old days: grades 1-8). Each had a diffent paddle to give “whacks” when required. I learned how each one felt…
          OTOH, Dad never really had to take the belt to me; he did to my older brother once, I learned from that, pretty well.

  9. adventuresfantastic

    In addition to riding on the shelf behind the backseat when I was very small (it was a great place to sleep on long trips, although my parents soon put a stop to it), I don’t know how many hours I’ve ridden in the back of a pickup.

    I had a summer job in high school and the first two years of college working for a crop dusting company that sprayed mesquite trees in pastures. The mesquites act like sponges and soak up water needed by the grass, which eaten by the cattle.

    I was a flagger, which meant I was part of a crew that walked across the pasture in a line. The crop duster would line up on the flags and know where to spray, mesquite trees all looking the same from the air. (We dropped the flags and moved out of the way before the plane reached us. These days the pilot simply uses GPS.)

    Anyway, to get into position, the flaggers rode in the back of a pickup. We (usually 3 of us) sat on the tool box behind the cab. The bed was filthy and often full of various items. We couldn’t spray if the temperature got too high, because the chemicals would evaporate before reaching the ground, so we would be in position before dawn. This meant we started work riding in the back in the dark most days.

    We rode across pastures and ranch roads, on paved highways, and on rough, bumpy gravel roads. Often at high speeds if the roads were smooth and straight and there were no oncoming cars. No one ever fell off or got hurt, but then we sat still and didn’t move around. We held on to each other and the cab when going around turns and curves. None of us ever considered it to be particularly dangerous at the time, partly because there were other dangers, such as rattle snakes.

    We recognized there was risk in riding this way, but we didn’t consider it a great risk, and my parents didn’t object to my working this job.

    • “we recognized there was risk” – that’s the issue. Personal-safety laws for for those too dumb or ignorant to recognize risk; those who can recognize it and make their own judgement whether to accept it should have the right to.
      Personally, I’d like to see all personal-safety laws have a written-in exception that allows you to show an LEO a waiver, that says you take responsibility for yourself and won’t be a burden on society (e.g. free emergency services) if it turns out your judgement was bad, and have that be an absolutely-must-be-accepted permit to act on that judgement of risk. (Have to deal with concomitant risk to others from some actions, too, of course.)

      • CombatMissionary

        As far as emergency services being free, I’m in favor of this as far as it’s practical. Nobody can anticipate everything.

        Welfare, now, that’s another kettle of fish. I think it’s better when families and churches and private charities are in charge of that stuff.

  10. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I got into a “discussion” with an “individual” who thought a judge who a had Ten Commandment display in his court room was bigoted against other religious. I couldn’t get it though his head that the judge would still be a bigot if the display was made illegal. [Frown]

  11. Birthday girl

    Well, I will be the one to admit it … I rode in the back of a pickup on the interstate highway on a few occasions. So there. I still love my daddy and mama.

    • CombatMissionary

      ***TRIGGER WARNING, TRIGGER WARNING! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!*** The following contains non-politically correct child-raising details! THE HORROR!

      My favorite place to ride was under the tool box in the bed of the truck. It was shady and relatively free of wind.
      Of course, in those days, dad could crush a can of beer and fling it into the windstream with enough skill that it always landed in the bed of the truck when he finished it off.
      My, how times have changed. 😀

      • For one thing, beer cans are much lighter and thus harder to accurately toss.

        • That can’t be it… global warming is making the winds stronger or more erratic or something.

          • CombatMissionary

            Didn’t you guys hear? All child abuse is caused by AGW and is part of GW Bush’s plot to take over the world. He’s so smart, he implemented the plan before he was born. Because racism and patriarchy. BWA HA HA HA…

    • Not only have I ridden in the back of a pickup on the highway, but I have ridden in the back of the pickup at highway speeds while bouncing down two track roads. (although not that I can recall with my parents driving or before I was 16). Now admittedly that isn’t completely safe, but as long as you are sitting (or crouching, pickup beds hurt your tailbone at speed) down, holding on, and the driver has a modicum of common sense and knows there is going to be no oncoming traffic it is still reasonably safe. Safer than driving while seatbelted in a new vehicle with airbags in Mexico City during rush hour.

  12. Everyone here, including me, seems to agree that we should be allowed freedom of action if we accept responsibility for the outcome.

    Let’s say I am riding in the bed of a pickup and fall out. As a result I am badly injured. My buddy calls 911, and emergency medical personnel are sent, maybe by helicopter. I am rushed, in critical condition, to the nearest hospital. Fortunately for me, they have skilled doctors, the kind that can open up your head and fix things inside. After hours of surgery, they manage to stabilize my condition. At this point, I may not survive. In the most optimistic case, I may recover after prolonged and extensive care and rehabilitation. Right now, I will die without constant medical care, and it is impossible to predict with certainty how long this condition will last. I do not have the financial resources to pay for this treatment. Even if I fully recover, I could never pay off the debt.

    How can I take responsibility?

    • You do. You accept you might be crippled for life. Those who will take primary care of you — presumably your family — might be able to talk you out of taking unnecessary risk. If they don’t, they take responsibility for that failure.

      Society at large? Ah.

      Look, if I look at you and decide you need a million dollars and give it to you, you gamble it and lose it and I decide you need another million dollars — do I have the right to pass a law to prevent you gambling?

      My son is by nature a care taker. He would like to help people like accident victims. This doesn’t give him the right to wrap people in cotton so they never do anything dangerous. He — should he get there — will CHOOSE to help them, just like they chose their own path.
      There is a line between do-gooder and busy body. The first might be genuinely good. The second, no matter how he started, is a power seeker in search of a justification.

    • So if there is one case with a bad outcome, it should never be allowed? In other words if if 1 person in 1000 can’t take responsibility, then the other 999 shouldn’t be allowed discretion? Hard cases make bad law. You will never have any law that doesn’t have an exception.

      • What makes this even worse is that in many cases these sorts of preventative measures often come at a cost. That cost may not be obvious: it may be an economic cost or it may involve introducing a moral hazard.

        Is requiring a seat belt so important that a family with little income should be forced to spend their money to buy a car to replace their pickup rather than putting food on the table? Is enforcing the rule so important that we should pull law enforcement officers off of cracking down on violent criminals to enforce it?

        I had an originally completely unrelated thought due to another of our host’s posts this morning, but it no longer seems as unrelated as it once did. While I like that our society is much safer than any in history, has this safety come at a price, namely, that because of our safety fetish it will be hard to find people willing to step up and take risks when those risks are needed? That, ultimately, is the moral hazard against allowing people to take responsibility for themselves.

        • I think that we’re accustoming our children to there being no risk in anything they do.

          And because they have no knowledge on how to judge risk, they’re ignorant about risk as they get older.

          “Oh, I’d better be careful on the swings because jumping off when I’m too high hurts” becomes (hopefully) associated with “Hey, maybe I’d better not try to jump from a 4th floor balcony into the pool below after I’ve had six or seven beers.”

          (Come to think of it, this might explain the popularity of the ‘Jackass’ movies – it’s a retroactive learning experience on what NOT to do if one wants to stay relatively uncrippled and pain-free.)

          • CombatMissionary

            Exactly. Learning to calculate risk for oneself and avoid excessive risk is part of growing up. To refuse to allow people to take risks coupled with consequences breeds generations of people always looking to an ever-expansive government for solutions to everything: Europeans (adult-children/dependent populations/simpletons).

          • Doggone jumping off swings was fun!

          • There was a kid that died a few years back attempting to ride his bike in the gap between a truck and a fifth-wheel trailer. (right before Thanksgiving, too.) I sometimes wonder if he had poor risk judgement in general or if he had no opportunity to develop good decision-making skills.

            • I’ve got a theory that some folks’ parents just didn’t talk to them enough.

              Growing up, we got a constant stream of commentary about what other folks were doing when they were driving.

              I discovered this was trained, and that my husband had the same, when a little black car jumped about five feet in front of a double simi of logs, and both my husband and myself started informing the girls of how FREAKING IGNORANT OF PHYSICS that was.

              They also get treated to information about how “no wonder so many motorcyclists die” when they do really dumb stuff, and, sadly very rarely, “kids– look! You see that guy? See how he’s far enough ahead? And he looked everywhere? And he signaled with his blinker AND his arm? Do that! If you’re crazy enough to ride two small wheels at seventy in the rain, do just like that!” (Also folks who wave when you let them in, or at least smile.)

              • My next eldest sister was an impulsive kid, (still is, but she isn’t 4 now) and mom had a story that she was afraid she would run into the highway, where they lived outside of town. So mom took my sister out for walks and they would stop and look at roadkill, and discuss that that was indeed ugly and permanent, and probably happened because the poor critter forgot to look both ways. Horrified the inlaws, mom said, but my sister is a grandma now.

                Now me, we lived in town when I came along and we always played in the streets there.

                • ….my kids give directions based on the dead animals…..

                  • From stories from friend who were Infantry, that is perfectly normal behavior.
                    ….people will mess with you by moving stuff, but no-one moves dead cows without great, pressing need.

                  • This morning’s exchange as we were leaving home:

                    Son: “There’s a dead frog on the road.”

                    Me: “That’s what happens when a car hits something.”

                    Later, I’m chatting to the crossing ladies, and one of them mentions that Son is very, very good about crossing the road.

                  • CombatMissionary

                    When I enlisted, I had to tell the recruiter there was no physical home address. He had to spend a couple of weeks getting an answer on how to proceed. Finally he just put a sheet of typing paper in front of me and said, “Write down the directions.”
                    One day, when my kids have my records sent to them, they’re going to see directions that include, “Turn off at the old saw blade nailed to the tree, drive through the giant mud lake, follow the trail for a mile…”

              • I learned things from my parents like blinking your lights to let a semi know it is clear for him to merge in front of you. Which I thought was common knowledge when I was a little kid, now I get people asking, “why did you just flash your headlights?” Or if they don’t notice me flash mine, “why did that truck just flash his lights?”

                “To thank me for letting him in.”

                *perplexed look* “you let him in?”

                • I really need a bumper sticker…. “if you beep at me, I’m going to stop and try to figure out why. Do NOT honk to get me to move unless you are paying my insurance and can bring my kids back from the dead.”

                • You know, for years Robert saw us waving to someone to go through, in the tight little mountain village we lived in.
                  So, we’re teaching Robert to drive, and we come to a crossing, and we and another car arrived at the same time, and are waiting, and Dan says “Wave at him”… to which Robert does an “hello there sailor” wave. The guy waved back, hesitantly.
                  Dan had to reach over and wave.
                  We still tease him about that. he says he honestly didn’t know HOW to wave the guy on.

                  • ” to which Robert does an “hello there sailor” wave.”

                    Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist?

                  • I frequently see people wave me in, typically with one finger upraised. I guess I just live in a nicer community than the rest of y’all.

              • And don’t insist on your “right” to do this or that — Dad had things to say about being “dead right”.

          • *chuckle*

            As a kid, jumping out of the hay loft was kind of fun. Yes, it was that high. No, didn’t get seriously hurt. First broken ankle happened in a flat field playing soccer.

            I’m rather glad there’s still dangerous things out there to play with. Model rockets and swing sets, monkey bars and campfires, playing horse-shoes and learning to ride. My folks didn’t make much of a big deal out of normal kid injuries. Band-aid and go play.

            Of course, now I get cuts at work and someone else has to remind me not to bleed on the floor. *chuckle* Consequences.

            • I never really achieved the “ignore damage because I’ve done it so many times”. Mine is more, “Dang that stings,” but I’m concentrating on something, so I forget that I did anything that hurt, and a minute later, “Hey, why am I bleeding?”

              • That’s pretty much how it goes. Bumped my arm, load, unload, hey, why’s my hand wet? Be nice if I could do that on command. Ignore what should by all rights hurt like all heck by sheer willpower or something.

                Of course, I know a guy who got a fifteen-stiches-worthy slice on his forearm while working shoulder deep in an old Chevy and didn’t know it until he got the plug wires re-seated and took his arms back out. His response was: “Well, crap.”

                When I drove him to the doc to get it fixed, the nurse gave him such a look. He claimed not to be feeling any pain, just a bit of discomfort, and I believe him. Some people are just like that I guess.

                • Well, my father nearly cut his bicep in half with a circular saw (thankfully, the blade guard kept it from being his chest, but it got pulled back as the saw slid across), and only thought he had scratched it, until the guy he was working with told him he needed to go to the hospital.

                • CombatMissionary

                  When I was 14 I cut my leg with a chainsaw. THAT was an interesting trip to the ER… 😀

                • Takes a little while for the pain to really start; during that time you can do stuff. Like when I was using a reversible drill to remove a bunch of screws, one screw fell over and I put the screwdriver bit deep into the finger I was holding the screw with. Fortunately, the delay in pain gave me time to walk over to & open the first aid kit, remove the screwdriver bit, and start to get a bandaid out. Wasn’t so efficient after that…

            • We’ve taken away so many petty dangers in playgrounds, etc., that people are permanently wrapped in a cocoon and can’t learn their limits by picking up minor injuries, or making (usually) survivable mistakes with chemistry sets, model rockets, fireworks, and jungle gyms.

              • Of course, every time they idiot-proof something Murphy goes “Ah-ha!” and proceeds to develop a better idiot. *chuckle*

            • CombatMissionary

              Apparently my kids got told today not to sing Airborne Ranger cadences that involve “sharpening my knife” etc. while in martial arts class. Wife decided to add, “not while in school, either.”

              Spoilsport. My two-year-old daughter likes singing those, too. 😀

    • You would strive to accept your new state as gracisley as possible will hoping/praying that SOMEBODY(ES) would be moved to provided sufficient charity for you to continue on….which you would accept with all do humility. At lest that’s what one should do. Cause frankly “society*” don’t owe ya anything and could just as easily decide to brake you down for part’s.
      *in this since meaning “bureaucracy that spends other people’s $$”

      • Gosh, this is my first post here, and I am really impressed and flattered that people have taken the time to make so many thoughtful replies already.

        I am a bit surprised, though, that no one has given what I thought was the obvious libertarian answer. If I can only be kept alive by very expensive measures that I cannot afford, and no one else will volunteer to pay for it, I should be left to die as humanely as possible. Otherwise, others are forced to pay for the consequences of my reckless activity.

        So, my point is yes, do whatever you want to yourself, but don’t expect anyone else to pay for it if you were warned not to do it, and it turns out badly. That means up to and including death.

        You don’t fully embrace the idea of people facing the consequences of their actions unless you are willing to let them suffer the ultimate consequence. Of course it’s hard to call not letting people die a “bad” thing.

        Does “society” have a responsibility to try to keep people alive who have been harmed or injured? If the answer is “yes” individuals are placing responsibility on society. It is only fair that in return individuals observe responsibility towards society. Like wearing helmets and seat belts.

      • I don’t mind insurance as a way of being personally responsible; that’s a contract to share risk among people who’ve already chosen to take financial responsibility for that shared risk.

    • Did you somehow inherit a condition wherein you cannot actually get any point?

      • I suspect a variety of Concern Troll, looking to get what he thought was the “obvious libertarian answer” so he could point other people at the discussion and say “See what heartless b*stards those libertarians are?” Notice that he’s made a grand total of two posts: his first attempt failed, so he made a second attempt that was a bit more explicit about trolling the bait of “if you’re proper libertarians, this is the opinion you should be expressing.” But when nobody rose to the bait a second time, he gave up and went off to troll elsewhere.

  13. Never in the back of a pickup truck, but quite often in the cargo area in the back of the 52 Plymouth station wagon – no seatbelts, of course. One of my fondest memories was of the family going out to the drive in movie double-feature, with us kids in our PJs, the back seat folded down and the back of the car filled with blankets and pillows, since we usually got sleepy around the time that the second feature started.

  14. In high school some the guys were cruising back roads dropping rocks on mailboxes from the back of a pickup. One night the cops pulled in behind them, and the driver decided the best option was to turn off his lights and make a run for it. He forgot about the ninety degree turn in that particular road. Needless to say, they hit the ditch at about 60. The fellas in the back had a nice flight, but luckily found no trees. They were back in school in a week or so.

  15. Wayne Blackburn

    Before reading any further: I have certainly ridden in the back of a pickup and survived. However, riding in the back of a pickup with some leftover straw from putting in hay is a very painful experience. The wind vortex in the bed area turns every piece of straw into a projectile weapon.

  16. I’ve been known to ride on the running board of my uncles dumbtruck when young….not any grate distance or speed just to get from one bit to another/make the walk home shorter. Shoot responding to a firecall used to involve climbing on the back board putting on a harness and holding on.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Because I can’t resist a typo like that:

      Did your uncle ever get a smart truck, or were they all dumb? (Running away now)

      • There’s the Smart Car, which is pretty much useless for anything but urban transport of two people and a small bag of groceries… can you imagine how small the bed in a Smart Truck would be? One small bag of mulch from Home Depot, and a trowel would probably be the limit.

        • Birthday girl

          Funny OT story about a not-so-Smart Car … dh was driving our pickup through town, calmly and slowly as he always drove that vehicle, and one of those oncoming trendy vehicles decided to turn left in front of him and got stuck in the little drainage trough at the side of the road … with the full size pickup bearing down on him … dh said he has never seen another driver’s eyes get so big … the toy car driver managed to kind of bounce the car over the trough and get out of the way in time …

          They say never say never … but I cannot envision myself in one of those things …

          • Wayne Blackburn

            I always wonder what I would put on the other foot. And then what if I got a pair that didn’t match? Oh, the humiliation! 🙂

          • William O. B'Livion

          • I call them “Tiddly-winks”.

          • I’ve seen them on the freeway doing 75. No way.

            On the other hand, they’re VERY crashworthy. The cage that encloses the passenger compartment won’t deform at a 70 mph impact.

            However, the G-loading on the occupants would be fatal, proving once again that it ain’t the speed that kills you, it’s the sudden stop that does it.

        • Maybe they could make it so that the windshield and rear window fold down, and you could carry 2X4’s over top of the passenger seat. Still probably hang out the back far enough to need a flag.

          • Well, they’re driving the wretched things on paved roads. Most Communist block cars seemed to be OK as long as you understood that they were made to drive on dirt roads. Those old Russian and Yugo. copies of old Fiats have enthusiastic fan clubs in Western Europe, entirely made up of farmers, horse breeders and rally drivers.

        • We live about forty-five miles from town — if they would make a Smart Truck that could actually haul a load, I’d love to have one! But it would have to haul a ton of hay in one load. No point getting rid of the pickup I have (which only gets 12 mpg) if it takes four trips to haul that ton of hay!

  17. Just a thought: firing a rifle from the bed of a moving pickup is pretty dumb, because you cannot reliably hit a target while your platform is moving and bouncing unpredictably. Total waste of ammo. If the locals are stupid enough to do that where the consequences of their missed shots have an effect on me and mine, I want it to be illegal. But if they try it where there are no consequences to others, no problem, and they won’t need to worry about law enforcement out there anyway, because Texas.

    • I have a copy of a letter that my late uncle wrote from his Army Air Force gunnery training camp during WWII, describing how they started training aircraft gunners by sending them out skeet-shooting from the back of a moving truck. Practicing aiming at a moving target from a moving platform had some benefit for them in WWII.

      • Look in the newspaper Archive and you will find articles about AF gunnery training doing just that.

    • Worked fine when we were shooting jackrabbits.

      The moving is so that they spook, the after dark is because that’s when they’re out, and you get a lot of dead hares.

      You look at it, and think about it, and it seems like it shouldn’t work– but it does. *shrug* If you’re going fast enough for someone to bounce out when you hit a hole– the primary reason you’re out there shooting– and aiming for even ground squirrels or similar small-small animals, yeah, probably a waste.

      • Just like shooting foxes, coyotes, or wolves from an airplane with the doors off. It’s harder than it looks, sure, but not impossible. e concentrates on the flying

        The part I think is crazy is when I run into a pilot who flies and shoots, instead of having a gunner focus on the shooting while h. Me, I don’t have the coordination to even want to contemplate that!

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Don’t you hate when you accidentally touch the touchpad and your cursor moves when you aren’t looking?

          • Yep. *facepalm* I brought the new laptop on vacation to force myself to get used to it, on the theory that I’d like it.

            So far I like it best when I have a remote keyboard & a wireless trackball in use… neither of which were in use for that comment.

            Why can’t new windows versions be like cicadas – only coming out every 17 years?

            • Because the not facepalmy ones have to pay for the ones that come off like a nasty itch in an uncomfortable place?

            • Windows 10, I can say with direct handling test experience for ordinary users like myself, is orders of magnitude less annoying than Windows 8.1. In fact, it’s exactly what 8 SHOULD have been.

              (Yeah, Housemate got an eval copy and had me play with it earlier today.)

              • Windows, the once and every other operating system.

                • *chuckle* Can’t argue that.

                  Housemate is quite impressed with how they’ve changed the memory management, especially for those focused on gaming. He being a hardcore ‘nix user, but not one of the sort who will recommend only ‘nix variations when asked for advice. He’ll make recommendations based on what the end user wants to do.

                  I’ve ditched my Windows box because it was sitting there, ignored (and the few times I game? It’s Minecraft). And the hardware in it was better used for something else, but Housemate recommends Windows 10 strongly for people still using XP and 7 (and as a longtime Windows user, I’ll say that the transition is not hard at all. He cobbled together a test machine out of spare parts lying around on his bedroom floor, so Housemate THINKS that most folks still on XP could probably upgrade to this, and there’s rumor that 10 will be free, or cheap.

                  • The Daughtorial Unit offers this to pass along: “Spotted a report on /. that it also comes with a built-in keylogger, too.”

                    • I passed that on and am told to pass on back: yes, the technical preview copy has something that functions much like a keylogger – and all of the people downloading the preview copy are informed of this before they download the copy in question. This was also done for the tech preview copy of 8, I have been told, and it is used to confirm the actions done to test the technical preview copies and to recreate any bugs or faults that may arise during test but that did not show up in the lab. (or at least, something similar. The explanation was more in-depth but this is the gist I myself understood.) This makes sense.

                      The release versions do not have these test features, and that releasing such ‘reports’ on /. is a trap for the ordinary end user.

                      /end pass-on

        • I knew a guy who used to fly and shoot coyotes at the same time. The only three times he had ever crashed his plane were while doing that.

          And he wondered why his son-in-law didn’t want to go shoot coyotes with him 😉

          On a somewhat related note: running down coyotes with a snowmobile is a real blast. The most productive way is to have one guy driving and a passenger riding behind with a twelve gauge, it can be done solo but I recommend exchanging the twelve gauge for a 22 pistol.

          On a second related note: I remember my mom talking about shooting doves when she was growing up. They had an old Willy’s jeep, no top, no doors, and the style that the windshield folds down. Four or five of them would jump in the jeep with shotguns and ride over to the elderberries/chokecherries/etc. where the doves were feeding. As they drove up the doves would take off and those in the back would shoot out the top and sides, while those in the front (the driver only after they had slowed down enough to steer with their knees) out the doors and windshield. They knew where the doves would fly to next, so after jumping out and gathering up any doves that were shot they would jump back in and fly around to the next spot the doves would be.

          Yes hitting moving targets out of a moving vehicle can be done, it just takes practice and some luck.

  18. Folks who grow up not being spanked– without even spanking around them– end up being the ones who write nasty letters to talk show hosts, and then come on the radio, to defend the notion that it is NEVER OK to shoot an unarmed man.

    No wonder they don’t like guns. They think it’s immoral for me to shoot the SOB who wants to rape and kill me, because he’s not armed. Three times my size, but not armed. Able to beat me to death, but not armed….

    • Idiots is the kindest term I have for them. Disparity of force is a concept that is just too foreign for them to fathom.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      A good response to that type would be, “So, you’re saying that you want to be able to rape and murder women who are smaller and weaker than you are, without fear of them being able to effectively fight back.”

      • Yep. That’s the approach I take to every single moron who whines about self defense.

        “Oh, so, in other words, because other women are capable of minimizing their risks, in ways you’re unwilling or unable to take, you’re upset because your chances of becoming ‘prey’ are bigger?”

        “Oh, so you don’t like it when your target doesn’t make it easy for you to rape and murder them?”

    • They also claim that you couldn’t be sure he was going to rape you. And that holding a Bowie Knife or Arkansas Toothpick isn’t armed armed.

      Me, I lean toward the Raylan Givens side of that debate.

      • Kept meaning to point that out, but– yeah.

        Until he’s raped you, you can’t be sure he will, and if he already did then you still can’t shoot the bastard because you can’t be sure he’ll do it again. No matter the evidence.

        Because… stuff actually working, or something.

        F that, part of why I carry is because a crazy guy came and “asked” me for money for the bus. A grocery cart SUCKS for offensive/defensive purposes, and the guy was at least a foot taller than me and a hundred pounds heavier than I am, even when I was fatter– I’d be dead before the Good Samaritans that asked after me afterwards could open their car doors.

        • So basically, you are saying police are chalk artists?

          • I didn’t say anything about police at all, actually. They do what they can, when they’re there. Nobody can be held accountable for when they’re not even there.

            • As the saying goes, “when seconds count; the police are just minutes away.”

              Not their fault, they can’t be everywhere, and I certainly don’t want to live in a society where they are.

            • Just a semi-whimsical reminder that safety starts with the person you see in the mirror.
              Police too frequently arrive in time to get evidence needed to find the perp. I can’t imagine why crooks don’t hand around so they can get police autographs………

              • Sorry to be a bit stand-off-sh, I’ve had too many folks who go from “cops don’t solve every problem” to “cops are useless” without any in-between, and I can’t say I agree with them.

                Just because a screw drivers sucks for hammering a nail doesn’t mean it’s useless.

              • As Travis Taylor put it in “Rocket City Rednecks” – “Safety Third”

                Or Mike Rowe eviscerating trite workplace slogans. “If safety was first we wouldn’t be here” – also see his TED talk, the part where he discusses crab fishing. “OSHA?” “No! OCEAN!!!”

            • And…if you’ve never seen a crook hand around (prim voice) I will NOT describe it to you.

      • Patrick Chester

        The Mayor: I don’t want any more trouble like you had last year in the Filmore district. Understand? That’s my policy.

        Harry Callahan: Yeah, well, when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard. That’s my policy.

        The Mayor: Intent? How did you establish that?

        Harry Callahan: When a naked man is chasing a woman through an alley with a butcher knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn’t out collecting for The Red Cross.

        • CombatMissionary

          Now I want to go back and watch some reruns of “Sledgehammer!”

          • I loved that show!

            • CombatMissionary

              One of the coolest things about that show-not one single swear word. Dad wanted it, and I found the DVD on Amazon. He noticed that he could watch it with the grandkids and not have uncomfortable explaining to do afterwards.
              I especially liked the scene in the first episode where Sledgehammer takes out a sniper by the casual application of a bazooka, thereby removing the apartment building from under the sniper.

              It’s a pragmatic man who keeps a bazooka in the trunk of his car. 😉

          • Patrick Chester

            There was a parody of that scene in the first Naked Gun movie. Drebbin stumbled upon a Shakespeare in the Park performance of Julius Caesar and… got the wrong impression.

  19. The book: Three felonies a day, how the feds target the innocent is the book cited above. I too have ridden in the back of a pickup and also drove the pickup with others in the back. One of the reasons I ride motorcycles, I like the wind in my hair (what’s left of it). When I was a probation officer, we had a state senator give a after dinner speech once. His subject was “We want to stop the driver that gets drunk and runs over kids.” Text was that they made a law so loose that would get a person arrested for minor drinking like .08, in order to have a net big enough to catch the .3. Then it was our job to separate the sheep from the goats. Hah. Of course, DUI grew to be the most arrested charge, DUI Assessment at $150.00, DUI School, $80 for first, $250 for second and I don’t know how much a third, then reinstatement fee, breathalyzer in the vehicle, $70 a month for at least six months. The net became a government fishing trawler. The funny thing was that alcohol related accidents had dropped almost in half before the institutionalization of all this government attention.

    • masgramondou

      There’s a (sort of) joke that some people I know have, which is that these days most DUIs only catch the amateur drunks. The professional ones know how to avoid doing stuff that causes the cops to think they are drunk so you only catch them when they cause an accident.

      • That’s a classic in acting classes: act like a drunk. A beginner slurs and staggers and is really obvious. An experienced actor is just a little slower and very, very controlled and careful in every movement and statement.

  20. Sorry missed a part. Three felonies by Harvey Silvergate and Alan Dershowitz.

  21. A couple of years ago after one of my first MBA classes I suggested we take my truck to get drinks. When we got outside it was a really nice night so I asked if they were riding in the cab or the back. You would have thought I was a wizard spinning gold from straw at the idea. I literally saw jaws dropping. I couldn’t believe that in a group of people all older than 23 that I would be the only one to have ridden in the back of a truck.

    I’ve told friends that I can’t wait for my not yet born kids to turn 13 or 14 so they can run the riding mower and I can sip lemonade all day, the more liberal ones think I’m going to be putting my kids in some kind of mortal jeopardy by being near the thing. The look on their face was priceless when I told them that they wouldn’t be the first 12 year olds to have driven my Ford tractor. (wouldn’t actually cut a kid loose on the tractor for the record)

    Seems to confirm my suspicion that we’ve become so risk averse that we can’t recognize danger from mere living and learning.

    • Birthday girl

      I ran the riding lawnmower at age 10. My mama was driving the farm tractor at that age, though not plowing, as that required more concentration than a 10yo has. Not only are we increasingly risk-averse, we are increasingly competence-averse. An average 10yo can indeed do a decent job on the lawn … if they’re trained and coached at it. For my children, I “let” them mow with a walk-behind mower when they got tall and strong enough to have the necessary leverage for the thing, which was around 11-12 years old.

      Kids can do so much more than we permit them to do these days, it’s sad for them …

      • I was mowing the lawn as soon as I could see over the bar. Both parents worked, so someone had to pick up the slack. *chuckle* I was short for a long time, so about 11 y.o. when I started doing it all on my own.

    • Harold Combs

      In the Oklahoma countryside, a kid usually gets to drive the pickup as soon as he can see over the dash & reach the pedals. Generally just driving around the pasture, sometimes down to a friends house on the dirt road. Kids drive tractors too. Modern machinery is much safer than the equivalent horses. Horses are dangerous. My kids were riding the bailer and driving the catch-up truck at 13 or so, great way to make going-back-to-school money.

      • My brothers drove the pickup while Dad tossed hay bales into it, or onto a trailer behind it, when they were eight and nine years old. Did a good job, too.

        • Thought of something to add. Dad went to work in a remote logging camp in Alaska (boat or plane access only — it was at Icy Bay, if anyone wants to try to find it on a map). When my brothers were fourteen and fifteen, Dad’s boss said they could come to the camp and he would give them jobs. The boss didn’t really think that was going to work out, but by the end of the first week, he had put them on the payroll at the same starting pay as the men got (about $5.50/hour at the time — this was over forty years ago). They were running the boom boats, rounding up logs for loading onto barges. Eventually did a number of other jobs; older brother, at sixteen or seventeen, built a lowboy trailer for the camp with no plans, just another trailer to look at.

      • When I worked in the central Midwest, I learned real quick to be careful about “driverless” tractors hauling grain carts in the fall. Those had kids so small they could peer over the dash, with a stick or blocks on the pedals. Dad or big brother put the thing in gear, pointed to town, and off went Junior. The guys at the coop grain elevator knew the tractors and would hop up and stop it once Junior got it lined up with the auger. *shakes head* And the farmers thought us pilots were crazy?

        • Then you would love “driverless” pickups. One kid standing on the seat to see over the steering wheel & drive; the other sitting on the floorboard pushing clutch, break, and gas petals on command.

          • Our mom worried about us thinking enough, so randomly when we were in the middle of nowhere… she’d turn around and say: “I just dropped dead. What do you do?”

            We learned to make fires, find water, find a safe enough place to stay until help came, and at one point demonstrated that we could invent that pickup move on our own, and get it to work. (We were roughly 50 miles from ANY house, and 70 from town, by road. This was very important stuff….but it was fun, too.)

            My sister SUCKED at telling the clutch from the gas.

            We also showed we could do the same with an old horse that got loose. I boosted my sister on top of him, she kicked him, I pushed one side of his chest or the other to make him turn. We lost mom’s good boots, too. (I was the only one tall enough to reach his chest to push. The old guy was at least 20-something by that point, but the perfect kid horse; acted like a real jerk, would freeze with two feet in the air if someone fell off until he’d actually BENT DOWN TO LOOK THEY WERE GONE, then put on a performance of bucking.)

            • Hmm. I may have to start doing the ‘I just dropped dead’ thing to my kids. That’s a good idea, thanks.

            • Foxfier | October 7, 2014 at 8:37 pm |
              > Our mom worried about us thinking enough, so randomly when we were in the middle of nowhere… she’d turn around and say: “I just dropped dead. What do you do?”

              Which leads to the infamous WW2 ZI joke:

              Newly-minted Lieutenant in left seat of transport; old-crow Colonel in right seat. Weather is “Bohemian Rhapsody” — “thunderbolts and lightning”. Colonel suddenly cuts power to one engine. Lieutenant yells, “Help me hold her, sir!”. Colonel responds, “I can’t — I’m dead; do what you’d do in combat.” Lieutenant turns to Loadmaster: “Sergeant, toss this f***in’ corpse out the window and help me hold her!”

        • I was driving at three.

          Now, true, I would have been about two months shy of four, and when they didn’t have us around they used a bit of wire and hopped on the back to feed…. but they trusted us to stop the tractor if a calf got suicidal, and not to fall off under the wheels, and taught us to follow basic (pointless, although we didn’t know that) directional orders.

          At THREE I could out run the speed that tractor was going, even in the snow.

          But… I was driving at three. *happy*

          • It was a lot of fun, and was good practice for when dad jumped off to run over to a sister who just ran into something and dropped to the ground (luckily nothing serious), leaving one tyke to keep steering the tractor in the right direction.

    • And you can never have complete safety anyway. Having a shower can get you killed or badly injured. There is at least some potential risk involved doing pretty much everything.

      And if we keep going with the way we seem to be going now, when you have some individual case where somebody got hurt/killed for doing, or because somebody else did, something risky, or maybe something that actually even wasn’t particularly risky, only this time the person/s got unlucky, then everybody gets into the how we could have prevented this -game, then a law is made which maybe would have prevented _that_ particular case (if it got obeyed) without anybody paying any real attention what else that law may prevent or cause problems for… not good. Not good at all (yes, it happens here too).

      And yes, overprotecting kids seems to result with more cases of idiot young adults, from ones who have that ‘I’m invulnerable’ fantasy much longer than they should to ones who are so risk-averse they dare not do anything.

      So yes, concentrate on making sure people know the risks, make maybe only the very worst kind of idiocies illegal (maybe… I guess there are cases where that might make some sense) and leave the rest to the judgement of the people themselves. Yes, maybe something like “if you are a legal adult or close to it and climb into that utility pole with high voltage and get electrocuted and survive, you have to pay for the costs of your treatment yourself even if it takes the rest of your life” might not be a bad idea there either, but maybe only in the clear cases when it was obviously done just because of idiocy aka for fun, personally I’d be willing to be lenient with somebody who climbed there to save a cat, for example, even if you could question the rationality of that too.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Ever read Jack Williamson’s “The Humanoids”? They wanted to protect people and in extreme cases, they were willing to brainwash people to “keep them safe”. [Frown]

    • CombatMissionary


  22. Only time I can remember being in the bed of the pickup on the highway was when there was a camper shell on. But there could have been times. Rode in the bed of pickups sitting on the wheel wells and with our backs to the cab tons of times. We also would lay the back seat in the station wagon down, put in a mattress (around 4″ foam pad, and about the size of a queen bed), and us kids (4 of us) would hang out back there when we went on vacation – towing a pop-up camper. When dad got tired driving, mom would take over, the oldest went into the front passenger seat, and dad laid down in back and took a nap. We literally traveled all over the country that way, and none of us was hurt by it.

  23. Otto– (my late-hubby) used to call it the “Law of Unintended Consequences.”

    A new-law always has problems– whether from holes in it or it causes something else to happen that is worse than fixing the first problem.

  24. physicsgeeky

    Teach people the risks and let them make their own decisions.

    Funny thing. When I say the sentence above, I’m routinely treated to shrieks of “YOU WANT [insert group of choice here] TO DIE!!!”

    I’ve asked many times of a country that failed because its citizens were too free. I have yet to receive a reasonable response.

    • Harold Combs

      Back in the 70’s when the Feds were regulating speed limits, helmet laws, and cigarette pack labeling, my favorite mantra was “Educate but don’t legislate”. Since then we ended the 55mph madness, most states now have reasonable helmet laws (optional over 18), and we are rolling back gun control. Things have been worse.

    • No, I WANT [insert group of choice here] TO LIVE!!! Everybody dies eventually, so why spend our time on this planet huddled behind the couch when we could be watching Doctor Who and fighting Daleks?

      Not enough people read Jack Williamson’s With Folded Hands. Should be required in schools.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Scary, SCARY book.

        • Is it this?

          There’s an audio book “The Humanoids With Folded Hands”, but they both have the same cover.

          • I haven’t read “The Humanoids”; only “With Folded Hands”. It looks like the one you mentioned has both.

            • One is a novel, one a novella. I forget the exact relationship, sequel, prequel, postquel, nyquel.

              Per Wiki:
              Williamson was born April 29, 1908 in Bisbee, Arizona Territory, and spent his early childhood in western Texas. In search of better pastures, his family migrated to rural New Mexico in a horse-drawn covered wagon in 1915.
              * * *
              The Science Fiction Writers of America named Williamson its second Grand Master of Science Fiction after Robert Heinlein, presented 1976.
              * * *
              “With Folded Hands …” is a 1947 science fiction novelette by Jack Williamson (1908–2006). Willamson’s influence for this story was in the aftermath of World War II and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and his concern that “some of the technological creations we had developed with the best intentions might have disastrous consequences in the long run.”

              The novelette, which first appeared in the July 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two (1973) after being voted one of the best novellas up to 1965. It was the first of several Astounding stories adapted for NBC’s radio series Dimension X.

              The story was followed by a novel-length rewrite, with a different setting and inventor. This was serialized as …And Searching Mind and finally published as The Humanoids (1948). Williamson followed with a sequel, The Humanoid Touch, published in 1980.

              It was only when I looked back at the story much later on that I was able to realize that the emotional reach of the story undoubtedly derived from my own early childhood, when people were attempting to protect me from all those hazardous things a kid is going to encounter in the isolated frontier setting I grew up in. As a result, I felt frustrated and over protected by people whom I couldn’t hate because I loved them. A sort of psychological trap. Specifically, the first three years of my life were spent on a ranch at the top of the Sierra Madre Mountains on the headwaters of the Yaqui River in Sonora, Mexico. There were no neighbors close, and my mother was afraid of all sorts of things: that I might be kidnapped or get lost, that I would be bitten by a scorpion and die (something she’d heard of happening to Mexican kids), or that I might be caught by a mountain lion or a bear. The house we were living in was primitive, with no door, only curtains, and when she’d see bulls fighting outside, she couldn’t see why invaders wouldn’t just charge into the house. She was terrified by this environment. My father built a crib that became a psychological prison for me, particularly because my mother apparently kept me in it too long, when I needed to get out and crawl on the floor. I understand my mother’s good intentions—the floor was mud and there were scorpions crawling around, so she was afraid of what might happen to me—but this experience produced in me a deep seated distrust of benevolent protection. In retrospect, I’m certain I projected my fears and suspicions of this kind of conditioning, and these projections became the governing emotional principle of “With Folded Hands” and The Humanoids.

    • Depends on how you mean freedom, but the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth might qualify.

  25. Harold Combs

    Born in 52 in Oklahoma so I’ve ridden in back of pickups hundreds of times as have my friends. Even ridden on flatbeds. Never knew anyone seriously injured by falling out/off. My kids did the same in the 80s especially when haying in the fall. We always figured that you were responsible for yourself. Seems that now everyone expects government to take care of us all. Sigh.

    • Flatbeds going down the highway to the next field.
      Yes, plant stems at those speeds sting.
      In said fields – riding in the back, going up and down hills, walking back and forth stacking the bales being dropped from overhead (stay out of the way) by the mechanical arm, while said truck is running over various critter holes dug into the side of the hills.

  26. A seatbelt story: My greatniece was in a car accident where 3 of the 4 occupants were killed. She was sitting in the front passenger seat. She didn’t die because seconds before the accident she had unbuckled her seatbelt in order to pick up something off the floor. She was thrown clear of the car and survived. She was fined $10.00 for not wearing her seatbelt.

    • I knew of two people who survived the same way, both were thrown clear. A couple related to my mother, back in the 70’s when we were beginning to get seat belts in cars in my country (my first car had belts for the front seats, but not on the back, and you had to use one if there was one but at that time it was not yet necessary to put them in cars which didn’t have them).

      I don’t use a seat belt at work, at all. I have paper routes in the country, use a company car and here the way most of those routes are we put the morning paper from the car window into the mailbox, without getting out of the car (those cars have the driver’s seat on the right side). With my height and reach half of the times I just can’t do that with the belt on. Now, it’s legal to unbuckle for that, and drive short distances without the belt. The problem with those company cars: they have the alarm, if the belt is not on while you are driving the damn thing will keep up this very, very annoying pinging.

      The solution at least half of us use: pull the belt behind the seat and buckle it from there.

      I would be quite willing to use the belt on longer parts between the mailboxes, but I hate listening to that alarm, so now because of that I don’t use it at all (and it’s relatively easy to free the buckle on the run, if one gets stopped by the police… and then you are there reaching for your bag or the glove box in order to dig out your driver’s license/car papers by the time the cop gets to your car, a perfectly good reason to have unbuckled and safe to do with the local police, we have little enough violent crime here that they don’t assume you might be looking for a gun or anything 🙂 ).

      • I also know someone who lived because he was unbuckled (He ducked as a chunk of windshield would have decapitated him) BUT I understand those are the exceptions. So I buckle.

        • My sister and kid brother survived from not wearing seatbelts when the car they were in went into the river. I am a staunch proponent of mandatory seatbelt use.

          • And I do use them too, work is the only exception because with my height when I’m reaching out of the side window I will also usually get half strangled by the belt if I have it on.

            Although even when I’m just driving they have a tendency to slip where they run over my throat. I have never seen any kind of adjusters to deal with that for sale anywhere, but I do think they might be available, if not in shops then at least online, and they are probably at least legal to use if I can find one. I suppose I should take a look.

      • On every car I’ve looked at, the seat belt reminder can be turned off. It is an involved process that includes a series of buckling and unbuckling, and switching things on and off, but it is clearly laid out in the owner’s manual. I’ve done it on my own vehicles, and rentals, when I was doing a lot of driving in parking lots at low speeds during festivals, etc.

        Regarding being thrown clear- in the past, this might have been a risk worth taking. VERY long odds, but possible to justify. Modern cars have been engineered to collapse around you and absorb the impact forces. You are MUCH and I mean MUCH more likely to survive if you stay in your seat, than if you are ejected. If you are in your seat, you are positioned for the airbags to provide protection, you are restrained from entering areas that crush by design, and you are not likely to be run over or have a secondary impact with your surroundings. You will also be easier for the first responders to find. There will always be the miracle that disproves the rule, but you REALLY don’t want to roll those dice.


        • These are company cars. We are not supposed to start adjusting anything but the driver’s seat. New company though, so I will probably try to suggest turning those alarms off at some point. But I don’t dare to try doing without permission, especially at this stage. No idea what the culture of this new one is like now.

          The cars are brand new Toyota Yaris hybrids, by the way. Mine has been driven for about 500 kilometers right now, mostly by me.

          I always do use the belt when driving otherwise.

          • The morning paper delivery in this area was just sold from one company to another, it was a subdivision in the old one, now it’s run as a separate company owned by the parent one (okay, this is one area of English where I do not know the right terms for things). But yep, the old system was pretty rigid, and as for now, we have no damn idea what this new one will be like although we have been promised they should be a bit more nimble when it comes to making adjustments, but we’ll see.

          • You are a woman, you obviously don’t know anything about automobiles. 🙂 As long as you don’t tell anybody you turned off the alarm (which is possible on a Yaris that is 5 or 6 years old, because my uncle did it to his) they will never suspect it. Truth be told they will probably never notice that the seatbelt alarm doesn’t work, and if they were breaking the law and driving without a seatbelt they will be a) thankful that annoying alarm isn’t dinging and b) automatically assume it is just an electronic glitch that that particular cars alarm doesn’t ding.

          • CombatMissionary

            Just go to the junkyard and cut the belt-side of the buckle out of a junk car. Hop in, snap THAT buckle in. Problem solved.

      • There are a fair number of exceptions; seat belts are about improving the probabilities, not about absolute safety.
        I’m alive today, I think, because I was belted in – when I woke up, behind the steering wheel, about one car length behind a hay truck on the freeway, going about 30 mph faster than he was. (Really shouldn’t have been driving that tired…) But – the belt gave me enough control to steer into his rear tire instead of going under the frame.

    • Those kinds of freak events in accidents do occur. However, more often, an ejection in a car accident has fatal consequences. Many decades ago, I was first on a scene of an accident involving a car load of drunk teenagers that left the road on a curve off Pacific Coast Highway north of Malibu near where I grew up. Let’s just say that the experience makes it easier to watch ISIS videos.

      • Of course they do.

        The question is, do the “non freak accidents” (making a phrase, not quoting) happen sufficiently more or less often with the laws involved, and do the “freak accidents” where folks are injured or killed by seatbelts happen more or less option?

        A load of drunk teenagers isn’t exactly prime rule following material, kind of like how someone who is talking on the phone, gesturing with the other hand, speeding and changing lanes without signaling is PROBABLY not going to be significantly helped by making it illegal to hold a phone with the car running.

      • I read an account of what happens in an accident when you’re not wearing a seatbelt, written by an EMT in one of the states without seatbelt laws (so he’d seen it a lot.) Somewhere around “the windshield removes your face,” I confirmed my lifelong love of wearing a seatbelt…

        • I hit a car head on at around 60 mph when I was 18. The girl riding with me wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. She busted out the windshield with her head, and the glove box with her knees. The lady I hit wasn’t wearing her seatbelt, she busted her face on the steering wheel. All in all, both were very lucky. I was wearing my seatbelt, and I had about a three inch friction burn on my upper chest/collarbone where the seatbelt rode above the neckline of the wifebeater tank top I was wearing.

          A few years later I was rearended at 65 on I-5 (in the same pickup), pushed into the guardrail, which proceeded to catch the front corner of my pickup. It flipped over and I went spinning down the freeway on my top. Again I was wearing my seatbelt, and somehow managed to strain my wrist. That was the extent of my injuries.

          I am a firm believer that seatbelts work, but I still don’t think there should be a law requiring their use.

  27. Harold Combs

    A frightening phrase “There oughta be a law”. Usually made with the best of intentions and without a thought as to the actual consequences.

    • That, and “think of the children.” Catchphrases spoken from a place of ignorance, intended to salve conscience and allow the speaker to then turn away and not think anymore.

      • “But think of so and so, she would still be alive if only…”

        Seems to be one of the usual counterarguments if one questions some new law or statute. That and “but what if…” followed by some fantasy scenario of what might happen if somebody did what that law forbids. Never mind if doing that had been stupid even before the law, and wont’ stop anybody who is willing to do stupid things and/or break laws anyway. As long as there is a law against it the universe is in order, and the law abiding good people can rest with a good conscience.

  28. No, no, no, no, no! Passing laws against harmful activities DOES TOO work! America proved it with Prohibition, and again with the War On Drugs (is there an HTML code for wavy letters?) For decades America had anti-sodomy laws against homosexual acts and NOBODY ever kissed a willy* or licked a Hoo-ha (glittery or otherwise) and the country was completely free of homosexuals (and if ever one was found he/she was quickly locked away in a prison full of other men/women.

    *Sorry – now I’ve got “I’m Henry the Eighth I am” running in my background noise, and so do you …

    And every one was an Henry (Henry)
    She wouldn’t have a Willy or a Sam (No Sam)

    English is a wonderful tongue for euphemisms. Daughtorial Unit & I once determined (while listening to a new Flogging Molly CD) that pretty much any present participle/subject combination was likely to be used as a euphemism for … um … amusing oneself.

  29. I have actually fallen out of the bed of a pickup truck. I learned the lesson that you should sit on the bed of the truck not the wheel wells. It helps if the driver isn’t trying to do a burn out (fast start) too.

    Couple of bruises, and a lesson in inertia and center of gravity.

    I spent thousands of miles (literally, given how we vacationed) riding on the floorboards of our camper, in the “boot” or recessed area where the convertible top goes, on the rear deck of a car, in the back of a stationwagon, and various other places including the seats without seatbelts. It didn’t kill me or anyone I know. YES, there are accidents. YES, seatbelts save lives. And NO I don’t want the damn nannies to pass laws and enforce them thru threat of force.

    It is really the slippery slope, camel’s nose under the tent, etc idea. It sounded silly to argue that if we let the insurance companies bully the legislatures into passing seatbelt and helmet laws eventually they’ll try banning sodas, but that is exactly what happened.* There are a lot of areas where, with hindsight, you can see the incremental progression toward where we are now. And now we find ourselves in a place that would have seemed so far fetched as to be beyond belief only a few years ago.

    I’ll add one example the other children of the 80’s will recognize. In the John Hughes film “The Breakfast Club” one of the characters is in detention for BRINGING A GUN TO SCHOOL. In the 80’s, in mass media, it made perfect sense to audiences that that was an appropriate punishment. Contrast that with what happens today when someone even makes a gesture, or an IMAGE of a gun.

    This is NOT a good thing.


    * anyone who thinks mandatory helmet or seatbelt laws are bad and has GEICO insurance should be ashamed of themselves. GEICO could save me 100% or more and I’d still never forgive them for pushing for helmet laws out of their own self interest. And to get even more meta, remember that GEICO stands for Government Employee’s Insurance Company, and that’s not a group I want advocating…

    • re: Breakfast Club.
      It isn’t that far in the past when schools had gun clubs and rifle ranges in the basements. In many parts of this country kids were permitted to bring guns to school during hunting season if only because they would not otherwise attend.

      • I was varsity on the Rifle Team all through high school. We were technically not allowed to have guns are ammo on school grounds, but there was always a brick or two of 22 shells in my locker. Either my locker was never searched during high school (possible, I shared a locker with a girl for the last two years of high school and there was always tobacco products in it that we were never busted for, but she always stuffed bras on top of the tobacco while the 22 shells were in plain sight when the door was opened) or they were ignored by those school authorities doing the searches.

        And after I was old enough to drive there was practically always a rifle in my truck parked in the school parking lot, also technically illegal, but commonly accepted under the “out of sight, out of mind” principle. I saw the vice principal tell one guy who pulled into the parking lot during deer season with his deer rifle in the gun rack to, “leave school grounds and don’t come back with that gun anywhere I can see it.”

        Oh, I graduated in 97, so it wasn’t all that long ago.

      • Some still do. One of my dad’s students missed making her high school team by a single point.

    • I fell out of the back of a pickup once, too. (We rode in the back of the pickup all the time when we were kids, and on the flatbed of my dad’s old army surplus six-by.) It was my own fault. We had been told repeatedly to sit on the floor of the pickup bed, up right behind the cab. (This is what I’ve also told any child who rode in the back of my pickup. If they disobey, we stop until they are back in the proper position.) I disobeyed, and sat on the tailgate. Dad was driving slowly on the dirt road between our house and one of our neighbors in Alaska, but we hit a bump and I fell out. That was the first and only time I ever remember seeing my Dad angry — scared him half to death, I guess.

  30. On the back of the ute, on the hay platform behind the tractor, on a trailer behind a tractor with a bunch of other kids and packs(scouts), broke my collarbone and thumb when I decided at 4 that I should hop out of the car when mum stopped at the mailbox just as she drove off down the long drive way to the house. Came pretty close to die’ing on a scenic rafting trip, not white water, not adventure rafting, just plain old paddling a raft down a calm looking river that had a very strong current under a tree just under the surface. Didn’t stop me from doing white water rafting and Jet boating later in life.

    We had a conversation yesterday in the office where someone is still driving their 15 year old the 20 minute walk to School in a good neighbourhood because its “Safer”

  31. This saw print in the FB thread mentioned, but it bears repeating:

    “Rode in the back”? Hell, when I was working on Rose Parade floats, on the trip to Pre-Parade, our job was to:

    — Jump off the tailgate of a pickup doing 10-15 MPH;
    — Run out and grab a vial with a flower which had fallen off the float;
    — Run back to the pickup;
    — Toss the vial into the pickup;
    — Remount onto the pickup tailgate.
    — Repeat a couple-dozen times *all night*.

    Never had so much as a scraped knee — and there’s kids today still doing it.

    The Current Generation is Weakness Personified — but there’s still a chance to weed out the weak.

  32. L Jagi Lamplighter (Wright)

    A brief comment about spanking:

    I have noticed, with one exception, that everyone I know who is against spanking has very well behaved kids. The kind who cry if you yell at them. My kids, when they were little, used to laugh if I yelled. They didn’t understand the cues for anger.

    That one exception, however, was a mom with ill-behaved boys who just decided to only use gentleness. I am still in awe of her.

    • I’m not that much of a saint.
      To be fair with second son I might have been convinced spanking was never needed. It’s not that yelling works, it’s that spanking doesn’t work either.
      He’s one of the nicest young men ever, gentle-spoken, stubborn as a Spanish mule. But since spanking wouldn’t work either, and he mostly didn’t do anything bad before four, I might have been misled. the older, though…
      Oh, and Marsh did things like water daddy’s piano. But those aren’t spanking infractions, those are “I’m shaking too hard to even touch you, go to your room and think about what you have done” infractions.

  33. You’re clearly not well-informed on the gun issue. It isn’t about making all guns illegal. Learn the issues before you write. Btw, you disciple your children? Really? Disciple?

    • Wait, what? Do you have something serious to say? Or are you just going to throw semi-coherent questions out.
      Yes, there is discipline for children. Amazingly disciplined children grow up to self discipline. Also, to be able to form coherent questions in two languages. Perhaps you should learn discipline?
      As to guns — what in heck are you babbling about? I come from a country with gun control. Yes, the end game is ALWAYS no guns in the hands of civilians. Except the lawbreakers, who don’t care.
      Perhaps you should educate yourself about gun control? Or is it beyond your reading comprehension?

      • On the gun control issue, David Smock makes the fatal flaw of argument from authority without first establishing his authority, expertise or even general knowledge. What is “clear” to him is likely the effect of his rose-coloured glasses, his blinders, or both. I gather that for some people the flow of oxygenated blood through the sigmoid colon imparts a delightful rosy tinge to what they perceive.

        I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.
        disciple (third-person singular simple present disciples, present participle discipling, simple past and past participle discipled)
        1. To train, educate, teach.

        They claim that use is obsolete, but that merely demonstrates the insularity of their cultural environs. The term is quite common in Christian circles where parents are instructed to “disciple your child, to raise him up in the way of the lord” Proverbs 22:6 and, as the verse cited should indicate, it is similar to instruction given observant Jews. (There is no point advising unobservant Jews, they’ll probably vote Liberal regardless, even when the Liberals are arguing for elimination of Jews. Bless their mishegas hearts.)

        • Patrick Chester

          Actually, I suspect Dave here is just makings a drive-by with a general “you’re stupid” sneer combined with a spelling flame.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          RES, I’m glad I was finished with my coffee. That was perhaps the most hilarious method of saying someone had their head up their ass that I’ve ever seen.

          • >bows<
            As Lina Lamont once said: If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'. Bless you all.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Sarah, he was mocking a typo in the text, “disciple” instead of “discipline”, whereas I’m absolutely certain he never made any typos in his life.

        • Yeah, I eventually figured that. It was really late and I’d just finished editing two short stories that were due.
          Again, I don’t get paid for these and I write them usually either half-caffeinated or almost dead.
          What amuses me is when people wonder over from PAID lefty sites to yell at me for being unprofessional.
          Ah! the books are my job. this is a hobby. Yeah, I get some donations, now and then, but it’s not… uh… a paid job.

          • Obviously a drive-by, but interestingly the typo is not merely accurate in meaning but in the context used it is an even more appropriate word than would have been the one intended (sometimes typos are G-D’s way of telling you what you actually should have said; sometimes they are Freud’s way of telling you to get your mind out of the gutter.)

            Of course, for a drive-by to be effective you can’t be shooting blanks, as David was.

    • Patrick Chester

      It isn’t about making all guns illegal.

      Just for those without connections. Like, say, most of the people.

    • CombatMissionary

      David, are you asserting that nobody anywhere is trying to outlaw all guns for the bourgeoisie?
      Gimme a break.

      • no, no. They JUST want to outllaw guns that look scary. And he completely missed the point that outlawing something doesn’t make it disappear magically.

        • CombatMissionary

          He probably also thinks all drugs should be legal because there’s no way to stop people from getting them, and thinks that’s completely unrelated, too.