Category Archive 'Safety Fascism'
11 Mar 2018

F*** Safety

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Henry Racette is not one of those swaddled, buckled-up-for-safety types, begging for the Government to take away his guns and drive his car for him.

There’s talk – silly, absurd talk – of banning the private ownership of cars. Molon labe, baby! You can have my Yukon, my three-ton id, when you pry it from my cold dead hands. And you can forget the self-driving nonsense, too: up here where I live, you can’t see the lines on the road four months out of the year on account of the blowing snow. Good luck dealing with that, Google.

Ayn Rand, in one of her two major works of fiction (I’m going to go with Atlas Shrugged, but someone correct me if I’m wrong – it’s been almost 40 years since I read it) has her heroine wax rhapsodic (as if there’s any other way to wax) about the act of smoking. Dagney (or possibly Dominique) marvels at the flame held in obeisance inches from her, the spark of destruction so casually lashed into service for the pleasure of mankind. Never having been a smoker, and coming of age as I did during the first great anti-smoking crusades of the ’70s, I admit that the imagery was less compelling for me than it might have been for someone of my parents’ generation. But Dagney’s ruminations have remained with me, an oddly vivid example of our peculiar attraction to dangerous things – and to mastering them.

I like guns. I didn’t always: when I was a child, I was indifferent to them. Then I became a man, a lover of liberty, and an enthusiastic critic of the insipid and emasculating idea that safety comes first. Lots of things are ultimately more important than safety. Being able to credibly say “thus far, and no farther” is one of them; merely reaffirming that we have the right, the moral right and the legal right, to say that is another.

Safety is important, don’t get me wrong. But of all the parameters that define the human experience, safety isn’t the one we should seek to maximize. John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the most comprehensively evil song ever written, is an ode to safety above all else, the pathetic celebration of the apathy-induced coma. I’m glad Lennon never became a US citizen.

Living as an adult male – as opposed to an androgynous, pajama-clad, cocoa-sipping man-child – means spending years, decades even, standing precariously close to the edge of doing something stupid. (The life of a young man is a race between the rising arc of sensibility and the statistical certainty that, if we’re only given enough time, we’ll have our “hold my beer” moment and, if we’re lucky, the ER visit that goes with it.) That sometimes leads to tragedy, but most often to maturity, and there’s no path from baby to man that doesn’t, at least occasionally, tread close to a dangerous edge.

The best things in life are dangerous: freedom, love, faith, women, sex. Children – those raw nerves we thrust out into the world. Cars. Guns. Saying what you think.

RTWT

04 Jul 2015

Fourth of July

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LymeCannon
I may have found the actual cannon Mark is talking about.

Mark Steyn, back in 1999, was already lamenting the wussification of American July 4th celebrations.

[W]e’re fighting not just a jurisdictional challenge but a vast cultural tide, determined to ensure that every activity should be 100 per cent guaranteed safe, even if that means it’s no longer any fun.

Take, for example, that staple of every Fourth of July parade: cute little girl scouts waving to the crowds as their float passes by. The Swift Water Girl Scout Council, which oversees all girl scout troops in the state, has ruled that at this weekend’s parades the girls will have to be seated and buckled in on their floats, to comply with New Hampshire’s recent law requiring children to wear seat belts. “I can’t say nobody would ever enforce it,” said the Police Chief of Manchester, the state’s largest city. “But they’d look awful stupid.”

The girl scouts’ director is unapologetic. “If the float stopped quickly and the children are not secured, the children could have an accident,” said Jane Behlke.Since the scouting movement began there has been not a single girl scout parade float tragedy in New Hampshire, although one year in Merrimack Mr Peanut – a giant peanut – did lose his head (something to do with a low bridge). But nowadays the nuts who’ve lost their heads are the regulators. On Independence Day, where’s the spirit of independence?

It wasn’t always like this. Once the whole point of the Fourth of July was that it should be wild and dangerous. There’s a cannon on my town common that the boys used to fill with powder, stones and sod, and then touch off. Unmounted, it bucketed around, flipping somersaults and very occasionally shattering windows.

In 1939 Sarah Holt and Minnie Linton, who ran the guest house, refused to donate any money for gunpowder. Come the big night the guys dragged the cannon down to their front door and fired at the house for hours on end. The game spinsters told the guests that the boys were just a little high-spirited.

Indeed, the only reason my town has a jailhouse is because of the Fourth of July in 1892, when some fellow drank too much cider, went nuts and started trashing the place. After which they built a two-cell jail in case it happened again. I believe it’s the only jail in New England with wooden bars.

Recently, unable to find my 1995 tax bill, I asked to see the town’s copy. The selectman said they had run out of space at the town offices, so they were storing them in the jail. “My God,” I cried, aghast. “You’ve turned the town jail into a stationery cupboard!”

And there, in a nutshell, is the story of the modern western world: not enough wild independent spirit, just more paperwork.

The whole thing.

18 Jul 2014

The Working Gas Can, Murdered by Government

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GasCan
Old-fashioned (now illegal) plastic gas can with built-in vent.

Jeffrey Tucker discusses in loving detail one prominent example of the countless ways in which government regulation has impacted the lives of just about every American.

[Y]esterday, [I ran out of gas and] had to get a can of gas from the local car shop. I started to pour it in. But, hmmm, this is strange. The nozzle doesn’t quite go in. I tilted it up and tried to jam it in.

I waited. Then I noticed gas pouring all down the side of the car. So I pulled it out and experimented by pouring it on the ground. There was some weird contraption on the outside and it wasn’t clear how it worked.

I poured more and more on the ground. Some got on my shoe. Some got on my hands. Some got on my suit.

Gas was everywhere really — everywhere but in the tank. It was a gassy mess. If someone had lit a match, I would have been a goner.

Finally I turned out the crazy nozzle thing a few times. It began to drip in a slightly coherent direction so I jammed it in. I ended up putting about one cup of gas in, started my car and made it to the gas station.

I’m pretty sure gas cans used to work. Yes. It was a can. It had a spout. It had a vent hole on the other side. You stuck in the spout and tipped. You never saw the gas.

Then government “fixed” the gas can. Why? Because of the environmental hazards that come with spilled gas. You read that right. In other words, the very opposite resulted. Now you cannot buy a decent can anywhere. You can look forever and not find a new one.

Instead you have to go to garage sales. But actually people hoard old cans. There is a burgeoning market in kits to fix the can.

The whole trend began in (wait for it) California. Regulations began in 2000, with the idea of preventing spillage. The notion spread and was picked up by the EPA, which is always looking for new and innovative ways to spread as much human misery as possible.

An ominous regulatory announcement from the EPA came in 2007: “Starting with containers manufactured in 2009… it is expected that the new cans will be built with a simple and inexpensive permeation barrier and new spouts that close automatically.”

The government never said “no vents.” It abolished them de facto with new standards that every state had to adopt by 2009. So for the last five years, you have not been able to buy gas cans that work properly. They are not permitted to have a separate vent. The top has to close automatically. There are other silly things now, too, but the biggest problem is that they do not do well what cans are supposed to do. …

Never heard of this rule? You will know about it if you go to the local store. Most people buy one or two of these items in the course of a lifetime, so you might otherwise have not encountered this outrage.

Yet let enough time go by. A whole generation will come to expect these things to work badly. Then some wise young entrepreneur will have the bright idea, “Hey, let’s put a hole on the other side so this can work properly.” But he will never be able to bring it into production. The government won’t allow it because it is protecting us! ….

There is no possible rationale for these kinds of regulations. It can’t be about emissions really, since the new cans are more likely to result in spills. It’s as if some bureaucrat were sitting around thinking of ways to make life worse for everyone, and hit upon this new, cockamamie rule.

These days, government is always open to a misery-making suggestion. The notion that public policy would somehow make life better is a relic of days gone by. It’s as if government has decided to specialize in what it is best at and adopt a new principle: “Let’s leave social progress to the private sector; we in the government will concentrate on causing suffering and regress.” …

Ask yourself this: If they can wreck such a normal and traditional item like this, and do it largely under the radar screen, what else have they mandatorily malfunctioned? How many other things in our daily lives have been distorted, deformed and destroyed by government regulations?

If some product annoys you in surprising ways, there’s a good chance that it is not the invisible hand at work, but rather the regulatory grip that is squeezing the life out of civilization itself.

Read the whole thing.

Air conditioners which don’t cool as well as their predecessors made 60 years ago, toilets that won’t flush, automobiles without spare tires which cost more than the house you grew up in… the list of products of federal regulatory intervention to make the world a better place is long, and it keeps growing.

04 Oct 2012

You Can Dance If You Want To (But Not at Silliman College at Yale Anymore)

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A previous year’s Safety Dance


Wikipedia
‘s entry on Yale’s Silliman Residential College reads:

Each fall, Silliman hosts a Yale-wide 80s theme party called the Safety Dance, the largest dance at Yale.

The name “Safety Dance” derives from a a 1983 hit single recording by the Canadian New Wave band Men Without Hats.

But, as The Oldest College Daily recently reported:

Silliman College has decided to cancel all future Safety Dances after eight hospitalizations followed Saturday’s event.

In a Monday night email to the News following this week’s Silliman Activities and Administrative Committee meeting, Safety Dance organizers Nicole De Santis ’15 and Hannah Fornero ’15 announced that the “risk and liability of the Safety Dance are too great for us to continue having it.” Though new efforts were made at this year’s Safety Dance to help improve student safety, binge drinking and hospital transports still dominated the event. Silliman College Master Judith Kraus said three students were transported from the dance site to Yale-New Haven Hospital, and that another five were transported from several other locations on campus — marking a significant increase from last year’s five students in total. Krauss said that aside from those students transported due to intoxication, many others were excessively intoxicated and engaged in inappropriate behavior.

“There were countless incidents inside the dance, most of them unrepeatable, that can be directly attributed to drunkenness,” Krauss said.

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Goldie08 nailed it in the YDN’s Comments section:

Master K has always been the biggest sourpuss on campus. Just a curmudgeony old witch with a total no fun attitude. This quote blew me away:

““There were countless incidents inside the dance, most of them unrepeatable, that can be directly attributed to drunkenness,” Krauss said.”

It calls to mind Neidermeyer’s line from the disciplinary hearing in Animal House: “And most recently of all, a “Roman Toga Party” was held from which we have received more than two dozen reports of individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here”

    “…ambulances picked up the other five students from different locations around campus, attributing these cases to excessive pre-gaming.”

As would be expected when you ban or heavily restrict access to alcohol at the event itself. Experience has shown that when access to alcohol is limited, students will simply hide in their rooms and rip shots before mixing up some sauce in a gatorate bottle or flask for the road. They’ll drink it quickly leading to a rapid and dangerous rise in BAC.

This whole thing is ironic given subject matter of the Men Without Hats song from which the dance’s name was derived. It was the band’s response to curmudgeons like Master K who thought the drunken, raucous new wave dance parties of the 80’s were detrimental to society. “We can dance if we want to…” Except at Yale.

Lame.

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13 drunks got carted off to the tank after the major party of the year attended by roughly 2300 undergraduates. Oh, me! oh, my!

In my day, of course, when you got yourself blue, blind, paralytic drunk, nobody came to the rescue with an ambulance. You had your own private session of worshipping the porcelain god, and then you staggered off to bed, doomed to rise eventually to experience the kind of hangover that makes one seriously consider embracing Mormonism.

In those days, Yale residential college masters were all incredibly distinguished, internationally renowned scholars, and representatives of armigerous families whose first American settler had signed the Mayflower Compact. They were worldly men, who had won fame by publishing major studies of prominent canonical subjects like Shakespeare or Dante, or who had written the definitive diplomatic history of the Madison Administration, or who presided over the Yale Library’s cataloguing of the papers of Benjamin Franklin.

They were men of the world, operating at an Olympian level of serenity which could not possibly be disturbed by the petty follies or incidental misbehavior of lowly undergraduates.

The current Master of Silliman College is a professor from the Yale School of Nursing, forsooth! I always thought the existence of a Yale School of Nursing was a quaint anomaly instituted sometime in the Middle Dark Ages to provide a kind of minimal level access to females in the grim pre-coeducation era, probably as a budgetary expedient intended to lower slightly the university dining halls’ budget for saltpeter. We’d probably get more sophisticated residential college governance if the current administration were selecting college masters from the faculties of a Yale School of Taxidermy or the Yale Correspondence College of Beauticians.

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17 Jun 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011: A Few Good Links

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Via Theo.

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Supposed Christian group that won headlines attacking Paul Ryan’s budget funded by the very secular-minded George Soros.

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Jim DeMint: Your tax dollars at work: $2 million grant to build a “culinary amphitheater,” wine tasting room, and gift shop in Richland, Washington. That makes sense, with the federal deficit where it is, everyone needs a drink.

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Cedar Falls, Iowa wants keys to residents’ homes. It’s for their safety.

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Kayleigh via Jose Guardia: Keynesianism is the equivalent of pouring your can of soda into a glass and trying to claim that, because the soda is now in the glass, you have more soda than if you had not poured it into the glass.

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Michelle Malkin: Woe is Weiner: No skillz to pay the billz. But don’t worry, he has a job offer with a higher salary. And he has a pension.

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Leopold Bloom resigns
after erotic letters leak.

13 Nov 2010

Warning Labels

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Our liberal rulers are preparing warning labels for cigarette packages to save us from ourselves.

DirectorBlue argues that warning labels on voting machines and ballots would be more to the point.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

02 Jul 2010

Entering Gulf “Safety Zones” a Felony

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The Times Picayune reports that officialdom has arbitrarily created a new freedom-of-the-press-does-not-apply zone systematically excluding the public and the media from most of the Gulf waterfront impacted by the oil spill.

The Coast Guard has put new restrictions in place across the Gulf Coast that prevent the public – including news photographers and reporters covering the BP oil spill – from coming within 65 feet of any response vessels or booms on the water or on beaches.

According to a news release from the Unified Command, violation of the “safety zone” rules can result in a civil penalty of up to $40,000, and could be classified as a Class D felony. Because booms are often placed more than 40 feet on the outside of islands or marsh grasses, the 65-foot rule could make it difficult to photograph and document the impacts of oil on land and wildlife, media representatives said.

But federal officials said the buffer zone is essential to the clean-up effort.

“The safety zone has been put in place to protect members of the response effort, the installation and maintenance of oil containment boom, the operation of response equipment and protection of the environment by limiting access to and through deployed protective boom,” the news release said.

The Coast Guard on Tuesday had initially established an even stricter “safety zone” of more than 300 feet, but reduced the distance to 20 meters – 65 feet – on Wednesday. In order to get within the 65-foot limit, media must call the Coast Guard captain of the Port of New Orleans, Edwin Stanton, to get permission.

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Photographer James Michael Duncan marvels at the way that it has suddenly become potentially a crime to photograph the oil spill.

Volunteers can’t work on the beach, [ostensibly] for liability reasons. Only contracted employees can go work. Of course, those contracts expressly forbid talking with media. Every boat captain that signs on with the clean up is also expressly forbidden from talking to media or taking photographers out, even when those photographers can stay out of the way of people working. Chilling effects, all.

The Coast Guard says that you must call the Coast Guard captain of the port of New Orleans to get permission. If you buy the safety argument, that sounds sort of reasonable. Except for the fact that there’s no stated rules for who can get permission. The Times-Picayune article reports that AP photographer Gerald Herbert—one of the few mainstream press photographers that has been putting out incredible shots—has asked to discuss the new policy with officials. Guess what? He hasn’t received a response. …

I successfully [took several] photos without endangering any response workers, interfering with booms, or endangering wildlife. In fact, there wasn’t a response worker within miles of my location. Should I be a felon for making these images?

I ask again: Why is the government helping control the message here? Who’s interest is being served? It’s certainly not the public’s interest.

13 Apr 2010

The Puritan Left

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August Saint-Gaudens, The Puritan, 1883 – 1886, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Fast cars, smoking, flirting, even eating fast food at Burger King, the puritans of the Left are determined to eradicate each and every one of life’s little pleasures, Dennis Praeger warns.

Just as the Soviets removed Trotsky from old photos, anti-smoking zealots have forced the removal of cigarettes from old photos — from photos of FDR, from the famous Beatles photo — and from movies whenever possible. Torture and murder are ubiquitous in films, but smoking is all but banned — even cigars are now banned from James Bond films.

Smoking has been banned in entire cities, outdoors as well as in. In Pasadena, Calif., one cannot even smoke in a cigar store. …

Virtually every game I played as a child during school recess is now banned because organizations such as the National Program for Playground Safety deem games in which kids are “running into each other” as too dangerous. Someone might get hurt.

Until a few years ago, just about every American boy, and many girls, played dodgeball. No more. This joy, too, has been eliminated from American life. “We consider it inappropriate to use children as human targets,” said Mary Marks, physical education supervisor for Fairfax County, Va. And it may hurt the feelings of kids who are eliminated. For the same reason — potential hurt feelings of those eliminated — musical chairs is no longer played in some schools.

Some might argue that these bans are not because of Leftism but because of fear of lawsuits. But in light of how leftwing the trial bar is, that only reinforces my argument.

Read the whole thing.

18 Mar 2010

No Cheese Rolling Surrender Monkeys

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Young men of Brockworth in Gloucestershire have from Time Immemorial, at least for a couple of centuries, possibly even from Roman or Phoenician Antiquity, been celebrating the arrival of Spring with the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, a peculiar local competition involving a hazardous madcap pursuit down a steep hill after a large round block of Double Gloucester cheese.

The London Times reports that safety, insurance, and traffic considerations, in other words bureaucracy and general poltroonery, have caused this year’s cheese-rolling to be cancelled.

A centuries-old cheese rolling contest has fallen victim to health and safety — but not because of the broken bones and dozens of other injuries sustained each year.

Organisers of Gloucestershire’s annual competition have cancelled the event due to be held on May 31 because of concerns raised by the police and local authority over traffic and crowd control.

Good blog article on the tradition

Cheese-Rolling in Gloucestershire web-site

Maccabees “Can You Give It” 3:18 Cheese-Rolling song video

Hat tip to No Pasaran.

07 Dec 2009

British Restaurant Makes Customers Sign Plum Pudding Release

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Michael Simkins
is appalled at the point to which the contemporary nanny state has reduced Britain, a condition in which restaurants must ask patrons to sign a waiver of liability for a pudding.

The owners of the High Timbers (sic) restaurant, located in the heart of London, are insisting that customers sampling their festive menu sign a legal waiver before sitting down to eat.

The restaurant is currently offering plum pudding as part of its seasonal fare, which, as ancient custom (and the recipe) dictates, is prepared with the odd silver coin or lucky charm thrown into the mix.

But so wary have the management become of expensive lawsuits brought by any patron chipping a veneered tooth or choking on silver horseshoes that each portion arrives with both a jug of brandy sauce and a legal disclaimer.

08 Sep 2009

No Pocket Knives For British Boy Scouts

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This is a bit older, slightly nicer version of the Boy Scout Knife I used to carry back during the Consulate of Plancus.

You see how these things work?

There’s a little accident, and first they come and take away your cannon. Next, before long, they won’t even let Boy Scouts carry pocket knives. The utter and complete emasculation of society is a slippery slope process.

Telegraph:

New advice published in Scouting, the official in-house magazine, says neither Scouts nor their parents should bring penknives to camp except in “specific” situations.

Scouts have traditionally been taught how to use knives correctly, using them on camping trips to cut firewood or carve tools.

At one point Scouts were allowed to carry a sheath knife on their belt as part of their uniform although this is no longer the case. In recent years the Scout Association guidance has been that parents should carry knives to camps or meetings.

Dave Budd, a knife-maker who runs courses training Scouts about the safe use of blades, wrote that the growing problem of knife crime meant action had to be taken.

“Sadly, there is now confusion about when a Scout is allowed to carry a knife,” he wrote. “The series of high-profile fatal stabbings [has] highlighted a growing knife culture in the UK.

“I think it is safest to assume that knives of any sort should not be carried by anybody to a Scout meeting or camp, unless there is likely to be a specific need for one. In that case, they should be kept by the Scout leaders and handed out as required.”

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.


Even farther back, before WWII, there used to be an official Boy Scout sheath knife. It seems to have been an adaptation by a different company (Ka-Bar? Camillus?) of the old Webster Marble Woodcraft pattern.

——————————————–
British Scouting Commissioner says story is unfair, Update 9/9:


Wayne Bulpitt
, UK Chief Commissioner, says the Daily Mail’s Sunday edition used “a few selective statements and quotes some out of context.”

There’s no story here, Bulpitt claims. Why! We’ve been discouraging scouts from carrying pen-knives for years.

A Mail on Sunday journalist approached us on Friday having read the latest guidance we issued in Scouting Magazine/online in December 08 and April 09 on advising Scouts on the situations in which they can use a knife as part of normal Scout Activities. He was looking to make the story into “Scouts Ban knives shocker”. The media team took them through the facts and sent them links to our various documents and magazine articles giving him the following info,

– The Rules changed about wearing knives with uniform in 1968
– We have issued regular guidance to the Movement on this matter ever since 1968 e.g. early 1980’s , 1996, 2008 and 2009 (the latest being the magazine article in April/May)
– We need to support leaders with information to help them support young people

Despite making these facts available the Mail on Sunday published the piece, They used a few selective statements and quotes some out of context..

A number of newspapers this morning (Times, Telegraph, Express, Mirror, Sun) have taken the text from the Mail on Sunday (without talking to us) and have run with the story.

I’m not especially moved by Mr. Bulpitt’s complaints personally, but I thought he was entitled to a place on the record.

22 Jun 2009

Cigarette Control and Speech Control

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Steve Chapman, writing in Reason, notes that Congress just proved all over again that our elected representatives never believe in letting the Bill of Rights get in the way of saving Americans from themselves.

(T)he tobacco regulation bill recently passed by Congress indicates that the spirit of liberty is even scarcer than usual in the halls of government.

What motivates advocates of stricter tobacco regulation is the unassailable assurance that they are not only completely right but that their opponents are a) wrong and b) evil. This invigorating certitude makes it possible to justify almost anything that punishes cigarette companies, even if it does no actual good—or does actual harm.

One of the main purposes of the new law is to reduce the number of smokers in the name of improving “public health.” This is a skillful use of language to confuse rather than enlighten.

An individual decision to take up cigarettes is a private event, not a public one, and its health effects are almost entirely confined to the individual making the choice. …
Cigarette makers are forbidden to use color in ads in any publication whose readership is less than 85 percent adult. They are barred from using music in audio ads. They are not allowed to use pictures in video ads. They may not put product names on race cars, lighters, caps, or T-shirts. From all this, you almost forget the fleeting passage in the Constitution that says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”

When it gets in a mood to regulate, Congress doesn’t like to trouble itself with nuisances like the First Amendment. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for Massachusetts to ban outdoor ads within 1,000 feet of any schools and playgrounds. So what does this law do? It bans outdoor ads within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds.

The Court said the Massachusetts law was intolerable because it choked off communication about a legal activity. “In some geographical areas,” complained Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “these regulations would constitute nearly a complete ban on the communication of truthful information about smokeless tobacco and cigars to adult consumers.”

But to anti-smoking zealots, that effect is not a bug but a feature. The only problem they have with imposing “nearly a complete ban” is the “nearly” part.

Read the whole thing.

18 May 2009

Clip-ons Replace “Dangerous” School Ties in Britain

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Eton tie

The BBC quotes an industry association report identifying the latest breakthrough in British mollycoddling: replacing dangerous, capable of individual expression knotted ties with clip-ons.

Clip-on ties are replacing knotted school ties as schools worry about health and safety, says a survey of school uniform suppliers.

The Schoolwear Association says 10 schools a week in the UK are switching, because of fears of ties getting caught in equipment or strangling pupils.

There are also claims that clip-on ties can stop pupils from customising the size of the knots in their ties.

Uniforms are an “instrument of social levelling,” says the association. …

The emergence of clip-on ties is part of a growing sensitivity towards health and safety, says the association, along with modifications such as high-visibility trimming on scarves.

Clip-on ties take away the risk of pupils having accidents with their knotted ties.

Schools have raised concerns about ties catching fire in science lessons, getting trapped in technology equipment or ties getting caught when pupils were running.

Clip-on ties also allow schools to create a more standardised appearance, says the association, stopping pupils from being more creative in how they wear their ties.

There is something perfectly embodying modern leftist thought in the combination of motives here: sniveling cowardice joined with leveling conformity.

11 May 2009

Books Out of Reach at Bodleian

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Oxford’s Bodleian Library

The news has even reached India’s DNA news service (Bombay) that librarians at Oxford have banned step ladders and refused all access to books on upper shelves.

Britain, to make up for the monstrosities it perpetrated on its colonies during its empire days, has since the culmination of the Second World War been celeritously progressing on a path of political correctness — to the extent of first starting to call a spade a wilting water lily and then beginning to nurse a whimpering nanny state.

Now, an old stanchion of olde Blighty has caught the contagion. The Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford, where many a ruminative afternoon was spent by the likes of Gladstone and Attlee, Wilde and Shelly, and Hawking and Tim Berners-Lee, has made the books in its uppermost shelves out of bounds for students — or anyone else for that matter.

The reason: three-year-old British health and safety regulations that the library’s authorities happened to trip upon recently. Better late than never, the library has deemed the use of stepladders to be too risky for a scholar’s life and limb. The momentous decision has been arrived at irrespective of the fact that in the centuries of its existence, no untoward incident is on record to have occurred in the Bodleian owing to the use of ladders for reaching books in the higher rows.

So is there a way to access the books? In one word, no. The authorities say, respecting the national love of tradition, the books stay where they are: in their “historic” locations. If one wants access to a particular volume, one can always try at the British Library in London. And yes, there are also the digital versions.

It was several decades ago that Yale closed all the fireplaces in in residential dorms after the fire marshal declared that they constituted a fire hazard.

One of contemporary nincompoopery’s most characteristic features is an infatuation with the idea of Progress so complete that it excludes totally the ability not only to draw lessons from the evidence of the past, but even to recognize that the possibility of continuation with the past exists. Revolutionary change today is always vital and obligatory. And anytime events produce the slightest break with ordinary routine, as in the case of Islamic terrorists captured post 9/11, a group of experts must be hastily assembled to re-invent the wheel.

Oxford librarians simply cannot recognize that people have climbed stepladders to reach books for centuries, just as Yale’s administration could not access the fact that people heated homes and cooked with fireplaces for centuries, all with entirely acceptable rates of untoward incident. Similarly, the Bush Administration could not grasp the fact that American military commanders had previously encountered illegal combatants and that practically effective policies and customs applying to such circumstances have existed throughout the history of human conflict. Instead, George W. Bush had to invent new policies and order policy drafts from Justice Department attorneys.

The Bodleian’s high shelf books are exactly like mankind’s history, tradition, and the experience of all our deceased predecessors: out of the reach of contemporary idiots.

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