The Unnatural Order

This page written circa 4 July, 1999.

This is not your ordinary parking sign. Who would want to forbid parking except during business hours? Some idiotic beaurocrat, of course.

Typical American mentality, Andrew would comment, try to legislate everything. He would be right too. In the last election California passed a law forbidding the slaughter of horses for human consumption, or something similar, in response to a bunch of film-stars-turned-animal-rights loonies. That might make sense if more than about six horses a year (compared to countless tens of thousands of cows) were in the habit of being eaten, and if you accept that horses are higher up the food chain than cows. The bill probably got passed because the rebuttal consisted basically of someone pointing out what a waste of time it all was, whereas the sales pitch was an emotional plea so filled with hyperbole that the total absence of any factual considerations escaped the vast masses.

This being the Fourth of July, fireworks are on sale... in almost every parking lot in town. They are in parking lots, in identical, wood-and-wire stalls, surrounded by some mandatory distance of roped-off open ground, for what we presume to be safety regulation reasons. If there were any decently exciting fireworks it would all make sense, but (more) regulations prevent all rockets, flying fireworks, bungers (even the 3mm x 20mm tiddlers), Roman candles, etc., etc. As the lady in one of these plywood bunkers commented: "Nothing fun, sorry. It's all `sane and safe' these days". Not only sale, but use of such implements of excitement is forbidden. They go to the length of having a sheet of paper carefully describing what illegal fireworks look like (so you can recognise them and report anyone using them). To most sophistocated life forms, this is akin to giving a child a picture of the chocolates they are not allowed to eat. "My nephew", added the lady, "could tell you how to turn most of these back into something dangerous". All this in the land where guns abound... although something is being done about that... California has almost passed a bill limiting the purchase of guns to the rate of one per person per month, we hear.

Sarcasm aside, there is good logic behind some legislation. I admit that government should be entitled to forbid activity that significantly depletes state resources, and disabled people represent a loss of roughly a million dollars to the system. To the government a person's pleasure is worth less than their taxes, and it should be so.

The sooner technology advances to the point where the serfs are no longer worth a million dollars the sooner we will get our fun back. Double that clock speed, map that genome, lubricate those nanobearings, and in no time we will not have to go to Kentucky or China for fireworks, and we will be able to park outside parks even when they are closed.

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