Friday, May 11, 2012

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

The end of the Roman Empire in the west came as more and more tribal groups settled inside its borders and its own citizens became increasingly reluctant to defend an empire that was divided into super-wealthy landed gentry and almost serf-like peasantry, causing military roles to be subcontracted out to the barbarian invaders who became, in essence, the Roman army.

The end of the British Empire came when Britannia had been physically bled white by one global conflict and then fiscally bled white by a second and, parting with its colonial possessions, the once-globe-spanning empire shrank back down to its pre-Elizabethan roots as a rainy tourist trap with good beer.

The end of the American Empire came when it was decreed that its fragile children were such precious pearls that they couldn't be exposed to the dangers of drawstrings on clothing. Seriously. This is the inevitable end result of bicycle helmets and rubber playground matting: Your average newborn these days is doomed to a childhood that makes Tod Lubitch look like Johnny Knoxville. No wonder they take up BASE jumping as soon as they get to college.

In the brief span of my lifetime, we have gone from a nation where kids could order a .22 in the mail (with their parents' permission) and go to Sears and buy a kit for casting their own lead toy soldiers to a nation where they are protected from dangerous clothing and would be expelled from school for drawing a picture of a toy soldier.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

39 comments:

perlhaqr said...

Yeah, I've been trying to figure out if there's anywhere else to go, though.

Maybe humanity is just going to have to wait until there's enough of a die-off from a disease transmitted via dirty telephones to raise another place worth living.

Or maybe this asteroid mining thing will actually happen, and I can finally beg, plead, or fight my way off this rock.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

And all over "26 reports". Even if that's 26 in one day, that has to be such a small percentage that statistically it's nothing more than noise. Yet they consider it enough to issue a rule and multiple product recalls.

Apparently, it's a miracle any of us survived to adulthood.

Jeff said...

Try finding boy's swimsuits that have real drawstrings! They have these fake ones that tie in the front but don't loop all the way around to cinch things up. Makes it dang hard to keep them on! Elastic wears out quickly in that chlorinated water.

mikee said...

Drawstrings?!!

My kids had to use rattlesnakes tied together as belts, or wolverines as suspenders.

My kids had to carry pianos over their heads if they didn't want to get wet in the rain.

My kids grew up respecting the utilitarian things of life, like flame throwers, cannons, pet alligators and land mines.

I think my kids will turn out just fine,

Anonymous said...

In a recent thread on a gun board there was mention of reholstering problems caused by drawstrings and zipper pulls.

Doesn't mean they should be banned, though. I remember having a short kid on my team who could pull his sweat pants up over his shoulders. How are you going to do that if you don't have slack in the drawstring?

Boat Guy said...

I feel SO MUCH better that the "Consumer Products Safety Commission" is watching out for "the Children"! Why stop there? Shouldn't drawstrings be banned everywhere? Being free of such hazards in childhood could lead to potential tragedy in later life if people are suddenly and unexpectedly presented with such dangerous things

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Okay, a quick Google search found these statistics, which state that there were 25.1 million children under 12 in the US in 2011. If those numbers are correct, and you assume 26 deaths per day from drawstrings in clothing, then that's 9,490 per year, or 0.038% of the under-12 population (or, if my math is right, 0.09 per 100,000).

I couldn't find any statistics on the overall accidental death rate for that age group, but that seems vanishingly small, to me.

BobG said...

Damn, how did I survive as a child in the fifties and early sixties?

Anonymous said...

Bob, I'm wondering that myself. I had drawstrings, unlimited (nearly) access to all sorts of sticks, ropes, several miles of gully and backyards to roam through, played with fire, handled things that went bang, and yet I stand here today with all my digits pretty much intact. How strange.

LittleRed1

Firehand said...

They'd have crapped their pants if they'd seen my kids playing Elfquest with the spears I made for them.

Ritchie said...

If you see clothing with a drawstring, back up quietly, leave the room and tell an adul.....oh, never mind.

Jeffrey Quick said...

I always wanted one of those lead soldier kits, but my parents wouldn't let me have one because they were afraid I'd spill hot lead on myself.

Robert Fowler said...

"CPSC has received 26 reports of children who have died ".

They give no time frame. Is this 26 last week? Since time began? If these nanny's had been on the farm with us they would have $hit a gold onion. We played with everything we could get our hands on. I even experimented with a soup can and gasoline one, I burned my eye lashes off.

I remember the ad's in Dad's sport magazines in the early 60's. 1903 Springfield rifles for 17.95 plus shipping. I do miss the good old days.

Anonymous said...

Gone are the days when I would come home from a bike wreck with a case of road rash and my Mom, between drags on her Pall Mall, would say,
"It's far from the heart. Put some Bactine on it and go back outside and play."

I'm not sure my nephews and nieces ever had a scrape without generating enough drama to win an Oscar.

Gerry

Heroditus Huxley said...

First, they ban the drop-side cribs (as in: it's now illegal to sell one even at a yard sale). Next, draw strings. What's next? Buttons? Zippers? Clothes at all?

Anonymous said...

The death of the drawstring industry is going to collapse the economy!

RL said...

I lament that many kids don't get to hang out in their neighborhoods anymore. many of them don't even want to. The last vestiges of the age of all day bike journeys, and skinned knees without an adult nearby breathing down their necks is fading away in a cloud of angst.

When my niece and nephew come over to danger castle in the kingdom of scruffy the goodish, they have a blast. They love their uncle and his place nearly as much as I love having them around. At home in condoville its mostly supervised "structured activities" and "play dates" but at my place we do stuff, and make stuff, and break stuff, and climb over, under, and through yet more stuff.

We don't just make paper planes we go the extra mile and attach little homemade Black powder rocket pods to them. We shoot stuff, blow other stuff up, catch lizards, fish for spiders, whistle talk with various birds, and tromp through the bush watching out for imaginary bears. We hunt the elusive "super frog" who lives in the murky algal depths of our "dangerous" defunct pool and feed the king of frog's babies (tadpoles) with leaves and flowers that are transformed into ice cream and salad greens...Super frog's babies do not like coconuts.

At other times the 'death pool' or a nearby pond becomes an ocean upon which they sail paper, tape, and tin foil boats they've constructed in the shipyard that adjoins the plane factory which doubles as the pool cabana/bunker...When they play battleship, they really play battleship. As such, they've figured out how to use gravel as both ballast and naval gunfire. The ubiquitous coconut is of course a nuke.

Anyway, the munchkins get to choose their own coconuts (they're too underfootish to swing a machete yet or shimmy up a palm tree) and have learned to discern which ones will have the best meat or sweetest water. The dog loves him some coconut water on a hot day.

They also plant random seeds they've found and measure their growth at every visit. Overall, they're little rugged geniuses who'd in a less enlightened place might very well be medicated into submission.

The only time they spend inside castle danger is to help make their lunch, watch old pirate movies, talk story, throw various things around recklessly, or play grand games of hide n' seek where sneakiness is encouraged.

I feel sorry for the many kids who, in the name of safety, never get to engage their faculties or learn n' earn their limits with any level of self-assured accuracy. These two munchkins will not be among them.

Robbie said...

I guess lawn-darts won't be coming back to the shelves any time soon hunh?

SGB said...

Our collapse will last another 20 years.

doubletrouble said...

Have you noticed what the fed.gov has done to gas cans?
Now they don't even work.

fast richard said...

I suppose the first book I ever checked out of the library more than once would be hard to find in the children's section anymore.

JimB said...

The children today have had their immaginations removed. If it doesn't have a battery and a touch screen it isn't worth having.

Dwight Brown said...

Fast Richard:

I wonder if libraries these days have any C.B. Colby books.

I have fond memories of his work, as that was maybe 90+% of what I checked out of my elementary school libraries.

ASM826 said...

"Sic transit gloria mundi."

I painted that on the back of my roll around toolbox when I worked in an aircraft factory in 1984-85. I could see it coming then.

pax said...

"First, they ban the drop-side cribs (as in: it's now illegal to sell one even at a yard sale). Next, draw strings. What's next? Buttons? Zippers? Clothes at all?"

Blankets.

JFP said...

In 1987-88 I got a cool new skateboard for Christmas. We lived near the top of a decent size hill in a fairly quiet suburban development. Within weeks my friends and I were taking turns riding said skateboard down the hill on our backs, X-games style. That was just the evolution from big-wheels to bikes to skateboards. It was well worth the "tortuous" walk/ride back up the hill.

Chris said...

I had a chemistry set back in the early 1960's that generated hours of fun for me. My parents made me keep it locked up so my goofy sisters couldn't get into it, but that was the total of supervision. When I tried to buy something similar for my daughter in the 1990's, what was available was so lame that I didn't bother. She would have been insulted.

Anonymous said...

The Colby books ruled.

Mike James

Bubblehead Les. said...

Sad. In 1975/76, I used to carry our High School Rifle Team's Remington .22LR Target Rifles in and out of the Building for Practice and Meets all the time.

If I tried that today, I'd be on the Evening News.

Kristopher said...

I miss lawn darts. I miss the old black solid superballs.

I dropped on off the roof of a parking building in downtown Portland when I was a youngster. That damned thing bounced a good quarter mile, bounced into the center of the Burnside Bridge, and left a dent on on the hood of a Cadillac that I could see from that building top.

The police were all over that building as I was walking off.

I wonder how I ever avoided reform school ... let alone survived childhood ....

JD(not the one with the picture) said...

My friend Brad tried to shoot down a weather balloon with a .22 pump while standing on the front steps of our high school during lunch hour. He got yelled at by the principal. This was in about 1970 in a small Texas town. If you tried that these days you'd be lucky to survive to do 7 to 10 in a lovely state facility.

Will said...

I'm wondering if I'm seeing the end result of this "total protection" crap. When I run a weed whacker in a public place, the kids and young parental types don't seem to notice it tosses things around. They will walk by within feet of me, if I don't spot them soon enough.
I see kids running lawn mowers in flip-flops.
It's like they seem to expect the world to be perfectly safe at all times, in all places.

Justthisguy said...

Ah, Ma'am, you said .22. That makes this a gun-nerd post and I will allow m'self to dare to comment. I recall drooling at the ads in the back of Boys' Life in the sixties, imagining that it might be possible to save up enough money to buy a Savage 24. (I still want one; it is the perfect end-of-the-world piece.)

I am trying to be careful and inoffensive here, 'specially seeing that it is late at night, att.net is being even more egregiously unreasonably thickheaded and dickheaded than usual lately, and that I have been drinking and am grumpy because Mah Kitteh, good buddy, is missing in action and presumed dead for almost 2 weeks. I think he was about 17. He had a good run.

Justthisguy said...

Tam, please see:

http://www.thedonovan.com/archives/2012/05/an_empty-bowl_o_1.html

If the link doesn't work, that's the post at The Donovan's place at 10:52 am, last Saturday, I believe.

Justthisguy said...

Umm, sorry.

http://.thedononovan.com/archive/2012/05/an_empty_bowl_o_1.html

Maybe that'll click right.

armedlaughing said...

A childhood friend's dad policed his .22 brass.
We took them, and filled them with wooden matchheads, carefully cut out capgun cap centers, and Jetex wick fuse. A quick crimp and voila! makeshift bottle rocket/firecrackers!

Now, we'd be labelled terrorists...

PS - none of lost an eye, finger or anything!

Ken said...

Will said:

I'm wondering if I'm seeing the end result of this "total protection" crap. When I run a weed whacker in a public place, the kids and young parental types don't seem to notice it tosses things around. They will walk by within feet of me, if I don't spot them soon enough.
I see kids running lawn mowers in flip-flops.
It's like they seem to expect the world to be perfectly safe at all times, in all places.


I think Will above is absolutely right. I suspect it's why people believed what Bernie Madoff was peddling. It had to be on the level, or the SEC would've done something about it....

Robbie said...

Dwight Brown: I work in a library, so I just checked for you. Out of twenty or so titles, only one has not been withdrawn from our system. It's one about fortresses. All of the books about weapon systems have been removed.

Anonymous said...

"people had been working for so many years to make the world a safe, organized place. nobody realized how boring it would become. with the whole world property-lined and speed-limited and zoned and taxed and regulated, with everyone tested and registered and addressed and recorded. nobody had left much room for adventure, except maybe the kind you could buy. on a roller coaster. at a movie. still, it would always be that kind of faux excitement. you know the dinosaurs aren't going to eat the kids. the test audiences have outvoted any chance of even a major faux disaster. and because there's no possibility of real disaster, real risk, we're left with no chance for real salvation. real elation. real excitement. Joy. Discovery. Invention.
The laws that keep us safe, these same laws condemn us to boredom.
Without access to true chaos, we'll never have true peace." Chuck Pahlahniuk- Rant