Headed for Resistance

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While Michael Fleming waits on the status of his patent application for the kids' Automobile Helmet, a Chicago Tribune columnist puts down the brakes and reminds us "being produced and being worn are two things."

But even if you smirk at the vision of a small child buckled down, helmeted, and sedated in the back seat behind the safety-glass, Fleming at least has the concept of incentives down:

And how do parents who refuse to use seats belts convince kids to not only belt up but helmet up as well?

Fleming thinks he has the answer: Loading the helmet with electronics.
"By building a helmet that allows a child to listen to music, watch a DVD movie or play a hand-held game, I'm hoping they'll want to wear a helmet without complaint," Fleming said.

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  1. My childhood was typical: summers in Rangoon… luge lessons… In the spring, we’d make meat helmets… When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds – pretty standard really. What ever happened to the good old days?

  2. The helmet DVD player poses a real dilemma for the nannies: The safetycrats will laud the way it encourages kids to embrace safety measures. The healthcrats will worry about the effect of DVD players over-stimulating kids and harming their mental development.

    I gotta say I have some sympathy for the healthcrats on this one. I mean, wtf, you can’t go anywhere without watching a DVD? WTF?

  3. And before anybody accuses me of thinking that my stance on DVD players in cars and helmets should be legislated, that’s not my intent.

    I just wanted to bitch about it, that’s all. Even in libertopia there will still be people who bitch about things. I’ll be one of them.

  4. The design will also be comfortable, including a padded exterior, which means injuries to other passengers can be avoided.

    Obviously he’s trying to prevent the inevitable attempt to beat him to death with his own stupid invention.

  5. I think he’s anticipating brothers and sisters being in the back seat together. I know I would have repeatedly head-butted my sister if I had a helmet on.

    It would have served her right for being too close to “my side”. πŸ™‚

  6. Thoreau,

    I’m with you. If you can’t take the kid down to the corner store without entertaining them, they (and you) have a problem. I like DVD players in vehicles for long trips. As the father of a three-year-old, I think it’s a good thing to have. I love her more than anything, but as my offspring she has the unique ability to shred my nerves like no one else can.

    This helmet brings to mind a chilling story my friend told me. He said he had a neighbor, crackhead who would take her infant, put her in the car seat in front of the TV, and leave for the day. *shudder* That poor kid doesn’t stand a chance.

  7. “By building a helmet that allows a child to listen to music, watch a DVD movie or play a hand-held game, I’m hoping they’ll want to wear a helmet without complaint,” Fleming said.

    Yeah, that’ll be safe…until the DVD player cracks off the helmet and shards of plastic get lodged in the dazed child’s eyes.

    I have a better idea: why don’t we blend this idea together with the idea of vat-grown meat? (Aside: One of my friends is absolutely thrilled about the idea of eating vat meat). We can just keep our children enclosed in vats and spread chemicals on them and let them watch all of the TV, video games, and DVDs they want until they grow to a sizeable tumor. Then we can slice off parts of their tumorous vegetable matter and sustain our poor populations off of it.

    Presto! That way we have controllable children, steady media consumption, and affordable, replenishing food supply.

  8. “Yeah, that’ll be safe…until the DVD player cracks off the helmet and shards of plastic get lodged in the dazed child’s eyes.”

    Good one, smacky. My wife had an idea for an invention: A cell phone with pepper-spray module built in. What can I say, she’s part Polish.

  9. I was wondering when they would get around to this. Before too long, they will be Mandatory.

  10. They should be mandatory! It’s for the children!

    The children! What’s the matter with all of you? Do you hate children? You want them to get hurt and die, don’t you?

    Child-hating bastards.

  11. I further propose that all children should breathe bottled oxygen, since even the clean air can contain naturally-occurring radon. The kids should also drink only distilled bottled water, since water from wells and reservoirs have trace contaminants and could be poisoned by terrorists. Both measures greatly reduce the communicability of disease.

    We want only the best for our children. We can’t be too safe when it comes to our children.

  12. “I love her more than anything, but as my offspring she has the unique ability to shred my nerves like no one else can.” I love that line and I plan to make it my own.

    I too have a 3 year old girl. And we’re planning on buying a DVD player, the kind that hangs on the front seat. But I think a wearable DVD player is a bit too far. It’s like people who put their small children on leashes when they’re out in public. I mean, I understand the urge, but it’s creepy.

    Interesting (to me, anyway) aside: my daughter is frequently in my sister’s car, with her cousin, my 3 year old nephew. My sister has a big ol tricked out SUV, with an installed DVD player and headphones for the kids. So the kids put on the headphones, my sis powers up Nemo, or whatever…and my nephew is immediately enthralled, and sits motionless, staring at the DVD, for as long as he’s in the car and the movie is playing. Meanwhile, my daughter gets bored after 1 minute, and begins chattering to her cousin. Chatter chatter chatter…no response…she’s still talking, tapping him on his shoulder … hey… hey.. you hear me? chatter chatter…no response…

    Is it in the chromosomes?

  13. stubby,

    thats nothing that a few doeses of ritalin cant solve πŸ™‚

  14. I await the day when it is considered child abuse to remove their body armor for any purpose other than bathing.

  15. Huh. I love the leashes. Some children simply need to be restrained.

    But helmets in cars is just crazy. It’s like all these parents making their kidlets wear helmets while ice skating for heaven’s sake. I’m just waiting for the day kids go around in bubblewrap like suits.

  16. We should make the helmets bullet-proof, in case the kids are mistaken for terrorists.

  17. I think it should be mandatory to bundle all children in 8″ thick foam from head to toe, 24/7 to prevent injury in case they slip or fall. The foam may only be removed when they are strapped in their beds at night to sleep.

  18. Damn you Thoreau, you beat me to it.

  19. How in the hell could this thing be patentable?

    If they grant a patent for this thing, then 35 USC sec. 103 should be written out of the code and we ought to just return to the rubber stamp period of the 1960s.

  20. Hak:

    I’ve heard a lot of patent attorneys say that the PTO is basically rubber stamping most patents as it is; some blame it on a dearth of patent examiners, others just say the examiners nowadays don’t give a rip. My father in law, who has several patents to his name, agrees with this view. Now it’s as if the examiners figure, hell, it’s not really enforceable till it’s been litigated anyway, so who cares…

  21. Building on stubby’s point, my law firm is current representing a golfbag manufacturer that is being sued for allegedly infringing a patent on colored dividers in a golfclub organizer. Yes, that’s right, the USPTO granted a patent for the use of color to outline the dividers in a golfclub organizer….

  22. Hey, lighten up on leashes. I had a bungee cord attached to me for three years when I was an infant babe in NYC. And now I’m totally well-adjusted. I just instinctively brace myself whenever I go more than 10 feet from my parents.

  23. stubby,

    That’s basically true.

    SR,

    You know those garbage bags that look like jack o’ laterns? They’re patented.

    I remember a trademark case from my IP law class where a party sued another over the use of a color (a sort of greenish gold). The property law concepts of TM law just burn me up; the whole point of TMs was to allow people to differentiate products, not to create a new property right.

  24. thoreau,

    “I await the day when it is considered child abuse to remove their body armor for any purpose other than bathing.”

    You can’t remove it then!!! Don’t you know how many children fall in the bath every year?!? They must be protected!!!

  25. I remember a trademark case from my IP law class where a party sued another over the use of a color (a sort of greenish gold).

    Printing press pads, wasn’t it? Qualitex v….. somebody ?

    Seem to recall scents used as trademarks too.

    Thank heaven I don’t have to mess with that stuff. Interesting but highly… what’s the word i’m looking for here….. random? Lacking a clear defining principle? Shot in the dark?

  26. And what about the increased number of neck injuries caused by wearing a helmet? If you add weight to the human head, in a collision, the neck is obviously subjected to a greater stress, particularly in a whip-lash type situation which is common in cars.

  27. independent worm,

    Yeah, it was Qualitex v. Jacobs or some such. That case infuriated me. Well, IP law as a rule infuriated me. πŸ™‚

  28. I await the day when it is considered child abuse to remove their body armor for any purpose other than bathing.

    Ann Landers (Dear Abby? Does it matter?) once agreed with a letter writer that children should wear helmets in the bathtub, in case they fall.

  29. Since when do you take a bath standing up?

  30. Let’s jump ahead a few iterations in nannying: I propose no person be allowed to participate in a pregnancy without government approval.

    The approval process will of course be lengthy and arcane, to weed out the thrillseekers and those without the resources and compliant nature to rear a child according to Federal standards. Should a person be found pregnant without proper documentation, that person will be placed in custody, possibly sedated, until the child emerges and becomes a ward of the state. The partner in such non-approved pregnancy shall be held in a like manner for the same period, unless signing a “single parent agreement” promising compliance and supervision until the child reaches the age of majority.

  31. Sadly, before we know it some safety study will conclude that in fact if a child wears a helmet he’s much less likely to be injured..forget the fact that if we wrap them in foam and bubble wrap they would be safer too…

    Now in the good ole days I used to ride in the back of our pickup truck – if my dad hit the brakes well…that was a great Pavlovian lesson in learning to sit down needless to say.

    These days though it seems like a lot of state and federal mandates around to legislate every conceivable level of personal behavior so no doubt we could see helmets required on kids before long..bubble wrap and foam too before it’s over..who knows?

  32. Being born is the single leading cause of death in America today. Millions of people die every year as the direct result of having been born. Won’t you please help end this senseless tragedy?

  33. About 10 years ago I had the words “The Children” engraved on my 1911A .45 semi-automatic pistol. To this day my wife and I call it The Children, as in “I’m going to the range with The Children” or “I am taking The Children with me to the mall”.

    I love it when some idiot looks at the camera and says “Think about the Children! Won’t someone please think about the children!” (A Simpsons reference.) I not only think about the children, I pat her lovingly.

  34. All y’all who keep saying that helmets in cars are crazy should be aware that they make more sense for passengers in cars than they do on cyclists.

    Seriously.

  35. “Mommeee, why can’t we sit in the car until the movie’s over?”
    ****************
    “No. You may not wear your helmet at the dinner table.”
    ****************
    “She wasn’t supposed to overhear that. She had her helmet on.”
    ****************
    “No. You may not wear your helmet in church.”
    ****************
    Show and Tell: “Daddy came home from his business trip and gave me this rad new helmet and then he winked at Mommy and…”
    ****************
    “No. You may not wear your helmet at Aunt Martha’s house.”
    ****************
    “The MPAA has rated this helmet…”

  36. Next door to where I work is a day-care center for the children of some quite wealthy people. I’ll often see the kids play while I’m sitting at our picnic table, smoking my way through writer’s block. And despite their family’s wealth I feel very, very sorry for those kids. The day-care playground has an inflatable bounce-house (also known as a “moonwalk” in other parts of the country), but that’s the only fun playground toy there. The other accomodations? Two plastic slides that’re under four feet tall; a large, immobile plastic turtle on whose back the kids can climb and sit, a couple of other plastic animals, and a tiny sandbox. That’s it. No swings, no see-saws, no merry-go-round, no jungle-gym, no slide tall enough to be fun to ride down.

    And sooner or later I suppose even the bounce-house will be deemed unsafe, because when the kids are bouncing inside they might bounce into each other and get a nosebleed that lasts for all of ten seconds. God forbid.

  37. Two words: helmet porn. That’ll keep me busy on long commutes. I’m sure I can work in the leash somehow, too.

  38. Jennifer-

    I’ve always wondered if the safetycrats who oppose fun toys on playgrounds will ever clash with the Obesity Warriors. Both movements are “for the children”, but making it less fun to play outside runs counter to the goals of the War on Fat.

    I also read somewhere (on this forum, maybe?) that recent studies have shown that kids do better if they can play in more natural outdoor areas. The big, pristine lawn at the local park looks nice, but the overgrown area on the edge, with rocks and trees and rough terrain, is a lot more fun for kids (and also for big kids like me). However, there’s also more chance to get a bump or scrape or insect bite or poison ivy rash (or, on rare occasions, more serious injuries) when playing in trees and climbing over big rocks and whatnot.

    The article made the interesting observation that (at least according to some studies), kids who play in more natural environments are smarter and healthier. Probably because our ancestors grew up playing in those environments and evolution prepared us to learn in those environments. How much can you learn, and how much physical agility can you acquire, running around on neatly mowed grass?

    Anyway, this poses a real dilemma for the nanny types:

    1) The more natural environments are more dangerous…
    2) …but those who survive the perils of playing in bushes and trees will be smarter and healthier.

    I suggest an easy tie-breaker: Environmentalists will surely come down on the side of the more natural play environment.

    Or, if one wants to be truly radical and leave aside political considerations in favor of more outlandish concerns like, say, fun, the natural environment wins hands down. I remember that as a little kid I preferred the trails in the woods at the edge of the park over the big, pristine lawn in the middle of the park. And once upon a time I lived in a house with a huge yard (or at least it seemed huge to me). The neatly mowed grass in the center of the yard was nice, but I preferred to play in the bushes and trees around the edges. Believe it or not, I even had a pocket knife and spent my time cutting and sharpening sticks and putting them together in various configurations. At one point I fashioned a crude bow and arrow and went to the park to hunt squirrels (never got any, alas).

    And somewhere along the way, while climbing and carving and navigating paths and digging up rocks I developed some intuition about gravity and some spatial reasoning. I think those things have served me pretty well in my career.

    If only there had been somebody around back then to protect me!

  39. “Ann Landers (Dear Abby? Does it matter?) once agreed with a letter writer that children should wear helmets in the bathtub, in case they fall.”

    I don’t know about helmets, but cups for guys are a good idea. I slipped once and almost fell right on my huevitos…

    I still cringe when I think about it. *shudders*

  40. Wouldn’t mandatory protection of the genitals defeat the whole point of natural selection?

    Voluntary protection of the genitals is fine, and perfectly compatible with natural selection.

    I think that February 12 (Darwin’s birthday) should be a holiday. For one day a year we should repeal all laws designed to protect people from themselves. (And yes, I know, libertarians would say that they should also be repealed on the other 364 days of the year, but I’m just proposing an incremental change right now.)

    Seat belt laws? Gone. Drug laws? Gone. Drunk driving? Perfectly fine. (Yes, I know, drunk driving threatens innocent people, but I’m proposing one day a year where all the sane people stay home and the idiots go and get themselves killed.) Skating on thin ice? Go for it! (This is February, after all.) Lawn darts? If you can find a way to play with them in the snow, go ahead. Firecrackers? Use as many as you want! Unprotected sex with HIV-positive hookers? Go right ahead! Injecting heroin with dirty needles? Hell, I’ll buy you the drugs if you supply your own dirty needles!

    On February 13, the mortuaries will do booming business. A few weeks later, once the final body count is announced, the Darwin Award committee can convene.

  41. ChicagoTom: I believe that a lot of kids are being medicated just for acting like kids (one of my acquaintances has a child being treated for “oppositional defiance disorder”), but sometimes I swear, if there were a pill to curb excessive chattiness, I’d give it to my loquacious angel in a heartbeat. Of course, Mr. Stubby would probably give it to me.

  42. Thoreau–

    I’m pessimistic enough to say it’s worse even than that; I’m not trying to sound like a sadist but I think it is actually GOOD for kids to play in such a way that they occasionally experience mild pain. It’s a learning experience.

    Hell, when I was a kid–and probably when you were, too–I always ran around with skinned knees or elbows. And yes, it hurt when I fell down and skinned my knee, and it hurt again when Mom heard me squalling and ran outside to apply Band-aids and a stinging antiseptic, but I learned some valuable lessons:

    1. Life will have a certain level of pain and discomfort, but it won’t kill you and is just something you have to deal with;

    2. You have to decide which risks are worth taking, and which are not. For example, by the time I was five I knew that climbing to the top of a tall slide and going down is an acceptable risk, but going down the slide face-first is asinine. And swinging high on a swing is worthwhile, but jumping off the swing from its highest point is stupid and eventually hurts.

    Is it even psychologically healthy for kids to grow up with the belief that discomfort and pain are so damaging that they must be avoided at all costs? That a mere skinned knee is so terrible that anything which might possibly lead to one must be avoided?

  43. Is it even psychologically healthy for kids to grow up with the belief that discomfort and pain are so damaging that they must be avoided at all costs? That a mere skinned knee is so terrible that anything which might possibly lead to one must be avoided?

    Probably not. Indeed, if even the smallest danger must be met with a huge, centrally planned response, then I shudder to think how many wars we’ll fight in the future.

  44. Jennifer:

    You are so right. I’m in my mid-thirties and I already feel like a grouchy old man who is disconnected from modern culture. What the fuck is up with small kids wearing helmets on SCOOTERS and TRICYCLES, for christ’s sake?

    And these fucking mini-vans, with the barco-lounger seats, air conditioning, DVD and video game players.. while we had crappy station wagons, AM radio, and books as our only entertainment (and I always got huge headaches while reading in the car). Fucking kids today.. over-protected, spoiled little shits..

  45. Just drug the little freaks, it’s so much simpler.

  46. Mr. Nice Guy–

    I blame the parents. A kid can’t spoil himself.

    And I think it’s even good for kids to be bored from time to time, because when you’re bored is when you go out and explore new things or learn about something you’ve always been curious about.

    By the way, I just got back from a cigarette break, and the bounce-house has been taken down.

  47. Mr. Nice Guy–

    I blame the parents. A kid can’t spoil himself.

    And I think it’s even good for kids to be bored from time to time, because when you’re bored is when you go out and explore new things or learn about something you’ve always been curious about.

    By the way, I just got back from a cigarette break, and the bounce-house has been taken down. But the kids now have two plastic kid-sized picnic tables! Yep, nothing say “fun” to a kid like sitting at a goddamned table.

  48. Okay, something’s either wrong with the server or with the new IP address they installed on my work computer.

  49. Speaking of Darwin awards….this weekend one of my friends told me a story which made him a VERY likely candidate (although by fortune he wasn’t selected) for Darwin award a few years back…if I go to NY in September for the get-together, remind me to mention it…

    thoreau and Jennifer,

    You both make very good points about children and their learning environments.

    Yep, nothing say “fun” to a kid like sitting at a goddamned table.

    Tables are….fun.

  50. Smacky–

    Tables are only fun if they have drugs on them, or you can have sex on them. But both behaviors are entirely inappropriate for preschool children.

    Seriously, though, that playground is absolutely pathetic. All the molded plastic does make it prettier and more colorful than the playgrounds I had as a kid, but it’s completely BORING. As Thoreau pointed out, no wonder so many kids are fat these days! All of their fun calorie-burning activities have been taken away in the name of safety.

  51. Jennifer:

    Double posts only means double the fun πŸ™‚

    Yeah, and I’m amazed about this foam shit that they line the outside play areas. Back in MY DAY we hung upside down on monkey bars six feet above CONCRETE. The reality of the situation was very clear to even the young..

    or so I remember..

    …I think..

  52. Mr. Nice Guy–

    I have no complaints about trying to make playground toys safer–I think dirt playgrounds make more sense than concrete ones, and plastic equipment might well be better than rusty metal stuff–my complaint is getting rid of ANY playground toy with which a kid could possibly, theoretically, suffer even the tiniest of injuries. C’mon–no swings? See-saws? NOTHING? And I also disapprove of the way play for kids is getting more and more structured–there’s no more of this letting the kids figure out for themselves what might be a fun way to spend some time; it’s always structured play led by an adult.

  53. Jennifer:

    Please don’t mistake any of my responding posts to you as being sarcastic.. I know better then that πŸ™‚

    Yeah, honestly, it was pretty fucked up the stuff we did on top of asphalt. We had a version of dodgeball called “bloodball”, for good reason. Now the kids don’t play any kind of dodgeball anymore.. that’s really sad. For a really uncoordinated kid, it was my favorite game.

  54. Mr. Nice Guy–

    If double posts mean double the fun, I must be the resident Doublemint Twin, here.

    I just had another cigarette break (slow day at work) and today the kids are in their bathing suits, walking over a garden hose with little holes punched in it. Not running or jumping over it–walking. No jumping allowed–too dangerous, y’know.

    By the way, last week was pretty hot and sticky but today the weather is cool and pleasant. So of course TODAY they’re having the kids walk around in wet bathing suits. Brilliant. In the name of safety, let’s make it impossible for a kid to get a skinned knee, but double pneumonia’s just fine.

  55. Jennifer:

    I’m guffawing out loud at your smoke-break playground posts.. it should be a regular feature. You have a goldmine here. Yeah, I can see those kids slowly marching lockstep over the hose, like a scene out of Metropolis.

    And a little glimmer of light on the dodgeball issue.. I read an article last week about a large group of boys and girls who gather at a public park (in my town) after school to play the forbidden game. What an amazing real-life demonstration of the idiocy of prohibition.

  56. Ah, “smoke break”. Wish I could take one of those. In an effort to make a political statment (or “send a message”) to the public about my company’s stance on smoking, there was a permanent campuswide ban on smoking that started earlier in July. Now all smokers have to find the nearest public sidewalk (in a questionably safe (not really safe at all) part of the city).

  57. If only JFK had been wearing an automobile helmet …

  58. smacky:

    Pretty soon this will be a smoke-free planet. You will have to smoke in designated areas in President Bush’s moon colony.

    And I know I’m jacking this tread.. but this really got to me. I’m reading an article in today’s Post about some desktop nazi fuckhead in Charles County, Maryland, who is trying to pass a comprehensive private-business smoke ban. Meanwhile, in the picture, there is a pet dog in his office, that is described as being with him “all the time”. Okay, so having an animal in PUBLIC OFFICE SPACE isn’t considered a health hazard?! I would love to take my dog to work, but understand that reality dictates otherwise.

  59. MNG,

    The dog that is described as being with him “all the time” is clearly the animal medium through which Satan communicates with this warlock (or “desktop nazi fuckhead”, as you say). This witch clearly needs to be burned.

  60. smacky:

    An interesting hypothesis.. but cats, particularly black cats, are the more typical familiars. I’ve lived with a black cat, and it definitely creeped me out.

    No, this guy has a BEAGLE. Somehow, I just can’t hear the chorus of Satan when I look into a beagle’s eyes.

  61. Somehow, I just can’t hear the chorus of Satan when I look into a beagle’s eyes.

    That’s probably what Satan wants you to believe. πŸ™‚

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