Science

Are Safe Parks Making Kids Neurotic?

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evolutionarily fit

From today's New York Times, science columnist (and my former boss) John Tierney on how taking away monkey bars and asphalt in playgrounds is breeding a nation of scaredy cats:

While some psychologists — and many parents — have worried that a child who suffered a bad fall would develop a fear of heights, studies have shown the opposite pattern: A child who's hurt in a fall before the age of 9 is less likely as a teenager to have a fear of heights.

By gradually exposing themselves to more and more dangers on the playground, children are using the same habituation techniques developed by therapists to help adults conquer phobias, according to Dr. Sandseter and a fellow psychologist, Leif Kennair, of the Norwegian University for Science and Technology.

"Risky play mirrors effective cognitive behavioral therapy of anxiety," they write in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, concluding that this "anti-phobic effect" helps explain the evolution of children's fondness for thrill-seeking. While a youthful zest for exploring heights might not seem adaptive — why would natural selection favor children who risk death before they have a chance to reproduce? — the dangers seemed to be outweighed by the benefits of conquering fear and developing a sense of mastery.

"Paradoxically," the psychologists write, "we posit that our fear of children being harmed by mostly harmless injuries may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology."

For lots more on this beat, check out the Free Range Kids blog.

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  1. See also: “Plot of ‘Finding Nemo.'”

  2. For lots more on this beat, check out the Free Range Kids blog.

    I’m a little surprised that more hasn’t been made of that poor little Hasidic kid being abducted and murdered on his first walk home without his parents. Stranger danger!

    1. Maybe I’ve become jaded since I live in Orlando and have had to endure Casey Anthony for the past three years but it seems pretty obvious to me that the media only cares when cute white girls go missing! Caylee Anthony was unusual in that the poor kid wasn’t a blonde!

      To get really noticed by the media (other than a quick mention if your lucky), a missing person has to basically look like a poster girl for an Aryan eugenics program!

    2. Little Jewish kid killed by a Jewish guy. No race/bigotry angle for them to work.

      1. You’re right on the money but I’m sure that somewhere there’s a couple of anti-semites who are working that tragedy into their white power blogs!

        1. “See? Even Jews hate Jews!”

        1. Did you just say “JOOS”?

          What are you? A Nazi cow?

    3. Jebus fuck me. The wife saw that and she sounded the paranoia clarion, calling all fretful mothers to child-safe arms. “See? SEE?”

      My only response to her hyperbolic reaction, which seems to be the default response to her now, “This is why we’re doomed as a culture.”

      1. Mother’ arms? Like the mother’s arms that MURDERED CASEY ANTHONY?!!? Or Caylee, I don’t remember which is which and don’t care enough to Google it.

  3. this goes hand in hand w overzealous parents using too many anti-microbials & weakening the immune systems of TEH CHULDRENZ !

  4. I’ll bet liability is more of an issue if there are indeed a lot of parks being converted into being more safe. In a lot of states the liability is OK and the municipality has basically no liability, but in other states it’s a lot crappier. In one state (I don’t remember which and it may be more actually) there is the fucked up situation where the town is liable if they PUT IN safety measures because the court ruled that the town “could have done more” to prevent injury, so the towns are incentivized to do nothing about safety.
    I remember reading about a town once even banning sledding in public areas because of a lawsuit.

    1. Whereas I on the other hand, being a developer, hope that one day I can put in one of those push-merri-go-round circle thingies (where the floor is made of diamond plate steel and its got like four bars to hold onto), and I’ll secretly install a motor and drive underneath. The one day I’ll turn the key and open the controls and spin some kids around real fast so they have to hold on and their feet fling out. And I’ll post it on youtube. How awesome would that be?

      1. centrifugal mechanical bull. I like your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

        1. It’s like an average joe having sex with a supermodel; It happens occasionally but nowhere NEAR enough!

        2. nah, the motorcycle is in the way like that, and it just isn’t the same as the humor in explaining your developer and that gives you control over “land improvement” then unlocking a normally inconspicuous box and slowly turning up the speed until a nuch of kids are holding on with their feet flying out

        3. My immediate reaction to the first two or three seconds of that was, “This has got to be in some Eastern European country.” God dammit, I love my heritage.

          1. That’s the one I was looking for. There are a surprising number of these on youtube.

        4. From Speedy (1928), Harold Lloyd rides some unsafe attractions at Coney Island.

          (I didn’t watch this particular Youtube video before posting the link, but one of the rides he and The Girl go on is a “centrifugal mechanical bull”. I didn’t see whether it’s in this particular snippet.)

    2. Ah the ratcheting effect.

  5. It makes sense intuitively. When the apparent consequence of an action is multiplied by the parental fear, the child is reacting to that heightened risk sense. When a child breaks an arm from a fall, their fear is damped by the realistic consequences which are minor. Hence, when they grow up, they grow up with the sense of the multiplied consequence and scale up rather than understanding the true risk.

    I mean, if a 5 foot fall from a monkey bar could possibly kill you based on seeing your parents reaction, imagine what could happen if you came close toa 30 foot fall. The consequences are dire.

    1. Am I the only one who remembers thinking in grade school that the kids with the casts on broken arms had a certain panache, which I sort of envied. (Maybe you don’t; that was a long time ago, back when kids were allowed to break occasionally.)

      1. Cast kids got all the best attention.

        1. Remember what I told young Bart Simpson?

          “Bones heal, chicks dig scars, and America has the best doctor to daredevil ration in the world!”

          Evil Kenevil? Never heard of him!

          1. “You see, ‘epidermis’ means your hair. So technically it’s true; that’s what makes it so funny.”

      2. Nowadays there’s a fifty-fifty chance their parents will get arrested.

    2. Uh, there’s nothing wrong with being avoidant of coming close to 30 foot falls. Maybe fewer idiots at baseball games would be Darwining themselves reaching for foul balls or trying to take shortcuts to the beer vendor if they had a healthy respect for long falls.

  6. By gradually exposing themselves to more and more dangers on the playground, children are using the same habituation techniques developed by therapists to help adults conquer phobias

    But those therapists have degrees, and credentials, and stuff!

    You cannot seriously expect children to learn by trying new things without the guiding hand of social scientists there to steady them. That’s insanity.

  7. Let me guess. Is that’s Mangu-Ward in the photo?

    1. The legend goes that she broke her arm karate chopping the guy who tried to hang a calorie chart in her school cafeteria. She’s been fighting the nanny state that long.

    2. You know, if they put that pic in poster form and got rid…

      Never mind.

  8. Next you heartless libertarians will be endorsing the holocaust of choking death from childhood consumption of grapes and hotdogs.

    1. ‘grapes and hotdogs’… sounds like you may have a mild case of MCPS (male crotch projection syndrome)… when a person always sees random objects as part of the male reproductive system… wait, I just self-diagnosed… moving on…

      1. chocking hazards

        You obviously have not hung out with the parents of small children anytime in the last 30 years or so.

        1. My sister once damn near choked to death on a fucking graham cracker and she was ten at the time! Kids will put a cat’s hairball in their mouth just to see if it will fit but that’s how the little shits learn to not put the wrong things in their mouths!

        2. Actually, I have. Put a safety helmet on, so maybe you can relax and not have to worry about falling out of your chair and hitting your head. Safety first.

        3. I choked on fishbones till I learned to look for them and eat slower. Do parents let their 2-3 year olds eat whole fish anymore?

          1. Do those square “fish” the Gordon’s Fisherman sells count?

            1. They aren’t square any more. They are trapezoidal. Make’s ’em look more realistic when you put the “fillet” label on them.

              1. Still tastes like the box it comes in…

      2. “Grapes and hotdog” sounds like one of those awesome British euphemisms for, well, you know . . . wedding tackle.

    2. A dead child is ALWAYS a tragedy but my sympathy becomes limited when a child dies due to a parent being an idiot!

      We spend billions on turning sexual predators into modern day pariahs because of the occasional murder by a lone wacko (who was probably a family member or close friend) but EVERY FUCKING YEAR way more kids drown in pools because Mommy and Daddy just couldn’t be bothered to properly child proof their home with some chain link!

      It’s just not summer here in Florida until the local news is showing me footage of a grieving mother who usually “just fell asleep on the couch for five minutes” or “forgot the back door was open”!

      1. My favorite tragedy was the “mommy blogger” whose baby drowned while she was “mommy-blogging”.

        1. No way that actually happened.

          1. How about that fucker in Jacksonville who’s kid drowned while they were busy playing EverQuest a few years back?

              1. Yes way that happened. I am not cynical enough. Adjusting my cynicism scale accordingly.

                1. No matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up. Life has become a theatre of the cruelly and absurdly deranged. Grand Guignol ain’t got nothin’ on reality.

  9. choking hazard? i thought we had moved on to child obesity hazard.

  10. Gradual habituation, that’s the ticket.

    Candy little girl?

    1. Ever hear of Hikaru Genji?

  11. …oh, I see… psychologists have done another study that illuminates some obvious and unimportant point, about natural selection, no less… wow, impressive!

  12. It’s amazing to think that what my parents let me do as a child -bike without a helmet, play pick-up tackle football or ice hockey with no pads or helmets, dive off a FRICKING DIVING BOARD in a pool, take the bus by myself downtown at age 10- would pretty much get them arrested in todays world.

    This cartoon sums it up perfectly.

    1. The public pool near my mom’s house hasn’t had a diving board in 15 years. I don’t even think it has a deep end any longer.

      1. The diving board I get but you mean to tell me that some one freaked out enough to drain a swimming pool and the fill it up partway with cement?

        That’s either some serious lawyering at work or a REAL bad case of Helen Lovejoy Syndrome!

        1. I haven’t been in it, but when you drive by, it doesn’t have the two-tone look of a deep end pool. I could be wrong, but really… if it doesn’t have a diving board, why does it need a deep end? (Derp logic.)

          1. I almost don’t want to know the answer. Too depressing.

            1. OK, asked my friend that was a lifeguard there for two summers… it does still have a deep end. It goes from 3 feet all the way down to 6 feet.

              1. Well, that’s slightly less depressing, although it’s sad to hear they needed lifeguards for a pool that was only 6 feet deep.

                1. Fuck your swimming pools, I know STRIPPERS with deeper VAGINAS than SIX feet!

                  1. hey, fuck your strippers…..that is all

              2. I don’t really consider 6 feet to be a deep end. I think the Y where I learned to swim had at least a 15 foot deep end.

                1. …talking about the pool at the Y or the cheap skate strippers who work out there?

                2. I grew up near a pool with a 12′ deep end and a 1 and 3 meter board. Kids used to split their heads open trying gainers and back flips on a daily basis. It was fun!

  13. Fucking lawyers.

  14. I had lunch with some friends who also parent toddlers like myself. Their sense of risk assessment is completely off. They all feared flying more than driving; thought cell phones were linked to brain cancer; and bragged about teaching kids to fear all strangers (i.e., people in libraries and parks who are not related to them).

    What can you do?

    1. Remind them that fingerprinting is used to identify bodies not find missing persons.

      1. Brett L.

        +10

    2. I had lunch with some friends who also parent toddlers like myself.

      I didn’t know toddlers posted here. :-p

      1. I thought it was obvious.

  15. didn’t know where else to put this threadjack. Kinda fits here. Boise is considering a stupidity tax.

    http://www.idahostatesman.com/…..ostly.html

    1. Sounds like they just plan to charge for services rendered.

      1. They already do in the form of various taxes.

    2. A stupid tax already exists: the lottery.

    3. Down here in Texas anyone who drives around barriers and gets stuck in a low-water crossing gets charged several hundred dollars for the rescue. As a taxpayer who knows that cars do indeed float in rushing water, I completely approve.

  16. teaching kids to fear all strangers

    Somewhere along the way, my “fear” morphed into “despise”.

  17. Boise is considering a stupidity tax.

  18. Wait- Idaho already has a lottery.

    1. Dave Ramsey much?

  19. Having worked in schools for most of my career, this study comes to obvious conclusions.

    Liability is a big part of this, but the most of the structural safety measures are just crutches for adults that don’t want to have to pay attention to what the kid is up to. And don’t want to have to deal with the potential consequences of giving the kid age-appropriate freedom to explore. Kids learn from natural consequences. Adults just need to be sure they are sufficiently in charge of the situation to be sure that those consequences don’t result in death or lifelong disability.

    1. When I was a kid my mom used to get drunk and scream slur at me about how being a parent was the same as being disabled…

    2. This is really not one of those “back in my day” stories…

      When I was in elementary school, we played dodgeball. Only we played it differently than most humans. Our version consisted of a bunch of third and fourth graders lining up in front of a brick wall at recess, shoulder to shoulder with only a few inches between you and the wall. And then a sixth-grader would throw a basketball at you until all of you had been hit. If we had enough time, another sixth grader would take a turn.

      The teachers calmly smoked and watched every game. The only time I remember them stepping in was when a kid ducked into the ball and it bounced his head off the brick wall.

      1. Dude, I think you played it just like everyone else in the 80s..

        I believe it emerged as a variation of this =

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butts_Up

        It had started as a game with an ostensible set of rules, but in the end the version most people played was, “Stand in that spot there, and I’ll try and nail you with this large object as hard as I can”

        It different from straight up bullying/abuse in that there was a shared of respect for the kids who voluteered to take it in the face.

        What describe in that link as, “Butts Up (A.K.A. “Red Butt,” “Blackjack,” “Slaughterhouse,” “Fumble,” “Butt Ball,” “Asses Up,” “Suicides,” “Stitch,” “Peg,” “Fire in the Bum,” “A-Ball,” “Buns Up,” “Wall Ball,” “No Fear,” “Red Bum,” “Red Ass,” “Sting,” “Error”, “Off the Wall”,”Kirby”, or “Burn”) is a North American elementary school children’s playground game originating in the 1950s or earlier. It is slightly similar to the game Screen Ball. Butts Up or Booties Up began in the 40s or 50s as a penalty phase of various city street games

        Thats sort of what I remember… that the “stand against the wall and we throw stuff at you” was originally a ‘penalty’ for screwing up in a form of Stickball/Wall-Ball, but after a while it became its own independent form of entertainment.

        1. But just imagine my confusion when I saw a real dodgeball game. “What is this pussy shit?”

          Also, our swings faces out to a hillside. If you jumped out, you fell about 25 feet. It was awesome.

        2. Butts up sounds like a soft version of the game we played in Albuquerque.

          Game:Throw ball against wall…if it touches someone, everyone beats their ass until that can make it to the wall for safety. If they catch it, everyone beats their ass until they can throw the ball against the wall in the hopes of hitting someone else on the rebound to divert the assault.

        3. after a while it became its own independent form of entertainment. nut shots posted on youtube

      2. When there was more than 1″ of snow on the ground we got to play tackle football on the concrete playground from 3rd-6th grade.

        1. Nice. What was your biggest scab ever?

          1. I don’t remember it being too bad. Everyone had jeans and sweatshirts on. Probably gloves and hats. Also, what do they call the game where everyone tries to tackle the ball carrier now days? I’m pretty sure “smear the queer” is insensitive and no longer used by adolescent boys.

            1. It’s probably died out since “smearing” became a euphemism for letting a dolphin have anal sex with you.

              1. The things you can learn at H&R!

            2. Also, what do they call the game where everyone tries to tackle the ball carrier now days?

              Duh: “Kill The Carrier”

              “Smear The Queer” was going out of fashion even in the 80s. “Kill The Carrier” was the far more genteel, gentlemanly way for a gang of children to maul each other until someone got hurt. Then they would taunt the hurt person… for after all, you can’t properly enjoy inflicting physical pain and injury on someone without a healthy side-dish of group psychological abuse.

              “Come on! Pick it up, wussy! PICK IT UP!!”

      3. You gotta give the males of our species credit; with little resources (and even less supervision) we come up with awesome games that are essentially tribal warfare!

        Dodgeball: Lets stand in a small cement covered square and use something round and bouncy to score points by seeing how many bruises we can cover our fellow man with!

        Wallball: How bout we take a tennis ball and chuck it at hyper mach one against the nearest wall until it collides with somebody and then that loser better haul ass and slam himself against the wall before one of his teammates gets a hold of the ball and tries to give him a long distance concussion!

        Smear The Queer: Little more than bare knuckle boxing with whatever ball we found laying in the gutter that day and the kid with the smallest skull fracture was allowed first rights of the vending machines that were smashed open in the street fight that we used just to pick teams!

        Girls? We don’t let girls play our war games and even watching isn’t allowed! These school days games are played out of sight because boys instinctively know that the ring of honor is where real respect is to be found! Not even that redheaded tomboy (who makes us feel kinda funny) is allowed near our Lord of the Flies sponsored arenas! Only those with TESTICLES may enter into the free for all that we called “hanging out”!

        I KNOW I’m sounding old but childhood was so much more FUN before the internet and liability lawyers! Video games were played at night (as you could wander all over the fucking continent as long as you were back before the street lights turned on) and were often seen as sources of inspiration for our daily after school brawls! Me and my buddies once combined the movie “Red Dawn” with a Genesis game called “Mutant League Football”! It was TWO YEARS of great fucking fun until someones cunt little sister snitched to her mommy about how we were using rebar (stolen from nearby construction sites) to defend our quarterback with since he dropped his dog chain in the snake infested swamp we called the 50 yard line!

        Kids are just sooo much fucking cooler to be around when moms don’t know what they’re up to! The dads in the trailer park knew about the swamp we practically lived in and they used to come watch us so they could be entertained and drink beer in peace! First time my Dad took me out for a steak was when I threw my best friend like Donkey Kong with a oil drum for trying to use my own PVC pipe nunchucks against me!

        1. Even my sorry physically inferior ass used to play All of the Above. I wonder if kids still do…

      4. That sounds familiar. Only my elementary school only went up to 4th grade and I don’t think basketballs were used. So probably not quite as hard core.

  20. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

    1. Pain is an integral part of the learning process. Unfortunately, people do not always survive their most profound learning experiences.

      1. It’s like my drill instructor used to scream at me in boot camp:

        “PAIN IS WEAKNESS LEAVING THE BODY!”

      2. Exactly. The phrase “I bet you won’t do that again, will you?” needs to make a strong comeback.

        1. We used to have small cacti in pots around the house when my kids were toddlers.

          They only touched ac cactus once.

  21. After observing children on playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia, Dr. Sandseter identified six categories of risky play: exploring heights, experiencing high speed, handling dangerous tools, being near dangerous elements (like water or fire), rough-and-tumble play (like wrestling), and wandering alone away from adult supervision.

    Alright, the kids in either Norway, England or Australia have some seriously awesome playgrounds.

    1. In Norway, the floor really is lava.

  22. I sell residential RE, and my clients with children are always the same. First, they shower me with stories about how quickly their toddler learned to walk, and talk, and how good at math and engineering their child was at two years old. Then when I show them houses, they become overly-protective milquetoasts. “That looks like a busy street”, or “Those stairs look steep”, are often pointed out as potential death-traps. So what is it? Is their kid some fucking genius, or is the kid a complete moron? I mean, the kid is good at walking, but it can’t help but walk into traffic? Or, the kid is talking at 11 months, but it can’t understand to not go outside by itself? Or the kid is a genius at math, but can’t figure out a set of stairs? Sorry, I’m ranting here. But the self-imposed worry and idiocy of overly-concerned parents has been freaking me out recently!

  23. “Paradoxically,” the psychologists write, “we posit that our fear of children being harmed by mostly harmless injuries may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology.”

    And thus, turn them into risk-averse liberals.

    1. And thus, turn them into risk-averse liberals.

      I think this may actually be a bit more complex. Many people I’ve met that fit this description tend to be averse to actions that typically carry minimal risk and oblivious to actual risk posed by truly dangerous actions. It’s as though they completely failed to develop the risk assessment skills that normal adult humans take for granted.

  24. When I was a kid, the elementary school I went to was famous for “the Rock”. It was even part of the school song.

    The Rock was, as you might have guessed, a rock. A miniature-mountain sized of boulders that whatever developer back in the day figured would be WAYYY too hard to remove/blast, etc., so they just built the playground around it.

    Naturally, kids preferred to play on/around the Rock than in the actual playground. You’d climb on it, jump off it, play war-games around it, maybe you’d beat up that kid who always cried near it… Set fire to a dead bird or something…whatever. It was the center of the grade-school universe as far as I was concerned.

    Yeah, well, Kids These Days? No rock for you. Its fenced off. Signs note that playing on it is forbidden. Someone skinned a knee 10yrs ago and the parents decided a lawsuit was in order. Something like that.

    I’m sure it’s a law of the universe that every generation thinks the one right behind it is a bunch of spoiled, overprotected pussies… but I’m pretty sure in my case it’s 100% accurate. Most kids growing up around me were from medium/big families and they mostly took care of each other/beat each other up without much commentary or input from the parents… whereas kids 10yrs younger than me often seem to always be only-children, and they almost all have been on either Ritalin or Prozac at one point because they’re such oversentive, attention-needy messes.

    1. It could be the opposite — consider American kids vs. French kids with respect to boldness in alcohol use.

  25. I was a Boy Scout back in the day. I used to head out into the woods on a camping trip with a pocket knife, a hatchet, and a box of matches before I was 12.

    1. Re: kinnath,

      I used to head out into the woods on a camping trip with a pocket knife, a hatchet, and a box of matches before I was 12.

      Did your father let you adopt that deer?

    2. I stayed in boy scouts long after I lost interest in playing their rank system games because we got to build fires and run around in the woods at night with minimal supervision. Knives and hatchets were fun, too. Still carry a blade everywhere I can get away with it. People look at you funny until they need to borrow it.

      1. I carried a knife routinely until about 10 years ago. The second time airport security took a $50 pocket knife from me was when I stopped carrying one all the time. I still have one at home that I use every now and then, but I don’t carry it all the time.

        1. I recently changed over to a Leatherman Skeletool, but before that, I carried this for about the last 5 years. Beautiful, slim profile, and cheap enough that if I lose one every other year, what the hell.

          1. Before 9/11, you could carry a pocket knife onto an aircraft so long as the blade was less than 4 inches long.

            I had my pocket knife taken away outside the US twice because I always had a locking blade (a safety requirement for Boy Scouts) but that apparently turns a tool into a weapon in the UK.

            1. What the fuck? A decent safety feature makes it more dangerous? Fucking Mary Poppins Brits.

              1. It’s hard to stab someone. A locking blade makes it easier to drive it all the way to the hilt.

                1. Ah. Having put a non-locking blade in my thumb knuckle to the bone, I think of them as dangerous and lock-blades as safe.

                  1. Seemed obvious to me.

                    The security guy in Heathrow gave me three options. Throw the knife away, pay $30 to have it mailed to my house, or wait for the police to arrive.

              2. The Brits are hopeless. Every now and then you hear someone over there seriously suggest that pointed kitchen knives should be banned.

                1. Wasn’t there a Hit and Run post aways back about how the Brits wanted to ban the traditional beer mugs used in pubs since they’re so effective at hitting people over the head with?

                  1. They banned wire-reinforced glass in shed windows because burglars might cut themselves on the wire. So yeah, anything is possible.

                    1. Contra Ron Paul, the government has a soft spot in its heart for thieves, being their larger and more evolved kin.

                  2. Old Salt|7.19.11 @ 5:01PM|#
                    Wasn’t there a Hit and Run post aways back about how the Brits wanted to ban the traditional beer mugs used in pubs since they’re so effective at hitting people over the head with?

                    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11392685

                    Many parts of the UK has already replaced glass pints with plastic bottles.

                    But, FWIW, “glassing” injuries were shockingly common when I lived in london. Not that I cared much. I just thought it was funny they did it so often they had a word for it.

                    1. I think that “glassing” may have a double meaning since an Irish girl I dated talked me into “glassing” her silly which was something she defined as doggy style with her pressed up against a public and VERY visible window for all those who passed by to see!

        2. What ever happened to the Boy Scout motto “be prepared”

          And please, no jokes about condoms. It meant a knife and the knowledge and experience to use it safely. Practically speaking, that’s all it ever meant.

      2. Hmm. I got to do that without Boy Scouts. I guess that it why it never had any appeal to me.
        I am always amazed when people seem surprised or shocked that I always carry a knife. How can you NOT carry a knife with you? I think that (with the exception of international travel) I have had a knife and a lighter in my pocket every day since I was about 10.

        1. The Boy Scouts had a reputation for being sissies because of the “do a good turn daily” stuff.

          The last full day of summer camp was when all the competitions were held at the swimming instruction area. For the final competition, the staff took a large watermellon, covered it in lard, then threw it into the lake. Each troop sent two kids into the water. The troop that got the watermelon into a canoe got watermelon at dinner that night.

          There were no real rules involved in that game. Most scouts learned to wear underwear under their trunks to avoid any exposure caused by rips and tears in their trunks.

          1. We called that a “greased pig contest” and we’d let whole patrols (size to ten boys of all ages) go at each other.

        2. I’ve carried a pocket knife since i was a cub scout, so that’s over 40 years. I like a mid -range swiss army knife, with a cork screw, cause when you need a cork screw, there is no substitute.

          1. Actually, there is. It’s called a hammer.

    3. I earned a mile-swim badge my second trip to summer camp.

      The camp was located on lake behind a small dam on some river in TN — the camp was on a minor offshoot from the lake.

      We swam 1/4 mile across open water on the lake — out and back; out and back — to get the 1 mile in.

      One teenaged counselor in a canoe with a dozen kids in the lake.

      I miss the good old days 😉

  26. Nothing is the same since foamy construction bricks were introduced into the market…

    … and class-action suits.

  27. I’m sure it’s a law of the universe that every generation thinks the one right behind it is a bunch of spoiled, overprotected pussies… but I’m pretty sure in my case it’s 100% accurate.

    I think it’s more the ‘baby in the bucket syndrome.’ That’s my favorite lawsuit driven warning label. The label is only there because some manufacturer got sued into oblivion by someone who damned well knew that letting their spawn play upside down in a bucket full of water was dangerous. I don’t just blame the lawyers, I blame the jackasses that look at every accident, especially one’s of their own causing, as some sort of potential pay day.

    Oh, and get off my lawn.

    1. I saw a beautiful antique looking wood cook stove a few years back that a friend had paid good money for. He believed it to be over a hundred years old. Someone else pointed out to him the words cast into the metal on the front of the stove, “Caution! Hot when in use!” It was decided it was a reproduction as folks a hundred years ago knew that a steel box with a fire in it would be hot.

    2. I thought the baby in a bucket warnings were mandated after the NRA kept hammering that hundreds or thousands of kids drown in buckets for every one “accidental” gun death.

      1. BUCKETS DON’T KILL PEOPLE — WATER IN BUCKETS DOES!

    3. No, the proper way to say it is:

      “GIT OFF MAH LAWN!”

      [cocks shotgun]

    4. I love the pictures that go with the bucket warning. The situation in the picture is absolutely impossible unless someone picked the kid up by the ankles and put him in there.

      1. My Dad that was great fun to do to me whenever he would use that bucket to wash his car!

        1. An dI doubt the warning graphic would have discouraged him.

          1. Whenever he would fix something around the house (and take too long) my Mom would scream for him to read the manual to which he would bellow in response that manuals were for godless commies!

            I’m sure he felt the same about warning labels!

            1. Dad was a mechanic for 45 years. His standard response was “those instructions were written by some goddamned college educated engineer that didn’t his ass from a hole in the ground.”

              1. should say didn’t *know* his ass…

                I should know better than to start the good drugs before breakfast. sheeeesh

                1. Can’t you just have Scotch for breakfast like everybody else?

      2. I love the pictures that go with the bucket warning.

        I always thought that if a kid couldn’t read it made a good “how to” graphic.

  28. I met the bucket baby bitch in 93 at DIA on a flight to Detroit. She was very proud of the warning label on the bucket. She was flying first class.

    1. Was she the baby silhouette model? Or a CDC, CPSC ,OSHA bureaucrat?

    2. That’s funny. We actually hooked up once in Richmond. For some reason she’s obsessed with standing 69 though, kind of creepy.

  29. All I can say when I see one of these weenie kids (the 30 year old ones who were just young enough to have bought into all this crap) riding a bike at about 5 miles and hour is “loose the helmet”.

    Wussy kids grow up to be wussy adults.

    1. Just got a new bike this weekend. I will wear a lid on a trail, but I’ll be goddamned if I wear one just to ride the roads for an hour to get my taint back in riding shape.

      1. I worked with a patient back in the day who had a debilitating head injury due to a biking accident. Stopped at a stoplight, lost his balance and fell over sideways and hit his head on the pavement. We were re-teaching him how to talk and toilet independently. He would have had no injury at all with a helmet on.

        Just saying.

    2. Not quite on topic, but George Carlin on goofy boys names.

      Soft names make soft people.

  30. Lamarck was wrong. Hilariously, stupidly wrong. Why is this so hard to comprehend?

  31. Want to find out if you are afraid of heights? Watch this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_-7Qp7uzbQ

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