American Elephants


Good Intentions: Really Stupid Regulations. by The Elephant's Child
May 26, 2012, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Law, Sports | Tags: ,

The Justice Department promised on Thursday to be “flexible” in enforcing the new rules that force public pools to buy and install lifts or ramps for the disabled, Pool operators have said this is an invitation to a flood of lawsuits against small business.

This marked a possible retreat for the department which earlier had ruled that under the Americans With Disabilities Act, all pools open to the public would  have to invest in elevators, ramps or lifts to accommodate the disabled.  Members of Congress threatened action, and earlier this month Justice extended the stay into next year. On Thursday, the department went further, saying the rules apply chiefly to new pools, while existing pools will only need to comply if it’s easy and cheap to do so.

“Readily achievable means that it is easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense” the department said.  “This is a flexible, case-by-case analysis, with the goal of ensuring that ADA requirements are not unduly burdensome, including to small business.”

The reprieve comes just before the Memorial Day weekend, which marks the traditional opening day for many outdoor pools. So they can cross their fingers and open?

“It is obvious that the Obama administration is quickly backtracking after giving little thought to the real-world impact of this one-size-fits-all mandate,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) who had tried to pass legislation halting the mandate.

There is as yet no amendment removing the language, which means it is still an active part of the bill. As usual, people with good intentions make silly regulations, because they cannot allow free people to make their own business decisions.

Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Minority Whip burbled: “For many Americans with disabilities, swimming pools are an important source of physical activity and emotional comfort.” Rolling back the rules, he said”would constitute a serious setback to American with disabilities, including many of our veterans —and I want you to think about this— many of our veterans were wounded while serving our nation overseas.”

And just think about it, many public pools have no disabled people among their customers, nor in their districts. It is a characteristic of the left that they believe themselves so clever that they can make wise rules for a huge country of some 330,000,000 people. Their intentions are so good, and the results of their hubris make such a mess of things.



“Downtown Scottie Brown” Sinks One From Half-Court by The Elephant's Child

Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) stopped by the Hyannis Youth and Community Center, and made an amazing half-court shot. Brought back his college basketball nickname: “Downtown Scottie Brown.”

Democrats are trying to convince Massachusetts voters that Mr. Brown is the out-of-touch elitist in the race. “Scott Brown is actually a millionaire pretending to be an ‘everyman’ while attacking [his opponent] Elizabeth Warren for her success,” the spokesman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee claimed in a press release last week. Once again Democrats are out making charges without doing their homework. Tax returns released by the candidates indicate that the opposite is the case.

In 2009, Mr. Brown reported a household income of $294,000 while Ms. Warren reported a household income of $980,000. In 2010 Mr. Brown’s income skyrocketed to $840,000 — thanks to a book advance for his biography Against All Odds. Ms. Warren reported $950,000 that year.

Like many other members of “the 1%” Ms. Warren has  spoken out about the rich not paying enough in taxes. In Massachusetts the wealthy can voluntarily pay a higher state income tax rate, but she didn’t volunteer to give more, nor did she give much to charity. Mr. Brown gave a larger percentage of his income to charity. If you’re going to make charges, better check the facts to avoid embarrassing yourself.

If Democrats are going to try to get brownie points for insisting that the rich pay more in taxes, they are apparently demanding that the government force everyone to pay more, but are not going to put their money where their respective mouths are.

Pretty cool shot though.



Would You Do It Or Wouldn’t You? by The Elephant's Child
April 25, 2012, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Fun n Games, Sports | Tags: ,

This is the Insano (well named) Water Slide in Brazil’s’Beach Park. It is 41 meters high — the height of a 14 story building. You go down at a 105 kilometer/hour speed. Looks popular! It is the world’s tallest water slide.  You may click to enlarge and see the scary descent even bigger. The landing is not shown.

(h/t: Vanderleun)



Are Our Playgrounds Too Safe? Can We Fix It? by The Elephant's Child

There was an article in the New York Times a week ago about playgrounds, titled “Can a Playground Be Too Safe?” by John Tierney.  Do follow the link, for there is a lovely picture of a real jungle gym. I searched Google images for a good picture of a jungle gym, and jungle gyms have not only disappeared from the nation’s playgrounds, but there aren’t apparently any old pictures of them.

The playground in one of my neighborhood’s parks has become so safe that it appeals only to two and three-year-olds.  I don’t know whether at some point my city was sued successfully, or whether the city attorneys just warned of perilous possibilities. Some maker of playground equipment that runs to little houses with holes in the wall for kids to climb through apparently came to the city with a big dog and pony show, convincing city officials that kids would love to play make-believe in little houses.

Well, the little ones are too little for make-believe, and the bigger ones quickly get bored after climbing on the roofs of the little houses.  Watching kids there, you can sense their boredom and frustration.

Boise, Idaho has a hot spring somewhere under the city. They once had a splendid set of two near-Olympic size pools adjacent to each other. The water was warm and the pools were popular.  I suppose it was liability insurance that made the city fill them in and plow them under.  Fullerton, California once had a privately owned set of pools, wading, soaking and swimming, that were lovely and popular, but the land probably became too valuable and the liability insurance too costly. All gone.

When my daughter was young, there were stables where little girls could take riding lessons and love horses devotedly. All gone.  Mr. Tierney’s article quotes a professor of psychology from a university in Norway:

“Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground,” said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway. “I think monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.”

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. The most common is climbing heights.

“Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,” Dr. Sandseter said. “Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.”

Most adults have lost the perspective of childhood. They can’t remember the thrills and the challenges unless they were one of the many kids who tried to jump off the roof with an umbrella or by flapping their arms. Society has  become much scarier. Backyards are disappearing along with vacant lots. There were lots of vacant lots in my neighborhood when my kids were growing up and neighborhood kids had unauthorized treehouses on most of them.

Playgrounds are designed so that toddlers won’t hurt themselves, thus depriving older children of healthy exercise.  What happens in playgrounds is determined by tort lawyers.  Asphalt surfaces are gone, replaced by bark and rubber surface. Some kids may hurt themselves, they may fall, they may break a bone. We have too many lawyers. Some people are too ready to sue.  Loser pays would help. Surely we can find ways to make playgrounds that offer real challenges while removing the real dangers.

Perhaps childhood obesity is not due to kids eating too many happy meals. “Let’s Move” is good advice, but kids need better playgrounds on which to get moving. Somebody tell Mrs. Obama.



Rancor and Harsh Words Among the Elephants!! by The Elephant's Child

I found the following video at Maggie’s Farm, and found it interesting and rather beautiful.  I’m always interested in new sports, and people keep inventing them and then having contests of skill.  So I sent the video to the Elephant.

He wrote back, in ALL CAPS, that it was the DUMBEST VIDEO HE HAD EVER SEEN, AND THE MERE ACT OF WATCHING IT MADE HIM DUMBER! He included exclamation marks, lots of them, and spelled out D-U-M-B,  D–U–M–B!!, D—U—M—B—ER!!!

So there you have it.  What do you think?

American Freestyle canoeing is the art of paddling a canoe on flat water with perfect control of its movements. The canoe is usually leaned over to the side to help the boat turn sharply and efficiently and paddle strokes are taken on either side of the canoe depending on the individual move. Balance, paddle placement and turn initiation are a few keys to this control. Since the movements seem dance-like, some practice this art timed to music, which is the ultimate in control.

ADDENDUM: The Elephant said: “I can’t believe you posted that! It’s NOT a sport!”  I’ll have to admit that the audience was a little on the small side.



How the Easter Bunny Trains for the Big Day by American Elephant
April 24, 2011, 7:33 am
Filed under: Fun n Games, Pop Culture, Sports | Tags: , , ,


Christina Aguilera = Frank Dreben? by American Elephant
February 6, 2011, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Humor, Music, News, Pop Culture, Sports, Television | Tags: , , ,

The saddest part? Only one of them did it on purpose:


Exit question: why was Aguilera surrounded by a bunch of French flags?



Go Ahead, Watch it Again! by The Elephant's Child
January 9, 2011, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Sports, Television | Tags: , ,


In case you just wanted to watch Marshawn Lynch just once (or twice) more.



The Clay Pigeon Golf Shot. by The Elephant's Child
January 2, 2011, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Humor, Sports | Tags: , ,

O.K. If you don’t like dance, how about a little golf?

(h/t: The Borderline Sociopathic Blog for Boys)



Building Human Castles in Spain. by The Elephant's Child
December 4, 2010, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Fun n Games, Pop Culture, Sports | Tags: , ,

They do lots of interesting things in Spain besides  dancing the flamenco, fighting bulls and building wind farms and solar arrays that are a financial and environmental disaster. They build human castles just for fun in Tarragona, Spain, where they do this every two years. (corrected to get the city right)



Happy Thanksgiving to You All! by The Elephant's Child

We had snow on Monday,  a little early for the Seattle area.  Not much, probably not even an inch.  Not enough to be pretty, just enough to create chaos on the streets. Everybody (almost) in the Seattle area lives on a hill.  Snow here is treacherous.  It turns instantly to ice.  Seattleites buy SUVs because of the snow, then, because they have an SUV, they drive way too fast and cause all sorts of problems for everyone.

I grew up with lots of snow.  We always had plenty by Thanksgiving, and varied amounts up to 5 feet lasting until close to Easter.  Winter was largely devoted to coping with snow.  Our county road was sparsely populated, and therefore the last to be plowed, if then.  So we plowed it ourselves.  I can remember walking ahead of the car in a snowstorm to show where the edge of the road was, fairly regularly.  Been snowed in by a slide down the road a ways, but for the most part although the weather kept us busy, we had the equipment to cope with it.

Theoretically, it was supposed to rain yesterday and today, washing away all the snow and ice.  Didn’t happen.  Temperatures have stayed below freezing.  The city sanding truck came by sometime around 4:00 this morning. I can leave my house in five different directions, each involves a hill.

A few years back, I left work a little early when it was snowing hard.  I headed for the hill that seemed the least steep, got a good run at it and almost made it to the top, but could not.  Backed down to take another run, and here came a school bus over the top of the hill sliding sideways down the hill.  I backed to the curb as far away as I could get, but the bus came right for me, made a graceful curve and hit the car on the other side of the street.  The bus was nearly empty, but there was one small boy in a seat near the back, with eyes the size of saucers.

I hope none of you have to fly for Thanksgiving, or if you do that your encounter with airport screening is brief and courteous.  I hope that you are surrounded with friends and family, a table laden with all the traditional fare, and that whatever game you watch — your team wins.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.



Skeet Shooting for the Purist: by The Elephant's Child

Hunting season.  Want to get a little skeet shooting in for practice before the hunting trip?  Here’s a slightly different version of skeet shooting. The guns are a little more expensive.

(h/t: The Borderline Sociopathic Blog For Boys)




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