If the Straitjacket Fits ...

105 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 Newer→ Last

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    What I don't understand is people who let fireworks off in daylight. I mean, there are still sparks and banging noises and all, but it's not nearly as impressive as a night-time explosion.

    Perhaps they're being let off by people who do not like to be told what to do. Yeah, that'll stick it to the man.

    I wish New Zealand had a slightly drier climate, and so, like Australia, this would necessitate a fireworks ban. Maybe global warming will make my dreams come true!

    Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    I'm pretty sure this is a big part of Wayne Mapp's anti-political correctness campaign

    I've always considered that his campaign is the most 'politically correct" of all & he's obfuscating by putting the "anti" in front of it.

    What I don't understand is people who let fireworks off in daylight

    Me either - but I think we're all agreed that we're dealing with morons.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    long before that Westie movie whose name I can't recall

    Savage Honeymoon! And didn't the gas bottle on the barbie scene result in it getting a stricter than expected rating?

    Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • amandajkennedy,

    Here in Japan, the vast, vast majority of kids don't ever go to the beach, largely because "the waves are dangerous and so are sharks." Kids don't generally climb trees because they could fall. There are signs around all over the place reminding people about what's dangerous and what's not allowed. They have entire assemblies about it. There are "give way" signs in school hallways where kids have to stop and look both ways before proceeding carefully (this even though there's no running allowed). Swings are banned in most playgrounds. Schools even have special "pervert sticks" to trap a potential kiddie-feeler up against a wall if one should somehow manage to sneak into a classroom. It's completely overdone - in one of the safest countries in the world, the relatively recent obsession with danger has almost completely removed risk and excitement from the realm of childhood. Though I do love many things about Japan, it's sad. Let's not become like this.

    I mean, I've never seen a kid with a broken leg or arm in over a year of being in schools here. Not that I want more kids to break their limbs, but... I dunno. I never broke anything in all my years of falling, climbing, tramping, jumping in the bowels of Waitakere, etc., but I was always jealous of kids with a cast.

    NB: Kids have no qualms about picking up enormous pinching black beetles that can draw blood if you do it wrong. So that's pretty cool.

    Japan • Since Nov 2006 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Call me a pedant, but I cannot see any necessary connexion between fireworks and entrepreneurial flair.

    You rationalists are so ... rational ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Does that mean the Japanese must be anti-entreprenuerial and risk-averse?

    I really want a pervert stick now, too.

    When I was a kid, it was okay to throw a mattress in the back of a station wagon and let the kids sleep on it during long trips. There were no seat belts in the back seats of cars. Twenty years on, would anyone consider requiring children to wear seatbelts to be unnecessary nannying?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • amandajkennedy,

    That's part of the irony - with all these safety measures in Japan, there's no requirement for kids - or anybody in the back seat - to wear seatbelts in moving vehicles. It's perfectly common to be driving along and see kids standing on seats, hanging out the windows, happily hammering the arms and neck of the parent who's driving, lurching around between the two front seats, etc. With the horrible result that two of my students in this small town have died in crashes in the last six months.

    And yes, incidentally, the Japanese culture is pretty anti-entrepreneurial - they're spectacular at improving and refining things to efficient perfection, but seldom invent.

    Japan • Since Nov 2006 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish,

    Does that mean the Japanese must be anti-entreprenuerial and risk-averse?

    Well, yes. The Japanese were famous for their cradle to the grave corporate culture - not exactly condusive to thinking outside the square.

    ...I think we're all agreed that we're dealing with morons.

    I don't agree... sorry, I'm not trying to be trollish, but letting off fireworks during the day is fun, getting horribly drunk every now and then is fun, experimenting with party pills is fun - to me (and various other significant members of this forum, just read their blogs). While you might not agree on what activities are fun, dismissing the perpetrators as stupid is a mistake.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Heh heh - sorry - but why is letting them off in the day fun?

    Agree with all the rest - although hangovers are starting to outweigh the fun of getting horribly drunk these days.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    Heh heh - sorry - but why is letting them off in the day fun?

    Because they still go bang, and scare the bejeesus out of anyone in the vicinity.

    As for the connexion between fireworks and entrepreneurialism, my best friend & I used to get up to all sorts of dangerous, crazy, pet-unfriendly stunts with bangers. There were no double happies in those days, but if you unpacked enough of the biggest ones you could find and packed the gunpowder into a film canister, you could still do a respectable amount of damage. We gave up doing that, though, when we found out that local chemist's would sell saltpetre (to 10-year-old boys!), there were chunks of sulphur lying around on the docks, and charcoal was pretty easy to come by. After that, the sky was the limit...

    ... and my old best friend is now the founder and CEO of one of NZ's best-known entrepreneurial exporters.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • amandajkennedy,

    Oh, whoopsie - that was what I originally meant to bring up but I got sidetracked:

    The drinking age in Japan is 20, but there are beer vending machines everywhere, with no supervision - yet underage drinking isn't a problem.

    (Overage drinking can be, though, when your retirement-age colleagues get smashed at drinking parties and start trying to feel you up - heh.)

    Another aside: plenty of young drunks may yet turn out to be entrepreneurs - I have seen underage NZ drinkers fashioning bongs using anything from beer cans to fruit to CD cases to a gumboot.

    Japan • Since Nov 2006 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I work as a scientist and we've seen the difficult side of "risk management". Suffice to say risk management assumes everyone is a moron and/or evil - which is not a criticism it just is the way the rules have to be written.

    The problem of course is there are both morons and evil people out there. So how do you stop them doing stupid stuff.

    I fondly remember re-enacting "the Dambusters" in the stream where we played as kids. We built the dam then we devised numerous variants of Dambusting bombs using thundercrackers. We had a ball. We were probably lucky no-one was hurt at all - we did get wet though, does that count?

    But a couple of years ago the son of a friend of my mother blew his hand off trying to make a super bomb using gunpowder from fireworks (stupid). And there are people who think it's fun to shoot skyrockets at kids (evil). And so we make a law to manage the risk.

    And I'm sure that the law change has reduced injury and reduced the fire and ambulance callouts and I'm sure a total ban would reduce them more. But would it reduce the number of stupid people and/or evil people?

    That's what the "nanny state" is trying to deal with - creating legislation to mitigate the damage done by stupidity.

    So the question is does it work? And what's the unintended consequence of the law. I could argue (falsely) that if thundercrackers had still been available the son of my mothers friend would not have tried to make his own one. Instead like me he could have played with the er safe thundercrackers:). But you can also argue (less falsely?) that banning alcohol encourages kids to drink to excess when they do get their hands on it.

    Would I like to have a chance to play dambusters again - sure. But on balance in this case I think getting rid of them was probably for the good. That said I don't like bans - I don't think they really achieve the ultimate goal of curing the stupid people.

    To change subject, if you want people to learn how to drink responsibly then a ban won't help in that learning exercise nor will endless TV ads. But maybe if we had a really cool nanny that gave us a glass of beer to see what it tastes like and learn that 2 beers is fun but 10 beers is less fun - well that's the kind of nanny state I'd like to see.

    Does the nanny state supress innovation? buggered if I know.


    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    When I was talking to my year 10s (4th formers to us oldies) about the ban of fireworks I assured them that it would absolutely happen because every nutter out there is going to go crazy one last time thereby ensuring that it is indeed the last time. The reply I got from one of these scallywags was "yeah, I nearly blew my hand off, look".

    And I also wonder why my neighbour was letting them off on the street on his own at midnight last night. Sure he's married and that could explain it. And sure he's got 3 little kids and another on the way and that could explain it. And sure he was probably half smashed and that could explain it. But... ..........,
    actually I've explained it.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    I had a thought last night - hey and sorry about the morons crack guys, I'll own to stupid generalisation there - but why don't we make it so only licensed fireworks operators can buy and (theoretically) set off fireworks? You have to be licensed after all, to handle real explosives.

    At least one person in each household would probably do whatever is required to get licensed, if they didn't, there'd be sure to be someone in the neighbourhood licensed, it might foster some sort of community spirit!

    That way... they could start making really great fireworks - louder, bigger, flashier, better etc etc - because they're by * large going to be handled by people who know what they're doing.

    besides, most of the heinous incidents we've been reading about probably stem from alcohol abuse anyway, just coupled with the seasonal availability of gunpowder.

    Would it eliminate the morons? No. Would it reduce the damage & injury? Maybe. Would it be a pig to administrate? Probably.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Here's an interesting article from the UK Prospect magazine...



    Craig Y.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 573 posts Report Reply

  • John Hutton,

    Years ago a friend, when a teen, built himself a fully-functioning catapult (Roman style). It would fire half-bricks about 200-300m from his balcony down into a wooded gully. The gully was in the middle of a housing belt ... It was really really coool watching the bricks fly through the air and crash down into the foliage.

    But it was waaaaay dumb. An accident waiting to happen. And it didn't involve any chemicals, explosives, small animals, etc. Suffice it to say, he grew up to be an architect.

    There is no legislating for stupidity.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Damian White,

    But a couple of years ago the son of a friend of my mother blew his hand off trying to make a super bomb using gunpowder from fireworks (stupid).

    . . . yeah. I don't mean to agree with havoc here (sic.), but I'm in the science trade too -- the biological sciences, fortunately -- and have *already* been asked by a few tellurian urbanites if I have access to home-brew manufacturing reagents.

    Hmmmn . . .

    . . . and was it just me, or did the majority of 'free gifts' oft found in one's packet of Weetbix -- usually fighter jets/rocket ships and the likes -- usually contain an 'empty space' underneath them *perfectly* shaped for a double happy . . ?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Hubbard,

    Fireworks are great, but not as immediate as filling a vacuum cleaner hose with gas from the school bunsen burner taps and blowing through it whilst holding a match to the other end.. mmm adult hindsight is a goose-bump inducing thing..

    A number of problems with the �nanny-state� thing:
    - the �creeping� part is not just rhetoric.. people do seem to develop a tolerance for having their lives increasing restricted �for their own good�. Similar to the way kids physically restrained at a young age learn a self-enforced passivity. Which is certainly going to be a damper on exploration/entrepeneurism.

    - my somewhat-anarchist (paranoid?) mind wonders how much revenue the advertising/PR industry receives from all the safety-related campaigns.. enough I imagine for it to be a worthwhile market for them to seek it's continuance/growth.

    - this issue is big in outdoor recreation circles where some are rejecting increased safety measures on tracks on the basis kiwis have often turned to the outdoors to learn and test their limits and essentially to be exposed to danger. Seems to me there is a basic human attraction towards exposure to danger (for many) and attempts to legislate it away simply cause it to pop up in other ways. Therefore it becomes an increasingly costly exercise in futility to attempt to legislate away danger from our communal lives.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    <quote>Seems to me there is a basic human attraction towards exposure to danger (for many)...<quote>

    Yup fear has a number of physiological effects one of which for many people is the release of endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers very similar in their effects to the opiates. Or in others words foir some people ...
    having the crap scared out of you gets you high

    Unsurprisingly some people get addicted to that high.

    BTW it's the same natural endorphin release that gives you runners high - which might explain why Mr Slack keeps trying to run a marathon.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    That Prospect article is an interesting read.

    I think that there IS more stupidity and evil about. The rise in "troubled" families is one cause. But another might paradoxically be this very policy of risk reduction.

    I've been reading recently that childhood scrapes and mishaps are necessary for children to develop realistic mental models of consequences of physical action. I can't help thinking that coddled children who don't fall out of trees become teenagers who a) crave the danger they were unable to find under adult supervision and b) haven't hurt themselves enough as children to be wary of injury.

    Another thing that's different today is that families are smaller, and kids don't play much together without supervision. So the younger generation's sense of empathy and ability to resolve conflict is getting stunted by lack of practise.

    Having said all that: yeah, gimme back my Double Happies. The Labour party really has turned into the party of people who know better than you do, even when they don't.

    *toddles off for irresponsibly greasy lunch*

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Hubbard,

    "Unsurprisingly some people get addicted to that high".

    True, with caveat that adrenaline/endorphin junkies are a small percentage of total.. the majority are unaddicted people who simply enjoy and pursue the feeling/response.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson,

    Would it eliminate the morons?

    Well, if you consider that the morons will probably get hold of the louder, bigger, flashier, better etc etc fireworks, it might just do the trick after all...

    The film cannister trick was a big one for us; that and destroying whatever remnant toys were still around from younger, less flammable days. One particular police car would get blown up every year, for at least 6 in succession. The damn thing just wouldn't die, where the cars it was 'chasing' almost always ended up in pieces after just a couple of mats of double happies.

    Oh, and regarding the time of year dealio. You're neglecting the fact that for the dedicated pyro, all sorts of lovely burning things are available 365 days (Note: use cheap water pistols. Turps melts the sealants.)

    The split drinking age is pretty common overseas, and is one of the few things on the 'anti-pc' agenda that I can happily agree is a good idea.

    Vaguely on topic token mumble:
    Although everyone will disagree over most of what is proposed to be banned, regardless of what we're talking about; I suspect there are some proposals that are fairly sensible: for example, nobody seems to mind the idea of moving guy fawkes to winter to try and minimise the fire risk.

    What i'm wondering about the approach being made: is there an element of redefining acceptable risks, rather than simply removing all risks outright?

    Are we offering any reasonable (and enticing) alternatives to what we don't want 'the kids' doing anymore?

    (sorry, i'm not much good on the original ideas; you'll probably just see a series of questions)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Raising the drinking age to 20, or banning all fireworks are attractive because they offer quick, simple solutions to problems that have a high profile in NZ. In the case of the drinking age change, well, how that, or Russel's split system will effectively stop the problem of teen alcohol abuse in the home, at parties, or in any number of unsupervised locations still escapes me (I turned 20 two months prior to the age dropping to 18 so I remember how we used to drink).
    But it will be a very visible sign of action on the part of the government, and far easier than changing the cultural practices of a nation, since that is by its nature a long term project that requires public resources and the participation of all sectors of the community.

    Far easier just to raise the age and be done with it eh?

    When given the choice between two solutions, one that is relatively quick to implement and that promises some immediate benefit ifnot a full solution and the other that might fully solve the problem over a much longer time, people usually go for the easy, fast option.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Sarah Wedde,

    Living, as I currently do, with teenage boys--and their parents, in case that otherwise sounded dodgy--has me utterly convinced they need protecting from themselves, and we from them. They are not dumb kids, but everything they pick up gets turned into a series of "what ifs?" What if I stick my pencil in the hole in this rotary cutter and swing it around until it goes flying off across the room? What if I jam this tiny saucepan onto my brother's head? What if I throw this box full of matches into the fire?

    They've got the inventive thinking part down-pat; but until the rational risk comprehension part of their brain catches up, no sane society would consider giving them access to gunpowder.

    Lower Hutt • Since Nov 2006 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • RiverHowe,

    As I slip ungracefully into old age one of my pet hates is the remorseless advance of the nanny state. I hide away up in the hills most of the time to avoid it all!
    Has anyone else noticed the disapearance of accidents. These days there is always someone, or something to blame and then extract money out of. It used to be that accidents happened and, although I might end up with a broken arm, at least I had a good time doing whatever I was doing which led to it being broken.
    Similarly Guy Falks used to be a highlight of the year for me with all the weeks in advance saving up, buying and hoarding the crackers etc. OK I didn't lose an eye or anything but if I had we just would have said
    Well, accidents happen.
    On the drinking age question. Years ago I was drafted into the army at the age of 18 and we were trained to fight in Vietnam where, of course we might have been killed. Seems ridiculous that 18 year olds can die for their country but can't drink!

    Golden Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 7 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…


You may also create an account or retrieve your password.