General nonsense

eniac mailing list
September 1989

Coo, it's awfully quiet in net-land. I am beginning to think that North America has disappeared. Not very good timing either, seeing as I decided to try to get to know a bit more about America, given that I seem to be having a lot of contact with some of its inhabitants recently.

It's gone pretty quiet on the net news front too. What little I read has made me very impressed with the university system. Reading postings from undergraduates has convinced me that some are complete bongos (like K*nt, who's infamous posting got pulled before we got our news); it's a wonder I got out alive.

I was feeling mightily ill over the weekend so read 'How To Scrape Skies' by George Mikes [*] and learnt, for instance, all about the joys of using the transportation system in New York, New York. One particular section was especially amusing if only because it was so incredible. I reproduce it here (without permission, umm) so that someone can tell me how many of these still apply.

In a recent book, edited by Dick Hyman and entitled Looney_Laws, certain regulations, still in force in various states, are collected and I should like to mention a few examples.

Some laws to maintain public decency

In Minnesota men's and women's underwear must not hang on the same clothes line.

In Elkhart, Indiana, there is a law against barbers threatening to cut off children's ears.

In St Joseph, Missouri, city firemen must not walk about in their underwear.

In Gary, Indiana, it is against the law to ride in a tramway within four hours of eating garlic.

In Monrie, Utah, it is illegal to dance with a girl unless daylight can be seen between you.

In Indiana it is forbidden to seduce a young lady while teaching her to roller skate.

For the defence of animals

In Maine it is against the law to set fire to a mule.

In Baltimore, Maryland, it is a penal offence to torture an oyster.

In Kentucky the shooting of clay pigeons during the breeding season is prohibited. [@]

In Alabama, if you have not been a resident for a year, you can be jailed for having salt water shrimps in your possession.

In California it is a penal offence to set a trap for a mice unless you have a hunting licence.

In Seattle, Washington, goldfish must not ride in city buses unless they lie still.

In Louisville, Kentucky, it is prohibited to shoot fish with a bow and arrow.

In Joliet, Illinois, a woman can be jailed for trying on more than six garments in one shop.


In Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, it is a misdemeanour to spit against the wind.

In Kentucky no woman may appear in a bathing suit unless armed with a club.

In Arkansas, it is illegal to mispronounce the name of Arkansas.

In Mohave, Arizona, anyone caught stealing soap, must wash himself with it until all the soap is used up.

In Jonesboro, Georgia, it is against the law to say: 'Oh Boy!'

Public safety

In Fort Madison, Iowa, the fire department must practise for fifteen minutes before going to extinguish a fire.

Traffic law

In New Hampshire 'when two motor vehiclkes meet at an intersection, each shall come to a full stop and neither shall proceed until the other has gone.'

[Disclaimer: no offence is intended by posting about the silliness of some, now probably, out of date state laws. George Mikes made a career out of writing about the silliness of the English so I don't deny that daftness is international. I don't want to start a misc.misc type UK vs US war]

[*] George Mikes, 1989 "How to be a Yank and More Wisdom" Penguin Books A minibus including "How to scrape skies" (1948), "Wisdom for Others" (1950) and "Shakespeare and Myself" (1952).

[@] Could someone please explain why this is supposed to be funny.