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Published: Saturday, 6/30/2001

Web site tracks silly laws

BY TOM GEARHART
BLADE FEATURES EDITOR

We owe a great debt of gratitude to the politicians, legislators, and bureaucrats who have given us so many laughs. They have enacted thousands upon thousands of dumb laws, many that have long been rescinded, but many that still are on the books, both here in the United States and around the world.

Did you know, for example, that in Ohio it is illegal to fish for whales on Sunday? Not only that, it's against the law for more than five women to live in a house. In Columbus, it's illegal for stores to sell corn flakes on Sunday; in Marion you can't eat a doughnut and walk backwards on a city street. And in Toledo it is unlawful to toss a snake at another person.

Dumblaws.com (motto: “Big Government. Small Brains. Dumb Laws”) revels in collecting stupid ordinances from all over the globe. In France, a national law declares that “no pig may be addressed as Napoleon by its owner.” An English law prohibits any boy under age 10 from seeing a naked mannequin, and another restricts members of Parliament from entering the House of Commons “wearing a full suit of armor.” The city of Liverpool bans women from being topless in public “except as a clerk in a tropical fish store.” And in Canada, you may not pay for a 50-cent item all in pennies.

The site might more accurately be called “All Things Dumb,” for in addition to dumb laws there are categories for dumb facts, dumb criminal acts, dumb bumper stickers, and dumb warnings, as in this sign located along a highway in Clemson, S.C.: “Caution: Water On Road During Rain.” Or how about this sign on a package of bread pudding mix: “Product will be hot after heating.”

http://www.dumblaws.com

Pinup art

In this age of political correctness, a Web site that features over 400 pinup girls - count 'em, 400! - in some quarters might be described as sexist. Call it what you will, the fellow who runs a Web site titled the Pin-Up Page calls it art - a rare appreciation of feminine beauty as depicted over the last few decades, particularly during the World War II era.

The illustrations and photographs on view, innocently imagined and eloquently rendered, are an artistic celebration of women's eternal appeal. Compared to what we can't possibly avoid seeing these days on billboards, television programs, or any magazine stand in the country, these images are almost chaste by comparison.

Among the works on display are those of Alberto Vargas, one of the great illustrators of the century. His best and most vibrant portraits of women appeared regularly in Esquire magazine during the 1940s, and they're equal in quality to the famed Gibson Girl portraits of the 1920s. Rolf Armstrong's post-World War I covers for such magazines as Photoplay, College Humor, and Puck border on serious pop portraiture rather than mere cheesecake. Other sections offer photographic tributes to Marilyn Monroe and the pinup rage of the '50s, Betty Page, as well as dozens of works by other well-known photographers and illustrators.

A fellow named B. Mercer, who says he only maintains the site as a hobby, warns that the traffic on the site is such that he has had to relocate some of the sections to other servers. Which means, you may have to click about for a few seconds to find what you're looking for.

http://freespace.virgin.net/b.mercer

Truth vs. Fiction

The Internet offers a wealth of information about any and all subjects, but it's no surprise that there's also a vast amount of rumor, gossip, and bad information that is taken as accepted truth by millions of people every day. TruthOrFiction.com aims to separate the wrong from the right - or to point out just what part of a given rumor, or “urban legend,” as they're called on the Internet, is truth and what part isn't.

The site's modus operandi is to state the rumor and say in a word whether it's truth or fiction. For instance: “Shampoos contain a cancer-causing substance - Fiction!” Or: “Water: The Miracle Drug - Truth!” Some urban legends get a “Disputed!” or “Unproven!” In all cases, each item is then explained in some detail.

Twenty different categories can be searched, including Celebrities, Medical, Viruses, Missing Persons, Household-Personal, and Food-Drink.

http://www.truthorfiction.com

If you have a Web site to recommend, send an e-mail to tgearhart@theblade.com



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