A colleague asked me to be her babys godparent but her smile faded as she watched me trying to operate a microwave.
Not my fault. There’s obviously a hidden law which says All Microwave Ovens Must Be Impossible to Turn On in a Different Way.
Hidden laws are troublesome. For example: A school recently rejected a woman who applied for a job as a Spanish teacher because she could not speak Spanish.
You might think that was a reasonable decision, but the woman, Tracy Rosner, took out a lawsuit against the Miami school under an “affirmative action” law guaranteeing jobs for ethnic minorities.
“Most new laws look good on paper but cause problems in real life,” said reader Alison Au, who sent me the report.
So true. I told her about the problem in Hengshui, a city in the Hebei province of China, where officials recently passed a law forcing all taxi drivers to switch to electric vehicles. This made the officials appear very forward-looking — but horrified taxi drivers since the city had no electric car charging stations. Hengshui’s taxi fleet might not be able to move, but it will look great. Citizens will have to go back to their bicycles which will be better for their health and for the planet, so I guess the world needs more officials like these.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, a reader reports that a new law in Arizona has made it illegal for any adult to touch the private parts of anyone under 15. This sounded wise until residents realised that all the babies in the state now have to change their own nappies and give themselves baths, or their parents can be arrested.
The legal sector needs to copy the system used by tech people, having a “beta” period where new laws are tried out. The official objection to this is that social engineering is evil.
I dispute this, since a great many of us already do social experiments on human beings, a technique known as “parenting”. For example, since the Olympics, I have encouragingly referred to my children as “Olympic hopefuls”, a phrase much used on TV. They are useless at sport, but there’s no law against being hopeful, right?
The advantage of having a testing period is that we could try out much-needed laws which might be controversial. Case in point: There clearly needs to be a law saying that once a year, all singers need to sing in public without autotune. This would lead to the tragic ends of the careers of Britney Spears, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Kesha, T-Pain, One Direction and the like. It would also mean that my children would stop talking to me. Good news upon good news.
Before I had kids, my favorite game was “rock paper scissors”. This is because, as a writer, I loved the fact that this game recognised that paper should actually be classified as a powerful weapon. But now I have kids and they beat me every time, as the game shamefully penalises people who are loyal to any particular commodity.
By the way, did I mention my kids are Olympic hopefuls?
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveler. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)