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UK Councils Sink Common Sense Pool Safety

UK Councils Sink Common Sense Pool SafetyErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

Personal safety devices violates health and safety laws in England.

The Wokingham Borough Council in Southeast England recently banned all personal flotation devices from their swimming pools because they pose a threat to health and safety.

You read that right: a device that's supposed to keep you safe violates health and safety laws.

Harpers, a private company that runs swimming pools and sports centers around southeast England, banned the floating devices after a child nearly choked on one. So they implemented a policy to only allow the floating devices during supervised swimming lessons. But they never made the policy public, and from all accounts, would not have told people about it if they didn't have to.

The fact that you're reading it here pretty much tells you how that plan worked out.

Sarah Swain, 31, was swimming at the pool in Wokingham, when she decided she wanted to use a flo…

Olives and Zingers: A Thanksgiving Tradition

Olives and Zingers: A Thanksgiving TraditionErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

Thanksgiving has always been one of those weird holidays.

I mean, it's a real holiday, because the post office is closed. Families gather together, nobody goes to work, everyone eats themselves into a coma, and somebody invariably gets upset with someone else and gossips about them to the rest of the family, parsing their argument down to the sub-atomic level, until Christmas.

But I never thought of Thanksgiving as a holiday when I was growing up. There are no gifts, no Thanksgiving carols, no Great Turkey, no decorations, and no gifts. (I thought it was worth mentioning the gifts twice.)

The only thing we ever really looked forward to on Thanksgiving was A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special ("brought to you by Dolly Madison snack cakes!"). That, and wedges of pumpkin pie you could jack a car up with.

Pumpkin pie was my consolation dessert since my parents would never let us get Dol…

A Zoo Visitor and His Finger Are Soon Parted

A Zoo Visitor and His Finger Are Soon PartedErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2004

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are replacing his current column with one from 2004. Let's see if anyone notices.

Although I try to pretend otherwise, anyone who knew me will tell you that I was a rabble-rousing little terror who got into all sorts of trouble.

"A heller!" my grandmother shouts during one of her flashbacks.

My father is a psychology professor at Ball State University, and he was sometimes able to subtly control my behavior. Of course, this lead to some unfortunate incidents. Like the time I was four years old, my dad got me to stick my finger in a rat cage.

He did this by taking me to his department's rat lab, looking me straight in the eye, and with all seriousness and concern, said, "Whatever you do, don't stick your finger in the rat cage."

At that instant, any thought of not sticking my finger in the rat cage was replaced with "wh…

Dear Politicians, Please Shut Up Now

Dear Politicians, Please Shut Up Now
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2010

(An open letter from average citizens.)

Dear politicians, political consultants, activists, and pundits,

The election is over. The votes have been cast. You won or lost.

So shut it. Just shut up.

We're tired of it all. Tired of you. Tired of the anger and the hatred and shouting and the yelling and the lies and the half-truths. We're tired of all the whining and pouting and finger-pointing.

This election was not a confirmation on your way of life. It's not a reflection of whether the country agrees with you. The Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. That is not a referendum that the country agrees with your assessment of the President. The Democrats kept control of the Senate. That is not a message to the country that we agree with your assessment of the President.

It means your side won or lost. Period. It does not mean we wanted some Governor 1,000 miles away to also win o…