Re: Gary Busey Is Really Like That

1

An asshole, you mean?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 7:52 PM
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Gary Busey is unsettling. My thoughts, in order, went:

Right on, Gary. Girl needs to learn how to speak in a human register.
Fuck you, Gary, you understood that.
Wait, dude, are you, like, really really high?
Oh shit! Kids, get off his lawn NOW.
Okay, cool, stay outside celeb culture.
Right on, Gary, don't pimp nobody's website.
Dick.

I feel so jerked around.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 7:52 PM
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What 2 said.


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 7:53 PM
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I can't get YouTube to work about 75% of the time lately. Ugh.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 7:57 PM
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"the young celebrities who are against the law right now"!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 7:59 PM
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I was assuming that everyone had seen the Entourage episodes with Busey.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 7:59 PM
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I can't get YouTube to work about 75% of the time lately. Ugh.

Ain't my fault.


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:00 PM
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Yes, what?


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:00 PM
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Some of us don't have cable, Ogged.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:00 PM
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Fuck.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:01 PM
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First of all, ogged, nobody watches Entourage except male Californians between the ages of 25 and 45. Second of all, I think Gary Busey is an intentional self-parody by now.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:02 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:04 PM
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I was assuming that everyone had seen the Entourage episodes with Busey.

Dude, I don't even have an Entourage.



Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:04 PM
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I had no idea Gary Busey had employment in the 21st century.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:04 PM
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Busey was the favorite actor of my driving instructor, who once joked to our class that he kept his colored dry-erase markers in the back of the drawer.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:05 PM
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AND, I've posted a clip of Busey in Entourage on this very blog. No excuses, people. Winners do what losers don't want to do.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:08 PM
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I've heard people claim this is partly a function of brain damage from his motorcycle accident, but still:

Gary Busey eats Jennifer Garner


Posted by: Moby Ape | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:09 PM
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I actually don't even know who Gary Busey is, other than apparently an ugly (and I suspect misogynist) asshole.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:09 PM
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18: Busey was the only good part of Point Break, Predator 2, and Under Siege.


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:11 PM
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His full name is apparently: William Gareth Jacob Busey Sr.

His wikipedia entry confirms that I barely know who he is.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:11 PM
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You... don't know who Gary Busey is? Haven't you ever seen Point Break? Or Lethal Weapon? Or every crappy 80s movie? Not to mention that he interviewed The Editors for his book.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:12 PM
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"The" "Editors"?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:13 PM
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Point Break is on my list of "crappy enjoyable movies." But I don't remember the names of all the crappy actors in the crappy movies I sometimes enjoy. No, I haven't seen Lethal Weapon.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:14 PM
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I suspect misogynist

racist too no doubt.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:16 PM
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Well, in that particular clip he is specifically being very condescending towards women. I'm not just making this shit up, you know.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:19 PM
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I just reviewed his imdb and am happy to report I have never seen a single product Gary Busey actively participated in.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:19 PM
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Busey is a train wreck waiting to happen. If I was a journalist or a media person, I would interview him every freaking day.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:19 PM
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I'm just teasing, B, because I too am a humorless feminist and I feel you.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:19 PM
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which movie was he in where he had the flame to his arm to prove his loyalty? Totally believable from Busey.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:20 PM
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sybil is not humorless. I remember her making a joke once.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:21 PM
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You remember nothing of the kind.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:21 PM
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I too am a humorless feminist and I feel you.

We will have *none* of *that* sort of pandering-to-the-boys, young lady.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:24 PM
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ha! You just made a joke.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:25 PM
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34

There is alarming slippage between jive talk and performative lesbian titillation.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:26 PM
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Performative lesbian titillation?

Someone needs to explain that one to me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:29 PM
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I hereby titillate you! /lesbian


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:31 PM
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34: New rollover text?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:32 PM
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Performative or constituitive?


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:32 PM
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39

38 to 36


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:33 PM
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34: Yeah, and between friendly joking between women and performative lesbian titillation as well. I blame the patriarchy Apo.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:33 PM
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I'm leaving Sir Kraab, Bitch, AWb, and Sybil to play with big words.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:35 PM
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I believe 38 has a typo, but it is a typo in remarkably august company per google.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:41 PM
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It's a hard word to spell. I'll go with "Performative or positional?" Same difference, in my discourse.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:44 PM
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Comparative jive talking breeds a flexible idiolect, I guess.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:47 PM
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45

Jive talkery maybe?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:48 PM
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A jivetalkerie is where you go in Paris to get lesbian titillation.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:50 PM
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43: There you go again, declaring that words mean whatever *you* want them to. My dictionary doesn't even *have* those words in it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:50 PM
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As that famous humper said, "who's to be the mistress?"


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:52 PM
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I am *positting* their meanings! I am exemplifying the positional dimension of language, at infuriating odds with its signifying dimension!! I am living poststructuralism and your feeble dictionary can't impede me!


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:54 PM
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all the king's horses and all the king's men are not welcome here.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:55 PM
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Gary Busey is a dick, but "I don't do shout-outs" is pretty awesome.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:56 PM
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I'm going to bed now .... Laydeez!


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:58 PM
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I am becks-style. And I don't do shoutouts.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:58 PM
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I'm going to go cook dinner. Whoo feminist utopia.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:59 PM
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I am exemplifying performing the positional dimension of language


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:59 PM
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addendum: today was approximately the 35th time in 2008 I ordered out because the idea of dinner crushed me.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 8:59 PM
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I just got back from the` bar, where they had some chicks from Goose Island giving away shwag and doing a pub quiz, and my team, team "I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!" won and I got an awesome scarf and two free beers.

I hate it when advertising stunts work. Honkers' Ale is a pretty decent beer already, but I now have warm fuzzy feelings directed toward it because they gave me an awesome scarf.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:01 PM
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The questions were pretty easy, though. We did miss "what was the name of Drew Barrymore's character in E.T.?", however,


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:02 PM
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I wanted to order out dinner tonight, but Red Hot (the only Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn worth going to) was closed! It was also closed when I tried to go there on Sunday. WTF IS GOING ON? I've already progressed through all the Park Slope takeout places and decided none of them are worth eating at except Red Hot. Besides, I can't go back to my old Chinese place or they'll be all "Where have you been?" and I'm ashamed to tell them.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:04 PM
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Thank God no one in Park Slope is without a blog. Question semi-answered.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:06 PM
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56: Frozen TJ's halibut and home-made chips it is. I don't really want to cook dinner either.

By the way, I hate to say it, but I have just decided to accept the fact that TJ's produce really sucks. It's all about two days from rotting, if that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:11 PM
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TJ's produce kind of weirds me out. It's all, like, pre-packaged and shit.

I do like the per-banana pricing, tho.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:29 PM
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I like them microwavable squashes, but yeah it's pretty terrible generally. The TJs near my apartment in California had a kind of permanent farm stand out front with good produce, which ruled.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:41 PM
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I still manage to confuse Gary Busey with Nick Nolte. This website attempts to clarify the issue, including this helpful tidbit:

One salient difference between the two is that Gary has never had a 'testicle tuck.' If you're curious about what a testicle tuck is, Nolte tells us it "basically is to lift them up higher so you don't sit on them." If you'd like to see a picture of Gary's long, free-flowing testicles, click here.

Click through for the exciting link on that last word. (Scroll down; it's at the end.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:03 PM
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64 is funny.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:09 PM
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You... don't know who Gary Busey is?

You people haven't seen Big Wednesday? It's a surf classic! It's also one of Tarantino's favorites:

"I don't like surfers; I didn't like them when I was growing up. I lived in a surfing community, and I thought they were all jerks. I like this movie so much. Surfers don't deserve this movie."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:10 PM
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Gary Busey from his IMDB page is still working constantly, but his best years were the early 80s.

Buddy Holly Story, Barbarosa will Willie Nelson, Silver Bullet, Straight Time are just fine movies. Did Insignificance for Nicholas Roeg.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:52 PM
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Don't think it was revealed in the video, but the interviewer was supposedly an 11-year old girl.

I enjoyed "I'm With Busey" (lots of it is available on YouTube). He also had one wild episode on Howard Stern in 2001 where he semi-attacked Robin and ended up wrestling Howard.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 12:17 AM
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Thank God no one in Park Slope is without a blog. Question semi-answered.

OMG drop A-bomb here.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 6:09 AM
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Don't think it was revealed in the video, but the interviewer was supposedly an 11-year old girl.

Well now I feel bad. Sorry, 11yo!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 6:50 AM
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Massively coked up. To the point of mindless repetition.


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 8:44 AM
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Busey might not be able to help it. Besides the drugs, he literally went head first into a curb in a motorcycle crash sans helmet. This was about 20 years ago. He spent a month in a coma.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 8:58 AM
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Are you now, Charlie?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 8:58 AM
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he literally went head first into a curb in a motorcycle crash sans helmet

Right, he was the most famous opponent of California's mandatory helmet law, until that crash, which changed his mind, so to speak. Not that he was the picture of sanity and decorum before that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:04 AM
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Gary Busey is Charlie-style in this interview?

72: I find it amazing that he's continued to get roles after morphing into a crazy person, then. I mean, can he memorize his lines? Why bother hiring him? What are his unique talents?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:04 AM
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Helmet laws are bizarre. Who cares if people want to ride without helmets?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:10 AM
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Are you nuts? He's pure awesome. He just has to play himself.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:10 AM
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which changed his mind

And how.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:10 AM
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76: They make my insurance more expensive by requiring intensive care while they lie around being comatose, the bastards. On the other hand, they do increase the pool of organs available for donation.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:16 AM
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I'm all about reducing human suffering and motorcycle helmets are kind of a no brainer in that capacity. If someone would just make my cigarettes illegal, I would eventually be pleased. I swear to god this website is making me wimpier by the day.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:21 AM
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they do increase the pool of organs available for donation.

Yeah, I've heard the transplant surgeons love the helmetless motorcycle riders. Young healthy guys with good organs. A low or moderate speed crash that crushes the skull like a melon often leaves the rest of the organs in good shape.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:23 AM
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I'm all about reducing human suffering

Gah. How about we not have the government running around making people do what we think is good for them?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:31 AM
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Busey might not be able to help it.

Friends who've filmed with him say his traumatic brain injury is his excuse line right before/after assaulting someone - always someone low on the pecking order - "I can't help it! I've got a TBI!"


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:49 AM
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"I can't help it! I've got a TBI!"

Only a saint wouldn't use this excuse to do whatever the hell he wanted.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:52 AM
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85

In any case it's certainly possible that it's true.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 9:53 AM
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I love nanny states, gswift. I love it when the government makes that other person stop at that stop sign so I don't get broadsided. And when they regulate emissions on my car adn take the lead out of gasoline. And when they built that road in the first place. And when they keep someone from employing a 10yr old to fix the road. But as I said, I am getting wimpy.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:11 AM
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86: And telling women exactly when and where (following upon if) they can get pregnancies terminated, etc, etc.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:16 AM
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Clearly a suitable comparison, apo: helmet laws and abortion restrictions. A slippery slope indeed.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:18 AM
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motorcycle helmets are kind of a no brainer in that capacity

They aren't actually. Or at least, it's much more complicated than it looks.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:21 AM
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I'd argue that helmet laws are very much of a type with abortion restrictions and drug laws, actually.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:21 AM
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There's a rather significant difference between laws criminalizing the killing and exploitation of other human beings, and laws punishing personal behavior that harms only the practitioner, i.e. riding a motorcycle without a helmet, smoking weed, etc.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:21 AM
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"I can't help it! I've got a TBI!"

And now you're about to have another one.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:22 AM
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93

Damnit Apo


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:23 AM
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Eh, I've come around to SV's position, largely because head trauma might scare me more than any other sort.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:31 AM
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Motorcyclists are the no-brainers, especially after the accident.

This is a complex and not very important question, which is the fun kind. By and large I find libertarians and bikers far more annoying than nanny-staters, and that's what swings me.

If I were more confident that most libertarians didn't vote for Bush in 2000, I'd probably give them the helmet laws and the 2nd amendment too. Every one I've ever met has above all been a liberal-hater, though, and I'm a liberal.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:34 AM
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I agree with all the examples SV lists in 86, but I wouldn't term any of those nanny state functions.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:35 AM
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So because libertarians vote for Bush, you want to make them LESS likely to smash their heads open and die?

Are we already in the bleak post-partisan Obama future?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:36 AM
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I find libertarians and bikers far more annoying than nanny-staters

Then you should actively support riding without a helmet. Thins the herd.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:37 AM
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The pwnz0r has become the pwnt!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:38 AM
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I don't think they are nanny-state functions either, nor do I think helmet laws are. But I think the whole nanny state card os often a red herring.
Surely, gswift, you know there are arguments that helmet laws protect more than just the agent; public resources/funds, etc. And you've no doubt heard that arguments are occasionally made in favor of restricting abortion on the basis of preventing the exploitation and killing of "innocent persons." The two categories are not so sound.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:39 AM
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Death is not the worst outcome of head trauma, unfortunately. And you have to compare serious harm to a few libertarians to a constant annoyance to all of them. On the other hand, libertarians like being annoyed. I'll have to calculate the rat orgasms and get back to you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:39 AM
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96: What about anti-lead paint regulations, rather than simple disclosure?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:40 AM
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By and large I find libertarians and bikers far more annoying than nanny-staters

The nanny staters on the other side of the aisle likes them some abortion bans, sodomy laws, etc. Just saying.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:40 AM
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I don't support helmet laws in general, but I think that if we have a single-payer health system, or even the vague gestures towards one we have now, we do need to disincentivize people from intentionally hurting themselves.

This is one of the ways my priorities differ from those of libertarians.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:41 AM
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Surely, gswift, you know there are arguments that helmet laws protect more than just the agent; public resources/funds, etc.

Yeah, doubtless motorcycle accidents are some massive drain on the system.

Make that argument if you must, just try not to be surprised when someone wants to criminalize being fat.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:42 AM
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One funny thing about helmet laws: there was a study showing something like two orders of magnitude more serious injury prevention if you made everyone use them in cars. It was a long time ago, so I'm probably forgetting the details.


For what it's worth, it's hard to prove that motorcycle helmets reduce total number of head & spine injuries. They almost certainly turn a certain number of fatalities into non-fatalities, but some of those are PVS or others that are hard to know if it's an improvement.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:44 AM
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I'm not necessarily making that argument, gswift. I am pointing out that there is that argument to be made, and in fact it is made, and that your binary of crimes that hurt no one but the criminal vs crimes that exploit or hurt others is not sound.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:45 AM
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For me, repealing helmet laws would be less satisfying than just inflicting head trauma on an individual motorcyclist or Libertarian, even if more Libertarians and bikers would be hurt when the laws were repealed. What would be lacking, destroying the fun of it, would be agency. To me, rat orgasms aren't everything. The feeling of personal ownership is also important.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:45 AM
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The winger Christians in Oregon are fanatically against seat-belt laws. By and large I'm happy to be on the other side of the line from them. I wouldn't be surprised if they were against helmet laws too. The "nanny-state" group is not at all unified.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:48 AM
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or even the vague gestures towards one we have now, we do need to disincentivize people from intentionally hurting themselves.

You think we have a masochism problem or something?

Rock climbing, riding a motorcycle, smoking pot, eating bacon, etc. are enjoyable.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:49 AM
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106 makes a good point. Helmet laws are an example of the kind of thing that needs to exist with UHC, but may not be useful in specific.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:51 AM
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109: Fwiw, seat belt laws are much better grounded than helmet laws. Of course, if you are opposed on principle, I suppose it doesn't matter.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:53 AM
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nd that your binary of crimes that hurt no one but the criminal vs crimes that exploit or hurt others is not sound.

If it's not sound, then there should be no trouble coming up with strong examples.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:55 AM
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Helmet laws are an example of the kind of thing that needs to exist with UHC

You going to ban smoking? Drinking? Fat people? Maybe jail the twofers like fat smokers?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:56 AM
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115

I'm off to climb. Try not to ban it while I'm gone.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:57 AM
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Strong examples of what? Of how the binary doesn't work?


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 11:58 AM
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I sort of agree with gswift, in that I don't know what "not sound" is supposed to mean. I can gin up any number of alternate arguments for pretty much anything, some of which won't be internally contradictory. But we guess at which ones have the most force in society, and, on helmet laws, I'd bet the most forceful arguments are "protect them from themselves" arguments.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 12:01 PM
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gin up

LizardBreath may want to school you on this usage.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 12:02 PM
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114: Not ban, disincentivize, man.

That's all the government does, is disincentivize or incentivize things. That and collect taxes.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 12:27 PM
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Helmet laws are an example of the kind of thing that needs to exist with UHC

If you're looking to avoid drains on the system, you may find this linkage is precisely backwards, since a helmet is more likely to make you survive a crash, thereby requiring lots lots lots more medical care than you would otherwise. This is not unlike the arguments that smoking is creating a huge impact on our health care system, where all the honest accountings show that smokers consume much less health care over their lifetimes because they tend not to linger in old age, when the vast majority of our health care consumption takes place.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 12:29 PM
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120: In other words, your real savings would be realized by banning motorcycles, not by requiring riders to wear helmets.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 12:32 PM
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Busey had another memorable appearance with Stern relatively soon after he returned after the accident. This was on Stern's WWOR TV show, they did a skit called the "Head-Injury Club for Men". Busey was a member of this club along with Howard and a few of his sidekicks who all had their heads wrapped in bandages with goo coming out and were drooling and saying things like "I'll never wear a helmet when I'm on my motorcycle, I need to feel the wind in my hair." Stern et al got so over the top that Busey ended up losing his cool.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 12:40 PM
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I'm mostly with Swift, soup, and apo on this one. Marginal societal benefit, expressed mostly by reasoning I find problematic (protecting people from themselves; reducing society's economic cost from problem behavior), and actual upside (more organ donors!) if you're willing to be gruesome about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 1:06 PM
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I am pro advocating helmets and agin helmet laws.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 1:26 PM
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117, 123: Does this touch seatbelt laws? The only person I know who is serious about motorcycles thinks wearing helmets is just common sense. You might end up a vegetable in a big accident instead of dying, but when 80-year-old Bonnevillle Driver runs the stop sign and clips your bike, it keeps a minor accident from killing you. Keeps the other guy from having killed someone, too.

I don't think helmet laws need to exist with a UHC, but they're not the sort of thing I can get all excited about existing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 1:28 PM
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thinks wearing helmets is just common sense

I wouldn't get on a motorcycle without one; seems like common sense to me. But the health care spending argument is a very poor justification for them.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 1:34 PM
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My son rides a 90 cc dirtbike. I make him wear every piece of safety equipment possible.

But, a woman of my professional acquantance was recently a passenger on a motorcycle for the first time when a car smashed into them, smashing her leg into pieces.

Very sad.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 1:41 PM
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126 gets it right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 1:42 PM
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One funny thing about helmet laws: there was a study showing something like two orders of magnitude more serious injury prevention if you made everyone use them in cars. It was a long time ago, so I'm probably forgetting the details.

Makes perfect sense, if you think about just how likely it is that you'll smack your head against the window in a side impact. I'd expect that the advent of side curtain airbags will make a big difference in that regard.

For what it's worth, it's hard to prove that motorcycle helmets reduce total number of head & spine injuries.

Spine injuries? Helmets don't do jack for spine injuries; that's why good riding gear includes either an integral back protector or one worn under other gear.

I'd be interested in the numbers on head injuries, though. There's definitely a certain speed above which a helmet isn't going to help, but frankly if you crash at that speed not much is going to.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:13 PM
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Require all libertarians to wear full body airbags!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:23 PM
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Not supporting helmet laws--or seatbelt laws, or any other laws that increase public health and safety with very minimal inconvenience--is insane. Comparing abortion to helmet laws is insane. Arguing that not wearing a helmet only affects the non-helmet wearing person is insane.

I also hate the law that lets motorcycle riders in CA ride between lanes. It scares the crap out of me that one of these days I'm going to switch lanes in heavy traffic and fucking kill someone.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:31 PM
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Okay, if we grant that the arguments *for* helmet laws are weak, can anyone explain what the arguments *against* them are? They save lives and reduce brain injuries (even in low-speed crashes) vs. "you can't tell me what to do!"??


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:35 PM
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"You can't tell me what to do!" can also be interperted as "quality of life".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:36 PM
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133: Oh, please. MY QUALITY OF LIFE IS SERIOUSLY IMPACTED BY WEARING A HELMET is not a serious argument.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:44 PM
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I also hate the law that lets motorcycle riders in CA ride between lanes. It scares the crap out of me that one of these days I'm going to switch lanes in heavy traffic and fucking kill someone.

If it's heavy traffic, the chances that you'd actually kill them are much lower than you'd think. I got hit at 25 MPH, and ended up with a sprained ankle and a little bit of road rash. (This is why I splashed out on gear. If I hadn't been wearing good gear, I'd have been in a lot more pain.)

But, you know, you could also practice checking your mirrors and your blind spot before you change lanes.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:47 PM
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I also hate the law that lets motorcycle riders in CA ride between lanes. It scares the crap out of me that one of these days I'm going to switch lanes in heavy traffic and fucking kill someone.

1) Don't drive anywhere in Europe, or you'll be really scared.

2) There's a lever on the left side of the steering column that you can use to signal your intention to change lanes to people you might not know are there.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:48 PM
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Oh yeah, and lane splitting in traffic is no more dangerous, and probably less so, than riding in the middle of the lane. I'd much rather get sideswiped by a car than rear-ended and driven into the car in front of me.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:50 PM
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MY QUALITY OF LIFE IS SERIOUSLY IMPACTED BY WEARING A HELMET is not a serious argument.

It doesn't have anything to do with quality of life. It has to do with how far the government can go in telling you *what to do with your own body*. This is not trivial, even if the specific law in question is.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:51 PM
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Don't drive anywhere in Europe, or you'll be really scared.

I'm all for lane-splitting. I have to admit that the guys in Athens splitting down the centerline of a two-lane road in the middle of the city gave me pause, though.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:51 PM
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135: That's good to know. And OF COURSE I check mirrors and blind spot and use a fucking turn indicator. But accidents fucking happen.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:51 PM
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Also, I think anyone who doesn't wear a helmet when riding on the street is either an idiot or deeply misinformed, although I make an exception for moving my bike across the street or up the block.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:52 PM
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I have to admit that the guys in Athens splitting down the centerline of a two-lane road in the middle of the city gave me pause, though

Try riding in India.

And yeah, in heavy traffic, splitting lanes is safer than riding between cars. I've been sideswiped by people changing lanes without signaling twice, but neither resulted in anything more than shaking a fist. The time someone rear-ended me while I was stopped in traffic, I got a nice ambulance ride and overnight hospital stay. Hooray for gear!


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:56 PM
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138: I don't think that wearing a helmet is telling you to do something "with your own body." Any more than laws against public nudity or, oh, say, fucking in public restrooms. It's a law that imposes a minor inconvenience to individuals in order to achieve a significant improvement in public health and safety. Call me a big gubmint liberal, but I think that's the kind of reasonable public good that it makes sense for the state to enforce.

(I wouldn't get all bent over *not* having such laws--though I'd vote for 'em if they were on the ballot. But it seems dumb to me to object to them.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:56 PM
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I wouldn't get all bent over

Such low-hanging fruit...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:59 PM
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a significant improvement in public health and safety

See, but they don't. They produce significant improvements in *individual* health and safety, but I'm not impacted in any way, shape, or form by a helmetless biker.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 2:59 PM
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Motorcycles do scare the hell out of me -- they're different enough from cars that I just read them very badly. It feels like I don't know exactly where they are unless I'm really consciously focused on them, I can't watch them out of the corner of my eye like I can cars.

I probably wouldn't be so scared of them if there were more on the street.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:00 PM
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I don't actually care about helmet laws per se, since I don't ride a motorcycle. But if the people who *do* ride motorcycles feel they have a good reason not to wear them, that seems like reason enough to defer to them regarding risks they are posing only to themselves.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:01 PM
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145: If you hit someone? If someone you know is in an accident and ends up with a traumatic brain injury?

I think that reducing the number of traumatic brain injuries counts as "improving the public health."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:04 PM
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146 is how I feel too. If I see a motorcycle I don't know what it's going to do, or how fast it's likely to be moving, or what sort of signs would indicate that it's about to pass...and I know that it could pass out of my peripheral vision a lot easier than a car could.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:05 PM
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148: summarized: "it causes these specific benefits to individual life and safety. Therefore, it counts as improving public health!"

B in this thread is making me want to vote for a smoking ban.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:11 PM
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If you hit someone?

My chances of hitting someone aren't affected by their headgear. Unless they have a Bush/Cheney sticker on the back of their helmet.

I think that reducing the number of traumatic brain injuries counts as "improving the public health."

Then what you want is to ban motorcycles. And require them for bicycles, snow skis, and snowboards.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:15 PM
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151: and cars! And horses! And walking!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:15 PM
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152 - You could wear a helmet while walking.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:19 PM
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snow skis

This one confuses me. I know a lot of people who ski, and plenty who have been hurt skiing. But they're all leg injuries bar my crazy (albeit beloved) cousin who jumps off things and has rearranged his face multiple times. (He's still very attractive, but much craggier than he would have been without all the broken noses and cheekbones and such.)

Are head injuries from skiing common at all barring psycho-expert-crazy-risk-taker skiers? And if not, why are helmets getting commoner?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:21 PM
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154: see Sonny Bono. Lots of trees on ski slopes, even on the easy trails.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:23 PM
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... order to achieve a significant improvement in public health and safety.

This has not actually been demonstrated. Unlike seat belts.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:26 PM
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And if not, why are helmets getting commoner?

Leg injuries are unlikely to kill you. Helmets also keep your head warmer, your goggles in place better, and give you somewhere to rest your goggles where they won't fog up. They cost more, but I think they're just better.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:26 PM
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154: I would propose the mechanism of parents who are teaching their kids to ski make their kids wear them (for fairly standard overprotective type reasons, thinking that it can't hurt and they'd feel awful if their kid was in an accident and not wearing a helmet) and the kid grows up used to it and just continues to wear it. But I'm making that up, and it might be wrong.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:26 PM
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156 should have had a `as far as I know'. It's been many years since I knew the research on that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:27 PM
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For what it's worth, I knew one person who died on a ski hill on skis, and another on a sled (roughly). The latter was pretty much asking for it.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:28 PM
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Then what you want is to ban motorcycles. And require them for bicycles, snow skis, and snowboards. . . . and cars! And horses! And walking!

I have no problem with a helmet requirement for bikes and horses--both of those, like motorcycles, if you fall, you're falling a fair distance and might not catch yourself with your hands. And banning motorcycles outright, I'd accept, *is* a fairly significant imposition; it seems to me that requiring helmets is a reasonable compromise. I don't know jack about snow sports; if helmets make a difference there, then sure, require 'em. Walking is patently a stupid idea.

And I still think that, while a helmet isn't going to prevent you hitting someone, if you hit someone and they're not wearing good gear and are badly hurt b/c of that, you're going to feel like shit, and all the "well, they made the choice blah blah" statements in the world aren't going to change that.

I also think it oughta be against the law for motorcyclists to wear fucking flip-flops, as I saw someone doing yesterday.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:38 PM
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B in this thread is making me want to vote for a smoking ban.

I have no problem with smoking bans. I approve of them. My only concern with making smoking illegal would be whether or not it would end up creating the same problems as prohibition and the drug war.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:40 PM
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Also it has been one month and two days since I quit, fuckers.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:41 PM
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Seriously, though, helmets in cars: lots more people would be helped than on motorcycles.

I also think we should ban crossing the street for anybody under twelve: it's just too hard for people in SUVs to see them.

While we're at it, we should ban rock climbing: you're pretty much just asking to fall. Football and boxing will have to go, too. Not to mention baseball: that ball is hard! People have already died being hit by it!

Also let's do something about those dangerous holes in the ground.

And don't even get me started on kitchen knives. Do you know they can be used to murder people?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:42 PM
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I also think it oughta be against the law for motorcyclists to wear fucking flip-flops, as I saw someone doing yesterday.

That's really stupid.

observation: Bicycle helmets are much more of a no-brainer than motorcycle helmets, yet many places are much more accepting of not having a helmet law there.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:42 PM
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163: Woohoo!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:44 PM
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The thing about saying "well, that doesn't seem like too much of an imposition," is that you don't know how much of an imposition it is. Maybe somebody gets the only joy in their life from riding a motorcycle with no helmet. That person would have a very sad life, if you ask me, but I wouldn't presume to judge them for what they get out of it.

I mean, somebody could call for a ban on blog commenting, because honestly, how much of an imposition would it be not to be able to waste time on a blog? Similarly, why can't people just give up pot, or cigarettes, or meat, or listening to loud music, or staying up late, or booze. A case could be made that we'd be healthier without any of them.

The point being, you can figure out pretty well what will make people healthier in the aggregate, but to presume that you makes somebody else's life worth living is both insulting and a failure of empathy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:46 PM
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164: Tweety, if you're going to try to troll me, you're going to at least need to propose analogies that have a passing resemblance to what we're arguing about.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:47 PM
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168: how is a helmet law for cars any different? Because you have a pane of glass there to stop your head before it hits anything else?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:48 PM
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Shit that I think always sounds so much better when B says it because she is so fucking bossy. I need to make adjustments.

Great work re:smokes, btw.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:48 PM
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167 should read "to presume that you know what makes somebody else's life worth living".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:50 PM
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170: doesn't make any more sense when she says it, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:50 PM
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167: No, it doesn't work that way. The thing about saying "x seems like a reasonable minor imposition" is that it should (1) have a measurable and clear benefit; (2) not be disprovable. Also, (3) banning it obviously shouldn't create more problems than it solves. (e.g., booze.)

So you need more than hypotheticals about "maybe somebody gets the only joy in their life from riding a motorcycle with no helmet." If wearing a helmet really is an imposition, then the anti-helmet-law folks ought to be able to explain how.

Blogs run into free speech problems. Pot, cigarettes and booze run into prohibition problems. Loud music is, in fact, banned in some densely populated residential areas after certain hours. Meat, you'd need to show a measureable and clear benefit. Etc.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:51 PM
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But, you know, you could also practice checking your mirrors and your blind spot before you change lanes.

Can't kill 'em if you don't see 'em.

Then what you want is to ban motorcycles.

Except for the organ-donor problem, that's a good idea.

Seriously, though, helmets in cars: lots more people would be helped than on motorcycles.

How much is that just because many times more people drive and ride cars than ride motorcycles?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:52 PM
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174.3: probably entirely. So? Why prevent a minority from hurting themselves when you could prevent a much greater majority from doing so? I'll even compromise: helmets only for people under 18 in cars.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:54 PM
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Traffic safety laws are enforceable the way prohibition laws aren't, since traffic is public. You can't black market helmetless driving.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:55 PM
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168: Was that really trolling. From a safety point of view, helmets are a great idea for cars. Much more clear cut than for motorcyles, because you can wear designs that aren't likely to cause any additional accidents (unlike motorcycles) and you don't have the rotational problem (unlike motorcycles)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:55 PM
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170: Thank you.

how is a helmet law for cars any different?

Well, first of all, that's not an argument *against* motorcycle helmet laws, you know. And second, I suppose it's different because cars have restraint devices (seat belts) which motorcycles don't. It may very well also be different simply because no one's tried to pass a law requiring helmet use in cars, and as a result the tradeoffs (primarily heat problems, I should think) haven't really been discussed. I'm inclined to say that it's different mostly because virtually everyone rides in cars, whereas using a motorcycle instead is really a voluntary and optional decision--so requiring motorcyclists to use good safety equipment is a requirement placed on a free choice, rather than a near-universal requirement placed on something that's (practically speaking) a requirement of modern life.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:56 PM
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173: they aren't going to be able to show a clear and measurable improvement to you, because you don't enjoy the same things they do. Why should it be incumbent on them to prove to you that they enjoy the things that they enjoy? Because you think you know better, that's why, and that's what infuriates people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:56 PM
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Men having unprotected anal sex with strangers is a much bigger public health problem than motorcycles without helmets, and how much of an imposition is it to wear a condom? Not much, it seems to me.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:57 PM
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How much is that just because many times more people drive and ride cars than ride motorcycles?

It's not just because of that. The characteristic injuries are different. It's incredibly common to smash your head into the dash/windshield in a car accident. Helmets absolutely do mitigate damage here. From a pure safety point of view, it's a slam-dunk. From a policy point of view, it's a non-starter.

Characteristic injuries from motorcycle accidents are more complicated.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:57 PM
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so requiring motorcyclists to use good safety equipment

B, I'll repeat ... it's not as clear cut as you think it is.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:59 PM
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178: nobody's tried it because it would never in a million years pass because everybody drives in cars and they would never go for it. The reason helmet laws pass for motorcycles is that motorcyclists are a minority and can therefore be imposed on by the will of the meddlesome masses much more easily.

Which is not even to mention how much cleaner the air would be if everyone rode motorcycles. What you're really doing is penalizing somebody for making a decision which actually helps society, because you've decided you know what's best for them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:59 PM
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179: No, it really isn't because I, personally, think I know better. Pretty much every motorcyclist knows and acknowledges that helmets are important; I defy you to find a motorcyclist who wouldn't require his child to wear a helmet, for instance. And I'm not saying that it's incumbent to prove that one enjoys the wind in one's hair (which is the primary argument). I'm saying that if there's a clear benefit to something that SEEMS minor, and you want to argue that it's *not* minor, you should be able to come up with a reason why.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 3:59 PM
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(more organ donors!) if you're willing to be gruesome about it.
See my 79. Of course we're willing.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:00 PM
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182: I'm willing to believe that (I also think that motorcyclists ought not wear tshirts and tennis shoes, dammit). But it certainly *seems* like a fairly common sense requirement, and I don't see any reason to argue against it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:01 PM
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Which, again, it's not the biggest deal in the world, it's just a sort of pointless alienation of a small subset of the populace that would probably naturally be Democrats otherwise.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:01 PM
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I'm saying that if there's a clear benefit to something that SEEMS minor, and you want to argue that it's *not* minor, you should be able to come up with a reason why.

179 doesn't address this?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:01 PM
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187: Whaaat?

188: No.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:03 PM
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It seems minor to you. It obviously is not minor to people who fight against helmet laws which, if (let's be honest here) it's really not going to affect you one way or the other, should mean that those people get to decide. Of course, they're in the minority, and people like you who don't see what the fuss is about are in the majority, so those people have to suck it up and take the imposition on their favorite activity that you -- a nonparticipant -- think doesn't seem like that big a deal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:03 PM
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188: yes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:04 PM
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175: Because it makes more sense to ban very dangerous behavior than slightly dangerous behavior. That's the old falling-in-bathtubs argument. Most people take baths, so whatever small danger there is adds up to large absolute numbers (341 in 2000). People use this to argue that if their pet vice is banned or restricted, so should bathtubs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:05 PM
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Much like abortions, if bathtubs are banned, people are just going to clean themselves in unsafe and unregulated ways.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:05 PM
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Sandblaster!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:07 PM
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192: but see, that implicitly accepts the idea that there's a social good in banning dangerous behavior where the only direct danger is to the participant, a philosophical position I think is unsustainable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:07 PM
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I don't think 190 is right. That it's important to people who fight helmet laws is obviously true, but the question is *why* is it important--is it about the benefits of helmet-free motorcycle riding, or is it some knee-jerk "don't tell me what to do, let me risk my own life" nonsense? Which I get is a real feeling that real people have, but which *in and of itself* I'm inclined to think is stupid.

That said, I'd be perfectly willing to approve of "helmet free" tracks or areas, fine, just like I don't see a problem with letting kids drive on farms or what have you. I just don't think that the god-given right to ride a motorcycle without a helmet!!! is actually a god-given right.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:08 PM
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the idea that there's a social good in banning dangerous behavior where the only direct danger is to the participant

Don't forget the feelings of people who might be saddened if the person engaging in dangerous behavior gets hurt.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:08 PM
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because you can wear designs that aren't likely to cause any additional accidents (unlike motorcycles)

What additional accidents are motorcycle helmets likely to cause?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:09 PM
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184: Actually, you're wrong about not finding any. There are lots of motorcyclists who don't acknowledge this, because it isn't so clear cut. For what it's worth, I don't agree with them but the question isn't really solved.

bike helmets certainly help in low speed, oblique impact. this is where you get most fatalities. helmets probably turn some fatalities into PVS or quadraplegics, but it's a net win most likely.

However: they also retard hearing and peripheral vision, so they probably cause a certain number of accidents (very hard to quantify). At high speeds if they are fit a bit too loose, they are blamed for a certain number of bad spinal cord injuries. High speed (i.e. highway) accidents don't look like low speed. Helmets often don't help, and make well increase the number of accidents (for drivers, not passengers obviously).

There's also a very speculative thought about helmets and freeway safety from a psychological point of view, but that's probably wandering off into other territory.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:09 PM
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Which I get is a real feeling that real people have, but which *in and of itself* I'm inclined to think is stupid.

Because that's not something you enjoy doing. Got it. You're still saying you know better than other people.

For myself, I think it would be swell to devote every penny of money spent on enforcing helmet laws and use it on 1. educational campaigns on TBI, 2. research into TBI and 3. educational programs about the organ donor program. It'd do a lot more good than pointlessly pissing off a bunch of (and here I agree with your characterization) half-braindead knuckleheads (but note I don't presume that I understand why they enjoy what they enjoy, the idiots).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:11 PM
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197: okay, but I really think there are better ways for the machinery of the criminal justice system to be employed than legislating against sadness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:12 PM
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202

198 see 199

Because of the relatively low numbers, studies of some of this stuff haven't been done so well, unlike the case with seat belts.

Without really solid numbers to rely on, it's hard to tell if the anti-helmet people are on to something, or if they are more like the people who refuse to wear seatbelts because it's possible they might get trapped in a burning vehicle or whatever.

I have wondered though, if having motorcyclists wear bicycle helmets would be a net gain.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:14 PM
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However: they also retard hearing and peripheral vision

Utter bullshit. A well-fitting helmet will not interfere with peripheral vision in the slightest. As for hearing, I have two reactions: 1) At anything more than about 20 MPH, wind noise is already causing hearing damage, so I'm highly skeptical that helmets practically retard hearing and b) you might want to look at the accident and insurance rates for deaf drivers before arguing that reduced hearing actually leads to more accidents.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:14 PM
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where the only direct danger is to the participant

I think this is where we're going to differ. I don't subscribe to that idea about my Free and Individual Right to Kill Myself. We've all got friends and family, who are affected by dangerous behaviors; and again, you've got other drivers in traffic, who are likewise going to be affected if they hit you and put you into a coma.

I mean, obviously, the "you owe other people" argument only goes so far (not very), when you're talking about individual rights. It's a tradeoff. And just like this entire argument, I'm going to say that from what I can see, the tradeoff of wearing a helmet just is not that big a fucking deal. No more of a big deal than my wearing a seat belt, which I've come to accept. Or my wearing a helmet on my bike. Or my making sure PK has a car seat. They're all small inconveniences, sure, but that's all they are.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:14 PM
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For what it's worth, soup, (probably not much) there are plenty of bicyclists who make arguments against helmets for urban riding for various reasons having to do with head mobility, hearing, and that sort of thing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:16 PM
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At high speeds if they are fit a bit too loose, they are blamed for a certain number of bad spinal cord injuries.

And seat belts don't help you if you don't wear them properly.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:16 PM
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204: ignoring the car seat for PK, which is a completely different issue, you are, again, saying that you know better than the people that do say it's a big deal. All I'm saying is, feeling like the state is saying "we know better than you do how you should live your life happily and productively" is something that rankles a certain minority of people, and the end probably does exactly nothing to keep them from trying to kill themselves if they're set on it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:18 PM
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197 was sarcasm.

However: they also retard hearing and peripheral vision

At low speed. At high speed they reduce wind noise and keep debris out of your eyes.

A lot of motorcyclists are misinformed about the protection helmets offer but feel very strongly that helmet laws are the creation of people who think motorcycling is dumb and are trying to tell them how to live their lives for no good reason. It's hard to tell them that they're wrong about the latter.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:18 PM
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I'm inclined to say that it's different mostly because virtually everyone rides in cars, whereas using a motorcycle instead is really a voluntary and optional decision--so requiring motorcyclists to use good safety equipment is a requirement placed on a free choice, rather than a near-universal requirement placed on something that's (practically speaking) a requirement of modern life.

Shorter B: I can count noses, and you've got no power, bitches. Which is basically right. Why should we require helmets? Because we think it a good idea and we can. The cost is some increase in the perception that "we" are likely to interfere unnecessarily in an individual's life. Whether it's worth the cost or not is going to depend on the election results. I like helmet laws b/c head injuries freak me out. But I don't like them so much that I'd give up election victories for them.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:19 PM
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Because that's not something you enjoy doing. Got it. You're still saying you know better than other people.

No, I'm not. I'm saying that as a person who myself does things that I know are stupid and dangerous (smoking, I used to not wear a seatbelt, etc.) and who has and would change my behavior if such activities were actually illegal--I'm a fuck of a lot more careful about red lights since paying that nearly $400 ticket, for instance--I believe that making small inconvenient things that are Bad for You illegal does, in fact, actually change people's behavior, and that reasonable human beings will adjust to reasonable requirements. Ditto shit like making CFCs illegal, or requiring grocery stores to sell reusable bags, etc.

The fact that there are always going to be a few hardasses who get their backs up about being told to do *anything* doesn't, to my mind, constitute a good reason not to have seatbelt and helmet type laws.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:19 PM
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203: Actually it's not bullshit. I've measured it for my own on approved helmets, and there are proper studies ... however, I'd completely agree this is a design issue more than anything else. It's really hard to tell how much this matters though. Remember, I don't agree that they're a bad idea. But I've heard plenty of arguments against not based on `don't tell me what to do'.

Personally, I think the psych side of helmets is more of a problem than the periph. vision. But how do you find out?

wind noise is definitely an issue for hearing what's going on. But helmets are incredibly useful at very low speeds. Wind noise is actually useful information.

deaf drivers are somewhat a red herring, as they know not to rely on it.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:20 PM
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203: Actually it's not bullshit. I've measured it for my own on approved helmets, and there are proper studies ... however, I'd completely agree this is a design issue more than anything else. It's really hard to tell how much this matters though. Remember, I don't agree that they're a bad idea. But I've heard plenty of arguments against not based on `don't tell me what to do'.

Personally, I think the psych side of helmets is more of a problem than the periph. vision. But how do you find out?

wind noise is definitely an issue for hearing what's going on. But helmets are incredibly useful at very low speeds. Wind noise is actually useful information.

deaf drivers are somewhat a red herring, as they know not to rely on it.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:20 PM
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Also the thing about other drivers in traffic I really don't buy. Are you supposed to feel okay about hitting a motorcycle because the person is wearing a helmet? Hitting a motorcycle rider with a car is nigh-guaranteed to cause that person serious, life-changing industry regardless of whether they're wearing a helmet. Is "well, they might be paralyzed, but at least they're still sharp as a tack up there!" really so comforting that it's worth passing laws to (possibly) enable it (occasionally)?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:21 PM
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Not to derail this great little flame war, but I have to take issue with this tangent in 183: Which is not even to mention how much cleaner the air would be if everyone rode motorcycles

How true is this? Every time I look this up I'm surprised how bad motorcycle mileage is. Looking places like this, I mostly see MPGs in the low 40s, with a few better ones, and my (non-hybrid) car does better than that.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:21 PM
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rankles a certain minority of people, and the end probably does exactly nothing to keep them from trying to kill themselves if they're set on it.

Rankles a certain minority, yes. In the end, does quite a lot to keep *most* people, who are past the adolescent male you-can't-make-me! stage of development, safer.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:22 PM
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they also retard hearing and peripheral vision

So do those loud pipes. You know, the ones that save lives.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:24 PM
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210: but changes people's behavior at what cost? You might say "not much", somebody else might say "a hell of a lot", you might say "don't be a dummy", and here we are: if you win, you're arguing that you know better than them what makes them happy.

211, 212: I actually find helmets sort of disorienting, since I'm deaf in one ear and have to rely a lot on secondary cues to figure out the relative spatial position of things behind me. Still wear a helmet on my bicycle, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:24 PM
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211: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, NHTSA disagrees with you on both the peripheral vision and the hearing issue. (See question #2 on that page.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:25 PM
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215: so what you're saying, again, is that you know better than that minority and they should just do what you say. Which, again, is what pisses people off, and is exactly what people are complaining about when they talk about the "nanny state". Which I realize you're okay with, but just realize that's what's going, on, here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:26 PM
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Again, I don't ride a motorcycle so I'm mostly speaking out of ignorance here, but it seems like riding helmetless would be unpleasant due to bugs, if nothing else. Still, if a motorcycle rider feels like they're better off without one for whatever reason, I don't see why I or a bunch of non-biking legislators should tell them otherwise. TBIs aren't contagious.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:26 PM
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Again, I reiterate -- these aren't my positions, but B was asking why anyone would reject the idea.

In a `previous life' I had a few hundred thousand miles on bikes, and have known an awful lot of people who ride them. I'm out of touch now, but was pretty well informed on what was and wasn't known about this, as well as a ton of peoples arguments for/against, as it's the sort of thing that comes up in shops.

At low speed. At high speed they reduce wind noise and keep debris out of your eyes.

Which is a mixed bag. The simple truth is that some bikes are terribly overbuilt for the roads they are on. Particularly with full face helmets, people often don't have a feel for how fast they are going. I knew a guy who was convinced disallowing full face helmets would get rid of most of the high speed problems. I dunno.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:26 PM
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How true is this? Every time I look this up I'm surprised how bad motorcycle mileage is. Looking places like this, I mostly see MPGs in the low 40s, with a few better ones, and my (non-hybrid) car does better than that.

Motorcycle mileage at highway speeds isn't as good as one might think because their aerodynamics suck. In town, they do pretty well. It's also skewed because people generally don't buy motorcycles for transportation in the US, so the market is skewed towards the hugely overpowered or the grotesquely overweight.

Traffic and parking would certainly be much improved.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:26 PM
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195: But see, that implicitly accepts the idea that there's a social good in banning dangerous behavior where the only direct danger is to the participant, a philosophical position I think is unsustainable.

One of the reasons I tend to take the pro-helmet law side is that opponents tend to make it a matter of high philosophical principle, which I don't think that it is or should be. what you're doing is assuming your philosophical position while asking me to prove mine, and I don't need to do that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:27 PM
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"Don't tell me what to do" is actually a very powerful argument. The burden shouldn't be on the person being constrained by the state to prove that the constraint is onerous.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:28 PM
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213: I'm talking about a perception of safety, at least. Which is surely as relevant as the perception that wearing a helmet is a major infringement on my freedom.

That said, fine; if it is in fact true that (say) my accidentally side-swiping a motorcyclist in my blind spot on a 35mph street is *not* less likely to fatally injure him or cause him major brain damage if he's not wearing a helmet, then sure: my feeling that "thank god they're at least wearing helmets" is irrelevant. That said, in answer to your question? Yeah, I think that being in a wheelchair but being mentally okay *is* a much better outcome than being in a coma, actually. And while I'd feel like shit if I put a young man in a coma *or* if I put the poor bastard in a wheelchair, I would, actually, rather he were able to feed himself, if it comes down to that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:28 PM
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218: Well, like I said I'm out of date by 15 years or more. But at that time at least, all of the `official statements' were bullshit, because there was literally no decent science to back it up one way or another.

There's a lot of confounding factors though. For example, I know for a fact that two approved helmets reduced my peripheral vision but a) not by much b) I have no idea how that generalized and c) it's a long way from there to `proving' that it reduces my practical reactions.

Again, I'm not arguing for or against, just pointing out that there are arguments beyond `don't tell me what to do'


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:29 PM
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The burden shouldn't be on the person being constrained by the state to prove that the constraint is onerous.

Why not just mail in your vote for McCain today?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:29 PM
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And while I'd feel like shit if I put a young man in a coma *or* if I put the poor bastard in a wheelchair, I would, actually, rather he were able to feed himself, if it comes down to that.

But if *he* doesn't care that much, as revealed by his preference not to wear a helmet, then that dwarfs the significance of *your* opinion on the matter.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:30 PM
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227: because he doesn't share that viewpoint?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:32 PM
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How true is this? Every time I look this up I'm surprised how bad motorcycle mileage is. Looking places like this, I mostly see MPGs in the low 40s, with a few better ones, and my (non-hybrid) car does better than that.

You'd really have to look at statistics on a constrained set of bikes. City mileage for small bikes is incredible. Highway has more of a friction problem, and there are entire classes of bikes that are overbuilt (power/weight) in a way you simply cannot buy comparable cars.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:32 PM
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is exactly what people are complaining about when they talk about the "nanny state"

Yeah, well, I think that people screaming about the nanny state are stupid. There's a difference between shit like helmet laws and warrantless wiretapping, and I don't have a problem with the state passing laws for our own good, within reason.

224: It's a good argument *in the absence of any demonstrable benefit*. If there's a demonstrable benefit (fewer head injuries, fewer deaths), then it's not a good argument, and you need something more.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:32 PM
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Ditto shit like making CFCs illegal, or requiring grocery stores to sell reusable bags, etc.

There's a slight scale mismatch here.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:32 PM
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229: Joke, humorless helmet.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:33 PM
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"....helmet laws are the creation of people who think motorcycling is dumb and are trying to tell them how to live their lives for no good reason."

If bikers were nicer, people wouldn't hate them so much. I've always hated Sonny Barger. And then, the annoying libertarian arguments.

Bikers should be required to wear helmets whenever they're within 20 feet of their bikes, just to make sure.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:34 PM
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Yeah, well, I think that people screaming about the nanny state are stupid.

Yes, my point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:34 PM
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Which is a mixed bag. The simple truth is that some bikes are terribly overbuilt for the roads they are on. Particularly with full face helmets, people often don't have a feel for how fast they are going. I knew a guy who was convinced disallowing full face helmets would get rid of most of the high speed problems. I dunno.

This is the "a sharp spike on the steering wheel would make people drive more safely" argument. I think it's B.S.

Judgement is based on ~115k miles riding including dirt, city, highway, and racetrack, and reading the results of what limited tests there have been. Without earplugs, you can't hear shit at high speed, and it gets noticeably harder to concentrate. Without a helmet I don't even want to think about it.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:34 PM
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It's a good argument *in the absence of any demonstrable benefit*

No, "any demonstrable benefit," is not the bar that has to be cleared. No one believes that's the proper standard.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:34 PM
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if *he* doesn't care that much, as revealed by his preference not to wear a helmet

I think that this is a fallacy. It's well-established that people pay more attention to short-term pleasures than to long-term risks, that we under- and over-estimate different kinds of risk, etc. In short, that when it comes to things like wearing helmets, an individual's decisions are neither reasonable nor (often) in line with his stated preferences, because individuals are not good at balancing that kind of risk/reward situation. That's the *entire point*.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:35 PM
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Yeah, well, I think that people screaming about the nanny state are stupid. There's a difference between shit like helmet laws and warrantless wiretapping, and I don't have a problem with the state passing laws for our own good, within reason.

Nobody talks about warrantless wiretapping as part of the nanny state.

224: It's a good argument *in the absence of any demonstrable benefit*. If there's a demonstrable benefit (fewer head injuries, fewer deaths), then it's not a good argument, and you need something more.

What if it's a really, really, really, really, really tiny demonstrable benefit?

And how do you know it's a demonstrable benefit anyway? From a public health perspective, it's irrelevant when people's own bad choices lead to their injury or death without affecting others. And we know that it actually affects others in a good way by generating healthy organs for transplant, if you're thinking on a public-health level.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:35 PM
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233: banned!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:35 PM
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As soon as someone uses the nanny state argument, I disagree with them. I could probably be manipulated into supporting genocide that way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:36 PM
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What if bikers were allowed to go without helmets, but only if they were riding their bikes on some sort of treadmill that sat on the back of a big flatbed truck? Problem solved, no?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:36 PM
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238: so (a) you know better, and (b) they're incapable of knowing what's best for them without the intervention of the state. Check.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:37 PM
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In short, that when it comes to things like wearing helmets, an individual's decisions are neither reasonable nor (often) in line with his stated preferences, because individuals are not good at balancing that kind of risk/reward situation. That's the *entire point*.

True in general, but I think in our society, people know the benefit of wearing motorcycle helmets.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:38 PM
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241: I will try that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:38 PM
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237: Do you want to actually elaborate on what you're saying, Ogged, or do you want to just swan in and declare "no" as if that's the end of the matter?

From a public health perspective, it's irrelevant when people's own bad choices lead to their injury or death without affecting others.

What? Bullshit.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:39 PM
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but only if they were riding their bikes on some sort of treadmill that sat on the back of a big flatbed truck?

How often do I have to show you guys that it's exactly the same?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:40 PM
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The reason for requiring helmets is that you are too goddamn stupid to calculuate your own self-interest, a proposition that is better established than evolution or global warming.

We should consider a more active solution of passing a law that allows car drivers to mercilessly hunt down motorcyclists that don't wear helmets.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:40 PM
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236: It's not the same argument, it's an argument about the false sense of security you can get from tight full faces and armored leather. Some road legal (or nearly so) bikes will do 300 kph, or near as dammit. And you can get up there awfully quickly (seconds from highway speed). The argument, and again I'm not claiming it (I'm not claiming any of them one way or another, because I haven't ridden in ages)

I've done a lot of riding at reasonable highway speeds with open face and closed face helmets. Closed face are noisier, but ok even on 8+ hour rides. At 150mph, open faced would be near unbearable. Make of that what you will.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:40 PM
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I'm just noting one of the basic principles of American government.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:40 PM
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243: You can say that as often as you like, but it doesn't make it true. The fact is that we *all* tend not to *act* on what we know to be best.

245: Uh huh, and that's also why no one smokes.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:41 PM
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From a public health perspective, it's irrelevant when people's own bad choices lead to their injury or death without affecting others.

Not really true. Your shoehorning libertarian considerations into public health.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:41 PM
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In some fashion, this is the "smoking in bars" ban discussion in a variety of states. I never thought such laws were appropriate, but they were passed, and I've come to really like bars without smoke. Most people seem to feel the same way, so I doubt we're going back.

Can you still smoke in bars in NC? That's when we'll know we've passed the point of no return.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:42 PM
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250: Fair enough. Also, Walt gets it exactly right (and so does John), and I've got to learn to drop arguments once in a while.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:43 PM
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I'm just noting one of the basic principles of American government.

I think that ship sailed a long, long time ago.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:44 PM
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251.1: so the state needs to ban everything people do that's bad for them, because we as a species are incapable of knowing better? I mean really how is that not the logical conclusion of what you're saying? And don't give me this "oh well only the very most dangerous behaviors" because if that were the case fat would, in fact, be first on the table, and daily calisthenics would be mandated.

The fact is, being told how to live your life is sucky -- not just for fringey libertarians, for just about everybody -- and once you're arguing that people are incapable of knowing what's best for them, well, shit, what the hell are we doing with this democracy business?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:46 PM
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I think that ship sailed a long, long time ago.

Slave trader.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:46 PM
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Uncle Buckle the Safety Buffalo here to remind the Unfoggedtariat to:

1) Never touch dead things.
2) Don't lie on the ground.
3) Look both ways before going outside.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:46 PM
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How often do I have to show you guys that it's exactly the same?

You saw that MythBusters covered the airplane-on-a-treadmill, right?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:46 PM
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Pwned. Dang.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:47 PM
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Slave trader.

We prefer "human capital manager."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:48 PM
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Don't tread on me, Emerson.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:49 PM
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The claim that helmets for car drivers would be a better public safety improvement than for motorcycles sounds ex recto to me, but if it were true, I don't think it would be that bad if the government mandated it. If it really is a big safety improvement, I would be tempted to wear a helmet while driving. The only reason I wouldn't do it is that everyone around me would think I was insane -- which is in itself an argument for government intervention.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:51 PM
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The fact is, being told how to live your life is sucky

Somewhere in all this the connection the UHC was lost. Helmetless motorcyclists are probably down in the noise there compared to, say, cardio patients who don't do their follow up. Anyway, it's not like there aren't lots of countries with examples of how UHC systems handle these sorts of loads. Doens't make much sense to attack it from any direction that actual measured effects.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:52 PM
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262: Moi? Which particular comment?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:52 PM
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Amending 256 to say that yes, obviously, we do tell all sorts of people how they must live their lives all the time, and sometimes that's inevitable. It's still no fun, though, and in the absence of a compelling social good (per the Stop sign example, above) avoiding it will make us happier.

Which is suppose is "libertarian nonsense" if that's how you want to frame it, but down on your knees and bark, slave!

No really, though, you don't have to be opposed to social legislation generallly to realize that it also carries costs just in and of itself, and those costs shouldn't be minimized.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:52 PM
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which is in itself an argument for government intervention.

I've read somewhere this was a big issue in hockey -- the players really wanted helmets for safety, but couldn't psychologically handle being the wimp on the ice, so no one wore them until they were mandated.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:53 PM
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couldn't psychologically handle being the wimp on the ice

Misandrist.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:55 PM
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I may be misremembering, though -- could be there was, or players thought there might be, real playing tradeoffs, and so didn't feel they could go for helmets first.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:55 PM
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267: Practically nobody in the NFL wears a cup, which seems insane to me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:56 PM
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If helmet law opponents would stop annoying me with arguments I'm tired of, I'd probably agree with them. Or even if they caught me at a time when my blood chemistry was in a different place in the tox/detox cycle. But the ball's in their court. I concede nothing unless approached in an appropriately humble manner.

I just love these small, contentious issues.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:57 PM
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270: Steroids shrink your testes, so it's less crazy than it seems. I seem to remember Dickerson getting grief for the special pads he wore. (But not, interestingly, for those stupid glasses.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 4:58 PM
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...safety improvement than for motorcycles sounds ex recto to me

fwiw, i remember a govt. study in australia or NZ a few years ago concluded that helmets were cheaper and safer (i.e. more gain) than air bags. No idea how good the study was.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:00 PM
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Tweety, you really are just leaping to wild conclusions based on one small issue. And you're ignoring what I've said in almost every single comment about "reasonable restrictions" and "minor inconveniences" and "measureable benefits" etc.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:00 PM
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269: The peripheral vision issue is more true with those helmets than motorcycle helmets.

Also they get smeared, humid, and make the players generally less comfortable.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:00 PM
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Somewhere in all this the connection the UHC was lost.

UHC countries, aka Western Europe, allow and encourage lane splitting, require helmets, and have tiered licensing programs.

I'd be really interested to see the result of polls in no-helmet-law states saying "we are considering instituting a helmet law and allowing lane splitting as part of one bill. are you in favor or opposed."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:00 PM
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273: I think airbags really are pretty fucking stupid.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:01 PM
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274: I know you are but what am I, etc.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:02 PM
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I think airbags really are pretty fucking stupid.

Thank Ralph Nader and Joan Claypool. "People will never obey seatbelt laws, so we need to treat them as if they don't know what's best and install systems that will work if they don't wear a seatbelt."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:03 PM
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277: funny, I don't have a traumatic brain injury because of an airbag. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:03 PM
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further to 273, I'm pretty sure it was the UK that had a study suggesting that the overall health effect of a bicycle helmet law was negative, not because they didn't improve bicycle safety (they did) but because they cut bike riding in half or something ridiculous in a population that wasn't getting enough exercise.

I have no idea how they balanced the costs out though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:04 PM
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276: Canada in the mix: helmet law, no lane splitting, and at least used to be non-tiered in many parts


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:05 PM
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B, I think the big difference here is whether you think this issue is best addressed by criminalization. It doesn't strike me as enough of a problem to warrant it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:08 PM
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Not wearing a helmet is a criminal offense? You don't just get a ticket? That does seem like overkill. Making it a civil violation I'm behind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:09 PM
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Also, I'd be absolutely shocked if motorcycle helmet wearing or not shows up anywhere near any empirically justified list of say, a top 100 tractable health issues.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:11 PM
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Ditto 284.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:11 PM
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I'm not really sure how I feel about a motorcycle helmet requirement, but the following arguments against it are terrible:

1) If you ban motorcycle helmets, then you are compelled by the force of logic to wrap everybody in cotton balls so that no one gets hurt. The fact that a line has to be drawn, somewhat arbitrarily, doesn't make it impossible to draw a line. The law draws somewhat arbitrary lines all the time, without collapsing into absurdity.

2) Any government interference is necessarily intolerable. I fucking hate paying my taxes, a lot more than I hate wearing a seat belt, yet no one in this thread is advocating that I don't have to pay my taxes either.

3) The size of an imposition is unknowable. If this is true, then for all we know Bill Gates paying one dollar in taxes is equal to the pain of dying from leukemia. We really can make some sort of comparison of how much an imposition affects people -- maybe not from the comfort of our armchairs, but we can do it.

4) People have lots and lots of specific unchangeable desires. People who don't wear helmets aren't used to it, so it seems like a large imposition. But once the habit developed, it would seem like a smaller imposition than it did ex ante. Also, people regard impositions in a social context. I have no expectation of a right to take a crap in the fountain in the mall, so I don't regard the restriction as much of an infringement on my freedom. If we had a social context where always wearing a helmet was expected, the imposition would feel very small.

The following arguments are good, but not totally decisive:

1) The philosophical: governments by their very nature do not have the right to impose in this particular way. I could possibly accept that, but I'm not sure what principle by which we determine the rights of governments.

2) The utilitarian: governments will by their very nature fuck this kind of thing up in practice. This is more convincing to me (and the strongest argument for actual libertarianism), but I don't know a compelling case that mandating safety equipment inevitably leads to the Heath Gestapo forcing me to eat my Brussels sprouts three times a day.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:12 PM
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I just wrote a full screen comment on a thread that's everyone already sick of. That's got to be some sort of self-pwn.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:15 PM
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Nicely said. I sign wholeheartely onto your analysis of what makes the bad arguments bad, while I remain slightly more skeptical than you about the goodness of your good arguments.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:15 PM
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I have no expectation of a right to take a crap in the fountain in the mall, so I don't regard the restriction as much of an infringement on my freedom.

Actually, that one has always really bothered me. But no one will sign my petition to legalize it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:16 PM
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287: your notion of "argument" is skewed toward the entirely theoretical. When actually making laws, what should happen is more of a cost-benefit analysis, hopefully based on real-world evidence.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:18 PM
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291 sounds disrespectful, but it's not.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:22 PM
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291: I think the point of a lot of what 287 said about bad arguments is that they are entirely theoretical, and lacking in real-world cost-benefit analysis.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:22 PM
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When actually making laws, what should happen is more of a cost-benefit analysis, hopefully based on real-world evidence.

Which is half the problem with a marginal issue like motorcycle helmet use. Often the evidence hasn't necessarily been collected, but the motivation to do that is low because, well, it's a marginal issue.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:23 PM
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280: Benefits, Tweety, try to keep the focus on the benefits.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:23 PM
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come to think if it though, the less marginal an issue is, the more likely embedded interests will spend a lot of money to trump the real-world evidence (e.g. public dietary guidelines)

So I guess what you really want is a marginal-enough issue where by some luck there are good studies.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:27 PM
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291 - I don't think anyone is arguing that a cost-benefit analysis by itself would be sufficient to show that helmet laws are a bad idea. If a study showed that riding a motorcycle while not wearing a helmet was like having sex with Tony Leung, and the actual risk of injury was .000000000001, then we shouldn't pass a helmet law. We all agree, I imagine, that there is no abstract principle that demands helmet laws in the absence of evidence of benefit.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:33 PM
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Often the evidence hasn't necessarily been collected, but the motivation to do that is low because, well, it's a marginal issue.

And because, you know, the people most affected are dorky guys on drugs who wouldn't recognize a valid argument if it crawled in bed with them and gave them a blowjob.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:37 PM
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284: Yeah, sorry. Sloppy with the language.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:39 PM
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Jeez, I was wondering how a thread with ~75 comments and dying grew to 300.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 8:05 PM
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Way late to this, but I'd note that there's one difference between motorcycles and bicycles, skis, and whatever mundane other activity we're planning on requiring helmets for in our race to the bottom. You need a license to operate a motorcycle, and that means it's already an area where some state control is accepted, for the rider's own safety and the safety of others. Many states require a class.

It's already more like a car than it is a bicycle. It's already accepted that it's something the state has some kind of interest in. This isn't an argument for helmet laws, but it does at least prevent the "first they came for the motorcyclists, then they came for my evening stroll" arguments.

Criminalization is stupid.

Also, I really want a motorcycle.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 8:31 PM
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I used to be in favor of helmet laws until I lived in Paris and experienced the insane motorcyclists whizzing in and out of traffic on the Périphérique. Now I favor a law that obliges motorcyclists to wear an ounce of nitroglycerine strapped to their foreheads.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-29-08 5:47 AM
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How does a helmet make you less safe?

a couple of studies have been published demonstrating that the distance between a bicycle and a passing car is inversely proportional to the amont of safety gear worn as well as the gender of the bicyclist. Anecdotally, when pulling the little tyrants in a bike trailer, cars always give me a wide berth.


Posted by: frothferous | Link to this comment | 02-29-08 6:56 PM
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