Kevin Underhill, the very funny lawyer behind Lowering the Bar, a very funny law-blog, has published a book of weird laws through the ages, called The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws That Human Beings Have Actually Dreamed Up, Enacted, and Sometimes Even Enforced. It's a genuinely funny and extremely weird tour through the world's dumbest rules, starting with the Babylonians (who had a trial-by-ordeal through which you could prove you weren't guilty by jumping into the river and not drowning) up through the Hittites (who had a whole set of rules about whether it was OK to steal your neighbor's door); the ancient Greeks and Romans (who were allowed to go into their friends' houses to search for their stolen property, provided they did so in nothing but a loincloth, to ensure they didn't plant any goods while searching) and modern times, including the notorious "Pi=3.2" state law.
Humanity's inventiveness in making dumb rules is really boundless. Underhill's snarky commentary brings to life such rules as:
* Ala. § 34-6-7, which forbids secret passages leading from billiard rooms
* Ark. HR Con Res 1016, which sets out the official possessive form of Arkansas (it's "Arkansas's")
* Ga. Code Ann § 43-43A-I, which establishes that a pay toilet is not a coin-operated amusement
* Or. HR Con Res 12, which sets out Oregon's official state microbe (brewer's yeast!)
* Tex. penal code § 43.23(g) which exempts Texas lawmakers from the state's five-device-limit on sex-toys
* Australia's Goods and Services Tax Act § 165-55, which gives tax commissioners the power to "treat a particular event that actually happened as not having happened;" and "Treat a particular event that did not actually happen as having happened" (and a lot more contrafactual goodness)
* Lei No 3.770 of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, which requires cellular phone companies to extend a 50% discount on airtime to stutterers
* German Civil Code §§960-61, 962, 963 and 964, which set out the rules requiring beekeepers to chase after their errant swarms, rules for adjudicating the mingling of swarms chased by more than one beekeeper; and rules for removing your swarming bees from other beekeepers' hives
I laughed a lot reading The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and I'm considering laminating my copy for long life by the toilet, as it is some of the best short-form humorous reading I've yet encountered.
The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws That Human Beings Have Actually Dreamed Up, Enacted, and Sometimes Even Enforced
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