Monday, February 06, 2006

Cub Scouts Unbuckle, Open Fire
I love Wisconsin, as you know. Our football, our college hockey (and the two are meeting this coming Saturday when the Badger men's hockey team plays Ohio State on an outdoor rink at Lambeau Field in Green Bay), our forests, our lakes, our accents.

Our legislators. Generally, it's our Republicans who are a never-ending source of entertainment. To be fair, however, the latest and most entertaining events to come out of the Capitol involve professional comics from both sides of the aisle.

In addition to the other stuff we love, we also love our hunting up here. Interest in hunting is declining in the state--after all, there are a lot more grocery stores now than there used to be--so State Representative Scott Gunderson proposed a bill in the Assembly to lower the minimum hunting age from 12, which it's been for time immemorial, to eight. Late last year, the Assembly passed it by something like 73-26.

Thirty-eight other states have minimum hunting ages lower than 12, and "everybody else is doing it" is usually justification enough for a lot of our legislators to act on various proposals. (In that regard, they're as immune to "if everyone jumped off of a bridge, would you do it too?" as the average eight-year-old.) But objections to the bill are fairly obvious: There are adult hunters who can't tell the difference between a deer and a cow, or a deer and a house, or a deer and another hunter. Are we guessing that eight-year-olds will be any less likely to suffer this malady? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story linked above lists several other reasonable objections to the law, but proponents say that the requirement that young hunters take a hunter-safety class will make everything OK. But if you know anything about eight-year-olds, you know about their attention spans--and the idea that one course will turn them into responsible hunters becomes a lot less persuasive.

But eight-year-olds getting all cute in camo is not where our legislators really bring the funny. They really bring the funny with this: Six weeks after the hunting bill passed, another bill is making its way through an Assembly committee (sponsored by several members, including my representative, who's a Democrat) that would raise the age below which kids must ride in car-safety seats. The age limit is currently four. The new bill would raise it to eight. If this passes, Wisconsin law would thus mandate the following: On the day before your eighth birthday, you would need to ride all buckled in a car-safety seat as you have done since you were a baby. The next day, when you turn eight, you could get a rifle (or a bow and arrow, also covered by the law) and go hunting.

Gee, they grow up so fast, don't they? Ladies and gentlemen, your Wisconsin legislature. Don't forget to tip your waiters and waitresses, and drive safely on the way home.

Triumph of the Yinzers: OK, so I don't know a damn thing about football, and hats off to the Steelers. I do know a little bit about commercials, however, and yesterday's crop of Super Bowl spots was as un-memorable as any in history. There wasn't a single standout. Neither was the halftime show especially memorable--the Rolling Stones sped through three tunes in their usual ragged fashion (the Stones have never sounded remotely as good to me playing live as they do in the studio). They seem to have censored the more risque lyrics on "Start Me Up" and "Rough Justice," but at least one story I read this morning was unsure whether Mick dropped them himself or ABC used the five-second delay on which they'd placed the entire broadcast. But that's getting very little notice today, and it's not worth much. Thanks to Janet Jackson, we're living on Planet Bluenose, and we'd best get used to it.

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