Did I get your attention? Does this seem like a diversion from the usual construction law focus of this blog? Do you occasionally find the legal system in which I ply my trade and the statutes that are occasionally passed in various places to be silly? Do you want to know the proper way to mail a live scorpion? Are you old enough to legally play pinball? I’m sure the answer to at least one of these (if not more) is “Yes.” At the very least, you may want to know where to find the answers.
I thought I’d devote the first post of 2014 (aside from my annual Happy New Year wishes) to a look at a great read for lawyers and non-lawyers alike. As those of you who follow my Twitter feed (@constructionlaw) likely know, I am a loyal reader of the Lowering the Bar blog for its humorous insights into the often crazy world of the courtroom and the law in general. Well, Kevin Underhill (@loweringthebar), the guy behind Lowering the Bar has written a book.
“A book by a lawyer, how boring,” you may be thinking. And often, I would be thinking so too. The difference with this book, aside from the title, The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance (and yes, such an ordinance exists in Sakamania County, WA), is that this book is truly funny. Kevin looks at crazy statutes, resolutions and ordinances beginning with Hammurabi and that are found both in the US and elsewhere that were or are still on the books and puts them together in one place.
Among my favorites in the book (of which there are many though, sadly, none about construction) are:
- The actual postal regulation for the mailing of a live scorpion (found in an exception to the ban on mailing live animals);
- The fact that the first written code mentions beer;
- It is illegal in Connecticut to hunt squirrels with dynamite;
- The longest definition of “buttocks” (found in St. John’s County, FL code of ordinances);
- The proper method to apply for reincarnation; and, of course,
- A resolution of the New Mexico Senate (introduced, not passed) requiring certain expert witnesses to dress as wizards.
As if this partial list doesn’t get you a chuckle, Kevin adds his commentary and thoughts to great comic effect. In short, take his blog and distill it down to its essence: a relatively self conscious look at the law in all of its silliness. Kevin’s thoughts (from the introduction and “disclaimer” to the end notes) only highlight the innate humor found in the fact that people got together, passed these laws and wrote them down.
The combination of clearly in depth research (how else would he have been able to cite these things?), witty commentary and organization makes The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance a great read that caused me to laugh out loud on several occasions. In short, if you are a lawyer or just want to laugh (either at or with lawyers) check out the link above to see where and how to get the book, you’ll be glad that you did.
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