The Love of Dangerous Things

 

There’s talk – silly, absurd talk – of banning the private ownership of cars. Molon labe, baby! You can have my Yukon, my three-ton id, when you pry it from my cold dead hands. And you can forget the self-driving nonsense, too: up here where I live, you can’t see the lines on the road four months out of the year on account of the blowing snow. Good luck dealing with that, Google.

Ayn Rand, in one of her two major works of fiction (I’m going to go with Atlas Shrugged, but someone correct me if I’m wrong – it’s been almost 40 years since I read it) has her heroine wax rhapsodic (as if there’s any other way to wax) about the act of smoking. Dagney (or possibly Dominique) marvels at the flame held in obeisance inches from her, the spark of destruction so casually lashed into service for the pleasure of mankind. Never having been a smoker, and coming of age as I did during the first great anti-smoking crusades of the ’70s, I admit that the imagery was less compelling for me than it might have been for someone of my parents’ generation. But Dagney’s ruminations have remained with me, an oddly vivid example of our peculiar attraction to dangerous things – and to mastering them.

I like guns. I didn’t always: when I was a child, I was indifferent to them. Then I became a man, a lover of liberty, and an enthusiastic critic of the insipid and emasculating idea that safety comes first. Lots of things are ultimately more important than safety. Being able to credibly say “thus far, and no farther” is one of them; merely reaffirming that we have the right, the moral right and the legal right, to say that is another.

Safety is important, don’t get me wrong. But of all the parameters that define the human experience, safety isn’t the one we should seek to maximize. John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the most comprehensively evil song ever written, is an ode to safety above all else, the pathetic celebration of the apathy-induced coma. I’m glad Lennon never became a US citizen.

Living as an adult male – as opposed to an androgynous, pajama-clad, cocoa-sipping man-child – means spending years, decades even, standing precariously close to the edge of doing something stupid. (The life of a young man is a race between the rising arc of sensibility and the statistical certainty that, if we’re only given enough time, we’ll have our “hold my beer” moment and, if we’re lucky, the ER visit that goes with it.) That sometimes leads to tragedy, but most often to maturity, and there’s no path from baby to man that doesn’t, at least occasionally, tread close to a dangerous edge.

The best things in life are dangerous: freedom, love, faith, women, sex. Children – those raw nerves we thrust out into the world. Cars. Guns. Saying what you think.

Time to go. My son, the one who works at the gun shop, just arrived with a tee-shirt for me.

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There are 52 comments.

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  1. Member

    “Ye that Mitchell’s prayer have heard,

    ‘Send war in our time, O Lord!’

    Know that, when all words are said

    And a man is fighting mad,

    Something drops from eyes long blind,

    He completes his partial mind.

    For an instant stands at ease,

    Laughs aloud, his heart at peace.

    Even the wisest man grows tense

    With some sort of violence

    Before he can accomplish fate,

    Know his work, or choose his mate.”

    — W.B. Yeats

    • #1
    • March 10, 2018 at 3:48 pm
    • 6 likes
  2. Member

    Henry Racette: Living as an adult male – as opposed to an androgynous, pajama-clad, cocoa-sipping man-child – means spending years, decades even, standing precariously close to the edge of doing something stupid.

    Amen. Better that, than the weak, sniveling half-life of safe spaces provided by the maternal Fascism of the Progressive world view.

    • #2
    • March 10, 2018 at 3:59 pm
    • 6 likes
  3. Thatcher

    Great post. I’d hate to see we cannot do “Dangerous Things” any more.

    Ride a bicycle without a helmet. Ditto for a motorcycle (I always wore a helmet, BTW). Drive a car without a seat belt. Smoke a cigar. Eat a piece of dessert drenched in sugar. Shoot my gun without hearing or eye protection.

    Heaven forbid a child gets a scraped knee. “Call Social Services . . . negligent parent!”

    No sir, not for me.

    • #3
    • March 10, 2018 at 4:16 pm
    • 6 likes
  4. Member

    Yes indeed. Motorcycles especially!

    • #4
    • March 10, 2018 at 4:32 pm
    • Like
  5. Coolidge

    ‘Murica! Where Men are Men and sheep aren’t nervous.

    And men are basically chivalrous. Capitalism is noble, captains of industry are admired, innovation is encouraged, and both Men and Women are valued and uniquely different.

    • #5
    • March 10, 2018 at 4:52 pm
    • 6 likes
  6. Coolidge

    Ayn Rand shared that sentiment about cigarettes in at least one of her essays as well. I liked the sentiment, but like you I thought it was a bit over done by using cigarettes.

    Excellent post. Thanks.

    • #6
    • March 10, 2018 at 5:22 pm
    • 2 likes
  7. Member

    https://www.steynonline.com/8512/hammer-and-tongues

    • #7
    • March 10, 2018 at 5:37 pm
    • 1 like
  8. Thatcher

    Amanda Knox

    • #8
    • March 10, 2018 at 5:42 pm
    • 8 likes
  9. Reagan
    iWe

    I am all for it – as long as the freedom comes with its own responsibility. If you don’t want to wear a helmet and are willing to sign off on the State not paying to scrape you off the road, then I am good with it.

    • #9
    • March 10, 2018 at 5:49 pm
    • 11 likes
  10. Member

    Speaking of guns, Kim Du Toit is back blogging, reposting some of his stellar essays (updated to reflect current data and events,) and leading off with this one from 2002. I remember that one the first time around; I’m getting old.

    Link.

    Teaser:

    I’ve been asked by more than a few people to explain why I’m such a gun nut. There are actually three reasons: the enjoyment I derive from shooting; the role of guns in self-defense; and the issue of guns and civic responsibility. Let me take these in order.

    Personal pleasure.

    It makes one something of an anomaly to admit a love of guns and of shooting, especially in these times of girly-men, of men afraid to admit they’re men, or of men who have become too “civilized” to contemplate violence. No one has ever explained it better than Jeff Cooper, in his fine book The Art of the Rifle: “There is an enchantment cast upon almost any man when he holds a rifle in his hands.” Cooper also points out that when a man holds a rifle, he becomes almost godlike: suddenly, he has the ability to deal death and injury to another over a considerable distance—to send, as it were, a thunderbolt of Zeus. For some men, unquestionably, this power is going to be abused, just as some men will always drive a fast car at reckless speeds. For the vast majority of men, however, this power produces precisely the opposite effect: they are humbled by the power they hold, and they become more responsible in its use. That is why, in a nation of well over seventy million gun owners, only a tiny fraction, less than half a tenth of one percent, use a gun to commit a crime each year.

    And the quotes!

    And lastly, opinions from a couple of bad guys:

    “Gun control? It’s the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters. I want you to have nothing. If I’m a bad guy, I’m always gonna have a gun. Safety locks? You’ll pull the trigger with a lock on, and I’ll pull the trigger. We’ll see who wins.” — Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, Mafia hit man

    “A system of licensing and registration is the perfect device to deny gun ownership to the bourgeoisie.” — Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

    “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.” — Adolf Hitler (H.R. Trevor-Roper, Hitler’s Table Talks 1941-1944)

    • #10
    • March 10, 2018 at 7:58 pm
    • 5 likes
  11. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    Speaking of guns, Kim Du Toit is back blogging

    Wonderful! I remember when he shut down his blog, seems like forever ago. Glad to hear he’s back at it. I’ll add him to the list.

    • #11
    • March 10, 2018 at 8:00 pm
    • 1 like
  12. Member

    • #12
    • March 10, 2018 at 8:03 pm
    • 3 likes
  13. Coolidge

    I’ve often wondered if the Progressive need to ban risk is because the fear that others may succeed in areas where they have been to afraid to try…..

    Or they fear that other’s success may outshine their own pedestrian accomplishments.

    Regardless, I’ve found that in most professional environments (and many social ones), I simply can’t divulge may hobbies because of the backlash from the many Progressive nannies that inhabit our modern world. As I mentioned once before, I had a coworker go ballistic because I mentioned that I changed the brakes on my car over the weekend. And I once had to change doctors because my new doctor wouldn’t sign off on one of my club’s annual physical forms – they considered my car hobby “unnecessarily risky” and “environmentally irresponsible”.

    • #13
    • March 10, 2018 at 8:24 pm
    • 4 likes
  14. Member

    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
    –Helen Keller

    Males will always push the boundary between security and risk. Great example is a statistic in Gonzales’ Deep Survival: When anti-lock brakes became standard, safety experts expected auto fatalities to drop precipitously, and they did. For a little while. Then the general population figured out the limits of anti-lock brakes, incorporated those limits into their personal driving risk management, and then numbers went right back where they’d been.

    • #14
    • March 10, 2018 at 8:29 pm
    • 8 likes
  15. Thatcher

    TedRudolph (View Comment):
    I’ve often wondered if the Progressive need to ban risk is because the fear that others may succeed in areas where they have been to afraid to try…..

    Or they fear that other’s success may outshine their own pedestrian accomplishments.

    Or the number of one, maybe two, child families. Losing a child is devastating no matter how big the family, but still…

    • #15
    • March 10, 2018 at 8:37 pm
    • 1 like
  16. Member

    • #16
    • March 10, 2018 at 9:16 pm
    • 1 like
  17. Coolidge

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    TedRudolph (View Comment):
    I’ve often wondered if the Progressive need to ban risk is because the fear that others may succeed in areas where they have been to afraid to try…..

    Or they fear that other’s success may outshine their own pedestrian accomplishments.

    Or the number of one, maybe two, child families. Losing a child is devastating no matter how big the family, but still…

    That would explain why they wouldn’t want to take any risks themselves (which is certainly a very valid choice for them).

    It doesn’t justify why they are so adamant about restricting my choices.

    • #17
    • March 10, 2018 at 9:49 pm
    • 3 likes
  18. Coolidge

    Safety is my life. It is my career, and my father’s career. I hold an advanced degree in safety and have worked in the field since finishing college, which was sadly a long time ago. But what does a safety professional actually do? Safety is about compromise – finding the method to achieve an acceptable level of risk for a given task. Safety is always associated with another goal.

    If you only maximize safety, you end up living in a padded cell or a nursery. Everything is fluffy and safe and happy, but there is no freedom, no capability to do anything. There is nothing gained from solely maximizing safety. It’s all about “How do I do X safely!”

    What mandating safety does give you is control. Safety is a value judgement – what degree of risk is acceptable – and the ability to control what is acceptable is always an immense power.

    • #18
    • March 11, 2018 at 12:10 am
    • 7 likes
  19. Thatcher

    Freedom means the right to do something wrong.

    • #19
    • March 11, 2018 at 1:32 am
    • 4 likes
  20. Coolidge

    nobody likes danger, we just do/ did it to show off for the chicks.

    • #20
    • March 11, 2018 at 1:58 am
    • 3 likes
  21. Member

    At the tire plant in OKC whenever a minor incident occurred, almost always due to operator error, a new guard rail was devised. All of them meant the machinery was more difficult to operate. It had been originally installed with all the guards that made sense. I told several managers that if they improved the tire (assembly) machines much more I wouldn’t be able to build tires at all. Years later the plant was closed down, not primarily due to such things but I wonder, how much did it contribute to that loss of good paying jobs?
    Once a crew of three, clipboard equipped, came by seeking opinions from the ‘floor’ about a plan to install a ‘kill bar’ in front of the drum which operators used to build up the insides of a tire. My building partner at the time thought it might be a good idea as an unfortunate young lady had gotten her long hair caught in the underside mechanism recently resulting in a serious abrasion injury to her face. I spoke up to ask if any of them had taken HS Physics. They allowed they had done so. So I explained that my arm was a lever, my shoulder was the fulcrum and by increasing the distance to the load I was bearing they would be greatly increasing the effective load. And they should expect a large increase in back and leg problems as a result. So that was the last we heard of that particular ‘solution’ but why did I have to explain to three college graduates the nonsense involved?

    • #21
    • March 11, 2018 at 4:25 am
    • 4 likes
  22. Coolidge

    Henry Racette: Ayn Rand, in one of her two major works of fiction (I’m going to go with Atlas Shrugged, but someone correct me if I’m wrong – it’s been almost 40 years since I read it) has her heroine wax rhapsodic (as if there’s any other way to wax) about the act of smoking. Dagney (or possibly Dominique) marvels at the flame held in obeisance inches from her, the spark of destruction so casually lashed into service for the pleasure of mankind. Never having been a smoker, and coming of age as I did during the first great anti-smoking crusades of the ’70s, I admit that the imagery was less compelling for me than it might have been for someone of my parents’ generation. But Dagney’s ruminations have remained with me, an oddly vivid example of our peculiar attraction to dangerous things – and to mastering them.

    It was not Dagney – it was a guy at the news stand where she stopped to buy cigarettes. She was the receiver of the waxing from the owner of the news stand.

    “I like cigarettes, Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips… When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind – and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression.”

    Pages 63-64, being irrelevant to the story, Rand managed to keep this scene down to 2 pages.

    • #22
    • March 11, 2018 at 5:50 am
    • 7 likes
  23. Coolidge

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    being irrelevant to the story, Rand managed to keep this scene down to 2 pages.

    LOL

    • #23
    • March 11, 2018 at 6:24 am
    • 3 likes
  24. Coolidge

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    So that was the last we heard of that particular ‘solution’ but why did I have to explain to three college graduates the nonsense involved?

    When I was a manufacturing engineer at Dell, the safety Nazis came by and told me I needed all the assemblers to wear safety glasses. My response was to ask “what on earth for?”

    ”Well,” they said, “they have torque drivers and what if a screw they’re screwing in gets loose? It could fly up and hit them in the eye.”

    Now, we had torque drivers set to the sissy level of (I forget exactly how much) less than a foot pound for laptops, and slightly more for desktops. I asked them to cite me one incident in the history of the entire world when a screw spinning at such slow speeds magically took flight and still had enough velocity to rise to penetrate or even bruise skin or an eye.

    They could cite no such incident. They were unable to describe the physics of how it might occur, but they were the new safety Nazis and they must change things and report to their boss what they had changed. Else what were they there for? So, everyone had to wear safety glasses. I suggested to them that all employees should be wrapped in bubble wrap in case they tripped, as that was a lot more likely to happen than a screw to take flight. They didn’t appreciate my suggestion.

    Yet the box recycling system that I objected to being installed by a contract company removed the arm of a contract worker in Nashville and then a few months later another arm of another contract worker in Austin. Before I left Dell, those machines were still there. But no worries, those armless workers were wearing safety glasses.

    • #24
    • March 11, 2018 at 6:27 am
    • 9 likes
  25. Coolidge

    ST (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    being irrelevant to the story, Rand managed to keep this scene down to 2 pages.

    LOL

    Of course, the story is the most irrelevent part of her books.

    • #25
    • March 11, 2018 at 6:30 am
    • 2 likes
  26. Member

    To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law—a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security

    –Walter Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz

    • #26
    • March 11, 2018 at 6:36 am
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  27. Member

    Do you mean like doing things like this:

    • #27
    • March 11, 2018 at 6:56 am
    • 2 likes
  28. Coolidge

    TedRudolph (View Comment):
    I had a coworker go ballistic because I mentioned that I changed the brakes on my car over the weekend. And I once had to change doctors because my new doctor wouldn’t sign off on one of my club’s annual physical forms – they considered my car hobby “unnecessarily risky” and “environmentally irresponsible”.

    I have to say, that’s astonishing. I always sort of feel bad for guys that can’t do something as simple as changing brake pads.

    What was your coworker’s beef? That it was dangerous?

    • #28
    • March 11, 2018 at 7:09 am
    • 1 like
  29. Coolidge

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    Do you mean like doing things like this:

    That the TT races even still exist is amazing. Overall the UK seems to have embraced the nanny state in a way even our left coast has not. I know Manxmen cherish their independence, but it’s still awesome.

    • #29
    • March 11, 2018 at 7:11 am
    • 1 like
  30. Member

    Stad (View Comment):
    Great post. I’d hate to see we cannot do “Dangerous Things” any more.

    Ride a bicycle without a helmet. Ditto for a motorcycle (I always wore a helmet, BTW). Drive a car without a seat belt. Smoke a cigar. Eat a piece of dessert drenched in sugar. Shoot my gun without hearing or eye protection.

    Heaven forbid a child gets a scraped knee. “Call Social Services . . . negligent parent!”

    No sir, not for me.

    Seriously. The safety nazis are sucking the fun out of being an American.

    Kids, now, will not ever get to experience the fun of flying down the highway in the bed of a pickup. Imagine all the calls to the law if that were to happen today.

    • #30
    • March 11, 2018 at 7:13 am
    • 1 like
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