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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Thank goodness I avoided the buckyball menace

This is not a story likely to dominate the airwaves, but hey, it is almost Christmas, and people think about things such as toys this time of year:

“Buckyballs, I soon discovered, are toys for the mind. They are a thinking person’s toy. How can you play with them and not wonder about the chemical nature of rare-earth metals (something about which I know hardly anything), and the nature of magnetic forces, and the sheer technological genius that goes into producing these little balls?”

“Obviously Buckyballs are adult toys, and Maxfield and Oberton emphatically warns users not to give them to children, eat them, inhale them, or place them near objects (such as pacemakers) that are sensitive to magnets. However, for those who use Buckyballs with common sense and due care, they are reasonably safe—just like countless other objects in or around the home from hammers to knives to sugar to prescription drugs to firearms to bicycles to automobiles.”

“What has been the government’s response to Buckyballs? Has it been to recognize the outstanding productive achievements of the company that makes them? To leave the company in peace to conduct its business? Of course not. The government has put Maxfield and Oberton out of business so far as Buckyballs are concerned. The sets I ordered are among the last that will be produced, ever.

Ari Armstrong

Now that the US has been saved from the Buckyball menace, I am sure people in that country can sleep easier in their beds.



24 comments to Thank goodness I avoided the buckyball menace

  • John

    In these days, in the US, we have developed a consensus culture of zero risk tolerance. In this way we miss out on the enjoyment of many things and allow many encroachments upon our liberties. This is most unfortunate, but a lesser misfortune and an ironic one is our ignorance of actual risks. In a kind of “straining at gnats” we casually accept great risks while selling our liberties to avoid small ones.

  • MakajazMakako

    Really thought she was talking about carbon-nanotubes, until google cleared things up! Was thinking where’s the fun in playing with them unless you have a atomic force microscope?

  • Steven

    I’ve half-jokingly said the next generation of Americans will be issued plastic bubbles at birth. It’s really sad to reember all the cool stuff I had as a kid that would never even reach the market today because of fear of litigation and the CPSC. Everything will kill us, government must protect us all, and who am I to complain because if it saves just one child it’s totally worth it.

    I really wish there was some civilized place left on Earth I could go that would let me be free. I’d move there tomorrow.

  • RRS

    You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

    Wait ’til the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau really gets going (they’re still staffing up).

    so much to do and so few to do it to.”

  • Paul Marks

    Some States like banning things – and some States are still (bascially) under control.

    But the Federal government is totally out of control (as this and so many other cases show) and it has been out of control for a long time.

    For example, this agency (the agency that has de facto buckeyballs) has been running wild since Richard Nixon created it.

    Electing a President to get rid of these things does not work – after all Ronald Reagan promised to get rid of the Department of Energy and the Department of Education (both now bigger than ever).

    If there is any “more moderate” alternative to secession, I have not been told about it.

    The Federal government of the United States of America (and the media machine which supports it) is BROKEN.

    It does not “have problems” – it IS the problem.

  • A cowardly citizen

    I think the only answer is for Texas to leave. The left should be happy: permanent majority and somewhere for dissidents to escape to instead of us arguing against global warming, Obamacare, tax increases, bans on salt shakers and foie gras, and gun control. No need for a gulag.

    And those of us opposed to maximal government need our Israel: a country that will hunt down individuals that persecute us.

    The necessary legal fiction exists: “Texas joined the USA as a nation state so it can leave as one.”

  • Russ in Texas

    I wouldn’t be opposed, but it would have to be done right. None of this unelected yayhoos out in Lubbock deciding they speak for the entire state, and then appointing themselves arbiters of my fate.

    I suspect it would go down in flames; the abuses of the federal government are many and dire,but not so horrid that me and my neighbors cannot continue to shoulder them.

    Don’t try to find me once the High Frontier opens, though. Me and mine (and a LOT of other Texans) will be GONE.

  • jerry

    A friend has an OLD book titled Popular Mechanics Book for Boys ( or something similar ) that has an astounding variety of items in it for boys to build.
    Published today, it would be banned outright !!

    Build a hang glider ?? Yourself ?? Are you mad ????? Don’t you know that those can only be built by either the Kiebler elves or those with SPECIAL Jedi powers !!!

    A carbon arc lamp in a coffee can ?? Insanity – we’re all gonna die !!

    Sad, really.
    We’re turning or have already turned into a notion of cowards and wimps where EVERYTHING must be absolutely safe. Frankly ( and yes, I’ll take heat for this but I don’t care ) I blame a LOT of it on women with their built-in mothering / protective mind set.

    I’m with Cowardly Citizen – if Texas decides to secede, I’m
    signing up !!

  • Steven

    Would it matter if Texas left? I mean, it isn’t like Austin, Dalls, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, and loads of other places are chockful of statist types and leech hordes with their hands out. For all the talk about Texans wanting to go their own way and rugged individualism there is no end to the number or people inthe Lone Star State that would demand big government to take care of them. All it would be doing is trading communists in DC for communists in Austin.

  • Paul Marks

    Certainly Texas is NOT the least “Progressive” State – for example South Dakota is far better.

    However, Texas is the least collectivist LARGE State – and size is important (no sexual hint intended).

    Also things are a NUMBERS game.

    Sure there are plenty of collectivists in Texas – but they are a minority.

    I am sorry but (regardless of opinion polls saying that most people claim to be “centre right”) the elections prove that this NOT true of the United States as a whole.

    November 2008 might have been accident – and a panic reaction to an economic crises.

    But after FOUR YEARS?

    And against Mr Moderate himself?


    The brutal truth must be faced – and faced squarely.

    Most votes in the United States are just no good – they can not be trusted to choose freedom when put to the test.

    The numbers suggest that things are not so bad in Texas.


    Without those nice Federal government subsidies a lot of those Austin leftists (in their universities) go away.

    Also Texas schools would be a lot less difficult to reform – without the regulations of the Federal Department of Education. Everything would be less difficult without the endless tens of thousands of pages of Federal regulations (remember the Texas State Legislature can only meet a few days a year – and the Texas Constitution is generally better written, more clearly restrictive, than the U.S. one).

    There is also the “little” point that the Federal government is bankrupt.

    Not legally – but in reality.

    The 16 Trillion Dollar national debt is, in fact, just the tip of the iceberg.

    Being part of the Union means being chained to a corpse.

    And a dangeriously infected corpse.

  • Paul Marks

    Jerry – yes.

    The population of much the West has been reduced to my level – no practical knowledge of how to actually MAKE THINGS.

    I know me well – I see myself in the mirror each day.

    A society where most people have my level of practical knowledge – will not work.

  • John

    I used to live in Texas, and liked it apart from the weather (2 seasons, Summer and February) If they seceded I’d take a hard look, and probably go back, and tolerate the weather. I suspect the collectivists would leave en masse for a number of reasons, a kind of self-sorting.

    Texas is the only place I’ve ever seen someone running for public office on the platform of “if elected I will abolish the office”.

  • Laird

    I’m with John. I’ve spent some time in Texas but never actually lived there (came close; long story), but if they seceded I would definitely give it a hard look.

  • RAB

    Can we Brits join you? There were a fair number of us at the Alamo you know.

  • Laird

    Well, not being a Texan I don’t think I get a vote on that. But if I did I’d say, “Y’all come on down!”

  • Jamess

    How about instead of succeeding some governor told the police to stop enforcing any unconstitutional federal law and encouraged the citizens to stop paying federal taxes. It would take a very brave governor to do so (or a very clever one to get the things to happen without actually saying publicly those things). If the governor has made an oath to uphold the constitution that’s what he should do – even if he’s upholding it against the abuse of the federal government.

  • Frankly ( and yes, I’ll take heat for this but I don’t care ) I blame a LOT of it on women with their built-in mothering / protective mind set.

    I’ll save the heat for after your current bout of PMS;-P

  • Paul Marks

    Ah yes.

    Those terrible collectivists – I. Patterson, Rose Wilder Lane, Ayn Rand…..

    And those well known women – Richard Ely, “Teddy” Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson……

    It is the fault of the women.

    I could have told that great man M. Thatcher when I met “him” years ago.

  • Paul Marks

    To be serious.

    It is not a desire to help people that is wrong – it is how one does it.

    For example Octavia Hill spent her life helping people – but was a great FOE of government intervention (and for very good reasons).

    And it was her compassion (her “mother’s instict”) that led to Mrs Webb actually having some DOUBTS about the Soviets when reports of mass murder (in Poland in 1939-40) reached her – it was her husband, S. Webb, who convinced her that sacrifices must be made for socialism…..

    We men are good at abstraction – at turning other humans into “its”, targets to be destroyed (for the greater good – of course).

    And I am certainly no exception to that rule.

    I just, I hope, have the correct targets.

  • Paul Marks



    The left would scream “neoconfederate” and “racist”.

    Even though (as Thomas Woods points out) “nulification” was developed in Northern States and used as a basis not to enforce fugitive slave laws.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course secession was also (first) a Northern thing.

    The threats in the New England States during the war of 1812.

    So hardly “racist”.

  • Laird

    That’s a very racist thing to say, Paul.

    As to a governor telling his citizens not to pay their taxes to the federal government, I’ve thought about that before, but the problem is that most personal income taxes are paid via employer withholding. And no company which is not wholly within that state is going to risk ignoring the federal tax laws at the direction of a mere governor. At best you’d get only the self-employed who have to pay their taxes directly. Too bad.

  • Jamess

    Laird: I’m not sure how withholding income taxes would work, but I’m sure that if a state started to get a reputation for never prosecuting those who withhold federal income tax people would work out a way to make it work.

    Apart from nullification (done either publicly or on the sly) juries need to know that they’re not just making a decision on whether a person is guilty according to the law, they are also making a judgement on the law itself. If every jury knew that ‘not guilty’ meant either the accused didn’t do the crime or the law is invalid we’d be in a much better state (assuming of course most people shared a common assessment on what’s right and wrong – we’d be in trouble if ‘honour’ killings weren’t considered to be anything wrong)

  • Paul Marks


    Nulification (and everything else in relation to liberty) depends on the culture – on what people actually believe (what their PRINCIPLES are).

    This is why the left, including the “libertarian left”, spend so much trying to pervent the culture – trying, for example, to make people hate “the rich”.

    If most people are no good (filled with the desire for “social justice” either in its Ialamic form or in some secular form) then liberty falls.

    And, of course, the chaos of the “Black Flag” people is, in the end, just as collectivist (mob collectivist) as the open collectivism of their allies (allies in the “Occupy” movement, in the teachers unions, and so on) the Red Flag Marxists.