News From The Woods.22


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published August 12, 1998


I hate disclaimers. They are overly-rational and for the most part, assume that we are complete idiots. I realize that there are some people out there that would take advantage of any situation that could possibly bring them income without having to actually work for it, but still, disclaimers are, as a rule, demeaning and presumptuous.

For one, I HATE those huge tags on pillows that tell me "Do not remove under penalty of law!". That's pretty stiff, isn't it? Those tags always wind up jabbing me in the eye during the night as I lay tossing and turning while pondering the meaning of "Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental." So I get up and stumble into the kitchen for a glass of milk, only to discover that the contents will be "Freshest if consumed before date on carton." NOW I'm frantically searching for the date on the carton for fear that I might be consuming out of date milk. Wouldn't I be able to tell from the smell? Do I really need to be reminded that "If condition persists, consult your physician."? And how about "Contestants have been briefed on some questions before the show." What's that all about? Why not just tell us "Contestants have been given answers to some questions before the show."? And one of my all-time favorites: "Post office will not deliver without postage." Now, let me get this straight... The post office HAS to have a stamp in order to send a letter? You mean, that's the way they stay in business? Wow! Never thought of that.

So I walk into a music store and spot a guitar amplifier which stands 22 feet tall, houses a complex array of different sized speakers, and boasts 10,000 watts of power. On the side of the cabinet is a yellow and black sticker that informs me: "CAUTION: Hearing damage may result from close proximity to this amplifier". Well, DUH!! That's the general idea, isn't it? Same applies to these high-power car stereos I hear throbbing and pulsing as the car goes by........ Shouldn't they have disclaimers that say: "Manufacturer not responsible if driver does not hear the siren in time?" Look on the back of the amp and you'll see "To prevent electric shock, do not open back panel", followed by " No user serviceable parts inside." DARN! I was wanting to leave the unit plugged in and turned on while I opened up the back and grabbed onto a few exposed wires, and I was really looking forward to discovering and tweaking all the user serviceable parts. Might sound better.....

Disclaimers are EVERYWHERE! If you don't believe me, check these out:

Send no money now. Ask your doctor or pharmacist. You may or may not have additional rights which may vary from country to country. Not recommended for children under twelve years of age. Batteries not included. Limit 1 per customer. Does not come with any other action figures. Keep away from open flame or spark. Void where prohibited. Some assembly required (I REALLY HATE this one!). All rights reserved. List each check separately by bank number. Contents may settle during shipment. Use only as directed. Parental discretion advised. No other warranty expressed or implied. Unauthorized copying strictly prohibited. Do not read while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. Postage will be paid by addressee. In case of eye contact, flush with water. Subject to approval. This is not an offer to sell securities. Apply only to affected area. May be too intense for some viewers. Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate. Use other side for additional listings. For recreational use only. Shipping and handling extra. No animals were harmed in this production. Do not disturb. All models over 18 years of age. Prices subject to change without notice. Times approximate. No postage necessary if mailed in Singapore. If swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Breaking seal constitutes acceptance of agreement. For off-road use only. As seen on TV. We reserve the right to limit quantities. One size fits all. Do not leave funds without collecting a receipt. Many suitcases look alike. Contains a substantial amount of non-active ingredients. Colors may, in time, fade. We have sent the forms which seem to be right for you. Slippery when wet. This product is only warranted to the original retail purchaser or gift recipient. For office use only. Net weight before cooking. Not affiliated with the Red Cross. Surfaces should be clean of paint, grease, dirt, etc. Drop in any mailbox. Edited for television. Keep cool; process promptly. Simulated picture. List was current at time of printing. Penalty for private use. Return to sender, no forwarding order on file, unable to forward. Do not expose to direct sunlight. Not responsible for direct, indirect, incidental, or consequential damages resulting from any defect, error, or failure to perform. (Boy, does THAT cover a lot of bases). No Canadian coins. Do not puncture or incinerate empty container. See label for sequence. Prices subject to change without notice. Do not write below this line. Time lock safe, clerk cannot open. At participating locations only. Serial numbers must be visible. Align parts carefully, then bond (JAMES Bond) . Falling rock zone. Keep out of reach of children. Lost ticket pays maximum rate. Your cancelled check is your receipt. Check paper path. Place stamp here. Avoid contact with skin. Sanitized for your protection. Be sure each item is properly endorsed. Penalty for early withdrawal. Sign here without admitting guilt (yeah, RIGHT!). No solicitors. Slightly higher west of the Mississippi. Storage temperature: -30 C (-22 F) to 40 C (104 F). Employees and their families are not eligible. Beware of dog. No purchase necessary. Limited time offer, call now to ensure prompt delivery. You must be present to win. No passes accepted for this engagement. Extinguish all pilot lights. Processed at location stamped in code at top of carton. Shading within a garment may occur. Use only in well-ventilated areas. Replace with same type. Accessories sold separately. Booths for two or more. Check here if tax deductible. Keep away from fire or flame. Some equipment shown is optional. Price does not include taxes. Hard hat area. Prerecorded for this time zone. Reformatted to fit your screen. Reproduction strictly prohibited. Adults 18 and over only. Detach and keep for your reference. No alcohol, dogs, or horses. Demo package, not for resale. List at least two alternate dates. First pull up, then pull down. Call toll free before deciding. Driver does not carry cash. Some of the trademarks mentioned in this product appear for identification purposes only. Record additional transactions on back of previous stub. This supersedes all previous notices.

Well, you get the general idea. And I must confess, even I fall under the spell of the evil disclaimer. At the bottom of each flyer we distribute for personal appearances and band gigs that we organize, I put the final statement: "Bring your own everything - Not responsible for anything". THERE! That should cover it........

I'd like to end my column this month by saying good-bye to a friend. Jimmy Driftwood, who recently passed away, was as good an example of what makes an American as anyone I've even met. I had the good fortune to meet Jimmy some years ago near his home in Timbo. I have enjoyed his performances whenever and wherever our paths have crossed since that first meeting. Jimmy was the first folklorist to have ever been asked to play Carnagie Hall. He was once the chairman of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Division. He was a world traveller and a strong believer in education. He and his wife Cleta and their son were all teachers here in the Ozarks. Together they set up the Driftwood Foundation Endowment Fund at UCA, Conway. He wrote literally thousands of poems and songs which were full of magic and described great old stories of the Ozarks and of times gone by. He wrote "The Battle of New Orleans" and "Tennessee Stud", among other great storytelling songs. He was the originator of the Ozark Folk Festival in Mountain View, as well as the instigator of the Ozark Folk Center. He greeted senators and strangers alike with the same simple charm, always keeping his hand-made guitar close to him. He will be missed by many, and should be remember by all as an outstanding asset to this state and country .

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