The Hilarity of the Federal Register

Ah, baseball season. It’s finally back. As a lifelong Mets fan, I can’t let myself get too excited. Too many poor seasons and stunning collapses. What I can get excited for is that small part of the year when baseball and basketball overlap and I get to play the game Disappointment: Mets vs. Knicks Edition. Right now the Knicks are ahead, only because of the roller coaster ride of win and losing streaks they’ve put me through this year.

As you can imagine, it’s a pretty depressing game. When I need cheering up, I turn to the Federal Register. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Federal Register, it is a daily journal of all the rules and information collections released by the Executive Branch of the government. Most people find it pretty boring. I find it hilarious.

Without context, a lot of the submissions get my imagination running wild. For instance, today the Food and Drug Administration released some information on a meeting of the  Blood Products Advisory Committee. My first thought: “Someone is trying to get approval to sell blood to Vampires. Genius. This is a totally untapped market.” In reality, it probably has to do with regulating drugs that affect the blood. A few departments down, the Forest Service announced a meeting of the National Tree-Marking Paint Committee, which will meet in Flagstaff, Arizona to paint pretty pictures on trees. The Civil Rights Commission is having a meeting on the Sunshine Act, which I assume involves meeting in a clearing to discuss urgent matters of rainbows, puppy dogs and buttercups! Here’s one from the Consumer Product Safety Commission granting exceptions from lead content limits. That doesn’t sound like much fun, but when you click through, the exception is for “children’s ride-on tractors, children’s ride-on cars, and other ride-on toys.” Wait, what? That one isn’t funny at all.

The reason the Executive Branch has to hold all these meetings and make all these rules is because Congress doesn’t want to stir up controversy so they make vague laws and leave it up to the Executive Branch to suss things out. Except for the guy at the top (Da Prezidint), the Executive Branch doesn’t get elected. Now, no one has to take a vote on allowing more lead into children’s toys, leaving everyone either happy or developmentally stunted.

So make sure to check out the Federal Register, and remember, have fun with it!


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