46 Weird Laws Still on the Books

sfe-co2/iStock via Getty Images
sfe-co2/iStock via Getty Images

You go about your day trying to be a good citizen, but you have no idea how many laws you're probably breaking. Maybe you're throwing snowballs, yelling at an umpire, or using high-tech equipment to make sure your shoes fit right. You know, everyday stuff.

Just to be safe, check out this list of 46 weird laws so you know what not to do.

1. Vermont banned banning clotheslines.

Colorful clothes hanging on a clothesline
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You read that right. In 2009, Vermont made it illegal for groups like neighborhood associations to ban clotheslines.

2. You can't throw rocks at trains in Wisconsin.

A train moving down the tracks.
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Wisconsin has a law that you cannot "propel any stone, brick, or other missile at any railroad train." I think this means that you can technically drop a brick onto a railroad train, but no one's ever tested it.

3. You can't make fake drugs in Arizona.

A bottle of pills and money.
Darwin Brandis/iStock via Getty Images

In Arizona, you can not manufacture or distribute "imitation controlled substances," which I guess is why they didn't film Breaking Bad there.

4. Blasphemy is still illegal in Michigan.

A woman screaming in her car.
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Blasphemy laws used to be very common in the United States, but there are still some in existence, including in Michigan, where cursing God is a G**-d*** misdemeanor.

5. Dogs can't hunt big game mammals in California.

Two dogs running in a field.
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Allowing dogs to pursue big game [PDF] mammals, such as bears or bobcats, is illegal in California. We were surprised to learn that this was an issue, because our office dog runs away from squirrels - although to be fair, they are larger than her.

6. Don't bite while boxing in Utah.

A young girl practices boxing.
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Bad news for Damon Salvatore and Mike Tyson, boxing in Utah cannot feature any biting.

7. Swearing at sports events is illegal in Massachusetts.

Angry fans at a sporting event.
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If you're over 16, it's against to law to swear at players or officials during sporting events in Massachusetts, so I guess at the end of every Red Sox game, 37,000 people are taken into custody.

8. You can't use a false name at a hotel in New Hampshire.

Hotel front desk.
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In New Hampshire, it is illegal to check into a hotel using a false name.

9. Pretending to be a religious figure is illegal in Alabama.

Hands held in prayer.
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And speaking of false identities, at public places in Alabama, you cannot pretend to be a minister, nun, priest, or rabbi if you aren't one, thereby making productions of The Sound of Music technically illegal. Unless the nuns are played by nuns, that is.

10. You couldn't throw snowballs in Severance, Colorado until 2019.

Kids having a snowball fight.
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This one isn't technically still on the books, but it juuuuuuuuust got changed. Thanks to a precocious 9-year-old boy, it's finally legal to throw snow balls in a Colorado town known for its snow.

11. You have to believe in something in order to hold public office in Texas.

A hand on a book while taking an oath.
jacoblund iStock via Getty Images

In Texas, officials aren't allowed to be, "excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledges the existence of a Supreme Being." So, if someone doesn't believe in a Supreme Being...exclude away?

12. Bingo games can't last more than five hours in North Carolina.

A group of senior citizens playing bingo.
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That's great news if, like me, you find Bingo boring after four minutes.

13. You can't sniff glue with the intent to get high from it in Indiana.

A bottle of glue.
Michael Burrell/iStock via Getty Images

In Indiana, you're not allowed to sniff toxic vapors of any kind (including glue) with, "intent to cause a condition of intoxication, euphoria, excitement, exhilaration, stupefaction, or dulling of the senses." So if you're doing it for other reasons, that's fine.

14. Adultery is still a crime in New York.

Man looking at a woman walking down the street.
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Spitzer. Giuliani. Weiner. Paterson. FDR. They all did something punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

15. Biting someone's arm off is illegal in Rhode Island.

A cat biting its owner's arm.
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Rhode Island has a law against biting off the limbs of another person. It's a shame you have to legislate things like that, but I, you know, guess it will be good for when the zombies come...

16. Teachers can't talk to students about hand-holding in Tennessee.

A group of children holding hands.
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The Gateway Sexual Behavior Law in Tennessee prevents teachers from discussing anything that might be considered a "gateway" to sex. That includes kissing and hand-holding.

17. You can't sell your eyes in Texas.

A woman holding money in front of her face.
Khosrork/iStock via Getty Images

When they sang, "The eyes of Texas are upon you," they meant that the state already has a pair and doesn't need to buy yours. It's not just eyes, either. It's illegal to sell any of your bodily organs.

18. Dance halls can't be close to cemeteries in South Carolina.

A group of kids at a dance hall.
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In South Carolina, dance halls are not allowed to be within a quarter-mile of a rural church or cemetery.

19. They also can't be open on Sundays.

A business hanging a closed sign.
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South Carolina also requires their dance halls to be closed on Sundays. It's almost like they don't like dancing.

20. Florida passed a law in 1974 allowing the state to ban alcohol sales during hurricanes.

A man and woman drinking beer on the beach.
Bobex-73 iStock via Getty Images

As a matter of public safety, the state wanted to curb people's ability to throw "hurricane parties," which are apparently a thing in Florida.

21. Utah doesn't have happy hour.

A group of people holding pints of beer.
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It's illegal to discount booze or do anything that might promote overindulgence, so Happy Hour is right out.

22. You can't use X-rays for shoe fittings in Washington.

An X-ray of a foot.
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Don't worry Dorothy, they fit.

23. You can't wound a fish with a firearm in Wyoming.

A woman holding a gun to a goldfish.
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You literally cannot shoot fish in a barrel in Wyoming, where they have a law against fishing with firearms that specifically says you cannot "wound" the fish with a gun, either.

24. Delaware doesn't like r-rated movies at drive-ins.

A movie drive-in sign.
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The state has a ban on playing R-rated movies specifically at drive-in theaters (because they're outside, maybe?), but it's probably unconstitutional and no one enforces it.

25. Don't try to corrupt public morals in Florida.

Thumb and fingers pulling out a red block that reads
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Attempting to "corrupt public morals" makes you guilty of a misdemeanor in Florida. How high is the bar here, exactly?

26. You can't live on a boat for more than 30 days in Georgia.

A photo of a house boat.
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That's during a calendar year, which presumably means you could spend 59 legal days crashing on your boat from December to January.

27. Silly string has been banned in Southington, Connecticut since 1996.

Children playing with Silly String.
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No word on whether Serious String is still allowed. Selling or using the silly stuff in public places comes with a $99 fine.

28. Hitting a vending machine is a no-no in Derby, Kansas.

A woman at a vending machine.
Kasto80/iStock via Getty Images

Even if you're really frustrated because you paid for those Cool Ranch Doritos, and you desperately need those Cool Ranch Doritos and... GIMME MY DORITOS!

29. You can't make someone get a microchip in Wisconsin.

A person holding a microchip.
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In Wisconsin, "no person may require an individual to undergo the implanting of a microchip." ONLY IN WISCONSIN? Can we take this thing nationally?

30. Billboards are illegal in Hawaii.

A photo of a Hawaiian island.
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This is probably the best idea.

31. You've gotta keep your hypnotizing indoors in Everett, Washington.

A woman being hypnotized on a couch.
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Planning to mesmerize people? Absolutely do not do it with your storefront signage or out on the street or at your theater's ticket booth.

32. Avoid hunting in cemeteries in Enfield, New Hampshire.

A photo of a foggy graveyard.
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You also can't hop the fence to get in [PDF].

33. People with sexually transmitted diseases can't get married in Nebraska.

A sign welcoming people to Nebraska.
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The law says, "No person who is afflicted with a venereal disease shall marry in this state." As you're probably guessing, that's a tough one to enforce, so if you get a marriage license without being detected, the marriage license still counts.

34. Every tanning bed in Iowa needs a warning sign.

A tanning bed.
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The hazards of using tanning beds must be posted conspicuously next to every single tanning bed.

35. Doors to public buildings in Florida must open outward.

A government building in Texas.
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Which makes sense. If you're running away from an alligator in the library, you don't want to have to stop to pull a door open.

36. Reno, Nevada, doesn't allow people to lie down on sidewalks.

A welcome sign in Reno, Nevada.
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So what's even the point of visiting?

37. you can be fined for leaving your car door open too long in Oregon.

A man with his car door open.
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Sounds silly, but cyclists get why.

38. You also can't throw your urine out of your car there.

Cup of urine.
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Oregon also has a law preventing improper disposal of human waste while you're on the road, so if you're traveling with containers of urine through Oregon, don't toss them out.

39. It's illegal to play dominoes in Alabama on a sunday.

A man playing dominoes.
BrianAJackson/iStock via Getty Images

You also aren't supposed to hunt, shoot, play cards, or race that day. You also can't promote or engage in a bear wrestling match (any day).

40. Do not molest butterflies in Pacific Grove, California.

A butterfly landing on someone's hand.
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When the monarch butterflies make their annual pilgrimage to town, give them a wide berth. Look with your eyes, not with your hands, people.

41. Emergency medical technicians aren't allowed to help dogs in Massachusetts.

A police dog.
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A bill was put forward in 2019 to allow them to treat police dogs who are injured in the line of duty.

42. You can't sell dog hair in Delaware.

A dog next to a pile of dog hair.
Oskari Porkka/iStock via Getty Images

You can't "recklessly" sell cat hair, either, nor "any product made in whole or in part" by your furry friends' fur.

43. Farmers can't sell pickles to customers at farmers' markets in Connecticut.

A pickle jar.
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It's a myth that a pickle has to bounce to be legally a pickle, but it's not a myth that you can't sell a pickle (bouncing or otherwise) if you're a farmer in Connecticut. Salsa, too. Anything with a pH value at 4.6 or below is forbidden, but there's a bill trying to change that.

44. You can't screech your tires in Derby, Kansas.

Tire marks on the pavement.
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According to code 10.04.200, you can be fined $500 for your tire noise, so drive politely out there.

45. You can't wear a bullet-proof vest while committing a crime in New Jersey.

A bulletproof vest.
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If you're planning to rob a bank, you'll get in double trouble if you're wearing bullet-resistant gear during the stick-up.

46. It's illegal to be drunk on a train in Michigan.

Seats on a train.
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Once that train enters Ohio, shots for everybody.

For more on these weird laws, check out the full video below.

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This Innovative Cutting Board Takes the Mess Out of Meal Prep

There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
TidyBoard, Kickstarter

Transferring food from the cutting board to the bowl—or scraps to the compost bin—can get a little messy, especially if you’re dealing with something that has a tendency to roll off the board, spill juice everywhere, or both (looking at you, cherry tomatoes).

The TidyBoard, available on Kickstarter, is a cutting board with attached containers that you can sweep your ingredients right into, taking the mess out of meal prep and saving you some counter space in the process. The board itself is 15 inches by 20 inches, and the container that fits in its empty slot is 14 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and more than 4 inches deep. Two smaller containers fit inside the large one, making it easy to separate your ingredients.

Though the 4-pound board hangs off the edge of your counter, good old-fashioned physics will keep it from tipping off—as long as whatever you’re piling into the containers doesn’t exceed 9 pounds. It also comes with a second set of containers that work as strainers, so you can position the TidyBoard over the edge of your sink and drain excess water or juice from your ingredients as you go.

You can store food in the smaller containers, which have matching lids; and since they’re all made of BPA-free silicone, feel free to pop them in the microwave. (Remove the small stopper on top of the lid first for a built-in steaming hole.)

tidyboard storage containers
They also come in gray, if teal isn't your thing.
TidyBoard

Not only does the bamboo-made TidyBoard repel bacteria, it also won’t dull your knives or let strong odors seep into it. In short, it’s an opportunity to make cutting, cleaning, storing, and eating all easier, neater, and more efficient. Prices start at $79, and it’s expected to ship by October 2020—you can find out more details and order yours on Kickstarter.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

14 Powerful Facts About the Hoover Dam

Ryan Thorpe, Unsplash // Public Domain
Ryan Thorpe, Unsplash // Public Domain

The hulking Hoover Dam has been holding back the Colorado River and generating power since 1936, but you may be surprised to learn just how eventful its construction and naming were.

1. The construction of the Hoover Dam forced Las Vegas to clean up its act.

Once the public caught wind of the plans to build a dam in Nevada’s Black Canyon, surrounding cities appreciated the potential economic windfall such an undertaking would bring. Las Vegas became especially eager to house the project’s headquarters, even going so far as to sacrifice its “party city” reputation to appear worthy of the honor. When Secretary of the Interior Ray Lyman Wilbur, a major player in the project, came to town for a 1929 visit, local authorities in Las Vegas shut down a slew of its speakeasies and brothels for the day in an attempt to seem classier.

2. An entire city sprang up to support construction of the Hoover Dam.

Panorama of Boulder City, Nevada from Water Tank Hill
1932 panorama of Boulder City, Nevada, from Water Tank Hill.
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Sin City’s efforts were ultimately futile, and a planned community went up to house the 5000-person workforce. Miles of paved streets and railroad tracks connected the canyonside village to the project site and neighboring Las Vegas. The community, known as Boulder City, is still standing. However, delays in its development forced a good number of early workers to reside in the nearby Ragtown, which lived up to its name with extremely humble living conditions.

3. The Hoover Dam contains enough concrete to stretch across the United States.

The Bureau of Reclamation—the department subsidizing the project—supplied a whopping 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete for the dam itself, plus another 1.11 million cubic yards for the power plant and additional facilities. This quantity of concrete would be enough to build 3000 miles of road—a full-sized highway from one end of the United States to the other. Additionally, the dam required about 5 million barrels of cement, nearly equaling the total quantity of cement the Bureau used in its previous 27 years of existence.

4. The world’s largest refrigerator cooled all the concrete used for the Hoover Dam.

As you may guess, all this concrete posed some challenges. Without engineers’ intervention, it would have taken the massive blocks of poured concrete 125 years to cool, and this gradual drying would have left the pieces susceptible to breaking. To speed up the process, an engineering team designed a mammoth refrigeration machine. The supersized fridge dispensed upwards of 1000 tons of ice every day, speeding up the cooling and lopping decades off the project’s timeline.

5. The first summer of construction on the Hoover Dam had record-breaking heat.

The giant fridge had its work cut out for it. Work on the Hoover Dam kicked off in April 1931, not long before Nevada’s Clark County weathered some of its hottest temperatures on record. The month of June delivered an average daily high of 119°F, prompting a wave of heatstroke among workers.

6. The Hoover Dam’s laborers were terrific showmen.

Native Americans employed on the construction of Hoover Dam as high-scalers.
A group of Native Americans who worked on the Hoover Dam as high scalers, 1932.
National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Despite the punishing temperatures, construction attracted curious and enthralled spectators from across the country. Even more entertaining than the technological feats of the project were the death-defying antics of the “high scalers,” who rappelled down the Black Canyon to remove loose rock from the gorge’s walls. While one might expect such a job to be handled with extreme caution, the high scalers became famous for their playful, albeit ill-conceived, stunts.

Spectators were particularly fond of the antics of daredevil Louis Fagan, nicknamed “The Human Pendulum” and “One-Rope Fagan.” When teams worked on outcroppings in the canyon walls, they would move from one area to another by locking their arms and legs around Fagan and having him swing them to their next spot.

7. One heroic high scaler saved his boss’s life during construction on the Hoover Dam.

Fagan was impressive, but Oliver Cowan trumped his fellow high scalers when he snatched his falling supervisor right out of the sky. When Bureau of Reclamation engineer Burl R. Rutledge lost his hold on a safety line at the top of the canyon, he would have plummeted to his demise had Cowan, who was working 25 feet blow, not grabbed his leg as he fell. Shortly after the episode, the city of Las Vegas lobbied for a Carnegie Medal in recognition of the local man’s bravery.

8. The Hoover Dam’s chief engineer badmouthed his workers to the local press.

Not everyone was as impressed with the workforce. The hazards of the construction site and poor conditions in Ragtown contributed to the labor force’s decision to strike in 1931. A committee formed to express the workers’ demands, to which the project’s chief engineer and superintendent, Francis Trenholm Crowe, was defiantly unsympathetic. In fact, Crowe contested each of the team’s qualms with the suggestion of eagerness to have the workforce replaced. Print interviews in local news publications quoted Crowe as calling his men “malcontents” who he “would be glad to get rid of.” The hard line gambit worked, and eventually the laborers returned to work.

9. Nobody really wanted to name the dam after Herbert Hoover.

In retrospect, it seems strange that one of the country’s most impressive feats is named after one of its least beloved presidents. In fact, Hoover is understood to have only earned the honor through a political publicity stunt. In 1930, Secretary of the Interior Wilbur traveled to the site to mark the dam project’s official opening. He took advantage of the pageantry to declare, “I have the honor and privilege of giving a name to this new structure. In Black Canyon, under the Boulder Canyon Project Act, it shall be called the Hoover Dam.”

In other words, Wilbur named the dam after his boss. As Hoover was already widely maligned for his part in kicking off the Great Depression, the name was hotly contested. Wilbur’s successor, Harold L. Ickes, was a particularly vocal critic, and in 1933 he switched the in-progress structure’s name to “Boulder Dam.”

10. Herbert Hoover wasn’t even invited to the dam’s dedication.

Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes delivers his talk at the dedication of Hoover Dam
Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes delivers his talk at the dedication of Hoover Dam.
Bureau of Reclamation, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Ickes was hardly alone in his low opinion of Hoover. His own boss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, didn’t think much of Hoover’s presidential acumen, either. When FDR oversaw the dedication of the still nebulously named dam in 1935, he declined to invite his predecessor and even refused to give Hoover the expected nod in his ceremonial speech.

11. The Hoover Dam didn’t officially take its name until 1947.

The dam spent the 14 years following Ickes’s proclamation without an official name. Ultimately, on April 30, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed a law authorizing the original Hoover handle, recognizing the 31st president’s hand in bringing the dam to life in the first place.

12. Nazis attempted to blow up the Hoover Dam.

In 1939, the United States government learned of a pair of German Nazi agents’ scheme to bomb the Hoover Dam and its power facilities. Destruction of the dam itself was not the central goal, but hampering its energy production was a key piece of the agents’ plan to undercut California’s aviation manufacturing industry. To ward off aerial attacks, authorities considered camouflaging the Hoover Dam with a paint job or even building a decoy dam downstream from the real thing. Ultimately, the Germans only managed to get as far as conducting onsite investigative work before their ploy was quashed, thanks to an increase in military security around the dam.

13. Today, the Hoover Dam helps power three states.

The dam’s energy helps keep the lights on for customers in California, Arizona, and Nevada. It creates enough power for 1.3 million people.

14. The Hoover Dam was once the world’s tallest dam.

When it was finished in 1936, the Hoover Dam was remarkable not only for having completed construction a full two years ahead of schedule, but also for its unprecedented stature. The Black Canyon structure stretched 726 feet from base to top, practically soaring above the old record holder, Oregon’s 420-foot-tall Owyhee Dam. After holding the height title for two decades, Hoover was at last outdone by Switzerland’s 820-foot-tall Mauvoisin Dam in 1957. Eleven years later, it lost its domestic title to California’s 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam.