You’ve come to the right place

A&J write: Umberto Eco, respectable as he is, misses the point. Which books will survive, and in what edition? Over the years, I have watched libraries systematically dump “useless old books” to be replaced with post-modern literature(it hurts to call it that). To my own pleasure, I have bought many great volumes for a song. These books will not be available to the general public before long — they will all be held in private libraries and very large university librabries, among other places. Just try to go to your small public librabry and find Gibbon, Newman, Chesterton. Won’t happen.

As a request, (okay I have two) I have a 14 -year-old son with a new and blazing hot interest in good science fiction. He has asked me several times if I would ask you to recommend some good books to start reading. Would you have a moment to reflect on the age-appropriate ones, keeping the hoochey koochey to a minimum? He figures you are an expert on sci-fi taste, and doesn’t want to waste time on junk. And for me, I am always looking for authoritative histories, secondary source-type…like Kitto’s “The Greeks.” These help me collect original sources and give me ideas to work with when teaching.

I don’t know what your son has read already, but here’s a few obvious recommendations for your son:

The Giants Trilogy by James P. Hogan

Foundation (only the first three) by Isaac Asimov

Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein

Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

Dune by Frank Herbert

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Neuromancer by William Gibson

For you:

Citizens by Simon Schama

Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jerome Carcopino

Shakespeare’s Kings by John Julius Norwich, also books on Byzantine Empire

The History of the Crusades by Stephen Runciman

Sempre un piacere

Take a fairy tale, like Little Red Riding Hood. The text starts from a given set of characters and situations — a little girl, a mother, a grandmother, a wolf, a wood — and through a series of finite steps arrives at a solution. Certainly, you can read the fairy tale as an allegory and attribute different moral meanings to the events and to the actions of the characters, but you cannot transform Little Red Riding Hood into Cinderella. Finnegans Wake is certainly open to many interpretations, but it is certain that it will never provide you with a demonstration of Fermat’s last theorem, or with the complete bibliography of Woody Allen. This seems trivial, but the radical mistake of many deconstructionists was to believe that you can do anything you want with a text. This is blatantly false.

The text is open, but it’s not THAT open. And the good news is that books will survive.

Orders of magnitude

Here is an example of why the government should NEVER be given any kind of planning power. This is the sort of thing that von Mises was talking about when he came up with the concept of the impossibility of socialist calculation.

At its start, in 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion,” wrote Steven Hayward and Erik Peterson in a 1993 Reason article. “The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicare would cost only about $12 billion by 1990 (a figure that included an allowance for inflation). This was supposedly a ‘conservative’ estimate. But in 1990 Medicare actually cost $107 billion.”

In what other field of human endeavor can you be off by more than 1200 percent without suffering any consquences. Even in sports, the GM who can’t manage his salary cap can’t expect to keep his job.


I have my reservations about President Bush. I didn’t vote for him. I won’t vote for him in 2004. However, I think his gesture of visiting the troops at the front-line is worthy of praise. It’s easy to denigrate this sort of thing as a PR stunt, but there’s a reason that the 2nd Division’s motto is “Follow Me”. Say what you will about the man, but he is a leader of men. To denigrate him based on his personality is not necessarily unfair, it is, however, foolish.

I just wish I had a better idea of where it is that he truly hopes to lead us.

This sort of thing is just one aspect of what concerns me:

Nondefense spending has skyrocketed under Republican control of Congress and the White House, and critics say the outlays will hit the stratosphere with the passage this week of a drug entitlement for seniors. The Congressional Budget Office reported that nondefense spending rose 7 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, nearly double the 4 percent discretionary spending caps that President Bush insisted Congress honor.

Since Mr. Bush took office in 2001, nondefense spending has leapt 13 percent — 21 percent if spending on the war on terrorism is included. And he is poised to become the first Republican president to sign into law a new federal entitlement: the $400 billion Medicare expansion to cover prescription drugs.

You’re not immune, gentlemen

Appeal from the United States District Court for the

Central District of California Florence Marie Cooper,

District Judge, Presiding D.C. No.


When these events occurred, July 10, 1998, it was clearly established that the amount of force Bybee says Erath used in handcuffing her was excessive, and a reasonable agent in Erath’s position would have known that such conduct violated the Fourth Amendment. See, e.g., Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 645 (9th Cir. 1989) (“[T]he officers used excess force on Hansen by unreasonably injuring her wrist and arm as they handcuffed her.”). Agent Erath, therefore, is not entitled to qualified immunity on summary judgment as to Bybee’s excessive force claim.


The district court correctly determined that Agent Erath is not entitled to qualified immunity on summary judgment as to Bybee’s excessive force claim. The district court also correctly determined that Agent Erath is not entitled to qualified immunity on summary judgment as to Bybee’s claim that she was unlawfully detained for 30 minutes in overly tight handcuffs that caused her pain. As to these claims, we affirm the district court’s summary judgment denying Agent Erath qualified immunity.

I imagine agents for various Federal and state revenue agencies are going to start sweating once they realize the implications of this decision… if they’re not immune here, they’re probably not immune for the vast panoply of laws and Constitutional rights that they are violating and breaking every day in the course of their job. A government of laws, not men with guns and badges? Whatever shall we do?

The next thing you know, people will stop paying taxes that they don’t owe!

Good onya, Lynne Meredith. One agent down, only 36 to go. Boy, the IRS sure needs a lot of agents to subdue one woman and a few teenage girls, don’t they!

Got any doubt

…about the courts being crypto-fascist Star Chambers? It’s ironic that Hollywood, in their fear of offending Islamic terrorists, love to portray bad guys as neofascists now, never mind the fact that there are plenty of the real deal already situated in the three branches of government.

“He [Judge Moran] has also warned me (by relaying a message through my attorneys) that I should be careful about what I say on my website and my email messages. He did not specify what specific speech I should be careful about. If and when he does specify what speech I should be careful about, I will let everyone know, assuming, of course, that letting everyone know what speech I am supposed to be careful about is not the kind of speech the Judge says I need to be careful about. Stay tuned.”

Joseph Banister

And here I always thought that we had Constitutionally protected freedom of speech. Such an odd thing to say, Judge Moran, especially for one presumably sworn to uphold the Constitution. And are you such a moron, judge, that you believe any true American is going to let you railroad him into jail while keeping his mouth shut like a good little victim? We’re Americans, [reference to genetically unsound reproductive activity deleted], not Russians, Ukranians, Chinese, Jewish Germans, Rwandans, Bosnians, Sudanese, or Slavs, and we don’t bow down to anybody except God – and some don’t even do that.

Just answer the questions

I find it intriguing that the courts and pro-IRS sycophants will readily talk about how frivolous the following questions are, and how they reveal a total lack of legal understanding on the part of the questioner, but then stubbornly refuse to answer any of them. If the questions are so frivolous and simplistic, then just answer them! Sure, it may be frivolous and simplistic for me to ask you what 2+2 is, but for you to answer that Leibniz answered that question back in 1680 does not tell either a) the answer is 4; or b) you know the answer is 4. In fact, an answer like that makes me rather suspicious that you have no idea what the answer is. That, or you are terrified of what the implications of saying “4” will be.

1) Should I use the rules found in 26 USC § 861(b) and 26 CFR § 1.861-8 (in addition to any other pertinent sections) to determine my taxable domestic income?

2) If some people should not use those sections to determine their taxable domestic income, please show where the law says who should or should not use those sections for that.

3) If a U.S. citizen receives all his income from working within the 50 states, do 26 USC § 861(b) and 26 CFR § 1.861-8 show his income to be taxable?

4) Should one use 26 CFR § 1.861-8T(d)(2) to determine whether his “items� of income (e.g. compensation, interest, rents, dividends, etc.) are excluded for federal income tax purposes?

5) What is the purpose of the list of non-exempt types of income found in 26 CFR § 1.861-8T(d)(2)(iii), and why is the income of the average American not on that list?

6) What types of income (if any) are not exempted from taxation by any statute, but are nonetheless “excluded by law� (i.e. not subject to the income tax) because they are, under the Constitution, not taxable by the federal government?

And what is the response from the IRS to these six questions? Read it for yourself and see if you consider it a reasonable and credible answer. I submit that the following parody is a reasonable summary of the current situation:

Prosecutor: “Where were you on October 7th, at 5:20 p.m.?”

Defendant: “I didn’t kill Fred, and your accusation is frivolous.”

Prosecutor: “Were you at Fred’s house that day?”

Defendant: “I didn’t kill Fred, and your accusation is frivolous.”

Prosecutor: “Did you know Fred?”

Defendant: “I didn’t kill Fred, and your accusation is frivolous.”

Prosecutor: “Is this your knife?”

Defendant: “I didn’t kill Fred, and your accusation is frivolous.”

Prosecutor: “Can you explain why your fingerprints are on the knife?”

Defendant: “I didn’t kill Fred, and your accusation is frivolous.”

Let’s just say that on the day that the IRS goes on trial before the American people, I don’t expect it to survive long.

Jonah goes off the deep end

I very much enjoy Jonah Goldberg’s columns. But his most recent one, opposing the Defense of Marriage Amendment, is a howler of logic.

“The second problem with consequentialism is that it often works on the false assumption that we can know what the consequences will be. The last great constitutional disaster was Prohibition. The 18th Amendment was supposed to get Americans to stop drinking booze. People made straight-line predictions that if you made hooch illegal, people would stop drinking it.”

This argument would make sense if the Defense of Marriage Amendment prevented individuals from being homosexual. In which case, it would probably not be called the Defense of Marriage Amendment, but something like the Defense of Unstable Teens Questioning Their Orientation Amendment. But homosexuals are not running around getting married despite the law, in fact, there are vocal segments of the homosexual community which are appalled at the very notion of monogamous queer commitment, which flies in the face of the more radical elements that have tended to drive the gay agenda in the past.

From a conservative and Republican perspective, I would think Mr. Goldber would support the DMA as a political wedge issue, if nothing else. But then, Republicans are too busy getting excited about selling their political souls to the AARP to spend much time lining up behind the one issue that will ensure political victory for the next generation and beyond.

It makes no difference to me. I see no reason why the government should be involved in any way, shape or form. Remember, conservatives, the State had no power to permit divorce until it was given the power to marry. Expanding government power on behalf of your own interests will ALWAYS come back to bite you in the end. This has been obvious since the days of Marcus Aurelias; it has been true since one man first held power over another man.

Jonah, they’re here and they’re queer. They don’t want to get married. That’s not what it’s about.


One of the most baffling decisions in the history of Man is the decision to REQUIRE Flash or some other form of technoglitter on your visitor’s computer before you allow said visitor to access any information on your web site. I’m not a paleotechnoid UNIX guru who still insists on command line text-based Internet browsing, but I’m also not interested in anything that requires me to download megabytes of extraneous nonsense when all I want is the few bits of data that make up a company’s telephone number.

The fact that the company hired a web design company to make pretty pictures bob, dip and weave neither impresses me nor makes me more likely to buy their products. In fact, the attempt to force me to install useless software on my machine in order to watch the pretty pictures only assures that I’m not going to visit their web site.

The Red Sea

From the Mogambo Guru: “I think that I am getting the hang of using a calculator and would like to, you know, show off a little bit, so I had an interesting session with a calculator. But for some strange reason, whenever I multiplied $38 billion a week times 52 weeks in a year, I got a wrong answer. Guess what I got? I know you are going to laugh when you see it, and remember that the calculator was obviously broken, as I kept getting the answer $1.976 trillion! Seeing a number that huge is like getting hit with a sledgehammer to the skull, as you realize that no sane person would voluntarily plunge his own country farther into debt at that rate – and I am talking about amassing debt to the tune of 20% of GDP here!”

$38 billion in new Treasury debt this week. Which is basically $2 trillion a year. Keep in mind that the annual US economy is only $10.4 trillion. That’s where the 8.2 percent growth is coming from – growth by debt. This can only be paid off by inflation, so you would be wise to buckle your seatbelts.

Mogambo, you’ve got one vote for President. Mine.