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This is the archive for July 2005

Sunday, July 17, 2005

One of the things I cherish most about my life is my love of reading. More than any other influence, it has made me what I am today. It is the thing most responsible for my independence and individualism. Without a love of reading - not just an ability, but a love - it would be hard for anyone to be truly educated, to make truly informed decision about their lives.

What you get from reading is about what you put into reading. Reading, when its done passionately and enthusiastically, is not passive. The reader takes in the words, the concepts presented, and makes them his own, wraps them into his own ideas. This melding of two minds produces concepts and ideas that didn't exist before, not in the reader, and not in the book.

There's no better education and no better entertainment than that which is produced in your own mind, by you, for your own purposes.

That's why I'm heartened by the phenomenon of Harry Potter. In one day of sales, it has grossed almost double that of the two top movies' entire weekend. It has earned over $100 million in it's first day.

I didn't start out reading philosphy, history, or sophisticated and meaningful novels. I started out reading the likes of Dr. Seuss and Curious George. As I got better at it, I moved on to things such as Encyclopedia Brown, then Jules Verne and Sherlock Holmes. I almost got kicked out of class in 5th grade for reading The Exorcist instead of listening to whatever tripe my government school teacher was prattling on about.

None of this is highbrow material, but it got me to where I am now. It challenged me at the level I then needed to be challenged. It engaged me and kept me turning the pages and seeking out more when the pages ran out.

I have no opinion of the quality of the Harry Potter series. I've heard its good - not just "entertaining", but good in a deeper sense - but I don't know that first hand.

It doesn't matter.

It's getting kids to flock to the bookstore and fall in love with reading. It's doing it at an age - pre-teen, they say - that might be the last chance for some of these kids to develop a love of reading, if the damn schools haven't drilled it out of them already.

For that, I'm glad, whatever the content of the books actually are. If they're tripe, or worse, then so be it, but these kids, some of them at least, will forever be part of the world of reading. They will learn what challenges them, what they need from books, and will seek it out. They will spend the rest of their lives learning on their own terms, for their own purposes.

"When a book beats out movies, we're in great shape,"

You got that right.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I admire Greg Swann quite a bit, so I'm willing to entertain the possibility that he has some reasoning and insight to support the premise that his property rights extend infinitely above and below that portion of the surface of the planet delineated by deed or fence. If such support exists, I'm entirely unaware of it.

Warning to those contemplating colonizing the moon: Should it pass through Greg's wedge of private space at any point, you'll need to negotiate an easement.

Then there's the question of how the creation of an electromagnetic wave that propogates itself across another's airspace constitutes a trespass.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

An interesting thing happened to me last week. I was attending eBay's developer's onference. It's a two day educational / networking function for those geeks like me who don't just trade on eBay, but write software to automate the process of putting up listings and doing all those other pesky things you need to do to manage hundreds of auctions each week.

The interesting thing that happened was that I got a job offer.
Senator Bill Nelson, of Florida, chose to use the occasion of Hurricane Dennis's landfall on his state, not to reassure his constituency, not to express his sympathy for them, but to further his political agenda.
I hope this this will make people take seriously those scientists who say that global warming is real
This at the same moment that the eyewall was sitting over Pensacola, while 1.8 million people were huddling in evacuation shelters wondering if they would have a home to return to.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Current reports say at least 7 separate but obviously coordinated bus and subway bombings in London, possibly suicide bombers. The death toll is currently 10, but it will most likely grow as the recovery efforts continue.

Al-Quaida has taken credit, no surprise there. I hate to say it, but at some point - and this may be that point, if 9-11 and Madrid weren't already it - the only solution will be to "go medieval" on somebody. An appropriate response at this point might be to promise that whatever part of the world that is currently harboring bin Laden will - once we find out where it is - be turned to glass and rendered unhinhabitable for centuries. It might not be very libertarian of me, but there may not be any solution short of purging the earth of anyone and everyone who even remotely supports this kind of thing.

One bright spot - and it's a very faint candle in a very dark day - is that this probably means no more anti-capitalist protests at the G8. I don't imagine the British police having much patience in the next few days for masked anarchists shutting down streets and breaking windows. Even those miscreants will probably realize that violent protests now will only serve to associate themselves with those who did this.

Monday, July 04, 2005

I'll be putting my flag up today, but don't any of you driving by with "G" on your licence plates, or any of those fancy markings on your car door that identify you as public "servants", dare feel that you have any right to share in the sentiment. That flag is a relic, a rememberance of days long gone, not a show of support for anything any of you are doing today. For years now, I've thought of this day as a memorial, not a celebration.

I support much of what W is doing, and I think that the chances of him doing something actually worthwhile are an order of magnitude greater than any President in my lifetime (though the X in "X to 1 odds" still has too many zeros in it to count) but I'd rather he not pretend he is representing me in doing it. I'm an outsider looking in.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Richard Nikoley has links to all that needs to be said about the eminent domain issue, including one of his own. I have nothing to add, except that no one who understands the meaning of the words eminent and domain should be the least bit surprised at SCOTUS's clear explaination of the meaning of the phrase.

Those claiming that this is the final straw have had to dig deep into the haystack to find it - it's been there for a long time, and there's plenty of straws on top of it.