And Two Minutes for Charging

A tragic accident occurred in Atlanta. A promising young hockey player, just a year or so removed from Rookie of the Year and scoring a bucket of goals in the All Star Game, runs his Ferrari into a wall at 80 mph. It’s not as tragic as it could have been; he’s only got a broken jaw, but his passenger is in critical condition with a fractured skull. They’re lucky to be alive, and with any luck they’ll remain so.

But here come the prosecutors….

Atlanta Thrashers star Dany Heatley was charged Tuesday with reckless driving for veering off a road and slamming his sportscar into a wall at about 80 mph — a crash that left him with a broken jaw and teammate Dan Snyder critically injured with a skull fracture.

Heatley was also charged with serious injury by vehicle, a felony, and three other misdemeanors — driving too fast for conditions, driving on the wrong side of the road and striking a fixed object, according to the police.

Striking a fixed object?

Once again, the legislators in their attempts to do something! about crime have given prosecutors bolts of felonies and swatches of misdemeanors to properly accessorize every ill event. Instead of double jeopardy, we have a larger charge accompanied by an exploded view of its component parts. Common sense would indicate that reckless driving comprises driving too fast, leaving your lane, changing lanes without use of the directional signal, and then striking a fixed object, or maybe just narrowly avoiding a fixed object which is a undoubtedly a lesser charge. But before the myopic eyes of the law, these are all crimes in and of themselves.

Kind of like when an estranged husband shoots his wife and gets murder one, using a gun in the commission of a murder, using bullets in the commission of a felony, disturbing the peace, and failure to pay future child support. Slap enough coats of felony on anything, and it will look guilty.

So in addition to having to live with the emotional consequences of his actions, Heatley’s now eligible for a Gordie Howe length career in the penal hockey league. Prosecutors will say that these tough laws will make kids think twice about believing they’re immortal and driving fast. Because kids have already discounted their own deaths and the crippled and crushed bodies of their friends and have have dismissed the deterent within those threats; a couple years in jail? That’s real to the young.

Criminey, the first person to run for office with the stated goal of eliminating three quarters of our redundant and superfluous laws earns my indentured servitude. I am getting tired of having my personal attorney preceding me everywhere and identifying each and every infraction I might commit and running the complex multiplication necessary to determine my total sentence if I jaywalk and cross outside a designated crosswalk at the same time while walking an unlicensed bike.

Book Review: Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

No, I have nothing better to do than to read Russian short novels, which run about 150 pages of translated, well, Russian writing. And I don’t just mean the Russian language.

Notes from the Underground starts out with a 20-30 page commentary on the nature of man, at least as perceived by a Russian narrator, or more to the point, a Dostoyevsky narrator. John Galt’s speech, it ain’t. This particular narrator breaks down the fourth wall, so to speak, and addresses the reader of his notes directly and patiently builds a case that madness really is the only possible way to defend free will. For if scientists can eventually describe the means by which each man and woman will act in his or her own preceived self-interest in each situation, the outcome is always predetermined by the individual, the perceptions, and the situation. So madness would be the only random number generator (my words, not Underground Man’s and not Dostoyevsky’s nor his translator’s).

I can see how this appeals to college students. On the other hand, I am no longer a college student, so I have little time to sit around saying, “Whoa.” Nor am I driven any longer to explain the use of the first part of the novel as a means of discrediting the double-effect narrator who then goes on to rationalize his particular Soren-Loves-Regina, Soren-Spurns-Regina (that’s Kierkegaard, you damn kids!) episode. Fortunately, though, I don’t have to write those sorts of papers any more, and I don’t have to feel guilty for wishing there was just one double homicide with a missing witness that the hero, a down-on-his-luck former police officer turned security guard (with Kirk Guard, maybe) must track down. But I would settle for some narration for crying out loud. Maybe a plot, Fyod?

Part 2, the second movement of the novel, takes us into an example of the narrator’s boorishness. As if the first half of the novel didn’t. The second part has other characters, to whom the narrator can act as a boor, and then the narrator ends up in bed with a prostitute he might love, but to whom he must be a boor and then whom he ultimately rejects so he can pursue his scholarly life, which seems to be perfecting the art of boorishness. Personally, I only made it through the thing because I’d read Crime and Punishment previously, so I wasn’t sure whether this guy would snap and kill his former classmates, his man, or the prostitute. Maybe two of them at once, and then the cobbler on the corner would see it and flee to a retreat on the Caspian Sea….. Never mind.

With this book, I think Dostoyevsky’s making fun of academics, but the ultimate irony is that only academics read this mockery of academics.

I spent over a week trudging through this short novel. I’ve gotten the satisfaction of having read something normal suburban types in middle America don’t read, so I flout the stereotype laid upon us by academics. I wouldn’t recommend it as a read for everyone, though, unless you want to severely put off your friendly informal book club by recommending it and then cribbing some of the lines from this piece (think it over, El Rojo).

Eminent Domain Abuse on 60 Minutes

Reason magazine’s Hit and Run reports that the television news magazine 60 Minutes is going to run a piece about eminent domain abuse.

Reason also ran a story called “ Wrecking Property Rights: How cities use eminent domain to seize property for private developers“.

As some of you know, eminent domain abuse is one of the particular pet peeves of mine. So go read these pieces and arm yourselves for when your municipality comes for your house for a strip mall.

Heather’s Conversion Progresses

I suckered my beautiful wife into going to Borders today so I could acquire a copy of Virginia Postrel‘s The Substance of Style (and hey, look, it’s right next to Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, I’ll take one of those, too!).

Where what to my wondering-if-I-can-snag-another-book-before-Heather-finds-me eyes appear, but Heather (which meant I could not snag another book that I needed to put on my to-read shelves until 2012 or thereabout). And she’s carrying Laura Ingraham‘s Shut Up and Sing.

“You’ve got a book by Laura Ingraham!” I said.

“Who’s she?” Heather asked.

I could not explain to her that we conservatarian men have a special Hot Conservative Chick Sense that tingles to identify attractive women who think right. I mean, sure, sometimes we get false positives (like Ann Coulter–someone feed that woman, I think she’s going mad from hunger), but for the most part, we’re dead on.

Or maybe I heard her Ingraham’s radio show once.

Still, Heather bought a conservative screed on her own!

More Corporate Tax Breaks to Help Ease Those Pesky Budget Surpluses

Some group called the Multistate Tax Commission has issued a report saying that Internet Service Providers should shed some of their tax burden. Hey, I’m all for lower taxes, but I’m a little worried when they start given little perks to some industries, because then the next one wants one, and suddenly my sales tax is at 20% and my property taxes are about 10% annually. Flat tax the corporations on their profits, but let’s not have our governments play favorites.

More troubling, though, is this from the mouths of the aristocracy:

“State and local governments understand that consumers need to get Internet access,” Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Loren Chumley said in a telephone news conference announcing the study. “The bill that was passed goes far beyond that. It has the potential to wipe out all telecommunications-related tax levies.” [Emphasis mine.]

Any time our Illuminated Leaders start babbling on about what luxuries consumers need, I tremble, for I see the future growth of the Great Society, paid for by….the taxed consumers!

Let no Child be without Broadband!

Rubbish! Now get back to work.

Old School Geeks Rejoice

Dr. Who is really coming back this time.

You damn Matrix-loving, Zelda-playing (instead of Dungeons and Dragons on the kitchen table as the geek gods intended) kids don’t even know what I am talking about. Go write your Java, your .Net, and play command line guru on Linux, and leave the heavy duty geekin’ to your betters.

Colin Baker rox. I’ll lick any man who says Tom Baker was better.

(Link seen on Samizdata, whose location in Britain has saved them from a lickin’.)

The Noggle Library

I indicated in a previous post, one of the next things we’ll need for Honormoor’s replacement (that’s the name of the Noggle manor, donchaknow?) is a library. Why, you ask? Let’s take a look.

Brian’s Main Library
These three bookcases are double-stacked with hardbacks and trade paperbacks. I’ll be honest, though, the
bookcase on the right contains the unread portion of my library. Unfortunately, it contains a lot of
scholarly work, like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simon De Beaviour, Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, and other assorted
literary figures (as well as Tolkien, sorry) and a pile of nonfiction. Whenever I get a new genre piece, I tend
to read it before these masterworks, which would explain why some of these things have gone unread for a
decade
. But I am working on it.

The left bookcase contains what used to be my altar for the authors Robert B. Parker and Ayn Rand, but the
space crunch has led me to start double stacking before even them.

Also, please note that these are my books, not Heather’s. I consider each book I have read a
trophy, so I get agitated whenever she puts a book on my shelves and dilutes my pride.

Brian’s Reference Library
These two bookshelves have my reference library, which includes books on computers, electronics, home repair,
and writing. The bookshelves are in my office, which wouldn’t seem to make sense–until you realize that’s
where I go to hide when there’s any work to be done.

Brian’s Nightstand
I’ve started these books, but haven’t finished them, yet. Watch for a book review of that book on the origins
of the English civil war coming soon, though.

Is that a book by Victor David Hanson under the complete works of Shakespeare? Yes. And I’ll probably
finish it before the Shakespeare, too. Expect the reviews by 2010.

Our Mass-Market Paperbacks
Here’s the closest Heather’s and my books come to conmingling. The shelf on the right is mass market paperbacks
I have read, and the one on the left is Heather’s.

Of course, this is the total except for the two or three boxes we’ve not opened since we moved into Honormoor
three years ago. One more reason for a library: we’re running out of room for bookshelves in our
existing domicile.

Heather’s Hardbacks
Heather’s got her own collection of hardbacks, but she’s only got a single bookshelf. I attribute this to the
fact that her boyfriend/fiance was not kind enough to give her a new set of bookshelves for Christmas each year
of their relationship.

Hey, check out the rare quadraped Jawa without the cloak. Obviously, this cohabitant of the household could
never count as a cat in the Casinoport accounting.

Heather’s Kitchen Stash
Heather has a bookshelf in the kitchen dedicated to:

  • Cookbooks.
  • Rhetoric textbooks (for mastering dinner conversation, of course)
  • Cat care books (not because we eat cats, but hopefully so we can learn their psychology and keep them
    off the table when we’re trying to converse at dinner.

The Piano
Atop the piano, Heather stores a number of:

  • Music books.
  • Hymnals.
  • Cat care books.
  • Exercise books.
  • Library books which are months overdue.

So there you have it. Our motley collection of bookshelves aren’t as cool as built-in shelves like Mr. or Mrs. du Toit got, but they ain’t too shabby.

Noggle’s Spurious Law IX

All right, kids, you want to know how you tell the sign of a good company when you’re interviewing? Forget what any of the books tell you about how to judge a company during a job interview. Of course, it’s easy for me to say, since I have never read a book about job interviews, but if I had, this wouldn’t be a spurious law, would it?

To gauge what a company’s employees think of it and the environment there, ask, no demand that one of the interview platoon take you to see the cafeteria or kitchenette or the little alcove where they have the coffeemaker. Of course, if they don’t have a coffeepot, leave right away (unless you’re Heather, of course).

The best places I have ever worked, at least in a white collar fashion, had clean breakrooms. Best job I ever had, the breakroom was spotless, but that’s because my duty was to clean it, werd. But six dollars an hour doesn’t support five four cats.

Coffee stains or dirty dishes on the counter can indicate a number of things, all of which are bad news for you, the new guy (or gal):

  • The saps working here are jacked up all the time and are too busy to wipe up after themselves. That means the company has too few resources for what it does, and you better not have any plans on Saturday.
  • The employees here delegate the cleaning up after themselves to, or worse yet assume it will be done by, underlings, ultimately the poor schmuck with only a community college degree who works afternoons to wipe out the bathrooms. If he’s busy, buddy (or buddiette), guess who’s going to be cleaning up after himself (herself) after he (she) brings the coffee to the important people? So, how long have you been here?

A clean kitchen indicates that the other employees are adults who can handle their own mistakes and spills, and that they’re concerned with giving a good first impression to the venture capitalists, board members, vendors, customers, or other employees who might wander in after them. This is good.

Of course, it could mean they’ve read this entry and are attempting to subvert NogSub Law IX, but the odds are definitely with the former.

When is A not A?

I have received mail about my post yesterday about the high school sophomores in St. Peters who got busted for do-it-yourself porn. As of this posting, three boys have been charged with felonies; the girls, of course, get none.

Let me point out, hopefully more succinctly, the absurdity of the charges. Follow me here:

  1. Child porn laws touted as necessary protections for The Children who are not Smart Enough Or Responsible Enough (SEORE) to make their own decisions regarding sex and posing for photography therein. Never mind that The Children in this case are fifteen years old, three years short of the sudden burst from the maturity gland which will make them eligible to pose naked for anything they want.
  2. Although these “children” cannot make their own reasoned decisions about posing naked and being photographed, the law will now prosecute them as though they are smart enough and responsible enough to make their own decisions regarding sex and posing for photography therein.

!SEORE = SEORE

Do you have that moebius strip of logic firmly grasped yet? They are being prosecuted as adults for doing something from which they are being being protected from doing something they cannot decide to do because they’re not adults.

It’s all a part of the ride on the official United States Eight Ten Year Adolescence. Face it, between the years of 13 and 21 23, children begin to phase into adulthood, and society and its occasional-lackey-and-sometimes-master government are pretty slow to dole out the adult privileges and responsibilities, and when they do, they stagger the ages and make it as drawn out as possible.

Consider:

  • At 14 years old, if you shoot a person, you’re tried as an adult
  • At 18 years old, if you get shot, you’re statistically “A Child” for those who collect statistics to promote gun control.
  • Before you’re 16 years old, you can get a job and start paying your taxes to support The Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers in their pursuit of pharmaceutical immortality.
  • However, you have to wait until you’re 18 years old to enter contracts.
  • At 16 years old, you’re responsible enough to get a driver’s license and should know enough not to pile a bunch of your friends into your dad’s car, and go roaring around the streets until you collide with a retired schoolteacher on her way from the grocery and kill her and her nephew.
  • Glass of wine at dinner? Not for 5 more years, you irresponsible welp.
  • At 18 years old, you’re responsible enough to handle explosives and automatic weapons.
  • However, concealed weapons will have to wait if you’re from Missouri until the Eddie Eagle Epihany hits you on your 23rd birthday and you can then safely carry concealed weapons.

What’s my proposed solution? At the 13th birthday, send each child into the Cave of the Mother Snake, where it must spend the night alone, without a Gameboy. In the morning, when the child emerges, it is an Adult. Drink responsibly, young man or young woman, and remember to use the booster seat when you’re driving.

Also, vote for me.

Thank you.