I'd kept reading about the wonders of the Johnson/Boswell thing in other books and finally decided to find out for myself. I'm not impressed. I read tI'd kept reading about the wonders of the Johnson/Boswell thing in other books and finally decided to find out for myself. I'm not impressed. I read through the first half, which is mostly Boswell's fawning recollections of Johnson (who doesn't seem all that interesting a person, truth be told), and then gave up on it when Johnson took the reins and began writing of things I didn't care about in prose that wasn't interesting enough to keep me hooked.
My favorite bit was Boswell's recollection of how he annoyed Rousseau mercilessly like a fanboy autograph hound.
I'm sure this is a landmark in the history of biography or whatever, but its intrinsic merits don't seem to be many and I think I could be spending my reading time more wisely......more
His thesis, in short, is that the IRS is being chronically underfunded by Congress, that this may be at the behest of Congresspersons who want the IRS to become a failed agency, that they are on the cusp of succeeding in this quest, and that this will be a cataclysm.
His book takes the form of a letter “to Patriotic Americans Concerned with the Federal Tax System,” in which he begs them “to take immediate action to stop Congress from cutting the IRS budget.”
If the under-funding continues, the result will be cataclysmic. As funding of the IRS declines, its ability to perform its functions declines. With under-funding, the IRS will be less able to keep up with enforcement and taxpayer support, among other activities, and its diminishment will lead to further spoiling of the IRS’s reputation for fairness and integrity.
…Once this happens, the reputation of the IRS will have been diminished beyond repair, and neither the Congress nor the agency will be able to make the IRS credible again.
…The net effect long-term is a loss in the public trust that government is fair and its systems work. When faith in government is broken, voluntary compliance with the tax laws goes away, and it becomes clear that no one pays their fair share any more. Scofflaws become the rule rather than the exception.
Following this are some dull rambles through the history of the income tax in the United States, and the history and structure of the IRS, that might have made useful appendices in David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King but didn’t add much to Gregory’s argument (which he repeats, in various ways, again and again, as though he can feel he’s not quite getting through to us). He also presents some statistics about the agency’s inability to keep up with audits, with delinquent tax payments, and with "customer" service, and reproduces some testimony from various oversight boards and ombudspersons in which they too complain about the IRS not having enough budget to do its job....more
…[T]he branch of philosophy on which we are at present engaged differs from the others in not being a subject of merely intellectual interest — I mean we are not concerned to know what goodness essentially is, but how we are to become good men, for this alone gives the study its practical value…
By this standard, Essays on Aristotle's Ethics is not a book with much practical value. It is largely academic hairsplitting about what Aristotle said, what that might have meant, how it relates to his other works, and how to discover and interpret the harmonies and inconsistencies within it.
Plenty of interesting stuff there if you're an Aristotle geek, but if the reason you became an Aristotle geek was to learn "how we are to become good men," you will not find much assistance here....more
A strange sort of autobiography in that he says very little about himself after age ten or thereabouts. He's trying to recover how he came to be, andA strange sort of autobiography in that he says very little about himself after age ten or thereabouts. He's trying to recover how he came to be, and what theories of purpose he tried on along the way, during childhood....more
I suppose it's a pretty good summary of the arc of physics thought over the past centuries. But a lot of that was well-worn paths from many other popI suppose it's a pretty good summary of the arc of physics thought over the past centuries. But a lot of that was well-worn paths from many other pop sci books over the last twenty-five years or so. If this is the first one you encounter, you'll probably find it a helpful overview, and it's pretty well-written so it's good as a review if you've been away from this stuff for a while.
The book has got a lot of bad jokes, none of which would be missed if they were omitted from the next edition.
The authors start off by saying "Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics" but then go on to spend way too much time arguing with the God hypothesis that Nietzsche had happily buried ages ago, and reinventing William James's century-old pragmatism as "model-dependent realism." Who's not kept up with whom?
It was kind of interesting, and I stuck with it right up until the author started promoting something called "biodynamic compost" that was invented byIt was kind of interesting, and I stuck with it right up until the author started promoting something called "biodynamic compost" that was invented by "clairvoyant scientist Rudolf Steiner" and involves things like "filling a cow horn with ground quartz and burying it over the summer, then digging it up and mixing it with water, stirring for an hour as the sun rises," and so forth... I finally realized that nobody had applied a bullshit filter to this book, so I dropped it....more