Let me say upfront that I agree wholeheartedly that public schools are an abomination. Overall the book is good, I'm just a little uncomfortable thatLet me say upfront that I agree wholeheartedly that public schools are an abomination. Overall the book is good, I'm just a little uncomfortable that he doesn't do such a great job of showing how he reached that conclusion. That may well be because it's actually just a collection of essays.
Two random things that bothered me:
1) At several points he blames TV as a contributing factor to the degradation of youth. As I see it this is treating a symptom as a cause; the actual cause is that parents simply aren't around and don't take an active interest in their children's lives. As a result of parents being too busy and too tired to spend a lot of time with their children, kids end up sitting in front of the TV a lot.
2) He made a big deal about "networks" being an empty idea and not something tangible, which he then proceeded to say was dangerous and a very bad thing. That's fine, I can appreciate that and agree. But then he bizarrely fetishizes communities without acknowledging that a community is every bit as much a mere concept rather than something in the material world. His reverence for communities felt lacking in substance, and the difference between them and "networks" which he demonizes vague and arbitrary.
By the way, the best two essays are the first two, and you can read both for free online.
There are quite a few other essays by Gatto you can read for free here. I haven't gone through them thoroughly, it wouldn't surprise me if the other essays in the book are available there as well under different names....more
If even a fraction of what this book claims about Lincoln is true, he should be forever remembered as a villain in American history rather than a sainIf even a fraction of what this book claims about Lincoln is true, he should be forever remembered as a villain in American history rather than a saint. I always knew there was a lot of propaganda surrounding Lincoln, but the true depth of it is truly extraordinary....more
This book leans far too heavily on its metaphors – particularly "fences" and "bags". It comes so close to really good points and doesn't always quiteThis book leans far too heavily on its metaphors – particularly "fences" and "bags". It comes so close to really good points and doesn't always quite get to them. A few thoughts:
1) The author claims attempting to simply control a child's behavior is ineffective and counterproductive, yet that's exactly the approach she advocates. Don't talk or explain your "fence," just act.
2) Some of the "fences" used as examples are astonishing to me. One such example is a 12 year old who is expected to empty the dishwasher if she puts a single dirty dish in the sink. No wonder children rebel. What makes it her responsibility to empty the dishwasher? What is the logic? What's the issue with a single dirty dish sitting in the sink for a couple hours? The author doesn't advocate having answers for any of this. Because it's just silly at its face. The author doesn't think you should need answers, that your children need to just blindly obey you.
3) In a similar vein, I don't think the author emphasizes enough how important the parent is as role model. Sure, she says it, but doesn't complete the thought. As a role model, you have to first embody the values you expect your child to have. Then, never break them; or if you do, it's imperative you acknowledge the failure. Kids are great at sniffing out hypocrisy. This is why the reactive parenting style in the book is so ineffective. No one wants to be treated that way, and the parent would never stand for it.
4) I notice a theme in parenting books. The big problem areas that always come up are around mornings, meals, and bedtime. Maybe it's worth considering the root cause, which is not innate to the situations, but the result of conventional expectations. Do kids really make such terrible decisions if you give them a little freedom about what and how they eat? Is it the end of the world if your child foregoes utensils? Do you really think they'll be using their fingers to eat spaghetti as an adult if you don't force them to use a fork at 4? Is it really imperative that your child go to bed at exactly 8:00? Actually, it probably is if you send them to daycare or school. But what if you homeschooled? Then it wouldn't matter when your child went to bed. They'd sleep when tired, and get up when rested. The fundamentals of the childhood experience are not examined at all, they're just taken as the way it has been, and therefore the way it must be.
5) The type of authority modeled in the book I would not consider terribly healthy. Sure, it doesn't directly punish–it's sort of a benevolent dictator kind of approach. But I think a preferable kind of authority is built on trust, respect and focused on the child's needs. There's an example of a "wavering" parent in the book whose child doesn't practice and gets stage fright, and the diagnosis is that the parent talks too much and doesn't make expectations clear. The author doesn't at all suggest talking to the child about his feelings, asking why he's afraid to go out on stage or why he doesn't like to practice. The parent had the gall to say she was the most embarrassed she's ever been because her child was terrified to go out on stage–not once does anyone point out the obvious, your child is terrified, maybe a little empathy is more important than your petty embarrassment.
6) The author pushes some of her own preferences on the reader as if they are the only correct answer, particularly in the "Lifestyle" section. For example, she has some apprehension about technology and nostalgia for a "simpler life," without giving any compelling argument at all as to why having a TV or computer in a child's room is inherently a bad thing.
Honestly I'm kind of shocked at how low a score I felt I had to give this book. Giving up all forms of punishment is a very new thing. Most parents still hit their children, and the ones who do not have typically never considered giving up grounding or time outs. Considering that this book is one of the few that rejects punishments in all forms, I'd have imagined myself giving it a much better rating. I can only imagine how frustrating reading a more mainstream/conventional parenting book would be for me, when one like this which is so close to what I would consider a correct approach left me feeling so dissatisfied....more
Disclaimer: Penn Jillette has been a hero of mine for years. He's an atheist libertarian peace-loving hippy who is a boisterous, obnoxious asshole andDisclaimer: Penn Jillette has been a hero of mine for years. He's an atheist libertarian peace-loving hippy who is a boisterous, obnoxious asshole and isn't afraid to tell you when he thinks you're wrong, no matter what it's about. At the same time, he's so profoundly optimistic it borders on naivete. Even with his strong convictions being the minority, he remains a strangely optimistic and humble person about them, in a frequently self-depreciating way. He's quick to acknowledge when he's wrong or when he doesn't know something. He's a fascinating and unique nutjob, and I love him for it.
You won't be surprised to know I loved the book. It's essentially a collection of anecdotes and experiences, most of which are hilarious or outrageous, a few of which are heartwarming and sappy. It feels like he's just sitting with you spewing stories off the top of his head, indeed if you watch his video blog Penn Point it feels very much as if he had simply written down some monologues intended for that blog. Which is okay. Great, even, because he's great at it.
For me, there's nothing eye-opening here. There are revelations to be had surely, but I'm not the audience for them; sadly I'm not sure the audience which would need or want to find them could do so, given Penn's abrasive manner. I want to believe otherwise, because I can't imagine reading this book and believing anything other than Penn being an extraordinarily heartfelt, honest, loving person.
In the few areas I disagree with Penn, it's because I don't think he's 'gone far enough' with his beliefs, and the book made me yearn for an opportunity to give him a push.
His arguments against government are equally valid for the few areas he professes to believe it has a role, I think he just needs someone to show him.
He's still trapped in the notion that 'Intellectual Property' is equally as legitimate as physical property, although if you examine the function of property among humans, you must come to the conclusion that IP is illegitimate. Property is scarce. Ideas are not; at least not in the same way. Sharing my recipe for pie with you does not require me to give up the recipe, as physical property does.
I also sense that he's not that familiar with Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell and Tom Woods, or the Austrian School of Economics in general. Sadly, this is likely due to his affection for Reason and CATO, who severely downplay their significance, and generally prefer to ignore that LvMI exists. They are utilitarian libertarians, and while they do some great work, Penn Jillette strikes me as a principled libertarian. For a principled libertarian, mises.org is a much better fit than Reason or CATO.
Regardless, Penn is inspiring. His odd combination of humble yet forceful beliefs make me try to be a better, more optimistic person....more
Ayn Rand is amazing if for no reason than the fascinating range of emotion and responses she and her work generates.
Anthem is an unapologetic parable.Ayn Rand is amazing if for no reason than the fascinating range of emotion and responses she and her work generates.
Anthem is an unapologetic parable. I like that about it. I know what its purpose is from the very start. It doesn't pretend to be a gripping novel with complex characters and a spontaneous, winding, organic plot. It's completely contrived and unrealistic, and it owns that. I appreciate that about a book.
I don't buy into Rand's Objectivist philosophy, but I'm all over the individualism and freedom she preaches. Egalitarianism is a totally flawed ideal. Anthem was written to confront and admonish it....more
I've been putting off this review, because I couldn't quite think of how to describe my feelings about it. I'm totally down with the content and the mI've been putting off this review, because I couldn't quite think of how to describe my feelings about it. I'm totally down with the content and the message. I thought the revolutionaries and his vision of how they might operate were interesting.
I just couldn't shake the feeling while going through the book that it was a contrived parable dressed up as a novel. If I had the impression it was intended to appear contrived, it would have bothered me less, but I didn't get that feeling from it at all.
It was like he kept trying to remind me this was the real America (Mises on the shelf!), and really inflation like this really happened ($500 coffee! $10,000 hotel room!), and that these were real Agorists, and really, NoState Insurance and TANSTAAFL Cafe would totally be real places. The problem is he didn't convince me of any of that.
I also never got the impression that Elliot was all that concerned with his circumstances either. I mean sure, you gotta eat and sometimes you'll be waiting around, but given his situation I'd at least expect some anxiousness. Schulman never really convinced me of that. I never even felt like he was really trying to.
I don't know. I don't regret reading it or anything, but there has to be better liberty-oriented fiction out there. I've heard good things about The Moon is a Harsh Mistress......more
While the book is clearly biased, it seems to convey some accurate and important points about Keynes and his perspective. Especially important in my oWhile the book is clearly biased, it seems to convey some accurate and important points about Keynes and his perspective. Especially important in my opinion is shedding light on Keynes' intellectual emphasis on a relatively small sphere, namely the discussion and debate in Cambridge.
I think for that reason alone this book is valuable for any Austrian economist who wants to understand Keynes. Even if you don't accept all of Rothbard's claims, you'll spot some interesting trends in the General Theory after reading this book which are difficult to refute.
Essentially Keynes routinely pulls out a single incomplete quote from someone he considers a quintessential "classical" economist such as J.S. Mill or Marshall or Ricardo, and treats it as the culmination of all economic thought on the subject.
I went into this book really wanting to like it. I already consider myself an "anarcho-capitalist," and believe any realization of the State is fundamI went into this book really wanting to like it. I already consider myself an "anarcho-capitalist," and believe any realization of the State is fundamentally incompatible with freedom and liberty.
Unfortunately, I just couldn't get behind this book. I found the arguments presented to be shallow and unconvincing, built on top of a flimsy framework of numerous assumptions and speculations.
Bottom line for me is: a few interesting thought-experiments about how anarchy could turn out, but I wouldn't let a non-anarchist near it if I was attempting to convince them....more
Jeffrey Tucker is eccentric and oddly charming. He finds beauty and wisdom where few others think to look. I like that about him.
I don't share JeffreyJeffrey Tucker is eccentric and oddly charming. He finds beauty and wisdom where few others think to look. I like that about him.
I don't share Jeffrey's social values of dinner table manners and etiquette and proper clothing and so-forth, but even those chapters I found interesting if for no other reason than to appreciate his consistency in applying the libertarian worldview. I read those chapters as him saying, "I neither can nor would force this upon you, but I have every right to think of you as a barbarian for your refusal."
Well Mr Tucker, even this barbarian found your essays amusing and stimulating....more
There are a lot of great passages and clever insights in Hayek's best known book, The Road to Serfdom. It's a searing attack on collectivism of any soThere are a lot of great passages and clever insights in Hayek's best known book, The Road to Serfdom. It's a searing attack on collectivism of any sort, and blows critical holes in the concept of central planning.
The only reason I didn't rate it higher is a personal distaste for his writing style. Perhaps I have a mild form of ADD, but in sections of the book I found less compelling I had difficulty focusing, which due to his long convoluted sentences made for a slow read. In the sections of the book I found most interesting, it didn't bother me much at all....more
This is a great little book that's easy to read and will challenge some widely held beliefs, particularly among common folk who don't think much on thThis is a great little book that's easy to read and will challenge some widely held beliefs, particularly among common folk who don't think much on these kinds of issues and accept what conventional wisdom states.
While I agree with nearly all of his stances, a few of them I didn't feel he made the case sufficiently, or sometimes didn't adequately convey that he was defending an extreme based on his theory of rights rather than morality. I'm afraid people might, for example, read a portion of the book and say "What?! A sado-masochist movie theater? Preposterous!" and put the book down instead of exploring why he was putting forth that scenario.
All in all: well worth the read, many of the chapters are quite compelling....more