It’s For Your Own Good!

From The New York Review of Books, a review of Sarah Conly’s Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, by Cass Sunstein, where the “nanny state” is defended.

I don’t buy the argument, preferring the central argument of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, where,as a general rule, government cannot legitimately coerce people if its only goal is to protect people from themselves. Mill contended that

the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or mental, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right.”

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Mary Gordon on the Joy of Notebooks and Writing by Hand as a Creative Catalyst

From brain pickings:

Writing by hand is laborious, and that is why typewriters were invented. But I believe that the labor has virtue, because of its very physicality. For one thing it involves flesh, blood and the thingness of pen and paper, those anchors that remind us that, however thoroughly we lose ourselves in the vortex of our invention, we inhabit a corporeal world.

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There is no shame anymore. And yet there still are obscenity trials. Absurd.

So says Ann Althouse, within a piece about “Ira Isaacs, sentenced last month by a federal judge — this is in the United States— for 4 years, for violating obscenity law.”

Also, read the comments.

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Too Much Sitting Linked to Chronic Health Problems

As I am about to spend over three hours on an airplane, plus a couple hours in a car to and from airports today, I read this article from

People who spend hours each day without getting up and moving around should take heed: A new study suggests that the more people sit each day, the greater their risk for chronic health problems, such as cancerdiabetes and heart disease.

Fortunately, “sitting” for long hours without getting up and moving is not normal for me.

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“The Hollywood Tax Story They Won’t Tell at the Oscars”

From Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds writing for The Wall Street Journal:

It’s easy to demand higher levies on the ‘rich’ when your own industry gets $1.5 billion in government handouts.

$1.5 billion in subsidies to make movies instead of paying for police, firefighters, and teachers or lowering taxes on small businesses, which actually creates jobs.

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“America’s New Mandarins”

By Megan McArdle at the Daily Beast:

The paths to power and success are narrowing. So is the worldview of the powerful.

And it is conformist, “learning what the authorities want, and giving it to them.”

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9 stand-out post-apocalyptic novels

From Write Right Now. I am thinking we should probably read more of these books—lessons to be learned.

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Inside the witness protection program

From CNN Justice. I always wondered how this worked. And given that there are so many in the program, I wonder if I know anybody who is a part of it.

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David McCullough, The Art of Biography No. 2

From The Paris Review, Fall 1999:

“Nothing good was ever written in a large room,” David McCullough says, and so his own office has been reduced to a windowed shed in the backyard of his Martha’s Vineyard home. Known as “the bookshop,” the shed does not have a telephone or running water. Its primary contents are a Royal typewriter, a green banker’s lamp, and a desk, which McCullough keeps control over by “flushing out” the loose papers after each chapter is finished. The view from inside the bookshop is of a sagging barn surrounded by pasture. To keep from being startled, McCullough asks his family members to whistle as they approach the shed where he is writing.

Read more at the link.

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