Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Brilliant Government Ideas

In his biography of William the Conqueror, Jacob Abbott has a nice sarcastic quote that is particularly applicable to our current political situation. In the context of William financing his conquest of England, Abbott writes:

"...for so distant and vast an undertaking as this, William needed a much larger supply of funds than were usually required in the wars of those days. For raising such large supplies, the political institutions of the Middle Ages had not made any adequate provision. Governments then had no power of taxation, like that so freely exercised in modern times...And as to the contrivance, so exceedingly ingenious, by which inexhaustible resources are opened to governments at the present day—that is, the plan of borrowing the money, and leaving posterity to pay or repudiate the debt, as they please, no minister of finance had, in William's day, been brilliant enough to discover it."

(Jacob Abbott, William the Conqueror, p. 173)