“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Guess Who?

A young new neighbor, a well-spoken and good looking kid, decided his recently purchased three story Victorian Mansion could be put to better use by changing it into apartments. He was very enthusiastic about his plans to rent these apartments to low-income families. These families needed a break, he said. He was no do-gooder, he assured me. He had a business plan and was profit seeking. As an added bonus, the old neighborhood would be rejuvenated by young families with children. He said that he loved the sound of children playing. I asked him if he was going to live in one of the apartments? He said that he would love to but he had a house across town.

I asked the neighbor if he had any experience doing renovations. He told me, frankly, that he had none. However, he was confident that he could do the demolition part (how hard could it be, he asked?) and then turn over the reconstruction to the experts. And so, he hired a young lad to help him and set about his task, starting with the first floor.

Off came the outside cladding. Off came the inside lath and plaster. Out came most of the interior walls. In a couple of days only the framing remained. Then, since he was going to replace all of the windows and doors, out they came, too, along with their individual framing. And then, because he had a plan showing where the new windows and doors were going to go, he removed any studs that were in the way of their installation. After a while the place was looking pretty naked. Except for the top two floors and the massive roof.

I went over to the house one morning and told the young neighbor that by removing so much of the basic support structure he was in danger of the house coming down around him. I told him to start reinforcing the corners. The lad agreed but said that it was getting late and he would attend to it first thing in the morning.

Of course, all of you know what happened. That night the laws of physics decided to exert themselves and the house collapsed. Luckily, no one was inside. But that is all the luck the young neighbor had. The house was totally wrecked. The insurance company told the neighbor to go piss up a rope. And the bylaw officers came after him for not having a demolition permit.

The young neighbor lost his investment and off-loaded the balance of the loss by giving his keys back to the mortgage holder. Then he washed his hands of the whole mess.

Before he left he wanted to have a word with me. I had warned him that he was in dangerous territory with his amateur demolition efforts but he was angry that I hadn't been emphatic enough and, in fact, I had been derelict in my duty as a good neighbor. After dressing me down, he left and I never saw him again.

But I'll never forget his face.

See him Here



  1. Democrats are not being blamed for causing the price of gasoline to reach $4 a gallon, at least by the public and at least for now. Where Democrats have stumbled embarrassingly is in their campaign to persuade the public that the American oil industry is the chief culprit. A Gallup national poll in May found only 20 percent blame the oil companies for gouging, down from 34 percent a year ago.

    Where Republicans have succeeded is in selling their solution to soaring gas prices: drilling for oil offshore and on federal lands, areas now off limits. In the Gallup survey, support for drilling in precisely these areas jumped from 41 percent in 2007 to 57 percent in May.

  2. But Viktor, you left out HOPE.
    If you, like Barry, could inspire HOPE for CHANGE in that lad,
    that CHANGE would have been possible.
    More White Shame you'll just have to live with.
    NOTE: words inside (parentheses) are sung by children only.
    Words in {brackets} are sung by Barry AND children

    "Have fun now, boys and girls. Relax."
    One, two

    (Next time you're found with your chin on the ground)
    (There's a lot to be learned so look around)

    Just what makes that little ole ant
    Think he'll move that rubber tree plant?
    Anyone knows an ant can't
    Move a rubber tree plant

    {But he's got hi-i-igh hopes, he's got hi-i-igh hopes}
    {He's got high apple pi-i-ie-in-the-sk-y-y hopes}
    So, any time you're gettin' low, 'stead of lettin' go, just remember that ant
    Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant
    (Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant)
    {Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant}

    (When troubles call and your back's to the wall)
    (There a lot to be learned that wall could fall)

    Once there was a silly old ram
    Thought he'd punch a hole in a dam
    No one could make that ram scram
    He kept buttin' that dam

    {'cause he had hi-i-igh hopes, he had hi-i-igh hopes}
    {He had high apple pi-i-ie-in-the-sk-y-y hopes}
    So, any time your feelin' bad, 'stead of feelin' sad, just remember that ram
    Oops, there goes a billion-kilowatt dam
    (Oops, there goes a billion-kilowatt dam)
    {Oops, there goes a billion-kilowatt dam }

    (A problem's just a toy balloon, they'll be bursted soon)
    (They're just bound to go pop)

    Oops, there goes another problem ker-plop
    (Oops, there goes another problem ker-plop)
    {Oops, there goes another problem ker-plop}


  3. I'm afraid Putin, Gore, and Ohamabama are in fro a Cold Awakening.

    I'm afraid we're running out of oil at a bad time.

  4. Let's take our house apart!

    We'll start by raising taxes to slow the economy down. Then we'll ruin the military so we negotiate from a position of weakness. We'll continue to fuddle along on drilling in our own country and off our shores. We'll waste massive amounts of money on global warming when the earth is cooling. We'll pack the court with ideologues so our influence remains after we have been run out of town. We'll let every TB positive come into the country unwashed. (BY THE WAY THERE WAS A LETTUCE WARNING AT MCDONALDS TODAY-DON'T EAT LETTUCE FROM CALIFORNIA IT SAID) We'll try our level best to shift assets away from productivity, and we'll make a big stink about more and more federal programs. We'll muzzle the press with a new fairness doctrine. Any many other things you don't even suspect. And when the house of cards comes down, we'll say it would have worked if the Republicans had just let us do it right.

  5. I forgot to add the part about mortgaging the remaining value of the house to end global poverty, but that's a minor item. Particularily when you think how desperately Mugabe needs some cash.

  6. If you are still cogent, you might want to check this out on C2C tonite--

    In the first hour, Carol Simontacchi will discuss how the food industry is destroying our brains and harming our children.

  7. Big Brown, shivering from steroid withdrawal, and running on a bum hoof, came in dead last, while the longest shot all of won the Belmont Stakes! And a lot of money was lost, and won.

  8. And, of course, while we're tearing down this old venerable old house of ours, we got to disarm the citizens--from John Lott's Website--

    Obama on Guns

    According to an email sent around by Don Kates, the NRA has apparently released a statement about Obama's views on guns.

    The presidential primary season is finally over, and it is now time for gun owners to take a careful look at just where apparent nominee Barack Obama stands on issues related to the Second Amendment. During the primaries, Obama tried to hide behind vague statements of support for "sportsmen" or unfounded claims of general support for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

    But his real record, based on votes taken, political associations, and long standing positions, shows that Barack Obama is a serious threat to Second Amendment liberties. Don’t listen to his campaign rhetoric! Look instead to what he has said and done during his entire political career.

    FACT: Barack Obama voted to allow reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt the firearms industry.

    FACT: Barack Obama wants to re-impose the failed and discredited Clinton Gun Ban.

    FACT: Barack Obama voted to ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting.

    FACT: Barack Obama has endorsed a complete ban on handgun ownership.

    FACT: Barack Obama supports local gun bans in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other cities.

    FACT: Barack Obama voted to uphold local gun bans and the criminal prosecution of people who use firearms in self-defense.

    FACT: Barack Obama supports requiring law-abiding gun owners to register their firearms.

    FACT: Barack Obama refused to sign a friend-of-the-court brief in support of individual Second Amendment rights in the Heller case.

    FACT: Barack Obama wants to eliminate your Right to Carry.

    FACT: Barack Obama was a member of the Board of Directors of the Joyce Foundation, the leading source of funds for anti-gun organizations and "research."

    FACT: Barack Obama supported a proposal to ban gun stores within 5 miles
    of a school or park, which would eliminate almost every gun store in

    FACT: Barack Obama voted not to notify gun owners when the state of Illinois did records searches on them.

    FACT: Barack Obama voted against a measure to lower the Firearms Owners Identification card age minimum from 21 to 18, a measure designed to assist young people in the military.

    FACT: Barack Obama favors a ban on standard capacity magazines.

    FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory micro-stamping.

    FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory waiting periods.

    FACT: Barack Obama supports repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment, which prohibits information on gun traces collected by the BATFE from being used in reckless lawsuits against firearm dealers and manufacturers.

    FACT: Barack Obama supports "one-gun-a-month" sales restrictions.

    FACT: Barack Obama supports a ban on inexpensive handguns.

    FACT: Barack Obama supports a ban on the resale of police issued firearms, even if the money is going to police departments for replacement equipment.

    FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory firearm training requirements for all gun owners and a ban on gun ownership for persons under the age of 21.

    Thanks to Don Kates for this list.

  9. Wretchard said...

    That comment about the short skirt was uncalled for.

    6/07/2008 10:42:00 PM

    hehehe--You got to keep it down, Ash, or keep it over here, where you won't get in trouble. Certainly don't try to pull that kind of thing in Canada. I thought it was a pretty good comment, myself.

  10. Nahncee wants her gas tank filled, and is willing to steal the oil from Saudi Arabia, or nationalize the oil companies, or both, to do it, by G-D! and is going to vote for whichever candiate promises to do it the fastest.

  11. And when the house of cards comes down, we'll say it would have worked if the Republicans had just let us do it right.

    Substitute "Democrats" for "Republicans" and that's the War on Terror story, told at the BC.

    It's always the other fellas fault. The guy who thought we were on the wrong course, he gets blamed when the ship is on the shoals.

    Magazine cover at Wal-Mart, says Bush was on a cocaine binge at the White House, didn't read the story, the headline was proof enough. But, boy oh boy, was Laura pissed off.

  12. Every man should have a wife like Laura around, to keep things from getting out of hand. And how hypocritical of Bush, sending money to Mexico for a drug war!

    Lilith is asking to have her back scratched, right there, between the shoulder blades.


  13. You have been warned

    Today, a prominent member of the Israeli government noticeably escalated a warning about the Iranian nuclear threat. This report from Reuters explains:

    "If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective," Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz told the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

    "Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable," said the former army chief who has also been defense minister.

    Iranian-born Mofaz has been a main party rival of the Israeli prime minister, particularly following the 2006 elections when Olmert was forced to hand the defense portfolio to Labour, his main coalition partner, at Mofaz's expense.

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