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Book ‘Em, Ricko

Posted by Rick · May 25th, 2005 · 7 Comments

The astute reader will have noticed that I haven’t blogged in several days now. Interestingly, I haven’t suffered much in the way of withdrawal. No doubt that’s because what’s been keeping me from my blog is finishing off a brief for a Hell’s Angels case I’ve been working. Arguments only in that brief consumed 151 pages. It was the brief from — dare I say this? — Hell. I turned it over to the paralegal for formatting Monday evening.

In addition, I’ve had the “pleasure” of arguing before a “two-judge panel” — and the entire moot court class — that what happened at Abu Ghraib was entirely justified and necessary. This, of course, is something I don’t believe (at all). I’m told by people who know my beliefs, however, that I was convincing.

So, in a sense, I’ve been “blogging in real life.”

I promised Peter Sean Bradley over at Lex Communis that my first post after I finished the Hell’s Angels brief would be a response to a “Tag, You’re It” email he sent me “on or about” May 19, 2005, concerning “bibliophilic proclivities” and so, without further ado…

Bedroom Reading
Half of my newest acquisition: It nearly reaches the cathedral ceiling in the master bedroom!
1. Total Number of Books I’ve Owned

Now this is an interesting question. Total number of books I have owned? There are some books I owned in my youth and no longer have, but it never occurred to me to keep a running total!

Mr. Bradley’s answer, however, appears to focus on books he currently owns, so I’ll do the same. (Mr. Bradley, to my knowledge, didn’t make up these questions, so he’s not to blame for flummoxing me with a request for almost 50 — did I say that!?! — years of book ownership.)

As luck would have it, I recently almost doubled the total number of books I own. In the last month or so, I’ve acquired the following for my future law practice:

LaFave’s Search & Seizure, 4th Ed. (6 volumes)
Witkin & Epstein’s California Criminal Law, 3d Ed. (6 volumes)
Witkin’s California Evidence, 4th Ed. (3 volumes)
Rucker & Overland’s California Criminal Practice, Motions, Jury Instructions & Sentencing, 3d Ed. (5 volumes)
A full set of California Reporters, first series (286 volumes)
A set of Cal. Reporters, second series, that stops at volume 61 (61 volumes)
A full-set of West’s Annotated California Codes (over 200 volumes)
A full set of Pacific Reporters, first series, and a nearly full-set of the second series — I haven’t unboxed these yet to count them because there’s nowhere to put them currently except in the garage.

These recently displaced an estimated 800 books that used to live on the wall pictured above — most of the displaced books were philosophy, anthropology and history, with a dabbling of just about everything under the sun, including a few self-help books.

Not one room in the house is without books, including closets, bathrooms and garage. Currently, there are at least 500 to 600 books in the garage with nowhere else to live. The house, for the record, was a four-bedroom house until we started knocking down walls. I’d have to put the number of books I own, counting the latest acquisitions, at somewhere between 2000 and 2500.

How to Break Book Addictions is at least one book I’d just have to have…if it existed.

Last Book I Bought

Like my counterpart — I’d like to say “friend,” but I really just know him from his blog — Mr. Bradley, I, too, recently purchased two books: Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century and Richard Florida’s The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent.

Friedman’s book is about the way in which the Internet has “flattened” the world, making it possible for folk from countries like India, Pakistan and China to compete both as individuals and groups against workers in the United States. One of his contentions is that we, Americans, had better get with the program and realize what’s happening. American jobs are being outsourced like crazy, particularly to India, where technology centers to make a geek cry are sprouting like weeds. Just about any job is fair game.

In 2003, some 25,000 U.S. tax returns were done in India. In 2004, the number was 100,000. In 2005, it is expected to be 400,000. In a decade, you will assume that your accountant has outsourced the basic preparation of your tax returns — if not more. — Friedman, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century 13 (2005).

One Indian entrepreneur notes,

Some people will say,”Yes, but you can’t serve me a steak.” True, but I can take the reservation for your table sitting anywhere in the world, if the restaurant does not have an operator. We can say, “Yes, Mr. Friedman, we can give you a table by the window.” In other words, there are parts of the whole dining-out experience that we can decompose [he said it, not me] and outsource. If you go back and read the basic economics textbooks, they will tell you: Goods are traded, but services are consumed and produced in the same place. And you cannot export a haircut. But we are coming close to exporting a haircut, the appointment part. What kind of haircut do you want? Which barber do you want? All those things can and will be done by a call center far away. — Friedman, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century 15 (2005).

Florida’s book is in a similar vein. I haven’t started it yet, but the inside jacket starts off “For the first time ever, the United States is truly in danger of losing its most crucial economic advantage — its status as the world’s greatest talent magnet — argues best-selling author and economist Richard Florida.” The book is built on the same premise as Friedman’s: the world, my friends, is flat.

Unlike Mr. Bradley, I suspect, if pressed, I could work this into an ice-breaking pick-up line or two in a bar. No doubt, the target would cough up the Holy Grail every chick magnet seeks: her phone number.

Problem is — though his sing-song response would probably be “T(h)ank you very MUCH” — I’m not sure I’d want to call it only to whisper sweet-nothings into Rajkumar’s ear.

Last Book I’ve Read

Oh, boy…this is a tough one. I actually never read one book at a time. And I confess that I’ve learned some books just aren’t worth reading all the way through. You read a chapter or two, skim the rest, and you’ve got the author’s point. (This isn’t much fun with fiction, but it works wonders on tomes like Friedman’s with a single theme.)

The last book I think I read almost cover-to-cover was Charles Freeman’s The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason. The main thesis of the book is that the Emperor Constantine destroyed the world by converting to Christianity. Sound familiar? 😉

But I have to confess that the last book I for sure read cover-to-cover was Professor Harry Frankfurt’s fun little essay-turned-into-a-book: On Bullshit. I strongly recommend it — and that’s no lie.

Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me

I found it interesting that the first two books on Mr. Bradley’s list could easily have ended up on mine. And, as for him, they had a big impact on my way of thinking.

Oddly, we (apparently) went to opposite sides of the spectrum in our responsive development.

Still, I’ll put my list thusly:

  1. The Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison and Jay. I’ve written quite a lot of stuff on this blog based on my readings of the Federalist Papers. This book, in my opinion, is the book to read for anyone who wants to understand the reasoning that went into the development of the Constitution of the United States and get a hint of the intellectual milieu whence it was born.
  2. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. This book is subtitled “How to Change Your Mind and Your Life.” Unlike a lot of “self-help” books I remember this book as having a solid grounding in cognitive therapeutic techniques. In fact, today it’s marketed as a self-help book, but I recall reading it in connection with learning about cognitive therapy. I read it years ago and it is my firm belief that I wouldn’t be who I am today without having done so. I heartily recommend it.
  3. The Bible, any version. The Bible is not only at times a fascinating read — particularly if you get your hands on some of the spin-offs, like The Pearl of Great Price where, as I recall, you’ll learn how the lost tribe of Israel submarined their way to the United States, or another spin-off, The Late Great Planet Earth (which generated its own spin-offs) for a wild religious sci-fi/fantasy look at the future predicted by fundamentalist christians — and the Bible (or perversions of it), of course, is increasingly a window into the culture of the United States. I prefer the version from the Jewish Publication Society (Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures). Alas, for (hopefully!) obvious reasons, it doesn’t contain the so-called New Testament. For that, I turn to the Zondervan Bible Study Library — Pradis 5.0. The version I bought contains 9 translations of the New Testament, as well as both the Greek and Hebrew versions. Little known fact: I once spent two years at the California Christian College (a Freewill Baptist college) because I heard it was the best place to learn Koiné Greek — boy, was that fun! The Freewillers were trying to get accreditation for the college, so they allowed people like me in. But I will never forget the day the Dean of Men approached me, after I guess I’d answered one-to-many questions about my beliefs to one of the gals there. He said how happy they were to have me there, and a bunch of other stuff I’ve forgotten, and then said, “We trust you will not fraternize with the female students.” Oy, veh!
  4. The Dictionary. Uh, yeah, I really did read it. I don’t know that I can honestly say, “I read it cover-to-cover,” but when I was young, I’d go to look up a word and end up spending an hour reading the dictionary. Hey, if you’re going to spew irrefragable sesquipedalian tripe into the chiaroscuro of a world that is busily moving towards black and white, you gotta have a few words up your sleeve.
  5. Migrating from NT 4 to Windows 2000 Exam Prep. Maybe you’re thinking now, “What kind of geek is this guy?” This book, though, did have a huge impact on my life. You see, I wrote Chapter 20: Test Labs and Pilot Deployment. It was the first time I’d ever been paid for writing — and I did it in about one week from the time I was asked to help out. Plus I had to make up faux test questions at the end of the chapter. It was really cool to use the names of family and friends (as well as my own, of course!) in the examples.

By the way, you can learn more about that last book — and read Chapter 20 online — here.

Notably absent from the list above? Any works by Karl Marx. 😉 I thought he was “more than a bit off.” (I do, however, own several books about Marxist philosophy, including Marx’s own work.)

Tag 5 People and Have Them Do This on Their Blog

You know, if Mr. Bradley hadn’t tagged me, he’d be first on my tag list. Since his post has been up for awhile, I’ll tag Chepooka, whose blog I’ve enjoyed for some time (even though I liked it better when multiple articles showed up on the main page, instead of just part of one).

I don’t know if I can convince Yupki Girl to participate, but it’s worth a try. After all, she seems to be creepy, funny, trendy, curious and cool. In short, bizarre. Plus she often throws Tagalog phrases into her blog articles, which brings back fond memories of my days aboard the U.S.S. Anchorage (LSD-36 — now there’s a crazy ship label for ya!). I expect a bit of a cosmopolitan list from her.

I don’t know anyone who is more into books than my book-binding friend, Abi Sutherland. So, Abi… “Tag, You’re It.” Maybe this will get her blogging again.

I wanted to tap Dirty Flower Girl, but she seems to be overwhelmed right now. And I don’t want to add to her stress, so for my fourth pick, I’m going to softly stroke tag Susie Bright. She’s one of my new “fun reads” who, according to the Rolling Stone, “could not be accused of shutting up.” I don’t know her well — minimal contact via the Internet only, you know — but she likes to recommend books to folk to expand their horizons (and a few other things that might need expanding), so hopefully she’ll take up the challenge.

One person whose library I’d love to poke through is the most twisted name in news. I don’t actually know her name, since she writes under the nom de plume of “newswriter” — and even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell. She has reasons for maintaining her anonymity with which I heartily agree. Still, I can’t think of too many people I’ve enjoyed exchanging emails with as much as her. So, newswriter, “Tag. You’re it, too.”

And lastly, a bonus. I don’t know if we can get her talking again. She pretty much dropped out of the blogosphere after the 2004 election. I just hope her parachute held out. What do you say, Cat?

Categories: Personal Life


7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gweny // May 25, 2005 at 7:10 pm

    That’s ok. I have been tagged with this same meme from another source, so I’ll go ahead and consider myself tagged by you as well. I’m working up my answers as we speak… or rather, as I type???

    P.S. I am a bit overwhlemed, but that seems to be my regular state of being. So no worries. I’m cool 😀

  • 2 Yupki // May 25, 2005 at 11:48 pm

    Hey Rick! Whew, books, huh? Okay, will post on this tomorrow — give me a night to think (and count my sheep, er, books). Hope you’re doing okay! 🙂

  • 3 newswriter // May 28, 2005 at 7:22 am

    All right, Rick. Consider it done. But sheesh, where do you put all those books?

  • 4 Rick Horowitz // May 28, 2005 at 8:40 am

    Our house used to be a four-bedroom house. We knocked down a wall to make it a three-bedroom house. (Plus a hole in the other bedroom to take out the window and replace it with french doors opening onto a 3-ton sandstone patio, but that has nothing to do with books.) That room became an office. The closets became bookshelves, plus there are three other bookcases in the room. There’s a large display case in the living room with some books in it. There are bookcases in another room. There are a few books in each bathroom (for reading when you’re…uh…stuck ;)). There’s a bookshelf in the kitchen (cookbooks, of course). There are books in cupboards in the laundry room. Most closets have books in them. And there are storage racks in the garage with boxes of books that we haven’t space for, but didn’t want to get rid of. (Someday, we’ll get a larger house with a real library.)

    As I said in my post: Books in every room and closet!

    Oh, by the way, the picture in the post? That’s just one wall. 😉 If you look closely, you’ll see the edge of a lighter brown bookcase on the right. That contains a set of the Great Books of the Western World, a set of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, several other “antique” books, plus some history, books by people like Churchill and other classics.

  • 5 chepooka // May 30, 2005 at 11:35 am

    Book Meme

    So Rick tagged me with this meme last week and I did not forget. I am back, rested, and ready to blog, baby! 1. Total Number of Books I’ve Owned - Can anybody answer this question with certainty? I mean, I can't even guess, really. Fo…

  • 6 abi // Jun 4, 2005 at 3:51 am

    OK, Rick, done it. Though I nearly didn’t, since you didn’t mention my Constitution in your list of favorites!

  • 7 Rick Horowitz // Jun 4, 2005 at 8:06 am

    You know, it’s funny that you say that. I almost did, because I carry it around with me so much. But when I wrote the post, I was thinking of the five books that shaped me into who I am.

    Truth be told, I wasn’t much aware of the Constitution as a child and even into my earlier adult years. It wasn’t until the year or two prior to law school that I began to understand the importance of it. By then, it was already seriously endangered.

    Nevertheless, I probably should have given at least an honorable mention to such a wonderful piece of work!

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