In Praise Of Loopholes

Today in The Morning News I have an article entitled In Praise Of Loopholes.

Thanks to Rebecca for telling me about the Anal Motion (well, if you weren’t planning to read the piece, that probably piqued your interest), Катюша for the tip-off on Eruvs, and Torrez for reminding me of “Pudding Guy.”

27 thoughts on “In Praise Of Loopholes

  1. I’m pretty sure that in one of the many nature shows that I have watched over the years there was some form of animal that used birth control as well. I guess it’s time for me to do some research. But that aside great article!

  2. Knots have “loop holes.” Get it?

    As an architect, I feel the need to point out yet another good building-related tax evasion scheme. The French architect Mansart developed the Mansard roof form in response to the government taxing property on the basis of the number of floors “under the edge of the roof” of a house. So, why not put several floors of a building in the “roof,” thereby reducing your overall taxes. Clever. And not bad looking either, at least in their original form.

    Keep up the good blog.

  3. Dolphins and Bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees) are the only non-humans that “mate for pleasure” – meaning they will mate despite either knowing they cannot produce offspring, or not knowing for sure.

  4. There was a window tax in France. Ingenious because who would want to live in a house with no windows?

  5. The British taxed tea. So a bunch of clever colonists would put the tea in Boston Harbor during a costume party so that it technically became “flotsam” and was not taxable.


    Or was that because they were protesting something? I get my stories confused since I quit drinking caffeine.

  6. Great piece of writing, and very funny and creative!

    So much reading to catch up on here… argh! I’m never gonna get it all read… :(

  7. I’ve heard (but this may well be untrue) that in Greece a there was no tax on a building if it didn’t have a finished roof. Lots of new buildings were then never quite finished – they had all had big tarp-covered holes in the rooves.

  8. There was also a house in England that was built on a bridge, since taxes were collected by how large a footprint a house had on “land.” They ended uo only being taxed for the bridge abutments.

  9. There was a window tax in France. Ingenious because who would want to live in a house with no windows?
    Britain had it too. It was abandoned because the answer to your question is poor people who are willing to live in dank, unhealthy conditions, to avoid tax, but then get sick.

  10. This Eruv business is fascinating! Turns out they don’t necessarily surround only Jewish communities – if there’s a even a small Jewish population in a particular area, an Eruv might be constructed. There’s a huge one surrounding 80 square miles of Los Angeles, a “prebuilt” eruv in Berkeley, and even Seattle has a few. (See the Wikipedia entry on eruv for pointers to all of these).

    Uh… I hadn’t even heard of eruvs until I read your article early last night. So guess what my reading was for the rest of the night? ;)

  11. I loved the article, I truly did. I even wrote a response to it on my own blog. But my response was about your article’s structure. I’m in the thick of paper-writing season and your article actually serves as a very nice model for what one of my typical short papers (~2000 words) should look like in terms of argument structure.

    Well done. A+.

  12. Animals have a variety of techniques for birth control. In some species, the female can put embryos on hold for months while waiting for conditions to improve; in others, she can simply terminate a pregnancy and reabsorb the nutrients in the fetal cells.

    Then there are the salmon, which pretty much die on schedule whether they mate successfully or not.

  13. Similar to the topic of eruvs, Shalom Auslander read a story on This American Life about being a Dead Watcher. In order to comfort the soul, which cannot leave the vicinity of the body until the burial, someone must sit with the body. People hire out a Dead Watcher to sit with their relatives at the funeral home overnight.

  14. I remember Mr. Pudding, but I didn’t know he wound up donating all that food. Nice ending to that one. And the eruvs thing was a complete surprise, and really interesting. Good stuff.

  15. Also, as the first item shows and as I learned a few years ago in Puerto Rico, you have to be really careful with your pronunciation when you tell somebody “Happy New Year” in Spanish.

  16. Well, if you happen to tear an espanophone a new asshole, now you know what to say afterwards.

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