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jdavidb (1361)

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J. David Blackstone has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering and nine years of experience at a wireless telecommunications company, where he learned Perl and never looked back. J. David has an advantage in that he works really hard, he has a passion for writing good software, and he knows many of the world's best Perl programmers.

Journal of jdavidb (1361)

Friday May 24, 2002
10:58 PM

"Light" reading

[ #5213 ]

My brother bought me a copy of the Federalist papers tonight. It was a bargain value at Barnes and Noble for $10! If you're politically minded, run down to your local B&N and see if they have the same deal.

For those of you who don't live in this country and might not know, the Federalist papers were a series of editorials published in New York newspapers (or just one paper?) by some of the U.S. founders advocating the new U.S. Constitution after it was written but before it was ratified. It's one of the best commentaries on what the Constitution intended. It's also a great exposition of the advantages of the system.

So, I'm wondering: will this book propel me further into my libertarian leanings, or draw me back? I've heard the Federalist papers cited to justify just about everyone's points of view as "what the founders intended."

I really fear that I've lost a lot of my intelligence in the last two years or so. The language is high, archaic, and formal, but in the past that wouldn't have caused me as much of a problem as it seems to be causing now. They say brain cells are never replaced after they die, you know.

I've always had a penchant for dead political arguments. While the issues in the Federalist are still very much alive and well today, I was always the one in high school history class trying to argue for one of the points of view (usually one that was long since rejected by "everyone."). Hamilton and the Federal Bank; Jefferson and "strict constructionism"; all these things meant a whole lot more to me than any of the other kids in my high school history classes.

It'll probably take me awhile before I begin to scratch the surface of this treasure, but I'm looking forward into the insights it provides. People always say things like, "I love my country but hate my government," which hurts me deeply. It's a beautiful system, and while I haven't always believed in everyone in charge, each peaceful transition of power, every liberty I enjoy, and each wonderful check and balance testify to what a great situation we have. Lately I've particularly begun to appreciate the absolute freedom of speech guarantees, something I didn't realize weren't present in every democracy. Of course, they're not as "absolute" as I would like, but it's still a good deal.

"Our federal union: it must and shall be preserved." My favorite quote from Andrew Jackson, when Southerners were trying to provoke him into making a statement of disunity.

Great quote from Federalist #1: "So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy." Great point from Hamilton, the man on the $10US bill; still very relevant today.

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  • Don't forget to read "The Anti-Federalist Papers" as well since they represent the other side that was a big reason for the Bill of Rights. The book I have also has some of the Constitutional Convention debates as well.

    You can check Project Gutenberg for copies of both sets of Papers. I have "The Federalist Papers" on my Handspring for those slow moving queues I seem to chose.
    • Thanks. I had forgotten there were "anti-Federalist papers." I was rather suprised to see a part in the Federalist papers that seemed to be arguing against the need for a Bill of Rights. I knew that was one of the main objections, but I had thought it was sort of a universally shared objection. I guess generalizations were never true for any age. :)

      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers