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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."

Posted on April 25, 2006 to Elsewhere


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!

Posted by: e.thermal on April 25, 2006 9:04 AM

ahh found a link to the book, the show I was watching was stating (paraphrasing, badly) that in some species they turn to homosexual sex in times of over population(and apparently any other time too) as a form of birth control. Anyway the book does the science.


Posted by: e.thermal on April 25, 2006 9:14 AM

Very interesting read, but why the Boy Scout's knots on the top?

Posted by: Scott aka SRH on April 25, 2006 10:21 AM

Your story was linked to from metafilter.

I enjoyed it.

Posted by: Matt on April 25, 2006 11:19 AM

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.

Posted by: north on April 25, 2006 1:19 PM

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.

Posted by: zeekster on April 25, 2006 1:52 PM

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

Posted by: Lulufadoo on April 25, 2006 2:04 PM

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.

Posted by: Lost Poke on April 25, 2006 2:07 PM

Excellent piece—highly entertaining.

Posted by: theinsider on April 25, 2006 5:14 PM

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... :(

Posted by: Debra on April 25, 2006 10:28 PM

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.

Posted by: Jaap on April 25, 2006 11:35 PM

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.

Posted by: Scott aka SRH on April 26, 2006 4:41 AM

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.

Posted by: Andrew on April 26, 2006 4:44 AM

Very interesting.

Time for loophole hunting in the workplace, folks!

Posted by: Kelly on April 26, 2006 6:48 AM

Good article!

Posted by: Kathryn on April 26, 2006 12:19 PM

Thanks for the great read!

Posted by: Mike Ernst on April 26, 2006 3:16 PM

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? ;)

Posted by: Abracadab on April 26, 2006 6:08 PM

Read the article, then googled to find your blog. Just wanted to say, thanks for the great read!

Posted by: Dan Diephouse on April 26, 2006 7:38 PM

You know, you are getting pretty good at this writing thing.

Posted by: Mister Man on April 26, 2006 7:44 PM

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+.

Posted by: Jaclyn Kaye on April 26, 2006 7:45 PM

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.

Posted by: paul on April 27, 2006 7:49 AM

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.

Posted by: Lost Poke on April 27, 2006 8:41 AM

I love the pudding guy. He's my new hero.

Posted by: sandraregina on April 27, 2006 12:20 PM

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.

Posted by: MarkDM on April 28, 2006 3:27 PM

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.

Posted by: MarkDM on April 28, 2006 3:29 PM

Congratulations on the publication, Matt. It's a great read.

Posted by: Robert on April 28, 2006 9:16 PM

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

Posted by: LAN3 on May 2, 2006 5:14 PM