I gave my friend Noel Taylor (yes, the noted William Howard Taft scholar) a book as a New Year’s gift.
This was his response.
When you first presented me with “President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath”
by Mac Barnett, I delighted over what I assumed would be a scholarly and well researched work that would share new insights into the life of one of our most misunderstood presidents. Lamentably, having now read the book cover to cover several times (an enterprise of only two to three minutes’ time) I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that historically speaking, Barnett is on very shaky ground. Although he notes correctly that Taft was our nation’s 27th president and accurately reports the first names of Taft’s wife and some of his cabinet members, most of the book is taken up with a graphic (literally!) realization of what is nearly universally regarded as an apocryphal tale.
I suppose the title should have given the game away, but I admit I expected more from Mr. Barnett, whose previous works such as “Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem”
seem substantially more grounded in fact than this latest work. As it stands, this purported history of a widely discredited story comes across at best as a children’s fairy tale, and at worst as a character assassination of the lowest order.
The real kicker though, is that despite all of these obvious shortcomings, Mr. Barnett has once again, and at the eleventh hour, managed to spirit away from me that recognition which I have chased in futility for over 20 years now. Namely, with “President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath”, Mr. Barnett has won the Bancroft Prize!
So I ask, just who the hell do I have to blow to get a Bancroft Prize in American History?
Rants.org is grateful to Prof. Taylor for permission to reprint his review here.
An interesting bill was just introduced in the New York State Senate: open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S161-2015
AN ACT to amend the tax law, in relation to providing a tax credit to individuals for up to two hundred dollars of expenses related to the development and posting of an open source or free license program …
It’s good that it specifically cites the Open Source Initiative and the Free Software Foundation as arbiters of what constitutes an “open source or free license program”. Here’s the full text:
STATE OF NEW YORK
January 7, 2015
Introduced by Sen. SQUADRON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
printed to be committed to the Committee on Investigations and Govern-
AN ACT to amend the tax law, in relation to providing a tax credit to
individuals for up to two hundred dollars of expenses related to the
development and posting of an open source or free license program
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. Section 606 of the tax law is amended by adding a new
subsection (ccc) to read as follows:
(CCC) OPEN SOURCE OR FREE LICENSE CREDIT. (1) A TAXPAYER SHALL BE
ALLOWED A CREDIT, TO BE COMPUTED AS PROVIDED IN THIS SUBSECTION, AGAINST
THE TAX IMPOSED PURSUANT TO SECTION SIX HUNDRED ONE OF THIS PART. THE
AMOUNT OF CREDIT SHALL EQUAL UP TO TWENTY PERCENT OF THE TOTAL
OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES OF THE TAXPAYER USED IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A
PROGRAM THAT IS PROVIDED TO THE PUBLIC UNDER AN OPEN SOURCE OR FREE
SOFTWARE LICENSE, UP TO A MAXIMUM OF TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS.
(2) FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBSECTION, A PROGRAM SHALL QUALIFY FOR
THE CREDIT PROVIDED BY THIS SUBSECTION IF THE CODE FOR SUCH PROGRAM HAS
BEEN RELEASED UNDER AN OPEN SOURCE LICENSE RECOGNIZED BY THE OPEN SOURCE
INITIATIVE, OR HAS BEEN RELEASED UNDER A FREE SOFTWARE LICENSE RECOG-
NIZED BY THE FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION.
(3) THIS SUBSECTION SHALL APPLY TO ANY INDIVIDUAL FOR ANY TAXABLE YEAR
ONLY IF SUCH INDIVIDUAL ELECTS TO HAVE THIS SECTION APPLY FOR SUCH TAXA-
BLE YEAR. AN ELECTION TO HAVE THIS SECTION APPLY MAY NOT BE MADE FOR ANY
TAXABLE YEAR IF SUCH ELECTION IS IN EFFECT WITH RESPECT TO SUCH INDIVID-
UAL FOR ANY OTHER TAXABLE YEAR AND PERTAINING TO THE SAME PROGRAM OR ANY
(4) IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AMOUNT OF THE CREDIT PROVIDED BY THIS
SUBSECTION EXCEED THE TAXPAYER'S TAX FOR THE TAXABLE YEAR. HOWEVER, IF
THE AMOUNT OF CREDIT OTHERWISE ALLOWABLE PURSUANT TO THIS SUBSECTION FOR
ANY TAXABLE YEAR RESULTS IN SUCH EXCESS AMOUNT, ANY AMOUNT OF CREDIT NOT
DEDUCTIBLE IN SUCH TAXABLE YEAR MAY BE CARRIED OVER TO THE FOLLOWING
YEAR OR YEARS AND MAY BE DEDUCTED FROM THE TAXPAYER'S TAX FOR SUCH YEAR
S 2. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to taxable
years beginning on and after the first of January next succeeding the
date on which it shall have become a law.
(I didn’t know New York did this stuff in ALL CAPS — I guess that makes it official!)