Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 26th, 2010

Interesting combination: Long Form + Instapaper

leave a comment »

Read about it.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 10:45 am

The bright side of dropping out of the Middle Class: Money makes you unhappy

leave a comment »

And here’s why, as explained by Jonah Lehrer:

Money is surprisingly bad at making us happy. Once we escape the trap of poverty, levels of wealth have an extremely modest impact on levels of happiness, especially in developed countries. Even worse, it appears that the richest nation in history – 21st century America – is slowly getting less pleased with life. (Or as the economists behind this recent analysis concluded: “In the United States, the [psychological] well-being of successive birth-cohorts has gradually fallen through time.”)

Needless to say, this data contradicts one of the central assumptions of modern society, which is that more money equals more pleasure. That’s why we work hard, fret about the stock market and save up for that expensive dinner/watch/phone/car/condo. We’ve been led to believe that dollars are delight in a fungible form.

But the statistical disconnect between money and happiness raises a fascinating question: Why doesn’t money make us happy? One intriguing answer comes from a new study by psychologists at the University of Liege, published in Psychological Science. The scientists explore the “experience-stretching hypothesis,” an idea first proposed by Daniel Gilbert. He explains “experience-stretching” with the following anecdote:

I’ve played the guitar for years, and I get very little pleasure from executing an endless repetition of three-chord blues. But when I first learned to play as a teenager, I would sit upstairs in my bedroom happily strumming those three chords until my parents banged on the ceiling…Doesn’t it seem reasonable to invoke the experience-stretching hypothesis and say that an experience that once brought me pleasure no longer does? A man who is given a drink of water after being lost in the Mojave Desert may at that moment rate his happiness as eight. A year later, the same drink might induce him to feel no better than a two.

What does experience-stretching have to do with money and happiness? The Liege psychologists propose that, because money allows us to enjoy the best things in life – we can stay at expensive hotels and eat exquisite sushi and buy the nicest gadgets – we actually decrease our ability to enjoy the mundane joys of everyday life. (Their list of such pleasures includes ”sunny days, cold beers, and chocolate bars”.) And since most of our joys are mundane – we can’t sleep at the Ritz every night – our ability to splurge actually backfires. We try to treat ourselves, but we end up spoiling ourselves.

The study itself is straightforward…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 10:06 am

Fossil Jaw Could Be From World’s Oldest Known Dog

leave a comment »

It dates back 14,000 years—and the story includes the growing belief that dogs were domesticated (from wolves) multiple times.

No cat info in story, alas.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 10:04 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

George Carlin on the American Dream

with one comment

Via John Cole—and related to the statistics I just posted:

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 10:02 am

Posted in Daily life, Video

Pomplamoose – If You Think You Need Some Lovin

leave a comment »

Via James Fallows, who has more background:

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 10:01 am

Posted in Daily life, Music, Video

Waterboarding by other countries is definitely torture

leave a comment »

Robin McDowell for Associated Press:

A U.N.-backed tribunal sentenced the Khmer Rouge’s chief jailer to 35 years for overseeing the deaths of up to 16,000 people — the first verdict involving a senior member of the "killing fields" regime that devastated a generation of Cambodians.

Victims and their relatives burst into tears after learning that Kaing Guek Eav — also known as Duch — will actually serve only 19 years after being convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity after taking into account time already served and other factors.

That means the 67-year-old could one day walk free, a prospect that infuriated many who have been demanding justice for victims of the regime that killed an estimated 1.7 million people between 1975-79.

"I can’t accept this," said Saodi Ouch, 46, shaking so hard she could hardly talk. "My family died … my older sister, my older brother. I’m the only one left."

More than three decades after the ultra-communist Khmer Rouge killed a quarter of Cambodia’s population while trying to turn the country into a vast agrarian collective, Duch is so far the only person to face justice. The group’s top leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998 and four other senior Khmer Rouge leaders are awaiting trial for their part in the deaths from execution, starvation, medical neglect and slave-like working conditions.

The U.N.-backed tribunal — 10 years and $100 million in the making — said it took into consideration the historical context of the atrocities: The regime was the product of the troubled Cold War times.

It also recognized that Duch, who headed Tuol Sleng, a secret detention center for the worst "enemies" of the state, was not a member of the Khmer Rouge’s inner clique and that he had cooperated with the court, admitted responsibility and showed "limited" expressions of remorse.

During the 77-day proceedings, Duch admitted to overseeing the deaths of up to 16,000 people who passed through the prison’s gates. Torture used to extract confessions included pulling out prisoners’ toenails, administering electric shocks and waterboarding.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 9:54 am

Posted in Torture

Goodbye, Middle Class, and welcome to all the new arrivals to the lower economic rungs

leave a comment »

Get used to your new lifestyle and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. From Yahoo Finance:

The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.

So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn’t tell us that the "global economy" would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.

Here are the statistics to prove it:

•    83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
•    61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
•    66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
•    36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
•    A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
•    24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
•    Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
•    Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
•    For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
•    In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
•    As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
•    The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
•    Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
•    In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.
•    The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America’s corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
•    In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
•    More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
•    or the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
•    This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
•    Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.
•    Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
•    The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 9:52 am

More on the war logs

leave a comment »

From the Center for American Progress in an email:

Yesterday afternoon, the whistle-blower organization released a massive archive of 92,000 classified reports revealing an "unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal." The archive, containing reports from the ground written during a six-year period from 2004 through 2009, were released to the The New York Times, British newspaper The Guardian, and Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine "several weeks ago on the condition that they not report on the material before Sunday." While the documents — which are already being compared to the Vietnam War’s Pentagon Papers — reveal little completely new information, and do not completely contradict the official account, they "confirm what the Afghan War skeptics have been arguing for some time — and completely invalidate those who have been promulgating a rosier view of outcomes inside Afghanistan." Revelations include reports that the "Taliban have used portable heat-seeking missiles against allied aircraft," weapons which "helped the Afghan mujahedeen defeat the Soviet occupation in the 1980s." The reports also detail the "omnipresence" of and previously unreported problems with drone aircraft in Afghanistan, while revealing new information about the CIA’s paramilitary operations, and a commando unit that operated outside the NATO chain of command to hunt top Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. The archive is also "a vivid reminder that the Afghan conflict until recently was a second-class war, with money, troops and attention lavished on Iraq while soldiers and Marines lamented that the Afghans they were training were not being paid," the New York Times noted. As the war becomes increasingly unpopular, "This massive storehouse taken, it would appear, from U.S. Central Command’s CIDNE data warehouse — has the potential to be strategically significant, raising questions about how and why America and her allies are conducting the war," the Danger Room’s Spencer Ackerman noted. The White House reaction to the release was swift, with National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones saying in a statement, "The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security." Jones downplayed the significance of the leak and noted that the documents mostly detail events that occurred under the Bush administration. The documents were written well before Obama "announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan…precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years." A spokesperson for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the leader was "shocked" by the size of the leak, but not its contents. Still, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement, "However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 9:36 am

The Party of Lincoln vs. The Party of Jefferson Davis

leave a comment »

Mark Kleiman:

Congressman Zack Wamp of Tennessee, running for Governor of Tennessee, becomes  the latest prominent Republican to threaten secession if his side keeps losing in the political process created by the Framers. Of course, he puts in the usual extortionist’s polite “Nice-country-you’ve-got-there/shame-if-anything-happened-to-it” formula, but the threat is clear:

I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government.

Note that Wamp as a Congressman, and Rick Perry, as a Governor, have both sworn to uphold the Constitution they now threaten to shred, as provided for in the third clause of Article VI:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.

Fine Christian gentlemen that they are, no doubt Wamp and Perry swore this oath “so help me God,” with one hand on the Bible and the other raised to Heaven. By breaking an oath sworn in such terms, they have violated the Third Commandment (the Second, if you’re Catholic): “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

But let’s leave Wamp’s and Perry’s perjury and blasphemy to their own consciences (if any) and concentrate on their political apostasy. They – and much of the Tea Party wing of the GOP with them – have chosen to stand with Calhoun and Jefferson Davis on the side of nullification and secession. How anyone, having done so, could then have the effrontery to appear at a Lincoln Day dinner is beyond my poor powers of comprehension.

If the Republicans found time on the Congressional schedule to denounce Move-On over the “General Betray-Us” ad, surely the Democrats could find time to censure Zach Wamp – who, unlike Move-On, is subject to Congressional discipline – for violating his oath of office. If all the other Republicans want to vote in favor of sedition, bring it on.

Footnote This does not require the consent of the leadership. A motion of censure is a privileged motion.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 8:53 am

Posted in Congress, Daily life, GOP, Government

Tagged with

Conservative confusion

leave a comment »

Maybe the problem is more serious than ignorance. Maybe actual stupidity is involved. But it’s probably merely dishonesty, a standard conservative trope. Dean Baker:

In an article that discussed the two-tier pay system that Chrysler and GM adopted as part of their rescue plan, the Post told readers that the debate over autoworkers’ wages during the bailout pitted "the advocates of the free market against those for a ‘fair wage.’" Actually, there was no one in this debate advocating a free market. Those who wanted to see the wages of union auto workers cut were still very supportive of the licensing and professional restrictions that protect doctors and other highly paid professionals from foreign competition. These people also support other major forms of interference with market outcomes such as copyrights and patent protection.

The only clearly recognizable view held by those who insisted that autoworkers wages lowered to $14 an hour was that they wanted to see autoworkers get paid less money. The Post should simply report what people say and not attribute an ideology to them which almost certainly does not fit reality. 

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 8:44 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, GOP

Ignorance on the Right

leave a comment »

Adam Sewer posts at The American Prospect:

My apologies for being in Shirley Sherrod overdrive recently, but this piece from Jeffrey Lord nearly made my eyes pop out of my head. After reviewing the Screws case, Lord concludes that Sherrod lied about Sheriff Claude Screws lynching Bobby Hall because he and his colleagues simply beat him to death rather than using a rope:

It’s also possible that she knew the truth and chose to embellish it, changing a brutal and fatal beating to a lynching. Anyone who has lived in the American South (as my family once did) and is familiar with American history knows well the dread behind stories of lynch mobs and the Klan. What difference is there between a savage murder by fist and blackjack — and by dangling rope? Obviously, in the practical sense, none. But in the heyday — a very long time — of the Klan, there were frequent (and failed) attempts to pass federal anti-lynching laws. None to pass federal "anti-black jack" or "anti-fisticuffs" laws.

A lynching is an extrajudicial mob killing. No one who worked to document the practice of lynching in the South limited the definition of the term to solely include those lynchings that occurred using a rope. Don’t believe me? Here’s the definition of lynching as described in the 1922 anti-lynching bill introduced by Republican Representative L.C. Dyer that Lord pretends to know something about:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the phrase "mob or riotous assemblage," when used in this act, shall mean an assemblage composed of three or more persons acting in concert for the purpose of depriving any person of his life without authority of law as a punishment for or to prevent the commission of some actual or supposed public offense.

So Lord concocts a definition of lynching that would only include a narrow number of lynchings, which is a bit like setting the threshold for racism so high that nothing short of having a closet full of white sheets would make you a racist. Also, in case you’re curious, yes, that bill died because of the filibuster. This is the description of the Hall killing Lord offers:

The arrest was made late at night at Hall’s home on a warrant charging Hall with theft of a tire. Hall, a young negro about thirty years of age, was handcuffed and taken by car to the courthouse. As Hall alighted from the car at the courthouse square, the three petitioners began beating him with their fists and with a solid-bar blackjack about eight inches long and weighing two pounds. They claimed Hall had reached for a gun and had used insulting language as he alighted from the car. But after Hall, still handcuffed, had been knocked to the ground, they continued to beat him from fifteen to thirty minutes until he was unconscious. Hall was then dragged feet first through the courthouse yard into the jail and thrown upon the floor, dying. An ambulance was called, and Hall was removed to a hospital, where he died within the hour and without regaining consciousness.

Now does three guys beating someone to death sound like an extrajudicial mob killing to you? Well Lord thinks it’s merely "brutal fisticuffs" because under the definition of lynching he just made up, you need a rope to make it official—I mean they didn’t even set the guy on fire for crying out loud! It’s almost as if instead of being a Southerner tortured by the knowledge of past racial injustice, he’s someone who didn’t know very much about lynching or segregation before he decided to call Shirley Sherrod a liar without bothering to use Google first. What’s sad is that when the generation that actually remembers what living under segregation was like this kind of historical revisionism is just going to get ten times worse.

Finally, how many times are conservatives going to try and smear this woman before some sense of shame or decency kicks in?

So far as I can tell, conservatives lack a sense of shame and a sense of decency. If they had those, they would not be doing the things they do, saying the things they say.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 8:38 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP

The mental illness of the Right

leave a comment »

As you watch this video clip, you’ll see the Right in full display: no logic, no consistency, no shame, no ethics, no morals: it’s a big black hole, the Id in full control. It’s a totally amazing collection.

BTW, it didn’t play in Chrome unless I use the IE Tab extension.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 8:24 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP

Additional commentary on the leaked documents

leave a comment »

Glenn Greenwald: The WikiLeaks Afghanistan leak

James Fallows: On the AfPak / Wikileaks Documents

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has a good collection of reactions to the story.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 8:20 am

The Afghanistan War Logs Released by Wikileaks, the World’s First Stateless News Organization

leave a comment »

Jay Rosen has an excellent column on the big release of war documents: Afghan War Diary, 2004-2010

Der Spiegel: Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It

New York Times: The War Logs

The Guardian: The Afghanistan War Logs

From my internal notebook and Twitter feed, a few notes on this development:

1. Ask yourself: Why didn’t Wikileaks just publish the Afghanistan war logs and let journalists ‘round the world have at them? Why hand them over to The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel first? Because as Julien Assange, founder of Wikileaks, explained last October, if a big story is available to everyone equally, journalists will pass on it.

“It’s counterintuitive,” he said then. “You’d think the bigger and more important the document is, the more likely it will be reported on but that’s absolutely not true. It’s about supply and demand. Zero supply equals high demand, it has value. As soon as we release the material, the supply goes to infinity, so the perceived value goes to zero.”

2. The initial response from the White House was extremely unimpressive:

  • This leak will harm national security. (As if those words still had some kind of magical power, after all the abuse they have been party to.)
  • There’s nothing new here. (Then how could the release harm national security?)
  • Wikileaks is irresponsible; they didn’t even try to contact us! (Hold on: you’re hunting the guy down and you’re outraged that he didn’t contact you?)
  • Wikileaks is against the war in Afghanistan; they’re not an objective news source. (So does that mean the documents they published are fake?)
  • “The period of time covered in these documents… is before the President announced his new strategy. Some of the disconcerting things reported are exactly why the President ordered a three month policy review and a change in strategy.” (Okay, so now we too know the basis for the President’s decision: and that’s a bad thing?)

3. If you don’t know much about Wikileaks or why it exists, the best way to catch up is this New Yorker profile of Julien Assange.

He is the operation’s prime mover, and it is fair to say that WikiLeaks exists wherever he does. At the same time, hundreds of volunteers from around the world help maintain the Web site’s complicated infrastructure; many participate in small ways, and between three and five people dedicate themselves to it full time. Key members are known only by initials—M, for instance—even deep within WikiLeaks, where communications are conducted by encrypted online chat services. The secretiveness stems from the belief that a populist intelligence operation with virtually no resources, designed to publicize information that powerful institutions do not want public, will have serious adversaries.

And for even more depth, listen to this: NPR’s Fresh Air interviewed Philip Shenon, an investigative reporter formerly at the New York Times, about Wikileaks and what it does. (35 min with Q & A.)

4. If you go to the Wikileaks Twitter profile, next to “location” it says: Everywhere. Which is one of the most striking things about it: the world’s first stateless news organization. I can’t think of any prior examples of that. (Dave Winer in the comments: “The blogosphere is a stateless news organization.”) Wikileaks is organized so that if the crackdown comes in one country, the servers can be switched on in another. This is meant to put it beyond the reach of any government or legal system. That’s what so odd about the White House crying, “They didn’t even contact us!”

Appealing to national traditions of fair play in the conduct of news reporting misunderstands what Wikileaks is about: the release of information without regard for national interest. In media history up to now, the press is free to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the laws of a given nation protect it. But Wikileaks is able to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the logic of the Internet permits it. This is new. Just as the Internet has no terrestrial address or central office, neither does Wikileaks.

5. And just as government doesn’t know what to make of Wikileaks (“we’re gonna hunt you down/hey, you didn’t contact us!”) the traditional press isn’t used to this, either. As Glenn Thrush noted on

The WikiLeaks report presented a unique dilemma to the three papers given advance copies of the 92,000 reports included in the Afghan war logs — the New York Times, Germany’s Der Speigel and the UK’s Guardian.

The editors couldn’t verify the source of the reports — as they would have done if their own staffers had obtained them — and they couldn’t stop WikiLeaks from posting it, whether they wrote about it or not.

So they were basically left with proving veracity through official sources and picking through the pile for the bits that seemed to be the most truthful.

Notice how effective this combination is. The information is released in two forms: vetted and narrated to gain old media cred, and released online in full text, Internet-style, which corrects for any timidity or blind spot the editors at Der Spiegel, The Times or the Guardian may show.

6. From an editor’s note: “At the request of the White House, The Times also urged WikiLeaks to withhold any harmful material from its Web site.” There’s the new balance of power, right there. In the revised picture we find the state, which holds the secrets but is powerless to prevent their release; the stateless news organization, deciding how to release them; and the national newspaper in the middle, negotiating the terms of legitimacy between these two actors.

7. If you’re a whistle blower with explosive documents, to whom would you rather give them? …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 8:05 am

Liberalism and Big Business

leave a comment »

Very good post by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

As part of my therapy regime to reduce the pain in my neck and shoulders, I’ve been trying to blog less on weekends. In fact, I’ve been trying to stay away from the keyboard entirely on weekends. That should be pretty easy for the rest of the day, which will be dedicated to setting up my mother’s new computer, which might be bad for my sanity but probably good for my shoulders.

In the meantime, though, I see that his trip to Vegas has prompted Matt Yglesias to double down on his argument against corporate regulation. Here’s the original version:

Regulate business to prevent negative environmental externalities, sure. Basic safety, okay. But the idea that what we need is for a bunch of people to get together and say that it would be better to ban this and that and the other capitalist act between consenting adults just strikes me as the wrong way of going about things. Purely economic regulation of this sort doesn’t have a compelling track record, runs into all kinds of Hayek-esque knowledge problems, and is basically an open invitation down the road for regulatory capture and the use of rules to prevent the emergence of competition. Count me out. For me, it’s all about higher taxes to finance more and better public services. That’s my brand of liberal economics — take the rich people’s money and use it to pay for stuff, don’t tell them what to do with the companies they run.

And here he is on Saturday, responding to my post about the increasingly popular practice of checking job applicants’ credit scores before hiring them. At first, he says, this sounds good:

But at the same time I try to adhere to the principle I outlined here and resist the urge to call for regulating the business practices of private firms when the issue isn’t pollution or some other case where the externalities are clear. After all, it seems like either this credit check business is a sound business practice (in which case allowing it is making the economy more efficient and ultimately building a more prosperous tomorrow) or else it’s an unsound business practice (in which case competition should drive it out).

The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. Which is odd, in a way, since I’m not really a ravenous supporter of micro-regulating the business community. For example, I’d like to see labor unions spend more time negotiating pay and benefits and a lot less time negotiating the kind of stultifying work rules that drive managers crazy. I agree with conservatives that Sarbanes-Oxley went too far and probably ought to be scaled back. And I agree with Matt that local zoning regs often become little more than hammers for NIMBYism and soft corruption.

So I get where this is coming from. Still, there are some fundamental questions here about how we expect businesses to treat both employees and consumers, and not all of those questions can be reduced to dollars and cents and higher marginal tax rates. Partly this is because, practically speaking, the rich and powerful are — well, they’re rich and powerful and will never allow marginal rates to get too high. Short of another major depression, this just isn’t likely to change dramatically.

It’s also because we’ve gotten beyond the point where higher tax rates are even feasible as a leveling mechanism. According to Piketty and Saez, the income of the top 1% in the U.S. has more than doubled in the past three decades and the income of the top 0.1% has quadrupled. This during a time when per capita GDP has increased about 50%. In order to tax these incomes down to anywhere near the trend rate of growth for the whole economy would require top marginal rates of 70-80% or higher. Not only is that politically infeasible, but rates like this would almost certainly hurt economic growth as well.

But this isn’t my biggest concern. It’s true that income inequality can be partly addressed by progressive taxation, though I’d much prefer to see it addressed at the source since a healthy economy is one in which everyone benefits, not one in which a small plutocracy hoards the wealth and then doles it out to the working class if and when it can be persuaded to do so. More important is the fact that we liberals shouldn’t …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 8:01 am

Exceptional movie about a particular art

leave a comment »

I highly recommend Independent Lens: Between the Folds, available from Netflix as Watch Instantly. Absolutely stunning, and the range is incredible.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 7:56 am

Posted in Art, Daily life, Movies & TV

Weight note

leave a comment »

The celebratory dinner did not damage that was not more than compensated for by the walk: I am 2.7 lbs lighter than I was on Sunday morning: 232.3 vs. 235.

I think I’ll do more walking. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 7:54 am

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

Lenthéric again

leave a comment »

I wanted to try the Lenthéric with my Rooney 2 Finest to compare with the Tres Claveles horsehair brush I used on Saturday. The Rooney walked away with the contest, but recall that the Rooney is fully broken in and the Tres Claveles will undoubtedly profit from a few more uses, plus the Rooney cost substantially more than the Tres Claveles—and, of course, the Rooney is finest badger and the Tres Claveles is horsehair. All those things bear on the question. And while the Rooney is definitely superior, the Tres Claveles is perfectly adequate.

The shave itself was quite good: the Merkur Slant Bar with a still sharp Swedish Gillette blade did a fine job. A splash of Paul Sebastian and I’m good to go.

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2010 at 7:52 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: