Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jimmy Fallon's Engrish Odysey

My Asian cable carries CNBC, and they have been showing Jimmy Fallon shows on the weekends. The cable guide is never a paragon of great spelling, but they seem to be having a lot more trouble with his name even than usual.

Within the first few weeks, his name was variously reported as:


Fallan; and


In this month's guide it is listed as:


They've got a few more variants to work through, by my reckoning.

The 'Spin's Greatest Hits: The Serene Beauty Of The End Of The World (April. 2010)

I was a boy during the Fifties and Sixties, and I can tell you that we all acutely felt the presence of the threat of the end of the world in those days. Lots of people got really worked up about it and made efforts to survive it, at least for six months or so, in private “fallout shelters.” The end that we were half-expecting was, of course, a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union.

It was a real topic of national conversation, and lots of art was devoted to it, because the possibility of it was part of reality, there really were vast arsenals of huge bombs joined to efficient delivery systems, all targeted and ready to go. It was never, perhaps, likely, but, given the contentious relationship of the superpowers and the vagueries of human nature, it was way up into the range of the possible, more than merely conceivable. Scientists invented the Doomsday Clock as a way of warning us to keep our wits about us. Hollywood gave us “Fail Safe,” and “On the Beach,” and even the black comedic masterpiece, “Dr. Strangelove (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb).”

There was a lot of “Post-Apocalyptic” science fiction too, one that I read was called “1999: The Penultimate Truth,” which featured a much reduced human population living in a dangerous new natural world. That was small potatoes though, the real deal was the actual, certifiable End Of The World.

The fear that it engendered in the general population was real and widespread. During the Cuban Missile Crisis I was a high school sophomore, and I distinctly remember the tension among the faculty of my school. They obviously weren't worrying about some ships being sunk, or some soldiers being dispatched. They were worried about the end of the world.

Not surprisingly, given my nature, I viewed the prospect through a romantic, yet strongly cynical, lens. Imagine the thrill of participating in the single greatest event in human history! My role would have been small, no need to prepare ones self for mere vaporization. I lived in New York City, and later on in Los Angeles, and in any nuclear war worth the title both of those places would be multi-targeted and among the first to go. For me, it would probably be a simple matter of noticing the flash from indoors, and having a fraction of a second to feel the pride that comes from witnessing something truly important, however disagreeable.

The worst that I expected was to be reduced to a radiation damaged hulk, essentially disintegrating over the course of the next little while. I could imagine myself kneeling on a lawn, or the dining room floor, vomiting up the remains of my insides and watching my skin sloughing off in big chunks, which was the real life, documented experience of some unfortunate people in Asia on at least two occasions. More time to enjoy the marvelous thrill of a vast nuclear exchange, knowing that a follow up strike will soon end any misery that intruded on the wonder of it.

Honestly, though, I strongly believed that it would never happen. We would never start that war; no cost-benefit analysis, no risk analysis, no possible agenda could justify it. I was also one hundred percent sure that the Soviets would never start it. Even a “victory” would be the end of them, their Soviet style of government. They existed only by the exercise of total control, which would disappear immediately under the first mushroom clouds.

Now we find ourselves in a very different, but almost analogous situation. The Soviets are gone, the number of nuclear weapons has been much reduced (certainly below “end of the world” levels), and the weapons that remain do so in a more stable emotional environment. We live today with the present threat of a different manner of ending for our civilization.

I read a nice bit of fiction the other day, in a New Yorker magazine. “Diary of an Interesting Year,” by Helen Simpson. I say nice, it wasn't great, I was a little bit surprised that it made the cut for that august literary entity. It was a short, first-person (“Diary”), account of the experience of Brits after a sudden, disastrous rise in world temperatures.

Far be it for me to debate the politics, or even the existence of what has come to be called “Global Warming,” I think on the evidence “Global Climate Change” is a more apt title. I think that something is happening, there's plenty of evidence for that, and I think that it should be of concern to us, and I think that it should be investigated without prejudice by the best minds available, but I have no firm opinion as to what might be happening, although I have my suspicions.

Like the U.S. v. Soviets nuclear war, this threatened climate catastrophe is perhaps unlikely, but certainly way up into the range of the possible, more than merely conceivable.

Ms. Simpson's story is very downbeat, the protagonist describes a miserable existence, a slow process of starving to death in disease ridden degradation. If her description of the aftermath of sudden, irreversible climate disruption is accurate, it would be a fate terrible enough to make us long again for those halcyon days of nuclear destruction.

(I do hope that you enjoyed this re-post, a little something to cheer you up for the holiday. I must say that the climate news didn't get any less frightening in the year-and-a-half since I wrote this.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The End Of The World?

There’s a lot of talk about the end of the world, scheduled by the Mayans for 2012 in some ungelernte version of Mayan events. The smart money is that the Mayans created their calendar in sections, blocks of predicted time, and that, were it not for the interruption of the Spaniards, the Mayans would have gone on to complete the next section, and so forth. So the “end” of their calendar in 2012 was accidental, they were merely overtaken by events.

End of the world talk is so common in our culture that we get used to it, get used to laughing about it. It’s interesting that the Mayan angle seems to lend more credibility to the enterprise, like they were somehow more reliable in such matters than the usual Christian Apocalypse Mongers. Maybe too many of the Christians have engaged in it, like the boy that cried “wolf!”

I do remember one instance where I was moved to wonder if the prediction was true. It was a summer day in the mid-Sixties, I was a teenager in New York at the time. The prediction made the papers: about seven p.m. on a certain day. At about five-thirty on that day I was in the neighborhood of my girlfriend, looking to kill some time before calling for her at her house, giving them time to finish dinner. I was sitting on a large rock that was buried iceberg style on a patch of ground outside the house of my old second grade teacher, Miss Lepkeger. There were many of these rocks in my town, one of them was as big as a house, known by all as “Indian Rock.” They had been carried down the east coast during the last Ice Age and had been deposited at a time when Long Island was still attached to the mainland.

As I sat there, idly smoking cigarettes and recalling grammar school, the sky grew darker and darker. By six o’clock it was unnaturally dark and a cool wind had come up. The clouds had a roiling, science-fiction quality to them. I started to think that maybe the woman who had predicted the end of the world was onto something.

Well, I wondered, how bad would that be? I grew up in the Cold War period, and we had all become quite fatigued from the constant worrying about sudden apocalyptic death. So the world ends? So what? An end to worry, an acceptable trade-off.

It started raining and it was quite a storm too. A Biblical storm! The world went on about its business though, as it always does in the face of these predictions.

So keep to your financial discipline everybody. In 2013, all of those bills will have to be paid. Happy New Year!

Romney: If I’m President, All College Grads Will Have A Job; If Obama Wins, They Won’t

Romney: If I’m President, All College Grads Will Have A Job; If Obama Wins, They Won’t: pAsked at a campaign stop in New Hampshire why young people should mobilize behind Mitt Romney for 2012, the candidate had a simple but comically pandering answer. Romney promised 21-year-old Kallie Durkit that he will deliver jobs to college graduates if he’s elected president — that as a businessman he knows “what it takes” to [...]/p

Can you believe the BRASS BALLS on this guy. Well, since you asked me, said Willard, if you are in college now, and I am elected, you will have a job when you graduate; if Mr. Obama is re-elected, you will not have a job when you graduate. Me? 100% Him? 0% And they say these things with a straight face. And if you call them on something you are being a bitch somehow; not getting the big picture; being a deluded Liberal traitor; drinking the Obama Kool Aid. Remarks like this one are just plum stupid, there's no dressing it up, there's nothing political about calling them the spades that they are.

This guy, and all of the sorry-ass useless eaters that he's running with, are beneath our contempt, and yet, they draw air and blow hard in a presidential race, no less. Albeit a Republican race, but still.

And they're not the only one trying our patience these days. Pope Benedict the however many was explaining to us in this jolly season that we should look past the glitter of modern Christmas and return to the simple, straightforward meaning of the holiday. The SIMPLICITY. He said this from his pope's perch, dripping with gold and jewels, surrounded by opulence and oozing luxury from every pore, the decadent MF, pardon my French, or not.

People let them get away with it too, that's the truly amazing part. It seems to be true, most people really do love Big Brother.

Pizzicato Five Groovy Is My Name

I notice that some of the comments to this vid talk about P5 in the past tense. That's a shame.

This cut is featured on the soundtrack for the movie "Doom Generation." I did some legal work for one of the principals of the movie, and she gave me a CD of the soundtrack. That was my introduction to Pizzicato 5, and this song hooked me immediately.

Sure I live in the past, but some of it is the recent past. It's not like I only listen to the Hollies and the Kinks. But my recent past isn't even so recent anymore. Everything is receding and becoming feint. Is this what they call dying?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's So Special About Me?

One subject that I find very important to my country and my culture is race relations in general and Black/White relations in particular. One would think that the Internet would be a great tool in exploring these themes, with its relative anonymity and it's rapid, broad dispersal of ideas. Well maybe, the jury is still out.

I did not wait for the Internet to begin exploring the issues associated with race relations. I have history in this matter. I have had my successes and my failures, but I have tried never to shy away from an opportunity to learn something or to school somebody. The social situations are fun, I don't ask for any credit for those. I have also devoted quite a bit of professional time to the enterprise. I don't ask for credit for that either, not necessarily, but I'm proud of it. Other people have done more than me to explore and try to improve race relations, but many more people have done less. My conscience is clear; I've done my best.

But who knows that? On the Internet, I post comments under my real name and attach a picture, I post under my Blogger identity. So if anyone is so disposed, they may check my own page and find out a little bit about me. No, I'm afraid that's too much to ask. And Internet comments must be limited in scope, mustn't they? You can include an autobiographical essay in each one.

On a web site that I like very much I recently chimed in on an amazing thread about the tension in the American Black community between people of varying shades of color. I took a lot of hits, some favorable, some tolerant, and some comments that brooked great umbrage with my ideas (and the very idea that I would express them). Some of those last included bald misreadings of my content, and many included suppositions about me that just were not true. Like that I didn't know about this or that (but I did, probably); like that I'd never actually spoken to Black Americans (oh, but I have actually); like I'd never had any Black friends (oops, yes again).

Who am I to condemn this knee-jerk assessment of me as a White jerk-off? There's some truth in it, after all. One commenter was especially persistent and personal. I felt like I was being judged too quickly, on too little evidence, mostly the evidence of the picture. Finally I just said, "If it were my role to be the semi-self-educated, slightly aware, occasionally decent, vaguely acceptable White man who really just proved the rule that all White men are vomitous White Supremacist demons, I could live with that, more or less."

But really, who am I? What's so special about me?

I'm empathetic, for one, I feel what other people are feeling, especially the negative emotions. I believe that life is suffering, I believe that we all suffer, each in our way. I do love other people, and I view with charity and resignation the suffering of others. I find it all interesting . . . is that condescending? More than interesting, I find it all important, and not only to that particular sufferer, but to all of us.

We are all in this thing together, I don't think that's an exaggeration. We need to learn to walk in each other's moccasins. We need to try harder to understand each other, and to help each others.

So what's the take-away? Don't be too quick to judge, I suppose. Let's learn to be kinder to one another. Oh, it sounds like such a load of shit, and it flies in the face of all Twenty-First Century logic, but shouldn't we at least try to love each other?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting...)

Got a bitter-sweet tone to it, despite the twinkle in his eye. He really was the king, he could do it all. He could sing with great cheer, or with a tear in his eye, or somewhere in between. This is the in-between tone, suitable for Christmas, I think, Christmas isn't everybody's cup of tea.

I'll try my best to be appropriately cheerful, no worries. And to you, my faithful double-dozen, have a wonderful Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year, won't you? I hope you do. And thanks, as always, for reading.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vaclav Havel, 1936 - 2011

Vaclav Havel was pretty cool. He was Keith Richards' favorite politician, that's a pretty good recommendation. Vastly quotable too. The following examples I borrowed from Gawker.

On the hidden mysteries of life:

"Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren't in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life."

On the advantages of the underdog:

"There's always something suspect about an intellectual on the winning side."

On loosening up:

"Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not."

On the audacious semantics of hope:

"Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."

On the perks of power:

"If you want to see your plays performed the way you wrote them, become President."

On the Jesus Connection:

"Man is in fact nailed down - like Christ on the Cross - to a grid of paradoxes . . . he balances between the torment of not knowing his mission and the joy of carrying it out, between nothingness and meaningfulness. And like Christ, he is in fact victorious by virtue of his defeats."

On the true nature of Art:

"There is only one Art, whose sole criterion is the power, the authenticity, the revelatory insight, the courage and suggestiveness with which it seeks its truth."

That's good stuff. Adios, Vaclav, thanks for everything.

They Are Our Teachers

It’s good to appreciate our teachers, every day should be teacher appreciation day. We should go further and remember all of those who have taught us valuable lessons. The unsung teachers, the unknown, those people who may have taught us a little about life without ever addressing us directly, perhaps without every having exchanged a word with us.

I found myself recently recalling one such man. I was seventeen at the time, riding the subway to my college in Manhattan. My school was across the street from City Hall, on Park Row, next to the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge. I knew very little about the races at the time. I was at what might be called “level one of not being prejudiced,” which is to say that I was relatively color-blind when it came to sports figures and entertainers, but I had very little experience of actually talking to Blacks, or Puerto Ricans for that matter.

The racial situation in New York was very tense at the time (1965). Neighborhoods were segregated, but it was nothing official. We were all together on the public transportation, but in New York no one interacts on public transportation under any circumstances. There were virtually no Black police, and the White police played serious havoc in the Black community under the guise of maintaining order. They played havoc with us too, but it was much more gentle. My entire youth was spent in a milieu of constant violence, and I was very quick to put men, especially young men, into the “threat to kick my ass” category. I had no reason to leave the Black teenagers out of that category, since I had hardly ever actually spoken to one. The girls I thought were cute, in my innocent way, not only the Shirelles and the Crystals, but also the girls on the bus. (I had spoken to a few Black girls. I found them to be a bit direct, perhaps, but very nice and pretty.)

Honestly, I had never given the matter of race relations much serious thought at all.

So I was on the subway that day, an IND train I believe. Odd, because I usually took the IRT Lexington Avenue line to school. Across from me sat a middle-aged Black man, maybe fifty or so, when one is seventeen it’s hard to tell. He was wearing a sweater vest over a button-down Oxford shirt, blue I think, dressy but not too fancy pants, dark wool, and comfortable shoes. He was wearing horn-rimmed glasses that were almost nerdy. Sitting close to me on my side of the car were a mother and small child, a boy, three or four years old, White.

The man was smiling benignly at the boy and his mom, and the boy noticed and smiled back. There followed a good deal of wordless communication between the three of them, all very appropriate and friendly. Some peek-a-boo was played.

I thought about the man. He looked very smart, and he was certainly very nice. I thought, he must work for the city, and he did get off at my stop, Chambers Street, in the heart of the municipal office area. Probably he’s a native New Yorker, probably a graduate of the city’s university system. A Civil Servant of some kind. I tried to imagine his life. I knew that for him it would have been harder to get into the City University system, and harder to get into the good civil service office jobs. I wondered about his life, his apartment, his family. I had never considered such things before, never considered if such people even existed.

So on that morning, for me, Black Americans became three-dimensional. Black men had previously consisted of Jackie Robinson (et al), Bo Diddley (et al), some nondescript guys on the bus, and those vaguely threatening teenagers. That universe had expanded to include decent, hard-working, every-day human beings. Before too long I discovered that the decent, hard working people were the norm.

I have often wondered about that man over the years. He taught me a great lesson without trying and without even knowing that it was happening. It was a great gift, and I still appreciate it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mike Tyson: Girl from Ipanema

I wasn't really a Christmas person for most of my life. Oh sure, there were a lot of good ones in there, when my boys were young, but usually I need a little cheering up around Christmas time.

This vid did it for me, my first time around was a pretty cool three minutes. I love Mike Tyson. Merry Christmas Mike, wherever you are.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Howard Tate - Ain't Nobody Home

Better known for "Get It While You Can," but I always liked this cut. A memorial as it were, see below.

Howard Tate Obituary: The Obituary and Death Notice of Howard Tate |

Howard Tate Obituary: The Obituary and Death Notice of Howard Tate |

Let's take a moment to remember the late, great Howard Tate. A cautionary tale with many levels to it, a great, great singer who just never clicked with the music business or the broader fan base.

I know that Christopher Hitchens also died this week, but I trust that he will be adequately eulogized. No such luck for Howard, who lived in deep cover after a brief flirtation with fame and died in obscurity.

Some of us will miss him, and I for one wish him God speed.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

11 week old with Pocket Pond on iPad 2 - part 1

That's my granddaughter there flicking the switches, tickling the LCD. She's a keeper, she is.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Alvin Robinson - Something You Got

This is a cover too, you know I love the covers. Chris Kenner had the original, you may know that I love him too.

Alvin Robinson is another one of my favorites. Great laconic style, behind the beat, N'orleans at its finest. Another guy that the Rolling Stones helped me to appreciate. Their "Down Home Girl" was a cover of Alvin's original, largely unknown in New York at the time.

Most Spam Infested Post On This Blog: The Fifteen Greatest Roman Generals

This is a post of mine from years ago. There doesn't seem to be anything remarkable about it but it has generated a huge amount of spam over the years, and continues to do so on a weekly basis. Why would one post draw a thousand times more spam comments than any other? That's not a rhetorical question, I'd really like to know.

Here's the post:

Don’t take my word for it. I got these names from a book by a real historian, I forget his name right now, the book is nine time zones away. In roughly chronological order:

1. Quintus Fabius Maximus (“Cunctator”) 217 B.C. “The Delayer;” the shield of Rome.

2. Marcus Claudius Marcellus. The sword of Rome; killed Britomarus in individual combat; started turning the tide against Hannibal.

3. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. 209 B.C. Captured New Carthage; defeated Hasdrubal at Ilipa; ended Second Punic War.

4. Lucius Aemilius Paullus. 170 B.C. Conquered Macedonia; battle of Phdna; defeated Antiochus the Great and Perseus.

5. Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus. 140 B.C. Careful preparation, close supervision and controlled boldness; ended Third Punic War.

6. Caius Marius. 110 B.C. Defeated Germanic tribes the Chimbri, Teutones and Ambrones; reformed the army.

7. Quintus Sertorius. Noted for speed, secrecy and misdirection; Civil Wars.

8. Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Young, rich and unconventional; Civil War v. Sertorius; defeated Mediterranean pirates.

9. Caius Julius Ceasar. Aggressive and flexible; battle of Alesia v. Vercingatorix in Gaul; Civil War.

10. Claudius Germanicus Caesar. Adopted son of Tiberius; biological son of Drusus.

11. Cnaeus Domitius Corbulo. Reformed the Roman army to become the new Imperial army; fought in Germany and Armenia.

12. Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus. 70 A.D. Son of Vespasian; siege of Jerusalem.

13. Marcus Ulpius Traianus “Trajan.” 103 A.D. Dacian wars.

14. Julian the Apostate. 356 A.D. Tough wins against Germanic tribes invading Gaul.

15. Belisarius. 550 A.D. Wars against Persia; created a “Medieval army” for Rome.

If I commanded a battle fleet in outer space, I’d name the big warships after these guys.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Onion, Still Lovable

They've got a pay wall now, but you can still see all of the headings. Sometimes they are hysterical in themselves. For instance:

"Who is Romney Today?" Very good, subtle, typically Onion. But here's the kicker:

"Al Qaeda claims U.S. mass transportation infrastructure must drastically improve before any terrorist attack."

Botswana Music Guitar - Ronnie -"Happy New Year"!

Shockingly good, and wildly entertaining. I'd never heard of this guy, but I'm a long time fan of Highlife and Afrobeat (most of my faves are dated now, I'll admit).

I love how these guys take any old thing with strings and make it ring like a bell. I remember reading about a trip that Ry Cooder made to Africa, how the local guys made fun of him for bringing like fifty expensive guitars, a different one for every situation. They just carried their old Japanese beater under their arms, no case. But it is all in the fingers after all, isn't it? And the ear?

Classic Little Movie Lines: Larceny, Inc.

Edward G. Robinson is a crook with a team and a big idea. They buy a luggage store next to a bank and plan to tunnel in. When customers come in to the store, they just try to get rid of them.

At one point the woman who owns the local lingerie store comes in to say hello. Bonjour! She says. Edward G. tells her, "yeah, we don't want any postcards today."

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Ain't Got No Home In This World Anymore

This is a Woody Guthrie song from long, long ago, a historical song, but history has a habit of coming back to bite us, again and again, on the ass. Foreclosures, banker speculators, depressed workers . . . what else is coming around again on the wheel?

The Euro was supposed to help to avoid future wars in Europe. Anybody still think that's working out as planned?

Call me a pessimist, but we're right more often than the Pollyannas of the world.

Laura Nyro - Save The Country

Sorry about the lo-fi, but you know that never bothers me. What a great song though, and a great rendition. She's such a powerful artist, maybe she's too good for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Pick A Number And Tell Me What’s Fair

I caught Lindsey Graham on “Meet the Press” last week (December 11, 2011). During a discussion of taxes on the rich, he smugly asked another panelist how they would tax the upper ranges of income. “Pick a number,” he mocked, “tell me what’s fair.” Forgive me, but I find Mr. Graham to be a disingenuous man, lacking a basic sense of fairness.

Well, here’s a simple idea that many will consider fair. I like the idea that all Americans should be taxed at the same rate, but a flat tax at the same percentage, for all income levels, is just a stupid idea. How about a stratified flat tax? where all Americans could be taxed at the same rates, plural. I mean a tax structure where the percentage changes as the income rises, at levels. Not in the old manner, where we looked up our total income and read off the percentage to be offered. Rather, a chart with many strata that all could use, a rate for income from zero to fifteen thousand; another rate for income from fifteen thousand to thirty thousand, etc.

I cannot claim unique invention of this kind of thing. This is a case of polygenesis, probably more than 100,000 people have had this idea, and even then I may be putting myself into too exclusive a group. I heard James Carvill recently say that he would back one.

Fine tuning the numbers would best be left to others, but here’s a model for the idea:

0 to 15,000; 0% (no tax);

15,000 to 30,000; 5%; tax on this level at $30,000, $750; total tax as a percentage of income, 2.5%

30,000 to 45,000; 9%; tax on this level at $45,000, $2,100; total tax as a percentage of income, 4.6%

45,000 to 75,000; 12%; tax on this level at $75,000, $5,700; total tax as a percentage of income, 7.6%

75,000 to 125,000; 15%; tax on this level at $125,000, $13,200; total tax as a percentage of income, 10.6%

125,000 to 225,000; 19%; tax on this level at $250,000, $19,000; total tax as a percentage of income, 14.3%

225,000 to 375,000; 23%; tax on this level at $375,000, $34,500; total tax as a percentage of income, 17.8%

375,000 to 600,000; 27%; tax on this level at $600,000, $60,750; total tax as a percentage of income, 21.2%

600,000 to 900,000; 32%; tax on this level at $900,000, $96,000; total tax as a percentage of income, 24.8%

900,000 to 1,400,000; 35%; tax on this level at $1,400,000, $175,000; total tax as a percentage of income, 28.5%

1,400,000 to 3,500,000; 42%; tax on this level at $3,500,000, $882,000; total tax as a percentage of income, 36.6%

3,500,000 to 5,000,000; 47%; tax on this level at $5,000,000, $705,000; total tax as a percentage of income, 39.7%

5,000,000 to 10,000,000; 53%; tax on this level at $10,000,000, $2,650,000; total tax as a percentage of income, 46.3%

10,000,000 to 15,000,000; 65%; tax on this level at $15,000,000, $3,250,000; total tax as a percentage of income, 52.6%

15,000,000 to 25,000,000; 75%; tax on this level at $25,000,000, $7,500,000; total tax as a percentage of income, 61.5%

Over $25,000,000; 80%

These taxes are cumulative. Add up the taxes at each level for the total tax paid.

See? It’s easy. Every American pays exactly the same rate of tax, at every level. I’m not an expert, so the numbers would have to be juggled to make up the necessary income, but I think something like this would be close. I think we could do away with all deductions and just take these simple numbers off of the gross. No exemptions, no joint returns, everyone pays as an individual. "Income" would be income from any source, wages, investment income, capitol gains, whatever. If you received it, and you could spend it, it was income.

Here’s how it looks as total tax paid (income; tax paid):

$15,000; pay $0

$30,000; pay $750

$45,000; pay $2,100

$75,000; pay $5,700

$125,000; pay $13,200

$225,000; pay $32,200

$375,000; pay $66,700

$600,000; pay $127,450

$900,000; pay $223,450

$1,400,000; pay $398,450

$3,500,000; pay $1,280,450

$5,000,000; pay $1,985,450

$10,000,000; pay $4,635,450

$15,000,000; pay $7,885,450

$25,000,000; pay $15,385,450

Do those sound like fair contributions to the nation’s wellbeing? I think it all comes in lower than the marginal tax rates of the 1950’s. Of course there’d be other taxes, state and local taxes, some sales taxes, property taxes, import taxes, estate taxes. The above are suggested Federal Income Taxes.

Taxes are not evil. They are necessary to the running of any country. Who pays what is a question of fairness. I believe that Americans possess an innate sense of fairness, a sense of fair play. Would that our politicians still shared that sense.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

MF Global Explained

Oh, boy does this one take an investment of time and energy. It's fun, though, on a couple of levels. For one thing, the jargon is kind of hypnotic, between the jargon and the presentation it's down right relaxing. Besides, this kind of financial hanky-panky has become the single most important thing in the world!

Welcome to the end of the world as we know it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Choose Carefully Your Opportunities For Having An Opinion

I’ve lived a long time, at least it seems like a long time. I was born while Truman was serving out poor, dead FDR’s fourth term. I’ve lived long enough to see chickens fly (I didn’t expect that one, they obviously keep it a close secret). During this long existence I have developed opinions about many things, usually, but not always, after careful consideration. One thing though, I have lived long enough to know that my opinions regarding certain things are next to worthless. Like my opinions concerning Black American culture.

“We Are Respectable Negroes” is a blog that I really like. The subject of the family names of the ex-slaves came up recently, along with the whole idea of changing names to something African or Islamic. I have an opinion on the subject, of course, and I shared it at length. The reactions ranged from a firm “wrong!” to a gentle reminder that considering my point of view I’ll never really get it.

Two of our regular visitors were in each other’s hair about one having a European name, as in what do you know? with your slave names? This is a guy that I’ve gotten pretty friendly with, we regularly exchange e-mails, and he told the guy, “my parents gave me my names.” So I chimed in. My opinion about the whole thing revolves around honoring the ancestors. My understanding is that the ex-slaves chose family names, and it’s certainly true that one’s own parents chose a child’s name.

“Wrong,” said the naysayer, who suggested that the ex-slaves were just stuck with the name of their last owner and that any European name was a slave name. This actually drove me to do something that I almost never do: research. It turns out that in the slavery days the slaves were not allowed to use family names and were carried on the registers under the owner’s last name, but in reality most of them did know what their real family name was and upon achieving release from slavery most of them resumed using those names. I saw many examples of this from testimony. Otherwise they were allowed to chose a family name for themselves. I read a great story about a guy nicknamed “Cuffy” who chose to become “Paul” and re-Christened himself Paul Cuffy. Many chose the family name of perceived benefactors or great Americans, like Washington.

Through this my friend and I exchanged e-mails on the topic. We were in basic agreement about the honoring the forbearers thing, be proud of your heritage and all that. I got some good schooling though on the whole idea of European names being just too heavy a cross for some American Blacks to bear. Those names, along with any other aspect of White culture, are just anathema to some guys and girls. The total Black experience in America is tied up together, and it leaves some people with a real need to separate themselves from the entire White world. This was a great lesson, and I received it as a gift of love. I was coming at it from a cool-headed, intellectualized, compartmentalized angle, but really the issue is comprehensive, and it is mostly emotional and heartfelt.

That whole experience, you know the one I mean, cut so deep that the wound still oozes. That’s the take-away, that’s the great message for the outsider to remember. It is not an opportunity for intellectual inquiry or opinion mongering. It’s a little bit like when someone loses a loved one unexpectedly. Don’t even try to come up with something clever to say, don’t even try to be helpful. A simple, “that shit is fucked up” will suffice.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

This Motorcycle Is Very, Very Old

The sign says "1948 Harley-Davidson." That was my year too. Somehow, the bike has aged more gracefully than I have.


File under "Still Not In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame."

Larry made the cut as a member of Sly and the Family Stone, but it's a sin and a crime that this band isn't in there on its own. But that's an enterprise that wears it's shame like a badge of honor, isn't it? Half a business, half a social club, rock n' roll my ass.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mr Lee

I Love Asia. No Freud, no Jesus, just non-stop singing and dancing.


Willard! Willard! Willard!

The Book of Cletis: Newspeak Has Arrived

I like "The Book of Cletis." He sounds like a nice guy, and he's got his head screwed on right. Here's a re-re-post from "The Book . . ."

The Book of Cletis: Newspeak Has Arrived: Note from Cletis: This is Orwell's nightmare come true. From Yahoo News: ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Republican Governors Association met this w...

Fred here. I should have more to say about "1984," but it's such a distressing book. I just finished reading it for the umpteenth time. This time it all seemed very apt and very disturbing, but for a different reason. This time I realized that the impulse to power is still with us, and winning, but now power realizes that there's no need to be so bare-faced about it. No need to come on all big and bad. Why try to control everything in every little corner of your world? Just control every important thing and let the little corners take care of themselves. Let people have a little bit more than the proles in "1984;" devise a permanent war that doesn't use up too many resources or take too many lives; put a smiley face on that old Big Brother!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Around The Corner

I see that my hit-counter is jumping ahead in leaps and bounds these days. Welcome to you new readers, and thanks everybody for taking time to visit.

Coming into the Christmas season here, so an early Happy Holidays! to you all. In fact, Merry Christmas! There's no war on Christmas at Spin Easy Time! No, quite the opposite, I like Christmas. I find that Christmas works very well as a secular holiday that can be enjoyed by all. (See video, below.) It's easy to leave out all of the Christian stuff, we all know that there's only a one-third of one percent chance that it was the birthday of Jesus anyway. (One in three-hundred-and-sixty-five.)

So keep the tree, as pagan as you can get, the evergreen that stays with you in hard times (like your good friends). And keep Santa Claus, the North Pole version with the elves and all. Take the occasion at the end of the year to thank all of the people who helped you get through another year alive. Gift them, hug them, feed them. Everybody needs friends.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Mall Display in Thailand

People taking pictures of people, one of my favorite things. A typically elaborate Christmas display at an up-scale mall here in the Land of Smiles.

You could call this tree "The Tree of Writhing Bodies."