Monday, January 31, 2005

Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson is one of my all-time favorite authors. His tales of adventure in "Treasure Island" and "Kidnapped" thrilled me as a child. As I grew older, I was able to understand the deeper questions of humanity which are considered in “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.” While reading the Economist, I stumbled across this article which details Stevenson's life. Although it is only a short article and certainly no substitute for a biography, I found it a real interesting read. Included below is a short excerpt.

Born into a long line of obsessive and successful engineers, Stevenson quickly revolted against such a calling and was determined to be a “slinger of ink”. He spent the first half of his life as a near-invalid, ill and frail and certain he was doomed to an early death, just like Shelley. And, like Shelley, he was “toiling to leave a memory behind”. In the second half of his life—as close friends submitted to one fatal illness after another—Stevenson conceived an unlikely lust for life while touring the South Pacific, submitting to the roughest and most dangerous of conditions, but this time with barely a murmur.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Simple Tax Analogy

This tax analogy is a real simple way to look out how the federal income tax works. It also may help those who complain that the wealthy are benefiting the most from tax breaks.

Food for Thought:
An Analogy of Tax Cuts and the Federal Income Tax System

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100.00. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing, the fifth would pay $1.00, the sixth would pay $3.00, the seventh $7.00, the eighth $12.00, the ninth $18.00, and the tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.00. That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until one day the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a tax cut).

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.00." Now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free, but what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20.00 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

The six men realized that $20.00 divided by six is $3.33. But if they
subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. So the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2.00, the seventh paid $5.00, the eighth paid $9.00, the ninth paid $12.00, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52.00 instead of his earlier $59.00.

Each of the six was better off than before. The first four continued to eat for free. Once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20.00," declared the sixth man, but he, (pointing to the tenth) got $7.00!" “Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too; It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!" That's true!" shouted the seventh man, “why should he get $7.00 back when I got only $2?” The wealthy get all the breaks!"

Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! Imagine that!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straight-forward logic!

T. Davies
Professor of Accounting & Chair,
Division of Accounting and Business Law
The University of South Dakota
School of Business
414 E. Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
Phone: 605-677-5230
Fax: 605-677-5427

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Gershwin's Legacy

I stumbled across this article on George Gershwin while reading the Arts & Letters Daily. This, by the way, is a fine website filled with all sorts of interesting articles, essays, book reviews, and editorials. George Gershwin's life is summarized in this New Yorker article. Its really an amazing biographic article which sheds a little bit more light onthe creator of such masterpieces as “Swanee”, “Tee-Oodle-Um-Bum-Bo", and of course "Rhapsody in Blue." For those to lazy to click the link above, I'll include a small excerpt from the article.

Didn’t you play anything when you were a boy?” the reporter asked. To which the composer replied, not without pride, “Only hooky.” Gershwin credited his unlikely achievement to “the combination of New York, where I was born, and the rising, exhilarating rhythm of it, with centuries of hereditary feeling back of me.”

He had been saved by the piano. On a fateful day in 1910, a secondhand upright was hoisted through the family’s Second Avenue window and, to general shock, scapegrace street-fighting George, age twelve, sat down and tore through a popular tune like a vaudeville virtuoso. He had never studied a note. Many years later, Gershwin recalled the musical epiphanies of his early childhood: sitting transfixed outside a penny arcade as an automatic piano emitted noises that turned out to be Rubinstein’s “Melody in F”; feeling a “flashing revelation of beauty” when the strains of Dvorák’s “Humoresque” reached him from the school auditorium while he was, in fact, outside playing hooky. But now a piano had flown in through his window like an angel on a mission—which is as good a way as any of explaining how he could play. “Studying the piano made a good boy out of a bad one,” he informed an interviewer in 1924. “I was a changed person after I took it up.”

McDonald's Obesity Lawsuit Revived

This lawsuit claims that McDonalds used misleading advertising to lure children into eating foods that are fattening and unhealthy. This might be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard, and it really makes me mad that people in the U.S. feel brazen enough to even attempt such a lawsuit. Have people completely stopped taking reponsibility for their own actions? The guys at McDonalds seem to agree with me:

"As we have consistently said, common sense tells you this particular case makes no sense. Today's ruling, which is strictly procedural, simply delays the inevitable conclusion that this case is without merit," McDonald's said.

Anyway, it just makes me furious when people try to abdicate their own responsibilty of their actions, and to place blame on the most conveniant target.

Monday, January 24, 2005

More on Smith Point

If that last post whet your appetite for Smith Point, this New York Times article will certainly be of interest. Next time I'm up in D.C. I think it would definitely be fun to stop by. In case you don't have a subscription to the NY Times, I'll include the first three paragraphs.

AFTER the Constitution Ball and the Commander in Chief Ball, after all the official black-tie parties wound down around midnight on Inauguration Day, members of a young Republican crowd scarcely old enough to remember the Reagan years were still looking for excitement. Naturally, they headed to a basement bar in Georgetown that has become an unofficial clubhouse for the Jenna and Barbara Bush generation.

At that bar, Smith Point, these refugees in cummerbunds and gowns shimmied to a D.J. playing the Beastie Boys and slurped vodka shots poured down an ice-sculpture luge. And they entertained rumors that the twins themselves would be stopping by following their official appearances.

The president's 23-year-old daughters have been frequent visitors to Smith Point since moving to Washington after the election, according to several of the bar's regulars, dropping in roughly every two weeks. The bar's owner, Bo Blair, said he has added many of their friends to his guest list. The twins have been known to show up with a posse of up to 30, including old Texas friends, Yale buddies of Barbara's and other children-of-the-prominent like Krystal Shanahan, the daughter of Mike Shanahan, the Denver Broncos coach.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Bush's "Footprint" on Washington

The latest issue of Newsweek has a very interesting article entitled "Jesus and Jack Daniel's." The gist of the article concerns the impact that Bush and his administration is having on the capital. The authors, Jonathan Darman and Holly Bailey, claim that "in subtle but interesting ways, however, the mostly Red State Bush crowd has infiltrated the social fabric of the mostly Blue State capital." Is conservatism the newsest trend in D.C.? I really have no idea, but with Bush in office for four more years, and more Republican seats in Congress, it seems hard to overlook this growing trend in politics.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Song of the Day

Alright, the song of the day is "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon. Coincidently, there is a hilarious SNL sketch where Chris Kattan and some other guy do the gayest pantomimes, acting out this song - when they are trying out for Paul Simon, to be in his band. Its plain hilarious.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Martin Luther King

A Las-Vegas weather man was fired today because he used a black slur in describing MLK. That's pretty audacious in my opinion.

The Five Stages

A good friend introduced me to The Five Stages of Drinking. It is fairly amusing and probably somewhat accurately depicts the mind's thought process during the stages. Its a fun read...enjoy.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Something Cool

Alright, in the spirit of Friday nights, I have a sweet link which all readers are bound to enjoy. This feature piece is an Ode to Collegiate Alcoholism which is something that must be read by most everybody. Most all can relate to this work, and if not, its something plain fun to read. So, enjoy this articles, and I'll post some more cool stuff later.

The Magnificent Seven

By the way, the movie The Magnificent Seven is terrific. This film has Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson in it - basically the same cast as The Great Escape. It is so great, and also, the music, written by Elmer Berstein is really just fantastic. I highly reccomendt this.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Songs of the Weekend

Being it a Friday night, I thought it would be approproate to put a few good songs on for the weekend. The selection includes "Son of a Son of a Sailor" by Jimmy Buffett, "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" by The Tams, and "Another Saturday Night", by Sam Cooke. Hope all has a great weekend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Les Miserablés

Les Miserablés. The musical that swept the world. This moving musical is where we find today's song of the day. "One Day More" is a resounding song of triumph and hope. After listening the the travails of these characters - Jean Valjean, Marius, Fantine, Eponine, Cosette and many others - we find that our everyday concerns and hinderances really aren't all that bad.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Quote of the Day

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent
people and the affection of children,
To earn the appreciation of honest
critics and endure the betrayal of
a false friend;
To appreciate beauty and find the
best in others;
To leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child, a
garden patch or a redeemed
social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived –
This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, January 07, 2005

Songs of the Week

Alright, this week the songs of the week include "You Get What You Give" by The New Radicals, "Vienna" by Billy Joel, and "King of Wishful Thinking" by Go West. This a a nice mix of music that I am sure everyone will enjoy.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Rubberband Man

The Rubberband Man is a hilarious marketing device which OfficeMax has so cleverly come up with. The commercials feature this black guy with a huge afro handing out office supplies to people while The Spinners' "Rubberband Man" is played in the background. The latest commercial has the guy handing out office suppies to Santa and his liitle Elfs as they prepare for Christmas. During this, a crowd of Christmas caroling children are singing the backup chorus of "The Rubberband Man." This is one of the funniest things ever.

A Grand Yule Log

There used to be a picture of a beautiful Yule Log that a cousin of mine in Florida created for his grand Christmas party, but my website that had the picture on it had to shut down. Asides from lovely Yule Logs, this cousin is an accomplished painter who regularly produces lovely pieces of art. Perhaps sometime in the future I will post some of his works.

Quote of the Day

"Bite on the bullet, old man, and dont let them think you're afraid."

- Rudyard Kipling - In The Light That Failed

Firefox by Mozilla

A tip from a good friend led me look into Firefox, an alternative web browser than the standard Microsoft Internet Explorer. She said she had recently downloaded it, and that it was more secure that IE as well as having better security against viruses, hacks, and pop-ups. And of course the best part...its free. That sounded pretty good, so I downloaded it yesterday and have been testing it out. All in all, not a bad product at all. There are several features which I have grown to enjoy, such as the "tabbed browsing." Mark Boslet of the Wall Street Journal writes, "you can save a group of commonly viewed Wb sites and open them at once by clicking one button. This eliminates having to launch and then minimize separate browsers for each web site. You then scroll through the different sites by clicking on tabs at the bottom of the browser, similiar to those of a manila folder." This really is a nice feature - which elminates all the clutter on the windows toolbar. There are several other significant features such as a built-in Google search engine, and a technology called Live Bookmarking. These are all pluses to Firefox. In general, I give the software a B+/A-. It is certainly worth downloading and checking out for a few days.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Sparks in the Clutch

This is a sweet picture of Patrick Sparks putting the dagger into Louisville this season. The real reason for this post is to figure out if I know how to post pictures. Obviously I do, so, with 44 minutes before the tip of the UK – South Carolina game, I will leave with an enthusiastic, "Go Cats!!!"


Here is a new, interesting blog that a friend of mine in New York City has. For all things new and cool, check out the KettyKet blog.