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Archive for July, 2010

After a Rough Week

I’m back, after a rough week in which I had to grade term papers and say goodbye to my cat Jewel, who came out of her own room over the past year or two and socialized normally with us and with other cats, often sleeping on the bed next to me. We miss her.

There are lots of things I’ve wanted to blog about. Here’s the most fun. Women in the Czech parliament have put out a pin-up calendar. Some see this as confirming the decline of Western civilization. I think it could serve as a model for campaign finance reform. You want to get money and corruption out of politics? Make this the only way parties and candidates can raise money. The Republicans would have a big advantage over the Democrats, that’s for sure.

More seriously: Thanks to mass media, the popular election of Senators, the expansion of the franchise, and other factors, politics is increasingly an unserious profession pursued by unserious people. Better to face that head-on that to pretend otherwise.

I don’t think either American party could match the Czech Public Affairs party:

Czech calendar

Czech calendar

Czech calendar

Czech calendar

Czech calendar

Czech calendar

Female Czech MPs pose for calendar

Female Czech MPs pose for calendar

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There is an actor out there that we’ve all seen, but his name escapes your memory unless you’re a big fan. Stephen Tobolowsky is the actor I am thinking of. Why? Listening to The Ticket out of Dallas recently, Tobolowsky was interviewed by BaD Radio. He is a fascinating interview, talking of how he broke his neck and survived, his high school rock band’s fill in guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, and of course the movie Groundhog Day.

I found the website The Tobolowsky Files somewhat by accident. There I found podcasts of Stephen’s on various topics. I downloaded an episode where he talks about his experiences on the making of Groundhog Day (episode 29). To me, very interesting and nicely done, plus quite humorous.

So here’s another podcast recommendation: Stephen Tobolowsky and The Tobolowsky Files. He is also on Twitter and of course Facebook.

PS if I find a BaD Radio podcast with the interview, I will update.

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Photos from the Gulf

Look at the top twenty photographs that the President and the media (but I repeat myself!) don’t want you to see. Here’s one more:

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A Tsunami of Taxes

It’s no surprise that the economy is sputtering:

CHART OF THE DAY: The Scariest Job Chart Ever Gets Uglier

The Obama administration has done its best to attack the private sector ever since it came to power. Its regulatory expansion, its massive and little-understood bills governing health care and the financial sector, its attacks on business in the media and before Congressional committees, and its push for cap-and-trade, card check, and other anti-business legislation have sown vast uncertainty. It’s easy to forget, amidst all of that, that the largest tax increase in history is headed our way January 1. You think you’re safe, because you make less than $250,000 a year? Think again. This is only the beginning:

- The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%
– The 25% bracket rises to 28%
– The 28% bracket rises to 31%
– The 33% bracket rises to 36%
– The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family. The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.  The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child.  The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.  The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.

The return of the Death Tax. This year, there is no death tax.  For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million.  A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.

Higher tax rates on savers and investors. The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.  The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011.  These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013….

The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families—rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million.  These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level.  The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Oh, yes. Prepare to add a lot to that to cover the costs of Obamacare. It’s hard to say how much, but here’s an indication: Germany is raising the health care premium to 15.5% of gross pay. Think about that for a while.

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Rain

This is turning out to be the weirdest year in Texas, weather-wise.  After several years of drought that rivaled the all-time worst droughts of the last century, we’ve been getting copious amounts of rain.  Over 5 inches fell this past week at my house.  If it weren’t for all of the biting insects, you’d think it was England.  Oh, yeah, and the accents.  I understand it’s warmer than usual everywhere else, but if this is Global Warming, I say, go for it.  The Texans and the Greenlanders want more.

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I joined FB to get news about particular things, and the original reason that I joined has gone away.  Now I find myself getting really annoyed by a number of people who are from my old church who link YouTube videos, usually of beautiful choral music from England, from a site that’s called “Unapologetically Episcopalian.”  I find myself thinking, “Really, these people don’t think they have anything to apologize for? Really?”  In fact, one of my “friends” who is, in reality not just virtually, a friend, complained to me over lunch about the elevation of Mary Glasspool.  Mind you, not that Bishop Glasspool is a practicing lesbian (someone please alert me when ECUSA elevates a chaste single person: now, that would be news,) but that the ceremony included incantations performed by local Native American shamans to wit, “And to Mother Earth who created us all…”

There comes a point where the gerrymandering of religious tenets begins to resemble the old Steve Martin routine:

“I used to smoke marijuana. But I’ll tell you something: I would only smoke it in the late evening. Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening – or the mid-evening. Just the early evening, midevening and late evening. Occasionally, early afternoon, early midafternoon, or perhaps the late-midafternoon. Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning. . . . But never at dusk.”

On a somewhat lighter note, I observe that a “What Not to Wear” fan has created a blog called “Bad Vestments.”  Long overdue and I note the prominence of Katherine Jefferts-Schori in the BV All Time Worst Top (Bottom) Ten.

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