Thursday, January 29, 2015

An inheritance tax is moral

I just finished reading a really interesting and informative article by Michael Tomasky, one of my favorite writer/thinkers.  The subject?  Is the inheritance tax moral or immoral?  Wealthy conservatives claim the latter while Tomasky proves that the former is true.  I recommend reading the whole thing, but if you don't have time at least consider the following excerpt:

The conservative position here is not only immoral. It’s un-American, and explicitly so. Our Founding Fathers, as a group, loved inheritance taxes. Loved them. And it stands to reason—they were founding a nation that would throw off the old weights and chains of Europe. Those weight and chains very much included laws of primogeniture and inheritance that resulted in all those layabout royals and their massive estates. America, they vowed, would not be like that. Social position would be earned, not inherited.And so no less a figure than TJ himself led the fight in the Virginia legislature in 1777 to abolish primogeniture laws. Jefferson even went so far as to wonder whether all rights of inheritance should be abolished and most property basically reshuffled every 50 years. We didn’t do that of course, but every revolutionary state government followed Virginia’s lead.So the conservative position is immoral and un-American. It’s also un-conservative. I say this because well, on matters economic, who is the conservatives’ great hero? Maybe Hayek. But he’s like the Lebron. The Jordan is still Adam Smith. And Adam Smith believed in taxing huge wealth. He wrote this: “A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fullness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural. There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death.”

 Verrrrrrry interesting, no?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Andrew Sullivan - His blog will be missed

Today I learned that Andrew Sullivan will not be blogging any longer.  This after 15 years at the helm.  Andrew has always billed himself as a "true" conservative, which alone has put him at odds with the right wing greed-heads who try to pass themselves off as conservatives.  Of course Andrew being an out, and fiercely proud, gay man also set him apart.  But underneath all the convenient labels that get tossed around, Andrew is in a way a closet liberal.  Anyway, I will miss his blog.  You can read his farewell post right here. It's quite moving.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rich Jerks

In today's SF Chronicle there is a front page article presenting a theory by which wealth is correlated to just how big of a jerk a person is likely to be.  A sentence from the article:  "Rich people are more likely to behave unethically even if they get very little benefit."  Why am I not surprised!  Anyway, it is a very interesting article and you can read it right here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Toles nails it...

The sad truth about the President's state of the union speech.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Madeleine Peyroux makes me smile

I have always loved the tune "Smile," which was composed by Charlie Chaplin with Geoff Parsons and John Turner.  I hadn't heard it for a while, but a couple of days ago I heard a really sweet version of it sung by Madeleine Peyroux.  Yes, there is a high-quality version of it on YouTube, which you can listen to right here.

By my reckoning this should brighten up your day.  Nice, isn't it.

Some Lightroom magic

A while back I discussed  my work in scanning a photo album belonging to my great grandmother, Edith Fowler.  (See this post).  After scanning and annotating every photo in the album, I chose several for post-scan improvement using a wonderful program called Lightroom 5.  From time to time I will be posting "before and after" photos, showing the state of a photo as it comes from a camera or a scanner as compared to its  state after I apply various tools available in Lightroom 5.  For the inaugural presentation I give you a photo of Edith's son Ray, (my great uncle), as a school boy.  As you can see from the original scan, the photo was pasted a bit askew into the album.  The actual photo is very small and very old.  It is almost completely washed out except for Edith's blue ink annotation: "Ray home from school."  When I first saw the photo and later scanned it I did not believe there was much hope of "saving" it, even using Lightroom 5.  Well, much to my delight, I was able to produce a final print that vastly improves the original.  I'm still a bit amazed.  See what you think.



Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ear Worm musings

You may have noticed that about a month ago I added a new feature to this blog, which shows my current ear worm (lower right corner.)  Today it changed from Eminem's "Stan" (the chorus) to Dylan's "Tambourine Man."  Like any true ear worm it came upon me unbidden this morning whilst I was walking my dog. In particular the phrase "far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow" powerfully spun in a loop for a long time.  Putting that in context with the rest of the tune shows the derivation of its strong influence on the subconscious.  It appears in the final verse of the song.  These lyrics are the work of a genius, and as you read them and hear Dylan singing them in your head, I'd venture to say that "far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow" might well be the apex for you, as it its for me.

Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning, I'll come followin' you