27 June 2005

federal income taxes

Why are "taxes" and "federal income taxes" so often thought of as synonymous?

Part of it is that those are the most noticeable on Apr 15, and part is that they're easier to have a national conversation about, but part really is a deliberate effort from right-wingers. The progression of arguments is pretty amazing (from rushlimbaugh.com):

Only the Rich Pay Taxes!
NEW UPDATED FIGURES: Top 20% Pay 80% of Taxes
New York Times Buries, But Reports, Truth on Taxes
CBO report misheadlined by New York Times still reveals truth...tscript,
CBO Report: Effective Federal Tax Rates Under Current Law, 2001 to 2014
Posted Forever: Top 50% of Wage Earners Pay 96.03% of Income Taxes
Excel file: IRS Income Stats
Myth Buster: Democrats Get More Campaign Cash from "Rich"

Only the rich pay taxes!!!
Well, 20% pay 80% but that's still a lot of money wasted on public goods.
and by taxes, I mean "federal income taxes."

(Context: Overall the tax burden is a pretty even share of income for everyone, or if anything is slightly regressive. But the federal income tax is strongly progressive, and that's what everyone notices.)

I found this while trying to substantiate the argument that Rush Limbaugh's genius is to approach familiar issues with unfamiliar arguments. I do have to admit that the Club G'itmo golf shirt definitely was an unfamiliar approach to an issue I thought I knew.

23 June 2005

peliculas con pasión

My impressions of the movie Bad Education. Click below if you want to read the post and don't mind hearing about the plot.

To see how to do this sort of thing, see Suzanne's description or the javascript method I ended up using.)

read the rest of the post

This confused me for awhile, and I thought I might just be getting jaded, but that's not it. The problem is that the intricately twisting plot, in which every character, every scene and every relationship is doubled and redoubled, in a film script, a flashback or a fantasy about what might have been. When the terrifying Father Manolo is knocking one by one on the bathroom doors, it's like the knock on the door in Rear Window, or maybe the late-night bathroom crackdown in Apocalypse Now, and even when he's sitting behind his desk being blackmailed, you feel like he holds the cards. But then he follows Juan puppy-dog style to the film set, and when asked by Enrique to identify himself, self-consciously says "I'm the villain in your film." This right after we see that the claustrophobic office that had trapped Ignacio is part of a set that gets taken apart while the camera slowly zooms farther and farther out. So it's all very postmodern and fascinating, but emotionally totally pulls its punches. Then at the end Manolo has taken the place of Ignacio as the one desperate for love and for control, who tries blackmail and only ends up getting killed.

It's hard to really believe that anyone is suffering when the movie moves so fluidly between different realizations of the same drama. It's as though halfway through Schindler's List, the Jews went to Israel and started bulldozing Palestinian homes while the Germans started going to onion cellars to make themselves cry, and then AIDS victims in San Francisco adopted the onion cellar idea to deal with their own pain. Yes, they're all very tragic stories, but really it gets hard to take any of this stuff seriously after a while.

Still a really nice movie (beautiful, thought-provoking, well-acted) if you don't mind the passion not being there.

07 June 2005

Pink tuur daal

from Piali's mom
  • 1 cup daal
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Indian cumin
  • quarter teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder, or half a cup of finely chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste

Wash the daal a couple of times, rubbing it well. Soak for up to an hour (cooks faster!). Bring to a boil in 4 cups of water in a medium size pot on low heat for about 15 minutes. Add turmeric and very finely choppped tomatoes, and continue to simmer until very tender and tomatoes have disintegrated. Keep simmering on low heat.

In a frying pan, heat a tablespoon of oil. When hot, add the cumin seeds, lower heat to avid burning the garlic and add the garlic and ginger. Stir well, add a bit of the daal, covering the pan immediately to prevent the aromas from escaping. Immediately transfer the mix to the rest of the daal. Rinse the pan with a bit of water, and add that to the daal too.

Add salt and pepper (check the heat!) and garnish with cilantro, only if good and fresh leaves are available. If not, just add the corriander powder instead, and bring to one more final boil. Serve with rice?

I have substituted garlic for the asafoetida and curry leaves, which I use. Those are very ethnic, very hard to find, and need cultivated taste! I have also substituted black pepper for dry red chilli, since the "heat" is moderate. Also, the ginger adds to the heat. [I made this and it's tasty! I added green chili peppers, cayenne and a little lemon juice. --Aram]