The view after getting back home after the early morning run. Not too shabby!
Fascinating interactive feature by the BBC on the analysis of Richard III’s skeleton. An amazing story.
Having some fun with the delightful new Flickr app for iPhone. I’ve always preferred Flickr to Instagram, but one thing that has been missing is the ability to take images with the iPhone, make a quick edit or add a filter and upload. Flickr already has the best features for higher quality images, but now we have more. Thanks Flickr!
A couple of great articles for reading today – the first one by Warren Buffett is an op-ed piece titled A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy which outlines his opinion on minimum taxation levels for the rich and super-rich in America.
Here’s a snapshot:
So let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp — capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities.
And, wow, do we have plenty to invest. The Forbes 400, the wealthiest individuals in America, hit a new group record for wealth this year: $1.7 trillion. That’s more than five times the $300 billion total in 1992. In recent years, my gang has been leaving the middle class in the dust.
A huge tail wind from tax cuts has pushed us along. In 1992, the tax paid by the 400 highest incomes in the United States (a different universe from the Forbes list) averaged 26.4 percent of adjusted gross income. In 2009, the most recent year reported, the rate was 19.9 percent. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
The group’s average income in 2009 was $202 million — which works out to a “wage” of $97,000 per hour, based on a 40-hour workweek. (I’m assuming they’re paid during lunch hours.) Yet more than a quarter of these ultrawealthy paid less than 15 percent of their take in combined federal income and payroll taxes. Half of this crew paid less than 20 percent. And — brace yourself — a few actually paid nothing.
In a Vanity Fair piece, AA Gill argues that Schools are ruining our children in Parent Trap.
In the 100 years since we really got serious about education as a universally good idea, we’ve managed to take the 15 years of children’s lives that should be the most carefree, inquisitive, and memorable and fill them with a motley collection of stress and a neurotic fear of failure. Education is a dress-up box of good intentions, swivel-eyed utopianism, cruel competition, guilt, snobbery, wish fulfillment, special pleading, government intervention, bureaucracy, and social engineering. And no one is smart enough now to understand how we can stop it. Parents have no rational defense against the byzantine demands of the education-industrial complex. But this multi-national business says that they’re acting in the children’s best interests. And we can only react emotionally to the next Big Idea or the Cure or the Shortcut to Happiness.
Gill says that even Teachers disliked going to School:
I gave a talk at an educational festival in England this year. They asked me in the way that Methodists glean godliness by exhibiting hopeless recidivist drunks in tents—I am a chronic and inspiring example of academic failure. I asked a roomful of teachers if they’d enjoyed their own school days. About half put up their hands and said they had. Not actually a great average. And then I asked that half if the things that made school fun had happened inside or outside a classroom. And only two said they’d enjoyed being taught. The rest liked school despite schooling. They remembered their friends and getting drunk and feeling each other up and laughing till they were hunched over with hilarity. There is of course the old chestnut of the one teacher, the magic one, the one who let in the light. Introduced us to Keats or Darwin. But that’s not much for 15 years, is it? A couple of odes and some finches.
The last paragraph is historically a truism:
The interesting adults are always the school failures, the weird ones, the losers, the malcontents. This isn’t wishful thinking. It’s the rule. My advice to any child reading this: If you’re particularly good at the violin or math, for God’s sake don’t let anyone find out. Particularly your parents. If they know you’re good at stuff they’ll force you to do it forever. You’ll wake up and find yourself in a sweaty dinner jacket and clip-on bow tie playing “The Music of the Night” for the ten-thousandth time in an orchestra pit. Or you’ll be the fat, 40-ish accountant doing taxes for the people who spent their school days copping a feel and learning how to roll a good joint.
Thoughtful and well written reading material if you have 5 minutes.