July 31, 2007
A recent commenter took offense at my pointing out that the proposed increased funding for the SCHIP program would be paid for by increased taxes on cigarettes (regressive taxation). His point (as I understood it) was that we’re unnecessarily spending billions of tax dollars elsewhere (the war in Iraq) that instead could be used to fund SCHIP.
While I disagree with that logic (just because we have spent X amount on one thing does not mean Y will be shorted by that amount), it got me thinking about how the government collects taxes. When I buy cigarettes, I see the price of a pack of cigarettes and I pay the price plus the tax. It’s all right there on my receipt. The tax is obvious.
Compare that to wage earners. When they get a paycheck, what do they look at? I’ve worked for an hourly wage and my answer was always the amount that came after the dollar sign on the check. Looking at my pay stub, I shrugged my shoulders and thought “look what the government is taking from me” but in the end, I was always happy when that same government gave me a refund (of the money mistakenly taken from me), my interest free loan to the government. Now that I no longer pay taxes that way, I think differently.
My point? Maybe more citizens would be concerned about the taxes they paid and what they’re being used for if they actually had to write a check to the government at the end of each year (or quarter or month) for the amount they owed.
July 31, 2007
My naked ladies are back. Before you get concerned, I’m referring to Amaryllis belladonna , the flowers shown in the picture above (aka Suprise Lilies/Resurrection Lilies).
Nature can throw some pretty weird shit at you . Naked ladies are in this category. It pops up out of the ground in the spring with all this daffodil looking foliage (or foilage as Marge Simpson would say). After growing heartily for a few weeks, the leaves then whither and die (The first time this happened, I felt like such a failure). But then, in mid summer, the flowers decide to make a fashionably late appearance. Sans leaves, these naked stalks burst out of the ground and in short order are topped with these beautiful pink flowers.
The only thing that bothers me about this nature freak show is that when I see them, I realize summer is more than half over.
July 30, 2007
Kitlers, cats that look like Hitler:
and a kitty version (Hitler youth?):
July 29, 2007
I stumbled upon this site (very cool) last night featuring the latest in feline fashion.
I’ll admit that I have a certain weakness for all things Hello Kitty. And putting stuff on your cat, now that’s pure comedy gold. But combining the two is a bit too much for me. Not sure exactly why, but it is. And what’s the point of dressing your cat up as another cat anyway?
(h/t someone I can’t remember right now; it’ll come to me…I smell an update)
(Duh update: ICHC, of course.)
July 28, 2007
With all the Pottermania going on lately, I’m feeling a bit left out. I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books and I certainly haven’t seen any of the movies. In fact, I don’t even like going to the movies. The movie house scene from Earthquake (saw it on TV) with Victoria Principal (looking all Pam Grier) always pops into my head whenever I’m in a theater:
That got me thinking. What other movies haven’t I seen? So I went to the American Film Institute website (registration required) to check out the 2007 list of the top 100 movies (you can find the list here without registering).
Out of their top 100 films, I’ve seen 22. Out of the top ten, I’ve seen three: Schindler’s List(#8), Vertigo(#9), and The Wizard of Oz(#10)(quite a combo there).
I have never seen Gone with the Wind. I have never seen The Godfather (I,II or III). I have never seen Casablanca. The list goes on (and on).
Most of these movies are so ingrained into our cultural psyche that you don’t have to actually watch them to get the references. I wonder though if I’m missing something by not seeing them. Any suggestions as to what I should watch (or if I should bother)?
July 27, 2007
The cat’s name is Oscar. Why is he special, you ask? The resident cat at the Steere nursing home in Rhode Island has the ability to predict when a patient is going to die:
When Oscar curls up on a patient’s bed and stays there, the staff knows it’s time to call the family. It usually means the patient has less than four hours to live.
The feline’s accuracy has been observed in 25 cases at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
“He doesn’t make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die,” Dr. David Dosa said in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one,” said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.
The 2-year-old Oscar was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at Steere House, which treats people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses.
After about six months, the staff noticed the cat would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He’d sniff and observe patients, and those he stayed with would wind up dying in a few hours.
Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. “This is not a cat that’s friendly to people,” he said.
Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill.
Please don’t misconstrue the picture of Oscar(that I captioned) as me being flip about the people in the nursing home(and their families). Anyone who reads my blog knows I adore cats. Dogs get most of the press when it comes to helping people. That’s why I loved this story. It disabuses the stereotype that cats don’t have a bond with humans.
July 27, 2007
From the article:
It also looks at the issue of patio heaters and pubs, which has exacerbated the problem. In fascinating research published earlier this year, British Gas found that the smoking ban in pubs in Scotland, adopted in March 2006, had led to an enormous increase in use of the heaters, as they were bought to warm outside areas where smokers were still permitted to puff. Half of all pubs in Scotland bought at least one patio heater after the ban, and many bought several. British Gas calculated that at least 40,000 new patio heaters would be bought by English pubs for the smoking ban south of the border, which came in on 1 July.
I’ll take “Unintended Consequences” for $100, Alex.
July 27, 2007
Last Thursday, it was the federal government proposing a 61 cent increase per pack tax on cigarettes to fund SCHIP. Then Monday, Governor Blago signed into law a complete ban on smoking in public places (bars, restaurants) in Illinois starting January 1st. And now today I read that state lawmakers are considering raising the Illinois excise tax on cigarettes an additional 75 cents to pay for road projects and school construction. From the Trib:
Illinois’ 98-cents-per-pack tax ranked 22nd highest at the beginning of the year, and the Cullerton proposal would raise the rate to $1.73. Other states, such as Michigan, Washington, Maine, Rhode Island and New Jersey, have state cigarette taxes ranging from $2 to nearly $2.58 cents.
But with taxes in Chicago at 68 cents a pack and Cook County at $2 a pack, the overall tax alone in Chicago would be a whopping $4.41
SCHIP and the smoking ban were at least health related. But road projects and school construction? Give me a fucking break. From the Tax Foundation in regard to a recent discussion in Wisconsin about raising cigarette taxes there:
Mark Pocan (D-Madison), says that the cigarette tax should be raised because it’s “politically easy.” Unbelievable. Why not impose a special excise tax on people who have two vowels in their last name? It’s makes about as much sense as arbitrarily choosing smokers to fund various government programs that have nothing to do with smoking.
From the same Tax Foundation link:
It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.
– James Madison (Fourth President and “Father of the Constitution”), Federalist Paper 51
July 27, 2007
You Are a Bit Prissy
From time to time you can be a princess, but these days, who isn’t a little high maintenance?
You know what you want, and you’re definitely not afraid to ask for it.
(Just refrain from having a temper tantrum if you don’t get your way!)
There’s nothing wrong with having high standards… as long as they’re occasionally low enough to allow spontaneity and fun!
(h/t manly-man Jamie)