Mike Kueber's Blog

January 30, 2015

Wikipedia update from Ruby2010

Filed under: Wikipedia — Mike Kueber @ 3:47 am

I recently blogged with excitement about posting a lengthy Pride & Prejudice piece on Wikipedia.  Sadly, I received notice today from Wiki’s Ruby2010 that the post had been taken down. The notice read as follows:

  • Hello, Mkueber744, and welcome to Wikipedia! Thank you for your contributions. I hope you like the place and decide to stay. Unfortunately, one or more of your edits to the page Pride & Prejudice (2005 film) have not conformed to Wikipedia’s verifiability policy, and may be removed if they have not yet been. Wikipedia articles should refer only to facts and interpretations that have been stated in print or on reputable websites or other forms of media. Always remember to provide a reliable source for quotations and for any material that is likely to be challenged, or it may be removed. Wikipedia also has a related policy against including original research in articles. Additionally, all new biographies of living people must contain at least one reliable source.

Based on this boilerplate verbiage, I have discerned that the problem with my entry was that the material was not footnoted to a reference source. Apparently, Wikipedia wants only factual information from journalists, not opinion or research from its volunteer editors.  When I reviewed the pre-existing P&P entry on Conception and Adaptation, I found every sentence footnoted.

My only safe haven for editing seems to be the Plot, which is not footnoted, and that explains why my entry on the Californication plot summary has survived.  But I have no interest in editing other people’s writing, so my Wiki days will be severely limited in the future.

Two questions for the candidates

Filed under: Culture,Law/justice,Religion — Mike Kueber @ 3:30 am
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Assuming Hillary and Mitt face-off in the 2016 presidential election, and if I were the journalist assigned to ask them questions in a debate, I would ask the following:

  1. Mitt: How would your philosophy, values, and objectives change if you were presented irrefutable, incontrovertible evidence that Jesus never existed and that the Bible was an elaborate hoax? I have asked my Christian friends this, and they struggle with accepting the premise. Ultimately, I think most people would not have a different mindset even if their specific God disappeared.
  2. Hillary: You often complain that women in America are treated as second-class people who are denied full participation in life, but if, in 1947, you were given the choice of being born man or woman, which gender do you think provided the greatest opportunity for a fulfilling life? A friend prompted this question by always complaining about how easy women have it with dating. He was flummoxed when I asked him if he would prefer playing the feminine role in dating. Ultimately, I think both sexes would decline the opportunity to live their life as the opposite sex.

Saturday Night at the Movies #139 – Boyhood, American Sniper, and Death at Pemberley

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 3:24 am
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Boyhood (2014) is Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age drama that is currently up for a Best Picture Oscar. I am familiar with Linklater through his Before trilogy – Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. I loved the trilogy so much that I bought the DVDs, but then realized that the films aren’t amenable to multiple viewings because the dialogue is so casual, almost unscripted, and there is no drama.

Ditto for Boyhood – weak script and no drama, with the addition of mediocre acting.  Other than Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, the actors appear to be amateurs.

Boyhood is getting lots of attention from critics because of a novel idea – i.e., 12 years of filming a kid of divorced parents growing up from ages six to 18. The Rotten Tomato critics love the movie at 98%, and the audience is almost as favorable at 85%.

Me, not so much. Nothing very profound about these not-so-likeable people making a series of bad decisions. I give it two and a half stars out of four.

According to a recent news report, Boyhood is favored for the Best Picture Oscar, but the box office results for American Sniper make it a strong contender. Earlier today, I watched a trailer for Sniper, and was so moved by it that I decided to watch the movie this afternoon.

My brother Kelly previously reviewed the American Sniper in this blog, and I agree with him entirely. Great movie, great storyline, and great acting by Cooper and Miller. I loved the scene where Cooper and Miller meet in a bar, and she rejects him as a SEAL who is probably self-centered. Cooper asks how a man who is willing to give his life for his country is self-centered. Touché. By the end of the movie, I was thinking of the last line from an admiral in 1954 classic, The Bridges at Toko-Ri – “Where do we find such men.” Thankfully, America still (and Texas) produces men like Chris Kyle.

The Rotten Tomato critics like American Sniper at only 73%, but the audience is more receptive at 88%. I can’t imagine that 12% didn’t enjoy the movie. I give it four stars out of four.

Death Comes to Pemberley (2013) is three-hour British-TV drama that was adapted from P.D. James’s book of the same name. I previously blogged about the book in very favorable terms.

The movie is not as satisfying, primarily because of its two lead actors. The estimable Matthew Rhys, who is wonderful in “The Americans,” plays Darcy and is a bit too haughty and cold, while Anna Maxwell Martin plays Elizabeth, and she is too plain. As Jane Austen’s Darcy would say, Anna Maxwell Martin “is tolerable, but not enough to tempt me.” The pleasant surprise is Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham because, unlike all other portrayals of Lydia, this portrayal shows Lydia to be pretty and attractive, albeit silly, too.

The movie is unable to match the book’s balance between the murder mystery and the wonderful relationship of Darcy and Elizabeth. Instead the movie focuses on the mystery and fails to adequately reveal the wonder of the relationship.

The Rotten Tomato critics score the movie at 79%, but the audience is less pleased at 60%. I agree with the audience and score it at two and a half stars out of four.

January 28, 2015

President Obama as Redistributor in Chief

Filed under: Economics,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 12:37 am
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Amity Shlaes authored a column in Time magazine this week titled, “Redistributor in Chief.” You might guess she is referring to President Obama, and you would be correct.

Redistribution,” of course, is an ugly term that most conservatives use to tar any proposal that shifts government taxes from poor to rich or any government benefits from rich to poor. Although I style myself a conservative, I believe that each proposal needs to be examined on its merits.

In her column, Shlaes provides a litany of evil Obama proposals, and I agree with her on many of them. But one of her criticisms stuck in my craw:

  • Even more damaging is the President’s plan to kill the “step-up in basis” for inherited wealth. Some non-rich families have a second home somewhere in the woods. Obama’s plan would force many children to sell such a house to pay the taxes due upon a parent’s death.

I blogged about my support for killing the “step-up in basis” when Obama first proposed it. It makes no sense to evade capital-gains taxes merely by passing the property upon death.

But instead of trying to defend the indefensible, Shlaes resorts to a red herring fallacy. How many “non-rich families have a second home in the woods”? Not very many when compared to all of the rich families that evade paying capital gains on appreciated stock by transferring the stock through an estate.

Shlaes’s silly example reminds me of liberals and progressives who argue against Voter-ID laws because there is a widow in west Texas without an ID and she would have to travel over 60 miles to find an agency that could provide her with one.

January 27, 2015

Benedict Cumberbatch steps on a verbal landmine

Filed under: Culture — Mike Kueber @ 8:31 pm
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The internet is flooded with reports of Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch calling for more diversity in the ranks of UK actors. Unfortunately, while making his pitch, Cumberbatch stepped on a verbal landmine by using an offensive and outdated term.  His comment:

  • I think as far as colored actors go, it gets really difficult in the U.K., and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities (in the U.S.) than in the U.K. and that’s something that needs to change,” the Oscar-nominee said in an interview last week.

To correct himself, Cumberbatch issued the following apology:

  • I’m devastated to have caused offence by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done. I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive

Many, if not most, of the media reports include an explanation by Show Racism the Red Card on why Cumberbatch committed a faux pas:

  • [Cumberbatch] has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language. Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term ‘coloured’ is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage. Appropriate terminology differs from country to country; for example, we know that in some countries the term ‘coloured’ is still widely used, and that in the US the term “people of colour” is quite common.

The casual observer might wonder if there is a substantive difference between “colored” and “people of color,” and actually there is a significant one. “Colored,” like the term “negro” refers to black people, and both terms are no longer acceptable to evolved people.  Instead they use the term “black.” By contrast, “people of color” refers to all non-white people (or those with non-European heritage) and remains acceptable.

Sometimes it seems that keeping up with the latest terminology is akin to knowing the current way of shaking hands.  The older you get, the less likely you are to keep up.

And, of course, someone needs to tell the NAACP that the name on their organization is offensive.

January 26, 2015

Kristof on empathy and moral superiority

Filed under: Issues,Law/justice,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 7:14 pm
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Bill O’Reilly likes to dismiss NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof as typical of a far-left, Pollyannaish ideologue. Kristof’s column yesterday, titled “Where’s the Empathy,” provides strong support for O’Reilly’s position.

The thesis of Kristof’s column is that Americans, especially rich Americans, feel no empathy for the struggles of his high-school friend who recently “died at age 54 of multiple organ failure, but in a deeper sense he died of inequality and a lack of good jobs.” America killed Kevin Green.

Kristof concluded his column with the following:

  • I have trouble diagnosing just what went wrong in that odyssey from sleek distance runner to his death at 54, but the lack of good jobs was central to it. Sure, Kevin made mistakes, but his dad had opportunities for good jobs that Kevin never had. So, Kevin Green, R.I.P. You were a good man — hardworking and always on the lookout for someone to help — yet you were overturned by riptides of inequality. Those who would judge you don’t have a clue. They could use a dose of your own empathy.”

Fortunately for his readers, Kristof provided a bit of Kevin Green’s life story in his column, and I suspect most readers will not have as much trouble diagnosing factors that were actually within Green’s ability to control:

  • Work life. Although Green’s dad, despite being illiterate with a third-grade education, was able to make a decent living as a union worker, those jobs have gone away. Millions of sons and daughters of union employees have learned that they must acquire news skills and more education to remain in the middle class. Kevin didn’t learn this and so when his union job went away, he fell out of the middle class.
  • Personal life.He fell in love and had twin boys that he doted on. But because he and his girlfriend struggled financially, they never married.” Huh? Financial struggles might prevent someone from having kids, but I don’t see what that has to do with getting married. “Soon afterward, his girlfriend moved out, took the kids and asked for child support. The loss of his girlfriend, kids and job was a huge blow.” According to Keven’s younger brother, he developed self-esteem issues. Well, yes, that seems appropriate. “Kevin’s weight ballooned to 350 pounds, and he developed diabetes and had a couple of heart attacks. He grew marijuana and self-medicated with it, Clayton says, and was arrested for drug offenses.”

Eventually, Green qualified for some sort of disability, but even his younger brother conceded that the desperately needed monthly disability “also hurt him because he might have looked harder for a job if he hadn’t been getting those checks.” (That reminds me of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s admonition that, “The issue of welfare is not what it costs those who provide it but what it costs those who receive it.”)

With respect to the welfare, which was really what prompted this column, Kristof said, “Yet it’s absurd to think that people like Kevin are somehow living it up. After child support deductions, he was living on about $180 a month plus food stamps and a small income from selling home-grown pot.” Kristof supported his assertion of “somehow living it up” by referring to a Pew poll that found that “wealthy Americans mostly agree that poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.”

Not surprisingly, readers who actually take the hyperlink to the poll will find that Kristof mischaracterized it. Actually, the poll separates respondents into five cohorts based, not on their wealth, but on their financial security – i.e., whether they have savings and checking accounts, a credit card, and retirement savings and don’t have credit problems or receive welfare.

The respondents were asked two related questions:

  1. Poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.
  2. Poor people have hard lives because the government benefits don’t go far enough to help them life decently.

So, essentially, the choice is between having it easy because things are handed to them (which Green’s brother mentioned) and having it hard because they can’t live decently. There is nothing about living it up.

And when you look at the poll’s percentages, the numbers don’t show a great divide in America based on financial security. The percentages who agree with the two statements are as follows, from most financially secure to least:

  1. 54%, 57%, 47%, 39%, 29%
  2. 36%, 36%, 45%, 54%, 67%

Surely, more people who are not financially secure (i.e., more dependent on government benefits) would be expected to think benefits should be more generous while more of those who are financially secure would share Moynihan’s concern about the negative effect of dependency on welfare.

But Kristof and his ilk prefer to characterize Moynihan’s concern as a lack of empathy. To them, big-spending progressives are morally superior to conservatives, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It’s hard to argue with people who think like that.

January 25, 2015

Wikipedia and Pride & Prejudice

Filed under: Book reviews,Movie reviews,Wikipedia — Mike Kueber @ 12:25 pm
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Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites on the internet, trailing only Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, Baidu, and Amazon.  Of the 100 most popular websites, it is the only reference encyclopedia.  Many searches on Google for information result in a referral to Wikipedia, which I promptly click because, based on thousands of reviews, I have invariably found its entries to be thorough, well-presented, and reliable.  The website is free, but I am so appreciative that I voluntarily donate during its periodic fundraisers.

Because of my appreciation for Wikipedia, and because I like to write, I was intrigued by the possibility of creating an entry, and a few years ago I created one for my hometown of Aneta, ND based on several historical sources.  Inexplicably, however, my posts were taken down almost as soon as I had posted them, and I didn’t have enough motivation to learn why.

Then a few months ago, I finished bingeing on TV series “Californication.”  After reading the Wikipedia entry on the series, I concluded that its summary of Season Six did not do justice to the latest woman of my dreams (Faith), so I replaced it with one that focused on her, as follows:

  •   Season 6 started on January 13, 2013. Its storyline revolves around Hank’s relationship with Faith (played by Maggie Grace), whom he meets in a rehab facility. Hank reluctantly agrees to rehab, not because of a drug dependency, but rather because of depression over his role in ex-girlfriend Carrie’s suicide at the end of Season 5. Faith is a famous rock-star groupie/muse who is in rehab because of the recent death of her rock star, and ultimately she becomes Hank’s muse. Faith and Hank seem to be made for each other, but in the end Hank is too weak to move on from Karen even though it appears that their relationship has run its course.

I apparently performed the edit properly because it is still there for the world of Hank fans to read.

In the past few weeks, I have discovered a new woman of my dreams – Elizabeth Bennet – and after reading the voluminous Wikipedia entry on Pride & Prejudice, I decided to squeeze in some of my thoughts on the 2005 movie adaptation vis-à-vis the book, as follows below.  I have found this activity challenging and enjoyable and plan to do more of it in the future.

Below is Elizabeth Bennet as played by Keira Knightley in the 2005 movie adaptation.  This scene shows her surprise as Darcy helped her into a carriage.


The storyline for Joe Wright’s movie differs from Jane Austen’s novel in the following significant ways:

1. The book begins with the most famous opening line in the history of literature – “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Although Deborah Moggach’s script includes this line in its opening scene, the movie deletes Moggach’s opening scene – namely, Bingley moving into Netherfield. As Austen would have said, Penny-wise; pound foolish.

2. In Chapter Three of the book, at the first Meryton Assembly ball, Darcy dances only with Bingley’s two sisters and “declined being introduced to any other lady,” including Elizabeth, whom he describes to Bingley, within earshot of Elizabeth, as “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” In the movie, Darcy is introduced to the Bennet girls immediately and he rejects Elizabeth when she asks Darcy if he likes to dance and disparages her to Bingley with the “tolerable” description. Even more significantly in the movie, Elizabeth actually got into a verbal sparring match with Darcy regarding how to win a woman’s affection and decisively won the match by suggesting that a man could win a woman’s affection by “dancing, of course. Even if ones partner is barely tolerable.” As the Moggach script notes, “Darcy looks startled. He has no idea she heard him. He blushes.” This is easily one of the script’s most remarkable adaptation of Austen’s storyline, not only for eloquent put-down, but also for highlighting a dominant theme in a book that Jane Austen initially titled, “First Impressions.”

3. In Chapter Six, the Bennet daughters “dined in company” with Darcy and Bingley four times within a fortnight of the Meryton Assembly ball. During one of those gatherings – an evening gathering at the Lucases – not only do Elizabeth and Darcy engage in some additional verbal sparring, but afterwards Darcy admits to Miss Bingley that he had “been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow….. Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” None of these encounters are included in the movie, and thus the viewers are privy to Mr. Darcy’s incipient transformation.

4. Both the book and movie contain several scenes related to Jane taking ill at Netherfield. Chapter Eight of the book contains dialogue that articulates Darcy’s escalating estimation of Elizabeth – “I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.” “Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.” But the movie efficiently remedies this omission of growing affection by creating a farewell scene in Elizabeth and Darcy “share a look.” When Darcy surprisingly takes Elizabeth’s hand to help her into a carriage, her look of surprise at this act is probably the movie’s most memorable image. Never a better example of a picture worth a thousand words.

5. During Darcy’s dance with Elizabeth at the Netherfield ball, the movie contains a wonderful, memorable comment from Elizabeth when asked by Darcy if she often talks while dancing – “No, I prefer to be unsociable and taciturn.” Chapter 18 in the book contains a longer, more thoughtful quote – “I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.” To which he responds with wit – “This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure. How near it may be to mine, I cannot pretend to say. You think it a faithful portrait undoubtedly.”

6. After the dancing at the Netherfield ball, Chapter 18 describes a supper, during which Mrs Bennet was exceptionally and loudly obnoxious in bragging about the potential marriage of her Jane to Mr Bingley, and all of this was within earshot of both Darcy and Elizabeth. He was disgusted; she was mortified. Although this scene is critical in explaining why Darcy subsequently tries to break up Jane and Bingley, the scene is not referenced in the movie. This is a major shortcoming in the making of a cohesive, plausible storyline.

7. In Chapter 26, Mrs. Gardiner advises Elizabeth against hooking up with an impoverished Mr. Wickham, and Elizabeth accepts the advice. Later in the chapter, Elizabeth writes to Mrs. Gardiner that Wickham has moved onto a lady who recently inherited 10,000 pounds, and Elizabeth hypocritically accepts Wickham’s behavior as reasonable. None of this is mentioned in the movie; rather, Elizabeth merely notes that the militia moved out of town for the winter, and the viewer is given no explanation for the end of her budding romance with Wickham or for Elizabeth’s nonchalance with regard to it.

8. In Chapters 32 and 33, Darcy has several interactions that encourage him to propose to Elizabeth in Chapter 34. None of those interactions other than a dinner at Rosings are in the movie, which causes his sudden obsession with her to seem nonsensical.

9. In Chapter 34, Darcy leads up to his proposal by saying, “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” In the movie, he says, “Miss Bennet, I have struggled in vain but I can bear it no longer…I love you. Most ardently.” This line, not from Austen, is one of the most memorable from the movie.

10. In Chapter 40, Elizabeth tells sister Jane about Darcy’s marriage proposal. This makes Darcy’s subsequent interest in Elizabeth less nonsensical to Jane. Jane is never enlightened in the movie.

11. In Chapter 52, Elizabeth and Wickham, after his marriage to Lydia, come to an accommodation, with her saying to him, “Come, Mr. Wickham, we are brother and sister, you know. Do not let us quarrel about the past. In future, I hope we shall be always of one mind.” By contrast, in the movie Elizabeth refuses to look at him and turns away.

12. In Chapter 58, when Darcy asks Elizabeth if her “feelings are still what they were last April,” the book’s narrator simply says that Elizabeth “immediately, but not very fluently gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change… as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure, his present assurances.” In the movie, Elizabeth takes Darcy’s hand but only says, “Well, then. Your hands are cold.” Only the script provides the transparency we have come to expect from Elizabeth – “I am very happy to inform you that not only have my sentiments changed there are no other words which could give me greater pleasure.”

13. In Chapter 59, Mr. Bennet is pleased to learn that Darcy, not Mr. Gardiner, bailed out Wickham, “So much the better. It will save me a world of trouble and economy. Had it been your uncle’s doing, I must and would have paid him; but these violent young lovers carry every thing their own way. I shall offer to pay him to-morrow; he will rant and storm about his love for you, and there will be an end of the matter.” This comment shows great insight and is hilarious, but it didn’t make the movie. Instead, the movie has Mr. Bennet merely say, “Good Lord. I must pay him back,” and Elizabeth responding, “No, you mustn’t tell anyone! He wouldn’t want it.”

14. The book contains no indication that Mr. Bennet feels any strong affection for Mrs. Bennet. To the contrary, the book contains explicit verbiage indicating an absence of respect. But in the movie, there are two scenes showing affection – (1) early in the movie, they kiss after Mr. Bennet informs Mrs. Bennet that he has already called on Bingley, and (2) late in the movie, they appear to be moving toward a kiss (in bed, no less) after discussing the engagement of Jane to Bingley. Neither of these displays of affection were included in the Moggach script.

15. The book fails to provide Darcy with an opportunity to impress Elizabeth with his virility or masculinity. By contrast, the 1995 BBC adaptation includes a famous “Lake” scene with Darcy in a wet shirt as he encounters Elizabeth at Pemberley. Apparently, scriptwriter Moggach planned to capture this same sentiment by creating a scene where Elizabeth sees “Darcy, exhausted, rides into the stable yard. In the corner is a trough and pump. He strides up to the pump, puts his head under it and douses himself with cold water. From a window Elizabeth looks out at Darcy. Darcy looks up and for a second catches Elizabeth looking down at him. She turns from the window.” Filmmaker Joe Wright remained true to the book and excluded this scene from the movie.

16. The book ends with Elizabeth playfully asking Darcy to “account for his having fallen in love with her.” The movie ends similarly, albeit not in Moggach’s script, with Elizabeth playfully telling Darcy the endearments he will be allowed. The final one is the most famous – i.e., “You may only call me Mrs. Darcy when you are completely and perfectly and incandescently happy.”




The fast track to love

Filed under: Relationships — Mike Kueber @ 1:22 am

According to an article in the NY Times, there is a fast track to love.  According to the article, a couple can create a loving feeling simply by agreeing to honestly answer 36 questions, and thereby creating the intimacy and trust that foster love.  The coup de grâce to any lingering resistance is administered by staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes.

The three sets of increasingly probing questions are as follows:

Set I

  1.  Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
  2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
  4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
  5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
  6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
  7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
  8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
  9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
  12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II

  1. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
  2. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
  3. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
  4. What do you value most in a friendship?
  5. What is your most treasured memory?
  6. What is your most terrible memory?
  7. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
  8. What does friendship mean to you?
  9. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
  10. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
  11. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
  12. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?


  1. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling …”
  2. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
  3. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
  4. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
  5. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
  6. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
  7. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
  8. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
  9. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
  10. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
  11. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
  12. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

This concept makes sense to me, and I plan to use the list the next time I find a woman who I want to fall in love with me.

January 19, 2015

My third pet peeve in government

Filed under: Economics,Issues,Law/justice,Politics,Retirement — Mike Kueber @ 11:01 pm
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I recently posted about a progressive Facebook friend who is displeased with SA’s mayor, Ivy Taylor. She also is displeased with her redneck in-laws who, despite their antipathy toward welfare, are not above keeping a cow on their acreage to avoid paying any significant property tax.

While I’m not judgmental re: people who energetically try to avoid taxes, I have previously blogged about my disgust with the farm/ag exemption.  The ag exemption, along with the obscene pension plan that state legislators have provided themselves, are strong evidence of the corruption involved in government.

To my list of pet peeves in government, I am adding a third item – long-term capital gains. These gains are currently taxed at 15% for most people, which is a compromise between some people arguing that these gains should be untaxed and others arguing that these gains should be taxed the same as ordinary income.

I agree with the latter position, but even if I understand the compromise, I don’t understand why the tax code would allow an estate to transfer to its heirs capital assets not only without assessing a tax on its capital gains, but also with its cost-basis increased to its current market value. What uncorrupted legislator would think that makes sense?

For some reason, I’ve never heard this grotesque policy discussed, let alone discussed. Imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago upon hearing that President Obama is proposing to seek a middle-class tax cut that will be paid for by assessing a capital-gains tax on inherited property.

I look forward to hearing how the Republicans argue against this proposal. Mitt Romney is opening his campaign with an emphasis on helping the middle class, and I would love for him to adopt this proposal.

Ivy Taylor and the Oscars under attack

This past weekend, a progressive female Facebook friend posted an article on SA’s black mayor, Ivy Taylor, and blasted her with, “I really can’t stand her. At all.” The article was titled, “Mayor Taylor says political correctness is ‘frustrating.’”

You can imagine my surprise at my friend’s antipathy toward our mayor because I thought progressive females would be highly partial toward a female who was the city’s first black mayor. After reading the article, however, I understood her displeasure. Namely, Mayor Taylor, when serving on the City Council last year, had voted against a gay-rights ordinance, which was one of my friend’s pet issues. (Her kids’ father has become a woman, and she fully supports him.)

In the article, Mayor Taylor defended (inarticulately, according to the article) her opposition to the ordinance and talked of abhorring political correctness. I have often taken a similar position in this blog re: political correctness in a wide assortment of contexts, and I was thinking of collecting them for a single post, but as I was doing some research, I stumbled on a new example in the NY Times today.

The paper’s media critic, David Carr, complained in an article headlined, “Why the Oscars omission of ‘Selma’ matters.” I initially was confused by the headline because I thought Selma had been nominated, but as I read the article I learned that Carr was upset because, although Selma had been nominated, the lead actor and director hadn’t. Carr then proceeded to criticize these omissions, not based on their merits, but rather because:

  • But yes, it still matters. The news continues to be full of all manner of pathology and victimization involving black Americans, and when a moment comes to celebrate both a historical giant and a pure creative achievement, it merits significant and broad recognition.”

According to Carr, it wasn’t enough that a black film – Twelve Years a Slave – won Best Movie last year. Unless the Academy continues to recognize black films, it will appear that it is merely “ticking off boxes.” Under that rationale, America will need to follow up President Obama’s election with another black president just to show it wasn’t merely ticking off a box.

Carr’s comment that most agitated me was as follows:

  • And no club in the United States — over the last several years, the academy has been around 93 percent white, 76 percent male and an average of 63 years old — is in more need of new blood than Hollywood.”

That reminds me of the current efforts of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to force “diversity” into the Silicon Valley. According to them, the tech industry will be vastly improved if it had fewer whites and Asians, and more women, Hispanics, and African-Americans.

But when you consider which industries in America are vibrant world leaders, the first that come to mind are the movie industry and technology. I suggest that those are the last places we want to see increased progressive-government meddling.

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