Thursday, December 19, 2002

Literature Can Clancy, King, Grisham et al survive?

Three things in life used to be thought certain: death, taxes, and that Stephen King would sell a lot of books and sole survivors like Jozef Imrich, a.k.a. Impoor, none at all.

Of course, the book world (like other worlds) has changed utterly. America, post 9/11, has a new set of dreams and nightmares. With queues for smallpox vaccination, and citizens opening their Xmas (Anthraxmas?) cards, gas masks at the ready, the old stories just don't have the same thrill. In Prey (warmed-over Jurassic Park) a hive of computer-generated insects (cyberbugs) escape from a laboratory. Havoc, death, destruction, yawn.

Red Herring: last time I czeched,sitting down with a reporter from The New York Times for a profile was not a very effective way of remaining anonymous and unnoticed.
· Escape Beyond Cold River [Guardian UK]
· How do you manage to attract 100 million loyal readers worldwide? [Times UK]

Death & Taxes

Congress has always needed to know how much revenue would be lost by cutting taxes or raised by increasing them. In the 1920s, it established the Joint Committee on Taxation to estimate the revenue effects of tax changes. Historically, these calculations were made by accountants using adding machines. They simply looked at the most recent year for which tax data existed, and recalculated revenues as
if a proposed tax bill had been in effect at the time.

By necessity, therefore, revenue estimates were done on a static basis. That is, they assumed no changes whatsoever in the economy or taxpayer behavior. Estimators knew that this method produced inaccurate calculations of how tax changes would really affect federal revenues. Obviously, people will alter their behavior if their tax situation changes, and the overall economy may be affected as well. But until the 1970s, the tools to do a better job just did not exist.
· Calculations of how tax changes [National Review](Link provided by Terje Petersen)
· Tax the Poor! [Slate]
· Property taxes: Measuring your pain [NJ]

Sadness of Life A history of pernicious sadness

It is summary of the myriad theories of what causes melancholia, how it manifests itself, and how it has been dealt with over the centuries. There are thoughts about some of the medications that are currently used to try to bring Smith and others like him out of the worst of depression. Finally, there are descriptions of famous melancholics --- people like Sylvia Plath, Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark), Isaac Newton, Martin Luther, St. Paul, Charles Darwin, William and Henry James, Henry Adams, and Herman Melville.
· Mur [This piece is dedicated to managers who fail to win any popularity contests. There aren’t many managers who are not turning to drugs in order to cope ...]
· The Heavy Cost of Chronic Stress [NY Times.]

Politics Prostitutes and addicts: Politics as usual

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I don't know if they will or not. You know, this is a very addictive system. It's so much easier to raise money in hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars than in one thousand-dollar or two thousand-dollar contributions. But I think they're tired of it. There was recent comments by Senator Zell Miller of Georgia where he said after a period of fund raising he felt like a prostitute after a busy day.

BILL MOYERS: Can a government run by prostitutes and addicts claim to be legitimate?
· Public interest is not served; the special interests are [Working For Change]

For Milan Kundera the truth of the human condition is found not in pompous horizons of public life, but in the intricate folds of families.
· Laughter and Forgetting [New Republic]

Politics Trent Lott Hit A Real Nerve. The Other Senators Just Fawned.

Trent Lott is getting the drubbing he deserves. But what about the other Senators who fawned over Strom Thurmond during his retirement party? Note: Strom mean tree in Slavic.
· Bad Lott [Tom Paine]

History Story of nation's birth turns spiteful

The controversy over historian Keith Windschuttle's book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History is heating up in Australia, as commentators in the nation's leading newspapers are adding their opinions to the mix.

Reputations have been attacked, insults traded, legal action threatened. It could seem excessive until you consider what is at stake. This is a battle over the story of how a nation came into being.
· Blowing Bad, Bad, Wind? [The Age]
· I'll sue the bastard: Scholars clash over claim of 'soft plagiarism' [Sydney Morning Herald]

Internet Telecoms Do not want you to read this

A new Internet service means you don't need the phone company anymore.

A new service called Vonage makes using your telephone over the Internet as easy as picking up the phone and dialing. You simply plug the same phone you have now into a little adapter box that connects to your DSL or cable modem (OK, through a router and then to your modem), and you get a dial tone. That's it. There are no special phones to use, no talking through a PC using a microphone, no weird lag time or decrease in call quality. Technically, you don't even need a computer to use Vonage—all you need is a broadband connection. And you can even keep your phone number. All of which adds up to something important: Vonage is the first Internet telephone service that could credibly replace your regular phone line. It turns your telephone into just another Internet application, like e-mail or instant messenger.
· Bon Vonage, Baby Bells [Slate]
· Mac Users: How I Caught a Counterfeiter with a Little Help from my Friends [Remodern]
· ascinating story revealing that older MPs are more savvy Internet users than younger ones. [BBC]