Monday, January 23, 2017

Taxing Life: All Said and Darned

“The trouble with loving an actress is that once you figure out the meaning of her lines, then you have to figure out if they’re being spoken from a script or from the heart. From the heart, you first suppose. Rachel brings such skill to her acting—to her living—that you naturally thing ‘heart’ first and ‘script’ second. Every word, movement, and glance strike you as genuine. But suddenly you notice in her eyes a flicker of guile or irony or amusement and you begin to wonder; and you go to a play and you see her display some of these same words, movements and glances with the same offhand authenticity, and you wonder further. You wonder where she ever learned that lightness, that deftness, that grace. Did she learn them in life and were they therefore part of her real nature? Or did she learn them in the theater and were they therefore art?
~ Jon Hassler

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
~ Orwell

75 Books For Survival and Resistance

A few dozen writers respond to a question from LitHub about what is necessary reading for the next four years. “As Paula Gunn Allen reminds us: ‘The root of oppression is the loss of memory.'”

The Loneliness of the Subway Nap

On the subway, you can often tell who lives in New York by how casually they sit and how closely they clutch their belongings

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1352: The End Of My Daily Coverage:

With Donald Trump’s inauguration, I am ending my daily coverage as the scandal again has gone mostly quiet.  I will continue to sporadically blog the scandal when there is news about it (indeed, I have a post in the queue for tomorrow).  But I will no longer provide coverage each day.  I hope readers have found my coverage useful, and will continue to come here for updates on the scandal.
Thanks to TaxProf Paul Caron for staying on this undercovered story. The IRS and Lois Lerner admitted the targeting on Day 1. People have been trying to walk that back ever since, either by moving the goal posts (“the President was never implicated”) or by pretending the targeting never happened. The tax agency taking on itself the task of targeting political organizations is scarier than it doing so at the bidding of the White House.

UK Members Of Parliament Want To Ban Arts Internships, Calling Them “Curse Of The Arts Industry

The report draws on the evidence submitted from people including outgoing Arts Council England chair Peter Bazalgette, who warned that unpaid internships were “the curse of the arts industry”. He said there was an expectation that young people will work for less than the minimum wage, which he added was a “major barrier for disadvantaged young people interested in accessing jobs in the creative industries”

Is psychology the key to understanding the politics of resentment, antagonism, and self-contradiction? Pankaj Mishra enjoins us to revisit Rousseau, Dostoyevsky,  Nitzske 

N THE MIDDLE AGES, Europe was dotted with automata—saints, angels, devils, and monks in churches and cloisters as well as festivals and marketplaces; knights, ladies, animals, and mythological figures in castles and gardens; and timepieces of every variety. Some of these figures were marvelously elaborate. In the Benedictine abbey at Cluny, a mechanical cock
flapped and crowed on the hour … Meanwhile, an angel opened a door to bow before the Virgin; a white dove representing the Holy Spirit flew down and was blessed by the Eternal Father; and fantastic creatures emerged to stick out their tongues and roll their eyes before retreating inside the clock.8
Even more remarkable were the clockworks of Strasbourg Cathedral.
For nearly five centuries, the Strasbourg Rooster cocked its head, flapped its wings, and crowed on the hour atop the Clock of the Three Kings, originally built between 1352 and 1354, and refurbished by the clockmaker brothers Isaac and Josias Habrecht between 1540 and 1574. Beneath the Rooster, the astrolabe turned and the Magi scene played out its familiar sequence. In the Habrecht version, the Rooster, Magi, Virgin, and Child were joined by a host of other automata: a rotation of Roman gods who indicated the day of the week; an angel who raised her wand as the hour was rung, and another who turned her hourglass on the quarter hour; a baby, a youth, a soldier, and an old man representing the four stages of life, who rang the quarter hours; and above them, a mechanical Christ came forth after the old man finished ringing the final quarter hour, but then retreated to make way for Death to strike the hour with a bone.9
From Emerson and Carlyle to Lamarck and Darwin, thinkers have debated agency. But where does debating the free will of squirrels, rocks, and robots robots get us? 

As someone who was born in Black death mortuary, I appreciate stories along this lines the New York Times wrote about the Pratt Family burial plot. As Daniel Hemel pointed outthere was also a tax story; apparently, the cemetery qualifies as a 501(c)(13) tax-exempt entity. So, when you combine tax and a Cleveland company, I was fascinated by the story. Rockefellers, Pratts and Private Cemeteries

 Sheelah Kolhatkar, Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street.  A story about Steven A. Cohen and his hedge fund career, but this is a highly engaging and better researched than usual stories

Without a sense of place the work is often reduced to a cry of voices in empty rooms, a literature of the self, at its best poetic music; at its worst a thin gruel of the ego.

— William Kennedy, born on this date in 1928

Mark Zuckerberg sues over 100 Hawaiians to force them to sell them their ancestral land Boing Boing
       At KGOU, in their World Views programme, Suzette Grillot has a Q & A with Author Dubravka Ugresic On Literature And Her Life In Exile. 
       Ugrešić recently won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and many of her works are under review at the complete review

The System Is Rigged: The Millions Interviews Leland Cheuk

An argument can be made that the big houses are really in the business of publishing cookbooks, celebrity memoirs, and adult coloring pads.

Why is the barter market for lovers so imperfect?  My view is that women compartmentalize this kind of thing better than men do, for the most part, at least above age 30.

The Silent Book Club started in San Francisco in 2012 and they have a website. The founder, Guinevere de la Mere, hosts regular reading parties, publishes a blog, curates an international Silent Reading Book Club event calendar, and offers tips on how to start a club of your own. I checked out the club list and it appears one is starting up in the Twin Cities in February. It is being held at a cafe in Minneapolis and in March it will be held in St Paul. Very democratic to switch back and forth between cities! I’d love to go but it is going to be on the night I usually lead a group bike ride. February is a few weeks away yet so who knows, perhaps something will change and I will be able to make it.
Silent Reading Parties turned up in the pages of the New Yorker back in 2014

Pity the world’s tourism boards. Around the world, these agencies are tasked with summing up in just a few words and in several languages an entire country’s wonders Bad Ideas and tourism slogans


Now the dead past seems vividly alive,
    And in this shining moment I can trace,
Down through the vista of the vanished years,
    Your faun-like form, your fond elusive face.
And suddenly come secret spring’s released,
    And unawares a riddle is revealed,
And I can read like large, black-lettered print,
    What seemed before a thing forever sealed.
I know the magic word, the graceful thought,
    The song that fills me in my lucid hours,
The spirit’s wine that thrills my body through,
    And makes me music-drunk, are yours, all yours.
All Said and Done goes with philosopher Rebecca Goldstein's  take on what makes you and your childhood self the same person despite a lifetime of change, then revisit De Beauvoir on freedom, busyness, and why happiness is our moral obligationvitality and the measure of intelligence, and her daily routine

For Years No One Wanted To Make “La La Land

“There were so many instances, in the five or six years since I wrote it, where it seemed so close to being made. It’s the typical Hollywood story — everything falls apart. Every time, I would curse myself and go, ‘Goddamn it.'”

Live Longer By Eating Peppers?

Shipping companies grappling with the threat of cyber attacks on vessels are finding insurance policies often fall short, officials involved in both industries say, a risk that could feed through into global prices. Digitalisation means electricity networks, emergency services, industry and agriculture are all vulnerable to hacking by criminal gangs for extortion or, for political reasons, by militant groups or foreign states. But ships are also exposed to interference through electronic navigation devices such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) and lack the backup systems airliners have to prevent crashes. With 90 percent of world trade transported by vessels, the stakes are high. Gaps in insurance for ship owners and the disruptions that could cause have the potential to drive up both industrial and consumer prices. In a particularly secretive industry, information about the nature of attacks is scarce, which insurance and shipping officials say is an obstacle to mitigating the risk.

The Downside of Booker Discretion to Vary -- Upward Variance in a Tax Perjury Case (1/14/17)

In United States v. Hayes, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 251 (6th Cir. 2017) (unpublished), here, the Sixth 
Circuit affirmed a sentence with an upward variance in a tax conviction under § 7206(1), tax perjury. 
 The upward variance sentence was to 15 months which was 2 1/2 times the upper range of the 
Guidelines calculation (that high end being 6 months based on the stipulated tax loss). 
 Readers will recall that United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220  (2005) caused a sea change 
in the role of the Guidelines -- changing them from mostly mandatory to advisory with the 
ability of the sentencing judge to exercise discretion to vary outside the Guidelines now advisory sentencing ranges.  In tax cases, variances are not uncommon and, by far the majority of the time, 
are downward variances making the sentence less than the low end of the Guidelines range.  
Upward variances are rare.  Viewed one way, Hayes might be seen as just another rare 
upward variances which are driven by unique bad facts.  Viewed another way, the sentence 
may be viewed as practically achieving a proper sentence consistent with the Guidelines
 rather than varying from them...

THE H.R. POLICY MANUAL WOULD FILL A LIBRARY: Psychologists say you should masturbate at work

Truth takes shape in debate. It demands doubt, patience, self-critical inquiry — not qualities of the current moment, when truth functions as a commodity...  Story 

NEWS YOU CAN USE: BLM Launches Social Media Site So You Can ‘Mark Yourself Unsafe’