President Bush is absolutey right about eliminating the double tax on dividends. He says it’s wrong because the government not only taxes the corporation but then goes on to tax the dividends paid to shareholders. But I argue that Mr. Bush does not go far enough. My suggestion is that he call for an immediate repeal of all state sales taxes (like good old New Hampshire has done). Think about it — not only does the state tax me on my earnings but then it goes ahead and forces me to pay sales tax (8.25 percent in New York City) on everything except some food and some clothing. Why should I pay taxes twice? Hey, on the Internet, I rarely have to pay tax at all! Who needs taxes anyway?
On the recommendation of The Strokes, I recently bought the new Interpol album, entitled Turn On the Bright Lights. Boy, am I not disappointed. The music ranges in style a bit but overall, these guys are very talented musicians — bringing in 80s and 90s influences into original and smartly catchy pop songs. In fact, Interpol is a kind of perfect combination of some of my favorite 80s and 90s bands, including:
- Echo and the Bunnymen
- The Smiths
- The Flaming Lips
- The Stranglers
- Talking Heads
- The Shins
- Sonic Youth
- My Bloody Valentine
- Psychedelic Furs
- Galaxy 500
- And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
- Belle and Sebastian
- The Fall
I took See No Evil by Robert Baer out of the library today (on a supersmall one-week loan) and it’s quite good. It reads a bit like a disgruntled CIA op who is all too willing to pass lots of blame around for the lack of good intelligence pre-September 11 (for instance, he blames political correctness, among other things, for the CIA’s slacker-hood). But as a story of a person’s life in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, it’s a good biography of a person who entered the organization with idealism and high hopes. Of course, I’m mostly reading it for the intrigue.
It’s not so amazing, but Wrigley, the company that sells gum products, has spent a good deal of money and effort redesigning its packages of Doublemint, Juicyfruit, and Spearmint. It’s all part of an effort, according to a recent issue of How Magazine, to rebrand companies with a look of just-popped-off-the-shelf-and-into-your-brain look. Flat, plain, solid colors and lines are out. Rounded, 3D, motionized, and corpulent images are in. Take a look at other shelf brands, such as Doritos, Cheetos, Pringles, and new cereals (like Spiderman) next time you’re shopping.
Finally, someone has the guts to equate the SUV phenomenon with helping oil companies support regimes that support terrorists. Finally, and one of the people behind a new TV campaign is none other than Arianna Huffington, who apparently traded in her SUV last year for a fuel-sipping hybrid car. The ads are going to start running Sunday and they sound very smart, a take off on the anti-drug ads now being show everywhere. Here’s the clip from the linked article:
“This is George,” [what a great name for a strawman, ed.] a girl’s voice says of an oblivious man at a gas station. “This is the gas that George bought for his SUV.” The screen then shows a map of the Middle East. “These are the countries where the executives bought the oil that made the gas that George bought for his SUV.” The picture switches to a scene of armed terrorists in a desert. “And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his SUV.”
Have a cold. But what with all the other crappy news out there today (the government is allowed to keep anyone they want any time if they are suspected of being a terrorist, the Republicans allowing ol’ Mr. Pickering to be a top judge, a highly inequitable “stimulus” package, two plane crashes, and many deaths in Israel), Apple came out with is own Web browser, called Safari. Well, it only runs on Mac OS X 10.2 (a.k.a. Jaguar) but it’s very cool and steely in color and it’s fast as hell and has Google search bar integrated in the “chrome” and it prevents pop-up windows from popping-up. (Truly Deckchairs on the Titanic material.)
I hope I’m not sick of mind, but I’m wondering why the press has given so little (okay – zero) thought to the possibility that Mr. Hussein will take hostage the United Nations arms inspectors in Iraq. I mean, with the U.S. saber-rattling, the Arab nations not being nice, and Mr. Hussein feeling backed in a corner, why not just take these people hostage? He’ll provoke the coming war, of course. But he’ll also start an international effort to mediate the terms and influence international opinion. I hope that this does not come to pass, but I’m sure that the inspectors have been warned of such a potential calamity.
I am sometimes embarrassed to be writing a blog such as this. Nevertheless:
Pepperidge Farm always seemed to me to be a strange company. Somewhere between homemade baked goods and Wonderbread, the company never really made sense to me. They had an outlet store near where I grew up in Philadelphia — but I could not as a kid understand why they were selling “high quality” goods at cheap prices. Mostly their brand looks kind of awkward, out of place on a package of bread; they recently re-branded I see — the text is larger, in all caps, and the “farm” is represented by a larger yellow and red barn that is snow-covered and imposing.
I guess they are now owned by Campbell’s Soup. I recently bought their Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread and following is the text on the “back” of the package:
“. . . This dedication to baking is what makes Pepperidge Farm Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread a delightful start to your day. Everything else is toast. Never have an Ordinary Day.” What? They actually went to the trouble of trademarking these last two sentences? Only in America can a company not only come up with a silly couple of lines like that, put it on their package, and then prevent others from using it. (See comments on U.S. copyrighting below . . . )
Because of the Sabbath, I rarely, if ever, post anything on Saturdays. However, the incredible beauty and gorgeous use of technology has forced my hand to post this link of a full screen, interactive image of the Chateau de Salm in France. It is stunning, fundamentally sublime, and romantic. The other links to images at the top of the site are also incredible. Take a look at this panorama of the lights memorializing the WTC.
I read a great article last night in this month’s Fast Company (it’s not online yet) about a company called Amoeba that seems to far outsell and out-cool the big retail record conglomerates like Virgin, Tower, and HMV. The company is in the SF area and they specifically cater to the small consumer, the afficionado, the musician, the person that takes their music and music history seriously. For those who take the latest hits seriously, they can go there, too. Run by knowledgable staff, Amoeba sounds like a music consumer’s dream come true, with 3 or 4 times the number of titles found in an ordinary, vanilla box record store. The music industry continues to create cardboard cut-outs (literally) for its store while customers in their prime demographics are yearning for something real. I just bought the latest God Speed You Black Emperor. More soon.