Monday, August 28, 2006

Color Me Skeptical

From the New York Times [Hat Tip: Marginal Revolution]

Turks Knock on Europe’s Door With Evidence That Islam and Capitalism Can Coexist


“In European countries, workers take a 15-minute smoking break; here we take a 15-minute prayer break,” said Ahmet Herdem, the mayor of Hacilar, a town of 20,000 people in central Anatolia, a deeply religious and socially conservative region which has produced some of the best-known Turkish companies. “During this time, you are in front of God, and you can ask him to help improve business and this is good for morale.”

The region’s mix of Muslim values, hard work and raging capitalism has even prompted sociologists to coin a new term to describe the phenomenon: Calvinist Islam.

[I rest my case. Blair]


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wit and Wisdom

Although I've yet to add Alexander Marriot's blog to my blogroll, I check it out often. He has two new posts that are worthy of your immediate attention. One on the uselessness of conspiracy theories and the pain they can cause. Another on Gary Kasparov's leaving the chess world to become a politician in Russia. Both are on the money.

Monday, August 21, 2006

How About a War on Taxes????

My initial thoughts on this article are that I don't like what it means for the unabated growth of the federal government. I don't like the fact that the article support's the IRS's job of tax enforcement, nor do I like the conservatives idea of outsourcing tax collection to collection agencies, i.e., using our tax dollars to enrich collection agencies, thereby extending federal control to that industry/business.

Here are the two articles in question:


The I.R.S. admits that external collection is far more expensive than internal collection. Johnston cites current I.R.S. commissioner Mark Everson as saying so, as well as former commissioner Charles O. Rossotti, who told Congress that if the I.R.S. hired more agents, it “could collect more than $9 billion each year and spend only $296 million—or about three cents on the dollar—to do so,” according to Johnston.

Even if Rossotti was exaggerating by a factor of 5, the U.S. Govt. would still be getting a better deal by hiring more agents than by contracting to a third party that takes a 22% cut. But Congress, which oversees the I.R.S. budget, is famously reluctant to give the agency more resources to do its job. We touched on this subject in a column we wrote a few months back.

Here's one article the author is quoting from the NY Times writer David Cay Johnston:


Within two weeks, the I.R.S. will turn over data on 12,500 taxpayers — each of whom owes $25,000 or less in back taxes — to three collection agencies. Larger debtors will continue to be pursued by I.R.S. officers.

The move, an initiative of the Bush administration, represents the first step in a broader plan to outsource the collection of smaller tax debts to private companies over time. Although I.R.S. officials acknowledge that this will be much more expensive than doing it internally, they say that Congress has forced their hand by refusing to let them hire more revenue officers, who could pull in a lot of easy-to-collect money

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Movie Review

With all the news about Cuba and Castro lately, I wanted to plug a very good film I got through Netflix, [also seen at Blockbuster] called 'The Lost City', featuring Andy Garcia.
This film portrays a Cuban family torn apart by the 'revolution'. Set in Batista's reign, it details the trials of one Fico, [Garcia] a nightclub owner whose family of sons are divided by both the disgust of Batista's failed government and the 'promise' of Castro's revolution. The oldest brother joins a anti-Batista 'gang'[for lack of a better word] and storms Batista's government palace, only to be killed. The youngest, heads off to the Cuban wilderness, seeking out Castro's forces, to join. Garcia plays the capitalist and is forced to deal with these issues and more.
Filmed in the Dominican Republic, this film is lush with beautiful cinematography and great acting, from almost every character, although I have no idea why Bill Murray is in this film. Apparently his character is supposed to provide 'comic relief' but fails completely. I guess I'm not hip enough to 'get it'. [Fine with me!]

In my view, this film is not to be missed.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

P.S. Another great Garcia film is, 'For Love or Country' about a talented and famous musician who flees Cuba. Get it.

Ford Hall Forum--Boston

ARI has announced that Yaron Brook will speak at Ford Hall on October 22. His talk will be,

Democracy vs. Victory: The Forward Strategy of Freedom and How It Had To Fail.

I'm there!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

So, who is Ned Lamont?

Well, the whole world knows that Senator Joseph Lieberman [D-CT] has been booted aside in favor of the 'star power' and the new 'face' of Ned Lamont. All I know of Lamont is he is a multi-millionaire who is, apparently, an opportunist seeking power. His sole campaign was that he was 'against the war in Iraq'. That's it.
I did not hear one--not one--positive idea come from the lips of the newly annointed Lamont. He is the first candidate that I'm aware of, who was supported by the "blogsphere". [I'm probably behind the curve on that one].
The nation was also privy to seeing who was on stage behind Lamont both last night and today. None other than those intellectual giants: Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

I have nothing further to say.

Monday, August 07, 2006

When it rains... pours.

I was involved in an accident this morning coming home from work. Roads were slick with rain--truck in front of me stopped unexpectedly, due to another driver in front of her...BAM!!! I couldn't stop in time. I had my seat-belt on [thanks Diana]. No injuries, except to my truck, which is undrivable right now.

I can't decide if I'm more dissapointed, than depressed. Perhaps its an equal share of both. First time in more than 25 years I've had to deal with this.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Books for August

My selections for August include the following:

Fiction: The Devil's Garden by Ralph Peters (yes, that Ralph Peters)

Non-fiction: Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird

Not holding my breath on the math book, but I'll give it a try, just the same. Just about anything Mr. Peters writes is recommended here.