Happy Halloween!

Stop the Scammers

My friend Nicki has a great post about an internet scammer who tried to get her to send money to Africa to help a fellow American who had AIDS and was dying. Nicki and her friend went about documenting the whole exchange, which is hilarious and should be read.

But what I like so much about Nicki isn’t just that she’s got a foul mouth that would make Caligula blush. It’s that she actually cares about people. She genuinely worries about the woman seeking love and companionship who fall for these scams and end up sending thousands of dollars to scammers. The latest scam is from so-called military personnel who need money. Women send their “soldiers” money and never hear from them again. It’s a sad thing, and we need to make more people aware of the problem.

But in the meantime, check out Nicki’s take-no-prisoners approach to scammers.

The Most Anti-Man Post Ever

Dear Readers:

If you are a man, please do not finish reading this post. This is not reverse psychology. I’m not telling you not to read it only because I want you to. I’m telling you not to because it’s in your best interest. This post concerns things men shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about. So you just scroll right on by this one, or visit my dear friend Nicki or Sheila or Tracey because I am sure they would not post something as batshit insane as I am about to post right now.

Men, if you’re still here, this is on you. I’m completely disclaimed.
[Read more…]

What African Taxes Can Teach Us About America

Every time I see Bono on some stage, begging his fans to send money to Africa, I just think of all that money wasted. Because it is wasted – make no mistake. You would be hard pressed to find an actual individual in Africa who has been helped by any charity work that Bono or Madonna or even Angelina Jolie has done. All that money that they raise is a testament to their charm and celebrity, but it is completely and utterly wasted.

Africa does not hurt for money. Africa is an oil-rich nation. It so lacks the infrastructure to manage its own wealth, however, that Africa net-net imports oil.

The reason that Africa is a poor nation is because there are no taxes.

I know, I know. It sounds pretty great. Imagine being offered a job paying $60,000 per year, and actually seeing $60,000 per year. The mind reels with what could be done with those funds that are not going to line the pockets of the likes of Nancy Pelosi.

But there’s a weird irony at play here. When you don’t pay taxes, you aren’t invested in your country. The government does collect taxes from the oil companies working in Africa, but the average citizens aren’t taxed, therefore they have no relationship to the government. And the government, instead of building roads or providing a post office, just takes the money and runs.

On the flip side, you have the USA, the richest country the planet has ever known. We’re being taxed into poverty. Our money is going more and more toward government, which is weakening our private sector. These punitive taxes make us all poorer – not just those who are taxed, but the poor people who rely on our distributions.

The balance does not lie in the middle. The solution to a fifty percent tax is not a twenty-five percent tax. Low taxes are the solution. Very modest taxes. Five or seven percent would be ideal. That way, in the USA, we can keep flooding the market with our technology and wealth, which will trickle down to other people and places. A five to seven percent tax on Africans would franchise them into the system. But it won’t solve their problems until Capitalism is brought full-bore, into the country.

Just thinking of how to do that makes my brain hurt. I have no idea how to solve African poverty, or if it can be solved at all. I just know that the fact that they aren’t taxed at all is harmful, while our over taxation is even worse.

Schlumberger & Why You Need The People You Hate

It’s pronounced “Schlumbergzhay.”

If you’ve ever lived in Houston, you know the company. It’s a French oil services firm with a massive Houston operation. The company has been in my lexicon since childhood; I had friends whose parents worked there. It was only later that I had reason to begin to study the company, and what I found reminded me of how incestuous industries can be. It’s actually a comforting thing.

Schlumberger is even bigger than Halliburton but seems to have escaped the mass-market hatred that makes up the anti-capitalist bloc of the Left; perhaps it has a better marketing team. In any case, it’s huge and wealthy.

Another institution that defines Houston is The Menil Collection, a beautiful museum with a world-class collection of Surrealists, Modernists and African art. It was launched John de Ménil and Dominique de Ménil, heiress to the vast Schlumberger collection.

Dominique and John began collecting art in the 1940s. When they moved to Houston, she instantly became the art and cultural doyenne of record. She was frustrated by the lack of arts in Houston, and began promoting art at the Contemporary Arts Museum. Their legacy lives on in the beautiful museum they built to house their collection, and their thumbprints are all over the city.

Without Schlumberger’s money, the citizenry wouldn’t have this extraordinary (and free) museum to enjoy.

I like to think that those people who hate oil and oil companies probably don’t know that the free access to truly world-class art was made possible by the oil companies. The cause and effect of money remains a mystery to them.

Progressives need the people they hate. But capitalists, and people who embrace technology (ie, oil drilling equipment), don’t need the people they hate. They’re content to be left alone to do what they want to do.

Cara Ellison Corp.’s Mission Statement

This guy says the Cara Ellison Corporation mission statement is “good.” I am quite pleased by that assessment.

And the mission statement has been the same since the day the company was founded, that fateful day in 2001 when the scrappy little company consisted only of a dream, an old Enron pipeline, and a million dollars:

The mission of Cara Ellison Corporation is to get away with as much as possible.

Sylvia Plath’s House – Google Street View

When I downloaded Google Earth, the first place I searched for was Sylvia Plath’s house, which at one time had been Yeats’ house:

It looks like it probably did when she lived there. It’s frozen in time for me.

What is this, behind this veil?

The line comes from Sylvia Plath’s poem, The Birthday Present, which is apt today because it is Sylvia Plath’s birthday. Please see Sheila’s epic Sylvia Plath round up of Plath posts; I think you’ll be as delighted as I am.

I have posted a frame grab of the first question I ever asked her about Plath, which was the spark that lit the flame that will burn forever. [Updated to add frame grab]:

It began one of the truly great love affairs of my life. And I’m just so happy to have someone to share my Plath love with.

Thank you, Sheila. And thank you, Sylvia. Love you both.

One of the most affecting, and popular, of Plath’s poems, Daddy, read by Sylvia herself for BBC:

Madonna Opens Chain of Gyms

Madonna will open a new chain of gyms, Hard Candy Fitness, according to AP via Yahoo News.

Our goal is to create an environment inspired by Madonna’s vision and high standards of what the ideal gym would be,” said Mark Mastrov, chairman of New Evolution Ventures (NEV), which is launching the clubs in partnership with the Material Girl and her manager Guy Oseary.

“Hard Candy Fitness will be a reflection of Madonna’s point of view and will reflect her input on every detail including music space, light and other design cues. Madonna’s touch will be everywhere,” Mastrov said.
The first “Hard Candy” club — named after the last album by the pop singer — will open in a 30,000 square foot space in the Mexican capital.

Madonna is to attend its unveiling on November 29, according to the press release.

The statement said that Hard Candy Fitness promises “the very best in innovative training methods,” including “state of the art cardiovascular equipment,” and an array of classes “including yoga and capoeira.
It will also boast a juice bar-cafe and “lavish locker rooms built with the finest materials will be a sanctuary for members who will be able to relax in sauna and steam rooms.”

The statement added that Madonna throughout her career has been a devotee of fitness and well-being, and that after having “worked out in literally hundreds of gyms around the world… she has a strong vision on what the ideal exercise, dancing and work out environment should be.”

It is the latest business venture by Madonna, who in recent months has been diversifying her worldwide brand beyond the realm of pop music.

Earlier this year, Madonna announced plans to launch, along with her teenage daughter Lourdes, a line of teen clothing called “Material Girl,” to be sold at Macy’s department stores.

I have to admit, this sounds pretty awesome. I *love* fancy gyms. And I have the feeling this one will be pretty awesome. But seriously, Mexico City? What?

Fall is here

I know it by the new Starbucks sleeves.

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